Sunday, May 31, 2009

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Being Satisfied With Your Portion

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

We are told that in order to be rich we must be satisfied with what we have.[i] We should be thankful for whatever G-d has given us, recognizing that He is giving us even more than we deserve. He is not just fair with us. Each of us receives more than we would if He gave to us only according to our deeds. Two men often take the same action yet their endeavors produce wildly different results. This shows that the outcome of our efforts is really in G-d’s hand.

We should not measure our wealth by looking at anyone else’s portion, but by looking at our efforts and actual needs. Of course, we must work hard to accomplish our objectives, but once we try, the outcome is no longer in our hands. Hashem wants us to make vessels that He will fill for us. Our actions are the vessels, and the results that these actions bring will be according to His blessings.

See that having enough material wealth to provide for life’s basics necessities is both satisfying and good enough to enjoy life to its fullest. Avoid the trap of materialism. Materialism fools you into thinking that the goal of life is to acquire material possessions. Materialism misleads you into believing that more is better. Necessities are essential, and comforts are nice, but beware of the lure of luxuries. They can cost you much more than you realize. Beside the initial outlay that you have to spend to acquire them, they can actually end up making you very unhappy. Luxuries mislead you into thinking that daily comforts are not enough and that you need more luxuries. As you get used to the new luxuries, they themselves become mere comforts. Then you will have to strive even harder to get more luxuries so you can be happy with what you have. It is a self-imposed trap.

However, all this is true only in the physical realm. In our spiritual lives, we must always thirst for more, never stopping to be satisfied with our accomplishments or station. When you are satisfied spiritually, you stop growing. King Dovid, who was the anointed of Hashem, and the beloved of all Israel,[ii] tells us this over and over again. How often does this spiritually unique man cry out, “How long will You hide Your face from me?” “My soul thirsts for You.” “Why do You stand back?” Yet who today experiences more spiritually than he did? It is this thirst that motivates us to strive harder, seeking to experience even more of His most wonderful Presence.

Spiritual satisfaction is the most foolish of all egotism. It shows that you think you have done so well that you need not do more. A spiritually satisfied person feels that he has attained all that is worth attaining. This is sheer nonsense. There is no end to the magnificent glory that Hashem can show us. In fact, the more we are blessed to experience, the smaller we realize we are.

To experience His glory is the very reason we have been created. Seeking spirituality is a lifelong pursuit. We are to strive continually in order to experience more and more of His wonderful glory, as much as we possibly can.

[i] Pirkei Avot4:1
[ii] 1 Samuel 18:16
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Peace Process in Context

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

The frequent refrain of the peace process and sacrifices for peace has gained world cult status. There is no other possibility anymore, the Arab PR machine has done it's job well. The poor peaceful natives-since-time-immemorial Palestinians are oppressed by the cruel Jewish invader.

Lets see an exact example of this from today...

(YNetNews Opinion) I am unfamiliar with any location in Israel or in the occupied territories where a Jew cannot travel to his own home in his car. Yet for us, the Palestinians in Hebron, this is the norm. Since 2001, the main street in Hebron's Wadi Hassan, which you refer to as the Zion Route, has been closed off to the movement of Palestinian vehicles. The street is only open to Israelis. Not even one Jew resides on this street. The road was closed off to us ... because of "security needs."

This argument is of course baseless, as Palestinians and Israelis travel side by side on many roads in the occupied territories. Yet the scare-mongering gets the job done.

...(The article goes on to describe how having this road closed embitters the lives of local residents.)...

The freedom of movement of Palestinian residents of the Zion Route will never be realized until Israel stops viewing us, the residents, as second-class citizens in the area.


See, Israel is racist! Palestinians are 2nd class citizens! Oppressed! Occupied! Now for other news from the same day as this opinion piece...

(IsraelNN) Three young Palestinian Authority Arab women were arrested Thursday for attempting to stab IDF soldiers at checkpoints. In the first incident, an Arab woman approached a checkpoint near Ramallah with an unsheathed knife. Later in the day, two teenage Arab girls arrived at the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Maarat Hamachpelah) in Hevron. Police began searching one girl's bag and found a knife. The girl threw the knife at the soldiers just as soldiers found a knife in the second girl's possession as well.

(JPost) Two suspicious men approached the Kerem Shalom border crossing at the southern Gaza Strip (a main pass-through point for humanitarian supplies into Gaza). An IDF unit crossed into the Strip and attacked the terrorists (and many times it's the clear hand of Hashem that's the only thing stopping the mass butchering of Jews).

Weapons and explosive devices were discovered on the bodies of the dead terrorists. Army sources assess that the terrorists had intended on placing explosives on the border fence in order to activate them near IDF patrols.


Every few days we hear of attacks like this. Sometimes the soldiers catch them in advance, sometimes (G-d forbid) the soldiers are injured (or worse). And this is WHY the checkpoints are there...

Because there is a unrelenting violent and hostile population bent on killing their neighbors, the Jews. The more attacks, the more checkpoints.

30 years ago there were no checkpoints! An Arab in Ramallah or Gaza City could get in his car and drive to Tel Aviv for work or Jerusalem for shopping. As terrorism increased, security increased. Simple as that - the Israeli government refuses to let their citizens be easily slaughtered.

Dear Arabs, sorry for the inconvenience.

P.S. Why is there airplane security in the US? There was none until the 70's, then metal detectors, then passengers to the gate area, then intense scans, then shoe and chemical check, and now it's backscatter full body scans. Why is that?

70's - "Palestinian" hijackings.
80's - Hijackings increase.
2001 - 9/11, Muslim suicide jihad by plane.
2004 - Muslim jihadi shoe bomber.

(Brief history of hijackings. What's all those Arabs doing on the list?)
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Saturday, May 30, 2009

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Challenge Test

Very timely from Dry Bones...

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

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A Little Help for Torah and Young Men?

Yeshiva Nishmat Shlomo is a very special yeshiva hidden in the hills of Safed (Tzfat) Israel. It's a yeshiva that takes boys who have been falling out of the system and turns them into successful young men with a future.

Unfortunately, with economic conditions being what they are, parents are able to pay less and supporters are less able to support. The yeshiva is at risk of closing down for want of a not overly large amount of money.

To solve this problem, they are running a raffle together with a few other yeshivot to raise the money they need to survive.

Please take a moment to click on the ad below, check out the raffle page and below the ad on their page, click to enter the raffle today. For $36 you can help save a yeshiva!

Please mention "from Mystical Paths" in the comment box so they know where you came from.

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The Tzadik Emet - Part 2

by Rabbi Nati at Mystical Paths

(Part 1 here.)

Reb Nosson of Breslev wrote, "and the Tzadik HaEmet this is Rebbenu Nachman ben Simcha ben Feiga. The Tzaddik is gadol v'yoteir efilu more so than the kohen gadol who is the one who is in front and inside. Like it is brought in Sotah perek chaf daled 24 'lefney and bifnim penimi, me li? Who is this, who is in front and inside? me he? penimim? Who is this inside? He is more precious than the kohen gadol because he can repair averot that Yom Kippur can not fix.' It says in tractate Yoma, 'the sins between man and Hashem are repaired on Yom Kippur'. The Tzaddik HaEmet can repair sins between man and his fellow. This is higher than the kodesh hakodeshim! Gevalt!"

The talmid chochom, the Tzaddik HaEmet, like it is brought in Yoma daf peh vav that Yom Kippur fixes these sins but not those. The Tzaddik HaEmet can go in further and higher than the kodosh hakodoshim and to a place where the kohen gadol can not reach. The Tzaddik HaEmet can reach a place more holy and closer to Hashem, to repair what can not be repaired on Yom Kippur. Like it says in Mishlei, perek tet zain, 16:14 "The Kings wrath is like the angels of death, but the wise man, the talmid chochom/Tzaddik HaEmet will appease it". Reb Nosson explains the pasuk like this: there are sins that enter even unto Hashem, has v'shalom, and even Yom Kippur does not appease, but the Tzaddik HaEmet knows how to appease them. Thats why he is higher than the kohen gadol.

The Beis Hamikdash repairs only those things that are between man and Hashem. But the Tzaddik HaEmet knows how to Kippur/appease the sins between man and his fellow man. The soul of the Tzaddik HaEmet comes from a place higher than this so he is able to make wonderful repairs!

Let's be straight here. Tachlis b'shetach, we are ALL very very far away from the truth! There is a gap between us and Hashem. What is our avodah (divine service)? Klum shum davar (nothing)! Our merits are nothing! We can not even focus in this generation for a moment on our prayers. Or guard our eyes from looking at the most putrid of things in this lowly world! There is not one of us who has not fallen very far from the truth! The idea of kedushah atzmei, 'personal holiness' is far far from almost all of us! Which one of us has not once in this year had even a parve thought that has not taken us away from Hashem for just a second, not to mention all the evil thoughts that come upon us. What kind of pagamim (defects) we have created every minute in this coma we call life???

But don't worry, Hashem has not left us without hope. Every generation He sends us tzaddikim to help show us the way, and every so many generations a very special neshama (soul), the neshama of Moshiach, the exact same neshama as Moshe rabaynu, the exact same neshama as Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the exact same neshama as the Baal Shem Tov...

G-d willing, to be continued on Sunday, following the giving of the Torah on the holy holiday of Shavuos this Friday and (outside of Israel) Shabbos. Have a chag samayach, a happy holiday.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

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Thank G-d

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

A couple of days ago, a Jewish man drove up to the Kotel in an electric wheelchair. He was about 40 years old. You could see right away that his body was severely handicapped. He was surely born that way. I doubt that he has ever been able to take a single step in his entire lifetime without someone helping him.

My friend asked him if he had put on tefillin yet. He looked up to the sky, and with a look of reverence, he kissed the tips of his fingers and then raised his open hands upward.

"Baruch Hashem," he said.

"Blessed is G-d," is the literal translation of these words, but when they are used this way they really mean, "Yes, thank G-d."

Here's the question. Here is a man who has been severely handicapped his entire life. He has never been able to participate in normal physical activities. He cannot take a bus, and he cannot go to the majority of places that we all take for granted. He has always had to depend on others to help him to do the simplest tasks. I'm sure that his handicap interferes with almost all of his physical life. Yet, he can look up to Heaven and say, "Thank G-d."

The question is, how can you and I not be thankful for what we have? We have normal bodies, and pretty much physically do whatever we want with almost no trouble at all. In fact, since we have no trouble, we do not even think what a blessing it is that we can do them.

Yet, even so, so many of us go around moping, complaining, as if we are down and unhappy with our lives! Oy, oy. Don't do this one.

The next time you catch yourself feeling down and complaining about your portion, remember this guy in the wheelchair, and count a few of your blessings.

“Thank G-d that I am not in a wheelchair. Thank G-d that I do not have to go to the hospital a few times a week for kidney dialysis. Thank G-d that I do not have a headache. Thank G-d that I have food to eat and a place to sleep. Thank G-d. Thank G-d. Thank G-d.”

After a few minutes of thanking G-d for what you have, you are going to find yourself walking down the street singing the song of, "How happy I am that I am so blessed. Thank G-d."
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Refuah Shalayma Rabbi Teicher!

Rabbi Shabtai Teicher is a rav and mekubal (kabbalist) who has been teaching, and teaching the hidden secrets of the Torah, for the past 35 years in Jerusalem. He is a descendant of Rebbe Shalom Dov Ber of Lubavitch (and his wife is a descendant of the Noam Elimelech and the Degel Efraim.)

He is also one of the teachers of Rabbi Nati of this blog.

He has a special way of bringing people to the deepest secrets of the Torah, relating to people on the most practical earthly level while introducing them to the secrets of Heaven. He has written several books in English on some difficult parts of the Zohar - though they are not openly published but distributed to select seekers of such knowledge.

This morning he had a stroke and is being treated in Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem at this time.

Mystical Paths wishes HaRav Shabtai ben Devorah Pearl a refuah shalayma, a complete and speedy recovery, and we kindly request you add him to your tefillot (prayers).
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The Tzadik Emet - Part 1

by Rabbi Nati at Mystical Paths

In this complex time, perhaps in this ultimate time, it's time to recognize that a rabbi from 200 years ago began to peel the veils from our eyes so we can understand. He was Rebbe Nachman from Breslev. Bres lev means a heart of flesh in Yiddish, there's a pasuk in Yirmiyahu, Yechezkel 36 - I'll take your heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh! (reference correction by anonymous commentor)

We are very short on time, just a little over a year to go. One year and two months to be exact until it has to come. The redemption has to be now to be 'before it's time', and as the pasuk says "even if I bring it in it's time, I'll bring it before it's time." In the next year much from the navi'im, the holy biblical prophets, must happen. We are well into and on our way to Gog u'Magog. They will come, once again, to divide the land, claim the holy city, and crush the chosen people. It is truly time to pray.

So I'm going to delve into a subject that I feel is critical to understand, yet difficult to explain.

I have asked myself, how is it that a tzaddik can repair me, provide me a tikkun? After all, I'm the least of the least, I'm up and down and all over the place. How is it that he can bring me up and to direct me on the path of teshuvah? By what merit can he do this? How is it he can bring me closer to Hashem, when I sit in the depths of tumah that flood us in this generation?

With thanks to Hashem, and in the merit of Rebbe Nachman and of Reb Nosson and all the holy the Tzaddikim and in the merit of our Holy Forefathers, I believe Hashem opened my mind and my sekel (intellect) just a little so I might come to understand a bit of what all this means, sharing truths that are recorded in the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev and Reb Nosson and Chazal before them.

The question a person must have is, how can I make the tikkun (the repairs - the soul corrections, the tasks) that I have to make in this world and in this lifetime? I mean, I fall and get up all the time. Practically everyday, sometimes multiple times in a single day!

Recently in the parshat hashvuah it spoke about the Kohen Gadol and the talmid chochom, the Tzaddik HaEmet. The times are such that we need to understand who and what is the Tzaddik HaEmet. In parshat acherai mot, perek vav (6) there is a remez (a hint): How it is that the Kohen Gadol is able to come into the Kodesh HaKodeshim (the holy of holies). "Aharon shall bring near his own sin offering, a bull 'parah' and provide atonement for himself... With a parah ben bachor, chatat and the orlah.

How is he able to come to the Kodesh of the Kodeshim? "Only with the Nukudot Tovot". Parah is 'Resh Peh Bet', gematria 282 or the Torah of Rebbenu, 'Azamra' - "I will yet praise Hashem with the little I have left". With this seemingly small good point. Reb Nosson writes on this parsha in perek 16:17 "Any person shall not be in the tent of the meeting when he comes to provide atonement in the Sanctuary until his departure; he shall provide atonement for himself, for his household, and for the entire congregation of Israel".

Reb Nosson said, "Mamash I'm shaking just to read this in the nigla (the open written Torah), dafka it is l'miesha. It is not a hidden thing! It would be one thing you would expect in the Holy Zohar and in the writings of the Ari, but it is not just there. It is in the nigla as well as the nistar (the secret-the hidden). It is Halchah L'Miesah and they say 'there is no hidden treasure in the hidden'. What connection does it have to me? If it was only in the nistar, we could say we don't understand or that it does not apply to us. But it is brought down in the Talmud Yerushalmi in Yoma, perek alef, halachah heh; The Rabbis of blessed memory speak there on the language of the pasuk...

What does it mean that there shall be no man in the tent? They say not even the Adom Eliyon, (a concept from kabbalah we won't go into here), but even the spiritual levels of the image of man, would have no permission to enter. Chazal ask, how is it that the kohen gadol, a man of basar v'dom (flesh and blood), can come in?

We need to understand how it is the kohen gadol can go in on the holiest day of the year and repair what we have caused to fall to the kilpot (how our negative actions have given G-dly energy over to the other side). We will take the explanation from Reb Nosson and build on this little by little until we understand what is the Tzaddik HaEmet!

For 30 years I have davened to Hashem to merit to see the geulah. I have acted on my belief in Hashem, His Torah and His holy tzaddikim to change my ways and my life, and to be here in Jerusalem. Pray for me, for I'm not well (for HaRav Nasaniel Levi ben Chana Sarah). But I rely only upon Hashem, who has the power to heal. Not on flesh and blood but on the living G-d. As it says in Yishiyahu, "Not by might nor by power but by My spirit says the L-rd Of Hosts".

May we all merit a complete healing today, and a complete geulah today!
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Monday, May 25, 2009

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Not Only the Path of the Tzadik

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

A well known chassidic story emphasizes different paths of chassidus...

After the passing of the Maggid of Mezritch, when the spheres of influence in spreading the teachings of Chasidism were divided up, Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi, known also as the "Alter Rebbe" and the founder of Chabad chassidus, was allotted Lithuania and White Russia. However, being as Rebbe Shlomo of Karlin had followers in the towns of Beshenkovitz, Tzeshnik and Liepli, he was allowed to continue visiting there.

When Rebbe Shlomo decided that he wanted to permanently move to Beshenkovitz, he first asked permission of Rebbe Shneur Zalman. The Alter Rebbe agreed with the following conditions:

1) Rebbe Shlomo would not demean those who devoted themselves seriously to the study of the revealed parts of the Torah;

2) Rebbe Shlomo would not disparage those who had an innate fear of Heaven;

3) Rebbe Shlomo would teach his own Chasidim that faith alone in the tzadik (righteous person) is not sufficient to enable one to ascend to higher spiritual levels but that one must personally toil in one's G-dly service.

Rebbe Shlomo was willing to agree to the first two conditions but could not come to terms with the third, for he taught his Chasidim that those who are bound to the tzadik are elevated by his service; the mission of their Divine service is simply to be enthusiastic about the study of Torah and the observance of its commandments. His teachings conflicted with the school of thought of Chabad Chasidism established by the Alter Rebbe. The Alter Rebbe taught that each individual must personally exert effort in understanding G-d and in one's Divine service.

Thus, Reb Shlomo did not move to Beshenkovitz, though he continued to visit there periodically.

Chabad does not say one should not be bound to the Rebbe, to the tzadik. But it does say it's not enough. One must labor in divine service, reaching out to and understanding G-d (to the best of human ability, through the many holy teachings in the full width of the Torah). This is everyones duty of the heart.
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

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Leaks


[Current world politics around Jerusalem. How this ties into the navi'im (biblical prophets) in a future article.]

Sultan Knish picks up on a US President Barak Obama demand to Israel from a speech Netanyahu made on Thursday.

THIS IS IMPORANT!

Sultan Knish writes...Netanyahu is revealing some of Obama's demands. One of them demanded that the UN flag fly over the Kotel, or the Western Wall, which is the holiest site in Judaism.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed at the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem Thursday night that the Israeli flag will continue to fly over the Western Wall (Kotel). The first prime minister in years to appear at the venerable yeshiva on Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), he ignored U.S. President Barack Obama’s apparent trial balloon that he wants to see the United Nations flag fly over the Old City holy sites.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said the president put forward the proposal during his visit to the White House last month.

Prime Minister Netanyahu declared, "The flag that flies over the Kotel is the Israeli flag... Our holy places, the Temple Mount -- will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever.”

In his short but enthusiastic speech at the yeshiva, where an Arab terrorist slaughtered eight young students slightly more than a year ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated his “Undivided Jerusalem” message.

The packed study hall of the yeshiva interrupted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s short speech several times with applause. The first clap of hands was in response to the statement that Israel’s capital “never will be divided again.” Jerusalem Day marks the day in the Six Day War upon which the Israel Defense Forces liberated the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem from Jordanian rule.


This is the 2nd leak on Obama's new Middle East Peace Plan - which with the US leading will find the world pressuring Israel. Here's the points we know of so far:

1 - No Jewish building or living in Yehuda and the Shomron (aka West Bank), or in 60% of Jerusalem. 200,000 Jews to be made homeless and parts of Israel judenridden (Jew free) from Yehuda and the Shomron (West Bank), and another 100,000 from parts of Jerusalem..

2 - Pali sovereignty over 1/3 of Jerusalem. (Note when such a plan was discussed 5 years ago, there was a rush of Pali residents of Jerusalem requesting Israeli resident status and ID cards - which they are entitled to but had previously avoided for political reasons. When faced with living under their own sovereignty, they chose otherwise.)

3 - UN sovereignty over 1/3 of Jerusalem. (Because the UN runs so many places and situations around the world so well. Gag.)

4 - Arab countries agree to 'recognize' Israel. "Hey, that's Israel over there, isn't it?" Ok, now that's taken care of, Israel should feel much safer now.

5 - Pali's agree not to flood Jewish State of Israel with 2.1 million hostile non-residents, agreeing not to 'resettle' refugees who never lived there and who's grandparents left of their own free will (for the most part) at the instruction of their leaders. On the same note, I'm personally demanding citizenship and housing compensation from Austria, Belarus, and Russia for never having lived there but having heard someone in my family once did.

Lining all this politics up with the words of the navi'im (biblical prophets) in future posts, G-d willing.
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New Recruits

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

A group of some ten American boys were walking away from the Kotel yesterday afternoon. They were around 13 years old. When they came in, I asked them if they had put on tefillin, and they told me that they put them on in the morning.

By the way they were dressed and behaved, you could tell that they were being raised in a good neighborhood and by loving parents. They were on a school trip with their rabbi and teacher. They were really privileged kids, although they might not know it.

I stopped them. “I don’t have to worry about you guys,” I said.

That got their interest up, so they gathered around me.

I explained, “I don’t have to worry about you guys marrying non-Jewish girls. You put on tefillin every day, and you go to a Jewish school. I don’t have to worry about you.”

They all nodded that, obviously, I was right.

“But there are a lot of Jewish boys in your neighborhood that I do have to worry about."

A few of them nodded their heads in agreement.

“You have to help them,” I said. “It’s up to you to do it. They’ll listen to you because you are their friends. But you have to be able to tell them why it is so important not to intermarry. It’s not enough just to warn them not to do it. That probably wouldn’t help.”

I gave them my standard, two-minute explanation...

“All religions in the world except Judaism are based on belief. Whatever religion you believe in, that’s your religion. A Buddhist can become a Muslim in one minute, and then, if he wants, he can change and become a x-ian the next minute. It all depends on which book he believes in. But we are not Jews because of our beliefs. We are Jews because of our mothers. We are not a religion. We are a people. And you want your children to be as you and your family have always been, Jewish people.”

One of them wanted to know where we learn this from, because some of them have heard their friends say that even if the father is Jewish, the children are Jewish.

“Look at our history. Avraham’s wife was Sarah. They had a son named Yitzchak. Avraham and Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar, also had a son. His name was Ishmael. If Judaism went according to a person’s beliefs, since both of these boys were raised with Avraham’s beliefs, both of them would be Jews. And if Judaism went according to the father, since Avraham fathered both boys, both of them would be Jews. Both of them are not Jews; Yitzchak is a Jew, and Ishmael is an Arab.”

I could see that the boys understood what I said, and that they were willing to help. I singled out one of them. “You have to help. Is it a deal?”

He said, “Yes.”

I stuck out my hand and we shook hands clinching the deal.

Their rabbi thanked me, and they walked away not only with a lot of good information, but motivated to help. Even if only one of them, only once in his entire life, help a fellow Jew to not intermarry, he will have done a great thing.

When you help someone, be smart. Show them how to go on and help others, too. You will reach a lot more people with the same amount of effort.
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Friday, May 22, 2009

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Video: Kever Shmuel HaNavi

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

The yaretzheit of the holy navi (biblical prophet) Shmuel (Samuel) is erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan, this Shabbos. Here's a video from our visit there last year on the yaretzheit...

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Home Front Drill

A note for our Israeli readers...

On Tuesday, June 2nd, there will be a nationwide civil defense drill. Sirens will sound at 11:00AM.

This is a MISSILE ATTACK drill. Please check the map to determine the time you have to find shelter - the maximum time is 3 minutes.

This is a serious drill and you are expected to enter your shelter, not just to think about it. If you are driving on the road, you are expected to follow instructions as if it were an actual alert.

Instructions and further information are on the Homefront Command web site.
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

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Photo: Yom Yerushalayim at the Kotel

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Yom Yerushalayim at the Kotel, right now...

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Segulah For Your Children

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

The holy Sh'lah left Europe in the 17th century and made his home in Eretz Yisrael, becoming chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. He is renowned for many things, but one special is a tefilah, a special prayer, he composed for parents to say for the benefit of their children.

The most auspicious time - the time Heaven is most open to this prayer - is said to be erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan, meaning this Shabbos. The Sh'lah wrote, "for that is the month when God gave us the Torah, and when the Jewish people began to be called His Children. On that day, fathers and mothers should give charity to the poor and repent. They should even fast, if they are able to."

Religious schools throughout Israel hand out this prayer to all students to bring home to their parents this week.

Below is the prayer, in Hebrew and English...



English Translation

You have been the Eternal, our G-d, before You created the world, and You are the Eternal, our G-d, since you created the world, and You are G-d forever. You created Your world so that Your Divinity should become revealed thorugh Your holy Torah, as our Sages expounded on the first word therein, and for Israel, for they are Your people and Your inheritance whom You have chosen from among all nations. You have given them Your holy Torah and drawn them toward Your great Name. These two commandments are, "Be fruitful and Multiply" and "You shall teach them to your children." Their purpose is that You did not create the world to be empty, but to be inhabited, and that it is for Your glory that You created, fashioned, and perfected it, so that we, our offspring, and all the descendants of your people Israel will know Your Name and study Your Torah.

Thus I entreat You, O Eternal, supreme King of kings. My eyes are fixed on You until You favor me, and hear my prayer, and provide me with sons and daughters who will also be fruitful and multiply, they and their descendants unto all generations, in order that they and we might all engage in the study of Your holy Torah, to learn and to teach, to observe and to do, and to fulfill with love all the words of Your Torah's teaching. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah and attach our heart to Your commandments to love and revere Your Name.

Our Father, compassionate Father, grant us all a long and blessed life. Who is like You, compassionate Father, Who in compassion remembers His creatures for life! Remember us for eternal life, as our Forefather Avraham prayed, "If only Yishmael would live before You," which the Sages interpreted as "…live in reverence of You."

For this I have come to appeal and plead before You, that my offspring and their descendants be proper, and that You find no imperfection or disrepute in me or them forever. May they be people of peace, truth, goodness and integrity in the eyes of G-d and man. Help them to become practiced in Torah, accomplished in Scriptures, Mishnah, Talmud, Kabbalah, mitzvos, kindness, and good attributes, and to serve you with an inner love and reverence, not merely outwardly. Provide every one of them with their needs with honor, and give them health, honor and strength, good bearing and appearance, grace and loving-kindness. May love and brotherhood reign among them. Provide them with suitable marriage partners of scholarly and righteous parentage who will also be blessed with all that I have asked for my own descendants, since they will share the same fate.

You, the Eternal, know everything that is concealed, and to You all my heart's secrets are revealed. For all my intention concerning the above is for the sake of Your great and holy Name and Torah. Therefore, answer me, O Eternal, answer me in the merit of our holy Forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya'akov. For the sake of the fathers save the children, so the branches will be like the roots. For the sake of Your servant, David, who is the fourth part of Your Chariot, who sings with Divine inspiration.

A song of ascents. Fortunate is everyone who fears the Eternal, who walks in His ways. When you eat of the toil of your hands, you are fortunate, and good will be yours. Your wife is like a fruitful vine in the inner chambers of your home; your children are like olive shoots around your table. Look! So is blessed the man who fears the Eternal. May the Eternal bless you from Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. May you see your children's children, peace upon Israel.

Please, O Eternal, Who listens to prayer: May the following verse be fulfilled in me: "'As for Me,' says the Eternal, "this My covenant shall remain their very being; My spirit, which rests upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth nor from the mouths of your children, nor from the mouths of your children's children," said the Eternal, "from now to all Eternity." May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing before You, Eternal, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Graphic and translation courtesy of ShemaYisroel.co.il
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Heating Up

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) has not even ended and already the rhetoric is already heating up...

(Jpost) US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (friend of the Jews of New York) speaking on Al Jazeera...

"We want to see a stop to settlement construction, additions, natural growth - any kind of settlement activity," declared Clinton in some of the Obama administration's clearest comments to date on what it expects from Israel.


Note to Jews and friends of the Jewish people world-wide, according to the US almost ALL of Jerusalem is a settlement. Just pull up Google Maps and note the 1949 Armistice Line still there. EVERYTHING on the other side, per the US State Department, is a settlement. This includes...

The old city, French Hill, Ramot, Ramat Shlomo, 1/2 of Maale Dafne, well basically most of the city!

Even the secular Israelis and the Israeli government is being pushed against the wall. While there are those in Israeli society that have begged the US to "push Israel into a peace settlement", even they balk as increasingly demands move from reasonable to less possible to impossible - not even taking into account Torah shel Moshe and the inheritance of Eretz Yisroel.

Israel will be left to trust in Hashem and His Torah, or trust in the empty promises of Obama and the security of the UN.

No one looks forward to a test of faith. Yet there's more simple faith among the common Jew in Israel than one might think. Outside of Israel there's a pretty strong dividing line between Jews with emunah and those without - mostly along the orthodox/non-orthodox border. But in Israel emunah is widespread, the simple Jew exists and is not a rare find. There are strong cultural, segmentation and sect divides (charedi, mizrachi, national religious, kibbutznik, settler, etc), but here in Israel emunah crosses all boundaries.

For those of us too complex for simple faith, from too many arguments of the world pressing in on our thoughts, it's time to focus upon works, teachings and thoughts of emunah (faith) in Hashem. For there is no chochma (wisdom) to get out of what's coming, only emunah (faith) in Hashem.

Photo: Iran tests an extended range ground-to-ground missile a day after threatening to wipe Israel out in 11 days. The Obama administration declares this nothing to worry about, that the main concern for the world is whether a Jewish family in Beit El builds a new room on their home for their baby.
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A Spirtual Battle Begun

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

On erev Yom Yerushalayim - Jerusalem Day (observed a day early this year) the final spiritual battle has begun. Since the days of the navi'im (the holy prophets of G-d) we have been awaiting this day, with excitement for how it ends but with trepidation for what it brings until then.

On erev Yom Yerushalayim, many have speculated for years on who Gog of the biblical prophecy of Gog of Magog may be (a good bit of that has gone on here at Mystical Paths). Does this leader have this attribute from this Midrash or that obscure Gemora quote? In doing so we've been searching for the merest hints, yet the clear signs through major actions are about to burst forth in front of our eyes.

The West, starting with Great Britain, then France, then the United States, has messed with Israel since her reemergence. First they blockaded, then boycotted, then helped (gaining merit), then withdrew support at critical times, then provided it (gaining merit again). They have cajoled Israel, at the price of Jewish blood, to not go to war and defend herself, to stop wars short of complete victory - thereby guaranteeing belligerency and the shedding of Jewish lives into the next generation, and used her as a pawn in global politics. But they've also traded with her, invested in her, and provided some diplomatic coverage.

While they have cajoled, bullied a bit, boycotted now and then, they have never directly threatened her. Yet we find out today, on erev Yom Yerushalayim, that President Obama and the US administration has decided exactly how Israel will be taken apart, how Jerusalem will be divided, and what Israel will give up. Notice what Israel will receive is not on that list, as that's not important.

I do not care that the Obama administration is turning the US government into something not seen since the 50's with MacArthur and the 70's with Nixon. I am mildly concerned that the Obama administration is completely disassembling the financial system of the last 20 years that brought great world prosperity, rather than just re-balancing it and applying better controls. I am slightly disturbed that during the most serious economic downturn since the 1920's the Obama administration is instructing major industries on how they will operate, what products they will produce, and piling on major added costs which will delay recovery by years.

But these are all domestic US issues. If people want to give this man great power and continued approval because 'at least he's doing something', even if it's a really bad something, well that's the way democracy goes. But with Darfur, Pakistan meltdown, an Iran going nuclear, Somalian piracy, when this man singles out Israel as the main world problem and decides the solution is to diplomatically crush her - then I say meet Gog.

My dear American brethren and believers in Hashem, will you stand silent as this man turns the world against Israel? Will you sit by as this man follows the words of that galach (priest) last week who declared to the Arabs residing on the land here that he supports their "ancestral" right to the Land of Israel? Will you wonder whether it's still safe to say anything as Gog leads a coalition of NATO plus other troops into the Shomron and exiles 200,000 Jews from their homes in the name of squatters who were not here 120 yeas ago?

Will you pray for your brethren's safety today, or wait until the UN patrols the streets of Jerusalem as Gog brings the world leaders to declare Jerusalem no longer a city of Israel, a city of the Jewish people, a city of King David, but rather a city of the world, a city of the Vatican, a city where Jews fear to visit their holy sites but Arabs boldly walk where they will.

The time to raise your voice to your political leaders is NOW. The time to cry out to G-d is NOW. The time to be here to strengthen Israel is NOW. For, Hashem Yerachem (G-d of Mercy), the days of Gog u'Magog may be only 14 days away.

In truth, we do not cry out that things may change because the geulah may come. G-d forbid for one moment it should be that we don't want it, and want it today. Rather, we cry out that the words of the navi'im be quick, painless, bloodless, no one should lose their home or be injured, and we merit the arrival of Moshiach and the complete geulah (redemption) literally right away.

And dear friends, all of Israel, secular Israel, religious Israel, zionist Israel, and all the people of Israel all the world over - as well as those who hold by the path of Torah and Hashem without being a part of Israel, all are about to learn that we only have our Father in Heaven, the Melech HaMelachim (the King of Kings), HaKodesh Baruch Hu (the Holy One, Blessed Be He), to rely upon.

As the navi writes, Jerusalem will be a cup of poison for the nations. Yet they seem to wish to rush to drink, for they neither read nor believe the words that they themselves appropriated.

Happy Yom Yerushalayim. May we celebrate with Hashem (G-d) in the Beis HaMikdash (the Holy Temple) THIS YEAR for the pilgrim holy day of Shavuos.

(For the Israeli security services monitoring this blog for whom English and American rhetoric is not their first language... this article uses rousing terminology to wake people up to current events relevant to the Jewish people. It then requests them to take legal and appropriate political action, to take the religious action of prayer and good deeds for the safety and well being of the Jewish people, and to consider aliyah. Though strongly worded, no illegal, unsafe or security threatening actions are recommended, hinted, or presented.)
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

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Withdrawal

A great one from Dry Bones...

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

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Diplomacy and Prophecy

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Did we see diplomatic steps indicating movement towards the geulah today with Israeli Prime Minister in Washington with President Obama? News reports state that the US President refused to "commit" to a time table to deal with a nuclear Iran, and the Israeli Prime Minister refused to accept the US and European position that the Palestinians should be given a state regardless of how hostile and violent they remain. In other words, they basically disagreed across the board.

(A conversation I had a short time ago...)

Friend: Bibi didn't cave in after all. WE now have HaShem as our only ally. By the way, I have believed for ten years now that Netanyahu might be Moshiach ben Yosef. Now his candidacy has become chezkat MBY. We shall see if G-d is with him in his endeavor to destroy Amalek.

He has identified Achmadinejad as Amalek's titular head in this generation. We shall see where this leads. Alone with HaShem at last. No American support, Baruch HaShem
This is worth celebrating: no cave in along with world-wide isolation.

Akiva: You're not the only one to say that. However, it will be a test of emunah (faith) for the Am (for the Jewish nation/people).


Friend: A test that is worthy of the Final Redemption. Bring it on.

Akiva: Armilus must rise to pull the other direction from within the Am (Jewish nation).

Friend: He is already there: Israeli President Shimon Peres. He will do his best to push the Two state solution to our problems.

Akiva: I truly hope and pray that indeed we are at the time, and it is so straight foward. For if we see the negative events in the navi'im (biblical prophets) as diplomatic and bloodless moves, we will have been greatly blessed.

Friend: Moshiach ben Yosef can only destroy Amalek and bring Edom to its knees. To take on the Muslim world, we will need Moshiach ben David.

Akiva: How do you read that? I would have said that in reverse. Further, MBY falls in that challenge.

Friend: I believe that any war with Iran will also lead to confrontation with the EU. His success is dependent on us. However it plays out, today is a day to drink a l'chaim.
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Monday, May 18, 2009

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Editorial

from friend Moshe D. to the New York Times today...

May 18th, 2009 10:10 am

Mr. Cohen is consistent if not regionally astute nor historically accurate in his ongoing "analysis" of the Middle East and it's toxic realpolitik.

This area of the world is a vast and volatile tinderbox not because of the 1948 statehood of Israel, but for the feudal, tribal and cultural differences within Islam itself, the artificial borders created by the European powers in the 19th and early 20th Century, and the "black gold" that once seemed unending and plentiful, but now looks limited and without a economically viable "cross over" for the oily-garchs and their oppressed citizenry.

The intercine warfare between Shia and Sunni predates Israeli statehood by more than a few years. So does the Sunni caliphate of lore, and it's much yearned for rehabilitation. The vast Persian empire is a millennial memory that has been reinvigorated with a frothing vengeance by radical clerics and a once legendary military. So, too, the Philistines (nee, Palestinians)of biblical lore.

The Iranian revolution of 1979 had nothing to do with Israel, but with a ferocious loathing of America, the power behind the puppet Shah. The Iran-Iraq War had nothing to do with Palestinian demands for a return of recent "homelands", but with fear and loathing of and between two branches of Islam. Iranian backing of Hezbollah has just as much to do with undermining Lebanon, one of the last Christian toe holds in the Middle East.

If, G`d forbid, Israel never existed, all of this ~ the venomous intercene warfare, anti-Western terrorism and confrontation, street riots and assassinations over Danish cartoons, public beheadings of women in the Kabul soccer stadium, world wide opium-fueled narco-terrorism, assassination attempts on the Pope, subway bombings in Spain, nightclub bombings in Bali, whirling Iranian centrifuges, the imminent reality of a nuclear armed Talibanistan, Somali and Yemeni piracy, the Group of Islamic Moroccan Combatants (GICM), a vicious al-Qaeda affiliate, the Egyptian Brotherhood, and on... and on... and on...

Radical Islam needs no anti-Semitic stimulus package. Israel is not the problem, but the "tip of the spear" for American self-interests which are, in no small way, as self-interested as the Sunni, Shia, Kurdish and other tribal forces at play in the Middle East.

Perhaps the Palestinians would be satiated with a homeland in Anbar Province of Iraq, or all of tiny Kuwait, or... If they were, in fact, offered and did, in fact, accept the brotherly gesture of solidarity and empathy, nothing at all would change.

simply nothing.

Mr. Cohen, go to shul and pray for the safety of the State of Israel, for whatever glimmer of democracy that has been birthed in the vast cauldron of feudal hatred that is the Middle East, and for one highly trained and very able military ally in the ongoing confrontation with a virulent enemy of American interests and Western culture.
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When All Else Fails …

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

When all else fails, you can always try G-d.

Yesterday, I was trying to convince a young, American student to put on tefillin. He studies at Hebrew University. He has put on tefillin before, but yesterday he just did not want to do it.

I tried some ten different ways to get him to cooperate, but he was strong in his refusal. I asked him why he did not want to put them on, thinking to answer his objections. After all, putting on tefillin is really a pleasant thing to do, especially at the Kotel. It doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t cost money. If I asked the guy to give me a pint of blood, he would probably give it to me, so why not put on tefillin? Jews have been putting on tefillin for some 4,000 years, so it was not like I was trying to sell him something new. Hey, when you stop and think about it, why would anyone ever refuse to put on tefillin?

He said that he just didn’t fell like it. “Look, I just want to go to the Wall and talk to G-d.” He was getting a little fed up with me, so I figured that I had better back off.

“Fine,” I said, “but if you talk to G-d with tefillin on, your prayers will be louder.”

“Let me go talk to G-d!”

“Okay,” I said. “Go ask G-d if He wants you to put on tefillin. Ask Him what He thinks and then listen for His answer. If you hear a voice say, “Why didn’t you listen to that nice old man I sent to you, when he asked you to put on tefillin?” then you’ll know that you’re supposed to do it.”

“What old man?” he asked.

“Me!” I answered.

He kind of smiled, and walked away, obviously glad to be rid of me. About two minutes latter, I saw him walking toward me with a smile on his face.

“You were right,” he said, as he put out his arm.

It’s nice to know that you can get some help around here when you need it.
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

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Learning Talmud

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Learning to be a talmid chacham (Talmud scholar) is a lifelong job. The Talmud is very long and very difficult. And then, when you do get through it all, you just turn the books over and start again. There is no end to it. But really, to be a talmid chacham you do not need to know the entire Talmud, although that would be great. Learning Talmud is not just studying the explanation of the written Torah, it is acquiring a way of life.

Often, younger students will ask, “But what practical use is all this?” By far, most of the cases recorded and studied over and over again contain information that we never seem to use. For instance, millions of Jewish students over the years have learned all of the possible ins and outs of the case of two men grabbing a tallis (prayer shawl) at the same time. Each man claims that he owns the tallis. For century after century, Jews have studied and argued this case, trying to figure out who is the rightful owner of what. But probably not a single one of these students ever went on to become one of the guys to grab a tallis and fight over it. Have any of us ever run into that situation? This appears to be true not only for the case of the prayer shawl, but for the vast majority of cases discussed in the Talmud. Those cases seem to have been isolated instances that rarely, if ever, come up. They seem hypothetical. What good is it to master these cases when they do not appear to be applicable to anyone today?

When someone becomes a talmid chacham it means that he has learned to think as the sages thought. This means that when he comes to his daily problems, although they will be totally different than any cases he learned in the Talmud, still, he will approach his solution like the sages approached theirs. This is the meaning of a talmid chacham. He thinks like the sages of old, and he applies their ancient wisdom to his contemporary life.
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Friday, May 15, 2009

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Video; Teaching a Child According to His Way

Rabbi Jonathan Rietti Discusses the importance of teaching each child according to their needs. Chanoch LNaar al Pi Darko

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

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Two state solution will lead to Israel's collapse

Elder of Ziyon picks up on a fabulous MEMRI translation from the PLO...

PLO Ambassador to Lebanon Abbas Zaki: They talk about a two state solution, and when that is achieved...even Ahmadinejad, the leader of the rejectionists throughout the region, said he supports a two-state solution. Nobody fools anybody.

With the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? what will become of all the sacrifices they made--just to be told to leave?

They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward.


Read the whole thing.
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Hmm.




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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

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Photo: Lag B'Omer at the Kotel

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

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Lag B'Omer in Meron - Down the Hill

Lag B'Omer in Meron was amazing. As I said in the Live posts, the top of the hill at the kever (tomb) was massive holiness and celebration wrapped together.

Down the hill was a festival atmosphere. Tents and booths of all sorts were set up, people selling holy seforim, giving free refreshments, raising money for various worthy causes...

Here Yad L'Achim ('A Hand for Your Brother') is offering light refreshments...

Lag B'Omer in Meron 2009

Kol B'Rama, the Voice of the Heights radio, was broadcasting live from Meron (from someone's roof!)...

Lag B'Omer in Meron 2009

Some enterprising fellow or shul was raising money to write a Sefer Torah. That's a sefardi-style Torah case (empty). Donors get a free box of candles to throw onto a bonfire...

Lag B'Omer in Meron 2009

This fellow was doing one better. He was writing a Sefer Torah on the spot! Only NIS 10 (ten shekels) for him to write a letter in your merit while you watch, a bit more if you want to help write the letter! I think this was a gimmick though, as the result was problematic...

Lag B'Omer in Meron 2009

Here a kabbalist offers to perform the Tikun Kodesh (the Holy Repair) good for finding a marriage partner, having children, a good income, and peace between husband and wife. This is the only tent I saw like this, clearly some showmanship to gain interest in his yeshiva or way to connect to Hashem...

Lag B'Omer in Meron 2009

Lag B'Omer in Meron 2009

Each location had it's own portable power and sound system, most blasting Lag B'Omer music. The total atmosphere was simply stunning.
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

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LIVE from MERON on Lag B'Omer - Update 4

This is from 2009. The 2010 live streaming update is here.

As the night has gotten later, the temperature in Meron has fallen tremendously. Though some hospitality tents are serving hot drinks (primarily black Israeli coffee, 'bots'), it's not enough to ward off the chill.

The younger family members are passing out, the older ones dealing with aching feet. That's not a complaint! It's a good problem to know you've celebrated a holy occasion to the best of your physical ability!

So this will be our final Live from Lag B'Omer in Merin at the Kever of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai post. I've accumulated some audio and video and more additional interesting pictures. But those will have to wait for some time to edit, sort, and enough Internet bandwidth to upload. (We're working these live updates through a cellphone-internet connection, which is just barely adequate but is also draining the laptop battery at double speed.)

Here's our final live pictures, as we gather up the family and head back to the bus for our room in Tzfat. May we all be blessed with the ultimate celebration with the end of the Golus and the coming of Moshiach Tzidkaynu, mamash today!

The rear view from Kever Rashbi. Different Rebbe's were set up with separate bleachers and their own bonfires...

Lag B'Omer Meron 2009

Crowds were heavy, but not crushingly so. Things were VERY well organized, heavy security (in orange) and police presence (in yellow) as well as well marked signs and separate mens and womens areas... (the crowd in the rear of the kever)

Lag B'Omer Meron 2009

Getting inside the kever was almost impossible, the pressure as the crowd squeezed through narrower and narrower channels until it opens up on the inside was downright dangerous. However, getting onto the balconies and right above was reasonable...

Lag B'Omer Meron 2009

That said, every area was busy and people were not hesitating to take some shortcuts...

Lag B'Omer Meron 2009

Lag B'Omer Meron 2009

Of course, the theme of the night is bonfires. While people were constantly feeding the bonfires with more oil and flammables, there was professional staff on hand with fire hoses to keep things under close control...

Lag B'Omer Meron 2009

Lag B'Omer Meron 2009

All in all it was an AWESOME night, an incredible religious experience and an incredible festival experience. There was a cross section of Jews from all over the world and all backgrounds there.

This was my first time to Meron on Lag B'Omer, and I have never experienced anything like it in my life!

Kudos to the Meron area Israeli police who together with the religious authorities worked out a FANTASTIC system for moving traffic & buses in and out and keeping the crowds directed and safe. Getting in and out of Meron was smooth and easy, and given the crowd size that is AMAZING.

Thanks for following our updates. We'll have more photos, video and so forth (G-d willing) over the next few days.
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LIVE from MERON on Lag B'Omer - Update 3

This is from 2009. The 2010 live streaming update is here.

There's music and dancing from all sides. In some areas it's almost deafening as competing tunes come from different tents.

In the main area by the kever, they're dancing outside...

Lag B'Omer Meron 2009

And they're dancing inside, upstairs and downstairs...

Lag B'Omer Meron 2009

And they're dancing on the roof!!!

Lag B'Omer Meron 2009

But while many serve Hashem with joy, some serve with supplications, knowing the Gates of Heaven are open to their prayers at this special time...

Lag B'Omer Meron 2009

The white dots in the photo are ash from the bonfire above on the roof drifting down through the area and onto the black hats and coats of the celebrants.
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Monday, May 11, 2009

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LIVE from MERON on Lag B'Omer - Update 2

This is from 2009. The 2010 live streaming update is here.

Oy, the pushing, the dancing, the smoke, the kedushah!!!!

The oil is pouring preparing the bonfires! Some were light at 9:00 PM, some at 10 and 11, but some Rebbe's are waiting until Midnight - time for all to gather and prepare...

Lag B'Omer 2009 in Meron

Lag B'Omer 2009 in Meron

The band is playing in the main kever area, the bonfire burning, Ashrechem Ashrechem Ashrechem Yisroel!!!!

Lag B'Omer 2009 in Meron

And of course, the people are DANCING ON THE ROOF!!!

Lag B'Omer 2009 in Meron

...and the hachnachos orchim (taking care of guests) is awesome, as literally ten's of guest tents are serving cake, drinks, soda flowing freely in the kever itself, soup, cholent, kugel, tuna sandwiches, hot dogs, and the traditional chai rotal - liters of wine and grape juice.

My feet are aching, my eyes are drooping, my neshoma is soaring!
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LIVE from MERON on Lag B'Omer - Update 1

This is from 2009. The 2010 live streaming update is here.

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Unbelievable! Thousands and thousands arriving, the kever is a crush of people that literally takes your breath away. Music is blasting from all directions. It's holy and an incredible festival at the same time!

They have not lit the fires yet, and it's already unbelievable! Thousands singing, Torah tents everywhere, raffles, tzedakah being collected, refreshments being distributed for free.

We davening Mincha and Maariv, and counted the 33rd day, Hod she'b'Hod. For those who sent a kvital, in the merit of the tzadik Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, may your prayers which have already been said at the kever on the yaretzheit, be accepted by Shamayim (Heaven)!

Walking to the kever...

Lag B'Omer in Meron

In the entry way...

Lag B'Omer in Meron

The band is set up...

Lag B'Omer in Meron

The crush in the kever, as thousands daven on the yaretzheit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, zt"l...

Lag B'Omer in Meron

G-d willing, more updates in a few hours. Check back! All photos may be viewed in higher resolution by clicking on them.
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Music for Lag B'Omer

- G-d willing, heading from Tzfat to Meron momentarily. Here's some music for this evening...



Lag B'Omer Music

Lag B'Omer Music
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LIVE from MERON on LAG B'OMER

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Thanks for your feedback. We've paired back our equipment a bit and plan on going LIVE from MERON for LAG B'OMER. Hey, the video feeds are great but lets face it, a low quality video stream from a web cam in Meron is no comparison to full quality photos posted regularly. So, G-d willing, we're live blogging from Meron at Kever Rashbi tonight for Lag B'Omer.

Here's our first update...


- We left early in the morning, destination Tzfat (Safed). Tzfat will give us a place to park, and we've arranged accommodations for late in the night (or early AM depending on how long we make it).

- Roads were clear and the drive was smooth.

- As we entered the mountains, we stopped at the kever of Havakuk HaNavi (the Tomb of the Prophet Havakuk)...

Trip to Meron and Safed - Lag B'Omer 2009

- As we came to the Meron-Tzfat road we came across police checkpoints. Somehow we passed through 4 without being bothered, but at the 5th we were turned around and told to head the long way to Tzfat.

- In Tzfat, we visited the kever Ari'zl (the Tomb of the Holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria, zt"l. While we promised to daven (pray) for those who sent their kvitilach (prayer requests) at Rashbi in Meron tonight, we also took the opportunity to bring your prayer requests to the Holy Ari'zt"l...

Trip to Meron and Safed - Lag B'Omer 2009

- One of my children joined us via bus which passed through Meron. Besides the thousands already there, she mentioned it passed a nearby tent city, where THOUSANDS of people have been camping out in preparation for tonights holy events.

- A commentor shared this link for a live feed from Meron this evening. NOTE it works only in Internet Explorer, and probably doesn't go live until after 7:30 PM Israel time (12:30 PM NY time - EDT). [Link valid May 11-12, 2009 only.]

- G-d willing, we'll be posting every hour or two with high quality pictures, some audio clips and maybe (if we can get the bandwidth through the cell modem) some raw video clips. We hope to start around 6:30 PM IDT (Israel Time, GMT+2 or EDT+7, that's 7 hours later than New York, 10 hours later than Los Angeles.)
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

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Live from Meron?

We DID go Live from Meron! Check out our full set of Live posts.

We're considering going all out on our Meron trip, hauling cameras, sound recorders, video cameras, and a laptop with a cell-model to be able to upload and update you hourly throughout Lag B'Omer.

However, given the size of the crowd and the amount of effort to get there, that's a lot to haul around and a good bit of financial risk.

So we are asking you: Are you interested in live updates from Kever Rashbi in Meron on Lag B'Omer?

We've seen tzedekah (charity) organizations offering this for a donation, either a call-in line to hear what's going on or a web link to see. Here at Mystical Paths, we're considering offering it to you FOR FREE.

All we have to know is that YOU ARE INTERESTED, that you're going to stop by and check out the updates. Please comment below and we'll make our final decision before we start our journey in the morning (G-d willing).
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In Praise of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, zt"l alone was given permission to reveal the great mysteries contained in the hidden teachings and to distribute free gifts (Zohar III:124b).

Prior to the great Tanna Rabbi Akiva's passing, this great teacher of the Jewish people summoned his two beloved disciples, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and Rabbi Meir baal HaNess. They asked Rabbi Akiva which of them would be replacing him. Rabbi Akiva said, "Rabbi Meir shall take over the position as head of the Yeshiva." Then turning to Rabbi Shimon he said, "It is sufficient that your Creator and I know the level your greatness" (Talmud Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin 2).

Rabbi Shimon said, "I have the power to correct the entire world; I can exempt the whole world from judgment." (Talmud Sukkah 45b).

Rabbi Shimon was leaving the cave where he and his son Rabbi Elazar had been in hiding from the Romans for thirteen years. They were talking about the righteousness which exists in the world when Rabbi Shimon said "It's enough that you and I are in the world." Another time he said, "I myself have sufficient merit for the entire world." (Talmud Shabbat 33b; Sukkah 45b)

These teachings only reveal a small degree of Rabbi Shimon's greatness and give only a partial glimpse of the true benefit he brought into the world. This being the case, we celebrate the passing of the True Tzaddik, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. This in itself is a great wonder, an obvious contradiction. How can we celebrate and enjoy Lag B'Omer, when it recalls the day when such great good and benefit was taken from the world? What kind of celebration is this? On the contrary, we should rend our garments, as for the destruction of the Temple; as our sages taught, "The passing of a Tzaddik is more severe than the Temple's destruction!"

To answer this, Reb Noson of Breslov quotes the verse, "the Tzaddik is lost; yet nobody bothers to note what has happened. People of kindness are taken away; yet no one understands. It because of the evil that approaches, the Tzaddik is lost (Isaiah 57:1)." Our Sages teach that the very great tzaddikim pass away prior to the onset of terrible evil in the world. For them, this is a blessing; so that they should not have to witness the great suffering which Heaven has decreed, so that their eyes should not have to see all the multitude of troubles that is about to befall the Jewish people (Talmud Sandhedrin 113b).

Reb Noson then goes on to explain that the powers of the "Tzaddikim are greater after their passing than when they were alive" (Talmud Berahot 18a). (This is also explained by the Alter Rebbe of Lubavitch in Tanya, Iggeret HaKodesh.) If we examine the Tzaddik's main purpose in life, we see that all his efforts are devoted to rectifying the Jews and bringing about goodness, both physical as well as spiritual. Through the Tzaddik comes blessings of abundance of wealth and livelihood, and abundance of Torah and repentance. However, as long as the Tzaddik's soul is housed in a body, he is restricted. This because the body, by definition, is a physical limitation. The Tzaddik is therefore prevented from rising to the greatest heights, and even the abundance which he does bring is governed by this restriction. His influence can only go so far until such a time that his soul is divested of its bodily enclosure.

This is why there is cause for celebration on Lag B'Omer. True, it is the day that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai left this world. But, Rabbi Shimon is in Shamayim; Rabbi Shimon is spiritual. If during his lifetime he had sufficient merit to keep the world in existence, how much more so now that he is no longer restricted by the physical? His powers can presently reach such incomprehensible heights and levels that the abundance and benefit he can now bring to the world far surpasses whatever had been possible when he was alive.

This is the explanation of the verse, "The Tzaddik is lost...because of the evil that approaches..." The Tzaddik's entire being is devoted to destroying and combating evil. However, his ability to do this is limited by his physical body. Therefore, Hashem removes this Tzaddik from the world prior to the evils coming. This is so that the Tzaddik's body will no longer restrict his efforts to help the Jews. In heaven, he is free to mitigate the harsh decree.

There is simply no din on Lag B'omer, so you can come to the tzion of the tzaddik and ask what you will and receive a free unmerited gift. Very simply you can receive great and awesome yeshuot (salvations) for children and health and livelihood. So do not get distracted by all the people and pushing and noise, just come and close your eyes to all this world and ask that the blessings of Hashem flow in the merit of the tzaddik. I personally guarantee you will see miracles in your life.

This is the true reason for the great celebration on Lag B'Omer. On the 33rd Day of the Omer many, many years ago, Rabbi Shimno bar Yochai's powers to bring help and salvation to all of Am Israel increased manifold. (Likutey Halahkot, Hekhsher Keilim 4)

Looking forward, G-d willing, to seeing you in Meron on Lag B'Omer. If you can't make it, we would be honored to carry your prayer request for you (see our post here).

And Reb Akiva and I will be attempting, with the help and permission of heaven above, to live blog Lag B'Omer from Meron. Check back Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning (Israel time) for live updates, photos, audio clips, and (just maybe) a few short video clips from the tziyon of Rashbi in Meron.
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Meron on Lag B'Omer and Your Prayers

08-30-Israel-- 132

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(This is a sticky-post, staying in front until Monday morning. Please scroll down for the latest posts.)

With thanks to Hashem, Rabbi Nati and I are pleased to announce we will (G-d willing) be in Meron at the Kever of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, zt"l, for Lag B'Omer.

- If you are going to be there, please keep an eye out for us and say hello.

- If not, on this holy day of Lag B'Omer and this auspicious time of the yaretzheit of Rashbi, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, zt"l, we are offering to bring your k'vitil - prayer request - to the kever on this special day. There we will offer your prayer and daven (pray) that in the merit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on the day of his yaretzheit, that HaKodesh Baruch Hu (the Holy One, Blessed Be He) open the gates of heaven to your prayer.

We have been seeing in a number of Jewish magazines advertisements for this and wish to specify...

... We are not two gedoli hador (leaders of the generation) bringing your prayer for not-less-than $25.

... We are not a minyan of Torah scholars bringing your prayer for not-less-than $36.

We are just two Jews praying to our Father in Heaven. So, for not less than ANY amount given to charity, we will carry your prayers to Meron this coming Monday night. The donate buttons is BELOW, and includes a box for your prayer request. All money, minus about 4% for credit card and Paypal processing costs, goes to charity.

Also by special request, my wife will be going as well and will bring any special prayers from women by a woman to Meron and to Tzfat (to the Kever of the Ari'z"l).

* Please include your name and your mothers name, or the name and mother's name of the person to be prayed for, as this is the form of requesting mercy in Jewish prayers. The cutoff for your prayer to be assured to make the journey is 6:00 PM, US-EDT, this SUNDAY. We will try hooking up from Meron but can't be sure it will work.



We are also attempting to arrange to live-blog from Meron, hopefully posting hourly updates with photos (and maybe short video clips). Plan on stopping by Monday and Tuesday for regular updates.
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Lag B'Omer: The 33rd Day

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

On the 33rd day of the Omer we celebrate the holiday called Lag B'Omer.

The Talmud relates that Rabbi Akiva had 24,000 students, all of whom were very great. Rabbi Akiva himself was one of the greatest rabbis in the Talmud. Yet, during this period of just 33 days, all these 24,000 students died because they didn't act respectfully to one another.

When they died, the world was left desolate until Rabbi Akiva came and taught Torah to five new students: Rabbi Meir Baal Haness, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Rabbi Yossi, Rabbi Nechemya and Rabbi Yehudah. These great Tzaddikim were later responsible for restoring the entire Torah. They are the rabbis of the Mishnah (Yevamot 63a).

Rebbe Nosson of Breslev explains that during the Days of the Omer, we work to purify ourselves in order to receive the Torah. The Torah was originally received because the Jews came to Har Sinai as one, achdut, with one purpose, and one heart (Rashi, Exodus 18:1). The students of Rabbi Akiva achieved the highest levels of Torah learning, but failed in this crucial aspect. They were followed by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his disciples, a very closely knit group.

The great love and unity they displayed between Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his students, for which we find references throughout the Zohar, brought rectification to the 24,000. The greatness of Lag B'Omer is that it represents the conclusion of the period of mourning. Through the spiritual strength and power of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and through the unity and peace between all Jews, it is possible to rectify even the greatness losses and tragedies that befall the Jewish people (Likutey Halakhot, Rosh Chodesh 6).

Original Torah insights provide great spiritual light for the world. But this light, which emanates from the Or Ein Sof (the Infinite One), can only be drawn down and brought into this world through contraction and limitation. Otherwise, it is far too overwhelming for man to appreciate. He just doesn't have the spiritual "strength".

One way to get that "strength" is by joining together with other Jews. This in itself is a form of self-contraction for the sake of the larger group. Through this we can understand why the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva died. Each of these students was very outstanding in his own right and received many Torah insights from his most illustrious teacher. These Torah insights brought them great spiritual light, but they were unable to maintain it. Why? Because there was no love and harmony between them. They lacked the bonds which would have given them the "strength" to absorb the Torah's great light and have it be a blessing. As a result, they died. And their deaths took place precisely during the Sefirah period, when we should be trying to rectify ourselves so as to receive the Torah.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his cheva of talmidim were very different than Rabbi Akiva's students. Their relationship was a rectification. And through the "strength" which their bonds of love created, Rabbi Shimon was able to bring down a great light. This was the revelation of the Zohar HaKodesh, the basic source of the Kabbalah as it is known to us today. Not only were his students able to bring receive the brilliant light of their teachers Torah insights without it harming them, but Rabbi Shimon's revelation of Hashem's Greatness were such incredible rectifications that, even today, no matter where a person has fallen spiritually, he can always come back to Hashem. This is why Eliyahu HaNavi told Rabbi Shimon that his teachings 'The Zohar Hakodesh' will lead the Jews out of exile (Likutey Halahkot, Minchah 7).

It is precisely during this time and at Chatzot that we can anticipate redemption. May it be this year at this time that we all join together in achdut (unity) to end this galut (exile). And remember this "Eem atah lo shoel atah lo kabel", Simply if you don't ask you don't receive. So, at 1:30 AM this Monday night walk outside and look up and simply ask our Father in Heaven to have mercy on us and bring the righteous redeemer this very day!!!!
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Friday, May 08, 2009

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Argh, Pope Preparations. Photos+Video

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

(All photos new from _today_, taken by Akiva. Video at the end is older.)

Upon entering Jerusalem this morning, we immediately came across the city preparing for the visit of the Catholic Pope on Monday (he'll be here for Lag B'Omer!)...
Jerusalem Pope Kever Dovid

Many national leaders get greetings for their visit by the entrance of Jerusalem, though I don't know others who get their picture put up. There are religious activists who paint over the signs when something immodest is put up - the previous signs were some art show with a somewhat immodest female picture which was quickly whited out - it will be interesting to see if these survive.
Jerusalem Pope Kever Dovid

One of the disputes and concerns over his visit is Mt. Zion and the Tomb of Dovid HaMelech (King David)...
Jerusalem Pope Kever Dovid

The kever (tomb) is a bit run down. Not terribly so but not great shape for a site of great holiness as well as being a regular tour stop for both Jewish and non-Jewish visitors. Somebody did just donate money for rebuilding the outer entryway, which is every nice, but past that...
Jerusalem Pope Kever Dovid
Jerusalem Pope Kever Dovid

However, the tomb entry on the other side passes by the church next door and is also a walkway to a small church cemetary. Further, this side leads to the disputed second floor of the Tomb of King David, a site the Vatican claims religious significance of and therefore demands control of the property.

Being suddenly an important area with the arrival of the pope, it warranted a complete cleaning, sandblasting, installation of wheel chair ramps, and golden paint job...
Jerusalem Pope Kever Dovid
Jerusalem Pope Kever Dovid
Jerusalem Pope Kever Dovid

Wait a minute! I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but what's that symbol on that stairway railing???
Jerusalem Pope Kever Dovid

What in the world is a Freemason symbol doing on a stairway in the rear courtyard of the Tomb of King David???
Jerusalem Pope Kever Dovid

So with the cleaning complete, the Hello Great Visitor pictures up and the Vatican Flags flying around Jerusalem - the city declares itself ready for the visit.

Argh. The question is, for a bowl of lentils how much of OUR holy heritage will the Israeli government give away as a visitors gift to the pope? ...
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