Wednesday, May 31, 2006

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State of Emergency in Basra?

CNN: State of Emergency declared in Basra.

Basra, Basra, a slaughter in Basra? Could it be?

Update: Right as this was happening, Reb Dov posted an extensive prophecy review of...Basra.

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Redirecting Lust

...if you happen to think of a 'bad love' (negative chesed, the klipah of the sefirah of chesed, aka lust), say to yourself: "What have I done? I have taken a part of the World of Thought and brought it to a place of filth!" This will effect that you be subdued and come to the level of dust, thus bringing the thought to the attribute of ayin (nothingness). Then you will come to (you can bring yourself to) the World of Love by reminding yourself: "If I love this object, as, for example, a woman, who is but a 'putrid drop' (the physical source of all flesh), how much more should I love G-d!" (the true source of the beauty I see) - Tzava'at HaRivash 87, the Testament of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

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They Love Me, They Love Me Not

West Bank Phto
They love me...

"I very much enjoy the Mystical Paths website."

They love me not...

"I am sorry but your blog is un-appealing to me in more than one way."

What do you think? Any suggestions?

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Arab Voices to Note

As we sometimes delve in to Israeli politics here, it's useful to hear the voices of some neighbors. I've added a link section, Arab Voices, which has...

  • Arabs for Israel - Really? Yes.

  • Big Pharoah - A voice from Cairo, not unreasonable by Arab standards.

  • Michael Totten - Great writing from an American living in Lebanon, also visiting Iraq, Egypt, Israel, and soon Iran. Ok, he's not Arab, but brings an American view immersed in the local cultures.

  • Perpetual Refugee - A Lebanese now managing a Western corporation's Israeli office. Great story, unique insights.
Check them out.
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Monday, May 29, 2006

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Advocate for Living Jews or Dead Jews?

Letter To the Editor
Jewish Press


In this weeks Jewish Press, Rabbi Porush writes about the tragedy of the Jewish cemetery in Vilna being destroyed. He states it’s our duty to do something to stop it, stating we are not allowed to remain silent. Yet he states this as Prime Minster Olmert returns from the U.S. with plans to displace and expel tens of thousands of living Jews, not to mention disinter several cemetaries. He further intends to partition Jerusalem!

While Rabbi Porush would have us advocate for the dead Jews of old Vilna, his own party, United Torah Judaism, is negotiating to enter Olmert’s government, thereby supporting his plans to disinter tens of thousands of living Jews from their home in the Holy Land, Eretz HaKodesh, Israel.

Are Jews only worth advocating for once they’re dead? Shall we wait until they’re homeless to begin collecting tzedakah? Shall we wait until the rockets hit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to advocate for security?

Rabbi Porush, your priorities make no sense!

Who will stand up for the living, for the land? Who will stand up before it’s too late?

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The Media Goes Overboard...

"a single bakery...was then blown up by the media"!!!

The media blew up a bakery? Suicide cameramen are now roaming the Middle East? We know they've been actually setting up situations to film in the past, now they're actively causing them?

OMG!

Sultan Knish, here.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

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Teffilin Sale!

Teffilin Sale, Click Here. Not often you find teffilin on sale (source is kosher, prices in NIS, for US$ divide by ~4.5).

Teffilin are a tremendous mitzvah for Jewish men. Click here for info.

15 minute video on making teffilin (hebrew)
.

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Who Will Stand Up?

My older daughter asked, "Why don't the religious parties of Israel stand up against what the government is doing?"

Good question. I explained that the small parties of Israel, regardless of the fact that they're no longer so small and the big parties (Labor and Likud) are no longer 'large', still operate according to different standards. The large parties actually pretend to be interested in running the country, national policy and so forth. The small parties leave that space to the large ones and focus on their niche issues, and for the religious parties that niche issue is funding for yeshivas, Torah institutions, and occasionally national religious issues (though they've lost all influence on that over the last 10 years or so). Even though the party balances have changed with the number of seats, and Shas is almost as large as the large parties, still they haven't changed mindset (neither the 'large' nor the small).

She next asked, "Why don't the Torah leaders, those who are the 'spiritual' heads of the religious parties, those of great influence throughout the Torah world, stand up against what the government did (Gaza) and is going to do (West Bank and Jerusalem)? Why don't they use their immense influence???"

An even better question. It's actually hard not to give a cynical answer here, but here's a practical one, and a spiritual one.

The practical one is the balance decision of whether the possible impact, any real chance for success, is worth the cost, which will be the government turning against their Torah institutions, cutting them off and doing it's best to shut them down. They are not in a position to survive as an enemy of the government, so is the cost worth it? Who am I to even opinionate on that judgement?

The spiritual one comes from Parshat Balak, Bamidbar (Numbers), 25:1,6,7, and continues at Parshat Pinchas, Bamidbar (Numbers), perek chuf-hay 10-15. The Torah tells us that the children of Israel settle and start to 'mingle' with the daughters of Moav. Pasuk 6, "Then, an Israelite man came and brought (an important) Midianite woman to his brothers (and took her in to a tent) in full view of Moshe and in full view of the entire congregation of the children of Israel".

Pasuk 14 of Parshat Pinchas tells us that the man was Zimri, the Prince of the tribe of Shimon. He stood up in front of Moshe, Aharon, all the other Princes (heads of all the other tribes), all the judges and leaders, and marched his girlfriend in to a tent. What did they do? What did the leaders, the whole leadership class of the nation of Israel, do?

The end of pasuk 6 says, "they wept" in front of the Ohel Moed, where the presence of G-d rested. That was the reaction of the Gedolim, the leaders of Israel, those full with Torah and the spirit of G-d, the wept.

Why? Why didn't they stand up and take action?

Could it be there was too much to lose, too many calculations of balance of power, tribal politics, destruction of unity, and just flat out disbelief that such a thing could actually be happening?

Who was it left up to, to stand up and take action? To someone not calculating, not worrying about what there was to lose, no concern about politics, or position, or even personal risk. To a 'zealot', a zealot for G-d, Pinchas ben Elazar.

The battle for Jerusalem has already begun, but don't expect the Gedolim to prevent it or rally against it, nor the religious parties to vote against it. Hashem Ya'a'zor, who will stand up?

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Outreach, Inreach, Jewreach

Over at BeyondBT (where I contribute on occasion), there was a bit of an argument over Chabad Outreach. The generic question was asked and posted, what's 'different' about Chabad Outreach and other Kiruv Rechokim (literally bringing close those who are distant) efforts across the Orthodox Jewish world.

An article was posted, which drew a rather sharp series of responses. I was IM'd by BeyondBT to add some comments, which I did, but comments were closed as the arguments continued. In response, I drafted this article, which was rejected for potentially propagating the controversy. It's a bit out of context here, but the only forum for it...
-----

(In response to the comments on this article, here...)

While the thread on the topic of Chabad Outreach got rather hot as some didn't like the way the author presented the Chabad concept, perhaps the best way to do it is to present the actual words of the Rebbe (from his collected talks, Shabbos Parshas Behar-Bechukosai, 24th Iyar, 5740)... (The words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe...)

In certain segments of the Jewish community, the expression 'Kiruv Richokim' -— drawing close those who are far -— is used to describe the efforts to reach out to Jews who are presently estranged from Torah and Mitzvos. This expression is improper. Our sages tell us that it is forbidden to tell a convert "Remember your initial deeds." Similarly, it is forbidden to remind a Baal Teshuvah of his previous behavior by calling him a Richuk - someone who is (or was) far away. It is true that the Talmud comments on the verse "Peace, Peace to the close and to the far," stating "to the far who drew close." However, it is improper to address those whom we wish to draw to Torah with that expression. For this reason, the Rebbeim never used such phraseology. They stressed the importance of loving all Jews -— even one whom we never saw, - but they never used the expression 'Kiruv Richokim.'

No Jew is ever Rochok -— far away -— from Yiddishkeit. The only reason the aforementioned text of the Talmud uses the terminology is because "Torah speaks in the language of men." From the perspective of man, such an individual may be a Richuk, but from the perspective of Torah, Yiddishkeit is close to him.

Hence, there can be no condescension in the attitude with which we reach out to our fellow Jews. We must realize that "more than the rich does for the poor, the poor does for the rich." When giving charity, the rich must give with a pleasant disposition, without letting the poor man feel that he is poor. The same principle applies in spiritual Tzedakah. In such a case, we are reinforced by G-d's promise, "Since you gave life to the poor man... I will remember the Mitzvah you have done... and repay you soul for soul." (end of the Rebbe's words)

When presented in his own words, it would seem rather difficult to disagree with.

In my words, we don't dump on a Jew or consider him 'lower' because his circumstances weren't as good as ours or have the learning opportunities ours have had. That 'innocent' neshama, from the standpoint of never being exposed to Jewish learning, isn't of any less value than the neshama of the talmid chacham.

To use Rabbi Brody's language from his shiur at BeyondBT in Passaic (viewable here), was there no room for another neshama in Boro Park or Bnei Brak?

Is that Jew of less value because he wasn't born in to an observant Jewish home? Frankly, that neshama may be on a much higher level that it can take the challenge, with a chance of success, of being born outside a Torah community and immersed in a non-Torah upbringing and still having a chance of returning and reconnecting to Torah.

So do you walk in looking down on all the poor ignorant masses that you're about to share your deep Torah knowledge with, you who were raised in Boro Park, served chalal yisroel milk from childhood, licked honey off the alef beis at 3, had rebbe's and rosh yeshiva's directing you from the day the sandek held you, or do you rejoice that these neshama's are overcoming their challenges by coming to you, and be so thankful that Hashem Yishborach has given you the opportunity to help them on their path?

Further, can there be a more destructive attitude towards one's own accomplishments than ego and mentally positioning oneself above others?

Why was Moshe Rabaynue, Moses Our Teacher, called the most humble of all men? He spoke face to face with G-d, faced down kings, and ruled K'lal Yisroel (the nation and people of Israel)!


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Friday, May 26, 2006

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Superstring Theory and Kabbalah

A funny thing happened on my way to understanding quarks. You know, those little little little tiny particles that make up the little tiny particles, protons, neutrons and electrons. You know, those little little little tiny particles that do funny things like disappear, poof, and have strange properties like color, spin, and charm?

You see, I've always been intrigued that at the sub-atomic level, even solids are a mass of motion (though held together by energy bonds), and contemplated how this relates to the Words of Creation, the concept of the name of an object holds the G-dly energy into the solid form, and the concept of continuous creation.

Along the way I ran in to String Theory. String Theory states (in a really really simplified form) that there is no matter, rather there is little little little tiny strings of energy, and their rate of vibration makes them appear to be different forms of energy or particles of matter.

Parts of this science theory tie in well with Shaar HaYichud VeHaEmunah, Chapter 1, from the Tanya, speaking of the sustaining utterances of G-d (aka continuous creation), stating "these very words and letters (G-d's words of creation) stand firmly within the firmament of heaven and are forever clothed within...", the speech of G-d fills the universe, energizing the strings of creation to their purpose.

I ran across this page which brings these connections to a much deeper level:

Superstring Theory and Kabbalah, click here.

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A Petition Will Bring Moshiach?

Moshiach Petition, Here.

Does the Ribono Shel Olam, Master of the Universe, count web clicks? (Probably not, but maybe the words and tefilah (prayer) behind it can make a difference.)

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

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The Lost Children of WW II

My good friend Aharon wrote me an unusual note about the 5,000 missing Jewish children from World War II, missing as in they were 'hidden' in Catholic convents but all disappeared and were never returned to their people...

I have written to the OU, RCA on their position on the children the Vatican never returned at the end of WW2 based on the rescue work of R. Eliezer Silver in 1945-1946. They have no stated position - seems odd. I have also written to several Orthodox rabbis supposedly in dialogue with the Vatican - same response - nothing.

I was checking on the "agenda" some Orthodox groups have been pursuing with the Vatican. I notice the issue of the kidnapped children from WW2 is being ignored.

Pathetic.

We should hold their feet to the fire. You can say that neither the OU nor the RCA seem to be pursuing this. Agudath does not talk to the Vatican as far as I can tell. The topic is mainly ignored. I contacted Dr. Eugene Fisher of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and they referred me to the OU on this.

No one wants to talk about it, so the Jewish community is not being kept in the loop on this subject. The ADL has asked about it at the Vatican (its founder is a hidden child) and they say it is a painful and unresolved issue - whatever that means.

At this point we should press on this issue since it has been 60 years and sensitivities should not be an issue - if we really are "honored elder brothers".

I cannot find anything in writing on it. I came across R. E. silver's work in a history of the the Holocaust...but no one says the issue is open or closed, yet it is estimated 5,000 children were never returned. Yad L'Achim was supposedly on this issue in Israel, but no discussion seems to be open on it. May be "politics" with the Vatican.

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Reincarnation and The Time of Moshiach?

Check out what Rabbi Brody and his mentor, the Melitzer Rebbe said on the subject, here.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

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The Count Up To Geula

Its becoming apparent to me as we are coming closer to the Hag of Shavuot, and as we pass thru the days of the counting of the Omer that with each combination of the sefirot, we are but a little closer to a revelation of G-dliness.

Torah is the ultimate revelation of G-dliness in this world. The Torah was given on 50th day, a day after counting of the omer which corresponds to the sefirot of Malkhut Sheba Malkhut, or kingship from/of kingship, G-d’s Kingship. The prophet Ovadiah refers to the days of Mashiach, when the Jewish people will rule over their enemies. It indicates that the Jews will exercise their authority and influence not for their own benefit, but to bring the nations to accept G-d’s Malkhut. For when the Jews exercise their malkhut for serving G-d, His Malkhut is revealed openly in the world.

The Talmud mentions a number of kings who ruled over the entire world: Achav, Nevuchadnezzar and Achashveirosh (megillah 11a). However unlike the righteous kings of the Jews, and the Mashiach to come, their malkhut was flawed: Achav was an idolater; Nevuchadnezzar was both an idolater and a homosexual; and Achashveirosh was immoral, a glutton and a drunkard. As is today we see that all the present world leaders are corrupt, drunk with power and greed, they seek to remove the malkhut of G-d. Those with a Zionist opinion say we have Jewish malkhut today, but I say this is a lie, for where the signs???

In Deuteronomy 17:14-24 there detailed laws that pertain specifically to the king. One of these laws calls for the king to write a Torah scroll that “must be with him, and he shall read from it.” Rebbe Nachman explains the reason why the monarch is cautioned regarding Torah study even more that other Jews is that as king, he must infuse his malkhut with length-of-days. The Scripture’s use of the word kara, means “to read,” rather than the word which means to study, this teaches that by his kara he is issuing a kriah a call to the Life of life, to G-d. Through his calling out he draws the length-of-days necessary for his malkhut. Thus the true Jewish monarch receives Daat (understanding) from the Torah and then is able to admonish his subjects, and teach the people about G-d (which is his true and only mission), which in turn brings life force into the world. This entails making G-d the basis of one’s authority, extending the life of one’s malkhut. This is why the prophets of Israel enjoyed extended lives as they exercised their malkhut to teach people about G-d, unlike the kings who exercised it for self gratification.

The term Malkhut, which translates literally as “kingship,” is use throughout the holy writings to refer to the kingship of Hashem. Malkhut is also the name of the last of the Ten Sefirot, the Divine emanations through which G-d’s will is manifest in the world, and this is how His Kingship is revealed in this world. Malkhut, being the lowest, or closest of the Divine emanations (Sefirot), serves as an filter between G-d and man. The life force (shefa) or bounty that G-d sends into the world is first channeled through the higher Sefirot, which act in unison to transfer the shefa to Malkhut. As a result they all contribute to Malkhut from their indiviual aspects. Chessed, loving kindness, restraint and judgment from Gevurah, and compassion from Tiferet, and so on. Malkhut then employs these qualities as its own. Malkhut interacts in this world and provides shefa. But all this is dependent on the deeds of men. When our actions are meritorious, there is an abundance of benevolence, and G-d forbid when they are the opposite (wicked), there is a withholding which is evident in the happenstance of the world. Since every quality and trait, every force and capacity in this world devolves from the Sefirot, unto the least measure of human authority- i.e., personal malkhut which is rooted in the kingship of G-d. This personal malkhut is the ability one person has to rule over and influence another, as well as the ability to rule over and control himself.

Rebbe Nachman in Likutey Moharan #56 teaches “In every Jew there is an aspect of Malkhut,” which he can exercise to direct himself or others towards good or evil. When someone exercises his rule over others appropriately, he is trusted and relied upon. Rebbe Nachman makes it clear that, a person must be judicious in exercising the aspect of malkhut he has been given, using his wisdom and compassion to direct those under his control towards good. When someone uses his malkhut appropriately he brings people closer to G-d, as well as himself, he increases his/their desire and ability to pray and serve.

“Officers of thousands, officers of hundreds, officers of fifties and officers of tens” (exodus 18:25) Each one of us commensurate with his aspect of malkhut whether he knows it or not has rule over others, in his home or at work or on a national or international level.

It is with this in mind that I now write this with fear and trepidation.

“Every person commensurate with his aspect of malkhut is the aspect of a watchman. He/they are responsible to caution and admonish the people who are from his root, over whom he has an aspect of malkhut. If he cautions and admonishes them, he has fulfilled his obligation and saves his soul, as it is written (Ezekiel 3:17, 19), “I have made you a watchman over the house of Israel. And because you have cautioned the wicked and he has not ceased his wickedness… he will die as a consequence of his sin, yet you will have saved your soul.” A person must exercise his malkhut only for serving G-d and not for self gratification.

Kohelet teaches that exercising authority immaturely, for one’s personal gain … leads to sorrow and woe; where as exercising malkhut properly leads to good fortune and happiness. This implies that exercising authority, malkhut, shortens one’s years. The solution, Rebbe Nachman teaches, is to infuse one’s malkhut with life from the Eternal G-d.

I feel an obligation to those who read this blog to write my opinions and understanding of the truth, to the best of my ability. To those who find occasionally that you don’t like what I write, I’m sorry. But the truth is not always sweet in the mouth. And if I make a mistake, forgive me for we are but flesh. It is my desire, and G-d willing, this Blog will be used to bring people closer to the service of G-d.

With that said I will continue. It is quite clear that the Israeli government is bent on destroying its people, and it is clearly in violation of the Torah. “Woe to those help them and support them !!!!!”

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When the Spark Shines Through - Part 1

Moshe came down from Mount Sinai... Moshe did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while He had spoken with him. Aharon and all the children of Israel saw Moshe and, Look! The skin of his face had become radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. - Shmos (Exodus), Parshat Ki Sisa, 34:27

The spark of Moshe Rabaynu's (Moses our Teacher's) soul, the literal piece of G-dliness within in it, shone through into this physical world. In the words of Rabbi Manis Friedman, Moshe Rabaynu became transparent, instead of being a barrier to the spiritual in this world, he became a lens to the spiritual in this lowly physical world.

About 12 years ago I heard this story first hand...

In Monsey, NY, there's an older chassidic rabbi who travels to South America, both to raise funds and to lecture a bit, doing some Jewish inreach. This was a yearly journey of his for about 10 years, at which point it didn't seem so productive anymore, so he stopped it.

About 5 years later, a young woman walked in to his beit midrash (synogogue / study hall combo) and asked to see him. Someone pointed him out at a particular table, at which point she ran over bubbling in a language from one of the countries he used to visit, "Rabbi, Rabbi, you literally saved my life, you connected me with the faith of my ancestors, you gave me truth and a reason to live!".

The rabbi responded, "My dear young lady, do I know you? I don't believe I've ever seen you before, and I'm sorry but I have no idea what you're talking about."

She said, "Rabbi, it's absolutely true, we've never met before! But when you visited (South American city) 5 years ago, I saw you walking down the street. Your countenance, your image, I'd never seen anything like it before. I thought I was seeing someone touched by G-d walking down the street. I followed you and asked people who you were. When they told me you were the orthodox Jewish rabbi from America, I knew I had to learn everything I could about what orthodox Jewish is, as my family, though Jewish, had no religious practice.

As my life had no meaning at that point, I had been contemplating the worst thoughts. As I learned, I learned about G-d and His Torah, about the mitzvot and began observing them. This week I am getting married and starting my Jewish home. All thanks to you!"

The rabbi telling this story just shakes his head at this point, "What did I do? I just walked down the street."

Yes, he just walked down the street, but apparently he was shining, translucent, for those who were looking.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

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Shebonne' Beis HaMikdash

We can end the Golus (Exile)! Want to know how?

The Rebbe said a little over twenty years ago that he had done all that he could and now it was up to us.

G-d is now ready and waiting to rebuild our Holy Temple. For our part, we should be very careful to do nothing that might delay the rebuilding. Indeed, we ourselves should make an effort to rebuild it.

You may say to me, "what can I do?", or worse you may say there is nothing you can do. This is a defeatist attitude and is not Jewish. For in truth there is something we can and must do. It is within the grasp of each and every Jew. What is it you ask?

The Shulchan Arukh (Code of Jewish Law) opens the first section and the first halachah is: Tikkun Chatzot.

The saintly Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian (1876-1970) started getting up regularly for tikkun chatzot in his later years. When one of his students asked him why, Rabbi Lopian said “When I leave this world and come before the Heavenly court, they will ask me if I kept the Shulchan Arukh, and presumably I’ll say I did. They’re sure to say, ‘let’s check,’ and they’ll probably start going through the Shulchan Arukh section by section, law by law. If they catch me on some detail after about two hundred sections, I might be able to come up with an answer. But what am I going to say if they catch me on the very first section?” (Aharon Stern, Mashgiach, Kaminezt Yeshiva, Yerusalem)

By getting up at Chatzot (middle of the night) each night to mourn over the destruction, one should say to oneself, “Maybe in a previous incarnation I was the cause of the destruction of the Temple. And even if not, it could very well be my sins are holding back its reconstruction, and that is as bad as if I caused the actual destruction”. One should shed tears over this at chatzot each night, and then it will be as if one were trying to rebuild the Holy Temple.

“Tikkun Chatzot brings a person to the truth. His eyes are opened and he sees himself and his life clearly. He cleanses himself of all negative traits and comes to know and understand the Holy Name of G-d”. (Likutey Moharan II, 67).

If the Jewish people were careful to get up for Chatzot their enemies would be subdued and would not impose any decrees against them. All our suffering in this bitter exile is caused because of not getting up to study Torah and sing songs of praise after Chatzot (Zohar Chai Bereshis 77).

A person who gets up regularly for Tikkun Chatzot is a Tzaddik. A thread of mercy is stretched over him to save him from all accusers. He is considered a member of the Court of the King. His livelihood is assured. He is called “G-d-fearing,” a “lover of the King,” a “Son of the Holy One”…. No-one speaks out against him. It is to him that the dictum that “G-d is close to all who call out to Him” applies. He is bound to the world to come, and the Holy one and all His tzaddikim in Gan Eden hear his voice.

Since the Zohar writes that at midnight G-d’s favor is revealed to cancel all harsh judgments, his reward is that his soul will ascend at a time of favor. (siddur of the SheLah)

It may be true that we today have fallen to a very low level, and no-one understands the full extent of what we are missing and what we have lost, what we have caused because of our sins and what the “exile of the Shekhinah” really means. Our very lack of understanding and sensitivity should fill us with anguish. Even so, each person is only obliged to do what here is capable of. One should imagine how he would feel if his mother was clothed and dressed in black, and was crying bitterly and screaming, “the pain in my head! The pain in my arm! I brought up children… I raised them…. And they rebelled against me!” One should focus one’s mind and heart on similar bitter images and pour out one’s soul in a bitter cry, and then maybe one will be worthy of seeing the consolation of Tzion and the building of the Holy Temple in all its glory soon in our days. (Pele Yo’etz, Aleph)

The time of favor in Heaven… is in fact beyond earthly space and time. However, it radiates to the lower worlds at the appropriate time in each given location. (Shulchan Arukh HaRav, Hashkamat HaBoker 1:8)

The way to come to come to repentance is through Tikkun Chatzot. Someone who is unable to do this every night should still be sure to do so at the very least once a week. (Rabbi Shneuer Zalman of Liadi, Iggeret HaTeshvah #10)

With the help of Hashem I would like to ask all of you who have a heart that is willing to join in saying Tikkun Chatzot with us. There is possibly someone in every time zone who is willing an in this way we could start an unbroken chain of prayer for the return of the Shekhinah and the rebuilding of the Temple in Yerushalayim.

Can we imagine a world where the spirit of the living G-d was present? No war, no illness, no poverty, a world of peace. It is up to us!!

SHEYEBONNE BEIS HAMIKDASH!!!

If you can, join us! I am also looking into calling for a special Tikkun Chatzot here in Jerusalem soon. G-d willing, I'll post more about this.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

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Da Vinci Religious Collapse?

Rabbi Moshe Yess wrote (here) about his amazement on the book and now the movie, The Da Vinci Code and it's potential negative impact leading to outright philosophical collapse of Xianity. (While a piece of relgio-historical fiction, if taken literally as reality, which it is not, Da Vinci Code undermines the philosophical foundation of the Xian organized church and religion.)

I shot him a brief note saying, it's fiction, the movie reviews said it stinks, no one's going to take it seriously, and no one is going to bother to go see it.

Well, seems it's tops in the box office, traveling this weekend I passed multiple churchs with signs out front on "Refuting the Da Vinci Code", and I actually heard a radio advertisement on a top New York area talk radio station for a lecture by some religious figure on "Refuting the Da Vinci Code".

A couple of Shabbos's ago, while walking to synogogue with my children and passing a Blockbuster Video store, I saw 7 people lined up in front waiting for the store to open. I said to myself and my children, "look, this is our reality, that is theirs". My reality was Shabbos, G-d, spending the day with my family and community. And that was their reality, movies, the latest eye candy, unreality.

Rabbi Yess, I apologize, how I could have questioned people accepting a fictional movie as input to their reality?

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Jerusalem Post for Xians?

The Jerusalem Post Xian Edition? (Here.)

Anything for a buck?

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The Magician's Trick

From DebkaFile:

"The American leader (Pres Bush) also intends inserting a sentence warning Israel against unilaterally establishing facts with regard to permanent frontiers, except in negotiation with the Palestinians. Bush will remark that this position does not run contrary to America welcoming further Israeli pullbacks from the West Bank.

The prime minister’s aides are already working on the phrasing of this ambiguous position for home consumption, to make it sound like a declaration of support for the Olmert consolidation program for Israeli West Bank settlements."


Tell the president that you will not accept any manipulations. He and the Republican Party will be held responsible for any further deportation of Jews. His name will go down in history next to Chamberlain, and the star of America will enter into the house of hell.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

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The Jew-Badge Returns to Iran?

News Report: Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.

Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes...

Here.

Update: Commentor Simon, the publishing newspaper and this Iranian blogger says, wrong, the story is false or a misinterpretation of the new law (the Iranian blogger translates the key points of the law in English on his blog.)

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Remembering Yosef


Kever Yosef,
Before Oslo, Wye, Roadmap

Kever Yosef,
After Oslo, Wye, Roadmap, Murder,
Even the building is gone now.
When the ear hears of it, the eye weeps.

The Torah teaches us that when it came time for the Jews to leave Egypt, miraculously driven out after the 10 plagues, Moshe Rabaynu, Moses our teacher, went to the Nile and retrieved the bones (Exodus 13:18–19), the mumified remains of Yosef HaTzadik ben Yaakov Avinu, Joseph the Righteous, son of Jacob our father, who had made the Jews promise to take his bones with them when they were redeemed (Genesis 50:24–26).

When the Jews entered the land of Israel, they followed the same path that Avraham avinu, Abraham our father, first took, coming down through the Jordan Valley, between the mountains, passing Elon Moreh to Shechem (aka Nablus). And there, standing together with Yehoshua bin Nun, they reconfirmed their acceptance of the mitzvot, the commandments, on Har Eval and Har Gerazim and the valley in between, the mountains standing to the north and south of Shechem (Nablus). Then they buried the bones of Yosef (Joseph)...

“And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, they buried in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph." - Joshua 24:32

And the burial place of Yosef HaTzadik has stood to this day, a most holy place to beseech and pray to the Ribono Shel Olam, the Master of the Universe, in times of need.

Well, not exactly until this day. Rather, until the Oslo Accords. For a short time after the abandoning of the city of Shechem, with agreement for protection and access to this holy site, it was attacked, the defenders murdered, the holy books burned, the building smashed brick by brick, the bricks crushed, the facility desecrated in every imaginable way. The Israeli army refused to respond for fear of injuring the attacking murdering desecrating crowd, even at the cost of the lives of the defenders.

Kever Yosef was one of the most holy places I have ever visited. The first time I went with R. Nati, traveling to the Israeli army base Bat Shalosh, south of Shechem. There, with my family, we boarded an Israeli armored troop transport, drove through Shechem (the kever is 2/3 to the 'back' of the city) to the kever. The sense of peace and kedusah at the site is hard to describe. A small yeshiva existed at the site (Yeshiva Od Yosef Chai), an incredible carob tree grew by the door. Outside, just the sound of birds and Torah learning. Inside was a relatively small room with the kever itself. Cool in the Israeli summer, clean and well taken care of, an incredible sense of peacefulness enveloped me. I sat and prayed to my Creator, awed to be standing by the burial place of the bones of Yosef HaTzaddik.

The last time I visited I also travelled to the army base. This time was briefly before the 'return' of Shechem. I boarded an armored tour bus this time, and we were escorted by 2 heavily armed humvee's in front and 1 behind. The walls surrounding the small complex had been reinforced and heightened, they were concerned with snipers from rooftops now. The height of the walls plunged the whole facility into shade (about 25 feet high concrete walls). Inside the peacefulness and kedusha (holiness) remained, but outside was tension, nervous soldiers glanced about, bus unloaded and loading was done quickly with minimal talking.

On that visit I prayed deeply, but some of the outside tension leaked through. I realistically said to myself, G-d forbid but I may never be able to visit this place again.

How can I rest comfortably in my home when my parents home rests in ruin? How can I sleep comfortably while G-d's holy house (the Beis HaMikdash) not only lies in ruin but has been occupied by others?

Oh Yosef HaTzaddik, our great and holy ancestor, I miss you.

(A little more on the tomb of Joseph can be found here, details plus pictures of the current state and destruction can be found here, and a historical comparison of Shechem can be found here.)

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

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The Mystical Commentator

1. To those who are talking:

a) There is an acute need for massive building between Ariel and Gush Shilo (West Bank Jewish towns) so the people in Gush Shilo do not need to be deported from their homes.

b) We need to see confidence building measures from the treacherous hamas palestinians, and not the other way around, and not merely the handing over of some terrorists. They have thousands of those.

To those who are talking and to those who are not: Please fax Pres. Bush at this number: 202-456-2461 (or call him at 202-456-1111). Tell him what state you are from, and that you are against any American support for the one-sided transfer of Jews. The lion will not be statiated by appeasement. Bush and the Republican Party will be held responsible for encouraging terror throughout the world. And they will be strengthening anti-semitism throughout the world, too.

The Mystical Commentator

The Jews are the most vulnerable people in the world. It is a spiritual burden that they are the most delicate and the most complicated. They tend to be the first victim, but the flood runs over and inundates many places thought a safe harbor. Cosmic justice settles all accounts, one way or the other. Everyone gets dragged into the deluge.

But when the Jews are treated well, then the whole world is blessed. There is no way out for the nation that treated us so well after the Holocaust. They cannot buy their way out by appeasing an unsatiable monster. This fax puts you on notice, like a lawyer's letter. If you do not hearken to basic, simple morality, then the poor will pray for the redress of grievances. It is inevitable, and it is surprising to think that the U.S. will think to survive by throwing some Jews to the lions. "Are you Gog?"

It is true that any appeal to the friend of the House of Saud (oh me) stands little chance of turning the tide. Everyone, Jew and gentile, must protest, in order not to be part of it. If you have nothing to say to the Accuser, how can you plead before the Absolute Judge. In the twinkling of an eye G-d saves. He can turn the hearts of the rulers to things that they never dreamed they had within them. But more importantly, send your faxes to the president, and send your appeals to the Almighty.

This is the last day of HOD, and the tikun of Yehudah is teshuvah. The yehudim will regret selling their brothers, and they will think that they cannot live without their brother. Lift a finger for me, pray, and G-d will lift a mountain for you.

And no matter what, we will prosper because we are in a period of geulah, even though we have no leaders and no heroes to jump and take the lead. May G-d send us courage and encouragement and keep discouragement far from our camp.

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A Lag B'Omer Thought from Chassidus

From the teachings of HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, an excerpt for Lag B'Omer...

On Lag Ba'Omer 1844, the 3rd grand rabbi of Chabad chassidus, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, known by the title of his great book, the "Tzemach Tzedek" related this lesson of the Baal Shem Tov:

"It is written, `For you (Israel) shall be a land of desire, says the L-rd of Hosts'. Just as the greatest scientists will never discover the limits of the enormous natural resources which the Almighty has sunk into the land ("everything came from the earth"), neither will anyone ever find the limits of the great treasures which lie within Israel - G-d's `Land of desire.'"

The Baal Shem Tov concluded:

"I want to make Israel yield the kind of produce which the Almighty's `land of desire' is capable of yielding.


Is the Baal Shem Tov speaking of Israel, the Land, or K'lal Yisroel, the people of Israel, aka the Jewish people? Or are the land and the people one at the levels of kedusah, holiness, they can reach?

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U.S. Rally Against 'Convergence'

(via Bernice Lipkin at Think-Israel.org)

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is coming to Washington D.C. next week to ask Congress and Pres. Bush for enough money and moral support to expel (at least) 80,000 Jews from the West Bank (Samaria and Judea).

...We want to demonstrate our disapproval, our outrage that the Israeli government is treating its Jewish citizens so shabbily, and our concern that Olmert is putting Israel in jeopardy.

Jonathan Silverman initiated a call for a rally:

The U.S. Capitol Building in Taft Park - (near Senate Russell Bldg)
50 Constitution Avenue N.W. (at 1st Street)
Washington DC
Tuesday May 23, 2006 at 12 noon
Metro Stop: Union Station on the Red Line. 4 block walk

Olmert's government is proposing to transfer at least 10 times as many Jews as Gaza. If he succeeds, both Israel and America will be the losers. At best it weakens Israel militarily and demoralizes its citizens, making them easy prey for their enemies. At worst, it is suicidal. And America loses its only reliable ally in the Middle East. The only winners will be the Arab terrorists now in control of Gaza.

If you can't come to the rally, please write President Bush and ask him to oppose Olmert's dangerous scheme. The American people can not be a party to this insanity. U.S. citizens, call the White House at 202-456-1111 or Fax to 202-456-2461, email to Comments@whitehouse.gov and vice_president@whitehouse.gov.

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On Spirituality and Spirituality

Neshama commented: AKIVA, I don't believe you wrote this:

"If you go to those same jewish groups in America and discuss kever tzaddikim, holy gravesites of our ancestors, they'll look at you sideways, like you're weird or even possibly in to some kind of avodah zarah"

To speak aginst a community as a whole is a particularly severe offense. (The Ten Rules of Proper Speech. Shmiras Haloshon, Chofetz Chaim)

What a distortion of reality! The most tourism to Israel is from the Chareidim, and the highest proportion of new residents are Chreidim from Chutz L'Aretz. We spend more money in Israel and support more Tzedaka organizations, I believe, than Israelis.

Many people in Flatbush and many in Boro Park DO RECOGNIZE AND CELEBRATE THE 33rd day of the OMER with bonfires, singing, dancing, and joy.

Granted this is the NY metro area where there is the greatest concentration of frum Jews who live a Torah lifestyle. I don't know what the Jews in out of town areas are doing, and what their level of Yiddisheit is. However, there is a great movement within the US to reach out to our brothers and sisters and bring them closer to the Torah. It is working, however slow it might be. [People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones] NO country in the world is without it's internal turmoil in these days of the footsteps.

AND THIS IS WHAT THE ABISHTEH is waiting for- more of our extended family to come home.

I think it is nearsighted thinking and myopic vision to assume that Jews outside of Eretz HaKodesh aren't spiritually motivated.


Neshama, I think you missed my point. I wasn't trying to talk-up Israel or talk-down the U.S., nor their respective religious communities. I was stating a spiritual fact, the Holy Land is...holy. Don't you think that means anything, that there's an impact to one's soul when one is involved in the holy? How about when the whole location is holy?

My daughter and I have been to plenty of New York Lag B'Omer celebrations, sorry, there is no comparison to what goes on in Israel. Does that mean Lag B'Omer is ignored outside of Israel, no. But would you compare praying at your local shul to praying at the Kotel? It's just a different level. Is that a defect in the local shul, or the (spiritual) height of the Kotel?

Neshama, in Israel, today, there are those who risk their lives to visit and/or care for kevrai tzaddikim. Please, walk in to your local shul and ask who is still crying about the loss of access to Kever Yosef, the holy gravesite of our father Joseph HaTzadik (ben Yaakov), along with his sons Menashe and Efraim. In Israel there are those who still weep for it's loss and are working to change that.

No doubt the wonderful religious communities of the U.S. are very committed to Israel and the Jewish people living there. They visit, they support, they pray, and indeed more go to live every year, Baruch Hashem! But there is a difference in the increased kedusah (holiness), and it's even more apparent on Lag B'Omer.

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Pushing Back a Bit

Does anyone deny the greatness of the Lubavitcher Rebbe? From a few hundred surviving chassidim after World War II, to the 2nd largest chassidic movement in the world. From a shtetl core in Brooklyn to Chabad Houses literally world wide. Over 50 volumes of his talks, 50 volumes of his religious discourses, and another 50 volumes of his letters. His mitzvot campaigns and focusing the whole Chabad chassidic movement on Jewish outreach/inreach literally have changed the face of Judaism world-wide, saving and reconnecting and affecting millions of Jews. There are those who would disagree, but those are people with very narrow views from inside their personal box.

The last mitzvah campaign initiated by the Rebbe was knowledge of Moshiach and the geulah. Reawakening our attention to the Rambam's 12th Principle of Faith, 'I believe with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach. However long it takes (though he tarry), I await His coming every day.' Who today, what sect or sub-sect of orthodox Jewry does not deal with this issue?

The Rebbe's campaigns and efforts were successful. He rebuilt the Chabad Lubavitch chassidic movement, he started Jewish outreach, he reinvigorated so many mitzvot, and he taught new depths of the secrets of the Torah through chassidus, he pushed outreach to touch every corner of the world with Jews in need of reconnecting.

Yet, we have not all gathered in Israel (yet), the Beis HaMikdash has not been rebuilt (yet), the Geulah, if it has formally started (whatever that means) certainly has not ended (yet).

No one yet qualifies as Moshiach Vadaiy, the confirmed Moshiach who has completed the redemption. There is no successful final complete Moshiach, yet (chezkas Moshiach, potential Moshiach, is a different discussion).

This does not take away from anyones greatness, but bringing the geulah does not seem to have occurred, yet, at least not in a way that we can (yet) tell in this physical world.

The Rebbe has great incredible life changing mitzvot that impacted so many people to his credit, so many miraculous stories of his chassidim being sent to where Jewish souls were in need, besides the planting of so many outposts of Torah.

But until the geulah has occurred, until Moshiach is literally standing with us in the Beis Hamikdash, no one can be credited as the successful messiah.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

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Lag B'Omer Pics - Quick Link

I put together a quick link for the Lag B'Omer photos I captured (low quality):

Photo Set - Slideshow

Video Link here from Rabbi Brody at Lazer Beams.

Miron pictures from the far past, for comparison.

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Why Isn't Lag B'Omer Special Outside of Israel?

My daughter asked, "Why is Lag B'Omer here in America nothing so special (except for us, we make a bonfire Lag B'Omer night)? So fine, you can get a haircut, buy a dress, whatever (community picnic, baseball game in yeshiva for my brothers). But in Eretz Yisroel (Israel), hundreds of thousands celebrate, everyone (even the secular) make a bonfire, there's massive achdus, everyone joines a bonfires, and Miron is celebrating 24 hours!"

My dear daughter, when we say that Eretz Yisroel, the land of Israel, is Eretz HaKodesh, the Holy Land, what do think that means?

It can't mean that there are more synogogues, if you go to Boro Park in New York City, or Williamsburg, or Crown Heights, Monsey, Lakewood NJ, Passaic NJ, there's just as many. There's just as many kosher stores, the food has the same level of kosher stringencies. There's just as many Torah lessons going on, and as many children in yeshivas.

As a matter of fact, if you go to Miron on Lag B'Omer, or to the holy gravesites in Tzfat (Safed), or the kever of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes in Teveria (Tiberious), or aveninu Shimon ben Yaakov Aveniu, you'll find a great concentration of chassidim, litvishim, mizrachi, a cross section of religious Jews. If you go to those same jewish groups in America and discuss kever tzaddikim, holy gravesites of our ancestors, they'll look at you sideways, like you're weird or even possibly in to some kind of avodah zarah (idol worship, except for the chassidim and the gratesite of their rebbe).

The answer is related to the tzimtzumim, the contractions and filters that separate this world from the Ein Sof HaKodesh and the Or Ein Sof, the Blessed Infinite One and His Infinite Light. There's a little less filtering in Eretz HaKodesh, in the Holy Land, a little more spiritual light leaks through. You can't see it, but you can see people reacting to it. Spirituality is just a little more spiritual, discussions of G-d and his Torah are a little more real, a little more alive. The neshama, the soul, gets a little more excited.

Kevrai tzaddikim, the holy sites, are a level higher, a little further diminishment of the filter (ie they are places 'closer to G-d'). The neshamot (souls) are drawn to a greater closeness of G-d, and reach a higher level of excitement, of spiritual vitality, when there. (This is true of kevrai tzaddikim outside of Israel as well, but in Israel you get the effect of the Land plus the holy site.)

You can't see the spiritual, but you can see it's impact.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

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Live from Miron - Video Link is Up!

This was for 2006. For 2010, we're doing our own live feed here. Check out Live in Meron, 2010!

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Ohel HaRashbi is providing a live video link from Meron.

Lag B'Omer is over in Israel, the Live Links below are now DOWN. G-d willing, we'll see them again next year. R. Nati was there and took some pictures, hopefully we'll be able to get them uploaded in the next couple of days.

Live from Meron - Click Here! (Free link) (the link has had a few outages, if it doesn't work, try again 5 minutes later.)

Note they switch between different camera views. Live from Miron on Lag B'Omer, how cool is that?

Arutz 7 is also offering a live Miron video link, though they're charging $10 for it (less if you're in Israel and go through the hebrew site.)

Arutz 7 Live Miron Link - Click Here ($10 for 24 hours, promises 5 camera views).

Update: (Late afternoon) R. Nati just called, he's there and just finished praying the afternoon prayer on the mountain by the holy cave where Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai learned the Zohar and hid from the Romans for 13 years, together with hundreds of others. Awesome kedushah.

Update: (Night) R. Nati reports- "The bonfires are lit and the dancing is being led by the Boyaner Rebbe, shlita. He's dancing together with 80,000 fellow Jews. Imagine being at a Rebbe's tisch, the intensity, the kedusah, the ahavat yisroel, times 100! We're leading the charge to open the gates of Shamayim to our tefilot!"

Update: (Morning) R. Nati says, "Though bruised and worn out from a night of joyous dancing, now is the time of the deepest prayer at the kever, at least for me. For others, it's still a time of dancing! All night, all day! All those who sent requests, thank you, it's an honor to be able to carry your requests for you. May Hashem answer the prayers of all Klal Yisroel. While many are already leaving, worn out from last night, buses continue to arrive with those coming to spend Lag B'Omer at the kever of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai!

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The Failed Zionism

For Israel, and Justice wrote: ...the spirit of the first and second generation of Zionists is dead. And has been replaced with that of the Eastern European appeasing ghetto Jew. And we all know what happened to him.

So ironically, although I am perhaps the least religious person in the world, it seems I must give the Messianic Jews their due: This Israel is not legitimate. Not because it wasn't the Messiah who founded it, but because the Jews simply don't want it badly enough, and therefore don't deserve it.

The barbarians don't really want it either, but they hate the Jews having it more than the Jews love having it. And that is all that counts in the end.


I responded to him: You put your faith in politics and politicians? You discount G-d, his Torah and the holy words of the prophets?

Yes, it is incredibly disappointing, frustrating, and painful to watch the foolish power hungry money hungry old men of Israel throw away all the gains, efforts, investments and lives of those who have built Israel.

Yet, Israel came about in a miraculous fashion, it grew and survived in a miraculous fashion (despite incredibly foolish actions by other generations of politicians).

When one chased a thousand, was it was committment and strength of arms? Now when one is chased by a thousand it's failure of committment and weakness of tactics and politics?

Neither my friend. Recognize the blessing, and also, G-d forbid, the curse. Yet, the Master of the Universe can save in the blink of an eye, can humble the foolish politicians who hope to outwit the world, exercise their power and collect a pile of cash, and overturn the circumstances with a sideways glance.

$75 oil? Massive increase in hurricains and typhoons? Tsunami? Sudden madmen (or worse, sane men with amoral positions) elected in 'palestine' and Iran?

Who could have predicted such things 3 years ago?

You look at Israel's successes and discount the impossibility of it wiht limited initial arms, and stupid decisions like the Bar Lev line?

The U.S. has many merits, but is also destroying it's merits with it's oil driven profit politics. Some merits stand will stand for it, but there will be a price to pay for its pure corporate and personal self interest.

If you view events as 'the least religious person', neither looking at the religious view nor the undercurrent of the politics, the whole thing must seem crazed.

Hazak v'Amatz, Be Strong and Brave

On a side note, this is what Rabbi Shabtai referred to as the failed 'messiah' of Zionism.

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

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R. Nati going to Miron, Requests?

R. Nati, my good friend and a contributor to this blog, is going to the mystical town of Miron to spend Lag B'Omer by the kever of the author of the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. G-d willing, he'll have some pictures for us later in the week.

If you would like a request taken to and read at the holy kever, R. Nati has offered to do so. Unfortunately, the cutoff time to get your request in to be read in Miron on Lag B'Omer has been reached. While R. Nati can no longer read your request in Miron on Lag B'Omer, know that the gates of prayer are never closed!

If you would like to donate to charity along with your request, click here:

Update: The requests have been transmitted, may Hashem listen to all the prayers of Klal Yisroel!

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Funny Video: Shofar Help

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Palestinian Funding???

The government of Israel will send funds to the palestinian people, for humanitarian reasons (of course), while their government, the Chamas, is buying weapons on the open market!

A total failure of the Olmert-Livny policy (for a change!).

Can you please scream about this to every available government official in the world?

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Friday, May 12, 2006

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Lag B'Omer Videos from Miron

Lag B'Omer Video here, Tzidkas Rashbi, English 5 min.
Lab B'Omer Video here too, Ohel HaRashbi, Hebrew 5 min.

Tzidkas Rashbi runs a year-round hospitality site at the kever of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, which goes in to overdrive for Lag B'Omer, when the kever is visited by hundreds of thousands.

Special blessings are written about those who support charity at the kever of Rashbi, for those in need of special blessings. Of course, our local yeshiva's, yeshiva students, and charities helping the poor should have our first focus. But for those with the ability to give, and those needing a special segulah (merit), Tzidkas Rashbi is worth consideration.

A competing Miron hospitality organization at the holy kever of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is Ohel HaRashbi (web site here). Both this organization and Tzidkas Rashbi seem to have good rabbinic approbation, this one has some less expensive charity options.

Those looking for a special segulah beyond their normal charity opportunities should check it out.

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The Initials of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

(Some thoughts on initials, which are very meaningful in Hebrew, I'll do my best to do this in English.)

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai = rshby

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomoh Yitzchaki = rshby

The Holy Ari: Rabbi Yitzchak ben Shlomoh = rybsh

The Baal Shem Tov: Rabbi Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov = rybsh tov.

How the same letters in various forms keep coming around again and again to keep us alive, to burn their light in the depths of the darkness like the bonfires in the night, like the sparks flying back to our father in heaven.

Be joyous! Lag Be'Omer coming, and salvation is close!

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A Story for Shabbos

The following story is credited to Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, zt"l...

Rabbi Carlebach had a great-great uncle living in Germany, or perhaps it was Prussia back then. He was a commodities dealer, specificially a dealer in copper, by the name of Mr. Hirsh.

War broke out between France and Prussia in 1870. One Shabbos morning, shortly after the war started, the Prussian government sent an urgent telegram to the home of Mr. Hirsh. Of course, it was Shabbos, Shabbos Kodesh, the holy sabbath, and Mr. Hirsh wasn't doing any business, he wouldn't violate Shabbos, so he didn't open the telegram. A few hours later, another telegram arrived, and a few hours later, another. This continued throughout the Shabbos day.

Finally, Shabbos ended and Mr. Hirsh opened the first telegram, and this is what it said:

"Dear Mr. Hirsh: The government of Prussia urgently needs your copper for the war effort. We're offering you 10,000 marks for your supply." 10,000 marks was quite a good price.

He then opened the next telegram, which said, "Dear Mr. Hirsh: We assume from your lack of response that our first offer is not adequate, therefore the Prussian government is offering 20,000 marks for your copper supply."

Each telegram assumed that Mr. Hirsh was not responding because the offer was too low, until the last telegram offered the incredible sum of 150,000 marks.

Mr. Hirsh went to the government office first thing in the morning and told them, "I would be very willing to accept your offer of 10,000 marks. I only didn't respond because it was the holy Shabbos, when I do no business, and therefore it wouldn't be right for me to take your higher offers." They could not believe what they heard, such that word was passed up the chain of command until it reached the Kaiser himself.

The Kaiser requested that Mr. Hirsh come to him, where he told him "I've never met such an honest man. Please, give me the honor of paying you the 150,000 marks of the final offer. Further, I'm going to name you a Baron."

And that is the story of a man's dedication to Shabbos making him extremely wealthy and the only Jewish Baron.

I should also note that today, in Memphis Tennesee in the U.S., there's a very large congregation and a beautiful synagogue called the Baron Hirsh Synogogue (perhaps named due to a benevolent trust founded in 1881 in the United States for the benefit of Jewish immigrants, which he endowed with £493,000).

Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos, may we all be so dedicated to the holy Shabbos.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

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The Failed Moshiach, Part 2

Look, this is a subject that really hurts me. I should not really touch this subject, as (a reader) Elisheva says to me, but "it is a time of trouble for israel, and from its midst he will be saved."

Shabtai Tzvi was a false moshiach (righteous redeemer), and destined to fail, at least according to the Ashkenazim. However, there is another Moshiach who is real, or at least potential, or almost makes it, and he takes us very far along the way, but in the last minute something fails and it can't be done. For example, at Seudat Moshiach (a customary meal at the end of Passover of some chassidim) of the 7th day of Pesach, we read the story of how the Ba'al Shem Tov tried and failed to get to Eretz Yisrael (Israel) to be together with the holy Aur Ha-chaim. The Ba'al Shem Tov said that he was nefesh of atzilut, and the Aur Ha-chaim was ruach of atzilut, and if they would get together, then neshamah of atzilut would come down definitely (and we would be only one level away from the final, successful Moshiach ben Dovid.) But it wasn't allowed and he couldn't make it to the holy Aur Ha-chaim. When his boat sunk off the coast of Turkey, he had to give it up. But look what he brought us! (This is a chidush to call the Ba'al Shem Tov a failed Moshiach. Look how much he did!)

Rabbi Yaakov Beirav was the gadol ha-dor, the greatest of his generation in the time when the great chachamim were gathering in Tzfat (Safed, the city of mystics in northern Israel). He was about 40 years before the Holy Ari (the great and holy Rabbi Yitzchok Luria, founder of the Lurianic system of kabbalah). He tried to re-establish semichah (original rabbinic ordination from Sinai) and the Sanhedrin (the great Jewish court) as a first step in bringing about the geulah (redemption). He gave rabbinic ordination to Rabbi Yosef Karo, the author of the Shulchan Aruch (the code of Jewish law). However, it didn't work. He couldn't do it. The Ralbag, who was the rav of Jerusalem (whose commentary is printed alongside the books of prophets and writings in most hebrew bibles), the holy Ralbag wouldn't agree, and Rabbi Beirav died shortly thereafter. As a result the Holy Ari revealed what he revealed from another world, mamash, but if the geulah was still proceeding, then the revelation of the Ari might not have been necessary. It would have been happening in real life, and no need for a theoretical explanation of it. But everyone knows that the Torah of the Ari gave birth to many advances in our zigzagging course to redemption.

The Rambam (Maimonadies) in Laws of Kings 11.4, after he describes for us the criteria by which we can determine who is a chezkat mashiach (a definite potential redeemer) and who is definitely the one who succeeds because he builds the Bet Hamikdash (the holy Jewish temple in Jerusalem), then he writes the following, which does not appear in the regular Venice text because of the Catholic censor, but it is found in older manuscripts such as the one in Rome, and the Soncino and Amsterdam 5602, and Rabbi Rubinstien (I am reading from his note 33 in Rambam Le'am) copied it from the Yemenite uncensored version that was in the possession of Rav Kapach, may peace be upon him.

"If he does not succeed until here (to build the Mikdash) then he is not the one promised by the Torah, but he is like all the kosher and perfect kings of the house of David...." -- (the rest of it is really interesting, but this is not the place for the entire lesson.)

Oh, how we suffer from the fall of the Rebbe because of our own shortcomings, we who know everything and who are on such a higher level than mere jukes (Israeli slang for cockroach). And they would never have been able to make Oslo if the Rebbe had not been wounded in the wars of Hashem! Right now, speaking for myself, from my own self doubt and fears, I would be happy with any ol' saviour -- a Gideon, or even a Yiftach.

Either we will yet make it somehow, or we won't. In what R'Nati posted on "Until The Last Day", as bleak as it looked, it did say at the end that the Angel Michael saves us. Of course, we know that is not true, Hashem saves us, but if he wants to do it in that way through that angel, or through the teshuvah of the unscrupulous traitors, then either way is okay with me, or any other way. I don't even care if the final, successful Moshiach is a woman, as long as she delivers us!

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In Praise of Prayer

Yerushalmi commented: This sounds very naive to me. As if GW Bush cares what anyone under him thinks or what will happen to Israel as a result of his policies. Bush himself answers to a master and I don't mean HaShem. Bush is taking orders from the House of Saud. In the words of Dr. Eugene Narett of Cambridge University, "They are the ones with the most to gain and the least to lose" from Bush's policies in the Middle East... Unless you know a friendly member of the Royal Family, you're out of luck. Best direct all your appeals to the only One Who really counts...HaShem yitbarach.

In Chassidut it is taught that there are 3 levels upon which we do the mitzvot: thought, speech and action. In other words there are 613 mitzvot on the level of thought, 613 in speech, and 613 in action. However, each of the 613 is mainly in one of the 3, just like gevurah of gevurah (for example) is more gevurah that chesed of gevurah or tiferet of gevurah (sefirot as we break them down when counting the Omer).

Prayer is a mitzvah of speech. What is the mitzvah of action? How to do one little act, press one little button and turn everything around and upside down and jolly.

I have found that the best prayer, most heartfelt and real, is when I am in a situation where I really need God's help. The action increases the energy that goes into the tefillah. Until a thing becomes manifested in the gashmiyut (physical) world, it requires so many tzimtzumim (filters). All that tzimtzum is so much pent up energy that can be channelled into prayer. When you are in the world an trying to do something about it, then your tefillah is much more real than when you are in an ivory tower and you don't even remember the things that are in the tefillah.

Let's pray, and let's do, and let's have kavanah (focus/concentration/intent) too.

Also, I sometimes wear a religious zionist hat, and one thing we learned from those great tzadikim that gave their lives to clear the swamps and settle the Land in the belief that Mashiach will come out of farming a few square feet in arabia (i.e. palestine) -- one thing we learn from them is the importance of doing it.

You know the joke about the guy who is praying to win the lottery but never buys a ticket.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

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Less Sour, More Good

It should never be said we're not customer service oriented. Marcus commented: ...each thing inside is more sour than the one before. Yeah, you're right, Nati and Shabtai have been really depressing. They've also been pretty much exclusively Israel, End Times, and associated politics focused. Understandable, they're somewhat in the middle of it, but regardless. So, lets see if I can get off those topics...

It's written in Pirke Avos (Ethics of our Fathers), "Know what is above you."

The first grand rabbi of Chabad chassidus commented on this: 'Know that everything "above" in the supernal Sefirot and Partzufim (Divine emanations and configurations), all derives "from you", it all depends on man's service.

The 6th grand rabbi of Chabad chassidus added to this: This means the quote from Pirke Avos could be translated as: "Know, that what is Above, is from you."

This is all from HaYom Yom, for the 13th of Iyar.

How are we to understand this? This is the World of Action, and is the only world of action. A mitzvah, a good deed, a following of a commandment, seemingly small or seemingly large, has a heavenly, a spiritual, impact. G-d forbid, so does the opposite. The spiritual realms are built upon the spiritual impact of the physical actions of this world. So build up the goodness awaiting you in the Above, do good in this world, today!


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The New Ghetto

By all practical accounts it appears that we are living in the biggest ghetto ever created since Goshen. Instead of the Egyptian taskmasters or the zundercommando it’s the erev rav government of the Zionist state that is “willing or not” to perform the task of making the World Jew free for the Nimroidian-Eausvian-Islamist-fascist, of the New World Order. No longer is it fashionable to tolerate a Jew living and breathing on his own land with rights. Only they haven’t developed a humane way of ridding themselves of us.

Nothing has changed, it’s always been that we were not citizens or could not own property or we did not have civil rights. So now it’s all of the above and worse, yet we should feel sorry for having caused them to hate us. They will to tolerate us on one condition:

I Samuel 11:1-2 “And Nahash (the snake) the Ammonite went up and camped against Jabesh-Gilead. And all the people of Jabesh-Gilead said to Nahash, “make a treaty with us, and we will serve you”. And Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this (condition) will I make a treaty with you, by you gouging out the right eye of every one of you, and I shall make it a reproach against all Israel”.

Midrash Agadah (M.S.14:7) explains “Bring me your Torah which was given by the right hand of the Almighty” (Deut. 33:2) and I shall burn it…. Rashi explains that the Torah is to Israel as one’s right eye is to him.

It's clear why they hate us and wish to destroy us! It's because of the Torah of truth! But, if we are willing to turn from the Torah and deny Hashem then they are willing to tolerate us, for now.

The greatest Hilul Hashem (desecration of G-d’s name) and anti-truth is to say that a Jew has no right to live in the Land (the holy land, the land explicitly given, by G-d, to the Jewish people, in the Torah) and to remove him from it. There are three things that we are commanded not to do under threat of death and instead must give up our lives;
  • Murder

  • Adultery

  • Avodah Zorah - Idol Worship

It is explained that Desecrating Hashem is tantamount to idol worship. So out of a lack of faith, or disbelief, or hatred of our Heavenly Father (G-d forbid) and his Torah they are willing to throw themselves at the mercy of the nations (snake) and make a treaty with the enemies of Hashem. They hate the Truth, and Us for representing it.

So by denying the Land, and worse putting this in to practice by actively removing Jews from it, they deny the Torah (effectively gouging out their right eye). How long will we accept this, this Avodah Zorah, being forced upon us?

When are we going to realize this, stand up and say enough! After they have destroyed all of us or the whole world (for that’s what’s next), as long as there is a Jew (or for that matter the world) then there are witnesses of the Creator and His Torah. They just can not live with TRUTH.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

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Thank you note to Warren Buffet for graciously providing 1 Billion dollars

If there was any doubt about whether or not the Israeli government had the funding to hire and supply a private army (mercenaries), there is no more.

The second richest man in the world and a friend of Bill Gates (who is on whose Board of Directors?) and the first transaction outside continental U. S., (Hmmm?), what a money laundring cover up. It is not a stretch of the imagination. 1 Billion dollars goes a long way to provide all the necessities for the disengagement. And considering just over a year ago, PM Sharon complained to the President Gog Bush that he didn't have enough money to throw us out. Thanks to this generous donation, Armulis (Olmert) now has the funds to follow through. Unfortunately, how much of this money will be used, or not...for re-housing 200,000 refuges??

Interesting that there seems to be a virtual lack of "news coverage" or details relating to this transaction. And what does this metal industry do, anyway? Why would they sell? If it is military hardware, what prevents them from not supplying Israel with necessities?

Lots of questions?????
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Monday, May 08, 2006

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Jerusalem -- A Cup of Poison

Zech 12:2 Behold, I am making Jerusalem a cup of poison for all the peoples all around; also Yehudah will take part in the seige of Jerusalem.

R. Shabtai says "Katrina was a small dose, and Iraq a warm up act."

Now listen to the Yalkut Shimoni:

"Three times Gog and Magog come up upon Jerusalem. And on the third time they come, and they go up to Jerusalem. And they go to Yehudah, and they (apparently, Yehudah) are afraid of them .... And each one of the people of Yehudah is handed over to two giborim (heroes). Why? In order that they shall not run away. Once they overpower, the children of Yehudah go up with them, and come up to Jerusalem. And they (the children of Yehudah) pray in their hearts , and they say, "We should fall into their hands and they not into our hands." Why are they praying in their hearts? Because they are afraid to allow their voices to be heard.... The Blessed Holy One says to them, "You have come in innocence? By your life, innocence will cost you," as it is written (Proverbs 11:3) "The innocence of the upright will guide him, but the perversity of the traitors will destroy them." At that time the Blessed Holy one will give courage to the children of Yehudah, and they will draw their weapons and they will smite those people (the Gog-ian heroes) on their right and on their left and kill them. - Yalkot Shimoni Zechariah 12:2

Targum Reb Nati (My translation and interpretation...):

They (Gog) go to Yehudah (the malchut of Israel, the Israeli government) and the Children of Yehudah are afraid of them (world opinion) and they assign two giborim (secret service men / CIA), just in case they want to change their minds or renege on giving everything to the goyim (nations). Once they overpower them, once they coerce them into submission (once in control thru the CIA) they come to Jerusalem (it comes to the issue of giving up Jerusalem), something happens on the way (they feel remorse), they start to pray, they are hoping that they lose the battle, and Hashem says, "What, you've come in innocence? Not good enough! "The innocence of the upright shall guide them (upright) but the perversity of the traitors shall destroy them (the traitors)". (Prov 11:3) From this verse it seems that they (the Israeli government) in the last minute has to make a decision. Hashem has to put courrage in their hearts to restore to them free will to choose to resist or to go like sheep to the slaughter.

Alternate translation: After they have remorse in their hearts, and they are afraid to let their voices be heard, then the Blessed Holy One says to them, "(Okay) you have come in innocence. Innocence will stand up for you." Then he puts courage in their hearts and they kill the bodyguards.

According to this the remorse in their heart is enough that G-d shall put courage in their heart to do the right thing. In either case, it goes down to the wire.

It's hard to imagine that sphincters like Olmert HaRasha can actually turn around. It looks that this act is going down to the wire, so keep a lot of popcorn and beer on hand and stay tuned for the last episode of the show.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

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President George Bush and the Middle East

In three weeks PM Olmert will be visiting Pres. Bush, ostensibly to share his ideas on further deportation of Jews from Yehudah-Shomron. It is not true. It seems to many that the deportation of Jews from Katif was the initiative of the Israelis, and Bush merely went along. It is not true. The total deportation of all Jews from Yehudah-Shomron has been US policy for a long time, and now it is coming to fulfillment. Bush demands it, and the Israelis are glad to go along.

However, it doesn’t really matter who is the initiator and who is the junior partner. They are both culpable.

Americans should let Bush know that they know that his policy is a total failure. Look what the destruction of G. Katif accomplished.

1. The establishment of terrorist state in the heart of the Mediteranean basin

2. An Al-Queda base pointed at the heart of Egypt

3. It encouraged the forces of extremist Islamo-fascism all over the world. Look what a little violence can accomplish.

4. The empowerment of Chamas and another safe haven for Chizbullah and Islamic Jihad

5. It did not strengthen Israel, but moved much of the country into missle range.

6. A training ground and central communication center for terrorists all over the world.

7. It weakened the morale of Israel. In effect the Israeli army has lost 1 or 2 divisions of fighters

Everyone must protest. If Bush doesn’t want to fall further, then he must change his hopeless policies in the middle east, and right away. After Olmert’s visit he will no longer have the opportunity.

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