Sunday, February 28, 2010

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The Secret Tefillah of Drinking b'Kedusah

Below is the secret tefillah of drinking b'kedusah on Purim. It is said that it's a prayer handed down from the Baal Shem Tov, and was shared by HaRav Shalom Arush, shlita, of Yeshiva Chut Chesed in Meah Shearim, Jerusalem.

It says it is to be said before every cup of drink...

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Pour 'Em

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[i] Esther 1:7
[ii] Deuteronomy 4:39
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Saturday, February 27, 2010

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Hail the size of Soccer Balls!


...well, maybe not.
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

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The "Mitzvah" of Drinking on Purim?

by Rav Nati at Mystical Paths

The Inyan of Purim, is it the drinking or is it getting drunk? Maybe we are not keeping the mitzvot of Purim at all, or at least not correctly? This is a shaylah mamash!

We know that Chazal commanded us to drink ad hu loyadaah...b'kedusha (until he doesn't know, in holiness)! If a person will Hashem forbid commit a sin, i.e. He forgets to say al mikra or borei nefoshos, or Hashem forbid to say about another Jew something not good, then he is forbidden to drink at all! And for those who are sure that they can not drink b'Kedusha (in holiness) should drink a little wine and go to sleep! To do more is to cause more of a pagam (a defect)! These are the words of the sages.

In the name of the holy Rebbe of Zitoshev..."If a person drinks wine on Purim the way he is commanded it is the same as if he fasted twice from Shabbos to Shabbos!" How great this mitzvah is!

BUT there is no Mitzvah except on wine! There is no mitzvah to drink vodka or whiskey or scotch or brandy or arak. To drink, until "ad" you can't tell the difference in yourself between the klipah of 'Haman/Amalek' and the holiness of Tzaddik 'Baruch Mordechai HaYehudi.'

Reb Noson (of Breslov) writes (Likutey Halachot Chozen Mishpat Oseh Shaliach L'kebel Hovo ot gimel). "When a person drinks wine b'kedusha, he is able to completely subjugate the klipa of Haman HaAmalek. And to drink much much wine on Purim b'kedusha is a tikun haBrit".

Rebbe Nachman said to only drink much wine on Purim "the drinking of wine on Purim is a tikun haBrit!". In Rebbenu Nachman's time his talmidim used to shout for another "glass of wine!" The Anash would shout 'give us more tikun haBrit!'. Rebbenu said "And we can fix all the pagamim of the whole year on Purim drinking b'Kedusha! But we know that many go on to cause terrible pagamim. This is the majority of us! We end up causing much pain and suffering to the Shechinah."

Chazal tells us that when a person drinks wine b'kedusha he will become the Rosh and gain Holy Daat. He loses 'his' mind and gains the mind of the 'Holy Tzaddik'. But if he fails to drink B'kedusha he will become a Rash 'he will only make noise', he will cry over becoming poor. He will lose all his kedusha (Gemora Yoma). He will Mamash become a poor person because he forgets all the mitzvot that Moshe rebbenu taught us from Har Sinai. So this person is 'Lo dafka' he does not fulfill his obligation.

The mitzvah is on wine alone! There is a strict issur! And it is in the strongest of terms! Further, it is forbidden for women to drink and to become drunk at all! Those with wisdom understand.

Reb Noson writes (Likutey Halchot hilchos tefillin ot vav) "With wine there is the level of techias hamesim 'the resurection of the dead'. One can have a tremendous spiritual awakening from his slumber. He attains holy daas and can reach very high levels by drinking of wine on Purim. This called 'yain hasameach', wine that brings joy.

But on the other side if he drinks Lo B'Kedush it is called ha 'yain shel shainah', wine that makes you sleep, which is the opposite of daas and is the side of death chas v'shalom."

The drinking B'kedusha is that which causes an awakening of deep internal contemplation, an examination to know where he is really holding. Instead of being o'ver mitzvot and causing chilul Hashem of drunken stupidity chas v'shalom.

Baruch Hashem! We have had the zchut to learn by experience that when a person prepares himself properly before drinking wine on Purim he merits to drink b'kedusha and to be the Rosh. And this is prayer!

There is a special nusach of prayer to say before drinking wine on Purim, to prepare b'kedusah. G-d willing we'll be able to scan and upload this before Purim.

A person should check himself to know if he can drink. If he can't and can't do so properly b'kedusah then he should hold by the shita of the Rema, which was to drink a little and go to sleep, thus fulfilling the 'Lo yadeah'.

The mitzvah is only on wine, why? Because the whole miracle was on wine "when the heart of the king was merry with wine". All other drinks, intoxicants and drugs are forbidden! (So by the way is the Purim cigarette, which introduces many a young boy to smoking.)

This one drinks more and that one drinks less. It doesn't matter how much we drink, it is only important to only drink l'shem shamayim and l'shem hamitzvah!

May we merit to receive Purim b'Kedusha and to totally wipe out the memory of Haman and Amalek from ourselves and and from the world. And may we come to true Daas and to wake from our slumber and through this merit to receive the geula mamash now!

Purim Samayach. A happy and SAFE Purim to all our readers.
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Important Pre-Purim Video

Or maybe not. Umm, definitely not. I think...

We interrupt this humorous moment with a reminder that there's still time to fulfill the mitzvah of matanot l'evyonim - charity for the poor on Purim - via us at Mystical Paths. Check out our video 'Meet the Needy for Purim' and donate here.

An oldie but a goodie...

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Screaming

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

This morning at the Kotel, a young man was screaming his Psalms so loudly that I was really bothered by it. It was very early in the morning, and there were only 3 of us there. I love being at the Kotel at that time. You can look up quietly and feel so much. But, even though he was as far away from me as you can get and still be at the Kotel, he was screaming so loudly that his feelings kept me from feeling that special feeling that I love to feel.

...We interrupt this article with a reminder that there's still time to fulfill the mitzvah of matanot l'evyonim - charity for the poor on Purim - via us at Mystical Paths. Check out our video 'Meet the Needy for Purim' and donate here...

It used to be, some 25 years ago, that once or twice a week I would be the only person at the Kotel at that early hour. Now that so many Jews are coming to Israel, it is quite rare to be so alone. So, I treasure the opportunity now even more than I did before.

But you know that you really can't go tell another Jew to be quiet, and not to pray the way he wants, but I gave it a shot anyway.

I walked over and asked, "Who are you yelling at?" I had to yell for him to hear me over his screaming.

"Huh?"

"Why are you screaming so loudly? Do you think that He doesn't hear you?"

The young man jumped toward me as he spoke, "What? This is so important," he said as he banged on the book of Psalms that he held in his hand. "I have to scream out to let Him know just how much we need His help!"

"But you do know that He is right here, don't you? I mean if you are speaking to someone who is standing right in front of you, you don't have to shout, do you?"

"You don't understand!" He said in a very loud and urgent voice.

"You're doing it again," I told him, as I backed away from his aggressive manner.

I spoke softly, "You should talk to G-d the way you speak to your father, or to your wife. Do you scream at them?"

He became quiet and seemed to stop and think.

"How would you like your children to talk to you? Screaming? Or sweetly?" I asked.

"Sweetly," he answered and bowed his head.

I spoke softly, trying to bring him to a gentler way to pray. "You can get much more from listening than you can from yelling."[i] I stood with my hand cupped behind my ear and looked up toward the top of the Kotel, as if I was straining to hear something very quiet.

He became still.

I smiled and walked back to the place where I sit. I really did not expect him to change. After all, he is a "son of the King!"[ii] And beside that, people around here are pretty impressed with the fact that, "the entire creation was created for my benefit."[iii] But, I felt that it would be wrong to sit there and feel upset with the guy, without at least asking him to cooperate.

I was amazed. He went on with his prayers, but sweetly, instead of screaming! I walked by him later, and he smiled at me warmly. Surely, the Moshiach is really close now!

[i] Gemora Megila 18a "If a word is worth one coin, silence is worth two."
[ii] Gemora Shabbos 128a
[iii] Gemora Sanhedrin 37a
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US Political Commentary

We interrupt this article with a reminder that there's still time to fulfill the mitzvah of matanot l'evyonim - charity for the poor on Purim - via us at Mystical Paths. Check out our video 'Meet the Needy for Purim' and donate here.

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

There's a big hullabaloo today about the logo of the US Missile Defense Agency. (Who knew the US had a missile defense agency?) It visually appears to be a take off from the Obama campaign logo and/or an Islamic crescent + star. It also looks like something that you'd find in an 80's science fiction movie, but that's besides the point.

So people are upset. Is this an agency trying to please the administration, or has the US Logo Development Agency been infiltrated by Obama appointed muslim graphics artists?

Frankly, either point is irrelevant. Government agencies pandering to the administration is nothing new, and the administration is exercising it's normal power in making government appointments. And the Logo Agency isn't going to be doing any serious harm (those with particularly good taste may disagree, but us unwashed masses are unlikely to notice).

While still within it's rights of appointment, people should be paying attention to the Obama administration's appointment of extreme liberals, islamic terrorism supporters, and unskilled campaign supporters to key government positions (example, example, example).

When Bill Clinton became president there had been 12 years of Republican administration. One would have thought he'd have no choice but to staff his administration with inexperienced Democrats. Surprisingly, and smartly, he reached back to what had been junior members of the previous Democratic administration 12 years earlier, but had become experienced politicians and administrators in the meantime...members of the Carter administration. No, they weren't all that great but they were experienced.

The Obama administration has indeed kept with their campaign theme 'change'. Inexperienced, corrupt, extremist appointments abound in critical departments such as the Department of Justice, the intelligence bureaus, and the Department of Defense. This is where you should be paying attention to government actions.

What can you do about it? Express your concern to your Senator. Better yet, support GOP senators to provide some counter pressure. Not because the GOP is so wonderful (IMHO they still haven't got their act together after their loss) but because an administration with no need for opposition compromise becomes a dangerously effective demagogue - and THIS administration STARTED that way from day one and is only headed worse.

Alternatively, you could come to Israel where every voice has a much greater impact.

Thank G-d there's still time to donate! Check out our video 'Meet the Needy for Purim' and donate here.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

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Meet the Needy for Purim

On Purim it is the duty of everyone to send no less than two gifts (of food) to one of his friends...the more gifts one sends to his friends, the more praiseworthy one is. Nevertheless, it is better to give charity to the needy than to make a great feast and to send gifts to one's friends.

There is no greater joy and no more glorious deed before the Holy One, Blessed be He, than gladdening the hearts of those in need, orphans and widows. He who gladdens the hears of these unfortunates is likened to the Divine Presence...

Whoever puts out his hand and begs should be given... If one lives in a community where there are no poor people...one should send it to some needy...
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 142:1-3

Let us be your agent to help the poor of Israel, with no overhead! Helping the poor of Israel is considered equal to helping the poor of your own community. See the video below and meet Anat, one of our poor asking for your help.

You can fulfill the mitzvah of Matanot L'evyonim with us in Israel until Feb. 28 4:00 AM EST, 11:00 AM GMT, or 1:00 PM IST. (After that you still get the mitzvah of charity but not Matanos L'Evyonim.)

Donate Charity for Purim:


BTW, if you'd like to enhance our Purim personally (see 2nd video below), you can Tip the Bloggers here...

Tip the Bloggers for Purim:






Meet the Needy Video - Direct Link
Purim Appeal Video - Direct Link
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Why Esther's fast?

Reminder, we're raising money for the poor of Israel for Purim! Check out our Video and donate here...

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Esther's fast.

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

Let's for the sake of conversation just let go of this life this earthly life. Let's mentally leave behind all the earthly goals and take leave of the worldly aspirations and raise above all the transient temporal desires... all of them: riches, power, pleasures, prestige, all of this world we live in with all of it's t'aivah 'lusts' and enter a more permanent eternal, more meaningful existence. To a state of life where there is solitude, to a place where we can see the vanity of 'this normal life', to a vantage point from where we can see the total futility of the this world with it's social standards and it's peer pressures.

We rise to a perspective to where we can clearly see the futility and insanity of a Jewishness practiced only to attain empty vain goals of such a life. From this point, detracted from and unmoved by these earthly goals, from this eternal panorama we can focus on the the ultimate goal of the life, 'THE EMET'. And from here, undisturbed by the distraction of the transient vanity of this world, we can concentrate enough to yearn for and long for and come in touch with the deepest longing of our real selves... our souls desire, to cleave to Hashem, to be one with our source.

From here we can can see and feel the harmony of creation. With our souls we can sing in the celestial symphony. Our souls sing in unison, they sing their parts of the song to Hashem - the Master of all. At this point we can experience truly experience only Hashem. This is Joy. We can only stay here for a short while, in this ecstatic moment, experiencing a foretaste of the life eternal.

This is the goal that we each long for. And now as we begin to return from reality to this temporary experience that we call life in this earthly realm, we want to take all this that we have gained, the insights and all the feelings we have had, ingest them and let them enter deep into our souls so that when we return to our fleshly material selves we will remember what we saw and learned. Now back here in this reality that hides the truth, we promise ourselves that we will stay above these earthly goals - that we will stay awake and aware of the truth and focus on the ultimate goal of this existence in everything we do.

But most of us aren't ready to make this leap of faith. We are are distracted and overwhelmed by the colors, tastes and sounds of this earthly life that we identify so strongly with. This earthly life, we are unable to unplug. Without it, without a wider vision, we see no point in living. We feel earthly goals are all there is. To give them up is to be left with nothing. Yet this begs at us and asks, Who are we?... What is life?... where is Hashem? What is my part (if any) in this?

We can never answer these objective questions as long as we are blinded by the subjective needs. By those desires for riches... and pleasures.. power and prestige... these were all that Haman and Achashverosh had and longed for. He ruled over the whole world. They had it all, but what? They wanted more. They wanted what the Jews had too.

To answer our questions we need to set our sights on the ultimate goal. To be able to even catch a glimpse and set our sights towards the right level, we need the Tzaddik who can help us raise our perspective above the earthly goals.

We must connect and link to the the Tzaddik who has no subjective goals, who can answer our questions and guide us to the ultimate goal. We must follow and relate to his teachings, and allow a refocusing as it where. But to do this we must have faith in the tzaddik and in ourselves. We ourselves must take the first step of showing our desire, because by doing so Hashem sees that we seek the truth and He will guide us to the tzaddik. But until then, we are as blind to the tzaddik as we are of the ultimate goal (Likutey Halakhot, Hilchos shabbos 6:3).

And in the time of Haman, as is the case now, we had lost faith in the tzaddikim, we ignored Mordechai's plea not to attend the orgy. We had lost faith in ourselves that being that we could withstand temptation and raise above to the goal (Likutey Halakhot, Yibum 3:15).

So Esther decreed a fast. She enjoined us to make a vow (Rokeach, Esther). She told us to raise above the need to eat. She proclaimed a 3 day(!) fast. And making the vow to fast, we showed our desire to transcend the earthly needs. We showed faith in ourselves, that we could and would keep the fast. Hashem helped us to see that we really do not need all those "needs". And He brought us in touch with the Tzaddik, with Mordechai, who could then tell us the truth about ourselves.

Who are we? What is life? Where is Hashem?

At the Purim Banquet we can serve Hashem with feasting and drinking even more than we serve Him with fasting (Likutey Morharan I, 58:2-6 also Lm II, 86). Because the "ULTIMATE" GOAL IS EARTHLY SERVICE (at a G-dly level). BUT WE MUST FAST TO GET THERE. So every year on the eve of Purim, we keep Esther's fast.

This Thursday is Esther's fast. Have an easy fast, but a meaningful one.

Reminder, we're raising money for the poor of Israel for Purim! Check out our Video and donate here...
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Monday, February 22, 2010

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Why?

Reminder, we're raising money for the poor of Israel for Purim! Check out our Video and donate here...

Guest Post by Reb Meir Elkabetz at Mystical Paths

Reb Noson (of Breslev) says that salvation comes to those who wait for it. Even though in the interim a person must literally go through Gehennom – all types of doubts and feelings of failure and futility (“maybe I made a mistake in the decisions that I’ve taken in life? etc) a person is tested to see how much he is sincere and determined to follow the truth – the real truth.

Rebbe Nachman says the real truth is the truth of Hashem, namely that a person always seeks out HaShem and His ultimate advice and guidance in whatever he goes through. And for this a person must pay the price to determine how much he is firmly founded in this pillar of life. Thus the main thing is not to give up no matter what Haman/Amalek manages to convince us with.

May we truly blot out Haman and all the doubts that he has hurt us with and may we rightfully gain back all of the holy sparks that he has stolen from us since the beginning of time.

Reminder, we're raising money for the poor of Israel for Purim! Check out our Video and donate here...
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Chi Kung, Tai Chi and Idolatry

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

A reader asked if "Chi Kung" and "Tai Chi" can be taught in a kosher way.

Here is the definition of "Chi Kung" according to one of the many Web sites that promote it. There is a lot of information online about these practices. The following came from the first "indigenous" Web site, i.e. not watered-down Western, but from the Eastern source of these practices.

"If you only do the physical you are not really doing Chi Kung."

With Chi Kung you can "tap energy from the cosmos."...

3. "The mind aspect of Chi Kung enables the masters to 'perform… miracles'.

4. "Practicing Tai Chi Chuan is helpful if you are interested in spiritual cultivation... thus giving you [an] experiential result of spiritual cultivation. which many people merely read about in books."

5. "From the Taoist perspective, which constitutes the underlying philosophy in Tai Chi Chuan, these many and varied forms of spiritual fulfillment can be categorized into three major levels:

- attaining good health and longevity in this life
- become a saint or an immortal
- attaining the Tao, which is expressed in other cultures as attaining Buddha-hood, union with Brahman, return to god."

6. "The attaining of these goals is achieved through the cultivation of body, energy and mind (or spirit) --the "three treasures" of jing, qi and shen. At the elementary level, the cultivation of the three treasures, which occur in every Tai Chi Chuan exercise, results in good health and longevity. At the intermediate level, the spirit is nurtured and is emancipated from the physical body as an immortal. At the highest level, the individual spirit becomes -- IS --the Universal Spirit.

7. "However, in practical terms, the first level of attaining good health and longevity is applicable to the great majority of Tai Chi Chuan practitioners today. Their spiritual cultivation enables them to understand and to be aware that life extends far beyond our physical bodies, and they may sometimes possess extra-ordinary powers."

8. "If they have the rare opportunity to cultivate at a higher level to attain immortality, or at the highest level to attain the Tao, they will generally be known as Taoists, although they may still practice Tai Chi Chuan and at a very high standard."

9. "Must one embrace Taoism and become a Taoist to seek the highest attainment in Tai Chi Chuan? The answer is yes and no."

----------------------- end of the quotes from their Web site

Chi Kung and Tai Chi are more than simple movement meditation techniques. For instance, Tai Chi is almost always associated with Taoism. Taoism is an Eastern religion, which from its earliest roots writes of "ghosts, and deities, and wives of deities…immortals [i] "and of 'god.'" [ii] Taoism is a "reinterpretation of an ancient unnamed tradition of nature worship, divination[iii], and magic." [iv]

Can these practices be taught in a kosher way?

Even if your student only touches his toes and dances, if you tell him that he is practicing Chi Kung, or Tai Chi - or any other practice that is rooted in a religion other than the Torah - you are endangering his soul.

Beside the immediate spiritual intrusion that automatically occurs from practicing these aspects of foreign religions, students will often want to learn more about their new exercise system. They then buy books, visit Web sites, and put pictures on their walls. Then, when they move to another town, they find an "authentic" Oriental teacher. The result is that that Jewish student will soon believe in the spiritual teachings that accompany the exercises. Those names and roots are taken from Buddhism, and the Tao, and on and on.

Again, and to reiterate most clearly, any practice that is entirely physical with absolutely no association with other religions is assumed to be perfectly alright. However, the minute you include even a slight reference or association to those other religions, you are endangering your spiritual life.

Remember, there are many perfectly fine, non-spiritual systems available. There is no reason to look to the ways of the East.

[i] The Essential Tao, Harper p.166.
[ii] The Essential Tao, Harper p.163.
[iii] “Focus on Asian Studies”, Bealing Vol. 2, no. 1 p. 9-11.
[iv] “Gods, Ghosts & Ancestors”, Wolf, p 131.
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Mazel Tov

We'd like to wish reader Rachel Tzipporah a mazel tov on her vort (upcoming engagement party) this week.

Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov. May you build a bayis ne'eman b'yisroel!
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Please pray

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

For Carol (chana bat yosefina)! My mother in law has had a stroke.
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Sunday, February 21, 2010

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Charity for the Poor this Purim

It is a great and obligatory mitzvah to provide for the poor for the holiday of Purim. Purim this year falls out this coming Motzei Shabbat, Sunday.

We take it upon ourselves to do what we can to help the poor of Israel. Just two guys with no overhead, no staff to pay, no advertising to pay for - every single dollar/shekel/euro/rand/rubel donated goes directly into the hands of those in (serious) need.

Please donate to help us provide for the poor. You can fulfill the mitzvah of Matanot L'evyonim this way, until Feb. 28 4:00 AM EST, 11:00 AM GMT, or 1:00 PM IST. After that you still get the mitzvah of tzedakah (charity) but not Matanos L'Evyonim. Fulfilling the mitzvah with the poor of Israel is considered and required as the poor of your own city.

Donate Charity for Purim:


BTW, if you'd like to enhance our Purim personally, you can Tip the Bloggers here...

Tip the Bloggers for Purim:



Purim Appeal Video - Direct Link
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

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The Rebbe on Non-Jewish Techniques

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

For those following our discussion on Yoga and other similar Eastern techniques, here's the Lubavitcher Rebbe's words on the matter. Those in the religious community often quote the LAST few sentences the Rebbe says (which is kosher versions should be developed) without quoting the previous ones (which is ONLY for those who are trapped deeply in such practices, and ONLY by those who are experts in Jewish law and the details of avodah zarah, and ONLY for those who qualify literally as ILL in need of such a treatment)...

Oh, and the Rebbe says people creating things such as general classes in Kaballah Mediation are creating IDOL WORSHIP for the Jewish community.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

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First Do Your Own Tikun then Worry About Others

(Yeshiva World News) Two avreichim presented themselves to Maran Hagon Rav Aaron Leib Shteinman Shlita (one of the leading authorities in the Torah world, based in Israel) in the Rav’s home on Sunday, explaining their pain over the deterioration in the standard of tznius (women's modesty in dress and action). The Rav listened attentively then sharing a story with them.

“In my youth, the Chafetz Chaim zt”l was pained by the deterioration in a number of areas, traveling from city to city and country to country (talking to people). When he realized he was not having an impact, he decided to focus on the area in which he lives. “Unfortunately, this mission was unsuccessful as well. The Chafetz Chaim then focused his activities in his city, Radin. When this did not succeed, he decided to focus his efforts on his family, and once again, he emerged disappointed.

“Afterwards, the Chafetz Chaim began delving into musar sefarim. ‘At the very least I will fix myself’ he decided. After a period of time, the Chafetz Chaim realized just how much he had erred, explaining only after he did his own tikun did he realize the generation is fine and he no longer sees any blemish”.

“First fix yourselves” stated R’ Shteinman, then, make certain everything is just the way it should be. There is no room [today] for additional needless gezeiros and takonos” (public restrictions and extra protective prohibitions).
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

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We have no one to lean on....

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

"We have no one to lean but our Father in heaven" (Sotah)

We are told that this is how it will be in the end and this will be what we feel in the last days. And all of this is to remind us to begin anew to crying out to Hashem that He should allow us to truly come close to him.

May the master of Mercy have compassion on all of us. May we merit to walk in His path ways of truth, so that we will never be ashamed.

Let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation!

This is the essence of perfect faith to believe that Nature is governed by Hashem and that Nature itself is Divine Providence. Some one who's belief in this is complete, he is able to alter nature. For he knows the Truth, that there is actually no Nature at all. And that Hashem governs His World according to this particular order we call 'Nature'. "The one who told oil to light, can tell vinegar to light" (Taanit 25a).

So we see that all miracles occur only as a result of belief that the entire order of Nature is governed by Hashem, Who directs and sustains His world through the letters of the Torah and their various combination's.

Anyone who knows all this can preform awesome miracles and change Nature, because he knows that everything happens by Hashem's will. All this occurs through prayer. For only through the medium of prayer is it possible to attain this knowledge with any degree of frequency. The Searcher of hearts knows the truth, that we cry out to Him in truth! It is known that all the miracles that Hashem performed for the Tzaddikim were a result of prayer (megillah 27a)

The only thing that can surely help any of us at this tim, is prayer! Hashem is waiting to receive our prayers and help us if we would just cry out "Father help us!"
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This One Made Me Cry

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

You see in this picture a nice-looking, older Jewish man wearing tefillin at the Kotel. He has lived a long and productive life, as have his brothers and sisters, and so did their parents, of blessed memory.

Amazing as it sounds, that man standing next to him, who is not even Jewish, has inherited much of the credit for the good deeds that that Jewish family did.

The story goes like this: The Jewish family was from Poland. When the natzis (may their name be blotted out!) invaded Poland, with great sacrifice and good fortune, the family was able to escape to France,. But, then the barbarians invaded France, too. The borders were sealed, and there was no way, and nowhere, to run! Everyone knew that it was only a matter of days until the cruel invaders would track them down.

This is where the non-Jewish man comes into the picture, although he was only 2 years-old at the time. His mother, may G-d bless her memory, took the Jewish family into her home and hid them from the nazis for the duration of the war! She saved their lives!

Do you know what that means? This non-Jewish woman not only risked her own life, she even risked the lives of her young family, in order to protect a Jewish family from certain death, or even worse!

I walked up to them to take this picture to share with you. When I took the picture I loudly said to the non-Jewish man, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” and I started to cry. The greatness of this family’s deed overwhelmed me.

I can think of no greater heroes in the history of the world than the non-Jews who risked their own families to save a Jew from death. G-d bless them. G-d bless them. G-d bless them.
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A Little Zealotry L'Shem Shamayim

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

About 100 years ago, a Rav challenged the non-supervised and not-(necessarily)-kosher milk production and consumption in New York City. The members of the community that were involved in the milk and dairy product business came after him, hounded him, threatened him, even tried to take him to a beis din for harming their business.

In his lifetime, as required by the Shulchan Aruch, chalav yisroel (properly supervised kosher dairy products) became available in the city.

About 35 years ago, a rav challenged the method of schechita (kosher slaughter) in the New York area kosher slaughterhouses. The factory developed process had developed certain methods that were straight forward violations of halacha. The slaughterhouse owners came after him, hounded him, threatened him, and even tried to take him to a beis din for harming their business.

Today no kosher slaughterhouse follows those problematic methods.

About 20 years ago, a rav challenged the method of production of klaf (parchment) for mezuzahs, tefillin, and sefer torahs. The factory method used in Israel at the time had a step that was a clear violation of halacha. The owners and distributors came after him, hired thugs to attack him and shoot up his car, and even tried to take him to a beis din for harming their business.

Today kosher certified klaf is readily available (though more expensive) for soferim writing mezuzahs, tefillin, sefer torahs, and megillahs. (You should ask the question when buying if it was written on kosher certified kalf. Not every sofer or source is aware of this issue.)

We recently have been in touch with a few major publications in the Jewish world about our position on Yoga, as well as in direct communication with various people who have emailed us. Without violating anyone's privacy, here's the kind of responses we're getting...

- I will not forgive you no matter what kinds of arguments/posts you'll bring later on against yoga, even if it comes from Rebbe's (I won't even read them). You're a control freak. An adult is someone who's capable and mature enough to listen to ALL views before he replies and who RESPECTS people whose views he might not understand (yet) or approve of. I'm only interesting in debating with adults and g-dfearing and g-dtrusting rabbis. You may not agree with Yoga but it's a democratic country. Doesn't it also say in the torah that your forbidden to lie, deceive and be false? Hashem will not forgive you. You're not only a lier but you're a control freak who's not mature enough to debate anything openly and RESPECTFULLY. I have no respect for people like you and I will never ever read your blog again. Do not try to "save me". In fact I'll block your address right now. (Excerpted pieces from a larger letter.)

- I can only tell you I am truly sorry but I tried (to get my Jewish publication to pick up on your article and this topic). The boss is too afraid to post the article and therefore has decided not to use it. I worked ... but to no avail.


Certain types of opposition show you that you're headed the wrong way. OTHER types of opposition show you that you're headed the RIGHT way. A little zealotry L'shem Shamayim is not necessarily a bad thing.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

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The Greatness of Hitboedut!


by Reb Nati Mystical Paths

“This practice is for every Jew!”
“For it is something that everyone has the ability to do!”

A person’s Prayers before Hashem in Hitbodedut are a form of Ruach Hakodesh (Divine Inspiration).
This is how King Dovid made up the book of psalms. He aroused himself to pray and to speak before Hashem. “To You, my heart spoke” (psalms 27:8), he said. Rashi explains: “To You” in your service, as your messenger “My heart spoke.” His heart served as the messenger of the Holy, delivering the words which Hashem Himself provided for King David to pray before Him. From these words, words of divine Inspiration, the book of psalms was formed. Each person’s level of Divine Inspiration is determined by the extent that he draws upon himself these words which come from Hashem. (Likutey Moharan I,156)

Reb Noson was once describing the greatness of hitbodedut. “Try to picture the high priest as he entered the holy of holies at the one time of the year that this was permitted, Yom Kippur. In describing his appearance, the liturgy states that the high priest looked like “one who sits in solitude to pray before Hashem.” “Imagine,” said Reb Noson, “the high priest entering the holy of holies is likened to the person who sits and pours out his heart before Hashem” (Hishafkut HaNefesh)
Through Hitbodedut, we can, as it were, enter the holy of Holies each and every day! Rebbe Nachman gave the following analogy. You’ll see that all the thieves generally gather around the well know and often used roads, waiting to set upon the innocent passers-by. Someone who wants to outwit them has to find a new road, so that the thieves won’t notice him. The same is true when it comes to prayer. The standard, often used prayers are well know to the “thieves” The other side.

Hitbodedut, on the other hand, is entirely new path. Taking this approach, and using new words and original supplications, deceives these spiritual “thieves” Then our prayers are able to asend without hindrances (Likutey Moharan II, 97). Reb Noson, Test it out. Practice Hitbodedut for forty days straight. I guarantee you’ll see results (Aveneha Barzel) pg.66) The Rebbe prescribed different devotions for each of his followers. Yet there were two devotional practices that were universally prescribed for all his followers in his generation and for all time. They are the daily study of the Shulchan Aruch and the codes and Hitbodedut. He said “this advice is for everyone, because it is something that every Jew has the ability to perform (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #185)
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Mercaz HaRav Update

A week and a half ago we noted...

Naftali, the young man that was severly injured at Mercaz HaRav is undergoing leg surgery on Sunday Feb. 7, 2010. It would be greatly appreciated if Tehilim would be said for him. Please daven for Naftali ben Gila Rachel.

We have since received this update...

The good news is that Naftali came through the surgery. It seems to be a success. Thanks to you and all the people you contacted who said Tehillim for him.

Baruch Hashem, may he go from strength to strength!
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

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Video Reponse to Comments

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Tell us if you like the new format

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Editorial

by Reb Nati Mystical Paths

We can bypass all this!

WE ARE SO CLOSE TO THE REDEMPTION!

Can not you feel it? Sense it?

I believe that we can avoid all this, all this emotional energy and feeling could be directed to the correct place.

If we do complete 100% teshuvah and focus on the truth. By doing so we come to realize that "He and His Name are One!" Then we can say just one "kriyat Shema" with the same feeling and concentration and energy that we have here today (in our arguments about yoga)!

Wow! Where would "it" all be? We could m'vatel all the paganism in ourselves. Then the klipa would expode like the starving homeless child that it is!

We would thus break the power of "all this" at it's root cause! US!

Let's stay focused upon the good and the truth. To even focus on anything else than coming closer to Hashem at this time is a waste of time! We are given a hint in Shmos 2:23. But you must know that it is in reverse order this time. In Shmos it's the order of how Hashem redeemed us from Mitzrayim, but now it is us that initiate (an arousal from below bringing an arousal from above) and (therefore) in the opposite order!

WE have to "Hear" His call, that He wants to and is willing to redeem us! If we would to keep the most basic of Torah Truths "To have no other g-d's before Me!" Hard, for it means bye bye to the belief that "I know something", letting go of the ego.

"To Remember Our Brit, Our covenant with Hashem", to serve Him. Just as we are committed to His service for He redeemed us!

See where we are holding, see it in truth! From this the picture on the previous yoga post it is clear where are "at the last gate", the 50th. We are rapidly approaching the point of no return. A line in which if we choose to cross it we will really come to know what evil is, Hashem forbid.

Finally come to KNOW that it is Time! Remember, it starts with the know! To have Emunah that He will redeem us! It only takes five minutes a day and just talk to Hashem about this problem and all the others of Am Israel and the world. Please!
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Monday, February 15, 2010

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Yoga and Idolatry

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Preface by Reb Akiva...

There's a complete masechta of Shas on Avoda Zara (the prohibition of idol worship). The penalty for avoda zara is kares from Shamayim, and skila (stoning to death) by the Sanhedrin in this world. Avoda Zara is one of the 3 mitzvot for which one must give their lives rather than be forced to commit.

It is not a minor matter and not to be taken lightly. It is not batul b'shishim (nullified by only being a little bit, literally 1 in 60 parts).

Jews who live in the West are no longer familiar with the various intricacies of avoda zarah, as the majority religion(s) of the Western world and Arab world do not include most of the numerous avoda zarah practices of the past.

This is NOT true of those who spend time in Asia and much of Africa, the East. The many idol worshiping practices described in the Gemora are alive and well. And some of them are embedded within yoga.

As religious Jews who eat glatt kosher and protect themselves from the slightest injury to the cow, who drink mehadrin wine protected from the merest inappropriate touch or even view, who wouldn't accept the slightest bit of red dye number 40 - not even a single drop in a vat of 10,000 gallons - as it's derived from an insect and batul b'shishim doesn't apply to intentional ingredients, who hold by the stringencies of chalav yisroel, pas yisroel, bishul yisroel, and even yoshon!

If the knife in shechita has the slightest knick, the SLIGHTEST, it's treif. If the meat is transferred without a seal, it's treif. If the wine is open and accessible with others around, it's treif. If it's (not mevushal and) even picked up by someone not Shomer Shabbat, it's treif.

Yet religious Jews and rabbis would argue it's zealotry to be concerned that there's touches of idolatry in "kosher" yoga programs (and definitely idolatry in regular yoga programs)?

"Hey, it's just exercises." It's just a knife. It's just a bottle of wine. It's just a yogurt. It's just a bug on the leaf. It's just a little linen in the wool suite... (end of preface)


Idolatry is not merely a social or cultural corruption. The idolater’s physical and spiritual realities become defiled when he practices those distortions. Although there are no false gods, there is idolatry. And although idols have no power, unclean powers do exist, and there is magic, and even worse.

Some say that these things have no real power, but many more say that, indeed, these powers do exist. If you read Coming Back To Earth[i], you will see how I know that these powers are real and that they still exist today.

One example; (and I am writing this only so you will take the rest of this article to heart). In the summer of 1972, I sat on a park bench at the corner of 86th street and Central Park West in New York City. I did not speak. I just sat there. After a few days, I looked up and saw some 125 people whom I did not know sitting silently on the sidewalk in front of me. Alan Ginsberg, the well known poet, was lying there, spread out on his face, worshiping me. Ram Das (Richard Alpert), the famous 1960’s guru, was washing my feet, and Peter Max was painting my picture. There were a number of television crews trying to record me while I just sat there, not talking. The reporters and camera crews were climbing over the crowd, struggling to get close enough to ask me a question.

This is what they asked: “What is this power that we feel coming from you?”

I had been in India for a couple of years, meditating and learning the ways of the East. I picked up one of their “mystical” (unclean) powers.[ii]

When you do those Eastern practices intensely, one of the many strange experiences that you might have is that you feel energy, which they call “life-force”, or prana, moving within your body. When it is on the upswing, you feel strong. A tremendous feeling of wellbeing fills your mind and body. But then it wanes, and you feel weak and cold, as if your very life is draining out through your fingers. It is a terrible experience. Once, because of this practice, I clenched my hands in fists for five months, unable to open them, until they cracked and bled!

Don’t worry, they have a remedy. If you are “fortunate,” the gurus share their secret with you. “Touch your thumbs to your forefingers, especially when you meditate. This will stop the draining by recycling your life-force back into your body.”

“Thank G-d! Thank G-d!” you think. But then, after some time, maybe a month, a year, a lifetime, you begin to wonder, “Why do I have to hold my thumbs to my forefingers in order to keep my life-force in my body?”

Now look at the picture (above) that is featured on the Web site COLLIVE. You see what appears to be a religious Jewish man who says that he is teaching “kosher yoga meditation.” Look at his thumbs. They are purposely touching his forefingers, just as the books of Eastern idolatry teach. I doubt that he knows why his yogi guru taught him to hold his fingers like that, but I do.

Jewish meditation brings proper, higher spiritual awareness. The “life-force” that we seek is a not a waxing and waning feeling of energy that we have to keep in our body by holding our thumbs to our forefingers. Nor is it the “mystical powers” (siddhis) that the yogis lust so much. The Life-Force that we seek is Hashem, Who is everywhere at all times. It is the revelation of Hashem’s presence that we seek, not a feeling of energy or power. These energy experiences lock you into lower distinctions, and force you to ignore the Universal One. Worse yet, in the beginning, you feel like you have this amazing power, then later, you see that the amazing power has you.

There are many different types of yoga, and all of them are Hindu religious practices. For instance, besides the common hatha yoga (physical exercises and positions), there is bakti yoga which teaches devotional attachment and service to a deity. There is raja yoga which teaches the Hindu meditation techniques. There yogacara which teaches the Eastern “enlightenment,” and Jnana yoga which is the way of Hindu knowledge. One of the main goals of these yogas is “Moksha – freedom and trying to come to the realization of your identity with the Supreme Being.” This is called, “G-d realization.” Do you know who teaches this in the Torah? The Serpent in the Garden of Eden says the same thing! “…And you will be like G-d.”[iii] The “G-d realized” guru will say, “I am god.”

Actually, there is an entire yoga dedicated to this serpent and its power. It teaches a certain meditation system where you try to raise energy up your spine. This energy is called the Kudalini, or “Serpent Power.”

There is karma yoga which stresses detachment, and tantra yoga which is also called sexual yoga, on and on. There are dozens of these types of Hindu (Brahmanism) religious practices, all called yoga. How could anyone possibly say that yoga is kosher?

Their ways are not even good for the non-Jew. These idolatrous practices, even when done without spiritual awareness, are extremely dangerous. They act as antennas for unclean spiritual experiences. The insidious problem with those who defend yoga is that they do not know that there is a spiritual reality to these practices. To them, “yoga” means touching your toes and breathing deeply! They are wrong. You must not even have books, pictures, or names of these yogas in your possession. Even if you do not use them, they invite severe spiritual confusion into your life.

There are many pure, Jewish meditation techniques, and there are many fine, non-spiritual, physical and stretching exercise systems. There is no need to look to Eastern idolatry for guidance.[iv]

p.s. Today, there are many people giving spiritual opinions about dangerous things that they simply have not experienced, or experienced them superficially without real depth. For instance, one writer “proves” that yoga is not always spiritual by informing us that even karate fighters use yoga. That writer does not know that when a karate fighter gets to be a fifth degree black belt (very accomplished) he is taught to “call upon spirits” to help him with such acts as tamishewata (breaking bricks with his bare hand).

As far as the comment that if you forbid sitting cross-legged you will make all sitting forbidden, see that the yoga position is not merely cross-legged as a person would usually sit when sitting on the floor. They sit in the “lotus position.” One leg is folded over the other leg an additional time, and the arms are held in an unusual and uncomfortable position. This is a unique posture, and although no philosophy or religion owns any position, one has to ask, “Why is he sitting like that?”

If you see someone making a sign of the cross on his chest with his finger and then kiss his finger, what would you think? Even though he might be thinking, “chochma, binah, daas” (wisdom, understanding, knowledge), since that movement has for so many centuries been associated with the “catholic trinity,” a Jew should not do it [Reb Akiva adds, as a known religious practice of the gentiles a Jew is forbidden from doing it].

Their meditation practices are unhealthy, and merely changing the idolatrous words (as one well known rabbi suggests) is not enough. For instance, mantra meditation endlessly repeats a word (often the name of an idol) in order to erase, or ignore all other thoughts. This is an attempt to try to come to “singularity.” Changing the name of the idol that is being chanted to a kosher name will not make this system spiritually healthy.

This technique attempts to eliminate the mind’s function, and tries to bring the meditator to “emptiness.” Jewish meditation strives to bring you to the awareness of G-d, not emptiness. It is not just their names and their techniques that are wrong. Even their goals will take you away from proper spiritual objectives. You cannot mix in even a tiny principle of another religion, or you will pollute your spiritual life.

Reading the many articles and opinions on this subject shows just how widespread and deep the ignorance about idolatry is in the Jewish world. One woman wrote that an “Orthodox rabbi” in her yoga class has no problem with the statue of ga-nish (an Indian god that is part elephant and part person) that is in front of them when they meditate, because the “rabbi” says that he has no intention of worshipping it! We are taught not to even pick up a coin that you dropped in front of an idol, because it might look like you are bowing down to the statue.

Would that “Orthodox rabbi” sit in a treif (non kosher) restaurant, even if he did not eat anything? Of course not! Sitting in front of an idol and meditating is much worse than sitting in a treif restaurant! Sitting in a treif restaurant fools others. Sitting in front of an idol, fools others and it also fools you. He began by saying that yoga is parve –neutral - and ended up meditating in front of an actual idol!

Afterward by Reb Akiva...

There are some who shout "zealots, you would ban everything!" in response to our words on yoga. Dear rabbis who would say such, the Mishnah in Pirke Avos writes Avtalyon said: Sages, be careful with your words lest you deserve to be exiled and are exiled to a place of bad waters. The students who come after you will drink of these waters and die, and G-d's Name will be desecrated.

When YOU write on web sites representing G-d fearing Torah organizations that "yoga" is ok, or publish a picture of a chossid doing yoga, or hold a "kosher yoga" class at your school, Chabad house, outreach class, etc, YOU ARE PUTTING A HECHSHER ON YOGA.

Why do I say that? We have received tens of emails and comments about "this rabbi says yoga is ok, that rabbi says yoga is ok", etc. I doubt if I called these rabbi's up and asked them if they think Kandaline Power (Serpent Power) is an acceptable religious practice they'd say it is. Yet by endorsing even the slightest amount, they unintentionally endorse it all.

That's called maris ayin at the very least. And if they're uninformed and just endorsing what "sounds ok" without doing any research, well, what religious rabbi would eat a hashgacha he's never seen before without a little research?

"It's just exercise." No, it's not.


[i] Available from www.thereisone.com or from Amazon
[ii] Rashi, Genesis 25:6
[iii] Genesis 3:5
[iv] See Taming The Raging Mind-105 Jewish Meditation Techniques & the Mystical Experiences They Can Produce by Gutman Locks
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Photos: Suburban Holy Land

Original Photos by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

One direction and Israel is golden ancient walls and holy places. A few kilometers another direction and it's a modern metropolis.

Engulfed by the Tel Aviv metropolis, the former suburb but now neighborhood (though an independent city) of Givatayim sits near the southwestern corner of Tel Aviv...

An upscale condo complex...
Givatayim - Israel

Community theatre...
Givatayim - Israel

Ugly public art - donated by the Electric Company (bet you could tell)...
Givatayim - Israel

Just a suburban office building, this one has Pelephone (cell phone company) and a Cup-O-Joe coffee bar.
Givatayim - Israel

Suburbia that could be anywhere in the world can be found in Israel too. Is that good or bad? You tell me.
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

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How Do I Show That I Love You?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Let me tell you a nice little story that just happened. It made me so happy that I started to sing as I walked on to the makolet (little grocery store).

Those of you who have been reading these articles for the past few years know that, whenever I go in the street, I keep an eye open to see if maybe there is someone I can move a little. Ah, I saw my target coming toward me. He was a nice-looking, young (maybe 18-years-old), baal teshuvah. He was walking, holding his tefillin bag by one of its corners. It was hanging by his leg, and it was swinging a little as he walked.

He looked like an American. “Do you speak English?” I asked.

“No. Spanish,” he answered.

“Maybe a little English?” I asked in my broken Spanish.

“No. But I speak Hebrew.”

“Let me ask you a question,” I said in Hebrew. “If you are carrying something that you love, how would you carry it?”

He looked down at his tefillin bag, and said, “By my heart.” He immediately raised his tefillin bag to his chest and held to close to him in front of his heart.

I smiled broadly at his sensitivity and quickness to grab onto a good idea. Then, as I walked away, I looked back at him just as he was looking back at me. He was smiling a huge smile, and he quickly held up his thumb, as if to say, “Thanks for the great idea!”

How wonderful it is to see a young man grow to a higher level of love of G-d, and in only 30 seconds, too.
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

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Emergency E.D.S. Alert

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

The governments of the world and the United Nations and the World Health Organization announced today that there is a pandemic of global proportion.

The G12 has admitted today "That it has been spending trillions of dollars in an effort to control and contain this terrorizing threat." With no success at all, in fact we have only exacerbated the outbreak”.

A spokesman for the W.H.O. was quoted as saying "we do not even understand where to begin". Medical researchers at many of the world’s leading universities are working around the clock to find a solution, so far to no avail.

Reports are coming in from around the world of chaos and confusion as people are dying needlessly. We are told that the symptoms are many and varied, with anxiety and stress being seen among the majority of victims. There is an overwhelming feeling of fear and mistrust that accompanies most.

The rampant and rapid spread of the disease is out of control and the diagnosis is compounded by its AIDS like transmutable ability and the fact that it's as infectious as flu. "We are faced with the single most deadly disease since the Black Plague", one official said. "Medical science is frankly at a loss", "We just do not know what do to" commented a professor from the Red Cross in Geneva. "We are hearing reports from every continent around the globe, there does not seem to be any place that has not been affected." (World News Network)

As people around the world are hit by it's deadly effects, we are just understanding that this is a congenital disease and very contagious. Nine out of ten people are suffering with this. It is very possible that you or someone you know is infected.

...Wait a minute this just in off the wire...

It was announced today in Israel that there has been a break through. We are happy to announce that we here at Yesh Ma L'asot Yeshiva have met with experts today that tell us that after 6,000 years of research there is hope for Emunah Deficiency Syndrome.

"We here in Israel understand the disease and are working to contain it. There is hope!" said the leading professor of the institution. "There seems to be one therapy that works on most cases. We have seen improvements in almost every case that has been brought to us. For those who adhere to the therapy, even those who are terminal, can recover from the this devastating affliction".

"It is in our hope that we can spread the news of this cure. We are in possession of hundreds case histories. The clinical trials have shown over the last 4,000 years that it works 100% on everyone who has taken the therapy. There has been no know side effects to the treatment, except for a joyful stress free life.

In the last 200 years there has been the greatest of all advances in treatment of this traumatic plague. We have seen in case studies that there are those who have fully recovered from the effects of this scourge.

We are giving therapy free of charge at our center in Beit Shemesh, Israel. Come and receive your free treatment for this Emunah Deficiency Syndrome. Donations are accepted to help others.

Therapy is being conducted Sunday through Thursday 9am till 3pm in English at the Yeshiva Yesh Ma L’asot. For those not in Israel, treatment will be online on Wednesday from 2pm until 4pm, Radio Yesh Ma L’asot Live.

Many are finding help through Emunah Therapy and even fully reversing the effects of E.D.S.
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Emunah and Good Times

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Two anonymous commentors said on the Global Fear Update (comments merged & edited for brevity)...

i think the quote ...about iran destroying the world is not only inappropriate but wrong on two accounts. first, it plays into their hands of causing fear. the only thing we are to fear is HaShem. ...this blog shold be helping to create and foster emunah... please reconsider this final quote... especially since this is a torah informed website, that it is not permitted to create fear in people...to me, it is not a kiddush Hashem to include this in your piece.

I'm going to set aside for the moment that these are NOT our words, but prophetic words from the holy sages - it's direct text from Yalkut Shimoni (which is a compilation of prophetic writings from all sources, Torah, Gemora, Navi, and associated Midrashim, and considered to have been compiled by HaRav Shimon Ashkenazi of Frankfort in the 12th century).

I met a young IDF soldier on the way home today, from a special armor recon unit. A secular Jew, but he had some religious questions. He asked me, "my commander, a religious guy, has a uniform patch that says 'Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.' Where's that from and what's it mean?"

I told him it's from Tehillim (Psalms) 23, and it was written by Dovid HaMelech (King David). King David was on the run from the soldiers of Shaul HaMelech (King Shaul) for the crime of having been anointed by Shmuel HaNavi (the biblical prophet Samuel) to replace Shaul HaMelech for defying the instructions from Hashem.

Dovid's on the run for his life, the army of the king hot on his heels. HE didn't do anything wrong. He's hiding in the forest of Cheret, literally starving to death. And there he composes a song to Hashem. There, in the midst of deprivation, chased for something he didn't do, hungry, tired, scared. He turns to G-d and says, "Hashem is leading me on the proper path. Though in danger, I am not afraid it's the wrong way. Though it's tough, it's a blessing. It's all good."

What is Emunah? Is it that everything is ok as judged by our worldly standards? Is nothing "bad" going to happen to me tomorrow because I have Emunah?

Absolutely not. Emunah is no guarantee, promise, or shield of protection against seemingly bad events happening in our personal lives or our national life.

G-d forbid, people may lose they're job, or house, or business. They may be accused of something and fined, or arrested, or jailed. People get ill, in accidents, get serious diseases.

According to the simple measure of the world, bad things will happen. Emunah is no protective barrier against such events.

What it protects against is knowing that it's not random and it's not meaningless, and not really even bad (from a beyond this world perspective).

Dovid HaMelech knew, it was not randomness nor the fecal matter hitting the air impeller. It was Hashem's plan. Each step, including the pain filled ones, was part of the Divine orchestration. Each had meaning beyond what Dovid could see at that moment, but he KNEW it was all being run by Hashem.

Now I don't know what, if anything, is going to happen tomorrow with Iran. I don't know if, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe already interpreted, the Yalkut Shimoni Yishayahu Remez 499 already happened or if it's about to. However, if it does I have Emunah that it's all part of the Divine plan. INCLUDING the fear that would come with an event described as "destroying the world" - or perhaps SPECIFICALLY the fear.

But when such fear comes, we must remember that it is Hashem that's running things, and properly direct the fear to Yiras Shamayim, fear of heaven. This is the lower-level fear, but it is one step towards the love and fear of Hashem that we all must have.

...And as the Yalkut says in another place (can't find it at the moment), when the Arab king stands up and says "see, our god is accepting our sacrifice and yours is not - so now come to our god" (in a literal reversal of the test of Eliyahu HaNavi and the priest of baal), the Jews will respond "we fear only Hashem, even after seeing a supposed miracle from your god".

Simple faith is believing it's all from Hashem and it's all _for_ the good, all planned and executed by the Master Planner, not that it's only going to be simple worldly good in obvious worldly ways because of my faith.
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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

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Admin Note - New Options for Getting Mystical Paths

Just an administrative note...

In the past we offered Odiogo to allow those with difficulting reading or who wanted to _listen_ to Mystical Paths on the go to be able to do so. We dropped this feature on upgrade to the new template, but have just re-added it. So now you can get Mystical Paths by....

MP3 having it Read To You, robot Podcast (the Hebrew terms do sound funny though)

Email

RSS / Blog Reader

Twitter, Instant Messenger, or Skype

Get your Mystical Paths the way YOU want.
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Global Fear, Update...

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

(Breitbart) Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday that Iran is set to deliver a "punch" that will stun world powers during this week's 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
"The Iranian nation, with its unity and Allahahaha's grace, will punch the arrogance (Western powers) on the 22nd of Bahman (February 11) in a way that will leave them stunned," Khamenei, who is also Iran's commander-in-chief, told a gathering of air force personnel.


What does Iran have up it's sleeve? Should we be afraid???

Rabbi Yitzchok declared: In the year when HaMelech HaMoshiach will come, all the gentile nations will challenge one another. The King of Iran will challenge an Arab king and the Arab king will go to Aram (another edition says "to Edom") for advice. The King of Iran will then destroy the entire world. All the nations of the world will panic and become frightened, falling on their faces, suffering contractions like labor pains. The Jews will also panic and become frightened, asking, "Where will we go? Where will we go?" Yalkut Shimoni, Yishayahu Remez 499
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Monday, February 08, 2010

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Convenience or Life?

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Some years ago in the States we had a neighbor who were a middle-aged Israeli couple. Not particularly religiously observant, they attended shul on Shabbat and were an active part of the community. I asked them once about a fancy impressionalistic painting on their wall. The father pointed to it and said, "it was painted by my 10 year old daughter, who almost wasn't here!".

He told me the following story...
"When my wife became pregnant, she was in her late 30's so the doctor was 'looking out' for 'problems'. After the first ultra-sound, he said "uh oh". He said there might be a problem, we'd wait another month to see. A month later we arrived nervously and had another ultra-sound. The doctor looked at it carefully and declared the fetus to be deformed. He recommended an immediate abortion as the fetus would 'probably not' survive for long after birth.

We went home and thought about it, and upon return told the doctor that we're Jews and we won't do that. Thought we're not particularly religious, we do know that life and death is in Hashem's hands. Who are we to decide to kill this fetus? The doctor responded, 'well, if you're not going to take my advice I can't treat you.' He referred us on to a high-risk obstetrician.

We went to the high-risk doctor, who repeated the tests and made the same declaration. Again we told him that unless there was a risk to my wife's life we would not kill this fetus. He said fine, but it was clear from the ultra-sound that the baby probably would only survive a few days after birth, at best.

At this point I got a letter from my insurance company. Because two doctors had recommended an abortion, they would not cover the cost of the high-risk obstetrician, or any obstetrician, delivering the pregnancy. The high-risk obstetrician's billing manager called up and told me, 'I'm sorry, we don't work for free. The doctor cannot continue care and do the delivery unless you pay in advance.' The fee was over $100,000.

So now we faced the question, kill the fetus or lose our house, retirement accounts, savings, etc. Tear filled and stressed from the nightmare pressure put upon us, my wife almost went into premature labor. However, we decided we simply would not give in, and as my wife felt a kick from the paper she clearly said she would not kill her baby.

We sold everything, borrowed from friends, cashed in every account...and just barely raised the money in time. We went to the hospital for an induced controlled birth, with a neonatal ICU team standing by on the side of the delivery room. A surprisingly normal labor occurred. The baby started to come and the neonatal care team stepped forward to be ready to grab the baby and immediately begin life saving treatment...

The baby was born. Girl or boy, we didn't know as the neonatal team grabbed the infant, placed it in an incubator and rushed from the room. We waited with baited breath for word on our baby as my wife finished contractions and the after birth process. My wife as exhausted and I was terrified.

The neonatal doctor came in and called me over. I squeezed my wife's hand and walked out the door to hear the dreaded news about our baby. Was our baby still alive? Would it have hours to live or days to live? Would it suffer? Would it know we were there for it?

The doctor looked at me and said, "your daughter is fine." A daughter! But wait, fine? Meaning she's holding her own for the moment? For how long, what's the diagnosis? "Umm, no, she's perfectly normal. There's nothing wrong. She has an APGAR of 8. I don't understand it, it was clear from the ultra-sound, but perhaps there was some other tissue or fluid creating shadows or echos. Anyway, come see her, she's an average newborn."

I gripped the wall to keep from falling as I went to see and hold my newborn perfectly healthy daughter...

And as you can see, not only is she a normal 10 year old, but she's very gifted! Baruch Hashem!

Doctors are authorized to heal. Yet they do make decisions of convenience. Further, crazy legal systems that have allowed lawsuit's for things like WRONGFUL LIFE (a child born with a birth defect not detected) have resulted in doctors trying to help parents not be burdened with 'imperfect' children. The doctors are not always right.
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Sunday, February 07, 2010

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Beating the Dead Yoga Horse

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Oy dear friends, sometimes the battle seems endless. Yet, we do what we can and trust Hashem to help...

A Noachide reader, who is Indian in Asia wrote (edited)...

I wrote to Chabad.org regarding their current article (saying Yoga is ok), questioning from my background how they could say this. "Please tell me if yoga is kosher and whether the Rebbe
supported it. As an Indian I know it is based on Hindu deities.

I received this reply...

"I see no reason not to use yoga techniques for relaxation and health. When it becomes a spiritual path for Jew, then something is very wrong. --Rabbi Tzvi Freeman"


Rabbi Freeman may see no reason, but we do. Later this week (or next), we will present multiple statements from the Rebbe that it is prohibited. FURTHER, EVERY yoga system (including the supposed kosher models) discusses "energy", "focus", and "meditation". They are NEVER just about stretch and posture.

Let's speak of posture for the moment. In our last article we presented a picture of Mr. Audi Gozlan from Kabbalah Yoga, sitting in Chabad clothes in the classic yoga sitting position, with arms outstretch, hands curled and thumb and forefinger in a circle.

Reb Gutman will be presenting a detailed article on this specific point later this week (G-d willing). But let me state it in brief... Reb Gutman heard _direct_ from a senior Hindu guru (a supposed reincarnation of a Hindu deity!) that there is a specific Hindu religious reason for holding one's hands in that thumb-to-forefinger(s) circular position.

Any time you see ANYONE in a seated yoga posture with their hands in that position, they are practicing a Hindu spiritual energy direction technique. Straight clear direct AVODA ZARAH.

Moments before I wrote those, a commentor "Chassidic Yogi" (kind of like oilwater) wrote, "Shemor Nafshecha (safeguard your physical health) (Torah) ...WHEN THE MIND BECOMES...IT WILL ...GO BEYOND THE NORMAL MUNDANE AWARENESS INTO THE STATE REFERRED TO AS MEDITATION...When you meditate, it is best to be facing ... take advantage of the magnetic currents of the earth...STRAIGHT...ALLOWS THE ENERGY TO MOVE UP THE...TRIANGULAR...HELP TO CONTAIN THE ENERGY."

NOT JUDAISM. NOT TORAH. NOT KOSHER No question. Yes, there is wisdom in the East - but it's NOT our path. Just to be clear, this commentor was describing HOW different Yoga positions should be used to manipulate spiritual mind-body energy.

Anyone think pulling energy out of the earth and/or manipulating it through the body, and using it to push the mind into different consciousnesses is Jewish or kosher? Or pushing and manipulating bodily spiritual energy around the body and consciousness is Jewish or kosher?

[Yes, there are such things in Kabbalah. The key differences are the sources of the energy, NOT the blood/body/physical world but kedusha, holiness, mitzvot that draw and connect to G-dly energy, and the push/connection to strive to reach out the levels of G-dly consciousness and literally connect on higher levels to G-d, not to stretch human consciousness out to nothingness. For more information, consult your local mekubal. Not for the uninitiated, because the improper manipulation of energy, and the manipulation of the wrong energies is ABSOLUTELY PROHIBITED and spiritually dangerous too boot!]

For more information, turns out we've practically written a small book on Yoga problems in the Jewish community. Here's our historical posts on the matter...

Makes Me Ill
Yoga is NOT KOSHER
It's YogaDance at Chabad
More Questions on Yoga
I Don't Feel Spiritual (Yoga)
Feedback
Energy Healing
What's Wrong with Yoga
The Rebbe on Meditation and Yoga
Yoga Questions
Yoga for Good, Don't Believe It!
Kosher Stretch
Yoga Redux
It Simply Isn't Kosher

Eastern Infiltration Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

...Jews don't let Jews do yoga.
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Please Daven For...

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Please daven for the Refuah Shalayma of Ariel Ilana bat Malka, a young mother of 3 children in critical condition... UPDATE: Chaya was added to her name, as she is in very critical condition.

AND

HaRav HaGaon the Rishon L'Tziyon Mordechai Eliyahu, shlita, who's returned to critical condition (during an extended hospitalization). Please daven for Mordechai Tzemach ben Mazal.

...May all the sick of Klal Yisroel have a Refuah Shalayma!
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It Didn't Work!

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

From the way he looked, I would not have thought that he would be so eager to put on tefillin. He was from Berkley, California, and, I must say, he looked it. He was very warm, outgoing, a loving guy, and as you can see from the picture, on the colorful side of things.

I put tefillin on him, had him say the prayers, and then sent him to the Kotel to pray for his family. He was really happy. He almost skipped as he hurried to the Kotel.

He came back a few minutes later, but he wasn’t smiling. “How come it didn’t work?” he wanted to know. “When I was here the last time, 25 years ago, I had the greatest experience of my life. I used to tell people about it all the time. Now… this time… nothing!” he said, with a frown. “I have thought about that experience all these years. I couldn’t wait to come back and have it again. But nothing! Nothing happened!”

I tried to explain, “Whenever you have such a spiritual experience like you had, it is a sign that you have come up to a higher spiritual level. But, the next time you come up to that same level you do not have a noticeable experience, because you have already been there. You are used to it. That higher level is now not higher for you. To have another experience like you had, you have to grow to an even higher level than where you were.” My explanation didn’t help at all.

I saw that he was saddened by what happened, or better yet, what didn’t happen, so I continued. “Look at how you have been living your life since you had that experience. You didn’t change at all. If you don’t follow what He showed you, then, how can you expect to have those kinds of experiences again?

He jumped a little when I spoke. Then he pointed a finger at me and said, “You are in the right place!” He meant that I had answered his question correctly, and he understood that I told him the truth.

Just last Shabbos, a girl asked me the same question about her visit to the Kotel. Spiritual life is more than having amazing experiences, although, I wish we would all have them every day. Some people are never blessed to have even one such experience in their entire lifetimes. But, if you are fortunate enough to have had one, then you better pay attention to what that experience showed you. The guy from Berkeley should have grabbed on to the truth that he saw and changed his life right away, but instead, he went right back to the same old lifestyle that he had been living. He should have come to the Kotel the other day eager to help put tefillin on others, instead of needing someone to help him put them on him.
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