Sunday, April 30, 2006

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Zone of Protection?

Still more conversations with Reb Dov Bar Leib (of the End of Days blog), who has become well known for his mystical end-of-days analysis, which he has also posted on his blog...

(Reb Dov writes...) From studying Bereishit, it is abundantly clear that there is a special canopy of Rachmanut that stretches from Beersheva to ancient Luz a.k.a Beth El. When Avraham stopped off in Shekhem, he built an altar and offered korbanot to HaShem, thanking him for his rachmanut in getting him safely to EY. Yet, when he gets to Beth El, he offered up offerings on another mizbeach twice,once before he went down to Egypt and again when he returned. In addition to this he called out the name of HaShem asking for a special dose of Rachmanut. One of these cries was for the battle of Ai in the days of Yehoshua which was lost because of Achan's sin. The second cry, I believe, was for our time, the years of Sukkot. Surely enough, hitnatkut 1 in the year of Avraham included Shekhem and the road to Dothan, but didn't extend further south.

This rachmanut is accentuated in the time that Ya'akov Avinu returned from Haran to Yerushalayim to daven before proceeding to the Yeshivah of Shem and Eiver. He returned as far south as BethEl and went to sleep and Yerushalayim came to greet him. He had his vision of the ladder to shamayim which stretched from Beer Sheva to over BethEl. Rashi and others refer to a canopy of Rachmanut which stretches as far north as BethEl, for it was in BethEl that HaShem was standing over him while he was sleeping. North of BethEl, when Israel is under strict judgement, the northern part of EY is judged first. In the year of Yitzkhak, before Mashiach appears, the entire land will remain under strict judgement. According to the Zohar, Mashiach will first "appear" in the Gallilee providing redemptive rachamanut there. The midat HaDin, though will extend southwards from where Avraham first arrived in EY in Elon Moreh. Yet, in the merit of Ya'akov Avinu, the midat HaRachamim will return in full force by next Pesach, for it was then that he was given a bracha of Din in Olam HaZeh but Rachmanut in Olam Haba. Since Yemot HaMashiach is the vestibule for Olam HaBa, I firmly believe that that Rachmanut will extend to when he is remembered for receiving that bracha and the promise for being the sole inheritor of EY at the end of days in the third year of Sukkot. Yet, in Avraham, Yitzkhak, and Ya'akov Avinu's merit it is unclear whether this canopy of Rachamim will extend north of Bethel to Elon Moreh during the first three years of Sukkot. I can fully understand the concern of your friend in Eli who lives in this "in between area" of the Shomron.

Having said this, obviously there is a concern to be in Yesha until next Pesach. Ya'akov Avinu tarried for six months between Sukkot and Pesach when returning to his father in Chevron. In that six month period at least six tragedies befell him, and not one of the altars that he built refers to HaShem's attribute of mercy.

1. the rape of Dinah
2. the Chillul HaShem of Shimon and Levi by signing a peace treaty with the residents of Shekhem just to set up their slaughter (sounds like something Muhamad would do)
3. the the death of Devorah, his mother's wet nurse
4. the death of his mother, Rivka
5. the death of his wife, Rachel in childbirth
6. the moving of his bed from Bilhah's tent by Reuven

So much tragedy in just six months of failing to honor his father! If this process slips into b'itah, the first six months of 5767 will be most difficult of all. Oy, what a year awaits us all until next Pesach. Perhaps (the UTJ) will not join the coalition with Armilus the damned after all. Pray for that and chaos will be sweetened. We will rely on HaShem and his canopy of mercy. Besides now that Yitzkhak's birth has been remembered, whatever suffering Jews live through here will be magnified throughout the entire world. There will be no safe haven from 3700 years of pent-up Divine Wrath on this planet. We may as well stay put in the eye of the storm and pray that the eye-wall does not sway over our little hamlet. Rachmanut! May HaShem give us all rachmanut!

Do not fear, Ya'akov, for I do all this for you! The time of your redemption has arrived!

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A Baal Shem Tov Story: Hallel

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 Baal Shem Tov 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...

When the Maggid of Mezritch, Rabbi Dov Ber of Torchin, the leading disciple and ultimately the successor to the Baal Shem Tov as leader of the chassidic movement, first came to learn from the Baal Shem Tov, he was already a master scholar, a righteous sage, and learned in the sacred and secret texts of kabbalah. Yet he did know the chassidic path of elevating the soul in this world.

Rabbi Dov Ber once asked the Baal Shem Tov why in kabbalistic siddurim (special prayer books) they printed next to each verse of the great Hallel (a prayer of great praise of G-d) the name of the malach (angel) who recites it. Why is it during an angel's whole existance it recites only 1 verse?

The Baal Shem Tov replied, "Why do you care if the malach (angel) cries out only one verse all the time? Don't bother with such questions. Instead, you too cry out!"

The Baal Shem Tov never recited the great Hallel without first hearning the malachim (angels) say each verse and reciting it with them (each one individually saying it's verse). But he taught Rabbi Dov Ber that the purpose in knowing the divine service of the malachim (angels) is not intellectual but spiritual. One must imitate the malachim (angels) by one's own fevor and devotion until one becomes an angel and even greater than an angel!

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, noted chassidic master and kabbalist, just announced a 4-day seminar to Mezhibuzh (in the Ukraine), the hometown and resting place of the holy Baal Shem Tov. For anyone seeking a deepened hiskashrus (connection) to the Baal Shem Tov, you may want to check it out, here.

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Sanhedrin History Correction

Commentor Ben613 corrected my last post...

The current attempt is the fifth known orthodox attempt in the last four hundred years (to re-create the ancient great Jewish court, the Sanhedrin):

Rabbi Yaakov Beirav, 1538
Rabbi Yisroel Shklover, 1830
Rabbi Aharon Mendel haCohen, 1901
Rabbi Zvi Kovsker, 1940
Rabbi Yehudah Leib Maimon, 1949

And the fifth current attempt by Rav Halberstam, zt"l in 2004. The people at the (Sanhedrin) website feel that it is crucial to understand the history of the previous attempts in order to understand why the current attempt was done the way it was.

There's a comprehensive history being put together here (still under construction).


Friday, April 28, 2006

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Sanhedrin Tidbits

A few brief items on the Sanhedrin...

Arutz 7 notes that Rabbi Halberstam, zt"l, who passed away yesterday, was absolutely instrumental in restarting the Sanhedrin (as the first rav all agreed was valid for special sanhedrin-rabbinic ordination). Read more here.

The Sanhedrin web site has published two historical articles on previous attempts to recreate the Sanhedrin. You know about that, right? This isn't the first, it's the third...

1538, the Mahari Beharav attempts to recreate the Sanhedrin.
1830, Rabbi Shklover, talmid of the Vilna Gaon, attempts to recreate the Sanhedrin (oops, invalid link).

And of course, the current attempt, round 3.

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Staring at Hizballah

Michael Totten wrote a few months back about staring from Lebanon at Israel. Now he's written while standing in Israel staring back at Hizballah in Lebanon. And he says it's getting ready to explode.

Check it out! (click)

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Until the Last Day

It is written in the Torah, in Parshat Zot HaBracha (these are the blessings), Devarim 34:1 - "Moshe went up from the plains of Moav to Mount N'vo, to the top of the summit facing Jerico. G-d showed him the Land, the Gilead as far as Dan, all Naftali, the land of Efrayim and Menashe, all the land of Yehuda until the sea, the last, the Negev, and the plain (Gaza), the valley of Jerico, and the city of palms as far as Tzoar.

On the words Ad HaYam Acharon, Rashi comments "do not read HaYam Acharon (until the last sea) but HaYom Acharon, until the last day, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, showed Moshe our teacher all the events that were destined to befall Israel until the time of the revival of the dead."

The Targum Yonasan ben Uziel tells us what Moshe was shown, until the last day:

  • "And Moses went up from the valley of Moav to the moutains of N'vo, to the head of the mountain that overlooks Jerico, and he was shown the word of Hashem, all the power and events of the Land, the forces that in the future will work."

  • Iftach from Gilead (Judges 11:1 - to the end)

  • The victory's of Samson ben Manoach who was from of tribe of Dan (Judges)

  • Commanding general (aluf sarchal-commanding Aleph) from the house of Naftali who came up to join with Barak (apparently, Devorah the prophetess)

  • And the kings that Yehoshua ben Nun will kill in the future. (Yehoshua was of the tribe of Efraim)

  • The mighty acts of Giddon ben Yoash from the tribe of Menashe

  • And all the kings of Israel and the kings of the house of Yehudah who were ruling in the Land (in the time of the First Temple) until the following Holy House was destroyed ("the last day")

  • The rulership of Rome who joined with the king of the north to destroy the Land

  • Amommites and Moavites who where dwelling in the plain were making trouble for Israel

  • The exiled disciples of Eliyahu who were thrown out the Jerico valley

  • And the exiled disciples of Elisha who were thrown out from the palm city (the city of Deklim, Jerico, who some say is Neve Dekalim because it was) by their brothers the house of Israel, 200,000 people

  • And the troubles of every generation and the sufferings from Arimlus the Wicked and the succession of events of Gog (of MaGog)

  • and in that time of great trouble the (malach) Michael will arise with an arm to redeem.

Do you realize what this says? The commentary is historical events, up until 'the last day'. Then it's a prophecy for the future!

. The West joins with Russia to 'solve' the problem of Israel.
. The people of the plain, Gaza, making trouble for Israel.
. The people are exiled from Gaza, the main city given by name! Neve Dekalim.
. The people are exiled from the Shomron, 200,000 people!

200,000 people is exactly the Jewish population that's up for 'expulsion' under the plan by Olmert (including myself and family), who others have named as possibly being Armilus.

But do not worry! There's a corresponding Daniel (the prophet, 11:40): "Then, at the time of the end, the king of the south will clash with the king of the north, who will storm against him with chariots, horsemen and many ships; he will invade many countries, flood them and pass through. Then he will invade the coveted land. Many will stumble, but these will be saved from his hand: Edom, Moav and the choice parts of the chilren of Ammon. He will strech forth his hand against lands, and the land of Egypt will not be a time that time Michael will stand, the great prince who stands in support of the members of your people.

My friends, it's getting close.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

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Update: Rabbi Moshe Halberstam, zt"l

liviah reb. moshe 012
The Funeral, Click to Enlarge
While visiting my rabbi and teacher yesterday in Jerusalem, we were informed of the passing of the rav and gadol, the head of the beis din edet charadit of Jerusalem, Rabbi Moshe Halberstam, zt"l. On a personal note, Rabbi Halberstam was one of the rabbi's who confirmed my ordination.

We quickly ran to Mea Sharim to join in the funeral procession (pictures of which are above, click them for the full picture set).

We marched together, with 80,000 Jews, following the bier, through Jerusalem, through the Arab neighborhoods along the way, to the Mount of Olives and the cemetary. The residents of these neighborhoods fled in terror before the unified crowd.

After the burial was completed, I answered "Yehay Semay Rabba" together, b'achdus, with unity, with 80,000 Jews. I honestly thought my soul would leave my body as the mount thundered with our response to kaddish.

We stood together to honor this great man, related to the Satmar Rebbe, zt"l, who passed away as well this week. Together as Jews, young, old, chassidim and litvaks, even with Rebbe's (one of the pictures I took was of the Amshinover Rebbe, shlita, walking with us).

Photos here, Slideshow here.

We mourn for our loss of this great man of Torah, and wonder to whom we will turn now.

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The Amshinover Rebbe

The Amshinover Rebbe, shlita
at the leviya of Rabbi Moshe Halberstam, zt"l in Jerusalem on Wednesday

(Picture by R. Nati)

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Sold your Chametz on eBay?

This guy did, here. Really.

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Enough Already! Who's Going to Bring Moshiach???

A few days ago, I stopped by my younger son's non-chassidic yeshiva. While there, a 7 year old boy came up and challenged me, "nu, where's Moshiach???" (being Lubavitch chassidic, being 'made fun of' about Moshiach is part of the territory). The sad part being the unspoken "ha, he's not here, gotcha!". I responded to him, "there's no question, he's coming today!", and anyone who would deny this can tell me how they can deny the Rambam's 12th principle with a kippah on their head.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke about this, 15 years ago today...

(The words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe...) “Because of the unique stress on the Redemption in this time, an astonishing question arises: How is it possible that despite all these factors, Moshiach has not yet come? This is beyond all possible comprehension.

”It is also beyond comprehension that when ten (and many times ten) Jews gather together at a time that is appropriate for the Redemption to come, they do not raise a clamor great enough to cause Moshiach to come immediately. They are, heaven forbid, able to accept the possibility that Moshiach will not arrive tonight, and even that he will not arrive tomorrow, or on the day after tomorrow, heaven forbid.

“Even when people cry out 'Ad mosai--Until when will we remain in exile?' they do so only because they were told to. If they had sincere intent and earnest desire, and cried out in truth, Moshiach would surely have come already.

”What more can I do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor and cry out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Moshiach? All that has been done until now has been to no avail, for we are still in exile; moreover, we are in an inner exile in regard to our own service of G-d.

“All that I can possibly do is to give the matter over to you. Now, do everything you can to bring Moshiach, here and now, immediately.

”May it be G-d's will that ultimately ten Jews will be found who are stubborn enough to resolve to secure G-d's consent to actually bring about the true and ultimate Redemption, here and now, immediately. Their stubborn resolve will surely evoke G-d's favor, as reflected by the interpretation of the verse, 'For they are a stiff-necked people; You will pardon our sins and wrongdoings and make us Your possession.'

“I have done whatever I can; from now on, you must do whatever you can. May it be G-d's will that there will be one, two, or three among you who will appreciate what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, and may you actually be successful and bring about the true and complete Redemption. May this take place immediately, in a spirit of happiness and gladness of heart.”

Amein! So, what are you doing?

(More / source, here.)

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

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Another Tzaddik Leaves Us

liviah reb. moshe 012
The Funeral, Click to Enlarge
(From R. Nati) Rabbi Moshe Halberstam, zt"l, the Av Beis Din (the head of the Jewish religious court) of the Beis Din Tzedek of Jerusalem (one of the senior Jewish court's in the world), one of the foremost poskim (global Jewish law decisors) of our generation, and a close chossid of the Satmar Rebbe who passed away yesterday, left this world this morning at the age of 70.

The funeral took place in Jerusalem.

Photos here, Slideshow here.

Our nation is lessened for the loss of these great lights over the last 48 hours.

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More Geulah Thoughts

More conversations with Reb Dov Bar Leib (of the End of Days blog), who has become well known for his mystical end-of-days analysis...

(Reb Dov writes...) I believe that while are situation starts to turn around (after Passover), there will be may trials and setbacks until the worst of Gog U Magog is finished hopefully long before Hoshana Rabba of 5769. Actually Zecharia intimates that 2/3 of the world will be destroyed during this time period. Rav Amnon Yitzkhak has been saying the same thing.

The Gog U Magog gutwrenching process is typified by the apparent election of (a non-religous / anti-religious Israeli government), followed quickly by something miraculous to counter this in the near future. The contrast between good and evil will be so stark and unmistakable, it will be a wonder how three out of every ten supposed Jews could gladly vote for it. Let us daven that only good things occur and that the bird flu along with Hamas's ascent to dominance will defeat Armilus before he really begins to destroy, for whatever he destroys (in Israel) will lead to world destruction one hundred fold...

(more to come on this topic)

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

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The Geulah Process, In Progress?

I've had some more conversations with Reb Dov Bar Leib (of the End of Days blog), who has become well known for his mystical end-of-days analysis. Here's where he says we're at (note there will be a series of articles from Dov over the next couple of days here)...

(Reb Dov writes...) Everything is heating up for the brit of Yitzkhak this Isru Chag (the day after Passover). Gold and oil are going out of sight.

We are on a roller coaster for the next six to 18 months. The speed of the process (will be affected by the decisions of leaders of the Israeli religious political parties regarding their involvement with this Armilus based government forming).

(I wrote...) This seems a much better fit for the words of the Yakut Shimoni than the previous Gulf War scenario.

(Reb Dov responded...) Yes, there will be a deal between Gog W. and Putin. Russian troops will be sent to places that Armilus destroys in Yesha in exchange for permission for Gog W. to attack Iran.

(I wrote...) My friend in Eli (R. Nati from this blog) in reading the navi says it's pretty straightforward in indicating most Jewish survivors come out of the Negev . The naviim seem to be pretty explicit about scorched territory in Gog uMagog, what if anything leads us to hold that it's 'spiritual' or already fulfilled or to be cancelled?

(Reb Dov responded...) I believe that most Jewish communities south of Beth El will survive in the merit of Ya'akov Avinu's delayed korbanot there. But protection for that does not begin until next Pesach. If we need to escape to the Negev, I have not heard of this. The 2/3 that will die according to most meforshim will be worldwide. Yet, it is frightening to know that we are in the eye of the storm. Any movement in the storm could lead to the stormwall hitting us.

The Shoah is our greatest protection here along with the merit of the Avot, but full remembrance of the Avot begins next Pesach not this one, especially if (the relgious Israeli political parties) join this coalition (Israeli government) of the damned.

The 2/3 referred to in Zecharia is interpreted to be world wide. The earthquakes seem to be centered around Yerushalayim or "the moutains of Israel"...

(more to come on this topic)
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A Passing: The Tzaddik's a Tzaddik

The (former) Rebbe, Click to Enlarge

The Funeral, Click to Enlarge
Baruch Dayan Emes, Blessed is the True Judge.

Mystical Paths notes the passing of a looming tzaddik of our generation, the rebbe, grand rabbi of Satmar chassidus, the largest individual Jewish chassidic group in the world, Rabbi Moshe Teitlebaum, zt"l.

May his family, his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and his chassidim, be comforted among the mourners of Tziyon and Yerushalayim.

The Tzaddik's a tzaddik, but he's not mine.

Update: Commentor ליפא posted this leviya picture link: here. (Note it's not a picture set, but the current photos, so this link will only be valid for the next week or so.)

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Monday, April 24, 2006

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What is Mystical?

A guest posting from Rabbi Shabtai Teicher, teacher of rabbi's, kabbalist, contributor to KabbalaOnline.Org, from the holy city of Jerusalem...


From the word mystere.
From the Hebrew root satere: samech, tav, raish.

Which is a very interesting Hebrew root with two major meanings:

(1) Hidden, secret.

(2) Contradiction, as in a logical contradiction.

Usually, a contradiction means that there is something wrong with your reasoning. Go back and work out the equations another time to correct your mistake. However, sometimes a contradiction is correct, as in “Everything is foreseen, but free will has been given,” or “There is only God” even after the tzimtzum and the creation of the worlds and the independent existences that inhabit the creation.

These are conundrums (setirot) that cannot be solved by the human intellect. They are called “sod” – secret, and they are hidden – nistar. They are mysteries.

(3) Prominent in the Kabbalah is another usage of the Hebrew root samech, tav, raish. They are the first initials of the Hebrew words:

sof – the end
toch – the middle
rosh – the beginning.

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A Protest in Beit El

Extensive pictures and video of the West Bank protest in Bet El is available at IsraelReporter, here. Check it out.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

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Holy Jet Fuel

Matzah, the unleavened bread with which we commemorate the Geula from Egyptian golus on the holiday of Passover, represents Daat knowledge of Hashem as the ultimate reality. The basis of this knowledge is faith, that everything that happens in the world reflects Hashgachah - Divine Providence. Therefore, everything is truly miraculous.

Through the manifestation of Divine Providence, the Redemption was able to take place instantly, without much preparation. This is why we eat Matzah. Our ancestors left Egypt so quickly that their dough did not have time to rise. There was no time for them to doubt, their faith didn’t have time to become inflated with human reason.

They had faith in Hashem’s word so hashgachah was openly manifested before them; therefore, they were all dressed with shoes on their feet and their gartles around their waists and with their staffs in their hands they were ready, and made no other preparations for the geula, but left suddenly. (Rashi on Shemot 12:39) One moment they were in Rameses, and the next moment they arrived in Sukkot. (Shemot 12:37) Approximately six hundred thousand Israelite men (with all the women and children and elderly, the total comes to more than three million) they were all gathered from all over the land in a short time, as Rashi explains (Ibid. 19:4)

The Torah describes this by saying, “And I carried you on the wings of eagles, and I brought you unto myself” (Shemot 19:4). The eagle symbolizes spiritual ascent to the level beyond time, the level of hashgachah which transcends nature. This is the essence of Redemption. (Likutey Halakhot, Netilat Yadayim Shacharit 2:6)

The days of the counting of the Omer present us with a special opportunity to elevate ourselves as we pass through the forty-nine gates of teshvua (repentance) to receive the Torah. As we see, redemption started with the Pesach and was completed with our reception of the Torah (on Shavuous).

We must displace any doubt and place our trust and our faith totally in Hashem’s Word so that we may merit open manifestation of hashgachah (Divine Providence) to remove us from the present golus (exile).

Each day of the Omer is a combination lock. For those who can understand, each of these locks has to be opened and our minds freed level by level exposing us to a higher (brighter) light (revelation of G-dliness) until we transcend nature and with out any doubt receive the Torah of life. There is no time limit on this golus, we can choose to end it right now, but we have to choose too!!! If six hundred thousand Jewish males choose right now to end this golus we would be redeemed in an instant. But sadly we do not believe this or we have not heard it or don't know it?

So here we are, just another in a long line of reminders saying: wake up before it’s too late! Please! What do you have to lose?

I will close with this. A Song of Ascents (Psalm 126) When the Lord returns the exiles to Zion, we will be like dreamers. Then our mouth will fill with laughter and our tongue with joyous singing. Then the nations will say, ”G-d has done great things for them.” G-d has done great things for us, and we were happy. G-d, return our exiles as quickly as a flash flood in the desert. Those who sow with tears will reap with joyous singing. Though he walks along weeping, carrying the seed bag, he will come back carrying his sheaves. (From grace after meals.)

May this be our prayer, and may the Matzah we ate on Pesach be the holy jet fuel we need to take flight and end this golus now!

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Mystical Breslov Writings on Moshiach?

Haaretz (Israeli Newspaper) has an article on a hidden mystical book by the first and only grand rabbi of Breslov chassidus, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, that details the secrets of the coming of Moshiach.

Check it out, here.

Is there any truth to it? I don't know, but newspapers frequently blow these kind of things way out of proportion.

(Hat tip, A Simple Jew.)


Friday, April 21, 2006

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Book Review: Discovering Jewish Mysticism

Click for Info
Hurray, it's another book review! Seriously, I got a lot of reading done over the week of Passover. Anyway, here goes...

Discovering Jewish Mysticism by Rabbi Dubov is part of a new "The Key to Kabbalah" series by Dwelling Place publishing. I've read a variety of intro to kabbalah books, for the first 6 chapters this book is absolutely the best I've read. It presents the material well, easy to grasp and understand yet brief and to the point. If you're looking for kabbalah in a nutshell, this is the place to find it.

The next couple of chapters delve into chassidus, with a heavy focus on Chabad chassidus. While they also do a good job of covering the topic, they present Chabad chassidus as a somewhat exclusive pure edition, which I consider an unfair characterization (and that's with me being Chabad focused).

And that's just the first half of the book.

The remainder of the book goes deeper into the various concepts of kabbalah, brief yet to the point, not to complex but not to simple. Not for the absolute layman, but making sure a person has a complete and solid foundation in all the basic concepts of kabbalah and chassidus.

I thought the book was great, just the right speed, not to technical (some kabbalah books read more like a college level calculus book) yet presenting everything in a solid conceptual system (some kabbalah books read like the author was on drugs).

I liked it and recommend it, and the price ($12.95 list, discounts at the publisher and at as it's a oversized paperback) makes it a bargain in it's category.

DISCLOSURE - The publisher sent me the book at no charge to review.
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Review: Ushpizin, It's Not What You Think.

Click for Info
Ushpizin is already famous as the first general release ultra-orthodox Jewish movie. During the intermediate days of Passover I finally had a chance to see it with my family, via our local video rental outlet.

Most would tell you it's about a chassidic Jewish couple living in a religious Jerusalem neighborhood who are visited by some unsavory characters from the husband's past, during the religious holiday of Succot. And it is that.

But for those who are looking, what this movie really is, is a chassidic lesson from Breslov chassidus, from the teachings of the grand rabbi, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. The lesson is hidden in the opening music, the lesson presented during the yeshiva scene, the climactic event, the result and the closing music.

It's a beautiful and touching movie, in Hebrew with English subtitles, displaying a rich religious life, and some challenges and conflicts of the life, as well as some of the conflict between 'religious' Israel and 'secular' Israel.

I highly recommend it to all my readers. Click the image if you're interested in it from Amazon.Com.

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Book Review: Loyal Soldier

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I hope everyone enjoyed a kosher and happy Passover. Besides having a chance to spend some time with my family, I also had a chance to relax and read a few books. We'll get back on the heavy stuff in a few days, there's quite a bit of info to go over from both R. Nati and Reb Dov Bar Leib, but not enough time to put it together before Shabbat, so in the meantime I'll be posting some book reviews.

Some years ago, I davened next to a gentle and interesting chossid by the name of Reb Web. Little did I know the interesting history and story hidden behind the white beard and gentle face. Loyal Soldier tracks the story of a Jewish boy committed to serving his country, who chose to go off to war in Vietnam. From a secular background, experiences kept drawing him to Judaism. In the war zone in Vietnam, under fire and harrassed and threatened by his fellow soldiers, he became religious and, as an officer, effectively the Jewish chaplain in his area. The experiences that led him there are a true story of divine providence.

The book is an easy read, suitable for my teenagers and enjoyed by my wife and I. It's an interesting story, but never graphic, perhaps a little too mild given the experiences. I think you'll like it, I did.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

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To Begin the Redemption

Hag Some'ach! (Tonight is the holiday of the Kiryas Yam Suf, the Splitting of the Sea!)

"Atchalta d'Geula". The beginning of the redemption Here we are in the month of Geula, "It shall be the head of the months for you. The month of spring time".

The geula actually starts on rosh hodesh Nissian
(the beginning of the hebrew month Nissan which is in March/April)

(Likutey Moharan 49:6) Rebbe Nachman says "Bereishit (In the beginning)" Bet REiShIT, i.e., two beginnings. (The letters of the first word of Torah, Bereishit, spelled Bet (2) and REiShIT (beginning). The bet has the numerical value of 2, and so Bereishit indicates that at its inception the world has "two beginnings". Two Geulua's (two types) these are Rosh Hashanah (Tishrei) and Nissan, These are times of repentance. Tikkuney Zohar: "and it is called kabbalah when it is between the
two arms of the king." The two arms are Tishrei and Nissan, which are times of repentance, because in Nissan we are destined to be redeemed (Rosh HaShanah 11a) and redemption comes about only through repentance, as it is written (Isaiah 59:20) so too, Nissan is a time of repentance. Nissian, our sages teach, is the month in which we will be redeemed in the future. Yehi razton "May it be this year."

Geula and Teshvua The Redemption is dependent upon people repenting and returning to Hashem (Yoma 86b). Now is the time. So what must we do? Let's take a look at the first Geulua. What was the situation in that it came? It's important to understand, the When, the
How, and the Who. For our sages teach that, "just as in the time of Moshe so shall be the time of the end." And all we will know in this time, is in the form of remez (hints). That means we have to look for the answer,

"It's here (near), as close as this book." (Deut)? What was the When?, ("During those many days, it happened that the king of Egypt (the leading nation of the day) died, and the children of Israel groaned because of the work and they cried out.") They were living in the mist of the leading world power and they had
enjoyed relative success until now. They were caught in a system that enslaved them. Instead of being able to serve Hashem they were forced to work
. (had to pay for the new car and all the credit cards, you can't fit in if your not in debt; not much different than today; the Egyptians were all slaves to Pharaoh because of famine (Vayigash 40:19),"We with our land will become serfs to Pharaoh"). "Their
outcry because of the work went up to G-d. (This is important) G-d heard their moaning, and G-d remembered His covenant with Avraham, with Isaac, and with Yaacov. G-d saw the children of Israel; and G-d knew.

What was the Who? So Hashem came to Moshe and introduced Himself; "I am Hashem the G-d of your father, (I'm not a legend, I had a personal relationship with your father) The G-d Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Yaacov."

( I'm not a stranger) Hashem said, "I have indeed seen the affliction of my people that is in Egypt and I have heard its outcry because of its taskmasters, for I have known its sufferings; (Remember what Yosef had said to his brothers before he died?) "Yosef said to his brothers," I am about to die, but G-d will surely remember you and bring you up out of this land to the land that He swore to Avraham, to Isaac, and to Yaacov."; I shall descend
to rescue it from the hand of Egypt and to bring it up…. And now, behold! The outcry of the Children of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. (R'Chananel) they forced the nation to live in the same space as the seventy souls, thus there was an attempt to make their living conditions unbearable, much like the overcrowded ghettos of medieval Europe.

We see that Hashem called Moshe, and he met Aaron, they went and gathered the Elders, and they (the elders) went to the Am (the nation / people). Itaruta de'le'aila, from above to below.

What was the How "And now, go and I shall dispatch you"….Moshe Messiah….

"I shall be with you"…"and this is your sign (a personal sign for Moshe's benefit) that I have sent you:" ( that the Jews would receive the torah on Har Sinai). When you come to the children of Israel say to them that "I Shall Be
As I Shall Be"….. "this is my name and my remembrance from generation to generation", has sent you (this is important)

"Go and gather the elders of Israel and say to them, Hashem, the G-d of your forefathers, has appeared to me, the G-d of Avraham, Isaac, and Yaacov, Saying, "I have surely remembered you…." And I shall bring you up from the affliction….;

"They will heed your voice. You and the Elders of Israel shall come to the king."

Here Hashem commands Moshe to gather Knesset Israel (the congregation of Israel), there seems to be something important about the gathering of the elders Israel. (We will look into this further) in (parsha vayechi, bereishis
49) "Then Yaacov called for his sons….Gather yourselves and I will tell you what will befall you in the end of days. (Now again) Gather yourselves and listen, O sons of Yaacov, and listen to Israel your father.

(If they assembled and gathered together at all times they would merit the final redemption, ochtdoot). We see again the inverse is true and again in the end of days that the nations will gather against Israel to destroy her (tanach) ochtdoot of the klippah. So there is something to gathering together.)?

It seems from the text that in the first geula, Hashem went to Moshe and Moshe with Aaron gathered, the Elders of Israel. Then the elders spoke the nation, and the geula began. This is itaruta de'le'aila.

We have seen the first geula from the Chumash that was itaruta de'le'aila (a stimulation for above). Now let see what we can find on the last geula our geula? Itaruta de'la'tatta (a stimulation from below).

There are two types or two ways that this geula can come; in it's time or before it's time. (Believe me we want it before it's time brothers) Many have written and there are numerous sources on the final geula; the Gaon of Vilna, Ramchal,… the Lubavitcher Rebbe, all seem to relate that we need to start this one.

I believe there is a way. I believe that we can do something, and bring it before it's time. We must start it. The Gra's grand nephew Rabbi Hillel wrote on the teachings of the Gra, Kol HaTor (the voice of the turtle dove ) this whole book is about what and how and when this geula begins. If it begins before it's time it's all us. Yehi raztzon. If it comes in it's time Hashem brings it. There are steps.

I'll not list them here for there are 999. One the first and very important ones is the establishment of the men of truth in Jerusalem. The Elders of Israel.
We need to gather the Elders of Israel. And we need ztibor 600 thousand men 20-50 years of age to ask for it.

So we are starting a petition in hopes of gathering sufficient names requesting that the Elders of Israel to meet for the purpose of ratifying of the present Sanhedrin or forming a permanent one now with the intent of bringing the geula now before it's time.

(Akiva adds...) Chag Samayach, a happy and joyous holiday. G-d willing, next week after the holiday and after Shabbat, we'll get in to the practical steps we're taking. When it came to the splitting of the sea, the holiday we're about to enter (though most will ready this after, given the time I just finished editing and posting it for R. Nati, who sent it to me this morning US time but afternoon Israel time), there's the well known story that the sea didn't spit until some guy (Nachshon ben Amidav) just took Moshe's word for it and started right in, in to the sea, marching with faith in Hashem, and when the water hit his lips, the sea split.

Are you ready to join us?
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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

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Distorted Reflections In The Mirror

For the good in the world, there are reflections in the mirror, illusions in reality, empty with no essence of their own, yet serving the purpose of providing choice and hiding the emes (truth). This is true at the obvious level, but also at the hidden level, the level of the mysteries.

There are 36 Tzaddikim, the 36 Hidden Righteous of every generation, pillars of goodness upon whom the world stands. We are promised their merit and their existance in every generation.

And today I read this, which absolutely floored me, of their opposite, their reflection in the mirror...

...just before he announced that Iran had gatecrashed “the nuclear club”, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disappeared for several hours. He was having a khalvat (tete-a-tete) with the Hidden Imam, the 12th and last of the imams of Shiism...

According to Shia lore, the Imam is a messianic figure who, although in hiding, remains the true Sovereign of the World. In every generation, the Imam chooses 36 men... naming them the owtad or “nails”, whose presence, hammered into mankind’s existence, prevents the universe from “falling off”. Although the “nails” are not known to common mortals, it is, at times, possible to identify one thanks to his deeds. It is on that basis that some of Ahmad-inejad’s more passionate admirers insist that he is a “nail”, a claim he has not discouraged. For example, he has claimed that last September, as he addressed the United Nations’ General Assembly in New York, the “Hidden Imam drenched the place in a sweet light”.

Last year, it was after another khalvat that Ahmadinejad announced his intention to stand for president. Now, he boasts that the Imam gave him the presidency for a single task: provoking a “clash of civilisations” in which the Muslim world, led by Iran, takes on the “infidel” West...

Whoa. Source article here. Picked up from Little Green Footballs here.

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The Terrorism Two Step

In case anyone didn't hear, there was a homicide bombing attack today in Tel Aviv, on the 4th day of the Omer, netzack she'be'chesed. Reports of around 9 murdered and 49-60 horribly injured (including limbs blown off, sever burns, and major internal injuries).

However, there was a major difference in this attack. The governing Palestinian party no longer pretended to be horrified, they applauded, endorsed and confirmed it: "CNN: Hamas -- the group that came to power -- called the bombing justified."

When the "Palestinian government" was pretenting to be horrified at the rogue attacks on Jews, it was very easy for the U.S. government, they're #1 funder, to declare their associated horror and regret, and hope that they'd be able to do a better job in the future.

But what do they do when the government says good job in public?

They do the Terrorism Two Step...

Whitehouse Press Briefing: We condemn the terrorist attack today in Tel Aviv in the strongest possible terms. It is a despicable act of terrorism for which no excuse or justification is possible. We express our condolences to those who were injured, to the families of those who were killed and to the people and government of Israel.

The burden of responsibility for preventing terrorist attacks such as this one rests with the Palestinian Authority. We have noted reactions by several Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, that defend, or even applaud, the barbaric acts of terror committed in Tel Aviv today, as we have noted President Abbas's quick denunciation of it.

Dance dance dance, the government applauds, ignore that, focus on the powerless president's denunciation. And U.S. Aid goes on funding their projects...

US AID to the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza (right from their web site):

USAID funding for the West Bank and Gaza between 1993 and 2004 totaled approximately $1.5 billion.

In 2001, USAID West Bank/Gaza's program budget was $114 million. In 2002 and 2003, USAID received $75 million from Congress for its program. In addition, in May of 2003, the Congress approved an additional $50 Million of supplemental funds. These funds went directly toward improving Palestinian lives: rebuilding infrastructure, creating jobs, and reinvigorating the Palestinian economy.

Since October 2000, more than $200 million has been directed toward emergency and humanitarian assistance, which includes providing immediate aid in the areas of water, health, food, and employment, and for the repair of basic municipal infrastructure.

Using the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Planning comparative data, the U.S. is the largest bilateral donor in the West Bank and Gaza.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

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A Passover Stringency!

Pesach is almost here, the season of our freedom. Yet, it perhaps should be called the season of chumrot, our stringencies. All year round you can argue whether a chumra (stringency) provides value or conflicts with a mitzvah (such as Shalom Bayis), but on Pesach, chumrot rule. Because all year round we have a leniency, an allowance for human error, the 1/60th rule. But on Pesach, there is no leniency for chamatz, none at all. So, as strict or stringent as you want to be, go for it.

I read a quote from a big rav in Yerushalayim recently, I think it was in Mishpacha magazine, and he said this: "Every year I hear of 50 new chumrot, new stringencies in religious practice, bain odom l'makom, between man and G-d, but in 50 years I've never heard of a single new stringency bain odom l'chavero, between man and his friend". We find it easy to be strict in our personal interactions with the Ribonon Shel Olam, the Master of the Universe. But it's not only easy, it feels like an accomplishment to be stricter.

Yet there are some mitzvoth that are already so difficult that we don’t add on to them. For example, generally speaking, fasting, praying. Among these are mitzvot between man and man, ahavat yisroel, love of our fellow? Why is this so hard that there are no stringencies added?

The great Rabbi Akiva, no no, not me, the other one, said "v'ahavta l'rayecha k'mocha", love your fellow as yourself, "ze klal gadol b'Torah", this is the main thing in the Torah. The main thing, yet out of 613 mitzvot, commandments, we have only 1, according to the Sefer HaChinuk #243, To Love Every Jewish Person, and as I noted above, we don't even have any chumrot about it! How then is this the main point of Torah?

The Tzemach Tzedek, the 3rd Lubavitcher Rebbe, wrote in sefer Derech Mitzvotecha, quoting Sefer HaGilGulim, "Mystically, all of Israel comprises one complete entity, one body of souls, the soul of Adom HaRishon...This is the basis of mutual responsibility and why one Jew is accountable to another." To such an extent that the Ari Zal used to confess to all the enumerated aveyrot, sins, even though he was of such a level that he couldn’t even conceive of violating them. Why? Because all of Israel is one entity.

Now, Derek Mitzvotech explains, one body means distinct limbs and organs and so forth. Yet, just as the hand is not separate from the heart, we are not separate from each other. The foot carries us somewhere, the hand takes an action, the heart pumps out life giving blood to the whole body, the lungs bring in life giving air. Each plays a part, yet only together are they one and only together to they share a purpose.

Further, the life and health of the body are also interrelated. My arm is not ok when my foot is injured. The reverse is also true, health and vitality flow through the body.

Therefore, the separation between us exists in body only. Your pain is literally my pain, and my simcha is literally all of ours to share.

Do you ignore your toe when it hurts? Or your ear when it itches?

If I may, I’ll tell you a brief story. Normally I like to tell stories of tzaddikim, but these happened to me personally. Years ago I met a fellow with some questions that was being ignored. He had a questionable background, it made other people uncomfortable and they shied away. I answered his questions, and briefly thereafter he needed a favor.

On that, let me sidebar for a moment. In English, if you need something, you might ask for a favor. Yet even there we've actually built in to the language itself the problem. In Hebrew we say when asking for a helping hand, asiti tova, do me a goodness, while in English we say your help for me is something special and unusual, in Hebrew it's just part of being good.

Now, this favor was not a big deal for me, maybe a medium inconvenience, a little bit of personal monetary risk mixed in. B”H, I did the favor and helped out my fellow. But for him, he told me I saved his and his family’s life. Nice I thought, but it was no big deal.

A few years later he was sitting at my Shabbos table. As we were making Kiddush, my beautiful young son picked up and plopped a marble in his mouth. Then it happened, he inhaled it. He gasped a little, coughed, then went silent. Stuck. Turning blue. Now I’ve had some first aid training, did a hymlic, didn’t help. My son was dying in front of me, 2 minutes to live, no time to be saved by an ambulance.

But this fellow for who I did a favor, he picked him up, flipped him over, cleared his mouth, struck him on the back flat and firm, the marble popped out. Unknown to me, he is a trained EMT. He saved my son’s life right in front of me.

An inconvenience, some minor monetarily personal risk. He says I saved his family’s life. And he saved mine.

We may choose to ignore a pain of our own for a moment, but we are forbidden to ignore the pain of another!

For this Pesach, let’s take on one special chumra, a special stringency, a stringency of Ahavat Yisroel. Let us remember to consider our brother’s or sister’s pain, and look upon all with an Ayin Tov, a good eye, considering they’re need, their position, they’re concern, in a good light! And may the merit of this bring us this Pesach where we will literally have lamb with our matza and moror, where we will, together, b’yachad, in unity, b’achdus, bring the Korban Pesach, the Pesach Sacrifice, together with the Rebbe and Moshiach Tzidkaynu, in the Beis HaMikdash, mamash!

Chag Kasher v'Samayach to all Mystical Paths readers, a Kosher and Happy Passover! Blogging will be light over the next week and a half as I spend the holiday with my family, perhaps a couple of audio posts only (you may see them without a title), and certainly none on except for Sunday - Tuesday and next Friday (the other days are holy days). Be well, may we meet in Jerusalem for the korban pesach!

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

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Chaos - Hidden Face or Full Control?

The Maggid of the Shomron pinged me with this last night while I was out. Is the current political chaos that has started hester panim (the hiding of G-d's face) or full almost blatent control? ...

The Maggid writes: The steam roll for Armilus is moving frighteningly quick. UTJ and Shas will apparently join with no stipulations against hitkansut. Armilus has moved up the date for complete withdrawal from all areas not within an expanded security fence to November 2008, just over 2 1/2 years from now. You can guess whose idea that date was. Apparently this entire operation is being directed from the White House and the State Dept. Yet, this evil is gaining steam as hungry dogs chase after scraps.

I can hardly guess what is next. Chaos is reigning here (Israel). When there is chaos, G-d has either hid his face or he has taken hold of the entire situation. I believe it is the latter although some of our "gedolim" (leading Jewish sages) seem to have forgotten to represent all of klal Yisrael, not just their "close constituants".

I still hope that someone in Shas and UTJ come to their senses before it is too late. Without them, Armilus must make a deal with Lieberman, tempering the Evil in our midst. He cannot rule with Meretz, for he has only 60. I pray that someone in UTJ and Shas do the math and see this.

It is obvious to me that if Shas and UTJ join this Evil, the year of Yitzkhak will quickly morph into the year of Edom since it was he who was supposed to receive Yitzkhak's blessings. I am intrigued that all of this bad karma is taking place during Nissan. Of course, this is karma that we are bringing on ourselves. G-d is saying "You want to live in galut Edom. See if you can take it one more year." Ya'akov Avinu does not take the prize by fooling his father until next Erev Pesach anyway. The Zohar says 6 1/2 years after the partial pekidah there will be a full zechira. Yet, a full zechira is dependent on Ya'akov first, and it involves the Land of Israel. You know the pasuk from Parshat Bechukotai. I will remember my brit with Ya'akov, and my brit with Yitzkhak, and my brit with with Avraham I will remember, and the Land I will remember. B'itah, everything this year is a setup for next Spring, not this one.

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Pre-Passover Stress


Monday, April 10, 2006

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You can't let your kids play...

Pre-Passover is a busy time of cleaning and organizing. There's the famous story of the Kedushas Levi, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Beridchev who compares the scrubbing, and scrapping, and kashering for Passover with the tekiah, shevarim, and teruah of the shofar (musical notes of the shofar) on Rosh Hashanah. So, we're cleaning and scrubbing and generally getting rid of a year's worth of accumulated physical chometz (leavened products, crumbs, pieces, whole cookies, bagles, etc, that the children have spread around).

My wife is busily scouring the kitchen, my son is vacuming the cars, while I'm trying to work at home to be able to run interference.

The younger children were playing out front for a bit with limited supervision as we're all preoccupied. For those who haven't been reading for a while, I live in a suburban neighborhood in the northeast US, so it's your average suburban street.

A neighbor pulled up and asked to speak with me. "You can't let your children play out front!" she said. "???" was my basic response. "Well, they ride in the street, or they kick a ball and run to get it, or who knows what could happen." She's right, cars come through, they're in a hurry or they're talking on their cell phone. They own the road, no room for others. Or, G-d forbid, the safety risks of snachers.

While I've run in to this before, still it strikes me as incredibly sad that in today's American society, you're advised to cage the kids. Put up a 6 foot privacy fence and then they can play in the back yard without supervision. But G-d forbid they should go in public without a lease (with a parent holding it)!

What a difference between the US and Israel in this area. There are no concerns about children in public in Israel. None. I miss that, and my children miss it even more.

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Trends Worth Noticing

  • The majority of Jews in the world now live in Israel. This population statistic was noted earlier this year.

  • Tel Aviv has more Jews living there than New York City, making it the most Jewish populated city in the world. This was also noted ealier this year.

  • The majority of Jews in Israel are Torah observant (or whatever 'traditional' means). That's the latest news from today here and here.

On the Israeli political side, these results have to terrify the secular elites that control Israeli politics and the government.

On the spiritual / end-of-days side, the above are a clear prerequisite for a number of events listed in the ne'viim (prophets).


Sunday, April 09, 2006

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The Passover Sacrifice - Let's Get Practical

So we know the Rambam (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, famous sage from 800 years ago) in the 12th of the 13 principles of faith states that we believe Moshiach may come at any moment. And there is no doubt that we truly believe this.

That being the case, R. Nati and I have prepared the following cost basis for your Passover sacrifice this year. Yes, this is 100% for real. All costs are in New Israeli Shekels (NIS), which run about 4.5 to the dollar.

  • 1 Lamb - 300 NIS - per lamb, good for ~30 people - Remember the lamb is only eaten with the matzah/bitter herb sandwich and a single bite for afikoman.

  • Olive & Fig Wood - 750 NIS - for roasting up to 3 lambs - olive and fig wood are the required types of wood for the fire for passover sacrifice roasting.

  • Pomagranite Spits - 200 NIS - for roasting up to 3 lambs, since the passover sacrifice can't be boiled or steamed, a very dry wood is required (so the spit itself doesn't cook the meat from the inside). Pomagranite is considered the appropriate type.

  • Oven Materials - 600 NIS - cinder block and cement for building the oven, assumes self construction. While multiple lambs can be cycled through, there's a practical time limit of about 5 lambs per oven.

  • Transportation - 450 NIS - we've got to get all this stuff delivered to Jerusalem, within the city walls (the 'old' city).

  • Slaughtering and Traiboring - 450 NIS - if there is, G-d willing, a Beis Hamikdash (a holy temple), then the slaughtering is free and done by the kohanim (temple priests). We're assuming we're going to need a shochet (a ritual slaughterer). As well, we don't eat the siatic nerve, the process of removing it requires a skilled butcher and is called traiboring.

  • Location - ??? - the sacrifice must be prepared and eaten within the walls of Jerusalem. We need a small space for our oven and 30 people, hopefully we could rent one for NIS 5000.

So there you have it. Your passover sacrifice this year will run about US $20 per person, though the location may cost an additional $35, call it $55 total per person.

The halacha (Jewish law) states that one is required to bring the passover sacrifice, it doesn't specificly state the holy temple is required. There is some disagreement about whether the physical structure of The Alter is required or whether the blood can just be poured in it's former location (the temple mount) and whether the whole nation being ritually impure cancels the impurity concern (the current situation and most seem to agree this is true).

We're ready and have our shopping list, are you?

(Note the above costs don't include your matzah, moror (bitter herbs), wine for the 4 cups, or festive meal. I'm not sure which is the bigger sacrifice, the lamb or the cost of guarded wheat hand prepared matzah (shmurah matzah b'yad) and a decent glass of wine.)

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Friday, April 07, 2006

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Update: Planned Jewish Town Destruction

I previously wrote (here) about R. Nati receiving a notice from the police of a planned neighborhood destruction in Eli and the town across the wadi, Givat Roeh.

Israel National News says they followed this up and found no confirmation. R. Nati says yep, it's straight up with one adjustment, Givat Roeh is scheduled for this Monday (that's across the wadi from Eli), the Eli neighborhood of Givat Tet is scheduled for next Monday. At least that's the printed notification he received at his front door by the police.

It does seem to correspond to this news item from YNetNews about another Peace Now petition to the Israeli Supreme Court...

Peace Now movement petitions High Court; previous petition led to Amona evacuation. Peace Now on Wednesday petitioned the High Court with a request to evacuate six illegal outposts in the West Bank...The outposts mentioned in Wednesday’s petition are: Ramat Gilad, Givat Assaf, Maale Rehavam, Mitzpe Lakhish, Givat Haroeh, and Mitzpe Yitzhar.

G-d forbid.

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Calling Bahrain, Calling Bahrain

King of Bahrain
Elisheva Rubin read this news tidbit...

Manama, Bahrain, April 2 - The cabinet expressed its deep sorrow over the tragic incident of the tourist boat which capsized and sank off the coast of Bahrain last Thursday evening.

and she noticed that the event happened pretty much at the same time as a terror attack in Israel (about 30 minutes before). So she asked herself, why note one and not the other. Then, she decided to asked them...

I called Bahrain tonight. This guy's office to be precise: The King. Um Al Hassam, Kingdom of Bahrain.

If you read their accounts of the boat sinking, and what they are "doing" about it afterwards, you have to laugh. They have no idea about how to run a government, and no idea about public safety. Soon as anything goes wrong, they panic, start accusing each other, and the guy on top has to preserve his pride, so he quickly blames his underlings and they get taken away while everyone shakes his hand and says he did a great job! I was OK until I got to this: "Bahrainis grieved by capsized ship" Lots of coverage - nothing in depth of course. But no mention of the terrorist attack in Israel anywhere. Very international list of the dead.

So I thought that I would call them up, tell them the boat problem was a tragedy, and then ask why they didn't cover the tragedy in Israel. Well, when I called and said I was calling from the USA about the boat tragedy they listened. But when I tried to talk more, as in about Israel, they suddenly lost their ability to speak English and they passed me up to someone who could - except that soon as he heard what I was calling about, he, too, could not understand English. This went on for a bit. They hung up, I called back, etc.

You know, they are so unprepared in Bahrain that they had no place to store the dead bodies. Where do you think that they stored the dead bodies awaiting being claimed and buried??? Guess!!!

"The bodies are at the Jawad Supermarket freezers, in Sanad."

Elisheva notes 'coincidences' between terror attacks in Israel and corresponding tragic 'accidents' or 'natural' disasters in supporting or facilitating parts of the world. This was her latest example.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

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The Kindness of Truth

Some may recognize the title as the translation of Chesed Shel Emes, doing for those who have left us is considered the kindness of truth, for no recompense will be received in this world.

Last month, I wrote this and this about my grandmother.

On Tuesday at her funeral, I was offered the opportunity to say a brief word, this is what I said:

There are some people who have learned an obvious secret of this world. Obvious, because everyone says "oh yeah, of course". Secret because not many people do it and learn that it's actually true.

The more you give to others, the more you receive.

Further, it says in Pirke Avos, Ethics of Our Fathers, "receive every person with a pleasant face". It's amazing what a simple smile can do to those around you.

The woman we're burying today was a shining example of that secret. She gave and gave and gave and gave, and her life was filled with family and love and friends. That is not why she gave, but it is because she gave. She greeted everyone with a smile and found people drawn to her. That's not why she smiled, but it is because she smiled.

Her family was brightened by her love, warmed from her care. Though we've all faced troubles, we've always had her to turn to carry us through. Not just through care and concern, but through dropping everything and running to help. Caring for sick family members, helping overwhelmed family members, helping through pregnancies and births, through illness and troubles, literally through 4 generations. She's not just the one who cared, she's the one who provided care. Not only among her family, but even volunteering at the hospital and taking care of babies there that no one else would handle.

Finally, it's written in Pirke Avos, Ethics of Our Fathers, there are 3 crowns, the crown of Torah, the crown of Priesthood, and the crown of Kingship, but the crown of a Good Name exceeds them all. I have no doubt that my grandmother, whom we all loved and will miss terribly, carries such a crown with her as she proceeds to her reward in the next world.

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The Redemption has not yet come.

Rabbi Moshe Yess sent out this interesting tidbit...

Rabbi Yonasan Eibshetz, ztvk"l, (1690-1764) states in his sefer Yaaros Dvash:

At certain moment the time will come when Moshiach (Judaism's King Messiah) should have already arrived but the Redemption has not yet come. The Moshiach will ask how it could be that the time for Redemption has arrived and he still undergoes sufferings? The response that he will receive is that he must wait for nine months. Why? In order to wait for the fall of Persia at the hands of Edom, and then the final redemption will come.

I've previously discussed that Edom today is, mystically speaking, considered to be Rome and it's current inheritors, the West or more specifically America. The word Iran is literally Persia in the language of Persian (Farsi).

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

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News Flash: The Destruction Begins Again - Eli

R. Nati called me this morning from his home in Yishuv Eli, the Jewish town of Eli in the 'West Bank' named for and the physical home location of the biblical priest Eli in the book of Samuel I.

Police are going door to door right now, informing the residents that the Givat Tet neighborhood of Eli, 21 large single family homes built on Jewish land, bought and purchased by the residents, will be evacuated with force (the warning actually says that) on Monday, their owners and families force-ably removed (right before Passover), and bulldozed to rubble the following Monday. As well as this neighborhood, the Jewish town across the valley, Givat Ro-eh, will be evacuated and destroyed on the same schedule (about 30 small family caravans I think).

Any other resident of the town is warned that if they do not confine themselves to their homes during this event, they face arrest and a very long jail term (yes the warning specifically says that as well). Note this from an on-the-spot call, we're working on verification now.

Ribono Shel Olam! Master of the Universe! Once again Jews will be thrown out of their homes, homes they built, homes they paid for, for nothing, and with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Update: While I'm waiting some additional confirmation, I did run in to this article from YNetNews that seems to tie in...

(YNetNews, Here) Peace Now movement petitions High Court; previous petition led to Amona evacuation. Peace Now on Wednesday petitioned the High Court with a request to evacuate six illegal outposts in the West Bank...The outposts mentioned in Wednesday’s petition are: Ramat Gilad, Givat Assaf, Maale Rehavam, Mitzpe Lakhish, Givat Haroeh, and Mitzpe Yitzhar.

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Defense, or Retreat? Part 1

A guest post by Rabbi Shabtai Teicher of Jerusalem, Israel...

There are five major issues, or categories of issues, which are at the center of Israeli public and political life. They are:

1. The Jewish identity of the state and the people
2. Security issues
3. Issues of settlements and the vitality of Zionism
4. The Socio-Economic welfare of the people
5. Corruption

In the recent elections only two of these major issues were dealt with, and only partially. They were the issues of settlements and the socio-economic welfare of the people. Security issues such as the ongoing Kassam rocket attacks, the rise of Hamas, and Iran were hardly mentioned. The issue of the Jewish identity of the state and people was not raised because those who would seek to reverse the long-term trend of deterioration on this point consider themselves, rightly or wrongly, too weak to challenge the powers that be. The issue of corruption was raised, but not by any of the competing political parties, and it was hidden by the major media.

The results of the election have been interpreted and reinterpreted by all the major players and commentators, sometimes seriously, and often ludicrously. The subject of this article is to deal with only one of the conclusions that must be drawn from the election results, but it is an incontestable conclusion, although some would like to continue their Pollyanna illusions and deny it.

Of the 120 people who will be sitting in the new Knesset, there are at least 110 who believe that more Jewish settlements in the near or distant future must be uprooted and destroyed, whether to a greater or lesser extent, and under specific circumstances or others!

I am not writing this article because I believe that Jewish settlements should be uprooted or not. Rather, my purpose is to contribute to the re-establishment of some kind of balance in “our camp” which has undergone such awesome upheavals and shocks in recent years (since Sharon’s Hertziliyah speech, or since the beginning of the Oslo agreements, or since the suicidal mission of the Shamir government to Madrid, or since the Israeli army lost a war to children throwing stones in the first Intifada). The criminal destruction of Gush Katif has only been the last tragic blow that has completely knocked us off our feet.

For those of us who have followed our Holy Rebbe (may his soul shine in Eden and protect us and bless us) whose opinion concerning settlements in the Land of Israel, like the opinion of other important rabbis, is based upon Chapter 329.6 in Orach Chaim in the Laws of Shabbat, the fact of more than 110 Knesset Members willing to surrender territory seems truly horrendous and full of dangerous portent. As stated previously, the purpose of this article is to try to find an idea concerning what to do about it.

First, however, it’s worthwhile to review what Chapter 329.6 in Orach Chaim teaches. That particular law in the Code starts with the statement, “If gentiles besiege an Israelite city….” It should be noted that this law does not apply to settlements in the Land of Israel only. Indeed, that law was taught concerning the pale of Jewish settlement in the Persian Empire in Talmudic times. It deals with the health, welfare and security of the Jewish people, and it has nothing to do with the question of whether it is permitted to surrender even a centimeter of the Land of Israel or not. This article also does not address that issue. My translation of the Laws of Shabbat 329.6 follows.

If gentiles besiege a Jewish town…
  • -a- If they have come to plunder, we do not profane the Shabbat (to go out) against them.

  • -b- If they have come (to kidnap or kill) Jewish souls, and even if it is not clear, then we go out against them with weapons and profane the Shabbat.

  • -c- If (they are coming against) a town that is nearby to the border, even if they are only coming to steal straw and hay, we profane the Shabbat (to go out) against them.

The reasoning of the law is plain and clear. It concerns pikuach nefesh – the saving of lives. In order to save lives we must resist and even profane the Holy Shabbat, as it is stated in clause (b). Consequently, if there is not threat to the lives of Jews because they are coming only to plunder, then we do not profane the Shabbat to resist them.

However, according to clause (c), if the place they are attacking is near the border, even if they are coming only to steal and plunder, we do resist them, even if we have to profane the Shabbat because of it. If they conquer our border settlements, then the rest of our settlements will be exposed to their deprivations. This can lead to unforeseen calamities that will very likely result in serious life-threatening situations.

On the basis of this last point it has been argued, and thus we have been taught by our Holy Rebbe (n”e) that abandoning or uprooting settlements in the territories of Yehudah and Shomron (and G. Katif and Gaza) is tantamount to abandoning “border settlements”, and if we are enjoined to resist and even profane the Shabbat in order to protect them, then we are certainly not allowed to willfully give them over to the enemy.

Thus far the line of reasoning is clear and compelling. However, what is there to do about our 110 Knesset members? In order to address that question, let us first play a little “war game”.

Let us suppose that our general has discerned the possibility of pushing E2 away from our southern settlements, but in order to do it he has to transfer troops from I1 to I2, and this creates the possibility that E1 will be able to advance towards our northern settlements. The new position would look like this:
old line: -------

The question that our little war game proposes is obvious, and it goes like this. Does our general’s maneuver contradict the sound advice and secure teaching of 329.6, or does it not? Since it allows E1 to advance into the territory that we have been holding and come closer to our settlements, then it is jeopardizing our people and it should not be allowed. On the other hand, since it is strengthening our hold on the southern settlements and distancing E2 from them, then the maneuver is not weakening and endangering our people, but actually strengthening them. In that case, it is not only allowed, but it is also wise.

This latter argument is further augmented by another very important point. If we are defending the line with 120 battalions, and 110 of our battalion commanders want to withdraw, then we have virtually lost the war. In that case, is it not better to save from destruction what is still possible to be saved!

Of course, the question here cannot be answered by our little war game, or by any theoretical discussion, or by any ideological position. The real life situation must be faced and soberly weighed.

When Sharon first suggested the withdrawal from Gush Katif, it was interesting to see what he really meant by it. Was it a surrender and retreat, or was it a wise regrouping of forces? Unfortunately, it soon became clear that it was the former, and not the latter – it was a rout and an hopeless attempt to escape that offered nothing in return. We waited to hear what we might gain in return for it. Would he annex Gush Etzion, would he build 500 houses between Ariel and Gush Shiloh? Would he offer the farmers the opportunity, if they wished, to relocate to the Jordan Valley in order to strengthen our settlement there? Would he, at least, put the Palestinians and world-opinion on notice that any attack upon our settlements after the destruction of G. Katif would be met with the destruction of their neighborhoods and settlements as well? In short, whatever the Israeli people were supposed to have gained from this maneuver, it has been kept a closely guarded secret. There was some talk about it improving our moral position among the international community, but this was quickly, before the deportation, proven an empty hope. There was some talk about a letter from the American President, but the letter does not bind anyone, not even the President that wrote it, let alone a future President; and it was completely vague. Maybe it included Kiryat Arba; maybe it did not even include Ma’ale Adumim.

Furthermore, if it were a regrouping and not a rout, or something criminally corrupt, then why was it necessary to destroy the three settlements in the north of the Gaza Strip, which were contiguous with the Israeli border and where there were no Palestinians at all living? Today, it is from there that Kassams and Katyushas are being fired upon the electric power station in Ashkelon.

If it were not a mere rout, then why did it have to happen in such a hurried and panicky way? Why were no decent provisions made for these people who were being uprooted from their land and their homes? Why have they been treated like animals? Were they criminals for having gone there at the behest of Israeli governments? Were they dogs for having made sand dunes blossom into fruitful gardens, for having built there a billion dollar a year agricultural industry in accordance with the Zionist dream of settling the Land and planting it?

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