Friday, March 30, 2007

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Pesach & The Emunah Lifestyle

by Akiva & R. Nati at Mystical Paths

During the year, the halacha (Jewish law) says that if one makes an unintentional error in kashrus (in the laws of kosher food), a small unintentional error is batul b'shishim, it's nullified if it's less than 1 part in 60. But not when it comes to Passover and chametz (leavened products). Whether it's 1 part in 10, 100, or 1000, the smallest amount of chametz non-kosher's everything in the mix.

Emunah (faith) seems to be a difficult path. People take exception to not being (seemingly) in control, and therefore resist emunah. But, belief and emunah are not the same thing. Worry and fear are equal to total complete disbelief. And, believe it or not, disbelief is tantamount to idol worship! Belief is not all or nothing, but emunah is.

Belief is subject to intellect, emunah is not. Emunah is belief without doubt. All of our perceptions, as well as our intellectual reasons, are defined by a process. We see or hear something, it's processed by our brains and we reach a conclusion based on our experiences. Emunah is not. It's the only free will you and I have.

Do we rely on Hashem and the words of His Torah, or our filtered experiential perceptions? Filtered by experience of the moment, culture of the moment, EGO of the moment, feelings and mood of the moment. We rely on G-d, the G-d of our fathers, Creator of the heavens and the earth. We invoke that almost timeless connection, beyond our momentary experience, beyond our rampaging egos, G-d of our fathers, of their fathers, of their fathers...Creator...

We rely on the one and only true constant in the universe, Hashem. He conceived and created and HE maintains HIS creation. Any other belief, in whole or even in part, is idol worship and a lie, 99.99999% truth and .000001% lie is 100% lie. Any mixture of truth and non-truth equals lie. Just like chometz on Pesach, even the smallest bit is prohibited, no quantity in the mixture can nullify.

This is your free will, faith, or not. Hints, maybe, but experiential evidence, no. Either you just choose to trust, or you don't. Middle ground is the place of mixtures, which is where falsehood starts.

First a person has to wake up and realize they're not driving the bus. Then, realize the Driver knows what He's doing. At which point it becomes possible to enjoy the ride.

Instead, G-d help us, there's an outright onslaught to the contrary...TV, radio, movies, we are bombarded with the lie. You are in control, it's all about you, feed the ego, focus on the self.

Pesach (Passover) is the season of our redemption, the time of our freedom. Freedom from what? B"H (thank G-d), we don't live in Mitzrayim, we're not slaves in Egypt. Are we? Are we slaves to the desires of the cultures of the lands in which we live? Are we slaves to our own egos???

If we cleanse ourselves of our inflated sense of self, if we can get rid of our puffed up egos for Pesach, then we will live in the time of our freedom. Then we will have made room for emunah, made a place to recognize the Driver of the bus. And perhaps, just maybe, be worthy of the season of our redemption. This year, please G-d, this year.

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Kasher v'Samayach - Good Shabbos, a Kosher and Happy Passover,
Reb Nati & Akiva

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

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Eastern Infiltration - Part 8

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

(An ongoing story of the hand of heaven directing us and giving us a chance. A multi-part series and a true story.)

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

----
Dear Double Special Extra Kosher Yoga:

My letter to the editor was not specifically targeting your program, I neither claim to be an expert in your program nor on the topic of yoga. But I do know that large advertisements for YOGA in Religious Jewish Community magazines is presenting YOGA as a completely kosher thing to get involved in by the women and teens of the community.

Here's some additional words on the topic from the expert source to whom I refer on this topic...

Calling your program kosher yoga is like teaching Jews to love their brother and calling it kosher xian brotherly love. You cannot purify idolatry no matter how much good you put with it. You teach your language you do not adapt theirs. How do you get them to eat kosher foods? By making the kosher foods better than the treif. You should not use their system but develop your own.

Regarding the rabbi's who have reviewed your program and approved it...G-d bless these wonderful rabbis but they have never learned the practices and effects of idolatry. Not one of them or they would never have said that hindu names and associations and such are kosher.

Regarding your comment that (major Jewish authority) referred to yoga...If he did it was to communicate to those men what to look at. Had he said go to India and try to take a kosher way of Jewish Stretch they would not have known what he was talking about. He's also known to have said "When you want to bring a Jew out of an ashram (Hindu religious place) you should stand outside and call him out and not to go in."

It is more important than you know both for you and the thousands of Jews you address. You can make it kosher only without the references to idolatry. Go for it! You could end up being a hero.


I am told that women in the Jewish religious community have become involved in yoga. I am further told that there are now synagogues offering yoga classes! Are they all exclusively involved in your kosher program? Has the use of the term yoga never brought a single one of them to pick up another yoga book or check out another yoga web site?

Do you understand my concern?
----

From: Double Special Extra Kosher Yoga:

Dear Akiva,

I will try to answer you briefly.

It appears that you are questioning the program since you have a problem with a kosher form to yoga, which I will respond to below. You claim to not be an expert, yet you talk as if you have a thorough understanding of yoga.

With all do respect you have misunderstood the purpose of the ads. Specifically, they're intended for all outreach people and rabbis who can introduce it to people involved in the Hindu tradition of yoga. They are not intended to encourage yoga in and of itself to the religious Jewish community. You are the first person to have ever said that. On the contrary if their are people in the community who do yoga, this can be a good replacement.

I am not at all attempting to purify idolatry. Our program is about how to posture in kosher Jewish oriented forms, how to meditate upon their power and how to live by their meaning. It is called yoga because that is how people will know what we are teaching. If it was a form of kung fu or karate, then it would be called by that.

The system and technique is not the problem. Rather it is the rituals, chants and mantras that present a problem with Judaism. The technique is good since it relieves one from physical and emotional imbalance and helps improve focus.

Yoga is a physical and mental exercise just as karate or kung fu are, and which come from the Orient, or football and baseball are American sports. Is it contrary to Judaism to practice martial arts, or play football and baseball? Every nation and people has brought gifts to the family of mankind and yoga is one of India’s gifts to the world. Besides there are many levels to yoga and the ones being practiced mostly in the West are for the physical and mental benefits and not to worship some deities.

Uou are questioning the intelligence and experiences of the rabbi's who have reviewed our program. I did not just show this project to any Rabbi. I showed it to individuals who have had to deal with people involved in yoga and meditation.

"Go for it! You could end up being a hero." - I will take this as a blessing and hope that this project can attract the three and a half million Jews who practice yoga according to American statistics. Imagine that these people start talking and thinking about a Jewish focus, which leads to learning and davening. Some people I helped mekarev came to Yiddishkeit by first seeing Jewish focus in their body and then in their souls.

Regarding women it the religious community being involved in yoga, this is certainly not because of our program. As mentioned already, there are many advantages in practicing yoga and these frum women have seen that. I cannot comment on what they are doing since I am not aware of such. Certainly if we can turn them on to Double Special Extra Kosher Yoga, their would be no worries whatsoever about avoda zara.

I don't know if all are involved in kosher yoga programs, but I will repeat. If the teaching is done so in a way of physical exercise and meditation on Jewish ideas, their should be nothing to worry about.
----

Dear Double Special Extra Kosher Yoga:

I understand you feel very strongly about this matter. As I've understood from our correspondance, you've invested years to decades of your life in pursuit of the goal of finding a neutral path for yoga, so that those involved in such things should find a kosher way out.

For reference, I've also heard similar instructions from members of the (name redacted) family, who were sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in search of a neutral path for eastern meditation. Their story is quite interesting but not ultimately successful.

Reb (former Hindu Guru) also feels very strongly about this matter. I know of no other chossid with personal intimate experience with eastern avodah zarah such as he has.

The (name redacted) family can speak of encountering the malach of an eastern nation and speaking with it directly, via a human intermediary, giving a message from the Rebbe and getting a reply for the Rebbe. Reb (former Hindu Guru) can speak of BEING such an intermediary and dealing with eastern spiritual 'powers' personally.

Everyone involved with this conversation is clearly trying to do what they believe is for the best. Not for themselves, but for the klal. But we disagree on what that is.

I disagree that involvement in such a program is appropriate for any frum person not involved in yoga previously. I also believe the way you advertise your program and the current medium of such advertisements, religious Jewish community magazine, unintentionally gives yoga in general a hechsher. There's no chashash of avodah zarah that's ok, nor is it bitul b'shishim. (I'm not accusing you or your program of having any avodah zarah by writing this, more below.)

I understand that you disagree. You believe that your program is being exclusively used for it's designed purpose of showing yoga followers a neutral way, leading them away from the avodah zarah oriented methods and, with your program's Jewish religious orientation, actually bringing them closer to Torah. You hold that your program is exclusively neutral and that your rabbinic reviews prove this. You do not believe your program's title of 'yoga' could misdirect people, rather consider it necessary to draw the attention of yoga practicers. And at least one well known mekubal is advertising 'yoga' something. You consider your advertisements to have done what they were meant to, drawn the interest of rabbis who need such a program for their areas.

All of that is pretty fair even disagreement from different points of view.

Perhaps an area of greater disagreement is over the meaning of the (Jewish authority) directions in this area. This one is harder because you have some private letters giving some direction. These letters and your efforts lead you to say that a neutral yoga can indeed be kosher and appropriate for the religious Jewish community. I don't believe this is the case. I don't believe that the chashash can be eliminated, and even if it can, I believe the fact these letters were designated private shows that it's meant to be a special program for special circumstances, not something that should ever be offered to the general public and draw in those not previously involved in yoga. By doing so I think it opens the door to their future involvement in the non-kosher aspects. You disagree with my last statement, noting that if someone wanted to find such things they would anyway in today's world where information is so readily available. Here I disagree, because I feel it's not the information but the involvement that will lead them to look for it.

...

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Degrading?

BlessedtobeYerushalmi commented...

About the sewage "tsunami" that hit Gaza, CNN reported that the "degrading" nature of the tragedy added insult to injury. Reminds me of the curses Dovid HaMelekh (King David) brought down on his enemies. Hopefuly, it's a "sign" of where everything is headed.


Cartoon by the excellent Cox and Forkum.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

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Connecting

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

This week’s portion of the Torah is called Tzav. Tzav means “to command.” Tzav is closely related to the word tzvat, which means “to join.” From this comes a well known teaching that by doing a mitzvah, you join or connect to God. Although this teaching is certainly well intended, it is not stated correctly and sadly, it misleads people into making a serious mistake.

If one would think that he must do something to connect to God, he would have to believe that he was, at that moment, disconnected from God. In order to disconnect from something you need three things: the object you want to connect, the object you want to connect to, and the object that is standing in between these two, preventing them from presently being connected. This can never be the case with God.

God is infinite. There can never be any disconnection from the infinite. By definition, the infinite is without limits or boundaries. So where could someone be that he is disconnected from the infinite?

Use “the All” as an example.

Where is the All? Everywhere. “Everywhere” means literally filling every inch of every place. Also, all things have to be included in the All.

How many Alls are there? There can be only one All or what we were calling All could not have been All.

Is there anything other than the All? No. If there was anything other than the All, then what we were calling All could not have really been the All because by definition, the All must include All.

Can anything be disconnected from the All? Obviously not, or the All would not have been everywhere.

So what are they trying to say when they say that a mitzvah connects you to God?

When you do someone’s will, you align yourself to his will. It plugs you into his thinking. When you do what that person wants, you become his agent. An agent is like the hand of the one who sends him. When you do what the principal wants, you gain his goodwill and blessings, and learn about his nature, and he smiles upon you. You become filled with his thoughts. When you do what someone smarter than you says to do you act smarter than you were acting before.

By doing God’s will, you will certainly get all of these benefits, but you will not connect to Him because you were never disconnected from Him.

If you were not doing what He wants, you were blind to, or ignoring, His Presence. But you were never separated or disconnected from the Infinite, not even for an instant.

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Things That Make You Go Hmm...

by Akiva of Mystical Paths

Palestinian sources have reported that a car exploded in the Sadjaiyeh neighborhood in Gaza. This explosion left several injured. The cause is not yet known. (Guysen.Israël.News)

Hmm. Known reasons for cars exploding:

#10 - Poor quality gas. -NOT-
#9 - Manufacturing defect. -NOT-
#8 - Low speed accident. -NOT-
...
#2 - Carrying volutile explosives. -ding ding ding ding ding-
#1 - Preparing a car bomb. -ding ding ding ding ding-

Should have been written: "The cause is not yet known, but involves the misuse of things that go boom."

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

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Eastern Infiltration - Part 7

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

(An ongoing story of the hand of heaven directing us and giving us a chance. A multi-part series and a true story.)

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

(Sorry it's been a while, hope we haven't lost the story thread...)
----

So the magazine has switched their position, decided to publish, but confirmed that yoga is popular in the religious communities they publish to. They've got me on board, now they're making sure they've got Double Special Extra Kosher Yoga on board.
----

From: The Magazine

Dear Double Special Extra Kosher Yoga:

The following letter to the editor will be printed in the Magazine. If you send me your response within two weeks, we will include that too.
----

From: Double Special Extra Kosher Yoga

Dear Magazine:

I think you are taking a huge responsibility in advertising M's statement, especially since it is misleading factually and historically and is clearly contrary to what (major Jewish authority) said about the advantages of yoga and developing a "kosher way" to it. You have seen the letters when I sent them to you last year and it would be wrong to ignore them.

Why aren't you showing (major Jewish authority)'s letters? If anything, these are the only statements you should be advertising in your magazine and not some wrongful judgement call made by someone who is trying to defame a clear and explicit Mivtza of (major Jewish authority) given over 30 years ago!

I would therefore be very cautious about printing M's words since it touches upon (major Jewish authority)'s desire for a kosher way and on a project which is trying to implement this desire . Before making your magazine into a forum for debate which can become negative, I urge you to reconsider.
----

From: Magazine

Dear Double Special Extra Kosher Yoga:

Why not just reply in print, and this way you solve the problem of people having the wrong impression?

I don't print letters that major Jewish authorities clearly write "this is not for public consumption as it may mislead the public." Would you? Would you print things major Jewish authorities said ONLY to private people EXACTLY and precisely BECAUSE of people being possibly misled? Chas v'sholom.
----

From: Double Special Extra Kosher Yoga

Dear Akiva,

Their seems to be some misunderstanding about our program and its target market. I would like to speak with you as soon as possible to clarify these issues.

...

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British - Iran Update

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

In the midst of events in Israel, we can't let our attention drop from Persia and England. Contradictory reports today...

Iran warned, British Prime Minister is angry. Here. Of course, this new Western style soft speak, "He added: 'It is the welfare of the people that have been taken by the Iranian government that is most important.'" is just suicidal.

Iran said Monday it was questioning 15 British sailors and marines to determine if their alleged entry into Iranian waters was "intentional or unintentional" before deciding what to do with them—the first sign it could be seeking a way out of the standoff. Here. So, yesterday they were planning to burn the men alive, flay their corpses and feed the parts to their camels. (Ok, maybe a little more than they said, but not much.) Today they're considering giving them a parking ticket and making them beg for mercy on TV, blindfolded (what's with the Iranian's and blindfolding?) before letting them go with a free subscription to Mullah Quarterly.

"The new UN sanctions do not impress the Iranian leader Ahmadinejad. He said that he was going to "take counter measures" against the nations who voted for sanctions against Iran, calling them "illegal". He added that the Security Council resolution would not delay "for one second" the nuclear program." -Here (French).

Is this winding up, or winding down? We'll see. Hakol Beday Shamayim.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

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Marching Back! - UPDATES

The Muqata is liveblogging the march back to Chomesh, which was forcably evacuated and destroyed for...nothing... Check it out!

Direct Updates from Mystical Paths:

  • People in the (somewhat) nearby town of Elon Moreh (just north of Shechem [Nablus]) have police at their gate, unable to leave without proof of justification.

  • People in the town of Itamar (just southeast of Shechem) have police at their gate, unable to leave without proof of justification.

  • Police are at Tzomet Tapuch (main north-south east-west junction south of Shechem), stopping all Jewish cars, letting none through. Numerous police/army helicopters in the area, large quantity of army vehicles by the junction.

  • Police are gathering by nearby town of Immanuel (west of Shechem). Locals heard "some cops talking and they 'can't wait to be brutal'".

  • Some ambulances have passed through the junction, hospital bound, with injured.

  • 8pm Israel Time - Police are stopping cars by the gates of Eli and Shiloh, informing them they will not be able to travel north without proof of residence in a northern town.

  • 9pm Israel Time - A northern route roadblock is in place, preventing Jewish traffic from travelling past the Ariel bypass.

  • 9pm Israel Time - Public buses (Eged) traveling north into the Shomron are being stopped at Ofra, with all passengers undergoing ID & address checks. Passengers unable to prove residency are being pulled from the buses.

  • Israel National News has a nice news report. YNetNews focuses on the 'dangers' of violence in doing this. Do you prefer your news with facts, spun to the left or spun to the right? Seems you can't get facts today without a heavy helping of spin.

    The Left (anti-Jewish Jewish Israeli's who don't mind doing anything demanded of them to make sure they have the latest fashions and luxiories in Tel Aviv) slammed the decision to allow IDF forces to secure Monday’s march (as if someone allowed rather than said, B"H, "this time I refuse to take another step to civil war").

    "The defense minister is turning IDF soldiers, against their will, into accomplices to a crime," MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) said. (The crime of settling the Land, the crime of Torah, Gucci forbid!)

    "Instead of the IDF enforcing the law and preventing the settlers from reaching Homesh, it is ensuring their security and facilitating their arrival," she continued. (Darn those soldiers, not shooting on their own! BTW, who made the IDF into policemen? And, we see how well that worked out in the Hizbollah War.)

    Peace At-Any-Cost-Even-Through-My-Own-Children's-Sacrifice Director Yariv Oppenheimer also accused the IDF of breaking the law by guarding the evacuees during their march.

    “It’s an outrage. Everything they’re doing is illegal. There is a law that unequivocally states that returning to evacuated areas is prohibited without a special permit being issued. There is no such permit,” Oppenheimer said. (That's Israel, did you get permission to sneeze? Hey, me, I don't need permission, I've got parlimentary immunity, and my children have protectzia, but you, YOU need permission!)


    Hashem Ya'azor! May these foolish politicians get an education, but not at the expense of the innocent!

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    Cleaning for Passover

    by Akiva at Mystical Paths

    A story is told about Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, the Kedushas Levi, the great defender of Klal Yisroel, that before Pesach (Passover), he called out to HaKodesh Baruch Hu (to the Holy One, Blessed Be He)...

    "Ribono Shel Olam, Master of the Universe, on Rosh Hashanah we pray that the melachim (the angels) formed by the blowing of the shofar (ram's horn), formed from the tekiah, from the shevarim, from the teruah, and from the tekiah-shevarim-tekiah, and the tekiah-teruah-tekiah... should open the gates to our prayers to ascend before Your throne of glory and be accepted.

    But on Pesach (Passover), we have no shofar, no tekiah's. However, we have the scrubbing, and the scraping, and the kashering, in throwing ourselves into Your command of eliminating chametz (leavening) from our homes. So in the merit of our scrubbing, and our scraping, and our kashering, and our scrubbing and scraping and scrubbing, and our scrubbing and kashering and scrubbing, may the gates be opened that our seder's may ascend before Your throne of glory and be accepted."

    Ameim!

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    Links of Interest

    by Akiva at Mystical Paths

    Jewish Music via online 'radio'. Here's what we're listening to in my home...

    And here's a site to concern you, American protest photo's that show extensive anti-semitism. (Warning, some photos are for mature audiences as some protest members chose to make their points by limiting...garments.) Zombie Time - Wacked Protest Photos.

    And, keeping my intense interest is the British - Iranian situation going on from Basra, which seems to be escalating.

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    Galey by Avraham Fried



    via Chabad.Info, a new song produced for Oorah and their outreach campaign.

    Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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    Sunday, March 25, 2007

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    In The Cave Of Hillel

    by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

    This is the torah we learned from the tzaddik (ben porat yosef) Shimon ben Miriam, may we merit to dance at his chuppah soon. (amein!) From Likutey Halachot - Hilchos Hashkamas Haboker halacha gimel:

    'א)'יתגבר כארי לעמד בבקר שיהא הוא מעורר השחר
    'Be as strong as a Lion that you will awake the dawn'

    According to the torah "Vayasev Elochim", see there (Likutey Moharan, b'simman 62):

    It is explained there, that there is a difference between questions. There are questions that man can understand and explain, and there are those we can not. On this was said in (avot perek bet): "ודע מה שתשיב לאפיקורוס". "And know what to answer the heretic".

    In truth Hashem Yisbaruch has limited 'human sekel' and what it can understand. 'HU mitzvah gedolah' It's mitzvah gedolah to sharpen the sekel to understand completely. About this it has been said "know what to answer the heretic". And know the only way to sharpen the sekel is by solely relying on emunah.

    But there are questions that are impossible for human mind to understand and explain, and only in the future time will answers be revealed. These are forbidden for a man to ponder, and anyone that relies on sekel and casually ponders them... about this it's been said in (Mishley Bet :19): "כל באיה לא ישובון"... "and all who come to her (sekel) do not return, nor do they attain the paths of life". These questions are forbidden to contemplate, and on these we only can stand on Emunah, even those questions that we think we can understand. Even the questions that there are answers for, just know sometimes the way of understanding is blocked. We do not know how to answer them,"heresy is grabbing" etc. And this heresy it is for everyone according to their level or connection to Hashem and emunah.

    We can either understand a little or a lot, because we need serve Hashem with both our yeizters etc. (And that is a post of it's own.)

    And truly, if we know, really know with a full heart "that all the world is His" (Hashem's) Ein Ode Milvado, and that HaKodosh Baruch Hu is standing near in the time of tefillah 'when ever we come to him with a full heart', surely we would pray with excitement and enthusiasm and inspiration and fervor, we would pray precisely and focus our words. But it is precisely because we do not believe this that we aren't praying with enthusiasm, without focus. All of this is because our knowledge is covered, and in the heart there is an aspect of meloiket... aspect (hosea yud:2) "חלק לבם"..."Their hearts have become detached [from Hashem]; now they will become desolate without hope.", this is the aspect of questions that are coming because the sekel is defective, and continue until we do not how to answer the heretic in our own hearts. But do not despair, there is a tikun. (and that's also a future post).

    Thank you so much to those who have helped with our Passover campagin so far!!! May Hashem bless you for the great mizvah of permitting those who don't have the means, to have a seder. In that merit, may Hashem bless your seder to be accepted! Our Moas Chitim campaign to Help the Poor in the Shomron (West Bank) and other parts of Israel for this Passover continues, Info Here.

    Shevua Tov! Reb Nati

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    Friday, March 23, 2007

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    News Flash: British Soliders Seized by Iran?!

    Pinged via Elisheva's Alerts...

    Basra battle? Brits vs Persia? "Who's that coming out of Basra..." (Akiva adds - A key prophetic indicator to the Gog uMagog scenerio is a biblical prophet statement about Basra, the southern Iraqi city which is the patrol zone of British forces, Iraq's main port and therefore the oil terminal and merchant port for Iraq.

    The British Defense Ministry released a statement, "This incident, which occurred Friday about 10:30 a.m. local time, 15 British naval personnel, engaged in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters ... were seized by Iranian naval vessels".

    Cmdr. Aandahl said the British crew members were intercepted by several larger patrol boats operated by Iranian sailors belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, a radical force that operates separately from the country's regular navy.

    (News source here.)

    We don't know what's going to happen here, but this could be a trigger scenerio.

    Updates:

    Update 1 - The seizure of British vessels, a pair of rigid inflatable boats known as RIBs (for, oddly enough, Rigid Inflatable Boats), took place in long-disputed (according to who?) waters just outside of the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway that divides Iraq from Iran, the British Cmdr. said. A 1975 treaty gave the waters to Iraq, and U.S. and British ships commonly operate there, but the British Cmdr. said Iran disputes Iraq's jurisdiction over the waters.

    The waterway is formed by the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers at the town of Al-Qurnah. A fisherman who said he was with a group of Iraqis from the southern city of Basra fishing in Iraqi waters in the northern area of the Gulf said he saw the Iranian seizure.

    The British have responded with the deadly STRONGLY WORDED LETTER. "The British government summoned the Iranian ambassador to the Foreign Office: "He was left in no doubt that we want them back," Britain's Foreign Secretary said after the meeting."

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    The Midrash and Church Actions

    by Aharon Hoffman at Mystical Paths

    The book, When Moshiach Comes, says (p. 150-151) that Armilus, one who rises against Moshiach in the end of days, will claim to be Edom’s messiah, god and the author of the bible he gave to the children of Esav (Midrash Heichalos). It also says, he will summon the Jews and demand they bring their Torah and declare him the Jewish G-d. The Jews will reject him and his offer, and war ensues. Armilus then assembles an international army. This is clearly listed under Aggadot. If we ignore any literalism here about messianic and god claims, lets summarize what has been happening lately:

    • 1. The Catholic and other churches have invited Jews into theological dialogue (with Orthodox Jewry being most careful and limited in this). The Church has ended its official “mission” to the Jews. Many dialogue college level centers and joint studies programs have been financed and set up.

    • 2. They have proposed to Jews the “possibilities” that Jesus is the G-d of Israel. 'Rabbis', like Yitz Greenberg, have accepted this as a possibility despite major reservations. They have spoken of shared scriptures, shared destiny, shared eschatology, and in some cases even making Jews and Judaism an organic element within the “body of Christ” – the Church as their own catechism states.

    • 3. Pappy Benedict has written (when he was a cardinal) that “mission interpenetrates dialogue” and has said he still “hopes for the conversion of the Jews”, so there is a disingenuous quality to the Church’s approach to the Jews.

    • 4. No demand for acceptance has been made despite the perceived pressure to do so. But the Christian teachings clearly point to something more that simple parallel social and political action for the benefit of mankind.

    • 5. The EU is preparing a military force to intervene in the Middle East as does the US military. It currently does not have the capability, but is not far from it.

    • 6. Secular Israeli leaders have either allowed or invited UNIFIL (mostly European) soldiers into Lebanon, subsequent to the Hezballah War of 8/2006 and even the West Bank. EU observer military units already exist in Gaza. Russian, Italian and German anti-tank missiles have been found in possession of Hezballah and now Hamas. Russia has sold Tor 1 antiaircraft missiles, missile technology and nuclear technology to Iran. Iran is working in concert with Syria, Hamas and Hezballah.

    • 7. The Church is pressing its rights to parts of Jerusalem and religious places in Israel.

    • 8. As stated above, both the EU and the Church(es) have applied double standards to Israel and blamed Israel for the lion’s share of the cause of unrest in the region.

    • 9. While the US tends to currently side with Israel, there have been feints in the other direction. Europe is actively working to neutralize and “balance” US support for Israel by supporting the Arabs.

    • 10. The secular European and Church officials all cite international law as the center of their argument against Israel. So called international law is held up as somehow in conformity to Church law in terms of at least international “peace”. So there is, in reality, a “law” being juxtaposed to Torah Law.

    The conclusion to the above is that Christian Europe is in some way opposing Israel, using “law”, there is limited European military presence already in the area, European weapons are being supplied to Iran, Syria Hamas and Hezballah, and a European rapid deployment projection capability is being developed. The European-Christian anti-Israeli scenario is not far fetched at all – even stripped of aggadic literalism. May Hashem help us!

    Developed from thoughts when reading Rabbi Bar Tzadok's "The Legend of Armilus".

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

    The Death Cult - "Hamas TV broadcast today a video dramatization of the four-year-old daughter of a female suicide bomber singing to her dead mother and vowing to follow in her footsteps."

    Think You Know Why They Hate Us? - Former Chief Rabbi of Israel speaks the truth and explains an important point.

    READ IT!

    Thursday, March 22, 2007

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    Erev Rosh Chodesh in Meron

    by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

    There is so much I could write on this one trip to Rasbi, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, zt"l. It was intense to say the least. I was joined by a friend and student, Uzi. We had unbelievable experiences more than than once, as we just kept getting the same message, "rok zerok l'sekel shelcha" - just throw away all your preconceived notions.

    Like two little children we set out, and what a journey it was. We came to receive a blessing for me, "a refuah" (a healing), and to ask for a special blessing for the new month. We came away with a lot more.

    As Erev Rosh Chodesh is Yom Kippur Katon (the beginning of a new month is like a small Yom Kippur), we can wipe clean the slate from last month and start anew.

    We rode up from the Shomron (West Bank) in the rain and cold, catching rides (Israeli style). This is my personal favorite way to travel as I always ask Hashem to bring me people to speak to about emunah (faith). I'm getting a ride, they're getting a shiur in Torah, no choice as I just can't shut up about G-d and my Rebbe and how he has changed my life. For me, it's so natural and it just flows.

    Every ride was a blessing and a part of the emunah lifestyle, and everyone we spoke to received a blessing. We relate to each as family, and people are just not used to this. They ask, "Are all you guys like this? Alive and energized?" I say chalavei! (We fervently wish!)

    One adventure after another (that's another story!) and we arrived at the Kever (Tomb) of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai zt"l. Only then did the plane really begin to leave the runway! WOW!!! Everyone from the rebbe ashir b'Torah to the most simple beggar said the same thing! Just throw your sechel (intellect) and just trust in Hashem. I mean everyone!

    We met a tzaddik who took us on a trek behind the tomb, hiking around the hills to the cave of Hillel HaZakain, the great Hillel the Elder, zt"l. We were not sure what was about to happen, even began to get nervous at entering a cave with the fellow. But what a blessing! This guy just started giving us Torah like you would not believe. There was one confirmation after another, WOW! We exchanged numbers and prayer requests, Reb Shimon ben Miriam want a zivug (marriage partner), so I promised to pray for him everyday and I look forward to dancing at his wedding very soon, may it be His will!

    We trekked back around the hill to the mikvah by the kever, to purify ourselves and say Tikun Klali (the spiritual repair of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov). There energy there like Uman! As we finished and left to go outside for cup of tea, I ran into the Melitzer Rebbe (literally, bump!) Bli ayin hara, ben porat yosef, a very special tzaddik who I had come to see, to give a pidyon nefesh (a soul request) and recieve a bracha (blessing) for a refuah shalayma (a completely recovery). All I can express is...Wow. He had come with Rabbi Lazer Brody of Lazer Beams.

    After spending a few precious minutes with this special man of G-d, my friend Uzi and I merited to have some private time with Rabbi Brody on the side of the hill. Ahh, the the cream of the trip. Torah, words of praise of Hashem and the prayers of old soldiers were shared! G-d willing, I should merit to write another post just to tell you some of we learned on the side of the hill by Rashbi in Meron.

    Hodu l'Hashem Key Tov, Key Le'olam Hasdo!

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

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

    Since this week’s portion deals almost exclusively with Temple offerings, which do not take place today, what are we to learn from these sacrifices?

    As we discussed in the portion Terumah, now that the Temple no longer exists, our prayers of thanks, blessings and the customs we perform at our dining room table now fill in for the altar and sacrifices. Many of our dining customs today are rooted in ancient Torah practices. To cite a few:

    * 1. The meal-offering was an offering of flour and was usually mixed with oil. Offerings, including this one, were always offered with salt. “You shall salt your every meal-offering with salt; you may not discontinue the salt of your God’s covenant from upon your meal-offering . . ..”[i] Various reasons are given as to why an offering had to be salted. For instance, salt is a preservative, so we are showing that our sacrifice is sincere and lasting; salt is white, which is considered pure; and salt never loses its flavor. Actually, salt used to be a very valuable commodity. [ii]

    This law is still maintained today, albeit as a custom and not as an actual law. We are accustomed to dipping our bread in salt before eating it. It also is the custom to dip the bread in salt three times. The reason given is that the gematria (numerical equivalent) of “Hashem” equals 26, and the gematria of bread and salt equals three times 26.

    * 2. Another custom at the table that derives from our history is the way we cover the challah (Shabbat bread) when making Kiddush over wine. The reason given for covering it in the first place is so the bread will not become embarrassed. Do inanimate things become embarrassed? What this really means is that bread is the staple of a meal. If we put the wine before the bread, as we must do on Shabbat, it seems as if we are disdaining the bread, which we are not. So we cover it regally instead of “embarrassing” it. Then, after making Kiddush, we uncover the bread, giving it its proper place in full view before saying the blessing for bread.

    A Torah-related method of covering the bread is to cover it with two cloths, one below the loaves and one above. The reason for this is that when the manna was given in the wilderness it was covered with dew both below and above.

    Why are we strict to use two whole loaves when we eat bread on Shabbat? Some say because we are given the commands to guard and remember. But a more obvious reason is to recall the manna. The manna fell overnight and each morning we would gather just enough for that day. If we gathered too much it would invariably rot. We were not allowed to gather on Shabbat and in fact it did not fall on Shabbat. However, on Friday a double portion fell and it did not rot. The two loaves remind us of that double portion.

    * 3. We also hold the Kiddush cup in an unusual manner. Why do we do this? First, we fill the cup until the wine overflows. This reflects the words in the Kiddush prayer, “my cup is full.” Overflowing the cup shows that our cup is indeed full. Wine symbolizes joy and the mystical aspects of Torah, and we are saying that our share in these is overflowing.

    We hold the cup in the palm of our hand, with our fingers cupping the cup. Some have the custom of holding it in their fingertips. Why do we hold it this way only for Kiddush, and not any other time we drink? In the Kiddush prayer this meal is called ”the meal of the King,” and you are sitting in the King’s place. Imagine you are a real king and you wish to have a cup of wine. What would you do? Reach out and take the bottle? No way. Ask the servant for some wine? Never! Clap your hands so the wine steward would give you the cup? No. You would simply hold out your hand palm upward, and the wine steward would place the filled cup in your palm. Holding a cup like this shows that you did not pick it up, but like a king, some other hand put it there.

    * 4. Before we can eat bread, we must wash our hands in a specific manner. The Torah reason why we wash the way we do before the meal will be discussed in the portion Metzora. The reason we wash after eating reminds us of the time when, after a meal, we would eat a bit of salt from Sodom because it was a strong digestive aid. But it was so strong that if it got into someone’s eye, it could cause blindness. So we wash to be sure it is gone.

    * 5. Bentching: The after-dinner prayers are actually commanded from the Torah itself. “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you will bless the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.”[ iii]

    So many of our customs today are rooted in thousands of years of having a Jewish table.

    [i] Lev 2:13
    [ii] Some places salt was used as money (salary.)
    [iii] Deut 8:10

    Don't forget Reb Nati's Kimcha d'Pischa - Moas Chitim campaign to Help the Poor in the Shomron (West Bank) and other parts of Israel for this Passover. Info Here. Thank you to those who have helped so far!!! May Hashem bless you to always be able to!
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    Sacrifices and The Return to G-d

    A great tidbit from Aish.Com, by Rabbi Ari Kahn...

    The Ramban writes: ...the true (Kabbalistic) path has an elusive mystical reason for korbanot (sacrifices) ... the name of G-d exclusively used in regard to the korbanot is not "El" nor Elohim ... rather YHVH, the unique name, ... that no one should think that the korban is in order to feed G-d.

    The Ramban reminds us that the name YHVH refers to the transcendent aspect of G-d; it is the name which indicates that G-d is beyond man’s understanding. The Torah employs this name in reference to the offerings --to the exclusion of all other names of God -- pointing up the incongruity of the idea of "G-d’s needs." The name Elohim, on the other hand, refers to G-d as judge, a concept which humans can grasp. Had this name of G-d been used in connection with offerings, one might have been tempted to imagine that a "bribe" is possible. But when we contemplate that the offerings are commanded by YHVH, we realize that no bribes can be offered.

    Additionally, YHVH -- the singular, timeless name -- refers to G-d's trait of existing outside of time. This may help us understand how forgiveness takes place: If a man sinned yesterday, and repented today, how can his present attitude undo that which he did yesterday?

    If we understand that G-d exists outside of time -- indeed, G-d created time -- when we try to reestablish a relationship with G-d, then time becomes less of a factor.

    When man connects with the transcendent G-d, "yesterday" becomes limited to the human perspective, which no longer confines him.

    This is the mystery of teshuva, "repentance" (which literally means "return") and of forgiveness. Man repents, returns to G-d, and G-d forgives him.

    This also explains why the word korban is derived from the root k-r-v, "to come close." The korban is the act which allows man to come close to G-d. Teshuva is not only a return to G-d, it is also a return to oneself, to the potential within man, to the image of G-d within each and every one of us. When man repents, he returns to the core of godliness within himself, that tzelem Elohim, the "image of G-d" that is his essence.

    Read the whole thing here.

    Don't forget Reb Nati's Kimcha d'Pischa - Moas Chitim campaign to Help the Poor in the Shomron (West Bank) and other parts of Israel for this Passover. Info Here. Thank you to those who have helped so far!!! May Hashem bless you to always be able to!
    READ IT!

    Wednesday, March 21, 2007

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    Waiting for the Sign

    by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

    Yes, we are waiting for sign. And this is it! Pure and simple as a pimple. Nothing more nothing less. It is written in the Nach (biblical prophets), "If you will but return to me I will return to you!" We must return! He is waiting for the sign, and this is it: "our return"!

    Hashem is WAITING FOR US!!! We are the ones extending this! We must show Him the sign, not wait for Him to show us!

    It is written in Kol HaTor (by Rabbi Moskolav z"l, the chief student of the Gra zt"l) that all the signs are past and it is now up to us! That was over 200 years ago.

    If we could but remember Him, he would remember us! We talk here about a partial remembrance and full remembrance, these are speaking of us remembering. Haval, we we can not wake up! Please Hashem, please help us to remember. Please help us to call out to you. Please Borei HaOlam, please!!! "ABBA ten lanu rachamim."

    If we were but to cry out and ask, each of us, for Him to help us... You see all of this is on us. This galus is unlike the previous ones; in this that it has no expiration date. Galus Mitzraym 400 years, galus Baval 70 years. You see we could have ended this the day after the Horban Mikdash (destruction of the Temple), but we are spiritually asleep. We need to wake up, each one of us! We have to decide which are we: Dor Midbar or Dor Geula (generation in the desert or generation of redemption). It's up to us.

    We didn't make it the first time, so we have come back in this generation to fix the problem. In truth it really is up to each one of us. Ask yourself, saying "hey self, are you ready too continue in the mess that we are in or are we gonna jump up and say maspik (enough)??? Enough, we're ready, we're waiting we're returning to You now!!

    And now WE say "I mean now you have to return to us"!!! Ribono Shel Olam, we are done suffering in this misery!!!

    And HE says:

    "OH daughter of Zion how long are you gonna sit in the dust, rise up and shake of the chains for I have unlocked them. Put off your sack cloth and wash yourselves and get ready for the feast, put on your wedding gowns for I long to reunite with you!! Please I am waiting here for you!!!"

    You see it doesn't have to take earth shattering events "unless you like to suffer". We can end this, this year and sit in Yerushalayim and shout "this year in Jerusalem" . Just trust in Him, He's doing it all for us, and in reality we have no choice but to believe and come and perform His will. 3 times a year for all males are to come to Jerusalem and stand before Him. Let's not wait until Shavous, let's meet Him for the Korban Pesach!

    Thanks for all the support and remember, kemach d' pischa, the geluah comes through the miztvah of tzedakah (charity), so please give and receive a blessing knowing that you made it possible for those who wouldn't have had otherwise.

    A guten chodesh (a good new month!) have and kosher and joyful Pesach (Passover),
    Reb Nati

    Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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    The Moment - Or Not - Or Yes - Or Not...

    by Akiva at Mystical Paths

    We are warned by the gedolim not to calculate the ketz, the end of the golus and moment of geulah. Yet, famous figures did so (Rabbi Akiva, zt"l, the Gra, zt"l, etc.) Why, you might ask, shouldn't we be watching and be ready?

    Of course! But, if G-d forbid the moment doesn't come today, will we give up? Will we turn away from HaKodesh Baruch Hu if our calculation and observation is wrong? Possibly.

    At this time, we have no more than speculation and hints in the words of the mekubalim and a few of the rebbe's of our time. It is clearly unclear. We seem to be in a time of confusion and choice. We don't know, and we don't even know if the information, or sources of information, even the gedolim and mekubalim, are providing proper direction, or, perhaps more appropriately, if we're getting their true words in the proper context.

    There have been signs and signs, and calculations and calculations. We are not the first generation to say this, nor the 10th. Great gedolim have written about it across generations, and some have taken great actions in the past. Yet, still we wait for that great day.

    In contrast, some ask, "How can we make big decisions, big moves, without the clear direction of our rabbaim and gedolim?" To that I respond with this...

    Before World War II, there were hints in the words of the mekubalim and a few of the rebbe's. Close before, people asked sha'alot (life questions) of their rabbi's, rosh yeshiva's, gedolim, about whether to stay. For many the answer received was "do not leave the place of Torah", "don't upset your family", "where does your wife want to be, shalom bayis". NO communal direction was given by anyone "get out now". Almost everyone that got out before went against communal and sometimes rabbinical advice.

    During the Holocaust, Hashem should have mercy that such a thing never happens again, people also went to the gedolim for advice and brachot. Many stories are told of the rare and amazing blessing that clearly designated survival. But NONE OF THEM said, "everyone, move, get out now, run run run". There are even stories of people getting, "the windows are shut, I can give no direction". Once it was time for their words, it was too late for those words.

    Yet, to where to run, to where to turn? Where to go, where to go? This question itself is a sign right out of the navi. BUT it was ALSO asked 55 years ago.

    There are many signs at this time that the great moment is close. And, many are speculating on that as well. With this medium we are able to share those speculations, tie them together, and get a bigger picture than we would get otherwise. But maybe there's a little bit of circular influence going on there also, speculations reinforcing speculations, so to speak.

    We await his coming every day, may it be today. We should be prepared every day, including today. But is it time to buy a tent and camp in the Negev (remember, the navi [prophet] says the survivors will run from Jerusalem to the Negev)? Well, maybe not just yet. Although, it's certainly not a bad idea to be ready.

    Reminder, don't forget Reb Nati's Kimcha d'Pischa - Moas Chitim campaign to Help the Poor in the Shomron (West Bank) and Israel for this Passover. Info Here.

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

    by Akiva at Mystical Paths

    We are asked to help, we help! (Thank you to those who have responded so generously to R. Nati's Passover campaign!)

    But, what of the Arab world for the desperately poor and needy Palestinians? (sarcasm inserted) The European Union and the U.S. are doing everything they can to help these poor people (sarcasm inserted), as just reported the EU is providing $300 million to 'tide them over'.

    The West must help, but, what of Dubai?
    Dubai Riches Presentation : Dubai

    (Requires Powerpoint, if you don't have it, get a free viewer here.)

    This country, which is so wealthy and "so concerned about their Palestinian brothers", do they help? No. But they scream when the EU and the US hints that they might not.

    Hmm, I wonder why?

    Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

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    Why Charity?

    by Akiva at Mystical Paths

    Around Chanukah time, we say from chassidus, 'a little light dispels a lot of darkness'. The analogy, even a candle lights up a whole dark room, is easily understood.

    Last weekend, I had the honor to attend a wedding of the son of one of my rabbaim from a long time ago (the last post was from that wedding). I saw some old friends and watched a little boy who I knew well, all grown up now, get married. It was a happy and heart filled occasion.

    During the wedding by the door were some people collecting charity. I was blessed at that moment to have a bit to give (and required to do so), so I handed one woman a bit more than most were giving. She was so so thankful, and went on to me for a while about how much this was going to help her. I told her she had it wrong, I was required to thank her! Why? Because her difficult circumstances provided me the opportunity to give. And for my giving to make a difference in someones life. And I did thank her.

    One of my daughters surprised me by getting involved with The Friendship Circle. This is a program that offers programs for special needs children, those with great needs, and gives their parents and families just a few hours of relief through special outings and 'friend' visits. All the friends are volunteer teens. The families involved speak so highly of the program. Just a few hours of relief a month makes the difference for them! Knowing someone cares and helps, just a bit, lights up their darkness.

    Reb Nati wrote here about his Kimcha d'Pischa - Moas Chitim, Help for the Poor for Passover campaign. A nearby family, the mother couldn't take the pressure of circumstances and left. The father is caring for the family of 5, the neighbors are feeding them. Another family, who lives on the edge themselves, is housing a family from Gush Katif. Some families have lost their jobs, new 'security' measures make it take 4 hours to get to Jerusalem in what used to take 30 minutes, they just can't do it.

    Israel is not a poor place, but it is a place of great dichotomy. The government is squeezing, both those who cling to the land, those who cling to Torah, and the poor. They're struggling not to abandon Eretz HaKodesh, the Holy Land. Please give them a hand. 100% of every dollar, shekel, or euro (minus the credit transaction fee) will go directly into the hands of those in need. A few dollars/shekels/euro can make a big difference for some this Passover. Help them out!

    If you choose not to help via Reb Nati, please, please consider one of these very worthy highly recommended charities in Israel:

    Yad Eliezer Passover Campaign - or - Colel Chabad Soup Kitchens

    Thank you, and may Hashem bless you to always have the means to be able to give generously, and bless you and yours with a Chag Kasher v'Samayach, a Kosher and Happy Passover!

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    The Dancing Dummies


    Reminder, don't forget Reb Nati's Kimcha d'Pischa - Moas Chitim campaign to Help the Poor in the Shomron (West Bank) and Israel for this Passover. Info Here.

    READ IT!

    Monday, March 19, 2007

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    Thirst, Not for Water

    by Akiva at Mystical Paths

    In the US, the divide between religious, or "orthodox", Jew and the non-orthodox streams and non-religious Jew is pretty much a matter of "those people over there", just no contact and less understanding. In other countries (England and South Africa come to mind), this is less so, as interaction at the communal level holds them together in certain communal & state institutions.

    But in Israel, the relationship is adversarial. It's "those people over there, who want to impose upon us" (both sides). It's nothing new that several streams within the orthodox have been reaching out to the secular (Chabad, Breslov, Aish, Shas educational, and others). But, a new phenomena is avowed secular community members intentionally coming over to "see what it's all about".

    YNet has an excellent story of such an experience, here.

    Thirst, not for water.

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

    Be-Itah - In it's time. The geulah scenerio described as be'itah, in it's time, is extremely hard. Hashem1.net has a review of current events in context of this model, and Yeranen Yaakov has a full English translation, here.

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    The US Economy on the Edge

    by Akiva at Mystical Paths

    "The stock market has begun a correction."

    "As the market for risky mortgages collapses, dragging home values and stock prices down with it..."

    The US Federal Reserve (the US central bank) will meet on...Tuesday...to determine interest rates and related economic controls. (Though they won't announce the results until Wednesday.)

    Economic swings are normal. The world economy has been relatively hot for a long time, especially China. The US has been holding steady, even in the face of an extreme increase in energy prices, through very low interest rates generating a very hot real estate market. Conditions have changed, the impact is starting.

    Technically, it's not so unusual for a downturn to start. But timing is everything.

    Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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    Sunday, March 18, 2007

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    קמח ד' פםח - Flour for Passover

    by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

    Kemach de Pesacha (flour for passover).

    This is the site of the mishkan (tabernacle) in Shilo for almost 400 years. Just below the level of the light and in between the poles is the exact spot of the mishkan. Hashem willing I'll go, bli nader (without an official vow), everyday from Rosh Chodesh Nissan until Sh'vuos to pray and to ask for the geluah (redemption). I again ask you to join me there and make your voices heard in this holy place.

    I never before have gotten involved in asking for charity. But this year it is becoming increasingly obvious that we need help. I'm receiving requests for help from people. This year there seems to be more than enough products on the shelves but the prices are off the planet.

    We are now in the second passover since the evil removal of our brothers and sisters from Gush Katif and there is a large percent of fathers unemployed in the Shomron (West Bank). Times are hard and the level of stress is high. But Hashem, He is our provider. I only hope that I can make a place of חן "chen" (grace) in your hearts to assist us here in Eretz Yisroel (Israel) this Pesach (Passover).

    100% of every dollar (after the credit card processing fee) will go to needy families in and out of the Shomron (West Bank. Please may it be Hashem's will that you choose to be a part of this miztvah. May Hashem's blessing fill your houses with the light of the geulah (redemption), and may we merit to sit this year in Yerushalim (Jerusalem), yechi n'ratzon amen.


    Thank you, blessings
    Reb Nati

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

    by Akiva at Mystical Paths

    It's good to pause for a moment and appreciate...thank you Hashem!

    Thank G-d, I have two little daughters just a year apart. As I was preparing for Shabbos, the older one came to chat. She sat down next to me and asked, "Do I
    have to wear shoes tonight?" A bit of an odd question, so I asked, "Why?" ... "Well", she answered, "I hid my Shabbos shoes and my Shabbos tights in the closet. See, if I put them in my cubby, my sister will come and take my tights when she can't find her own, and see, she can never find her own. So if I put them out for tonight, I won't have them for shul (synagogue) tomorrow."

    Hmm, I thought, serious dilemma. The only answer I had was, "Wow, that sounds tough, you know, I never had a little sister who took my tights." She seemed satisfied with that.

    Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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    Friday, March 16, 2007

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    Rosh Chodesh: It Begins??? (Corrected)

    by Akiva at Mystical Paths

    CORRECTIONS included...

    News reports today said the President of Iran (that's Persia in Farsi), the modern day Haman who has directly expressed a desire to create a genocide, has requested to come to speak before the United Nations Security Council. The US State Department has granted his visa request (though reports said it has some really weird provisions, including a special large contigent that was "going to stay on the plane and not 'enter' the US".)

    But when? I called the United States Mission to the United Nations, and spoke with a few very nice ladies in the Press and Public Affairs Section, to find out.

    The mandate for discussion of the Iran nuclear matter expires Tuesday, though the nations involved in considering the matter haven't yet formally set a meeting date. It would seem that the Security Council will convene a session to discuss final reports from the appropriate UN agencies (like the IAEA, the International Atomic Energey Agency) and decide on action on Tuesday, but that hasn't been officially confirmed. Will it be sanctions, heavy, light, or fake, blockade, authorization for military action, or no agreement and nothing?

    The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit the US and speak before the United Nations Security Council when that date is set, which seems likely, but not definately, on Tuesday.

    Tuesday. Rosh Chodesh Nissan.

    Yalkut Shimoni - Yishiyahu Remez 499... Rabbi Yitzhok said: ‘The year that Melech HaMoshiach will be revealed, all the nations of the world will be provoking each other. The King of Persia (Iran) will provoke the King of Arabia, and the King of Arabia will go to Edom (the West, the US?) to take counsel, but the King of Persia will in turn destroy the entire world (the United Nations?). The nations of the world will be outraged and panicked. They will fall on their faces, and they will experience pains like birth pangs. Israel too will be outraged and in a state of panic and ask, where do we go? But say unto them, ‘My children, do not fear, the time of your redemption has come'.

    Rosh Chodesh Nissan. The first month. The month of the first geulah.

    Also on Tuesday, "dozens of the country’s largest environmental groups, churches, and responsible companies" will be holding a "Climate Crisis" rally in Washington, DC. Some might say this has become a religion of it's own, holding up proof and threatening those who won't join, which is another Yalkut Shimoni I'll have to dig up.

    Reminder, don't forget Reb Nati's Kimcha d'Pischa - Moas Chitim campaign to Help the Poor in the Shomron (West Bank) and Israel for this Passover. Info Here.

    Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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    Jerusalem The Animated Rap

    Here. (via Mentalblog.)

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    When the Head is Healthy

    Rabbis and scholars are called the "eyes of the community" and "heads of the thousands of Israel," and when the head is healthy, the body is then also healthy. (Sefer Hayom Yom 23-Adar)

    Oy oy oy. Need more be said?
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    Institutional Bais

    by Aaron Hoffman at Mystical Paths

    I just finished reading the book Catholics, Jews and the State of Israel which claimed good understanding of the Israeli situation and relations with Israel among Catholics. Either the book was wrong, current Catholic teaching documents are ignored or anti-semitism is alive and well in the Catholic hierarchy - or all three....

    The director of Israel’s government press office accused members of the Catholic clergy of being "unable to accept the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Israel" despite the reconciliation efforts of Pappies John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

    Daniel Seaman rejected recent criticism by Irish and German Catholic delegations to Israel as "appeasement" of Palestinians and an assertion of Xian dominance in the Holy Land. A German bishop visiting Israel last week compared conditions in Ramallah to the Warsaw ghetto under the Nazis. And last month Dad Eoin Cassidy, chairman of the International Subcommittee of the Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs, controversially invoked the Holocaust as imposing a moral imperative on Israelis to treat the Palestinians better.

    "The humble Jew is the clearest expression of Xian dominance, but they are unable to balance a strong Israel with 2,000 years of religious teaching," Seaman said.

    Seaman was in Dublin to debate Palestinian Delegate General Hikmat Ajurri and others on bias in Irish media coverage of the Israeli-Arab conflict. He said although he understood Irish sympathy for the "difficult circumstances" of the Palestinians, he thought the Irish media had a "perception of the conflict that isn’t based in reality."
    - Source.

    There are many good people out there, but institutional bais among the church is clear.

    Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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    Thursday, March 15, 2007

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    39 The Settlers Psalm

    by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

    Suffering makes a man aware of human frailty and transience. 39 is the number of m'laachot forbidden on Shabbos and what we are to fill the week with. This is a man's avodah in this world, not the nine to five distraction that has been taught in the west, which is no more than the slavery of Egypt.

    Lamnaztecha l'ydusun, Mismor l'Dovid: Tehillim (Psalm) 39

    This is a psalm to be given to the leader of the levitical choir; also the name of an instrument. Midrash says this refers to דתות decrees which have befallen Israel Rashi.

    "I said, I will guard my ways from sinning with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, even while the wicked one stands before me. I became mute with stillness, I was silent even from good, though my pain was intense. Hot grew my heart within me, in my contemplations blazed a fire; then I spoke out with my tongue: 'let me know, O Hashem, my end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know when I will cease. Behold, like the handbreaths have you made my days, and my lifetime is naught before; all is but total futility all human existence, selah. Only in shadowy darkness make his way does man; it is but futility for which they are in toil; He amasses riches, but he knows not who will harvest them. And now, for what do I hope, O Lord? My longing is to you. From all my transgressions rescue me; a disgrace before the degenerate do not make me! I am mute, I do open my mouth, because it is you who has done it remove from me your plague; from the attack of your hand I am devastated. With rebukes for my inquity you have chastened man, you have worn away like a moth his precious health. But futility is all mankind, selah. Hear my prayer Hashem; to my outcry give ear; to my tears be not mute; for a sojourner am I with you, A Settler Like all my Forefathers. Turn your punishment from me that I may recover my strength, before I depart and I am no more."

    We should learn to be silent in the presence of others when we are suffering and not comment, and surely not complain. Rebaynu (Nachman of Breslov) taught that we should only speak all this to Hashem in personal prayer, and that only for one hour a day. The rest of the 23 hours we must be samayach (joyful!). This is especially when we suffer, as we in our pain might slip with a word of complaint, G-d forbid. Cry out and ask when the suffering will end so that even if we must suffer we can know and rejoice in the fact that it will end! Measure me with a micrometer, for if we judge ourselves the heavenly court can't, there is no double jeopardy... Grant me relief if for no other reason but to keep the unbelievers from mocking you! Understand that these sufferings come to remind us that we are only passing through. Every time a man gets comfortable he falls. In our arrogance we presume we are permanent yet death has always exposed this to be a lie. If one chooses to live his live as a SETTLER, a visitor, his awareness to his temporality will help him to abandon his sins and help him to fill his life with Torah. Only then will he be a righteous settler like his forefathers, in the world to come. toldos Aharon.
    Please turn your punishment away so that I may have the strength to serve you. radak.

    Please do this before I depart as I can only earn merit in this world, for the world to come is only to receive the rewards of the deeds one has done in this earthly life. radak

    One should earnestly pray and cry for the ability to devote oneself to Torah and Mitzvos. This is the way of the Tzaddik.

    Come cry at Tel Shilo from Rosh Chodesh Nissan until Shavous so we can over turn the decrees. May Hashem help us all. From the very hill where the Mishkan (portable temple) stood for almost 400 years, it's a very holy place to cry and to pray.

    Its 45 minutes north of Jerusalem, central bus station gate #4, 3rd level on bus #148 Egged, 10.80 shekels. The drivers Yitzchak, Yossi, and Ofer are friends. Talk about Rabaynu Nachman and they'll know where to drop you. Tell them Reb Nati sent you.

    May Hashem help us all.

    Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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    Eastern Infiltration - Part 6

    by Akiva at Mystical Paths

    (An ongoing story of the hand of heaven directing us and giving us a chance. A multi-part series and a true story.)

    Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.
    ----

    Dear Magazine:

    If not in the Magazine, then you might seek to print it elsewhere. Would that be correct?

    Yes. If the rabbonim had issued an opinion on this matter, I would consult them first. To quote a Chabad oriented blog
    (I didn't name it in the email, but it's a quote from Circus Tent)...

    "Recently we've been witness to a new phenomenon, namely Baalei Tshuvah retaining a part of their former lifestyle. Whether it's rappers or beatboxers, boxers or otherwise, they continue to supposedly use their talents and "flip it to Kedushah." That never happened in the old days. In the old days in Hadar Hatorah Reb Yisroel Jacobson made you cut your long hair off and conform to the rules of Yeshivah. Yes, you could keep your musical instrument, but you played Chabad Nigunim and joined a Chasidishe band. If you were an artist you focused all of your energies into painting the Chasidic lifestyle. Today you do what you want, all the while staying frum, of course, and giving the youth the insipid idea that the two go together, and that pop culture will have no influence on their practice of Yiddishkeit."

    That's certainly arguable and debatable when it's merely gashmius, skills and ways of the world. It's another when it's attempting to extract the neutral from avoda zarah and flip it to kedusah.

    I hear from a rebbitzen that yoga is now very popular among some frum community women . I have no idea if this is true or not, but it's a pretty darn scary rumor to hear.

    ----

    Dear Mr. M,

    It is true that yoga is popular among some frum community women, yes. I like your quote very much. Okay, I am going to let the board know that if we don't publish your letter, you will try to get it published elsewhere.

    ----

    Dear Mr. M,

    Good news! The board has reconsidered and will allow your letter to be printed as is. But... are you sure you don't want to work on it a little more, and add in that quote about the rappers, etc?

    ----

    Well, I was surprised when the magazine flipped around and said no, now I was doubly surprised when they flipped again and said yes. Just the mention of "publishing it elsewhere" seemed to have rattled some cages.

    But, confirming that yoga has spread throughout some religious communities, we're talking ultra-orthodox communities, specifically among the women. This is a serious concern. Even if, if Double Special Extra Kosher Yoga is 100% kosher, is that the one everyone in the religious community is using? Could they start with that one and then go on to 'higher more advanced' ones which would not be kosher?

    Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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    The Value of Mitzvot

    by Akiva at Mystical Paths

    The 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote this important story about the 1st Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Baal HaTanya, in the book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day (entry for 17th Adar Alef)...

    Many years before the Alter Rebbe's imprisonment in Petersburg in 5559 (1798), he once came out of his private quarters to where the Chassidim were gathered and said: "In Gan Eden they sense the preciousness of this lowly world.

    Not only the Ministering Angels, but even the earliest Emanations [1] would forego everything for one Amein Y'hei Sh'mei Raba said by a Jew `with all his power,' meaning with full concentration, i.e., being totally immersed and involved with these words." ...

    [1] In Atzilut, the World of Emanation, all existences are Divine, G-dhood. They are totally one with Him, not entities in any sense. These "existences" or "Emanations" may be the Divine attributes, for example. In "lower" Worlds, the beings are entities, distinct from Him.


    This small entry provides a massive education all by itself. It's low here in this world, it's hard here, it's so so dark here. But thats it's value. If one can make a connection here, a full and complete connection, just answering Amein (amen) with all of one's power focused on the connection with HaKodesh Baruch Hu, the value is beyond measure. And why? Exactly because it comes from here, from this dark lowly place so separated from G-d.

    There is a reason why we are here, and why it's so hard, and so seemily bad much of the time. WE can't see it, but that's exactly it's value.

    Amein.

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

    "We’ve been fighting a theology with an ideology. It doesn’t work." - Michael Oren, Historian and author of Six Days of War.

    Read the interview here, it's eye opening on historical conflict between Islam and the West.

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    Wednesday, March 14, 2007

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    Nothing To Lose

    by Reb Nati) at Mystical Paths

    "MY LORD, OPEN UP MY LIPS, AND MY MOUTH SHALL DECLARE YOUR PRAISE"

    There is and awakening happening right now in front our eyes, but we need eyes to see. It's happening in my heart, but it comes up to my head only time and again, I hope more frequently. It's coming out of coma! I'm starting to see Mosiach! He's coming, I feel it, I sense it! I have to open up my lips! "Hashem help me, enliven me, wake me in fullness!"

    The awakening "the remembering is happening" Zohar vayera 119a. You see, the souls of the original 600,000 plus are all waking up in this time as was foretold. But we looked at it like a myth or a story, we did not realize it in reality. But now we have to, those who are waking at this time are the souls of the leaders of the tribes, and now the rest are coming out of stasis, like sleep. And we are finding each other and connecting one to the other. The Tzaddikm of the dor (generatikon) are the most awake, and we need to cling to them as they are leading us To Moshaich. AND MOSHIACH IS THE ONE MOST AWAKE OF ALL, HE HAS TO BE - TO LEAD US TO HASHEM!!!

    Wandering though the desert, "lost in desert try to find your way back"? You must choose to trust the Tzaddik to lead you! Their foot prints lead us, the Tzaddikim have awakened and walked before us, and are walking till this day. We just have to follow after them.

    We have fallen a long way, I would not kid you! If you look at the total midbar (desert), you will fail. The Clouds of Glory are there for us, to protect us, for we can't take reality. You see, we are so close to the real, but oh so far. So to the forest we need to run, it's the only way to make it though! "From the forest itself we find the handle for the axe" we just walk out and find a spot and connect to Hashem, the Tzaddik has shown us the only way. Melech Dovid (King David) wrote the book, And Ben Dovid has shown us the way, "WHY NOT WALK IT"? Go ahead what do you have to lose? except the Ego is in the way? Go ahead, catch a glimpse from the cleft of the rock, if you don't; the stones themselves will shout the praises of the KING!!! The trees of the field will clap their hands (so to speak) that the geulah (redemption) is coming. Come be apart of it!

    To borrow from my brother Matasiyahu, "We are worriers fightin for your soul"... "taken from the heavens above brought down here"... "into this place and time to bring light to help reawaken all of creation.

    Everything on this planet has an inner essence, all things. Every living thing can be traced back to Hashem. He animates and gives life to everything, and our cries and longings expressed verbally go directly to Hashem. That we call out from the side of the hills in His Holy land are His Praise, every cry, each request is a testimony. He craves, He longs for this children to reconnect to Him. We are the ones who left! We separated ourselves we ran off. Now we have to fight through this world to be reunited.

    It's our job to help reach and awaken every single soul! You see I've got nothing to lose and I will tell you, just give in to what you know is right and is inside you. And connect with Him, He wants to make the connection. We ask..."Open our lip's", and when He does only then can, "We Declare His Praise". Hisbadedut is the only cure for all of our ills and problems, and the only way to bring the galut to an speedy end.

    You see, we can have geulah now. Here in Ertez HaKodesh (the Holy Land), just look out your window and take it all in, from the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean. From revelation to revelation "from sea to sea" or SEE to SEE. For Hashem said He would put a "hunger and a thirst in the land", but not a hunger for food or thirst for water, we will be prosperous and wealthy. "Look at Yosef, he was king" like now, that's why the Rebbe's have to bring us in. We are in the darkest possible time in history, we are drowning, all of us are fighting to keep conscious "fight for you soul, come home and stand with us here in the holy hills and cry to Hashem to give us strength to stay awake "we can't afford to sleep for seventy years" The lost princess Rebbe Nachman We must understand this! We have to reunite the Shechinah with our Father, our "ABBA" so we can have Moshiach.

    It would be nice if you would come and join me here for a special festival, "THE EMUNAH FESTIVAL" Come experence Refuha Hanefesh, come help, every voice is needed.

    One thing I asked from Hashem, that which I will seek after? "that I Would see The Kodesh Moshiach with my eyes in this goof!!!"

    "You see, He... He has to be close by!!! I can't let go of this, you can't let go of this, we need to wake from this dream, cry out to Hashem "ABBA", We need you please.......THANK YOU ABBA, Thank You, I've seen our kodosh land, thank You, You gave me rain, raise me up Lord! Put song in my heart. I'm thirsty, remove the klipah from my heart. I really want Moshiach, he's been seen by those who can stand outside on the side of the hill and in the forest and sing to Him.
    Please come sing with me here in the Shomron. Let's just decide to all come to Tel Shiloh (the site of the Mishkan) in the Hills of Ephraim, take a mikvah in the miyan (natural spring), walk up to Tel Shiloh and as one sing out to Hashem. Come on, what do we have to lose?
    Starting Rosh chodesh Nissan let's make our voices a korban that testifies to His existence, to His Glory.

    So you say nobody will come. Ok, ok, so only few come. We will still walk up and sing. Maybe if you come, there will be more, each one in his turn! Come sing. Could we reach thousands? 600,000 is a key number, but it all starts with just you, and me, and.... G-d willing, starting Rosh Chodesh. Reach me at "nati -a-t- *mpaths* (d.o.t) com.

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