Thursday, July 31, 2008

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Time to Run?

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

We've been receiving questions, given world circumstances and how things may be lining up with the words of the navi'im (biblical prophets), is it time to drop everything and come to Israel?

This is indeed a difficult question, and unfortunately we are not navi'im (prophets) to be certain of giving accurate future advice. But the one point we can make is this...

Are you prepared? G-d forbid, if Moshiach doesn't come on clouds of glory and the Jews of golus (of the exile) are not delivered on wings of eagles, are you ready for any (even the least) of the possible negative scenarios?

In other words, if you needed to leave the US in the next 2 weeks, do you have the physical details (of this time) prepared to be able to do so? Passports. Necessary aliyah papers. Portable assets. Even a suitcase or two (or 9).

What US Jews (and non-Jews!) can no longer assume is the safety and stability of the past. Economic conditions have become chaotic (to say the least), world politics has moved from a stable 2-power balanced world to regional powers vying for control throughout each part of the world. Small organizations with the ability to cause great damage have popped up.

In this time, it is only wise to be prepared to travel, to leave a dangerous area, or area impacted by some catastrophic or serious event, or just to better conditions. Some cash must be set aside and on hand - the financial system can't be relied upon (what if you couldn't access your bank, ATM, or primary credit cards for 1 month?) Some emergency assets should be in a trade able portable commodity (gold - coins, jewelry, or bullion, silver - coins, platinum for higher value in smaller space).

Thinking of coming to Israel now (in emergency) or in the future? Talk to Nefesh b'Nefesh and a Jewish Agency Aliyah Shaliach right now - so you know what will be needed. (Papers, process.) Then, line it all up.

This way, if (G-d forbid) it becomes necessary, you _have the ability_ to do so. Until you can, asking if you should isn't the point.

During the Gulf War, a bearded religious soldier was commanded to cut his beard to be ready to put on his gas mask in case of attack (as that generation of masks didn't have a model for bearded men). He convinced his commander to allow him to ask the Lubavitcher Rebbe if he should follow this order. Amazingly, his commander agreed to abide by the answer they would receive...

They called in, and received this answer: "It won't be necessary to trim your beard, but since we don't rely on miracles, you should carry a pair of scissors around with you."

May Hashem bless and protect our readers and their families in these apparently turbulent times. And may all such preparations be unnecessary.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

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Baruch P'tarani M'Onsho Zeh

a guest post by Reb Dr. Moshe Neumann at Mystical Paths

The occasion of my son, Gavriel Nachman's bar mitzvah rekindled my wonderment about the phrase—"Baruch Ptarani M'Onsho Zeh. In my twenty-four years of working to come to Torah, I have often wondered about this phrase. It seems such a strange way to thank Hashem for the gift of bringing my son to the covenant of mitzvoth.

The Simple Meaning is a Strange Expression of Gratitude

There are two pshatim--simple meanings of the phrase. One is gratitude to Hashem for making the father no longer responsible for punishing his son. In other words, any punishment a child deserves comes from his father. Now that the boy has come of age, Hashem is responsible for that punishment. A second pshat is that a parent is punished for a child's misdeeds until the child is old enough to take responsibility. The father is grateful for being freed of that onus. Either way, it seems a strange way to thank Hashem for the gift of a son becoming bar mitzvah. "Thank You G-d for sparing me from punishment." Wouldn't it better to say, thank You for bringing my son to the covenant of mitzvoth? Why did our sages institute this phase?

Expanded Vs. Constricted Consciousness (Mochin D'Gadlut Vs. Mochin D'Katnut)

In our tradition, we are taught that every concept has a pshat tachton—understanding from a lower or constricted consciousness, and a pshat elyon—understanding from a higher or expanded consciousness. The highest consciousness is full awareness of Hashem's Presence which is called d'vekut. The lowest consciousness is absolutely no awareness of His Presence which is called shtut. For instance, higher love is the love of Hashem, lower love is physical love. Higher fear is awe of Hashem, lower fear is fear of being hurt or losing money, etc. And there are infinite levels in between. For instance, within the range of awareness of Hashem's Presence, there is also higher fear and lower fear—awe vs. fear of Hashem's punishment.

The most expanded consciousness is to realize that Hashem is running absolutely everything, like an unfathomable super computer. Everything is Divine Providence, down to the smallest detail. Every desire, every thought, every word, every action and every feeling of each of billions of people throughout history is Hashem's composition and orchestration. As a master composer puts together the different sounds of the different instruments, playing different notes of harmony and disharmony, melody and countermelody, rhythm and counterrhythm, so Hashem composes and orchestrates every detail of the entire universe into a cosmic symphony that, if perceived by a person would automatically nullify his physicality. In this consciousness, happiness is constant and is not dependent upon circumstances.

In the most constricted state of consciousness, a person believes he has total free choice and that everything is up to him. In this state, there is no awareness of Hashem running the show and a person's happiness is fleeting and dependent upon externalities.

Hashem designed this world to pull us into constricted consciousness. Think about it. We are born as helpless babies, totally absorbed with our physical sensations. At 8 days old, a boy is given a dose of pain which resonates in his subconscious the rest of his life. Even the Torah, it can be argued, is written in a way which encourages small thinking. For instance, instead of saying "Shabbat is an amazing gift and if you go beyond the boundaries of its laws, you are missing out," the Torah states, "If you don't keep Shabbat, you will be stoned to death." This emphasis makes us forget that, in the end, the soul gets rectified and enters Paradise. The Torah does mention the performance of mitzvoth as a labor of love, but the emphasis is on punishments. Thus, over the generations, humanity has been pulled inexorably into an ever-more constricted state of awareness. Hashem's Desire is that our lives should be a continual process of overcoming the tendency to become distracted by this world and reach ever-higher consciousness of His Presence.

"Baruch P'tarani" From the Perspective of Expanded Consciousness

Perhaps if we examine the statement, "Baruch p'tarani" from the perspective of Divine Providence, we can understand how it is indeed an appropriate vehicle of thanks. First, from the higher perspective, onesh, cannot be translated as punishment. For the pain that Hashem sends as onesh is not retribution, but a loving wake-up call to remind us that our highest good, connection to Hashem, d'vekut, lies in a different mode of conduct. Furthermore, from the most expanded consciousness in which one is aware that all actions are orchestrated by Hashem, even a misdeed is ultimately Hashem's orchestration. If so, how do we understand "onesh" and how do we understand the word patur. For, the meaning "to be exempted" works only in the context of free choice. What is the meaning of patur from the perspective of Divine Providence?

This world consists of three parts, olam- space, shanah- time and nefesh- being. A sin is a misconduct in one or more of these three aspects. For instance, a sin involving kriat sh'ma, lo alenu, could occur in shanah by not saying Shma at the right time, or in olam by saying it in the wrong place, for example in front of feces, ch'v, or in nefesh by saying the wrong words. Every sin is a blemish in one or more of these three aspects.

The gemara teaches that there is no such thing as committing a sin unless a ruach shtut-a spirit of foolishness - enters the person's consciousness. Simply put, a ruach shtut is a dose of constricted consciousness whereby a person forgets Hashem's Presence and, consequently conducts himself in a manner opposed to Hashem's Will. In a state of d'vekut, fully expanded consciousness, a person would never act against Hashem's Will. However all this is only from the perspective of free choice. From Divine Providence, one's awareness or lack of awareness of Hashem is Divinely directed. As the verse says, "Achon et asher achon v'richamti et asher arachem—I will favor whomever I [choose to] favor and I will have compassion on whomever I [choose to] have compassion." Hashem says, I will give awareness of Me to whomever I choose whenever I choose. When we are in a constricted state with less awareness of Hashem, it is only because Hsahem has "tied us up" as it were, and bound us to the constrictions of this world. For instance, playing with little children, how many of us have experienced a moment of saying, "Goo goo, ga ga," trying to make a baby laugh and really thinking of Hashem in that moment? Usually, in those moments, we are thinking of the baby and our desire to have it laugh or smile. Not of Hashem. An example of awareness of Hashem in that moment would be a realization that the goo goo ga ga is really an exchange and raising up of holy sparks between the adult and the baby.

Another occasion we are usually not so aware of Hashem is when we are disciplining our children. If we are not careful to maintain awareness of Hashem, our child's misbehavior will cause us to become so bound up in constricted consciousness that we respond in a way which pushes the child into more constricted consciousness as well. That is why the Torah teaches that disciplining children must never be done out of anger. For anger shows that the person has forgotten that whatever is happening is perfect, from Hashem, and only for the good. In truth, whether or not we have awareness of Hashem in these moments is ultimately Hashem's decision. If, in the moment, one is aware of Hashem's Presence, it is only due to Hashem's "untying" the person from the narrow perspective of this world—Olam, Nefesh, SHanah: which is the acronym of ONeSH. Happy is the person whom Hashem has released from being bound up in this world and experiences this world—all of it, its comforts as well as its discomforts--as Hashem's amazing creation.

Perhaps that is the ultimate meaning of "Baruch p'tarani m'onsho zeh". Kabbalah teaches that every event throughout life is a manifestation of spiritual advancement, whether we are aware of it or not. When a man's son becomes Bar Mitzvah, it is a great spiritual advancement for the father as well as the son in that they both now have a higher spiritual potential and greater capacity for freedom from the constricted consciousness of this world, each on his own level. Thus, the translation of Baruch p'tarani from a higher consciousness is "Blessed is the One Who has untied me, freed me (p'tarani) through the ascension of my son into the realm of mitzvoth, from the "punishment" of constricted awareness of the olam, nefesh and shanah of this world (me'onsho zeh)." Amen, ken y'hi ratzon!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

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Latest Mercaz HaRav Update

As time passes, and especially as (Hashem Yerachem) new attacks occur, we naturally begin to forget those horribly injured in previous attacks. Here is an update from those still recovering from the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva slaughter by the Arab animals intent only on spilling innocent Jewish blood...

Students Naftali and Nadav have been moved to the rehab center at Hadassah Har Hatzofim, where they are undergoing physical rehab, and where they spend their free time learning with each other. Both are in stable and good condition, and are not in any danger at all. Naftali's family has rented an apartment in Beit Hakerem so that they can be closer to him and the hospital, and he comes to them most Shabbatot.

They appreciate all the tefillot, and are no longer asking for special tefillot for Naftali or any of the other victims. Thank G-d, their improvements have been great.

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Obama's Disgusting Hypocrisy

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Let me start by saying I am not for or against Barak Obama. I am for G-d, His Torah and mitzvot, and against making a mockery of Him...

I previously wrote about Obama's ludicrous photo op, where he was using the (currently) most holy place of Judaism as a photo prop. But, after hearing that he wrote a prayer and placed it in the Holy Wall (following local custom), and that his prayer had been taken from the Holy Wall, I felt bad about what I wrote. Reading the honest prayer made me feel worse.

I thought: "Ok, he's a straightforward guy who took a moment out to stop by a holy place and pray. Of course his people used it for a photo-op, that's what they do. But he was just briefly taking advantage of holy Jerusalem before going on his way." Kav schut, look at the good in a person...

My mistake, we're not dealing with a person, we're dealing with a politician. One who's political machine is starting to put the Clinton's to shame (and that is one impressive statement.) Maariv newspaper, the publisher of the filched note, along with IsraelInsider and YidWithLid, clearly show statements from the campaign that the "prayer" was a campaign publication, and the taking of the prayer (dirty bad Jews stealing prayers right out of their own holy site!) was an engineered campaign activity!!!

(IsaelInsider) What initially seemed to be a journalistic scoop of dubious moral propriety now seems to be a case of an Israeli paper being played by the Barack Obama campaign. Maariv, the second most popular newspaper in Israel, was roundly criticized for publishing the note Obama left in the Kotel. But now a Maariv spokesperson says that publication of the note was pre-approved for international publication by the Obama campaign, leading to the conclusion that the "private" prayer was intentionally leaked for public consumption...

It now appears that Maariv had collaborated with the Obama campaign in getting the "private" prayer, with its "modest" supplicaton to the Lord, out to the public, buffing his Christian credentials and showing his "humility."

A Ma'ariv spokesman was quoted in the Jerusalem Post as saying that "Barack Obama's note was approved for publication in the international media even before he put in the Kotel, a short time after he wrote it at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem."


(YidWithLid) I did not believe that a Yeshiva Student would violate the sanctity of someone's personal prayer to God and even more important was the fact EVERY SINGLE Second of Obama's "world tour" was detailed for maximum political effect. If a guy could hang campaign posters at such a holy site as the Kotel, he could cynically stage the release of the Prayer that was written by his staff...

Most important is the fact that this supposedly religious man is so cynical about his relationship with God, that he allowed his campaign to fake a theft of his note to God, in order to look good politically.


And in doing so he's using G-d as a political campaign prop, Jerusalem as a backdrop, the holiest (currently accessible) site to Judaism as a bag boy, and setting up RELIGIOUS JEWS as the bad guy. (A money grubbing prayer stealing non-privacy-respecting yeshiva student "took" the prayer.)

BTW, if Obama is a Xian, why didn't he go visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre?

May Hashem deal with him appropriately. And my dear rabbis and Jewish community leaders who would cosy up with this guy, remember the words of Pirke Avos - they do not stand by you in times of trouble - only when you are useful to them. Right now you make great props. Hope that works for you.

For me, I am disgusted.

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Having Guests on the Holidays

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

The Gemora tells us that during the Temple days there was no joy like the joy of eating the meat of the sacrifices and drinking wine on the holidays.[i] Then what can we do to have that holiday joy now, when we do not have a Temple and the sacrifices?

The Rambam explains that today, the joy of feeding others on the holidays takes the place of the joy of eating the sacrifices when the Temple was standing.[ii] Today our dining tables replace the Temple altar.[iii] One of the sacrifices we offer today is the gifts of food that we give to our guests. Just as we ate our sacrifices with family and guests back then, so, too, do we eat our holiday food with family and guests today. When we see this is so, the normal joy that comes from sharing food on the holiday is increased tremendously. That normal joyous meal now becomes a holy sacrifice, and the additional joy comes not just from sharing food, but from realizing that this sharing is actually today’s substitute for the sacrifices that were offered on the altar.

Jewish people have certain physical and spiritual characteristics in common. These come with our genes. One of these is that we love to have guests in our homes. You would be hard-pressed to find a Jew who did not truly like to have guests. Not all people in the world are like this. We inherited this trait from our forefather Abraham. His principal occupation was teaching his generation about G-d. He did this by opening his tent to travelers and feeding them.

[i] Gemora Pesachim 109a
[ii] Hilcos Yom Tov 6:17-18
[iii] Gemora Berachos 55a

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Monday, July 28, 2008

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The Tag of 7

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

I've managed to blog for over 4 years without getting tagged, meme'd, or tied into the various social blog connection challenges that go around. Suddenly, I've been tagged twice in the same "7 Blogs You Read" challenge, and emailed in the "4 things" challenge. So, for the first time ever, here's my social blogging challenge response...

7 Blogs I Read:

- A Simple Jew - One time I was sitting in shul and my fellow chassidim asked me, "nu, and what's with you?" I answered, "I'm just a simple Jew." "Ha!", they replied, "you think you've reached such a level that you qualify as a simple Jew? What kind of ego do you have to think you've reached such a lofty state!" To be simple and straight in one's relationship with Hashem is indeed very difficult in our generation. All the more so for those of us who have spent time entangled in the world. Yet, A Simple Jew manages to share such an approach regularly.

- Lazer Beams - One of the internet's favorite rabbi's, Rabbi Brody manages to always tie world and life events into chassidus and faith in Hashem. He's an inspiring lesson in how to speak positive and tie everything back to Hashem and Torah.

- The Muqata - I love the Shomron (the so called West Bank). There's a space and peace there that calls to me. For various reasons I don't live there (though I live nearby and pass through frequently), but my thoughts are with those who do. Jameel, a silly arab-ish pseudonym for a Jew who does, shares real life with us.

- Dreaming of Moshiach - Teshuva and Geulah are alive at Dreaming, not a topic of philosophy. The blogger draws from a variety of mystical oriented Hebrew sources, as well as their own, to bring powerful material frequently.

- Circus Tent - The blogger shares chassidic historical insights, and sometimes conflicts or points out historical revisionism, among the charedi Jewish sector. Many points inspire me because there's a reality to mesiras nefesh, self sacrifice, versus the stories that always seem beyond real life reach, that grounds me in reality when the circumstances of life are challenging.

- Michael Totten's Middle Eastern Journal - Mr. Totten is an American reporter who spends days, weeks, and months in his reporting zone. Unlike the fluff, misunderstandings, and outright lies and propaganda you get from the mainstream news, Mr. Totten brings an on-the-ground American-ish perspective to parts of the world the rest are just blowing through. Indispensable in understanding the Arab world.

- IsraellyCool - Many of the events that happen in Israel are so extremely serious, and so extremely disturbing, that someone who can introduce an element of humor while still presenting the seriousness of the situation helps lighten my day. IsraelyCool does a yoman's job of this, focusing on the ludicrousness of the terrorists press statements and the Western presses dealings with Israel.

Tomer Devorah and Me-Ander both pointed to me, so I credit them with this post.

The social aspect of this says "In return, those mentioned must post a list of seven (or more) favorite blogs", and of course mention the friend who inflicted this social responsibility upon them. My blessings to all bloggers mentioned and those who mentioned me. May we merit to meet personally in Jerusalem with Moshiach Tzidkaynu and bring a korban ho'da'a, an offering of thanksgiving, for having this opportunity to positively affect others.

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Hard Questions, Simple Answers - Part 4

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

In regards to all the questions about where we are, and when will be, etc... In the Holy city of Jerusalem there are many a Tzaddik, as well as regular folks, preparing begday Moshiach, clothing for the geulah. There is a local tailor in Meah Shearim who is swamped with orders for these clothes, only to be worn for the arrival of the redeemer. He has so many orders that he can't get them done fast enough. They are very beautiful indeed.

This started right after Pesach. The tailor says it all started with a certain chassidic rebbe, then another, and another, etc, until everyone here feels the energy of what is to come. "People are talking."

I'd like to share a bit of Torah from a little sefer called 'The Empty Chair', a book of aphorisms by Rabaynu, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev. Entry "On The Spiritual Journey" : "Spiritual awakening begins with inspiration coming from without. Then once you are already on the road, the real work begins. Keep at it and inspiration will come from within." (L.H. 3:152c)

Rebbe Nachman said that often even just his daily religious obligations felt like a crushing burden. But the Rebbe found a way to bear the weight of his devotions by each morning saying to himself, "I will ignore tomorrow and all future tomorrows- today is all there is!" The Rebbe understood what wears us down most on our spiritual journey is the feeling that there is to much to accomplish. Instead, he advised focusing only on the task at hand. By doing so, we can overcome even the most daunting of obstacles.

We need to just keep it simple and to the fact. For example I used to look at the siddur and say 'how long is it gonna take to say all this', overwhelmed by the length of the prayers. So I said brachas, jumped to shema, and from there added on each week more and more. The same with my learning. I used to look at all the necessary reading a Jew must do each week and say 'ee efashar', there's no way I can read all this. But slowly I just started to read the parsha for the day, then Tanya for the day, chassidus, then halacha - 1 law a day then, etc. If I had time to read something else I wanted, ok, if not, not. Same thing in prayer - I would tell my yetzer I'm only gonna say one bracha of shemonei esrei with kavana, then another and another till I (G-d willing) make it all the way though.

I've come a long way, thanks Hashem. But now when I look up from where I stand, I see mountains, "BIG MOUNTAINS" in front of me. Gone are the days of flat sand and foot hills, now the real work is beginning! But we can climb any mountain one step at a time. And there within lies the the secret; One step, one day, no more. I/we can make it for the day! You have to believe this to carry on. Ok, so I fell yesterday! And this last week I let the ruach stuss knock me down, 'Blam'. There was a time when I would cry and pout for months on a wrong committed, now the I know the key is to acknowledge my fall, ask for forgiveness, stand up, dust off and run before the next wave comes. The quicker we do t'shuva the less hold the Other side has on us.

...

"I will praise Hashem with my life; I will sing to my G-d with the little I have left." (salms 146:2). With only what I have left I'll cling to You in praise. And hope only in YOU!

Master of the Universe, help me! You work in amazing ways. Help me to able to make myself happy at all times. I am shattered and broken. Help me to be happy always. Teach me a way. You and You alone know all things: You know everything that has happened from the day I was born until today. You know everything that is happening to me today and this generation, and everything taking place in the whole world and in all the souls of all the Jewish people. You know everything that has happen to my soul: from the day my Neshamah, Ruach and Nefesh were first emanated; How they descended through the worlds of Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah; how the were brought into all the bodies that they were incarnates until they entered this body of mine, this gross and materialistic body...

You alone know the meaning of all these mysteries and all that happened to me in those times and since then until today. You know all that I have done, the good the bad. You know all my sins and transgressions, day by day - those that were unintentional, and those I did deliberately; those under compulsion and those I did of my own free will. And You know whatever good points I have managed to gather, it was only through Your kindness that I did so - even in the bad times.

Likutey Tefilah I 90 excerpt from Reb Nosson of Breslev's prayers 'which I have made mine with little changes'

I have endured from the day of my birth until today, ONLY BY YOUR UNMERITED MERCY!!! and so have you, all of you!

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

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Refuah Shalayma Update

B"H, with thanks to Hashem, Rabbi Nati's son together with Rabbi Nati spent Shabbat at Hadassah Ein Kerem. His son was carefully examined and determined to have no life threatening injuries. All injuries received from the car accident are recoverable with some rest and time (bruising, swelling, internal and external).

He was hit by a hit-and-run driver in his residential Jerusalem neighborhood. The driver hit him, drove another block, jumped out of his car and ran. Was this a case of car theft, or an Arab worker concerned about neighborhood response? Unknown, Rabbi Nati grabbed his son and headed to the hospital as fast as possible, and a call to the police elicited a response of "come on down and file a report", they would NOT come to the scene.

By the time Rabbi Nati returned with his son this morning, the abandoned car was gone. We wish his son a speedy and complete recovery from this trauma.

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Photos: New Kotel Excavations

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

I was fortunate to, with my son, slip in briefly to the new Kotel excavations on the far side of the Western Wall Plaza. These have been going on for about 3 years or so.

The current area of the Western Wall plaza used to be a valley. As those who have taken the Kotel Tunnel Tours have learned or one can see by looking to the right - towards the southeast corner, the Western Wall itself stands over twice as high as the current visible portion.

As they have dug down on the far side of the plaza, what they have found appears to be a full market area...

Kotel Excavations

Building entrances, floor stones, street flagstones, and pillars are in abundance...

Kotel Excavations

Was this a marketplace for the 2nd Beis HaMikdash, the 2nd Holy Jewish Temple of G-d in Jerusalem? Was this where one could come to buy supplies for offerings in the Temple across the valley?

Kotel Excavations

In other areas, if you zoom in the picture (click them to go to larger sizes at Flickr), you'll see steps and street drainage. But this picture bears remarkable resemblance to the water flow arrangement at my local mikvah. Are we looking at the water collection on the left, and the mikvah on the right? If this was a preparation area for the Beis HaMikdash, a ritual bath for visitors (and being there were many visitors, many such mikvah's) would be expected...

Kotel Excavations

Not only are stone structures being revealed, a large quantity of pottery shards are as well. Relatively large sizes, appropriate for storage of wine, oil, and flour that were part of Temple service, are being found...

Kotel Excavations

I'm no archeology expert, but this is an amazing site. Hopefully, it will be opened to the public soon, along with some expert interpretation...

Kotel Excavations

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Friday, July 25, 2008

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Obama in Israel - The Ludicrous Photo Op

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Ludicrous - causing laughter because of absurdity; provoking or deserving derision; ridiculous; laughable.

Many a politician comes to make a symbolic visit to the Holy Land. All such visits include the required reverence to the dead Jews of the Holocaust by visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial (and museum, but they skip the part where they might learn something and stick to the symbolic wreath laying). The more adventurous and/or those who are actually religious make the trip to the Kotel, the Western Wall, the last and largest wall of the surrounding compound of the 2nd Beis HaMikdash, Jewish Holy Temple destroyed by the Romans.

This is considered the holiest site currently accessible by Judaism in the world. (The actual holiest site is the former location of the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount - but it's generally inaccessible and the area is currently occupied by 5 muslim mosques.)

Now, if anyone of any faith wants to come to the holiest place in Judaism and pray to G-d, every person in the world is welcome to do so. If they want to come, plaster the security barracades put up for their protection with signs reading Obama for President IN HEBREW, and just use it for a photo op to enhance their election possibilities, then this is a Chillul Hashem, a desecration of Hashem's name.

First, the signs. This is so ludicrous as to be unbelievable. Anyone in Israel who's elegible to vote in the US election is an American Jew who's chosen to come home to the Holy Land. Trust me, the majority are not so comfortable in Hebrew (they get by), so this sign is not targeted at them. Of course, Israelis are...Israeli, not American, so they don't get to vote in the US election. So who exactly were the Hebrew Obama signs for? Obama for World Leader?

Now, I understand everyone wanting to cosy up to this guy. After all, he's presumptive king of the West. (Yeah yeah, I know there's some other old white guy running, but I can't find his name in the news or anything about him, so he must not be important or have a chance.) And, traditionally Jewish organizations operate best by quiet influence. You don't want to dis the next king.

But when it comes to the Kodesh, the holy, you can't trample it, you can't use it for your own ends or rent it for someone else's and your future leverage. G-d don't play patsy.

Photo from New York Magazine, Daily Intel.

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Halachic Kung Fu

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

(Kung Fu, a Chinese martial art, is renowned for using an opponents force and motion against him.)

Hirhirim has an interesting discussion of a recent halachic ruling by the rabbi of Ofra, a West Bank Jewish town, permitting construction projects with non-Jewish workers to continue building on Shabbat.

In a bit of impressive halachic kung-fu, he uses the Satmar Rav's position that "there is currently no mitzvah to settle the land" to prove that building on the Land on Shabbat is permitted.

Well worth a read.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

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Of Interest

Just sharing a few items of interest...

From Dixie Yid : "Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook was a leading Torah sage who moved to the Land of Israel in 1904, and I hope to discuss aspects of his approach to the modern Zionist movement in future letters. There were Zionist leaders who viewed the Chareidim as being in the “wilderness”; however, Rabbi Kook offered a defense of the Chareidim. In an essay which discusses the modern Zionist movement (Igrot R’iah 871), Rabbi Kook writes that this movement “will never be a stronghold for the whole nation, because it intrinsically fails to grasp the holy eternal light of the nation’s soul, the spirit of the true God in its midst; thus, it will do well in the external area of building up the nation, but will never be able to deal with its inner side.” Rabbi Kook adds: “That inner building stands ready for other workers of an entirely different type. These will develop, from all places, out of the ‘wilderness’ of the Chareidim, those who faithfully and truthfully opposed Zionism because of their pure zealousness regarding the spirit of Hashem, His people, and the foundation of its existence.”



From Lebanese blogger Perpetual Refugee, commenting on the arrival of baby murderer Kuntar from the prisoner trade: Today, death is being celebrated. Human life obviously has no value in Lebanon, especially when the dead are Jews. But not always. Anyone on the other side is better off dead. It always ends up as a party.

I have no words today. I cannot celebrate the return of Kuntar or any Hezballah 'soldiers'. The Divine Victory celebrations were enough for me. 1,200 dead for 5 of the living. Death is constantly celebrated in Lebanon. We have become the ultimate barbarians. Perhaps we always were.

I can't say I'm proud to be Lebanese anymore. My nation makes me sick. My government makes me sick. My compatriots, with their welcome-home smiles make me sick. As they dance on coffins. As they trample on the remaining dignity of parents that have to endure a living hell. Parents who outlived their children.

I have no words today. I will have no words tomorrow. I no longer identity with the land of my birth. My ashes very well may be scattered in a foreign land that celebrates not death, but life itself.



And, Dreaming of Moshiach notes there's a Solar Eclipse coming on Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av :


This eclipse is very unusual. It starts in Canada, and focuses over Russia and China. Dreaming notes, "This solar eclipse is an unusual and ominous event since visibility of a total eclipse is only once in 375 years. Also, this solar eclipse will be the longest eclipse of the 21st century!"

In Jewish mystical tradition, lunar eclipses allude to negative times for the Jewish people, solar eclipses the same for the non-Jewish nations. The timing on the Jewish calendar is also very interesting, as in the midst of a traditionally negative time for the Jewish people, this major sign of negativity for the non-Jewish nations comes along.

May the 9 days only be a positive time this year!

Eclipse info from Nasa.

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Esav Hates Yaakov, and Mystical Paths!

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

We've got hate mail. Or rather, some kind soul took the time out to thoroughly explain how us evil Jews are destroying the financial system and world oil production, and his savior, all at the same time. Hey, I know, there's always a few nut jobs everywhere. But, when the US financial system really is a mess, these type of things begin to resonate beyond their small initial audience.

Responding to an old post, Jews Destroy Serbia, about anti-semitism in Serbia (without a Jewish population), an anonymous commentor shared these thoughts of wisdom ...


this is a nonsense website.

madelaine albright who lead the usa bombing of serbia is from a zionist, jewish, and communist family. wesely clark has now admitted his family is jewish. holbrooke, well known jew.

90% of the clinton administration was jewish, as is 90 % of the bush administration.

clinton is the illegitimate son of winthrop rockefeller, and the rockefellers are the head of world sephardic jewry and related by marriage to the rothshchilds. his wife not only look like some yenta jew shes admitted shes a rosenberger. sounds jewish to me.

the bombing of serbia was over a key oil route from the caspian sea for rockefeller/rothschilds oil firms and the usa built the worlds largest military base to guard it.

i mean, you zionist jews MURDERED milosovic on purim, how dumb do you think we are? you had no case and clinton, albright and clark would have been found out in war crimes trials for starting and illegal war.

even the muslim opposition was flow in by the cia. al quida, which are headed by the yemeni jew osama bin laden, a cia asset, probably dead now.

you zionist jews in serbia were extracting your mentally sick revenge, for the serbains not bowing to you and wanting their own country and future and as the serbs sat on key resources leading greedy jews like rothschilds, soros, and rockefeller wanted to get their hands on.

the christian intelligensia in the usa see this and is spreading the news.

even some jews like (web site that does not actually exist included here) are stepping up to speak out against jewish lies.

stop your lies you are a VERY, very evil jew or a dupe for your jewish world and communist world leaders, the schiffs, warburgs, lazards, rockefeller, rothschilds,
the 'money' behind all these wars. what have these people every done for you?

stop your lies jew before you end up in Hell.

the kaballah and the talmud are witchcraft. i have read your holy books, we christians see your hate of the gentile nation, and (xian diety name here).

repent, before the Prince of Peace comes to throw you satanic jews in hell and defeat your zionist world order.



Ooookkkkk, catch your breath there fella. Please don't let any facts get in the way of your hatred and the fantasy world you've built up to support it.

Whew, it's not even worth spending time refuting. Rather, it's a straightforward lesson in Esav hates Yaakov. No logic, if it's bad in the world, it's the Evil Jooos. But, when things get bad and they're looking for someone to blame, the Evil Jooos always make a good target.

Hashem Yishmor - G-d Protect Us!.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

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Course on Temple Service

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

During this mourning period of the 3 weeks, where we mourn for the destruction of the holy Beis Hamikdash, the Holy Temple with G-d's presence in Jerusalem, Chabad of Israel is offering a very special series of courses...

Temple Service! Participants will be trained in the various aspects of service in the Holy Beis HaMikdash in Jerusalem. Proper tasks will be taught for the kohanim (priests), levi'im (caretakers and musicians), and yisroelim.

Participants will graduate certified for service in the Beis HaMikdash or prepared to bring their korbon. The course follows the instructions as taught by the Gemora, Rambam, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe. It is being offered at various locations in Eretz Yisroel (Israel).

Contact your local Chabad House for information.

(h/t Rafi of Life in Israel)

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

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Terror Attack - Your Brother's Blood

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Sunday, Prime Minister Gordan Brown of Great Britain came to Jerusalem and was politically honored. During his visit declaring solidarity with Israel, he met with the terror regime in Ramallah and agreed with everything they said. He finished his visit by demanding an immediate halt to Jewish living in Israel, ah, Jerusalem, ah, actually, to any place the Palestinians have declared theirs.

You know, my youngest son had a game where he would grab something valuable of one of his siblings or parents, stand up proud and announce, "I declare it mine." Sometimes he would do this with multiple items in a single shot, grabbing say 5 things off the table and repeating it each time... "I declare it mine." "I declare it mine." "I declare it mine."

He would then hold his head high and walk off with the item. It was cute and funny, because everyone knew - including him - that he wouldn't get away with it. But if by chance he actually did, say with an ice cream bar in the refrigerator, if no one gave enough attention to challenge him, then he was gone and indeed, it was his.

The Palestinians have been walking around playing this game in Israel. Empty Jerusalem Hill now built into thriving neighborhood - I declare it mine says the Palestinian. Marketplace bought by Jews - I declare it mine says the Palestinian. Jewish holy sites on top of which mosques have been built - I declare it mine says the Palestinian.

The only reason they succeed is because we don't value it enough to pay attention and respond, claiming it back. Because the Land doesn't matter anymore. The Holy Land is only the "Holy Land" in a tefilah, in the spiritual realms. It doesn't mean actual real life dirt, G-d forbid!

This week, PM Brown declared it theirs. Later today, US candidate rock star Obama will arrive in Jerusalem. A month ago, he made a major error and declared it ours. But not to worry, he will go hug some terrorists tonight in Ramallah and declare it theirs.

Only ... Because ... We ... Don't ... Care.

Because if we cared about the Holy Land, if we cared about our brothers blood being spilled, we'd do something about it. We'd SHOUT, we'd PROTEST, we'd support organizations that make a difference, we'd make facts on the ground by living where it's ours, we'd make it clear we don't support candidates who declare it theirs while standing in our brothers blood, and we'd support those who do the right thing.

Don't stand in your brother's blood. Israel is our place, our Holy Land, Jerusalem is our holy city. Stand up, declare it ours.

--> Reb Nati at Mystical Paths adds these thoughts...

To my great sorrow, you're wrong Reb Akiva. We should pray and teach defense techniques. Demonstrating won't work anymore as we are very far past that stage.

We blew it in '95, we should have gone tilt then. Now if we do it will give the world the right to sit on our heads. It's too late for all that now, it's in G-d's hands because we didn't want to do anything when we could have.

Now we have to ask and plead for heavenly mercy. Its sad. But there is whom to look to, to our Father in heaven.


** Mystical Paths prays that Hashem grant a speedy and complete recovery to the many injured in today's terror attack, who will spend MONTHS trying to recover function and put their lives back together.

Photo credit: Amos Ben Gershon\GPO via The Jerusalem Post.

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Where Is Your Home?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Where is the actual center of Judaism? One might think that it is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. After all, this is where the last communal sacrifices were offered, and this is the place where G-d’s Revealed Presence dwelled. Or maybe it is the synagogues now that the Temple is not standing. We offer our prayers in place of the sacrifices, so perhaps these places of worship are today’s center of Judaism. Maybe it is the study halls, the yeshivas? After all, it is the Torah that keeps the Jewish People a People.

Actually it is none of these. It is the home. And what is the home? Is it the house or apartment? No, it is the wife, the mother of the family.

On the holiest day of the year, the Kohen Gadol (the High Priest) would offer a number of sacrifices. His personal offering was to atone for him and for his home.[i] And what is his home? This is his wife.

When a Jewish man will be away for the holiday, the question arises, should he observe one day or two days of the holiday? In Israel we observe one day, while outside the land we observe two. One accepted opinion is that it depends on where his wife is. According to this opinion, he should observe the customs that are observed where his wife is since she is his home.

Why is she so important? It is not just because she is the physical source of the Jewish children. She is so important because she is charged with the children’s initial spiritual care and development. For the first years of their lives the mother is the prime, if not sole, source of their spiritual attitudes and awareness. What she imparts to them in those early, most formative years will greatly affect the way they go on to live their spiritual lives.

But if she is so important, why is it that every morning men say the blessing, “Thank G-d for not making me a woman?” Men say this to emphasis the man’s primary role in the Torah. While the woman’s prime role and attachment is to the family, his is to the Torah and mitzvahs.

Look at the order in which these morning prayers are said. First, we thank G-d for not making us a non-Jew. Then we thank Him for not making us a slave. And finally we thank Him for not making us a woman.

The order points out what is most important to us. First is the non-Jew who has been given only seven commandments. These are the seven commandments that were given to all mankind, the Seven Mitzvahs of the Children of Noah. The Jewish man has been given 613 commandments.

Next, from the days when slavery was the accepted norm, comes the non-Jewish slave who is owned by a Jew. These male or female slaves were obligated to keep the mitzvahs as a Jewish woman is obligated. This means that they were to observe all of the negative commandments but only the positive commandments that are not time-related.

But this slave was not born a Jew. He was merely purchased by a Jew, and it is through this purchase that he was brought into his relationship to the Torah. He was not really a full-fledged Jew. If he were an actual Jew, even though he was a slave he would still be obligated to observe all of the commandments. The non-Jewish slave’s relationship to the Torah was not nearly as strong as a Jewish woman’s. With this blessing the Jewish men are thanking G-d for making us His servants and not the servants of another man.

Then comes the Jewish woman. Although she certainly is a full-fledged Jew, her obligation is to keep all of the negative commandments but only those positive commandments that are not time-related.

Women are on a higher spiritual level than men. This is readily seen in the fact that they are much more intuitive than men. They do not need these time-bound positive commandments to fulfill their spiritual service as men do. They can accomplish their purpose in creation through another positive channel, by spiritually sustaining the family. This is why they are the home. Their prime attachment is to the family.

There is a lengthy discussion in the Talmud that seeks to identify the actual source of the rule that women are exempt from the time-bound positive commandments.[ii] But the reason for this exemption is not discussed. The most often cited reason is that she must be available at all times for the family. After all, she makes the family.

These three, the non-Jew, the slave and the Jewish woman, are in contrast to the Jewish man whose prime need and obligation is to serve G-d and learn His Torah. When we say these three blessings, we are thanking G-d for our portion in His Torah and its mitzvahs.

[i] Leviticus 16:6, Gemora Yoma 36b Rashi
[ii] Gemora Kiddushin 33b Mishnah 29a

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Monday, July 21, 2008

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Rumor of Moshiach

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

The following rumor has come to our ears. It was heard from highly placed and knowledgeable sources. But, those definitely in the know will neither confirm nor deny this...

Two years ago, before the hilhula of the tzaddik and mekubal (kabbalist) HaRav Yitzchok Kaduri, zt"l, he announced that he had met with Moshiach. Literally met.

Right around Shavuos this year, an invitation was sent to leading rabbonim of all the different streams of Judaism. (The invitation was delivered at the request of one of the holy autistics.) The invitation was to come to a meeting with Moshiach, at the holy resting place of the Baal Shem Tov in the Ukraine.

The invitation was sent to approximately 150 rabbonim, tzaddikim, rebbe's, and mekubalim. Some considered it a joke, or didn't take it seriously, or couldn't believe that it could be true. Less than half came, mostly chassidic rabbaim, rebbe's, and sephardi mekubalim.

At the kever of the Baal Shem Tov, they met with Moshiach. They were told to prepare for the Geulah, and specific failings in their communities to rectify. Moshiach gave each attendee a blessing, and nisim (miracles) were literally seen _on the spot_.

Moshiach indicated he was going to the simple souls who needed to be gathered up in the time remaining. He was not going to the mainstream religious communities, as they were not open to him. He would not be heard from again until this Tishrei (Jewish month around late September this year.)

The rumor comes with a message to prepare. Increase our Torah and mitzvot, FOCUS on ahavat yisroel, love for our fellow, and on emunah (faith) in Hashem.

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Sefer Shel Golus - The Book of the Exile

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Some day, will we write in the sefer of the golus that in the year of the geulah, the nasi of England came to Jerusalem on the fast and mourning day of the 17th of Tammuz, on which we fast in memory of the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem by the Assyrians, and again by the Romans (both on the same day), that the nasi came to demand in modern Israel that the Jews STOP inhabiting the Land, that the Jews STOP building homes in Jerusalem, that they commit collective suicide and march themselves into the sea (ok, he didn't say that last one outright).

Some day, will we write in chapter 2 of the sefer of the golus that in the year of the geulah, during the 3 weeks of mourning for the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, the nasi-to-be of the United States came to Israel, stood hand in hand with the murderers of Jewish men, women, and children, and announced clearly that when he said he believed in a united Jerusalem he was just kidding, that he prefers to see Jerusalem divided, with walls, guard posts, and snipers, and Jews expelled from the land of their fathers.

Will we write that these incredible warnings came literally during the 3 weeks, yet most ignored it. Will we write of how Jerusalem became a cup of poison in their hands, as the words of the navi (biblical prophet) were fulfilled? Will we write of how we were awed as we watched curses fall upon their lands, as those who curse you are cursed? Will write of emunah (faith) in Hashem as we watched the words of the navi play out before our eyes?

Perhaps, indeed, we will. Perhaps, G-d willing, soon.

The photo is of British Prime Minister Gordan Brown with "Palestinian" leader, terror planner, and holocaust denier Machmud Abbas, taken today in Ramallah. As my daughter made her way to Jerusalem for this fast day, her way was blocked by security for the British Prime Minister as he arrived to declare Israel must destroy themselves. And the government said, thank you sir, may I have another.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

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PayPal in Shekels?

-- A Mystical Paths Public Service Announcement --

Apparently, Paypal is now available in shekels and can be tied to Israeli accounts. For those who move money and transact internationally, this could be really convenient.

Paypal in Shekels - here.

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A Day of Pain, A Day of Hope

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Kav HaYashar (29) quotes the Zohar on background of Parshas Pinchas from this past week...

...When the Israelites stumbled and 24,000 Israelite men fell, (the evil prophet) Bilaam came to collect his reward from Balak (king of Moav).

Later on, when Israel waged war against Midyan, Pinchas saw Bilaam flying through the air and he shouted to his soldiers, "Is there anyone who knows how to fly after that wicked one?"...

One man by the name of Tzalyah from shevet Dan responded... He knew how to subjugate the forces of impurity and to fly after him... He succeeded in overpowering the wicked Bilaam and constrained him, forcing him to come before Pinchas.

How...? Tzalyah knew how to constrain (both) aspects of the impure forces...which are caled "shefi". Bilaam...knew how to overpower (only one). Regarding Bilaam it is written, "And he went [through the power of] shefi" (Bamidbar 23:3) Whereas, regarding shevet Dan it is written, "And Dan was a snake along the road, shefifon (plural shefi) along the path" (Bereshis 49:17)

Similarly, in the future the vengeance against Hashem's enemies will also be executed by Serayah of the tribe of Dan. Thus, when Dan arises one should be on the lookout for Israel's redemption...

The holy burial place of Dan, son of Yaakov (Jacob) avinu (our forefather) is at the base of the Judean hills as one starts towards Jerusalem. In current terms, it's up the road from the Shimson junction, off the Beit Shemesh highway exit. Interestingly, the holy resting place of Shimshon HaGibor, Samson the Strong, is at the top of the mountain on which Dan's resting place is. Shimson HaGibor was from the tribe of Dan.

This resting place was an occasionally visited holy site, pretty run down, the building being 300 years old or more, just barely shored up 20 years ago to keep from having the walls literally fall off. 15 years ago or so, some tin shack extensions were added to make a little more functional space.

Approximately 2 months ago, a Breslev yeshiva in Jerusalem decided to refurbish the holy site, both physically and spiritually. Physically, construction is in progress for a kollel dormitory, a kitchen, and a mikveh. Spiritually, a group of 16 young men, along with 4 rabbinical teachers, have taken up residence full time.

Dan is rising.


* Today is the fast day of the 17th of Tammuz. On this day (text via ou.org):

- Moses descended Mount Sinai and upon seeing the Golden Calf broke the first set of Tablets carrying the Ten Commandments (Shemot 32:19, Mishna Taanit 28b).

- During the First Beis HaMikdash, Holy Temple: The priests stopped offering the daily sacrifice on this day (Taanit 28b) due to the shortage of sheep during the siege and the next year 3184 (586 BCE), the walls of Jerusalem were breached after many months of siege by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces.

- In Melachim II 21:7 we find that King Menashe, one of the worst of the Jewish kings, had an idol placed in the Holy Sanctuary of the Temple, according to tradition on this date.

- The Talmud, in Masechet Taanit 28b, says that in the time of the Roman persecution, Apostomos, captain of the occupation forces, did the same, and publicly burned the Torah - both acts considered open blasphemy and desecration.

- Titus and Rome breached the walls of Jerusalem in 3760 (70 CE) during the 2nd Beis HaMikdash on this day.

- Pope Gregory IX ordered the confiscation of all manuscripts of the Talmud in 4999 (1239) on this day.

- In 1391, more than 4,000 Jews were killed in Toledo and Jaen, Spain on this day.

- In 4319 (1559) the Jewish Quarter of Prague was burned and looted on this day.

- The Kovno ghetto of Lithuania was liquidated on this day in 5704 (1944) during World War II. My father-in-law, a"h was taken during this liquidation with all the other residents from the ghetto to Dachau.

- In 5730 (1970) Libya ordered the confiscation of all Jewish property on this day.

May Hashem bless us that this day this year herald the coming of Moshiach, and turn from a fast to an eternal celebration!!!

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

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It's All From Hashem

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Jewish emunah, and I hesitate to translate that as faith as that word is associated with Western and Xian concepts nowadays, emunah - faith, is not believing in "a god". It's not believing in "a power" greater than oneself. Jewish emunah is believing that there is only one power, there is only G-d, and everything is of Him, from Him, and by Him.

You have to know it, to know really, it is all from Him! The good... the (seemingly) bad, only when we don't have Daat, understanding. Everything in this world works to distract us, we see, we feel, we taste, we touch, a flood of senses to overwhelm us with the world, and distract us from...

Him!!! YUD KEY VAV KEY!!!!

Hashem creator of the universe, His actions, it appears to us as natural! But really, every heart beat, every brain wave, billions upon billions of minute operations of the body, of the world around us, stop and think about it. All the creatures and all this!
"Deep breath just thinking about it". The amazing orchestration of the whole world, the whole universe. We don't have enough computers in existence to track even a city, yet the whole universe dances together. But they are trying build the Tower again! We are very close to them totally causing the hiding of His face!

Hashem Yerachem, may Hashem have mercy on us. We have to strive to hear what Hashem is trying to tell us. The Haftara (melekim 2, 2nd kings) of this past week describes Eliyahu HaNavi encountering Hashem's divine presence. Not the wind, not the thunder, not the fire, the soft still voice. I want to hear the small soft voice like a dove in the morning. Because I'm tired having to listen the hard way! (Through hard life lessons.)

We are very close. All is only shadows of what is real. It's darkest right before dawn. Now I know, it only seems dark. And, as it gets closer, it is about to get very dark! In the first redemption from Egypt we find in Shemos (Exodus) it became very dark as judgment was passed on His children. Judgment starts in the house of the L-rd, His attribute of justice requires that He clean house before lookng at the nations, but the cup of trembling is soon passed to the world (Yirmiyahu).

For 2500+ years we have been trembling, our turn is almost over. We must return to Hashem, wake up from the soaps and the movies and the news. We need to turn to Hashem in prayer, and lead by example! The Righteous of the nations need to join in as well, to become Noahide, comply with the 7 mitzvot of the bnei Noach, the seven commandments to the nations - the sons of Noah. We as a nation of priests and all the nations in unison have to bring ourselves up to the level of saying thank You for everything we have!

We are only guests in this world! We come here with nothing and He in His mercy gives us a mother and a father, brothers and sisters, ones to care for us and raise us. Everything is a free gift from Hashem! There are two types of guests, good ones and bad ones. If we don't say thank you for everything, we're being bad guests! And even more so if we complain and ask for more this and that. Are we spoiled, rotten, selfish, ungrateful guests?

Or will we say Thank You Hashem?

Shevua Tov, a good week, from the Holy City of Jerusalem, Thank You Hashem for granting me the opportunity to live here.

Reb Nati

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Friday, July 18, 2008

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You Self Righteous Bigot!

by AKIVA at Mystical Paths

Yesterday and today, a self righteous bigot one who calls and believes himself to be a religious Jew but apparently doesn't understand what that means, has left repeat comments on posts of Rabbi Nati highlighting a negative of Rabbi Nati's past, which I have deleted. One for which he has done teshuva, suffered for, and reviewed with his rabbi's and mentors over many many years.

This self righteous individual, who only has the nerve to post his comment as "anonymous", believes that the halachot of teshuva, where one is ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN to hold up the sins of the past in front of the person who has done teshuva, don't apply to him. This individual either believes he is so perfect that teshuva is not necessary, or only he has the right to stand up having overcome the past.

He would intentionally embarrass another (lashon hara), damage that person's success (jealousy), and harm the repentant. Some day this person will face the Beis Din shel Shamayim (the heavenly court) and will wish to be forgiven for these horrible sins. But the response of the court will be, mida k'neged mida, just as you refuse to forgive so you will be refused forgiveness. (And even worse, as neither you nor any other person was every harmed by the history you wish to share, you do it merely for what, spite?)

Rabbi Nati would happily share with you his past, simply as a lesson that one can indeed dig out of the hole, though as blog editor I don't let him. But, while this self righteous person bigot who may look like a religious Jew but only acts with an evil heart will dig up and vomit ugly history such as many of us have and have overcome, let me state briefly what Rabbi Nati has achieved...

Rabbi Nati studied for 2 years and became a certified kosher slaughterer, a shochet. He has official certification via an orthodox Jewish shochet teacher. He studied for an additional 2 years and became a certified kosher scribe, a sofer. He then studied for an additional 5 years and was granted orthodox Jewish ordination by the orthodox rabbinate of Jerusalem. Along the way he studied chassidus Chabad in Crown Heights, NY and Monsey, NY, and was involved in preparing an onsite care facility for the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 770. In Monsey, he developed a relationship with the Viznitzer Rebbe, and the tallis he wears to this day was personally given to him by the Vitznitzer.

He made aliyah due to intense love and longing for Eretz Yisroel - Eretz HaKodesh, and a desire to be a part of settling and building the land. He's spent almost all his time in Israel living in the Shomron (West Bank), and made a point of being a part of the security team in every town he's lived. On several occasions he's been involved in defense incidents, literally putting his life on the line in defense of his neighbors.

He's spent years learning Kabbalah with a senior rav and kabbalah teacher. Some years ago, he began learning Breslev chassidus and became close to several Breslev tzaddikim. In the last several years, he's been fortunate to become very close to a particular Breslev tzaddik and has become a very dedicated Breslever chossid.

He's the only person I know who can explain Tanya in kabbalah terms and Likkutei Mohoran according to Chabad chassidus! He can discuss Eitz Chaim, Rebbe Nachman, and worlds events according to the navi in the same sentence.

I personally am ENVIOUS of what my friend has accomplished!!!

Now, Mr. Super Religious Anonymous would like to pop up and tell you that Rabbi Nati did some non-kosher things in his past. Yes indeed sir, he did. But the essence of teshuva is admitting that you've done the wrong thing, asking forgiveness for having done it, and never doing it again in the future. And one who does so stands at a place that not even tzaddikim can reach.

Rabbi Nati has dedicated the last 15 years of his life to Torah and Mitzvot, to HaKodesh Baruch Hu and Eretz Yisroel. He is indeed a Baal Teshuva in every sense of the word. Does he still, G-d forbid, occasionally do averot and does he still have midos to improve. Definitely. But, unlike many - such as Mr. Anonymous - he's actively working on it every day. Frankly, I wish I was.

Mr. Anonymous, go crawl back in your hole, for you only have darkness to share.

Oh, just for reference relative to what you're trying to say about Rabbi Nati:

Frequent poster here Reb Gutman Locks was a fully committed Hindu Guru, at the highest levels of avodah zara right up to literally receiving koach hatuma (and I'm only mentioning this because he wrote a book about it, Coming Back to Earth.) It took him 5 years to purge the tuma from himself, but he did it. Today you'll find him at the Kotel tefillin stand every day, giving his days to bring a mitzvah to others.

Famous blogger and inspirational rabbi, Rabbi Lazer Brody (Lazer Beams blog), is a baal teshuva who was an Israeli army commando. His life before teshuva was filled with things nobody would be proud of. His life today is doubly valuable for what he left.

Breslev Tzaddik and famous Jewish emunah teacher and author, HaRav Shalom Arush, shlita, is also a baal teshuva (author of the Garden of Emunah)! This acknowledged tzaddik turned around his life involving things which few would believe. Today, he reaches people others wouldn't touch because he can do more than relate to it, he was there.

Those of us who started searching in the United States frequently went down different paths other than Judaism. Hey, our families knew so little about it we certainly weren't going to respect what they had been spitting on for a generation or more. The fact that we came back and turned our back on those other empty paths says it all.

Rabbi Nati can relate to being in the mud, because he was in it up to his ears. Now, Baruch Hashem, he's reached the point where he can share some of the lessons he's learned in digging his way out and hanging on. I don't envy him having to have had those struggles, but I envy his effort and his success.

You, Mr. Anonymous, probably don't understand what that means, to struggle for every bit of your Torah, to struggle to overcome a lifetime of bad habits and attitudes, and to struggle to live, feed a family, and try to make it in another country just because you believe the Torah that says you should. Since you don't believe one can improve themselves, you are condemning your improvements to not be accepted.

Personally, I envy my friend Rabbi Nati. While I never want to face his struggles, I hope and pray that my efforts in my own life someday measure up enough that I can stand in the same room as he, even if far in the back.

Mr. Anonymous, spew your lashon hara elsewhere, you're not welcome here. Here, we strive to be better, and believe that someday, G-d willing, we might just make it.

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Out of the Mouths of Bombers

an important article over at the Jerusalem Post.

...many al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade guys walk around with high-powered assault rifles that were provided by the US, and they told me that they used American funding, arms and training to shoot at the Israelis. They said that if it hadn't been for those things, they don't think the second intifada in 2000 would have been as successful as it was. They credit the American training for a lot of dead Jews.

?? These were weapons and training the Americans provided for Fatah to fight Hamas?

That was the logic - pitting one bad guy against the other. We saw how well that worked. America gave hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, training and weapons to Fatah. Then Hamas took over Gaza - and terrorists are now showing off to me that they're using American jeeps, American assault rifles and even some shoulder-mounted machine guns to hit Israeli targets. Hamas gave me a list of all the American weapons in their possession, and I wrote an article about this. They translated my article into Arabic and posted it on Hamas's official Web site.


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Thursday, July 17, 2008

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The King of Persia

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

I had previously posted from Sefer Midrash Eliyahu about the King of Persia coming to Rome 3 times, along with 3 visit dates of Persian (Iranian) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the United Nations in New York, 3 years in a row. The Midrash follows by saying that he will revolt 12 months later. Iranian news announced today that the president will be returning to the UN again, for this year's General Assembly...

Sefer Midrash Eliyahu - The last king in Persia will go to Rome three years, one after the other, until he revolts against it 12 months, and three heroes of war are going against him from the sea, and they will be handed over to him. A very low king, son of a servant, Gigit, will go against him from the sea, and these will be his signs that Daniel [the biblical prophet] saw in him: his face long, between his eyes height(?) (eyebrows?), and he is very tall, and his feet are tall, and his legs are thin.

News Report: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on (Iranian) state television that he would again go to New York to attend this year’s United Nations General Assembly session. It will be Ahmadinejad’s third trip to New York since his presidency in August 2005. This year's meeting will be held on July 18 at the UN Headquarters in New York City.

Now this news quote is strange, for in doing some digging I find 3 existing dates when he visited the UN, this new one being his fourth. Either the first date was before he assumed his new office, or the news reports have it wrong...

- Ahmadinejad visited New York, the UN, on September 17, 2005.
- Ahmadinejad visited New York, the UN, on September 20, 2006.
- Ahmadinejad visited New York, the UN, on September 26, 2007.

So, it appears on this Friday the Nasi of Persia will attend Rome once more. Is this the 3rd visit as the news reports state, or the 4th visit after which will follow his "revolt" (by September, Rosh Hashana time)?

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Hard Questions, Simple Answers - Part 3

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

The Geula is a process. 'It's an awakening'. It is a step by step thing. We are all placed here to put forth effort, to help bring it. And Hashem forbid not to hold it up!

We all have a private 'geula pratit', an individual redemption. As more and more people experience this it will eventually lead to a very public 'geula klalit', total national redemption. By changing our base nature nefesh b'hemis to a G-dly one nefesh elokees, this is called a 'iruta d'tatah' a stimulation from below, our awakening, we rearrange the spiritual matrix. By doing so we bring the balance to kedusha, the side of Holiness. Thus allowing for more shefa - spiritual energy to be released, allowing for more people to wake up so on and so forth, and it grows exponentially until we reach critical mass, then boom, redemption!

The Midrash tells us that 80% - 4/5ths of the Jews did not leave Mitzrayim (Egypt), they died there. WHY? The reason we are told is that they did not believe in Moshe, the Tzaddik HaDor. Having Emunah in the Chochamim is integral part of our lives, and without it we are blind and deaf. They are in effect our example of Hashem in this world as well as our spiritual eyes and ears, as they are much more in tune with the world of truth than we are. We must trust in them if we are to be worthy of redemption! In this we have no choice!

What was it that the Jews of the first exile were in doubt about? Was it that they didn't believe in Hashem (chas v'shalom)? Or was it that they didn't trust that Hashem had sent a redeemer? We are told it was not because they didn't believe that Moshe could take them out of Mitzrayim. It was that they didn't believe that Moshe could take Mitzrayim out of them! Oh, here is the problem, they were at the 49th gate of Tumah 'spiritual impurity'. They had entered until the gate of the last level and were about to pass the point of no return! But there was an awakening! We are told that Moshe was sent after they had 'sighed' over their situation, and had woken up to the fact that they were in deep trouble. 'They 'cried out', 'Chatzot halilah' 'at midnight' over the distance they had fallen away from Hashem.

And now WE are on the verge of despair over the 'avodah', the work it will take to return to Hashem. But what they did not know was (and this is the EMUNAH PART)!!!', WAS?

We are taught Hashem heard them, 'Ah their waking up', in response to their 'sigh'. We are told that Hashem looked down 'Wow! Check it out, they understand and regret', in response to their 'crying out at chatzot! We are told that Hashem remembered! "MY CHILDREN, I MUST HELP THEM...NOW!" Before it is to late.

Despair is a level that is hard to repair. As long as we do not despair, it is easier to fix the problem. 'Where there is hope the is away, out! That's why Rebbe Nachman tells us there is no such thing as despair in the world at all! "AIN SHUM YeUSH B'OLAM KLAL! At this time it is very important to try and wake up as many people to the idea of geulah as possible. This in turn will cause an awakening. Then we have to instruct them on how to return to Hashem, it is not enough to just tell them, they have to be led!

This is everyone's duty. Here, I am 'walking point'. But I'm following my commander, my rav, who's following his. And our general is Rebbe Nachman. I'm just a link in the chain and am just trying to relate to you the next step on the way. As I'm only just a few steps ahead of someone else, perhaps you also are a few steps ahead of the next fellow. If this helps you, by all means share it those whom you come in contact with, and walk point for the next fellow.

Shalom and Blessings from the Holy City, Jerusalem.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

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Being Sued by Hamas

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

I continued to be surprised that democracies allow enemies and genocidal murderers full function within their societies. I shouldn't be, as when I read history from before World War II, I find the US had plenty of active German groups and Hitler Support Clubs (yes, really). But still, in the politically correct atmosphere that pervades so much of Western society today I'm still shocked by a situation where if I discussed US Secretary of State Condelizza Rice's inane policies as a factor of the pigmentation in her skin, I'd be villified, but discussing Senator Lieberman's positions as a function of his disgusting Jewishness is perfectly acceptable.

There's a British blog that has no hesitation in pointing such things out. Recently, they translated statements by a British Muslim, The President of the British Muslim Initiative (an organization that proudly funds and supports Hamas) on Al Jezzera which included the statement "We, the Arab and Islamic community, gather here today to express our resentment at the celebrations by the Jewish community and the evil Jew/Jewish evil [translated from Arabic] in Britain".

For translating and publishing this statement from Arabic to English, this British blog, Harry's Place, is being SUED by Hamas UK for libel.

This situation is so ridiculous it begs belief. However, until Western Democracies recognize this evil for what it is, we have to stand up and say something about it.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

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Hard Questions, Simple Answers - Part 2

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Rebbe Nachman taught (Likutey Moharan II, 48) - 'When a person makes a start and tries to bring himself closer to Hashem, he usually experiences a feeling of rejection. It is as if forces beyond his control deliberately want to prevent him from entering Hashem's service. But in fact, this apparent rejection is nothing more than a way of bring him closer.'

As I joined the Marines many years ago, I was shipped off to boot camp (to Paris Island, basically hell). Recruits are sent to be trained, and part of this is a rejection process. A 120 young men come in, 60 Marines come out. It's simple, they weed out all those who aren't the right for the job.

To overcome this it takes quite a bit of stubbornness, desire, and discipline. It take sthe same stubbornness to come close to Hashem. You may say, 'but I don't want to be a Marine'. Well private, who asked you! In this, we do not have a choice. We are all Spiritual Marines. We've been drafted, no choice, better suck it up and make the grade or you'll get sent to the "motivational rehab platoon". This world is boot camp and we have no choice but to make it through.

Hashem loves us and gives us what we need to make it. We just have to start see, to have Daat. For this we have prayer, it's our special gift. It's like calling in "close air support", it's an airstrike that hits the target right in front of you! The key to making it through is 'TO IGNORE ALL THE EFFORTS TO DISCOURAGE YOU!'

My friends, the basic rule is to be firm and strong. Use all your strength to remain persistent. Pay no attention at all to discouraging thoughts. Take it one day at a time, and just make it through _this_ day. You can make through one day, right? I mean, there is food today and maybe enough money for today, you can have peace in your house for a day or handle that difficult job just for a day.

If you were to see the impact of the small effort you make here in this world, the light years in distance of that impact in the worlds above, it would make you very happy. And perhaps, by thinking about this, you can be happy. You should make a great effort to always be happy, because depression does tremendous damage. It is a very grave sin to be depressed. Depression comes from the other side and Hashem hates it. IT IS A SIGN OF TOTAL DISBELIEF IN HASHEM!

You will fall many times before you enter the gates of holiness. Even the greatest of Tzaddikim have experienced this. When a person is close to the gates, the forces of evil try to prevent him from entering. This opposition pushes some people into retreat, but not a Marine, we do not retreat - we fight on. When the negative forces see a person right next to the gates, the attacks are more powerful than ever.

This is why you need to be strong. Just say 'I'm a Marine for Hashem.' There is no such thing as quiting or giving up, I can make it! Just strengthen yourself every way you can, don't worry about the "big" picture, just make it through this day. This is a key to survival.

Eventually you will succeed and enter the gates with Hashem's help. All your efforts are added together. They will all come to help you when you really need it in times of pressure or trouble, Hashem forbid. Emunah.

Rebbe Nachman told his followers to "turn the lessons into prayers" (L.M.II, 25) This prescription acknowledged the integral relationship between prayer and study in the spiritual life of a Jew. Reb Nosson was the Rebbe's closest follower and scribe, he wrote a beautiful set of prayers which correspond to the lessons in Likutey Morharan which are called Likutey Tefilot. Only the first 40 are translated into English, but they are a real source of encouragement.

L.T. II,12 second paragraph - There is no despair. Master of the Universe, you have assured us time and again that there is no giving up, EVER. There is no despair. If so, then I still have the courage to spend out my hands to you and hope for your love and graciousness. You are a G-d of amazing wonders. Perhaps... perhaps you will show me new wonders and find new ways, ways never seen or known or created before, to bring me back to you with all my heart, truly and sincerely. Grant me success in my search to find You. Let me find You soon, so that I can bring myself genuinely close to You. Help me... because I'm relying on you. Master of the world, the pain of my heart is worse than ever. take me out of my distress. The pain is just to much... if I tried to describe it, no one would believe me. O L-rd my G-d, master of the world, my eyes turn to You, longing and hoping, because you know the truth. You know how utterly pitiful I am. Look on my affliction, because of the pain and torment of my heart are just too much to bear. See my misery. All my insides are in turmoil; my heart is confused. Bitter! Bitter! Help me succeed! Help me to search for Your glory... to search in sincerity and truth until I really find You... WHERE ARE YOU? Where are is my holiness, my purity? Where is my soul, my nefesh? My ruach? My neshamah? Where is the L-rd G-d of my fathers Who brought us out of Mitzrayim, the filthiest place on earth? ... By searching like this we can turn even the biggest downfall into a mighty rise... if only You will help us in Your lovingkindness to carry out all the details of this teaching in accordance with your will and the will of the Tzaddikim, who revealed it after it was concealed for so long. This way we will be able to find You at all times and transform all our failing into great successes. By following this teaching, I will be able to get up and pull myself out of the 'filthy places that I sunk to because of all my sins. I will be able to rise way above and return to You genuinely and sincerely with all my heart, which is what You want for me! I will be able to bring myself close to Your great Glory.' - A prayer of Rav Noson of Breslev

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A Time of Favor

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

A time of favor is a time when G-d bends down low and cups His hands over the back of His ears so He can hear our prayers even clearer. Of course, this is a metaphor, but, still, it helps us to understand what our role should be at such times.

It is well known that the time of the chuppah (the marriage canopy) is a time of favor. For this reason many brides and grooms are accustomed to bringing a list of their friends under the chuppah with them. They stand there and fervently pray not only for their own marriage to be a success, but for their loved ones too.

Praying for others not only helps the people who are prayed for, it also helps the ones who pray. Prayer is a tremendous kindness. It shows that you are truly concerned with others’ well being. And G-d never lets a kindness go unpaid. He is quick to reward those who take on the concerns of others.

There is another time of favor just as great as the chuppah, but so few women take complete advantage of it. This is the moment when you light your Shabbos candles. Because of this, not only should married women light candles at this time, but single girls should also light a candle to welcome the Shabbos. And if you will do the following when you light you will certainly change at least two lives:

After you make the blessing, while your hands still cover your eyes, and after you pray for your loved ones, say, “Hashem please give my chatan (groom) a nice Shabbos, and bring him to me as soon as we are ready.” After all, even though you do not yet know who he is, he is somewhere in the world, and he is yours.

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