Monday, December 31, 2007

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The Spiritual Perspective - Non-Jews

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Do not think that the requirement of helping others spiritually applies only to your fellow Jew. We are also charged with being a light unto the Nations.[i] This obligation is upon each of us. We are to help every person we can come to the knowledge of the one G-d, and how they can live a holy life.

A non-Jew is obligated to keep the seven mitzvahs that were given to Adam and Noah. They concern idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, stealing, eating flesh that was taken from an animal before it was killed, and having just courts in their lands. Of these, the one where they usually need the most help is the prohibition regarding idolatry. There are many people who believe they are worshiping the One G-d, yet they are actually worshiping an idol. An idol is any representation of G-d, or worshipping a limited god.

Frequently, at the Kotel, I have the opportunity to try to help non-Jews. The vast majority of the non-Jewish visitors who come to the Kotel have studied Christianity, so I use that as a base to move them toward truth.

The conversation usually goes like this:

“Tell me, according to your religion, is G-d in the heart of the devil?”

They are almost always taken aback by the question or they blurt out, “No way!”

“That’s why we say that your religion has a small god. Because your god is only in the good. The G-d of the Bible is everywhere. King David wrote, ‘If I make my bed in hell, you are there.’[ii] G-d is even in hell. G-d is unlimited. But you have a limited god.”

To become “believers” in their religion, many of them go through a rite, “asking god into their heart.” After they do so, they believe that G-d is then in there, and all they have to do from then on is to believe, and follow their bible. So, I also ask them, “Since G-d is everywhere, you did not have to ask Him into your heart, did you? He was in there before you were.” Although they have to be closed-minded to protect themselves from change, they walk away from this brief exchange with ideas that challenge those false beliefs.

When a non-Jew keeps these seven laws he becomes a “Righteous Person.” He has a wonderful share in this world and a share in the World to Come. There can be no greater accomplishment for him. What a wonderful gift you will be giving him.

[i] Isaiah 42:6
[ii] Psalms 139:8

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President Bush and the Pervasive Internet Petition

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

President Bush is coming to ... Please sign the Internet petition to stop ...

It's well meaning. It's well intentioned. It's well passed along. And it's a complete misdirection of useful efforts.

Practically no Internet petition has ever resulted in any real world action. Period.

Yes, President Bush is coming to Jerusalem. Yes, the US State Department has pressured Israel to STOP BUILDING in Jerusalem (itself), in Jewish Towns of the Shomron (West Bank), and anywhere some 25 year old in Foggy Bottom thinks the Arabs might object to for any reason whatsoever.

And yes, I can't find an apartment in Jerusalem or even in the surrounding towns or suburbs because there is basically a housing SHORTAGE (thank you Condoleeza).

But if you're going to go b'derech teva, according to the ways of the world, an Internet petition isn't going to make an impact. Here's what might:

1. CALL the Whitehouse and register your complaint. +1 202-456-1111, 9am-5pm, US-EST.

That's it. Now, spiritual options, frankly they hold much greater promise.

(Photo of Jerusalem from Ramot Alef.)

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

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Not an everyday sticker.

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

I caught a picture of this on the back of a 'Palestinian' taxi on the way to Jerusalem from the Shomron (West Bank) last week...

Palestinian Taxi

Not a sticker you run into in many other places, I'd guess. Not sure of the exact meaning, I'm guessing at...

- No assault rifles on board.
- No terrorists on board.
- We don't pick up passengers with machine guns (bombs ok?)
- No M-16's allowed, Kalishnakov's or AK-47's ok.

Hmmm.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

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Aliyah: Help Me, Help Me

011
by Akiva at Mystical Paths

In America, things generally work. The system works, the rules make sense and, generally speaking, everyone agrees they are fair (more or less). In Israel, the system sometimes works, sometimes doesn't, the rules are often wacko, everyone agrees things are wacky, and everyone gets around it by working with each other rather than the system. For an American, this is a jarring change...

The local school system accepted by girls, but not my boys. (Separate divisions and management.) The girls division was so happy to have us, very helpful in getting us to understand how things work, and assigned a special teacher to assist in language transition for my daughters. The boys school, who shares the same special assistance teacher, just didn't want to talk to us. The principle literally slammed the door in our face, sending us on to a more distant school... Welcome to the neighborhood.

The more distant school sent us back, which didn't make the local principle open the door, now we're dealing with the area administrator and rav. A battle literally over nothing (because he could).

On the positive side, the Ministry of Absorption has decided we are here and clarified our status. Now we can go tell the Department of National Insurance that someone agrees we're here, hurray! In the meantime, our stuff has arrived from the States, but because we didn't know our status, and oh by the way haven't found a place to live yet, it's parked somewhere accumulating waiting fees.

This is definitely the stage of, "Why in the world did I do this? What crazy urge to inflict chaos and instability upon my family came over me???"

Jerusalem apartment hunting is absolutely insane. The market is completely full, with many weathy yidden from abroad having bought summer apartments or second residents or future retirement residents, resulting in the rental market being completely depleted. Truly nowadays one only finds a home in Jerusalem through davening and a blessing from above. In the meantime, a small daily list comes out, and you better call and drive fast, as apartments are usually rented the same day (what, see it first, are you kidding, no time!) [Of course this depends on size, there's more available in the shorter term couple size places, but I need a longer term family sized place. Know of something, email me quick, please!!!]

B"H, it's wonderful to be in Israel. But it's tough to be homeless.

Hey, we got our drivers license forms from the eye glasses shop! Now I just have to go to the doctor to get certified that I'm physically capable of operating a motor vehicle. (Which I can't do because National Insurance hasn't determined I'm here yet, ahhhhhhhhh.)

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Friday, December 28, 2007

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Feminism and Ikvesa Demeshicha

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Opening Eyes

A story received via email, multiple attributions: I received it from Nechama Sarah (thank you!), she forwarded it from Rachael & David via the Real Jewish Songs Yahoo Group, and A Simple Jew comments this was originally posted on Treppenwitz...

This is a very moving story from a journalist traveling by taxi from Beer Sheva through Judea Samaria.

Each call to the taxi dispatcher went something like this:

Dispatcher: Hallow!

Me: Hi, I need a taxi to come to [name of my company].

Dispatcher: No problem, where are you going?

Me: Efrat... In Gush Etzion (West Bank - Judea, south of Jerusalem).

Dispatcher: No problem... someone will be right there.

Within a few minutes a taxi would pull up and the driver would ask, "Where did you say you needed to go?" I would tell him, which resulted in him saying he had to check with his dispatcher. But once back inside the cab, each driver simply sped away.

This was repeated several times.

One or two drivers asked if it was possible to get to Efrat without entering the 'territories', while others offered excuses ranging from not having enough gas in the car to never having heard of Gush Etzion.

I was shocked by this strange turn of events.

At the risk of generalizing, the typical Israeli taxi driver tends to be the salt of the earth... an Israeli 'everyman' of sorts. As a group they tilt heavily towards Sephardi and eastern origins, and even more heavily towards the political right. Most will regale passengers with tales of their combat exploits at the drop of a hat, and all appear to have clear -- if slightly draconian -- solutions to the current impasse in the peace process.

So I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't the abject horror that crossing the green line seemed to evoke in these normally devil-may-care men.

Finally, I got a driver who, after a little reassuring, agreed to take me home. But once the lights of Beer Sheva faded in the rear view mirror he began peppering me with a string of non-stop nervous questions:

"How far is it?"

"Are you sure?"

"What's that village over there... Jewish or Arab?"

"Arab!? Is it 'problematic'?"

"What about that one?"

"You really drive this road every day?"

"Have you ever had any problems... roadside bombs... shooting... rocks...Molotov cocktails??"

"Oh God! I see headlights behind us. Should I be worried that it might be a terrorist following us?!"

And on and on and on...

By the time we'd passed half a dozen sleeping Arab villages and were approaching the southern outskirts of Hebron, the driver had worked himself into a state of panic about phantom terrorists who seemed to be lurking just around every bend to turn his wife into a widow and orphan his children.

Five or six times he reached for the same empty cigarette pack, each time tossing it back on the dashboard in disgust. Finally, as much as I loathed the idea of being trapped in a car full of smoke, I decided that we had to do something to reduce the driver's anxiety level. So I suggested we pull into Kiryat Arba where he could buy himself a fresh pack of cigarettes.

Once inside Kiryat Arba he visibly relaxed and stared in amazement at the neat, quiet streets lined with stone-clad apartment buildings, parks and playgrounds.

"All these buildings have people living in them?" he asked me in wide-eyed wonder. When I answered in the affirmative he shook his head and kept repeating "I didn't know... I didn't know..."

Apparently he had bought into the media version of 'the territories' where everyone lives in trailers on lonely, wind-swept hilltops.

When we'd finally parked and gotten him some cigarettes, I suggested he take a short break from driving and just sit outside enjoying the cool night air. I figured that not only would this spare me from the stink of smoke inside the cab, but it would also give me the opportunity to point out a nearby feature I had a hunch might be of interest to him.

I pointed towards an electric gate in a chain-link fence that was less than a hundred yards from where we were parked. "You see that gate?" I began. "Just a minute or two beyond that gate is the Ma'arat HaMachpelah (the Cave of the Patriarchs)".

He stared at me as though I'd just told him that Abraham himself was waiting in the dark just beyond the fence. "Are you serious? I thought the Arabs destroyed that during the Intifada! It still exists?!"

I explained that it had been Joseph's tomb that was destroyed by the Arabs, and that the Ma'arat HaMachpelah -- the tomb of the Patriarchs -- was still very much extant.

Apparently forgetting all about the previous 45 minutes of white-knuckled terror, the driver sprinted around the car, reached through the open window for the radio microphone, and called his dispatcher.

"Itzik... ITZIK... you hear me?"

The click of a far-away mic was followed by a laconic, "Shome'ah" [I hear you].

"Itzik, you'll never believe where I am. I stopped for cigarettes in Kiryat Arba and I'm parked within a few meters of the Ma'arat HaMachpelah!

The dispatcher's voice burst over the radio, this time full of excitement, and now, apparently on the public channel: "Hey Dudu, Zvika, Hezi...everyone! Yossi's calling from the Ma'arat HaMachpelah in Hevron!"

While this wasn't exactly true since we were still technically in Kiryat Arba, I smiled at the immediate and electric response. The radio speaker began broadcasting a competing jumble of joyful salutations from his fellow drivers in 'far-away' Beer Sheva:

"Kol Hakavod [congratulations], Yossi!"

"Zachita!" [You merited!]

"Yossi, you have to say Tehilim [Psalms] for my mother at the Ma'arah [cave]... she's having an operation tomorrow. Sarah Bat Shifra... you hear me? Sarah Bat Shifra!"

"Aizeh Gibor [what a hero!]"

"Yossi... Tell us what you see."

"Sarah Bat Shifra... Yossi, don't forget!"

"Yossi... did you become religious?"

"How did you get there... did you get lost?"

"What does it look like... is it beautiful in the moonlight?"

"Sarah Bat Shifra... Yossi... Sarah Bat Shifra!"

It was like a replay of Motta Gur's famous "Har HaBayit B'Yadainu!" [the 'Temple Mount is in our hands!'] broadcast.

Completely forgetting about how frightened he had been just minutes before, the driver turned to me and asked if we could go into Hebron to pray at the Cave of the Patriarchs.

I looked at my watch and noted that it was after 11PM, but he misunderstood the gesture.

"Don't worry", he assured me, "you're not on the meter. I have a flat-fee voucher from your company so nobody will mind if we take a short side trip."

"No, it's not that. I'd love to go the Cave... I haven't been there in a few months. But I'm almost sure they close it to visitors at 9PM."

He looked crestfallen. He stared longingly towards the closed gate leading into Hebron and into the darkness beyond, and asked, "Are you sure?"

I just shrugged and said, "That's what I remember, but don't take my word for it. There's an army Jeep parked by the gate... let's go ask them."

We quickly jumped back into the taxi and drove the short distance to the gate and pulled up alongside the idling Jeep.

Yossi got out and had a brief conversation with the two soldiers inside. There were some animated hand gestures from Yossi, but they were of the disappointed sort.

A few minutes later the driver came dejectedly back to the taxi, but instead of getting in, he reached over to the recess under the radio and fished out an embroidered velvet kippah and a well-thumbed book of Psalms with an ornate silver cover. Without a word he strode back towards the gate and upon reaching the chain link fence, began reciting out loud into the darkness beyond: "Shir Lamalot... Esa Einai el heharim... mayayen yavo ezri..."

I sat there in the front seat listening to the taxi driver recite the psalm into the darkness beyond the fence. Although he occasionally glanced at the small silver-clad book in his hand, it was clear that he knew the verses by heart.

The soldiers sitting nearby in their idling jeep barely looked up from their coffee and conversation, and the two or three people standing outside the store where Yossi had bought his cigarettes didn't even glance in our direction.

I thought to myself, "What a funny country we live in. We're all terrified of the unfamiliar, but completely unfazed by the things we know."

The secular and religious experience emotions about each other ranging from distrust to hate, simply because they no longer know one another. Israeli urbanites and settlers experience similar emotions about one another due to the same sort of disconnect.

Some Jews and Arabs are just as wary of each other due partly to the scariness of the unknown. Those that live and travel in the territories are (mostly) at ease with commutes that, for some reason, fill the hearts of Israel's city-dwellers with dread.

When my driver, Yossi, had finished reciting a few more Psalms we resumed our journey, and within 20 minutes arrived outside my house in Efrat. I asked him if he wanted a cup of coffee for the ride back to Beer Sheva, but he shook his head and said he'd be fine.

I reviewed the return route with him and gave him my cell phone number in case he lost his way, but I could see he was writing it down mostly to humor me. Gone was the cloud of hesitancy and fear under which we'd begun our trip together. In its place was a confident, macho cab driver who was completely at home in his surroundings.

Almost as an afterthought I asked him if he was glad he'd taken the fare. He answered without hesitation, "My whole life I've lived in Israel, most of it in Beer Sheva, and I never realized how close Hebron was. On my next day off I'm going to bring my family to pray at the Ma'arat HaMachpelah. My son's going into the army this year," he confided with a shrug. "If not now, when?"

I couldn't agree more. And as I watched him drive away, I couldn't think of a better way to sum up the need for people's perspectives to change: If not now, when?'

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

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Rome, Persia, and Jerusalem

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

The Gemora (Yoma 10a) discusses the coming of Moshiach. But then it notes th the coming will be suddenly delayed 9 months while Edom/Rome (the West/Ameatrica) attacks and conquers Persia (Iran). The Gemora discusses the reason for this, asking... (from memory, exact quote not guaranteed)

How is it that the builders will be destroyed by the destroyers? (Referring to the fact that the Persian king Darius gave permission for the Beis HaMikdash (2nd) to be build, while the Romans destroyed the 2nd Beis HaMikdash, and therefore the Persians have the great merit while the Romans have the great sin.) A few solutions are proposed, but the Gemora finalizes, when it's the will of the King (HaKodesh Baruch Hu, G-d). Meaning this prophecy in the Gemora says it will be, but the holy sages of the Gemora did not know why.

Almost 2,000 years later, the capitalist West and especially the US became a haven for the Jewish people (though they made some serious attempts to avoid it). During World War II, the US stopped the genocide of the Jewish people (again not as their primary goal, and they could have done much more, but they did stop it and care for the survivors.)

The US, almost against it's leaders will, supported the creation of the State of Israel, and gradually increased support, including through several wars, as Israel became a more important pawn in the Cold War.

And thus, it seems to me, the destroyers have gained great merit.

The builders are supporting those who attack and murder Jews, and openly pronounce their desire to annihilate the nation of Israel.

And thus, it seems to me, the builders lose their historical merit.

The navi tells us it begins in Basra, the southern port city and primary oil terminal of Iraq. The Yalkut Shimoni tells us the actions of Iran will make the world shutter in fear, and no one will know where to turn (to Hashem of course!) And the Gemora tells us it will last 9 months.

And other navi'im tell us it starts when the nations vie over Jerusalem, and come to her to divide her up.

And President Bush arrives January 8th.

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Die Lucky Bush?

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

DIE LUCKY BUSH - ???

As one travels around Jerusalem, one sees many interesting signs with English. Misspellings and grammar problems are rampant and often seriously funny.

Here we have a piece of graffiti just put up (NOT BY ME!). But frankly, I can't figure out what it means. Is it a threat against US President Bush, coming to visit in 3 weeks? An insult? Or just a piece of political propaganda? Or a direct translation of a Hebrew political insult that doesn't work in English? I have no idea.

(Dear Secret Service, this is a photo of wall graffitti, NOT my sentiment. I do not espouse or propose any action against US President Bush, merely sharing something I saw.)

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

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Jerusalem Re-Divided?

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

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Warning 2 : Basra

by Reb Moshe Yess, reprinted with permission...

All is now upside down. Good is slandered as evil. Evil is touted as good. Lies are taken for truth. Truth is called a lie. We find ourselves in a downward vortex, a reality contact meltdown, with seemingly no escape. Fear not.

We have no leadership whatsoever. We appear to have lost our moral compass quite a while ago. We have only opportunists now in Israel lining their pockets in the name of serving the needs of the Jewish public. No greater lie exists than the belief they expound that giving away pieces of the Holy Land will bring peace. Zionism is in suicidal free fall. Yet fear not.

In spite of all the wrongs at play here I actually applaud the darkness setting in. It's part of the daybreak that follows. For some reason known only to G-d the seed needs to rot before the fruit tree begins to grow. So I stay focused on the eventual outcome...focused on Moshiach. That's all that keeps me sane, these days. Trusting in anything else is going to be a wipe out.

Welcome to my situation room overlooking the events of planet Earth. This room includes all revealed variables known to yours truly and a few of his friends. It gives supreme high importance to Biblical Prophecies that very much appear now to be poised to manifest. Here’s the situation board :

The British just left Basra, Iraq. They allegedly handed it to the Iraqis to "administer". But in fact there is now a war of local militias going on for control of that city. It’s Iraq’s oil purse. The Lubavitcher Rebbe gave a Blessing to America for its war against Basra. This Blessing was given a few days after the first Gulf War of 1991 was already over. That Blessing therefore contained a Prophecy. Somehow...someway America is headed into a war with Basra, Iraq. Or perhaps it relates to a war against those in charge of Basra, Iraq. Basra is 30 miles from Iran. Iran has been financing the local Basra militias…and the general insurgency in greater Iraq as well. Iran has robbed President Bush of his Arab Democracy dream for the Middle East. Bush is now a lame duck. And Iran’s President is taunting and mocking him. Suddenly Iran is demanding a meeting of both countries’ ambassadors. Demanding...not requesting.

The US intelligence agencies just rewrote the definition of Iran’s "true" nuclear intentions with the now famous NIE (National Intelligence Estimate). We’ve just been informed that Iran did have a nuclear weapons program...but it stopped it in 2003! Iran has suddenly repented! Its lunatic President has also suddenly repented of his theology’s belief that by inciting WWIII he will hasten the arrival of Islam’s "Messiah". Iran no longer wants to wipe Israel off the face of the map. No, no, no that anyone should even think such an awful thing about angelic Iran. Nope...Iran just wants to live in peace now with the rest of the world. Iran merely wants nuclear power solely for its electrical grid. The folks who authored this NIE actually went to US universities. They have degrees. Some have Ph.D.’s [Piled Higher and Deeper].

That NIE reeks the same of what Chamberlain tried to do with Hitler. "Let’s give diplomacy a chance with Iran. Perhaps we are being too hasty in our suspicions about Iran’s true intentions." Such delusional thinking comes with a price. The same price that America had to pay for not getting into battle against Germany until the latest possible moment. Instead of fixing a small crisis America seems highly prone to allowing it to fester into an extravaganza of global proportions. Cast of millions.

The situation room is also focused on another diplomatic "solution". It’s called Annapolis. Goes like this: "You see…if we give the Arabs Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights…(and whatever else they want) then they will be forever appeased and forever grateful to us and we can then whistle gleefully as we walk into our glorious American future with cheap oil forever."

But what if the Israelis don’t agree to forgo their native soil for Yankee oil supply? "Well then we’ll have to send in some "peacekeeping troops" to make such a peace mandatory. Won’t we, now!"

So you see the stage is set for all nations to advance against Jerusalem but solely in the name of "peace", mind you. And if by chance America finds itself slowly strangled of its oil supply by chortling Arabic/Persian populations then America will be forced to take oil by force...perhaps beginning in Basra...because our troops are already close by.

And whether its Basra or Jerusalem or both…our situation room is now referencing Jewish Prophecies that relate to King Messiah’s arrival. One Prophecy, Ezekiel 38, cites multinational troops headed to the Jewish Holy City. Read for yourself :

18. And it will come to pass on that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel, declares the Lord God, that My blazing indignation will flame in My nostrils.

19. For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken; Surely there shall be a great noise on that day in the land of Israel.

20. And at My presence, the fishes of the sea and the birds of the heaven and the beasts of the field and all the creeping things that creep upon the earth and all the men who are upon the surface of the earth shall quake, and all the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall to the ground.

21. And I will call the sword against him upon all My mountains, says the Lord God: every man's sword shall be against his brother.

22. And I will judge against him with pestilence and with blood, and rain bringing floods, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone will I rain down upon him and upon his hordes and upon the many peoples that are with him.

23. And I will reveal Myself in My greatness and in My holiness and will be recognized in the eyes of many nations, and they will know that I am the Lord.

The other Prophecy, Isaiah 34 talks about destruction of Basra.

1. Nations, come near to hear, and kingdoms, hearken. The earth and the fullness thereof, the world and all its offspring.

2. For the Lord has indignation against all the nations and wrath against all their host. He has destroyed them; He has given them to the slaughter.

3. And their slain ones shall be thrown, and their corpses-their stench shall rise, and mountains shall melt from their blood.

4. And all the host of heaven shall melt, and the heavens shall be rolled like a scroll, and all their host shall wither as a leaf withers from a vine, and as a withered [fig] from a fig tree.

5. For My sword has become sated in the heaven. Behold, it shall descend upon Edom, and upon the nation with whom I contend, for judgment.

6. The Lord's sword has become full of blood, made fat with fatness, from the blood of lambs and goats, from the fat of the kidneys of rams, for the Lord has a slaughter in Bozrah and a great slaughter in the land of Edom.

Both Prophecies seem to have implications of nuclear war associated with those events. And of course Iran would never tell a lie and actually create a nuclear weapon behind a veil of just building an electrical power grid. Why that’s just preposterous! Iran has repented! Why the NIE said so in plain English. What’s the matter with you?!!!!!

Both the Basra Prophecy from Isaiah (34 & 63) and the Jerusalem Prophecy from Ezekiel 38, 39 reference these two scenarios as triggers for Divine Intervention, Judgment and the Redemption of the Jews. That means the arrival of Moshiach, Judaism's King Messiah.

G-d...against Whom no nation can stand, is allowing the cup of evil to reach its brim. Both Prophecies speak of God bringing down the BIG STICK against the enemies of the Jews! One in Basra the other in Jerusalem. However the Ezekiel Prophecy also references the land of Edom...understood to be America.

Yup...it’s real dark and cloudy out there right now. Little blips keep showing up here and there. Like the tanking of the US dollar. The banking system is in crisis and may outdo 1929. California, the 8th largest economy in the world, is having a fiscal crisis. American credit card debt is in an alarming state.

Up is down and friend is suddenly enemy. This darkness makes hope dwindle. The darkness causes fear and doubts. But the increasing darkness is proof positive that Dawn is fast approaching.

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Warning 1 : Bush Trip to Israel on January 9

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

US President Bush is coming to visit Israel in January (last I heard on the 9th). Many potential prophetic scenarios go with this event. Here's some lead in information...

** HEADS UP from A SOURCE CONSIDERED RELIABLE by Emanuel A. Winston, Mid East Analyst & Commentator

The following is unsubstantiated information, although it falls into line with the Olmert, Livni, Rice Doctrine of "Combining U.S. troops and Israeli military thugs called Yassam (or Yatom)" who have been used to attack Israeli settlers as they did in Gush Katif/Gaza and Amona. If President Bush is declaring war on the Jews in support of the Palestinians, then it is time to press for his impeachment.

The Question would be: "Are U.S. troops being brought in to train Arab Muslim Palestinians and improve their war skills as has been done before - or is Bush bringing a small army in just to protect himself from the Arab Muslim Palestinians and other Arab Muslims who would love to assassinate him - as they have said - often?

** HEADS UP by Shmuel HaLevi of Radio Free Israel

I do not know how to handle the following harrowing bit of information I just received from one of my former associates in the US.

Received from a source I generally consider reliable as an HEADS UP message.

President Bush will "visit" Israel in January and the AF #1 plane will come along with several other transport planes. Four or more aircraft transporting US "specialists".

The informant said that they are trained to join local forces, (I presume those known from Gush Katif and Amona). About two thousand US military and special forces personnel are mentioned.

As I said above I have no idea how to handle that mess. This is critical.

Needless to say that this information if true could trigger many reactions and we must handle this carefully for the sake of our people and the US as well.

I hope it is not true.

Records show the "visiting" dignitaries often have been used in the past as screens for other purposes.


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The Spiritual Perspective, Continued


Reb Gutman Locks at the Kotel
by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

If all that has been said up until now has not been enough to motivate you to help your fellow, then think of this. In the entire world there is really just a single Jew. Just one Jewish person! And each of us has a tiny portion of that one Jewish body. If for no other reason than this (and there are many), that young learned man from my Shabbos table who said that he had no obligation to put tefillin on another Jew should realize that when he neglects to help his fellow Jew put on tefillin, he is in some way neglecting his own tefillin.

We pray every day for the hastening of the redemption. This is not just a beseeching of G-d that He should do what He must in order to bring the redemption. It is a reminder to us that we also must do our share. When we do mitzvahs and help to bring others closer, we are hastening the Moshiach’s arrival.

In every army there are tank drivers and airplane pilots. There are foot soldiers with rifles who stand guard on the front line, and there are scouts traveling clandestinely in enemy territory. In both physical and spiritual wars, all of us are in the army, but not all of us have the merit to drive a tank. Armies also need cooks and jeep drivers, even accountants. To win this war, each of us must use his or her individual skills to help bring the world to its fulfillment. Even if you cannot fly an airplane, you can help by bringing people merit. Each time you draw a person to a mitzvah, not only does it elevate them spiritually, it also protects them physically just as armored jackets protect our foot soldiers. Even the land where that good deed is done will gain spiritually.

There is an additional, and actually an even greater, benefit that comes from bringing others to Torah, and especially to its spiritual teachings. When we show others how to become more spiritual, our spiritual portion also increases. Although this is not the best reason for helping others, still, it certainly happens. As we fulfill G-d’s command to love each other in this most lofty way, we reap the rewards of walking in His pleasure. In the end, you will see that helping others to awaken spiritually is the only sure way to attain your own spiritual goal.

(Original Photo by Akiva - Reb Gutman Locks at the Kotel Tefillin Stand reaching out to a passing father and son.)

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Monday, December 24, 2007

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In Brief: The Israeli System

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Still on the aliyah topic, in brief, the Israeli system will either make you laugh each day, or slam your head against the wall in agony. (So far, I prefer to laugh.) Fortunately, I came prepared for this, but for most Americans, I recommend bringing a football helmet to reduce the injuries during the head slamming...

- Last week, a bank clerk refused to allow me to open a bank account. The reasoning? She didn't like my tone of voice in responding to her questions (which sounded like an interrogation at Gitmo).

- The National Insurance department hasn't yet determined, after 2 weeks, whether we're really here or not. Standing together in front of them doesn't seem to help.

- On Thursday, at the Dept. of Immigration, I spoke with a woman that wasn't there. While she was there, she insisted that she wasn't there, as she was on vacation. We wished her a good vacation, and asked when she'd have some answers for us and when she wouldn't be there again. She said this coming Wednesday. We're waiting.

- Last week, we went to the local drivers license office, which sent us to the one in Jerusalem with a checklist of steps. Today, the Jerusalem office torn up the list in front of us, told us the provincial office (all of 30 miles away you understand) has no idea what to do, and sent us to an eyeglasses store to get our picture taken (???) and receive the right forms.

So far, I'm still laughing and saying, Thank G-d! My wife, on the other hand, could use that football helmet.

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Aliyah: The Flight - Reviewing Israir

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

By special reader request, more on making aliyah...

If you're officially making aliyah, meaning you're taking immigrant status and Israeli citizenship upon arrival, then the Jewish Agency for Israel (the Sochnut Yehudit) will pay for your airline tickets via El Al, along with a special 3rd bag per person luggage allowance. If you're making aliyah with Nefesh b'Nefesh, they do the same via El Al, with special group flights every 2 months or so. If you're a returning Israeli (Toshav Chozer), then the Israeli consulate will offer you a discounted rate with El Al, along with the 3rd bag allowance.

If you're just coming to try it out for a while, or you're not willing to sign a Jewish Agency contract (terms are tough), or you're not willing to wait on Nefesh b'Nefesh's waiting list, then you're on your own. Even if you're a Toshav Chozer, you may find a better deal elsewhere.

We did. For us, Israir's rate of $399 (one way), plus $100 for an extra bag was still less expensive than El Al, even with a discounted rate! (Discounted rate - $729)

So here's a quick review of Israir...

Check-in Grade : B- : Standard Israeli security procedures, same as El Al. A few less check-in lines, but the staff was equal to or better than El Al to deal with. Coming early is recommended.

TSA Security : D : This has nothing to do with Israir. US TSA security was a nightmare, with 1.5 hour delay trying to get to the gates. Just too many people being squeezed into too small a space with poor procedures for moving them through. If we hadn't come very early, this would have been a horror show. As it was, it was only seriously annoying. The children were whining heavily, and frankly, so was I!

Gate & Boarding : B : Gate waiting area was standard, nothing special. However, 4 gate agents kept people handled and boarding moving at a good clip. Similarly, 3 plane crew were waiting at the plane to direct people the right way right away. Well done Israir.

The Plane : C : This was a bit weird. While it was an Israir flight, the plane was not an Israir plane OR crew. It seemed to be an Italian charter company and crew, with a few Israir people. Regardless, the plane was of a reasonable age and in good visible condition. The seating configuration was a standard 2 - 4 - 2, and the leg room was reasonable. However, the seats were angled a bit weird, with a lot of lumbar support and the upper body tilted back somewhat. This provided a psychological impression of more room that actually existed (a good thing), but I found the lower back push mildly uncomfortable and annoying.

Onboard Food & Service : B : The plane was well staffed for the relatively full flight. Service was efficient. The food was very good, for plane food. 2 full meals were served, though with a meat meal first, which I ate late after helping my children, a dairy meal served later was problematic for me (due to waiting time between eating meat and dairy for kosher reasons).

Schedule, Flight & Landing : B- : Though we waited on the ground 1 hour before taking off, we arrived on time. Apparently these types of delays are now built in. Frankly, that stinks, but that's a general industry thing. The flight itself was very smooth. However, the landing was HARD. Everyone was stunned for a few moments before the traditional "we're in Israel, lets clap!" occurred.

Amenities : A : Israir provided free neck pillows, slippers, and sleep eye masks to every passenger. This was a big hit with the kids, and my wife! Standard entertainment options and other comfort equipment were provided.

Overall : B : Israir is a nice money saving choice over El Al. If you book a bit in advance, there are some very significant monetary savings, and the service is almost as good as El Al. The food is better. The baggage allowance is less (55 lbs versus 70 lbs), but you may still save money even if you have to pay for an extra bag (NOTE - DO NOT go overweight, it's $6 per pound you go over, it quickly becomes worthwhile to just pay for an extra bag versus paying for an extra 20 lbs). The plane is smaller, less room to wander around. But not uncomfortably so.

Overall, I was happy to save some money and reasonably comfortable. I had no complaints.

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L'Heyot B'Simcha - To Be Happy

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Mitzvah Gedolah L'Heyot B'Simcha, L'Heyot B'Simcha Tamid - It's a big mitzvah to be joyful, all the time. - Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

R_Nati_R_Brody

Rabbi Nati of Mystical Paths & Rabbi Lazer Brody of Lazer Beams

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

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Virtual Worlds

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Several generations ago, talk of multiple worlds, spiritual worlds moving closer to Hashem, was a difficult concept to grasp. After all, the world is what you see and hear and experience.

Now we live in a time where staying focused upon the REAL world is difficult. The entertainment industry does it's best to draw us into THEIR worlds, entertainment realities created at the whim of entertainment experts for the sole purpose of making them money, which they do by catering to any kind of human instinct that will KEEP YOU FULLY ENGAGED IN _THEIR_ WORLD.

The computer industry presents us with another kind of virtual world. It seems to be real, but is only a partial relationship.

Suddenly, focusing on connecting to spiritual worlds that can connect us to Hashem not only seem a reasonable concept, they may be the only way of preventing us from getting sucked into counterparts that draw us in negative directions.

Administrative Note - All posting is now occurring from Israel. This means a time change of when posts are going up, US readers may find "tomorrow's" posts going up late afternoon of the day before US time. As well, more posts on Sunday, but less on Friday (in keeping with the Israeli weekend).

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

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Being in the Garden of Yearning

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Waiting on the geulah is like waiting on the sun to rise. You know it's coming and wait, and you always get more than you expected. If we are expectantly waiting and yearning for the geulah, we will be surprised at what it will bring!

Gut Vach, Shavua Tov, a Good Week
Reb Nati

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Friday, December 21, 2007

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Huckabee, Spooky.

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Bush plus?

There's a funny dichotomy in America, we want our leaders to have good moral values and a solid foundational basis for the many difficult decisions they will face. Further, as a public example, we don't want them doing the types of activities that damage those values. Yet, as a multi-cultural society, we don't want excessive displays of commitment to a particular religion or significant conversations of religious positions.

Odd that.

So when President Bush was running and discussed his deep personal committment to his religion, and how this had helped him overcome major personal problems in his life, it made people uncomfortable. However, as an offset to President Clinton's apparent lack of personal morals, many (myself included) grasped it as a preferable alternative.

Yet this new level (see the link above) is ... spooky.

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Potential Mediterranean Tsunami?

Via Elisheva's Alerts...

Recent Mediterranean earthquake patterns show large and growing larger earthquakes in the central mediterranean. The potential for a Gaza or Beruit tsunami is growing.


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Thursday, December 20, 2007

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More Economic Alarm Bells, Shhhhh

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Is the world economy booming, or crumbling? There's this magical thing called "consumer confidence" that is often key to a stable economy, and maintaining this confidence through troublesome patches is the difference between a mild impact or a major impact. Therefore, the "system" has a vested interest in minimizing bad news and letting you know about risks and maximizing good news.

Good news: holiday sales are good, and people seem to be tolerating increased energy costs.

Bad news: the mortgage crisis impact continues to grow, and grow much more than 'predicted'...

-> Morgan Stanley, the No. 2 U.S. investment bank, reported a $9.4 billion writedown on Wednesday from bad bets on mortgage-related debt, leading it to take a $5 billion infusion from an arm of the Chinese government. The writedown, nearly triple what Morgan Stanley warned of in November...

-> Cash-strapped banks (?????? !!!!!!) took the Federal Reserve up on its offer of $20 billion in short-term loans to help them overcome credit problems, but the interest rate wasn't as low as some had hoped.

The central bank said Wednesday that it had received bids for $61.6 billion worth of loans, more than three times the amount that was made available. The loans carried an interest rate of 4.65 percent, which is slightly less than the 4.75 percent the Fed charges banks on emergency loans through its "discount" window. Banks have been reluctant to use the Fed's discount window because of the fear that investors will believe they are having trouble getting funds in a normal manner (that's the 'consumer confidence problem I noted above)...

"There was a hope that things really weren't that bad and that the market would have been able to bid down the Fed and take the money at a cheaper rate," Marta explained. "The fact that the market wasn't really willing to, was evidence of the stress."


Cash strapped banks????? That's not a term you want to hear!

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The Right Word at the Right Time


by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

One of the men who works at the Kotel tefillin booth tried to get an older man to put on tefillin. He refused. When he was asked, a hard look came on his face.

My friend asked, “When was the last time you put on tefillin?” The old man looked even harder. “Not since the Holocaust.” He looked back into those darkest years and his resistance to putting on tefillin grew even stronger.

My friend tried a line that he frequently uses, “But your father put on tefillin every day.” When he heard those words, something swept over his face. It softened. He looked back even deeper than the Holocaust and quietly said, “You’re right.” He rolled up his sleeve and put on tefillin for the first time in over 65 years.

All those years of hard blockage and encasement just fell away. They simply melted when he heard the right words at the right time. A good thought overcame an evil thought. “But your father used to put on tefillin every day.”

Do not be discouraged when you try to help a fellow Jew to do a mitzvah and he refuses. Each time brings him closer to the time when his outer husk will melt.

Today at the Kotel, three men in their mid-forties came over to the tefillin booth. One of them wanted to put on tefillin, one of them had already put them on, and the third man said that he did not put on tefillin.

After helping the one who wanted to put them on, I went over to the one who said that he did not put them on. He was from Russia but had been living in Israel for a number of years. I asked him why he did not put on tefillin. He said, “I have never put them on.”

“What! Then you have to today. It’s like your bar mitzvah.” I put my arm around him and with a big smile and hug, I pulled him over to the tefillin booth. He was totally cooperative. When he finished reading the prayers in Russian and praying for his family, I asked him if he had a camera. He smiled and very happily took out his camera.

“Yes,” he said, “Please take a picture of me with the tefillin on. I want to send it to my mother in Moscow.”

What’s the point of this story? That he had a warm, loving experience putting on tefillin? No. What we really learn from his story is why in his entire life, he had never put on tefillin.

Because no one had ever asked him. Oy!

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Coincidence?

Robert S. notes...

On Asara b'Teves, the 10th of Teves, a fast day on this Wednesday, the walls of Jerusalem were breached.

This year, on Asara b'Teves, the 10th of Teves, the walls of the White House were breached.

Mida K'Neged Mida?

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

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Zionism and Judaism

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

My friend Ted Belman over at Israpundit wrote a great article about the War on Zionism...

Post Annapolis, the Palestinian Authority made it crystal clear that it will never recognize Israel as a “Jewish state”. Furthermore, it made it crystal clear that it will not compromise on Jerusalem making it a capital offense to do so...

Do not think for a moment that these entrenched Arab positions are negotiable. They aren’t and never have been. Ever since Theodor Herzl wrote The Jewish State in 1896, the Arabs (with one exception) have opposed it.

Bat Ye’or wrote in her monumental study, The Dhimmi, "In the historical Arab context, Israel represents the successful national liberation of a dhimmi civilization. On a territory formerly Arabized by the jihad...a pre-Islamic culture has been restored to life..."

Once a region has been conquered for Islam, it is always Islamic and must be re-conquered from the infidel, regardless of the passage of time. This is the core of the conflict. Palestine “must be re-conquered from the infidel, regardless of the passage of time”. Thus Israel must be destroyed.


But both Ted and the author he quotes make a fatal mistake. Dhimmitude is NOT an Arab thing, it's an Islamic thing. This is not a battle of culture, it's a battle of religion. Foreigners are accepted in Arab cultures, foreign MUSLIMS. What are not accepted is xians, Jews, or the local religions bahai and zoroastrianism.

When Zionism was strong, a vibrant national movement, it was opposed by Palestinianism, an invented nationalism of it's own. It all appeared political. But as Zionism has faded away (like the Kibbutz movement, among the non-religious it's simplistic hollow values couldn't be transmitted to a third generation), it's political opposition has faded away (as we see the classic PLO dissolving) and been replaced with a full force religious opposion (in the form of Hamas).

In other words, the truth has come out. There is no War Against Zionism, there is a War Against Judaism, the Jewish People, the Holy Land, and G-d and His Torah. There are physical aspects to this war, but ultimately it's a spiritual war. And we can't afford to miss that point and fight the wrong war.

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Toldos Avraham Yitzchok

Toldos Avraham Yitzchok

Toldos Avraham Yitzchok
by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Up a side street in Meah Shearim (an ancient ultra-orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem) is the shul of the Toldos Avraham Yitzchok (not to be confused with Toldos Aaron). This large synagogue is just finishing a round of renovations, and has an impressive aharon kodesh (Torah ark) in front.

I'm told these are descendants of the talmidim (students) of the Gra, the Vilna Gaon, who were encouraged to relocate to Eretz Yisroel (Israel). While they come from this ultimate of Litvish / Yeshivish backgrounds, they operate with a structure similar to a chassidic movement, and their style of dress matches that of the many holy chassidic residents of Meah Shearim.

There's definitely an interesting cultural tidbit of history there, to be delved into further.

Dan comments: Toldos Avraham Yitzchok are chassidim. They split from the Toldos Aharon chassidut after the passing of the previous Rabbi, Avraham Yitzchok Kohn. One son founded the new branch named after his father, and another son leads the original congregation.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

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The Pattern and The Terrace

terraced hill

terraced hill

closer terraced hill

close up terrace wall
by Akiva at Mystical Paths

At the end of the reign of Shlomo HaMelech (King Solomon), the navi Achiyah HaShiloni (Malachim 13:29) came to Yaravom (Jeroboam), tore his new garment into 12 pieces, and handed Yaravom 10 pieces, telling him 10 tribes (10 portions of Israel) would be given to him.

This division of Israel was supposed to be a punishment for 36 years. Yaravom had a choice to make it spiritual or physical. Due to his great anger he made it spiritual, he prevented the people from going to Jerusalem, setting up altars of worship along the path to Jerusalem to draw the people aside. (The Midrash says that those altars and idols actively drew people with magic, the idols actually responding to people.) Though, as usual, there was a 'political' explanation to this, that people going to Jerusalem and praying to Hashem would potentially return their alligience to the House of David, so he destroyed their faith for 'political' calculations, at least by one thought.

Yet in doing so, he set in place the pattern that led to the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel and the exile of the 10 tribes.

The first capital of the newly formed Kingdom of Israel, Yaravom's split from the House of David and the children of King Solomon, was in Shechem (Nablus). Later, it was moved to Sebastia, about 8 miles from Shechem (where the ruins of the palace of Achav stands to this day).

The area was incredibly wealthy, it was the zone of Menashe, and south of that the zone of Efraim (after that Binyomin as the area of Jerusalem, but that was the Kingdom of Judea). The hills were terraced forests of orchards, fruit trees, olive trees, grape vines.

As you can see from the pictures, these terraces still exist today. It is literally the work of hundreds of thousands over generations to terrace such mountains.

Two times the land was raped. The first was during the time of the Romans. They defeated the land, slaughtered the majority of the population (those that they didn't take as slaves), and cut the trees for the wood. The second was almost 1500 years later, the Ottoman Turks stripped the land of wood for building railroads and war supplies during World War I.

What remains are the terraces and the olive trees. The terraces of the Kingdom of Israel. The area has not sustained a population since that could do the amount of work necessary.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

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Israel's Hope or Lack Thereof

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Jonathan Rosenblum writes ... An ancient Midrash recounts a conversation between Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael asserts his superiority over Isaac on the grounds that his circumcision took place at 13, when he was fully conscious of the ordeal, while Isaac was only eight days old at his circumcision. Isaac replies that if God were to request him to give up his life he would gladly do so.

That conversation, according to the Midrash, constituted the immediate prelude for the Binding of Isaac. Ishmael and Isaac were disputing which one of them is the true inheritor of the Divine promise of the Land to their father Abraham. And both understood that the answer to that question turns on the measure of mesirut nefesh - self-sacrifice - each demonstrates for the right to inherit the Land.

Ishmael's descendants remain faithful to that understanding. It is we Jews who give every indication of having lost our will, in large part because we have lost our belief in the Divine promise to Abraham...


Mr. Rosenblum starts out beautifully, but ends with a discussion of national will. Yet by doing so he completely moves away from his initial point. For the Jewish people, it's either Torah and emunah in Hashem, or it's not. There is no in-between that is sustainable.

After 3 generations without Torah, the leaders of Israel truly have nothing but lip service left. And without Hashem, the sheep will not survive among the many wolves.

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Aliyah: You Have How Much Luggage???

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

What can you live without for a couple of months? In reality, we all have a small quantity of possessions that are regular use, that we cycle through in a normal week. But can you really do without all those other things? All those on the nearby shelves that you don't actually use on any regular basis.

The draw of materialism, eyes wider than need, expand our cost. Cost of dollars, cost of effort, cost of worry.

We worried about all the different things we'd need, and packed accordingly. Heavy clothes, light clothes, some new clothes, various utensils, odds and ends, sheets, blankets, some kitchen utensils, the kitchen sink, the front closet, that pile is getting pretty darn high. I had to hire 2 vans to the airport, one for the family, one for the luggage! I weighted each one carefully, overweight is very costly. (Much cheaper to pay for an extra bag than an extra few pounds.) 3 suitcases per person makes one huge pile.

When you arrive at the airport with your whole family, 3 bags per person (plus a carry on per person!), you get a few stares. (A few, hah!) I made a point of leaving lots of time to arrive early, though there was traffic, traffic, traffic, I began to worry, to sweat, thoughts of children running every which way and trying to deal with a pile of luggage reaching the ceiling....ahhhhhh. Fortunately, we actually did arrive early, even after being delayed in traffic almost 2 hours (B"H). I don't normally pay for porters, but hey, if there was any time to, this was it.

When you arrive at the security counter with a pile of bags that can't be seen over, you get lots of attention. They had to take down the walking lines for us to fit. Did we pack them all ourselves, yes. Carrying anything dangerous, no. It took 3 security people to tag them all. Off to the scanner...

Each step was long and tedious, but that's only if you expect things to be easy and convenient. The kids were surprisingly cooperative, my wife and I worked together, and smiling at people when you arrive with a pile of luggage to the ceiling makes a big difference. Hi, smile, yes it's all mine, smile, we're moving to Israel, smile, sorry for overloading you, smile, yes I know I have some extra I have to pay for, smile, where do I pay for it, smile, thank you for handling us, smile.

9 times out of 10, your attitude affects others. We flew Israir, and they were very reasonable through check in and boarding (more on the flight in a future post). US TSA security was another matter. We waiting in line an hour, in a tight compressed space, to be checked. The kids starting getting cranky, being squeezed and shoved. Items started being dragged. Frustration grew. B"H, we made it through.

Once past there, only dealing with children and carry-on's was a major relief. I don't have to keep track of 100 things, only 20, hurray!

And the adventure continues.

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Video: Divine Guidance

(1 hour, Hebrew w/English Subtitles)

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

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Emunah Paths Podcast #10 - Geulah HaNefesh

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Please join us for our latest podcast, Emunah Paths Podcast #10 - Geulah HaNefesh (note, recorded while driving, sound quality is a bit poor) (8 minutes, MP3, English)

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

    Play it Now:


Let us know what you think! Click the Comments button below.

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Strange History Tidbit

From Shamrak News...

Mystery Mountain, Los Lunas, New Mexico. That's where a fascinating find was discovered with the Hebrew inscription of the Ten Commandments engraved on a giant rock. What is amazing about this find, is that the ten commandments were written in a Hebrew script that is so ancient, it may last have been used around the time of the Babylonian expulsion. This means it could have been written between 2,500-3,000 years ago! How did this script, as well as the text of the ten commandments, wind up in New Mexico, so many centuries ago?

Over two thousand years before Columbus "discovered" America there were people of Jewish origin in New Mexico worshiping the God of Israel. How can this possibly be reconciled with known history? It is seemingly apparent that the financial backing to launch a Hebrew-Phoenician voyage of world exploration could have readily occurred during the reign of King Solomon of Israel. Solomon worshiped the true God of Israel and had the means to fund explorative voyages to other lands.

Hmm, interesting!

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Friday, December 14, 2007

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In the Land

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

I'm blessed to be back with my family in Eretz HaKodesh. Israel is a modern Western country, with some European and Eastern background. A standard modern nation with modern amenities.

It is also the Holy Land, where if one reaches one can feel the Divine Presence. In a hill, in a sunset, and shining neshomas that greet each other with ahavas yisroel.

For those Israelis reading this, you'll be shocked to hear that includes the Misrad HaPanim (the Ministry of the Interior).

...More to come on the trip, R. Nati to return to regular posting, photos of the Holy Land, a return to a regular podcasting schedule, and (G-d willing) new video posts.

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Sunsets

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Sunset in the Hills of Beit Shemesh



Sunset & Minchah in the Hills of the Shomron



Sunset on Ben Yehudah, Jerusalem


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You've Got To Be Kidding

"Asking for record $5.8 billion in aid through 2010, Palestinians promise fiscal reform." Karen Laub, AP, December 5, 2007 via the Gloria Center.

Chuckle. Chuckle. Laugh. Laugh. This would truly be hilarious if it wasn't real.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

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OU Kashrus Seminar Coming to Town - Funny Intro Video

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The Bracha of Gevuros -Audio Shiur by Reb Yerachmiel from Rav Pincus Chaburah

by Dixie Yid at Mystical Paths


In this week's shiur by Reb Yerachmiel from the Baltimore Community Kollel Rav Pincus Chaburah, he began discussing the second beracha of Shemoneh Esrei, Berchas "Gevuros", and discussed the connection between Hashem's "Might" and techiyas ha'maysim, rainfall and Yitzchak Avinu, all in an effort to further enhance our tefillos.

You can listen to the shiur online HERE (watch out for the advertisements) or download it HERE.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture of the Kamui Promontory in the Western tip of Shakotan Peninsula of Hokkaido, near Japan courtesy of YunPhoto.net)

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The Spiritual Perspective (7)

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

The spiritual load that each of us carries every day can pull our souls down. Life can seem to be very heavy when our emotional and spiritual burdens keep us low. Yet proper spiritual thinking can lift this burden quite easily.

The soul and body have a unique relationship. The soul comes into the body on its own special mission. It requires the body in order to carry out its task. Without the body, it can do nothing. Its assignment is to elevate the person it fills and all that it can while it is here. Then, if it does its job properly, when it returns to where it came from, its position will be even higher than it was before it descended into the body.

However, the soul is limited to doing only what the person wants. If the body wants to eat, the soul must vivify the body so it can eat. It must power the bodyג€™s movements that lead it to its desire. This is true whether the body wants to eat proper food, or even if it wants to eat improper food. If the person wants to do good, the soul must say, ג€ I will help you.ג€ If the person wants to do evil, the soul must say, ג€ I will help you.ג€ Every individual must have freewill. That is the fixed rule. So, how is the soul to arrange things to ensure its higher will rules? It must urge the person to do good, but it can never force it.

But the problem is even more severe. When the soul looks out at the world, it can only see through the person's eyes. This means that its lofty nature is hidden even from itself. Oy!

Just before a baby is born its soul is made to forget all that it knows. Its nature, and being a portion of G-d on High, cannot be known to the baby's soul after it is born. If the baby knew who it really was, and what it was doing here, he would live an entirely righteous life. There could not even be a thought to stray. If this would happen, the baby's life here on earth would be wasted. No freewill, no reward. Angels have no free will. They do what they were programmed to do. G-d did not want a world inhabited by angels. Instead, the baby must grow and make its own decisions based upon what it learns while it is here. What can be done? The baby grows in a world and is influenced by all of the things that surround it. Oy!

The baby grows and can easily become lost, losing any idea of his higher purpose. He can even come to think that the purpose of life is to gather as many material possessions as he possibly can. He can work his entire life, well into old age, gathering and gathering, even while knowing that he will soon die, and that he does not know what will happen to those things that he worked so hard to accumulate. Some people end up living their entire lives looking for stuff, excitement, loud noises, stronger and stronger tastes and smells. Oy! What can be done?

Often, this load is so heavy that the owner does not even want his spiritual burden picked up. He will always want help picking up his physical donkey, because he sees his loss there. But this is not true for his spiritual donkey. Most people do not even realize that there is a spiritual load, let alone a way to pick it up. They think that their condition is just the way things are.

A helping hand from a friend or even a stranger can turn this all around. The right place at the right time, a few words, a good idea, can turn the person up.

If you have found how to relieve this burden for yourself, are you not obligated to share this information with the less fortunate? Better yet, are you not privileged to share this elevating information with those who are being held down?

Today at the Kotel, I asked a young Israeli to put on tefillin. He refused. He was polite enough, even very nice about it, but still, he was adamant that he did not want to put on tefillin. He pulled himself away. He was smiling, but insistent. A few minutes later, he came back to the tefillin booth wanting a piece of paper to write a note to place between the stones of the Kotel. If someone is trying to sell you something that you do not want, the last place you are going to go is over to that salesman. You are going to avoid him at all costs.

I tried again, but he refused. I told him that if he was going to write a note, there must be something that he wanted, and that putting on tefillin was the way to get it. He said that he wasnג€™t writing the note for himself, and again he refused the tefillin. While he kept refusing, I gently slipped the tefillin on his arm. Once it was on his arm, he cooperated. He repeated the blessing and read the proper prayer. I showed him how to pray from his heart and especially to pray for what he was going to write on the note.

What is the point of the story? His mind and body knew that he did not want to do that mitzvah. He was certain. But his soul did want to do it. The Jewish soul always wants to follow the teachings of G-d. It is only the lower self, the physical or dragged-down spiritual side of a person that refuses. The soul's nature is to yearn for the higher, and we must learn how to teach the lower aspects of man to look up.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

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Chochma vs. Bina - Part 8 - Translation from Rav Kook on Our Times

by Dixie Yid at Mystical Paths


(This is cross-posted at Dixie Yid as well.)

In this final section, translating teachings by Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern and Rav Kook on the topic of understanding Chochma and Bina and how those sefiros manifest themselves practically in modern times.

I highly recommend that you read the Introduction first. Each part links to the next, so you will be able to keep up. My rebbe connected this teaching from Rav Kook, with Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern's explanation of Chochma and Bina's practical manifestations in modern jewish movements. Here, in the conclusion to this series, Rav Kook explains how the desire to unify Chochma and Bina is the prime movant behind so much of what people invest time and energy into in this world, and how you and I can learn Torah in a way which is mesakein, repairs, the world's perversion of this desire to unify.

Oros HaTeshuva 7:10

The chutzpa that exists at the end of days comes because the world is already ready, to the extent that it demandsunderstanding, [to know] how all details are tied into the principal. There is no detail, that is not tied to some great principal, will satisfy the mind. If the world would toil in Torah, with the light of this trait, the spiritual sould would be come so great that it would recognize the right connection between every detail with the spiritual principals. Teshuva and a reperation of the world which would come with and through it, would be revealed and and reach actuality. But because of laziness, and because the light of Torah is [hidden] within, and needs to be loftiness [of spirit] and inherent holiness, [this trait] has not entered the world in the proper way. The need to organize life in this way, where the details are built on an understanding of the whole structure.

At a time like this, where the completion of the revelation of light, and a clarification of the path to this understanding has not yet come, this creates an awesome destruction. We must use the best medicine, which is increasing the power of spiritual strength, to the point that the way of understanding and measuring the connection between all types of theoretical knowledge and activity with the highest principal will be something which is understood and becomes a normal means which comes naturally through [currently] forgotten feelings of the soul. Then, the spiritual power behind life will return to actuality and intellectual connectivity, to affect the world, and overarching Teshuva will begin to give its fruits.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Gutenberg.org)

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

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The Tzadik Who I Davened Next To

by Dixie Yid at Mystical Paths


I happened to be davening next to a Tzadik in Shul this past Shabbos morning. He's a Baal Teshuva, a great father, and an all-around great person. I observed that he was looking over his daughter's parsha sheets. They were about 3 pages long and were all in Hebrew. He was poring over the sheets with a dictionary on one side, and a Metzuda Linear translation of the Chumash and Rashi on the other side. As he was working on the Hebrew in the parsha questions so that he could understand the questions well enough to ask them to his daughter at the Shabbos table, I was thinking what a great role model he is.

For those of us who are trying to be good fathers like this man, it's worth noting that we shouldn't take a back-seat attitude to raising our children. He could have said to himself, "If I know it, I know it. If not, not. Whatever it is, is meant to be. She'll have to get along with the parents she's got." And while all of that is true, it's great to have that assertive attitude that says, "If I don't know something that my child is learning in yeshiva/school, I'm going to learn it so we can share that together." Givaldig!

Just another story to throw in that's not related, about my own kids. The other night, my daughters were about to go spend the night with their Saba and Savta. My wife asked our almost 3 year old son whether he wanted to go too or not. He said that yes, he also wanted to go. So my wife said, "No. Stay here with Mommy. I would be so sad if you left." So he says, "I no want Mommy be sad." And then listen to this, he goes, "Okay, I'll stay." Crazy! How many children would give up on something they want to do just to bring happiness to one of their parents!? (Maybe a lot, but I'm still schepping nachas.) OF course she told him that he could go, and didn't have to stay. But it was sooooo sweet.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of the Israel Book Shop)

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

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On My Way

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Dear Friends:

G-d willing in a hour my family and I are on our way to Eretz Yisroel. I've asked for a few people to fill in, but blogging may be light for the next week or two until I get reconnected.

Hang in there, should be many interesting stories...

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Perceptions of Judaism

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

On Shabbos I had a heated conversation with a young lady about the future of Judaism. She presented that the restrictiveness of orthodox Judaism, plus some comments from her teacher (in a MO yeshiva), and her social circle's disdain for orthodoxy, clearly indicated that classical Jewish practice is at odds with G-d's intention for the world, and is toast.

One of her ideas made some sense...she asserted that ultra-orthodoxy's isolation tendencies are at odds with G-d's objectives that the Jews and Torah be a light to the world.

Yet, as she was quoting from the wondrous sage of American contemporary wisdom, Oprah, I had happened to glance at her magazine opening to an article instructing women how to avoid feelings of love to enjoy...temporary interactions. So I asked her, is that what she wants? Is that the way she wants Jewish society to interact? Is that not worthy of staying away from?

Modern society offers so many wonderful tools, conveniences, safety nets. But media is something else all together. Values which few (initially) agree with are spread and pushed, for their titillation value. Without talking about any kind of conspiracy, remember the media makes money by keeping you watching and listening. The longer they own your eyes (the window to the soul, right?), the more money in their pocket. _So they will do anything they can to keep your eyes._

Orthodoxy is like the straight kid at a party where they are passing around drugs. What's wrong with him, he won't take it! Everyone else puts their kids in front of 6 hours of TV a day, what's wrong with you not having a TV?

The fallacy part of her argument is the future of Judaism. Statistically, it's actually the reverse, the non-strict are fading away, and orthodoxy continues to grow at a breakneck pace. It was somewhat humoerous at the last US Agudas Yisroel convention where they started to face the fact that in 20 years, they'll be the majority and faced with lobbying and federation style functions that the non-orthodox Jewish segment has performed till now.

Orthodoxy is coming out of the shadows, but not to run to WalMart to buy big screen TV's.

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5th Night

In honor of the festive occasion of Hanukah, a constant reminder that a little light dispels a lot of darkness, I humbly offer my favorite Hanukah story:

Adapted from the Hebrew weekly, Shav'uon Kfar Chabad, a wondrous account sent in by Rabbi Moses Hayyim Greenvald from 12 years ago...

Since the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt"l, may his merit guard over us, Jews all around me -- of every stripe and persuasion -- can't seem to stop talking about the Rebbe. At the synagogue I pray at, at work. It amazes me to see how every Jew seems to have a story about a personal encounter or experience with the Rebbe.

I say it's a mitzvah to tell these stories so that our children and children's children will hear about the Sanctification of G-d's name by means of a tzaddik who walked amongst us and was a faithful shepherd for all the children of the generation. It's widely known that Hasidim place great importance on tales of the righteous, as it is written, "Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord O ye Servants of the Lord" (Psalms). In order to comply with this precept myself, I offer a wondrous account about the Rebbe and my father. Until now this was known only in our family circles. I now find it incumbent upon me, after the Rebbe's passing, to tell the story publicly.

My father, Rabbi Abraham Zvi Greenvald, was born in Lodz, Poland, and was orphaned from his father at the age of 8. His mother was left with seven little orphans, and she worried much about the education of her eldest boy, whom she sent to live with a cousin, the exalted scholar Rabbi Menachem Zemba, may G-d avenge his blood. It was he who raised my father with great self-sacrifice. Understandably, he was concerned about my father's studies and even tutored him personally.

My father was almost 17 years old when there took place in Warsaw "The Great Wedding" -- the nuptials of the daughter of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph Isaac (Schneersohn) with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who would later become the seventh Rebbe. My father used to tell about this wedding almost as a spiritual exercise -- both regarding the wedding itself, in which participated the cream of Polish Hasidic leaders, and also that my father was able to meet personally with the young bridegroom. This meeting, my father would later realize, would portend much in the future.

A youth of about 17, my father arrived at the wedding together with his relative and teacher, Rabbi Menachem Zemba. On the morning after, Rabbi Zemba told him he was going to visit the bridegroom in the hotel, and if my father wished, he could accompany him. Understandably, my father agreed.

My father could not remember and repeat all that the two spoke about, but he did remember well the end of the conversation, before these two personalities parted ways. The Rebbe turned to my father and said, "In another few days, it will be Hanukkah. Do you know why many small synagogues hold festivals on the fifth day of Chanukah?" My father did not know what to answer, and he recalled that Rabbi Zemba just looked at the Rebbe waiting for an answer. Then the Rebbe, turned to my father and said, "The fifth Hanukkah candle signifies great darkness because this day cannot fall on the Holy Sabbath. And through the Hanukkah candles, the greatest (spiritual) darkness of the world is illuminated. And for this reason, the potential of Hanukkah comes to fruition specifically through the fifth candle, which signifies the darkness. And this is the function of every Jew, in every place -- in Warsaw or London -- to illuminate the darkest place."

As mentioned earlier, my father did not remember what the Rebbe and Rabbi Zemba spoke about during their long conversation. But he said he would never forget that all the tractates of the Babylonian Talmud flew around the room. When they left the hotel, my father recalls, Rabbi Zemba was extremely excited and didn't stop speaking about the meeting to everyone with whom he conversed for several days.

After that meeting, nearly 10 years passed.

My father survived the Holocaust, first in the Ghetto, and afterwards in the Extermination Camps. His first wife and their five little children were slaughtered in front of his eyes. When the war ended, and he was left alive by the grace of G-d, he experienced a mental and physical breakdown. For two years, he moved from displaced persons camp to displaced persons camp, trying to learn if there were relatives -- close or distant -- who survived. In the end, it became clear that all his brothers and sisters -- each one of them -- was liquidated by the oppressor, may its name be blotted out.

In the year 5708 (ca. 1948), he traveled to the United States, to Philadelphia. There lived his uncle, Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Greenvald of the Amshinov Hasidim, who he had never met because the uncle immigrated to America before he was born. But the uncle arranged my fathers travel to the U. S. and received him with great love, and did everything to make it easier for him and to comfort him after the portion of awesome suffering he underwent . . . Under pressure from his uncle, with the intervention of the Amshinov Rebbe, my father decided to put his life back together, married a second wife (my mother, of blessed memory).

She was a child of Karkov, daughter of Rabbi Zushya Sinkowitz, may G-d avenge his blood, of the elders of the Alexander Hasidim. Together with his sister, he succeeded in fleeing immediately at the beginning of the war, running from country to country until they set sail for Canada. There, they raised in the house another cousin, the great leader, Mr. Kuppel Shwartz, one of Toronto's leading Jews. Before my parents were wed, Mr. Shwartz took my father to New York for an audience with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph Isaac (Schneersohn) to obtain his blessing.

My father told me that he trembled to see the change that had overtaken the Previous Rebbe, how age had crept up on him since the Warsaw wedding. (It was very difficult to understand the Rebbe's speech; one of the Hasidic elders who stood in the room explained what the Rebbe was saying). Mr. Shwartz told the Previous Rebbe that my father had been saved, but lost his family in the Holocaust. Then, from the holy eyes of the Previous Rebbe there began to fall streams of pure tears. The Rebbe blessed my father and wished him a long and good life. Before he left, my father told the Rebbe that he had been fortunate to be at the wedding of his son-in-law, the Rebbe, in Warsaw. Then, my father tells, the Previous Rebbe's eyes brightened and he said that since his son-in-law lived here, and he was at the wedding, he should certainly visit him to pay his respects.

Mr. Shwartz and my father left the Rebbe's chambers, and after they were shown where to find the chambers of the Ramash, as he was known then, they knocked and entered, saying they came at the instructions of the Previous Rebbe. My father was elated that the Ramash remembered him immediately. His first question was that my father should tell about last days of Rabbi Zemba because he heard he was killed in the Warsaw Ghetto but did not know any details.

After my father told all he knew, the Ramash said, "since the Rebbe told you to visit me, I am obligated to say to you words of Torah. And since the month of Kislev is close to Hanukkah, it is known the custom of many Hasidim," followers of the Baal Shem Tov, to celebrate the fifth day of Hanukkah. What is the reason? Since the fifth day can never fall on the Sabbath, if so, then it implies strong (spiritual) darkness. This is the potential of the Hanukkah candle -- to illuminate the greatest darkness. This is the mission of every Jew in every place he may be -- New York or London -- to illuminate the darkest place.

Needless to say, my father was startled as he had all but forgotten the very same thing that the Ramash had told him nearly 20 years earlier. And now, his memory was jarred, and he realized that the Ramash had repeated, almost word-for-word, what he told him then, in the hotel in Warsaw.

After his wedding, my father served as a rabbi and teacher for Congregation Adath Israel in Washington Heights. There we were born, my sister and I. My father remained there some five years, and, with the help of Mr. Shwartz in Canada, moved to Toronto and worked there as a rabbi and teacher in the Haredi congregations there.

Over the course of years, in Toronto, my father became close to the Satmar Hasidim in the city, since he ministered in his rabbinical work to these Hasidim. Though he never sent us to the Satmar schools, he sent us to educational institutions that were spiritually similar. Me and my brother were sent to the well known Nytra Yeshivah. Though my father's outlook was philosophically close to Satmar, he never spoke against the Lubavitcher Rebbe. On the contrary, he always spoke of him in with praise and in especially respectful terms, as did his children.

In the winter of 5729 (ca. 1969), I was married. My father told me that even though I wasn't a Lubavitcher Hasid, he feels the need to go with me to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe to receive his blessing for my wedding -- just as he had done, even though he had not seen the Rebbe for some 20 years. I agreed with a whole heart.

But then, I learned it's not so simple to visit the Rebbe.

Only after negotiations with the Rebbe's secretary -- and only after my father explained to him that we could not wait several months to reserve a place in the queue for audiences -- did he agreed to place us in line, but only after we promised we would only ask for a benediction and would not detain the Rebbe. My father promised and we left Toronto on the appointed day. I don't remember the exact hour we entered the Rebbe's chambers, but it was closer to morning than night, if not dawn itself.

I saw the Rebbe's face for the first time in person. His face, especially his eyes, made a great impression on me. My father gave the Rebbe the customary epistle on which were inscribed the names of myself, my bride-to-be and my father's request for a benediction. The Rebbe took the epistle from my father's hands. Before he opened it, he looked at my father with a broad smile and said, "Not more than 20 years ago the time had arrived, especially as the Previous Rebbe sent you to me." My father stood, scared and trembling, and couldn't find the energy to open his mouth.

Meanwhile, the sexton banged on the door, but the Rebbe waved his hand as to negate the knocking, like someone who was saying, don't pay attention.

In the midst of all this, the Rebbe opened the epistle, glanced at it, and immediately began to give us his blessing, blessed my father with a long life and good years, and said, roughly, "Just as you rejoiced at my nuptials, may the Lord give you nachas and strength to dance at your grandchild's wedding." Tears poured from my father's eyes, and I was also elated. My father had been physically broken from all he had endured in the camps, and this benediction of the Rebbe's was especially dear.

Before we left, my father got together the strength to ask the Rebbe that since he had promised the secretary we would enter solely to request a blessing, and he has a pressing question, would the Rebbe permit him to ask it. The Rebbe smiled and laughed, and said (roughly): "Since the Rebbe the father-in-law sent you to me, I am obligated to answer all questions. And as before, we heard loud banging on the door, and the Rebbe signaled we should ignore it.

My father turned to the Rebbe and said that for different reasons, we had lived among the Satmar Hasidim and their fellow travellers for many years. There, we frequently hear complaints about the views of Lubavitch. "Even though I do not accept all the gossip that I hear, they have nonetheless succeeded in raising within me a great doubt about the Lubavitch view in connection with working together with the "wicked people." The verses are well known, such as "And those that thou hatest the Lord shall hate." "How is it that Lubavitch can openly work together with those who battle against G-d and his Torah?"

My father told the Rebbe that he requests forgiveness for the question, and did not mean to offend. Quite to the contrary, he really wants to understand the Rebbe's view so he can answer others as well as himself. The Rebbe then turned to my father with a question. "What would your neighbors do if a neighbor's daughter began to keep bad company? Would they attempt to return her to the way of Torah and the Commandments, or would they say, 'And those that thou hatest the Lord shall hate and it is forbidden to involve oneself with the wicked; therefore, we should distance ourselves from her and not bring her closer?'"

The Rebbe did not even wait for an answer, and promptly added: "This zealous one would answer that with a daughter, the injunction of 'From thy flesh do not conceal thyself would apply.'" And then the Rebbe's eyes became serious, and he knocked on the table, and said: "By the Al-mighty, every Jew is as precious as an only child. With the Rebbe, the father-in-law, every Jew was 'From thy flesh, do not conceal thyself.'"

Then the Rebbe looked at me, and at my father with a constant gaze, and said: "One concludes with a blessing. As it is known, it is customary among Hasidim to celebrate the fifth day of Hanukkah with festivities. What is the reason? Since the fifth day cannot ever fall on the Sabbath, this signifies that it is the height of darkness. With the light of the Hanukkah candle, it is possible to illuminate the darkest thing. This is the mission of each Jew, to illuminate even the darkest places. It does not matter where he lives -- Toronto or London. Every Jew is veritably a part of G-d above, the only child of the Holy One, Blessed be He. And when one lights his soul with the candle of holiness, even the distant Jew is stirred in the darkest place."

My father was startled in the most shocking way. He didn't even hear the last words of the Rebbe's blessing, nor how we left the Rebbes chambers. All the way back to Toronto he was silent. Only two words: "wonder of wonders. Wonder of wonders."

Since then, about 10 years passed.

In the year 5739 (ca. 1979), my youngest brother was married in the city of London. The whole family, my father, my mother, my sister, my brother-in-law, and I flew to the wedding in an airplane. On the way to London, I saw my father was preoccupied. Something was bothering him. I asked him what was wrong and he didn't want to say. Only after I asked several times, he told me. "A few minutes after I left the house in Toronto, the neighbor -- one of the dignitaries of our congregation -- came to see me, rivers of tears pouring from his eyes. He said he would tell me a story that he would not otherwise tell to anybody willingly, but that maybe I could help.

It turned out that the daughter of this community leader wavered very much in her ritual observance. In the beginning, the parents didn't really know about it, because she hid it from them. But two weeks earlier, the great catastrophe became known to them: she eloped with a Gentile to London. Since then, the atmosphere at home was one of crying and mourning, the 9th of Av.

All the efforts of relatives in London came to naught. Therefore, he asked my father, since he was travelling to London, maybe he would look into the matter, and G-d would be merciful. Maybe he could find the daughter and prevent her from descending into the depths of iniquity? My father was a close friend of this neighbor, and was affected greatly by the story. I also took it to heart and thought about what I could do in London.

The nuptials were held at a good and auspicious hour. On the first night of the Seven Benedictions, my father turned to the bride's father and told him the story about the neighbor's daughter. Perhaps he had some advice, who, where? Maybe he could look into the matter and do something? The bride's father, as soon as he heard the story, said to my father that he had no understanding of such matters, but did have a friend who was a Lubavitcher Hasid, who the Lubavitcher Rebbe had always charged with all types of errands. The man's name was Rabbi Abraham Isaac Glick, and if there's somebody who can help, it is this man, who had already managed to save from the streets of Europe many confused souls.

That night, the bride's father telephoned Rabbi Glick, told him the story and explained how pressing the matter was. Rabbi Glick asked for the telephone number of the girl's parents in Toronto -- perhaps they knew some details that would help, like addresses, telephone numbers. Perhaps they would give him some clue where to start searching. Rabbi Glick promised to do what he could.

I don't know where Rabbi Glick searched, where he went, nor with whom he consulted. But one night, about 10 days later -- my father and my mother decided to stay in London until after Hanukkah -- Rabbi Glick called the bride's father and told him to come immediately. "I have a very good surprise," he said.

The bride's father and my father hurried to Rabbi Glick's house. As they entered, they saw a girl sitting, crying. At the entrance of the salon, a Hanukkah candelabrum was lit. Suddenly, as my father looked at the menorah, he saw five candles lit, and he almost fainted and fell to the ground. He remembered the strange sentence the Rebbe had told him some 50 years earlier, then 30 years earlier and then 10.

"The fifth Hanukkah candle signifies the power of the Hanukkah menorah, and the mission of every Jew is to illuminate even" the darkest place -- Warsaw or London, New York or London, or Toronto or London . . ."

"What will that zealous one do when his daughter wavers ...with the Holy One, Blessed be He, every Jew is an only child ... With the Previous Rebbe, every Jew is 'From thy flesh, do not conceal thyself.'" There's no need to mention that the girl completely repented and became on observant Jew. There's also no need to mention that the zealous one shut his mouth and ceased speaking against Lubavitch.

When my father returned to Canada, he made every effort to obtain an audience with the Rebbe. He felt a need, a spiritual duty after what had happened, to see the Rebbe. But in those years, it had become very difficult to obtain a private audience. But the following month of Tishrei, the year 5740 (ca. 1980), my father succeeded seeing the Rebbe on the night that a group of holiday visitors had a group audience. My father said that from all the emotions that were coursing through him, he could not utter anything during the audience. When he tried to tell the story, he would break into tears. The Rebbe heard just a few sentences, turned to my father and said, "The father-in-law has a very distant vision."

Every time my father would tell this story, he would say that the real wonder was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Even more than his vision of events to come from 50 years beforehand, was his heavenly humility of, that he said, "The father-in-law has a very distant vision."

The chain of wonders has not stopped. On 14 Kislev 5748 (ca. 1989), exactly when the Seven Benedictions for my firstborn child ended, on the day which represented the passage of 60 years from the Rebbe's wedding in Warsaw, my father passed away -- all just as the Rebbe had blessed my father, that he should rejoice at the wedding of his grandchild.

We should be happy that this man, Holy to G-d dwelt amongst us. Since it is known that "The righteous are greater in their death than in their lives," certainly the Rebbe will cause a flow of blessings, salvation and comfort from On High, to each and all, until we merit to the promise of the verse, "And a Redeemer shall come unto Zion," in accord with the holy will of the Rebbe, soon and in our time. Amen.

-- Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Greenvald

The copy that I received 11 years ago was originally provided by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Kazen, a"h (who has passed away), the original founder of Chabad Online (www.chabad.org), one of the primary web sites for the Chabad Lubavich Hassidim. At the time I received this, an online web site was a new thing (for those who know 'net history, it originally came with a Gopher address), and a religious web site was a wondrous thing. It came with the stipulation that the site be advertised, which I have done here, and donation info provided. To donate to Chabad Online, click here.

It also came with the stipulation that this acknowledgement be included, though I can no longer guarantee the contact information is accurate:

Translation provided courtesy of:

FRIENDS OF LUBAVITCH OF FLORIDA, (Est. 1960)

Rabbi Abraham Korf
Lubavitch Regional Director-Florida
e-mail: rabbi@bcfreenet.seflin.lib.fl.us
voice: (305) 673-5664; fax: (305) 673-0269


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