Wednesday, January 31, 2007

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Miriam and the Women

by Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel at Mystical Paths

Sometimes you have a complaint that bothers you so much that you cannot get beyond it. It is just one of those things that holds you down and prevents you from going any further. It seems to be a valid complaint and no one can give you a satisfactory answer. Then when that answer finally does come you go soaring up beyond that level, up and up until you come to the next thing that grabs you. This week’s portion of the Torah touches on one of the most common and long-standing problems for a lot of Jewish women.

“Why are we hidden behind that fence?” they want to know. “Really, we feel like second class citizens relegated to the back of the bus, totally unwanted!” For some time now many women have been complaining about what they see to be a horrible intrusion, the me’chetzah, the curtain that separates men and women during prayer.

In this week’s portion of the Torah we see one of the oldest sources for this separation. We not only see that it is traditional but we also see it is voluntary and beneficial to those on both sides on the curtain. Although the curtain frustrates many women who feel they are being exiled to the “other” side, in truth it is also good for them. Their first complaint is “The family should pray together means that they should be standing next to each other.”

But here in this week’s portion we see that this is not our ancient tradition.

After Hashem saved the Jewish people and drowned the pursuing Egyptians, the Jewish people stood by the banks of the sea and sang the “Song by the Sea.” Then the women were so taken up with the moment that they too wanted to participate so, “Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took her drum in her hand and all the women went forth after her with drums and dances.” [i]

So we clearly see that the women sang and danced by themselves.

Now why is this good for all of us? The reason for separation during prayer has to do with the natural attraction that men and women, and especially young men and women, have for each other. The time for prayer is a time to concentrate on the spiritual aspects of life, and this natural physical attraction that men and women have for each other is a strong attraction.

When you want to concentrate on the spiritual aspects of life you certainly do not want distractions pulling your awareness away. This is true for both men and women. Women will not have to worry if they look nice and men will not have to think about that extreme attraction that pulls on their lower half. So it is good for both of us to distance ourselves from the physical attraction, the animal instinct, when we pray.

But surely we do not want that attraction that women present to men to be ignored forever. G-d wants women to attract husbands. This is one of the most important goals in life, but for these precious minutes, it is best for all of us to concentrate on the purely spiritual aspects of life.

So we see that the curtain is not there because women are so unwanted. But rather, it is there because women are so very wanted.

[i] Ex 15:20

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

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Links of Note

Palestinian say's, "Please attack us so we can stop killing each other and kill you instead, pretty please." - Here at the Muqata.

A Segulah for Paranasa, Parshas HaMon - Here at A Simple Jew.

Just hours before suicide bombing in Eilat, local high school principal forbade students from putting on tefillin. - Here at Israel National News.

Working to decrease support of Israel. - Here at American Thinker.

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Photo: Israel in White

Forwarded by a friend, a nice photo of snow in Israel a month ago...

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by Akiva at Mystical Paths

At the end of my post on the brutal slaughter of innocent Jews in Eilat, I wrote the traditional Jewish saying in such a situation...

May Hashem avenge their blood.

To which commentor Daniels Counter responded, "May Hashem not avenge, but carry the spirit of peace into the lost minds of misled people like this man. Revenge creates only more violence!"

First of all I should note I didn't say 'Let's go get some revenge!', I said Hashem, aka G-d, should avenge. But lets get real here, countries go to war to achieve political goals. When those goals are achieved, they generally stop, as war, even for the 'winner', is hell. People die, stuff is destroyed, lots of resources go to waste.

The Palestinians have been given offers, at various times, for some of their political goals, much of their political goals, and most of their political goals. They have consistantly said NO, and .. not .. implemented .. one .. single .. step .. on their side, ever.

The only way this makes sense is if they're messianic about their position, literally all or nothing, or LYING about their goal. In case one, Israel would have to cease to exist to meet it. In case two, I would also.

The Torah recognizes truth. Some things are not going to change the easy way.

Recognize evil. Maybe not every individual Palestinian family (and it was not this way in the past), but the leadership and the propaganda they've spread have made a society of evil, bent on the destruction of another. The blood of the many innocent Jews who died only for being Jews should be avenged, and the names of their murderers and those who created the environment for their murder, should be blotted out.

Kein Yehi Ratzon.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

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Eilat Bombing Coverage

Suicide Bombing in Eilat, Israel.

UPDATED LINK: Multimedia report here at IsraelReporter

May Hashem avenge their blood.
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Yud Shvat and Memories of Farbrengens Past

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Tonight is the celebration of the hilhula (the ascent) of the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, HaRav Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, who's chassidus, Torah, and directions continue to live with us today. One year following the departure of this tzadik's obvious direct influence on the physical world, the great man simply known today as "The Rebbe", the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe, HaRav Menachem Mendal Schneerson, who's chassidus and directions carry us daily, assumed the position of Rebbe of Chabad Lubavitch chassidus and changed the direction of the Jewish world.

I could write extensively about the impact of the Rebbe, both impact that people realize, and impact that people don't, but others have done that extensively and I'm not sure I'd be adding anything special.

What I can write about is the farbrengens. With the Rebbe, and directed by the Rebbe. It's hard to explain the hope, the yearning of those times. We were marching on to Geulah! The Geulah was always just one more mitzvah away, just stretch a little farther for Hashem, Torah, mitzvot, the Jewish people, and of course, for the Rebbe. We literally ran to do mitzvot, outreach, inreach, to infuse others with even more energy for their mitzvot. Just .. one .. more .. till .. Geulah!!!

Even far away, the call or fax would come, the Rebbe directed to farbreng, on such and such a topic, with extra energy. And we did! We relayed the words of the Rebbe, we shared with each other how to achieve the higher goals, we pushed to get there, we leaned on each other for help, ah we drove towards the goals of the Rebbe: Torah, Mizvot, Ahavat Yisroel, and Moshiach!

The farbrengen was the command post and the pep rally, all in one. To be in 770 (the main synogogue of Lubavitch) with the Rebbe was to be in another world. Lower Gan Eden, where goals of Hashem and Torah and Ahavat Yisroel exceeded the concerns of the flesh. For those moments we felt our neshomas (souls) awaken fully! For those brief seconds and minutes, we could set aside the concerns of the flesh and this physical world.

Like we say on Yom Kippur, when the ear hears of it, the heart grieves (for what we no longer have). The Rebbe's Torah, chassidus, and goals live on. The drive though, that's a fading memory, sorely missed. The farbrengens of the past, regardless of whether they were far away from the Rebbe physically or not, were alive with fire.

The farbrengen of today merely reminices about the past, whether in 770 itself, nearby or farther out.

When the ear hears of it, the heart grieves.

Oy, Ribono Shel Olam, Master of the Universe, I believe it was the Ruzhiner Rebbe, zt"l, who said, "Ribono Shel Olam, the time will come when you'll have to bring Moshiach, for if You don't, no one will even remember about Moshiach." ... Please.


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Haman Tashen?

by Akiva's Daughter at Mystical Paths

I just saw this picture on Israel National News, and I thought, Haman y's, as in Haman HaRasha from Purim, the evil Haman who tried to destroy the Jews. Was Arafat, y's any different?

But actually, what I thought was, triangle, hamantashen, the triangle cookie we eat on Purim, named for the shape of the hat of Haman. Did we see the same thing with Arafat, y's?

See, just look at the center of Arafat's hat, that's where the jelly goes!

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

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Citrus and Moshiach

Dov Bar Leib of the End of Days blog sent this tidbit...

The California citrus failure is fascinating, especially considering that Rosh Chodesh Shvat is the New Year for citrus fruit according to Beit Shamai. All disputes between Hillel and Shamai are decided in Shamai's favor with the advent of the Messianic Era (current halacha decides all per Beis Hillel). Of course the crop failure was during the week before Rosh Chodesh Shvat. Remember that the entire world has risen one level of kedushah since the advent of Gog UMagog. It looks like this Spring, in order to save his own skin, Armilus is giving Yesha (the West Bank) to the EU.

Should be climaxing by Sukkot.

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The Words Waiting for Us

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Many words have been written waiting for the moments before Moshiach, to help prepare and guide us for a difficult confusing time. The 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote, in the sefer HaYom Yom (entry for the 8th of Shvat)....

In these days especially, when by G-d's kindness we stand at the threshold of redemption, we must make every conceivable effort to strengthen every facet of our religion.

Mitzvot must be observed B'hidur, with "beauty," beyond minimal requirements.

Customs must be kept scrupulously, NOTHING compromised.

It is a Mitzva and duty of every Rabbi in Israel to inform his congregation that the current tribulations and agonies are the "birth-pangs of Mashiach."

G-d is demanding that we return to Torah and mitzvot, that we not hinder the imminent coming of our righteous Mashiach.

Let us heed these wise words.

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Video: Into Battle

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

I just picked up on this video of an Israeli army unit going into Lebanon during the Hizbollah war. An embedded reported literally stood with them in battle, it's quite a vision.

UPDATE: Apparently the video source didn't like so many people seeing it, a quick net search found an alternate, updated link below...

Video: New Link Here.

(26 Minutes, Hebrew with English Subtitles)

Friday, January 26, 2007

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Admin. Note

Blogger has forced the upgrade to "New Blogger". Please let me know if you notice any problems.

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by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Parsha HaShavuah, this was my first Shabbos and my the first aliyah I had in Israel in 1995 in Elon Moreh.

Hashem spoke to Moshe, "Come to Pararoh, for I have made his heart and the heart of his servants stubborn so that I can put these signs of mine in his midst; and so that you may relate in the ears of your son and your son's son that I made a mockery of Egypt and My signs that I placed among them- that you may know that I am Hashem."

The first plague of the sidrah introduces a new element. Hashem informs Moshe that He intends to make a mockery out of Egypt; flattening the pride of and fully crushing the ego of Pharaoh and his ministers, so that not only Egypt but also the Jews would know that I am Hashem. The inclusion of the Jews in that category implies that even believing people are often imperfect in their emunah.

That Pharaoh had resisted the evidence of the divine origin of the plagues is not a surprise. But even though the Jews were people of faith, their faith was not shalem perfect, 'as is now the case', it was not until the 'creas yam suf' splitting of the red sea that the Torah testifies of Children of Israel that they had emunah in Hashem and in His servant Moshe.

"And so that you may relate", this is the of aspect of emunah the belief to such a degree that we would continue to tell of these events, "to our sons and son's sons" forever. You see, emunah is increased as we speak of the deeds of our Father in heaven, for all of those who hear us, and even for ourselves. Emunah is gift we can give to each other that can't be refused. When I speak to you and tell that Hashem is great, He really becomes great in our heart and in our minds. We elevate all of creation as a result. Hazal teach us that the words we speak create, if we speak with emunah then we repair and draw closer the world to Hashem but if we complain and kvech then we distance and damage the world. You see the Jew really is the most powerful individual in creation as we can change literally the whole world for the good or the bad just with our speech.

We need to understand this and begin to repair all the damage. Every letter is a building block of creation.

Perek 14:4, the Fourth aliyah, Rebbenu's aliyah for he always was called to rev'eevy.
Likutey Halachot: Moshe said, "So said Hashem 'At about midnight I shall go out in the midst of Egypt.' This statement is ambiguous, here's a famous gemorra that discusses this. There they ask the question: "What, Moshe didn't know when chatzot (midnight) was?' We understand from Rabbi Natan in Likutey Halachot, that this is not speaking of the middle of the night, geula mitzraim (from the redemption from Egypt). It's speaking of the final geula, and this is covered or closed, even Moshe didn't know exactly when it would come.

"KaChatzot Halailah ani yozeh" - This is a secret Moshe didn't know. The point of Chatzot, this is why it says KaChaztot, About Midnight. Also Moshe couldn't tell when was Chaztot, but Dovid knew exactly when it was/is, for it says that he would raise at exactly Chatztot and sing praise to Hashem. Like Hazal say in the Gemora Brachot etc...v'chuleh Moshe knew that the Ikar was the final redemption, and that it would come in the zchut (merit) of Dovid and all the tzaddikim that followed who have and still get up for Chaztot and mourn the destruction of the Beis HaMidash (the Holy Temple) and cry out to Hashem. And all of the tzadikim that are in Gan Eden... and what will come out from this, the coming geula is an aspect of .... like the our rabbi's have said "all those who mourn for Yerushalayim... it is impossible to know the exact time of when will be coming of the End, because it's very very hidden and closed. And also from the first geula, we find a remez a hint, from the words, "Kachatzot halialah Ani yozeh", at about midnight I will go out. Because in the first geula when He sent Moshe to take out the Jews, and from the beginning Moshe refused the mission unless Hashem would reassure him that he would carry on until the end. Moshe said 'I won't do it unless you tell me also of the time of the final redemption'. For example, I will only watch the movie if it has a happy ending. And also in the words saying, "Kachotzot halialahani yozeh b'tok miztrayim ect... Like there in Hazal that's why it says 'Kachatzot' about approximately.

Because the time of End, the final redemption is very very concealed matter. And only Dovid who is himself Mosiach can say with certainty "chatzot lialah I will get up etc...", that's why Moshe said "koh amar Hashem". Because this revelation is an aspect of Chatzot and only in the form of hints, because she is very far from us, the matter is concealed and it is impossible for us to comprehend it and that is why he used the word 'koh', because he didn't know precisly. And we get from Tikun Chatzot only in the form of a remez, a hint and understanding of the end.

You see we can not use our intellect to calculate and predict the final redemption, we can only rely on Emunah as Moshe our teacher had to trust the word of Hashem. All the parsha's contain material for us to understand and material that we must trust without understanding. In this way Hashem is teaching and leading us to this very day. Until then it is very important to get up for and to say Tikun Chatzots as it is in the merit of those who get and say it that the final redemption will accrue, as it will come at about chatzot. So get up, look up, and cry out, for we are getting closer everyday.

Gut Shabbos - Reb Nati

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Midda k'neged Midda?

Guest post by Robert S. at Mystical Paths

The US messes with Israel. Under fire, still being forced to work with those killing it.

The same week, the US is hit with record cold, destroying the California citrus crop, and China and Japan sign agreements for record citrus deliveries from Israel...

IsraelNN - Israeli citrus farmers have benefited from the wave of freezing cold weather that struck California recently, destroying 70 percent of its citrus fruit.

Though citrus prices within Israel have not risen, the prices globally have, and drastically. Retail prices for grapefruit are up 33 percent over last year, red pomelos 35 percent and Israeli specialty pomelits up a whopping 78 percent.

Japan, a major importer of citrus, has renewed its imports from Israel, ordering 800 tons of oranges a week. Earlier this month, China signed a contract to buy $50 million worth of oranges, grapefruits and pomelos a year from Israel.

Following the California crop failures, major exporters to the European Union decided to sell to the US instead, for a higher profit. European nations were therefore forced to increase their imports from countries like Israel.

Midda K'Neged Midda?

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Erev Erev Erev Rav

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

It's one thing to disparage your own culture. I mean, raised in secular circumstances with disdain for Judaism, it's no wonder many secular Jewish Israeli's are anti-Judaism. Further, the political system sets up a win-lose situation, I get national resources by making sure you don't, which puts groups in a natural conflict.

Not good, but understandable.

But, it's another to invite in those out to destroy everything your people are...

A major Christian TV network offered on Israeli cable and satellite television is broadcasting missionary advertisements directed at Jews.

The Dallas-based Daystar TV network, which is part of the basic cable program on both YES and HOT Israeli cable and satellite TV networks, broadcasts a medley of teachings from the New Testy, and includes 15-minute infomercials from the (not) 'Jewish' Voice Ministries International that targets a Jewish audience with the message of Jaysus.
The Phoenix-based Jewish Voice Ministries International calls itself "a worldwide outreach that is dedicated to bringing the Gospel of Jaysus to the Jew first and also to the Gentile throughout the world," according to its Web site.

Full article here. Full self hatred to be found in the business offices of the YES and HOT Israeli cable and satellite TV networks.

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

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Conflicts in Mourning

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

A Simple Jew asked my thoughts on his post on the non-religious funeral of his aunt. Here they are...

There are few times when ritual and structure are needed more than death. Though not needed by the primary participant, for family, friends, and community, such an emotional and meaning laden event can perhaps only be dealt with within a firm structure.

Baruch Hashem, I haven't been directly faced with such events very much. While not a young man, only a set of grandparents has left my life. My wife, on the other hand, has lost grandparents and parents and aunts & uncles, becoming in the process a literal expert on mourning and the customs of shiva (as well as the difficult, often extended, processes leading up to the need for such).

I've seen her advise, prepare, and ultimately console others. She speaks of how meaningful each step is, how wise the ways of Torah, our chachamim (our sages), and Hashem, in the kavod (respect) to the departed, and the consolation to the family still here in this world. How the shiva allows the shock to be processed and absorbed at a reasonable pace, how much the human touch of the consolers and people that help mean at such a time, and how it gradually returns the mourners back into the world of the living.

With an area in such need of dignity and humanity to the living, and such a strong desire to treat the departed with respect, it's incredibly difficult in many circumstances today where families are mixed with religious and non-religious, Jewish and non-Jewish, strange secular desires left by the departed, and sometimes greater concern over assets than people. Often we get lucky (so to speak), and it's possible to step into a place of confusion with a template, a plan so to speak, and be gladly accepted as someone who has a way when all others are lost. Other times, firm ideas hold sway and things that violate our understanding of the path of Torah and Hashem are going to occur.

When that's the case, it's time to consult our wise rabbonim (rabbi's), as well as our mashpia (spiritual mentor), for our own emotions will be struggling with our intellect and empathy for others. Consult, and follow the wise advise blindly. When emotions are strong, as they usually are at such times, it's not the time to be doing calculations yourself (such as does respect for the dead override what they might consider a chillul Hashem in confronting the mourners about grossly inappropriate actions and even potential spiritual damage to the deceased????). Even the best meaning intention can cause terrible damage at such an emotionally distraught time.

Be cognizant of the impact to oneself as well. Consult afterwards with one's rav, advisor or friend. Strong emotions need to be processed and settled into their proper place, not let run rampant.

These are great challenges with which to be faced. Recognize it as such and turn to the wisdom of Torah and Hashem, not just for mourning and ritual, but for human relations during a time of powerful emotions and sometimes heightened conflicts between values.

May Hashem help us all react in a worthy fashion at such times.

Tags: death, mourning, shiva, judaism, jews
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Gaza Earthquake

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Elisheva's alerts noted this earthquake right off the coast of Gaza today. It was just a little one, 3.6, the residents probably didn't notice.

But where there is a pressure point for a small earthquake...

Tags: gaza, palestine, earthquake, israel
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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

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A Sign

by Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel at Mystical Paths

The most exciting thing in this week’s portion of the Torah is the Jewish nation’s exodus from Egypt into freedom. A nation of lowly slaves marched out heads held high taking with them great riches and this happened while the slave masters watched totally defeated. At long last after hundreds of years of exile and slavery the exodus came. Hashem dealt out His last two plagues to the Egyptians who finally allowed the Jewish nation to leave the horrible bondage that they had cruelly imposed upon them.

Remember, the Torah is talking to us today and the real message here is not merely the historical one but the current one. When we rely on G-d and seek His ways even today we can go out into freedom with riches while our enslavers stand helpless watching us go.

This is why we are told again and again to remember the exodus from slavery. Not merely to give praise to Hashem for having taken our ancestors out of bondage, but because He will do the same thing for us today when we follow His ways.

In this portion we are given some of the rules of the holiday of Passover and are told the primary purpose of the holiday of Passover is to remember our going out into freedom.

We are also told about the mitzvah of tefillin, the leather boxes that we lay upon our arms and upon our heads. Here too we are told to remember our exodus into freedom.

The holiday of Passover has obvious connections to the original Passover and therefore reminds us of our exodus, but what do tefillin have to do with the exodus? After all isn’t this just a ritual?

Tefillin are called a “sign” and are either to be a reminder to study Torah[i] or they are called an “ornament” [ii] upon our head.

Placing words of Torah on our foreheads is certainly a reminder to study the Torah but how are they an ornament?

Tefillin are called a crown. The Talmud speaks of four crowns.[iii]

There is the crown of Torah. This is the learning of the Torah.

There is the crown of priesthood. This is the Temple service and its equivalent today, which is prayer.

There is the crown of kingship. This is the fulfilling of the mitzvoth that go out into the kingdom, the world.

And there is the crown of a good name, which surpasses them all. This is Chassidus which leads a person to a spiritual life.

Only the king wears the crown, but it is not for him to see. He cannot see it. It is worn to identify him to others as the king. This is done for their benefit because when they give honor to the king there will be order and blessings in the kingdom. It is a sign.

If you see a group of people praying, what religion would you say they must belong to?

You cannot tell just from prayers because all religions teach prayer.

What if you see them burning incense? What religion would they have to belong to?

You cannot say because all religions burn incense.

What if they are bowing down?

Same thing. All religions teach their followers to bow down.

Singing? Same thing. Offering an animal? Same thing.

On and on until you see someone putting on tefillin. Ah tefillin! That is the sign of a Jew. No one else in the entire world, not in its entire history has ever adapted the custom of tefillin except the Jews. To this day tefillin are a sign, a crown upon the heads of His people. They are worn to identify us as the ones He did take out, and to this day does take out of slavery.

[i] Ex 13:9
[ii] Ex 13:16, Duet 6:9, 11:18
[iii] Perke Avot 4:13

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For The Birds

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

My wife said to my little girl, "Please take the bread, inside the bag on the counter, and put it out for the birds."

My little girl heard, "Please take the bread inside, in the bag on the counter, and put it out for the birds."

So she did...
hollowed out break

Not the old bread in the bag on the counter, the inside of the new bread in the other bag on the other counter. Says it took her a while to make sure to get all the nice soft part for them like momma asked.

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
Tags: bread, kids, children, funny


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

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The Kings Treasures

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

What is Kabbalah and Chassidut? Why are these secrets being strewn about now, when they've been previously hidden throughout Jewish history?

From the Maamar Basi LeGani, by the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, HaRav Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, his Torah lives with us... from chapter 11

The desire for victory will be aroused only when the king is opposed by a formidable obstacle; without it, he rules his domain as he pleases. Once his wishes are challenged, however, then in order to secure victory he will squander all the rare treasures that have been collected year after year, generation after generation, precious resources that have never been used for any other purpose, and that have been hidden and sealed from all eyes.
When war breaks out the royal treasure vaults are thrown open. Their resources are entrusted to the commanding officers in order that they should reach the rank and file soldiers, for it is they who will secure victory.

May we see that victory with Moshiach Tzidkaynu, mamosh, today!

Tags: torah, judaism, maamar, rebbe, victory
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The JBlogCentral JIB / Not-JIB / Jewish Choice awards went a bit weird (more than a bit). I'm not quite sure what the tabulation rules where.

However, if someone sees fit to give Mystical Paths an award, who am I to argue?

Mystical Paths: Silver Award Winner for Best Designed Blog.

The banner, which is the major feature of any blog design, is the incredible design work of Sarah of Sarah's View, with original pictures I took (the hills of the Shomron and page columns of a Sefer Torah). The blog template is home brew.

Of course, all skills and talents are min hashamayim and gifts from HaKodesh Baruch Hu. May we be worthy of them.

And to all my adoring fans, (oh no, the ego's awake, get down, get down, back, back!!!!)...

Monday, January 22, 2007

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Totalitarianism On The Rise in Israel

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Democracies aren't a perfect. In a dangerous world, they must protect themselves. Yet, who's the biggest danger to Israel? Well, as you can see from below, clearly the PEOPLE of Israel, anyone who as the nerve to DISSENT from the government's position. The only problem with that is it's not democracy, it's something else (ask Hugo Chavez)... (From IsraelJustice.Com) -

"We are very sensitive to crimes called 'crimes of expression,' " the ISA legal adviser said. "The treatment is different to that of other crimes because there is a thin line between freedom of expression and criminal acts....

"(The program) included the use of agents to infiltrate the anti-withdrawal movement"

"The ISA unit was meant to help authorities block the rise in anti-withdrawal protests."

"(It includes) the authority of the secret intelligence unit to comb the media and Internet sites for dissent."

"Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said the unit will go through newspapers every day and try to spot [negative] remarks..."

Credit to Elisheva's Alerts, who wrote, "Thus, it's proven yet again that the secular Israeli government is indeed the Enemy of The People! Of course, this was already well known. But any who publicized it were attacked at conspiracy nuts! Illicit program - seems to not have been approved by the Knesset!

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The Righteous Will Flourish

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

A new video to share with you, l'chovod hatzaddikim...

Highest Quality (largest bandwidth) here.
High Quality Hosted Page, here. (no Firefox)

Lower quality right here...

Tags: tzaddikim, righteous, israel, tombs


Sunday, January 21, 2007

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Young Thoughts on Parshas Vaera

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

My son brought home these insights from yeshiva for this past Shabbos...

In the beginning the the parsha, Rashi explains the word 'lachain' is within an oath that Klal Yisroel (all of Israel) will be redeemed whether they are worthy or not. There are 5 expressions of geulah (redemption) in the parsha:

Vihotzasee - I will take you out.
Vihetzaltee - I will save you.
Vigaaltee - I will redeem you.
Vilakachtee - I will take you for a nation.

But then Hashem says, "and you will know that I am Hashem". After this...

Viheyveytee - I will bring you to the Land of Israel.

The 5th level of geulah requires one to "know" Hashem. Since Klal Yisroel sinned in the desert, they did not fulfill knowing Hashem and did not enter the Land.

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by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Soccer Dad reminded me that it's now been 1 year that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been in a coma in Jerusalem. While some are wishing for his strength given the current disaster of an Israeli government, it was exactly his strength that gutted the major Israeli political parties, undermined whatever limited checks and balances there were, set up the retreat from Gaza, and gutted the IDF command structure.

In the End of Days video link I posted here, there's a clip of Sharon saying,

"(Timestamp 30min, 16 sec) I believe that the conditions have arisen that will allow us and the Palestinians to reach a historic breakthrough in the relationship between us. A break through that will lead us to tranquility and security, and in the future even to the peace that we have expected.

(Timestamp 31min, 7sec ) Do not attack the policemen, the women soliders, the men soldiers. Do not blame them, do not make it difficult for them. Do not hurt them, hurt me!"

The result: Gaza, Kassam's, Lebanon, Katyusha's, a weakened IDF and Israel.

I'd like to say it appears Hashem took him at his word, but so many others are paying the price I can't.

Tags: sharon, israel, coma, idf, lebanon, gaza, kassam, katyusha

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And They're Off...

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

She's In. - He's In. - He's In.

Only 2 years left! Hurry!

I don't watch TV, but watching the video's on the web I've got to say that Hillary sure looks smooth. Sounds good, looks good, engaging. And, she's got a top notch web site right out the door. Blogging (does anyone believe she'll be writing her own blog posts?), having text chats and live video chats! On the technology basis, Obama and McCain are already running behind. On "actions you can take for Hillary", Blogging-For-Hillary is listed as #2 (that's probably because the list is alphabetical though).

If nothing else, this promises to be interesting.

Tags: hillary, 2008, president, us, elections, obama, mccain

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Blog Note

Just a few small changes to note...

At the end of each post, the "Rate It" option has been removed. Not that I'm not interested in your feedback, but some aspects of the service providing it were concerning.

On a more positive note, the Background Music feature on the Sidebar (look right and scroll down a bit) has been upgraded to an inline music player. Just click play and listen away, or select your favorite Mystical Paths tune.

I've also added the weather in Tzfat (bottom of the sidebar). If you're headed to the Mikvah Ari, you can check the weather here first.

Shavua Tov!


Friday, January 19, 2007

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Yishmael Will Stir Up

The holy words, from Sichos Kodesh, of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Parshas Bo, 5751...

...the emergence from exile is associated with two factors: ... b) The destruction and nullification of those negative factors which cannot be elevated to holiness. For this reason, we find many prophecies describing the fall of the nations which ruled over the Jews, e.g., "Babylon has fallen and she will be broken," "There will be a slaughter for G-d in Batzra," "And saviors will ascend on Mount Zion to judge the Mount of Esav." The only nations which will remain will be those which help and support the Jewish people, as it is written, "I will send refugees from them... and they shall bring their brethren from among the nations an offering to G-d... upon My holy mountain Jerusalem." At that time, "I will transform all the nations to a pure tongue, so that they will all call upon the name of G-d, to form a single block."

Special comment added by the Rebbe after review of the talk for printing...

The nullification of the gentile powers and the positive transformation of those who remain is reflected in the Zohar's statements at the conclusion of Parshas Vaeira:

There will come a time when the descendants of Yishmael will stir up great battles in the world.... At that time, a nation from the ends of the world will be aroused... and will wage war with them ... and at that time, "I will transform all the nations to a pure tongue, so that they will all call upon the name of G-d, to form a single block."

Reb Shlomo Grossman at Chabad.Info adds this info, with a portion of the Rebbe's sicha on Iraq that the Rebbe instructed to be removed prior to publication...

The Rebbe explains in the portion of the Sicha that was taken out before publication, that of all the nations that Sancheriv dislocated, the people of Iraq were never moved. The Rebbe mentions that Iraq therefore has a "Kevius" (permanency). The "Kevios" of Iraq seemed to mimic the "Kevios" of Yerushalaim, giving Iraq a certain power.

When we look at history we see that this "Kevios" of Iraq goes back appox. 3,800 years to Parashas Noach, Psuk 9.

“Therefore it’s name will be Bavel, because there Hashem Balul (confused, mixed up) the languages of the earth. And from there (Bavel), Hashem scattered them over the entire earth.”

Rashi explains, that this is their punishment for rebelling against Hashem.

This then it seems gave modern day Bavel (Iraq) a continuation of this legacy of rebelling against Hashem. Causing confusion in the world, by trying to hide the revelation of Hashem in the world.

But the only true "Kevios" is Torah and Hashem, which makes its "Kevios" eternal. Through the "Kevios" of Iraq being finally broken, by Saddam who was the unifying force of the country, having to be on the run and therefore having no "Kevios"; this then finally broke the Kelipah of Iraq.

Saddam tried in any way he could to prove that he was a reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar. Because this would show his "Kevios" back to then, that Iraq is one continuation. And that he therefore, is entitled to rule the world. And most important, that he can then usurp Yerusalim as the center of the world.

He named one of his army units, Nebuchadnezzar. He rebuilt Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar capital. Just as Nebuchadnezzar did, he put his name on all the bricks that went in to building his palace there. The nuclear reactor that he was trying to build, that was destroyed by Israel in 1981, was called Tammuz, (the month in when Nebuchadnezzar broke the walls of the Beis HaMikdosh in Jerusalem.) He had 60 statutes built of himself all around Iraq, all with his right hand outstretched facing Yeruasalem; meaning to say: I will rule over you.

(Reb Grossman continues:) In 1991 when America with a coalition of 15 countries including Arabs went to war against Saddam the Rebbe called this Makos Bachorus. And as we know in Egypt, Makos Bakoros preceded the Geula of the Jews.

The scenario now is as per the Rebbe's Sicha (Sefer HaSichos, Parshas Bo,1991, page 280, footnote 106). The Rebbe quotes a Zohar (the end of Parashas Vaeira, 31b-32a):

“The time will come, when the sons of Ishmael (Iraq, etc.) will cause strong wars in the world…

In that time, one nation from the ends of the earth (America)…. Will fight a war for three months…

Then Hashem will rise against them, as it says: “a slaughter by Hashem in Basra...” (Yesh. 34,6).

And after this it is written: He will take hold of the ends of the earth…, and takes out the ….. (I put these dots in) from it….
And concludes: In that time it is written: “Because then I will turn the peoples to a pure language (back to one language, Hebrew), that they may all call upon the name of the Hashem, to serve Him with one shoulder.” (Zech. 24,9).

The Geulah.

Tags: rebbe, lubavitch, geulah, israel, iraq, sadam, bavel, babylon, prophecy

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More End of Days Video

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

English with Hebrew quote subtitles, 56 minutes. Good video, but I didn't like the narration.

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Balance of Blood?

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

"Simon" commented on Who's Who and What's What...

A lot of folks at LGF (myself included) think the purpose of the money is to make sure Hamas and Fatah are fairly evenly matched so the Pali civil war keeps escalating. I think that is Israeli policy as well. Olmert's restraint re: Gaza rockets being a case in point. Minimal retaliation means the factions will not unite against Israel. Haniyeh says US and Israel are conspiring to keep the civil war going (he actually says get it started - but he has to say that to preserve the fictiion of unity). He should know.

I don't think it is manipulation. I think it is union on policy. Diplo speak is being used to cover what is really happening.

I do think America wants Olmert out for his betrayal of America last summer in Lebanon. Treachery. This is good. The Israeli people have been given six months to act. Now America is makining its move. Iran won't wait.

It is quite possible that America has decided that with no new elections in sight Lieberman will be favored as Israel's next Prime Minister. America has access to the world wide banking network and may have dropped a dime on Olmert.

Every good strategy has alternate goals. So the enemy can't tell what you are trying to accomplish and splits his forces. In this case the "enemy" is the world community. The people who scream bloody murder every time some action is taken against the Palestinians. In this case, to the casual observer, it looks like America is helping the Palestinians by giving them money. Israel has promised to give them some of the back taxes owed. However, it is my guess that the money will be given to factions so as to keep them aproximately matched. A balance of power strategy.

For the longest time I couldn't figure out why the arms smuggling tunnels into Gaza were not severely attacked. Now I see it as part of the plan. You will note that in co-operation with Egypt that arms flow freely (if you have the money to pay) but no cash is allowed in. The purpose is to allow a small arms build up while by controlling the money flows, thus controlling who gets the arms. In addition Hamas must be allowed to get some arms through so they have no incentive to close the tunnels.

Why would Egypt co-operate? Probably they have been threatened with the dumping of the Palestinian problem in their laps if they do not go along. This is something they absolutely do not want. If Gaza became part of Egypt again Egypt would, for political reasons, have to open its borders to the Gazans.

My guess? Sharon had something like this in mind when he decided giving the Palestinians Gaza was a good idea. The best stratgy in war is to win without fighting. In this case you get the Plaestinians to fight among each other.

Usually people trying to outsmart themselves and the world end up with serious unintended consequences. That seems to be a normal American thing as well.

Though, as the CEO of Coke once said when they had the New Coke fiasco, "we're not that smart, and we're not that stupid".


Thursday, January 18, 2007

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The Name

by Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel, at Mystical Paths

In this week’s portion of the Torah G-d tells Moshe that He is appearing to him as One Whose Name is Hashem, but He appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and to Yaacov only as the One Whose name signifies “Sufficient.” [i] The Name that represents Hashem is the highest manifestation of any of His Names.

But the Torah clearly states that “Hashem” appeared to Abraham and to Yitzchak. So what does He mean now when He says that He did not appear to them as Hashem?

Hashem appeared to the Fathers showing Himself to be One and the only G-d. This was a tremendous revelation in that day because at that time the entire world believed that there were many gods (as do the majority of the people alive today!). But now Moshe was learning something more. He was being shown that not only is Hashem One, and not only is He the only G-d, actually He is the Only One Who exists at all. This higher perspective was not revealed to the Fathers.

Even to say that G-d is One is not such a simple teaching. We must understand that although He has many Names and each Name represents a unique aspect or function of G-d, still He is a simple, constant, single One.

But the idea that Hashem is All there is, is a much more difficult teaching to understand. After all, aren’t we here in the All too? Since the Torah is saying that He is All, is this really saying that we are Him?

The entire creation, the higher and the lower are constantly being created each instant by Hashem’s will. The creation is His will and He and His will are one.

As an analogy, it is as if G-d with His “breath” is blowing creation into being and He and His breath are one. The creation is actually His “voice” as He says, “BE!” So, although we are His creation, we are not simply His creation, but the entire creation (including us) is an actual aspect of Him.

This is found in many places in Torah but is almost always hidden, as it is the deepest mystery of all. A primary source that reveals this concept is, “Know this day and take it to your heart that the L-rd is G-d in the Heavens above and upon the earth below there is nothing else.” [ii]

The Name Yud Kay Vav Kay

This Name signifies the entire Existence as the One Who was, is, and will be. Its actual pronunciation has been lost, perhaps intentionally to prevent abuse. Even though we do not know its true pronunciation and therefore could not misuse the actual Name, still we do not even try to pronounce It. This prevents any possibility of profaning this Holy Name.

When the Temple was standing, on Yom Kippur the High Priest would pronounce this Name as it is actually spelled and all who were present would fall to their faces prostrating themselves before the One G-d Who revealed His Presence in that Holy place.

The written letters of this Name actually form a diagram of this aspect of G-d. “Hashem” (literally “The Name”) usually refers to G-d but here we are referring to the Name.

The Yud signifies the upper realm as the entire letter is written only in the upper area of the line.

According to the Kabbalah, the letter Kay signifies the “revelation of self through giving.” So the Kay following the upper letter (Yud) signifies the revelation of the self through giving of the higher existence that the Yud represents. The Kay is shaped like a house or structure so it represents the revelation of “what is”, “what is readily found”, or “being.”

The Vav signifies the drawing down of the Yud since its shape is actually a downward continuation of the Yud.

The final Kay like the first Kay means the “revelation of self through giving” but here since it is following the Vav it signifies the revelation of the self giving that which is drawn down and becoming the lower existence, i.e. the lower structure.

The first two letters diagram the revelation of the higher existence, and the last two letters diagram the revelation of the lower existence, the manifested creation.

This Name shows “pictographically” that Hashem is the One and Only in the upper existence, and the One and Only in the lower existence. He is revealing an aspect of Himself by becoming both the upper un-manifested worlds and as the lower actualized worlds. This Name shows that He is all that exists at any level.

To our Fathers (and to those who follow in their ways) He showed Himself as the One Who is Sufficient, the One who provides for all of our needs. To Moshe (and to those who follow Moshe and the Kabbalah) He shows Himself not only as the Sufficient One but also as the Only.

[i] Ex 6:3
[ii] Deut 4:39

Tags: torah, parsha, hashem, judaism

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Peace Rockets Continue to Fall

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

IsraelReporter has a live video of Peace Rockets which continue to fall but Don't Violate The Truce.

In other news, purple elephants were spotted in downtown Manhattan, beachgoers continue to flock to Chicago, and snow fell in Los Angeles yesterday.

At least one of the things listed above is true. The media and diplomats seem to think it's Rockets and Truce, but any sane person knows that's not it.

Tags: israel, sderot, kassam, gaza, palestinians, peace, truce, war

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Video: The Past from the Heart

A yiddish song for Chanukah, sung from the heart.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

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Breaking the Unwritten Contract

Finances and yeshiva, perhaps the ugliest part of our community. Here at BeyondBT.

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Moshiach Commented

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Mashiach's been commenting on the blog. Here's what he has to say...

- 3 revelations are in the world. justice, Eliya, salvation the black book in Israel. Now I bring forth judgment.

- "Mashiach will find 30,000 men, not even enough votes for one seat in the Knesset!"

Wow! Why so sad, your estimate is so positive. But let us look at the reality. I tell you I have heard a decree from heaven 'one rabbi in Israel today out of 30 given the revelation of Mashiach is actually reading it.'

Great things start small.

Well, I don't know if Moshiach Tzidkaynu is actually reading and commenting here on Mystical Paths. But who knows?

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Devorah HaNavia

Reb Gideon & Dreaming of Moshiach are sharing this incredible recitation of Shirat Devorah, the song of Devorah the prophetess. Have a listen, it's very special. (Hebrew, 5 minutes.)

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The Mistake of Settlements

(Cross posted to Israpundit and Mystical Paths.)

Ted at Israpundit wrote about whether the time has passed to call good sized Jewish towns "settlements". Why settlements in the first place?

The answer comes straight from the Torah and Gemora...the mitzvah (positive commandment) of "Yishuv Ha'Aretz" - the commandment of Settling the Land. So, as you can deduce, this is simply a religious language issue. As the Jews set up towns, they called them 'yishuvim', the plural of settle in hebrew, which is...a settlement.

The mistake is doing a literal translation without taking into account the political impact. In Israel there are Jewish cities, suburbs, towns, and villages. Some of them are specialized, such as the kibbutz (the collective) and the moshav (the cooperative), some are ancient (Safed, Jerusalem), some are less so (Tel Aviv, Netanya, Petach Tikvah), and the group in the Shomron and Yehuda (West Bank) are only 20 years old or so, including cities such as Ariel, Maaleh Adumim, towns such as Bet El, Eli, Kedumim, and villages such as Elon Moreh, Itamar, and Shiloh.

Just describe them as such and help change a mistaken impression.

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

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by Akiva at Mystical Paths

A nice post on Segulos, a mystical shortcut for benefit, here at A Simple Jew.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

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Internet Halacha

We don't normally get into halacha here, but this struck me as downright interesting... (warning, Jewish law discussion only, consult your orthodox rabbi for personal application)

A friend forwarded me the DailyHalacha.Com from the 14th, which read:

Allowing an Internet Business to Run on Shabbat: If a Jew sells merchandise over the internet, may he allow the site to continue running and take orders on Shabbat, and he will then process the orders and make the deliveries after Shabbat?

Rav Shemuel Pinchasi (contemporary) addresses this question in his new book (listen to audio for precise citation) and rules that it is forbidden to allow the site to run on Shabbat. Even if the majority of those accessing the site are not Jewish, and even though the site owner will process the orders only after Shabbat, he must have the site shut down during Shabbat. Rav Pinchasi cites a number of leading Halachic authorities who hold this view, including Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Rav Chayim Kanievsky, and Rav Yonah Metzger.

I shared this with Rabbi Nati, along with the following technical information which I consider key in making such a statement, which is not discussed at all...

This is a wonderful halachic discussion and in theory a resulting psak, but would seem to be dangerous as a blanket understanding without knowing both the technology and business context (of the psak and your situation)...

1. I sit in New Jersey, my web site runs on computers in S. Francisco, and my customer is attempting to connect from Japan. WHO's Shabbos (timezone) do I observe, and why?

2. I run a mail-order business in the US, 20 years ago. According to the same standard, do I throw away all mail orders that arrive on Saturday (being US mail delivery occurs on Shabbos?)

3. I run a mail-order business in the US, 10 years ago. My toll-free number has an answering machine that takes orders after normal business hours. Do I shut it down on Shabbos (again the time zone issue, but this time more narrow, just US time zones which have a 3 hour window)? Do I shut down just the order taking, can I leave message saying "it's Shabbos, no orders today" when it may not be for the caller? If I leave it on, do I have to erase all orders that were recorded on Shabbos.

4. Adjusting item 1 above, my involvement in the 'business' / web site is merely processing orders. I created a product list and loaded it into a web site store service. I don't run the servers, I don't run the credit card processing, I don't run the order taking, I don't run the site, I have no involvement whatsoever in any aspect of the store except having created the product catalog and processing the orders (on which I must go to the site, login to the order tracking web page, and view the active orders to process, meaning if I don't virtually go there, there's nothing on my computer in any way involved in the site). Further, I can't turn the servers on or off in any way. (This is called a 'hosted web store' and is what the majority of small business's do.) I can only completely delete the store, no recovery, or leave it on. Am I obligated to have no business because it can't be turned off for Shabbos? Note that every piece of infrastructure involved is run by rov goyim.

If one is running a hebrew web store targeted at Israeli customers on a hosted or local equipment located in Israel, then this psak fits (though in the case of a hosted store, the ability to shut it down may not exist and therefore the question of shutting down the whole business would need to be taken to a rav skilled in such areas). In world-wide scenerio's, different issues apply that this BRIEF does not address.

In the more complicated case, I have no idea what the appropriate halacha is. I can only note that most famous kosher businesses and online tzedakah's do not currently "shut down for Shabbos". I have seen a small minority of Torah info sites that do so (for example,, and I usually find this as I'm gathering reading material for Shabbos (which goes back to the timezone issue above).

After reading this Rabbi Nati raised some additional questions and took it to his rav's rav...

We pasken (rule on halachic law) by finding historical examples that fit our current scenerio and applying them. I first noted that any discussion of physicality, such as an actual store, are not the scenerio here.

Instead, I brought these questions to my senior teacher:

Does an artist have to take down their pictures from walls in stores that happen to be open on Shabbat?

Can pictures taken by Jewish photographers be printed in newspapers? (Non-Jewish on Shabbos, Jewish before Shabbos that are read on Shabbos?)

A non-Jew enters a non-Jewish store and buys a Jewish product on Shabbos. Is not the Jewish producer deriving benefit on Shabbos?

Is a virtual store really there? Where does it exist? Is it in the reshush harabbim (the public domain) or the reshus hayachid (the private domain)? What is online?

What's open mean? It's accepting orders but not processing them. No employee's (of the Jew) are working.

What about a non-store, a web site or blog? People don't normally buy from such a place (and if it has ads for product or store, they're directed to a 'store' place). What if someone in Hawaii is reading after Shabbos here in Israel? Deny that person to read parsha hashevuah? My computer isn't running, it's off and not connected at all to the web. It's theirs that's running. Are they Jewish? Is there a a way to find out?

Is it prohibited to ask someone who is walking across town(within permitted Shabbos distance) to have them give a verbal message to a friend who lives over there? (Example: Give regards to Ploni, as him to get in touch with me some time.) In essence isn't that what a hosted store is doing?

Rabbi Nati's rav's rav told him that these issues are very unclear, and no one has yet clarified all of these technical issues in halacha, which needs to be done to create a ruling that covers the range of issues and circumstances.

Warning - This article is for discussion purposes only. Before applying to your personal situation, consult a qualified orthodox rabbi.

Tags: internet, halacha, jewish, law, torah, judaism, store, shabbos
From Mystical Paths, MPATHS.COM. Reading it somewhere else? See it there, click.


Monday, January 15, 2007

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More on Chabad and Breslov

More on Chabad - Breslov relations, a guest post from Chabakuk Elisha...

(see sefer Shivcho shel Tzaddik):

* The Alter Rebbe defended R’ Nachman and supported him in the machlokes against R’ Nachman and said: “R’ Nachman places himself in nisyonos, he is a great man, a mighty warrior.” (Beis Rebbe)

* R’ Zelig Slonim said (a descendant of the Alter Rebbe and the leader of Chabad in Chevron) that when visiting Lubavitch he stayed at the home of Rebbetzin Rivka (wife of the Rebbe Maharash, daughter-in-law of the Tzemach Tzeddek & mother of the Rebbe Rashab). In conversation, she spoke of R’ Nachman and stated that the Alter Rebbe defended R’ Nachman, announcing: “Anyone who opposes R Nachman, opposes me” - and emphasized that not only is he on R’ Nachman’s side, but that “he who opposes R’ Nachman is opposing the Alter Rebbe and the Alter Rebbe’s daas, MAMASH.”

* In the first printing of the Siddur, the Alter Rebbe included the haskoma of R’ Yekusiel, the Maggid of Terhovetza (student of the Maggid of Mezritch and subsequently an adherent of R’ Nachman)

* When R’ Nachman returned from Eretz Yisroel he went directly to the Baal HaTanya in White Russia (quite a distance out of his way) arriving before Shabbos Chazon (9 Av 5559 -1779) in Liozna. When the Chassidim found out that R’ Nachman had come to town they received him with great honor and came out to greet him dressed in their Shabbos clothing. The Alter Rebbe was overjoyed to welcome R’ Nachman, and they showed each other great closeness and love. They spoke for many hours, and after R’ Nachman declined to speak publicly, the Alter Rebbe delivered a maamar for six hours without stop.

* On one occasion R’ Nachman hinted to the Alter Rebbe that they would become mechutanim one day, and indeed R’ Aharon (Arke) of Krementchug (son of the Alter Rebbe’s favorite daughter Freid’ke) married R’ Nachman’s daughter Chaya (his second marriage). R’ Aharon was a great gaon & baki – he one said about R’ Nosson of Breslov, “He knows all the writings of the AriZal on the back of his hand.”

* R’ Mordechai, a chossid of R’ Nachman, was one of the rabbonim in Teplik. Once a question regarding an Aguna was brought to him and he was inclined to permit the Aguna to remarry. The Alter Rebbe came to Teplik, so R’ Mordechai consulted with him, and the A”R agreed with R’ Mordechai’s decision. After their meeting, the Alter Rebbe showed R’ Mordechai great honor and when departing, the A”R said: “Teplik has two rabbonim… but R’ Mordechai is worth a hon rav (a wordplay on the word rav – hon rav meaning exceedingly valuable).”

* When the Tzemach Tzedek was shown the Breslover sforim “Likkutei Halachos,” the Tzemach Tzedek said “Kulanu bnei ish echad nachnu”.

* R’ Isralev, who’s grandfather was a close talmid of the T”T, used to say that the T”T once heard someone disparaging R’ Nosson. The T”T became angry and ordered the individual to accept rebuke immediately. Similarly, R’ Zelig Slonim said that once someone had thrown R’ Nosson’s sefer to the floor. The Tzemach Tzededk saw this and ordered the man to sit on the floor and immediately accept rebuke publicly.

* Breslover Chassidim, R’ Baruch Efrayim (author of sefer Bibi Hanachal on Likutei Mohoran), R’ Mendele Litvak (student of R’ Nachman Tulchiner), and R’ Shimile Homiler were all Chassidim of the Tzemach Tzedek who became Breslover Chassidim after his passing. It is said that R’ Baruch Efrayim had been one of the “choizrim” of the Tzemach Tzedek.

* Once, the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe (R’ Yosef Yitzchok), visited Teplik. Upon his arrival, all the Yidden came to greet him and brought kvitlach - and among them was a Breslover Chossid named R’ Elimelech Tepliker. The Rebbe Rayatz told him: “Everyone has seforim in their home, but when traveling, one only brings along the seforim that he uses regularly.” While saying these words, the Rebbe showed him that he had brought along his Likkutei Moharan.

* Also, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rebbe Rayatz) had a sefer Likutei Halachos on his desk at the time of his passing.

* R’ Avrohom Sternhartz - a direct descendant of R’ Nosson and Breslover Manhig in the early to mid 1900’s) was Rov in Kremenchug (a city with a large Lubavitcher kehila). R’ Avrohom was very close to the Lubavitcher Chassidim there and even recited the maamar on 19 Kislev. (also see this)

* R’ Gedalya Aharon Kenig (former Breslover manhig in Tzefas – and father of R’ Elazar Mordechai, the current manhig of Breslov in Tzefas) had been a Chabad Chossid (it is said that he was actually a Chabad mashpia in Yerushalyim) before meeting and becoming the Talmud muvhak of R Avrohom Sternhartz.

Should I look for more?

We're always ready for more stories of ahavas yisroel and positive relations between brothers and cousins (all chassidim and all yidden!) But I think you covered the specific Chabad/Breslov relationship pretty well. Thanks!

Tags: chabad, breslov, menachem, nachum, lubavitch, noson
From Mystical Paths, MPATHS.COM. Reading it somewhere else? See it there, click.

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Young Thoughts on Shemos

My son brought home the following parsha Torah thoughts from 4th grade yeshiva...(since he brings these home on Friday, they can't go up until after Shabbat.)

The Gemora says Pharoah discussed his problem with the Hebrews with 3 people: Bilam, Iyov (Job), and Yisro.

o Bilam advised Pharoah to make the Hebrews into slaves, and was killed.

o Iyov didn't say anything, and was punished with terrible troubles and pain.

o Yisro ran way, and merited that his children would be put on the Sanhedrin.


The Torah tells us how Batya (daughter of Pharoah) saw Moshe (the baby) in the middle of the Nile and sent her maid to get him. The sages explain that "amata" doesn't mean her maid here, but her hand. A miracle happened and her hand was extended many "amot" to reach Moshe.

Why did Batya stretch out her hand in the first place to do something seemingly impossible? The Kotzker Rebbe answers that when it comes to saving lives, we do what we can do, and will often be amazed at the results!

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

Sunday, January 14, 2007

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Whos' Who and What's What?

The caption reads, "Rice stands with Defense Minister Amir Peretz", by AP Diplomatic Reporter Anne Gearan.

Except, it's not Defense Minister Amir Peretz in the picture. It's Minister of Strategic Something or Other Avigdor Lieberman. Either Ms. Gearan doesn't know who the Israeli Defense Minister is, or Secretary Rice doesn't.

24 hours ago, Prime Minister Olmert is threatened with indictment for improper bid offerings and campaign financing (and so forth). Then, Rice appears in Israel to "Restart Stalled Efforts at a Compromise". She may not know who she's standing next to, but she knows what she wants.

The Palestinians are disintegrating. The US offers money to help, the next day Hamas ministers promise the money will go to weapons specifically to be used for terror. Word from the US? None. Doesn't fit their world view or objectives, so ignore it.

What happened? Did Olmert or Peretz actually say something like "we're being hit daily with rockets killing people, our soldiers are being held, we're stopping tens of terror attacks monthly, maybe we need to hold up a moment until the Palestinian's actually do something?" (Seems doubtful, but possible I guess.) Then, Peretz's position comes under immediate attack within Labor, Olmert is threatened with indictement, and Rice shows up with public pictures of Livni and Lieberman but not Olmert or Peretz talking "Road Map Restart".

I may not hang with the conspiracy theorists, but it appears to me that the Israeli government is absolutely under someone's thumb, and that someone includes Rice. How much Jewish blood will be spilled on someone else's agenda? How long will Israel be a pawn to be sacrificed?

Note I don't like Peretz or Olmert, I consider them both incompetent and more out for themselves than the country. But when even their being clearly manipulated, we need to stand up and pay attention.

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


Friday, January 12, 2007

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A Word on Moshiach

A word on Moshiach from the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, from the book HaYom Yom...

Hearken and hear Israel, this is the time marked for the redemption by Mashiach.

The sufferings befalling us are the birth-pangs of Mashiach.

Israel will be redeemed only through Teshuva. [Jerusalem Talmud, Taanit I:1]

Have no faith in the false prophets who assure you of glories and salvation after the War.

Remember the word of G-d, "Cursed is the man who puts his trust in man, who places his reliance for help in mortals, and turns his heart from G-d" (Yirmiyahu 17:5).

Return Israel unto the Eternal your G-d; [Hoshei'a 14:2] prepare yourself and your family to go forth and receive Mashiach, whose coming is imminent.

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


Thursday, January 11, 2007

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Emunah, It's a Lifestyle

Emunah is not just a term or a system of belief. Really, it's a total lifestyle. You have to choose to live emunah. It requires a total overhaul of where you are now. We make ourselves sick with a lack of it. Our fears, the stress, filled lives we lead are a result of a total lack of faith in our Creator. And this lack of faith is tantamount to Avoda zorah. If we are doeg worried about anything, the smallest thing, it's total disbelief in Hashem. We really need to wake up do t'shuva and really sincerely repent for not believing totally in Hashem.

The reason for all the lying, cheating, stealing, murder, all stem from disbelief. The "disengagement" is the biggest denial of Hashem. What if we all just believed that every detail of our daily lives was already prepared? We wouldn't have to struggle with anxiety, no need for shrinks or pills or drinking. You know "no worries man". We would not need insurance companies, doctors, lawyers, life would be well, like Gan Edan, paradise. We can live here in this world and truly be relaxed knowing, really knowing that every detail of our lives is fixed!

"What, Reb Nati, your gonna sit there and tell me, with all the problems that I have that I don't have to worry?" YES... "Yeah right!" No, really, we can lear to live (hopefully not to late, I might add) without a life focused on anger, fear, worry, stress, aggravation. Our worries and disbelief just compound everything and add to all the mess we call life. Olam Hazeh can be Olam Habah, this present world can be truly wonderful if you just realize that its all taken care of, every minute detail of every day is already prepared, believe it or not! Because He said so! You can take it to the bank and cash it!

Hashem's Blessings on all! ...Reb Nati

(The picture is of a mayan, a natural spring and pool, between the Jewish towns of Shiloh and Eli in the Shomron, West Bank. Near here the Mishkan, the portable Temple, stood for 400 years. In days gone by, our ancestors cleansed their bodies and souls in this place, in preparation for coming before the Divine Presence in the Mishkan. Nowadays, with the return of Jews and the addition of a little bit of cement, the boys cool off here during a hot summer, and the men cleanse their bodies and souls before the holy Shabbat. Click the pic for a larger view.)

Tags: torah, judaism, emunah, faith, belief, God
From Mystical Paths, MPATHS.COM. Reading it somewhere else? See it there, click.

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The Jew and The Torah

Weekly Torah thoughts from the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel by Reb Gutman Locks...

This week we begin the book of Exodus, the story of the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. As we look over the five books of Moses we see not only the History of the world and the Jewish people as a nation, but we also see the description of our own spiritual lives.

The story begins with the creation of the world, the first man and his descendants. Later the Jewish people come and the tribes of Yaacov are born. Next is their descent into Egypt and their enslavement there. After many years of enslavement their redemption finally comes. The amazing Revelation at Mount Sinai follows and then there is their wandering in the wilderness for forty years. Finally, comes their ascent up into the Land of Israel.

This is not only the history of the Jewish Nation; it is also the story of our individual spiritual journey today.

Each of us was created. We went through our individual equivalent of the six days of creation while being formed in the womb. We were created much as the world was created. The same ingredients that form the world form us.

Then just as was Adam placed in the Garden of Eden then so were we placed in the garden. We grew up there and as children we innocently played in that garden. Maybe we tended sheep or did other simple tasks that children are able to do. Our lives were almost entirely wrapped around our families. This part of our national history is found in the book of Genesis and as we see, it also describes the beginning stages of our individual lives.

Then, as the tribes matured, so did we. We became adults and just like the adults in the Biblical story we too faced famine. We have to eat and provide for our needs. We have to go to work. This is our descent into Egypt. Mystically, Egypt is the land of limitations. “Egypt” and “limitation” share the same root. Egypt restricts our freedom but it also provides us with the means of gaining a livelihood. But really to us it simply means work.

Now, if this work is for its own sake, that is, if it is merely to provide for our physical needs, it may very well become our purpose in life. Work can even become our sole reason for living. After all, we have to work to live. We have to eat and buy things to sustain our families. So we go to work to provide for these needs. But then as the material aspect of life becomes more and more important to us, we can easily lose sight of any higher purpose in life and sadly the material perspective becomes our sole goal.

This persists even after we are fortunate to have enough to sustain ourselves for the foreseeable future. And even after it begins to hurt us, we still go to work every day. The work has already enslaved our thinking. No matter how much we do, no matter how much we earn, the master always demands, “More!” The slavery becomes bitter. Life becomes drudgery. And although it is almost unbearable, this way of life is all we know. Work pushes us harder and although we do not like it, we firmly believe that this is what we are supposed to be doing.

Then we finally call out to God for help. Where did that idea even come from? The idea of a spiritual possibility dawns, a purpose beyond the sheer physical . . . maybe even the thought of freedom from slavery dawns. Could this be possible?

We struggle and with God’s help we finally throw off the bonds of slavery and go out into freedom. We go into the wilderness without physical security. We imagine an entirely spiritual life. We would be there without any visible means of support but we are determined to search for God’s ways. Somehow we will be supported even there.

After the first great revelation, we wander learning His ways, the ups and downs of spiritual living and then finally with His help we are brought up into the Land of Israel itself.

Once we are in Israel, which is our homeland, we engage both the spiritual and the physical aspects of life. But now the physical does not enslave us because we no longer think it is the purpose of life. The physical becomes a mere tool in our hands that we utilize in order to fulfill our higher spiritual goals. We have learned that the spiritual and not the physical is the purpose of life.

This is the story written in the Bible, but more importantly, it is also the story of each of us.

It is the story of our having been conceived, (what were we then?) physically developing in the water of the womb, being born, raised, becoming adults, going to work, finding drudgery, seeking a higher purpose, disdaining the physical, discovering the Torah, and finally coming up to the Land of Israel to live out our days enjoying both the physical and spiritual blessings that God bestows on us.

And this is the true value of the Torah. It is talking to us about us.

Tags: torah, parsha, judaism
From Mystical Paths, MPATHS.COM. Reading it somewhere else? See it there, click.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

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An Offer, A Mitzvah?

In the past in the US, there's been some pretty strange reports of people selling their names to companies for advertising. There's also been reports of a small town or two that have done the same. In all cases, this was to a company for large sums of money.

The following has been confirmed as legitimate by a reliable source...

A religious elderly Jewish couple in Israel would like to fulfill the tradition of naming a child in the name of the woman's father. Her father was a religious Jew, lived his life as as such, was born in Hungary, escaped before World War II to the U.S., and then moved to Israel where he lived out the rest of his life in Bnei Brak (where he is buried).

However, this woman has daughters and granddaugthers, and therefore has never had the opportunity to perpetuate the name of her father, a"h.

The couple is willing to pay NIS 5,000 to a religious Jewish family willing to name their child חיים אליעזר Chaim Eliezer, after the woman's father. They'd prefer for the family and baby to live in Israel, so they could maybe visit the baby from time to time, give him presents, and feel some sort of connection with the child. (Though they may be open to other offers.)

If you're pregnant and interested, or know someone who is, they can be contacted at mitzvamail -a-t- gmail .d.0.t. com.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

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Jewish Women and War

X-Eli commented: Do you think Israel needs fighting women more than tznious??

Yerushalmi commented: Crop to remove the immodest image on the right (pic 1).

Anonymous commented: The Chazon Ish, zs'l, told his sister, a'h, that when they come to take her to be a Chayelet, c'v, have a gun ready to kill herself "Yaharog V'Al Yavor"

And, a friend who feels similar sent this (with the pictures) to a lead student of a mekubal (kabbalist), who replied with this...

לאישה אסור לשאת כלי מלחמה.

הוא תומך בגיוס נשים?

זה נוגד הלכה. לאישה אסור לשאת כלי מלחמה...המלחמה הם לגברים...ומלחמות שבתורה היו פיזיות אבל בשם השם דבורה לא היתה נלחמת פיזית....היא היתה נלחמת עם קבלה מעשית נגד מזיקים ככה גם אסתר המלכה וכך גם האמהות הקדושות...

אישה צריכה לגדל ילדים ולשמור על השפע הרוחני זה כל סוד האתרוג שהוא כנגד האישה שמקבלת את הטיפה דרך

השם ירחם שלא נתבלל ח"ו

"A woman is not allowed to carry weapons of war. (Not sure...) How is this relevant to women?

This is against halacha (Jewish law), for a woman to carry weapons of war. War is for men...and the wars in the Torah were (fought) but in the name of Hashem. Devorah the prophetess would not fight (directly/physically/with weapons?). She fought with Practical Kabbalah against those who were harmful. So too with Esther and with the Matriarchs.

A woman is supposed to raise children and guard against spiritual influences. This is the whole secret of the Etrog, that is compared to the woman, that accepts the platform of the way of Hashem.

Hashem should have mercy that we should not be confused, G-d forbid."

I only give my opinion here with my limited view. Yet, I cannot see how one can look upon these young women soldiers with a bad eye. They have no relationship with Hashem, they know not the words of the Chazon Ish or halacha. "Tinot She'bi'nishba" in their own land. Yet they come to stand and cry out to HaKodesh Baruch Hu, "protect us and let us be successful in guarding the lives of the Jewish People in the Holy Land."

These young Jewish women soldiers stepped forward to put their lives on the line to protect and defend the Jewish people, Jewish towns, villages, and cities. There are many reasons not to have women in the army, and that is halacha. That's a failing of the government, not these women.

(Pictures taken by my 12 year old daughter, translation a combined effort of my wife and eldest daughter.)

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

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