Friday, September 29, 2006

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The War of the Light Against the Darkness - Part 1

IN THIS WAR THE ARE MANY CASUALTIES, BUT THAT IS THE WAY WARS GO.

Recently I was speaking to a group of hilonim (so called non-religious Jews in Israel), which by the way I don't believe that there is such a thing. Through the course of our conversation they ask me, as I stand there dressed very obviously in an ultra-orthodox fashion, what they can do. I asked 'Do you really want to hurt the government? ... You want to punish them... Torture them... Destroy them???', and with each question the answer was "Yes!", louder and more fervent to each question. They said, "Tell us, my brother, what to do, as we really want to bring them down!".

I paused, and said in a quite voice as I had been speaking loud to arouse them to passion. 'Do teshuva', I said. "WHAT??? Put on tzitzit and a kipah?" (in an, are you kidding voice) they responded. 'Not important', I said. "WHAT? Keep Shabbos...stop eating treif (non-kosher)?" they queried, forcefully. 'Again, not critical' I said.

"Ok...Ok, tell us chochum (smart guy), what, you're going against the rabbis?" they pushed. 'No, the only thing you need to do is very simple! Find a few minutes each day and place, and do a hesbon nefesh (personal account). Zeh Hu (that's all) .... Stand before Hashem and check the events of the day, and if you are beseder (if you are ok) then say Todah LeEl, Thanks G-d! But if the answer is I'm lacking in something, then make viduy (confession).'

"What, that's it?", they asked, stunned. 'Yes that's it!' I explained that the government is more afraid of this than armed resistance. They all started talking one with the other.

Now this is important..this is a battle! In the darkness we need night vision goggles. That is what emunah (faith) is! It's our night scope so we can see the target. How do we learn this" Let me say, it's not easy. It's like learning karate, you must practice it daily. In karate you learn first what is called kata, to develop instinctual moves so the body learns to response naturally. Well, our kata is tehillim (psalms) we read everyday. But I'm telling you it is not enough to just say them, we must learn them like our lives depended on it! For it really does! They have to be internalized, become part of us our instinct. When attacked we don't take time to think which moves to use, it's too late and we're dead. We have to react with instinctual moves to the aggressor to survive. Our spiritual lives truly depend on EMUNAH (faith).

Only those of us who pray in our own words like Dovid HaMelek, King David, and with great faith will survive this onslaught. Only those who stay in the light survive, and darkness is surrounding us, thick, palpable, reaching in. And what is the light you ask?

Come back in the days to come and, G-d willing I'll be zoche (have the honor) tell you.

Gmara K'siva Tova - May you be sealed in the book of life for a good year!
Reb Nati

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Uman Uman Video Video

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

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Go Up

A guest post from Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem and ThereIsOne.Com...

A word of Torah for Parshas Haazinu...In this weekly portion of the Torah Moshe gives all of Israel a song that tells of the ups and downs of Jewish life until finally the Redemption comes. After finishing the song G-d tells Moshe to “Ascend to this mountain . . . and die on the mountain where you will ascend . . ..”

There is a strict rule in learning Torah that every letter is crucial. This means that nothing can be extraneous. Each word must come to teach us something or it would not be there. So what is the purpose for these seemingly extra words, “on the mountain where you will ascend?” The Torah could have simply said, “Ascend to this mountain . . . and die there.”

“Die on the mountain where you will ascend,” teaches the essential lesson in life that we all die on the mountain that we climb. This means that during our lifetime we climb a mountain day by day. We get higher and higher as we grow more and more. Our good deeds cause us to ascend higher and our bad deeds either prevent us from going higher, or even worse, depending on the deed, can cause us to slip and fall lower. Then, when we pass into the next world we die at the height we were able to accomplish while we were here.

What difference does it make how high we are when we go into the next world? Know that “high” and “low” are really metaphors describing in human terms the concept of spiritual capacity. In fact, all talk of the world to come is metaphoric.

Our “capacity” means that our spiritual position in the next world is fixed according to our ability to receive the spiritual light that will accompany that Wondrous Revelation. The more holiness we bring into our lives while we are here, the greater will our capacity be to withstand the Brightness there. If we are used to holiness we will be able to go right into that Great Brightness as Moshe walked into the Cloud of Glory when it was on Mt. Sinai. But if we are used to sinning while we are here on Earth our eyes will squint horribly at the Bright Light and we will be forced away as were the Jews at the bottom of the Mountain.

The most wonderful thing about living a holy life, even without considering the reward that is in store for us in the next world, is that our physical life in this world is better. When we walk with G-d in our mind we walk erect and happy. When we walk with only the physical on our mind we will stoop with its weight. When we live a spiritual life we look for opportunities to give. When we live only in the physical world we look for opportunities to take.

It is a well-publicized fact that religious families live happier and longer lives than nonreligious families. Even without thinking of the Great Reward that is surely coming, living a spiritual life gives us the most joy even while we are here.

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Experiencing Uman

Well it's been ten years since I last went to my Rebbe and I'll tell you it was beyond any description of anything I've seen before. There was between 30,000 and 50,000 people there, all with one mind and spirit, Rosh Hashanna. To some that meant sitting out on the nights before and singing and dancing, to other it was fervent prayer and teshuvah.

For me it meant connecting with my people, Am Israel. As I spoke with gedolim to receive light and then to regular guys to give light, to each at his level, I also received great nachat from the simple people as the Rebbe said the sweetest prayers are from those who just believe. I truly wish to reach this level of simplicity of just believing again as I have learned to become complicated.

My greatest hope and prayer for all of us this year is for us to come together as one and with the simplest faith and just cry out from the depths of our being.....ABBA....

More on the way.

Gmara Ktiva Tova! - Reb Nati

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Uman Rosh Hashanah

For Rosh Hashanah, R. Nati travelled to the holy kever of the Rebbe, Rav Nachman of Breslov, zt"l. R. Nati estimates that about 50,000 chassidim and non-chassidim made the journey to the rebbe who promised that if they would make the effort, he would pull them out of gehenim if necessary in the next world.

One of the most astounding stories from Uman this year is told here.

I'm sure R. Nati will tell us more in his own words, but for now he's given us this:

From Israel, Breslov Trance Music - Click Here

Slide Show: Uman Rosh Hashanah
Photo Set: Uman Rosh Hashanah



G-d willing, lots more pictures and some video to come.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

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Rav Ovadia and the Dove

Original (Hebrew)

Summary: A white dove entered the Beit Midrash of Rav Ovadia at 10:00 AM on Erev Rosh Hashana, and landed on Rav Ovadia's Shtender. People tried chasing it away unsuccessfully. Eventually, one learner in the Beit Midrash took the dove and let it go out the window. To everyone's amazement, the dove returned to the same place it was originally - to Rav Ovadia's Shtender, as if it were waiting for him alone. This even happened again - someone took it out, and the dove returned to that exact same spot. It was there until a few minutes before Minha, when Rav Ovadia came to the Beit Midrash, and went to his place. He gently and very mercifully held the dove, caressed it, looked straight at it, and said the following words:


יונה מה תהגי ומה תהמי. נדרך שלמי יען כי אני ה'. וישלח את היונה ולא יספה שוב אליו עוד. עשית שליחותך לכי לשלום אמן כן יהי רצון


With that, the dove flew out the window, and never returned.

The words said to the dove come from an ancient poem of R' Yehuda Halevi and from Parshat No'ah.

Rav Ovadia explained afterwards that these types of occurrances deal with the Neshamot of Tzadikim, who go down to our world to give us a message.
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A Strange Reaction

08-27-Israel-- 057
During my visit to Israel, I went to the kever of Dovid HaMelek (the tomb of King David, chai v'kayam) late one night with two special rabbonim. We visited the kever, davened (prayed), had a cup of coffee (someone sets out hospitality coffee and cake there), and went up to the roof to see the incredible site of the old city of Jerusalem at night.

It's a place of peace and prayer and a special feeling to sing King David's songs of praise to Hashem while standing with the author.

Afterwards I needed to use the facilities. (Oy, coffee.)

Now Kever Dovid HaMelech is a strange place. Several ruins next to two huge churches were taken over by the Diaspora Yeshiva and refurbished, specifically to make a Jewish presence there and to claim Kever Dovid. Which means that the yeshiva and Kever Dovid abutt church buildings and property.

The area is well lit, the kever and the various pathways except for the path to the facilities. Actually, kind of a tunnel, about a 1/2 block long under archways, with the facilities well lit at the end.

Off we walked through the darkened archway / tunnel. It was a bit spooky, but quiet with no safety concerns. About half way to the facilities, one of the rabbonim with me started to freak out. He started looking left and right, acted a bit startled, jump a bit this way and that, peering in the darkness, saying "something is wrong, something's not right, be careful". Very very weird, and out of character. We continued, he kept acting this way right up to the facilities. We came out and tried to exit down a different path which we found blocked, the odd behavior increased. I started getting a bit concerned, what's wrong with this guy? Or, alternatively, being in a dim spooky place in the middle of the night, is there something to worry about.

We found our way back, passed the facilities and headed back the way we came. Half way down the archway / tunnel, he suddenly starts acting perfectly normal. Double weird. He's perfectly calm, all is ok, we go on our way.

I visited Kever Dovid HaMelek again during the day, took some pictures from the top. Looked and realized where we were that night.

Half way down the archway and the facilities are directly under church buildings. The path we took to leave that was blocked was through church grounds, we walked right past the tomb of the armenian priests.

My companion was sensitive to tuma.

08-27-Israel-- 085
Standing on the roof of Kever Dovid HaMelech, non-Jewish facility in the close background.

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Practical Politics

(This is a bit old, written a month ago and left in draft by accident, but still interesting...)

In light of the emergency situation (the completely disfunctional government of Israel), and it is an emergency, it seems necessary to come to some modus vivendi with the political system, even though almost everyone in it, and all those from the rank of aluf (mefakdei chativot) and above and their counterparts throughout government and even in some private businesses and corporations -- they have all lost the way, they are totally confused and everything that they do comes out wrong. Nevertheless, due to emergency the triumvirate (olmert, peretz, chalutz) must be changed immediately, and to do it requires an alternative, even if it means reverting to that old time socialist corruption but when Eretz Yisrael still meant something, and the framework of Eretz Yisrael dictated the necessity that as many Jews as possible were needed to settle the land and make life within it prosperous and safe.

However, what is being suggested is only an interim government. Also, it must establish an enquiry commission of its own choosing into "What Happened During the War, And What Were the Root Causes". (I am being very exact with my choice of words.) Also, it is a government that is not ruled by one man, but by a council of more or less equal partners. Officials must be chosen for their abilities and not because of political affiliations, as much as possible but more than what we would think probable. Even each and every ministry must be ruled by coalition agreement within the ministry. (I suggest three in every ministry, and any unsolved issues must be brought to the Guiding Council of Six.

1) If Fuad Eliezer can bring 11 more Labor mks with him, then he will be rosh (12).
2) Netanyahu Foreign Minister (12).
3) Boogie Ya'alon Defense.
4) Eli Yishai (Mishpatim, with a mandate to institute reform in the judicial system including the Supreme Court (11).
5) Liberman wants the Police (11).
6) Education to Mafdal/Ichud (9). The Mafdal failed miserably when it was in charge of education although they established many settlements at the time. They cannot fail this time.
7) Agudah (6) gets its choice.
8) Very important -- the Treasury -- to a technocrat who signs on to the need to reconstruct the national institutions to face the emergency that the war has forced upon us (for better or worse) and he must believe that reconstruction cannot be accomplished by bleeding the people of their vital juices.

Why does the Council of Six have eight members? Only six command votes in the coalition, and two are technocrats although they are full voting members of the council.

The other ministries, and some of them are very important to the reconstruction effort, will be distrubuted according to political necessities.

The main idea is to immediately replace the failed triumvirate with a national emergency guiding council, and to begin reconstruction that will prepare the people for the emergency of a world war that is being fought in our backyard.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

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Lechatchilah Ariber - Go Over!

I was offered a chance to meet with a major mekubal from Israel (a major Israeli kabbalist) and made arrangements (thanks N!). At first I wanted to, then I became concerned over the path of the mekubal (kabbalist) versus the path of the rebbaim (the chassidic rebbe's).

I found myself in fear of going. I have visited holy rebbaim (holy righteous torah leaders of the chassidim), always with awe of the kedusah (holiness) of holy men closely connected with Hashem. Yet the path of rebbaim is one of chesed (kindness), while giving a bracha (a blessing) they are unlikely to hold your averot (your sins) up for you to recognize you are the source of your own troubles. One of my experiences with a mekubal showed they hold up the strict emes (truth) and the path of gevurah (strictness), and that's sometimes very difficult to bear.

But then I thought, how can I be in fear of a man with vision? Should I not be in fear of the source of the vision? How can I fear a man who may hold up the evidence rather than being worried about the One True Judge? So I decided to go. Further, I strongly felt a need to take my children, for how do you counteract a world of movies and games and so many false visions that, no matter how hard I try invade our lives, if not with a vision of emes (truth)? So I decided to go, received my wife's agreement, and went to bed.

Then I woke up in the early morning very disturbed. Finally I got back to sleep, after which I woke up very late, not getting going till after the time of prayer. After the night I had, and with plans to visit the mekubal, I felt a strong need to go to mikvah. The mikvah was closed for renevations after 7am this morning, too late. How could I go to a mekubal without cleansing myself first?

Then the children were very unusually difficult in the morning, one couldn't find a pair of shoes and ended up staying home, another couldn't find a kipah and also ended up staying home. At which point I threw in the towel, gave up, this day is lost, I was nervous anyway, forget it, can't go visit a tzadik (a holy righteous man) in this condition.

Then my wife came home and announced the minivan was overheating. And then my eldest son didn't show up home on time at all. At which I perked up and said, this is too much. It's too many obstacles. It's above and beyond what's normal, it's intentional obstacles. Time to follow the instructions of the Chabad Rebbe's of the past, Lechatchilah Ariber, Go Over! Don't fiddle with the obstacles, don't try to go around, wiggle past, stop the calculations and considerations, just go over!

So I told my wife, pack up, we're going. I ran to the mikvah, lo and behold late afternoon they were all finished, it was empty and available. Ran to the store and bought 2 gallons of anti-freeze, maybe the radiator is just low (maybe a slow leak or something managable). Put in 1 gallon, ran the van for 20 minutes, no problem! Must find the missing son, he's at minyan, no he's not. He's helping put up Succos, his cell phone goes dead, he's with a friend, they're back at the house, no their not, finally he's back at shul, don't get frustrated hang in there, load him up we're on the way.

It's a fast day, we're grumpy, the older children are grumpy (they're fasting too), but we're not fighting in the car, absolutely no traffic to get there, and the van's not overheating. Tackled head on, all the obstacles faded away.

We arrived, we met, but that's another story.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

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Jewish vs. Arab News

A friend sent me the following recently, unknown source...

A Jewish man was riding on the subway reading an Arab newspaper. A friend of his, who happened to be riding in the same subway car, noticed this strange phenomenon.

Very upset, he approached him and said:

"Moshe, have you lost your mind? Why are you reading an Arab newspaper?"

Moshe replied, "I used to read the Jewish newspapers, but what did I find? Jews being persecuted, Israel being attacked, Jews disappearing through assimilation and intermarriage, Jews living in poverty.

So I switched to the Arab newspaper. Now what do I find? Jews own all the banks, Jews control the media, Jews are all rich and powerful, Jews rule the world. The news is so much better!"

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Illegal - Blowing Shofar in Jerusalem???

Erev Rav? We begin to understand what it means.

Here.

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Photo: Hashem Before Me At All Times

08-28-Israel-- 221

This beautiful kabbalistic design of mystical prayer focusing and protection, unusually colorful and detailed, was found at the site of Kever Havakuk HaNavi, the holy resting place of the biblical prophet Havakuk, in northern Israel near Meron and Safed.

From Mystical Paths, MPATHS.COM. Reading it somewhere else? See it there, click.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

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Hints of Kavanot for the Shofar

From the sefer HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, for Rosh Hashanah...

The statement in the Siddur (prayer book) of the Baal HaTanya (HaRav Shneur Zalman of Liadi): Prior to sounding the Shofar we say Ana B'choach, means this:

"In general terms they are the Kavanot (mystical devotions) of the verses whose initial letters are the second Name of the Name Mem-Bet [a mystical form of the Divine Name consisting of 42 letters. See Gemora Kidushin 71a.]

However, some keep the Kavanot of the words Ana B'choach in thought, but do not pronounce the letters or words (this is the custom of Chabad Chassidim).

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

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L'Shana Tova TiKatav vTachatame


To our friends and readers, from the bloggers of Mystical Paths,
may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

Often years come and go. Yet there are those times when we realize just how on the edge life and death, peace or war, safety or terror truly are. Though things seem often seem calm, every moment we rely on Hashem.

This year, even b'derech teva, even by the natural order of things, will there be peace or war with madmen? Will there be acts of horror, or horrible men caught and sent to jail? Will there be rains and sun, or storms and floods and quakes and drought?

Will we see the G-dly order of things, will there be geulah and Moshiach, redemption and Divine justice?

My friends, it's a good time, a very good time, for prayer. This Rosh Hashanah, please, pray for peace and safety and redemption, for all of klal yisroel.

May the good in all of us be revealed this year, and may all evil see it's final and ultimate end.

A good and sweet year! Shana Tova uMetuka!

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the time of crowning the King, the King of Kings, and the judgement of the world, occurs this Friday Night through Sunday Night. Info on Rosh Hashanah can be found here. G-d willing, blogging will resume Monday.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

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Teshuvah, Tefilah, Tzedakah!

Time has slipped forward while we were barely looking and Rosh Hashanah is upon us. That great and holy time when we crown the King, the King of Kings, and he judges his nation, his people, and the world.

The awesome moment, the awesome words, who will live and who will die... will spill from our lips.

Everyone says there is This World and the World to Come. We believe that the World to Come exists. It could be that This World also exists - somewhere. But here? From the suffering everyone goes through the whole time, it would appear that this is Gehenim. (Jewish purgatory)" - Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Likutey Moharan 2:119.

I do not know if my teshuvah, repentence and reconnecting to Hashem, has been acceptable or even if it's truly teshuvah. Perhaps it's unworthy of consideration by the King. I do not know if my tefillah, if my prayers, are appropriate, had the proper concentration for even a moment, or even worth listening to.

But I know I can take a dollar or shekel or pound or euro and alleviate someone else's suffering, if only for a few moments.
If no other, that merit will stand for me.

We strongly recommend these charities that are helping people, alleviating suffering, and literally saving lives...

  • This blog directly supports special needs young yeshiva students. Unfortunately as soon as you add the word "special", prices jump 2-4 times and families are often faced with choices between literally food or sending their Jewish child to public school. Help them out -

  • Yad Eliezer feeds thousands in Israel, and helps thousands of others in many ways! They also have the knack of turning your tzedakah dollar into 2, or 3, by making special deals for excess produce and similar arrangements. They run one of the lowest overhead and highest impact organizations in Israel. Help them out!


  • During the recent war, Magen Dovid Adom, the Israeli ambulance corp, was on the scene saving lives every time. Staffed mostly by volunteers, driving right in to missle strike areas, they depend on your donations for their life saving equipment. Help them out, here.


  • Zaka faces a grimmer duty. Not only do they arrive as supporting rescuers, but they're the ones who recover the bodies for proper burial. A duty no one wishes to face, they run to perform. Run to help them, please.


  • Colel Chabad is feeding the neediest and poorest in Safed and in Jerusalem. They depend on every dollar to be able to do so. Help them out.


  • One would not think that medical equipment would be such a big deal. But when you don't have money for a full meal for the family, you certainly don't have money to rent a nebulizer for your childs asthma. For terror victims and war victims, the needs for equipment is great. Yad Sarah loans medical equipment, for free. They've become a major life saving organization in Israel doing so. Help their efforts.


  • Among those feeding the needy is a simple organization that simply feeds people in Safed. Their meal package for Shabbos is often stretched to Wednesday for the neediest families. Business in Safed is poor because of and since the war, more are needy than ever. Help them.

May the holy merits of charity stand for you this Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur!

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Real, or an Illusion?


The sticker reads, Ein Ode Milvado, which is usually translated to mean "there is none other besides Him", in its context in the Torah meaning there are no other gods. But the literal translation, and the chassidic understanding, is "there is nothing else besides Him", meaning all reality is only G-d (of one aspect or another, but all the One G-d.)

I once met a young man coming out of a chassidic gathering who was very excited. He said to me, "the question isn't is there a reality or is it just an illusion, but is it an illusion or really nothing at all???"

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

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Why is it So Hard to Find a Good Leader in Israel?

Nice post from Biur Chametz on National Leaders
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Moshiach or Otherwise?

The following quote was via a private email exchange, but raises a really good question...

The chassidic doctrine of the tzadik as well as the concept of mashiach is difficult, and it would no doubt be easier for us to just think about national redemption without an overpowering leader. "Mashiach", you know, is the gematria of "nachash - the snake". How do you discern between a holy rebbe and a cult guru? How do you discern between a true mashiach and a false one who is just an evil dictator?

Good question! Torah, the only answer is Torah, adhering to or deviating from. The Torah itself warns us of false leaders, even with prophetic or miraculous abilities, arising (Devarim 13). And it tells us how to tell.

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Hillel wants to know...

Students who are Jewish, or Jewish Students? What's important?

Survey here.

(Hillel is a Jewish oriented college campus organization.)

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

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Not Surprised, But We Must Not Sit!

Not even done licking their wounds, and they return to self destructiveness? Hatred for the Land and the Kedushah on the same day? Truly Erev Rav?

Peretz orders to raze 90 illegal houses in W. Bank within weeks. You remember Amona, here's Amona times 10. Because, as we all know, building Jewish homes in the West Bank is the cause of all Arab anger and razing of them will bring peace. Or not.

High Court: Jerusalem's gay pride parade to be held November 10. Mazel Tov to the new High Court President on her new position. And what's her first ruling? Gays may desecrate Jerusalem. This is a difficult topic where we must strongly remember, hate the sin - not the sinner. Yet specifically arranging to flaunt your sins in the holy places? But here is why this is a very very big deal...

(Talmud) Rabbi Zeira said to Rabbi Shimon: "The Rabbi [you] should reprove these officials of the House of the Exilarch for their transgressions." He replied that they would not accept his reproof. Rabbi Zeira thereupon said: "Even if they do not accept it the rabbi should nevertheless reprove them. For Rabbi Acha bar Chanina said, 'A good decree never issued from the mouth of God and was then retracted for a bad one except in this matter.'"

It is written: God said to the angel, "Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and mark the letter 'tav' on the foreheads of the people who sigh and moan over all the abominations that are done in its midst." (Ezekiel 9:4) God said to the angel Gabriel: "Go and mark a 'tav' of ink on the foreheads of the righteous, so that the angels of destruction should have no power over them; and on the foreheads of the wicked a 'tav' of blood, so that the angels of destruction should have power over them." Said the Attribute of Justice before God, "Master of the Universe what is the difference between these and these?" God replied, "These are completely righteous and these are completely wicked." Justice than argued, "But the righteous had the opportunity to protest and they didn't protest!" God replied, "It is revealed and known to Me that if they had protested, the sinners would not have accepted it from them." Justice then argued, "If it is revealed before You, is it revealed to them?"

The Talmud concludes by quoting verses that demonstrate that not only was Justice victorious in its argument, but that the destruction began with the righteous, thus demonstrating the reversal of the good decree. (Shabbat, 55a)

But why didn't the righteous protest? After all God Himself testified that they were totally righteous. One of the commandments of the Torah is to chastise your friend up to a hundred times if necessary when you see him doing something wrong. How could God call these people totally righteous when they were not fulfilling this commandment?

The answer is the social ethic.

The righteous knew that the people who were practicing abominations believed that they were doing nothing wrong. Society taught them that what they were doing was legal and fell within the confines of socially acceptable behavior...So the righteous thought to themselves, "What is the point of protesting, they certainly will not listen. What they are doing is legal! It is against the law to chastise them!" And they were right! God Himself testified that they would not listen! So why should they have protested?

We must turn to the social ethic for the answer. The only way to alter the social ethic is by protest. For even when people do not listen, when a good man expresses an opinion it makes an impact. If enough good men raise their voices in protest and object to something that is wrong, eventually the media covers their protests; the subject of their protest becomes a matter of public debate; they often succeed in altering the social ethic and changing the world.

...Public apathy triggers the curses, and brings on the mass destructions that affect all of us in the long run. We should wake up and smell the coffee now.
- by Rabbi Noson Weisz, here.

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The Master of Miracles

By the shore of the Kinneret just south of Teveria (Tiberius), next to a beautiful grove, sits the holy resting place of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess, Rabbi Meir the Master of Miracles from the times of the great sages of the Talmud...Answer us, G-d of Meir, Answer us! Bring us the Geulah Shalayma now, and protect all of Knesset Yisroel!

08-28-Israel-- 149

08-28-Israel-- 100

08-28-Israel-- 121

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Monday, September 18, 2006

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The Land of Milk and Smelly Cheese?

A guest post from Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem and ThereIsOne.Com...

A few weeks ago a neighbor from the Old City stopped me on the street. He had just started a tiny homemade sheep cheese business in his apartment and was looking for customers. The guy obviously doesn’t have any money so I wanted to give him some business if I could. I told him that I make lasagna for Friday nights and that I couldn’t find any kosher Parmesan cheese for it and that if he could make one I could use some every week. A couple days ago he told me that he had something for me to try and he was going to stop by the apartment in the morning. He didn’t show up.

I went to the Kotel late afternoon as usual and the nice guy who manages the tefillen booth said that he had something for me. He pulled out a gorgeous bottle of natural honey. It was gift-wrapped in a tiny decorated straw basket. It is a custom to dip our bread in honey during the upcoming holidays and this was his way of saying thank you for all of the help that I give him at the tefillen booth. It was really nice of him.

After I finished helping at the booth and was about to go daven, the guy with the cheese business came up to me. He had a bag with several slices of smelly cheese in it. He wanted me to taste it there at the Kotel and maybe buy a piece.

“This is weird.” When’s the last time I ate a piece of cheese at the Kotel? I didn’t want to do it but I saw how disappointed he was so I took a small piece and walked out to taste it. Hey, it was pretty good. I bought enough for two lasagnas but he didn’t have a bag to put it in. It was wrapped in a small piece of clear, thin plastic wrap. “Oh boy here I am again in a weird situation.” I was sitting by the Kotel about to daven holding a nice-sized piece of smelly sheep cheese in one hand and a bottle of honey in the other.

Then it hit me. I smiled warmly at G-d’s kindness (and good humor). I had written this week about how G-d has given us a Land of Milk and Honey and there I was sitting by the Kotel with cheese in one hand and honey in the other. Ok, so according to the sages the actual honey He was talking about was date-honey and not bee honey, and Parmesan sheep cheese is a bit of a stretch from milk, but so what. I got the message.

It is so nice to be here. Thank You. BTW There is room for you here too.

Have a wonderful, sweet, healthy, happy and prosperous New Year. With love from the Old City...Gutman Locks.

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The Kinneret


The Kinneret, Golan Heights Behind

A picture of the Sea of the Galilee, the Kinneret, Israel's only freshwater lake, with the Golan Heights behind the far shore. The Kinneret is a vital water source for Israel.

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Righteousness from the depths...

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

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Refuah Shalayma Rav Ovadiah!

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, shlita, is undergoing heart surgery Monday. Please daven for his complete recover: רבנו עובדיה בן גורג´יה HaRav HaGaon Ovadia ben Georgia.


The poster reads:

Attention to all the wise of Israel.

The holy public is requested to beg, pray and arouse mercy from heaven for the prince of Torah, our great teacher and master, Rabbi Ovadiah the son of Georgia, Yosef, who will be having surgery on Monday at 9:00 AM (Israel time).

The holy congregation and students are requested to say tehillim (psalms) of healing.

The adult students and yeshiva students (of Rabbi Yosef, shlita) and are requested to take upon themselves a fast of silence from the hours of 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM during the time of the Rabbi's treatment.

The mighty prayers of the many will not be diminished.

Thanks to Nava and an anonymous commentor for the additional info.
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Thoughts for Yom Rishon

08-22-Israel-- 012
aka Sunday Musings

It's Sunday, the week before Rosh Hashanah. Selichos have been said, blearly eyes abound. (Selichos are petitionary prayers before Rosh Hashanah, and on the first night these prayers can be said among the Ashkenazim and Chassidim, they are said in the middle of the night.)

We are very saddened to hear of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, shlita's, health problems. For the second or third time within a week he's been hospitalized with apparent heart problems. This great Torah scholar and leader of sephardic jewry has frequently been fodder for the press, as he doesn't media spin his words. The emes (truth) doesn't play well on the 5'o'clock news. Please say some tehillim for his recovery, in such a time we can't afford to lose another tzaddik. (If someone knows his mother's name, please send it to me or add it in a comment.)

The big surprise in end-of-days events certainly is the speech this week by the head of the Catholics. Suddenly out of nowhere, literally Rome and Yismael are at each other's throats. (You gotta love the Palestinians, in response they go off and attack an Anglican church and a Greek Orthodox church.) We'll see whether Rome caves and grovels enough to placate Yismael, or whether this is the start of a much bigger moment.

At the same time (more or less), the US has a massive oil find, doubling it's reserves and cutting the price of gasoline almost by 1/3 (wow, and right before US mid-term elections too, amazing). Yishmael's perceived economic threat is suddenly diminished, the US - Iran situation becomes more likely.

And the kids are settled back in school. Well, most of them. Between unbelievably high tuition numbers that are simply impossible and school attitudes (where conformity has moved from religious to the most intimate details of life), some of my crew remains sitting on the couch twiddling their thumbs.

There's definately something wrong when getting the kids into yeshiva literally requires a nes (miracle). Perhaps thats also a sign of the times.

Rosh Hashana's coming. A good week all.

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From Mystical Paths, MPATHS.COM. Reading it somewhere else? See it there, click.
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Friday, September 15, 2006

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Reb Yaakov, Katyusha's, and the Holy Cedar of Safed

Reb Yaakov moved to Safed 36 years ago, living in the old city with his family and a married son and family who live nearby.

He stayed in Safed during the Yom Kippur War (1973) together with the holy Klausenberger Rebbe, zt"l. After Yom Kippur, they stepped out of the holy and ancient Tzanz-Klausenberg synagogue of Safed and saw much of the population of Safed had fled, and much of the remainder was fleeing (being Safed was close to the war front of the Golan Heights). The holy Rebbe turned to the people standing there and said, "Why are they fleeing? Safed is an Ir Miklat (a city of refuge from the bible)." Relying on the words of his holy rebbe, Reb Yaakov and his wife stayed.

Briefly before the recent war, there was an argument in Reb Yaakov's neighborhood. A huge ancient cedar tree, perhaps over 150 feet high, annoyed some new people rennovating a home for use. It blocked their view, they demanded it be removed. Several protested, this ancient resident of Safed has as much right to be here as you! The cedar stayed.

During the recent Israel-Hizbollah war, hundreds of katyusha rockets fell on Safed (Reb Yaakov says about 500 hit Safed and the surrounding areas). Continuing to rely on the words of his holy rebbe (no longer in this physical world), he and his family and his son and family stayed. As in the past, most of the residents evacuated. In fact, of hundreds of synagogues in the old city of Safed, only 3 continued to operate and maintained a minyan (a prayer quorum) during the war, the old Chabad Tzemach Tzedek synagogue, the old Tzanz synagogue, and the more recent Breslov synagogue of the Breslov chassidic leader Rabbi Koneig, shlita. All 3 maintained full prayer services 3 times a day with a very small dedicated group of men.

Though hundreds of katyusha rockets hit the holy city of Safed as well as Meron and the surrounding hills, no resident of Safed or Meron was killed (the unfortunate exception was a guest from Nahariya killed in Meron together with her granddaughter). Indeed, there were many clear miracles, and here is one...

Reb Yaakov's daughter-in-law called and said, "we have no bread in the house, the children are hungry, I'm going to send out the older to the bakery for bread." (Two grocery stores and one bakery continued to operate during the war.) Reb Yaakov told his daughter-in-law, "No, you can't send out the children, if G-d forbid the sirens go off, they won't know what to do and will panic. We'll send our daughter out for you (Reb Yaakov being a bit beyond the age to run through the streets.)". He instructed his daughter, if the sirens sound, fall to the ground and throw your hands over your head until the all-clear.

Reb Yaakov's daughter set out, risking her life to bring food to her nieces and nephews. She brisky set off for the bakery, arrived and purchased several loaves of bread. She turned and quickly headed to her brother and sister-in-law's home. 2 minutes away, the sirens went off and whistling was heard. The whistling of an incoming rocket! Terrified, she threw herself to ground next to the courtyard with the cedar tree, literally 5 meters away. Seconds later, she heard an incredibly loud BOOM and was bounced off the ground! She lay there trembling for a time, finally taking stock of herself and looking around.

What she saw astounded her. The cedar tree (as I wrote about previously) had grabbed the katyusha rocket, pulled it in, and dumped it into an unoccupied courtyard next to her. The walls of the courtyard absorbed the explosion and the shrapnel, she was unharmed.

Still on the ground, she called her father on the cell phone screaming, "Ta, a rocket just hit the cedar, I'm lying literally next to it, across the street is the school dormitory that's still occupied! Baruch Hashem, I'm ok, the tree directed the rocket into an empty courtyard!" Trying to hold a straight head, Reb Yaakov directed his daughter, "Nu, are you sure you're ok? Then get up and get going, we don't know when more will fall? What happened to the bread." She looked around for a moment before realizing, "Umm, I don't know, wait, I'm still holding it!" and on she ran to her brother's.

Truly, as the rebbe said, an Ir Miklat, a city of refuge. Safed, the holy city in the moutains, city of mystics and artists.

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The Signs are Listed...

Are we waking up yet?

The last and largest armada of war ships snice World War II is sitting just off the coast of Lebanon and Uncle "Sam" is sitting with the Brits in Iraq and wow, no war with Iran??? US vs Iran or is it ... US with Iran??? Let's look at TaNaK (Bible) to see what it has to say... (with some local interpretation)...

The 38th chapter of Ezekiel- “The word of the HaShem came to me, saying “son of Man:

• Direct you face towards GOG”, the roof or the top leader of the world [pay special close attention to him.]

To Who? (very descriptive).

• “Of the land of MaGog”, leading nation in the world; America,??? 'we can support this'!

• The Nasi, translates as prince or, in modern hebrew, president!

• “Leader of Meshech [Moscow] and Tubal [tublusk]”, the rosh, the head the stronger of the two, in front of, the preeminnate.

Thus says HaShem/Elohim, special name combination (two names of G-d written together), attribute of jugdement and mercy together.

• “I am against you, GOG!” Hashem's stance

Why? What’s really happening behind the news??

• “I HaShem will lead you astray”, a man is lead in the path he wants to go. (Tehillim/Psalms)

• “And I will place hooks in your cheeks and bring you out”, Away from home against your will, and in your materialistic pride, with your entire army (not 200 marines or 120,000 marines: everyone).

• “All clothed in splendor.” ….?

• “A vast assembly with buckler and shield”, defensive armor "peace keepers"?; (but there’s more maybe a more sinster plot) “all of them wielding swords.” (professional soldiers)

The list of who's who:

• “Persia” - IRAN! Look here, whose side she is really on? She is with Gog, one and the same! Hizballah is Iran, and Syria on; July 16, 2006 - as the rockets red glare, Bush said "he wants peace with Syria and Iran."

• Cush - Egypt/Ethiopia, Sudan?

• “Put” - Libya..?

But look, they play a secondary role as they only have, ”shields and helmets”, only defensive items.

• “Gommer and all her cohorts” - Germany/France and the E.U.!

• “Beth Targommah” - Turkey? “In the utter most parts of the north with all its cohorts”.

• “With a lot of people”. The whole world is joining in or supporting this move (hello U.N.).

What does HaShem tell Gog? To do He says:

• “Prepare and make ready for yourself, you and all your hordes that are mustered about you,” to be mustered you’ve been called or commanded to come. "take your time I'm waiting for you!!"

• “And be a guardian for them.” "On your guarantee of success they have gathered around you."

Hashem’s promise to Gog...

• “You will be repaid for you sins of ancient times; in the end of years you will come to a land restored from the sword, gathered from many nations, upon the mountains of Israel that had laid desolate continuously, to a people who had been brought out from the nations, all of the dwelling in security”.

The How, what are the signs:

• “You will attack”; a unprovoked attack, “like a storm you will come”; quickly and unexpected, “you will be like a cloud covering the earth”, like fog, stealthfully, a lot of dust, unseen, “you and your cohorts and many nations with you.” Possible reference to desert storm and desert shield. Or with a hidden agenda, all that he is doing in the region is in preparation for this invasion, with pretty much the whole world, straight forward!

Thus says HaShem/Elohim:

• “It shall be on that day that ideas will arise in your heart”,

• “And you will conceive a wicked design.”

• “you will say , I will advance against a land of open towns”, possibly the Galilee

• “I will come up against the tranquil people who dwell securely, all of them living without a [protective] wall”; until recently Israel didn’t have a protective wall, then again it’s only in the middle of the country. “They have neither bars nor doors”.

The reason from Gog’s point of view:

• “To seize booty and to take spoils”, This is what the nations say to Gog is the reason..."to put your hand against".............Or Not, maybe the G12 has the final solution?

I guess we have to watch the news for this one folks as it's all lining up for big show down between G-d and Gog...

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Forsaken

A guest post from Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem and ThereIsOne.Com...

A word of Torah for Parashas Vayeilech, as we read a double portion this week...

In this week’s portion of the Torah Moshe tells the Jewish People not to be afraid because G-d “ . . . will not release you (from His covenant) nor will He forsake you.” Moshe then repeats these very words to Joshua saying, “He will not release you nor will He forsake you.” But then just a few lines later G-d Himself testifies that after Moshe is gone the People will stray and as a result of their straying He says, “I will forsake them.”

What is going on here? First Moshe said that G-d would not forsake the Jewish People but then G-d said that He would. How are we to reconcile this apparent contradiction?

To answer this question look closer at their complete statements. Moshe said, “Hashem, your G-d, it is He Who goes before you, He will not release you nor will He forsake you.”

Then Hashem said, “ . . . this people will raise up and stray after the gods . . . and it will forsake Me and annul My covenant that I have sealed with it . . . and I will forsake them, and I will conceal My face from them . . .. They will say that day ‘G-d is not in my midst that these evils have come upon me.’ But I will surely have concealed My face . . .because of the evils that they did.”

If we look at these events as a cause and effect, rather than a sin and G-d’s punishment because of that sin, it is easier to understand what is happening.

Moshe warned the Jewish People that it is G-d Who goes with them and not to forsake Him. But G-d said that they would deny that G-d was in their midst and instead they would go after false gods. Denying G-d breaks the covenant and forsakes Him.

It takes two parties to maintain a covenant but only one to break it. Even if only one party breaks it, it is broken. Straying after the gods of the nations obviously dissolves the covenant.

In fact, if G-d did keep His end of the covenant even after the Jewish People broke their end of it this would send the wrong message. They would think that their worship of idols was all right. So, in order to properly guide them G-d must give back to them whatever they do. Since they forsook G-d, G-d had to forsake them. But even here in such an obvious breach of trust by the Jewish People, G-d did not remove Himself from them. He simply hid Himself.

And then when troubles rightfully come to them they will say, ”Is it not because my G-d is not in my midst that these evils have come upon me?”

This is not a statement of repentance but simply more idolatry. They were denying that G-d is everywhere and were saying that all their troubles came to them only because G-d was not in their midst. Even when they saw that their straying did not work they were trying to justify what they were doing! Still, G-d did not withdraw from among them but merely hid His Face even further.

And this is what sin does. Sin does not remove G-d from the sinner, nor does it disconnect the sinner from G-d. It does not even distance the sinner in the slightest way from G-d because G-d is always everywhere. Sin hides His Revealed Presence from the sinner even further than It was before the sin. If His Presence were not hidden there would be no sin. Who would sin while seeing G-d is right there looking down at him? So He hides Himself in order to give us free will. But then when we sin He hides Himself even more.

So we see that Moshe’s statement that G-d will not forsake us was true, as long as we did not forsake Him. But if we break the contract, not only will it be broken from our side but the sin will cause it to be broken from His side too.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

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Bring You To The Land

A guest post from Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem and ThereIsOne.Com...

A word of Torah for Parashas Nitzavim...

In this week’s portion of the Torah Moshe is speaking on the last day of his life. He again warns that the Children of Israel will stray, but will then turn from their straying and return to G-d’s way.

Here is one of the many great proofs that the Torah is not a man-generated book. As we look at the history of the Jewish people from when Moshe was speaking until today we see a truly amazing story. How did Moshe know that Joshua and the tribes of Israel would even succeed in capturing the land? They could have been defeated. Obviously, not every war is won.

How did Moshe know that after we occupied the Land we would sin and be exiled? After all there are many, many nations who have occupied their land ever since they first founded it. For instance, the Italians, Greeks, Tibetans, Japanese, to name just a few. They have all been severely defeated in war yet they were never exiled from their homelands. Certainly they are no longer great powers as many were in their day, but they are still living relatively peacefully in their own land. This is true of most of the world. So how did Moshe know that we would be exiled? Not only that but how did he know just how cruel and long our exile would be?

But it is even more remarkable that he knew we would not disappear as a people during that exile? It is very usual for an exiled people to survive as a nation let alone thrive. Our exile these two thousand years has for the most part been unbelievably cruel. Oh, there were always some of us who lived well even while the rest of us were being oppressed. There were even “golden times” when substantial communities of us we were able to develop small pockets of Jewish life while working under the host rulers. But those were the unusual years. For the most part we were treated like lowly objects to be taken advantage of.

Not only did Moshe know we would win the war and take possession of the land, and that we would be exiled, but he also knew that some day we would return. How did he know that we would return to the very place that G-d was at that point in time merely promising to us?

How is it possible that such a small, numerically insignificant people survived all these years? We had no land. No army. No government. We were homeless exiles allowed to temporarily reside under some host nation until their whims drove us out. And if there ever was a truly friendly, open society that welcomed us, as in America today, we responded by assimilating and intermarrying. So how could Moshe have known that we would survive?

But even this is not the most extraordinary aspect of this prophecy. The truly amazing part of this prophecy is that you and I are living in it today. This week’s headlines in the media; “More Jewish families returning to settle in Israel.” Real estate prices are going crazy. Business is starting to boom.

The prophets told us that some day the land would bloom again. It was desolate when they said that. It has been desolate for some two thousand years. Surely someone seeing Jerusalem one hundred years ago would say there was no hope for such a place. Today the land is blooming. Fruits and vegetables are being exported from here to Europe.

The prophets told us that some day Jewish children would again play in the streets of Jerusalem. The streets were dangerous and desolate when they said those words. Today the streets of Jerusalem are filled with the happy shouts of many tens of thousands of Jewish children.

The land is again being filled with the direct descendants of the very people Moshe was speaking to that day thousands of years ago. That’s us, you and me. We do not need faith in Moshe’s prophecy any more. We see it with our own eyes.

And soon “The land will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as is the ocean bed filled with water.”

We are seeing this coming, right now, today.

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MVT Presents...Kedusah?

Music Video: Avraham Fried, Father Don't Cry -- (7 Minutes, English)

Hosted by Chabad.Info

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Burying Our Heads

Commenting on 1938, goli-hanna wrote: They were paralyzed with fear. are we, too?

To which I replied: Not fear, just the impossibility of grasping it. They could not believe what they heard and saw, so they discounted the data that could have saved their lives until it was too late (for most).

And yes, we bury our heads the same.

HotAir reports
: Al Qaeda planning nuke attack for Ramadan.

From Mystical Paths, MPATHS.COM. Reading it somewhere else? See it there, click.
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Love and Fear, or Fear then Love

Dev"sh commented:

You can't outdo the Holy Torah...Just as it says if you obey HaShem then all these blessings will be yours and if not then all these curses will fall upon you...both Rav Nati's warning and R. Akiva's encouragement present the complete picture. It's never only about one or the other, but both together.

Neshama commented:


How's this: Serving Hashem thru fear is motivated by what might happen to "me". Serving Hashem thru love is motivated by gratitude and awe directed toward Hashem.

I believe that one needs to successfully travel thru the gate of fear to be able to enter thru the gate of love. And the Alter Rebbe showed us the path (whose birthday is also Chai Elul.

From Mystical Paths, MPATHS.COM. Reading it somewhere else? See it there, click.

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HaRav Ovadiah Yosef Hospitalized?

YNetNews reports...Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (shlita) rushed to hospital. Shas' spiritual leader evacuated to Nahariya hospital after complaining of chest pains. Hospital reports his condition is light and stable...The rabbi's associates said that he was fully conscious after suffering a heart attack.

May Hashem grant Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, shlita, a great tzaddik and Torah leader of our generation, a complete and speedy recovery!

From Mystical Paths, MPATHS.COM. Reading it somewhere else? See it there, click.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

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Rosh Hashana Thought

A nice Rosh Hashana note forwarded by a friend from a Mr. Mechael Chaim Siegelbaum...

"Israel is in a new, unsought war, against fanatical proxies of Iran and Syria operating from areas Israel gave up for "peace," backed by a soon-to-be nuclear state with a messianic com­mitment to genocide, using barbaric tactics ­indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations while hiding behind civilians as human shields - as an amoral world debates whether Israel's defense is "proportional," or whether it is tak­ing too long." - Rick Richman, The Jewish Press, Sept. 2006

What Iraq failed to do with their scuds 14 years ago, has now been actualized in the cities of the North and occurs as well in the South under the hand of the Palestinians. What has made us so weak? The Rabbis in the Talmud taught that it is the baseless hatred of one's fellow Jew which brought about the destruction of the Temple and deters its rebuilding. So to, today, it is the unconscious disregard of my own Jewish identity and all the more so, the disregard of my fellow Jew which gives power to our enemies. The unspeakable tragedy of Gush Katif and the Shomron, which uprooted entire communities, exiling families from their home and school, tearing people away from their businesses and friends, was caused by this cruel disregard. In return, we reaped, measure for measure, destruction and the exile of a million people in the North.

The more we care about Israel and our fellow Jew, the more in touch we are with our Jewish identity, the closer we are to our Creator. We share a unique, ancient, and miraculous history together. Our prophets foretold that in the end of days, Israel would find itself like a lamb surrounded by the seventy wolves who are the nations of the world. They also told us that we have no reason to be afraid. We just have to be strong in the knowledge of who we are, and that Hashem, our G-d, loves us.

This Rosh Hashana, we only have one day, Sunday, the second day, to hear the Shofar. Once serving as a battle charge or siren, the sound of the shofar is described by the prophet Amos: "Can the blast of the shofar sound in the city and the people not be afraid?" As we stand in synaguogues around the world, listening to the shofar, we have a simple choice: to disregard who we are and succumb to the fearful threats of our enemies, or to subjugate our hearts out of love and awe to our Father in Heaven, who only wants good for His children. We don't have to be afraid of "them" when we connect with Hashem because we know that He promised our forefathers, never to forsake His people Israel.

By the merit of hearing the shofar, allowing its sound to penetrate our hearts and fill our minds with love and devotion to our Creator, may we all be blessed with a sweet year, good life and the thrill of seeing the promised redemption speedily.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

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Images of Evil - Raw 9/11 Footage

When we read Eicha (Lamentations) detailing the horrors of the destruction of Israel and the Beis HaMikdash over 2,000 years ago, it's hard to relate to the horrors described. Baruch Hashem, Thank G-d, we just don't have a context for such evil and horrors.

When we read stories about the Holocaust, and even view the few pictures available, again it's hard to relate. The few remaining survivors, and even those who are no longer with us, just don't describe the horror. It's almost beyond human description. So again, it's hard to relate.

With 9/11 this year and the passage of a bit of time, several videos have been released that have never been seen before. Not manipulated news videos, edited for playablility and trimmed of impact. Live, raw, in the middle of it.

Images of evil, death and horror at the doorstep, angels of destruction run rampant released by men committed to terror and death.... And they think . this . is . good .

Vacationers with a video camera across the street!

Raw Video: From Across The Street, Jumpers. (6 minutes, grainy, GRAPHIC)

Residents from a high-rise a few blocks away. Unique in they also video the street response, emergency services arriving, people running, etc.

Raw Video: A Few Blocks Away, The Whole Event, Buildings Fall. (40 minutes, clear.)

Article: The Jumpers, Hundreds!

For myself, Baruch Hashem, I have no special story. I was headed to the airport for the next flight out of Newark of the one that was hijacked. When the attack began and I heard it on the radio, I never left my home, watching the smoke rise from New Jersey. At least 2 members of our local Jewish community were murdered in the attack, may Hashem avenge their blood and all the victims of 9/11.

Know evil, recognize it. These men have stood up and said they intend to kill you. They're not kidding, and they think it's a mitzvah (a positive commandment).

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Teshuvah of the Tzibbur - Part 3

by Rabbi Shabbtai

...Communal Teshuvah Part 3 - It's A Mental and A Social-Cultural Problem...

Disengagement from Jewish Identity is the key. (Recall the efforts of the Lubavitch Rebbe n”e to include the words “according to halachah” into the law of “Miy Yehudi – Who Is A Jew”.)

It is a mental and a social-cultural problem, and that is where it must be solved. It is not a local problem of a leadership that made some mistakes in planning, or execution, and it cannot be solved by fantasies of a “New Middle East for Economic Prosperity” (which Shimon Peres actually has the chutzpah to try to pull out of the hat even now). It is not even a strategic misconception that we thought that by sacrificing some Jews we could gain peace with the Arabs, whereas we should have been taking care to aggressively defend every Jew in every place and in every way. That is getting closer to it, but it is not yet it.

Unfortunately, there is no leadership at this time that can talk to the people about the mental-social problem. Naturally the eyes of the nation turn to the political system in such a time of crisis, but it is irrelevant. It seems that even the politicians understand this, and amazingly, no one is jumping to oust Olmert and take his place.

Also, by the way, it should not be thought that the religious establishment of whatever stripe knows the way. They have also proved themselves to be incapable of shining much light into the darkness of the national psyche at this critical moment in history. Simply, they were never trained in yeshivot for the circumstances facing the nation now, and they also need a lengthy process of libun (enquiry and debate) to discover what to do now, effectively, about communal teshuvah.

Similarly, the mental-social problem is not something that can be solved by legalistic enquiry commissions (and especially since they would be headed by people who have been in the vanguard of disengaging from Jewish Identity). Such a commission will be limited, naturally, to finding legal fault or technical negligence, and those are only symptoms. Similarly, it cannot be solved by other types of commissions of enquiry, even if they were not intended to merely cover-up, unless they are completely transparent. Then there might be some hope that one of these committees could contribute to the national soul-searching that needs to reach the depths of the collective psyche – to reconnect to our Jewish Identity.

At any rate, the nation needs a miracle to be able to get down to the roots of the crisis, but if that does happen, with the help of God, then it will create a vehicle into which true and wholesome leadership can and will surely enter. Then the Children of Israel will shine with a light the way it is supposed to be.

Jerusalem, Elul 5766

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Political Quote of the Day: Come Back Americans!

Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad was handed over to Iraqi authorities just a week ago.

Quote: The witness said that even in the thieves' section prisoners were being treated badly. "Someone was shouting 'Please help us, we want the human rights officers, we want the Americans to come back'," he said.

You know, this is the prison where American's were 'torturing' Iraqi terrorism suspects last year. Seems American torture is better than Iraqi care.

News article here.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

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Sept. 11th - Chai Elul

Today is Chai Elul, the 18th of the Hebrew month of Elul, the month of preparation to appear before the King, the King of Kings, HaKodesh Baruch Hu, the Holy One, Blessed Be He. Chai Elul is renouned as the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov, the Master of the Good Name. Not a master with a good name, though he was certainly that, and not a good named master, though Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov was certainly that as well. But a master of the Name, a holy name of G-d, and specifically a Good Name, a name and path and influence of chesed, kindness, love of your fellow and recognizing the G-dly value of every man and every soul.

The Baal Shem Tov was the founder of the chassidic movement, which is a path of piety with chesed, loving kindness, and ahavat yisroel, love for your fellow. It also emphasizes the mystical and close relationship to G-d.

Today is also September 11th on the secular calendar, the date of destruction, death and terror in New York city. Also a date of heroism and survival.

We do not believe in coincidences, not even dates that happen to fall together. We look for the messages of the Divine hidden in the seeming coincidences of this mundane world.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that men, fully dedicated to their G-d and their fellow with love, together with proper boundries and intense committment, can change their community, town, or city. He moved Judaism from a time of depression and stratification to a brotherhood and striving for hapiness with G-d.

300 years later the other side learned that lesson reflected in the mirror. Osama Bin Laden taught that men, fully dedicated to their evil and destructive purpose, together with some modern technology, techniques and training, can damage a town or city and injure a country. He moved individual evil from local impact to world impact.

The cure is planted before the disease.

With respect to my very good friend, as close or closer to me than a member of my own family, R. Nati, the path to teshuvah, returning and connecting to Hashem, through fear is a lowly and painful path. Rather, let us appreciate the great things Hashem has done for us and return through love!

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Let's Not Wait Till We See This...


G-d forbid it takes us seeing this to move us to repent!!!
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1938 !

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis writes in the Jewish Press (Fri Sept 8 edition):

"...G-d forbid, I smell and sense 1938 Europe in the air, so we cannot and dare not go on with business as usual. We must sound a wake-up call.

People very often ask why European Jewry was silent when Hitler announced his intention to annihilate all Jews. But why are we silent now, when Ahamadinejad and Nasrallah openly declare that they intend to follow in Hitler's footsteps?"

!!! Oh Abba b'Shamayim!!!

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

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Instant Geulah

Nitzavim: On the last day of Moshe life he called all the Jews together to reinitiate them into the covenant. What was different about this time was the concept of national and indiviual responsibility under which every Jew was/is obligated to help others to observe the entire Torah and to restain them from violating it. The purpose of the covenant was to bind them to G-d's Torah, thus to Himself. Moshe stressed that they/we were standing before HaShem, who can't be deceived.

HaShem is just and does not demand more than is posible, but He also is not satisfied with less. He doesn't expect the smallest Jew to perform like the greatest but in turn He's not satisfed with the elders who do not take responsibility for proper education of the public. The future of the Jewish people depends on the education of it's children, and Halachah provides that even before building a synagogue a community must provide for Torah education of it's young.

It's becoming increasingly obvious that, and we can see through recent events, that our elders are unwilling to take responsibitiy for their / our actions, which is bringing on us a curse.....

Everything that is written in this parsha (Torah portion) has and is happening to us and still we wish to continue as if there is no retrubution for our rebellion and defience of the covenant of Hashem.

"The latter generation will say-your children who will arise after you and the stranger who will come from a distant land-when they will see the plagues of the Land and it's illnesses with which Hashem has afflicted it....

And all the nations will say, "For what reason did Hashem do so to this land; why this wrathfulness of great anger?" And they will say "Because they/we forsook the covenant of Hashem, the G-d of their/our forefathers, that He sealed with them/us when He took them/us out of the land of Egypt....".

He lays it out for us "It will be that when all these things have come upon you"... At some point we will realize, and when we do we will return to Hashem and earn His Mercy. "Then we will take it to heart". You see it is not enough to intellectually know that the service of G-d is right, one must feel it emotionally as well- TAKE IT TO HEART- and only then will repentance follow. The ideal repentence is motivated by the desire to return to G-d, not because one seeks relief from suffering. And once Israel repents, there will be NO barrier to Hashem's mercy. "When you will listen to the voice of Hashem, your G-d, to observe His commandments and His decrees, that are written in this book of the Torah, when you shall return to Hashem, your G-d, with all your heart and all your soul."

At once G-d will remove the spiritual impediment to total repentance. Divine asstistance follows the principle that "if one comes to purify himshelf, he is asstisted by G-d" (Shabbos 104a), and the profound change implied by the verse will occur with the comming of Moshiach.

The repentence spoken of above is within your capacity, we don't need a prophet to bring us a heavenly message to come close to Hashem. One should know that it's not an impossibility. "Rather the matter is very near to you- in your mouth and in your heart- to peform it." It is for us to decide when the Geulah comes.

"See- I have placed before you today the life and the good, and the death and the evil, that which I command you today to love Hashem, your G-d, to walk in His ways, to observe His commandments, His decrees, and His ordinances; then you will live and you will multiply, and Hashem, your G-d will bless you in the Land to which you come, to possess it."

If we would but make a sincere effort to grasp this, we could bring the Geulah now instantly. Why suffer one more day? Isn't it time? How long must we be smashed and crushed and burned before we say 'ENOUGH', for surely the nation will repent and be worthy of redemption. But it is up to us. Yes, You, and Me. Let's call our elders to accountability and end the suffering.

Just a note to add, heard from R. Meir, shilta: Niztavim means we are all standing together as one, in ONE PLACE!!! We need desperately to come home and ask for forgiveness from our Father in heaven!!!!

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