Tuesday, July 31, 2007

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The "Legend" of R. Yehuda Halevi's, zk"l, Death

"Fleischer concludes by noting that one should be careful not to make fun of legends!"

Over at the Seforim Blog.

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One Must Destroy In Order to Build- Part II

by Dixie Yid at Mystical Paths


This post is a continuation of a similar theme in this post.

In the the 15th perek of Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh Vol 2, the author writes about the concept in Mishlei 24:16, "כִּי שֶׁבַע, יִפּוֹל צַדִּיק וָקָם," that the Tzadik must fall seven times and then get up. He brings down the concept that those failures (whether in thought, wanting, speech, or action) are not an obstacle to growth, but an integral part of the process.

He illustrates this with a startling ma'aseh about the GR"A and his Talmid, Rav Chaim Volozhiner. He says that the GR"A put himself through a self-imposed exile for a period of time. When he returned, his talmid Rav Chaim asked him whether or not he should also engage in that same avodah of self-imposed exile. The GR"A responded that, "I did it, but now I regret it." (Ostensibly the trials of exile disturbed his Torah learning, but the author doesn't go into the reasons he regreted it.) Rav Chaim, his student, responded, "Then I will do as you did. I will go into exile and then I will regret it."

The ma'aseh seems almost incomprehensible at first glance. Shouldn't Rav Chaim have learned from his rebbe's mistakes and not repeated them? However, the purpose of the ma'aseh is to teach this counter-intuitive yesod: We grow into the bigger Jews not by continuous successes in avodas Hashem, but specifically because of the failures.

I saw this illustrated in another way through a Tosafos in Avoda Zara 34a. The Gemara is discussing how clay vessels that are lined with not-fully-"cooked" glass (according to Tosafos) can never be kashered (if they were used for hot non-kosher food). Tosafos ask on this that we see from another gemara that a clay vessel can be kashered by re-firing it in the kiln! He answers that though it is true that the vessel would become usable that way, it is not because the vessel is called "kashered." It is because when it emerges from the kiln, it is considered a totally new vessel, not a kashered old vessel. "Kashering" a non-kosher clay vessel is impossible.

I see this as an expression/mashal of this same yesod on a physical level, when it comes to absorbtion of traif food in clay vessels. "For [we are like] clay in the hands of the Potter." We are also compaired to clay vessels. We also cannot fully give up what is not-kosher about ourselves without going into the fire and nullifying the "self" so that when we come out, we will be new Jews, able to ascend to the next level, unencumbered by past failures. But it is only through destruction/failure, that we can be a new vessel again to receive the Divine light.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture is courtesy of YellowLeaf.org)

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IDF On The Edge

by Aharon Hoffman at Mystical Paths

YNetNews Reports: 'Barak cares about Israel's security, Olmert doesn't'
Aides to defense minister slam prime minister after government rejects Barak's demand to increase defense budget by NIS 7 billion...

Earlier Sunday, the government rejected a proposal issued by Barak to add NIS 7 billion (about $1.6 billion) to next year's defense budget... Olmert rebuffed claims that any failures during the Second Lebanon War had anything to do with budgetary difficulties.

"We've been through a difficult experience. There were many failings, but most of them aren't related to budgetary reasons. The attempt to depict the situation in that manner is disturbing," Olmert said...

Barak reportedly listed five points he vehemently refused to back down from: No cutbacks on training exercises, increasing troop numbers, maintaining the necessary stockpiles and preserving the IDF's strategic capabilities and long reach of its arm. ..

According to a Barak aide, "We did not plan to get into a clash, but this is what happened eventually, because Ehud Olmert chose to play a political game." ...


There is an unreported subtext here. I have it on good authority from one of my sources that the Israeli General Staff has told BOTH the Israeli prime minister and Syrian representatives that if Syria or Iran attack, it is the General Staff that will decide on when and how to strike back, what targets and how "disproportionate" the response will be. They have cut the PM out of the loop should war erupt because he did not resign after the last conflict. The strategy includes: decapitation strikes, strategic warfare against the entire industrial and military capability of the attacking country.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

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Crescent Moon over Tzfat

Original Photo by Akiva at Mystical Paths

08-29-Israel-- 196

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Jewish Real Estate Crunch in the US?

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

On my block, there are 5 homes for sale. 60 for sale in our community. This is about double the average over the past 5 years...

We were speaking to a friend in Monsey. They bought their sizable kosher-oriented home about 15 years ago. It was fairly expensive at the time, around $450,000 (B"H, all yidden should be able to afford such). They put their home on the market for $1,000,000 just recently. When asking why, they said as about 2/3 of their children have married, they no longer need a home of that size. And, as they've remortgated it to help pay for each wedding and life-set-up expenses for each couple, the mortgage on the home is $850,000, and with interest rates having gone up, they can't afford to continue making payments.

"If it doesn't sell quick, I guess we'll just let it be foreclosed." (May they be successful in selling it soon!)

The situation of being impacted by increasing mortgage rates and living expenses is not in any way unique to the Jewish community. Nor, I think, is having made some home purchases that previously would have been beyond means, by taking special low payment adjustable loans. Nor, for those who have had value in their property, is taking loans using that value. What may be unique is the need to essentially sell of their home value for yeshiva tuition, weddings, and paying for Torah learning for newly married couples (rather than for the latest big screen TV or newest SUV).

My evidence of a time of trouble is anecdotal, though US economic reports keep, very very gradually, showing the same.

So I ask you, and please comment, do you see these factors in your (US) Jewish communities?

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

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Nesher Omair

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

One of the side effects of saying Perek Shirah is a bit more attention and notice to the song of nature going on around you...

The "Nesher" (Raptors, Eagle, Hawk, Vulture) says, "And you, G-d, the Lord of Hosts, G-d of Israel, awake to punish the nations. Do not be gracious to any wicked traitors, up to the end!"

hawk

Oh Nesher, it would seem the time of your song is now! May your song be heard in Shamayim, before we cry it in tears!!!

This nesher, one of a family or group of them, is an active member of my neighborhood, patrolling from above.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

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The Segulah of Challah

by Akiva's Wife at Mystical Paths

Baking Challah is a tremendous mitzvah for Jewish women. With rushed lives and wonderful kosher bakeries, it's very easy to buy great quality challot for Shabbat. Yet, making challah for your family, taking challah (the mitzvah of removing a portion of the dough of the kohein), and enhancing your family Shabbos table with the work of your own hands specifically with the intention for Shabbat, is a tremendous mitzvah.

N'shei UBnos Chabad (Chabad Ladies and Daughters organization) has set up a special group for home challah makers. It's to perform the mitzvah of taking Challah with a brocha as part of a group of 43 (the numerical equivalent of challah) in the merit of couples who want to have children (but have not yet been so blessed).

They report, "Achdus (unity) works! B"H, over 38 babies have already been born and one after 22 years of marriage!!!"

The Segula of Challah site, here.

Challah In Progress
P1000175

P1000202

A great joy in making challah is with my children. To the left is my little girl's challah.

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Mind Over Body- The Piaseczna Says Practice Makes Perfect

by Dixie Yid at Mystical Paths


When I'm not eating on Tisha B'Av, it makes me think about how fragile and delicate we in America are. One day without eating, and we're all lying down and plotzing for some food or a drink Tisha B'Av afternoon. It's a sad statement on people like me. This thought reminds me that it's a ma'aleh in kedusha to be in control of your simple, mutar ta'avos.

The Rebbe Reb Klonymous Kalaman of Piaseczna, the Aish Kodesh, wrote in his sefer, Bnei Machshava Tova, about the Ta'anis HaRitva. In this kind of ta'anis, rather than not eating, you pick one meal a day, twice a week, once a week or whatever, and you only eat half the amount you usually eat. i.e. Stop eating even while you still have room for more food, even though you would still like to eat. For many, including me, this is almost harder than not eating at all.

The idea is that you should not always be a slave to your desires, to what you want to do. The only way to break your body's hold over you is by getting actual practrice in not listening to it. There are many things you can do to this. If you want a snack because you will enjoy it, and you're not really hungry, just don't eat it. Use 1 sugar instead of 3 in your coffee. Like the Ritva said, eat half as much as you would like. The Piaseczna suggests not getting your favorite dish on the table, but only your second favorite.

Without practicing self-control, you don't have any self control. Sometimes I feel like saying to myself, "I don't have to always do what I feel like doing. I can control myself when I want to. I just don't want to." This is like the alcoholic or the smoker who says, "I can quit whenever I want to, I just don't want to." This reminds me of the story of the Ba'al Mussar, whose name I can't remember, who once woke up early in the morning, desiring a glass of water. He was suddenly frozen with indecision. If he got the water, he'd be giving into his ta'ava for a drink (assuming he didn't really neeed it right then). If he didn't he'd be giveing into his laziness by not getting out of bed. His solution? He got out of bed and went to the sink but didn't get a drink. He was really focused on not being a slave to his desires. He wanted to live a life of decisions and not of desires.

May Hashem give us the strength to do one or more of these exercises in self-control each week in order to be people who are rulers over their body, and not people whose bodies rule over them.

-Dixie Yid

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Orchestrated

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

A kind reader wrote, in response to a story I posted, "It took a long time for me to connect the dots... I wondered if I had the name of the book correct in my mind... But now you have confirmed for me what happened. Freaky."

I responded, "There is no "freaky", there's Divine Providence, all events large and small are orchestrated by the greatest of all conductors."

The Rambam, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, zt"l, one of the greatest halachic authorities of Judaism from the year ~1165 CE, wrote about hashgacha pratit, divine providence (the heavenly orchestration of events), describing different levels of heavenly attention depending on the righteousness of the person. Objects were left to the seemingly random events of nature, the simple people got a touch of divine orchestration but were mostly under 'natural' control, and the righteous full attention.

The Baal Shem Tov came along and taught that everything is divine orchestration, even a single leaf turning over and protecting a worm from the sun, is hashgacha pratit.

Which is right? The answer has something to do with both the events, and the times of the authors. The Rambam was writing for the intellectuals of his time, and responding to Greek philosphy, as the world was in the hold of the works of Plato and Socrates. He was combating the position of nature as a random force, and man at the whims of nature.

Are the positions incompatible? No, for nature is but a force of G-d, and we refer to the divine name Elokim as G-d expressed through the stable patterns of nature. When we are distant from G-d, or when He wishes to mask His actions as deeply as possible, well then, it's just nature, seeming coincidence, happenstance, the forces of the world. When we see something that appears out of the ordinary, out of bounds, beyond the normal pattern, we call it a miracle, and say that Hashem has related to us by a higher name, He's gone beyond nature.

Normally, you can't hear a single instrument out of a symphony. Or rather, to do so you have to concentrate intensely, and even then, if you are not an expert, you may not be able to do so. However, an unusual instrument, or a soloist, we always hear.

The trick is to understand, just because you hear the symphony doesn't mean every single instrument isn't carefully orchestrated. And every orchestra has a Conductor.

How can it be that I wrote a story, that came to me at that time to write to touch people, may have touched different people different ways that several felt it was meant just for them? Because the Conductor is very good at what He does.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

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Hashem YeRachem - Tehillim

(A friend has requested...)

EMERGENCY. Please say tehillim (Psalms) for Rachel bat Ilana, a 9 year old girl just hit by a car.

Thank you, and may Hashem give a complete and speedy recovery!

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How the Yetzer Hara Tries to Dry Us Out

by Dixie Yid at Mystical Paths

I was introduced to a piece in a sefer called Darchei Noam, דרכי נועם. It gave over a heart-rending pshat on the famous gemara in Kiddushin 30b, "ואמר ר"ש בן לוי יצרו של אדם מתגבר עליו בכל יום ומבקש המיתו," that one's Yetzer Hara renews its fight against you every day and tries to kill you. He asked what the part of the Gemara that says that it tries to kill you is really coming to teach. If it means that it is trying to physically kill you, then that is not truly the role of the Yetzer Hara. It is the role of the Malach Hamaves. (And even though they are one in the same, it doesn't kill physically when its wearing the "Yetzer Hara Hat," only when it's wearing its "Malach Mamaves hat.")

He goes on to explain that its effort to kill the person along the lines of the Yerushalmi that learns that a dried out Lulav is pasul (unfit) for the mitzva of Lulav and Esrog from the pasuk, "לא המתים יהללו י-ה," "The dead cannot praise Hashem." In other words, something that is dried out is called "dead" by the pasuk. Therefore, when the Gemara in Kiddusin is saying that the Yetzer Hara is trying to kill you every day, it means that it is trying to make your Yiddishkeit dry. The Yetzer Hara knows it cannot get you to do out-and-out aveiros every single day (although it can do this with many). It always tries to say to you, "Listen, you can keep the halacha, but let's keep it at that. If you get too into it, you'll just look silly to other people and you're probably faking it anyway. Just do what you have to do and get on to the next thing."

The yetzer hara tries to make Yiddishkeit dry and tasteless, merely something for me to get through till I can get onto things I really enjoy in life. Chassidus comes to inject warmth and Chiyus into my Avodas Hashem, so that it isn't dry and without feeling.

May Hashem help you and me do the mitzvos with feeling and excitement, and not out of habit and cold dryness!

-Dixie Yid

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"Caution"

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths
I would caution you about the word guaranteed!

In any event we should have simple faith that whenever He arrives, it is good for us! We need not make and chesbon/calculation! And we are warned not to! We need just to trust that all is from Hashem and all is good for us, no matter how it looks from our prospective view points.

The last possible moment for Moshiach, as stated in the Holy Zohar, "The time of the Resurrection of the dead" has to start at least 210, as there is a moloket of 4 years whether it is 214 years before or 210, before the year 6000. 6000-210= 5790, we are currently entering the 7Th year in the shmitah cycle 5768 "there will be war". 5769 is the 8th year as the gemorah states "in the 8th year Ben Dovid comes".

And it is because these dates line up that I caution you strongly, there another 22 years (at most) for him to be revealed. And we need 40 years prior to have gibus galios, 40 years of ingathering of the exiles. So we are 18 years into the ingathering, almost 1/2 the way. We are closer than we ever have been.

I ask please again, please come home and ease the suffering of all the Jews and the world. Make a statement of complete faith and just come home. There is still a lot to happen and we can sweeten all of it with our complete emunah. There is nothing to fear. We have a bad example of what happens when we do not believe. "Our complete history almost is record of failure."

After the chorban rishon we were told to stay and rebuild the land and were told that we would have blessing. But no, we knew better, we killed the Governor and fled to Egypt and our doom! Do we now we stay in the U.S. and the West because we do not believe that Hashem can take care of us? WE think we are in control of our lives but we are sadly mistaken. Again our foolish pride causes us to fall victim to our sekel, thus we are doomed to repeat our failures.

"Wake up and trust in Hashem.".

Shalom - Reb Nati

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Aleph

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

A word on the portion of the week, Deuteronomy 3:23 - Va’eschanan.

The “Ten Commandments” are repeated this week. When they were first given, we mentioned [i] that these ten sayings sum up the entire Torah. Also, the first of these commandments sums up the ten, the first word of the first commandment sums up the first commandment, and the first letter of the first word sums up that word.

How can the five books that changed the world possibly be summed up in a single letter?

If a society had no other laws than these ten, its people could live in peace. Surely, as life became more complicated, more details would have to be added to its legal system, but these basic laws could guide a community to live a peaceful life.

If we knew only the first of these commandments, and knew very well that it was God Who took our ancestors out of slavery, we would always be thankful. We would be aware that He is Omnipresent and All Powerful. With this awareness, we would naturally not want to do those things that are forbidden. In fact, all of these commandments except for Shabbat are quite logical, especially to someone who knows God. So we can begin to understand the statement that the first commandment sums up the ten.

The first word of the first command is Anochi—I. If we could understand the depth of this concept, it would sum up the Torah. Remember, the Torah was given to us because we were not able to maintain the main requirement of life in the Garden of Eden—not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

A number of times we discussed how it is that all this diversity is here, yet there is only God. We saw how, in fact, He is the “Indweller” of all things, the “I” of All. There is one overall “I” and many, many little “I’s.” The little “I’s” are beams of the overall “I,” but this is hidden from them. They each think that they are a separate independent “I.” If a beam would really understand Anochi, the overall “I,” he would not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He would see that all is the doing of the one “I,” and he would happily work tending and keeping the garden.

And what about the first letter? The first letter is aleph. Here are just a few of the things that the aleph teaches:

1. The aleph is written by combining a yud, a vav and a yud. The gematria (numerical equivalence) of yud is 10 and vav is 6. The yud vav yud of the aleph adds up to 26, which is the gematria of Hashem (Yud Kay Vav Kay).

2. There is no particular sound to the aleph. Its pronunciation will vary according to its use. This is like the life force of all beings, Who takes on the “form” of whatever being It fills.

3. If you could completely unfold matter, it would actually disappear, just as your lap disappears when you stand, or as a fist disappears when you open it. When you fold an aleph in half diagonally, you see the secret to creation. The higher yud folds over onto the lower yud. This lower yud comes into being by folding the aleph. The upper yud comes down and is now lying on (becomes) the lower yud.

The higher yud has a point above it that points to the place from where it comes. This higher yud then points down as if pouring itself downward.

The top and bottom of the lower yud are parallel with its lowest corner, pointing slightly down. The parallel sides of the lower yud indicate that it is limited. The bottom corner that points down points in the direction where the lower yud goes.

Besides the folding, we see an aspect of “descending” by the letter vav. The vav represents drawing down and actually looks like a yud being drawn down. Here it also presents a “border” between the higher and the lower yuds.

We see that the lower world, the place where we live, is actually the higher world being drawn down onto it but made parallel or finite. And all of this—the higher, the lower and the border between them—is the aleph— One.

[i] See portion Yitro above

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Continuation: 5769 Guaranteed Geula

by Nava at Mystical Paths

Continuation of 5769 Guaranteed Geula

Gedaliah commented: "It states that 5769 is not the 3rd time but rather the 12th time. Birkat HaChamah only occurs on Yom Revi'i (Wednesday), that is part of the definition from the Gemara Brachot 59b."

Gedalia, you are right, Birkat HaChama fell 11 times since the creation on 14 Nissan and the last one will be 5769.

The Rav wrote this about 200 years ago, didn't he know about the additional 10 times the Birkat Hachama fell on 14 Nissan? My husband and I pondered over this for a while. My husband suggests that the reason the Rav only mentions 2 Birkat Hachama out of the 11 is because they both are connected to great miracles.
(1) The miracle of being redeemed from Egypt, and;
(2) The miracle of Purim.
The other 9 times that Birkat Hachama fell out of 14 Nissan, no miracles were mentioned.

Birkat Hachama prior to being redeemed from Egypt was Nissan 14, 2447 and the following year Nissan 15, 2448 at midnight Am Israel left Egypt. This explains why Am Israel left Egypt very sudden and quick.
Birkat Hachama prior to the miracle of Purim was Nissan 14, and Rashi, zs'l, writes that the following year, in Adar, the miracle occurred.
From here we learn that both these Birkat Hachama were connected to redemption, and both occurred less than 13 months later.

In the dream Prophet Devorah Shining Sun, the song of Devorah HaNevia, a'h, says ... וְאֹהֲבָיו כְּצֵאת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ - HaShem's Lovers are like the sun when goes forth in might".

The Malach said החוט המשולש לא במהרה ינתק - The triangular thread will not quickly be disconnected. It was said in reference to the third and final Blessing on the Sun. The third and final time we will bless the sun, Birkat HaChama on 14 of Nissan is in the year 5769, and we will see tremendeous miracles, Amen ve Amen.

Thank you Gedalia for being persistant and correcting my error. You did good!!!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

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5769 Guaranteed Geula

by Nava at Mystical Paths

From Shirat Devorah HaNevia, a'h.
כן יאבדו כל אויביך ה' ואוהביו כצאת השמש בגבורתו"
"Let all enemies perish, HaShem: but let them that love Him be as the sun when he goes forth in his might."

The first time the blessing on the sun, Birkat HaChama, occured on 14 Nissan was when the Jews were redeemed from Egypt, and all our enemies perished.

The second time, recorded in Megillat Esther, Birkat HaChama occured on 14 Nissan and the decree to kill the Jews was annulled, and all our enemies perished. After this great miracle, Daryavesh, zs'l, son of Esther HaMalka, a'h, helped the Jews return to Eretz Israel to build the second Bet HaMidash.

Kadosh Elyon האדמו"ר מאסטראווצע, zs'l, author of Meir Enei Chachamim, wrote in his sefer that the third time that Am Israel will bless the sun on Wednesday, 14 of Nissan will be in the year 5769. He writes, "This will be last time ever and shortly afterwards, the Geula MUST come, b'h!".

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Beis HaMikdash Tour

A wonderful virtual tour of the 2nd Beis HaMikdash, including the underlying structures (which personally I've never seen before).

Highly recommended: here.

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Beat the Rush- Advice by the Piaseczna for Davening

by Dixie Yid at Mystical Paths


I saw a piece of advice that is highly worthy of repeating and being misbonein upon at length.

In Hachsharas Ha'Avreichim, Rav Klonimus Kalmish Shapira of Piaseczna, the Aish Kodesh, gave the following piece of direction. He was speaking about what to do when you find that you are davening and your thoughts are flying from one thing to another during davening and you can't get yourself to think about the davening. He said that if you try to, by force, make yourself stop thinking about anything except the words of the tefillah, then it is a major doubt whether this will be successful.

Instead, it applies a fundamental eitza that he uses in many places. He says that the pasuk in Shema says, "V'ibad'tem meheira." This means that one must destroy (v'ibadetem) the practice of rushing (meheira). One always feels that he has to keep moving and to go fast. When you're in davening, the feeling is that you have to keep going. You can't stop and you must finish at the same time or earlier than everyone else. The trick is to break that feeling. Rather than trying to force yourself to have more kavana while you keep davening... STOP! Stop davening. If it's a time when it's mutar, then sit down. If not, then lean on something and relax for a moment. Think and trace back where that rush of different thoughts arose from all the way back to the first strange thought. After this contemplation, you will have broken the flow of that confusing train of thought. Then you can go back to davening and you will be able to do so with greater concentration.

The key to this is to give up on the desire to keep going, going, going. Destroy the desire to rush (v'ibadetem meheira).

-Dixie Yid

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The Deeds of Midyan

Here.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

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Jerusalem, 1967, and Har HaBayit, Now

Har HaBayit - The Temple Mount - Today

Photos - Slideshow

The part called "Solomon's Stables", just built into another mosque...

Photos - Slideshow



These stones, unearthed by the muslims during their building of the stables mosque, clearly include stones from the 2nd Beis HaMikdash. (If you zoom it up, you'll see some stones with the classic edging of Herod.)

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Longing

In the sefer HaYom Yom, this entry is found and attributed to the 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe, the entry for the 3rd of Av...

When Mashiach will come (speedily in our time, Amein), then we shall really long for the days of the exile. Then we will truly feel distress at our having neglected working at Avoda; then will we indeed feel the deep pain caused by our lack of Avoda.

These days of exile are the days of Avoda, to prepare ourselves for the coming of Mashiach, speedily in our time, Amein.

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Hanging On

A first hand account by the Rebbe of Bluzhov from the Holocaust...

It was a dark, cold night in the Janowska slave labor and concentration camp. Suddenly, a commanding shout pierced the air: "You are all to evacuate the barracks immediately and report to the vacant lot. Anyone remaining inside will be shot on the spot!"

Pandemonium broke out in the barracks. People pushed their way to the doors while screaming the names of friends and relatives. In a panic-stricken stampede, the prisoners ran in the direction of the big open field.

Exhausted, trying to catch their breath, they reached the field. In the middle were two huge pits.

With their last drop of energy, the inmates realized where they were rushing, on a cursed dark night under the control of the German beasts.

Once more, the cold, healthy voice roared in the night: "Each of you dogs who values his miserable life and wants to cling to it must jump over one of the pits and land on the other side. Those who miss will get what they rightfully deserve - ra-ta-ta-ta-ta. Hahahahahahahaha."

It was clear to the inmates that they would all end up in the pits. Even at the best of times it would have been impossible to jump over them, all the more so after starvation, disease, and slave labor. The prisoners standing at the edge of the pits were skeletons, feverish from disease and starvation, exhausted from slave labor and sleepless nights. Though the challenge that had been given them was a matter of life and death, they knew that for the S.S. and the Ukrainian guards it was merely another game.

Among the thousands of Jews on the field that night was the Rebbe. He was standing with a friend, a freethinker from a large Polish town whom the rabbi had met int he camp. A deep friendship had developed between them.

"Spira, all of our efforts to jump over the pits are in vain. We only entertain the Germans and their collaborators, the Askaris. Let's sit down and wait for the bullets to end our wretched existence," said the friend to the rebbe.

"My friend," said the Rebbe, as they were walking in the direction of the pits, "man must obey the will of G-d. If it was decreed from heaven that pits be dug and we be commanded to jump, pits will be dug and jump we must. And if, G-d forbid, we fail and fall into the pits, we will reach the World of Truth a second later, after our attempt. So, my friend, we must jump."

The rebbe and his friend were nearing the edge; the pits were rapidly filling up with bodies. The rebbe glanced down at his feet, the swollen feet of a 53-year-old Jew ridden with starvation and disease. He looked at his young friend, a skeleton with burning eyes.

As they reached the pit, the rebbe closed his eyes and commanded in a powerful whisper, "We are jumping!" When they opened their eyes, they found themselves standing on the other side of the pit.

"Spira, we are here, we are here, we are alive!!!" the friend repeated over and over again, while warm tears streamed from his eyes. "Spira, for your sake, I am alive; indeed, there must be a G-d in heaven. Tell me, Rebbe, how did you do it?"

"I was holding on to my ancestral merit. I was holding on to the coattails of my father, and my grandfather, and my great-grandfather, of blessed memory," said the rebbe, and his eyes searched the black skies above. "Tell me, my friend, how did you reach the other side of the pit?"

"I was holding on to you," replied the rebbe's friend.

Excerpted from the book, Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust, by Yaffa Eliach.
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Faith in the Veil of Tears

A first hand account by the Rebbe of Bluzhov from the Holocaust...

One morning in the Janowska slave labor and concentration camp, I was standing and sawing wood with another prisoner. To humiliate us as much as possible, I was given as a partner a very short man and am a tall man myself. It made the sawing both a difficult and a laughable sight. With each pull of the saw my partner would stretch out and stand on the tips of his toes, and I would bend down till my aching, swollen feet were bleeding. And the Germans stood by and watch our misery and suffering with delight.

One morning, on Hoshana Rabbah, as we were sawing wood, the wind carried in our direction piercing tormented cries such as I had never heard before, even in the Janowska hell. The desperate clamor was coming closer and closer as if the weeping was filling up the entire universe and drowning it with painful tears.

"It's a children's Aktion, little angels from the entire vicinity of Drohobycz, Borislov, Lvov, Stryj, Stanislav, and others were brought here to meet their maker" said another prisoner who passed by, pushing a wheelbarrow and not even glancing in our direction. We continued sawing the wood as our eyes became heavier and heavier with tears.

Suddenly, just next to us, I heard the voice of a woman. "Jews, have mercy upon me and give me a knife." In front of us was standing a woman, pale as a sheet. Only her eyes were burning with a strange fire. I thought that she wanted to commit suicide. I said to her, "Why are you in such a rush to get to the World of Truth? We will get there sooner or later. What difference can one day make?"

"Dog, what did you say to that woman?" A tall young German who appeared from nowhere demanded an answer, while swinging his truncheon above my head. "The woman asked for a knife. I explained to her that we Jews are not permitted to take our lives. For our lives are entrusted in the hands of G-d." I hastily added, "And i hope that you too will spare our lives." The German did not respond to my words. He turned to the woman and demanded an explanation from her. She answered curtly, "I asked for a knife."

As she was talking, she kept examining the German with her feverish eyes. Suddenly her eyes stopped wandering. The shape of a knife was clearly visible through the pocket. "Give me that pocket knife!" she ordered the German in a commanding voice. The German, taken by surprise, handed the knife to the woman.

"She bend down and picked something up. Only then did I notice a bundle of rags on the ground near the sawdust. She unwrapped the bundle. Amidst the rags on a snow white pillow was a newborn baby, asleep. With a steady hand she opened the pocket knife and circumcised the baby. In a clear, intense voice she recited the blessing of circumcision... "Baruch Ata Hashem, Elokaynu Melech HaOlam, Asher Kidishonu b'Mitvosav, Vitzivonu Al Mitzvah Milah" - Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to perform the mitzvah of circumcision.

She straightened her back, looked up to the heavens and said, "Ribono Shel Olam, Master of the Universe, you have given me a healthy child. I am returning to you a wholesome, kosher Jew." She walked over to the German, gave him back his blood stained knife, and handed him her baby on his snow white pillow.

Amidst a veil of tears, I said to myself then that this mother's circumcision will probably shake the foundations of the heaven and earth. Next to Avraham on Mount Moriah, where can you find a greater act of faith than this Jewish mother's?

Excerpted from the book, Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust, by Yaffa Eliach.
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Monday, July 23, 2007

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It Begins.

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

As I type this, Tisha B'Av, the day of pain and destruction for K'lal Yisroel, begins in Eretz Yisroel (the Land of Israel). I won't go into the meaning of the day (click the link above for some educational material) here.

The Talmud in Sanhedrin (97a) says "Ein ben Dovid bo ad she'ys'yayshu min hageulah", the Son of Dovid (HaMelech, aka Moshiach) doesn't come until we despair in the coming of the Geulah.

Today, Middle East peace monger & former British PM Tony Blair arrived in Israel, scheduled to meet with PM Olmert tomorrow. That's right, on Tisha B'Av.

Yesterday, former US President Carter offered to 'mediate' between Hamas and the PLO. They accepted.

Yesterday, the Israeli Ministry of Education approved the Nakba curriculum, educating Israeli Arabs how the Jews destroyed them and to hate Israel and the Jews.

Iran and Mexico against the US and Israel???

The competition for who hates Israel the most is heating up. That's not despair generating though. The fact that MOST of the Israeli government is in the competition, that is.

Hashem should help!

Tonight R. Nati is headed to Jerusalem, to sit by the Kotel and mourn for the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, to mourn that our Father's house sits in ruins, that G-d's obvious presence is pushed out of this world. Yet, he'll also be sitting there with camera, MP3 recorder, and cell phone, to catch the pictures of and alert us to the arrival of the 3rd Beis HaMikdash and Moshiach Tzidkaynu.

For now, at least, some of us refuse to despair.

We'll have some Tisha B'Av posts up later. We hope everyone has an easy fast. I don't add "meaningful", for it's hard to mourn for that which it's been so so long since we've known. But to yearn to be closer to Hashem, and stand in His Holy House, when so much in our time works to distract us, distance us, and now to threaten us, that I can do.

RIBONO SHEL OLAM, AD MOSAI?????

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One Must Destroy in Order to Build

by Dixie Yid at Mystical Paths


I was reading a recent post at Beyond BT that's worth seeing. In it, Katrin told the story of the great tragedies in the life of a Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt. The tragedies he endured in his life and story of the death of his wife at the age of about 30, reminded me that sometimes Hashem knows that the only way to allow people to grow to a greater level is by first destroying them.

This is a great truth that we must accept if we want to grow into bigger Jews. One must destroy who he is now (including the good parts) if he wants to attain a new, higher and more exalted level than before. A greater self cannot be built on a lesser self. The lesser self must first be obliterated. There are many places where one sees this universal truth.

In hilchos Shabbos, destroying is not forbidden unless it is done in order to build. Tearing is only proscribed when it is along a seam in order to re-sew another garment. This indicates that the true purpose of "destroying" is as a "constructive" force, when it is used in the purpose of building something greater in its place. Therefore, when one is mevatel and he obliterates his current self, it cannot be done in a destructive way, but rather it must be a destruction similar to the dismantling and tearing in hilchos Shabbos, which is done in a constructive way, to build something greater in its place.

Even the neshoma after Geheinom, which is delighting in a sublimity of Divine revelation that we, who are still confined to human form, cannot fathom, must go through a type of destruction in order to ascend to higher levels of Gan Eden. When a neshoma is enjoying pleasures of the Divine Presence that we cannot contemplate in Gan Eden Tachton (lower Gan Eden), it cannot fathom the even greater Divine light of Gan Eden Elyon (upper Gan Eden). In order for that neshoma to ascend to the higher level of Gan Eden, it must first immerse in the Nahar Dinur, the "River of Fire." This Geheinom-like process of suffering and destruction is necessary in order to attain the higher level of Gan Eden Elyon.

Why is the necessary to destroy one's lower level in order to attain a higher level? To not do so would be comparable to pouring fine wine into a vessel with the remnants of cheap wine still in it. The greater level of the finer wine will be nullified by the presence of the cheap wine. To reach a qualitatively different level, the old level must be destroyed so it does not ruin and nullify the effect of the higher level.

A friend of mine offered another moshel. We know that everything in the world is moshol for the true spiritual reality so this concept is found in the physical world in innumerable ways. My friend pointed out that when one want to build his muscles, it is not enough to build them by working them out through exercise and lifing weights. The muscles must be worked so hard to the point of becoming ripped in many places. It is only through the rebuilding of the muscles after ripping that they can achieve the bulk the bodybuilder desires.

This is why Hashem decreed that we go through hundreds of years of slavery and exile in Egypt. He intended to make us feel so broken and cut-off from Him, that our entire relationship with Hashem that had been built up by the Avos was destroyed. It was only after this cutting-off and destroying in the Kur Habarzel (Nesira) that we could re-create our relationship with Hashem as one of Panim b'Panim and not Achor b'Achor (intimate love similar to that of husband and wife and not cool love similar to that of parent and child) through the miracles and the Sinai experience.

This is also why every single peshat that you will hear or read from a rabbi or friend is preceded by a Kasha, a question on your existing understanding of some pasuk/gemara/mishna/halacha. Even if the kasha is weak, people always start off by asking one. This is because of this unconsciously known general truth. Only when there's something you don't understand and your previously conceived understanding of some text is nullified by a kasha can you then be opened up to hear the new pshat. People never just start a speech by saying a new peshat on a text without first asking a kasha on some other understanding of that text.

There are countless other examples of this. I am actually somewhat uncomfortable writing this post without citing any sources. I don't like to do that at all because no one knows whether I am saying things that come from my own imagination or are based on some true source (except those that already know what I'm saying). However, I really don't remember which seforim or shiurim I've learned many of these examples and ideas from specifically. It's more of just a compilation of some of the ideas I know in this topic so I apologize for readers who have nothing to look to that I can cite to double-check the accuracy of what I've written.

May Hashem give us the bravery and strength not to be afraid to be mevatel our current selves in order to build greater selves.

-Dixie Yid

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Logic for Our Times

by Aharon Hoffman at Mystical Paths

And the world calls this kosher...

A majority of Palestinian Arabs support continued rocket attacks on southern Israel as a means of extracting further concessions in peace negotiations, which they also support.

This says in their minds, rocket attacks are part of/compatible with peace negotiations.....so if I read this right, if we carpet bomb them that is a legitimate bargaining tactic, tacitly agreed to by the international community, even in their own and everyone else's eyes? Does such equality exist? Hardly. This alone should be Israel's response: We should bomb them into submission - since everyone accepts this as legit for the Arabs.

According to the results of a poll..., 56 percent of Palestinians in Gaza and Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) want the terrorists among them to continue pounding Israelis with rockets and mortars.

Does this mean that if we kill no more than 56% of them we would be doing "due diliegence" in not harming the 44% who do not and hence not "acting disporportionately"?

At the same time, 58 percent said they back the resumption of direct peace negotiations.

Could this get more absurd?

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Due For An Earthquake

via Elisheva's Alerts at Mystical Paths

JPost reports: "The ground is shaking" is not just a political metaphor anymore; it may also be a reality soon in Israel.

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev are predicting a major earthquake following the 80-year anniversary of the last destructive earthquake that hit Israel.

Israel's last earthquake struck the northern Dead Sea on July 11, 1927, and hit a 6.25 on the Richter scale. The blast killed almost 300 people both inside the country and across the Jordan River. The statistical data predicts another quake in 2011, 84 years from the previous upheaval, Dr. Avni urged caution.


One correction: The blast killed almost 300 people both inside the country and across the Jordan River. 300 Arabs. not one Jew. (B"H) Ongoing earthquake patterns around the Middle East show that the area is very active and seems to be preparing for major quakes.

Just as predicted by the navi'im.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

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Armilus?!

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Just a brief article, because the facts speak for themselves...

-> The 3 weeks, the Jewish Agency for Israel, in charge of Aliyah, announces it will no longer promote aliyah with Nefesh b'Nefesh, who has successfully increased aliyah from the US by 15 times. (But, 70% of that aliyah is Torah observant American Jews.) Instead, they will fund delegations to go to Reform synagogues throughout the US to promote aliyah. (Because they've met their religious-Jew quota, they don't want more of that kind.)

-> Erev Rosh Chodesh Av, the start of the 9 days, the new President of Israel says, "We have to get rid of the territories [Judea and Samaria]." That's right, the first statement by the new President was, Israel must abandon biblical Israel. (Because we know how well getting out of Gaza has worked.)

-> Rosh Chodesh Av, the first of the 9 days, the new Vice Premier of Israel is reported..."Vice Premier Chaim Ramon has created a plan for a second “disengagement,” this one in Judea and Samaria. Israel would force Jews to leave 70% of Judea and Samaria. Dozens of Jewish towns would be forcibly cleared, and the Palestinian Authority would take control of the area." (Because we know how well abandoning biblical land is working.)

-> The 2nd of the 9 days, the Prime Minister announces a list of 250 mass murderers to be released, including masterminds of massacres of Jewish children. (Because we know how well releasing murderers has worked in the past, note the [not] decreased amount of attacks.)

It's actually become difficult to figure out who's Armilus, as it seems to be a whole Armilus contingent!

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Things to Worry About

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

When people bent on acquiring nuclear capability begin arresting...squirrels, "14 spy squirrels were equipped by foreign intelligence services, but were captured two weeks ago by the Police”, I begin to worry a bit. When they begin claiming UFO's will be taking over the world for their messiah, well, I mean, you couldn't make this up... "on a state-run radio station...a cleric has been talking about the twelfth Imam, who is supposed to rise and make earth all Godly. He has reportedly mentioned, “It is not like Imam will use his sword to defeat the enemies....Maybe, Imam will use UFOs to attack his enemies."

Ooooooookkkkkk. (Source here, worth reading.)

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Friday, July 20, 2007

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Rocket Launcher by Newark Airport - NJ

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

A brief news report says that a "6-foot military rocket launcher capable of shooting down planes" has been found in Jersey City, New Jersey, on the flight path to Newark Liberty International Airport.

Video Report Here

Here's some info not included in the report:

Jersey City is a poor city across the Hudson river from lower Manhattan. It has a significant immigrant population, including a large presence of muslims from Arab countries. A major section of the city contains mosques and businesses catering to that community. Wikipedia says, "Of all cities in the United States, it has one of the largest Arab and Muslim populations and proportion."

You know, just noting that fact.

Update:

This no longer seems to be a news item, because, "The device is single use and had already been fired, and such pre-fired surplus can be purchased through military web sites."

I know that I'm no longer worried that a weapon which "has very powerful warheads that can penetrate through more than a foot of armor" showed up in a downtown neighborhood with a high muslim population and in the flight path for a major airport, because it was only a training model.

Whew, all better now.

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Live: A Rav & Kabbalist on Gog uMagog, Sunday

The respected rav and teacher (and kabbalist), Rabbi Mordechai Sheinberger, shlita, will be giving another kinus (conference) on preparing the house of Israel for Gog uMagog, this Sunday.

In the merit of the yaretzheit of the Holy Ari Zal, zt"l, the rav will speak at 3:00 PM (US EDT, 10pm Israel time), available live at this link.

He will be speaking on the concept of Moshiach ben Yosef, the holy Ari, and continuing from the previous talk, the coming war, Moshiach, and mesiras nefesh (self sacrifice for Torah and mitzvot).

Sunday, 3:00 PM (US EDT) - Radio link here. - (2 hours, Hebrew)
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New Video About the Piaseczna Rebbe, the Aish Kodesh

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Statements by Chazal on Gerim



by Dixie Yid at Mystical Paths

-When the Jewish people do Hashem's will, He scouers the world, and when he sees a Tzadik among the nations of the world, he brings him and attaches him to the Jewish poeple [as a Ger]. Yerushalmi Brachos 2.

-Hashem only dispersed the Jewish people among the nations in order to add onto them Gerim. Pesachim 87b.

-Three [types of people] love one another: Gerim, slaves, and guarentors. Pesachim 113b.

-When the Gerim come in the world to come, Antoninus will come at the head. Yerushalmi Megillah 1.

-Whether a male converts [to marry a Jewish] woman, or a woman who converts [to marry a Jewish] man... they are not [valid] Gerim. Yevamos 24b.

-There is an advantage that exisits between Yisroel and Gerim. Whereas by Yisroel, the pasuk says 'I shall be to them a G-d and they shall be to me, a nation,' by Gerim it is written, 'Who is this whose heart guarentees him to approach me?' [a more intimate level than just being His nation] Kiddushin 70b.

Perhaps I will cover more ma'amarei Chazel later, but this is a small sampling. Some sound superficially negative but I feel that I cannot quote these without greater explanation, which I will perhaps get to another time.

-Dixie Yid

(See also my recent related post at Beyond BT)

(Picture courtesy of Mikvah.org - picture is of Mikvah is Las Vegas, NV)

(I found these sources using אוצר האגדה)

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HaAri HaKodesh, zt"l


08-29-Israel-- 021.08-29-Israel-- 033


Aug-21 072






by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Tonight is the yaretzheit, the hilula, the day of the elevation of the great and holy Ari, the Holy Lion, HaRav HaMekubal Rabbi & Kabbalist Yitzchok Luria, zt"l. The great and holy Ari Zal opened doors that were closed, revealed secrets that elevate us, resolved questions that were asked, and set the patterns that those who follow the mystical traditions follow to this day.

His holy resting place, accessible to this day in the mystical city of Tzfat (Safed) down the mountain and via an incredible number of steps, reads...

According to the words of the Ari Zal
It's good accept upon oneself to love
every person of Israel before praying
and to say this with a full heart,

"I hearby accept upon myself the positive mitzvah
of loving your friend as oneself, and I also love
every person of of Israel like my own soul."


Nearby, the mikvah he used continues to bubble up out of the rocks in the middle of the mountain. It's said of the Ari's Mikvah, which is freezing cold year round, one who toivels in it will not leave this world without doing teshuvah.

Full Ari Slideshow - or Photoset

Music exerpt, Reb Gideon of Tzfat, Mikveh Ari CD, which can only be purchased from Reb Gideon in front of the Mikveh Ari in Tzfat.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

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Emunah Paths Podcast - #5 Relax and Connect

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Please join us for the 5th edition of our new Podcasting effort, Emunah Paths Podcast #5 - Relax and Connect.(8 minutes, MP3, English)

Direct MP3 Download: HERE - - Subscribe to Your iPod:

    Play it Now:

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Refreshing Honesty

by Aharon Hoffman at Mystical Paths

Interesting interview well worth reading...

In Washington, both Dems and Republicans continue to insist--against tidal waves of evidence to the contrary--that religion has nothing to do with religious wars...

The problem is that the Washington crowd is secular from start to finish. Even those who go to a church or synagogue every week have been so thoroughly secularized intellectually by their educations and the circles in which they live their professional and personal lives that they have no sense of the power of unbridled faith, of the spectacular power of revelation, of the suddenness of conversion--or even of the basic human need for something greater than the self in which to believe. We mock al Qaeda for clinging to the past, but Washington is equally desperate to hold fast to the last century's secular interpretation of all human actions.

We face enemies who want to please their God with blood sacrifices. And we just want to please the lawyers.
...

“Eurabia” is a true nightmare scenario, correct?

No...the notion that Europe, the continent that's exported more death and destruction than any other, is going to just shuffle wimpily to its doom is crazy. The Europeans have been playing pacifist dress-up while we protected them, but, sufficiently threatened, they'll revert to their historical pattern--which is to over-react. Europe's Muslims may prove to be the real endangered species; after all, Europe's history of dealing with rejected minorities veers between genocide and, for the lucky, ethnic cleansing. For me, the question isn't whether Muslims will take over Europe, but whether Europe will simply expel them or kill any number of them first. Sound far-fetched? How would the Holocaust have sounded to an educated German (or Brit, or American) in 1932? Europe is a killer continent. When the chips are down, it will kill again.

Meanwhile, Europe's Muslims are behaving so stupidly that their folly can't be measured with any tools at our disposal...


Read the whole thing, from Front Page Magazine.

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The Spiritual Power

Rabbi Noson Weisz at Aish.com writes... (a brief excerpt)

As long as the Temple stood, Israel was a spiritual power. It was the nerve center of the world, a culture that exported ideas. The nations looked to it for guidance in matters of spirituality. The Jewish people were spiritual trend setters and role models. The destruction of the Temple turned us into a minor tributary along the cultural stream of the world. It is the super powers of the world that export their culture to us instead of the other way around. It is their spiritual agenda that defines what is politically correct.

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Jews Today - Part 2, The Old Jew

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

Isn’t it true that in order to learn the Torah and do the mitzvahs properly, you have to be quite learned? And so many of the Jews in the world today, in fact the vast majority, are completely ignorant of God’s ways. So how can this Torah-ignorant people inherit the holy Land that God has promised to our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov?

A while back, an older Russian man walked into the Kotel area. I convinced him to put on tefillin even though he did not know what I was talking about. He knew nothing about them at all. I doubt that he had ever even seen tefillin before. Getting him to repeat the blessing, with me leading him word for word, was like pulling teeth. He could not pronounce a single word anywhere near the way it was supposed to be pronounced.

I told him to say “Baruch.” He said, “Karach!”

“No!” I said, “Baruch.”

He repeated, “Touchack!”

I saw that he couldn’t say the blessing right, and he was getting really frustrated, so I quickly put the tefillin on him without the proper blessing. I handed him the prayers that he was supposed to say. He looked at them, and even though they were written in Russian, he just wanted to get out of there quick. Then, as if in a last-breath chance, he asked, “Look, is it ok if I just sing Hava Na Gila?”

“Sure,” I said. He stood there in front of the Kotel walking around back and forth, happily lifting up his arms in prayer, face beaming and proudly singing out, “Hava Na Gila, Hava Na Gila.” His face was shining. He really felt at home.

I know Hashem loved that one.

Can we say these cases are signs that the Redemption is at hand? “… and He will return and gather you in from all of the peoples to which Hashem your God, has scattered you. [ii] Even if your dispersed will be at the ends of Heaven, He will gather you in.” [iii]

A recent letter:

I met you at the Kotel in 2004. I had spoken to you about an incident I had experienced at the Kotel in 1985 when I was 25. At that time, I had no idea that my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother and father (great, great grandparents) were from the Pomeranian area of Poland and were both Jewish…surname (edited for anonymity)…I did not find this out until I was almost 40! After my aunt had spent nearly 10 years conducting a very detailed genealogical search of my maternal family’s ancestry. After my great, great grandfather moved his family to the U.S. in the mid 1800’s, their daughter…my great grandmother, her daughter…my grandmother, and my mother had all married non-Jewish spouses and had assimilated into the Lutheran religion. And I was raised with a Christian identity, and with absolutely no knowledge of my Jewish identity.

However, when I was 20 and on a Christian tour of Israel that my seminary, upon graduation, had provided for their graduate students as a graduation gift, I went to the Kotel, and a very old Chareidi man dressed in black and with a long gray beard approached me. He grabbed me by the arm and took me to the tefillin table, and started to put them on my arm when I exclaimed, ”I am not Jewish… . I am a Christian Minister!” Without skipping a beat, he quietly said to me in broken English with a heavy European accent, “You don’t know… . God knows!” as he continued to bind the tefillin to my arm and head. He then sent me off to the Kotel with a Siddur, and I sensed the overwhelming presence of our Creator. This led me on a 20-year search to restore my Jewish identity, which has been a long and arduous road of t’shuvah.

However, I am happy to report that two years ago, at age 44, I completed an orthodox conversion to be sure in Jerusalem, and it was during that year-and-a-half long process that I met you at the Kotel and told you this story. You explained to me that those of you who man the “mitzvah carts” gain a unique insight that enables you to select and approach those who are Jewish, whether they know it or not, out of all the people who visit the Kotel! This encouraged me during all the loving “confused mess” that surrounded my studies.

You will be happy to know that this coming August, my wife (who is also an observant Jew), and I are making official Aliyah and we will both be studying in yeshivas in Jerusalem.

We intend to pay you a visit as soon as we are able to! Perhaps a Shabbat dinner in the Old City sounds in order… .

[ii] Deut 30:3
[iii] Deut 30:4

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

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Beware... Check Your Shoes

by Nava at Mystical Paths

You buy a new pair of shoes, and you seem to be satisfied with them. Before entering your foot into the new shoe, be aware... Many Israelis are finding inside the shoes torn pages from holy Torah scrolls.
A resident in Yerushalayim, Chana, bought a new pair of shoes and after a few days the shoe fell apart. She took the new shoes to the shoemaker. When the shoemaker opened the bottom sole of the shoe, Chana and the shoemaker were shocked. Underneath the insole torn pages from the Torah scrolls were hidden inside.

Another Israeli also encountered this earth shattering discovery, "I saw the Torah scrolls inside the heel of the shoe and went into shock, I couldn't breathe. My wife purchased these shoes 2 months ago and when they started falling apart, I was angry that the shoes are of such poor quality and got ruined so quickly. But now, we are in a state of shock what was found inside the shoe. We are both heartbroken that my wife walked stepped daily on holy Torah scrolls."

The shoemaker says it's not the first time he has seen this. It's happening a lot lately, r'l, "I find holy scrolls from Megillat Esther, Sefer Nechemia. Everytime I disassemble these kind of shoes, I find torn pages from our holy books inside the insole".

When examining the sources of these shoes, it was found that they are manufactured in Arab factories and the torn pages of Holy books are placed purposely under the insole. It's obvious that it's done with intention because if needed, torn papers from newspapers can be placed inside, to add that extra comfort.

"There are days that I open one shoe after another and find torn pages of holy Sefarim," says the Yerushalayim shoemaker, " They purposely choose to put inside the shoe pages of our holy Sefarim. There is no doubt in my mind that it is intentional".

If you purchased shoes in Israel, please go to a shoemaker and have your shoes inspected. Make sure that you are not stepping on torn pages of holy Sefarim.

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Weather and Teshuva







by Nava at Mystical Paths

When HaShem finished creating the Earth, He said: "See My works, how fine they are. All that I have created, I created for your benefit. Think upon this and do not corrupt and destroy My world".

There is a long list of Mitzvot pertaining to the environment that are directly linked to the weather. For example, burning massive amounts of fossil fuels, it's a violation of the Mitzvah bal tash'chit unnecessary destruction, and the outcome is global warming. When we commit environmental destruction, this induces "global winter." When the weather drastically changes, we need to wake up and realize the connection of our behavior to the climate change, and do Teshuva.

The Mitzvot (commandments) effects the weather, as it says in the Shema: If you obey the commandments that I enjoin upon you this day, loving HaShem and serving Him with all your heart and soul, I will grant the rain for your land in season, the early rain and the late. You shall gather in your new grain and wine and oil -- I will also provide grass in the fields for your cattle -- and thus you shall eat your fill. Take care not to be lured away to serve other gods and bow to them. For HaShem's anger will flare up against you, and He will shut up the skies so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its produce; and you will soon perish from the good land that HaShem is assigning to you.

Just in the past week alone, HaShem is YELLING for us to WAKE UP and do Teshuva. How is HaShem talking to us? Through the weather: Torrential rain in India, flooding in Kansas, snow in July in England, hail storm in New Mexico, sand storm in Phoenix, earthquake 7.2 in Japan....

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George's Next War

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Many think President George Bush down and out. Iraq has been a disaster, and even if it may actually be improving, the public image of it is a total screw up. On the domestic front, the next election has basically already started and no one is paying any attention to Bush.

But, quietly, reading details in a few headlines, we see, something is going on. Bush isn't going to leave office without striking back...

Article #1

The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action... The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo."

The White House claims that Iran, whose influence in the Middle East has increased significantly over the last six years, is intent on building a nuclear weapon and is arming insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan... At a meeting of the White House, Pentagon and state department last month, Vice President Cheney expressed frustration at the lack of progress and Mr Bush sided with him. "The balance has tilted..."

Bush is reluctant for Israel to carry out any strikes because the US would get the blame in the region anyway. "The red line is not in Iran. The red line is in Israel. If Israel is adamant it will attack, the US will have to take decisive action," Mr Cronin said. "The choices are: tell Israel no, let Israel do the job, or do the job yourself."

Almost half of the US's 277 warships are stationed close to Iran, including two aircraft carrier groups. The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise left Virginia last week for the Gulf. A Pentagon spokesman said it was to replace the USS Nimitz and there would be no overlap that would mean three carriers in Gulf at the same time. (That is 270 strike aircraft alone.)

Article #2 - Air Force Quietly Building Iraq Presence

Away from the headlines and debate over the "surge" in U.S. ground troops, the Air Force has quietly built up its hardware inside Iraq, sharply stepped up bombing and laid a foundation for a sustained air campaign in support of American and Iraqi forces.

Squadrons of attack planes have been added to the in-country fleet. The air reconnaissance arm has almost doubled since last year. The powerful B1-B bomber has been recalled to action over Iraq.

Inside spacious, air-conditioned "Kingpin," a new air traffic control center at this huge Air Force hub 50 miles north of Baghdad, the expanded commitment can be seen on the central display screen: Small points of light represent more than 100 aircraft crisscrossing Iraqi air space at any one time.

Early this year, with little fanfare, the Air Force sent a squadron of A-10 "Warthog" attack planes - a dozen or more aircraft - to be based at Al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq. At the same time it added a squadron of F-16C Fighting Falcons here at Balad. Although some had flown missions over Iraq from elsewhere in the region, the additions doubled to 50 or more the number of workhorse fighter-bomber jets available at bases inside the country, closer to the action.

The reinforcement involved more than numbers. The new F-16Cs were the first of the advanced "Block 50" version to fly in Iraq, an aircraft whose technology includes a cockpit helmet that enables the pilot to aim his weapons at a target simply by turning his head and looking at it.

The Navy has contributed by stationing a second aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, (now its 3 carriers) and the reintroduction of B1-Bs has added a close-at-hand "platform" capable of carrying 24 tons of bombs.

Those big bombers were moved last year from distant Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to an undisclosed base in the Persian Gulf.

Air Force engineers, meanwhile, are improving this centrally located home base, which supports some 10,000 air operations per week.

The weaker of Balad's two 11,000-foot runways was reinforced - for five to seven years' more hard use. The engineers next will build concrete "overruns" at the runways' ends. Balad's strategic ramp, the concrete parking lot for its biggest planes, was expanded last fall. The air traffic control system is to be upgraded again with the latest technology.

"We'd like to get it to be a field like Langley, if you will," said mission support chief Reynolds, referring to the Air Force showcase base in Virginia.

Aharon Hoffman adds...

Since B1-Bs (known as the B-one or Bones) are long range bombers it raises the issue as to whom the long range is against. Since F-16s and F-15s can service targets well enough in Iraq (or even Iran) then its not range but payload that is the issue.

F-15B1B
10,700 kg beyond full fueled weight (23,590 lbs)133,800 lbs
2762 mile range5900 miles range


QED 1 B1B = 6+ F-15s in payload

So, if you were dropping deep penetrators or mountain busters or bunker buster MOABs, you need larger payload aircraft nearby. Iraq is easier to provision heavy payloads than Diego Garcia.

Meaning, this level of build up is far in excess of what's needed to "support the ground troops and surge".

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

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Why the 3 Weeks are the the Best Time for Kirvas Hashem


by Dixie Yid at Mystical Paths

My friend who is, for the rest of the week, in the armpit of Dixie, pointed out a great Ohr Gedaliyahu on parshas Matos Ma'asei that relates to the Shabbosim of the 3 Weeks.

Rav Gedaliya Shor says over the well-known vort about the 3 Weeks from Rav Ber (?)on the pasuk (Eicha 1:3), "כָּל-רֹדְפֶיהָ הִשִּׂיגוּהָ, בֵּין הַמְּצָרִים." He says that the pasuk should be read that "All who pursue Hashem [yud hei], will reach Him Bein Hametzarim [in the 3 Weeks]. Why is the 3 Weeks such an opportune time to get closer to Hashem? Rav Ber explains that it is analogous to a King who is traveling. When the King is at home in the palace, it is difficult for anyone to have access to him. However, when the King is traveling, even simple people can meet the King. So too, during the 3 Weeks, when the Shechina is in Galus, it is easier for simple people like us to connect to Hashem.

He told over another explanation as to why it is easier to connect to Hashem during the 3 Weeks, and especially during the Shabbosim of the 3 Weeks. He says, in the name of Rav Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, that it is similar to Shabbos at mincha time. Usually Mincha time is a time of Din (Yitzchak/Mincha). However, since Shabbos is Rachamim, Shabbos reveals the deepest Ahava and rachamim during the time of mincha. That is why Mincha is the holiest part of Shabbos, Ra'ava D'ra'avon. Similarly, Rav Simcha Bunim says that the 3 weeks are a time of dinim. This indicates that he greatest rachamim is hidden within that time. So when the Shabbosim of the 3 Weeks come (keeping in mind that Shabbos=rachamim as mentioned above) those whole Shabbosim reveal the love and rachamim within the 3 weeks, which makes them a great time of potential closeness with Hashem. And mincha time of the Shabbosim of the 3 Weeks is the biggest of all.

May Hashem reveal how this time is a time of closeness and not a time of suffering, soon in our days!

-Dixie Yid

P.S. This post also appears at Dixie Yid here.

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Emunah Paths Podcast - #4 Delaying the Geulah

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Please join us for the 4th edition of our new Podcasting effort, Emunah Paths Podcast #4 - Nine Days Special, Delaying the Geulah. I actually lost the track of my interaction with R. Nati, so you just get his great answers. Still, I think it came out ok. (9 minutes, MP3, English)

Direct MP3 Download: HERE - - Subscribe to Your iPod:

    Play it Now:

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Jews Today - Part 1, The New Jew

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

In this week’s portion of the Torah (Devarim 1), Moshe tells us again that Hashem promised to give us the Land. Hashem said that it was the Land that He had sworn to give to our forefathers “and their children after them.”[i]

This was thousands of years ago. Who could really expect a people to maintain their family that long? After all, using today as an example, in America the third generation of non-observant Jews are intermarrying at the astonishing rate of 95 percent! Since the assimilated Jew feels absolutely no spiritual or social restrictions as to whom he marries, the intermarriage rate simply becomes a matter of what percentage of the population is Jewish. Also, it is very common today to find people who consider themselves Jewish despite that their mother is not Jewish, but their father is. In fact, so many non-Jews have immigrated to Israel that one year, recently, the majority of men drafted into the Israeli army were not Jewish. They have come from Russia under the civil law of return, which allows them full immigrant rights if they have a close relative who is a Jew. So with this rampant intermarriage and mixed-up lineage, how could it possibly be that the Jewish people have survived? How is it that there are any known Jews today to inherit the Land that God had promised to us thousands of years ago?

A “New Jew”

A while back someone brought a tall guy over to the tefillin booth and asked me to put tefillin on him. He really didn’t look Jewish, so I asked him if he was a Jew. He said that he was. I asked if his mother is Jewish. He said, “Yes.”

I said, “Okay. Let’s take your Jewish blood pressure.” I started to lead him in the blessing, and he knew the first few words himself. He read the prayers in English, and I showed him how to close his eyes and pray for his loved ones. He did a very good job.

We spoke for a while before I took the tefillin off. He told me that he was living in Spain with his wife and kids and was working for the US Army in anti-terrorism. Looking like he did and being in the Army and living in Spain, I knew for sure the poor guy had married a non-Jewish woman and had non-Jewish kids. I didn’t want to say anything, as I was afraid that I would ruin what had just been a very positive experience for him. Then he dropped a bombshell.

He said, “I am a new Jew.”

“Uh oh!” I thought, “I just blew it. I put tefillin on a goy!” (a non-Jew). The only person who would say such a thing would have to be a convert, but if he was a kosher convert, he would have been putting on tefillin by himself, or at least he certainly would have known the blessing. Then he dropped another bombshell.

“I was adopted,” he said.

“Oh no!” I thought. “That’s even worse, if there could be such a thing. He wasn’t even a non-kosher convert. He was just somehow recently adopted by a Jewish family!”

He went on, “I recently found out that I was adopted when I was a baby. And just now I found out who my real parents are, and my real mother is a Jew.”

“Wow, that’s great!” I said. But in my head, I was thinking whether or not I should tell him that as a Jew he cannot be married to a non-Jew. That’s all the guy needs to hear, that he has to divorce his wife and kids! I didn’t know how to say it gently enough that he wouldn’t get angry. I tried, “You know, now that you know that you are a Jew, you have to have a Jewish wife and make a Jewish family.”

“You don’t understand,” he went on. “Somehow, God made me marry a Jewish woman, so my family is already Jewish.”

Wow, was I relieved. The guy really was Jewish, and he had a Jewish family.

He was beaming. He asked, “How was my Jewish blood pressure?”

I hit him on the shoulder and said, “Great. Welcome home, brother.”

When God wants to work it out, He works it out. We do not have to worry whether there will be a Jewish People in the world to inherit the Land. We will be here one way or another.

[i] Deut 1:8

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