Tuesday, June 30, 2009

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Rabbinate and State - Kashrus for Apostates

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

(Haaretz) The Israeli High Court of Justice on Monday ordered the Ashdod Rabbinate to grant kashrut certification to a local bakery owned by a Messianic Jew.

Justices ruled that both the Ashdod Rabbinate and the Chief Rabbinate Council, which backed its decision, had exceeded the authority granted them by the Kashrut Law when they demanded that the bakery meet special conditions not demanded of other enterprises solely because the owner is a Messianic Jew. (h/t Twitter-Religion_State)


Anyone want to know why independent ultra-orthodox kashrus (kosher supervising) agencies are used exclusively by the vast majority of the religious community?
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Monday, June 29, 2009

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Noah Puts on Tefillin For The First Time

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

When you put on tefillin for the first time, it is like your bar mitzvah. Why only “like” your bar mitzvah, and not really your bar mitzvah? “Bar mitzvah” means “son of the commandments.” When a Jewish boy turns 13 years-old, the Torah considers him to be mature enough to be trusted with the commandments that G-d has given us. The mitzvah of tefillin is one of the first commandments that he becomes privileged to fulfill. If, for some reason, his years go by without him ever having put on tefillin, he is still a bar mitzvah, but he is one has not yet fulfilled the commandment to put on tefillin.

When a soul passes on to the Next World, there will be an accounting of all that it did and did not do while it was here. One of the questions on the Jewish man’s checklist will be, “Did you put on tefillin?” Even if the soul can answer, “Yes, I put them on once,” that soul will be saved from the deepest embarrassment that will be experienced by a soul who never put them on.

But, in this picture Noah is the Jew on the right. Yes, this is the first time he has ever put tefillin on, that is, it is the first time he has ever put tefillin on someone else!

The soul of a Jew who put tefillin on his own arm (even one time) is saved from the embarrassment that will come to a Jew who never cared enough to fulfill this mitzvah. Then surely, by putting tefillin on another Jew’s arm (even one time) Noah has saved himself from the embarrassment that will come to a Jew who never cared enough to help his fellow Jew fulfill this mitzvah.
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

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Same Sects Marriage

Oy, funny. From a friend via email. Is this new or old? New to me...

In an unusual display of unity, leaders of five Chasidic groups today issued a joint statement in support of proposed state legislation to allow same-sects marriages.

The groups represented were Belz, Pupa, Saatmar, Bobov, and Lubavitch.

"Of course we want same-sects marriages," said Rabbi Wurzma Shtreimel, head of the Belz movement. "A Belzer should marry only a Belzer. That makes perfect sense." The other rabbis agreed.

"If a Saatmar weds a Bobover, woe to their offspring," proclaimed Rabbi Praymita Gartel of Saatmar. "What would their children be-Saatovers?? That's totally unheard of."

The rabbis shared concerns about the dilution of their individual groups through intersect marriages. "The Tanya warns us," said Rabbi Mendy Pantz of Lubavitch. "If a Lubavitcher marries outside his sect, his children lose half their heritage. His son is not Lubavitch, just Vitch. And his grandson becomes a son of a Vitch."

At a separate news conference, Chasidic women expressed similar concerns. "It's less confusing when our kind marry their own kind," said Rebbetzin Donna Kittel, founder of a Pupa women's group, The Mamas and the Pupas.

To prevent intersect marriages, Belz rebbetzin Gitta Kapotah announced the formation of a new community matchmaking service, Wedding Belz. "We must protect our Belz," she said. "They're our family jewels."
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When a Spouse Wants to Move to Israel

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

When the Land of Israel and the Jewish people are together, the mishnah at the end of Ketubot describes what happens if one spouse wishes to move to Israel and the other doesn't...

All (every person) can bring up (compel all the members of his or her household to accompany him) to Eretz Yisroel (the Land of Israel) but none can take out (cannot coerce members of his or her household to leave Israel),

All (every person) can bring up (compel all the members of his or her household to accompany him) to Jerusalem but none can take out (cannot coerce members of his or her household to leave Jerusalem),

whether they be men or women. (Either spouse can insist, if the wife refuses she loses marital rights [ketubah] and is divorced. If the husband refuses, he is forced to divorce and pay the ketubah.)

The commentary notes the spouse can even be forced to move from a good house (outside of Israel) to a bad house (in Israel), from a complete Jewish community outside of Israel to a town with a majority of non-Jews in Israel.
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

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Melaveh Malka

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Melaveh Malka means “Escorting the Queen.” It refers to the night following Shabbos and the special customs observed after Shabbos departs. The Shabbos Queen has just left, taking with her the extra soul that she gave us when she came. The peace, rest, and joy of Shabbos are leaving, and we begin to look at the week ahead. This could, G-d forbid, be a time of sorrow, so the Sages, in their great wisdom, recommend music and mysticism. Either of these has the power to elevate our soul and prevent sorrow.

Melaveh Malka is dedicated to King Dovid, the greatest song writer who ever lived. He played his ten-stringed instrument and sang his songs about G-d and life. Melaveh Malka is also the time to again think of the Moshiach. The Moshiach will be a descendant of King Dovid.

Since the Moshiach is known to be coming, and since coming usually means coming from another place, we assume that he will be coming from outside the limits of our city. Therefore, he is not expected to arrive on Shabbos, when it is forbidden to go from city to city. But as soon as Shabbos is over, we again begin to dream and pray for his coming.

One way to combine these two recommended practices is to play spiritual music and picture your holy dreams coming true. For instance, picture Jerusalem with the rebuilt Temple coming down from the sky and settling over the present-day Jerusalem. See our Fathers Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaacov with our Mothers walking up onto the Temple Mount. Imagine what great joy this will give G-d, as He sees His creation finally come to its wonderful fulfillment. See the righteous who died throughout the ages coming back to life and filling the Temple courtyards, and the blind with their new sight, and every wonderful thing that you can possibly imagine. And you know what? What will be when it actually happens will be a million times greater than you think.
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Friday, June 26, 2009

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Factoid - US Foreign Aid and Israel

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Just had a brief argument on Twitter over why Obama feels the right to meddle in Israel and not in Iran. Person shot out "because Israel receives $100 billion+ per year in US aid." So, here's some factoids on US aid to Israel for when you encounter such ignorance...

US Aide, Year 2008

Israel - $2.4 billion
Egypt - $1.7 billion
Pakistan - $798 million
Jordan - $688 million
Kenya - $586 million
South Africa - $574 million
Mexico - $551 million
Colombia - $541 million
Nigeria - $491 million
Sudan - $479 million

75% of the aid to Israel must be spent IN THE US - which means it's somewhat of a stimulous package! The vast majority of Israelis have a very favorable opinion of the US.

Not so for the aid to Egypt, most of which is military aid. Who is the US equipping Egypt to fight? The only neighboring country with comparible military power is...Israel. The vast majority of Egyptians have a negative opinion of the US and are supportive of jihad against the West.

Pakistan's aid is clearly a bribe to help the US with Afghanistan. The people of Pakistan hate the US, support jihad, 9/11, and training camps for terrorists.

South Africa is not a friend of the US, and is a major weapons supplier to regimes the US would prefer not be highly militarized. The aid is for HIV assistance, which the previous government did not acknowledge existed.

Sudan is freaking genocidal!

So yes, Israel gets significant US foreign aid (less that 8% of the aid given to General Motors). For that America has a regional ally that can be counted upon.

The next 9 on the list...not so much.
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

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Now We Know How

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

In honor of Gimmel Tammuz, the hilulah, the ascension of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Parts of this story and Ma'amar (chassidic teaching) were heard directly from the Rebbe by the Mashpia (chassidic mentor/teacher) Rabbi Farrow, from whom I heard it recently...

The Tanya teaches that at the moment one does an aveyra (a sin), one is considered a rasha (a completely bad person). For at that exact moment, one is in direct rebellion against the King of kings. Though in the complete scheme of ones life, one may be judged for the good on balance, still at the moment of rebellion one is a rasha - evil.

Further, the Tanya teaches that at the moment one does a mitzvah (a positive commandment), one is considered a tzaddik (a saint, a completely good person). For at that exact moment, one is a demonstrated loyal subject of the King of kings who has put his own will aside for the Will of the King.

The communists had just passed one of what was to become many severe decrees against Judaism in the new Soviet Union. The Rebbe HaRayatz, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, prepared to travel to S. Petersburg (renamed Lenningrad at the time) to attempt to annul the harsh decree. Possibly the fate of Russian Jewry stood in the balance.

30 minutes before he was to catch the train, the future 7th Rebbe came to visit the Rebbe HaRayatz. He entered the Rebbe's office and found him sitting at his desk completely focused upon writing a chassidic ma'amar (a deep esoteric chassidic Torah teaching, which requires intense focus and concentration to create). After the Rebbe stopped the future 7th Rebbe asked him, "in a few moments you are about to travel for the sake of Jewry, yet at such a dangerous time you were able to sit and write a ma'amar (which takes complete focus). How were you able to do so with all the worry of what will be?"

The Rebbe HaRayatz replied, "I will teach you a secret. We have a lesson from the Rashba [Akiva, I think it was the Rashba, I don't remember the rav referred to clearly]. During his lifetime he wrote over 6,000 halachic tshuvot (responses to serious Jewish law queries, often many many pages long following significant research). Further, he was a practicing physician who saw patients daily. In addition, he was known to talk a shpatzeer (a stroll) daily. How could he have possibly accomplished all that in one lifetime?"

The Rebbe brought his point, "With complete focus. He gave his full attention, his full focus, his full energy to everything he did. He did not allow himself to be distracted but applied himself completely to everything he did."


What is the power of tzadik? The tzadik has the ability to destroy the evil of this world. The tzadik gamur, the complete tzadik, besides having the power to destroy evil has the power to harness the power of the negative drives and transform this high negative potential to good!

How many such tzaddikim are there in the world? One, maybe two? Maybe you'd say Lammed Vav, 36 tzaddikim...

In a ma'amar, deep esoteric chassidic teaching, the Rebbe wrote an unbelievable insight. He taught, as the Tanya teaches that as at the moment one does a mitzvah one is a tzadik, if one focuses upon the mitzvah with 100%, with 1000% of his focus, energy, effort, with his whole being, at that moment he is performing a mitzvah as a tzadik gamur (a complete tzadik) and has has the koach of the tzadik!!! At that moment, a person can invoke the power of a tzadik, destroy the evil and harness the animal for the good!!!

While even with the lessons of Tanya we may feel being a tzadik or even a beynoni (an intermediate man who does no aveyrot but still has negative drives to struggle with) is out of reach, the Rebbe has taught us that it can be in reach if only for a moment.

And in that moment, we, little plain ole' us, can change the world. As the Rebbe cried out to us, 'he has done all that he could. Now it's up to us.'

And now we know how.
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Monday, June 22, 2009

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Love And Fear Of G-d – How?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Question:

These days I’ve been exploring the mitzvahs of loving and fearing G-d. I really want to do this properly. Is there a preference of which one to do first? Can you give some pointers on what to meditate on to actually feel the love and fear? I would like to accomplish this.

Answer:

Love and fear of G-d have been likened to two wings of a bird. With only one wing the bird will not be able to fly. At best, it will simply go in circles. So too with love and fear of G-d; we need both of these.

There is lower-level love, and there is higher-level love. There is also lower-level fear and higher-level fear.

One who is experiencing lower-level love is concerned only with what the person or object he loves can give to him. Unlike this, someone who is experiencing higher-level love is concerned only with what he can give to his beloved.

To learn lower level-love of G-d think of the many things that G-d gives you. The list seems endless. For instance, heath, peace, joy, prosperity, knowledge, family ….

To learn about higher level love of G-d, think of all the wonderful things that you could possibly give to Him. For instance, if you wanted, you could work hard to help those around you find and fulfill their spiritual mission in life. Oh, would your Beloved be happy with you then! Obviously, if you want to attain this level of mutual love, you must go out and actually give those gifts to your Beloved, and not just think about giving them to Him.

Lower-level fear is concerned with what negative things might come to the one who is experiencing it. To attain lover-level fear of G-d. simply consider what G-d has done to sinners over the years. You can also imagine what lies in store for unrepentant sinners after they leave this world. Oy oy oy, Lo aleinu! (Woe. May this not come to us!) Thinking about the horrible things that have come to people over the years certainly will bring lower level-fear of G-d. But you must not stop there. You have to move higher.

Higher-level fear is not fear at all. It is awe. When most people see the Grand Canyon in Arizona for the first time, their lower stomach seems to rush up into their throat! It is awesome! Some people can get such a feeling by looking at the Hubble telescope photographs of the seemingly endless wonders of His magnificent creation. If these wonders are merely His creation, what must the Creator be like? Actually, these experiences merely point to the higher level of awe that will come when G-d, in His mercy, reveals His Presence to us. (May it be this very day.) Our awesome reaction to these physical wonders is a good example of what awe is. Then, once we feel this minor awe, we can try to magnify that feeling as we apply it to the Creator.

In the end, we want to experience the higher-level fear of G-d with the higher-level of love of G-d mixed in.

Think deeply about these different levels and examples. But thinking about them is only to motivate you to go out and actually do the things that the One you fear and love wants you to do. Then, when you do these things with the awareness that you are giving love to your Beloved, Who is standing right there watching you, you will begin to experience the love and fear you seek.
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

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Israeli Sights - Cell Tower Art

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

In today's edition of Israeli Sights, we present...Cell Tower Art! While the average Israeli cell phone tower has basic orange-and-white "don't hit me helicopter or plane" paint, recently I've begun to spot those that have been decorated to be less...ugly?

This tower near Pardes Chana is decorated with lovely...lizards.
2009-06-20-- 001

and similarly, this tower at the Eeron exit of Route 6 is decorated with lovely...climbing & falling human bodies.
2009-06-01-- 069

Now this tower is something special, located right after the Bag al Baga (or something like that) exit on Route 6. My best description would be minimalist tree, or perhaps tree-icon style...
2009-06-20-- 005

Oh look mommy, it's a cell phone tree. Good thing you mentioned it son, otherwise I never would have spotted it. (Route 38 by Messilat Tziyon)
2009-06-20-- 007

Look Honey, someone is grazing their metallic sheep. Get your hacksaws, it's shearing time!
2009-06-20-- 004

Ok, the last one wasn't a cell phone tower, but it was near one!
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Questions On Astrology

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Questions:

#1 - As a noahide I have heard it being said that it’s alright for us to believe in astrology, and some quoted Rambam. However, don’t you feel it is wrong for us too, since the 7 laws covers idolatry, and one can become so obsessed with astrology and forget G-d is the Director of events?

#2 - If you don't believe that the stars have any independent power at all, that they are simply channels for distributing various influences from Hashem and that an astrology can interpret what influences might be predominant at a particular time, what character traits might be prevalent in a person and what they need to work on spiritually? Is that forbidden? There is certainly a long tradition of Jewish Astrology.

Answers:

According to most (but not all), authoritative Jewish sources, a non-Jew is allowed to believe in the concept of “partnership.” “Partnership” is a belief that G-d has designated some power to certain entities, such as angels, or stars. However, no one allows any type of worship of these entities that house these imagined powers. All worship must be directed to the One and Only, Omnipresent G-d. But now that you know that this is an allowed, but not factual concept, why bother with it. Why talk to a servant when you can talk to the King?

Not wanting to rely on my own understanding, I asked a very well known rabbi your question regarding interpreting influences that vary from time to time. His answer was, “What is forbidden is to say that this is a good time to go out, or not to go out, to do certain things, or not to do certain things. To say that the times tell me that today is a good day for you to work on a particular characteristic trait is not forbidden. It is just stut (foolishness).
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

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Answer a Fool

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Yehoshua 14, Calev speaking: "My brethren who went up with me shattered the heart of the people, but I fulfilled the will of Hashem, my Elokim".

They cried about the gift that Hashem gave them, no beach, bbq, and rum drinks, "it's not what we thought it was." Again and again Hashem instructs Yechezkel to tell the people of their history and how He has overlooked their shortcomings over and over again until the there was no choice but punish us so that He did not desecrate His name in front of the nations. The elders said, so, we no longer have to serve Hashem! They were wrong, as it is brought in pasuk 32-33 of perek 20...

All our attempts at assimilation will fail, because Hashem says I will not let you!!! 'Thus says Hashem/Elokim: As for what has entered your minds- It shall not be! You say 'We will be like the nations, like the families of the lands who worship wood and stone. As I live, the word of Hashem, I swear that I will rule over you with a strong hand and with outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. I will take you out of all the nations and gather you from all the lands to which you were scatted, I will bring bring you from the wilderness of the nations'. Rashi comments 'I will force you to submit to My authority.'

Chapter 22 sounds like an exact description of today in Israel: 'Thus says Hashem/Elokim, Jerusalem I am hastening her time of judgment. Who has fashioned intellectual, political and military idols within herself, and through this you have become contaminated. Thus you have brought your judgment days near and have reached the limit of your years. Therefore, I have made you a shame to the nations and a disgrace for all lands. Those near and those far from you will degrade you. Oh you of contaminated name.'

Now a descriptive time stamp 'Behold, the princes of Israel each act within you for the sake of his own power, in order to shed blood to separate you from your mother and father and toward the stranger in our midst. They have acted oppressively, the orphan and widow they have wronged. My Torah teaching they have scorned and my Shabbos's have they desecrated. Slanders and murders, they ate of idols and plotted against me on all your mountains, evil schemes. They uncovered a 'father nakedness with you', they coerced women amongst you during their impurity. They committed adultery with their neighbors wives, and committed perverse acts with children. They take bribes and murder, they take usury and interest to enriching themselves and their friends with all extorted money. They have totally forgotten Me! The word of Hashem/Elokim.'

What can we say? But now hear the antidote, what the tzaddik says:

Tehillim 128 - A song of ascents, Praiseworthy is each person who fears Hashem, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands you are praiseworthy and it is well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine in the inner chambers of your home; your children will be like olive shoots surrounding your table. Behold for so is blessed the man who fears Hashem. May Hashem bless you from Tzion, and may you gaze upon the goodness of Jerusalem all the days of your life. And may you see children born unto your children, peace upon Israel.

Mishlei 26 - ...A rod is for the backs of fools... Answer a fool according to his foolishness, lest he be wise in his own eyes.
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Friday, June 19, 2009

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Emunah and Torah

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Parsha Korach the fifth aliyah - B'midbar 17:16-24: On the very heels of this unprecedented miracle of the ground opening up and swallowing all the rebels, we were still complaining. It boggles the mind. Aharon's staff hds blossomed, proof he was was the chosen one, but we were still crying.

You have to ask yourself, where is faith? We see that faith has no connection to miracles! We still wanted to experience Hashem only the way we were comfortable with. We could not understand that it was due to our blemished faith that we were forced to travel in the wilderness and all the difficulties and hardships were rectifications for our idolatry. All 'atzuf' sadness and worry is a result of us operating under b'chirah free will. As soon as we let the slime of the primordial snake that surrounds our hypothalamus gain sway, i.e. the 'Ego' - the little god, we are committing 'avodah zorah'. Why? We have pushed total and complete belief and reliance on Hashem off the throne and placed this little g-d there instead.

You might say that's harsh... 'You shall have no other g-ds before Me!' The snake comes along and convinces us to use our blemished intellect and as soon as we pause to think about it, bam, he pushes us against the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and we're done! We lose the tree of life which is pure Emunah.
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

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Layers of Impact

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Commentor Ms Mimm wrote... Maybe this is not the place for it, but there I was reading some right wing (religious) blog and trying to stomach and get passed the faint racism and hatred there as I read about Obama, Al Sharpton, Sotomayor, and endless others. And then from talking with a friend, it hit me.

If the whole problem is that we need to do teshuva, what's the point of photo shopping yet another picture of Obama for a headshake? What's the point of naming names that are safe to hate? What's the point of any of it?

Shouldn't we be focusing on bringing back our "captives"? Shouldn't we concentrate better efforts towards at-risk kids as my friend pointed out?

Do we really believe in our "Yaakov" power of prayer? Or perhaps Esav has been so busy, we're still reeling from his dazzling show of power?


We live in This World, where everything is masked by nature. As a baby, we don't even take gravity for granted! (Watch as a 1 year old drops something off the high chair again and again, amazed that it falls.) But once we absorb the way it works, it takes focused conscious thought to overcome the background perception of 'natural' patterns.

There are multiple layers of reality that come into play as we discuss Ein Ode Milvado - there is nothing else besides Him (G-d). If I decide to stand up and punch my friend, it could be my friend had a din (judgment) upon him to receive a smack. Or it could be the path of my friend's life was plotted with a negative event to motivate him in a new direction (or give him an opportunity to reflect). Or it could be he had lessened his connection to Hashem and was being given over to 'nature', to the random forces in the world.

But what about me, the giver of the punch? I made an action choice, bechira, free will. He was going to receive a smack, but I _chose_ to be the one to give it.

So commentor Ms Mimm is right. If we, the Jewish people, get smacked, we have only our own actions to examine and our Father in Heaven to whom to turn. But at the same time, those acting negatively towards us don't get a free pass.

Now we don't countenance racism here at Mystical Paths. President Obama is a charismatic intelligent man who has overcome ethnic obstacles and negative stereotypes. But it is our opinion that his actions as president are doing significant damage to the US domestically, and are particularly dangerous to Israel and the Jewish people internationally.

Though these events are divine providence, his involvement is his choice.

And indeed, our best response is HaKol Kol Yaakov, our power of prayer and teshuva in turning to our Father in Heaven. But the mask of the natural tends to draw a natural response - trying to sway public opinion, protests, influence campaigns. Hey, at least people are trying to do something, and maybe that will move up to the true Jewish strength.
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What Is Wrong With Astrology?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

This week is one of the times of the year when negative things have frequently come to the Jewish people. May they never return again. But if this is true, why is being cautious this week any different than following astrology?

The Torah warns us twice not to engage in divination.[i] Astrology is one of a dozen forms of divination. What they all have in common is their claim to be able to predict the future. Some use the stars, some use tea leaves left in the bottom of a cup. From bread crumbs to bumps on your skull, they all say that they can tell you what you should or should not do today because certain things are going to happen to you in the future. Astrologers say that these things will happen because of the influences that the cosmos have on your life.

The astrologers who believe in a Creator say that G-d gave certain powers over to these constellations and that these stars and heavenly bodies are now “partners” with G-d in His creation.

There are also references in rabbinical writings that tell us that certain times are propitious while other times are dangerous. For instance, it is well known that at certain times of the week “Mars prevails” and that this produces a dangerous time for certain activities.[ii] The sages also tell us that certain times of the year bring good fortune to the Jewish People while other times bring danger. How is this different than astrology?

The answer turns out to be quite simple. If it is a natural occurrence, known that at certain times certain things regularly happen, then to act accordingly is simply common sense. But if someone is predicting your future and telling you that this is what is going to happen to you, then this is divination and it is forbidden. The worse thing about this practice is that they are saying that you do not have free will, that you are subject to the will of the stars or bread crumbs, and this is just not true.

Every one of us can turn in any direction at any time. We can direct our futures to go wherever we want. Do not let a soothsayer convince you that any planet, spirit, or good luck sign or anything at all can lead you where it wills. You can set your goal wherever you want and begin to move in that direction today.

And what of their claim that the cosmos have power and therefore are partners with G-d in His creation? When the sages say that at certain times a certain planet prevails, aren’t they verifying that that planet has power and therefore is, in fact, a partner with G-d?

When someone hands you a glass of water, ask yourself, who is giving you the water – the glass or the person? The ones who believe that the planet is a partner with G-d believe that the planet is giving them that influence. Those who know who the Creator is know that it is G-d Who is doing it all.

[i] Leviticus 19:26, Deuteronomy 18:10
[ii] Gemora Shabbos 129b
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

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US Politics: Having a Carter

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

It's been a while since the US had a Carter. I remember that election, it was exciting! The US was passing the difficult Nixon presidency, where a very competent but harsh and uncharismatic president resigned due to a power grab breaking the law, followed by a bumbling not-quite competent vice president Ford taking over as president.

And along came Carter. Big smile, smooth talker, bright eyes. Friendly, reasonably smart. And perhaps most important after the last 2 presidents, young(er) and energetic! He owned the youth vote - change was in the air.

So he was liberal, gonna change things - who cares? Get those bumbling power hungry old men out of office!

And we did.

And change he did. He destroyed the military, and weapons programs were only for local employment of supportive senators (rather than what the military needed). He flubbed the economy, with inflation rising to 17% and interest rates to 12%. New terms such as Stagflation and The Misery Index were created, everything was regulated and controlled, nothing actually moved or happened. He let the Arabs boycott America and dictatorships march forward across the world. And in Iran, he let them hold kidnapped Americans for over a year.

In the world, America moved from being a hard power to a soft power to a punching bag. In the country everyone said the good days of America are done, the American dream has failed, hopefully we'll all scrape by.

America made a hard right turn after that, being blessed to find a politician who was charismatic and also brought a good vision. But it took 10 years to repair what was damaged in 4.

20 years after Carter, America has returned to a big smiling face and shouts of change. You wouldn't think a president could do that much damage and that much change in 4 years, but we have the lesson of Carter to show otherwise.

And now, America has it's new Carter. As a show from those days said, 'Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.' Alienate allies, empower enemies, weaken the military, soft power, economic danger.

Welcome back to having a Carter.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

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For Who?

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Next week the hilulah, the ascension to the next world, of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, occurred on Gimmel Tammuz. We'll be sharing stories of the Lubavitcher Rebbe as we come up to this auspicious day. This story is told by by the person to whom it happened.

I had been anxiously awaiting a response from the Rebbe, and waiting for a call from the secretaries. I set out for 770, eager to get the Rebbe's response and rely it to my dear sister, who had been hospitalized with suspected cancer. The doctors had not been encouraging. Some spoke of using painkillers, others recommended an operation.

I had written a heartfelt letter to the Rebbe describing my sister's illness and hospitalization. I felt very emotional as I rushed to the Rebbe's office. The Rebbe's reply and blessing were encouraging...

"There is no need to operate. The diagnosis is in error and your sister's condition is not grave. May she recover soon and resume a healthy life."

The Rebbe's secretary afforded me a moment to express my join and relief and then said softly, "I can understand how distraught and nervous you must have been when writing the letter. Nevertheless, one must always try to concentrate more when writing the Rebbe."

??? I looked at him in question, what was the reason for this gentle reprimand?

The secretary continued, "If the Rebbe himself hadn't told me that the blessing was for your sister and that the reply was intended for you, I would never have been able to contact you. You see, in your letter you wrote all about your sister but you forgot to state her name. You didn't sign your own name either." !!!

The Rebbe's reply prompted us to ask another doctor to check my sister's condition. His findings confirmed the Rebbe's answer.
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Sunday, June 14, 2009

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A Pen

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Next week the hilulah, the ascension to the next world, of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, occurred on Gimmel Tammuz. We'll be sharing stories of the Lubavitcher Rebbe as we come up to this auspicious day. This story is told by Rabbi Leibl Groner, who was one of the secretaries to the Rebbe for many years.

A certain yeshiva student had a yechidus, a private audience with the Rebbe. He gave the Rebbe a "tzetel," a note wherein he had written a number of things, including that he would like a blessing from the Rebbe to find his soul mate. After looking at the note, the Rebbe told the young man that he had forgotten to sign his name. "Go outside and ask someone to lend you a pen. Sign your name and then come back in with the tzetel," the Rebbe told him.

The young man went outside and asked a man whom he found for a pen, signed his note and then went back into the Rebbe.

The Rebbe blessed the young man that "G-d should send you a shidduch (a suitable marriage partner) as soon as possible."

A little while later, the person who had lent the student the pen had an audience with the Rebbe. Among other things, the man related to the Rebbe that he has a daughter of marriageable age and is asking the Rebbe for a blessing that he should find a suitable match for her. "The yeshiva student who asked to borrow a pen from me actually made a very nice impression. Should I consider him for my daughter?" the man asked.

"Why do you think I sent him out for a pen?" the Rebbe answered.

The young people, in fact, met, got engaged and married.

From this story we understand not only that the Rebbe was able to see beyond the four walls of his office, but that he even knew from whom the young man would borrow a pen.
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Watch What You Say


by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Watch what you say.… You may be talking to yourself.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that we judge others only by what we have within ourselves. This means that you yourself must have the particular characteristic that you are seeing in others, or you would not be able to see it in them.

This idea can be taken one step further. Often, what we think others should do is really what we ourselves ought to be doing.

A few days ago, a friend of mine brought a couple of older Americans to the neitz minyan (sunrise prayers). They have come to Torah observance slowly over the years. They now keep Shabbat and put on tefillin every day. This is a tremendous thing for Americans who have lived all their years without any real concern for their spiritual lives.

I saw that the boxes that house their tefillin were very thin. Almost always, thin boxes hold scrolls that are not written so well. I assume that they were kosher, but still, when the boxes are so very inexpensive as these were, there is always a suspicion that something might need fixing.

I helped them with some special prayers, but I had to run out right after davening, so I did not get to talk with them. Instead, I wrote to them. In the gentlest way, I let them know, “You know, when you first began putting on tefillin many years ago, the tefillin you bought were quite appropriate. But now that you have grown and are so much further along in observance, you should really have your tefillin checked and perhaps buy new ones. You deserve tefillin that reflect your present level of observance.”

I know how they feel about their tefillin. After all, they are the first ones they ever bought. I share those very feelings whenever I look at my tefillin. These are the same pair that I bought when I first came to Jerusalem more than 32 years ago. I replaced the scrolls some time ago, but the boxes are the same ones that I bought way back then. Okay, so they were not the most expensive, but when I look at them they remind me of where this long journey has taken me.

The next morning, when I took off my tefillin after davening, I noticed that, somehow, a small piece of leather had fallen out of the head piece! Yikes! This could mean that they were not kosher! Yikes! Thank G-d, one of the regulars in the minyan is a highly respected batim macher. (He makes the leather boxes that house the tefillin scrolls.)

He looked at the head piece, pushed his glasses up onto his forehead, and gave me a look that you would expect your doctor to give you before he got the final results from your lab tests.

“Oy!”

He took my tefillin to his shop. He called a couple of hours later. “I can probably fix them, but it could take as long as a week.”

“No way! There’s no way that I am going to borrow someone else’s tefillin for a week.” I made up with him to either fix them that same day, or, if he couldn’t, then he was to bring me new batim (boxes) in the morning. I also told him to have the scrolls checked by a proper scribe to make sure that everything is alright. If needed, he was to replace them, too.

This morning, I put on my new batim. They are really nice. Oh so much nicer than my old ones. The scrolls needed a couple of tiny improvements that did not make them any more kosher, only more beautiful.

The quality of the new batim are many times better than my faithful, old ones. I thought, “Okay, the new ones were very expensive, but I guess they more properly reflect where I am holding.” (my level of Torah observance).

“Hey! Isn’t this exactly what I wrote to those two guys the other morning?!” You know, I should have listened to my own words. It turned out that when I was talking to them, I was really talking to myself.
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Friday, June 12, 2009

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Outsourcing Eretz Yisroel

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Bibi (Netanyahu), guard the Land of Israel
For us and for the future generations.

Be remembered in history as a strong leader
who doesn't bow and doesn't fold.


As the US and the world begins to press harder on Israel to give up The Land, give up security, give up the blood, sweat, and tears shed to make The Land livable, defend from marauders, and defend against those who would have slaughtered and destroyed. As the world presses (led by fantasy dreams of peace by Obamama, recognized as the new god by the US press and French restaurateurs), the Jewish response has begun...

1. Post ads for political support for Netanyahu.

2. Post ads for moral support for Netanyahu.

3. Give speeches to ourselves about the importance of The Land.

Well, that about covers it for the moment. Good luck with that.
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Thursday, June 11, 2009

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Do You Have a Minute?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

We are told that the wise person learns from everyone.[i] Surely this makes sense. Everyone has something to give, and if we are smart, we will pay attention to everyone we meet, in order to see what we might learn from them.

But if this is true about learning, then it also has to be true about teaching. If we are able to learn from everyone, then everyone must be able to learn from us. Whenever we meet with someone, not only is there an opportunity to learn, there is also an opportunity to teach.

What things have you learned in your life that have proven so valuable to you? See if you can share them with others; you might be able to change someone’s life. Wherever you are, whomever you meet, look for the opportunity to share. It only takes a minute to change someone’s life. You do have a minute, don’t you?

[i] Pirke Avot Chap 4:1
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

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Sound the Shofar 'A Time to Wake Up'

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

With all that is happening in the world today we have to ask ourselves what going on?

We must pray to understand what it is Hashem is saying to us through all the messages He is sending our way. Tzaddikim of yore wished and longed for these days but asked not to see them. Why? OY OY VEH! We need to pray!

This is how we need to pray now:

My soul, awaken, stand, arise! Seek Hashem's face with all your might, contemplate on this!. My spirit, humble yourself, bow down to the dust. Worship Hashem! we need to leave behind our own assessment of the times and serve Hashem in total bitual, we need, if we are to make it through these trying times ahead of us to nullify our own desires and chochmot, to stop intellectual pursuit of all this and stand still and trust that our Heavenly Father knows what and how to do all of this.

"What you speak only after you have been humbled, and your words will be low, from the dust". Say to your self perhaps there is hope. Perhaps Hashem, L-rd of hosts, will be garious. Perhaps Hashem will act in accordance with all His wonders" that He performed for our forefathers. not perhaps 'VADAI' but,

He asks, "Why are you asleep?"Arise! Call out to Hashem! "Perhaps Hashem will consider us and we will not be lost." Perhaps He will have compassion on his poor impoverished people. perhaps He will have compassion! "Awaken and rise. How long, are you going to be lazy how long will you lie down? When will you arise from your sleep? like the verse 'alittle sleep a little slumber, alittle folding of the hands', It is coming, there is no time for slumber on your eyelids, Now is the time of your escape, 'like a deer from the hand of the hunter', 'like the bird from the trap.' "Remember, do not forget how you have angered Hashem our Elokim" for days for years! Yet His kindness has never left you at every moument, He is engaged in awakening you from your sleep. All the news of the day is an alarm clock and a siren of warning! Bear in mind how He arouses you in every possible way, to turn to Him! How can you sleep when there is so much noise and sound of confusion and catastrophe. All the nations are awakening to His call, just look at the proclamations, 'hints' and speeches of the heads of states. they are all revealing all but still you sleep how is it? In every way revealed and hidden, The frightening declarations and with a great voice that does not cease to call and all the powerful sofar blasts! It grows louder and louder day by day and minute by minute, What, Are you deaf? Behold, He calls forth in a mighty voice, proclaiming, "Awaken from your slumber and from your lethargy." But still you have not repented of your errors. you still prefer the path of filth you still remain immersed in the depths and mire of the vanities of this fleeting world. You still refuse to return to Hashem. You still exalt yourself and refuse to humble yourselves. You do not do the will of your creator, as your Jewish soul yearns and desires to do so. But do not despair, Heaven forbid, saying that your sins have attached themselves to you so that you fester in the midst and can longer repent of your foolishness; saying that they have enveloped you therefore I can not change, you say all hope is lost forever. Have mercy on yourselves and in the few days that remain to you in this world, which passes like the blink of an eye. Wake up turn around and humble yourselves and say there is hope. "there is hope!" The truth is that you still have great hope at every moment. " The mercies of Hashem have not ended; His compassion has not been exhausted", and never will be! But because of our sins they have been covered over and hidden from us! You have no idea the vastness and to what great extent is His compassion for all us, who truly desire to return to Him, even though we have not yet do so. Hashem's sole desire is to show mercy to those who yearn for Him and struggle to find refuge and a way to come close and to return even though they are constantly overwhelmed and have no more than a few days and years in which to act. Act Now!

His compassion overwhelms such people including me beyond measure, beyond what the mouth can speak and the heart can conceive. Be strong and always renew yourselves. Begin from this point on to serve your creator. Abandon your evil ways and disgraceful thoughts, forget your vanities and absurdities. Remove anger from your heart and set aside evil from your flesh. Connect your selves to Hashem! Do not return to your foolishness. Lift up your eyes to the heights and recall your original love. Awaken, arise, my spirit, arise! "Arise, express a new song. Do not dare to be silent, do not be still". Raise your sweet voices and open up your mouths bring pleasant words before the Holy One, Blessed be He, and let them shine.
My prayer,
Master of universe you know haw far I've fallen at this time. How truely far I am from the Tzaddik HaEmet! I've been draw after this generation, for my many sins have caused me to fall, and a sleep as strong as death has overcome me. I have strayed far from You and have fallen far from the seventy faces of Torah, so only the True Tzaddik can arouse me and help me to return to the Your Torah of truth. You have told us of your compassion and kindness. You have had pity on us and sent us the true and outstanding Tzaddikim who are on such a high level that they have the power to arouse us from our sleep by means of profound stories about the early years from our beginnings which speak of The Ancient One, The Elder, The Countenances of the Face, from which the seventy "faces" of the Torah receive their life force and beauty. We have fallen fallen so far from you. so that now you have given permission to the Tzaddik HaEmet to work with us to and awaken us from our tremendous sleep by means of wondrous stories which we can not perceive their Holiness. Yet we still have not repented of our errors we still lie in bed in a stupor and deluded, and we have not merited to awaken! How much more charity can we expect from you our king? Nevertheless, You have told us that through, and only through the Tzaddik HaEmet that there is no such thing as "despair in the world" at all, and a person should never stop praying 'even if there is a sword over his neck'. I declare now! That I have perfect faith in the power of True Tzaddik, and and in all the True Tzaddikim and Elders of Holiness, who draw down from on high, lofty and wondrous and awesome remedies with tremendous dedication in order to save a Jewish soul such as mine. They give each and every person hope that his efforts will not be in vain! And that the tzaddikim will guide him to his true rectification. Have mercy on me! So that from this moment on, I will experience the delight and Holiness of the wondrous and awesome revelations of consciousness, that the True Tzaddikim reveal to us through their holy students and their aw some written works until in this way I will arise in enthusiasm from the depths of my sleep to serve you all the rest of my days of my life. Amen!

"Ain shum ush B'olam klal"
Reb Nati
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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

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The President said, Who Is This G-d?

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Shemos Chadash - The New Exodus - Parshat Shemos 5:1

Binyomin came and said to President, "This is what G-d, the G-d of Israel, said: 'Leave My nation alone, let them make the desert bloom, let them be fruitful and multiply and settle the land.'"

The President said, "Who is G-d that I should listen to His voice and leave Israel alone? I do not know of G-d, nor will I leave Israel alone! For I am ruler of the world, and even the media recognizes me as god!"

(Listen to the end, after 25 seconds.)


Binyomin said, "
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Monday, June 08, 2009

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Empowering the Coming of Moshiach

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

The Russian Czarist government was suspicious of many of the chassidic Rebbe's and open to any charges against them. An accusation was level against Rebbe Yisrael of Ruzhin in the Ukraine, and they promptly imprisoned him, planning to exile him to Siberia.

Craft, boldness and thousands of rubles in bribes enabled the rebbe's chassidim to kidnap the rebbe from his captors and transfer him over the border to Hungary, where he settled in the town of Sadiger.

His chassidim in the Ukraine were of course happy for their rebbe's escape, but also sad for there were strict border controls, and their chances of ever seeing him again were very small.

One chassid had an idea. He was a textile merchant and had business connections in many countries. He came to the Russian government with a proposal. There was a business fair in Vienna where fine fabrics that were not available in Russia would be sold. He would go to Vienna, purchase a large quantity, import them to Russia, pay full customs duty, and sell them to the dress-conscious Russian aristocrats.

"Everyone will profit" he explained. The Russians were eager to make the money, but reluctant to relax the restrictions. "What's the minimum time you need" they asked? "A week" the chassid answered.

Beyond the profit, the chassid planned to visit his rebbe for Shabbos after Vienna. After completing his purchases and shipping them to Russia, he headed to Sadiger. He was an experienced chassid and knew how to appreciate Shabbos with his rebbe. He soaked in the davening, the tish, the teachings of the rebbe. All too soon Shabbos was over.

Before he departed, he met with the rebbe privately. After telling the rebbe about the chassidim of the Ukraine and asking for blessings, he make a special request. "I don't know when, if ever, I will have the opportunity of spending another Shabbos with the rebbe. Could the rebbe give me something, a coin or sacred article, share with me a teaching, or advise me to keep a practice, that will enable me to keep alive the connection between us?"

Rebbe Yisrael of Ruzhin surprised the chassid with an immediate response. "I have a message for you, for all my chassidim in the Ukraine, and in a larger sense, for all Jews...

Despite the difficulties confronting the Jews as present, we have the solace that the overwhelming majority of our people hold true to our Torah heritage. This will not always be the case. An age is coming when those who observe the Torah will be a minority, and most of our people will be unaware of their roots.

And there will be heavenly signs which will appear to lead people away from the Torah. If the prophet Eliyahu would conduct his confrontation with the idolatrous prophets of Baal in that future time, the fire would descend not on the altar built for G-d, but on the altar for Baal.

What will give our people the strength to endure the challenges of that time? Coming together and exchanging stories of tzaddikim, enlightening stories of righteous men. Joining together, in their families, with their friends, and in their communities, and relating stories of tzaddikim will inspire our people and empower them to bring about the coming of Moshiach."
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The Truth and the True Tzadik - Part 2

by Rabbi Nati at Mystical Paths

(continued from Part 1, here) May the merit of this Torah be a merit for a refuah shalayma to HaRav Natanel Levi ben Chana Sorah.

The elevation of Emunah (faith) is wondrous thing, something which the intellect finds difficult to grasp. How is it possible to elevate and enhance faith by means of some suggestion or counsel when the person lacking faith has no faith in the efficacy of the very piece of advice?

'Why should I take your word for it?'

Don't take my word. How about the Sages of old? We are told that taking a vow is beneficial for rectifying one's emunahs chochamim 'faith in the Sages'. "To make a vow and immediately fulfilling it is a segula for faith in the Sages". However, the person whose emunahs chochamim has fallen will certainly not be helped by this advice.

Because he does not believe in it, he won't do it. So how is it ever possible to elevate faith once it has fallen? For although there are a number of ways through which the broken pieces of faith can be restored and made whole again, including learning halakhah or speaking words of faith to one another, they will be of no help for the person who does not believe in them.

The Jewish people are a Holy Nation, believers descendants of believers, who's spiritual root is Emunah. Thus, even if a Jew should fall from faith, Hashem forbid, there still remains within him some modicum of that root. This remaining point may be small and minute, therefore considered broken, but it exists nonetheless. Testimony to its existence is given by the very fact that his fall from faith pains him. Were it not so, this would be a sure sign that even a small point of faith did not exist. But in his heart of hearts every Jew has at least a vague appreciation of the holiness in Jewish Faith; this is the "NIKUDA TOVAH" - That Hashem is One, an ancient Ruler and Overseer; and that He has great, awesome tzaddikim who recognize Him, even if we do not. And it is these very tzaddikim upon whom we must rely.
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Prayer

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Prayer has to become genuine, alive. One very small but meaningful gesture is, when saying the words, “You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing,”[i] to turn your palms upward as if you are trying to receive what it is He is giving. Why are you facing your palms upward? Because you truly believe that G-d’s hand is open and He is trying to give you something. And you are opening your hand heavenward because you want to receive His gifts. This shows that you really believe the words that you are saying.

There are many religious Jews who can tell you where every prayer is written and many can even repeat them by heart, but there are very few who can tell you what they actually mean.

Often people ask what can be done to improve their concentration during prayer. They complain that their minds keep wandering off the subject onto other totally unrelated things.

Really, there is only one thing that you can do when this happens. As soon as you realize that you are off the subject, gently return. Again and again, quietly return to what you want to be concentrating on. This is like a weightlifter who continually picks up his weights, again and again. Each time you return to the subject you get a little stronger.

There is another easy thing you can do that will help make your prayers more interesting, and actually more effective. Whatever you pray for, briefly imagine it coming into being. This means that when you are davening the Amidah (the standing, silent prayers), as you are finishing one of the 19 established prayers, such as, “Blessed are You . . . Who rebuilds Jerusalem,” or “…Who heals the sick,” briefly picture what you are praying for to happen. In these two cases you could picture Jerusalem, including the Third Temple, made entirely out of brightly shining gold, floating down from Heaven settling over and filling the present-day Jerusalem. Or, when praying for the sick, picture the sick jumping out of their wheelchairs, throwing away their crutches, and dancing down the street.

“Think good and it will be good.”

[i] Ashrei morning & afternoon prayers
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Sunday, June 07, 2009

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The Truth and the True Tzadik - Part 1

by Rabbi Nati at Mystical Paths

Today, Rabbi Nati has entered the hospital in Jerusalem for some very serious medical tests. Please join us at Mystical Paths in davening (praying) that HaRav Natanel Levi ben Chana Sorah have a complete and speedy recovery, and the tests should find only minor and easily resolvable health problems. He wrote this extended article (broken into multiple parts) before leaving. May the merit of this Torah bring rachamim to the din.

This is a deep subject. I will try to explain it in easy terms, but please be patient and forgive me if it is not completely clear. Unfortunately I will not have time to answer your questions in depth. Though much of Judaism is legalistic and subject to thorough logical analysis, there are some things that come down to belief and truth. This is not a new revelation, it is the oldest of the old and is foundational Jewish belief. Here we go...

The problem with the concept of the tzaddik has do to western ideologies. It is tainted by those who have stolen and twisted and persecuted in the name of their lies.

We face the main test: To return to Hashem and His truth at a time when truth is considered insignificant and those who fear Hashem are looked down upon. This is the situation today due to our many sins. Therefore it is only right that a person whose eyes have been opened by Hashem, who is able to see even a modicum of real truth in the Torah's insights which the Tzaddik shows him, should cleave to them as one cleaves to life itself.

Yet those of us who are distant from the truth due to the overpowering influences of this material world and its struggles and enticements, find it very difficult to draw closer. We see that many other 'prestigious' and 'influential' people fail to draw closer, and fear the consequences of drawing closer on our own. This is why though knowing where the truth lies, we mistakenly wait for our comrades so that we will lose none of our own prestige by drawing closer on our own.

What none of us realize is that this is precisely the time to accede to the truth, when by doing so we will have to accept the accompanying embarrassment and ridicule. "We might be wrong", Reb Akiva and I discussed recently, "we said these things in the past and we wait still".

If we could but understand that this acceptance is actually a cleansing process for the sins which to this point have kept us from Hashem's closeness. Indeed, without the purification that comes only through anguish, how can we ever hope to be worthy of such illumination? This test is our rectification. But those relying on their own 'wisdom' and all who base their intellectual and spiritual pondering on secular ideologies and philosophical conundrums are unable to withstand such a test. Like the 'Wise men of Athens',(Bekhorot 8b) they wait for the whole world to be convinced so that they might the securely acquiesce to what in their hearts they already recognize as valid and true!

Continued with Part 2, G-d wiling tomorrow.
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And a New President Arose...

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Shemos Chadash - The New Exodus - Parshat Shemos 1:6

The Jews were slaughtered, almost all of that generation. The children who survived returned to the Land of Israel, were fruitful and swarmed and increased and became extremely strong. The Land became filled with them.

A new president was elected in America, who did not know Yisroel. He said to his people, "Look! The nation of Israel are numerous and strong! Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest their influence increase. If another war were to occur, they will defeat their enemies without us and depart from our influence."

So he went to Egypt and spoke shrewdly to set enemies over them to afflict them with burdens. He appointed the enemies of Gaza and Ramallah. He said "The United States can't force peace upon the parties" and then went to Germany and France and said the enemies must be empowered.

The president spoke to his minister of state, saying "speak to the Hebrew midwives" and say to them "Jewish children born in Ariel or Shiloh or Bet El or Efrat or Kiryat Arba or Jerusalem-Ramot or Jerusalem-Ramat Shlomo or Jerusalem-French Hill, you shall put to death for there is no room for them there."

The midwives, however, feared G-d and they did not do what the president of the United States told them. They let the children live. The president summoned them and said, "Why have you done this thing, letting Jewish children be born?"

The midwives said to the president, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the American women. They do not have 2.1 children and a dog. Rather they listen to the words of G-d and His Torah, to be fruitful and multiply, and to settle the Land of Israel."

This parsha has not finished being written. There are those who would say the president hasn't done anything against Israel and all is well. Yet the president has chosen the direction of his major foreign policy... The genocide of Darfur, no. North Korea war rumblings and nuclear weapons that may start a regional war, no. An unstable Afghanistan/Pakistan also with nuclear weapons, no. Russian aggressiveness, no. Dictatorship in Venezuela, no. The nuclearization of Iran, no.

Nope, the major world issue is cutting Israel down to size. Indeed, a new king has arisen that did not know Yosef.
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Saturday, June 06, 2009

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Help Save a Yeshiva and Win

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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Friday, June 05, 2009

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Under the Bus

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

MSNBC
msnbc_anal
(It reads, "Analysis: Obama's Islam Success Rides on Israel")

We have no one to turn to except our Father in Heaven. Whenever Israel gets a bit complacent, we are swiftly reminded.

The USA has much merit, and Jews living in America have generally been well treated as any other citizen. But in international politics, there is no such thing as "friends". When Israel has been a useful ally to the US, the relationship has flourished. When Israel has had some benefits and some negatives for the US, the relationship has been manipulated and taken advantage of.

...And when the President of the United States determines that the relationship with Israel is in the way of his foreign policy objectives, then the relationship with Israel will be thrown under the bus.

It does not matter the truth of the situation, just that Israel is "in the way". This president is ALREADY renowned for dealing with those who get "in the way".

Hashem Yerachem.
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Thursday, June 04, 2009

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What Is the Proper Way to Address G-d?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

A typical-looking, very tough Israeli walked up to the Kotel yesterday.
He was about forty years old, totally secular, and had a very strong body.
He walked as if he wasn't interested in anything other than what was on his
mind.

I called to him in a friendly way, "Come put on tefillin."

He acted as if I did not exist.

I tried again, "Come put on tefillin. It's a good thing to do."

No smile.

He brushed right by me and didn't even look at me.

"Uh oh! That's a mistake," I called out to his back.

He took a few steps and then turned around, walking back toward the tefillin stand.

"Hey, I got him!" I thought.

I was wrong. He ignored me again. Without even the slightest recognition that I existed, he reached out and took a piece of paper that we have available there for people who want to write notes.

It has become a very common practice to write a note and place it in one of the spaces between the stones of the Kotel. Jews, and even non-Jews, often come from afar with their notes in hand, thinking that this is a traditional way to "talk" to G-d. The custom has really caught on, especially among the not-yet-so-religious public.

Writing notes to G-d has never been a traditional thing to do, but it certainly has become a widespread custom. It's just another form of prayer. Even dance can be a form of prayer,[i] so surely there is nothing wrong with writing your heart's desires on a piece of paper and "delivering" it to G-d.

I was standing right next to the stack of blank papers when he took one. I told him, "That's the post office." The mail around here can take up to two weeks." I pointed to the tefillin and said, "This is the cell phone. You can talk to Him right away."

No smile.

He walked away with his paper to go write his note to G-d.

A few minutes later, he walked up to me (still no smile). "You really want to do this," I said to him, as I slid my arm around his shoulder and gently moved him toward the tefillin stand.

No smile.

He took out his nicely folded little note, and in a most sincere tone, he asked me a shailah (a rabbinic question). "What is the proper way to address the letter? Should I address it to, ‘the Ruler of the Universe’?"

I saw how he was bringing his heavy, strict, attitude about life to his “relationship” to G-d. I said, "Write, 'Hashem, I love you. Please give me these things that I need so badly.’ And pour out your heart as if you are speaking to your father."

He smiled, and put out his arm for tefillin.

Hey guys, G-d really loves us. It's not just a saying. He loves us more than our earthly fathers could possibly love us, and He wants the best for us. That's why He gave us His Torah.

[i] Exodus 15:20, 2 Samuel 6:16
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Monday, June 01, 2009

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The Tzadik Emet - Part 3

by Rabbi Nati at Mystical Paths

(Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)

We live in a time of confusion. Words of the Torah have been stolen, claimed as the heritage of others again and again. Secrets of the Torah have been distorted by our enemies for their own agenda. Yishmael claims the heritage of Yitzchok, Easov claims the heritage of Yaakov. They twist the words of Hashem, Moshe our teacher, Yehoshua and the generations who carried Torah M'Sinai, they misapply the words of the navi'im ignoring paragraphs that contradict, they mistranslate through chains of languages and quote broken words as absolute truths.

I don't care what they think or what they say! They have perverted G-d and His Torah and made us wary of our own secrets.

It is written that gehenom (hell) is deep and wide and ready for us. Why do I put on tefillin or keep Shabbos? We know our efforts are inadequate. What use is it to try?

It says in the Holy Zohar, Hashem asked Moshiach 'should I make the world or not? Because man will rebel against me!' Moshiach said, "put it all on me I'll pay the debt". The Zohar says that all our avodah (divine service) has no substance at all. So this Neshama of Moshiach, this soul - the same exact soul as Moshe rebbenu, Rashbi, the Baal Shem Tov and Rebbenu Nachman, says he'll take responsibility. When seeing the days before Moshiach, the malachim (angles) asked "who will pay the chov (debt), Mah Yiye? What will be?" Moshiach stood up and said "I will, I'm the Guarantor!"

Rebbenu Nachman of Breslev said "I will tikun (repair) them." I will! This is the Tzaddik saying 'I will pay in full all of it!' No one ever made this promise. He said 'I'm the Orev!'

Only the Tzaddik HaEmet has the power to wake up the generation. But even further, he has the power to bring back the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, from Her exile. (Likutey Halochot hilchosos purim). Chazal tells us that Moshe rebbaynu did it, and that Dovid HaMelech (King David) did it, and King Chezkiyahu did it (and could have been the Moshiach), and that Mordechai HaYehudi did it!

But now we're at the lowest level, even lower than Mitzrayim (Egypt). We are mamash at the 49.999th level. Who has tried to drag us all out?

The Rebbe of Lubavitch made an effort, but the job isn't quite finished. Do you know the difference between Chabad and Breslev? Breslev sees the nikudah in every Jew. And Chabad sees the Jew in every nikudah. Together they raise us up! Only by Menachem and Nachman can we make it!

And now is the time for the power of the Tzadik HaEmet. Only on the zchut (merit) of the power of Nikudah Tovah! He tilted the scale to the side of favor for us by judging us favourably he put on the side of merit, he looked and saw these days and said they can't make it! "My Torah is for the last generation", "My fire will burn until the coming of the Mosiach" said Rebbenu Nachman of Breslev.

Rebbenu wrote "Ain ye'ush B'olam klal" - I can take the Jew who is in the lowest and farthest place and move him to the place of Rashbi, from the lowest to the highest. The Baal Shem Tov said "I can't move the Baal Bicherah, 'the master of choice' someone who choose to have their way, but I'll have grandson who will be able to move even this one." This is how Rebbenu gives us a chance to choose, he gives the kelim to raise us up over all, thousands of times. Rebbenu is the first Rav to write just to you. Just read his words, drop all your chochmahs - don't let your intellect become the barrier!

And with the power of the Tzaddik HaEmet, we'll break through.
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Life in Israel Pics

Just some miscellaneous life-in-Israel pics...

Ramat Gan (corrected, thx Rafi), next to Tel Aviv...
2009-06-01-- 100

Cliff art along the highway before Haifa, ahhh, it's a Giant Chair...
2009-06-01-- 080

Playing with blocks, a train bridge before Haifa...
2009-06-01-- 079

Cell tower art, end of Route 6 - Pardes Chana...
2009-06-01-- 069

Hat saleman for the religious community, Geulah neighborhood, Jerusalem...
2009-06-01-- 058
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