Friday, April 29, 2005

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Electric Fire

As those in the Jewish religious community know, on Shabbos (Saturday, the Sabbath), electricity is considered to have the halacha (Jewish law status) of fire. (Just as one does not light or put out a fire on Shabbos, one does not turn on or off a light on Shabbos, one leaves it on in advance or connects a timer to it.)

At the children's science museum yesterday, I saw this reproduction of a notice from 250 years ago (note the date, 1753):

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What's with Childrens-Science Museums???

During Chol Hamoed, I've been spending the week with the family (as many Jewish religious families do this week). Today we visited a children's science museum a bit out of the way. I visited this one during my childhood and had fond memories of the interactive exhibits and staff doing shows-demonstrations every 1/2 hour. Fun (and, dare I say, educational) stuff. I was looking forward to going there, with my children now old enough to really appreciate the place.

Of course, it's been a long while since I'd been there. There were bound to be big changes. However, what I found really surprised and depressed me.

They had ripped out about 70% of the place to put in an IMAX theatre (giant theatre, 6-8 story screen) and expand their planetarium to a multi-media model (no stars or night sky projection, instead a projected curved movie).

This place used to be a wonder of experiments and practical science experiences for children. Kids would get bogged down in individual science rooms for hours playing with the exhibits, and oh and ah the demonstrations (dip the ball in liquid nitrogen, now watch it crack like glass on the floor, demonstration lightning, cool!) It was great.

Now, it's all glass case stuff, interactive computer screens explaining (with powerpoint graphics) the science, and of course, the theatre and multi-media planetarium. See the plastic heart honey, press the green button for a presentation of how blood moves through the heart. Ugh!

And of course, the IMAX theatre and multi-media planetarium. The main reason we went out of our way was because our (more) nearby childrens-science museum was...70% IMAX theatre and multi-media planetarium with most exhibits being glass-cased with the only interaction being interactive computer screens. Double Ugh!

They still had 2 small rooms of the old stuff off to the side (electricity and trains), and the kids thought they were great. Buzz, pop, spark, screech, whistle, grind, great stuff.

We skipped the IMAX and the multi-media (curved-movie model) planetarium. Seems they're only interest now is in showing a bigger movie than the local theatre (and of course the $9 extra for the movie ticket). And that's just sad.
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Recommended Links Change: Visit, Goodbye, Avoid

I've made a few changes to my recommended links, that's the list to the right that says Interesting Links & Blogs, you may have to scroll down a bit to see it, over there --->>>

MOChassid, an interesting voice in the Jewish Blogosphere ["The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means)], is departing from blogging. We wish him well in is new occupation (which will prevent future blogging). As he won't be posting, I've removed him from the links.

Yeranen Yaakov is a nice blog to visit and has joined my Jewish links section. Check it out.

A link I carried that was a blog of interesting news commentary with some offbeat humor and taste went over the edge (way over) with some very inappropriate links. They've been removed from my list. (Not even mentioning it's name anymore.)

Cross Currents, a Jewish group blog, has been dropped from my list. I just don't find the tone of conversation appealing.

Finally, Hirhurim is a very popular Halacha (Jewish law) blog, has joined my Jewish Oriented list, with the author blogging about many hot halachic topics of the day. As he says, it's only for insight and discussion, not for ruling and religious action. Highly recommended.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

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More on the Sandlar.

MatzahNacho from Destination Jerusalem commented:

Not sure where to put this comment, so here seems as good a place as any, since it's End of Days related. I was just over at the site with the "Mashiach letter" and they've added something after the letter with more info on the "Sandlar." It's not on the English site so I did my best to decipher the added section, and it seems to say that a student of the Gaon of Vilna told a story in which a "Sandlar" declares the coming of Mashiach?

Here's a quick translation of what they added:

It's written in the sefer Additions of Creation:

There's the well known story from Rav Chaim MiVolozhin (name updated, thanks Yaak), a student of the Vilna Gaon, that the Sandlar (the shoemaker) is the one that tells the coming of Moshiach and there it describes the geula (redemption). It says:

"And there I hear a voice from the street, I put my head out the window and I see Eli the Shoemaker running excited. 'What happened Eli? What happened to the light of the sun? Why are the birds singing so loudly? Why are all the trees suddenly blooming?' The shoemaker responded 'Don't you know rebbe?' The shoemaker gave me a look at said, 'Moshiach came'"
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Do we open our eyes and see the beauty of the world and think of it's Creator?

(Or are we all huddled around our monitors in our air conditioned rooms, divorced from reality?)

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Reminder: Special Postings This Week

Just a reminder, I'm not writing new articles or spending any serious time blogging this week. A little different style, as time allows (with a priority of family time), a link or something of interest from elsewhere, some pictures or audio posts.

Of course, I hadn't intended to blog at all, but I find it useful wind-down time at the end of the day.

Moedim L'Simcha, a Gutten Moed, Good Chol Hamoed!

Looking forward to proceeding together to the splitting of the sea this Shabbos-Shev'ee shel Pesach (7th day of Passover) and, B'ezrat Hashem (G-d willing), to new great miracles of our day with the coming of Moshiach and the Geulah Shalayma (complete redemption)!
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Seder Flash

It's the Seder Flash: Click Here.

(Hat tip, DovBear, I think it's cute!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

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Making a Homicide Vest - A How To Video

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The Face of the Dog?

End of Days Blog: The Face of the Dog

Acording to Rav M. Eliyahu there will be miracles this summer if the Gaza uprooting is not stopped by natural means. G-d is as pleased as if we had offered up our own Korban Pesach. The Likud rank-in-file spit in the face of world public opinion, and like God's Dog, Kalev ben Yefunah, the mitpakdim (Likud rank and file) said that they did not want to become mitnatkim (disengagers from Gaza). By the way, the name Kalev Ben Yefunah has the exact same letters as Pnai Hakelev. When he prayed in Chevron he was not just requesting from G-d to be protected from the evil council of the majority of his fellow spies. I am sure he was praying for our generation, the Calev ben Yephunah generation ( Pnai HaKelev generation.)...

In this vein, I believe much will be required of American Jews this summer to prevent this Gaza atrocity, for unlike those of us who live here, you have not yet offered up your Korban Pesach to repair the damage done by the sin of the spies. I do not know whether there will be open miracles or only hidden miracles before G-d redeems the Jews of Gush Katif this summer. I do not know what great spiritual awakening we will experience at the Pesach Seder, or if we will be uplifted in a natural way during the Counting of the Omer. I do sense though that our Avodah (service to G-d) regarding this issue has not yet been completed.

End of Days Blog: The Face of the Dog

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Burning Chametz

On the 14th of Nisan, in the 5th hour of the day, one should make a special fire and burn the chametz (leavened products)...

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May it be Your will, G-d, our God and God of our fathers that just as I remove the chametz (leavened products) from my house and from possession, so shall You remove all the extraneous forces. Remove the spirit of impurity from the earth, remove our evil inclination from us, and grant us a heart of flesh to serve You in truth. Make all the sitra achara (outside spirit), all the kelipot (excluding barriers), and all wickedness be consumed in smoke, and remove the dominion of evil from earth. Remove with a spirit of destruction and a spirit of judgement all that distress the Shechinah (G-dly presense that extends to this world), just as You destroyed Egypt and its idols in those days, at this time. Amen, Selah.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

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this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, April 21, 2005

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A Kosher and Happy Pesach!!!

My dear Readers, Friends, Brothers and Sisters, and the occasional Critic (you know who you are :-),

I continue to appreciate you taking the time to visit this blog and read my thoughts, and your comments and emails. With the coming of the holy days of Pesach (Passover), the season of redemption, I fervently hope and pray that indeed the words of our holy gedolim (masters and sages) are true and we merit to see the immediate geulah (complete redemption) and Moshiach, literally now.

Starting tonight I will be focused fully upon the holiday preparations with my family. As the great and holy sage, the Rebbe Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev said, on Rosh Hashanah we have the holy sounds of the shofar (ram's horn) that become the malachim (angels) that stand before the heavenly throne for us, along with our tefillah (prayer), tzedakah (charity, it's not too late, click here!), and t'shuva (repentence/return).

But what do we have on Pesach (Passover)? We have our cleaning, our scrubbing, our preparing, our hard work ridding our homes of chametz (leavened products) before the holiday. Those are the mitzvot, the angels that stand for us on Pesach.

As Hassidus teaches, chametz (leavened products) are not only found on our shelves, but also in our heart. On Pesach we must rid ourselves of our puffed up ego, our over-importance, our focus on ourselves.

Tonight, by candlelight I will be searching, together with my children, for any chametz we may have missed in our home. Hopefully (and with help from above) none will be found (or at least we won't miss any that is there, having some small children some is always found). Afterwards I will be searching myself. Hashem Yazo! (G-d should help) There I will need a shovel to try to even start cleaning out.

May Hashem (G-d) grant you a Kosher, free of chametz both physically and spiritually, and Happy Pesach (Passover), and may it be the ultimate Pesach, the Pesach of the final Geulah!

Please note that during Chol Hamoed (the intermediate days of the holiday) I don't plan to be making written posts, following the stringency of not writing during those days (hmm, is typing on a computer writing, maybe not in actuality but certainly in spirit), though I may try some Audio posts. If you see untitled posts, that's what they are. G-d willing, I will return to my usual volume of posting on May 3rd.
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Servants and Soldiers

A Pesach (Passover) thought from HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, for the 12 Nisan, 5765...

From the time of the exodus from Egypt the Jewish people are called the "Army of G-d."

They are also called "servants."

The difference is this:

  • A servant performs his master's service which may be on many different levels; he may work at the delicate craft of threading pearls, he may do other kinds of expert work or he may perform simple tasks. His service involves great toil and labor, but this does not constitute Mesirat Nefesh - a willingness to sacrifice self, to lay down one's life.

  • Soldiers are servants who serve with great toil and labor and with self sacrifice, in wars of defense or attack. The soldiers stand at their posts with the highest degree of stalwart determination, undeterred by the opposing enemy; their service is not one of comprehension, for they act according to the orders of their commander.

The Jews in Egypt were utterly degraded under their severe and bitter affliction. Yet, despite it all, they did not change their names, their language, or their distinctive clothing. With absolute determination they stood at their posts, for they knew that G-d had promised to redeem them.

Whoever behaves as they did under such circumstances is a soldier in the Army of G-d, and the Al-mighty will come to his assistance in a manner that manifests itself in nature - yet transcends nature.

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Important Passover News from Israel

FoxNews is carrying this important Passover story...

Israeli Gorillas Observe Passover

RAMAT GAN, Israel (AP) — When Passover comes around, even gorillas in Israel keep kosher.

In line with many other Israelis busy removing bread-related products for the Passover holiday that begins Saturday night, the Safari Park Zoo (search) near Tel Aviv does the same.

Since religiously observant zookeepers and handlers cannot touch any leavened products during the weeklong holiday, the gorillas and other animals are also fed matzo — the unleavened cracker Jews eat to remember that in their rush to flee Egyptian slavery, the ancient Israelites' bread did not have time to rise.

"This turns out to be an interesting time for the gorillas and for the other animals because they get a bit of a change in diet," said Emelia Turkel, the zoo's curator. "We call this environmental enrichment, Jewish style."

The zoo has always fed the animals matzo during Passover, Turkel said, but tries to limit their intake to just one or two crackers a day to prevent the most common side-effect of matzo — constipation.

"If they eat too much it does cause stomach problems, so we hope that our public this week will not be feeding their own matzo to the animals," Turkel said.
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From my foes have You given me wisdom

Always something interesting relating to the spiritual direction in life in HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, for the 8th of Nisan...

Every soul has its particular Avoda (divine service), in the areas of intellect and emotions, in accordance with that soul's nature and character.

It is written: "From my foes have You given me wisdom"; from the evil tendencies one detects in his natural traits, he can become wise and know how to handle the correction of these traits, and how to subordinate his powers, in the service of G-d.
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Gaza: The (IL)Logical Explanation

I had a nice conversation with an older Israeli about the Gaza 'disengagement' yesterday that went something like this:

Is: Of course we should be leaving, we can't deal with the population in the area and once we leave the IDF will have free reign.

Me: So instead of Sederot (southern Israeli city just north of Gaza) being shelled (hit with Kassam rockets), Ashkelon (major southern Israeli port city) will get hit?

Is: Don't tell me about being shelled, I grew up 1 mile from the Syrian border, we knew how to huddle down in the bunkers.

Is: We can't afford to be expending so much effort to protect so few.

Me: The residents that are there have chosen to be there. Hashem Yazo (G-d should help), they're taking the hits, the terrorist attacks, the brunt of the terrorism. That's their choice and sacrifice. You'd rather the hits come to Sederot, Ashkelon and Tel Aviv? You think it's going to stay contained in Gaza???

Is: Once we're out, with international support the IDF will have the freedom to deal with the situation if we are being hit.

Me: (Incredulity) Why in the world would you think that? When has the world ever sided with Israel on being able to protect itself????

I just don't understand the argument. The area produces significant exports (that's taxes and economic activity) that easily cover security costs (and note the government won't let the residents defend themselves). The IDF itself is predicting war after the pullout. So what's the benefit???

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

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Another Geulah Video: Rav Mordechai Eliyahu

Yiddishkeit.Org posts this link to Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu talking about the possibility of the immediate geulah (complete redemption)...

Click here. (Hebrew)

Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, shlita, states firmly that there will be no "disengagement", and that "suddenly, the prophet will come."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

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Mitzvah Gedolah Le'Ot B'Simcha, Le'Ot B'Simcha Tamid
It's a Mitzvah to be Happy, to be Happy at All Times
(in the mitzvot of Hashem) - Rabbi Nachman of Breslov


from Inner.Org ...

Farbrengen Nigun (hassidic get-together melody) - Nye Zhuritzi Shlopzti

Recorded at a recent farbrengen (hassidic gathering), this is one of the liveliest nigunim sung by Chabad hassidim. The nigun is based on a Russian song which describes the happiness of the wagoneers as they think about the approaching stop at the tavern where they will have vodka.

The nigun was sung by the hassidim of the Mittler Rebbe of Chabad (2nd grand rabbi of Chabad hassidim). As explained by the Rebbes (grand rabbi's) of Chabad, it alludes to the study and prayer "pit-stops" that everyone needs to make on their journey through life. Without the "taverns" where one can refresh one's soul, it is impossible to instill happiness in the journey.

If the Geulah, the redemption, is here, we sing for joy at the coming moment, and if not (G-d forbid!), we sing for the opportunity to do more mitzvot with Hashem until that great day.
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Winter and Spring

It's been a long cold hard winter...

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and it's been hard to see any light at the end...

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but suddenly, even unexpectedly, spring pops up through the darkness...

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and then it becomes hard to even remember the winter.

This will suffice for those of understanding.

(I've always wanted to say that :-)

Monday, April 18, 2005

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Sanity Check #2 - Reb Lazer weighs in...

On the current statements about the imminent possibility of the geulah (complete redemption), Rabbi Lazer Brody weighs in with these important thoughts...

Everybody seems to be writing about Moshiach these days and everyone seems to be talking about him. Tamar Yonah (Israel's Oprah, but a lot more talented) asked for my opinion when I was a guest on her show last week. My answer was a cold sponge on the enthusiam of the Messianic double-guessers: The Gemorra curses those who second-guess the coming of the Messiah and says תפח רוחם, or "May they drop dead!" (tractate Sanhedrin, 97B). The Rambam actually codified this curse into religious law (Hilchot Melachim 12:2); in his classic "Thirteen Principles of Faith" (see Rambam's commentary on the Mishna, tractate Sanhedrin, 10:1, principle number 12), and writes that we must believe in the coming of the Messiah with complete faith, and although he may tarry, we must await his arrival whenever he comes. According to both the Lithuanian tradition (disciples of the Vilna Gaon) and the Chassidic tradition (disciples of of the Baal Shem Tov), we must patiently wait for Moshiach with simple and pure faith. Torah, prayer, and good deeds are what the soul needs, not Messianic speculation.

Throughout Jewish history, whenever a false messiah or an expected "moshiach" arrival date became a disappointment, many people lost their faith.

Read the whole thing here!
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Passover Charity Brings the Redemption!

The importance of charity in this time cannot be measured! As the Lubavitcher Rebbe (grand rabbi of chabad lubavitch hassidim) wrote (sicha parshat vayikra 5751):

Just as we must make an effort to study the Pesach (passover) laws, we must also make efforts to provide others with their Pesach needs, giving maos chittim (literally wheat for the needy), the special tzedakah (chartiy) associated with Pesach. Here also, though surely one gave thirty days before Pesach, as the Pesach holiday grows nearer, one must reassess and increase his donations...

The above shares a connection with the Nasi (prince) who brought his offerings on Rosh Chodesh Nissan (the start of the hebrew month of Nissan, the month in which passover comes), Nachshon ben Aminadav. Aminadav can be interpreted as a reference to generosity, the meaning of the word nadav. Nachshon is connected to the service of jumping into the sea, giving himself over with mesirus nefesh (self sacrifice), serving G-d without limitations. Thus, Nachshon ben Aminadav reflects how our generosity must be expressed without limitation, giving in a miraculous manner.

This will bring about the transformation of all undesirable influences. Just as Nachshon's jumping into the sea caused the sea to split and led to the final and the most complete phase of the exodus from Egypt, so too, our unbounded gifts to tzedakah (charity) will bring near the redemption and indeed transform all the negative influences to good.


As the government in Israel continues on it's dangerous path, it has diverted significant portions of it's budget from social services to 'dis-engagement' efforts. This has left the most vulnerable in Israel in terrible shape, with nothing left to fall back on. Real poverty, hunger and malnutrition are becoming rampant. Your help is needed now more than ever.

Please fulfill this wonderful mitzva by helping the needy in Israel. I recommend this very worthy organization (which runs with the lowest expense overhead of any I know):

Yad Eliezer - Make a Donation Here

Help them out!

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.
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Even More! ... and a Sanity Check

The exceptional imminent geulah (complete redemption) statements keep piling up. (Original posts on the topic here and here.)

My original post had this statement, "From the second half of Adar, many TZADIKIM in the Jewish world, including the head of the Kabbalistic Yeshiva "Nahar Shalom", Rabbi Bnayahu Shmueli, and many rabbis and TZADIKIM all over Israel and in the Golah, are saying that the Messiah will come undoubtly in Nissan (April 10 - May 8) this year!". This video is now available of the statement. (Note it's in Hebrew.)

The Erev Moshiach site (here) is now carrying this quote from Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahi, former chief Sefardic Rabbi of Israel, renouned saintly religious scholar and leader:

"all of us will have the privilege to see the Moshiach eye-to-eye really soon."

"It is explained according to kabbalah -- the death of this Pope is the outcome of the destruction of one of the strongest klipos (shells), its strength is gone, and it died. From here the way to the redemption, according to the same source, is very short, since after the fall of this klipa, it is much easier to the rest of the klipos."

Now for a sanity check. I ran this load of evidence past some respected rabbi's and got this important response...

Moshiach's (the messiah's) arrival should indeed be perceived as an actuality that can indeed happen this very moment...and more importantly that we should embrace that expectation as a part of our daily emunah (faith) in his arrival....and while I indeed embrace that Teaching....I am paradoxically also concerned about what I call Messianic hysterics.

Such prior hysterics have caused Jews to sell their homes and dance in the streets to only be devastated later upon realizing that something went wrong with their expectations/calculations.

I say this not to throw cold waters of doubt on such justified expectations but rather to keep real sober in light of the ... Prophecy which beyond question will manifest...and, as I believe, will manifest soon.

As of Jerusalem time it has now been three days. We are still in golus (exile) and the "earthquakes, volcanoes' eruptions, land being wiped out, and whole countries being left without remains, and all of this without any son-of-Israel being hurt!!!" has not (as of yet) occurred as forecasted at that Daniel website. Noch a ketz (another messianic arrival prediction) that came and went.

Our minds are torn between emunah (faith) in an immediate revelation of Moshiach (certainly a valid and proper belief and actual possibility) and the cold intellect approach of there having to be the occurrance of all the horrors foretold in Novi (biblical prophets)...including Jerusalem being attacked, a slaughter in Basra, etc.
But as of this Motzoi Shabbos (Saturday night) I still have a little more waiting to do before justified belief becomes transformed...

For that reason I must maintain real sober credulity and not get into hysterics.

Good point. Hope, excitement, increased focus on good deeds, charity, mitzvot, but don't overload and turn life upside down just yet.
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Thoughts on Going Home

Well it's been several weeks since I last wrote. I have been busy, and now I'm headed home. Just as I thought of this, I realized that we're all headed home. Hashem has sent us on a long journey with many things to do. Some of us accomplished much and others not so much. "Hopefully each according to our abilities". That's the secret, it's all in our abilities. Whether great or small, we are all measured by what ablities we've been given.

It seems to me it's very obvious now, Hashem is sorting us all out and moving whom He will to the right places and so on. I just wanted to thank Him for bringing me home as I am blessed to live in Eretz HaKodosh (the holy land), Eretz Yisroel (the land of Israel), in the Shomron (the "West Bank"). I've longed to see my family, and yearned to return to breath the fresh air, smell the flowers and look upon His kadosh "holy" hills where He desires us to live. A good land, a spaceous land, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Torah decribes. You might say "there's turmoil there and it is dangerous, how can you live there? ...and with kids, you're crazy!"

All I know is that Hashem says it is good and the land needs us. That's right, the land of Israel needs each of us (the Jewish people). We are the other half. We are necessary for It's existance, just as it is necessary for ours.

(Akiva notes - R. Nati left this in draft mode, written on 4/13 and mentioned it to me as I just spoke to him at home, in Israel, in his Jewish town in the West Bank, in the hills of Samaria.)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

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Gaza Pictorial

SklarO World has a nice comparative pictorial of Gaza. See it here.

(Note some other items on the blog carry a DLY warning - Dibor Lo Yofe', Language Warning)

And, from the Israeli political party The National Union comes a video comparison. See it here. (Hebrew, worth watching even if you don't know Hebrew.) Some graphic scenes.

With this video they're trying to have a 'phone demonstration'. It can be joined by calling 1-800-203322 in Israel or (internation access number)+972 800-203-322 from outside Israel. They are aiming for one million callers.
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More! on Just Maybe, Really!

In this previous post I list a number of reports of the imminent geulah (complete redemption). Through comments left I was led via links to these:

The blog Yeranen Yaakov has this post about it, which points to this critical info:

  • The End of Days blog added these comments:

    In the 50s there was a Holy Sandlar (shoe maker) who lived in Bnei Brak, who upon dying left notes with certain mekubalim (kabbalists) that were to be delivered just before the Six Day War in 1967, the Yom Kippur War, and the Gulf War, describing those wars. There may have been one more note. Rumor exists that a final note will announce the coming of Mashiach (the messiah). But it is supposed to be his note, not Mashiach's written announcement. Who is this Sandlar anyway? I personally know three sandlars who live in Yerushalayim. There are at least 100 more. I could ask if the three that I know have been delivering messages for Mashiach, but I am sure they would then attach the right upper to the left sole.

    The story lacks anyone who is willing to take accountability for their statements.

  • End of Days also adds this:

    With the Chacham Avraham and Mordechai Eliyahu [that's the hebrew video in my previous post}, their reputations are at stake. They are both wonderful tzaddikim, who want to give true hope to Am Yisrael and all righteous gentiles.

    In short since my wife is a professional transcriber not me, the Chacham Avraham Chai's statement is about how it is possible that especially now the complete redemption can come in spite he has not come for thousands of years, in spite of the fact that during all that time many tzaddikim and holy Jews have lived and died. In this vein he added that this very month of Nissan in the year 5765 is the month of the promised redemption (at least the beginning of the promised redemption). He then urged Jews to increase their tshuva (repentence), reading of Psalms, learning of Torah, because right now "the time is very valuable". After Mashiach comes, the reward for these mitzvahs will not be as great as it is now.

    On the other hand, it would be wonderful if Mashiach could come in the way that is described by the "Sandlar's" letter. Otherwise the process could take up to seven or eight years. If we deserve it, he could come in an instant. I prefer way number two. Yet, G-d may have a lesson or two to teach out of this process if He thinks that we should be redeemed by the slower approach.

    The Sandlar's letter would be more credible if the Sandlar himself would come forward and tell us that he knows where Mashiach is and that the written letter is his message.

    If perchance this is actually a letter from the Sandlar of Bnei Brak and if the Gog Israeli website became confused in that the Sandlar of Bnei Brak was the actual author of the letter and that the the delivery person was a mekubal from Yerushalayim, then watch out for you have not seen anything yet.

  • Jerusalem Mandate blog reads the letter [in my previous post] and ties it together with a series of news reports about the start of possible Super Volcanoes...

    "In the last four months the earth experienced the largest three earthquakes in the last two hundred years. The under water volcanoes and earthquakes have gone up 88% over the last three years. The continental earthquakes have gone up by 62% during the same time frame. The rate of increase of these earthquakes and volcanoes when drawn against time is staggering."

    MSNBC has a further article on this topic...

    "Super eruptions are up to hundreds of times larger than these," said Stephen Self of Britain's Open University.

    "An area the size of North America can be devastated, and pronounced deterioration of global climate would be expected for a few years following the eruption," Self said. "They could result in the devastation of world agriculture, severe disruption of food supplies, and mass starvation. These effects could be sufficiently severe to threaten the fabric of civilization."

    Self and his colleagues at the Geological Society of London presented their report to the British government's Natural Hazard Working Group.

    "Although very rare, these events are inevitable, and at some point in the future humans will be faced with dealing with and surviving a super eruption," Stephen Sparks of the University of Bristol told LiveScience in advance of Tuesday's announcement.

  • As an interesting coincidence (coincidence, eh?) the U.S. television network NBC will be starting a series on the (non-Jewish) book of revelation.

    "NBC’s miniseries based on the Book of Revelation may seem the latest signpost on the road to Armageddon."

    “The news that we take our morning coffee with really makes us realize that anything can happen,” said executive producer David Seltzer, who created and wrote the series. “And not only that, all the signs and signals of the Bible in regard to the End of Days really are in play.”

    What can you say when prime time television start's aligning with statements of tzaddikim (saints), gedolim (the masters), and mekulablim (the kabbalists)? Coincidence?

Friday, April 15, 2005

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Pesach after Shabbos Rules

With Pesach (Passover) falling after Shabbat this year, there are some special rules to follow. Here's a few sources, though the best source is your community orthodox rabbi.

For followers of Chabad hassidus, this short compendium in hebrew is available.

The Hirhurim blog posted the email he received from his rabbi here. has a nice Q & A about Shabbos Erev Pesach here.

Good Shabbos, and a Hag Kasher v'Samayach (a kosher and happy holiday!) with the Geulah Shalayma (complete redemption!) if we don't meet again before then.
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Maybe, just maybe. Really.

It's getting weird. When the blog titled "Mystical" says it's getting weird, when the kabbalah blog says it's weird, take my word for it, it's weird. As with everything sourced on the Internet, take the below with an appropriate grain of salt (skepticism). However, what has my attention is not any individual item but rather the independent items coming together...

  • ErevMoshiach is a site about a child prophet (Jewish, spouting passages from Zohar). Odd, off the wall, but not completely out of reach. The latest from the prophet says: "Every Jew will "feel the geulah" (redemption) at the Passover seder (festive meal). Eli told us "Be sure to tell them why – because Pesach is the first geulah." This feeling of the redemption will be different than anything we have ever felt before. Even Jews who are not at a seder will feel it "from someone else's seder". This "feeling of redemption" will only be felt at the seder meals and the customary "Moshiach Seudah" on the final day of Pesach." More here.

  • There is a recent video of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former chief Sefardic Rabbi of Israel, renouned saintly religious scholar and outspoken community leader, where he says: "All the talk about disengagement from Gush Katif is only temporary. Immediately (tekef umiyad) Moshiach will come!! He is already at our gates! Very shortly he will knock on the door: "I am coming!". Video here.

  • This one is a little older (about 6 months), the statement from Rabbi Kaduri, leading world kabbalist, saint and scholar, "After the Sharon government (current Israeli administration), the Moshiach will come" -- so foresees the Tzaddik, the G-dly Harav Yitzchok Kaduri, shlita. His words were reported in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot.

    In the words of the Rav, the Moshiach is already in the Holy Land, and will reveal himself in the future at the moment that is set for him. The Rav revealed to his students that according to calculations of the Vilna Gaon, the war of Gog and Magog began about [three] years ago (on Hoshana Raba), and will continue for seven years. During this time, every moment is suited for the Moshiach to reveal himself. (The American War on Terror began on Hoshana Raba when the Americans went into Afghanistan.)

  • This one is brand new: (source here, hebrew)

    A letter that was received from "HaSandlar" (the shoemaker) from Jerusalem, that claims that he received a personal message from MESHIAH-TZIDKENU (The Messiah), and asks to publish and distribute this letter on the net (the details are reserved in the management, date published: Nissan 5 April 13th).

    "BeSiyata Deshmaya

    There are two layers: a material (GASHMI) layer, and a spiritual layer.

    This world is material (GASHMI), but in parallel to it, there is a spiritual world.

    Everything that happens in the spiritual world, affects the material world.

    There are KLIPOS ("peels"), our enemies, the "other-side" (SITRA-AH'RA), that grasps us and gives us sorrow, mentally, spiritually and materially.

    Anyone with spiritual eyes sees what's happening in heavens. Those with material eyes see what's happening in this world. And the true TZADIKIM (righteous), the simple people who are aware of their own SHIFLUS, and lend a hand for every Jew no matter who, see also what's happening in the "World of KLIPOS ("peels")", down and below, due to their support identification with all Jews.

    And your servant is the first to announce with great joy, with the help of HaShem, that in the low world, "KLIPOS world", down and below, in fifty gates of TUM'AA (impurity), all the roots of all the KLIPOS have been felled, and soon we will see, with the help of HaShem, the GEULA (redemption) that we are anticipating, a final GEULA (redemption) with the Messiah son of David, without any losses to any son-of-Israel wherever he is!!!

    And in simple words, that arrive with the help of HaShem from a simple man as myself: "In Nissan they were delivered - and in Nissan they will be delivered" - earthquakes, volcanoes' eruptions, land being wiped out, and whole countries being left without remains, and all of this without any son-of-Israel being hurt!!!

    All this will happen within a few days from publishing this letter, and all of the important enormous events mentioned will last no more than three days!

    The most important MITZVA (commandment) right now, my brothers and friends, is to be rejoiced with the SIMHA of HaShem, who is delivering us now a final GEULA (redpemption), Amen !!!

    The Messiah is coming! What about you?"

  • The End of Days blog says (and includes a video), "Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (former chief sephardic rabbi of Israel, renowned scholar and saint) has introduced a Tzaddik (a hidden saint) to the world who has informed us that the Geulah will begin during this Holy month." Here's the video (hebrew).

  • Rabbi Lazer Brody, of the well known Reb Lazer's Shtibble / Lazer Beams blog, spoke on the radio (Arutz 7) on Tuesday. I had an opportunity to call in and ask him about the current situation. His analysis was quite profound and I strongly recommend listening to it. Click here, forward to 42 minutes 40 seconds. He specifically mentioned that this time (i.e. end times) is discussed by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (the first and only grand rabbi of Breslov hassidus) in Sichot HaRan 35 Lamed Hey, as a battle between believers and non-believers. (Which is exactly how I interpret the current situation in Israel, which I will write about in another post).

  • A quote, "From the second half of Adar, many TZADIKIM in the Jewish world, including the head of the Kabbalistic Yeshiva "Nahar Shalom", Rabbi Bnayahu Shmueli, and many rabbis and TZADIKIM all over Israel and in the Golah, are saying that the Messiah will come undoubtly in Nissan (April 10 - May 8) this year!". It's lower (small print) on this page here, though I've seen this other places as well.

  • It's not usual for major Jewish rabbinical figures to start standing up and pronouncing redemption. It's not normal for them to start introducing hidden tzaddikim (saints) with messages. It's not normal for them to start receiving messages and not speaking out against falsehood.

    If one had stood up I'd discount it. I also don't hear any major rabbinical authority speaking against it.

    It's got my attention.
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Expecting Moshiach

Mirty commented on my post Do You Believe This, "We ALWAYS expect the Moshiach, but to be convinced that he will be here before July 2005 puts the Jewish people in a state of expectation that could be taken advantage of by an unscrupulous, charismatic charlatan. There have been false messiahs in Jewish history."

Yes, sadly that's true. I question, though, whether we have overcompensated. There's an old (and mildy insulting) joke among some hassidim that goes like this, "Moshiach arrives and comes to the beis medrash (learning center) of the Litvish and announces, 'I'm here, Moshiach has arrived'. In response he's told, 'now wait a minute, we haven't finished preparing our pilpul yet, can you come back in a little while'?"

I suspect if Moshiach arrived today, he'd have a hard time convincing us that he was the real thing.

(Just to make it equal opportunity, I suspect many hassidim would, G-d forbid, not accept Moshiach if he wasn't the right flavor of Rebbe.)
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A good friend.

R. Nati has completed his business in the U.S. and is traveling back to Israel. G-d willing, we'll be hearing from him again in a couple of weeks, both about Torah and spirituality as well as news reports from his home in the Shomron (West Bank).

A Simple Jew wrote, "It's very good to speak out your heart to G-d as you would speak to a true good friend." - (Rebbe Nachman of Breslov)

How easy it is to open your heart to a good friend.


Thursday, April 14, 2005

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Jenin: Anniversary

...It is actions like this that allow the noted legal expert Alan Dershowitz to state confidently that "no country in history ever complied with a higher standard of human rights."

To far too many people, such a statement may seem shocking. In the last few years, Israel has been portrayed, and therefore perceived, as a brutal occupying power that represses Palestinians. The fact that this perception, often fueled by graphic television images with little context, is not true does not make it less real to the people who hold it.

The difference between the world perception and the reality of what happened in Jenin is so stark it's to the point of calling black white and day night.

As For Israel and Justice said, read this article and be wiser.

FrontPage - Jenin: Anniversary of a Battle by Natan Sharansky

Cross posted to Israpundit and Mystical Paths.
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Illuminate your environment

Always something interesting relating to the spiritual direction in life in HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, for the 5th of Nisan...

(The 6th grand rabbi of Lubavitch hassidim notes a comment by his grandfather, the 4th grand rabbi...)

My grandfather commented on the saying, "The place of man does not honor him; rather man honors his place."

The term, Kavod, "honor," has two implications.

One is Kaveid, "liver," as the Torah says, "Pharaoh's heart is kaveid ("heavy"), and the Sages comment, "His heart became like a liver," (cold, insensitive).

The other meaning is Kavod, "honor," signifying the revelation of a supernal encompassing illumination.

"The place of man does not honor him": Place (and circumstances) do not make him cold and insensitive. Rather, "Man honors his place," man has the capacity and the power to illuminate his environment ("place") with the light of Torah and Avoda [divine service].

When the soul descends into the body, it is administered an oath to be a Tzadik [a righteous person, a 'saint'].

This oath, Sh'vua, implies Sova, "satiety"; the person is generously endowed with eminent powers to be able to fulfill G-d's intention in having the soul descend (into the material world). And just as it is with the soul's descent, so is it also with every person, in whatever place he may be.

(Just as the soul in general is endowed with powers to accomplish its purpose "below," so is every individual given the power and ability to illuminate his environment - the place in which he finds himself.)
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End of Days - Do you believe this?

An interview with Rabbi Winston of ThirtySix.Org (from 2004 but even more relevent to right now):

INTERVIEWER: Do you really believe in all of this?

RABBI WINSTON: In all of what?

I: Well, all of the material that you put up on your site about the End-of-Days? Do you really believe that what is going on today in history is really a message from God that history is coming to an end, so we better get packing?

RW: The truth is, I do. If you're asking me do I believe it 100 percent, I have to say that, judging me the way I live my life, I believe it about 90 percent, maybe 85 percent.

I: What's the difference? How do you gage such a thing?

RW: Well, imagine that someone told you today that at 3 PM the stock market was going to crash. And you owned plenty of stock. If you didn't believe the person you? simply laugh it off and ignore it. If you believed about 40 percent, you'd call your broken and ask him if he has heard anything. If you believed about 80 percent, you'd probably sell off a lot of stock, but if you believed him 100 percent, you'd probably sell everything on the spot and go out and buy as many canned goods as possible.

I: So, you mean you haven't bought your canned goods yet?

RW: Not lately. The last time we did it we worried about gas attacks from Iraq. But since then, we have eaten all the surplus, and haven? replaced it yet. If I was fully real with what I know and suspect, I'd probably replenish my sources, and fast.

I: Are things really that bad? The situation is tense, but there is no war raging yet. Anti-Semitism has certainly increased to alarming levels, but the average American Jew still feels quite at home.

RW: They did in Spain to, before the Inquisition. And they certainly did in Europe before the Holocaust . . .

I: But do you really believe that something like the Holocaust could ever happen in America?

RW: God forbid. I wish I could answer that question 100 percent, either way. But I can't, and who can? When we said, "Never again, and never in America," we never anticipated so many Moslems living right next door in America, or that the world would ever become so sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, willing to scrap historical truth for political necessity. Besides, anti-Semitism is not a natural occurrence, as the Talmud teaches and history have proven countless times. That's why we have difficulty recognizing it until late, and why it doesn't respond to the normal methods employed to end most hatreds. It seems to defy human logic.

I: As opposed to Divine logic?

RW: As opposed to Torah logic.

I: Which is?

RW: 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 God 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? 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.

I: So you mean that Mel Gibson's new movie is not a random thing?

RW: How can it be? King David said, "This is from G-d, that which is wondrous in our eyes." From what I hear and read, this movie is a wondrous thing, coming out at this very touchy period of history. A Jew lover would say, "You know, anti-Semitism seems to be in a back swing. Maybe a movie about a story that has been the source of the worst anti-Semitism in history, cause an uncountable amount of Jewish deaths in the most cruel ways possible isn? appropriate, certainly not at this time." Forget a Jew lover! Just someone who loves mankind and peace in the world. Why such a topic today? Why such controversy. It is as if Divine Providence gave this man all his success just so he could stir up all of mankind at this end of history . . . A week before the movie is supposed to come out, sold out before it has hit the screen, his own father comes out and publicly denies the death of 6,000,000 Jews at the hands of the Nazis. And, does the son denounce his father? Absurd. It is so absurd it can only be direct Divine Providence.

I: Can a single movie make such a difference to the world?

RW: At the right time, and about the right topic, always. People either forget or don't know that Hitler and his gang of murderous thugs were a minority of a minority. But he created a vehicle to capture the imagination of the masses at the right time of history. And he did it. And he wiped out half of the Jewish people in five short years.

I: So what do you think the message is?

RW: (Pause.) I'm biased.

I: Everyone is. What is your bias?

RW: There is a rule about Divine Providence. Everything God does He does with purpose. And He never misses. He is the perfect archer. His aim is impeccable, which means that whatever effects occur in history, He meant for them to happen.

Read the whole thing!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

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Gush Katif, the Ari and the Vilna Gaon

For the Jews of Gush Katif itself it has been a story of love of the land and mesiros Nefesh — self-sacrifice — to move in the directon of the Final Redemption. The amount of time, effort, and money invested in that area of Eretz Yisroel by the residents has been tremendous and has resulted in thriving businesses and vibrant communities. You cannot believe the homes they built and must now give up and to whom? To live where? Live in what?

For many other Jews, apparently, especially for those who live in the Diaspora (the world dispersion), it is merely Gaza Strip, a piece of land desired by the Arabs and a bargaining chip for the sake of peace. It is expendable and indeed something that can and must be dealt away if Israel is to earn the faith of its hostile neighbors and the gentile populations of the world. To quote one rabbi representing a large Jewish organization in the United States regarding this issue: “The evacuation of the settlers is unfortunate.”

Unfortunate? That’s it? Unfortunate? Not outrageous?

And, unfortunate for whom? For the settlers? Without question. The pain and worry they have had to live with for months already is far beyond tolerable, and who knows what is coming up, God forbid. Wholesome families are being damaged and for what? For having done us the favor of creating a Jewish settlement on OUR behalf in OUR Land and coaxing the land to give of her God-given and propheisized bounty to the rest of US?

Boy, have we lost our way. We are drowning in Pshat (the simple meaning). The Arizal (the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria) told us that the souls of the Final Generation are going to be made up of those who spied on the land — and rejected it. Where are those souls today? In whose bodies? In the bodies of those who have embraced Eretz Yisroel today . . . in the setters who are willing to die to keep their land and homes?

I don’t know, but I think not. And, I think if someone is indifferent to the Land of Israel today he should consider from whence comes that indifference, and why. What you don’t know can hurt you when it comes to tikun haNeshamos (literal translation, soul repair, or reincarnation for purposes of completing a soul's mission).

And the Rashbam told us that the Akeidah (sacrifice of Issac) was the result of Avraham Avinu’s (Abraham our father's) giving away a piece of Eretz Yisroel to Avimelech, the Palestinians of his time, Gaza Strip to be exact. Why? What is the connection between giving away a piece of land and being asked to sacrifice one’s son to God? Or, was that to give us the capacity to bind our children to the land — THAT land — today to rectify at the end of history what went wrong at the beginning of history.

And the GR”A (the Vilna Gaon) told us that this posuk defines the time of geulah (ultimate redemption):

You will arise and show mercy on Tzion for the time to favor her, for the appointed time will have come. For Your servants have cherished her stones, and favor her dust. (Tehillim [Psalms] 102:14-15)

Cherish her stones? We’re dealing in them. Favor her dust? We give it away, and think not twice about it. After all, what connection does Gush Katif have to New York City, or Los Angeles, or Monsey, or Miami, or Baltimore, of Toronto, or London, or Johannesburg, etc.? It may be one earth, but we’re talking about different continents with a lot of water in-between.

Unless, that is, this is not just a battle between the Israeli government and the Gush Katif settlers and all those who support them. What if, instead, it is a battle between the entire Jewish people and Amalek? What if the people we are trusting to act on our behalf, brokering a peace we don’t even really believe is possible (unless you spell it p-i-e-c-e), are really Erev Rav, because the Arizal says they too come back for one last final hurrah? The GR”A says they come back specifically for this purpose.

If it is, and being so close to the End-of-Days there is good reason to assume that it is, then it is not a simple matter at all, not something that can be shrugged off with indifference. On the contrary, it will be that very indifference that will end up being the noose around our own necks, metaphorically-speaking, God forbid.

I am not saying that we can turn events around. I do not forsee a natural way to stop the Israeli government, which is under extreme pressure from the Americans and Europe, to cancel its mandate to uproot 8,000 settlers and the communities they lovingly nurtured. In this regard I am at a loss like everyone else I know thinking about.

However, I do believe that this is a seminal event in Jewish history, a trigger for what is about to follow on its heels. In other words, I believe this is an event of Biblical proportions and though it may not appear that way in our eyes I think it does in Heaven’s, and therefore it is going to prove to be a test for all of us.

After thousands of years of waiting for the redemption to come, after hundreds of years of trying to return to the land, after decades of rejecting the concept of aliyah because we indentified it with the formation and continued existence of the secular state, we have difficulty accepting that how we feel about Eretz Yisroel could be the central issue for all Jews right in advance of Moshiach’s arrival.

From Rabbi Winston at ThirtySix.Org, the whole essay here.
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Nice Video - 8 Minutes

This is a nice video by Uri Zohar, former Israeli TV/movie star turned religious rabbi, about religious school opportunities in Israel by Lev L'Achim.

Click here for streaming, or here for zip file.

(Note the video is in Hebrew, but nice even if you're not a Hebrew speaker.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

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From Something to Nothing...

The book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, daily is a source of deep insights that I find very profound...from Shabbos, 29 Adar II, 5765 - April 9, 2005:

(The 6th grand rabbi of Lubavitch hassidim notes a comment by his father , the 5th grand rabbi...)

My father said at a farbrengen (a gathering of hassidim): G-d created the universe and all physical objects Yeish Mei'ayin, something from nothing. Jews must transform the "something" into "nothing," transform the material into spiritual.

The Avoda (holy work) of turning the physical into spiritual and making the physical into an instrument for the spiritual, is a personal obligation. Every single person, individually, is required to do this.

What an entry! To elevate the mundane, the physical, literally into the spiritual. What an ability, what a responsibility!

The story is told, in the time to come, if a person passes and is involved with Torah and mitzvot, in holy purposes, good, if not, the rock and the ground itself will cry out "You clod, what right do you have to tread on me?"

Monday, April 11, 2005

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George and Ariel - A Pictorial Journey

This speaks for itself, and the written dialog is probably just as good as whatever was actually said...

DLY (Dibur Lo Yofe') - Inappropriate language warning.

Recommended Viewing: Mondays With George & Ariel
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A Complex Day - Aharon's Sons

The book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, daily is a source of deep insights that I find very profound...from Thursday, 27 Adar II, 5765 - April 7, 2005, a very complex entry explaining why Aharon's son's died but a level we should still strive for...

(The 6th grand rabbi of Lubavitch hassidim notes this entry is from the collected holy writings of his father, the 5th grand rabbi...)

From my father's Sichot (collected talks):

The sin of Aharon's sons was "...when they drew close before G-d and died."

This was Ratzo without Shov, return.

The truth is that when coming "before G-d" there must be Tit'haru, one must be clean and pure, and (the closeness) must be evident in actual deeds. That which is on the very highest planes descends to the very lowest depths; hence Ratzo without Shov is death.

Continuing, G-d commands Moshe (Vayikra 16:2) to speak to Aharon.

The letters in the name Aharon are those in the word Nir'eh, "visible," which in terms of the powers of the soul refers to intellect.

Moshe is to tell Aharon that in order to enter the sacred (area), even "within the curtain" - meaning the state prior to tzimtzum ["Contraction" and concealment of G-d] - he must know that... upon the ark (Ha'aron - the letters of this word spelling nir'eh, "visible" - i.e. intellect) there is a Kaporet, a covering, an inner intent and purpose of a concealment, expressed in the words, "the face of (or "the inner aspect of") the Kaporet."

For this reason one "should not die," i.e. he should not stop with Ratzo, the entering alone - for " a cloud will I appear on the Kaporet;" [a] the inner intent and purpose of the first tzimtzum is revelation.

The introductory word to all this is V'al, "he shall not (enter)."

This expression of negation [b] indicates total nullification of self, Bitul, doing what Chassidus demands, not what his intelligence dictates. Then "he shall enter the sacred (area)."

a. Paradoxically, it is only through G-d's concealment (" a cloud...") that He is accessible ("..will I appear...").

b. Man's natural preference is what he feels is satisfying. Rejecting what he "knows" to be desirable and fulfilling - in favor of what Chassidus explains as the wish of G-d, is an act of self-negation. This prepares him to enter the Holy of Holies.
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Is a community a national resource?

What if your country declared your community to be a national resource and prevented you from moving, visiting, leaving? ...

From Israel National News, (article here):

India's highly influential Communist Party has announced it will fight to prohibit 6,000 members of the Bnei Menashe community from immigrating to Israel.

Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar announced last week that he would recognize the community's Jewish roots and send rabbinical courts to India to convert them, enabling them to move to Israel under the Law of Return.

"We have heard about exporting weapons and equipment, but it is forbidden to export a community," said Indian Communist party leader Farkish Kret, whose faction holds 18 seats in the Indian parliament.

We're from the government and we're here to help you. We want to protect you, save you, keep you.
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Audio Post: This is only a test.

In ongoing tests to find ways to post, we're trying an MP3 hosting site.

This is a test post.

We recommend avoiding listening to it.


Sunday, April 10, 2005

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Haveil Havalim #17

Haveil Havalim, or "Vanity of Vanities", is the Jewish blogosphere's blog carnival. And here we go with Issue #17...

There's an eye that see's and an ear that hear's, and if there's things happening in the world, there's probably a Jewish blogger commenting about it.

With this weeks death of a major non-Jewish religious leader, a number of Jewish bloggers had thoughts on the impact of the leader on the Jewish community: A Town Crier lists press releases from a number of Jewish organizations regarding this event and the significance of ongoing inter-faith dialog, Regengade Rebbetzin notes she'll miss him, Hirhurim has this halachic note on watching the funeral, and DovBear takes the Jewish blogosphere to task for glossing over the negative aspects here, here, here, here, here, and here (he had a lot to say on the matter).

Institutional anti-semetism is an ongoing serious topic, with bloggers exposing some of the almost unbelievable extremes happening on college and university campuses. Fresh Politics notes Israeli lecturer's in the UK may be boycotted, as may Israeli universities for their "complicity with the government’s policies on the Palestinian territories", while CampusJ picks up on a New York Times retraction that they had a hand in bringing about related to anti-semetism at Columbia.

Torah learning is always an important topic. Cosmic X completes the talmudic learning cycle a little behind schedule but with no less the acomplishment, and tries to give a feel of Talmudic logic for those who haven't encountered it before.

From life in Israel, Chayyei Sarah writes about her trip to Northern Israel, Israellycool comments on this important meeting in Ramallah, Me-Ander enjoys a cosmetics fair while her alter-ego Shiloh Musings plays around with Hebrew, and Soccer Dad follows up on the idea of what Israel would have been like without the Holocaust.

From Jewish news around the world, Bloghead writes about the new chief rabbi of South Africa.

As the disengagement comes (G-d forbid) increasingly closer, events relating to it are becoming a bigger and bigger topic. ENGAGE - For a Secure Israel is a new blog on the scene which is an anti-disengagement blog & site coordination blog, Biur Chametz has a frightening article about disengagement police abuse in Israel, and IsraPundit continues it's frequent Resistance News.

For some spiritual thoughts, Lazer Beams presents a spirutual path to world peace, Mystical Paths (hey, that's me!) notes science may be catching up with hassidus, and Critical Mastif writes about forcing the redemption.

Shavua Tov, a good week, Chodesh Tov, a good month (the Jewish month of Nissan, the month of redemption), to all reading the Jewish blogosphere. May Hashem (G-d) grant us a month of peace and may we meet again only under good circumstances.

As always, Soccer Dad will be directing us to the next edition, check the top left corner of his blog.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

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Moshiach references.

Erev Moshiach has added some very nice references here, top example:

• Possibility that Moshiach will come suddenly – R' Saadia Gaon, Sefer Emunos v'Deos 8:6, "...if we will return to G-d...Moshiach ben Dovid will be revealed to us instantly." Talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Parshas Pinchas 5744, "Rambam says that there is a set order for Moshiach’s coming...when, however, Jews merit it, and especially since 'all the fixed dates [for Moshiach’s coming] have passed,' then the redemption comes immediately, transcending all limits and order. • Also, 4 Elul 5750 "...both the commencement of the redemption and its completion are concurrent... we will have the beginning and its completion immediately..."

• Do all the mitzvos – The Arizal (Sefer HaGilgulim, ch. 4) as brought in Tanya, Igeres Hakodesh, ch. 29: "every Jew needs to be reincarnated many times, until he will fulfill all 613 commandments of the Torah in thought, speech and action."

• Even one tzaddik – Rebbe Schneur Zalman of Liadi wrote, based on the Zohar Chadash: "even if there was one tzaddik that did complete tshuva in his generation, Moshiach would come."

• "The bad-guys won't need to be killed – Reishis Goyim Amalek by Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, "...there is a difference between Moshiach's coming 'at the appointed time' and his coming 'in haste' before the 'appointed time'. If the kelipot are nullified 'at the appointed time', they will be utterly annihilated. If, however, the Jewish people are found worthy and Moshiach comes 'in haste' at an earlier than the appointed time, then the kelipot will be nullified by being rectified."

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

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Scary News from Israel: The regime reaches wits' end

Via ENGAGE - For a Secure Israel...from Biur Chametz (this post)...

ENGAGE - For a Secure Israel (EFSI)

(Biur Chametz says...) I've taken the liberty of hastily translating this op-ed from yesterday's Ma'ariv. I apologize for any inaccuracies; occasional clarifying notes have been added in square brackets.

The regime reaches wits' end
Ma'ariv Israeli Newspaper - April 5, 2005

Amnon Shomron has a shocking story: A doctor is brutally beaten and thrown in jail, a jail designated for opponents of the regime, just because the police thought he opposed disengagement. The dark days are already here.

A week ago, Dr. Shai Gross was brutally beaten by 6-7 police officers at Kfar Haro'eh Junction. The police violence towards him was shocking by any standard. Dr. Gross, a doctor at Rambam Hospital [Haifa], waited for a small group of marchers making its way along the side of the road from Netanya to Kfar Haro'eh, where they were to spend the night in Hefer Valley communities and then continue the march into Samaria. Gross was supposed to meet some of the group, his guests, and then go on to Beit Ha'am for an evening singalong.

When they reached Kfar Haro'eh Junction, the police were there too. A police officer forced them to enter the village, perhaps fearing they planned to demonstrate in the intersection. He didn't like the pace at which they walked, and called one of the women a fool. Gross scolded the officer for his language, and then it started: The officer, along with his uniformed colleagues, pounced on Gross, slammed his head into the ground, beat him all over his body, cuffed his hands and feet and threw him into the van. His 15-year-old daughter, who watched the incident stunned, approached the police and tried to rescue her father. But they pushed her away and threw her onto the road.

I visited him in the holding cell at the Netanya police station at 10pm, some five hours after the incident. He was still cuffed hand and foot, his whole body shaking and bruised, his vision blurred, consumed by anger and frustration. The police were kind enough to free his hands just for our meeting, after which they again handcuffed him. The duty officer refused to grant him a blanket. "He'll get that in [high security] Ma'asiyahu Prison." Ma'asiyahu? Yes, the first political prison in the State of Israel. There, according to the instructions of the State's Attorney and the police, opponents of the regime will be tossed.

The charge: Assaulting an officer

At 3am, he was transported to Ma'asiyahu, and the next morning he was returned to Netanya and brought before a judge. There, in less than 24 hours, with him tired, shattered and hurting, an indictment was already prepared and served against Dr. Gross on charges of... assaulting a police officer. The judge was also asked to hold him until the end of proceedings, but she refused and ordered him released.

This amazing story could take place only in a situation in which the prime minister encourages soldiers to beat right-wing demonstrators and the minister for internal security reprimands the chief of police for using insufficient force to prevent [demonstrators from] blocking the roads; one can only guess at the variety of guidelines given to commanders of police districts and stations and the officers themselves, until the moment when madness meets brutality.

The unbearable lightness with which the police and the prosecution prepare an indictment against a simple citizen with no criminal background, and the inhuman insensitivity with which a request is filed to detain him and deny his liberty until the end of legal proceedings, are present only because someone has deliberately loosened the reins. Beat the religious and the settlers, and hasten the disengagement.

The ill wind against the right, the settlers, the religious and their ilk recalls the bad days after the Rabin murder, in which the secular left let loose its hatred against the national-religious public, unmasked and unconcealed. But this time, the scheme has been joined by the students of Jabotinsky, graduates of the saison and the Altalena. They, it appears, know how to do it with pride, with brutality, and without a trace of courtesy.

The author is an attorney, the former editor of the Makor Rishon newspaper.
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Not the mystical path...

This is not the mystical path, it's the management illusion...

All information stored, transmitted, received, or contained in (this business's systems is (this business's) sole property and may be accessed and decrypted by (this business) at any time and may be disclosed to appropriate third parties. [There is an eye that see's and an ear that hears, and the company listen's too.]

Greg- I don't know why pushing out the date would be an issue. Only possibility would be resources, but that is minor.

Akiva- I think we need a meeting to plan a meeting to discuss the plan for moving the date, and then synchronizing on the plan in a meeting.

Greg- Do you have an approved purchase order for that? Or an approved process ticket?

Akiva- I'll file a meeting plan request and request approval of the request through the approvers. But I'll have to have a meeting for that.

Greg- Well get it scheduled then. What's the problem?

Akiva- I don't know, I think you better plan a meeting to approve the synchronization of the date with your management. Because if it's not on the management status report, then it hasn't happened. And it can't get on the management status report without having a happening meeting, which only occurs for things that are on the management status report.

Greg- Seriously - their concern was that we did not make this clear enough when it first came up. In other words, you didn't jump up and down and say "the go live date is no good becase..." They may be concerned that other dates have not "sunk in."

Akiva- Are we managing the process or managing meeting the objective and results? Don't answer that, I know the answer from the time spent on this issue versus actual problems raised and brushed off.

Greg- :)

Akiva- Don't ask "did we solve the problem, issue #x?", ask "did we obtain issue closure by the committed closure date?"

The modern world takes us farther and farther away from tangibles. Should we be surprised it's difficult to see the influences of the Creator when we're surrounded by illusions on a daily basis? TV, movies, political correctness and management speak.

Strive to find the truth through the illusions.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

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Coming Soon: Haveil Havalim, entries requested.

Haveil Havalim, or "Vanity of Vanities", is the Jewish blogosphere's blog carnival. Issue #16 can be viewed here. More info on this from the founder here.

I'll be hosting issue #17, to be posted this Sunday, 4/10 (G-d willing). You can send entries via email to me at the word 'akiva' followed by letter 'm' @ (at) 'gmail' followed by '.com' or email the coordinator at dhgerstman at hotmail dot com.

More info on this whole thing here.
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Purim in the IDF

A friend sent me this picture of rabbinical students visiting Israeli soldiers on the holiday of Purim in the Shomron (West Bank) north of Jerusalem...

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A quick note, Gush Katif meeting in NYC, April 5

Here's a copy of a notice I received, for those in the New York City area interested in the Gush Katif situation...



TUESDAY, APRIL 5, 7:00 P.M.,


Member Of Knesset Yuli Edelstein, Mayor of Gush Katif Avner Shimoni, Press Representative for Gush Katif, Dror Vanunu, and resident of Gush Katif Moshe Saperstein will be the guest speakers at the WEST SIDE INSTITUTIONAL SYNAGOGUE, 120 West 76th Street (between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues) in New York City on Tuesday evening, April 5, at 7:00 PM. This is an emergency meeting to prevent the impending expulsion of the 8500 members of the Jewish community from their homes, lands, farms, hothouses, playgrounds, schools, yeshivot, synagogues, and graveyards. It is sponsored by a coalition of concerned groups for Gush Katif, now in formation. Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI and the New York division of ZOA are spearheading
the effort.

There will be many prominent guest speakers in addition to the delegation from Gush Katif, and a film presentation of life in Gush Katif today, emphasizing the beauty of the land, and the devotion and faith of the residents of the 21 communities.

All honest, thinking individuals understand that giving away Gush Katif to Arab terrorists, who have already succeeded in smuggling anti-aircraft missiles into Gaza, will only hasten the threat to all of Israel, America, and indeed the entire world, as Islamic terrorism continues its global march.

It is URGENT that all concerned citizens attend this event to give moral and financial support to the Gush Katif communities. Please make every effort to attend. Free admission. Light refreshments will be available.

Additional information:
AFSI: 212-828-2424;

Monday, April 04, 2005

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Every trait can be used for the positive.

The Talmud has a brief conversation about personal traits. What if a person is 'born with a taste for blood'? G-d forbid, will he be a murderer? Rather, all traits should be directed for positive use.

What of our person 'born with a taste for blood'. He should be directed to be a shochet (ritual slaughterer), a mohel (ritual circumciser), or maybe a surgeon or a soldier (the last two my ideas).

In online (and radio) discussions of the recent death of a major religious leader, about which has already been written and spoken about ad naseum, the blog (and blogger) Dov Bear has written a number of excellent posts reminding those (including many Jewish sources, even orthodox ones) extolling the (former) leader's virtues that the record is by no means a clean and happy one.

DovBear, my favorite online critic and cynic, has utilized his traits to their most positive potential. (Now, if he'd only stay focused like that, oy vey.)

Here's a few quotes and links:

Unfortunately it doesn't take much to be a great pope; so many of them were perfectly lousy. Is it wise to judge JP II against other popes? Shouldn't we be judging him against other men? Also, it's just not in my nature to uncritically accept this abundant praise. And the idea that we should apprciate JP II simply for ommitting to hate us really gets my back up.

The purpose of these posts is to balance the abundent praise and to provide some perspective.

The anti-Semitic-seeming events I keep harping on:

Beautifying Pius ix and attempting to beatify Pius xii
His jaw-dropping comments on the death of Arafat
Cannonizing Edith Stein
The offensively insincere and criminally dishonest "We Remember: A reflection on the Shoah"

DB's excellent posts on this topic here, here, here, here, and here.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

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Two Inclinations? So says Science!

Some considerable discussions are spent in Hassidus covering the idea that people have two inclinations, an animal force and a human/spiritual/G-dly force, and the conflicts between the two.

I was somewhat surprised to find an article in Fortune Magazine presenting recent brain science proving this uniquely human conflict...

...What they found when they put Princeton undergraduates through these paces a year ago, with actual gift certificates at stake, was that we humans are of two minds. The calculating, cognitive, most advanced parts of the brain like the prefrontal cortex were hard at work computing and weighing options no matter what the students chose. But when they opted for the money now, something else happened. The more primitive limbic system, common to all mammals and associated with emotion and quick reactions, lit up as if it smelled dinner.

Cool article, read it here.
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Video's of note

Here's a few videos that are relevent to recent posts...

HaRav Reuven Elbaz of Or HaChaim tells the story I told about Sh'ma Yisroel and the Rav from Ponevetz with accompanying video (this is where I got the story from). It's a very powerful video and I strongly recommend it. It's in Hebrew, but the impact is pretty powerful even if you don't know Hebrew. Click here to see it. (Note Holocaust scenes included.)

HaRav HaTzaddik HaMekubal (the great rabbi, kabbalist, and saintly) Rav Yitzchok Kaduri meeting with the Admor M'Lubavitch (the grand rabbi of Lubavitch), click here. Of particular note is the last instructions from the Lubavitcher Rebbe to Rav Kaduri. The video is in Hebrew.

Someone recently sent me a link to this video by Harav Ovadia Yosef, the former chief Sefardic Rabbi of Israel, renouned saintly religious scholar and outspoken community leader, click here. (It's in Hebrew). The link came with this translation (which I can't speak for as with the quality of the audio and accent I can't make out what's being said.)

All the talk about disengagement from Gush Katif is only temporary. Immediately (tekef umiyad) Moshiach will come!! He is already at our gates! Very shortly he will knock on the door: "I am coming!

Shevua Tov (A Good Week)!

Friday, April 01, 2005

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Many Days

The book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, daily is a source of deep insights that I find very profound...while I usually post only one, here's several worth discussing this week...selected excerpts...

Thursday, 20 Adar II, 5765 - March 31, 2005

The Alter Rebbe (first grand rabbi of Lubavitch hassidus) related: Among the teachings my Rebbe (the Maggid) told me at Yechidus (private meeting between Rebbe and hossid), there was one on the verse, "A constant fire shall be kept burning on the altar; it shall not be extinguished."

The Maggid taught: "Though fire descends from Above, spontaneously, it is a mitzva to bring from the `ordinary,' by man."

"(Man's action is) an awakening from below which engenders an awakening Above. (For the nature of spirit is that) `spirit elicits (another, responding) spirit and in turn calls forth another, yet higher spirit.' The spirit from below elicits the spirit from Above, calling forth spirit from higher and still higher."

"It is a positive mitzva to kindle fire on the altar. `Altar' refers to the `man who offers of you.' The offering itself is insufficient. Man must kindle a fire on the offering that is `of you.' This fire, Lo Tichbeh (literally, `it shall not be extinguished'), shall extinguish (Tichbeh) the Lo (the `no,' the negative)."

This is a frequent concept in hassidus, the offering of oneself, and the awakening from below drawing an awakening from Above.

Shabbos, 22 Adar II, 5765 - April 2, 2005

Birkat Kohanim (the priestly blessing by the Kohanim, priesty tribe of the Jewish people) elicits Divine Intellect.

The "raising of the hands" (by the Kohanim) is the elevation of the emotive attributes (Midot).

Their blessing of Israel, "children of kings," signifies Malchut (the attribute of kingship).

Thus we have the full configuration of the Ten Sefirot.

So the priestly blessing, performed daily during Jewish prayer with a quoram in Israel and only on holy day's during Jewish prayer outside of Israel, draws heavenly blessings down through all the sefirot.

Sunday, 23 Adar II, 5765 - April 3, 2005

My father (the 6th grand rabbi of Lubavitch is speaking) once said to a Rav (rabbi), who labored in Avoda (service of G-d) and was an especially diligent scholar: "A Rav must remember at all times and at every moment that he always stands on the threshold between being one of those who bring merit to the public and, G-d forbid, one of those who cause the public to sin - the threshold between the loftiest of heights and the most abysmal depth. All issues must touch him at the innermost core of his soul, literally, because his very soul is at stake.

The spiritual responsibility of a rabbi is very significant and must be taken with the utmost respect and concern.

Good Shabbos!
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