Saturday, May 31, 2008

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Press Releases from the King of Kings

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Those outside the orthodox Jewish world, and sometimes even those inside, often wonder why we spend so much time analyzing the Torah and Talmud in such depth. For those involved in the American financial markets in the past, my answer is (l'havdil) "Alan Greenspan". For those who don't get that or aren't market followers...

(via Israpundit) Jack Wheeler, former advisor to President Reagan, advises that Condi and the State Department are cowards and aren’t prepared to upset anybody except the Israelis. He guestimates that Bush will order a strike against Iran after Nov 4/08. He also noted that Bush mentioned the Peace process not once in the Knesset and thinks that is significant.

In politics and other significant negotiations, we pay close attention to every facet of every detail to gain our best understanding of the situation. Did the King glance our way, did the President nod silently to the comment, did the Secretary not repeat a position she normally does?

How much more so when we are reading the Press Releases of the King of Kings?

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

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Haircuts

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Question: Is one allowed to have a hair cut, during the 50 Days of the Omer Count?

During the period of the Omer, we follow a number of customs related to mourning - a kind of semi-national-mourning. One of those customs is to NOT cut hair (including not shaving, even if one does so in a permitted fashion during other times).

However, there is significantly different customs (minhagim) regarding WHEN during the Omer period this period of mourning lasts...

- MOST hold from the end of Passover until Lag B'Omer.
- Some don't begin the period until Chodesh Iyar.
- Many chassidim (and others) continue the period from the end of Lag B'Omer until Shavuos, but others don't.
- All hold that Lag B'Omer itself is exempted, and do cut hair - hold weddings - celebrate - listen to music - on Lag B'Omer.

For those who hold the custom until the end of the Omer, there is disagreement on when "preparation for Shavuos" begins and therefore hair should be cut...

- Some say from the first day of the week in which Shavuos falls.
- Some say 3 days before.

The Chabad custom is from the day after Passover (the end of the full week of Passover) until the end of the Omer, with preparation for Shavuos starting 3 days before.

It should be noted that ALL of this is in the realm of custom (minhag). The general statement is from the Gemora, that during the period of the Omer we mourn for the loss of the students of Rabbi Akiva, and more for the loss of what 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva could have accomplished (being he had only 4 students afterwards and they changed the Torah world).

We should not make the mistake of overly focusing on the mourning customs and not focusing on the reasons for the mourning, namely a lack of unity and appreciation for our fellow Jew at the highest level, appreciating their kosher differences and positions for the representation of the facets of Torah and the path of Hashem that they are.

In a time when the religious Jewish world is hyper-divided by sect/custom/chassidus yet living side by side, we need to invest special effort in doing more than just respecting each other's differences, we must come to actually appreciate them! That is the heights of ahavas yisroel, love of our fellow, that is demanded to offset the errors of sinat chinam, senseless hatred - jealousy - nit picking of others, that destroyed us in the past and threaten us now.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

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Moon Soup and Planet Salad

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

There is a problem that stems from lack of faith in Hashem and His chachamim, His sages. Through faith in the holy sages and the true tzaddikim we bring out our Jewish mishpat, the righteous judgments to light up this world. Conversely, a person or group or nation who repudiates this faith is condemned to a mind plagued by confusion and doubt. They are unable to attain judgment or derive true laws of conduct from their studies, and are never clear about the path to follow.

This pollution of the mind and inability to exercise mishpat result in conferring authority on unworthy leaders. This in turn causes our writings, aka the Holy Torah, to lose their authority, and leads to the Jews being exiled from their land and their places in which they have settled. (Sound familiar?)

This is the issue of mazal. As a result of the breaking down of the Authority of the Holy Torah, the wisdom of SOD HA-IBUR, 'the mystery of intercalation', was taken from the Jewish people and given over to the nations. This wisdom was, until the 4th century CE, only in the hands of the elite members of the Sanhedrin and passed down by smicha, from teacher to worthy student until Hillel the second (the last of the princes from the house of David) in 358 CE after the exile of the Romans.

In ancient times we were the the foremost authorities of this wisdom. Our knowledge included mastery of both the astronomical calculations, which are the revealed portion of this wisdom, as well as the astrological meanings, the hidden portion and esoteric aspect. Previously, the nations had only a basic external knowledge of the this vast subject.

As this moved to the nations, they developed Astrology, a bastardized version of this wisdom that is still practiced today. Astrology falsely attributes powers to the spheres of the Solar System. While this is party true, it misses the truth of the functioning of this. In the the traditional Jewish teaching of Mazel there is galgalim, "spheres" - not the planets and stars. These galgalim are a series of concentric transparent spheres fixed in the firmament surrounding the Earth. While the planets and moon and physical bodies (the celestial bodies) lie within these spheres, the spheres themselves are metaphysical in nature thus unseen.

Thus a veil was placed in front of this esoteric wisdom as it transferred to the nations, hiding the hand of Divine providence. (All of this is discussed in multiple holy seforim of kabbalah, Etz Chaim being the most notable.)

We were commanded to sanctify the new moons, keeping a fixing the months to preserve the Pesach in the spring time. Our calendar is lunar, a month being 29 days 12 hours 44 minutes and 2.37 seconds to be exact. A year is 354, 12 x 29.5 days. And the solar calendar is 365.25 days, 11.25 days difference in the calendar's that must be justified.

3000 years ago and without a telescope Moshe rabbaynu calculated the the average molad period to within less than .50 of a second only using the rules that Hashem transmitted to him on Har Sinai. Science has, only with multi-million dollar devices, proven this to be correct: 29d 12h 44m 2.87s, wow! And the great sage Hillel calculated the calendar to an accuracy of less than one day in 15,304 years without a computer!!!

This is some of the greatest mysteries of the Torah.

At the heart of sod ha-ibur is the awareness that all the mysterious ways in which the world appears to operate and develops are nothing other than the work of Hashem. Behind every galgal is an angel and guiding this angel is an intelligence and behind this intelligence is EIN SOF. Thus the Hidden Hand in the guise of nature, or in this case the motions of the planets and the stars according to the ways of Astrology of the nations (which is for them and not for us). As Hashem says 'My glory I will not give to another'. We are above the mazalot and if we live by faith we are above time as well. All of this nature around you is just a veil to hide the divine providence.

Some choose to life blindly attributing all success or failure to the stars. Others, who do not believe and do not see, live a confused life of seemingly random circumstances in this world. But all who trust in Hashem and His sages live knowing without a doubt that He is running the world and not some chance star planet moon mix, moon soup as it were.

These are just the very lightest basics on this subject. There are volumes of material that can be read, learned and studied. I am not opening a dialog on the Astrology of the nations and will not engage in a debate on the subject. Further, there is neither time, space, nor permission to write further. This will suffice for those of understanding.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

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Mazel

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Anonymous commented: just wanted to let you know that the saying "good luck" refers to a world were things happen randomly and by chance - I know you don't believe this so I would suggest using a better saying such as "good mazal".

We have a custom you are surely aware of, shouting out Mazel Tov at good occasions (wedding, bar mitzvah, etc.) Mazel, in common translation, means Luck. And Tov means good. Mazel Tov = Good Luck, literally. Using more Jewish religious circles terminology doesn't change the fact that we're wishing someone 'good luck'.

What is this mazel thing, and why do we want people to have good ones? In super brief (perhaps in more detail in a future post), when we appear to be operating within the realm of the 'natural pattern of the world', even within the natural pattern there's a supra-rational pattern. BUT it's not the G-dly pattern of being connected to G-d and clearly operating (at all times) according to the Hand of Hashem (this is a level usually only tzaddikim reach). Rather, it's Mazel, "luck".

We all know someone who just seems completely lucky. Things work out for him/her, good things seem to drop into his/her lap, every business step is a success, etc. We see the same in the opposite direction, though skilled everything they seem to do fails, troubling things seem to keep occurring out of the blue, etc.

The Gemora itself recognizes this, and discusses certain people born with a certain mazel. Of course, books of Kabbalah discuss this at various depths, including how to influence one's mazel.

So, though we wish and strive to always maintain a sufficient connection to Hashem to operate only within the clear direct influence of the Hand of Hashem, most of us will fail to reach that level much of the time. During those other times, we wish for mazel tov, good luck, that we be set with the best possible seemingly-random pattern of the world, that during those times when we're less closely connected to Hashem than we should be and would prefer to be, that the natural pattern and apparent randomness of the world still work out for the obvious and understandable good within this world. In other words, we want good luck, and wish our friends and family to have it as well.

So, mazel tov, good luck!

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Monday, May 26, 2008

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Mezuzah's

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

We are so used to seeing our Mezuzahs that they can be taken for granted, or seem to be just pieces of leather in a case stuck on the wall.

Rabbi Ben Tov has a special spiritual ability. Mezuzahs “tell” him things about the room where they are affixed.

A friend of mine, Daniel, was learning in a yeshiva in Brooklyn. He was having a problem and thought that maybe Rabbi Ben Tov could look as his mezuzah and tell him what he should change in his life. He took the mezuzah from his apartment’s front doorpost to the rabbi. The rabbi looked at the mezuzah and accused him of some very shocking things.

“You have been learning the new testament for a long time!”

“What!” Daniel was shocked.

“You are married to a non-Jewish woman and you are a missionary!”

He grabbed the mezuzah from the rabbi’s hand and ran out screaming about how crazy the rabbi was to say such things.

He went back to his apartment and was complaining to his roommate about what happened. His roommate had long peyos (side locks), wore a black hat and long back coat, and learned in the yeshiva with Daniel.

“You gotta hear what this crazy rabbi said,” Daniel told him. And he proceeded to tell him all of the things that Rabbi Ben Tov accused him of doing. His roommate looked down and confessed. Indeed he had been learning the new testament for years, was married to a non-Jewish woman, and was a secret missionary! They shared the same one-room apartment with the same mezuzah!

Now if a mezuzah is such an object that it can “tell” a man about the hidden things that go on in that room, do we have any doubt about the One Who commanded us to put it there knowing the “hidden” things that go on there?

There is a well-known story of a chasid who complained to his rebbe that he developed a limp and the doctors could not find any reason for it. His rebbe advised him to check his mezuzahs. Since the rebbe questioned his mezuzahs, he went out and bought all new ones at once. He gave his old mezuzahs to someone who needed them. Amazingly, his limp went away. But the poor fellow who put this man’s old mezuzahs up on his doorposts started to limp! They checked the mezuzahs and found that on one of the mezuzahs the bottom part of a letter was detached from the rest of the letter. This made the mezuzah unfit. The bottom of the letter was the “foot” of the letter lamed in the word, “as you walk.”

A mezuzah is not a piece of a dead cow skin hanging on the wall. It is a spiritual vessel that reflects, and affects, the contents of the place where it is affixed. When you walk by your mezuzahs in your home, you should remember that they are not dead. We should be aware that they are spiritually vibrant, and that they must be treated with great respect.

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The Hand of Doubt

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

When you see the Hand of G-d, the hand of doubt must be extra strong to offset it. For, this world only exists to give you the choice, the free will, to turn to G-d, or (c's'vsh) turn away from G-d.

G-d's presence is strongest in the Holy Land, in Israel. If a person chooses to look, and to live with faith, they'll see it, sometimes even clearly. And if not (c's'vsh)? They'll be beset by troubles, they'll live in a "land that eats it's inhabitants", or if they don't merit to be woken up by G-d, they'll live a fine life but find themselves not being non-religious, but literally feeling compelled to be anti-Jewish-anti-religious (a state of being that exists ONLY in Eretz Yisroel), as to avoid seeing the blessings that shine within view in Israel, they have to actively fight them off.

...Traffic has been terrible in the mornings. I've been traveling different routes to try to find a reasonable path to a work site. After days of spending 3 hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic daily, my frustration level was at it's maximum. But, this morning the road seemed clear, I was cruising down the highway at very high speed. I was relieved and in a good mood, the route seemed possible this day and I might actually make it there by a reasonable time.

Suddenly, THUMP THUMP THUMP, the car wasn't losing control but had a very loud sound like a blown tire. I slowed and pulled over. With trucks blowing past me, I put on my yellow safety vest (Israeli traffic rule #2), put out my emergency reflective triangle (Israeli traffic rule #1), and went to examine the situation. The plastic hub cap had cracked almost in half, with a chunk bouncing off the side of the tire. The situation was undriveable, and I did not have my cellphone with me.

In my white shirt and office-style work clothes, I tried to remove the hub cap. No go, it was bolted behind the lug nuts (tire bolts). At this point I just started to laugh (it was either that or cry). So much for getting there, and lets see if I can figure out how to deal with this.

Without going into all the details, I managed to remove the bolts, remove the hubcap, barely avoid having the tire fall off the car (and the car fall over) and onto me, get it all put back together, get grease up to my wrists but not on my shirt, and get into the office in a reasonable time.

When I got home at the end of the day and told the story to my wife, she responded "did you say tefilos haderech before you started out today?" Indeed, I had NOT.

This is Eretz Yisroel. Either you walk the path of Hashem, or you're subject to the crazy random occurrences of the world, like a hub cap splitting in half and a tire almost falling on you. (In the rest of the world, things from Hashem seem to be random good, and the occurrences of the world random minor annoying bad. In Israel, it seems to be MUCH MORE IN YOUR FACE.)

Davening all the time becomes much more real.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

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Good Forum, Bad Forum - Tech Alert: Skype

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

While we're busy trying to use these tools to their greatest potential for good, Torah, and kiddush Hashem, there are those busy using these tools for the opposite, hijacking, corrupting, destroying, perverting.

I've been a long time user of Skype, which was a major technological advance in free internet phone calls, and even more cool, free internet video calls. Following our move to Israel, this has been a nice facility for my children to video chat with their grandfather.

But, in the past two weeks Skype has been infested with highly-inappropriate contact requests. Someone developed a facility to send these inappropriate requests to millions of Skype users, with an inappropriate picture, literally resending them several times daily to most Skype users.

Be warned, there's no solution to this at the moment (tech brief here). If you're being impacted by this, you may want to shut down Skype. I am, starting right now. And that's just sad.

If you're children are Skype users, you need to delete this from their computer until a solution is published.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

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Live Video Link from Meron

Here's a live video link from Meron. (valid on Lag B'Omer 2008 only)

Here's another, lower quality-no sound, but more bandwidth.

Both only work in Internet Explorer, the pages are hebrew (doesn't matter for the video), and the first link si pretty much overwhelmed (so you'll be lucky if it actually starts).

Anyway, good luck!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

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Preliminary Lag B'Omer Post

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Historically, Lag B'Omer has been a heavy posting time hear at Mystical Paths. We've pointed you to where you could donate Chai Rotel, the drinks of blessing for kever Rashbi, gotten you connected to live video feeds and posted live reports from the Kever of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron.

We did that with Rabbi Nati on-site, and myself in the US coordinating. This year, we both may be there (though it's looking very difficult for me personally), and if not we're both in Israel (in the same time zone), and Lag B'Omer is Thursday night into Erev Shabbos. All in all, it may mean less live posts and more after-the-fact posts. Regardless, we hope to have some pictures and video from this year.

In the meantime, check out this Rashbi site and a video from that site below. Oh, and if you want to get ILL, the FADE/FAKE Kabbalah People site is SELLING a live access feed with personal reporting by their "Rabbi" Karen and Mr. Michael, where for only $26 you can tap into their mystical wellspring of Light, love, blessings and protection by all-night study of their Meron feed (that's a quote) while their leaders share their experience with you from inside Rashbi's cave in Meron. Gag, retch.

A Meron preview video here.

Watch the mini-blog, if we don't have updates going here, they'll be via cellphone into the mini-blog to the right (sidebar top).

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Prophecy

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

A critical question was asked over at a more, shall we say, skeptical oriented Jewish blog. Why did all the depth of the Torah, the Mishnah, the Gemora, the deep delving into meaning, start so late? Why don't we have writings from the generation in the desert, from Yehoshua bin Nun, from the Elders, or the Judges, or the Men of the Great Assembly, or the prophets themselves? (Yes, we have the words of Hashem from the prophets, or the brief events of the judges, but we don't have any Torah study from them.)

My answer? Perhaps because this was the time of prophecy. Connecting with Hashem, reaching out to Shamayim (heavenly sources) was not only something happening to the prophets, but was simply quite normal. There were thousands, tens of thousands, of acknowledge prophets. (Not all their prophecies were recorded, and only a few specifically preserved for all generations, as they applied to all generations or the far future.)

In such an environment, when one needed clarity on Torah points, one either queried ones neighborhood prophet, or delved into developing such a connection oneself.

Then the days of such open, or perhaps we should say easy [not that it was simple, but it was reasonably within reach for most, and even came upon some not working for it) came to a close. That path of prophecy was shut to us. And people quickly learned, "Torah lo b'Shamayim", the Torah is no longer in heaven, it's up to us to interpret here on Earth. Even though the most holy, the tzaddikim, and the specially studied, the mekubalim, could reach for other doors (such as Ruach HaKodesh), it has been beyond the reach of most, and no longer a normal path.

So we delve with the powers of this world...Mishnah, Gemora, Rashi, Tosfos, Mishneh Torah, Tur, Shulchan Aruch, Aruch HaShulchan, Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Mishne Brura, and strive with earthly intellect to reach as far as we can towards G-dly understanding.

But, as the time of Moshiach draws near, as perhaps the glimmer of the Geulah just maybe starts to be visible, some of those ancient paths closed will start to open, just a bit, again. We should not turn away from the possibility of prophecy, though we also must remember (and learn from our mesorah) the ways of testing it, to verify it's not a trick of the other side (G-d forbid).

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

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HaRav Eliyahu Update...

HaRav HaGaon Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, SHLITA, a leading Torah scholar of our generation, is hospitalized in serious condition. Please daven for HaRav Mordechai ben Mazel Tov.

(Background info from Dreaming) This is the third time that HaRav HaGaon HaMekubal Mordechai Eliyahu Shlita is hospitalized.

Rav Mordechai Eliyahu Shlita is an orphan since the age of 11 when his father, HaRav Salman Eliyahu, zs'lk, passed away. His mother, Mazal Tov, single-handedly raised and educated him to become G'dol HaDor.

(Update from Rabbi Nati) I just was in Meah Shearim, Jerusalem and they are preparing for the possibility of the worst, G-d forbid. People are gathering in the streets and crying. Much traffic was coming in, much of it kippa sruga (the mizrachi/national religious segment of society, to whom Rav Eliyahu is one of their leading rabbaim).

For the second time recently, we see the unusual circumstance of two separate religious segments coming together, as HaRav Eliyahu is accepted as the leading rav of the mizrachim, and is also highly respected and considered a great gadol by the charedim. The taxis were driving the the charedi neighborhoods with loudspeakers asking all to pray for the rav, and the rebbaim and rosh yeshivas were raising their congregations in prayer.

May HaRav Mordechai ben Mazel Tov have a refuah shalayma, a complete and speedy recovery!!!

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Refuah Shalayma HaRav Eliyahu!!!

Newsflash: Former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu was rushed to the intensive care unit at Jerusalem's Shaarei Tzedek Hospital Tuesday before noon.

The rabbi's condition was described as "critical."

The public is asked to pray for a complete and speedy recovery for Mordechai Tzemach ben Mazal Tov.

[I suspect this is wrong, it's probably ben Mazel, as Mazel is a not-uncommon female Israel name, but Mazel Tov would seem rather unusual.]

REFUAH SHALAYMA HARAV ELIYAHU, SHLITA!!!
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Is G-d Really All? – The Argument

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

The subject of Hashem being all, including the lowest of lows of creation, has been an ongoing argument amongst the scholars of mysticism from the earliest days. There are many opinions and many shades of opinions on this subject. The argument has become quite heated at times causing Jews to distance themselves from each other and even worse. So to ask me to resolve this fierce argument in one short letter with exact quotes and sources (and with my very short memory for exact quotes and sources) is asking not only for the sea to part, but for it to be put back together again.

If you like, here are a couple of places to look, but most likely they will not be enough to resolve the argument. Bli neder, in the future there will be a more thorough treatment of the subject sent out.

To understand the subject and not just the argument, please read the posts entitled “Idolatry,” “There Is Only One Infinite,” and “What Am I?” The subject of “Ain od” (“There is no other” {than God}) begins there. In those postings the reader is led up, step by step to the conclusion that G-d is actually all.

When you misquote the discussion by writing that the argument is that “everything is G-d” you do a disservice to the discussion. To say everything is G-d is simple pantheism, which no one in this discussion is claiming. To say that G-d is all, is not the same as saying everything is G-d. Again, reread those posts and see why.

To begin with, look at Rashi on Deuteronomy 5:7. He comments there on G-d’s commandment that “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Rashi’s first explanation is that “before Me” means “In any place where I am, i.e. and that is the entire universe.” Rashi there states that G-d is everywhere at all times. Think deeply on the practical result of G-d being everywhere.

Now look at Shaarei Kedusha (Chaim Vital) Third book, Chapter 1. “In all the five worlds (from Adom Kadmon to this physical world) every detail into the smallest possible detail that exists, you do not have even the smallest creation that is not comprised of the four letters of G-d’s Name which includes the Ten sefirot and this is to tell you that everything was created from the power of the Emanator, and there is nothing besides Him.

Certainly, all sides of this argument know these sources, yet they still maintain different opinions. As we well know, this is an ongoing argument. But here are two places that perhaps you did not look at that show you that the teaching of literal “Ain Od” is widely based.

To add an interesting facet, regarding this subject, Rav Dessler (a stalwart of the Ashkenazim) wrote that the Gra and the Baal Tanya (founder of Chabad Chassidus) were in fact saying the same thing. The Lubavicher Rebbe (The Chabad Rebbe) however, came along and said, “No, they were not.”

So the argument stands. Stay tuned until Eliyahu comes and gives what will be the universally accepted answer.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

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Hear Our Cry!

by Reb Akiva & Rabbi Nati at Mystical Paths

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, who sips coffee while missiles strike malls and children in Ashkelon, says "Ayn Ma La'asot", there is nothing to do. Israeli Defense Minister Barak, who tours and reviews and restrains all action proposals from the army while towns and now cities are cowering, says "Ayn Ma La'asot", there is nothing to do. Bush and Rice, who stand a in brotherhood and partnership while wielding the carving knife and going for the heart say, there's nothing to do but give them everything they want, lean back for surgery please.

We met the chief rabbi of a major Israeli city at the Kotel, a big rav with his talmidim coming to pray. R. Nati approached him and asked for his approval, or at least his signature, on our cry for the geulah. He said, "why, I already pray for this 3 times a day." We walked away downtrodden. But then we realized, he's right...

The Lubavitcher Rebbe called out, "I've done all that I can do, now it's up to you." It doesn't come from the tzaddikim. HaRav HaTzadik Rav Shalom Arush, shlita, the Breslov Tzadik of Meah Shearim, collapsed this week from his constant and intense prayers to Hashem for the safety of Klal Yisroel and for the geulah. (Daven for HaRav Shalom ben Yamnah.) It doesn't come from the gedolim.

It doesn't come from them, BUT they can point the way. The Rebbe taught, if just 10 stubborn men would demand the geulah. Rav Arush, in a video here, taught if we just spend 10 minutes talking to the Creator of the World asking, that would be enough.

The cry MUST come from the klal, from the people. When we cry, Hashem will hear.

They've done what they could do. Now, will we? We are coming to Shavuos, and one of the oddest Midrashim says that the mountain was held over the people's heads. They cried out together, 'we will do and we will hear'. But Hashem has a way of pushing these issues, for if they didn't, they would have been destroyed and so would have the world, for without ones who cry and connect to Hashem, and do His will, there is no purpose for this world.

We can cry out, together, right now, to Hashem, to the Ribono Shel Olam, the Master of the Universe, the Creator of the World, to our Father in Heaven, please, enough, we only want You, not the shtuss of this world, only You. Save your people, bring us Moshiach now, bring us the Geulah now, bring us the time when Your presence will cover the Earth as the seas cover the oceanbed.

Or, we can go about our business. And Hizbollah builds on one border, Hamas on another, Iran builds nuclear capacity, Al Quaeda plans their next hit, tornados tear up one State, floods another, the economy spirales down and commodities spiral up, Jews are attacked in US Jewish communities, and our friends prepare to slice out our heart and give it away.

Better we think, to cry out now.

So let's make our voices heard. We are told in Shemos (Exodus) that in the first geulah (from Egypt) 'that Hashem heard', 'that He saw', 'that He remembered', and sent the Redeemer 'Moshe'.

The first step, crying out, is ours.

(R. Nati's geulah petition, if you want to click-out, is here.)

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A Great Zohar, A Great Historical...

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Two links not to miss today...

Dreaming brings a Zohar about Al Qaeda!

Zohar HaKadosh in Parshat VeYechi...

אמר רבי שמעון, זמינין אינון בני ראובן לאגחא תרין קרבין בגו ארעא כחי , וראשית אוני , יתר שאת , ויתר עז
The people who fight these wars are the sons of Reuven*; descendants of Reuven**. They will make 4 wars during certain periods of history but the last one will be excessively daring 'יתר עז' - and the last war will be during our period of time.

* This does not mean that they are Jewish because the descendants live in these areas for hundreds of years and during the long exile, lost their path and religion.

**As many may not know, the prevailing Taliban rulers are from the Pashtun Tribes of Afghanistan and some of them trace their lineage back to Reuven! In fact, they call themselves Bani Rabani (B'nei Reuven).


The Wall Street Journal: 1948, Israel and the Palestinians: The True Story

This claim of premeditated dispossession and the consequent creation of the longstanding Palestinian "refugee problem" forms, indeed, the central plank in the bill of particulars pressed by Israel's alleged victims and their Western supporters...

The recent declassification of millions of documents from the period of the British Mandate (1920-48) and Israel's early days, documents untapped by earlier generations of writers and ignored or distorted by the "new historians," paints a much more definitive picture of the historical record. These documents reveal that the claim of dispossession is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth. What follows is based on fresh research into these documents, which contain many facts and data hitherto unreported.

Far from being the hapless objects of a predatory Zionist assault, it was Palestinian Arab leaders who from the early 1920s onward, and very much against the wishes of their own constituents, launched a relentless campaign to obliterate the Jewish national revival.


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Sunday, May 18, 2008

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One, Many, and Him - More

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

maimon commented...

"The creation is many, it is one, and it is Him."

Sounds like avoda zara. You are stating that HaShem is the creation. How could HaShem be the creation if He created the creation? Additionally if HaShem is the creation, and HaShem is eternal than that means the 'creation' eternally existed (Bereishis explictly states otherwise). Additionally consistent with your logic, we should chas v'shalom be worshipping the creation... sounds more like Hinduism or something like that, than Judaism.


You ask questions that have been answered many times. Please take the time to read the previous postings regarding this subject, especially the ones entitled "Idolatry" and "There Is Only One Infinite."

Most briefly stated, "All of existence is Hashem Blessed Be He." This is a well known statement often stated by the teachers of the mystical aspects of Torah. On his first page Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, zt"l (the Kedushas Levi) wrote, "The most important thing to remember is that G-d created all and that He is all."

The particular piece you are questioning can be seen discussed by the Lubvitcher Rebbe in a maamar from the year mem daled on the parsha Haazinu. You will see there almost the exact explanation that is found in the posting that you question.

If after reading these postings and other sources you still have any questions, feel free to write. By the way, this has been an ongoing argument between the Chassidic teachings of the Baal Shem Tov and his opponents.

Be well and Shavua Tov,
Gutman

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

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What Did You Do This Chol HaMoed?

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

This Chol HaMoed Passover, I was blessed to be in Israel and together with my family. We had an opportunity to visit some of the fun sites, and some of the holy sites. Here's a few we visited, how about you? What did you do this Chol HaMoed?

The religious beach, separate hours for men and women, in Netanya is a fabulous beach. It wasn't officially open yet, that didn't stop many from coming and getting their feet wet, even in their yom tov clothes.
Netanya

Netanya

Hebron, the holy resting place of our patriarchs and matriarchs, Avraham and Sorah, Yitzchok and Rivka, Yaakov and Leah, was fully open to Jews for the holiday (normally the site is divided between Muslim and Jewish worshippers, with Jews not having access to the area of Yitzchok & Rivka.) The Hebron community planned for massive visitors and set up live entertainment as well.
Hebron - Marat HaMachpela

Marat HaMachpela - Yitzchok Hall

Chol_HaMoed_Pesach 241

Next to the Marat HaMachpela building is the kever of Avner ben Nir, which is ONLY accessible twice a year, as it's by the entrance given over to the Muslims the rest of the time. "And they buried Avner in Hebron, and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Avner, and all the people wept." - Shmuel II 3:32
Kever Avner ben Nir

Kever Avner ben Nir

The Judean desert is awesome to pass through, in an air conditioned car. We drove through and past the Qumran caves, where the Dead Sea scrolls were found (which the British Advertising Bureau just sued to have Israeli tourism ads pulled for showing as Jewish) and stopped at the Dead Sea a bit before Masada. It was incredibly hot, and the super-high mineral content water was really unusual.
Chol_HaMoed_Pesach 262

Dead Sea

Dead Sea - Judean Desert

Chol HaMoed in Israel was really very special. Bank HaPoalim actually sponsored free access to 50 special sites, one of which we took advantage of and which I thought was just really cool (a bank sponsoring Chol HaMoed!) All in all, it was holy, it was fun, B"H, it was indeed special. And, how about yours?

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Friday, May 16, 2008

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The Teen Path: Appreciating the Land

We introduce a new contributor at Mystical Paths. Chavi is a religious Jewish teenage young lady of American background living in Israel.

by Chavi at Mystical Paths

Last week we 'celebrated' Yom HaAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day. I spent the day with a friend in the West Bank (a day off is always nice) and we discussed, what is this day to us while sitting in the Land of Israel, in the West Bank.

My friend replied, "I'm celebrating having a home in the Holy Land." I had thought about this subject for some time before Yom HaAtzmaut, as the majority of the frum (ultra-orthodox) Jewish world says the founding of the State was a bad thing. However, I think we have something to celebrate.

Not a government, the Israeli system is just nuts. Not a State, for this state isn't doing very good things. But, the achievements here are great. I can sit here in the Holy Land, I can pray at the Jewish holy sites, I can look out across the hills of Land of Israel. How is that?

Blessings from Hashem, of course. But, some young men came and fought to make those blessings happen. Brave young men, many only teens, fought so they could have a home. They fought for the Land of Israel.

THEY FOUGHT FOR THE LAND HASHEM GAVE US! And they succeeded! They fought to keep Jews alive. Shouldn't we be grateful? I can sit here in my home in Israel writing this article because broken Jews from Europe came and fought, poor Jews from Russia came and built a town, chassidic Jews came from Ukraine and built a synagogue. I can pray at the Kotel, the Western Wall, because a bunch of young men only a couple of years older than me fought their way through Jerusalem.

I think that sacrifice is worth remembering, and their accomplishment is worth celebrating. And we have to thank Hashem for every inch of the Land of Israel that we have.

We mourn a lot, the destruction of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. Shouldn't we be celebrating the rebuilding of Jerusalem? Shouldn't we show Hashem how much we appreciate what He's done for us? And then, maybe He'll consider us worthy of doing more.

Shabbat Shalom from Eretz Yisroel,
Chavi

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

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Proof that Mashiah is on his way

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Blocked, Rented, and Sold

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Today, Jerusalem was blocked, rented, and sold...

Blocked, as massive parts of Jerusalem were blocked off, businesses shut down, tourism shut down, lives distrupted, for the convenience of the political class. Whole streets were simply evacuated, major attractions reserved for their viewing pleasure. Somehow, we've come to expect and accept that, the people simply bow to the needs of the politicos, and the impact on the little people isn't of concern. This was true in the days of dukes, and such days seem to have returned.

The Old City, at least the Jewish quarter and the Kotel, were simply EMPTY, as it was exceedingly difficult to get there.

Rented, as on this day of Presidential Conferences the Kotel Archaeological Park was rented out to Evangelical Xians for a World Wide Celebration of some sort. While I'm not unhappy they chose Jerusalem for their event, I wonder on a day when a Jew had a hard time making it to the Kotel how 10,000 Xians had an easy time. And how it was ok for them to be blasting Xian gospel rock in range of the Kotel.

Sold, as this is why Gog has come. The conference of world leaders is here, and the cup of poison has been poured. Will the division of Jerusalem proceed apace and we'll enter the days written in the navi'im, will the world leaders drink? The answer is definitely yes, if George Bush and Ehud Olmert have anything to say about it. We can only hope for chesed from above, delaying those difficult days and crashing the plans of these foolish people about their heads.

While they were divvying the Holy City, Jewish blood was dripping in Ashkelon as innocent civilians were being missiled to death in a shopping mall by the Palestinian Peace Partner.

Photo 1 - Jaffa gate to the Old City - Jerusalem this afternoon. The blocked off streets had just been opened, this very busy road is still mostly empty. Photo 2 - Archeology Park with Xian event, continued for 3 hours into the night. Photo 3 - The Kotel with fireworks from the Archeology Park going off behind it during Jewish Ma'ariv services.

RIBONO SHEL OLAM, AD MOSAI!!! Will You hear our cry? Will You remember?

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

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Argument with The Arab - Part 4

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

The end of the "dialog" from a Muslim commentor at YouTube...

Muslim: It is the bost basic of human rights to defend your land from theft from freaks who think it should be theirs because some caveman lived there 2000 years ago. With that logic the (f-word) vikings can ethically re invade the uk and the uk can retake usa since the blood is still in the population in both cases. You are wrong simply because the foundation of your argument is based and built on (b-word) and as we know when you build a house on (b-word) it will eventually fall down as israel will.

Akiva: Ahh, we come to the end of your argument. First you come to argue by my religion, then figure out you have no clue what you're talking about. I counter even with arguments from your religion and nations which practice it, which you also seem to have no clue about.

Then you argue from modern politically correct standards. Yet, even that doesn't hold water as if Israel responded in kind, the bloodshed would actually be much higher.

Now you argue the Jews have no right to the Land of Israel. G-d says otherwise. The Torah says otherwise. The Christian bible says otherwise. EVEN the Koran says otherwise. But lets not stand on religion and the words of G-d, lets talk modern history and modern LAW...

Before the Jews starting returning to Israel, there was almost NO local population. The total population of Israel was estimated at 30,000, 10,000 of which were Jews, before the modern return. That's it, 30,000. The Jews came, they BUILT, they INVESTED, they were willing to HIRE local labor to help them. The migrational workers of the Arab world came for jobs. Lets not quote a UN source or a historical source, lets quote a PALESTINIAN source...

"In the beginning, in 1948, we were 150,000 Palestinians; and today, we are 1,300,000 thorns in their sides and rocks on their chests."

-- Sheikh Kamal Khatib, Israeli Islamic Movement, Northern Branch, Deputy Head, Naqba rally, Kafr Kana, Israel, Friday, May 9, 2008

When the State of Israel declared independence, there were 600,000 Jewish residents. They didn't "steal" land, most of the time they came to land BOUGHT by the Jewish National Fund from the OTTOMAN owners! (Which, by the way, includes significant land on the other side of the Golan Heights IN MODERN SYRIA.) In places like Jerusalem and Hebron, they bought property. Not 2,000 years ago, 100 years ago.

As you see from the above, the Palestinians themselves say there were only 150,000 at the founding of Israel. For the most part, they didn't own the land, not even the land where their villages sat. They were on rental properties from the Ottomans (migrant worker temporary housing).

Apparently, legally buying land is theft. NOT. Building on empty land is theft. NOT. And, to quote your words, defending yourself is not allowed. NOT.

You have no facts, no religious position, no legal position to back up your arguments. Only the feeling "Israel bad, Jews bad", because they refuse to roll over and die.

As you are empty of all but curses, our conversation is over. "Those that bless you will be blessed, and those that curse you will be cursed." - Torah, Parshas Lech L'cha, a blessing from G-d to Abraham and his children.


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Rabbi Nati Update...

orangeban
mmmph, mmmmmmph, mmmmm, mmpphphph!!!!!!!
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

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Empty Words, Empty Belief

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Welcome US President George W. Bush and US Secretary of State Condelizza Rice to the Land of Israel, the Holy Land, the land promised to Abraham, to Isaac, the Jacob. The land given to the Children of Israel as an eternal inheritance.

Mr. President, you profess to be a believing and practicing Christian. As part of your original election campaign, you presented that your belief in God saved your life from various negative directions it was headed. You profess to pray daily and to read the Christian bible daily.

I ask you, Mr. President, have you edited your bible to remove those sections where God promised the Land of Israel to the Children of Israel? Or, is it all a sham? Do you not really believe that the bible is relevant for today? And if not, why do you pray and attend services? Or do you believe that God is only relevant for your personal needs?

Ms. Rice, you are the daughter of a preacher and were raised in a religious environment. You certainly know the words of the bible, yet choose to disregard them and all that your father's home stood for. Every underdog is not another African American people and worthy of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A great rabbi of the past asked the question, why did God start the bible with the creation of the world? After all, He could have started with the commandments. To demonstrate that the world is His, and he can choose to whom to give it. And YOUR bible teaches as well as MY Torah, he gave THIS Land to the Children of Israel.

But when it comes to bible versus political expediency, well, we know where you stand.

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Existence is One, Many, and Him

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

(Last week we discussed how the creation is both one and many. This week we go higher.)

There is the much higher and ultimate perspective of creation, too. This addresses the nature of the One Who fills this entire multitude.

There are two verses in the Torah that address these two, distinct perspectives. One addresses the multiple perspective, and one addresses the singular perspective. “You have been shown in order to know that Hashem, He is G-d. There is none other beside Him.”[i] And, “You shall know this day and take it to your heart that Hashem, He is the G-d – in the Heaven above and on the earth below – there is none other.”[ii]

The first verse tells us that Hashem, He is G-d, and that there is none other “beside Him.” The second line also tells us that Hashem He is G-d, but instead of saying that there is none other “besides Him,” it simply states that there is none “other.” It does not add “beside Him.”

We need to learn both of these perspectives. One, that there is none other beside Him, because here, in the lower perspective, the perspective of multiplicity (reflections), we do see others. This is our daily perspective, how we usually see life. There are many “others.” The creation is filled with “others.” This thing is other than that thing, and all of these others certainly appear to be (an) other “beside Him.” The Torah here is telling us that even though, at this perspective, there are many others, do not think that these “others” are other than the One Him. “There is none other beside Him.”

In the second verse, the Torah addresses the higher perspective. This verse refers to the perspective of singularity, focusing on the light instead of the reflections. “… In the Heaven above and on the earth below --- there is no other.” In this case, the Torah does not need to add the concept, “beside Him,” because at this higher perspective there are no others to mistakenly believe could be “beside Him.” There is only the singular “light” and no other.

The creation is many, it is one, and it is Him.

In these illustrations we are using light as a metaphor. Light fits our needs quite well here. Light does not appear to be solid like the “concrete” things in creation. Because of this, light appears to lean more toward the spiritual side of creation. Light is invisible to the eye. We are aware of its presence only by what it shows us. It is in many places at once, and still, wherever it is, it remains singular. We could not survive without it, and so on. But do not let it enter your mind that G-d is a light.

Since He is Infinite, He must also be the lower world, too, but surely He is not limited to, or by, His creation. The entire, huge creation is likened to a scant passing thought, or word, of His. But unlike humans, whose thoughts and words leave them and are not them, G-d and His “thoughts” are one.

[i] Deuteronomy 4:35
[ii] Deuteronomy 4:39

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Arguing with The Arab - Part 3

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Yet more "dialog", or is that diatribe, from a Muslim commentor at YouTube...

Muslim: i have never claimed the arabs to not commit terrorist acts. all sides do. The sad fact is that you jews are just as bad as those you call terrorists since you also ignore the ethical limits of violence and clearly dont fear god enough to give a shit when you have ignored the option of taking the higher moral ground and only taking an eye for an eye.

Instead you openly dissobey your own religion by announcing you will kill 10 arabs for every israeli.(quoting your prime minister" . Assuming you have the right to kill those who attack you...what about the other 7 in the 8:1 ratio?. Does judaism prescribe the death penalty for vocal support of those who target buses???....

it is indeed a crime against god to support the targeting of anyone but the perpatrator of a crime. It may even be moraly wrong to voice support for a bus bomber but is this a death penalty in Judaism?. I think you know the answer but of course i can predictably know that you are not god fearing enough to abide by even your own gods rulings.

You will of course be forced to ignore all my home truths and change the subject with the usual zionist...."but they do such and such.....".....As a muslim i would happily support the israeli right to exist side by side if one day you zionists stop being such hypocrites and take the moral high ground and only react with measure.

Unfortunatly i can safely predict you will lower yourself to the same level as those who target buses. In fact you might say even lower since you kill far more civilians. Oh and before you say its because you have a better army, you should remember that being better defended and more powerfull gives you LESS excuses for mass slaughter not more excuse.

PS. And also before you say you dont target civilians please dont expect people to believe that for every 1 kill. 7 "accidents" happen (every incident).....sound to you like you are only targeting those responsible?......or sound to you like you have no shame or limits in even respecting your own religion?.

Zionists....You are reaping what you sow, and deep down your conscience knows i speak the truth and thats what irritates you the most.

Akiva: I'm not a zionist, but that's besides the point. You would try to present claims in name of my religion, but would turn around and deny the basic statements of my religion regarding the Land of Israel.

In Muslim lands, you require those who live there to live by your standards, but would deny me the same right in my land.

If they refuse to live by the basic society standards of my religion, we are commanded to drive them out. Attempting to murder us certainly fits that. If they come to border towns just to take straw, we are commanded to drive them away.

Those who support, when a whole society structure exists that supports and creates and recommends murder, the whole must be destroyed. "Those who would be kind to the cruel will eventually be cruel to the kind."

You demand that I shoot with a Godly level of precision, and say I am not meeting my religious and moral standard when I don't sit back and bleed because I can't shoot that well.

Truthfully, YOU ARE RIGHT. The Israeli secular government IS NOT meeting the religious demands of Judaism, Torah, and God. If it were, they would LEVEL Gaza and drive the residents out.

Only those who are willing to live quietly, morally, and peacefully would be permitted to stay in the Land of Israel. And the Arabs of Gaza, as a complete society, have clearly VOTED to do otherwise.


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News of Note

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

* Lebanon is melting down into civil war. Hizbollah is not the only armed group in Lebanon, it seems every ethic group (there's 5 of them) is it's own personal army. While in general we really shouldn't need to care, the chaos will allow them to openly act as a launching ground for Iran funded efforts to hurt Israel. As one Lebanese blogger wrote...

Anyone who thinks that this was a smart move by Hassan, Nabih, Talal and even the orange idiot had better think twice. Chances are, this open door will lead to a few hundred thousand shut ones. And it'll be raining missiles outside. We had better pray that normalcy comes back quick to this fragile land of bloodshed.

Real info from Lebanon here, here, and here.


* Largest US Kosher Meat Plan Shut Down by Immigration Raid

Rubashkin's, Aaron's Best, Supreme Kosher, Shor HaBor, all via Agriprocessors in Iowa, are now shutdown. Why? Seems over 80% of the employees where illegal aliens (Hispanic workers in the US without authorization) and somebody finally did something about it. Seems the US government targets a big company every 2 years or so, meat packing companies are a favorite (because ALL the floor workers are always illegal), and this time Agri was the target.

Problem: Agriprocessors provides as much as 50% of US kosher meat and kosher meat products (prepared meals and so forth).

Problem: Not only are the Hispanic floor workers illegal aliens, in the past Agriprocessors hired shochtim (ritual slaughters) from Israel, also without US work authorization. (So they're not undocumented, they have passports, but they are not authorized to work in the US on the type of visa they have.)

If both the Hispanic and the Israeli workers go, Agriprocessors will not be able to function (or certainly won't be able to with their current product pricing structure.)

Local news report here.


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Monday, May 12, 2008

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The Bad Name of Moshiach

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

I'm going to open a can of worms, crack the proverbial pandora's box. For those with strong opinions on the topic I'm about to write, please pause, take a deep breath, and try to focus on my final point rather than going into defensive mode on your position. Thank you.

Prior to the final mitzvah campaign of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, mitzvas Moshiach, educating the Jewish, and even non-Jewish, world about Moshiach and the Geulah, Moshiach wasn't an active topic in the Jewish world. Yes, the references were there in davening, and in the Haftorah's, but there weren't shiurim about it, there weren't books about it, it just wasn't in the forefront.

The tzaddikim will tell you the Rebbe came within a hair's breath of bringing the Geulah. The power of those days was astounding, and Geulah on the path of chesed was within reach. The words of the Rebbe were literally nevua (prophecy), which were literally fulfilled.

But it didn't quite happen. We stepped, nay ran, to the edge of the doorway, but didn't quite make it through. And the longer we wait, the closer the darkness creeps up.

For the Rebbe himself told us, he did all he could do, now the task passed to us. And we've been standing still ever since.

But we're taught, there is no standing still regarding holiness. Either you're heading upward, or (by standing still) slipping downward (G-d forbid). Why? Because the Yeter Hara doesn't sit idle, even if we do, or rather especially if we do. It works to diffuse the holiness, to drain it away, to twist it around.

Moshiach. What does that word evoke? It used to evoke a time of redemption, of peace, of when G-dliness would fill the world as water fills the oceans. But what does it evoke NOW???

Within the orthodox Jewish world, it evokes a branch of Lubavitch chassidim that may have stepped outside the bounds of halacha (Jewish law), and definitely outside the traditional bounds of hashkafa (belief model), regarding the Rebbe and his status as Moshiach.

Now the point of this article is not to argue whether that position is correct or not, permitted or not, prophetic or not. It's to point out the success of the Yetzer. We literally can't discuss Moshiach much anymore within the orthodox world, because the first thing that comes to mind whenever it's discussed is The Argument about Chabad.

Yetzer - 1, Orthodox World - 0

Oy va voy lanu. In response to Rabbi Nati's recent effort, I wrote this introduction to his Geulah Petition. When he started used it, everyone in the frum world turned away because it was "too Lubavitch", aka the untouchables. He was forced to drop it. Here it is:

-------
BS"D

As the Geulah was, so the Geulah will be. We learn from our holy Torah that Moshe came to the Elders, and the Elders agreed he was the redeemer and informed the people that the time of the geulah had come.

Our holy seforim also teach that during the final geulah, the people will come to the Elders, and tell them that it is time for the Elders to declare the time of the Geulah.

Throughout the generations of this terrible golus, many a time has arisen where an Elder has attempted to declare time of the Geulah. Yet, to our great regret, all of these attempts have been unsuccessful. Most recently, the Lubavitcher Rebbe attempted to declare the time of the Geulah. Yet, in the end he was forced to declare "if only 10 men truly desired the geulah" and "I have done all I can do, now it is up to you."

We, a minyan of ten men of the Jewish people together with hundreds and thousands of committed members of the am kedusha, the holy people, therefore petition you, the Elders, the princes of Torah of our generation, in the name of the holy Torah, by the prophecies of the holy nevi'im, in the name of the holy seforim, by the words of our holy tzaddikim, to declare b'emunah shelaymah, with complete belief in the coming of Moshiach tzidkaynu, b'achdus and with respect for every gadol Torah who represents one of the 72 facets of the holy Torah among the Jewish people, to declare that the time of the geulah has arrived.

Requested by:

(and this is where you fill your name in on Rabbi Nati's petition, the first 3 signers were...)

Eliezer Raphael ben Yaakov m'Breslev
Nataniel Levi ben Yitzchok m'Breslev
Akiva ben Avraham m'Lubavitch

(along with currently ~3,000 others)

In response to the request of the holy Jewish people, in accordance with the Torah of Hashem and the holy writings, I declare in this world Zman Geluaschem. And as the Beis Din declares b'Aretz, so may the Beis Din declare b'Shamayim. And may Hashem fulfill the will of the holy tzaddikim and gadley Torah.

Signed:

HaRav HaGadol .........

------

This effort is going forward. But no longer do we mention Moshiach, for he has a bad name. Instead, we simply say we are petitioning for the Geulah. And frankly, I think we're much poorer because the Yetzer has successfully blackened the name Moshiach.

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Bush Visit to Jerusalem - Schedule & Impact

-- A Public Service Announcement --

(From the Jerusalem municipal web site.)

Maximum security will be implemented in Jerusalem from Tuesday May 13th through Friday May 16th for the Israeli Presidential Conference and the visit of US President George Bush. This will effect the daily life and traffic in Jerusalem.

* Prohibited parking

Wednesday, May 14th
Museum Row, Shmuel Weiss,Rupin,Ramban,Paris Square, Agron, Hameches Square, King David, Amoni, PLumer Square,Jabotinsky, Wingate Square, Hanassi,Smolanskin,Keren Hayesod,Ben Zvi,Shazar,Binyanei Hauma (emergency exit)

Thursday, May 15th
Museum Row, Shmuel Weiss, Rupin, Ramban, Paris Square, Agron, Meches Square, King David, Admoni, Plumer Square, Jabotinsky, Wingate Square, Hanassi, Smolanskin, Keren Hayesod, Israel Museum Parking lot, Kaplan (between Rothschild and Rupin), Arlozorov.

Friday, May 16th
Admoni, King David, Meches Square, Agron, Paris Square, Ramban, Rupin, Shmuel Weiss, Museum Row, Israel Museum Parking lot.

Cars parking in these streets will be towed away.

* Street Closures

The following streets will be closed for the 3 day visit:

Keren Hayesod Intersection (Plumer Square) until Agron Intersection- Residents of the area will be allowd only upon presenting Id`s

Alternative driving routes
Begin Road, no. 9 road (Golda Meir Blvd., Yigal Yadin), Derech Hebron, Hativat Jerusalem, Haim Bar-Lev, Eshkol Blvd., Bar Ilan, Haneviim St., Jaffa St., Ben Zakai, Yehuda Hanassi, Golomb, Derech Moshe Baraam.

* Closed Sites

The Israel Museum:
Closed on Wednesday May 14th, from 17:00 until Friday, May 16th at 11:00.

Bible Lands Museum:
Closed from Wednesday May 14th until Friday May 16th

* Information Centers

Police: 1-700-90-20-30, will be open from May 12th from 12:00
Municipal hotline: 106, or 02-5314600

Info on the "Israeli Presidential Conference", via Haaretz...

The Israeli Presidential Conference headed by President Shimon Peres, which will open Tuesday, will be the largest conference ever held in Israel.

Thirteen heads of state, including U.S. President George Bush, are among the 3500 guests that are expected to attend the conference in honor of Israel's 60th anniversary.

The conference will bring together people from vastly different fields at the capital's International Convention Center, in what Gil calls "a celebration of Jewish intellect." Discussion subjects in panels and workshops are to range from medical ethics to "Why the New Middle East is Not Yet Here."

Along with Bush, other famous non-Jewish faces at the conference will include former Soviet Union president Michael Gorbachev, and newspaper mogul Rupert Murdoch.
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Arguing with The Arab - Part 2

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Continued "dialog" with a Muslim about my YouTube vidoes...

Muslim: Does your religion teach you that you should turn a blind eye to the limits of ethical violence and the use of minimum force to restrain and preserve/respect life?. I guess not since you are not god fearing enough to take a look at your own crimes or even feel guilty about crossing the bounderies even your own god sets you.

enough said.

Akiva: Ethical violence, as THEY _specifically_ target women and children??? (And then hide among theirs?)

In the West Bank (south of Jerusalem), there is a large Arab town, and across the valley there is a large Jewish town (Beitar Illit).

Number of attacks from large Arab town: 0
Number of Arab deaths from Israel in large Arab town: 0

Number of stores in large Arab town with Jewish clientèle doing a good business, supporting the local Arab town economy: about 35

Number of workers from large Arab town that work in Jewish town: about 300

BTW, the highest life expectancy in the Arab world, among all Arab nations, is in... the West Bank (UN statistics).

There is nothing unethical about defending yourself, and the more barbaric the attacks are, the more strong the defense must be.

WHY are they firing rockets into a Jewish civilian center? What's the point?


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Sunday, May 11, 2008

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More on Independence

Commentor Isaac left these relevant quotes...

Regarding the claim that there is "independence" -- that this is freedom to do as they want, we see now that there was never a situation like this where Jews were so dependent on the goyim like now; this situation has brought those who claim that they are independent -- because their conduct is to chase after goyim -- that, Heaven help us, they are totally dependent on goyim, and they can't do anything other than what the goy wants. (Lubavitcher Rebbe, Emor 19 Iyar 5734)

***

This condition they call "independence" -- at a time when this is an exile even greater than the exile of an impoverished Jew, r"l, in a shtetl in Russia or Poland: that Jew trembled from a goy, how much moreso from a goy with "buttons" (as they called it then) -- but there was a reason for this fear, because if the will arose in the goy to give the Jew a smack, there was no one to prevent it. But now, they invite the goy to come to the Jews and be the boss there, and there they "negotiate" with him, and tell him: "yes, you are 'our brother', you are a righteous and upright person and your claims are credible, but there is no choice you are obligated to promise something, etc. -- at least give a smile...and more: express in words that you are satisfied. And they demand from you more than this: give weapons to the states around and to the Jews give at the most a third of this! (Lubavitcher Rebbe, L'ag B'Omer 5738)

***

"When they wanted to put the name of the Holy One, blessed be He (into the declaration of Independence) -- they refused and put in the words 'tsur Yisrael' which has two meanings: one can think that this is the Holy One, blessed be He, and one can also think about something else, and this itself is shituf!" (Lubavitcher Rebbe, Shelach 5730)

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Palestinian Media Lies

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

It's just 2 weeks ago we wrote about the Palestinian Humanitarian Disaster of the moment. In that one, they killed the fuel delivery guys, then complained that they were about to be plunged into darkness (due to lack of fuel at the power plant). Oh my.

Today, they shot 21 rockets and numerous mortars into Israel, including at the fuel depot, killing 1 innocent civilian.

And now they complain that they didn't get enough fuel and shut down their power plant, plunging part of Gaza into darkness. Oh my.

Funny thing that, it seems to me that if you keep killing the fuel delivery guys, at some point you just might find yourself short of fuel.

When you see pictures of the poor Palestinians in candle light, keep in mind they blew up the delivery guy. You'll probably find the news media fails to mention that. So will the UN when they start screaming about the horrible humanitarian situation.

Burma/Mynamar, now that's a true horrible humanitarian situation.

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Arguing with The Arab - Part 1

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

In response to my Emunah Paths YouTube Video Channel, a Muslim wished to share some thoughts with me...

SLAUGHTERING PALESTINIANS AT A RATIO OF (8 to 1) YEAR AFTER YEAR AND THEN SAYING YOU ARE THE VICTIMS OF TERRORISM AND ANTI_SEMITISM IS SIMPLY A SIKE JOKE BY ANY STANDARD, LOGIC, RELIGION OR CREED. NO EXCUSES ARE ACEPTABLE FOR THESE LEVELS OF US & UK SPONSORED STATE TERRORISM!. NOT EVEN THE JEWISH HOLY TORAH ALLOWS KILLING BEYOND AN EYE FOR AN EYE!!!!!

Source of [8 to 1] statistic: B'TSelem ISRAELI Human Rights Group!

I replied:

So, by your logic Israel should randomly fire 7,800 anti-personnel rockets into Gaza population centers, because that's what they fired at us?

Oh wait, Israel's aim is better, so we might actually hit and kill someone, whereas they miss 92% of the time, so it's ok for them to keep attacking because their aim stinks but not for Israel because theirs doesn't?

If you fire upon an enemy from within a school, neither the laws of war nor the laws of the Torah protect the children. The person who FIRED is responsible for drawing the response.

Percentage of random Israeli attacks upon civilians: 0%
Percentage of random Palestinian attacks upon civilians: 95%

Israel doesn't attack Palestinian civilians, it attacks non-uniformed enemy combatants, who hide within the civilian population. THEY are making their families human shields, THEY are responsible for the result.

Want the Palestinians to stop dying? Tell them to stop attacking.


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Friday, May 09, 2008

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Jewish National Home of Palestine

Guest Post by Elisheva at Mystical Paths

In 1922, the United States Congress ratified the "Jewish National Home in Palestine". In 1932, US President Herbert Hoover reafirmed this and noted the previous desolate (that means empty, as in NO ONE LIVING THERE) condition of the Holy Land. Read history, know the truth and understand the lies of the 'peace process' of today.

Please make use of this very important document, share it, post it, and forward it to the US State Department that seems to have forgotten.

The White House
Washington, DC
29, October 1932

On the occasion of your celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which received unanimous approval of both houses of Congress by the adoption of the Lodge-Fish Resolution in 1922, I wish to express the hope that the ideal of the establishment of the National Jewish Home in Palestine, as embodied in that Declaration, will continue to prosper for the good of all the people inhabiting the Holy Land.

I have watched with genuine admiration the steady and unmistakable progress made in the rehabilitation of Palestine which, desolate for centuries, is now renewing its youth and vitality through the enthusiasm, hard work and self-sacrifice of the Jewish pioneers who toil there in a spirit of peace and social justice.

It is very gratifying to note that many American Jews, Zionists as well as non-Zionists, have rendered such splendid service to this cause which merits the sympathy and moral encouragement of everyone.

Herbert Hoover
October 29, 1932



Document image courtesy of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

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Independence or Dependence?

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Atzmayi or Lo Atzmayi?

We can see that there is no truth to this at all! When the Erev Rav and Bush Inc can destroy and intimidate, threaten, beat at will... then we are in trouble folks!

This day marks the Yartzeit of Am Israel.

60 years ago we were gathered after the Holocaust. And what happened? The Erev Rav put us in a vegetative, garbanzo bean, chickpea state. Rav Brody at Lazer Beams says 'The Falafel State'. This was until they could figure out what to do with us.

Wake up and see. If you're honest with yourselves, G-d help us, you'll see us on the brink of annihilation. 'The final solution' has put us in State run ghetto to slowly strangle us, to dope us with materialism and goyish music, TV, xxx and drugs, to tear our kids away from us and Torah with secularism, MTV and the like, and with the media as the tool to cause one to mistrust the other to the point of hatred.

We have surely helped them do their job well by sleeping on the job running after all the money, because of our lack of faith in Hashem!

Atzmayi (hebrew) - independent or self reliant. Or as in Yom HaAzmaut, Israeli Independence Day. The only way to be truly independent is to have Emunah and Bitachon in Hakodosh Barachu and in His Torah!

It seems obvious to anyone who sees clearly that there appears to be a lack of this in the world, especially in relation to the Jewish people of whom I'm a member. As we come to the second “Independence Day” since the sinful destruction of the Jewish communities of Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron (West Bank), it appears more obvious every day that this is a recurring theme in our history. Now it is the separation of the Holy city of Jerusalem! And know, this is right out of the words of the (biblical) prophets.

Even the Xian's children of preschool age know this from Sunday school, but ask a Jew and we have no clue! Ask yourself why? As a rabbi I must help all of those of want to understand, and if I have failed in this until now, please forgive me!

Ask yourselves, are we truly independent? Or is this a deception that has been used to keep us from making trouble in the world? If we choose to take all this at face value, we would seem to have limited independence and freedom. Or, is this just an illusion? Are we fooling ourselves? I say YES!!!!!

What does it mean to be independent? Politically, economically, physically, spiritually? We can look at the first golus (exile), the Egyptian. We went because of famine, we stayed because it was comfortable, and became slaves. This appears to me to indicate dependency, not independence. And we have been trying to return to this status, as slaves, ever since.

Wake up, grow up, for we are so helplessly dependent on this world, we are so addicted to this system of things. Otherwise, we would cry out like we did in Egypt. ENOUGH!!!

We do not seem to be ready or able to admit that two thousand years of frustration, annihilation and failure has caused us to become ill, 'Choleh Nefesh', spiritually sick. We suffer from neuroses, the cause of which is being separated from our source, Hashem, the root of all our souls. We are what the doctors like to call co-dependent, on the junk of this world! And we resist reconnection to Hashem, because we would have to separate from the things we are comfortable with. We yet again prove that we are not ready to be unplugged from this matrix of this world.

Someone asked me my opinion on whether to say or not to say Hallel (the great prayers of praise) in honor of "Israeli Independence Day"? And I asked this question in response, “Are we truly independent?” I believe that we are in a Erev Rav, Herodian dictatorship sponsored and directly under the proxy rule of Rome (i.e. The United States and European Union). And if this is the case, then maybe we are making a bracha (the blessing for the great praise) in vain. Instead I believe that we should be sitting and mourning in sack cloth and ashes and saying Kaddish, as did Yermiyahu and Mordechai. This answer was not popular, I was almost lynched.

This sounds very discouraging, very depressing. But don't be discouraged, yesh ma'la'sot, there is a response! Our forefathers set the example of the correct course of action, with strong Emunah and Bitachon 'faith and trust' we must cry out to our Father in Heaven, AS we did in Egypt.

I have started an online petition here. This is not another political petition, or click to show you care and subsequently will be ignored.

This is a spiritual petition. As the geulah was (in Egypt), so the geulah will be. First the Jews cried out, Hashem heard and remembered. He sent Moshe rabaynu. When Moshe rabaynu came to redeem the Jews, he came to the elders. And the elders declared the redemption and informed the people, and Moshe accepted the leadership and began the redemption. We must CRY OUT to Hashem, together as one, as the Jewish people, it's time. And, we must demand, yes demand, of the elders, the gedolim of our generation, the princes of Torah, to declare it's time for the redemption.

Around the world, this is an online petition. Here in Israel, it's a physical one. We're going out, sometimes with camera in hand, to ask people directly, do you want the geulah?

With, G-d willing, tens of thousands of both physical and virtual signatures, we will approach the Torah leaders of our generation and demand that they take the necessary spiritual and practical actions to end this golus now!

Do you care, do you dare, to stand up and be counted among the minyan's of Hashem? As Yehoshua bin Nun said 'As for me and my house, we shall serve Hashem.'

Some say we can just sit back, pray, learn some Torah, do the daily mitzvot of Judaism, the rest is up to Hashem. But, if we just sit back and take no actions in this world, then we have no voice in Shamayim and we're destined to stay 'Itah', till the end, and then we deserve what we get, G-d forbid.

We need to realize that we are all helplessly dependent on Hashem or we would not exist for even one moment. It is only those who can see and understand this that are truly independent in this world.

Shalom and blessings,
Rabbi Nathanel Levi Ben Yitzak Ben Chana Shara M' Breslev
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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

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Mercaz HaRav: Naftali ben Gila

-- A Public Service Announcement from Emunah Paths --

(This information is directly confirmed with the family as of May 6, 2008, and sourced partially from the One Family Tzedakah Fund in Israel.)

There has recently been a tremendous amount of erroneous information on various email lists regarding the condition of Naftali ben Gila Rachel, the most seriously wounded student at Mercacz Harav yeshiva. [Akiva - Two of which I personally received via separate routes this week.]

The following information is up to date as of Monday April 14 and comes directly from Naftali's mother, and was re-confirmed with Naftali's aunt on May 6, 2008:

Naftali was critically injured in the attack. He was unconscious for 8 days, and regained consciousness on Friday night March 14. He was moved out of ICU into the surgical ward of Shaare Tzedek hospital on Tuesday March 18. He celebrated his 14th birthday on Purim.

The family is very much aware of all of the tefillot and the concerted effort undertaken by many in the community on behalf of Naftali and his recovery, and are very thankful for the tremendous outpouring of concern and the well wishes that have been expressed. The inaccuracies that have been circulated recently are therefore all the more painful for them.

On Friday night, April 4, Naftali suffered symptoms that are similar to a seizure, but were not actually an epileptic seizure. Hospital staff moved him back into ICU as a precautionary measure for observation.

On Sunday, April 6, Naftali was moved back to the Surgical Ward, where he has remained ever since. At no time did he suffer a stroke or anything similar, and at no time since he regained consciousness was his life in any danger. His condition is steadily improving, and he is often out in the halls of the ward in his wheelchair. In the hospital, he continues to keep up with his learning, and plays the violin when he is bored. He was allowed out of the hospital for the Pesach seder, and then returned to the hospital in the morning.

At no time did Naftali have a name added for tefillot. His name was, and is, Naftali ben Gila Rachel.

May 8 Update: You will be happy to hear that Naftali is making good progress in the rehab center. (Which clearly indicates he's moved on from regular hospital care to a rehab center.)

Baruch Hashem, as the information above indicates, Naftali has made tremendous and miraculous improvements and appears to be clearly on the road to recovery, rehabilitation (which itself will take months to years), and G-d willing to a normal life.

While the family is extremely appreciative of all the tefilos and concern for Naftali, they beg the Jewish world to please try to stop inaccurate e-mails. E-mails from the original incident requesting immediate and urgent tefilos continue to circulate (with no date markings), emails about adding a name as he's on the edge of death (not true), and requests for another round of urgent tefilos due to a stroke (mistaken information). These are all untrue (thank G-d!)

Naftali's mother conveys her thanks and warm wishes to all of Klal Yisroel.

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Yearning

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Anonymous commentor, in response to my post of Holocaust articles on Israeli Holocaust Remembrance day, commented, "So Akiva, you're a Zionist, not a choside, eh? At least be upfront about it."

Almost every settlement in the West Bank has a Chabad house. Are they not chassidim because they are in the West Bank? The settlement Tel Tziyon is mostly chassidim, but they're in the West Bank. So is Immanuel.

Charedim, the ultra-orthodox of which chassidim make up a major percentage, almost all receive kitzvat yeladim (national child support payments from the Israeli government). Hmm, that's money from the Israeli government. Does that make them not choside? Bet they go to the national health clinics also, probably have babies in the national health system hospitals (exception in Netanya, where the chassidim built their own hospital).

But yes, I am a Tzionist! I yearn for the Land of Israel. Every time I eat, I pray for the rebuilding of Jerusalem! (Bet you do too.) I am thrilled to walk the holy ground given to us by G-d, promised to Avraham Avinu, to Yitzchok, to Yaakov, shown to Moshe Rabaynu, entered by Yehoshua bin Nun. I believe when the Torah says Yishuva Haaretz, settle the land, that's as much of a mitzvah as tefillin or mezuzot or kashrus. While in the US, I cried when I heard of a bomb blast in Israel, of our brethren being killed in the holy land simply for being Jews. I raged at the foolish politicians who believe nothing and trade away the Land given by G-d and showered with obvious miracles for false promises and they're own false glorification.

I am a tzionist from the Torah. I refuse to separate from the Land because a foolish government and a wacked ideology of Zionism without Hashem came into being. (Just as I advise the chilonim I know, the ultra-secular Israelis, because they disagree with the charedim is no reason to cede their portion of the Torah away.)

If being a tzionist is one to believes the words of the Torah and Hashem's promises to the bnei Yisroel regarding it, with not merely include but literally focus upon Eretz Yisroel, the LAND of Israel, then indeed I am.

Personally, I don't find this being at odds with being a chossid. My chassidus is not in the White Russian style long coat I wear, it is in the understanding of Hashem that I've learned, the avodas Hashem I perform, and the directives of the Rebbe I follow.

There are some rebbe's, notably the Satmar Rebbe, who opposed the creation of the State of Israel, perhaps with ruach hakodesh of much of what has come. Yet others, while not supporting it, were not beyond trying to take the secular vessel and trying to use it and fashion it for holiness.

During the Napoleonic wars, there were some rebbe's who supported Napoleon and France, and some who supported Russia.

All remained chassidim.

However, I ask you, how can one separate from the Land of Israel, from the mitzvos of Eretz Yisroel, from the daily yearning for Eretz HaKodesh, how can one merely mouth the words during every shemona esrai (standing prayer 3 times a day), of benching (blessings after a meal), of the shema (3 times if you're a chossid, morning, evening, and bed time), ignoring their intimate connection to Israel, ignore the request for dew per the weather of physical Israel, of rain per the need of physical Israel, of blossoming trees when they blossom in Israel, of literally facing towards Israel, how can one ignore that, how can one just mouth that, and remain a religious Jew?

I am not, however, a secular zionist out to create a new Jew, a national religious imbuing the State with kedushah, a charedi who would maximize use of the State while minimizing contribution, or a chiloni who would utilize the State to crush away the vestiges of old-style Jewishness. I am a Lubavitcher, I seek to extract every spark, to utilize every neutral tool for kedushah, and those with true potential for kedushah, to wake up that potential.

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