by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
This is sad, but it means in "the most densely populated area in the world" where the bad guys place their bases, ammunition, and firing positions inside civilian buildings (that's an international war crime by the way), the Israeli Air Force has successfully killed Hamas combantants 75% right on target. That's got to be the most accurate bombing in world history! Seriously impressive.
Important housing hint for Gazans...when your neighbors are masked men loading missile launchers in their windows, it may be a good idea to move to a new apartment.
That's right folks, the Foreign Press insists it has the right to report what it wants, where it wants, and the State of Israel is REQUIRED, here that REQUIRED, to let it do so. They must be allowed to land in Israel, go where they want (even directly into fighting or standing in front of a military op), and cross any border they want. And, the Israeli High Court AGREES!!!!
The honorable Dorit Beinish, Elyakim Rubinstein and Hanan Melcer, presiding over the hearing, asked the State to allow some reporters into Gaza in order to set up a "database" there for other reporters.
Excuse me, I feel ill.
It's being passed around Israel by SMS that the IDF is moving ground forces on attack in Gaza right now.
Tehillim (Psalms) 121 and 142 are requested to be said for the soldiers safety and success in their mission to protect the innocent civilians of Israel from constant bombardment by the international war criminal terrorists of Gaza.
NO INDEPENDENT CONFIRMATION AT THIS TIME.
Think living with Hamas is possible and those rockets being fired are just firecrackers that "just do a little bit of damage?" ...
Upon hearing the Color Red alert on an air raid siren, individuals must attempt to get to secure rooms or fortified structures within the following timeframes:
* In communities adjacent to the Israel-Gaza border, residents are instructed to remain in fortified rooms. Mass gatherings are forbidden. These instructions are also relevant to Sderot.
* In communities within 10km of Gaza, residents are instructed to stay within a 15 second distance of a fortified structure or secured room. Mass gatherings are forbidden.
* In communities within 10 to 20km of Gaza, including Ashkelon and Netivot, residents are instructed to be able to reach fortified structures within 30 seconds. Gatherings of up to 100 people are permitted, but only under structures sporting a solid roof.
* In communities within 20 to 30km of Gaza, including Ashdod, Ofakim, Kiryat Malachi, Kiryat Gat, Rahat and the surrounding towns, residents are instructed to be able to reach fortified structures within 45 seconds. Gatherings of up to 500 people are permitted, again only under structures sporting a solid roof.
* Residents of communities of more than 30km from Gaza, including Beersheba, Gadera, Yavne and surrounding towns, have up to one minute to reach fortified structures. In the event of rocket fire on these towns, an air raid siren will sound for 90 seconds.
* According to Home Front Command protocol, it would be safe to leave secured areas within five minutes of the siren, or once an explosion sound has subsided.
Welcome to life with peace partners. Let us learn the lessons from Parshat Ha'azinu by reading, not by life lessons.
To Shluchim of the Rebbe and members of Anash (Chabad Communities):
Community leaders from various communities have issued a call to unite Jews wherever they are in the recitation of Tehillim on the day which marks the Shloshim (30th day after their funeral) of the Kedoshim (holy ones) of the Mumbai massacre.
We the undersigned wish to join with them in this call and we urge all Chabad communities to unite in the recitation Tehillim on Wednesday afternoon, 4th of Teves, Dec. 31st, in the early afternoon (1:00 pm or shortly thereafter). We suggest that the following chapters be recited: Psalm 20, 28, 30, 107, and the letters נשמה in Psalm 119, followed by 130.
Central Committee of Chabad Rabbis in the U.S. and Canada
Committee of Chabad Rabbis in the Holy Land
Bais Din of Crown Heights
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
(Ok, it's not really going to be a Haiku, I'm not quite that poetic.)
We pray for the soldiers who risk their lives to protect ours.
We listen in disbelief as the enemy insists on the right to attack and kill with impunity, on prime time media.
We calm our children who look at the map and see the missile reach coming closer, while starting to clear out our in-home bomb shelter.
We startle as jets surprise us flying low and fast on their way to the enemy.
We gag as "world leaders" demand Israel not defend her citizens, insisting on a cease fire that never ceases from the enemy.
We wonder why ambulances and trucks with supplies sit ON THE EGYPTIAN-GAZA border and HAMAS WON'T LET THEM IN, and the media ignores this.
We shake our heads sadly at the pictures from Gaza, with children carefully pre-arranged around the injured to increase the photo impact.
We consider, are nevuos (prophecies) and predictions coming true, and hesitate to speak of what may be next.
We go to synagogue, to work, and to school, and a war is going on just a short drive away.
We trust in the One Above that all is for the best.
The best Israel-Gaza war liveblogging is going on at:
IsraellyCool and The Muqata.
May Hashem bless and keep all the IDF soldiers, all those in the front line communities under rocket fire, and all Klal Yisroel (all the Jewish people) safe and well.
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
A reader asked by email: What in the world happened in Kiryat Sefer?
News report: Two Arab workers stabbed some Jews in Kiryat Sefer.
Explanation: Many of the manual labor jobs, especially construction jobs, are done by Arab workers - most of them from the Shomron (West Bank) working in Israel on a daylight hours working permit.
Whenever Israel takes actions defending itself, a few workers go around stabbing Jews.
Growing communities such as Kiryat Sefer and Ramat Beit Shemesh have a much higher percentage of such workers than other areas due to the quantity of housing construction, making them particularly vulnerable at such a time.
These workers are here so Israel can "alleviate the economic suffering of the poor Palestinians". The areas where they work have increased crime rates, as well as occasional attacks on women or girls. However, the desire for low cost reasonably skilled labor in construction combined with the political desire to financially support the West Bank Arabs creates a scenario with significant numbers of such workers found in various growing communities.
Similarly, Arab residents of Jerusalem and some Israeli Arab towns get riled up and nationalistic as well at such times, resulting in some assaults and occasionally some major traffic routes being attacked (for example there's an Arab village between Cesaria and Haifa on the main highway #1 that has come out and thrown cinder blocks at cars passing at 60mph in the past).
The police are out in force doing their best from keeping such situations under control. However, the casual traveler is advised to be cautious when at seam line locations while the Gaza battle continues. At this time one should take appropriate security precautions when traveling to isolated holy sites (Maarat HaMachpela, Kever Rochel, Kevel Shmuel for example), certain parts of Jerusalem (the Arab Quarter, Har HaZeitim, French Hill) and the Shomron (West Bank) such as making sure one is knowledgeable of the area or is with someone who is, is aware of the current security situation, and/or is traveling on safe transportation (such as a bullet proof bus).
The situation is NOT "bad", but a little extra caution is advised. Security forces are out in force to maintain and control these situations - and (b'ezrat Hashem) will be fully successful. Just be a little street smart at this time.
by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
Last week’s posting showed us to look for the good. But when there is such a horrible tragedy as what happened in Mumbai, what good is there to look for? So many people murdered! The young Chabad rabbi and his wife were tortured and then murdered. Their two-year-old son, Moshe, has been robbed of his loving parents and is being raised by his Israeli grandparents instead. What a cruel thing to rip this young boy’s parents from him.
When we saw the video of Moshe lighting the Chanukah candles clinging to his Indian nanny we all cried. How can we find any comfort here?
Here is how. Thank G-d for Moshe’s miraculous escape. Thank G-d for saving him alive. If those murdering Muslims had had their way we would not have Moshe with us. But Moshe will grow up in the Holy Land, and he will become a brilliant, spiritual light who will overcome darkness wherever he goes. He will be driven to replace the evil that he has experienced with the goodness that his parents would have wanted him to bring to the world. His life will be a great, personal example of light overcoming darkness.
Hashem, please watch over our little friend Moshe, comfort him and guide him all the days of his life.
Also, take a look at that amazing, non-Jewish nanny who ran under fire to grab little Moshe and pull him to safety. She risked her very life to save this little boy. She has even left her own family in India and has temporarily relocated to Israel just so little Moshe will have a familiar, loving person to hold on to. G-d bless this gorgeous, Indian woman - a genuine, righteous gentle.
Surely our losses smother the good that we can possibly see. But we have to look at the good or we will not be able to go on. And this is what the terrorists want.
Today is the shloshim - the 30th day - following the horrific murder of Rabbi Gavriel and Rebbitzen Rivka Holtzberg, may Hashem avenge their blood.
May the deeds of these kedoshim (holy ones) who were killed for reaching out to their fellow Jew, for spreading light and Torah, stand in the merit of all klal Yisroel.
I enjoy Mishpacha magazine, the "Jewish Family Weekly" for the orthodox Jewish community (published out of Israel). Actually, my whole family does. Therefore, the following was somewhat of a major surprise, discovered by my older daughter who had seen the REAL picture published on Chabad.Info. It seems Mishpacha is now joining the famous likes of Reuter's stringers during the Hizbollah war and the Iranian press agency by photoshopping (digitally alterting) news photos...
Dear Mishpacha: (sent via email Motzie Shabbat)
On page 8 and again on page 36 of the 27th of Kislev Chanukah issue, you show a picture of the Chabad shluchim of Washington in the Whitehouse kitchen. However, the photo has been photoshopped (digitally altered) to remove First Lady Laura Bush from the picture. The point of the picture was not some rabbis in the Whitehouse kitchen, but that the wife of the President of the United States specifically ordered that the kitchen be made kosher, and was there to make sure it happened right!
I will not debate Mishpacha's adherence to the extreme chumradic community standard not allowing even a modest photo of a female to grace your pages, though I believe most of your English speaking readers may be surprised to discover this. However, to modify a news photograph removing a person and then provide a caption for the people there is to present a deception, a lie. This photo did not occur, it was an artistic creation of Mishpacha. It is an untrue report of an event.
If Mishpacha is going to hold to an extreme community _chumra_, I would expect them to adhere to an outright statement of the Torah: Stay far from lies. If Mishpacha finds it necessary to present an altered photo, they should note the fact clearly and boldly. In this case the caption should read: "Rabbi's in Whitehouse kitchen with First Lady Mrs. Laura Bush, dressed tzniusly but digitally removed to comply with extreme chumra standards of some of our religious readers avoiding any published image of a female."
Real News Caption: Mrs. Laura Bush poses Monday, Dec. 15, 2008, in the White House kitchen with the rabbis who supervised the kitchen's koshering for the annual Chanukkah party. From left are Rabbi Mendel Minkowitz, Rabbi Binyomin Steinmetz and Rabbi Levi Shemtov.
Mishpacha's Caption: In the White House kitchen, with the rabbis who supervised the koshering for the annual Chanukah party. From left - Rabbi Mendel Minkowitz, Rabbi Binyomin Steinmetz and Rabbi Levi Shemtov. Photo: Joyce N. Boghosian
The Mishpacha caption doesn't even make sense in English after having removed WHO is IN the kitchen.
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
As I stepped out of shul late this morning for a bit of air, I heard an extended series of rolling BOOMs. Not being familiar with the sound of WAR, I paused and wondered what was it? Kind of like an earthquake, but no ground motion. Sort of like a sonic boom, but it just kept going.
I exited Shabbos to find the Israeli southern border battle escalated. What southern border battle you ask? For those who don't follow the news closely, southern Israeli towns, villages, and cities have been under ROCKET and MISSILE attack for the past 7 YEARS. In the past year southern Israel has been hit with 3,000 (!!!!) rockets or missiles. IN THE PAST WEEK, 200 (!!!!!!!).
The world once again hears the cry of DISPROPORTIONATE RESPONSE (whatever the heck that means). Dear World, you are absolutely correct! Israel has been hit 3,000 times in the past year and has hit back 100 times. Indeed, Israel has NOT been defending itself proportionately!
Perhaps that has begun to change.
Don't forget, dear World (though you will), Hamas chose NOT to renew the (not) truce. (Not truce? 3,000 attacks is NOT a truce even if the Israeli politicians were willing to pretend it was.) Hamas decided they couldn't tolerate ONLY making an average of 57 attacks a week (that's only [???] 8 per day), not enough Jews being killed, maimed, or terrorized.
The poor little crazed homicidal barbaric murderous killer is not the injured party here.
World, you will conveniently forget that. You will demand instant secession of hostilities (that never stop from the Arab side). You will demand Israel feed, cloth, keep the power, phone, and water on, deliver oil, gas, and all normal services of civilization while under constant bombardment and while the delivery people are attacked and killed.
There are only 3 possible explanations for this:
1. You buy into Palestinian propaganda much as you bought into Hitler's y"s propaganda. That ended really well last time, didn't it? (Really bad for the Jews, but Europe didn't exactly come out in good shape.)
2. You truly have fallen for the completely liberal super-civilized ideals of being kind to the enemy and it all being a misunderstanding that can be calmly worked out (and anyone who isn't doing so is the bad guy). If true, it will be interesting to watch you flounder dealing with a resurgent Russia and aggressive Muslim immigrant population. Somehow I don't think a strongly worded letter will be sufficient. If history has any lessons, you may want to read up on the fall of the Roman empire.
3. Esav hates Yaakov. In other words, anti-semitism. You truly do hate Israel for the fact that it's Jewish and are quite happy to undermine it.
Dear World, fortunately I don't trust in you. If one should pursue a thousand, and two - ten-thousand, or G-d forbid the reverse, can one fail to see the hand of the King of kings?
Trust in your chariots and horses, in your economies and politics.
We will trust in Hashem (G-d).
Please help clear up this important Chanukah issue...
by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
Remember when we talked about Holocaust Remembrance Week? Well, I hate to admit it, but it really got me down. I just couldn’t get that beautiful, young Jewish boy’s face out of my head. He was maybe 14 years old, totally innocent, looked like any nice Jewish kid you would meet on his way to school with what should have been a beautiful life in front of him. But they murdered him instead. I cried and couldn’t get him out of my thoughts.
Why I hate to admit it is because being down is against my religion. For some time now I have lived a totally happy life. Once you get it into your head that you want the goal more than anything else in the world, and you continually remember that the goal is the revelation of the Shechina (G-d’s revealed Presence) and it finally sinks in that the Torah [i] really means it when it says that this experience can come only in joy – well, joy becomes your religion.
Remember now - the joy that we are talking about here is not the joy of pizza and basketball. It is the true joy that comes when you finally realize what is actually happening when you do a mitzvah. When you think about the immense privilege that it is to be an actual instrument of G-d, a servant of His, doing something that is beloved to the Creator of the Universe you find the true joy that the Torah is talking about. And since you thirst for the goal so much you keep this holy joy before you all day long. But, as I said, after seeing that picture, I couldn’t shake that young boy’s face out of my thoughts and I came down.
Then, a couple of days latter one of the more colorful local characters walked by. He is a really nice guy but as I said, colorful. For instance, he wears a turban instead of a yarmulke. He stopped me on the street and offered me a cup of wine. Obviously, the less colorful of us do not stand on the street and drink wine. I told him that I was fine and passed on the wine. I asked him how he was. “Are you happy?”
“How can I be happy when the Moshiach is not here?” he answered, smiling, but also serious.
“But he is getting closer.” I reminded him. “Every day the Redemption is coming closer and closer.”
“That’s true.” He had to agree.
“And we have the Kotel now, which we didn’t have just forty years ago. Okay, so it’s not the Temple Mount, but it hasn’t been that long ago that we couldn’t even get into the Old City let alone pray at the Kotel,” I said.
“Yeah, you’re right …” He was about to say “But” and go on to remind me of some of the major things that we don’t have but I jumped in.
“More Jews are learning Torah today than ever before. Some forty years ago forty percent of all Israelis claimed to be totally secular. Today only twenty percent say they are. For Israelis to change in this way – that’s amazing! Do you realize that within just a few more years the majority of the Jewish people in the world will again be living here in Israel? This hasn’t happened since the exile began two thousand years ago! This is a tremendous thing.”
“Yeah, you know… you’re right.” he had to agree.
I saw that I was beginning to pick him up, and you know what? I listened to what I was saying to him and I talked myself up too. I convinced myself to look up again.
This is our only hope today. We can either look at the downside of things or we can look at the upside of things. Both are right here all the time. We choose whichever side of things we want to look at and then we go on to live in that side of the room.
This doesn’t mean that we ignore the things that are wrong that we can fix. We have to fix what we can. But when it comes to judging how life is going, we better be happy or we are going to have to come back to this very place again and again until we get it right. We will face the same circumstances again until we figure out that the Creator wants His creation to enjoy His creation.[ii] That’s why He made it in the first place.
“Think good and it will be good.” Try it. You’ll see.
[i] Shabbos 30b
[ii] Mishna Brura, Mincha Yom Kippur discusses a man who refuses to repent. The Be’er Hataiv comments, “He must repent or he will have to come back to this world again and again until he does repent.”
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
In honor of the festive occasion of Hanukah, a constant reminder that a little light dispels a lot of darkness, I humbly offer my favorite Hanukah story:
Adapted from the Hebrew weekly, Shav'uon Kfar Chabad, a wondrous account sent in by Rabbi Moses Hayyim Greenvald from 14 years ago...
Since the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt"l, may his merit guard over us, Jews all around me -- of every stripe and persuasion -- can't seem to stop talking about the Rebbe. At the synagogue I pray at, at work. It amazes me to see how every Jew seems to have a story about a personal encounter or experience with the Rebbe.
I say it's a mitzvah to tell these stories so that our children and children's children will hear about the Sanctification of G-d's name by means of a tzaddik who walked amongst us and was a faithful shepherd for all the children of the generation. It's widely known that Hasidim place great importance on tales of the righteous, as it is written, "Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord O ye Servants of the Lord" (Psalms). In order to comply with this precept myself, I offer a wondrous account about the Rebbe and my father. Until now this was known only in our family circles. I now find it incumbent upon me, after the Rebbe's passing, to tell the story publicly.
My father, Rabbi Abraham Zvi Greenvald, was born in Lodz, Poland, and was orphaned from his father at the age of 8. His mother was left with seven little orphans, and she worried much about the education of her eldest boy, whom she sent to live with a cousin, the exalted scholar Rabbi Menachem Zemba, may G-d avenge his blood. It was he who raised my father with great self-sacrifice. Understandably, he was concerned about my father's studies and even tutored him personally.
My father was almost 17 years old when there took place in Warsaw "The Great Wedding" -- the nuptials of the daughter of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph Isaac (Schneersohn) with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who would later become the seventh Rebbe. My father used to tell about this wedding almost as a spiritual exercise -- both regarding the wedding itself, in which participated the cream of Polish Hasidic leaders, and also that my father was able to meet personally with the young bridegroom. This meeting, my father would later realize, would portend much in the future.
A youth of about 17, my father arrived at the wedding together with his relative and teacher, Rabbi Menachem Zemba. On the morning after, Rabbi Zemba told him he was going to visit the bridegroom in the hotel, and if my father wished, he could accompany him. Understandably, my father agreed.
My father could not remember and repeat all that the two spoke about, but he did remember well the end of the conversation, before these two personalities parted ways. The Rebbe turned to my father and said, "In another few days, it will be Hanukkah. Do you know why many small synagogues hold festivals on the fifth day of Chanukah?" My father did not know what to answer, and he recalled that Rabbi Zemba just looked at the Rebbe waiting for an answer. Then the Rebbe, turned to my father and said, "The fifth Hanukkah candle signifies great darkness because this day cannot fall on the Holy Sabbath. And through the Hanukkah candles, the greatest (spiritual) darkness of the world is illuminated. And for this reason, the potential of Hanukkah comes to fruition specifically through the fifth candle, which signifies the darkness. And this is the function of every Jew, in every place -- in Warsaw or London -- to illuminate the darkest place."
As mentioned earlier, my father did not remember what the Rebbe and Rabbi Zemba spoke about during their long conversation. But he said he would never forget that all the tractates of the Babylonian Talmud flew around the room. When they left the hotel, my father recalls, Rabbi Zemba was extremely excited and didn't stop speaking about the meeting to everyone with whom he conversed for several days.
After that meeting, nearly 10 years passed.
My father survived the Holocaust, first in the Ghetto, and afterwards in the Extermination Camps. His first wife and their five little children were slaughtered in front of his eyes. When the war ended, and he was left alive by the grace of G-d, he experienced a mental and physical breakdown. For two years, he moved from displaced persons camp to displaced persons camp, trying to learn if there were relatives -- close or distant -- who survived. In the end, it became clear that all his brothers and sisters -- each one of them -- was liquidated by the oppressor, may its name be blotted out.
In the year 5708 (ca. 1948), he traveled to the United States, to Philadelphia. There lived his uncle, Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Greenvald of the Amshinov Hasidim, who he had never met because the uncle immigrated to America before he was born. But the uncle arranged my fathers travel to the U. S. and received him with great love, and did everything to make it easier for him and to comfort him after the portion of awesome suffering he underwent . . . Under pressure from his uncle, with the intervention of the Amshinov Rebbe, my father decided to put his life back together, married a second wife (my mother, of blessed memory).
She was a child of Karkov, daughter of Rabbi Zushya Sinkowitz, may G-d avenge his blood, of the elders of the Alexander Hasidim. Together with his sister, he succeeded in fleeing immediately at the beginning of the war, running from country to country until they set sail for Canada. There, they raised in the house another cousin, the great leader, Mr. Kuppel Shwartz, one of Toronto's leading Jews. Before my parents were wed, Mr. Shwartz took my father to New York for an audience with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph Isaac (Schneersohn) to obtain his blessing.
My father told me that he trembled to see the change that had overtaken the Previous Rebbe, how age had crept up on him since the Warsaw wedding. (It was very difficult to understand the Rebbe's speech; one of the Hasidic elders who stood in the room explained what the Rebbe was saying). Mr. Shwartz told the Previous Rebbe that my father had been saved, but lost his family in the Holocaust. Then, from the holy eyes of the Previous Rebbe there began to fall streams of pure tears. The Rebbe blessed my father and wished him a long and good life. Before he left, my father told the Rebbe that he had been fortunate to be at the wedding of his son-in-law, the Rebbe, in Warsaw. Then, my father tells, the Previous Rebbe's eyes brightened and he said that since his son-in-law lived here, and he was at the wedding, he should certainly visit him to pay his respects.
Mr. Shwartz and my father left the Rebbe's chambers, and after they were shown where to find the chambers of the Ramash, as he was known then, they knocked and entered, saying they came at the instructions of the Previous Rebbe. My father was elated that the Ramash remembered him immediately. His first question was that my father should tell about last days of Rabbi Zemba because he heard he was killed in the Warsaw Ghetto but did not know any details.
After my father told all he knew, the Ramash said, "since the Rebbe told you to visit me, I am obligated to say to you words of Torah. And since the month of Kislev is close to Hanukkah, it is known the custom of many Hasidim," followers of the Baal Shem Tov, to celebrate the fifth day of Hanukkah. What is the reason? Since the fifth day can never fall on the Sabbath, if so, then it implies strong (spiritual) darkness. This is the potential of the Hanukkah candle -- to illuminate the greatest darkness. This is the mission of every Jew in every place he may be -- New York or London -- to illuminate the darkest place.
Needless to say, my father was startled as he had all but forgotten the very same thing that the Ramash had told him nearly 20 years earlier. And now, his memory was jarred, and he realized that the Ramash had repeated, almost word-for-word, what he told him then, in the hotel in Warsaw.
After his wedding, my father served as a rabbi and teacher for Congregation Adath Israel in Washington Heights. There we were born, my sister and I. My father remained there some five years, and, with the help of Mr. Shwartz in Canada, moved to Toronto and worked there as a rabbi and teacher in the Haredi congregations there.
Over the course of years, in Toronto, my father became close to the Satmar Hasidim in the city, since he ministered in his rabbinical work to these Hasidim. Though he never sent us to the Satmar schools, he sent us to educational institutions that were spiritually similar. Me and my brother were sent to the well known Nytra Yeshivah. Though my father's outlook was philosophically close to Satmar, he never spoke against the Lubavitcher Rebbe. On the contrary, he always spoke of him in with praise and in especially respectful terms, as did his children.
In the winter of 5729 (ca. 1969), I was married. My father told me that even though I wasn't a Lubavitcher Hasid, he feels the need to go with me to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe to receive his blessing for my wedding -- just as he had done, even though he had not seen the Rebbe for some 20 years. I agreed with a whole heart.
But then, I learned it's not so simple to visit the Rebbe.
Only after negotiations with the Rebbe's secretary -- and only after my father explained to him that we could not wait several months to reserve a place in the queue for audiences -- did he agreed to place us in line, but only after we promised we would only ask for a benediction and would not detain the Rebbe. My father promised and we left Toronto on the appointed day. I don't remember the exact hour we entered the Rebbe's chambers, but it was closer to morning than night, if not dawn itself.
I saw the Rebbe's face for the first time in person. His face, especially his eyes, made a great impression on me. My father gave the Rebbe the customary epistle on which were inscribed the names of myself, my bride-to-be and my father's request for a benediction. The Rebbe took the epistle from my father's hands. Before he opened it, he looked at my father with a broad smile and said, "Not more than 20 years ago the time had arrived, especially as the Previous Rebbe sent you to me." My father stood, scared and trembling, and couldn't find the energy to open his mouth.
Meanwhile, the sexton banged on the door, but the Rebbe waved his hand as to negate the knocking, like someone who was saying, don't pay attention.
In the midst of all this, the Rebbe opened the epistle, glanced at it, and immediately began to give us his blessing, blessed my father with a long life and good years, and said, roughly, "Just as you rejoiced at my nuptials, may the Lord give you nachas and strength to dance at your grandchild's wedding." Tears poured from my father's eyes, and I was also elated. My father had been physically broken from all he had endured in the camps, and this benediction of the Rebbe's was especially dear.
Before we left, my father got together the strength to ask the Rebbe that since he had promised the secretary we would enter solely to request a blessing, and he has a pressing question, would the Rebbe permit him to ask it. The Rebbe smiled and laughed, and said (roughly): "Since the Rebbe the father-in-law sent you to me, I am obligated to answer all questions. And as before, we heard loud banging on the door, and the Rebbe signaled we should ignore it.
My father turned to the Rebbe and said that for different reasons, we had lived among the Satmar Hasidim and their fellow travellers for many years. There, we frequently hear complaints about the views of Lubavitch. "Even though I do not accept all the gossip that I hear, they have nonetheless succeeded in raising within me a great doubt about the Lubavitch view in connection with working together with the "wicked people." The verses are well known, such as "And those that thou hatest the Lord shall hate." "How is it that Lubavitch can openly work together with those who battle against G-d and his Torah?"
My father told the Rebbe that he requests forgiveness for the question, and did not mean to offend. Quite to the contrary, he really wants to understand the Rebbe's view so he can answer others as well as himself. The Rebbe then turned to my father with a question. "What would your neighbors do if a neighbor's daughter began to keep bad company? Would they attempt to return her to the way of Torah and the Commandments, or would they say, 'And those that thou hatest the Lord shall hate and it is forbidden to involve oneself with the wicked; therefore, we should distance ourselves from her and not bring her closer?'"
The Rebbe did not even wait for an answer, and promptly added: "This zealous one would answer that with a daughter, the injunction of 'From thy flesh do not conceal thyself would apply.'" And then the Rebbe's eyes became serious, and he knocked on the table, and said: "By the Al-mighty, every Jew is as precious as an only child. With the Rebbe, the father-in-law, every Jew was 'From thy flesh, do not conceal thyself.'"
Then the Rebbe looked at me, and at my father with a constant gaze, and said: "One concludes with a blessing. As it is known, it is customary among Hasidim to celebrate the fifth day of Hanukkah with festivities. What is the reason? Since the fifth day cannot ever fall on the Sabbath, this signifies that it is the height of darkness. With the light of the Hanukkah candle, it is possible to illuminate the darkest thing. This is the mission of each Jew, to illuminate even the darkest places. It does not matter where he lives -- Toronto or London. Every Jew is veritably a part of G-d above, the only child of the Holy One, Blessed be He. And when one lights his soul with the candle of holiness, even the distant Jew is stirred in the darkest place."
My father was startled in the most shocking way. He didn't even hear the last words of the Rebbe's blessing, nor how we left the Rebbes chambers. All the way back to Toronto he was silent. Only two words: "wonder of wonders. Wonder of wonders."
Since then, about 10 years passed.
In the year 5739 (ca. 1979), my youngest brother was married in the city of London. The whole family, my father, my mother, my sister, my brother-in-law, and I flew to the wedding in an airplane. On the way to London, I saw my father was preoccupied. Something was bothering him. I asked him what was wrong and he didn't want to say. Only after I asked several times, he told me. "A few minutes after I left the house in Toronto, the neighbor -- one of the dignitaries of our congregation -- came to see me, rivers of tears pouring from his eyes. He said he would tell me a story that he would not otherwise tell to anybody willingly, but that maybe I could help.
It turned out that the daughter of this community leader wavered very much in her ritual observance. In the beginning, the parents didn't really know about it, because she hid it from them. But two weeks earlier, the great catastrophe became known to them: she eloped with a Gentile to London. Since then, the atmosphere at home was one of crying and mourning, the 9th of Av.
All the efforts of relatives in London came to naught. Therefore, he asked my father, since he was travelling to London, maybe he would look into the matter, and G-d would be merciful. Maybe he could find the daughter and prevent her from descending into the depths of iniquity? My father was a close friend of this neighbor, and was affected greatly by the story. I also took it to heart and thought about what I could do in London.
The nuptials were held at a good and auspicious hour. On the first night of the Seven Benedictions, my father turned to the bride's father and told him the story about the neighbor's daughter. Perhaps he had some advice, who, where? Maybe he could look into the matter and do something? The bride's father, as soon as he heard the story, said to my father that he had no understanding of such matters, but did have a friend who was a Lubavitcher Hasid, who the Lubavitcher Rebbe had always charged with all types of errands. The man's name was Rabbi Abraham Isaac Glick, and if there's somebody who can help, it is this man, who had already managed to save from the streets of Europe many confused souls.
That night, the bride's father telephoned Rabbi Glick, told him the story and explained how pressing the matter was. Rabbi Glick asked for the telephone number of the girl's parents in Toronto -- perhaps they knew some details that would help, like addresses, telephone numbers. Perhaps they would give him some clue where to start searching. Rabbi Glick promised to do what he could.
I don't know where Rabbi Glick searched, where he went, nor with whom he consulted. But one night, about 10 days later -- my father and my mother decided to stay in London until after Hanukkah -- Rabbi Glick called the bride's father and told him to come immediately. "I have a very good surprise," he said.
The bride's father and my father hurried to Rabbi Glick's house. As they entered, they saw a girl sitting, crying. At the entrance of the salon, a Hanukkah candelabrum was lit. Suddenly, as my father looked at the menorah, he saw five candles lit, and he almost fainted and fell to the ground. He remembered the strange sentence the Rebbe had told him some 50 years earlier, then 30 years earlier and then 10.
"The fifth Hanukkah candle signifies the power of the Hanukkah menorah, and the mission of every Jew is to illuminate even" the darkest place -- Warsaw or London, New York or London, or Toronto or London . . ."
"What will that zealous one do when his daughter wavers ...with the Holy One, Blessed be He, every Jew is an only child ... With the Previous Rebbe, every Jew is 'From thy flesh, do not conceal thyself.'" There's no need to mention that the girl completely repented and became on observant Jew. There's also no need to mention that the zealous one shut his mouth and ceased speaking against Lubavitch.
When my father returned to Canada, he made every effort to obtain an audience with the Rebbe. He felt a need, a spiritual duty after what had happened, to see the Rebbe. But in those years, it had become very difficult to obtain a private audience. But the following month of Tishrei, the year 5740 (ca. 1980), my father succeeded seeing the Rebbe on the night that a group of holiday visitors had a group audience. My father said that from all the emotions that were coursing through him, he could not utter anything during the audience. When he tried to tell the story, he would break into tears. The Rebbe heard just a few sentences, turned to my father and said, "The father-in-law has a very distant vision."
Every time my father would tell this story, he would say that the real wonder was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Even more than his vision of events to come from 50 years beforehand, was his heavenly humility of, that he said, "The father-in-law has a very distant vision."
The chain of wonders has not stopped. On 14 Kislev 5748 (ca. 1989), exactly when the Seven Benedictions for my firstborn child ended, on the day which represented the passage of 60 years from the Rebbe's wedding in Warsaw, my father passed away -- all just as the Rebbe had blessed my father, that he should rejoice at the wedding of his grandchild.
We should be happy that this man, Holy to G-d dwelt amongst us. Since it is known that "The righteous are greater in their death than in their lives," certainly the Rebbe will cause a flow of blessings, salvation and comfort from On High, to each and all, until we merit to the promise of the verse, "And a Redeemer shall come unto Zion," in accord with the holy will of the Rebbe, soon and in our time. Amen.
-- Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Greenvald
The copy that I received 13 years ago was originally provided by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Kazen, a"h (who has passed away), the original founder of Chabad Online (www.chabad.org), one of the best Jewish web sites. At the time I received this, an online web site was a new thing (for those who know 'net history, it originally came with a Gopher address), and a religious web site was a wondrous thing. It came with the stipulation that the site be advertised, which I have done here, and donation info provided. To donate to Chabad Online, click here.
It also came with the stipulation that this acknowledgment be included, though I don't know if the contact information is outdated or still accurate:
Translation provided courtesy of:
FRIENDS OF LUBAVITCH OF FLORIDA, (Est. 1960)
Rabbi Abraham Korf
Lubavitch Regional Director-Florida
voice: (305) 673-5664; fax: (305) 673-0269
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
Carl at Israel Matzav wrote an article about the fight in Likud over Moshe Feiglin's treatment in the Likud. Here's my take...
Clearly many rightists had hoped that Likud was returning to being a nominally right wing part, with a few hardliners and a few overt moderates.
Instead Bibi has clearly signaled, and not only from the Feiglin affair but from every statement he has made, that he's playing to the pure middle and not tolerating any right-wingness whatsoever. No tolerance for any religious party members, land of Israel party members, or democratic party members (the party is how they say it is, not how people vote).
He may be the best of the old Israeli power elites (and the best English speaker among the group), but he's still one of them.
There is no electoral choice. The right wing is in disarray fighting for scraps and has been unable to serve their constituency (who's been under direct governmental assault). The religious wing is infighting over a perceived growth of power destroyed by that infighting for control of it (see the recent Jerusalem municipal election as a prime example).
Neither (right wing or religious wing) has any intention or ever attempted to rule and govern, only to pick scraps (to get as much of the pie for their narrow interest as possible).
The right wing and religious wing have been completely disenfranchised.
Indeed we seem to be arriving at that time when there are no leaders to turn to, only to our Father in Heaven.
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
When a house is on fire, you throw water on it. When a bank is on fire, you throw money at it.
$700 Billion Dollars (that's $700,000,000,000.00), equivalent to $2,800 for every man, woman and child in the United States, was dolled out at emergency speed to the US banking system. No demands, no promises, no commitments, just "take the money and save yourselves".
The expectations were the banks would take the money and immediately loan it out, thereby offsetting the slowdown and saving the US from a depression. First research reports are out and SHOCKA, that's not what happened...
(CNN) Bank of America received $15 billion as part of the federal Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Where the money went is not clear.
"We are using the TARP funds to build our capital and make every good loan that we can," Bank of America said. The bank said it expects to release more information in its fourth quarter earning report.
Translation: Thanks for the free money, we deposited it. Now when bad loans roll in, we've got your free money to cover them with. But we're not silly enough to make the same kind of bad loans again! If you walk in with 30% down and a AAA 800+ credit rating and a verifiable salary over $100,000, we'll think about loaning you some money at a very high rate to cover the risk.
Don't worry, your government has it completely under control.
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
First, derech eretz (acting respectfully). As we learn clearly from Pirke Avos, where there is EGO there is only YOU. And where there is only YOU, there is no room for Hashem.
The Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) does not come to the frumma yid (the religious Jew) and say "hey buddy, that's a lovely looking honey baked ham for sale over there, how about picking it up?" The yetzer is a wiley fox, he sneaks around and attacks people's weak points. "Hey, you know better and they're soooo ignorant, let them know how stupid they are. It's for their own good!" ...
A decade ago I was walking to tashlich on Rosh Hashana (a new year's outdoor ritual) with my young son and I passed a chossid of another chassidus who was walking back. He looked at me and said, "You're a Chabadnik?". Yes I responded. "Nu, where's your Rebbe now?" I stood there literally with my mouth hanging open, I couldn't believe it. "Nu, where's your Rebbe? Ha ha ha" he said again and walked away. (He was happy a tzaddik was dead? He was happy Moshiach hadn't come?)
We are in very turbulent times. G-d willing, it's the last moments of chevlai moshiach (the birth pangs of Moshiach). G-d forbid, it's more trials and tribulations as Hashem leads the world into the corrections necessary towards the Geulah. In either case, Jews are looking for leadership, direction, and some clue on the actions to take to prepare and protect them and their families (and yes, their finances - as it says, no bread no Torah).
We have CONFLICTING statements from gedolim, who are ALL trying to do their best for their communities and for the Jewish people. Every week world events, financial and otherwise, are taking shocking turns. And for many of our readers (and, btw, the authors of this blog) financial hard times with layoffs-redundancies, housing troubles, loss of invested funds, and loss of businesses are directly impacting their lives.
It's time for LARGE AMOUNTS of ahavas yisroel (love of our fellow) and achdus (unity). It's the only way we're going to get through such times. By hanging on, together.
Many blessings and Shabbat Shalom.
by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
In this week’s Torah portion (vayeishev) we see why we are accustomed to holding the Kiddush cup in such an unusual manner. Shabbos meals are called the “delight of the holy King.”[i] These meals are meant to satisfy not only our physical hunger, but to remind us of, and hopefully satisfy our spiritual thirst too. They are a feast fit for a king. When we eat these meals, especially when we announce that it is the king’s meal, we are to act like kings.
How would a king come to have a cup of wine in his hand? Would the cup bearer simply put it on the table before him as in an elegant restaurant? No, never. That is how an ordinary man would pick up his cup. Perhaps the king would reach out and the cup bearer would hand it to him. No. Any ordinary man would be given a cup of wine like that. Then how is he to receive the cup so it shows that he is truly a king?
He simply holds his hand out, palm upward, and the wine steward standing there places the cup of wine on his palm. When we see the cup on his palm and not in his grasp we know that some other hand had to have placed it there. We see that he was served his wine like a king.
Twice this week we are told that Pharaoh’s cup bearer would place his cup in the palm of his hand.[ii] These are our finest meals of the week, both physical and spiritual. To get the most out of them, while dining we must act like kings and we must speak of the King.
[i] Kiddush for the Shabbos Day
[ii] Genesis 40:11, 40:21
70 years and 7 years.
18 minutes (or 12 according to the Gra).
...the phases and stages of the geulah. 70 years may stop and start, depending on whether we are worthy or G-d forbid otherwise. 7 years perhaps as well.
Many gedolim of the last generations have referred to the events of the 70 years. More recent gedolim to the 7 years. And very recently to even the 9 months.
It would seem we're nearing the time when the process no longer may pause.
A moment of Israeli cultural humor...
The El Al plane landed at Ben Gurion airport, and as it taxied to the terminal, the voice of the captain came on:
"Please remain seated with your seat belts fastened until this plane has come to a complete stop at the gate, and the seat belt signs have been turned off. We also wish to remind you that cell phones may not be used until the exit doors have been opened.
"To those who are still seated, we wish you a Merry Christmas, and hope that you enjoy your visit to Israel. To those of you standing in the aisles and talking on your cell phones, we wish you a Happy Hanukkah, and welcome back home."
Not content with the damage already done, U.S. Secretary of State Rice takes one last STAB at Israel.
First this week she leads the Mideast Quartet to make a statement...
The Quartet of Middle East terror negotiators said on Monday there was no turning back from US-led talks between the Israelis and Palestinians even though they have produced a situation of constant civilian bombardment and terror attacks for Israel and placed the Palestinian people under the rule of terror inciting brutilizing Arab thugs.
In a statement issued after a meeting of Quartet members – the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations – the group said the politics of threat launched against Israel last November in Annapolis, Maryland should be accelerated.
"The bilateral give-rewards-to-the-Palestinians-no-matter-what and threaten-the-Israelis negotiations process launched at Annapolis is irreversible and ... these negotiations should be intensified in order to immediately transfer Jerusalem and the majority of the Land of Israel to the Palestinians and put an end to modern Israel and to establish as soon as possible the state of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with the new mini-Jewish nation-city of Tel Aviv," it said.
It also urged Israel "to freeze all activities which have a negative impact on the Palestinian economic recovery, such as stopping the transfer of extortion money, damaging critical industrial infrastructure such as rocket assembly facilities, and targeting key employers such as infiltration trainers, bomber recruiters, and smuggling/kidnapping tunnel diggers."
The Quartet also expressed concern about the Israeli blockade of one side of Gaza, saying the provision of humanitarian supplies to Gaza "must be assured continuously regardless of the murder or ongoing targeted bombing of those delivering the goods or the transfer depots or missile attacks upon the roads leading to those depots." The Quartet noted a request by Egypt to assist in repair of the natural world wonder "75 foot high concrete and steel border wall" separating Egypt and Gaza, completely leaving the poor Gazans dependent on their Israeli border for goods transfer.
Not to be outdone by the Quartet, the UN Security Council LED by the US is having an EMERGENCY debate of a US drafted resolution to require adherence to the Quartet process described above. So far, Security Council member Libya is objecting as the Quartet position and draft resolution doesn't recognize the Palestinians natural and historic right to their ancient lands in Kikar Rabin, downtown Tel Aviv.
by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
Here we go again. It seems like these things run in bunches. He was the third guy this week who did not know that he is a Jew. That’s just how many I found. Who knows how many others there were? It certainly seems like Hashem is bringing Jews home from every corner of the world at an increasing pace.
He is about twenty years old and is from Austria. There are very few Jews left in Austria, less than one tenth of one percent of the population. He made it very clear to me several times that he is not Jewish and that he wanted nothing to do with religion. He said that not only isn’t he Jewish but his parents are not Jewish either. But when we talked a little he acknowledged that his mother’s mother was a Jew. “But,” he was quick to add, “she was not religious, not at all.”
“It doesn’t matter if she was religious or not. What matters is that she was a Jew. Jews are not a religion. We are a people. And since she was a Jew her children are Jews which means that your mother is a Jew. And since your mother is a Jew her children are Jews. Your mother’s mother was a Jew so you are a Jew.” I took a pair of tefillin and started to put them on him.
“No, no. I’m not any religion.” he objected pulling his arm away.
I explained again how Jews are not a religion but a people and again tried to put the tefillin on his arm.
“I’m not religious. Not with any religion. I don’t believe in any of this.” He persisted in his objection.
“It’s not about religion.” I tried to explain.
“Yes, it is,” he insisted pointing to the tefillin. “These are about religion.”
“No,” I insisted, “These have nothing to do with religion. Religion has to do with belief. These are spiritual. They are designed to give you a spiritual experience.”
He softened up a little and I slid the tefillin on his arm. He cooperated as long as it did not have anything to do with religion. He read the prayers in English. I was afraid that he would object since they come from the Torah and talk about G-d, but for some reason he read them. He had even heard of the Shema (A central prayer). I asked him how he would know of such a thing. He told me that the Shema Israel is famous. After he read the prayer in English I told him to try to do what I said with a good heart and he would have a spiritual experience.
“Close your eyes and picture everyone you love. Try to see them happy and healthy and send each of them a blessing. You are standing in the most spiritual place you can and you are doing the most spiritual thing that you can do. You can share this spiritual experience with your loved ones. Try to see them bathed in sunlight.”
He stood there for at least five minutes with his eyes closed and a peaceful, glowing look on his face sending blessings to all of his loved ones. As soon as he opened his eyes he burst out in a broad, truly happy smile.
“See,” I said. “It has nothing to do with religion. You are a Jewish person and you can have a spiritual experience without any belief at all.”
About an hour or so latter I saw him walking in the Rova (Jewish Quarter of the Old City). I called out, “Hey, hey you.”
He saw me and came over smiling. “Thank you. Thank you for what you did.” You could tell that he really meant it.
I tapped him on the chest with both my hands and laughed. I said, “You are a Jew. Make sure that you marry a Jewish girl so your children will be Jews too.” He said that he would.
Now he knows that you do not have to be religious to put on tefillin and have a spiritual experience. I know it sounds like I tricked him in order to get him to put on tefillin but really I didn’t. There are no rituals in the Torah. None at all. Rituals are based on religious beliefs. They can bring emotional reactions depending upon the person’s beliefs and his association of that ritual with other religious beliefs. Mitzvahs not like that. Mitzvahs are actually spiritual exercises and when done properly they will bring a spiritual experience.
Because he heard the right explanation he may very well see to it that he has a Jewish family. At least he said that he will. And he might even try a few more of these Jewish spiritual exercises, like making Kiddush on Shabbos and eating matzah on Pesach.
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
Lakewood, New Jersey (USA) is one of the main Torah yeshiva centers of our generation. The large Jewish community in a small New Jersey suburban town revolves around the Beth Medrash Gohova, the largest single Jewish learning institution in the world.
>> The rabbonim in Lakewood are quietly telling their constituents to stock up on food - there will be shortages in the future.
>> At odds with this suggestion, sales at the Lakewood Co-Op (the community Jewish grocery store selling near cost) have been cut down to the minimum for family sustenance, with a few slight splurges for Shabbat. The Co-Op has never seen people buying only the barest minimum of staples and avoiding all normal product selections.
>> A number of children's yeshivot in Lakewood have been on strike for weeks, the latest being the girl's school. They have been behind on salaries going on several months, and the secular teachers were no longer willing to accept it having walked out a while ago. Finally the religious teachers could no longer survive and joined them. At least 2,000 students are on the street.
>> Lakewood community hospital is rumored to be deeply in debt and close to closing. While not part of the Jewish community, the community relies upon it for medical services and as a close facility for the local high religious birth rate.
>> A concerned Lakewood reader to a Jewish religious blog reacted strongly to the blog's statement that a number of rebbe's, tzaddikim and mekubalim (kabbalists) have made statements that it's time for Jews to leave the USA while they still can comfortably, and ran to his rabbaim of Lakewood for an opinion. Is there concern, should he move his family to Israel? He was told that those crazy rabbi's of Eretz Yisroel (the Land of Israel) have no idea what they are talking about.
"Whisperings" - All information presented is yad shniya - 2nd hand, heard from the person who heard it themselves.
Photo credit, the New York Times, 2007.
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
#6 I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.
#12 I believe with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach. However long it takes, I await his coming every day.
- Rambam, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, zt"l, the 13 Principles of (Jewish) Faith
Glückel of Hameln (1646-1724) wrote a diary of instructions to her descendants and Jewish life in her time. In her diaries, begun in 1689, she describes key events in both Jewish and world history, such as the messianic fervor surrounding Sabbatai Tzvi or the impact of the Swedish wars waged by King Charles XII. At the same time, she also describes day-to-day life among the Jewish inhabitants of the Rhine valley.
One of the things Gluckel describes is her uncle's excitement with rumors of the coming of Moshiach, to the point of his packing is household and bringing all his worldly possessions to the port for storage as he prepared his family for departure to Eretz Yisroel (the Land of Israel) for the ingathering of the exiles and the time of the Geulah.
Unfortunately, after waiting 3 years with his whole life in storage for the final call to come, it became apparent that the time of the Geulah had not arrived and the potential Moshiach was not all he claimed to be. He had Gluckel dispose of his possessions as his family started to rebuild their life in a new location.
We have entered a time of world turmoil. Many are confused and don't know what to do. Some refuse to pay attention at all, trying to ignore the wave of turmoil that doesn't fit their existing stable world view. Some of us are seeing signs of the Geulah - may it only be so!!!
We would not be the first to hope for the Geulah, pray for Moshiach, and believe the turmoil is chevlai Moshiach (the birth pangs of the time of Moshiach). G-d willing, we will be the last!
But either way, whether his arrival is tomorrow (G-d willing) or further in the future (G-d forbid), we await his coming every day, and continue to have faith in HaKodesh Baruch Hu (the Holy One, Blessed Be He) that he will come at the proper time, and all these many generations of waiting are for the best.
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
The next stage of financial meltdown began 3 days earlier than I thought. Here's what's happening, three new financial disasters in parallel...
1. Disaster number 1 is easy to see and understand. Stores make 60% of their yearly PROFITS through the holiday sales season. The majority of stores, especially upscale stores, are having their worst holiday season in over 30 years. With the middle of December, these businesses have to decide how to stay alive. They'll turn to massive sales to clear out their inventory, and come January 2 will begin scaling back sales help and closing stores. The manufacturers who stock them will be reading the figures, understanding a drop in orders coming for 2009, and will cut production and staff.
The retail side of layoffs begins Monday and continues through mid-January.
(Note some stores are positioned to take advantage of this. Wal-Mart and Target sales are up, as are TJ Maxx and other similar 2nd market, downscale and budget store sales.)
2. As we come to the end of the year, the investment system begins to make sales and position adjustments, both for tax purposes and as people redeem funds for their own personal investment adjustments and tax purposes. Many funds are suddenly finding themselves with a basic run on the fund, people are clearing out.
And some funds haven't been totally honest, money is not readily available or necessary invested where thought, or worse losses have occurred that the fund hasn't been reporting!!!! (For if they did, people wouldn't keep investing.) Friday's $50 billion Madoff Hedge Fund case is still unclear, but the fund lost people's investments, lied in reporting it and used new investments to cover old redemptions. As the end of year pace of redemptions picked up, BOOM, the hollow balloon popped.
The people invested will be lucky to get 25% of their money back. While it's been advertised as an "only rich people's fund", the bad news is pension plans and an unusual number of JEWISH charities had their monies invested (one notable is Birthright, the fund that brings Jewish teens to Israel for a free heritage trip).
Even "good" hedge funds are in trouble, with another similar fund announcing "no more withdrawals" until March. So if you've got your money there, you can't get it out (to stop losses or to live on it!).
Again, we're talking Hedge Funds, with investments starting at $1 million or $5 million, but some of your pension or 401k mutual fund may be cross invested in such a hedge fund, so this is not a "rich only" problem.
As we come closer to the end of the year, the full scope of this problem will become more apparent. The funds in trouble are going to be forced to come out from under the covers.
3. Disaster number 3 has also been obvious for a while, but the impact has to be thought out. Car sales are down 30-50% (depending on the brand). Government loans can't help! Because, if you don't have a job or you're worried about the future, you're not buying a new car. Loaning the US company's may keep them from going bankrupt, but it won't increase car sales. So the equation is something like this (which no one is talking about):
No Loan = 30-50% layoffs, plant closings, dealership closings.
Loan = 20-30% layoffs, plant closings, dealership closings.
Either way, pain. Already foreign manufacturers, which have plants in the US (did you know that Honda exports cars from the US back to Japan?) are cutting workforce and factory production. They don't get US help.
A loan will help the US auto makers run smoothly for a while, but the ONLY way they can operate at current size is a FULL ECONOMIC RECOVERY before money runs out. And that's not happening. Which means, cutbacks. The only question is - how big.
This is really really bad - from a financial investing layoff monetary job perspective. Oh, did I mention the $50 billion Hedge Fund was set up and run into the ground by a Jewish guy? (Of course, Henry Ford hated Jews and his family has pretty much run Ford into the ground.)
I'm very pleased to hear the following, accurate as of today (Dec. 12, 2008), received directly from the family...
14 year old Naftali Sheetrit was the most wounded student in the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva terrorist attack of March 2008. Tefilot (prayers) from around the world followed him as he lay near death, then recovered to a stable but still badly injured and disabled level. Since March he's undergone a long series of surgeries and rehabilitation effort.
You will be happy to hear that Naftali has made a very good recovery after his (most recent) surgery (in America). We appreciate all your efforts on his behalf and that so many around the world as well. I believe as of now it is unnecessary to continue saying teffilot for him.
Have a good Shabbos.
News report of his last surgery:
Naftali Shitrit is ready to soon go home, and, thanks to the doctors at Riley Hospital for Children, he will soon be able to make the 6,000-mile trip in far better shape than when he arrived.
The 14-year-old lives in Jerusalem but has been in Indianapolis, along with his father and grandfather, to repair wounds suffered this spring in one of the deadliest attacks in Israel in two years.
The teen, and even his doctors, aren't sure how many times he was shot -- probably six to eight -- as he cowered behind a column, praying for his life. A Palestinian terrorist had slipped into Naftali's seminary the evening of March 6 and opened fire. Eight people were killed before the attacker was fatally shot at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva.
Following the assault, Naftali spent five months in two Israeli hospitals. On the recommendation of his doctors there, the boy traveled to Riley for reconstructive urological surgery about five weeks ago.
Rink said he expects Naftali to fully recover from the wounds he treated.
We wish Naftali many blessings and a long life.
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
Warning, Geulah speculation. That's "speculation", got it, spec-u-lation, "conjectural", "surmise", "contemplation".
Much of our past geulah speculation has indeed headed in the estimated direction, just consistently slower than anticipated. This is a great blessing, more time to absorb the situation and react appropriately. But it leaves enough time to second guess the situation and wonder if things really are happening...
- PM Olmert declares the Jews of Judea and Samaria will be evacuated to the Negev. (Before he leaves office? This would seem impossible.)
- IDF says it doesn't like plan to bring NATO troops into Judea and Samaria!!! New US security advisors recommend it. (What plan???)
- Pope-a-dope plans to visit Jerusalem in May, 2009.
The hints are there, we await their progress - only for the good!
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
One of the commentors on the last post noted that we've (actually I've) been sidetracked into a more physical rather than spiritual approach, and perhaps should spend a little more time learning. I'll accept that criticism - and took off from preparing a post tonight to spend the time learning chassidus.
Therefore, I need your help. R. Nati has been offline and unable to contribute any posts, so I'm soliciting your help by providing some guest posts. If you think you have some ideas or posts you'd like to share with the Mystical Paths readership, send your guest post to -- akiva .. at ~~ mpaths ^^ dot '' com. (What's with all the funny characters? That's to fool programs which scour web sites for addresses to add to their spam mailing lists.)
R. Nati is on his way north to a series of kevrai tzaddikim tonight at the instruction of his rav. Yesterday he was in a serious car accident, hit from behind and pushed into the path of an oncoming bus. Thank G-d, only cuts and bruises and lots of crunched metal. Today, after hobbling to yeshiva, he left with some others. They stopped on the curb to light a cigarettes as he stepped forward to cross the street, a taxi whizzed around the corner and hit him. Fortunately he was wearing his heavy coat and carrying his seforim carry bag, the taxi dented his gemora and Likkeuti Mohoran and threw him about 10 meters. Again, more cuts and bruises, no broken bones, thank G-d. So he's off for a little spiritual introspection, some cheshbon nefesh. Any tefilot (prayers) for the refuah shalayma of Rav Nathaniel Levi ben Chana Sarah gratefully accepted.
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
In 2006, most of the Western world was leverages to the hilt. It was boom times and things were looking good. Property prices had been rising steadily for a decade or more, everyone that could - and almost half could - had been upgrading their homes, cars, and possessions. Good times.
While leverage, meaning loan levels, were high, and the steady rise of real estate prices couldn't go on forever, there wasn't some magical line that was crossed where it all just went bad. Rather, one specific event changed the balance and started it all unraveling. What was it?
Interest rates had been low from 1992 until the year 2000. With the .Com stock market bubble burst, rates were raised briefly, and dropped again in 2001 until late 2005. A way of life started in 1992 and continued (except for the brief 2000 exception) until the end of 2005. For 13 years money was cheap. Companies got used to not needing to keep cash on hand, instead a credit line served that purpose with only a small expense. A few years later, the same way of living moved to most peoples pockets.
Interest rates don't move on their own, it's controlled by central banks, in this case the US Federal Reserve (the Fed). Why did the Fed raise rates in 2005?
For the main reason they always do, to fight inflation. The Fed felt that prices were getting out of control. Transportation costs were inching higher, food prices were starting to jump. Energy prices were jumping in a major way. In other words...
From 1986 until 2003, oil prices hovered around $25 per barrel on average. In the year 2000, OPEC (the Oil nations working together) started CUTTING oil production. From the time of that cut, oil prices started rising WITHOUT STOPPING until a month ago. It was gradual at first, but with China, India and other parts of the 3rd world growing up and out from the increased world economy, demand went up AND SUPPLY WENT DOWN. Intentionally, to raise the price. Arab oil greed.
It worked. The price jumped from $25 to $30 a barrel in 2000. Oh, it dropped back to $27 after 9/11 (2001). But the climb started again in 2002. By 2003 it was back to $30 a barrel. We started to hear news reports about "world oil peak", "world supplies and capacity at it's limit". In 2004, price was now $40 a barrel, and in 2005 up to $50. The Arab oil producers were rolling in the money, they were now receiving double what they were getting just 5 years ago. They were also so much more important now - both as the caretakers of huge piles of cash and as the precious energy of the world was threatened by war and regional instability, and was about to run out!!!!! (in another 50 years, but that's besides the point)
Our dolls come from China, our cars from Korea or Japan or Canada. Our winter fruits from Chile, our apples from Washington (state). Our oil from Saudi Arabia, the refined gas from Texas. The TV from Tawain, the jeans from Indonesia.
As energy costs doubled, the global economy started to work against us. Prices of every type of transported good - which is almost everything - rose.
The US Federal Reserve acts against rising prices - aka INFLATION - by raising interest rates to curb demand. Supply and demand, lower demand lower sales, lower sales lower prices.
Except this time the prices had nothing to do with supply and demand. The supply of oil was being artificially curtailed by OPEC - the Arab producers - to artificially inflate the price. A campaign of disinformation reporting growing shortage conditions was attached to it, to make the curtailed demand much more effective - driving speculation and resource hording. It worked beyond their wildest dreams, in 2005 prices rose to just below $60 a barrel.
Prices of every good that used oil (plastics) as a base component skyrocketed. Energy intensive products jumped. Products transported long distances (practically everything) had their transportation costs triple, raising prices at least 30%.
The Fed saw serious inflation forming and acted to stop it. They rose interest rates again and again, but it didn't work. They figured they must be raising them too slow, so they raised them faster...
...and suddenly, with a combination of higher energy costs, higher food costs, higher transportation costs, suddenly in the short space of a year people saw their housing cost DOUBLE. Those in weaker financial positions couldn't handle the new combined load of increasing living costs and increasing housing costs when their adjustable rate mortgages reset to the new higher rate and their payment doubled.
And all of that leverage began to collapse.
Oil prices peaked at ~$135 per barrel in March, 2008. Then, as the financial collapse EXPLODED, demand fell through the floor and even the best of OPEC production cuts (they tried several more since then) didn't help. Oil is down to $43 a barrel today, and still falling. (That's down to the 2004 price.)
And that is how the greed of the sheiks and the dictators and the mullahs to finance their opulence and armies and revolutions (never to actually grow their economies, educate their populace and develop future potential) collapsed the Western economic world. Oh, to be fair the US Federal Reserve made some very stupid moves, completely misunderstanding the situation. And the West had leveraged itself to a very risky level. But it was the greed of the sheiks who knocked it all down.
by Dixie Yid at Mystical Paths
I wanted to take advantages of my "author" status at Mystical Paths to share another side of the issue about which Reb Akiva posted on Sunday with regard to the various ways to treat children with ADHD. Since we fully discussed the issue in the comment section of Reb Akiva's post, and I don't want to follow two concurrent comment threads, I'll just link to what I posted this morning:
Dixie Yid: ADHD Medication as Emotional, Educational and Spiritual Lifesaver
(Picture courtesy of adhdtreatment)
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
Today I had to attend a business meeting at a client. While I do a good job of getting lost and having a hard time finding my way in Israel, the recent upgrade of Google Maps to include Israel streets and addresses (in Hebrew or English) had made a major difference in my arriving to the intended location.
So I looked up the address, plotted my route and left plenty of time to get there (not knowing the area traffic conditions.) I arrived with plenty of time to spare, called my contact and asked him where the building was (I was headed to #3, I saw #4 and #6, but the opposite side of the street was EMPTY.) It started to rain (a blessing!), my contact couldn't figure out where I was and it didn't seem like a business area. It seems Google sent me to the wrong city. Ok, Baruch Hashem, sometimes I get a free tour of parts of Israel, thank you Hashem. I wandered a bit and ended up back on the highway, from where my contact directed me.
Head south, don't take the split, then take the split, then right, no left, up a bit, right... It started pouring (we really need it!), traffic slowed. After a bit of a wait, I neared the location. Amazingly (thanks Hashem) I still had a few minutes to spare before the meeting.
My phone rang, the meeting which had originally been scheduled for the main office in Tel Aviv and had been moved to this remote office had been rescheduled for the main office - but they hadn't told my contact or I. Turn around and head back to Tel Aviv.
Now this is the point where midos meet emunah. Do I get steamed, first Google sent me to the wrong place, now the client sent me to the wrong place. Or do I say "thanks Hashem, for the chance to see 2 Israeli towns I haven't seen before and get to try out some routes I've never driven before?"
We should be doing the latter, but often fall into the former. While it's true that occasionally getting into such a circumstance will lead to unkind words from a manager or customer who's waiting, often the majority of the PRESSURE is coming from OURSELVES. We start to worry about what will be, we start to review all the negative possibilities... we'll get yelled at, we'll look stupid, or incompetent, what will people say, or think, they'll be bothered, and upset, it's wasting our time, grrrrrrrrrrr!
Or we can trust in Hashem... we don't control the world. I'm here because I'm supposed to be here, which means it's not the wrong place - it's a planned (by Hashem) stop along the way. I'll get there when I'm supposed to get there (by Hashem's schedule). If it's supposed to go well, it will. And if not, it won't. In either case, I've done my part which is all _I_ can control. The rest, well, I can worry or I can trust in Hashem.
...I arrived and parked, met my contact who had made it a minute before me. We entered the meeting, it seemed to go well. Will this business situation work out or not, I don't know. But today, thank G-d, I was able to trust in Hashem (and visit 3 towns for 1 meeting, and find a new route that may help me cut my work commute by 15 minutes).
Photo courtesy of IsraellyCool.
Just another example of how You Fund It - you are funding terrorist propaganda whether you realize it or not... from Palestinian Media Watch
The "fist" symbol says, "Our Land Brings Us Together, and the census unites us.
Palestine Authority census, notice the images to the right. Yes indeed, that's Israel painted in Palestinian colors - on the web site, on TV, and on the brochures - paid for by the symbols on the bottom:
Norway, Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) and UNICEF (United Nations Childrens Fund).
UNFPA: The United States was one of the founders of UNFPA and continues to sit on the 36-member Executive Board that approves its programmes. In UNFPA’s early years, the United States contributed as much as half of the Fund’s budget. Over the last two decades, US funding has been intermittent. Since 2002, the United States Congress appropriated some $34 million annually for UNFPA.
UNICEF: In 2007 the US government contributed ~9% of the total budget. UNICEF's budget is $3,000,000,000 (billion), of which the United States contributed $277,000,000 (million) and was the largest government donor. The largest intergovernmental organization contribution was $128 million from the European Commission, including the Humanitarian Aid Office.
There you have it folks. Palestine represents itself to it's people as all of Israel and YOU FUNDED IT.
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
Things are getting confusing. We had 3 generations of great stability. While the US and the Soviet Union stood poised to blow each other and the world to bits, basically everything stabilized around this struggle.
First the Soviet Union disappeared, literally overnight. All the energy that was focused upon the (potential) conflict was turned loose. This led to excess, excess spending, excess investment, excess hubris. The US, the "sole remaining super-power" built itself up with excess, piling leverage upon leverage.
And now, the Super Power US is also poised to disappear in front of our eyes. Oh, the US will still be there - just as Russia is still there. But the US of 1985 - 2007 is crumbling.
People are confused. While a bit longer than a blink of an eye, things are changing at a rapid pace. Jobs are being lost, once great corporations are found to have no actual value. Homes are lost, the ultimate solid investment of real estate is found to be of limited value. Investment portfolios are found to be worth only the value of the paper they're written upon.
People don't know where to turn. Tremendous community chesed that was built to rely upon a steady donation stream is in serious trouble. Charities are also on the edge, some being forced to close. Traditionally solid Jewish schools are missing salary payments, teachers are going hungry.
In an earthquake, the very ground you rely upon becomes unstable. There is literally nowhere to turn and nothing to do, you just hang on.
This is close, but not completely the same. Of course, we always have our Father in Heaven to turn to. But we must make some intelligent decisions as well, we must survey the horizon and take some wise steps. We can't just sit with our mouths opened wide wondering "what happened, oy, what happened"?
Look around. Things have changed. You have some decisions to make.
Can anyone enlighten me, what is this guy talking about??? Is there some visual pattern I'm just not seeing?
Via email from "Robert"
To Whom it May Concern:
My prayers and heart go out to the Jewish people and friends and family of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg HY”D. This email is being sent to potentially save a Jewish life and the Eternal One of Israel be Praised!
The following email sent to Indian Nationals in America depicts a pattern of the series of blasts from May 13 in Jaipur, India to November 26, Mumbai (Bombay), India that appears to be a pattern of the Hebrew Menorah. This blast pattern has been noted by Indian nationals living in America and shared with me by a Native Mubai Physician Colleague of mine now practicing medicine here in the United States. Could it give a portent for the Jewish people living in India if the next two projected locations do occur? Caution may save someone’s life.
Look at the pattern below followed by terrorists:
13 May -------- JAIPUR
26 July------------ AHMEDABAD
13 September------------ DELHI
26 November--------------- MUMBAI
13 January ----------------- Where Next? Next might be: Lucknow/Kanpur…Then Goa…?
If this happens, it'll complete a pattern….Symbol of Jews….Blasts resembling killing Jews….Starting from the Country which Projects itself as Global-Conglomeration of all Religions.
Things that are confirmed: The dates listed above are accurate, all 2008 significant terrorism incidents hitting India on the dates and locations listed.
by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
Dixie Yid posted an article compiling a series of articles and info from Rabbi Horrowitz on ADD/ADHD and medication. Here's some interesting info they missed...
Risperdal is an adult anti-psychotic medication for adult schizophrenia that started being given to children diagnosed with ADD, ADHD with "overbearing" behavior or having overbearing behavior alone. Overbearing behavior being horrible "syndromes" such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder is defined as "child is aggressive and tends to _bother_ others, or argues with adults, refuses to listen, is angry or resentful".
Conduct Disorder is defined as someone who "tends to break the rules, such as stays out at night after parent says come in, skips school, lies to get something or avoid work, or more seriously has stolen, bullied, or done anything else 'bad'."
"Over 5% of children have ODD, and over 6-10% of boys and 2-9% of girls have CD."
The primary drug of choice for these horrible conditions affecting 15% of children is ... Risperdal.
Recently the NY Times reported that US Congressional Investigators found that Johnson & Johnson, the drug company who developed Risperdal and marketed it for children "paid the doctor $1.4 million dollars" and "funded a research center for $1 million". The scientific research on Risperdal was NOT, it turns out, written by independent doctors, but rather "was drafted by the company and given to the doctor to sign — as if he were the author".
You'll surely recognize the behaviors above as normal for children in troubled and difficult circumstances as well as some normal childhood and adolescent behaviors (not ones we want children to have, but ones that do occur within normal situations as well). Today, thanks to the wonders of the drug companies, we can merely give our children these "very serious psychotropic brain altering medications" and the behaviors will magically go away.
No need to actually address the problems, nor to teach our children to improve their midos (attributes). Just pop a pill and make it all better.
I am certain having written this some irate parent is going to comment about how their absolutely uncontrollable child turned around their life with this medication. Thankfully, for your child there was this medication, and for a few others who truly have brain function issues that put them outside the bounds of normal societal operation. But 15% ??? That's 1 in 7 children who, per the drug company, NEED this medication.
In the average US yeshiva, 15% of the student body is psychotropicly medicated. There is no doubt we have defined many normal childhood behaviors as abnormal and avoid solving many real situational problems by just giving feeding our children a few happy pills.
Harsh, yes. True, also yes. We don't need to work on discipline anymore, just drug 'em. We don't need to pay attention to their problems anymore, just medicate 'em.
I'd like to focus on the last line of Rabbi Horowitz's article... "And along with all the challenges come opportunities. ADD/ADHD kids and adults are generally charming, outgoing, intelligent and ready for action. Their drive for excitement and stimulation, if channeled correctly, can produce high degrees of success later in life – in the communal arena, in business, and in other areas that require quick thinking, quick action and creativity. ADD/ADHD adults are often the ones that can run full steam ahead and still have enough energy to walk (or rather sprint) a few miles at the end of the day."
Indeed. Lets eliminate the outgoing, intelligent, DRIVEN people. The ones who invent, create businesses, open yeshivot, build shuls, do outreach, who spearhead the path. Then we can happily all be mediocre together.
BTW, I thought one of the whole points of Torah was to work on our midos, to overcome and improve the negative aspects of our natures and transform that ENERGY to a drive towards HASHEM. No need anymore, pop a pill and make the negative go away. So there's no drive towards Hashem, it's the least price we can pay for a quiet classroom. Thank you Johnson & Johnson, no need for this Tanya or Likutei Mohoran anymore.