Tuesday, March 31, 2009

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A New Gift from Hashem

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Each and every day is a new day, an entirely new creation. It will never exist again, ever. So every day is a new start, an opportunity to start all over again.

Rosh HaShanah is a time to resolve to be better in the coming year. Rosh Chodesh is a time to start a fresh the coming month. Each are imbued with a special energy to regenerate life. However, it is important to remember that not everything happens at once. "One who grabs a little at a time will be successful" (Sukkah 5b).

Lets focus on the most fundamental truth in living an Emunah lifestyle and the most dificult challenge we face. That being...to focus only on today.

Today is the time of Avodas Hashem (service to Hashem). We can't serve Hashem yesterday as it is already spent. We can't (yet) serve Hashem tomorrow, for it's not here yet. So the only time to serve Hashem is...today.

One of the reasons that the Mishnah in Avos (1:10) teaches us "To love work" refers to Avodas Hashem. "To love your work" means to get absorbed in what you do, with proper focus and attention. In short, to give Hashem your full and complete attention...today.

Every day is a new opportunity to grow and develop in many ways. We can develop our initiative and enthusiasm to enjoy every new day that Hashem sends our way. The challenge is to realize that every single morning Hashem bestows upon us a new challenge, a new day. If we internalize this, we can developed more energy, zest, and ongoing joy that can keep us going throughout the entire day. When we say the words "He renews with His goodness, every day, the work of His creation" we should be very thankful and grateful for the new day, a new gift from Hashem.

One of the great benefits of focusing on a new day is the feeling of choice. You can strive to make it a great day, and Hashem will help you to succeed, for "on the path one is determined to go, he will be led" (Makkos 10b). Today, it's all up to you, it's in your hands!

And all you have to do is succeed...today.

(Photo: Looking Up at the Western Wall, by R. Nati)
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Monday, March 30, 2009

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Celebrity Endorsement

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Do we help the poor, or do we let them suffer? After all, WE didn't cause their circumstances. We've worked hard, been responsible, and are doing just fine, thank you very much. Maybe if THEY would work a little harder, learn to be a little more responsible, THEY'D be ok too.

Besides, if they're poor and needy, everything is as G-d wants it to be. Therefore, He wants them to be poor and needy. THEY'RE supposed to be poor and needy.

And I pay taxes, lots of taxes. The government will help them.


It's easy to justify not helping. It's easy to say others will take care of it. But Rabbi Nati and I refuse to sit by when WE can do something. We refuse to watch our neighbors here in Israel crying and begging, and wondering if they'll have food on their table for Passover. Of course, we can't do it alone. Only with YOUR help can we make a difference.

We're just two guys (no organization overhead, no office costs, no salaries, no costs) trying to do what we can. But what do you know about us?

Please take 2 minutes and 20 seconds, watch our video appeal with Rabbi Lazer Brody, shlita (of the Lazer Beams blog and Emuna Outreach).

In Israel charity is a personal affair and our collective responsibility. Every single dollar / shekel / euro given will go directly to those in need (minus the credit card processing fee, ~3%). We are not taking one penny or agara (G-d forbid)! If you'd like to 'tip the bloggers for Passover' and help us personally for Passover, there's a separate button for that. [If you want to do 1 transaction, you can mention in the Paypal message/comment box how much for the tip from the total amount entered.]

In helping the poor, WE have the opportunity to GIVE like Hashem gives. And by doing so, we open the door to many blessings. A kosher and happy Passover to everyone!

Moas Chitim - Charity for Passover

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What's Going On?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

I went to daven minchah (afternoon prayers) at the Kotel as usual, but as I walked in, the men at the tefillin booth asked for help. I have a general rule to pray before I help with tefillin because you can get so caught up there that you put off praying until the very last minute and sometimes even later. So I rather pray first and not have to worry about it. But I saw a group of young American boys standing by the booth and a few of them did not want to put on tefillin. “I am reform. We don’t do that. Tefillin is for the orthodox. No. I don’t believe in it.” These were a few of their objections.

Why is it so important for nonreligious Jews to put on tefillin at the Kotel? It is not just for the mitzvah of tefillin, although certainly this is a good enough reason. When they put on tefillin here, the experience of the mitzvah of tefillin combines with the spiritual feeling of the Kotel. Then, if you motivate them in the right way, their hearts can open and they can change their entire lives in just a few short minutes.

I knew if I prayed first they would be gone by the time I finished, so I jumped in. With a lot of effort I convinced one of the most stubborn boys to cooperate. He had what he thought were very good arguments as to why he did not want to do it; after all, he had never done it before, he didn’t believe in it, they don’t do anything anyway, and a few more like these. I was able to convince him to try it with a good heart and see for himself.

It is not just that I have answered all these questions before so I know how to counter their objections, but also, since I seem to them to be an old man they are a little more apt to listen to me than the younger guys who were trying to help them. Obviously, I use this to my advantage. No. Better to say; to their advantage.

The boy I helped tried his best not to have a good time. He tried real hard to be totally indifferent about it, but standing a few inches from the Kotel, praying for his family and loved ones got to him. He stayed by the Wall for a full ten minutes. No one was forcing him to stay there praying. Once he started, he wanted to be there.

Meanwhile, we were working on one of the other kids who refused. He was a bit of a wise guy. Well, not really, but he was using this as a defense against our attempts to convince him. I told him to look at his friend who also did not want to put them on who was standing by the Kotel for the last ten minutes praying. Just then his friend turned around. He looked totally different than when he walked over there. There was light on his face and it looked like he had been crying and smiling at the same time. One after another we tried with this boy and finally he gave in and put them on. Then as soon as he had them on he wanted to take pictures to show everyone back home the first time he ever put on tefillin.

I spoke to the entire group stressing why it is so important to marry a Jewish girl. Up until then, although some of them had heard that they were supposed to marry a Jewish girl, they did not really understand why. They had a ton of questions and were asking them all at once. Then right in the middle of this, their nonreligious Israeli guide came and pulled them away. It seems that the next stop on their itinerary, or the pizza, was more important to him than their being plugged back into their ancestors’ understanding of life. I quickly gave them my web address so they could keep in contact.

Almost immediately I saw a tourist with two nice teenage boys. It turned out that he was Jewish but his kids were not. Yikes! I explained to the boys about idolatry, that they must never think of G-d as a limited being, a man or a spirit. It is important to help non-Jews, too, especially if their father is Jewish. Remember, you only have their attention for a couple of minutes. You have to use your time wisely. Instead of giving them a lecture on why they should behave themselves, it is best to give them a practical principle that will help them to guide their spiritual choices. I tried to get the father to put on tefillin but he would not. He was very polite, humble, a nice guy, but he did not want to put on tefillin. I think in such a situation he felt that putting on tefillin would separate him from his sons. And obviously he loved them very much and did not want to do such a thing.

While I was busy talking to him one of the other men from the booth brought the non-Jewish boys to the stand and started to put tefillin on them. I quickly called over explaining that they were not Jewish. They came back to their father and I told them to try to convince him to put on tefillin. They tried a little but he smiled and refused.

They walked away leaving me to wonder, what kind of world are we living in when a man intermarries and brings his kids to the Kotel? His non-Jewish kids wanted to put on tefillin but he didn’t. What did he really want for himself and them here?

Within a minute someone called me over. Oy! A young Jewish guy from Holland with a non-Jew was saying, “No, I am not going to put them on because I believe in Yashka as the Messiah.” He believed in the x-ian myth and would not budge an inch. His face was stern as he defended his belief. I gave him several very good reasons why that myth could not be true but he fought off whatever I said without even listening. He became even tougher as he defended that tale. He contradicted himself time and time again, but someone had firmly convinced him that no matter what, he had to believe in that man’s divinity or else he would go to hell. He walked away unchanged.

Then came a large group of soldiers. We helped them all. One after another, Jews from all over the world walked up looking for something. Within a couple of hours, besides the many Israelis, we put tefillin on Jews from Belgium, France, Russia, Chile, Argentina, Canada, America, Denmark, Germany, and a half a dozen other countries. By the time I looked up, it was getting late and I hadn’t davened yet. I left them to watch the stand and went to pray.

What is the point here? What a unique time we are living in! We see millions of Jews coming to the Kotel to look or to pray. At first they might seem to be entirely different people with wildly varying lifestyles and even different shades of skin color. Their backgrounds are completely different. They speak different languages. They do not know each other, but nevertheless, they all come from the same grandparents Abraham and Sarah and the same few tribes of Israel. They have been living for generations in so many different lands scattered all over the world, with such different customs and occupations. But they are all coming here now looking for something.

If you ask them why they have come, they will give different reasons, “History, Just a vacation, To see what’s here, A cousin’s wedding …” but really, they are being pulled here by a 3,300-year-old promise that is recorded in the Torah: “He will return and gather you in from all the peoples to which Hashem, your G-d, has scattered you. … He will bring you to the land that your forefathers possessed... “[i]

These Jews might think that they are looking to see where they came from, but in truth, they are looking to see where they are going.

[i] Deuteronomy 30:3-5
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Friday, March 27, 2009

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Counting on You for Passover

Dear Friends:

My wife came to me last night with the subsidized (more or less at cost) food ordering list for Passover. Chicken is only $5 a kg ($2.30 a pound). Shmurah Matza is only $18 a kg ($8 per pound). Wine is $5 a bottle. My daughter's shoes have holes and her Shabbos shoes broke the strap. New clothes? That's not even open for discussion. And, as the vegetable sellers told my wife in the shuk (open market), buy this week because we're doubling prices next week!

B"H, I still have 1/2 a job! I am NOT asking for your help. However, our neighbors here in Israel are. The first of the month is this week, many a family will be struggling to make sure they pay their rent and aren't on the street for Passover - forget about wine, matzah and maybe a chicken!

This year we don't need to say times are tough, this is headline news and direct experience many can see directly.

Halacha says the poor of your community come first, then other communities. BUT, the poor of Eretz Yisroel are considered the same as the poor of your own community! For most in the US and Western nations, charity is an organizational affair. But here in Israel as we encounter those in our neighborhood and by the grocery store in need, in very serious personal desperate need, charity is a personal affair and our collective personal responsibility.

B"H, I know I'll have food on my table for Passover - I don't know if my neighbors will! No, let me correct that - I know some of my neighbors will NOT!

So we're appealing to you. We are not an organization, we have no office overhead, nobody on salary, every single dollar / shekel / euro / kronor / pound / rubel given will go directly to those in need (minus the credit card & paypal processing fee, about 3%).

We are not taking one penny or agara! Yes, our personal situation is difficult (Rabbi Nati's much more so.) But this is purely for others - we will have no taint of personal motive or inappropriate use of tzedakah (charity), G-d forbid! (If you'd like to 'tip the bloggers for Passover', I'm putting a separate button for that. If you only want to do 1 transaction, you can mention in the Paypal message/comment box how much for the tip from the total amount entered.)

Moas Chitim - Charity for Passover


Tip the Bloggers?


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Bribery at the Kotel

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Yesterday at the Kotel, a man came in with his young son. The boy was around four years old. They were from Argentina. I asked the man to put on tefillin, but he refused. I said, “Then just give your little boy a blessing. Put your right hand on his head and repeat after me.” He put his hand on the boy’s head and repeated the blessing. It is the blessing that the Kohanim give to the congregation every day here in Israel, and on holidays outside the Land.

When we finished, I told him to say out loud what he wants G-d to give to his son. He said a few things and then, as usual, I asked if the boy is a good boy and, as usual, the father said, “The best.”

Why do I have them do this? Number one, it is a religious, spiritual act to bless your children. It brings G-d to mind, as well as your love for your loved ones. But not only that, it usually softens them up, so when I ask them again to put on tefillin, they will agree. And even if they don’t, still, they had a positive experience at the Kotel, loving their kids and talking to G-d.

When we finished, I again asked him to put on tefillin. He was up for it and smiled, asking his son, “Do you want me to do this?” The little boy looked over at the tefillin stand and saw another man with those black leather straps wrapped all over his arm and on his head and neck. It looked a little scary to him. The boy shook his head. “No.” The father immediately refused. He wanted his son to have a positive experience at the Kotel and was not about to do anything to upset him.

They started to walk away. I quickly yelled over to my friend by the stand, asking if he had any candy there. He ran over and handed me two pieces. I gave the little boy one, and I told him that if he brings his father over to put on tefillin, I will give him the other one too. I held it up so he could see the brightly colored wrapping.

They walked around taking a video. I waved a couple of times at the boy, showing him to bring his father over. As they were leaving I asked the father again, but he quickly refused. Then, for some reason, he again asked his son if he should do it. This time the little boy nodded, “Yes.” He came over and put on tefillin, read the prayers, took some great pictures, and waved to his smiling wife and three daughters who were standing near the men’s side. I took four more pieces of candy and gave them to the very happy boy.

Are you allowed to bribe someone to get him to do a mitzvah? Sure you are.[i]

[i] We may encourage people to do mitzvahs even for a reward with the hope that the performance of the mitzvahs will bring them to do them for the right reason. Pesachim 50b.
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

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Stop Complaining It's a Sin

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

The root cause of all our sins and all our problems and the most evil trait is "Kifuy Tovah" - Ungratefulness! And the largest source of sorrow in the world is "Bachyanut" - Complaining. It is brought down in the Midrash T'Chuma Parshas Balak that the reason for "The Attack of Amalek" was (and is) because of ungratefulness. This is the largest single source of despair in the world - that we do not thank Hashem for everything. It closes all the doors and windows of shefa (G-dly sustenance) to the world. It is like building steel gates to blessing.

Hashem is only good. 'Aseh Tov Hashem'. How good is the Lord. 'Todah Rabah Hashem yisbarach'! Thank you Hashem! 'Kamah Tov Hashem' How good is Hashem!

This is a description of the 'midot rahot' evil character traits. 'Wickedness' is this trait of 'kifuy tovah'. It is the source of all doubt and trouble. The worst sin is that we are not grateful for what we have been given. Bachynut on the other hand is a poison to your soul and the source of sickness in the world.

From Shemot we learn from the exodus from Eygpt: we were freed from slavery and then we complained about every little thing. We saw great miracles and the splitting of the sea, and we still complained! About nothing! Instead of praying and thanking Hashem for all that He had done we focused on the lack! The old adage of the glass half empty instead of half full. WE didn't have to work, we didn't have to pay for anything. We were not sick, our clothes didn't wear out. our shoes grew with our feet. We were not cold and were not hot, all we had to do was to learn. All was a free gift from Hashem from pure love. Hashem gave all we needed.

What was there to complain about? Are you in the cancer ward, handicapped, in prison Hashem forbid. No? So there is what to be thankful for! Stop to look at what you have instead of what you think you need, which by the way is more than likely something you want. Instead know that Hashem provides you with all that you need. If you do not have something then more than likely you do not need it or Hashem wants you to pray for it. Instead we're being spoiled ungrateful children crying for something that we just want.

The world where it is today needs shefa and blessing, and the fastest way to reciev it is to thank Hashem.

The root of problems in the home is ungratefulness, shalom bayit problems are often being ungrateful to our spouse. The problems with the kids is we have not taught them to be thankful. They think they deserve something (if not everything!) and when they do not get it they act out. They learned it from us! We are spoiled!

The Holy books explain that the root of all greed and theft and murder is a result from this 'mida rahah'.

The repair for this is to thank and thank and to be thankful for all. As you start to practice this you will feel better and the whole world will start to look like gan eden. The positive effect will change your world, the windows and doors of shefa will open wide. When the pipes of shefa are plugged and clogged we can not receive the blessing that Hashem wants to give us. We need spiritual liquid plumber - that is thankfulness.

Make a list of all the good that is in your life. Take just a half hour and thank Hashem for everything your can think of. As you go through the day and happen to remember something new, stop and thank Hashem for it. Watch all the windows of heaven open to you.

It's your choice to cry or to sing! Our Mitzrayim today is this ungrateful attitude!

The next step is to tell someone else what Hashem has done for you. Just start to sing 'Aeizeh tov Hashem, aeizeh tov hashem, cama tov hashem, cama tov hashem,' 'Todah rabah lacha hashem yitbrech, todah rabah lacha hashem yitbrech', and watch all the clouds of despair disappear from view.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

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Brachos for the Bad

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

We thank G-d for everything. Hashem is good, and everything is for the good.

One of my daughters asked, 'how can you thank Hashem for the bad?' My response to her, 'how do you know it's bad?' Many things that seem bad push us in a new direction - individually and occasionally collectively. They give us new strengths, new depths or new maturity. They get us out of a rut and looking around to re-evaluate our situation and make some needed changes.

I then told her I lost 1/2 my job this week. Baruch Hashem. (1/2 means my employer cut my hours and my salary by 50%, in lieu of releasing me - for now.)

Yes it's tough. Yes Passover is just over a week away with it's expenses, and rent is waiting, and spring clothing is needed for growing children. But hopefully I'll look back at it and say, thank G-d I was pushed to new opportunities.

For now I just say thank G-d, I'm sure it's for the best. I know I'm not alone, a few readers have shared some very difficult stories of losing their businesses and/or homes and I've read a few other Jewish bloggers who are trying to learn to get by on unemployment and Medicaid (US medical system for the poor).

Tomorrow we'll be starting our Passover campaign. Unfortunately many people find themselves in a position of not being able to cover even the basics this Pesach, as I can all the suddenly relate to. Truly far too many are relying on those who can to help this year.
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At the Noam Elimelech

by R. Nati at Mystical Paths

I merited to be at the kever of the holy rebbe, the Noam Elimelech, zt"l, on his yaretzheit. While there, besides praying for Am Yisroel and myself and family, I was honored to deliver the holy pidyanos (the prayer requests) from a number of our readers. In the merit of the Noam Elimelech and the many other tzaddikim I was fortunate to visit and deliver your tefilot too, may your prayers be speedily fulfilled.

While, G-d willing, I'll be writing about the trip later, below are a few photos from the Kever Noam Elimelech and Kever Baal Shem Tov.

Kever Noam Elimelech

Kever Baal Shem Tov

Kever Noam Elimelech

More photos here.
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Monday, March 23, 2009

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Kashrus Alert - "Chalav" Sugar?

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

The food industry today is not the simple thing of past generations. Rather, food science is indeed rocket science. Even seemingly simple products are processed, stabilized, colored, consistency adjusted, etc. The result is even the most straight foward product may not be.

People wonder why there is kosher supervision on something that a generation ago was simple - coffee, sugar, salt, juice.

This type of situation explains it.


Forwarded to me by Neshama of HaBayitah, from here...

For decades, some basic foodstuffs like coffee, tea, sugar and salt were not required to have kashrus supervision, and a Jew could buy a cup of coffee in a disposable cup anywhere.

But a new development in China may change all that.

A large manufacturing plant in China which markets sugar to Israel under a mehadrin hechsher was discovered to have bleached its sugar with lactose, a milk derivative, which makes it cholov akum.

The discovery was made by Rav Avraham Rubin, the head of the Rechovot Mehadrin kashrus organization. He traveled a month ago to the sugar manufacturing plant and discovered the cholov akum ingredient. The plant owners, suspecting nothing wrong, hadn't even attempted to conceal the problematic ingredient on the list.

Rechovot Mehadrin Kashrus Agency representative, R' Yaakov Zeibald, said, "Rav Rubin himself travels to inspect every plant which manufactures the ingredients for the products he supervises. He happened to be inspecting this plant, because he supervises a different factory which manufactures preserves with sugar produced here. After discovering that lactose was used to bleach the sugar, he gave strict instructions that the only sugar which our products may use is the one produced in India which contains no dairy ingredients.

"Sugar has always been considered a raw material that doesn't require special supervision throughout the year. The sugar used in Israel comes from dozens of different plants and no kashrus agency bothers to check its source. For all we know, we may have all consumed this dairy sugar without being aware of it."
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

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It Pays To Advertise

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

I was trying to convince a young American tourist to put on tefillin, but no matter what I said, his response was the same, “I used to put them on, but I don’t believe in it anymore, and I don’t want to do it.” Then out of the blue he asked, “What’s your name?” When English speakers ask my name, I usually tell them my English name.

“Gil,” I told him.

He said, “Okay, for you I’ll put them on. I read the book.”*

I smiled. Whatever their reason for putting on tefillin is not so important right now. Once they have them on and try to open their hearts, their whole world can change.

If there is someone out there you would like to help, let him read your copy. It has touched a lot of lives. Could be it will touch his, too.

(Click on the book image for Reb Gutman's books and music publications.)
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Please Make Death Arrangements Appropriately

From our local community email list in Israel...

Dear Community:

Please be aware that the cost of a plot at the Eitz Chayim cemetary will increase by $600 from $4900 to $5500 as of April 1, 2009.

If interested, please call the office and make appropriate arrangements now to beat the price increase.

Sincerely,
Your Local Cemetery
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Friday, March 20, 2009

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Jews on Har HaBayit?

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

A significant halachic MYTH has developed over the last 40 years, that it is ASSUR (prohibited) for a religious Jew to ascent Har HaBayit - the Temple Mount, former site of the holy Beis HaMikdash, the Holy Temple of G-d, and current site of a number of mosques including the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa (not the same thing btw).

What has happened in the last 40 years, since Har HaBayit entered Israeli control (more or less) is this: the government discourages people from going up due to religious-political conflict reasons, some authorities are concerned about going up due to the possible errors of entering forbidden areas (where the Holy of Holies once stood - and it's exact former position is not known) and the severe spiritual results of doing so, and some authorities avoid the topic as not appropriate to discuss or consider prior to the coming of Moshiach. Reb Gutman Locks made the further point to me that as a site becomes familiar it becomes somewhat a tourist attraction and not treated with appropriate holiness - and for Har HaBayit this would truly be a terrible thing.

That said, as we clearly see in the video below, it is NOT prohibited. In the video below, HaRav Moshe Dovid Tendler, shlita, posek (halachic decisor) and son-in-law of HaRav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, tours Har HaBayit, speaks of it's significance, what's permitted and what is not. It's a bit long (at 17 minutes) but WELL worth taking the time to view. Credit to Israel National News, who's Yishai Fleisher is seen interviewing the rav, and the Temple Institute, who conducts the Jewish KOSHER visits to the holiest site in Judaism.

In the beginning of the video, the rav speaks briefly about the Israeli police instructions, which specific FORBID a JEW from saying a tefilah - prayer or acting in any prayerful way on Har HaBayit, due to the concern it may offend the Muslim presence.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

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Here’s a Guy I Really Don’t Know

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

He’s Russian. Obviously he’s a Jew, or I would not have put tefillin on him. He most likely never put them on before, at least that’s the way he acted when I brought him over. I really don’t know anything about the guy. Or, do I?

Take a closer look at the picture. Do you see that little drop of something on the bottom of his eyeglass? It’s a tear. When we cry we seem so much more alike.

He’s a Jew who has lived his fifty or sixty-some years doing pretty much what all of us have done: trying to make a living, looking for a peaceful place to live, raising a family. Not much more than that. But is this really so? Is this all that we are doing here?

Aren’t we all on a journey? Isn’t there something inside of us that says, “All this, the entire world and all my troubles are really just for now. They are so important to me now, but I know that they are going to end some day. Aren’t they? And I don’t know when that will be. Isn’t there Someone greater than all this?” That’s when we look up, and that’s when the tears begin to flow.

We are all on a journey, a journey that goes on and on, way beyond our temporary lives here. When we go on a journey we pack our bags. But for this journey, only our deeds are going to come with us. And we are all packing our bags every day, whether we realize it or not.
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Politics and the Jews

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Commentor Shiloh asked: "I am sure you have noticed the choice selections that Obama has made to be part of his gov't. Mostly anti-Israeli. What's your take? I sure appears the final shot at us is about to happen."

Geulah fever has been ramping up over the past years. Bush was Gog, Olmert was Armilus. Now Obama's Gog and maybe Lieberman is Armilus? Or maybe Putin is Gog and...

During the days of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, we literally felt geulah in the air. Moshiach was very much in react, just another mitzvah, a little more effort and we'd make the connection. We weren't relying upon our own guesses and best understanding to interpret world events to the words of the navi'im, we had the words of the Tzadik HaDor, the Rosh Bnei Yisroel, to give us that understanding. Of course, it wasn't meant to be.

In the years following, there was a bit of geulah desperation in the air. We tried our best to understand the words of the Rebbe along with the events of the time in their best possible light and continue to believe the geulah was just a hairs breath away.

These many years later we find ourselves again in a time where world events seem to be closely aligning with the words of the navi'im. Multiple times in the last 4 years (during the years of this blog), we've seen mere inches away. Words of tzaddikim and mekubalim have hinted the moment is here. But it's another year, world events continue to move, and we still await Moshiach's coming every day.

With all that preface, I'm going to give 2 answers to your question:

1. The Jewish people have been part of the golden age of EVERY major country & empire of the world (excluding the Chinese kingdoms, Mongol empire, and Japanese sphere of influence). Either the golden age starts to end and the Jews are chased out, or the Jews are chased out and the golden age crashes.

As fortunes have turned for the US, it's no surprise to see the rise of "Jew blamers" and general anti-semitic attitudes.

2. Part of the Geulah process requires the ingathering of the exiles. For the world to begin making the Jewish people uncomfortable in their host countries is no surprise.

For the world to turn on Israel is right out of the words of the navi'im. It seems to me that Ovadiah describes the US experience.

In any case, it's wise to be vigilant and ready to move as necessary. Whether because of simple changes in economic and political fortunes, or whether because of active attitudes that begin to turn against the Jewish people.

However, I wouldn't become overly focused on geulah fever. While we hope for Moshiach's coming every day, we can't yearn and stretch towards it every day without suffering from burnout. We remain subject to human nature.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

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Speaking of Evolution and Design

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

I am NOT going to get into a big discussion on this topic. I will note the Zohar itself speaks of multiple times the world has been created, and describes the time of Moshiach with 1,000 tzaddikim ruling 1,000 worlds. Spiritual, Torah worlds, or physical worlds awaits future understanding.

However, the famous blog Little Green Footballs has gone off the deep end on an anti-creationist crusade. Any body, or any official organization that entertains the slightest concept of life involving a DESIGN pattern (and therefore indicative of a Designer) has been under his full frontal assault. But, as a recent post of his indicates, his thinking process has some big holes even from a straightforward scientific approach. I think that's worth pointing out...

(LGF)An evolution-based understanding of Hot Peppers - Why Are They Hot? Quoted excerpt...

Back in 1960s, Dan Johnson had an interesting proposal he dubbed “directed deterrence” which suggested that some plants may make choices as to exactly which herbivores to attract and which to deter. Hot peppers are prime candidates for such a phenomenon. What is hot in peppers is capsaicin, a chemical that elicits a sensation of pain when it bind the vanilloid receptors in the nerve endings (usually inside the mouth) of the trigeminal nerve. As it happens, all mammals have capsaicin receptors, but it was found relatively recently, that birds do not.


One of the big problems with this approach is the statement "some plants may make choices". (Since when do species make choices on their design? The statement obviously means species self design?

Some will say this is just a language mistake. However, this is frequently an evolutionary science approach mistake. Either there are an accumulation of random mutations that result in new species features improving the species for it's environment, thereby resulting in an increased survival rate and "selection" of the trait, or there is design. Trying to find "intent" leads to a natural focus to find "intendor". Since for evolutionary scientists and the modern approach of sciencism (we understand, therefore there is no room for G-d) there couldn't be a "designer" - indicative of a Higher Power - scientists often make the mistake of personalizing it upon the species itself, or upon the amorphous "nature".

Clearly the incredible complexity of not only the accumulation of random genetic mutation to create a non-dangerous species change in an individual combined with a multi-species interaction scheme such as is the case in a pepper which has developed a feature for the spread of seed through consumption by another species yet avoiding consumption by negative impacting species (animals which have teeth which chew and crush the seeds as opposed to birds which swallow them whole) is so mind numbingly complex and statistically unlikely that many of us see direction, and therefore a Director, in the beauty of the possibly-statistically-impossible result.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

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Hypocrisy

A complaint was brought to the Alter Rebbe (the Baal HaTanya, the first rebbe of Chabad Lubavitch) against his chassidim: "They prolong their prayers and are careful with the performance of mitzvot, but their efforts are superficial and they do not truly uphold that level of piety!"

The Alter Rebbe replied: "Is it really so, is it really so? If it is, then they are deserving of the verdict of the mishnah (Peah 8:9), "One who does not limp and is not blind yet makes out as if he is will not die until he becomes one of them!" Since they act like chassidim and act with love and fear of G-d through meditation and prolonged prayers, then surely they will not leave this world until it is truly so!"

From Toras Menachem 5711, Yud-Bet Tammuz - quoted in Chassidic Soul Remedies by R. Dovid Polter
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Monday, March 16, 2009

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A Total Waste?

The 2nd Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rebbe Dov Ber known as the Mitteler Rebbe, was once in Homil visiting the well known chossid Reb Aizil of Homil during Chol HaMoed Pesach (the intermediate days of Passover). The Mitteler Rebbe's chassidim bemoaned to him that Reb Aizil was not befriending them - leading them in chassidus - and was only involved in his own life.

The Mitteler Rebbe asked him: "Why are you not reaching out to the youngsters in your community and teaching them chassidus?"

Reb Aizil replied, "If I don't have a quiet moment to work on myself, how can I work with someone else?"

The Mitteler Rebbe replied, "Aizil, Aizil, do as I do! When I see that I cannot have an effect on myself, should I then be a total waste? At least let me do a favor for someone else."

From Shmuos v'Sippurim, vol. 2 - quoted in Chassidic Soul Remedies by R. Dovid Polter
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

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A Jewish Teenager

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

At the Kotel, the son of one of the regulars read the Megilah (Book of Esther) for our minyan. I have watched this boy grow up over the years. From the time he was a small child, every few weeks or so, he has come to the minyan in the evening to daven (pray) with his father. Today, he is around 17 years old.

He read very nicely. This means that his voice was loud, he pronounced every word as it is supposed to be pronounced, and he read fast enough so the impatient among us were not stressed out by a longer-than-necessary reading.

After the reading, his father was so pleased with his son’s reading that he took his hand, and with great appreciation, brought it toward his lips. He lowered his head a little and kissed his son’s fingers. After all, his son had just fulfilled a commandment that helped the entire congregation fulfill the important mitzvah of hearing the Megilah. Not only that, but he read it beautifully, and at the holiest place that it can be read today.

What do you think the teenager’s reaction to his father’s great appreciation and humility was? To feel proud? To puff up his chest? No. The young man immediately took his father’s fingers, brought them toward his lips, lowered his head, and kissed his father’s fingers.

He was thanking his father for the wonderful opportunity that he has given him, allowing him to grow up with a Jewish life in the Holy City. He was kissing the man who gave him a life that did not have to be bothered with the plastic or gross things that distract the vast majority of youths as they grow up. He kissed the fingers of the man who raised him with spiritual values in a holy place.

The Torah does not come to give us a burden. It takes a burden away.
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Friday, March 13, 2009

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To the Tzaddikim I Shall Go

by Rabbi Nati at Mystical Paths

TIME FOR SENDING A KVITAL HAS PASSED, THE KVITALACH AND PIDYONOTE ARE BEING PREPARED FOR THE TRIP NOW. The donation button has been removed from below. The donation button on the blog sidebar is for special circumstances Torah students.

G-d willing I'll be traveling to the sites of our holy ancestors and tzaddikim in Eastern Europe on Monday (the 20th of Adar - 16th of March) for four days of prayer the holy kevorim of the Tzadikim.

Anyone who would like their kvital - prayer note - carried to these holy tzaddikim may send me theirs along with a small pidyon nefesh (a charitable contribution) to be taken. Sorry for the short notice, they must be in hand by Sunday morning. Special donation button at the bottom of this post, that will allow a note to be added with the names for prayer, name + mother's name.

G-d willing, I'll by stopping at:

Rimminov; to Rav Menachem Mendel of riminov, and Rav Tzvi Hersh
Dinov; to Rav Elimelech the Bnei Yishachar
Linchet; to Rav Naftali Tzvi of Rofshitz and Rav Elieizer Shaphira the son of Rav Zvi Elimelech
Lizhensk; to the Noam Elimelech
Primishan; to Rav Meir, Rav Aharon Lev, Rav Avraham Chaim from Meleib
Kosov;
Kitov;
Viznitz, the holy admarim of Viznitz;
to the toldos Yaakov Yosef
Aniploi, to Reb Zushia, The Holy Maggid of Mezeritch, Reb Dovid Sofer, Rav Leib HaCohen the Or Haganuz
Sadigora; to Rebbe Israel of Razhin
Belz; to Rav Shalom, Rav Yehuda, Rav Yishakar Dov, Rav Elieizer Rokeach
Uman; to Rebbenu Hakadosh Rebbe Nachman of Breslev
Postov; Rav Avraham HaMalak the son of the Maggid
Anatevka; Rav Mordechai of Chernoble
Austro; Ma Harsha
Spedtevka; Reb Pinkus of Korvitz
Meziboz; Baal Shem Tov, Reb Baruch the Degel Ephraim, Apter Rav, the Ohev Israel,
Berdichiv; Rebbe Levi Yitzchak

I'll be praying for all who wish to a kvital (a prayer note, the name and mother's name to pray for) and a pidyon nefesh (a charitable donation). May call Klal Yisroel receive answers to their prayers!

Note: This trip is by Rabbi Nati. He can be emailed direct at nati -at- mpaths d.o.t. com (human translation to email address format required).
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

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YOU Made it Happen!

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

The woman sits there by the door of the grocery store. She looks a bit like an old bag woman, wrinkled skin and grey completion. She holds a small sign, "illness prevents me from working, please help me feed my children."

Purim morning she was in her accustomed place. People were hurrying in and out of the store, brushing past her like she wasn't there. They weren't being mean, and many even paused to drop in a shekel or two - not looking at her as they hurried to their errands.

My wife was YOUR shaliach, your messenger of Purim tzedakah (charity). She walked over and with a smile asked her how she was doing. Thank G-d, the woman said. My wife turned quietly to go and tried to slip a tightly rolled up set of bills into her collection cup - NIS 400, enough for a Purim seudah (festive meal) for her and her family (and maybe a bit left over for Shabbos).

The woman looked, her eyes widened and she grabbed my wife's hand. "What's this???" 'Matanos L'evyonim, Purim tzedakah.' The woman began to cry and shake, and started pouring blessings upon my wife. My wife said, 'I'm only the messenger, your blessings are for those from around the world who sent this for you.' The woman was crying as my wife walked away (so was my wife!), "people from around the world sent for my Purim???" --- Yes, you did. [FYI, NIS 400 ~= US $94]


They are an older couple. Honorable people, nice looking. He's a Torah scholar. You wouldn't know they were desperate unless you saw them going through scraps behind the bakery and vegetable stand, literally walking off with a few crusts of bread, maybe a small part of a moldy loaf that's salvageable, a part of a tomato that can be cut away. R. Nati knocked on his door, he answered and said "wait wait", and rummaged around the house to come back with 10 Agarot [~= US $0.02] to give to R. Nati. He assumed R. Nati had come to him as a tzedakah-charity collector, and he wasn't about to turn away someone who came to his door, giving from what he had!

As he started to hand R. Nati the single 10 Agarot coin, R. Nati turned his hand over and placed NIS 400 into the man's hand. The man looked down and said "what's this???". R. Nati said, "Purim Samayach", turned around and ran away. The man started to cry, yelling "wait wait" as R. Nati rounded the corner out of sight.

This Purim, he didn't have to make a seudah over a crust of bread because of YOUR help.

The woman was embarrassed, but she had no choice. Her husband had passed away a few years before, and now she is out of work. So she posted a note publicly which simply said, "Please help me feed my family this Purim". YOU fed her family this Purim.

Thank you. We continue to be stunned by the incredible generosity of our readers from all over the world. We were deeply honored to be your messenger of charity to the poor of Israel.

May Hashem grant you many blessings, simcha, parnossa, and blessings for your whole family in your many merits.


* The top donors have been sent a book choice by our supportive advertiser Remarkable Maven - Unique Jewish Products. Mystical Paths thanks them for their support!
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

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"Purim poem"

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths


Sing this poem to the tune of bingo was his nameo

By Yisrael Moskovits

Many years ago in Persia there once lived a king: Achasheverosh was his name.
He ruled 127 countries: that was his fame.
He made a party for 180 days: and then for one more week...
The wine was older that your age: it wasn't for the meek.
There was much pomp: the food was good and the wine was flowing...
everyone took it in: there was no other place to be going.
At this point he was not sober: he did something rash...
He demanded of Vashti: make a show before everyone at the bash.
She said that she would'nt do it: you must be drunk...
That enraged him even more: He didn't like her spunk.
O' he beheaded her: and that calmed him down.
But without Vashti: he was in a frown.
He needed another queen: to wear Vashti's crown...
so let there be beauty contest: I'll choose the new queen on my own.
The beauty pageant: came to town...
Esther won it: it was hands down.
He wanted to know her: Na-tion-ality...
"No" she said. "That secret stays with me!"

Bigson and Seresh were lurking around: to overthrow the king...
But Mordechai understood their lingo: and disrupted their ring.
Esther came and told the king: on Mordechai's behalf...
about the plot of poisoning: it's not a matter to laugh.

The king made Haman : into a VIP...
Now he belonged to the : Persian high socie-ty.
Everywhere he went : people had to bow...
It was the new rule in Persia: don't ask me how.
Mordechai just came and went: he didn't bow a bit...
That made Haman vent: I'm gonna have a fit.

Haman planned with the king to kill the Jews
but he didn't want this to be big news.
"They have different ways from us and from the things we do...
for example their holidays they celebrate: without a barbecue!"
"I see, about them, You are right...
but this must be done out of sight."
"Aren't you afraid of their G-d: haven't you been told?"...
"No! said Haman he is old: and he can't even scold."
"And besides, I have for the kings pockets: ten thousand of silver"...
"Ok you have my stamp: but the money you must deliver."
He planned to kill them all: from near and from far...
The decree was stamped: the date was set for Adar.

Mordechai bade Esther: with a plea...
to null-ify: Haman's decree.
She came to stand before the king: after fasting for three days...
It's very urgent it couldn't wait: Please don't be fazed.


The king tossed and turned all night: He just couldn't sleep
Then Haman came early morn: with a secret he couldn't keep.
The kind said first: there is something I want you to do...
To repay a favor: to Mordechai the Jew...
To lead him on my horse around the city streets: and then you must tell...
This is how the king favors a person: who did him well.

Haman found Mordechai teaching his students: and asked what are they saying?...
"They are learning the service of the temple and are praying."

"I came to lead you around the city with the kings garments and horse."...
"You, Haman, are wicked person. Have you no remorse?"

No one saw who threw the garbage: on Haman's face...
But he had to be at the party: and appear with grace.
There was no time to change his clothes: no time at all...
The king's men were waiting outside: to whisk him to the ball.
The king said to Esther the queen: "What troubles you my dear?"...
I'll give you half the kingdom: if you tell me your fear.
She said there is someone very cruel: who plans for my defeat...
and this man will be then trying to take your seat.
The king rose up and cried aloud " Who can this be"?...
Her finger pointed to the man: "It's Haman, can't you see"?

There's a gallows outside that Haman just built: it's fifty cubits high...
"Then hang him now hang him high": came the king's reply.

Mordechai came to the king: about the Jew's plight...
"I'm sorry", the king said, "Haman's decree still stands." : The Jews will have to fight.
They took to arms: and won the war...
But in Shushan : they needed one day more.
They made this miracle into a Holiday: and celebrate it with much glee...
I drink the wine I drink so much: I don't know if I'm me!
The reading of the Megilla: its for us to hear...
When Haman's name comes up: the noise is hard to bear.
The shops are all empty: everything is gone...
It's all being sent: to people around the town.
We send the food: with good will...
So the poor people: can eat till their fill.
We send mishloach manos: and give to the poor...
It's better to eat a little less: and to give a little more.
The message that Purim comes to tell: it's very clear to see...
Hashem protects his people: from any evil decree.
There's one more thing about Purim: remember it for Hashem's sake...
We must try to obliterate: the name of Amalek.

Happy Purim Yisrael Moskovits
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Monday, March 09, 2009

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Ha Orrat Purim 'The Lights of Purim'

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Mamar : כל המועדים בטלים וימי הפורים לא נבטלים"
(הלכות נחלות הלכה דHilkhot chalakha daled
Acording to the Torah, " say to the Cohanim", simon bet look there at all this Torah על פי התורה ''אמר אל הכהמנו בסימן ב' עין שם כל התורה

The main thing is prayer. "for all the wars of the Moshiach will be won through prayer" "and the main weapon of Moshiach is prayer" "and all his conquering is from this". Rebbe Nachaman also brings down here that, and we see there, that Yosef the Tzaddik was shomer Habrit and from this he merited the B'chor, the rights of the frist born. For he was not Yaakov's frist born but he was Rachel first born. For He the B'chor is the aspect of Avodahs Ha Tefilla 'the service of prayer'. for the B'chor receives a double portion. Rebbe Nachaman brings down that a person prays more for his b'chor, before a person has his first born, he prays for him, and all his other children come from this prayer, so the B'chor is the aspect of prayer.

This double portion is a an aspect of prayer, because the there is the order of Ho da ah, thankgiving and praising Hashem and b'kasha, a person asking Hashem for what he needs. Two aspects of prayer.


And this is the aspect of Purim, the subjegation of 'Haman-Amalek'. and this is what Raba bar Chana said... "because in this 'golus' that we are enduring at this very minute, and that Raba bar Chana is speaking in his time, it is one and the same. "That Hashem has turned his face from us". Even at his time. All of our requests and prayers and or crying out and in our hisbodeut all of this is, because of 'Hester Panim' the turning away of the face. And now when we see the length of this golus, and that it seems to not be ending. And that we are asking for him to return to us. And everyday when we call out and nothing is happening, it seems as our prayers are for nothing.

"Penei ali" Return to us! We feel some times that our prayers are for nothing. But in truth not one word is waisted. All the ours prayers are taken by the Tzaddikim. They take them and build and establish them and put them in their place. Like Moshe who built up the Miskan by arranging it in order so that the Shekinah could dwell there in it. And the Moshiach and the Tzaddik are an aspect of Moshe. The Tzaddik of the generation elevates an assembles these prayers in the proper order and he arrangeds them into their proper places, so that he builds the Beis Ha Mikdash and the Moshiach will come. And there are those who are confused and think that their prayers are not going up. That there are no fruit to the prayers, they are wrong they are raised and warmed and ripend. In truth they all go up every singal prayer goes up through the Beis Ha mikdash, the al gather there and are beam up from there. And now that there is no Mikdash the prayers go up at the kevrey graves of the great Tzaddikim. And every word is gathered and transformed into a building block of the Mikdash. They all raise to the throne of glory and they all led to the building of the Beis Ha Mikdash. speedly in our days quickly amen.

When this is complete and formed for the place of the Shekinah is completed through prayer then Hashem will bring the Emes Rachim, He will turn over the 'Midah of Din' to the 'Midah of Rachim' this is the aspect of mercy a person has to know. We are taught by Chazal that through our prayers that the Beis Ha Mikdash is built, But we need understand and to know that when the Mikdash is built it is, and only through the mercy of Hashem. Because everything we receive is only a unmerited, a free, undeserved gift from Hashem. Even though we have to pray for it and the Mikdash is rebuilt only by and through our prayer in the end it will only be by, Chasdei Hashem, it will not be as it were a payment for our prayers. Its is only the Chesed of Hashem. In the same way that this works for the kal for Am Israel, it also works in the prat, in our personal geula and any one that spends time in service to Hashem, ie. in prayer and requests and thanks giving will see this, that we have to pray and we receive Yehshuot, the salvations we need to know that it was not us but only Hashem mercy.

That Hashem will turn to us and bring us close to him and reveal the Tzaddik to us. It is only from Hashem that we even desire to come close to Him. When we merit to come close to him through our hisbodeut and he relieves us from our tivot and 'Middot ha rah', our base lusts and when we see that it was Hashem that has let us spend a lot of time in prayer. A person might make the mistake and think that he is not doing anything. In truth there is no word or one sigh that gets waisted. They truly make a huge mark and impression, and the Tzaddik takes them and builds these incredible beautiful buildings from them. They are the aspect of the Miskan all of us have to strengthen ourselves and know that it does not matter how speak or what speech we use to call out Hashem, the simple prayers are the best, we need not be elogent, but simple from the heart, in short the truth!

The whole of it is we have to just keep Davining and Davining 'praying' to Hashem as we are creating material to help the Tzaddikim to build. We supply the tzaddik with the 'Chomer' the materials they need to build the Mikdash. the greatest blocks of gold and jewels are made with just our simple prayers.

But Haman-Amalek he is all of the kilpot and Sitra Atra. Where does all this doubt come from that our prayers are of no use? They come from the heresy of Haman-Amlek he poisons our Daat by telling us that we can not help and that our prayers are useless and that there is nothing we can do. It's hopeless 'Ain ma la sot' how is is it possible that a person can pray and not believe in his prayers? It only comes from Haman-Amalek!!!

The power and the miricle of Purim, the Neis of Purim, is the greatest of miricles it is bigger than kias Yam Sof. Bigger than Matan Torah. The down fall of Haman-Amalek is the highest of the higheast of day, of the year. Why is the golus so long and so so bitter? It is all from the power of Haman-Amalek. Galut Edom for amalek is of the seed of Edom. Why? Why is it so bitter because we do not believe in our prayers! He seduces us into doubt all of the Tivot and the Middot Rahot all come from Haman-Amalek. Midrash Tehumah, in parshas Balak says that Haman-Amalek only comes from the Middot Rahot of not seeing the good, of ungratefulness! This is what empowers and calls him to attack us. He comes and tells us that there is no good. And it is this, this lie, keeps us from seeing the good makes the golus so much more bitter our 'Pegam b'Daat' our defect in our understanding adds to, and lengthens the golus and the lengthening of the golus weakens our prayers, it distances us from Hashem, we must not prepetuate this cycle, we must break the cycle. Because of all the bitterness makes us less confdent to stand up to him and pray and believe. It is a cycle that must not repeat itself. All the trickery and deceit he uses, if it were not for Hashem fighting Amalek himself we could not stand! Hashem in his great compassion sends to us Tzaddik, but we do not want to connect to him, it is only by Tzaddik telling us to not to give up, that we can keep going! Amalek knows this and he knows we are close to the end, and he only comes when we get close to the end. When we can make it, he comes to stop us Haman came only at the very end. everyone miscalculated the time of the End. When we were so close, then he comes to stop us. he says it can not be done give up. But when we know that this in and of it's self is a sign, to strengthen ourselves and carry on as the End is very close. But as we are scattard and seperated in our belielf. It's only by this lack of 'Achdut' Onesness we are defeated. We need to pull together and wake up. Haman came and told the king "their God is sleeping and is not coming to save them". Only by our prayers can we awaken Hashem's Rachim. We know, that He that keeps Israel never slumbers and He does not sleep. but He faithfuly watches over us! But it is just that he has turned his face away from us, so it appears that He is sleeping. Haman the wicked came and said to us that our G-d is sleeping, "see he's not coming to help you", He's not answering you, give up! The truth is there is no such thing that Hashem is sleeping it is only the Middat HaDin. We must awaken His Rachim then he will as it were return to us. There is no way to wake Him up, Haman said there is no such thing as Emunah! When we lengthen the golus we fall and say why, only because of this that Amalek tells us that it is over. But the Torah strongly warns us to remember what Amalek did to us on the way. this is a remez to all the history that he will constantly attack or faith. There are 6 things to remember that which Amalek did to us the 1st is that he came to cool off our heart he tried to convince us that every thing is just chance and there is not divine providence. and he cooled us off. We need to be on fire and warm to serve Hashem, but if he can cause a doubt then we become tired and we became tired of praying, So we did not fear Hashem they weaken our Daat remember it well what they have done to you in every generation! Not to believe in our prayers! Listen to the warning of the Tzaddikim Never give up and never stop believing in the power of prayer! Not only is he trying to tell us that Hashem has never helped you, that he has not even began to hear you, he has not and will not redeem you. They want us to forget Hashem! we are falling a sleep, so many of us are falling asleep, and worse, into the coma that we can not wake from. We need to only stay awake, and the only way to do it is to just to say thank you! The power of saying thank you can destory Haman-Amalek it is a spiritual nuke, because it is easy and simple just to today say thank you Hashem. Thank you for what he's done today, not yesterday we are only just trying to stay awake we are in spiritual hypotheremia we are cold.

On Purim we need to drink and get warm and Remember all that Hashem has done for us! That is why we need to read the Megillah every year as if it was happening now. We know that if we read the megillah as if it is a history then we have not fulfilled our obligation.

Rebbenu tells us that Hashem is constantly with us! "I never left you! I give you everything you need! If you think you lack somthing it is only that which you do not need! I"m doing right now miriciles to save you from that which you do not even know! So how can you doubt me? I give you everything I supply you with all! You lack nothing! Today you have all that I know that you need." Please wake up and thank Hashem! Are you alive? Then it is a mirical! Are you breathing? It's a Neis! Thank Hashem! It is only thought the Tzaddikim, Moshe and Mordechai that can wake us! Was it the hands of Moshe that saved us? Or was it us the Jews looking to Hashem? when we look not to our own strength or someone elses but to Hashem's strength, in us, in our power of prayer. As soon as we surrender to Hashem in prayer He comes and imedatey, He comes and saves us! Just look up to the Heavens this is the only way to defeat Haman-Amalek.

Happy purim we should merit through our dancing and joy to destroy Haman-Amalek Today once and for all! Amen.

Just as we have to give to any one who asks us on Purim, if we ask of Hashem then he is bound to give us! What do you have to lose? Ask and He will grant you your desire. Be carful not to waist this Purim on only being drunk but use it to elevate you Daat to understand all that Hashem wants from us. this is the key to the Geulah, open the door and just walk in




Reb Nati
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LIVE from Purim in Israel!

We're live Tweeting Purim. Yes indeed folks, you can have a minute by minute breakdown of Purim in Israel. If the spelling deteriorates...well, perhaps the wine is flowing and the music is playing.

Join us live for Purim in Israel! (Twitter update box below - requires Flash 9.) Check back & REFRESH for frequent updates.

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Why Tanis Of Esther?


by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Esther's fast.

When we have Emunah in Hashem, and Emunah in the Tzaddik and Faith in ourselves we have no need to fast (Liktey Moharan II, 86; Rabbi Nachaman's wisdom #140).

Let's for the sake of conversation for a moment just let go of this life this earthly life. Let's mentally leave behind all the earthly goals and take leave of the material all our worldly aspirations to raise above all the transient temporal desires all of them riches power, pleasures, prestiage, all of this 'the olam' the world we live in with all of it's t'aivah 'lusts' and enter a more permanent eternal, more meaningful exisitance. To a state of life where there is solitude, to a place where we can see the vainity of 'this normal life' to a vantage point from where we can see the total futility of the this world and this life, with it's social standards and it's peer presures. We rise to a perspective to where we can clearly see the futality of and insanity of a "Jewishness practiced only to attain empty vain goals of such a life. from this point, detacted from from and unmoved by these earthly goals, it's only from this eternal panorama that we can focus on the the "Ultimate goal of the life", 'THE EMET' And from here, undisturbed by the distraction of the transient, vanity of this world, we can concetrate enough to yearn for and long for and come in touch with the deepest longing of our real selves our souls and it's only desire that being to cleave to Hashem, to be one with our source. From here we can can see the and feel the harmony of creation with our souls we then can sing in the this celestral symphony. Our souls sing all in unision, they sing they parts their song to Hashem the master of all. And at this point we can experience Hashem only and we can only manifest Him... This is Joy... and now we can only stay here for a short while, in this ecstatic moment, feeling no experiencing a fortaste of the life eternal. This is the goal that we each long for. and now as we begin to return from reallity to this temporary experience that we call life this earthly relm, we want to take all this that we have gain the insights and all the feelings we have had, ingest them and let them enter deep into our souls so that whem we return to our fleshly material selves we will remember what we saw and learned and now that we are back here in this reality that hides the truth to this mundane, we promise ourselves that we will stay above these earthly goals that we will stay awake and aware of the truth and that we will always focus on the the ultimate goal of this exisitance in every thing we do. But most of us aren't really yet to make this leap of faith. we are are distracted and overwelmed by the colors tastes and sounds of this earthly life that we identifty so strongly with this earthly life, that we afre unable to unplug, that without it we see no point in living. we feel earthly goals are all there is and to give them up is to be left with nothing. this begs at us in it's self it asks, Who are we?... What is life?... and where is Hashem? What is my part if any in this?

We can never answer these objective questions as long as we are blinded by the subjective needs. by those desires for riches... and pleasures.. power and prestige... these were all that Haman and Achashverosh had and longed for. The earthly he ruled over the whole world. They had it all, but what? They wanted more they wanted, what the Jews had too. To answer these questions we need to set our sights on the 'ultimate goal' to be able to even catch a glimpse to be able to even set our sights we need to the Tzaddik who can help us raise above the earhtly goals.
We must connect and link to the the Tzaddik who has no subjective goals, who can answer our questions and guide us to the ultimate goal. we must follow and relate to his teachings, and allow the to restructure our lives a refocusing as it where. But to do this we must have faith in the tzaddik and in ourselves, but it is only through the tzaddik that we can begin to have faith in ourselves this in turn builds our faith in the tzaddik that he knows the true answers and that we can raise to the goal. and we ourselves must take the frist step of showing our desire, because by doing so Hashem sees that we seek the truth and He will guide us to the tzaddik. But until then, we are as blind to the tzaddik as we are of the ultimate goal (Likutey Halakhot, Hilchos shabbos 6:3).
And in the time of Haman, as is the case now, we had lost faith in the tzaddik, we ignored Mordechai's plea not to attend the orgy. We had lost faith in ourselves that being that we could withstand temptaion and raise above, to the goal (Likutey Halakhot, Yibum 3:15).

So Esther decreed a fast she enjoined us to make a vow (Rokeach, Esther). She told us to raise above the need to eat she proclaimed a 3 day fast. and making the vow to fast, we showed our desire to transend the earthly needs. We showed faith in ourselves, that we could and would keep the fast. Hashem them helped us to see that we really do not need all those "needs". And He brought us in touch with the Tzaddik with Mordechai who could then tell us the truth about ourselves. Who are we What is life and where is Hashem. And then we will have no need to fast. Rather, at the Purim Banquet we can serve Hashem with feasting and drinking even more than we serve Him with fasting (Likutey Morharan I, 58:2-6 also Lm II, 86). Beacuse the The "ULTIMATE" GOAL IS EARTHLY SERVICE. BUT WE MUST FAST TO GET THERE. So every year on the eve of Purim, we keep Esther's fast.

Tzom cal, Happy Purim from Reb Nati and family from the Holy city of Jerusalem.
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Sunday, March 08, 2009

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Pour’em - Until What?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

We are told to drink so much on Purim that we cannot tell the difference between “Bless Mordechai and curse Haman,” or the other way around! What does this mean? How is it possible to drink like that?

First, for a well known fact: if you mix drinks – whiskey, wine and vodka or whatever - the chances are that you are going to become violently ill and miss the entire point of the party. (You will also earn the great disrespect, to put it mildly, of the one who has to clean up after you.) It is best to drink wine since wine was served at the original Purim party.[i] Whatever taste you prefer is fine, but stick to one type throughout the entire day.

The spiritual task on Purim is not simply to be happy. We must try to experience the highest spiritual joy possible. This joy comes when Hashem’s Presence is unmasked. How can drinking on Purim do this? By breaking down the human system of logic that prevents this understand from dawning. We try to take a peek into the greatest mystery of all. This can happen only when there is joy, and this joy has to be the joy that comes from doing a mitzvah. We are not searching for mere physical joy, such as the joy that comes from eating and drinking. But on Purim, even the joy that comes from eating and drinking is a mitzvah!

Once, there was a holy king. This king was not just an ordinary king. This king demonstrated his royalty by exuding a wondrous feeling of bliss. This feeling was so strong and so enjoyable that when his subjects would come into the palace for a feast, they would say, “This feeling emanating from the king is so wonderful, if only there could be more of it.” They reasoned that the only thing stopping the king's bliss from entirely filling the room was their own bodies, which took up so much space.

They decided to shrink in order to leave more room for the king’s bliss. And it worked. As they shrunk, more and more bliss filled the room. They enjoyed the additional bliss so much that they shrunk again and again until finally, they completely disappeared.

Unfortunately, this left the king with a problem. “I want to enjoy a feast with my subjects, but every time I invite them over,“ he complained, “they disappear on me. I want to eat and drink with my friends, but they evaporate right before my eyes. I don’t want to eat and drink all this food by myself.”

“Wait a minute, I know what I can do,” he reasoned. “After all, I am the king, so I can do whatever I want. I’m going to apportion myself around the banquet table. I am going to take small portions of myself and form these individual portions into different people, and on each person I am going to put a distinct mask. Each portion is going to see itself solely as the person that its mask depicts. And this mask is going to be stuck on each portion so that none will be able to remove its mask for the entire party. Maybe some portions will be able to sneak a peek from time to time, but for the most part, the masks are going to be permanently affixed.”

“What a party it will be! There will be eating and drinking and grand entertainment, with everyone ordering whatever he wants and eating whatever he orders. Then, at the appropriate time, when the feast is over, the strings holding on the masks will be loosened and each portion will be able to lift off its mask. Everyone will see it was really only me sitting there the entire time.”

This is the hidden story of Purim. This is why we wear masks and costumes on Purim, hiding our true identity. The truth is, only the King will be at your Purim meal, but you will not know this because logic tells you that you and your friends are the only ones there.

And this is why we drink so much on Purim. When the wine goes in, the mysteries come out. This year, when you are so very drunk, try to recall who is really filling your body. Try to take a peek under your mask.

“Know this day and take it to your heart that the L-rd is G-d; in the heavens above and upon the earth below there is nothing else.” Ain od! (There is no other).[ii]

[i] Esther 1:7
[ii] Deuteronomy 4:39
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Friday, March 06, 2009

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Live Video from Jerusalem Terror Attack

Yesterday afternoon there was another Tractor Terror Attack with an Arab tractor driver ramming and attempting to crush a police car and a bus. Thank G-d, he was unsuccessful with a passing taxi driver jumping out and shooting him - followed by additional police reinforcements. Both police officers in the rammed car survived and are praising the Protector of Israel...

Watch the lower left corner from this area surveillance camera.

(temporarily removed - player problem)


Watch the INTERNATIONAL complaints as "poor Arabs are discriminated against by not being able to work as tractor drivers" as construction companies start reacting to this 3rd Jerusalem Arab Tractor Terrorism attack.

Thank G-d no one, other than the attacker, were killed or seriously injured.
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Simcha on Shabbos

Click Here for The Mystical Paths Purim Tzedakah/Charity Campaign

A Simple Jew asks:

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught that a person must be extremely careful and make an effort be b'simcha on Shabbos. At times, however, it seems that we are surrounded by people who are not approaching Shabbos with this perspective. What do you do to make sure you always maintain a happy mindset on Shabbos, even in the face of adversity?

Akiva at Mystical Paths answers:

First I should note that being joyful on Shabbos is a lesson from the Baal Shem Tov. Once can certainly become hyper-focused on every halachic detail of Shabbos to a negative extent. For example, if one is afraid of accidentally stepping upon and killing an insect (which can be difficult to avoid in some place), one could stay home all Shabbos. If one is afraid of creating a draft that might affect the flame of the candles, one could sit still in ones chair all Shabbos. One could, by such actions, keep Shabbos to every halachic detail - avoiding any intentional or unintentional violation of even the most minor detail of Shabbat. But the Baal Shem Tov taught that one who does not involve oneself in the spirit of Shabbat, in the joy of Shabbat, has violated a great mitzvah.

While I am not a Breslever chossid, I understand that Rebbe Nachman taught that one should be joyful at all times! (Except for 1 hour a day, during which one should perform a cheshbon nefesh, a self accounting, regret ones negative deeds or insufficient positive ones, and resolve to improve for the next day, and perhaps during tikun chatzos - the midnight lamentation for the holy temple.) If one is not serving Hashem with joy, then one is not showing appreciation for the mitzvot - instead one is treating them like a burden.

My answer to your question, however, is an answer learned from the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the path of the Chabad shluchim -- a little light dispels a lot of darkness. When one is b'simcha, one becomes a shining light for those around him. Pirke Avos teaches us to greet everyone pleasantly, and there is great power in simple smile, a good morning, and an enthusiastic response to "how are you doing" with an upbeat "Baruch Hashem!". How much more so with a big smile and an enthusiastic "Good Shabbos!!!" Or a response to a mumbled to you 'good shabbos' with a big smile and a warm "Shabbat Shalom UM'VARACH!"

At first you may feel uncomfortable, being so enthusiastic when those around you are not. And you may wonder if those less so are thinking about you with a cynical "what's wrong with that guy?" (Yes, they probably are.) But after a while, a few weeks or perhaps longer, people will start to tentatively smile as they come towards you. People will start making a point of coming to you because YOU pick them up.

The Torah teaches us that EVERY Jew has the power to affect the environment around him. Yes that's spiritual, but it's also a direct impact on the people around him. A brief personal story, when I started working in an office in Tel Aviv with secular Israeli Jews, they would ask me the standard "how are you this morning?" I always answered with an enthusiastic "Baruch Hashem, tov!" After a few months, THEY all started responding to my statement "Yistabach Shemo" (His name should be blessed, secular Israeli's blessing Hashem!) Or if I asked them how they were, responding "Baruch Hashem".

A final note. There was a very interesting study done on facial emotional expressions. One of the results was astounding. The experts cataloging facial expressions spent a long time working on themselves to replicate the expressions - to understand all the abilities of human facial muscles (what expressions are possible) and then what ones we make. As they spent weeks working on duplicating negative expressions, expressions of sadness and pain, they found themselves feeling very depressed. After a few weeks of this, they realized that while we normally think our facial expressions are a reflection of how we feel, it ALSO turns out how we make ourselves appear/express on our face AFFECTS how we feel. Which returns to the instruction in Pirke Avos, greet everyone favorably - with a smile, and YOU'LL feel better (about yourself and about others).

We are taught that even one who does mitzvot for the wrong intentions will eventually come to do them for the right intentions. This applies to being b'simcha as well...smile, act happier, and you'll help yourself feel happier. Smile and show your enjoyment of Shabbos to others, and you'll affect them as well.

Shabbat Shalom
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Thursday, March 05, 2009

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Mishloach Manot and the Poor

Click Here for The Mystical Paths Purim Campaign

The following is picked up off Hirhurim, sent out by a group of rabbi's to their community. Edited for brevity and removal of communal references, with comments added in (parens)...

Dear Friends:

As you well know, we are in the midst of a financial crisis unprecedented during our lifetimes. We must take stock of the circumstances and react to the new realities in a responsible way. The phenomenon of so many of our friends and neighbors (and fellow Jews in Eretz Yisroel) experiencing hardship deserves our attention and consideration.

Philosophically, it is perhaps the time to remember what we all know to be true. Our material possessions are a gift to us from God who divides "the pie" as He sees fit. Those of us who are the beneficiaries of His generosity must use our share to care for our families and to help others less fortunate.

A good time to put this lesson into practice is Purim. The Mitzvah of matanot la'evyonim "gifts to the poor" should be given special emphasis. We should fulfill mishloach manot "presents of food" in the simplest way, two food items (one cooked or baked and a beverage) to one friend (Chabad custom is to two friends, containing two brachot - one being a drink).

Instead of spending large sums of money on fancy mishloach manot packages, consider what you have budgeted to be given to Matanot Le'Evyonim (gifts to the poor) and charities which are helping the poor.

...If we reflect seriously on sharing what God has bequeathed us in the most productive and altruistic way, then we could spread the joy of Purim to those who are going through hard times.

Great thoughts by Rabbi's Billet, Topp, and Glatt. If you wish to help the poor in Eretz Yisroel - which according to many authorities have the same priority as your local community, we recommend:

The Mystical Paths Purim Campaign
-

Yad Eliezer

Colel Chabad

Lama'an Achai - Beit Shemesh

Eizer L'Shabbos - Safed

Many blessings for Purim!
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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

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Tzedakah - Charity for Purim - An Appeal

Jerusalem Post - Recession a Catastrophe for Charities - Recession and unemployment are creating a complete catastrophe for charities. "This is a worst-case scenario, a nightmare"... a 50-60% increase in people requesting food assistance and a 25% drop in donations.

Dear friends, the economic situation around the world is frightening and many of you are worried about your job. Your investments have sunk. Things are not easy.

But for some the situation is much worse. Social welfare provided by Israel won't keep people from starving, nor keep a roof over their heads. Charities help, but as noted above they are in trouble.

One of the biggest mitzvot of Purim is Matanyos L'Evyonim, sending gifts to the poor. This year they need it more than ever.

We at Mystical Paths, Rabbi Nati and Reb Akiva, are offering to help. We will take your donation and distribute it to the poor here in Israel, for the mitzvah of charity and the mitzvah of Purim. We give you 3 options:

1. Fulfill your halachic obligation. Specify where you are and _as your agent in Israel_ we will distribute it at the appropriate time for your obligation. (Example: You live on the US East Coast, we distribute at 2:00 PM here - 7:00 AM for you on Purim day.)

2. Help the extremely poor of Jerusalem. We'll distribute _in Jerusalem_ on or before Purim so the poor may prepare for Shushan Purim in Jerusalem (Purim is celebrated 1 day later in Jerusalem). Such joy it will give them!

3. Help the poor in advance in Israel. We'll distribute _before Purim_ so the poor may enjoy the holiday b'kavod (with respect) - knowing they'll have food for their family.

As a special bonus, advertiser Remarkable Maven will send a signed copy of The Trail to Tranquility by Rabbi Lazer Brody (limit 2), or Chassidic Pearls (limit 3-not signed), or The The Garden of Yearning (not signed) to the top 5 donors.

Every dollar, shekel, krona, euro, pound, peso, or ruble donated goes directly to the poor. No expenses, no overhead (except Paypal and currency conversion charges, usually about 4%). Please, help out today.


May Hashem bless you abundantly for your help! I know you're worried about your job, your home, your bank account. So am I. But there are those who are worried about BREAD, HEAT, SHOES for their children. It's up to us to help.
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That's Not Going to Work

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

A Simple Jew has been having a bit of controversy in comments. The question arose whether another blogger, in apparently challenging a statement of a gadol Torah, was speaking heresy. Calls for immediate banning of his comments where made. I wrote this reply, which I've extended with several additional comments in the discussion on my reply...

One of the early complaints about Chassidut was the revealing of secrets. There's a story (if I remember correctly, writing this quickly at the end of my workday) of the Maggid of Mezrich, Rebbe Menachem Mendel his talmid, and the Baal HaTanya his talmid. They were walking down the road when a piece of paper with Chassidut was blown down the street by the wind. The (future) Rebbe Menachem Mendel picked it up and started to become very upset that such holy secrets were blowing down the street like garbage. The (future) Baal HaTanya comforted him saying with a story of the king being willing to sacrifice his most precious jewels to save the life of his child.

Judaism has been a religion of thinking, analysis, delving deep into G-d's words, teachings, direction, and secrets. Nor did Judaism shy away from questions of creation, the world and nature. Judaism did not debate how many angels could stand on the head of a pin, nor demand that man's interpretation of the words of Genesis mean that the Earth could not be moving in space (though relatively speaking what's moving can be debated).

Further, it deals remarkably with human nature. Business rules take into account how people feel and react to money, men-women rules take into account how adults can react to each other and human desires, community rules their people context. (Note a halacha of Purim allowed the reading of the Megillah to be moved to the nearest town market day - so people would MOVE the holiday to meet their business-life needs.)

Judaism has not been afraid of questions, of challenges, for the TRUTH does not fear lies. The Jewish people have been challenged BY FORCE throughout the ages, crushed by those who would shove their lies down our throats. But never have any foreign ideas been able to stand against the LIGHT of Torah.

Suddenly, in an age when our youth are QUESTIONING - a holy tradition of Judaism - a portion of our religious society has become fundamentalists in the nature of other religions. They would insist on learning only PSHAT, and anyone who varies one iota from the words of pshat is a heretic. In the nature of the Amish, they run from the tools rather than learning - and more important teaching the generation - how to use them to strengthen themselves and share the light of Torah. In the words of Rabbi Horowitz, they would raise the whole generation to be gedolim and tzaddikim, rather than mench'im and "just" good Jews.

There are those Jews who are questioning and even challenging Judaism. We have literally thousands of years of such challenges and the wisest and holies of men's answers to give them. What's NOT going to work is to say "SHUT UP", "SIT DOWN", "GO AWAY", or to stick our fingers in our ears and go "NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA".

So 'A Simple Jew' can shut down comments and just lecture to us. Of course, the EFFECTIVE teachers are those who interact with their students. He can tell those who question and challenge to JUST SHUT UP. It won't work, it won't help that person and it won't help Judaism - but it will make us feel better being able to pretend that there aren't such challenges. (And sometimes, if it's just pure vitriol, that may be appropriate.) Or he can give us a place to carry on a conversation, even occasionally an uncomfortable one.

I, for one, do not believe that Judaism is only for monks in a monastery. No, I don't ask him to tolerate someone who's only vomiting insults. But I am not afraid of the CONVERSATION - nor do I believe anyone with a solid grasp on Torah and Judaism should be.

Pirke Avos teaches us respect is not chased after, it is to be run from. If the gedolim need a crowd to be beating people to maintain their kovod, then the kovod is not real. Further, people who feel they need to beat up a questioner or even an insulter to maintain the kovod of their gadol, are being tricked by the yetzer hara.

WHERE IN THE SHULCHAN ARUCH IS THERE A MITZVAH TO "MAINTAIN THE LEGITIMACY OF OUR GREATEST LEADERS"??? Their legitimacy maintains itself from the truth and from the Torah. (I'm not saying there is no mitzvah of kovod to rabbaim or zakkainim. I'm asking about the mitzvah of "maintaining", the assumption we are required to _defend_ their kavod.)

Let me give you the words of a kannoi (a zealot) of the previous generation: "When we got for kannus, zealotry to defend the Torah, we cried as we exited our houses for what we would have to do. [Which was often violence or vandalism against their fellow Jew.] Today when they get up for kannus, they laugh and speak with pleasure about what they are to do."

Yes in a perfect world we would not tolerate those who would spread doubt. But would you rather take a tiny risk to perhaps have the opening of a Torah conversation with your lost brother, or lock yourself away? Even the Beis HaMikdash had windows to let the light out, and a 13th gate to let the lost in. Would you wall them off in case something inappropriate might draft in?

I agree that a blog author/editor is responsible to monitor and manage comments - though as a blog author/editor of a pretty active blog I must say this can be challenging and time consuming. However, it's a bit unrealistic to assume a blog author/editor - especially of a private blog (as opposed to an organization/business) can filter everything and create a perfectly kosher environment - if we could even agree on what that would be.

I think there's a level of literalism gone amok. Not only on words of the Gemora and even Midrash (which was NEVER meant to be considered literal), but on the merest small comments of gedolim (of current and past) generations as well. As Pirke Avos teaches, we can learn much from even the actions of the gedolim and tzaddikim. But there's a reason it also teaches they have to be extremely careful with their words (or people can be led to "bad places"). We can learn so much from their holy words, but we've also entered a time when we tend to ignore their context, situation, local customs and culture, and intended audience.

The holy words of the Rambam were appropriate for his community and/or the one he was addressing with Moreh Nevuchim. But those same words were assur'd (prohibited) in France, where they were considered confusing of the public's emunah by the gedolim of that community.

So which is it? Are they holy and appropriate - or assur and damaging?

Is challenging the words of a gadol as possibly out of context, misunderstood, or targeted at one audience or community and being applied too wide an action of kefirah (heresy)?

In the recent past, ParshaBlog challenged a statement posted on other blogs about Rav Kanviesky, shlita predicting a war to occur this past Chanukah. He challenged it's context - was it a personal answer to an individual (about where/when to hold a wedding) or a communal answer and we should all be urgently stocking up on food and water? In a very unusual instance, that blog author took the question to heart and arranged for the question to be taken back to the Rav!

The answer was ASTOUNDING! It was, if I remember correctly, "the answer was for the questioner (who had asked about whether to hold a wedding in Israel or not, and when), and things said 'in my name' cannot be relied upon."

Not only was the challenge not kefirah, it turned out to be common sense versus a time of "telephone tag" where messages and stories get passed around, distorted and meanings misinterpreted.

I, for one, am FRIGHTENED by the tendency of modern charedi Judaism to slide into fundamentalism. If our children dare ask WHY, they're charged as being under negative influences and pushed away to protect the others. For the adults, the words of the holy ones can't even be discussed for it might lead to charges of heresy - even the rumors of their holy words!

When did we become so afraid, and the Torah so weak?
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