Friday, June 29, 2007

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Intimidation Follow Up

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

On the recent past post, Intimidation, I presented a true story that happened a week and ago of a confrontation between a Yassamnik (Israeli riot control intimidation police) and a chossid in Jerusalem. Here's a follow up.

You'll remember the story ended with a conversation on G-d and teshuvah, and the Yassamnik being handed some Torah literature and a CD. Naturally, the info had the yeshiva contact information on it.

Two days ago, the Yassamnik showed up at the door of the yeshiva. He was wearing a kippah! (yalmukah) and tzitzit! (fringed ritual garment) and asked to meet with my friend. "Until our confrontation, and you calmly challenging me and calling me brother, I never thought of you people as brothers (unspoken, or even, people). Please rabbi, teach me."

And they learned for a few hours, and spoke for a bit. This young man, trained in intimidation and the judicious application of pain, and a black hatted long bearded chossid. The young man has a girl friend, an apartment, and an aspiring career in controlling the masses. At the end, he said, "Rabbi, I feel I have to quit my job because of what it is, and I want to come and learn here."

The chossid responded, "My brother, no. For now, I will learn with you once a week for a few hours. About your job, after a few weeks if that's still what you want to do, we'll talk to my rav. But for now, we will take small steps, together."

HaKodesh Baruch Hu aligned events to open even a seemingly distant Jewish heart. Even my friend the chossid is shaking his head and simply saying, "wow".

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A Bissala Yiddish

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

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Beyond Lies

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister (as of yesterday) has been appointed the Quartet's special envoy to the Middle East. Tony Blair has said that as the special envoy, he has made the creation of a Palestinian state the head of his priorities.

Just because I'm schizophrenic doesn't mean they're not really out to get me.

Or, as the Talmud puts it, Esov hates Yaakov. It's just impolite in the West to say that outright. Tea & scones anyone?

(Photo and news quote via Guysen.)

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Freewill vs. the All-powerful

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

In this week’s portion of the Torah, we read about Balaam, the prophet of the gentile nations, who is attempting to curse Israel. Whomever he cursed would be cursed!

We read that God interceded and prevented him from cursing. So the question is: Since God interceded and stopped Balaam from cursing the Jewish People, does man really have free will?

When Hashem intercedes with the flow of nature, it is called a miracle. But other than these rare occasions, we are told that man has free will.

But we are also told that God is omnipotent. This seems to be a contradiction. Omnipotent means all-powerful. If God is omnipotent, then by definition, He must have all of the power in the entire creation. And if He has all the power, then how are we doing anything at all, let alone supernatural wonders? If He is omnipotent, who is choosing what to do, let alone doing it?

This is called a paradox. A paradox is not a contradiction as is usually thought. A paradox is an apparent contradiction. There is a vast difference here.

Use the “All” and the “particular” as an illustration. The All is all there is, or else it could not be the All. Yet the particulars (individual objects) are also here.

When you touch a particular, you must also be touching the All because wherever you touch it has to be the All.

But still, you cannot say that the particular is the All because this particular is not any other particular. It is just this one particular, whereas the All is the entire All including all of the particulars.

When man acts, he is acting as a particular, but really the All is doing everything. Since man is not conscious of his relationship to the All and sees himself solely as the particular individual, indeed he is choosing freely to do whatever he wants. The particular man is taking whatever steps he wishes (but still it is the All that is actually doing everything).

How can this be?

When we focus on the particular, we say that that particular is doing the act. When we focus on the Universal (All), we say that the All is doing everything, including the act that the particular man is doing. From the lower perspective, indeed man has free will. From the higher prospective, we see that God is doing everything while allowing man to think that man is the doer.

Here is another illustration to help explain this concept: Pick up an object with your thumb and forefinger. You clearly see that it is your thumb and forefinger that are holding up that object. Or is it your hand that is holding it up? Or is it your arm that is holding it up? Or is it your will willing that object be held up? Or is it the “you” who is holding up that object? After all, it is you who are willing the will to make the body hold it up. Or is it the life that fills all Who is holding up that object?

All of the above are true. Whichever perspective or area we focus on will be seen to be the one doing the action. The same is true with the Omnipotent One Who in truth is doing all, and the individuals who see themselves to be the ones who are doing what they are doing.

So do we have free will? Yes. Are we the ones doing whatever we do? Yes. Is God omnipotent? Yes. Therefore, is God doing everything? Yes. Is this a contradiction? No.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

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Agunah Myth?

by Aharon Hoffman at Mystical Paths

Another myth used to bash Jewish Orthodoxy demolished completely, and it's pretty surprising given the current propagated on-the-street belief even among orthodox circles...

Current Israel Agunot Statistics, here. (An agunah is a woman who cannot remarry because her husband refuses to give a divorce or it's unknown whether he is alive or dead, a "chained" woman, chained by her marriage contract.)

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Bizzaro World

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

"A united Palestine is a vital partner for Israel, but divided it is a problem for Israel and the international community", the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said on Tuesday following his meeting with Tsipi Livni (Israeli Foreign Minister). - (Guysen)

Welcome to Bizzaro World. I wonder if Tzipi responded, "and this is our problem how???" The only thing Israel didn't do was hand over their firstborn males to be cemented into walls.

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The News Illusionists

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

In my previous post, I wrote about an illusionist, a man who creates illusions for your entertainment. That's his expertise, and you know it going in.

The "News Media" in theory has a job of informing you of events. Not making events, not creating an illusion to create a story that isn't there, not selecting the odd angle and presenting it as the norm and whole.

But that is what they are doing. A must read by Michael Totten, where he quotes this...

Christopher Hitchens...writes the following:

I have actually seen some of these demonstrations, most recently in Islamabad, and all I would do if I were a news editor is ask my camera team to take several steps back from the shot. We could then see a few dozen gesticulating men (very few women for some reason), their mustaches writhing as they scatter lighter fluid on a book or a flag or a hastily made effigy. Around them, a two-deep encirclement of camera crews. When the lights are turned off, the little gang disperses. And you may have noticed that the camera is always steady and in close-up on the flames, which it wouldn't be if there was a big, surging mob involved.

It's not just don't believe everything you hear and see on the media, it's worse than that. Avoid, challenge, because you're been fed anything to keep you watching. Remember, their job IS NOT to inform, it's to keep your eyes glued, that's how they make money. And clearly they will do ANYTHING to do that.

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Looking Close

Photos by Akiva at Mystical Paths





Sometimes, beauty is found in one's own garden.
One simply must get up close and look.


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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

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Advice Line: Is Criss Angel Using Kabbalah?

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Question: A friend of a friend asks: Is Criss Angel (current popular daredevil magician on US television) doing his tricks with kabbalah? They are so amazing!

The Mystical Advice Line answers:

Criss Angel has performed some incredible illusions. But he does not claim to have mystical ability or otherworldly powers. He is a performer, an entertainer, a maker of shows. His profession and lifetime practiced ability is to entertain you by performing amazing illusions.

Illusionists, those who make it appear as if something that is not happening is, are nothing new. As 'real magic' is forbidden in Judaism, the Talmud over 2000 years ago discusses whether the illusionist is permitted or not (due to the appearance of magic).

Tricks such as making things disappear and reappear amazingly are also not new. Harry Houdini is said to have made an elephant disappear and reappear in his shows 100 years ago, and that's a pretty big trick. But trick it is.

So how does Criss Angel do his illusions? Penn and Teller are a magician act that take the unusual step of occasionally showing how their tricks are done. They have a clip here and here that show, in the clear, the ideas behind illusionist magic.

This 'magic' is there for your entertainment, Criss Angel is a wonderful performer doing incredible illusions to keep you entertained, your eyes on his show, and to open your wallet to buy his stuff. He does not appear to be using any special powers to do this, but is rather a master at his craft, which is fooling your eyes.

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Virtual Life

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Did I go to work today, or was it that I saw a movie about a man going to work today? While in the office, did we talk about a guy suing a dry cleaners about lost pants, or wait, was that a TV show about a guy suing about lost pants?

I thought I went to the bank, though perhaps it was a movie theatre. There were comfy chairs, a huge screen with moving pictures, and surround sound audio. I asked the teller, or perhaps it was the concession stand lady, do you have long lines to offer this wonderful service of wide screen entertainment. She looked at me a bit strange and said no. Perhaps that was because I was at a movie theatre that permitted bank deposits?

I don't know what's going on. No, wait, that's not true, I know too much of what's going on! When I step in my office elevator, or ... wait ... maybe it's really the break room, one for really short breaks ... I get the news headlines, weather, Dow Jones average, and of course some ads. As I noted above, either the bank is providing wide screen entertainment, or the theatre is providing banking services. The department store is providing aisle TV, or maybe it's the TV store that has started selling clothes.

I went into the home office lunchroom. Six huge wall covering TV's, blasting at full volume. Or .. was .. it? Maybe I made a wrong turn and wandered into a TV control room.

Oh I'm so confused. Everywhere I turn there seems to be a TV thrust in my face. Am I having a nightmare where the world has decided to thrust its values into my mind? Or, is the world trying to thrust it's values into my mind??? Grocery store checkout TV, bank TV, elevator TV, office lunchroom TV, commuter train TV, rental car company TV, airplane TV, airport TV, doctors office TV, and of course my cell phone company would like me to watch cell phone TV.

May I have my mind back please? Or wait, wasn't that the complaint of that guy on that show? Is it me, or am I remembering an episode?

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Monday, June 25, 2007

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Intimidation

Last Wednesday a friend of mine was walking from yeshiva in Jerusalem down the street a bit to a seforim store (Jewish religious book store). Now last Wednesday was the day before the planned Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem, which is the antithesis of everything Jerusalem stands for.

Now my friend lives in the Shomron (West Bank), though he is 'charedi' (black hat, long black coat, beard, payos, etc.) As he and his chavrusa (learning partner) are walking down the block, 2 Yassamniks (black-uniformed anonymous riot police trained in breaking heads) step in front of them, shouting "where do you think you are going?", and the one in front grabs my friend's arm.

It's worth mentioning my friend is a former US marine and trained in self defense, though he's got quite a bit of grey in his beard since those days.

He slowing looks at the 'policeman', begins slowly adjusting the position of his arm which reverses the pressure angle (in other words, the policeman's grip is turned back on him), and says to him calmly, "achi (my brother), we're just going down the block to the seforim store, no trouble here." The 'policeman' is beginning to lose control of his grip, screams at him "you're not going anywhere!" and reaches over with his other hand to pull his steel billy club.

My friend calmly, with his other hand, pulls back his long black coat. You'll remember I mentioned he lives in the Shomron, there's a large firearm on his side (perfectly legal and licensed). He looks at the 'policeman' and says, "achi (my brother), are you ready to meet at the beis din lamala (the heavenly court), are you clean?" The 'policeman', seeing the large firearm, freezes and says, "What?".

Slowly and calmly, he says, "Achi (my brother), are you ready to go together to the heavenly beis din? Are you clean and ready right now, because I am. You're not going to hit me with that club for no reason, if you try I'm going to shoot you in the head (the policeman was wearing a vest). Then your partner is going to shoot me. Achi (my brother), shall we go to the beis din shel shamayim together?"

The 'policeman' lowered his arm, looking at the firearm, and asked, "Do all charedim carry guns?" My friend answered, "not all, but some, yes." You could see the look in the policemen's eyes change as they looked around at the neighborhood they were in... He let go of my friends arm and asked, "what do mean am I clean?", at which point they got into a conversation about Teshuva and connecting with Hashem.

They walked away with a handshake, and the policeman with several Torah brochures and a Torah CD in his hand.

The Yassamnikim are trained for violence and intimidation, but every Jewish heart can be reached.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

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Chassidic Yard Sale

Kehot Publications, the publishing house of Chabad Lubavitch chassidus, is having a 'yard sale', loads of chassidic books, tapes, videos, cds, for $2 - $5, a real deal.

English Books - Audio - Video - Hebrew Items

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The Making of Uzpizin

A video on the making of the chassidic movie Uzpizin: Here. (Hebrew only, no subtitles, sorry.)

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Friday, June 22, 2007

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We Want Moshiach Now, Or Not.


eliya
by Akiva at Mystical Paths

We Want Moshiach Now,
We Want Moshiach Now,
We Want Moshiach Now,
We Don't Want To Wait!

- a common Chabad song popularized by the Rebbe.

A chat I had with another blogger today, who was responding to my IM status tag, "We Want Moshiach Now!"...

B: Silly Akiva. The Moshiach is in his ohel [wink].

me: Don't be nasty now, are you saying you don't want Moshiach?

B: Not really, no.

me: Or you prefer he tarry?

B: I'm not in to kings. I'd prefer a president Moshiach. I'd vote for him [smile]. Just don't think I'd swear eternal allegiance.

B: Kings tend to go bad. Human kings make me nervous. If that's what he is per the Rambam, we can wait.

me: So you're an anarchist, authority is bad?

B: Unchecked authority is bad. I'd vote for a president Moshiach. I do want Moshiach, just not a human king.

me: Yes, but you hold by the Rambam, who says that's exactly what he will be.

B: Which is why I'm in no rush for him to get here. I'd prefer the Rambam be wrong.

(The picture shows the previous president of Israel.)

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

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A Parade and A Good Eye

by Robert at Mystical Paths

Please forgive me Rabbi Kaduri, this is for chizzuk purposes!

* 300,000 Take Part in Rabbi Kaduri's Funeral (here).

* Approximately 2,000 people participated in the "Pride" Parade (here).

Hmm, 300,000 people honored Rabbi Kaduri, zt"l. 2,000 for Impurade. Rav Kaduri wins by a 150 to 1 ratio!

Hashem, look at those figures! We are still your People!

Help us come home!

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On a Mountain

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

In this week’s portion of the Torah, Hashem said that Aaron was to be gathered unto his people (die) on Mount Hor. Why did he have to die on a mountain? In fact, why were so many spiritual highlights experienced on mountains?

Here are just a few of the many times the Torah tells us that something happened on a mountain:

- Avraham built an altar on a mountain.[i]

- Avraham was told to sacrifice Yitzchak on a mountain.[ii]

By tradition, we learn that this particular mountain was to become the location of the Temple Mount.

Tradition also tells us that Yaacov’s famous dream of angels going up and down the ladder was on the mountain that was to become the Temple Mount. [iii]

- Later, when Yaacov made a covenant with Lavan, it was on a mountain. [iv]

- Moshe’s experience with the burning bush happened on a mountain.

- When God first enlisted Moshe, He told him, “For I will be with you and you will serve God on this mountain.” [v]

- The Torah was given on that mountain, Mount Sinai.[vi]

- Moshe also died on a mountain.[vii]

All of these wonderful things happened on mountains, but when the evil kings fought their battle in the Valley of Siddim. [viii] And that valley had many pits filled with slime.

What are we to learn from this?

A mountain is a physical metaphor. Its very shape tells us what the Torah is teaching us here. The mountain is high. It is broad at its base and comes to a point at its top. From the top you can see all around. From the bottom your vision is limited. The higher the mountain, the grander and broader is the view.

A valley is low. Your vision while in a valley is limited to the hills surrounding it. The deeper the valley, the narrower the vision.

All of this relates not only to the physical perspective but also to the spiritual perspective. When the Torah wants to indicate that something is high, it places that scene on a mountain. But what does it mean to be high? Is there a high and low in the spiritual world? There is no high and low in the spiritual world in a physical sense but there is a higher and lower in a spiritual sense.

The physical is the spiritual manifesting itself in a concrete manner. It does this from within the physical. In truth, the physical and spiritual are one entity seen from two perspectives. The “external” is the lower material perspective or world, and the inner is the spiritual or higher world. The terms higher and lower are being used just to explain this phenomenon in a way that we can understand, but really the physical and spiritual are in the same place at the same time.

When the Torah wants us to think more spiritually, it tells us to go up on a mountain. The more spiritual, the higher the mountain. And when the Torah addresses a physical thing, it happens in a physically low place, like a valley.

The lesson here is when we wish to think spiritually, we must move “up” away from the broad base, to the narrow (singular) top, and from there we will be able see all around.

[i] Gen 12:8
[ii] Gen 22:2
[iii] Gen 19:3
[iv] Gen 31:54
[v] Ex 3:12
[vi] Ex 19
[vii] Deut 32:48
[viii] Gen 14:10

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HaRav Eliyahu, shlita



The former Rishon L'Tzion (Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel), HaRav HaGaon Mordechai Eliyahu, shlita, by the kever of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Gimmel Tammuz.



With HaRav Eliyahu, shlita, is HaRav HaChossid Moshe Herson, shlita, rosh yeshiva of the Rabbinical College of America.

More photos here.

(Photo via CrownHeights.Info and Shturem.Net.)
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

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Kindness That Isn't

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

"Israel is not indifferent to the suffering of the Palestinians", Ehud Olmert said in a joint press conference with George Bush in Washington.

...though they are indifferent to Jewish suffering. No, more than that, they ENJOY and REJOICE in Jewish suffering. For humiliating your enemy is perhaps even more important than beating him (in their cultural context).

Being kind and humanitarian to your enemy who isn't, isn't kindness. Wait, do I hear words of Koheles ringing?

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Body and Soul

Rabbi Noson Weisz has a great article on the weekly parsha over at Aish, here. Here's a cool excerpt...

(From Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto, zt"l, in his work "Derech Hashem.", Part 1, Chapter 3.) He compares the union of the body and the soul to a shotgun marriage. The soul is permeable to Divine light and desires nothing more than to bask in the great spiritual joy it experiences when it connects to the Divine light that emanates from God's essence. No other possible experience of any sort could match the intense joy that can be experienced by connecting to the Divine Presence; consequently the soul finds attachment to material things repulsive. Such attachments weaken its ability to connect with the Divinity and cause it pain and frustration.

The body as it is originally formed is entirely impermeable to Divine light and does not experience any sensation at all when it comes into contact with it. Unlike the soul, which rejects any sort of union with the body, the body is not repulsed by the soul or by the Divine light to which it is attached; it is merely totally insensitive. The body is only interested in the material, because it is only the material world and the physical pleasure and pain that it provides that have the capacity to stimulate it. It is pursuing stimulation, not physicality as such.

The purpose of the arranged marriage between these opposites is two-fold. First of all, the inner struggle that results from being pulled in opposite directions transforms the human consciousness into a battleground and compels human beings to exercise their free will powers through every waking moment. But this marriage of opposites also has enormous positive potential. It is the body-soul bond that enables us to experience our ultimate reward in the World to Come.


Read the whole thing.

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Holy Resting Place

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

(Translation)

Here is the holy resting place of his holy honor,

our master, our teacher, our Rebbe,

light to the world, crown of Israel with his splendor,

he did the righteousness of Hashem and His judgments with Israel, and returned many to the Source.

The G-dly Leader, Teacher and Rabbi,
Menachem Mendel

the son of the G-dly Leader, rabbi, chossid and kabbalist,
Levi Yitzchok

the son-in-law, and filled the place of his holy honor, our master, our teacher, our Rebbe,
Yosef Yitzchok

from Lubavitch

06-19-- 058
who (physically) left this world on Motzie Shabbos Kodesh, the 3rd of (the hebrew month) Tammuz, of the hebrew year after creation 5754.

In the non-Jewish world, we might say gone but not forgotten. But in the Jewish world, we say the power of a tzaddik peaks as he leaves this world, for he is no longer bound by physical limitations. Indeed, Chabad has quadrupled in size (number of Chabad houses and outreach institutions) since this day.

A brief slideshow of a visit to the holy resting place of the Rebbe's of Chabad in America.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

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The Rebbe - Face to Face

rebbe
by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Tonight is Gimmel Tammuz. For those who don't know Chabad Lubavitch (chassidus), this is the day of the hilhula, the elevation of the Lubavitcher Rebbe from the physical confines of this world. There is much I could say about the Rebbe, his impact to the world and his impact to me. Yet, and somewhat surprisingly, I find that such articles have sprouted up all over the place on mainstream Jewish sites. I doubt I have something particularly special to add there.

But as I've spoken to my children, and even to younger chassidim, while I've found them well connected with the Rebbe's goals and chassidus, of course they have no personal experience of standing in the presence of the tzaddik hador. That I can share...

The first time I went to the Lubavitcher Rebbe was in the years when the Rebbe was open for meeting everyone on Sunday's. The Rebbe would stand for hours on end, meeting people by his office, with lines literally down the block.

I waited in line with thousands of others for a brief moment with the Rebbe. As the line neared 770 and a few foot steps away from the Rebbe standing by his office, I prepared what I was going to say, a request for a blessing. Ushers kept the line moving, people were urged through so the crowds could be accommodated. People in front of me were going, then 1 more stood in front, then I stood at the doorway. They stepped away, the usher pushed me forward...

I stood in front of the Rebbe, who was standing behind a small table that had dollars. I opened my mouth to speak, turned to the Rebbe... and he looked at me. His eyes pierced my soul and drilled to the essence of my being. I began to tremble, my mouth hung open, no words came forth. The Rebbe smiled, pronounced a blessing, handing me a dollar (to give tzedakah). I could not move, I stood trembling with the dollar in my hand, for the first time ever my soul shining in the open. Apparently this was not an unknown reaction, for the ushers gently but quickly pushed me through.

I stood outside of 770 and the people I was with (who had not gone through with me) asked me about my experience. I could not answer, my mouth would not move. They asked if I was ok, I shook my head, yes, no, I didn't know. They understood even if I did not.


It's hard to describe the penetrating presence of the Rebbe. He was an old man, and not a particularly large man, yet no one would ever call him anything but a giant. He had a radiance about him, not of physical light but of spiritual energy, of G-dly light. And when he looked at you, there was no other existence beyond you and him and bare souls before Hashem. And yet, though he was seeing to the depth of your soul, there was always a smile and no judgment, every single soul was special just because it was a soul connected to Hashem. And no judgment was necessary, the soul awoke of it's own accord.

07-10--ohel-- 031
Some years later on another visit to the Rebbe, I was fortunate to be nearby after Succot, where the Rebbe offered Kos Shel Bracha, wine from his havdalah cup. I grabbed my baby, my first born child, and ran to 770 (there was a special line for parents). The bochrim, the young men, stood to the sides singing niggunim (chassidic tunes). Occasionally the Rebbe would swing his arm, encouraging them to continue energetically.

The Rebbe sat upon the dais, secretaries by his side refilling his kos (cup). I had more time to prepare myself for the Rebbe's presence, though I was struggling a bit with the baby in a baby carrier as we gradually made our way through the big synagogue of 770.

I began up the steps, a few people in front of me, with my thoughts to say firmly in my mind. But then I looked up as I neared the Rebbe, and my body began to tremble. Another step and I was afraid I might drop the baby carrier (and baby!) Another step and I stood in front of the Rebbe. I placed the baby (in carrier) on the table so the baby could receive a blessing, and tears began pouring from my eyes. The light of the tzaddik, the brightest light we see from Hashem in this world overwhelmed me...

I couldn't speak, my body rebelled, trembling, tears pouring from my eyes. But I leaned forward, force my words out to the Rebbe, and turned to flee! I thought my soul would leap from my body. I grabbed the baby carrier and ran down the steps from the dias. But the usher jumped in front of me, the Rebbe was calling me back!!!

With a big smile that lights my neshama (soul) to this day, he handed me two cups of wine (which he was giving out and I had skipped in my holy terror), and gave me and my baby a big bracha. This time I stumbled away, carefully with 2 small cups of holy wine and the baby, and trembling, made my way out.


That is a visit with a great tzaddik. The soul comes alive, the body trembles in the face of great kedusah (holiness). The loss of the physical presence of the Rebbe was a tremendous blow to our generation. We wander in the dark, for while we are not without tzaddikim and rebbaim, we are without leadership.

May Hashem have mercy on us and bring us the leadership of Moshiach Tzidkaynu, mamosh, now!

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Monday, June 18, 2007

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Parade of Shame, Attacks on Jerusalem!

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Once again, the same-gender-relationship & public activity flaunting parade is scheduled for Jerusalem, this Thursday. It might seem almost incredible that this assault on the holy city is now occurring every 6 months. Yet we need to understand that this is exactly what is going on. The holiness of Jerusalem MUST .. BE .. DESTROYED. It actually IS an international conspiracy. With this, the Sitra Achra, the Other Side, can prevent or delay that great day.

The Ford Foundation funds same-gender activities specifically in Jerusalem (not in Tel Aviv). The US State Dept refuses to recognize Jewish Jerusalem. The Pali's go around the world raising money and awareness of the "Judification" of Jerusalem, and murdering any Arab found to be selling property to a Jew. And we saw what happened when the work on the collapsing mound of dirt next to the Kotel was worked on. Breaking or preventing the holiness of Jerusalem is an international goal among apparently disparate groups. Yet it keeps going on.

The Israeli Police have approved the Shame parade, for Thursday. The parade is set to start at Independence Park and end at Bell Park, passing through Rechov David HaMelech.

You can protest, or you can pray, or both.

Recommended spiritual steps
: give tzedakah (charity) in the merit of the holiness of Jerusalem (I recommend Yad Eliezer to help the poor), say an extra kipitil of tehillim (say a psalm), take on an extra mitzvah, or say Perek Shirah.

Protest steps: Register your complaint with those below...




Jerusalem Mayor Lopolianski
Ph 011 972 2 6297717
Fax 011 972 2 6296407
email lpuri@jerusalem.muni.il

Prime Minister Olmert
Ph 011 972 02-670-5475
F 011 972 02-670-5555
pmo-heb@pmo.gov.il

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter
Ph 011 972 02-530-8500
F 011 972 02-530-8039
sar@mops.gov.il
Foreign Minister Tzippy Livni
Ph 011 972 02-530-3531
F 011 972 02-530-3506
sar@mofa.gov.il

(Thanks to Dreaming for the contact info.)

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What's Achdus Got To Do With It?


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Sunday, June 17, 2007

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Wider Attack Than You've Heard

When browsing over at the Muqata, I was surprised to read that there were multiple serious attacks today that hit Israel, much more than most media seem to have reported.

2 separate rounds of missile barrages, two separate terrorist infiltration attempts. Northern residents ordered into bomb shelters, Southern residents ordered into locked houses.
Read it at the Muqata.

But don't worry, the Prime Minister has decided that Israel will restrain itself through strength.
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Gaza and Geulah

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Lets be straight and simple regarding whats happening to the "Palestinian Authority" right now. We wrote about this extensively last yeare and the year before here (I'll dig up those old posts tomorrow, G-d willing.)

They will sting us, they will harass us, a non-people, a non-nation. But then, they disappear. Just. Like. That.

A step along the path, potentially a tremendous year, the first of the shemittah cycle, towards Geulah.

May it be today.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

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Advice Line: Borrowing

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

A friend asks: My rabbi borrowed a bunch of money from me and didn't pay me back. What should I do?

The Mystical Advice Line answers:

When you turn your back on your dog and he hops up on the table and grabs a piece of meat, well, he's just being a dog. He smells, he desires, he grabs, after all, he's a dog. We don't expect him to channel his desires into the right time, right place, right permission.

The yetzer hara, the evil inclination, doesn't come and visit the rabbi and say each treif (non-kosher). Because he's not a dog, and he's got that desire, that (relatively speaking) little animal under control.

He comes to the rabbi and says, "You need some money to keep the program going, or start the new one, it's important for the community, and for Torah and mitzvot. Just borrow some real quick from your close people, then you can go out and raise it back or rely on the big donor later."

And because that sly animal came dressed in a tallis (Jewish prayer shawl), and tied that desire to his community needs, he fell for it.

The Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, says that when one gives a loan or takes a loan, there should be 2 witnesses or a signed contract. It doesn't give an allowance for a rabbi, or an honest or reputable person. Everyone has a yetzer hara, and the Code tells us ways to protect against it (yet still function in this world).

Unfortunately friend, you're in a difficult situation of damaging your relationship with the rabbi, and/or impacting the community while trying to recover what is yours and you may desperately need. I would recommend you go and quietly speak to the rabbi, gently mentioning that he may want to consult the Shulchan Aruch on loans and whether or not it states community need overrides the responsibility to pay back.

Note however, if you know he can't pay, you are not permitted to chase him. These situations can be complex and its often appropriate to consult with an orthodox Jewish court (a beis din).

(The picture is from under the Kotel, and is the closest point to the Kodesh HaKadoshim, the holy of holies, on the outside of the Western Wall. The mekubalim, the kabbalists, hold a minyan, a prayer quorum, here regularly.)

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Kindness to Murderers

by Aharon Hoffman at Mystical Paths

"Mother of Eight Planned Suicide Terror Attack in Israel" - not mentioned in the headline, a pregnant woman.

It is odd, the Vatican, WCC and religious leaders have not spoken out about this emblematic approach to political disagreements that a) is suicide, b) is intended to harm others, c) leaves children motherless, d) suicide of a pregnant woman is effectively "abortion".

Two women from Gaza - a pregnant mother of eight, and her niece, a mother of four - planned a joint two-pronged suicide attack in Tel Aviv and Netanya. They have been arrested....

The GSS says that the two women "took advantage of Israel's humanitarian policies, receiving a fraudulent medical permit to enter Israel."

One of the women...is the mother of eight children and is pregnant with her ninth. ...She served as a coordinator between the Islamic Jihad terror outfit and women who wished to commit suicide attacks against Israel... The two mothers took along some of their young children to the meetings with their terrorist handlers, at which was discussed precisely how the women would blow themselves up...

The plan was for them to blow themselves up simultaneously in an area crowded with soldiers or civilians in Tel Aviv and Netanya...

Islamic Jihad was able to obtain a forged medical permit indicating that Habib required an urgent medical check in Ramallah, to which Zeck was to be her escort. Once in Ramallah, they were to go to the hospital and actually have the test done, to avoid suspicion, and then they were to be taken to the intended target locations.

They set out from northern Gaza on May 20 for their mission, but were arrested at the Erez Crossing into Israel.

Israel is often castigated by left-wing organizations that complain that Arabs from the PA are sometimes forced to wait at checkpoints for security checks, and are allegedly denied medical care. The GSS, however, notes that the case at hand is only one of many in which Arabs attempt to take advantage of Israel's humanitarian policies in order to murder Israelis.

Kindness to murderers is not, in the end, kindness to your own people.

(News Source - Israel National News.)

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"Feels Different"

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

The Middle East feels different to me now than it did a few years ago. Something big is going to happen, but I don’t know what and I don’t know when.

Pay attention, Michael Totten says the dynamics have changed and it feels like that moment in 1967 again. Read it here.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

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Peace Breaks Out...

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

by international standards....

"Sky News - Gaza Fighting Continues Despite Truce" - At least 80 people, mostly gunmen but also children and other civilians, have been killed in factional clashes over the past week. Hospitals were operating without water, electricity and blood.

Even holed up inside their homes, Gazans weren't able to escape fighting that turned apartment buildings into battlefields. Moean Hammad, 34, said life had become a nightmare at his high-rise building near the Preventive Security headquarters. "We spent our night in the hallway outside the apartment because the building came under crossfire in 2002," Hammad said. "We haven't had electricity for two days, and all we can hear is shooting and powerful, earthshaking explosions.

"The world is watching us dying and doing nothing to help. God help us, we feel like we are in a real-life horror movie," he said.

This is peace! This is a truce! By international standards, by news media standards, this is success. And dear Moean, while you'd like me and the world to feel for your situation, you have exactly what you asked for. At some point, your collective society has to stand up and accept responsibility for itself. Years of training your youth to hate and kill has come home.

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Purple Mountains

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

06-11-Denver-- 058


The last several days brought me to Denver, Colorado. Wherever you are in Denver, the majestic purple mountains, the Rocky Mountains, loom large. As I enjoyed the view, I was struck by the beauty of Hashem's creation and awed by the presence of the mountains overshadowing everything.

Yet, I had to travel over a thousand miles across the U.S. to get such a view. So while the U.S. indeed is blessed with places of great natural beauty, it struck me that in Israel, such a change in view is available with an hour's ride.

While there, I was very surprised to enjoy the finest kosher restaurant meals I have ever had, at the East Side Kosher Deli & Restaurant. Don't let the name fool you, they've got an incredible fine dining restaurant hidden in there, and while the food exceeds some of the best I've had in New York, the prices are NOT New York prices. I'm not sure I could get an appetizer in NY for their entree price.

While at the restaurant, a meshulach (traveling charity collector) arrived, and I was surprised to see the familiar face of a fellow who visits our neighborhood as well. Indeed, we're all related everywhere.

Afterwards I headed to the East Denver Orthodox Synagogue, where they were having an excellent Gemora shiur (lesson). I really enjoyed the bit I caught before Minchah/Maariv services.

So, though I crossed the country, I found a great Torah lesson, a friendly face, a nice minyan, and a great kosher meal. My thanks to Hashem and the Jewish community of Denver for more than I expected.

(Denver photo slideshow.)

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Chochma & Binah, Kabbalah & Chassidus

Dixie Yid has gone to considerable effort in translating a kuntres, an original Torah pamphlet, that explains the differences between Chochma (Wisdom) and Bina (Insight), and how those related to common divisions in Judaism such as Sefardim vs. Ashkenazim, Kabbalah vs. Chassidus, Chassidus vs. the GR”A, Chabad vs. Breslov, Rebbe Nachman vs. the Shpoler Zaide, and Rav Chaim Brisker vs. the Chazon Ish.

Well worth the read!

Introduction - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6

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The Belief That Will Not Go Away

by Aharon Hoffman at Mystical Paths

The Anti-Defamation League endorsed a call by 12 Orthodox Church priests to excise anti-Semitic passages from its liturgy.

"We call on Orthodox Christian leaders to begin the process now to remove anti-Semitic passages from its liturgy," Abraham Foxman, the ADL's national director, said in a June 6 news release. "This effort is long overdue. Untold numbers of Jews have suffered throughout the centuries, and today, in some countries where these churches are prominent, Jews are confronted by growing anti-Semitism because of the failure to address this."

The group of 12 priests from disparate Orthodox communities met in Israel in April. The Orthodox Church has not joined the Roman Catholic Church and some Protestant churches in revising anti-Semitic liturgy. Some liturgy still refers to Jews as "Christ killers," and the Easter service calls for revenge against the Jews.

The 10-page document produced at the April meeting calls for "the renunciation of replacement theology and the removal of anti-Semitic passages from Church liturgy -- particularly Easter services -- and endorses the eternal connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel," according to a report in the Jerusalem Post.

"It is time," the document said, "that we called anti-Semitism a grave sin against God and man."


...Just so you know.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

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Woe to His Neighbor

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

The Baal Shem Tov explained that whatever we see, whatever we judge in others, is really what is within ourselves. If you are a loving person, you are going to see love in almost everything you look at. If you are a negative person, you are going to judge almost all of the actions of the world around you as negative. Whatever is motivating you, you will assume is motivating others.

However, if it is known that the person is truly a sinner who is wantonly doing evil, then listen closely to what Moshe said: “Turn away now from near the tents of these wicked men, and do not touch anything of theirs, lest you perish because of their sins.” [iii]

Why should we die for their sins? What did we do?

In this week’s portion, we see that not only is it dangerous to be with evil people, but it is dangerous even to be near their dwelling places. We are warned not to touch any of their possessions. Even their property is deadly!

Evil spreads just by being close to it. “Woe to the evil person and woe to his neighbor.” [iv]

When we are near people who do evil, soon we come to see that evil to be the norm. Then we, too, slide down to that standard of behavior. Whatever the common behavior is in our community -- be it gossip, extreme immodesty, openly cheating in business, abusing drugs, drunkenness, rudeness, even promiscuity (all of which are openly practiced in many communities today) -- soon we and our children will accept these practices as the norm. Then we, too, will openly do these things without feeling the least sense of inappropriateness.

But why did Moshe warn us not to even touch any of their belongings lest we die? Are the things themselves unclean, like a dead body? No. But if we come to touch an evil person’s belongings, we may very well see that their physical possessions are really quite nice. We may even come to admire these possessions and quickly want those very things for ourselves. And how does one easily acquire such things? By doing what the previous owner did!

Oy to the evil person, and oy to his neighbor.

Conversely, when we are accustomed to being around holy people, their dwelling places and their belongings, the holiness that surrounds them also spreads. Soon we will become accustomed to doing holy things. When the community prays together at regular times, we too will be there. When the community gives charity, surely we will give charity. When they speak lovingly and helpfully to each other, we will learn to speak in loving and helpful terms.

The mind is an amazing tool. Like a knife, it can cut food or it can kill.

[i] Num 16:10
[ii] Sfomo on Num 16:14
[iii] Num 16:26
[iv] Midrash Tanchuma 4

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

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The Animal Within - Part 2

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

A Simple Jew asked...

Kesser Shem Tov 1:64 states, "The Baal Shem Tov said in the name of Rav Saadiah Gaon: A person should learn a lesson from his desires for physical pleasures how he should desire to serve Hashem and love Him." Reflecting on this teaching, what lesson would you imagine that your strongest taiva (desire) could teach you about how to better serve Hashem?


In considering this question at length, I came to understand it differently. Ta'avot are desires. Those from the animal soul are desires for the gross physical, for the pleasures of this world. How can we greatly desire Hashem as much as we desire pleasures. Is it the want of wonderful food, the sublime pleasure of winning, what are our desires, and can we learn from them to desire Hashem in such a way?

For me, in considering this, I will try to learn from my desire for seder, for order. I desire things to be orderly, and find disorder unpleasant. From a desire like this, I can learn to strive to order in my relationship with Hashem. To make a point of using my desire for order to enforce order on my learning, my Torah and mitzvot. Not to let my schedule for Hashem to become random, but to make sure I'm committing to my full schedule every day. And as much as I desire order in my children's rooms, I should desire it in my Torah and mitzvot.

And thereby, learn from my desire.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

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The Animal Within - Part 1

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

In the sefer HaYom Yom, the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote, for the 23rd of Sivan...

In a reply to a Yechidus query in the winter of 5635 (1874-75), my grandfather said to my father:

"The Yetzer Hara, (the evil impulse), is called "animal soul," not because it is necessarily a brute animal. At times it may be a fox, the most cunning of beasts, and great wisdom is needed to perceive its machinations. At other times it may clothe itself in the garb of an earnest, straightforward, humble Tzadik, possessing fine traits of character.

The animal soul manifests itself in each person according to his individual character. One person may suddenly experience a powerful longing to study Chassidut or to meditate deeply on some chassidic concept. The truth is, however, that this is nothing more than the Yetzer Hara's counsel and the animal soul's machinations to prevent him from engaging in the Avoda of davening or a similar activity.

Take this as a general principle and remember it always: Any matter that is effective towards or actually leads to active Avoda, and is confronted with opposition of any sort, even the most noble, that opposition is the scheming of the animal soul."

My father concluded:

"Until then I had not known that there can be a "pious" animal soul, let alone a "Chassidic" animal soul."


This is a great challenge, greater than even most realize. Because while there are those times when the evil inclination must be absolutely defeated, when those negative impulses must be pushed aside, this is not the ultimate goal. Rather, the energy of those impulses, that strong drive that the animal within provides, should be utilized to drive Torah and mitzvot. Ahh, the lesson above teaches us, when that drive comes via Torah and mitzvot, but it still doing it's job of interfering, it's still not kosher.

A Simple Jew has sent me a question...

Kesser Shem Tov 1:64 states, "The Baal Shem Tov said in the name of Rav Saadiah Gaon: A person should learn a lesson from his desires for physical pleasures how he should desire to serve Hashem and love Him." Reflecting on this teaching, what lesson would you imagine that your strongest taiva (desire) could teach you about how to better serve Hashem?

That's a seriously deep and introspective question that I've basically been avoiding since he sent it! Recognizing the strong animal drive, be it fox or bear or wolf or dog or cat, and admitting it, isn't so simple.

As I'm off on a business trip today (G-d willing) and will be spending some time sitting on a plane, perhaps I'll take a look and see who exactly is sitting in the seat with me.

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A 9-11 Memorial

Original Photos by Akiva at Mystical Paths
06-10-- 101 06-10-- 158 06-10-- 095 06-10-- 100

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

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Book Review: The Baal Shem of Michelstadt

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

The Baal Shem of Michelstadt, by 'Judaeus' since known to be Rabbi Herz Naftali Ehrmann, is a most unusual book. It's a historical novel published by Jewish community presses in Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany, published in the days of the Kaisers (around 1880). And old yiddela named Manfred Kuttner warmly remembered the book from his childhood, tracked it down and translated it in 1971. It was published to English in 1972, and republished by Feldheim in 2006.

It tells the story of the tzaddik, Rabbi Seckel Loeb Wormser, zt"l (1768-1847), who was known as the Baal Shem of Michelstadt. Now, the title 'Baal Shem', literally Master of the Name, refers to those who use the hidden name(s) of G-d to perform blessings and miracles for people in need. I was under the impression that this title ceased to be given with the advent of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of chassidus. However, the book lists 6 "Baal Shem"'s after the Baal Shem Tov.

The book tells the wondrous story of Jewish life in small town Germany 200 years ago. Written for youth, it's an engaging story of the life and times of this wondrous tzaddik. Not just a life dedicated to Torah, but to the community and helping with the troubles of the times. People kidnapped for conversion, banditry on the roads and attacks on villages, the tzaddik brought great yeshua (salvation) to his people.

The book ends with some miraculous stories, some of which I'd heard before attributed to the Baal Shem Tov. While it's unclear to me since reading this to whom certain stories belong, it's certainly true that such miraculous assistance was well known throughout all distant parts of the European Jewish world, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, and Germany.

I strongly recommend this book for 10 years old and up.


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Warning: Haaretz

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Haaretz is a very left-wing ultra-secular Israeli newspaper that I generally avoid. Haaretz.com is their associated web site.

While I don't visit very often, I do on occasion to see if they have some news facts other Israeli sources have missed.

On my last 2 visits to Haaretz.com, I've had by browser hijacked. Either they're running ads from a source who's approach is considered an attack, or their servers (or their ad company's servers) have been hacked.

I normally recommend avoiding Haaretz.com due to their political positions, but now I really recommend avoiding it to prevent potential computer damage.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

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A Old Friend, a"h

An old friend, a"h (may his memory be a blessing). May his merits stand for all of Klal Yisroel, and may Hashem have mercy on his widow and orphans.

You can help too.

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More on The Terrorist Next Door

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Discussing The Terrorist Next Door...

Josh commented: Hashem yerachem. Is it not obvious where the world is heading? The west's falling birthrates make it obligatory to accept immigrants in order to keep the economy stable and growing (i.e. consumers)...

On one hand, we saw how the Jews immigrated to the west and almost committed suicide by mass assimilation, on the other hand, we see that Yousef is not as weak and specifically saying that it will rule the world, country by country. Hello?!


As part of the Geulah, the yidden are going to be gathered from the 4 corners of the world. G-d willing, this should be in the positive way of being drawn to a desire to be in the Holy Land, the place where the Shechina shines through.

But, G-d forbid, it may also require being frightened out of our complacency and apparent feelings of security in what's considered home.

There's a solid custom of leaving a part of the house unfinished in reminder of the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash (the Holy Temple in Jerusalem), and the associated status of exile of the Shechina. Seems to me this custom has fallen into disuse in America.

That itself is a sign.

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Please Don't, I'll Give You The Golan

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently relayed a secret message to Syrian President Bashar Assad saying Israel knew what the price of peace was and would be willing to pay it, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday.

According to the report, Olmert told the Syrian leader Israel would return the Golan...


O M G

YNetNews - here.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

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More on Waiting for Miracles

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

On the topic of Waiting for the Miracles, and the position of the Rambam on yemos haMoshiach (the coming of Moshiach)...

Yitz commented: Wouldn't we consider the Rambam's non-miraculous Moshiach miraculous in this day and age? Anyone who can return klal yisrael to Torah and mitzvot is performing a miracle in my book...

Well said, given the current non-religious majority in our times. Yet, it wouldn't be an obvious miracle, say like miraculous food, water flowing from a rock, or a plague of darkness. It would be a hidden miracle that probably wouldn't even make the evening news. And that would seem to be more in line with the Rambam's statements.

AY commented: The (Lubavitcher) Rebbe used to stress how miraculous will be the final redemption. Moreover, since Moshiach is to be expected everyday, how can you trust that he could come w/o wonders and miracles? The Rambam was speaking about one of the possible ways for Moshiach to come, the 'regular' one. But, considering the actual situation, in the world and in Israel, one has to believe Moshiach will come in a very surprising way.

The Rebbe certainly wrote extensively about the coming of Moshiach and many miraculous happenings associated with the time of Geulah. But he also urged studying of the Rambam and Mishneh Torah. Note what the Rambam says is miracles are not required, not that they won't happen, but the lack of them doesn't invalidate a potential Moshiach. If he (Moshiach) succeeds at the goals of Moshiach without miracles, that's ok.

Like the miracles of Purim were hidden, just an 'amazing' coincidence of perfectly timed events, the Geulah can be arriving and in progress.

Mike commented: What I don't get is... Does the coming of Moshiach automatically and immediately yield Olam Haba? Or will Moshiach come, everything will return to normal as it was in the times of the previous Beis Hamikdash (except for that everyone will know Hashem and the world will be filled with truth) and then, after some time, the end will finally come and we will enter the age of Olam Haba?

This is something that really gets confused a lot and not something I have ever seen mentioned or discussed in Seforim or contemporary Rabbi's. Is this something that is being brushed off perhaps? or is it simply a question no one can answer?


This question is indeed difficult, as the sages have only the naviim (prophets) and hidden sources (such as the Zohar) to sort through for answers to this. There is significant disagreement over the timing and order of events, but it's something like this... rough time, wars of Moshiach, recovery from war and arrival or building of the 3rd Beis HaMikdash (holy temple), exposure of G-d's presence in this world in an obvious continuous way (everywhere), resurrection of the dead, transformation/elevation of this physical world.

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The Terrorists Next Door?

by Nava at Mystical Paths

(This article is making it's way around the Internet. At least 1 blogger who posted it had his life and is being stalked.)

The Catskills was once the summer playground for the Jews, but is now the headquarters for an outfit called Muslims of the Americas. Islamberg is a wooded, 70-acre encampment in upstate NY. It is not an ideal place for a summer vacation unless, of course, you are an exponent of the Jihad or a fan of Osama bin Laden.

Reports of gunfire and military-style physical training at the camp have led some investigators to believe that the group's members are preparing for homegrown jihad. It is widely believed to be a front for Jamaat al-Fuqra, founded by radical Pakistani cleric Mubarak Ali Gilani.

Al-Fuqra members have been suspects in assassinations and firebombings in the United States, authorities said, and an associate of the group, Rodney Hampton-el, was jailed in 1996 for plotting to bomb New York bridges and tunnels.

The founder, Gilani, is the extremist who Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was reportedly trying to meet in Pakistan when he was abducted and beheaded.

Asked whether commune members kept weapons at the camp, the resident said, "We got guns up here just like everyone else got guns. We're American citizens."

Even though Jamaat ul-Fuqra has been involved in terror attacks and sundry criminal activities, recruited thousands of members from federal and state penal systems, and appears to be operating paramilitary facilities for militant Muslims, it remains to be placed on the official US Terror Watch List. On the contrary, it continues to operate, flourish, and expand as a legitimate nonprofit, tax-deductible charity.


Source here. More info here and here.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

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Messages to Pay Attention To

Keeping Back The Geulah - at A Simple Jew.

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Death of the Future!

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

When one sees such things as I have posted below, a first reaction might be shock. But think it through as you watch them. What does this really mean for the future? ...

Mommy, mommy, I get to be the terrorist and murder Jews in the school play!!!

Watch this video: here.

In brief, it's a kindergarten graduation performance of boys dressed as terrorists on manuvers, preparing to attack. They end by singing, "what is your path? Jihad. What is your path? Jihad. What is your most lofty aspiration? Death for the sake of Allah." No joke, this is the actual translation from the kindergarten graduation play. Oh, and by the way, IF YOU ARE FROM THE E.U. OR U.S., YOU HELPED PAY FOR IT! (How? The EU and US provide several hundred dollars per child, yearly, for "education" of Palestinians, but absolutely fail to monitor or respond to WHAT they are being educated.)

Not to be outdone by their southern brothers, the Hizbollah girls school of Lebanon put on this production...



Don't miss the cute little girl with her hands painted red, representing being soaked with Jewish blood.

(Thanks to Sima for the alert, first video from MemriTV, second a home movie posted on YouTube, with alert from EinShalom.)

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The Impact of a Nuclear Iran

by Aharon Hoffman at Mystical Paths

Assuming the Iranians aren't crazy nut jobs who are going to start throwing nukes wily nilly (and that may NOT be a safe assumption), here's a great regional and geopolitical analysis of the impact of a nuclear Iran.

Here.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

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Humor in Hebron

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Hundreds attend left-wing Hebron demonstration - Substantial IDF and security forces were on hand to maintain order in case of disturbances.

Note Peace Now complains terribly about Israeli soldiers having to protect Jewish presence and impact to the Arabs, but doesn't mind bringing 'substantial' forces and blocking off a huge part of Hevron for themselves.

The High Court of Justice authorized the protest on Monday. The group was protesting, among other things, the occupation of a Palestinian house by local settlers in April.

And some liberal Jewish bloggers call the Jerusalem Post a right-wing news source??? Bwa-hahahaha. Jews buy a building for millions of dollars, and it's "occupied"? (Oh, and note how a million dollar building is turned into a 'house', giving the impression of a poor displaced family thrown out on it's ear.) And "local settlers"? What's up with that? Can you be a remote settler, foreign settler, distant settler? Of course, "settler" (one who settles in a new region or country), because Jews never lived in Hebron, right?

Local Palestinians threw stones at the Peace Now bus and a police vehicle after the demonstration.

Why didn't they run over and hug these helpful Jews who were protesting for their cause??? Bwa-hahahaha. Unfortunately, while they're trying to do what they perceive as the humane and good thing, in the end they're all just Jews to be wiped out. Hopefully they won't realize this too late. (May Hashem open their eyes early.)

News Source - Jerusalem Post.

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Very, Very

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

In this week’s portion of the Torah, Hashem commanded Moshe to send men to spy out the Land of Canaan before the people were to establish their homeland there. The report they brought back misled the people into rebelling, inciting Hashem to hide His Presence and causing them to wander in the wilderness for forty years.

After the spies gave their terribly damaging report to the Children of Israel, Calev and Yehoshua strongly objected to their words. They tried to encourage the people, telling them that indeed the Land of Israel is “very, very good.”[i] This doubling of the word “very” is highly unusual in the Torah. In fact, in the entire Torah we find the word “very” emphasized this way only six other times:

1. The floodwaters that destroyed the world were very, very strong.[ii]

2. Hashem promised to increase Avraham exceedingly.[iii]

3. Hashem said He would make Avraham exceedingly fruitful.[iv]

4. After Hashem promised His blessings to Yitzchak, He told Avraham that He would also bless Ishmael greatly.[v]

5. Yaacov’s wealth increased very, very much.[vi]

6. When the Children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt, they multiplied and became very, very strong.[vii]

These are all of the very, very great things in the Torah. They are either great in severity, number, or goodness, as seen from the subject matter of each phrase:

--The flood that destroyed the evil generation

--Avraham’s offspring

--Yitzchak’s offspring

--Ishmael will be greatly increased (because of Avraham’s prayers)

--Yaacov’s wealth

--The Children of Israel when oppressed

--The goodness of the Land of Israel

Many of us can easily agree that the floodwaters were very, very strong, that Avraham’s offspring have been multiplied very, very much, that Yaacov’s wealth is very, very great, that Ishmael is great in number, and that the Jewish people keep growing, but cannot see just how very, very good is this Land.

Watch Your Mouth


This week we also learn a very important lesson regarding speech. The sages warn, “Watch what comes out of your mouth.” This cautions us not to say things we do not mean. Words are things, and as such they cause things to come about.

Chassidic thinking is even subtler than this, teaching, “Think good and it will be good.” It is not just our words that cause things to happen, but even our thoughts.

This week we read that Hashem punished the Children of Israel with a grievous punishment. He said, “I have heard the complains of the Children of Israel.” They said, “Better if we had died in this Wilderness.” [viii] Then Hashem said, “ . . . I shall do as you have spoken in My ears. In this wilderness your carcasses drop . . . I am going to give back to you exactly as you said. You said that you will die in the wilderness. [ix] Their words became their reality.

“Think good and it will be good.” And certainly say good so that the good you think will become good in the world.

[i] Num 14:7
[ii] Gen 7:19
[iii] Gen 17:2
[iv] Gen 17:6
[v] Gen 17:20
[vi] Gen 30:43
[vii] Ex 1:7
[viii] Num 14:2
[ix] Num 14:29

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Radio Intifada

by Akiva at Mystical Paths


Welcome to Radio Intifada, brought to you live weekly in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, California, USA, and PAID FOR by Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Peets Coffee (a 4th corporate supporter, Gelson's, pulled their support after being informed, and yasher koach to them). (For anyone who can't play the link, the program is a Southern California host discussing "Israeli atrocities, Israeli occupation forces, and the Apartied wall", and includes American musical accompaniment calling for tanks to enter Tel Aviv.)

The radio station asserts their US free speech rights to present views espousing the destruction of Israel and the murdering of Jews (never stated directly of course). And that's fine. I assert my free speech rights to call them fools at best and distant collaborators with evil murderers. But that's irrelevant.

What is relevant is that they are being supported by American corporations. Now, I'm sure that those corporations simply signed up to support a local cause, a community radio station, and had no intent to indirectly support the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews. Yet, that is what their support is doing.

Let them know about it. Corporations run from controversy. The radio station kindly provides full contact information here.

(Thanks to Elisheva's Alerts for the notification.)



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Monday, June 04, 2007

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A Visit to Beit Terach

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

On a bit of a journey yesterday, I passed an 'import art goods' store and saw some lovely candle sticks in the window and thought they might make a nice upgrade for my wife's Shabbos candles. Stopping in, I saw a variety of oriental art type items for the home, vases, furniture, etc, and I searched deeper into the store for the candle stick / candelabra section. Passing into a new section, I was stunned for a moment to realize that I had stepped into the past. I had entered the House of Terach (father of Abraham).

Statues, idols, literally, dozens. From China, from India, from Egypt, from Africa. Small ones, pocket size, desktop size, large ones, from 4-8 feet tall. White, green, brown, silver, gold. Various depictions in stone and metal that people pray to in some parts of the world. I stood stunned for a moment, could such a place really exist today???

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the product of human hands. They have a mouth but cannot speak. They have eyes, but cannot see, they have ears, but cannot hear. Nor is there breath in their mouth... - Tehillim 135

As I started to back out of this crowded place, with stone and wood and metal shaped by human hands into things that people pray to (and others consider art), an employee came over, threw his arm around a large brown and gold specimen, looked at me and said, "What, you don't want to buy her? We give a good discount today!" "Ahh, no, no thanks, no way...", I responded, and turned and fled.

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The Twilight Zone

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Iranian president, Ahmadinejad, telephoned the Syrian president, Bashar El Assad, to congratulate him on his victory in the referendum for his re-election. (Oh, BTW) Opposition parties are prohibited in Syria. - Guysen


I mean, what can you even say to this???

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More on Leopards in Israel

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Ken Quinn, commenting on News You Probably Missed: Leopard Attack in Israel, wrote...

This is a great story. I know Arthur Du Mosch about 15 years now. And of course there are leopards living in Israel all the way up to En Gedi. They just live in the desert and eat the gazelles of some of the many other small varmits. Arthur has been a nature person ALL of his life. He knows every bug, animal, plant, and bird in the Negev. It is also a plus that he knows the Bible and the history of the place. Call him up for a tour and you will be very happy with the adventure. Caution, he makes a joke out of shaking hands with you because he has very strong hands.

The leopard didn't have a chance.


I've always been amazed at the environment habitats in Israel. Mountains, lake, ocean, plains, each a different world. Haifa, Tzfat, Teveria, Ariel, Jerusalem, Cesaria, Netanya, each a different habitat. But I've never had the opportunity to head far south, to Ein Geidi, Be'er Sheva, the Negev. Apparently there's yet another completely different world down there.

(Picture from Negev Jeep Tours, of a "Israeli Desert Leopard".)

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Friday, June 01, 2007

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Waiting for the Miracles

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

As we eagerly await Moshiach's coming every day, there are those who await great miracles. The nations of the world that oppress Israel will be overturned through unbelievable events. The Beis Hamikdash, the Holy Temple, will fall from the sky. The Jewish people will be transported to Israel on clouds of glory. We will see and know G-d's holy presence. Clothes will grow on trees and there will be no need to deal with mundane matters such as eating. Or...

One should not presume that Moshiach must work miracles and wonders, bring about new creations within the world, resurrect the dead, or perform other similar deeds (as the fools say). This is not true.

Rabbi Akiva, one of the great sages of the Mishnah, was one of the supporters of King Bar Kozibah and would describe him as the Moshiach. He and all the sages of his generation considered him to be Melech HaMoshiach, until he was killed because of sins. Once he was killed, they realized that he was not.

The sages did not ask him for any signs or wonders.


Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim uMilchatonim (Kings and their Wars), 11:3 - Our holy teacher Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon - The Rambam.

There are those waiting for great miracles with the advent of the coming of Moshiach (may it be today!). Yet, clearly, the Rambam was not one of them. This is not to say, G-d forbid, that G-d is not running the world. Rather, if G-d is running the world, then lining up all the right circumstances for the 'amazing' event is the miracle! But many would look at say, natural, coincidence, etc.

(The commentary notes the Ra'avad disagreed with the Rambam strongly, stating that Moshiach will perform wonders and initiate a G-dly change in the fabric of reality to the messianic era.)

Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim uMilchatonim (Kings and their Wars), 11:4 ...

If a king will arise from the House of Dovid who is learned in Torah and observant of all the mitzvot, as prescribed by the written law and the oral law, as Dovid, his ancestor was, and will compel all of Israel to walk in [the way of the Torah] and reinforce the breaches [in its observance]; and fight the wars of G-d, we may, with assurance, consider him to be Moshiach.

If he succeeds in the above, builds the Beis Hamikdash in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, he is definitely the Moshiach.


(The commentary notes that Rashi and the Midrash Tanchumah disagree with the Rambam on the building of the Beis Hamikdash, as to whether the Temple will be built or will descent from heaven.)

The Rambam clearly holds that the advent of Moshiach is not dependent on miracles or wonders. We should be careful in thinking, or teaching, or hoping, that niisim (miracles) are required to define the advent of Moshiach.

May it be today.

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