Friday, November 30, 2007

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Of Politics and Dirty Tricks III

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

3 weeks ago I wrote, "Seems to me, every single Prime Minister has been under threat of indictment right before every single (fake) peace initiative. Funny how that is, how these things which are the mearest of whispers turn into front page headlines right before the (fake) peace conference of the moment."

And today, we read: "Knesset members from both ends of the political spectrum criticized Thursday the police's recommendation to close the case against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the Bank Leumi affair due to lack of evidence."

Wow, what an amazing coincidence! It just so happens that right before the (fake) peace conference, enough evidence has just turned up and been analyzed that an indictment is imminent. Then, right after the conference, nope, there wasn't enough after all, please forget the whole thing.

Amazing, astounding, what incredible luck on the PM's part.

Does anyone else smell decaying aquatic life here?

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Light Out Of Darkness

by Neshama at Mystical Paths













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Seforim Recommendations - Guest Posting - Some Seforim You Might Not Have Seen

by Dixie Yid at Mystical Paths

I began learning Divrei Yoel (by the Satmar Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, zt"l) before I got totally involved in Chabad. On the other hand, I learn it now, if anything, more than before.

The basic outline of any piece out of Divrei Yoel is like this: 1. First, the Rov asks a bunch of questions, normally starting with a question on an actual passuk, or a Rashi. Sometimes, he will go straight to Midrash after quoting the possuk, and ask a question on the Midrash. Then, he'll ask a number of other questions on the parashah(sometimes related to the first question, but more often not). Sometimes, one of the questions will be based on a Yismach Moshe, or a Kedushas Yom Tov. Sometimes one of the questions will be based on a Zohar.

Then he answers the questions. Usually, in order to answer the questions, he has to go into some Gemarra. Standard themes are: qualities of a Tzaddik, the importance of strict and loving observance of the mitzvos, etc. Then he'll use the Gemarra to frame the way you look at the possuk. In so doing, he usually answers the secondary
questions. Finally, with the new perspective that he has employed (based on the Gemara, and developed through answering the other questions) he tackles the original question.

He rarely has an uplifting "yehi ratzon" and almost never comes out and says "the practical lesson for us is" or "as far as our Avodah is concerned" etc. The message is usually clear from the drosho. If you give it over and feel the need to explain the "message," you're sort of like explaining the punch line of a a good joke... the explanation is never as good as the punch line.

You see him employ this style in his seforim about Zionism. Whatever points he wants to make, he seems more comfortable making them through making droshos on midrashim, Gemarros, possukim, etc. He brings everything together, but the real strength of his words are in the droshos.

One of the things I really like about his droshos is that they really are a workout on the mind. You have to juggle a number of topics all at the same time (because there are so many loose ends at the beginning, and he deals with all of them)

I have 2 other favorites that might surprise you. One is the Tosher Rebbe. His seforim (all called by the name Avodas Avoda) are amazing (There is a set of 2 that is on the Parashah in Loshon Kodesh; there is a set of 2 on the Parashah in Yiddish, and one sefer that goes according he the parashah, but is really a book of addresses that the Tosher Rebbe gave on or around Yartzheits of various tzaddikim, usually Motzei Shabbos). He usually asks one or two questions on the parashah, and then gives a very geshmake answerwithin a few pages. In the meantime, he usually explains some oranother concept in Chassidus, calling on traditional Chassidus seforim. Then, he'll go for a few more pages giving over some practical mussar based on whatever point dominated the drosho. He aims straight for the heart, and has a real power. He has a real following. Many Admorim visit the Tosher Rebbe. The Kosover Rebbe spends Shabbos Chazon by the Tosher Rebbe, and brings many of his Chassidim with him.

The other is the Shomer Emunim, R' Aharon Roth. His main sefer iscalled Shomer Emunim. I don't know how to describe it other than tosay that he has a very powerful approach to Yiddishkeit. He doesn't mince words. And he has very high expectations. Amazing! He neverwrote anything on the parashah, though some students put together somevertlach that came from a variety of sources and arranged themaccording to the parashah. I find that sefer hard to follow, because Idon't think his teachings were intended to be turned into sound-bytes like that.

-Anonymous Friend

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

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A Look At Chabad

Video: A Look at Chabad, with some unique sequences in the Chabad library with original seforim from tzaddikim and gedolim.

(Hebrew interviewers, some English sections.)
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The Spiritual Perspective (6)

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Look at each mitzvah’s specific body, and from that try to learn what its spiritual nature and reason are. For instance, when giving charity, see that not only is the poor person’s poverty lessened, but that the amount of suffering in the world decreased and kindness increased. Go beyond looking at the players in the mitzvah, the one who gave and the one who received. Think of the spiritual realm where the scales of creation are weighed.

The Rambam explains that there are different levels in giving charity. How can this be? The same amount of money is given to the poor person no matter how it is given. Yet, he points out, that when money it is given anonymously, is a greater mitzvah than when that same amount of money is given in a revealed manner. And the highest level of charity, he tells us, is to teach the poor person a trade, how to support himself.

The same is true when drawing another person to a mitzvah. To help him put on tefillin, or her to light Shabbos candles, is a wonderful thing. It is a tremendous kindness. But to teach someone to access the spirituality that is inherent in that mitzvah is a much greater thing to do. You will bring them to love the mitzvah so much that they will want to do it again and again. You will have taught them how to support themselves spiritually. What a precious gift you will be giving them!

But who says that we are obligated to bring another person to do mitzvahs?

Just last week, a very learned young man told my Shabbos guests, “I have absolutely no obligation to put tefillin on another person! There is no mitzvah to bring the Moshiach.” Is he right?

In the very first portion of the Torah, Genesis, we read of the first murder. When G-d confronted the murderer and asked, “Where is your brother?” (whom he had murdered), he answered, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” He was asking, “Am I obligated to be concerned with my brother’s wellbeing?” This is an everlasting testimony against the thinking that says, “I am not obligated to help put tefillin on another Jew.” Does the Torah directly command us to put tefillin on others? No, but it does command us to love our fellow as we love ourself.

Where do we learn that this love includes bringing people close to Torah and mitzvahs? This is one of the Torah’s basic teachings. When we see an overloaded donkey fall, we are obligated to help the owner pick it up. If this is true for his physical load on his physical donkey, then how much more so must it be true for his much more valuable spiritual load on his spiritual donkey?

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Yud Tes Kislev

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Tonight is Yud Tes Kislev. This date is a special date for Chabad chassidim, though not only for Chabad. On this day was the hilhula (the passing and elevation) of the Magid of Mezerich, HaRav DovBer, who began to systematize the great flow of light that entered the world from the Baal Shem Tov.

It was also the date of the liberation of the Baal HaTanya, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, HaRav Shneur Zalman of Liadi. The Baal HaTanya took the great system of chassidus and codified it into the foundational works of chassidus, Likutei Aramim - The Book of the Intermediates, aka The Tanya, as well as Likutei Torah/Torah Or, which bring down the light of chassidus at a deep but understandable level for every parsha (Torah portion).

The Baal HaTanya was arrested specifically for diseminating the works of chassidus, and his liberation is considered the liberation of this light for all of Klal Yisroel.

So here is a word of Tanya, from Chapter 39, l'chovod Yud Tes Kislev and the Baal HaTanya, the Alter Rebbe of Lubavitch...

...we do not concern ourselves with esoteric matters, which are (related to) the great tzaddikim, who are in the category of "vehicle" (acting as a chariot to the Divine will). Our concern is with matters that are "revealed to us", to which every man should aspire: TO know with certainty the essence and quality of Divine Service, with a conscious fear and love in one's heart, stemming from understanding and knowledge of the greatness of the blessed Ein Sof (the Infinite)...and of service with the natural fear and love in the mind... But a service without the inspiration of fear and love even in the mind...remains below, in the world of "separateness"...having no power to rise and be absorbed in His blessed Unity...

Such are the words and instructions of the Alter Rebbe to those who aspire to reach the level of the Intermediate Man.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

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via Elisheva's Alerts...

Are the words of the biblical prophets now being published in daily newspapers and magazines?

It is customary to lead out a beast with the hooks in its jaws because it does not want to go [voluntarily]. I, too, will put thoughts into your heart and an urge that will draw you from your land to come upon Israel. Rashi on Yecheskel 38:4

No free will allowed. He is unable to stop himself. Do we pray for mercy for his soul?

... At the end of the years you will come to a land [whose inhabitants] returned from the sword, gathered from many peoples, upon the mountains of Israel, which had been continually laid waste, but it was liberated from the nations. Yecheskel 38:8

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Exhibit A

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Motivation. Any questions?
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The Nerve of Those Jews!

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

What can you say??????

(Guysen) On Monday, in the United States, Ehud Olmert said that it is Israel which will decide on the future of Jerusalem and not Jewish American citizens. American Jewish organizations, in particular from the orthodox communities, are opposed to the division of the Israeli capital.

The nerve of those Jews, thinking to have a say about Jerusalem. Darn them, darn them to heck!!!!!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

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Harav Amnon Itzchak Shlita

In one of many shiurim that HaRav Amnon Itzchak Shlita gives, he was asked how he did Teshuva? He answered that they used to live in Kerem Hateymanim in Tel Aviv and one day, when he was 24 years old, in 1978, he was home sitting in the living room. Having nothing to do, he looked at the bookcase and checked out the books sitting on the shelf. He saw a sefer called Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (literal translation: Shortcut to a prepared table; actual translation: Concise Code of Jewish Law) and on the sefer's cover was a gold frame that was very attractive.
He received this sefer for his Bar Mitzvah and thought to himself, 'who are the stingy guests that brought me a book on setting up a table?'. He opened it up, thinking to see pictures of food and dishware set up on a table but instead he saw pages and pages of print. He randomly opened the sefer and began reading, "A person must put on the right shoe first, left shoe last, tie shoelaces of left shoe first and tie shoelaces of right shoe last."

He figured it's a book about shoes...

He randomly flipped the pages and read, "It is beneficial to begin one’s sleep while lying on the left side, and afterwards to change to the right side."

He figured it's a book about sleeping...

He randomly flipped more pages and read, "At the conclusion of the blessing one should respond with ‘Amen,’ which means ‘It is true and stands for אל מלך נאמן. Our tradition teaches that responding “Amen” is equivalent to saying the b’racha itself.

He recognized the word Amen, because his father would take him to shul on Shabbat and he heard the congregation answer Amen, but he never understood the meaning of the word. But by now he was very confused, not understanding what kind of a book this is. Is it a book of instructions how to set up the table? Or, how to put on shoes?, Or how to sleep?

After leafing through the pages of the book, he then realized just how Jewish illiterate he was, and this was quite a humbling experience for the secular-savvy young attorney. When seeing just how beautifully intricate and wise the Halacha really was, he became outraged at the fact that he had deliberately been robbed of his birthright by the secularly oriented public education system in Israel. That episode was a turning point in his life, which led to his intense commitment to increase his own Jewish knowledge while simultaneously encouraging others to do likewise.

He decided that he'll read the sefer from the first page to get a better understanding. As he began reading the book, he purchased more Sefarim to help him understand the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.

He read (studied) day and night, and learned new Halachot. When he went to shul Shabbat, he noticed that the congregation erred in halacha and would correct them. They would get angry with him, coming to shul with his long ponytail and teaching them the Halachot... He didn't realize that men are prohibited to have long hair because he hasn't yet reached that section in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch....

He says this is the main reason that in his shiurim he looks for men with long hair and wants to chop it off, it's part of his tikun.

He began peddling through the streets of Tel Aviv, engaging people in heated conversations about what it means to be a Jew. No one escaped his sincere efforts to encourage them to explore, to learn and to observe mitzvot. From the street corners, to the living rooms, to lecture halls and on to the mass media, the audiences continue to grow by leaps and bounds.

8 years later, in 1986, he opened Shofar organization. Single handedly, with his razor sharp mind and mouth, he helped over 1 million Jews to do Teshuva. His following include Sephardim, Ashkenazim, Litvak, Lubavitch, Breslov and other Hassidim, orthodox and secular Jews who want to learn about their own religion. Fans of HaRav come in all shapes and sizes, both men and women! His events are ALWAYS standing room only! Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak fills football stadia and auditoriums across Israel and internationally, preaching a message of repentance and return to Judaism.

Rabbi Amnon also said, “Terrorist attacks won’t cease, they’ll just get worse. A few years ago, the Arabs threw rocks at us. Hashem wanted us to make tshuva, but we didn’t. Instead of rocks, we got homemade incendiary bombs. Hashem wanted us to make tshuva, but we didn’t. Instead of the incendiary bombs, we got shot at with rifles. Hashem wanted us to make tshuva, but we didn’t. After the rifles, the terrorists acquired machine guns. Hashem wanted us to make tshuva, but we didn’t. After the machine guns, the terrorist developed Qassam rockets and began firing them at us. Hashem wanted us to make tshuva, but we didn’t. Since we still didn’t heed Hashem’s voice, the Qassam rockets became Katyushas, and now the Katyushas are becoming Raad and Fajr missiles. What, are we now waiting for the 125-kilometer range missiles to hit Natanya and Tel Aviv?!? And then Gog and Magog? That’s what will happen if there’s no tshuva!”
To see video shiurim of his most famous lectures, dubbed with English subtitles, click HERE

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Monday, November 26, 2007

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Navi - Navi !!!!!

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Unfortunately, this is going to be much briefer than I would like. I gave a short shiur on this on Shabbat, and will try to do my best here, but am very busy with some life circumstances at the moment and can't give my posts the attention they deserve...

There is much to learn through the words of the navi'im, and especially the weekly portions that where selected to accompany the weekly Torah portion. Navi is traditionally very hard to read commentary about, as the navi is speaking through a vision or whisper from G-d, and is trying to relay future events through his or her (the navi's) frame of reference.

Two weeks ago, we had the Haftara of Hoshea. As we read this haftara, I almost fell out of my chair as it so much described the situation of the week leading to Annapolis. It says, in brief, we are not united, "Efraim" is lying to G-d and to the house of Israel! He (Efraim) rules with lies, deceit and extortion! BUT, "Yehudah" hangs on to G-d, and the lost children will return FROM THE WEST. Oh, by the way, it specifically says "Efraim goes by KADIM(A)!!!". (Sorry, that's the brief edition and from memory.) The commentaries on it are confusing, as they replace different words with various national historic contexts, but try reading just the straight pshat.

This weeks Haftara is the navi Ovadiah. Ovadiah specifically speaks of Edom, understood to mean the West, humiliating Israel and leading the nations to divide Jerusalem!!! Specific references to the sign of the eagle, and living in tall buildings, are made.

And why, why? Well, last week Hoshea told us, "to buy oil!!!".

Read the two navi'im in pshat, the words are startling in the context of Annapolis this week. I'll revisit this post as time allows with more detail, G-d willing.

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The 17th of Kislev

(Received via email from a Reb Kaplan...)

17th of Kislev 5708 - State of Israel voted for - UN resolution 181

40 years later - 17th of Kislev 5748 - Intifada I breaks out.

60 years later - 17th of Kislev 5768 - Annapolis "peace" conference

~ 5 Years ago, a Temani rabbi who studied wih a mekubal told me the secret of the threshold mentioned below in the holy Zohar (Vayera I:119a) was the founding of the medina.

When the sixtieth year shall have passed over the threshold of the sixth millennium, the God of heaven will visit the daughter of Jacob with a preliminary remembrance (p'qidah).
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Participate in Prayer Rally at the Kotel


The rally will be, b'h, Monday, (Nov. 26), 3 pm Israel time (8 am NY time) with many Rabbanim and Gdolei HaDor; including HaRav HaMekubal Mordechai Eliyahu Shlita.

It is strongly advisable that each person should make an effort to accept to take upon himself/herself additional Mitzvot (commandments); i.e.: increase Torah-learning, recite Tehillim (Psalms), read the Zohar HaKadosh -- in order to annul the decrees which are hovering over the Jewish People and Eretz Israel.

Reading Parshat Korach from the Zohar HaKadosh is a Segula to prevent earthquakes. This is especially important because of the 4 earthquakes that occurred last week in Eretz Israel; HaShem protect us.

It's extremely important to wash your hands after touching anything impure, especially vital to wash hands before learning Torah or praying.

Your effort will help to annul the great danger hovering Am Israel.

Also here, view the Kotel

The public is encouraged to email this message to their acquaintances.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

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* It's Time - Jerusalem *

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

It's time, Annapolis is this week, Jerusalem is in grave danger. The words out of the prophets are coming to life as the nations vie to divide Jerusalem.

But, maybe we can make a difference!

1. Daven - Say Tehillim for Jerusalem and united Klal Yisroel!

2. Spiritual Warfare - Say Perek Shira for Jerusalem and a united Klal Yisroel. Here it is (PDF).

3. Physical Actions -

- - If you are a US citizen, contact your Senator and register your demand that the US stop pressuring Israel to commit suicide and divide Jerusalem!

- - The Coordinating Council on Jerusalem is sponsoring an innovative grassroots effort to generate calls to the White House, the State Department and the Israeli Embassy. CCJ is subsidizing both the system and all of the calls, so IT WON'T COST YOU A CENT.

Stand Up, Call Out, and Make a Call for Jerusalem! Click here.

(By clicking the link, you will go to a page of very simply instructions to facilitate your calls. Make your voice heard. Each call is counted as 1000 voters.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

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Just Today

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

In our opening podcast, A Day with Trouble, R. Nati taught a lesson about dealing with our troubles. That is, we have our troubles today that we have to get through. We can sit and worry about the future, about the scope of what we have to deal with, about this big mountain of troubles that we have to overcome or, G-d forbid, fall down from and be crushed by.

But that's a mistake. What we have to do is, get through today. Just today. A lesson of emunah is that we have faith in G-d for tomorrow. For now, we just have to live

This entry in HaYom Yom, from the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, reinforces this...

(HaYom Yom for 6th of Kislev)

My father said that the reciting of Sh'ma before retiring at night is, in miniature form, like the Confession before death. But then one leaves the marketplace permanently, and the commerce of "Today to perform them" [1] is finished.

With the Bedside Sh'ma every night, however, one is still in the middle of the "market" and can still accomplish and achieve.

1. I.e. the mitzvot. See Devarim 7:11, Eiruvin 22a.

TODAY perform them, all we have to do is do our avodas Hashem, Torah and mitzvot, today.

That, just maybe, I think I might be able to do, to get through ... today.

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Duck Next Wednesday?

A Guest Post by Yonatan H. at Mystical Paths

'What do these major record-setting events have in common:

* Nine of the ten costliest insurance events in U.S. history
* Six of the seven costliest hurricanes in U.S. history
* Three of the four largest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history
* Nine of the top ten natural disasters in U.S. history ranked by FEMA relief costs
* The two largest terrorism events in U.S. history

All of these major catastrophes transpired on the very same day or within 24 hours of U.S. presidents Bush, Clinton and Bush applying pressure on Israel to trade her land for promises of "peace and security", sponsoring major "land for peace" meetings, making major public statements pertaining to Israel's covenant land and / or calling for a Palestinian state."

- (from the book "Eye To Eye")

The Rebbe tells us that Hashem will show us wonders, and that greater ones are on the way. On this Thanksgiving, and every day, I'm thankful that Hashem is looking out for us.

It (Annapolis) seems to be scheduled for next Tuesday.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

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Lower and Higher Fear

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

For some, the fact that my friend’s tefillin reflected his drastic heath situation, provoked fear. They worried, “Are tefillin and mezuzahs fatalistic? If they are not perfect, do they bring sickness?”

No, they are not fatalistic, nor do they of themselves bring sickness. They reflect our spiritual, and often even our physical lives. Tefillin and mezuzahs are guardians. They can keep spiritual and even physical diseases at bay. But when the guard falls asleep, (when they are blemished) the burglars can get in. But that they can do this; is this not scary? That a parchment can tell what is happening in our lives, or change our lives, isn’t this frightening? And, if I do not get them fixed, then what will happen?

No. They are not scary, not in the least. They are awesome; wonderfully, amazingly, awesome. For a timid seeker, seeing G-d’s reach indeed can be scary. But for those who love and seek His Presence, His reach is invited, yearned for.

There is lower level fear and there is higher level fear. Lower level fear does make you frightened. You are concerned as to what might come. It is scary, dread.

Higher level fear is awe, mind-blowing awe; the trip that takes you away, beyond concern, beyond mind, soaring into His great majesty. Let it roll! Bring it on. I love Your tremendous, never-ending power. And if it takes me off the planet, there is no better way to go!

Obviously, it is not our wish to leave the planet before our work is finished here, for if we did, we would have to come right back again to finish it. But if His glorious bliss is willing to sweep me away, I am eager to go. Remember what happened to Eliyahu the prophet?[i]

A frightened person can not say these things. He is holding on to his lower perspective, to all those things that emotionally tie him to this place. He is afraid of being swept away, of losing his possessions, and even greater, his identity. Of course, someday he will see all those things fall away. As he waits for his last breath, his concern will not be for the family he leaves behind, or for his wealth. It will be for his soul and where it is going to go.

That we have such wonderful mitzvahs as tefillin and mezuzahs that are living spiritual tools should be precious to each of us. They should be treated as they really are, as holy objects. Treat them with love and respect, and they will elevate your life.

[i] 2 Kings 3:11
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Restaurant Review: Kosher Subway

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

For Thanksgiving, I figured it would be appropriate to do a kosher restaurant review, so here we go...

For the first time ever, a general US fast food restaurant franchise has started a kosher line. Subway, the renowned US submarine sandwich chain, has created a kosher menu. I went there last evening with my children to try it out (though I told my wife it was to give her a break, hey, it's Kosher Subway, gotta try it!)

The store layout was your basic fast food joint. Indestructible tables, mildly uncomfortable chairs, ignorable decor. Self service drinks including soda fountain was a nice touch though (with free refills, which the children thought was great).

The menu was a very standard Subway restaurant menu, minus the ham, italian pork meats, and diary cheese, plus pastrami, corned beef, shwarma (as a sandwich component), and tofu-bean-cheese (ick). Here's the official kosher menu, though the times open are from the LA store.

Now in general Subway sandwiches are really cool. They bake their own bread (which makes it Pas Yisroel in the kosher restaurant), and offer a wide selection of veggies and condiments to add (such as lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pickle, banana peppers, jalopena peppers, black olives, and mayo, mustard, ketchup, bbq sauce, olive oil, thousand island, and more). Have your own sandwich made to order is the deal.

And they deliver all this at the kosher edition as well. Other options include white or wheat bread, instantly toasted sub-roll, or heated meat (appropriate for some offerings).

My children had turkey roll subs, in kid sized 4" and medium sized 6". All around declared filling and tasty, except for one who asked "why did I pick bbq sauce???". An older child and myself had the sweet vadalia chicken teriyaki subs (I admit to taking the foot long [12"] version.) This sandwich was great! A real treat. For my wife I brought home a foot long corned beef, which she declared incredible (and there were no leftovers). The meatball sub looked particularly tempting, but will have to wait for a future visit.

Price wise, they were on par with other kosher fast food restaurants, more expensive than the non-kosher subway but in line with the high price of kosher cold cuts ($5.99 - $6.99 for a 6", add $3 for a foot long).

Kosher wise, they are under a local vaad hakashrus (which is reliable), with several religious employees in sight (unclear if one was a formal mashgiach temidi). Bread products were pas yisroel, with an exception of wraps. Meat products were Rubashkin (O-U & KAJ, with Lubavitch Shechita), with an exception of the steak sandwich and something else (maybe the shwarma?). Ask the Jewish employees, they were happy to provide detail.

In general, we greatly enjoyed our meal. Further, with the fast food format I was less concerned with the children making a little mess, nor did the restaurant personnel feel concerned. Price wise, it was ok for an occasional family treat or a normal workday lunch.

If you're in the area of a kosher Subway, I recommend it.

(The picture above is from the Brooklyn store, which is not the one I personally ate at.)

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

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Q&A with A Simple Jew : Respecting the Government

A Simple Jew asked:

Rabbi Yaakov Culi commented in his sefer Me'am Lo'ez,

"One must show respect to a duly constituted government, even if it is corrupt, since power is only granted by Hashem."

These words were written over 300 years ago. How would you apply them to today?

Akiva of Mystical Paths answered:

First, we must note the statement from Pirke Avos (3.2), "Rabbi Chanina, an assistant of the high priest said: Pray for the welfare of the government, since but for fear of it men would swallow each other alive."

"Civil" society, aka civilization, is what keeps things operating in a functional fashion for large groups of people. Without it, all would be chaos and, to see a demonstration of the Pirke Avos above, take a look at what international diplomacy refers to as "failed states", aka Gaza, Congo, Somalia, Haiti (the international Failed States index here). The strong survive, the weak are preyed upon, blood flows freely and life is at risk every day.

We are instructed by the Gemora (Bava Kama 113a, Bava Basra 54b), dina d'malkhuta dina, the law of the government is the law. When we live in a country, we do our national duty, obey the laws, pay taxes, and do required services when they don't violate Torah or destroy our lives (and per national custom, where there is the letter of the law and then the practice.). The state is a means to a civil society, where we have the possibility of living and serving Hashem. The opposite is just a place of survival.

The national administration running a civil society is not holy. They do what administrations do, balance needs and demands and power, leaning left or right as the leadership pushes, servicing the needs of the administration and placating the public. And of course, perpetuating their own existance.

Rebbe Nachman emphasizes this in Likutey Mohoran 4.7, yet also answers your question. There he teaches that malchus, the power of leadership, descends from Hashem to the nations. However, this decent is demeaning, as this strength of Hashem is given over to the nations due to our many sins. Therefore, for both practical considerations of the need for a civil society, and the fact that we make a blessing to a king not due to his power, but in recognition that his power is a (small) reflection of the power of HaKodesh Baruch Hu, we do not undermine civil society.

However, Rebbe Nachman also teaches that through teshuva and humbleness, we can release this strength from the nations. Hakol kol Yaakov, through the strength of our voice, prayer, we can affect things. One does not go after civil society with the strength of one's arm and get civil society as a result.

Dina d'malkhuta dina says we follow the laws & customs of the land. It does not say we agree with the leadership or don't try to change or affect it. Working "within" the system doesn't mean just voting. It may mean lobbying, propagandizing, striking, supporting opposition, making diplomatic contacts, etc. The recent example of Uman and the Ukraine, with diplomatic pressure, is a good example.
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The Republic of Paranoia

14 Months in Syria, a Syrian journal by a British language student.

21st century dictatorship in full bloom. "Kanan Makayia famously described Iraq under Saddam as The Republic of Fear. Syria under Bashar Al-Assad is slightly more subtle; it’s best described as The Republic of Paranoia."

Read it

(h/t Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center)
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Raise Your Voice in Israel : Postponed

(Public Service Announcement)

The WEDNESDAY, NOV. 21 prayer vigal for Jerusaelm with Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, shlita, in Jerusalem, has been postponed due to weather forecasts for rain. So has the follow up Yesha council demonstration.

(Via email, information not guaranteed or endorsed.)


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

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Divine Providence : Free Will?

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

On my Conspiracy post, Yitz commented:

...I mentioned where we put our faith. Here at Mpaths, as far as I've read, you and Reb Nati have always counciled putting our faith in HaShem. If that is really what you encourage, then I wanted to understand how that squares with conspiracy theories? Even if there is a conspiracy, HaShem is allowing it, and even if there is a conspiracy, then through torah, tefillah, teshuvah and genuine emunah, we can make it clear to HaShem that He shouldn't let them achieve their goals.

Of course this is a misunderstanding of mine, but it is a misunderstanding of the material which you have presented to me over time, so I'm asking you to clarify when it is bitul Torah and mitzwoth to write to senators or MKs (and that kind of thing) instead of addressing our issues directly to HaShem, and when it is appropriate to intercede with human beings according to Torah values?

Note that this has nothing to do with pacifism. Whether I carry a gun is irrelevant, the question is: why do I carry the gun? Do I carry a gun because I think I can and will protect myself, or because HaShem commanded me to protect myself, and because I trust in His commandments, I know I will be able to protect myself?

More importantly, is there a danger that if I carry a gun, I will start to think that the gun is what keeps me safe, and not HaShem? Let's say I forget it at home one day, should I feel more or less scared? Should I look to do Teshuvah, or keep an eye to all possible items i could potentially use as weapons in the vicinity?

Aze Yofe' Sha'alot! What wonderful questions! This would be a much better topic for R. Nati to answer, however since he's offline for about another month, I'll do my best.

"HaKol Kol Yaakov", our strength is raising our voices to Hashem and our emunah in Hashem. Yet, lets discuss a practical real world example...

A man gets ill. His illness gets worse, his doctors tell him serious surgery is necessary, and it looks rather grim. Now, we know right from the Gemora that Hashem is the source of all healing. "A doctor is given permission to heal", or rather, the strength to heal. IF you really believe that, if you really can reach that level of emunah to understand that all is the hand of Hashem, then the shefah for the healing can come direct from Hashem OR via the doctor's knife. If the blessing of healing is supposed to come, it won't matter how, have emunah and tell the doctor to go away.

But what if you're not on that level. What if you can't literally view the world as all the hand of Hashem? Then you won't be able to receive the shefah directly, you must go via the intermediaries of the natural paths of this world.

To put it another way, if you can't directly connect with the Shem Havayah (Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay), then your only option is the Shem HaTeva (Elokim).

So the direct answer to your question is...if you're fully connected such that getting involved at those worldly details is indeed bittul Torah, then it is indeed bittul Torah and you should stay focused on the voice of Yaakov. If however, it's a choice of some other worldly activity or one that may have a positive effect via the natural path, then it's a mitzvah to devote ones time to doing so.

Reb Yaakov Nathan posted the following comment, in honor of the birthday and hilhula of the 2nd Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Mittler Rebbe, which ties right in here...

[The Mitteler Rebbe explains that] this does not represent a contradiction to the Baal Shem Tov's axiom that all created beings are controlled by particular Divine providence, for there are -- in general -- two types of Divine providence:

- 1. Hashgachah P'nimis -- Divine providence which is overtly revealed and is not hidden by the garments of nature. This is the type of providence which the Rambam maintains is dependent on the manner in which a person clings to G-d. Such providence is not granted to inanimate matter, plants, and animals, or to the wicked (in an individual manner. Instead, his providence involves the species as a whole);

- 2. Hashgachah Chitzonis -- Divine providence which is concealed and hidden within the garments of nature. Such providence exists with regard to every created being (as the Baal Shem Tov taught).

When a Jew does not fulfill G-d's will, Divine providence controls his fate in an external manner (chitzoniyus), and thus is enclothed in the garments of nature...

May we all be fully connected to Hashem and merit to see direct Hashgacha Pratit in our lives!

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Thoughts on Thanksgiving

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

For those who live in the US, this week (Thursday) is the national holiday of Thanksgiving. This past Shabbat, at the kiddush I was having a discussing with a Ben Noach (a non-Jewish Noachide who comes regularly to our shul, which is an interesting story of it's own). He asked me if I would be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, noting that HaRav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l and the posek hador of chutz la'aretz in the previous generation, poskins in Iggeret Moshe that one may celebrate Thanksgiving (no concerns of halachic inappropriateness.)

I responded that while Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, with a nation taking a moment to show appreciation for the blessings received, my holiday and cultural schedule is already very full and while I appreciate the opportunities of the US very much, I would not be celebrating the holiday. I noted a moment of community sharing, as I read the Crown Heights community council was giving out free kosher turkeys to community residents (of any faith).

First, I was stunned that a ben noach was quoting Iggeret Moshe to me. What I didn't want to explicitly point out is that, part of battling assimilation is making sure that I focus my family upon our culture, Jewish culture, and that specifically requires deemphasizing the local culture. Thanksgiving is one of the nicest American holidays, yet while in America, I will not celebrate it.

(Though my wife notes that 1/2 price kosher turkeys are definitely appreciated, and make a wonderful Shabbat meal for the large family.)

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Raise Your Voice in Israel

(Public Service Announcement)


Prayer Vigil With Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, the Rishon LeTzion

3 P.M.: On Wednesday, November 21, 3 p.m.,

There will be a prayer vigil at the Kotel in concern on the government's plan to divide Jerusalem. The vigil will be with the participation of the Rishon Lezyon, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, shlita.

6:30 P.M. Demonstration organized by the Yesha council calling upon Ehud Olmert: "You have no mandate to divide Jerusalem- *to return to the 1967 borders- *to allow the entrance of tens of thousands of Arab "refugees"- *to create a terror state in the heart of our Land!"

For details about transportation: 02-621-1999

(Via email, information not guaranteed or endorsed.)

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Interesting - Earthquake Zones

(via Elisheva's alerts)

Iran, nukes, biggest earthquake zone in the world. Hmmm.

Monday, November 19, 2007

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Ben Ish Chai's Verdict in Heaven: Return!

by nava at Mystical Paths

He was a young secular guy living in Tel Aviv until he died and then, everything changed.

This is his story:

My soul left my body while the doctors were pumping my heart. Outside the tunnel was a white light but inside the tunnel, it was all dark. I saw many souls that were trapped inside because they did not yet merit to be judged. The souls on the left side of the tunnel suffered tremendeously. Souls placed on the right side, their suffering was also great but somewhat less.

When I emerged out of the dark tunnel, I saw my grandfather crying. I tried approaching him but the distance between us widen like from earth to heaven. I didn't see my grandmother but heard her screaming and crying.

I was led into the 2nd world, and saw the Angel of Death, the S"M. The S"M looked like a human but was covered in black peel (קליפה) and his height is unimaginably tall, very very tall, beyond human conception. Behind the S"M were 'squads' of angels of destruction. They were all created from my sins. The angles of destruction didn't have a physical body - they were just just eyes, eyes all over. They were yelling at me, "Wicked, wicked, wicked. We are the sons that you created, we are your sons that you rejected." These destructing angels were created from the transgression of זרע לבטלה - spilled sperm in vain. This in itself is worse than Gehenom... The shame was unbearable and all were yelling, "Your name be wiped off from the earth, wicked!".

If a person knew what he is going to pass in Shamayim for committing the sin of זרע לבטלה - spilled sperm in vain, oy (shame) to him. Only those that pass this can know.

Heaven is my witness that this is what happens to every person that transgresses the sin of זרע לבטלה - spilled sperm in vain. The shame is so great.

The second squad of angels of destructions had no body, only black wings. They were yelling at me, "Wicked, wicked wicked, you know who we are? We are the Shabbat that you transgressed."

A book was shown to me and it contained all the sins I transgressed on Shabbat. I wanted to die.
The third and fourth squad of angels of destructions looked physically like human but with faces of chicken. The third squad were created from the Lashon Hara, slandering of others, that I spoke and heard. The fourth squad were created from the forbidden non-Kosher food I ate.

There were many many more squads of angels of destructions but I cannot remember. The shame was so great and I wanted to run away from the shame but there is no where to hide. I wanted to die and be placed in Gehenom already to avoid the shame. I ran away but on the right side of the S'M snakes came biting at me and all were yelling, "Wicked, wicked, wicked".

I stopped running and in a split second, I was shown a 'movie' of my life and I accepted the judgment. But I was asking myself, "I know I sinned and created all these angels of destructions from sins. But didn't I do anything good, any Mitzvot?".

I was shown a book which contained my life; every night my soul ascended to Shamayim and I'd be judged for sins I committed that day. Every night after judgment in Heaven, I signed that the judgment is just.

Just when I was thinking if I didn't do anything good, a Mitzvah, this book was shown to me but I was unable to allow them to open the book. I had so much shame because when I saw the book, I realized that I sinned so much.

The Ministering Angels entered and this somewhat, decreased the shame I was feeling by a tiny bit. Then I heard my grandmother from the 1st world crying and screaming, shaking the worlds, "CHACHAM YOSEF CHAIM, CHACHAM YOSEF CHAIM, BEN ISH CHAI (zs'l)".

Before Chacham Yosef Chaim entered this world, a tremendeous Light came inside and the Light spread all over. It's a Light of Mercy, Judgment, Infinite. Chacham Yosef Chaim entered and more Light entered with him.

The squads of angels of destructions moved to the corner. The Ben Ish Chai asked, 'Who is this person, what did he do?". After hearing from the prosecutors and defenders who I was, he said, "We will go down and ask who this person is".

They all descended to the lower world and I followed behind them. It looks exactly like our world, like a perfect copy of our world. I call it the 'copy-world'. Many souls came to greet the Ben Ish Chai and the Light grew tremendeous.

We went to the cemetery.

When I was alive, I used to wash graves twice a year. Once before Rosh HaShana and once before Yom Kippur. This began about 7 years ago when I went to visit my grandfather's grave in Netanya. I saw next to my grandfather's grave was a very dirty grave and decided to clean it. There was a book lying there and saw that it was תפילת השכבה (prayers for the dead,) and I said השכבה for this soul. I saw other dirty graves and washed and cleaned them also. I thought in my mind that this is the least I can do, a Mitzva, before Rosh HaShana. Also I thought it might give the souls buried in the grave some comfort by cleaning it. I spiritually enjoyed this very much and eventually, I'd go to other cemeteries, in Kiryat Shaul, Yarkon, etc. and cleaned neglected graves.

In the 'copy-world', we went to Netanya (it was a copy of Netanya in the copy-world). The soul that I prayed for in this cemetery came forward to the Ben Ish Chai and the Ben Ish Chai asked this soul, "Who is this person?". The soul answered, "This person comes twice a year and cleans my grave and prayes השכבה for me."

A 17 year-old-girl also came forward, her name was Zemira. She is also buried in the cemetery in Netanya. The Ben Ish Chai pointed at me and asked her, "Who is this person?", and she answered, "This person washed and cleaned my grave and gave the cemetery caregiver 100 shekels to fix my gravestone."

We went from grave to grave that I cleaned and washed in the lower world when I was alive. It was in the same order that I performed in the lower world. From Netanya to Kiryat Shaul, every grave was in the order that I cleaned them. All the souls that I cleaned their grave and said השכבה for them, defended me.

But it was not enough merit for me to return to the world.

I was taken to the cemetery in Netanya to be buried but the souls defended me and refused to allow me to be buried there. I was taken to the cemetery in Kiryat Shaul and again, the souls defended me and would not allow for me to be buried there.

I was taken to the cemetery in the Yarkon and waited for my body to be brought to be buried. On the right side of me, I see a group of 40 people crying for me and eulogizing. I see my body taken out from Tahara (cleansing of the body) and carried on the stretcher and taken towards my burial ground. The group of people that were eulogizing me caused me so much pain and suffering. I behaved in the lower world not as a kosher Jew and they said things that were not true such as I was a good man and never sinned... The soul and the body suffers so much from these lies. It causes for additional judgment in Shamayim. In Heaven, the squads of angels of destructions that I created were yelling at the mourners, "Liars, liars! He is wicked, wicked, wicked".

I see from Shamayim and from atop my body that these people are lying about me and I waited for at least one person to say some Divrei Torah but they just continued lying about me. I yelled towards to these people, "It's not true - I'm a wicked wicked person." But no one from the group of 40 people that are eulogizing me heard me and they continued lying that I was a good person and never sinned...

While they were eulogizing, Angels of destructions ran after me holding torches of fire and were burning me with the torches.

If I was able to kill all the people that were eulogizing and lying about me, I'd have killed them.

I kept yelling towards the mourners, "I'm wicked, wicked. Stop lying!". The suffering was unbearable and not one said Divrei Torah for me.

I was placed in the grave and my soul went to heaven. I had so much pain and felt so much remorse. If I'd have known that this is the results of my sins, I'd have sold my motorcycle and all my 'toys', and would have only sat in a Bet Midrash and learn Torah, all day all night. I'd not have rested one minute, I'd occupy myself only with Mitzvot, Torah, and charity.

Before Shamayim gave the verdict of my judgement, a black hole opened up and 2 angels appeared. They looked totally different than all the previous angels I saw. Each angel was standing on each side of the black hole. I knew this 'black hole' was something bad, a place of no ruling and I felt so much regret.

The Ben Ish Chai was about to rule that everything that I just witnessed is my judgment...

Just then, a loud piercing scream was heard and it shook all the worlds. This scream came from a year and half old baby and her baby sister.

About 4 years ago, I collected donations to build tombstones for them. These 2 souls did not have a grave and I cried for them and decided to build them a respectable grave. At the time, I wasn't able to go to sleep and would think in my mind 'how is it possible that I have a cozy bed and these souls don't even a proper grave?'.

The piercing yelling came from these sisters, Z'mira and Amira, a'h. They passed away about 40 years ago and one is buried in Kiryat Shaul and the other in Holon. Z'mira yelled, "Chacham Yosef Chaim, Chacham Yosef Chaim - this person build for us tombstones. He did a Mitzvah, it is known that a person is rewarded just for walking to do the Mitzvah, even when he just walks to shul..."

In Shamayim, when the verdict is ready to be given, all gates are locked because judgment has been ruled. Everyone was bewildered by this defense, at the time when all the gates are locked.

This defense helped me a lot but not enough, I was still very far from meriting to be found innocent.

Again Z'mira yelled, "Chacham Yosef Chaim, Chacham Yosef Chaim - this person did for us גילוי מצבה (tombstones after the 30 days and Kaddish is said).

Z'mira's defense caused a big bewilderment in heaven. It was decided to bring 'sleeping people' to testify to its authenticity. Sleeping people are people that are alive in the lower world and their neshamot (souls) are brought to testify. It was shown how I successfully convinced 9 men to come to the cemeteries to say Kaddish for these neshamot. I had a very difficult time to convince one man to come to the cemetery to say Kaddish, he kept saying, "Not now, I'm in a hurry". It was shown how I was begging him to join the minyan just to hear the Kaddish and only to answer Amen.

This person's soul was also brought to Shamayim (while his body was sleeping in the lower world) to testify how I convinced him to join the Minyan of men to answer Amen after saying the Kaddish in the cemetery.

The outcome of this defense helped my soul tremendeously and it was announced that I am innocent. But it was not enough to be able to return to my body and correct myself.

Just then, Z'mira's sister, Amira, the one whom is buried in the Holon cemetery yelled loudly, shaking all the worlds, "Chacham Yosef Chaim, Chacham Yosef Chaim, this person bought holy Sefarim (books) for the elevation of our souls."

With the left-over donation money after building the tombstones, my sister and I decided to purchase 50 holy Sefarim and we gave it to Yeshivat Nefesh of Rabbi Nachman (zs'l) for the elevation of the souls of these sisters.

Amira said, "This person bought for us Sefarim to help people to do Teshuva. If one person was effected by the Sefer (books) he donated and contemplated doing Teshuva, isn't this considered?". As she was saying this, her 'hand' was flinging from right to left and all the worlds were shaking similar to the movement of her 'hand'.

This defense helped me tremendeously and in addition to the judgement that I'm 'Innocent', her defense caused a great pipe of abundance to descent on the materialistic world (this world).

When I was found innocent, a Nigun (melody) of Angels began, an indescribable spiritual melody than can never be described to the lower world. It's a melody of praise to HKB'H sang by the angels about the power of a Mitzvah and its strength gives HaShem so much pleasure and נחת רוח. Anyone that merits to hear this melody sang to HKB'H, his ego becomes immediately cancelled for Eternal HKB"H.

The final verdict was given that I'm innocent and must return to my body. I didn't want to go back to the lower world, I wanted to go up, to ascent higher. I was so scared to return to this world, I was petrified to return to this world and sin again. I yelled, "Who will guarantee that I'll not sin again? Don't take me down to the world. How will I save myself from sinning?".

But this was the verdict-- return to my body and live in the lower world. When I realized that this was the final verdict, I asked from Chacham Yosef Chaim, the Ben Ish Chai, (zchuto yagen alenu, amen), "Before returning me to my body, please take me to Rabbi Natan Uziel (zs'kl)."

Tzaddikim have more power in Shamayim than the Malachim (angels) and the angels didn't have the permission to take me upwards to Rabbi Natan Uziel. The Ben Ish Chai himself took me upwards to the 3rd world. This world is totally white, to understand this white color, snow is black in comparison.

In the 3rd world on the western side was a Heichal (palace) and on top of the Heichal was a rainbow of fire and the Ben Ish Chai pointed towards this Heichal and says, "Inside this palace is Rabbi Natan Uziel."

The 3rd world was so holy, I was unable to be in this place. Even though I was judged to be innocent, I didn't have enough merits to be able to stand in such an extreme holy place. The Ministering Angels held me and descended me to the 2nd world. The Ben Ish Chai also came to the 2nd world and said, "Go back to your body in the lower world. Your friend is waiting for you."

Before I descended to the lower world, the Ben Ish Chai asked me 3 times, "What are you going to do in the lower world?". I was embarrased to answer because in my mind, I was a wicked man.

The Ben Ish Chai asked again the same question, with a stern look, "What are you going to do in the lower world?". I answered, "I will do Teshuva, I'll repent, I'll return".

After learning the power of building a tombstone, your donation can tip the scales in your favor! Please consider a chesed shel emes, a kindness of truth.

Visit for donation opportunities and without a doubt you will increase a large amount of pleasure to our Father in Heaven in participating in the extraordinary Mitzvah of building the Tzion for Devorah HaNevia, a'h.

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Divine Providence

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

HaYom Yom, the sefer From Day to Day, has an interesting entry on Divine Providence...from the entry for the 28th of Cheshvon...

The concept of Divine Providence is this:

Not only are all particular movements of the various creatures directed by Providence, and not only is that Providence itself the life-force and maintained existence of every creature - but even more, the particular movement of any creature is in general terms related to the grand design of Creation...

The aggregate of all individual acts brings to completion G-d's grand design in the mystery of all Creation.

Ponder this:

If the swaying of a blade of grass is brought about by Divine Providence and is crucial to the fulfillment of the purpose of Creation, how much more so with regard to mankind in general, and Israel (the people close to Him) [1] in particular!


1. Tehillim 148:14; Siddur p. 36.

The language of the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe above is interesting. While we have from the Baal Shem Tov the concept that every swaying blade of grass is by divine providence, we also have the statement above "the particular movement of any creature is _in general terms_". There is, what might be called clear and direct divine providence, that is obvious interaction with the divine. And then there is "general operation" that fulfills the 'grand design'.

We should pray that we indeed being "people close to Him" and reaching beyond the "general operation".
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Financial Jitters To Pay Attention To

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

The American economy appears strong in many ways. Stores are stocking up for the holidays, seasonal workers are being hired. There are no major layoffs going on, no regional disasters affecting employment, no strikes or shipping woes. The mall is busy, the store parking lots full. (I know, I was fighting my way through them today.)

Further supporting this, Wal-Mart sales were up, and their stock went up on the news.

Yet, underlying statistics are getting downright scary. Foreclosure filings (since September 2006) are up 310% in Arizona, 422% in California, and 316% in Florida. Massive write downs are reported by Bank of America and Wachovia.

And, two news items have shocked me on Friday and Sunday:

Friday, "E-Trade Financial's stock plummeted 59 percent Monday after the company said its $3 billion portfolio of mortgage debt has lost more value than expected...Standard & Poor's cut its rating on E-Trade's credit...the brokerage's financial problems might jeopardize the safety of 3.7 million accounts." (Here and here.)

Sunday, "China Freezes Lending. Chinese authorities are slamming the brakes on bank lending, in their latest attempt to curb the runaway investment threatening to overheat what is soon to be the world's third-largest economy...a blanket edict to stop lending growth is unusual...Curbing lending by raising interest rates, as China has already done four times this year, would be more in keeping with Beijing's increasingly market-oriented approach to business. But the lending freeze shows how the slowing U.S. economy may be complicating Chinese policy making. Lower interest rates in the U.S. give Beijing less room to push up rates without creating a ripple effect." (Here.)

Things seem increasingly unstable, and that's worth noting.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

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Devorah HaNavia update

* The Kever Devorah HaNavia Foundation
* November 14, 2007 - 4th Kislev 5768

* For Immediate Release

(Tel Kadesh, Israel) With tremendous thanks to HaKodesh Baruch Hu (the Holy One, Blessed Be He), and with obvious siata d'shamaya (help from above), we are pleased to announce the rediscovery of the holy resting place of Devorah HaNavia, zt"l, the biblical prophetess Deborah, a mother of Israel.

This holy and ancient resting place lies in Tel Kadesh, a Jewish village in the Upper Galilee in Israel. To our regret, it also lies in ruin.

A small group of dedicated individuals has invested significant effort in raising seed money and working through all the required government processes to obtain permission to rebuilt this holy site. Now, with official permission in hand, they are turning to you.

Please consider a chesed shel emes, a kindness of truth, for a navia (prophetess)! Further donations are needed to rebuild a worthy resting place for this mother of Israel.

Please visit Devorahhanevia.Com to learn more and for donation opportunities. And may your efforts for a holy one of Israel bring
great blessings.

* For more information, contact Nava at

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Conspiracy of Silence or To Silence

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

I am not a conspiracy oriented person. Some see conspiracies everywhere, and find just enough facts to support their perpetual paranoia. Yet, occasionally those with strong viewpoints really are out to get us who don't agree. Sometimes, it's worth consideration.

The article below is by a renounced Israeli conspiracy theorist. I've edited it down to the pertinent points...


November 11, 2007, 03:26:24 PM : I regret to inform you that two sons of Rabbi Kreuser, the Rav of Mitzpe Yericho and the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaRa'ayon HaYehudi in Jerusalem, were killed in a fiery car accident on the main highway just outside of Mitzpe Yericho. They will be buried tonight at 12:30 in Har HaMenuchot.

( Four residents of one Negev town were killed in a car crash on Sunday. One of those killed was a soldier; three were children. The accident took place when the truck in which the group was traveling went out of control due to the rain and hit an oncoming bus. Eitan Orenbach, 12, Ahiya Huri, 12, Yishai Kreuser, 13, and Shlomo Kreuser were killed in the accident. Another four passengers were wounded. Shlomo Kreuser served as a captain in the IDF's elite Duchifat unit. He and Yishai Kreuser were both sons of Mitzpe Yericho's rabbi, Rabbi Yehuda Kreuser.

It was no accident. It was murder. Permit me to remind you of a few recent "accidents" killing the families of Israel's religious opposition:

On March 17, Rabbi Avi Cohen-Or, and his wife and daughter, died in their van on an icy road near Hebron...Hardest hit appears to be the Lubavitch community which lost two more last week when a car, stopped at a light, was crushed by a "wayward" truck. The dead included an influential Rebbetzin whose name happened to be Schneerson, the same name as THE Lubavitcher Rebbe who was committed to stopping the "peace" in its tracks...This week's victims, Tviki and Hadassah Stiskin, were the son and daughter-in-law of the rabbi of the Jewish community of Maon, near Hebron...Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg was the first to suffer from an errant car. The car veered off the road and "accidentally" killed his grandson. Rabbi Ginsburg is a /Chabad/ firebrand, arrested after the 1995 Rabin assassination and falsely accused of being an indirect co-conspirator in the assassination. Lately, he established a /yeshivah/, highly unpopular with some "secular" locals, in Ramat Aviv Gimel...The last 'accident' was to the son of Rabbi Mordechai Elon, Refael Yechiel ben Hana, who was seriously injured in a car crash on Monday, January 29. Rabbi Elon's family includes the hapless Margalit Har Shefi, set up to be a 'conspirator' in the Rabin assassination...The Eilat killing ground worked out so well because just six days earlier, a truck driver for reasons unfathomable to his interrogators, switched lanes at the last second and smashed into a van full of prominent Chabad youth. Two of the three dead were the sons of learning institute directors.

And it's not as if the spate of "accidents" has gone totally unnoticed. Here is the first of many letters expressing suspicion of the deadly trend...

"a lot of cars are swerving into oncoming traffic - car check time so many vehicles are doing inexplicable swerving into oncoming trucks. It started with the Chabad boys north of Eilat (who swerved away from and oncoming car and rolled an inexplicable distance) and then Popper in the same general location and the Rabbi of Telem and today's accident is in that same general locations. I think that the cars should be examined. maybe they all use the same mechanic who is selling used parts and lifts them from his customers. but I definitely think the cars in the accidents should be checked for tampering and I also think that since all of the above are authentic right will personalities (the fathers of the Chabad boys in their case), that all authentic right wing personalities should learn how to fix their own engines."

Once again a large vehicle swerved out of its lane, turning a car carrying the children of a religious notable into a fiery grave. ... Their father was the leading Rabbi espousing the thoughts of the thinker Rabbi Meir Kahane, also assassinated. As was his son Binyamin, assassinated in his car with his wife, not coincidentally, on the morning of Israel's first alternative Rabin murder conference. Sixty two bullets were shot at his car, not a one hitting the back seat where his children sat. This was an execution.

Now two adolescent members died, engulfed in fire. And that, was no
coincidence, according to Rabbi Marvin Antelman...

Today, anyone who opposes their peace is a target for flaming engulfment. If that means all of Israel is burnt by missiles, so be it for rejecting their messiahs. They'll be well taken care of even if the country turns to ashes. Nothing would please them more than the climactic joy of witnessing the Jews who wouldn't accept their "truth" sizzling in the rubble of their homes.

At the 1936 World Zionist Conference, Jewish Agency head Chaim Weizmann told the assembled: "Perhaps only 2 million will survive the upcoming Holocaust, but they will be ready for life in Palestine."

Friday, November 16, 2007

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Letter to the World from Jerusalem

(received via email, I cannot attest to whether the source described is true or not, but the sentiment is...)

On November 24, 2006, at the age of 92, a man named Stanley Goldfoot passed away. He is remembered by family and friends for his love for and devotion to Israel and the Jewish people.

Stanley Goldfoot was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Subsequent to his hearing a speech about the Zionist vision by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, he headed for Palestine where, at the age of 18, he joined a HaShomer HaTzair kibbutz.

After the rebirth of the Jewish State of Israel his main goal, which he eventually realized, was to establish a Zionist English newspaper, "The Times of Israel."

In the first issue of "The Times of Israel", Stanley Goldfoot wrote his famous controversial "Letter to the World from Jerusalem", which caused quite a stir. The article is still relevant and, in his memory, I am sharing i t with you.

A Letter to the World from Jerusalem
by Eliezer ben Yisrael
(Stanley Goldfoot)

I am not a creature from another planet, as you seem to believe. I am a Jerusalemite-like yourselves, a man of flesh and blood. I am a citizen of my city, an integral part of my people.

I have a few things to get off my chest. Because I am not a diplomat, I do not have to mince words. I do not have to please you or even persuade you.

I owe you nothing. You did not build this city, you did not live in it, you did not defend it when they came to destroy it. And we will be damned if we will let you take it away.

There was a Jerusalem before there was a New York. When Berlin, Moscow, London, and Paris were miasmal forest and swamp, there was a thriving Jewish community here. It gave something to the world which you nations have rejected ever since you established yourselves- a humane mo ral code.

Here the prophets walked, their words flashing like forked lightning. Here apeople who wanted nothing more than to be left alone, fought off waves of heathen would-be conquerors, bled and died on the battle-ments, hurled themselves into the flames of their burning Temple rather than surrender, and when finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers and led away into captivity, swore that before they forgot Jerusalem, they would see their tongues cleave to their palates, their right arms wither.

For two pain-filled millennia, while we were your unwelcome guests, we prayed daily to return to this city. Three times a day we petitioned the Almighty: "Gather us from the four corners of the world, bring us upright to our land, return in mercy to Jerusalem, Thy city, and swell in it as Thou promised." On every Yom Kippur and Passover, we fervently voiced the hope that next year would find us in Jerusalem.

Your inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, the ghettos into whi ch you jammed us, your forced baptisms, your quota systems, your genteel anti-Semitism, and the final unspeakable horror, the holocaust (and worse, your terrifying disinterest in it)- all these have not broken us. They may have sapped what little moral strength you still possessed, but they forged us into steel.

Do you think that you can break us now after all we have been through? Do you really believe that after Dachau and Auschwitz we are fright-ened by your threats of blockades and sanctions? We have been to Hell and back- a Hell of your making. What more could you possibly have in your arsenal that could scare us?

I have watched this city bombarded twice by nations calling themselves civilized. In 1948, while you looked on apathetically, I saw women and children blown to smithereens, after we agreed to your request to internationalize the city. It was a deadly combination that did the job-
British officers, Arab gunners, and American-made cannon. And then t he savage sacking of the Old City-the willful slaughter, the wanton destruction of every synagogue and religious school, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the sale by a ghoulish government of tombstones for building materials, for poultry runs, army camps, even latrines.

And you never said a word.

You never breathed the slightest protest when the Jordanians shut off the holiest of our places, the Western Wall, in violation of the pledges they had made after the war- a war they waged, incidentally, against the decision of the UN. Not a murmur came from you whenever the legionnaires in their spiked helmets casually opened fire upon our citizens from behind the walls.

Your hearts bled when Berlin came under siege. You rushed your airlift "to save the gallant Berliners". But you did not send one ounce of food when Jews starved in besieged Jerusalem. You thundered against the wall which the East Germans ran through the middle of the German capital- but not on e peep out of you about that other wall, the one that tore through the heart of Jerusalem.

And when that same thing happened 20 years later, and the Arabs unleashed a savage, unprovoked bombardment of the Holy City again, did any of you do anything?

The only time you came to life was when the city was at last reunited.
Then you wrung your hands and spoke loftily of "justice" and need for the "Christian" quality of turning the other cheek.

The truth- and you know it deep inside your gut - you would prefer the city to be destroyed rather than have it governed by Jews. No matter how diplomatically you phrase it, the age old prejudices seep out of every word.

If our return to the city has tied your theology in knots, perhaps you had better reexamine your catechisms. After what we have been through, we are not passively going to accommodate ourselves to the twisted idea that we are to suffer eternal homelessness until we accept your savior.

For the first time since the year 70, there is now complete religious freedom for all in Jerusalem. For the first time since the Romans put a torch to the Temple, everyone has equal rights (You prefer to have some more equal than others.) We loathe the sword- but it was you who forced us to take it up. We crave peace, but we are not going back to the peace of 1948 as you would like us to.

We are home. It has a lovely sound for a nation you have willed to wander over the face of the globe. We are not leaving. We are redeeming the pledge made by our forefathers: Jerusalem is being rebuilt. "Next year" and the year after, and after, and after, until the end of time- "in Jerusalem"!

Stanley Goldfoot
Founder Editor
The Times of Israel
August 1969
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Economics & Geulah

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Financial markets have increased instability, and the top US banks are now beginning to report major financial hits. This is my ongoing analysis of this, both by a global economic view and in line with how this might hint towards Geluah and the coming of Moshiach. (But I am neither a navi, a prophet, nor an expert financial analyst.)

B'derek Teva, according to the natural path, when markets get so unbalanced that normal correction mechanisms are overwhelmed, they 'crash', take a 20-30% hit. The unbalancing cause collapses, loosing most of its value (mortgage bonds for example). Companies without solid assets and incomes fall in value, some fail, especially those with business models tied to the problem.

This causes a recession, and with the worldwide business base, it travels the world.

Central banks around the world will try to counteract the situation, and if they work together they can weaken the severity, a lot.

I predict a relatively severe US recession. Not because of the scope of the problem, as I think the central banks will coordinate well to push back on it. No, rather because Americans have been funding a lifestyle increase through cheap equity credit, which is more and more disappearing. When it's gone, so is one of the major economic drivers. (But remember, I'm not an expert market predictor, if I was my children's yeshiva tuitions would be fully paid, and they're not.)

The amazing news is this is happening so slow slow slow. Lots of indicators, lots of time to react (and even short term market opportunities).

(Still on Derek Teva) Will Israel be impacted? Of course. Exports to the US, medicine, medical equipment, military goods, software, will fall. On the other hand, imports from the US are getting cheaper (as the value of the dollar falls). That's good and bad, as the US also invests heavily in job centers in Israel (many companies have R&D offices in Israel).

The Israeli housing market has been bid way up by Americans with too much money coming in and buying up property, especially in Jersualem. Israel does not have the mortgage problem the US has, it's much harder to take loans in Israel. But it does have a tight housing market made worse by too much foreign money. That should improve with the dollar value drop, but some Israelis have built businesses on the basis of that money, which will fall away.

Net net - Israeli housing market gets better, that's good, exports fall, that's bad, imports get cheaper, that's good. Israel gets a minor downturn / readjustment, much less impact than the US.

That's all b'derek teva, according to a natural understanding of economic events. On to otherwise...

Many indicators are we're at some stage of the geulah process. The Yalkut Shimoni Yishayahu Remez 499 (that Dreaming of Moshiach recently posted and reminded me of) struck me, as it's the FIRST TIME the King of Arabia has EVER gone to Rome. The Yalkut states in the year the king is threatened (by Iran) and goes out for advice, it's the year Moshiach (ben Yosef?) comes, or rather is revealed (not the year geulah is complete).

The navi describes a "coalition" force coming into Israel (traditional commentary on Zechariah 12), escorted by the Israeli army. I can't see how the US could commit to that with an economic collapse, given their current spending in Iraq. (Further it describes the troops coming via the north, through the 'mountains', which in Israel is pretty much limited to the Hermon, the Golan, and down into the hills of the Shomron, which means via Lebanon, or more likely coming out of Iraq via Syria.) Which means to me that US economic impact stays at a 'moderate' impact level UNTIL the troops are in place.

The Anapolis meeting is at the end of this month? Watch carefully what comes out of that. If the Shomron is given up, and Jerusalem divided, and NATO troops proposed (with Russian support), then we're up to active Geulah stage 2. But expect months, 4 or more, of "planning, coordination. preparation" or something like that. It won't be 'instant'.

First, expect Iran to take some radical world shaking move at any moment, and the US to level them. I believe that's a prerequisite, call it active Geulah stage 1. Here I'm going to make a WILD guess based on the words of various mekubalim and events - - - they're going to take a serious shot at Israel, possibly nuclear, maybe under some excuse of going after Dimona (Israel's nuclear facility), and MISS, hitting the Med and sending a tsunami into Gaza. [Complete speculation on my part.]

THAT SAID, WE'VE BEEN AT A POINT where active Geulah could begin at least 3 times in the last 5 years, and more in the last 15 years. The chachamim have written about those who announce a ketz (a geulah-end date), cursing them for doing so. Many generations of Torah scholars, wise and with true Torah insight (none of which I claim) have looked at events of their times and stated that it appears to be the time of Geulah. To our regret at this time, that great day has not yet come, may it be soon.

We can only have emunah in HaKodesh Baruch Hu, with absolute knowledge that all Hashem does is for the best, and His heavenly plan will be doing things exactly when they need to be done, regardless of our limited understanding.

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Terrorism and Habit

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

A friend wrote...

Daniel Pipes notes, "The Bush administration's counterterrorism policies appear tough, but inside the courtroom, they evaporate, consistently favoring not American terror victims, but foreign terrorists."

When I tell some of the Israelis I know that America (and the Israeli govt.,) can't be trusted, they say "Let's wait and see." I tell them to look back at where we've been and from that they should be able to see where we are going. But they don't listen. Maybe with such a laundry list, which is probably far from complete, which documents America's many failures in the bogus War on Terror, and which shows a clear historical pattern of perfidy in that regard, perhaps we can make clear to some skeptics that America doesn't have Israel's best interests at heart? How could it, when it doesn't even see how it is harming itself?

Do you think they will listen? Or, are they so deeply in denial that even this won't wake them up?

I fear the latter, because it was obvious even before 9/11 to anyone who was looking, and should have been within a year of that event, after which everyone should have been paying attention.

People are creatures of habit. We see this in Pirke Avos where we are told the value of good friends, good neighbors, and living in a place of Torah. Why? Because the positive habits of our friends, neighbors, and town will reinforce us.

Creatures of habit both in what people do, and how they think. Normally, this is a positive function, in that we can't process everything around us as new (or rather, to do so it takes our full attention, and during much of our day, week, year, we don't have that to devote.) Instead, we pay attention to the differences from the expected pattern.

Did you ever commute to work, and someone came and asked you how the commute was, and you don't know? You honestly can't remember how you got to work, other than knowing it was via the normal way. The commute was "normal", and you were on auto-pilot, so to speak, while listening to the radio or talking on the phone or reading something (depending on your method of commuting). What was on the news, that you know, but how was traffic, all you know is it was normal enough not to need attention.

To change habits, people need motivation, positive or negative, a driving reason to do so. To change mindsets is much the same. "People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings." (John Kotter - The Heart of Change)

The average person (outside of Israel) has not been impacted by terrorism threats. An error of the US administration has been making war while trying to prevent it from impacting day to day citizen life. It's divorced, it's a rational remote analysis kind of thing. There is no driving reason to change.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

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The Spiritual Perspective (4)

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

One of the most important spiritual aspects inherent in the mitzvah of tefillin is that they point out the uniqueness of the Jewish people. Tefillin are a sign between G-d and the Jewish people, that we are uniquely His. Although many mitzvahs have been somewhat copied by the gentiles, for instance, Shabbos (albeit on Sunday), lighting candles, dietary restrictions and yarmulkes, only Jews put on tefillin. If we think about this when we lay tefillin, we can come to great joy, or even to awe of the One whose special people we are.

The head piece of the tefillin is said to represent the Tablets of the Ten Commandments. When the Tablets were originally inscribed, the letters were inscribed on one side only, but they could be read from the other side, too. This miracle is remembered by having the four-armed shin on one side of the tefillin headpiece. Nowhere else does the letter shin appear with four arms. When you look at the “empty” space between the arms of the four-armed shin, you will see the shin on the other side of the headpiece. Look and see.

It is essential to have your tefillin checked by a qualified scribe periodically. There have been many cases reported where physical things went wrong in a person’s life, and later corresponding blemishes were found in the tefillin.

A few years ago a dear friend of mine suddenly passed away. He was only sixty years old. He developed a tumor in his brain, and his left arm was paralyzed. Within a few months he was gone. I visited him in the hospital and asked him when the last time his tefillin had been checked. He told me that they were new, less than two years old. I took them to a scribe. He found blemishes in both the head piece (across from the tumor) and in the arm piece (which he wore on the arm that was paralyzed).

Did the blemished tefillin cause the disease? My feeling is that both the disease and the blemished tefillin came to him at the same time. For some reason, that was his portion. However, I also feel that had his tefillin been repaired as soon as he got them, his life might have been spared.

Tefillin and mezuzahs are not dead animal skins placed upon our heads and upon the doorposts of our homes. They are vibrant, spiritual treasures that affect and reflect both the higher worlds and our personal lives.
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Missing 16 Year Old Girl in the US

(Via email, confirmed true...)

Shana Malka Colby, a 16 year old blonde, blue eyed young lady, 5'2" & 130 lbs, is missing from the Jewish community in Richmond, VA, and considered to be a run away.

"There are a lot of theories that she may have gone to New York and the hope is that especially with the everyone-knows-everyone factor in the Jewish world that someone will know someone who has information. Shana may travel to Richmond, or to Brooklyn or Monsey, New York. Her ears are pierced.

We think she may be in danger and whatever anyone can do to help the situation would be appreciated."

Anyone having information should contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 (1-800-THE-LOST) or the Henrico County Police Department (Virginia) 1-804-501-5000.

May she be returned safely.
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Moshe for Congress


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

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It's Hopeless?

A commentor on the Eretz Yisroel Undivided mailing list wrote this, in the name of Rabbi Manis Friedman, shlita...

Rabbi Friedman said, in a shiur about Chanukah, that there is reality and then there are facts. The facts said that a small group of rag tag religious Jews could not succeed against the whole ancient Greek army. But they did! They were called the Maccabees.

Facts also said that a small group of war-torn Jews, ill-equipped, outnumbered, could not succeed against 5 invading armies....But they succeeded...and we now have the modern state of Israel.

We just need to have bitochon (trust in Hashem)....take the necessary steps...and with G-d's help, we will have a miracle!!!!!!


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