Monday, October 31, 2005

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Kabbalah Arrest!

(Hat tip, A Simple Jew.)

YNetNews reports...

Police arrest Sunday Shaul Youdkevitch, head of Kabbalah Center in Israel, on suspicion he extracted money from cancer patient, convinced her donations will make her recover from illness.

A woman suffering from cancer was talked into paying tens of thousands of dollars to the Israeli Kabbalah Center, on the pretext that the donation would help improve her condition...

(Full story here.)



If you go to a very holy Torah sage who is learned in the secrets of kabbalah to deal with a crisis in your life, his advice may be worth listening to and trying out. Even when that advice includes "give generously to charity" and "do special mitzvot".

If you go to a plush "center" and someone attempts to sell you cases of bottled water at ridiculous prices and to hand him a large check, this is a warning you're being scammed.

Sometimes this gets confusing when dealing with money. Here's the key to a honest mekubal (true kabbalist): Who wants the money? If he or his attendant, staff, etc, ask for a big check, run away! If he or his attendant (staff, etc) say give, but not to me, you've found the right place. (It's often customary to give a small amount, doing the mitzvah of charity on the spot, but small means small as in $36.)

When, G-d forbid, one's situation is desparate, one is advised to bring along a trustworthy friend to help keep one's head on straight.

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At 6:02 the number 2...

Well this is just freaky. Below is a doppler radar image from Hurricane Wilma as it hit Florida...



Notice the number 2 in the eye of the storm. The news station presenting this says this is not adjusted or photoshopped in any way.

This video clip shows that it appears to just be a random cloud formation, coming in to place about 5:51 and continuing through...6:02.

Well that's just weird, a numerical message from a storm?
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Sunday, October 30, 2005

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Paradise Now. What have we come to???

It's stories like this that make me wonder what we (Western society) have come to...

New movie now out:

‘Paradise Now’

Shows the story of 2 Palestinian suicide bombers, but doesn’t judge them.

Money quote: "refreshingly free of melodrama"

Movie review here.

That's right, you can now watch a full length movie about 2 simple young men who have little concern or thought about going to blow up a bus or restaurant full of innocent men, women and children.

But don't worry, it's "refreshing", it's "free of melodrama", you know, those concerns like "hey, should we really be going to blow up children?" or "you know, is this an appropriate way to end my life?".

"And the ending itself is a bit abrupt" - well, yes, that's generally the case when you strap bombs on your person with the intention of blowing the brains out of children, the end tends to be abrupt. This is a surprise?

Yes, this is for real, and this is really a description of the desensitizing that the world went through prior to World War II regarding the Jews. Unfortunately it's 2005, and it's clearly happening again. But hey, at least it's "free of melodrama".

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A Hassidic Story: Faith

It's a custom to tell stories of tzaddikim (the righteous sages) during melava malka (the post-Shabbos meal). The custom among hassidim is to tell Baal Shem Tov stories or stories of other rebbaim (grand rabbi's).

So, here is a hassidic story. Many miraculous stories are told about the hassidic masters, those who lead the paths of hassidus and teach that every soul has a immeasurable and special value and every person should be treasured. Are all the miraculous stories the literal truth? Of course not. But they could be...


Rebbe Yisrael of Rizhin once said to his Hasidim, "The most important thing is to have real faith, even if the rebbe says the opposite of what seems right to you. Nevertheless, if you have real faith and do what he says, you will be saved and helped in the way that you need. I'll tell you a story.

"In a certain village there lived two Jews, one an innkeeper, the other a religious-school teacher. The innkeeper wasn't a Hasid, but his wife was a Hasidista [female Hasid]. The teacher and his wife, however, were both Hasidim.

"Once, the innkeeper couldn't pay his rent, so lord wanted to throw him out of his inn. At the same time, the teacher was sick. So the two wives came to me (to the Rebbe, Rabbi Yisrael of Rizhin), and each had a pidyan nefesh [prayer request note] written for for her by my aide, as is customary. Since there was a large crowd pushing to enter my room for an audience the pidyanim (the notes) fell from the hands of both the women, and when they picked them up, the notes were exchanged.

"My aide sent the wife of the innkeeper in first for an audience. She handed me the note which belonged to the other woman - and I saw that it said that her husband was dangerously ill. Am I a prophet? I simply thought: Her husband's sick! So I told her to go home and have twenty leeches applied to bleed him for a long while, and God would help!

"This woman went home and her skeptical husband asked her with a mocking laugh, 'What did the rebbe say?' She didn't tell him because she was afraid. On the day that he was going to be evicted from the inn, he spoke to her again, saying, 'I'm ready to do whatever the rebbe said; just tell me the truth.' She told him, and he immediately sent for the doctor, who applied the leeches. Now the innkeeper was a big, strong man and completely healthy, but when they put the leeches on him, he lost so much blood that he became very weak.

"While he was lying in bed, the agent came from the lord to throw him out. But the agent returned and told the lord, 'How can I evict someone out who's seriously ill?' The lord didn't even believe what the man said because he thought, 'I saw him just recently, and he was completely healthy. How could he suddenly become so sick?' So he went to the inn himself and found the innkeeper lying in bed groaning, covered with blood and very weak. "The lord asked him, 'What happened to you?' "He-answered, 'I'm so broken about being thrown out that I became sick!' And he told the lord that when he died, all his children would cry and complain to Heaven that the lord had caused this disaster!

"When the lord heard this, he became full of pity for the innkeeper and said, 'It's better that I let you remain in the inn than have your children accuse me to Heaven!'
"Now do you think," the rebbe asked his Hasidim, "that I had any idea about all this? I didn't know the notes had been exchanged. I thought her husband was sick! But because she had real faith to do whatever I said, they were saved!

"Now let's go back in the story," said the rebbe, "to what happened earlier. After the innkeeper's wife left, the wife of the sick teacher came in and handed me her note - which said, however, that the lord wanted to evict her and her husband from the inn. So I told her, 'Don't be afraid! No evil will rule over you!' When she returned home, she saw a few people standing near her husband's bed holding lit candles, as is customary when someone is dying, because her husband was expiring, G-d forbid! She blew out their candles and yelled to them, 'The holy rebbe promised me that no evil will rule over us!' And her husband recovered!

"Now did I know about all this? Am I a prophet? I thought that they wanted to throw her husband out of the inn. But because this woman had real faith to do what I said, they were saved!

"So we see," said the rebbe, "that the most important thing is to have real faith, even if it seems that the rebbe is saying the opposite of what you think is right. But if you have real faith, you will be saved."

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Friday, October 28, 2005

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Fad Alert: 5 Metal Rings

Well, it's just a little before Shabbos, forgive me for being brief. Just came across a site selling...

A ring made from 5 metals produced while Jupitor is up for 5 hours..."The pattern for construction is extremely complicated. Moreover, it can only be produced on Saturday night after Shabbat “when there is a powerful moon and the craftsman must finish it while Jupiter rules up to when the cock crows” because this gives the craftsman the opportunity to create a double circuit of favorable energy."

OMG! What in the world this has to do with Kabbalah I don't know. I do know they're also selling an inappropriate copy of a real kabbalist item from the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria, zt"l. However, what struck me was the description (you can only tell what it really is if you look at the hebrew):

Rabi Harri's Cameo (Amulet). That's right, Rabbi Harry's famous amulet now on sale! For only $92! Wow! The wonder!

Ok ok, it's an inside joke. The master kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchok Luria was known as the Holy Lion, often shortened to just The Lion, which in Hebrew is written as "Ari" for lion, with "Ha" in front, which means "the". So, "Ha - Ari" is "The Lion". What it's not is "Harri". Nor is it Harry, or Hairy.

Oy. Notice, if someone can't figure out how to read the Hebrew title of the item they are producing, then they don't know a thing about kabbalah!

(Source for this mess, Sgulot.Com, yet another fad / fake kabbalah store.)

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A Kabbalah Wedding?

(Hat Tip, A Simple Jew)

Happiness Warrior takes apart the recent Hollywood Kabbalah wedding (whatever that is).

It was a moment of Hollywood magic. Film stars Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore got married in a Kabbalah ceremony which (according to the Kabbalah Centre) is “full of understanding, wisdom, and connections that essentially sew the two soul-halves together, creating one new whole soul”. What is more magical than a wedding filled with celebrity and Kabbalah?

Read it here.

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Sukkah Visitors of Renoun

During Succos, G-d willing, we have the famous spiritual visitors, the Uzpizin. Among hassidim, there's also a tradition of an additional set of spiritual visitors.

Beyond those honored visitors, in this year and past year's we've had the following exciting visitors:

Last year, 2 sparrows and a squirrel decided to visit. They found the Sukkah to be very holy and special, so much so that they stayed a while (not being able to find a way out). I found squirrels to be somewhat unwilling to listen to instruction or follow directions to the door.

This year, a boash (that's SKUNK in Hebrew) stopped by. He appreciated the meal (crumbs left by the kids), fortunately the human residents had left briefly before. As you can imagine, this could have been a very stinky experience. Fortunately (Baruch Hashem), it was meerly exciting for the children to peer through the window at the well dressed guest.

A Simple Jew had a somewhat more smelly experience here.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

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Thoughts after the holidays.

Wow, the holy days are over. For many, it's difficult and a challenge to fit them in. It's difficult with work, school, children, all the little details of day to day life, to turn it upside down for the holidays.

But they're not that, they are the holy days. In the days of the Bais HaMikdash, the holy temple, the Jewish people would gather together during the holy days, the 3 times a year when all went up to Jerusalem to, so to speak, spend the holiday face to face with G-d. (Two recommended books, historical fiction, that tell the story of the Jewish holy day experience, The Harp and Three Special Days.)

Today, as we say in the Musaf prayer (additional prayer on holidays and shabbos), we have neither temple nor offerings, and the choice to embrace the holidays or squeeze them in is up to us, individually. (Of course there's also the choice to ignore them completely or partially, G-d forbid.)

Embracing the holy season brings on a completely different experience. The concerns of the weekday, of the mundane, fade in to the background. Instead, we're concerned with the holy...are we ready to face our King, the King of Kings, HaKodesh Baruch Hu (the Holy One, Blessed Be He), on Rosh Hashanah? Are we ready to face up to our errors, mistakes, failings and even rebellion and throw ourselves on the mercy of our Father, Master and Creator on Yom Kippur? Are we prepared to rejoice with G-d, standing in a flimsy hut buffeted by the winds of the world armed only with our emunah (faith) and protection of Hashem? And finally, are we prepared to grasp hold of the gifts and obligations the Creator has given us and dance for joy at the great privilege we have received?

If we are focused on those concerns, then indeed we have touched the divine, we have smelled a whiff of the scent of Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), while being in this physical world! And that means, we have indeed earned it!

Someone in shul (synogogue) on Simchas Torah (the day of dancing and rejoicing with the Torah, yesterday) said to me, "Rabbi, I know we've done well with the holidays and we're going to have a great year". I said, "Rabbi? Where, I don't believe I qualify for such a title. Rosh Hashanah, I don't know if I properly honored my King. Yom Kippur, I don't know if I properly repented and returned to my Master and Father. Succos, I don't know if I properly honored the holiday with simchah (happiness) and emunah (faith).

But, today on Simchas Torah, I know my feet hurt (from so much dancing), Baruch Hashem (Thank G-d), so I have at least 1 merit to stand for me."

As the Lubavitcher Rebbe said, on the holy days of Tishrei (this Jewish month of holidays) we gather up much spiritual merchandise. Now we must carefully unpack it throughout the year.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

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Video: Injured Terrorist Taken Away

Guysen Israel News (French) has this video from Sunday night, on the Tunnel Road near Jerusalem, of a special Border Police unit overpowering and arresting a Palestinian who had just stabbed two security service officers...

Video here.

Notice they're taking the injured terrorist away to the hospital.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

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I'm starting to relate to this post by the Renegade Rebbetzin...

Where am I?? Who am I?? Who are all these people in my house?? What day is it?? Do I need to light candles or something?? These children are asking me if they can play computer games. Can they?? It isn't Shabbos, is it?? Or is it?? Didn't I just wash grape juice out of a piece of clothing that looked exactly like this?? Didn't I just cook chicken that looked exactly like this?? Didn't I just take this tablecloth to the cleaners? So why is it lying on the table looking all used?? Didn't I just buy eggs??....


It seems like it's been raining since before Yom Kippur. Run to shul (synogogue), run back home, make kiddish (meal blessing over wine), run back to shul, run back home, the coat is soaked, the kids are soaked, the sukkah is soaked, change clothes, do it again, he doesn't have a shirt, she doesn't have a skirt, the kids are running through the house, in the basement, up and down, up and down, I've got a cold, it's colder today, wipe the chairs they're wet again, cough cough, take an Advil, run to shul, the little drizzle changed to a hard rain, my hat is flat, run back home, make havdalah (after Shabbos ending blessing over wine)...

cough, cough

Baruch Hashem, it's a busy season, not with bills or with work, but with family and friends and guests and HaKodesh Baruch Hu, the Holy One, Blessed Be He. But busy busy it is, especially with the holy days in the middle of the week.

Baruch Hashem! What day is it again?

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Friday, October 21, 2005

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Shabbos Times for your Blog

This is nice. Chabad.Org has code for adding Shabbos Times to your blog or web site.

Click here for the code.

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Interview with Master Kabbalist, Rabbi Kaduri

Rabbi Yitzchok Kaduri, shlita, is the acknowledged master kabbalist of Judaism and the world. He's reported to be from 104-108 years old, born in Baghdad and has been living in Jerusalem since the 1920's.

Below is an excerpt from an interview of Rabbi Kaduri by Mishpacha Jewish Family Magazine (11th of Tishre 5766 issue)...(Paren's are comments I've added)

Reporter: There are some people today who practice practical Kabbalah.

Rabbi Kaduri: "Successfully?!"

Reporter: There are people who believe in them.

Rabbi Kaduri: "We should disqualify them!"

Reporter: Could anyone write a kameiyah? (a kabbalistic amulet)

Rabbi Kaduri: "No, only a tzaddik (saintly holy person) who learns halachah (Jewish law) and Gemara (Talmud). Those who are not worthy and practice Kabbalah are punished."

Reporter: Is it permitted to ask for money for blessings?

Rabbi Kaduri: "No. But it is permitted to ask for a donation for a yeshivah."

Reporter: Who may learn Kabbalah?

Rabbi Kaduri: "Only those who have 'filled their stomachs with Shas' (Talmud) and poskim (Jewish law decider's writings). What right does someone have to team Kabbalah who's not expert in Shas? Also, those who study Kabbalah must purify and sanctify themselves."

Reporter: Does the Rav, with his kavanos (divine meditations on forms of G-d's names), force the angels to do his will? (This is a form of practical kabbalah.)

Rabbi Kaduri: "No, We don't make angels do our will. We pray to the Ribono shel Olam (Master of the Universe) and only to Him. We don't have anything to do with angels. We only concentrate on G-d's Names. On every word, there are many pages of concentrations. Here are full pages of kavanot on the word 'Baruch' (Blessed) and here on the word 'Atah' (you). There's no mention here of any name of an angel, only names of Hashem Yitbarach. (The Holy One, G-d)"

Reporter: Are there people who practice these concentrations?

Rabbi Kaduri: 'There are people who learn Kabbalah, and they know some of the kavanot, the concentrations. But they have to be very cautious. There were people who practiced these kavanot when they weren't worthy, and they became insane. The Baal Shem Tov was very great with kavanot. What he was capable of doing, we can't do. The Ari HaKadosh (Rabbi Yitzchok Luria, founder of Lurianic kabbalah) and the Baal Shem Tov were gedolei olam (masters of the world) who knew great, lofty kavanot. The Baal Shov Tov rectified souls, and through his kavanot he brought people to do teshuvah (repentence and returning to G-d), even when they were on the forty-ninth level of impurity."

Reporter: Does the Rav tell people about the future?

Rabbi Kaduri: "No. I don't."

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Wilma Storm Tracks

This link lists all the possible Wilma storm tracks: here.

I don't know, president meets with Abbas, record breaking storm forms and targets Florida? Nah, couldn't be. Must be global warming, yeah, that's it.

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Succas around the world.

Moadim L'Simcha - a good Chol HaMoed!

Over Succos I got in to a discussion with a visitor who comes from the American northern-midwest (near the Canadian border). He was discussing how Succos is often quite frigid there. This led to some interesting Succah discussions.

In that cold and windy climate, they make sure to build their succah of solid wood walls, sometimes with a layer of external insulation. They then place the schach (the roof vegetative layer) about a foot down the walls, so they can put a full foot thick layer of the stuff (such as pine tree branches). While you can't build a 'roof' or permanent cover (certainly not while sitting in the succah, though you can build a retractable rain cover for when you're not in the succah), with a very thick layer of schach they are able to place heaters in the succah and have some hope of retaining some of the heat (while they sit in their parka's), making it a not completely unreasonable experience. Brrrr. A chilly mitzvah experience. (Tempatures ranging from 20-45 degrees farhenheit.)

In Florida we had the opposite problem, how to cool the succah. There I used to build the succah by putting up a simple 2x4 wood frame, then wrapping the walls with reed fencing material or trellis like material. This allowed room for air circulation through the walls. For schach we cut the leaves off saw palmetto trees, which provided very large space covering 'leaves'. While the leaves would brown during the holiday, they didn't shrivel. With frequent rain (daily brief showers or almost daily), nice table coverings and so forth had to be removed after every meal. I had a friend who consulted a number of rabbi's about wrapping the whole succah (including or especially over the roof) with (plastic) screen material to keep out the mosquitos (at the time there was some worries about a mosquito born illness going around). A sweaty mitzvah experience! (Tempatures ranging from 80-92 degrees farhenheit with 90% humidity.)

In Israel I was very surprised to find that Succos usually is during the final heat wave of the year. As we change our prayers from Moreed HaTal, the dew should fall, to Mashiv HaRuach u'Moreed HaGeshem, the wind should blow and the rain should fall, which happens at the end of Succos, so the weather changes from hot to cool (and rainy). So when we learn one of the reasons for Succos being in the fall is during a 'less' comfortable season (rather than with Passover in the spring), it's not referring to cold weather (which is the case for the majority of non-Israeli world Jewry) but rather to sitting out in a heat wave!

In Israel it's hot and dry during Succos, fans and cool drinks are the measure of the day. The canvas succah is the most popular (light airy canvas), though the problem in Israel is often more related around finding space for your succah. With many people living in apartment buildings, space is rather tight (even though many apartments specifically have a "succah" patio, the patio doesn't get larger if the family does). In our case the succah was in the parking lot and our apartment on the 4th floor, so everything had to be carried up-down, up-down, up-down. The joys of the holiday with good exercise! (Tempatures ranging from 80-90 degrees farhenheit with 40% humidity.)

In Israel there was more cameradiery though, with the children running from Succah to Succah, visiting, playing, and occasionally even helping.

Here in the Northeast the lightweight wood walls, or plastic or fiberglass walls, something solid to stop the wind but not necessary retain heat, seem to be very popular (plenty of canvas as well though). The bamboo schach mat is found on about 99% of the succas (that's what I've got). In some areas around here rain covers are extremely popular (a shlak), with almost every succah sporting one (it's interesting to note the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, the abbreviated code of Jewish law, specifically recommends one), though in my neighborhood that's not the case. Tempatures have been chilly this year, ranging from 45-55 degrees farhenheit, with a little rain. It's been a chilly but nice, though we did have a skunk wander up to the door of our succah (fortunately everyone was in the house at the time).

Different conditions around the world, but one holiday all.

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Noting It

worse

In the U.S., it's worth keeping your eyes open and noting when things reach a certain cultural impact, such as hitting the comics.
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Monday, October 17, 2005

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Chag Samayach

Chag Samayach - Happy Holiday, Happy Succos!


הרחמן הוא יקים לנו את סוכת דוד הנופלת

May the Merciful One restore for us the fallen Sukkah of Dovid.


Note another (purported) statement from the saintly master kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchok Kaduri, shlita, can be found here.
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The Western Wall Tomorrow...

Via Haveil Havalim edition 41, I ran into this link of My Right Word posting this photo montage of the Kotel (Western Wall plaza in Israel) after the Geulah (redemption)...


Click for larger view.

Look carefully. Very cool.

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Whew, It's Up

Well, this has been a difficult year for sukkah building in the U.S. northeast. Eight straight days of hard rain prevented it until after this past Shabbos. Today strong winds have been doing their best to undo the work done so far, with some success.

But, thank G-d, my sukkah is up, extra reinforcements are in place, the schach (religious roof covering) is in place with extra weight and somewhat tied down. Unfortunately the decorations have all been blown down, but my girls are going to try to attack that problem in the morning.

And I'm exhausted. Not being the handiest most skilled guy with my hands, it's not unusual (as I get out those exciting power tools) for me to get a cut or scrape or two plus a couple nasty splinters. Some people like to put their heart and soul in to a mitzvah, on building the sukkah I usually add a little blood (not intentionally but it just seems to work out that way). This year I seemed to somehow avoid that, though I did hit a wet patch and took an unpleasant fall. No serious damage, but a light sprain in honor of the holiday.

I was surprised at how helpful my younger children were this year. I've kind of picked up the habit of delegating the 'difficult' tasks exclusively to my older kids, nailing or screwing or hauling. This year my 7-10 year old crew jumped right in, working together were able to carry parts and even, under close supervision, handle some nailing and placing items on the roof. They really made a difference.

esrog
A 'Yannover' Esrog from last year.

Lulav and esrog shopping was also accomplished today. Unfortunately this put me in the middle of the holiday rush, even a little late as many places seem to have pretty picked over merchandise (usually I get started a lot earlier, this year's holiday schedule has made that very difficult with my work.) I finally found a satisfactory esrog (according to my personal standards and budget of course) at what I considered an appropriate price (I started to write reasonable, but I do strive for a really nice esrog and I'm sure my wife doesn't consider the hit to our budget to be reasonable).

After reaching agreement on the speciman and price, I was then offered really poor examples of 2 of the other 3 required species (no one seemed to be selling the 4th, aravos, willow stalks). I was expecting to pay extra for the lulav, but the dealers seemed to be taking advantage of the situation to get significant extra for quality haddasim as well. Then, even the example of a 'quality' lulav was not nearly as nice as I found last year. Not feeling I had much choice, I paid my extra (in this case $15) to get the 'higher quality' yet lower than last year.

On a more positive note, I came across some really nice 'starter' sets for my boys at the very reasonable price of $20 complete (all 4 species included). I was really surprised at the quality for the price, and my boys are thrilled (particularly that their not getting trainer sets but real kosher sets of their own). They talked me in to it as a reward for some good behavior, and it didn't take much convincing to get them a 'mitzvah' reward rather than a cheap toy of passing interest.

All in all, tiring compressed preparations, Baruch Hashem (Thank G-d)!

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

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Lulav Shortage Update

I previously noted news reports and a report from our local Judaica store that lulavs, one of the 4 species utilized for the holiday of Sukkot, were in short supply this year. Some additional details have come out, and here's what I've heard...

In recent years, the major world supplier for luvavim (which are a sprouting new frond of a date palm tree) Egypt from the Sinai region. Over 500,000 were supplied, at a wholsale price of about US$0.50 each, to both Israel and the U.S. (and I'm assuming other major Jewish population centers was well).

This year, for unclear reasons (though speculation is political considerations and/or an intentional shortage for price gouging purposes), the exports from Egypt were halted. News reports were a smaller number had been sent around the ban (like 100,000).

Last week our local Judaica shop had none. This week our local Judaica shop has now received their full supply. Their supplier was able to find an alternative source to replace the shortfall from Egypt, this one from the state of Arizona in the U.S. However, the wholsale cost from Arizone is US$8.00.

Historically, the cost of the lulav has been included with a 4 species set (and at $0.50 each you can understand why). Reports in New York City are of additional charges of US$10.00 - US$20.00 for the lulav this year.

I'll be shopping for my set tomorrow (Sunday, as will most people I think, especially in the U.S., given that Succos falls on Monday evening), so I'll see how this impacts the actual price I pay then.

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Building Sukkah

Building Sukkah, building sukkah, building sukkah, building sukkah.

Sorry, no time for posting, I'm busy building my family sukkah (with the help of my wife and very involved children.)

What other mitzvah can a man do with power tools??? I love building a sukkah!

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Friday, October 14, 2005

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When Government Incompetence Kills

I don't normally post about this kind of stuff, and I'm not sure why I'm surprised, but this one just floored me...

In the early days of September, as military helicopters plucked desperate New Orleanians from rooftops and Red Cross shelters swelled with the displaced, nearly 400,000 packaged meals landed on a tarmac at Little Rock Air Force Base and were whisked by tractor-trailer to Louisiana. But most of the $5.3 million worth of food never reached the victims of Hurricane Katrina...

The journey began early on Sept. 5, as the first packs, stacked six feet high and loaded onto pallets, left Brize Norton air base in Oxfordshire, England. Aboard chartered aircraft, they were flown 4,400 miles to Arkansas at a cost of $4.7 million, according to the British Embassy.

As the rations rode 355 more miles to New Orleans, USDA inspectors hit the road -- literally chasing the delivery trucks to shelters, the city's downtown convention center and other locations where evacuees were found.

Severe flooding prevented inspectors from reaching four sites, and by the time they arrived at the 10 others, about 115,000 meal packs had been distributed. Some were vegetarian, satisfying the Food and Drug Administration, which has jurisdiction over nonmeat imports, spokeswoman Kimberly Rawlings said.

The others, with meat in them, should not have been handed out, Teuber said.

"We didn't want to distribute food that's not approved on a daily basis for American consumption to those impacted by the hurricanes," she said.

The inspectors turned the trucks around for the return trip to Arkansas, where the meals remain.

What is clear is that by late on Sept. 8, inspectors from the Agriculture Department halted the distribution because the packaged meals violated import laws that "no beef or poultry of any kind is accepted from Great Britain," spokeswoman Terri Teuber said.

Since 1997, the United States has banned beef products from Britain and several other European countries that have been affected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy, known as mad cow disease.

"There was a careful review of the law to determine whether there was some flexibility, and at this point that has not been the case," Teuber said.

So, to summarize, the USDA stopped emergency food deliveries to people that were starving and dehydrating in emergency shelters in New Orleans during the Katrina hurricane/flood.

The food did not meet U.S. food safety standards. Apparently starvation and dehyrdation met the standards just fine.

Pray for the government, otherwise they might just kill you by stupidity.

Source article here.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

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Last Minute Yom Kippur Thoughts

Again from HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, for the day before and on Yom Kippur...

On Erev Yom Kippur the Avoda (divine service) is remorse for the past; on Yom Kippur- resolve for the future.

On Yom Kippur it works out that we actually fast 26 hours, corresponding to the Divine Name Havayeh, numerically equivalent to 26.

I spent significant time previously gathering and posting information about teshuvah, because I think it's a pretty vague and unclear idea. REPENT OH YE SINNERS! Ok, what in the world does that really mean? I posted on the requirements of the mitzvah (how much, what do you do). I've posted on the mystical secrets of the mitzvah, as well as the difference between teshuvah through love versus teshuvah through fear, and my last post addresses the item above, resolve for the future. Because I think it's unclear, for prayer we know when and how much, for other mitzvot this is clear, but for teshuvah? Hopefully I've helped clarify it a bit (for myself and you).

We are promised that if we sincerely do this, teshuvah, we can be sure that the Ribono Shel Olam, the Master of the Universe, will wipe away our transgressions and we will be able to stand before him, as white as snow.

גמר חתימה טובה - Gmara Chativa Tova, may you be sealed for a good year!


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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

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The 5 Paths of Teshuvah

More insights from HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, starting from the entry for the 3rd through the 9th of Tishrei, focusing on teshuva, repetence and reconnecting with G-d...what better for before Yom Kippur?

The Tzemach Tzedek (3rd Grand Rabbi of Chabad hassidus, who was orphaned and was raised by his grandfather, the 1st Grand Rabbi) had Yechidus (a private soul-to-soul meeting) with the Alter Rebbe (the 1st Grand Rabbi)...the Rebbe told him:

"On Shabbat Tavo 5528 (1768), my Rebbe [the Maggid of Mezritch (the lead disciple of the Baal Shem Tov who took lead of the chassidic movement after the passing of the Baal Shem Tov)] said a "Torah" beginning V'shavta Ad Havayeh Elokecha...

[Devarim 4:30 and 30:2 "You shall return to G-d your G-d." V'shavta, "you shall return," is an expression of Teshuva ("return" or "repentance"). Two different names of G-d are used in the Hebrew verse; "you shall return to Havayeh (who is) Elokecha - your G-d."

"Elokecha"is a form of "Elokim.", Havayeh is indicative of G-d's transcendence;

Elokim of His immanence - "descending" (as-it-were) to create and vivify the world with His life-force.

Teshuva, says the Maggid, must be to the point that the transcendent Havayeh becomes immanent and palpable.


He explained that the Avoda of Teshuva (the divine service of repentence and return) must attain a level at which Havayeh, transcendent Divinity beyond worlds, becomes Elokecha - Elokim being numerically equivalent to Hateva [nature], and as we find, "in the beginning Elokim created the heavens and the earth..."

All the Holy Society (disciples of the Maggid [who later founded the individual chassidic movements]) were profoundly stirred by this teaching.

The Tzadik (righteous saintly) Rabbi Meshulam Zusya of Anipoli said that he could not attain the heights of such a Teshuva; he would therefore break down Teshuva to its components, for each letter of the word Teshuva is the initial of a verse:

T: Tamim - "Be sincere with the Eternal your G-d."

SH: Shiviti - "I have set G-d before me always."

U: V'ahavta - "Love your fellow as yourself."

V: B'chol - "In all your ways, know Him."

aH: Hatznei'a - "Walk discreetly with your G-d."

When my father told me this (the author of these entries is the 6th grand rabbi of Lubavitch, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, zt"l), he concluded:

"The word Teshuva comprises five [Hebrew] letters, each letter a path and a method in the Avoda of Teshuva."

T: Tamim..., "Be sincere with G-d."

This represents the Avoda of Teshuva that comes through sincerity.

Sincerity, or "wholeness," takes any number of forms and has many levels.

In reference to Teshuva the highest form is wholeness of heart - called "earnestness"; as Torah says of Avraham, "you found his heart faithful [2] before You."

Sh: - Shiviti..., "I have set G-d (Havayeh) before me always."

Havayeh indicates the creation of the universe and creatures.

Bringing all of Creation into being and sustaining it is accomplished by bridging an infinite gap - from Ayin (non-being, nihilo) to Yesh (being).

This form of the Avoda (service) of Teshuva results from one's constant awareness of the way in which the universe and all that is in it, is (constantly) brought into being.

U - V'ahavta..., "Love your fellow as yourself.'

The Alter Rebbe taught that this love is an instrument, a means to "Love the Eternal your G-d."

This is explained in the statement, "Whoever is pleasing to man is pleasing to G-d."

This service of Teshuva stems from goodness of heart.

V - B'chol..., "In all your ways, know Him."

A person who sets his heart and mind to observe all that happens to him and around him, will perceive G-dliness tangibly in evidence; as the Mitteler Rebbe (2nd grand rabbi of Lubavitch chassidus, Rabbi Dov Ber) pointed out, men of affairs have an advantage over secluded scholars, in that the former can witness actual manifestations of G-dliness.

This form of the service of Teshuva comes from one's perceiving Hashgacha P'ratit, (particular Divine Providence).

H - Hatznei'a..., "Walk discreetly with your G-d,"

One must take care not to be conspicuous or ostentatious in the slightest.

It is said "Man should always be artful in piety."

The artfulness lies in seeing that his piety not be noticed at all.

We know that a number of the early Chassidim concealed their true selves, and when discovered were sincerely distressed.

This is the Avoda of Teshuva that comes from Hatznei'a Lechet, being discreet.

These are not levels beyond understanding or reach. The challenge is to incorporate them into our lives fully and constantly. May Hashem accept all our teshuvah and wipe away all our sins on this Yom Kippur.

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How depressing and ancient.

My teenage daughter didn't get my post about the soap, my humor just isn't with it. And, she didn't like how I told my last story, the rav (rabbi) in her high school is much better. I'm just not with it anymore.

I've never been one to worry about being with it, I've always been more worried about being with the ultimate, HaKodesh Baruch Hu (the Holy One, Blessed Be He). That was, until my teenager told me I'm not with it.

Now I'm depressed. My teenage daughter can't relate to me anymore, I'm ancient. I couldn't possibily understand the troubles of her life, the difficulties she has to go through. How could I? They didn't even have computers when I grew up. Did they even have cars?

Plus, Shabbos services are much better in the synogogue by her school (it's an dorming religious girls high school) and the kiddish is much nicer (after services snack fest).

Oh, and by the way, she really really really really needs me to get her a cell phone. It's an absolute necessity. She might die without it.

What happened to my little girl? Oy, what did I do wrong???? And does anybody know about this dangerous teenage medical condition, lack-of-cell-phone-age?

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Monday, October 10, 2005

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Another look at 5766

5766 is the year according to the Jewish calendar. Dov Bar Leib notes the following about this new year that started on Rosh Hashanah...

...the "Crowning of Yesod". No Kabbalist could accurately predict exactly when this would need to occur even if we did not deserve it to happen early. Yet, most knew that according to the Zohar this would probably occur after the 2/3 point in the Sixth millenium (5666). The Zohar itself seems to hint that this should take place one hundred years after the year 5666 to mirror the miraculous birth of Yitzchak in the 100th year of Avraham's life...

Read the whole thing.

If accurate, big things should start this year, specifically from Hoshana Rabba (which is on the 21st of Tishrei, or October 24, though starting at sundown October 23).

A brief note on what is Hoshana Rabba:

The seventh day of Sukkot is called "Hoshana Rabbah" and is considered the final day of the divine "judgment" in which the fate of the new year is determined.

It is customary to remain awake on the night preceding Hoshanah Rabbah and study Torah. We recite the entire Book of Deuteronomy and the Book of Psalms.

In addition to the Four Kinds taken every day of Sukkot, it a "Rabbinical Mitzvah", dating back to the times of the Prophets, to take an additional aravah, or willow, on the 7th day of Sukkot. In the Holy Temple, large, 18-foot willow branches were set around the altar. Today, we take a bundle of five willow twigs and carry them together with the Four Kinds around the reading table in the synagogue during the "Hashaanot" prayers, of which we recite a more lengthy version today, making seven circuits around the table (instead of the daily one). At the conclusion of the Hoshaanot we strike the ground five times with the willow bundle, symbolizing the "tempering of the five measures of harshness."

More insights here.


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One Secret of the Shofar

Gleaned from HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, for the 2nd of Tishrei...

The statement in the Siddur of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi [prayer book, compiled by the first grand rabbi of Chabad hassidus] (in the section Shaar haKriat Sh'ma, in the Maamar L'havin Hahefresh, p. 74a of that siddur) that prior to sounding the Shofar we say Ana B'choach (when we do not, in fact, actually say it), means this:

"In general terms they are the Kavanot [mystical devotions, holy meditations] of the verses whose initial letters are the second Name of the Name Mem-Bet. (A mystical form of the Divine Name consisting of 42 letters. See Kidushin 71a.) [Kidushin is a reference to the Talmud, Gemora volume Kidushin, page 71a.]

However, some keep the Kavanot of the words Ana B'choach in thought, but do not pronounce the letters or words. [The 'some' referred to here are holy Torah scholars and kabbalists who are versed in kavanot, mystical meditations during prayer and mitzvot.]

One who is involved with Kavanot must study those subjects in the Arizal's writings until he knows them clearly, and then his Kavanot are acceptable and favored.

("Arizal" is an acronym for Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of blessed memory (zal) whose kabalistic writings are basic for knowledge of mystical devotions.) [This is the "Lurianic" school of kabbalah and the foundation concepts of much of chassidus and the deepest teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.]

(Parens from the text transation in HaYom Yom.)
[Brackets are my comments.]


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Sunday, October 09, 2005

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Danger, Soap!

This past Shabbos, after using the facilities, I noticed my wife had purchased some new liquid hand soap. It was notable for a pleasant smell and a very serious warning...

10-09-- 001
soapdir


That's right parents, this dangerous drug, liquid hand soap, must not, under any conditions, be used by children without direct parental supervision!!!!!

Oh, and for those who were unsure, the procedure for using this drug is: Wet Hands (use water), Rub Together to Create Lather (foam), Rinse Well (again, water is recommended for this).

DANGER, DO NOT CONSUME "SOAP"!

My dear children and all under age readers of this blog, please remember, DO NOT WASH YOUR HANDS without parental supervision. Many, well, a few, ok, maybe one or two, children (of the age to actually self-wash hands successfully, say 5 and over) have been seriously injured by the consumption of the dangerous drug, soap.

Thank you, this has been a public service announcement. I'm glad to see the U.S. government is focused on critical public health issues such as the proper labeling of dangerous drugs such as soap.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

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An Award!

dovbearaward

Wow, I'm honored! (I think.)

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Friday, October 07, 2005

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Oh My Gog!

News excerpt: White House denies Bush claimed divine inspiration (original here)...

The White House has denied that US President George W. Bush said God told him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, as a new BBC documentary is expected to reveal.

"That's absurd. He's never made such comments," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday.

The documentary series set to be broadcast later this month in Britain claims Bush made the claim when he met Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and then-foreign minister Nabil Shaath in June 2003.

He also told them he had been ordered by God to create a Palestinian state, the ministers said.

Shaath, now the Palestinian information minister, said: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God'".

"'God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan'.

"'And I did. And then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq... ' And I did.

"'And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East'. And by God I'm gonna do it'," said Shaath.


Abbas, who was also at the meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, recalled how the president told him: "'I have a moral and religious obligation'".

"'So I will get you a Palestinian state.'"

The three-part series, "Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs", charts the attempts to bring peace to the Middle East, from former US president Bill Clinton's talks in 1999-2000 to Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza strip.

The series is due to begin airing Monday.

Well, I don't put much stake in the words of the BBC or the Palestinian Information Minister (that title is an oxymoron if I ever heard one), but given prophecies previously discussed here and elsewhere, it makes one wonder.

Update: Mainstream sites pick up on it, via Reuters on MSNBC here.

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Audio Post: A Baal Shem Tov story - Rosh Hashanah Shofar, Part 2

A powerful story of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of chassidus and master of kabbalah, of blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, part 2 of 2 (part 1 is here).

this is an audio post - click to play


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Audio Post: A Baal Shem Tov story - Rosh Hashanah Shofar, Part 1

A powerful story of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of chassidus and master of kabbalah, of blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, part 1 of 2.

this is an audio post - click to play


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Thursday, October 06, 2005

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Feeling Low

From HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, from the entry for the 20th of Elul (ok, so I run behind)...

One who is lowly and crass does not sense his own crassness and lowliness.

Oy, oy, where am I at???

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The Attribute of Creation

(Zohar I 2b) The (hebrew) letter Bet came before the Holy One, blessed be He, and claimed that it would be fitting for G-d to use it to create the world, because it is the initial letter of the word bracha - blessing, and with it the Holy One is blessed both above and below.

(Commentary by Rabbi Moshe Miller) This is the purpose of creation - that all of creation will recognize G-d's kindness, and that He has blessed them with His abundance and prosperity. Then they will acknowledge and bless him.

The Holy One, blessed be He, said to the letter Bet, "I will certainly create the world with you. You will be the first letter of creation."

The hebrew word berashis - creation, starts with the letter Bet, and berashis is also the first word of the Torah.

Through the Zohar lesson of the letters vying to be the lead letter of creation we learn that G-d could not create the world with emes - truth, for then the world would be exacting (complete, full and instant justice) and no one could survive it. Nor could the world be created with mem for melek - king, for then the world would have been imbued with the majesty of G-d and there would be no free will with constant obvious presense of G-d. Only with free will, which is the opportunity to do wrong and be led astray by our desires, do we also freely have the ability to accept G-d as our King, the King of Kings, and accept the yoke of heaven.


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Shofar Contest

A link via my daughters teenage network:

Shofar Contest.

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Monday, October 03, 2005

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Shofar!

Video - Shofar Blowing!

(Video only seems to work via Internet Explorer)

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The Mystical Secret of Teshuvah - Part 4

Considering we're seconds before Rosh Hashanah, the season of repentence, return and connecting with G-d, it seems appropriate to talk about exactly that, teshuvah: repenting, returning, connecting to G-d.

But what are the mystical secrets of teshuvah? How does it work? What do we have to do, and what happens then? This is part 4, part 1 is here and part 2 is here, and part 3 is here.


Regret and Confession are the key's to teshuvah, to repentence and reconnecting with G-d.

The soul of the kelipah was born in the desires of the heart, removing the will and desire eradicates it's soul. But to obliterate the body (of the sin), an action is required. This is verbal confession (quietly, between oneself and one's Creator). The movement of one's lips is considered equivelent to the deed.

Who is a Baal Teshuvah (literally a master of repentence)? One to whom sin came, and despite being in the same place with the same (circumstances as before, he controls himself).

This situation, this act of restraint is identical with the deed that generated the body of the original sin, through this he kills the body (of the sin) entirely.

Nevertheless, in His kindness, G-d considers the deed of moving one's lips as equivalent to a full fledged deed, obliterating the body of the sin.

This, in total (though there are more details in the original text) is the mystic secret of confessional prayers (literally nefilas panim, falling on one's face).


This is my final entry on this topic from concepts in Derech Mitzvotecha, the Road of the Mitzvot, a mystical understanding of select mitzvot, by the 3rd Lubavitch Rebbe, Rebbe Menachem Mendel.

May we all stand before the Ribono Shel Olam, the Master of the Universe, on Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the year and the (re)creation of the world, the day of judgement and the day of coronation of the King of Kings, The Holy One, Blessed be He, in complete and, G-d willing, accepted repentence, reconnecting to our Master and King, for a Good and Sweet Year.

L'Shana Tova, may you, your family and friends, be inscribed in the Book of Life for goodness and kindness in the year to come.

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Sunday, October 02, 2005

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Tzedek, Tzedakah (Justice, Charity)

One of the things we learn in studying hebrew words is the relationship between words that have the same letters (but different vowels).

Tzedakah is usually translated into English as charity. But in Hebrew, it's closely related to the word tzedek, justice.

This is not a world of truth. It is not transparent, thoughts, motivations, the direction, plan, and events are all hidden from view. Why is one weathy and another in need?

One answer we are taught is from the word itself, tzedakah / tzedek, justice. The Master of The Universe has given us a unique opportunity. The opportunity to join him in giving. We create justice, balancing the world, by using our opportunity for giving. It does not matter if we have a little or a lot, or even if we are also a recipient, as after all, we are all recipient of the divine gift of life and opportunity in this world.

You want to be a partner with the divine? In terms of kabbalah (especially fad kabbalah), you want to 'earn' your 'light'? Give!

There are those who give because we are taught that Teshuvah (repentence / reconnecting), Tefillah (prayer), and Tzedakkah (charity) can save a person from harsh judgments. There are those who give because it's explicitly said that charity saves a person from death. But those are lower levels (however, don't let that stop you, if one of those reasons work for you, great). Be a partner in creating the justice of creation, become a partner with the Creator. That's an awesome reason and awesome opportunity.

I highly recommend one of these excellent reputable charities, click to donate or for info:

Help the Hungry - Yad Eliezer
Help Terror Victims - Yad Sarah
Help The Poorest - Colel Chabad
Help Poor Torah Scholars - Kupat Ha'Ir - Call +1-866-221-9352


I am also directly distributing money for yeshiva students and Torah learning (especially in the Shomron, West Bank, Israel), you can donate through Mystical Paths here:

and, if you wish to donate to the operation of this blog, you can do so here:


In the merit of your charity (whether here or elsewhere among the many worthy and needy causes), may Hashem bless you for a good and sweet new year!

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The Mystical Secret of Teshuvah - Part 3

Considering we're moments before Rosh Hashanah, the season of repetence, return and connecting with G-d, it seems appropriate to talk about exactly that, teshuvah: repenting, returning, connecting to G-d.

But what are the mystical secrets of teshuvah? How does it work? What do we have to do, and what happens then? This is part 3, part 1 is here and part 2 is here.


There are two areas that must be addressed in blemishes caused, to compenstate for the deficiency in the decrease in the infinite light drawn down, and to remove the nuture of the negative forces (which were given the divine energy by the negative action).

Parallel concepts of lights and vessels and soul and body also exist in the realm of kelipah (negative levels of the universe), these being brought into being through sin. The desire that motives a sin creates a 'soul of evil', while the deed brings about a 'body of evil'. (This is regardless of whether the negative action was evil thoughts, in which case the desire to think and the thoughts are the soul and body, evil speech, in which case the thoughts of negative speaking are the soul and the speech is the body, or actual action, where the desire for the action is the soul and the action is the body.)

This is the mystic secret of the verse "My sins are before me at all times", the kelipah which a person brings into being by his sins stands before him to cause him difficulty, as is written (Yirmeyahu 2:19) "Your evil will cause you anguish."

When a person repents, he must kill the kelipos to remove them from the world. (Which requires destroying both the body of the negative act and the soul of the negative act.)

And that's the next and final entry of this series from concepts from Derech Mitzvotecha, by the 3rd Lubavitch Rebbe, Rebbe Menachem Mendel. G-d willing, the final entry will be this evening, to prepare you for Rosh Hashanah.

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Shortage of the 4 kinds?

For the upcoming holiday of Sukkot, one of the primary mitzvot (commandments) is the taking of the 4 kinds, the lulav, etrog, myrtle and willow...

I had previously read reports about a possible shortage of lulavim (palm branch sprout) in Israel (updated article below), but I had not heard of one also in the U.S. This past Shabbos, the shopkeeper of our local Judaica store mentioned that while he had 2,000 sets of the 4 kinds ready, he still had not received 1 of the kinds, the lulav. His information said that for the U.S., the United States State Department was holding up the import of lulavim (palm branch sprouts) from Egypt (which seems to be the normal major world supplier) and he didn't expect his shipment to arrive (according to his supplier) until Friday the 14th (right before the holiday). He was very concerned (about the impact to his business and being able to put together 2,000 sets with 1 day to do it and get them to the customers).

Has anyone else heard about lulav supply problems in the U.S.???

News article (multiple sources, the one below from Israel National News):

With the week-long Sukkot holiday rapidly approaching, National Religious Party MK Shaul Yahalom warned the lulav shortage crisis is not over and he is calling on government agencies to act to alleviate the situation.

The lulav (palm branch), one of four species taken to fulfill holiday requirements is in very short supply after Egypt announced it would not sell the lulavim from el-Arish. In previous years, 700,000 lulavim were imported from Egypt.

Importers are seeking ways to bypass the Egyptian ban but they have only had limited success. Yahalom is calling on the Ministry of Agriculture and other government agencies to step in.

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A (Hassidic) Mistake

From A Pamphlet on Excitement (Kuntres Ha’hitpa’alut), by the saintly rabbi, the second grand rabbi of Chabad hassidus, HaRav Dov Ber the son of HaRav Shneur Zalman, zt"l (as presented by Rabbi Ginsburgh of Inner.Org), discussing a common mistake in understanding how to approach intellectual divine concepts.

This mistake has to do with the nature of meditation [hitbonenut]. They preach that should a person be successful in his meditation, he should guard his heart from being excited as if it [excitement] was the most grave of prohibitions. This because it seems to them that they have heard somewhere that heartfelt excitement causes one to lose one’s mindfulness. For this reason they also preach against intellectual excitement, a grave mistake that ultimately results in substituting holy thoughts and meditation for external objects of thought [i.e., thoughts not related to the teachings of Chassidut], or even falling into a slumber.

And I am bitterly distressed over having seen and heard such folly, which is absolutely upside-down and rightside-up. For, the essence and foundation of all of the teachings of Chassidut, which are more precious than gold, is that they should be sustained in the psyche, the mind, and the heart, and particularly in an excited state; both as intellectual excitement, which is called “good hearing,” and afterwards as heartfelt excitement, condoned by the verse: “and you shall imbue [these teachings in] your heart.” These are described as “my G-d is within me,” and “each [understands the Almighty] unto his own measure….”

As we are about to enter the holy day of Rosh Hashanah, many arrive with dread and awe at the occasion of divine judgement of the world. Yet Chassidim arrive with excitement, just to be standing before and acknowledging the King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed Be He. For this is the one thing man can actually do, a king is only a king if there are subjects. And this is a reason for excitement! Awe yes, but joy, it's coronation day!

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