Monday, March 29, 2010

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A Kosher and Happy Passover!


IDF (Israeli Army) Base Photo : Chametz, do not open by Order!

From all of us at Mystical Paths, a Kosher and Happy Passover to you and your family, and all of Klal Yisroel! May we meet this year by the 3rd Beis HaMikdash in Jerusalem for the Korban Pesach!

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

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In Every Generation

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

"In Every Generation They Rise Up Against Us..." (Passover Haggadah)

I can scarcely believe what is going on. Pronouncements declaring the holiest of Jewish places not Jewish. Statements that Jews living in Jerusalem are the source of all political problems in the world. Insinuations that Jews defending themselves are illegal acts. Attacks and threats against Jews in communities in various countries, including the U.S., throughout the world.

After the Holocaust we could barely survive. The U.S. and select Western and South American Nations (notably Canada, England, South Africa, Australia, Mexico, and later France) offered a haven for the Jewish people. Yes there was some discrimination, but (generally speaking) there were no organized attacks, mass outbreaks of violence, government targeting. Jews were (generally / somewhat) free to breath, live, learn, grow, rebuild.

We, the Jewish people, were given a breather. For 4 generations we had freedom from the constant attacks of generations... And the memories of the horrors faded with our great grandparents from our lives.

[ Not so in Israel, where the struggle for survival and the horror of senseless slaughter has been an event facing every generation. Yet after 3 generations of it, with the ability (denied throughout history) to fight back, they've developed a remarkable ability to compartmentalize. For a country facing existential threats and daily life with terror threats, they are remarkably positive about the future and not militaristic or warlike. ]

The Holocaust itself has become a thing of museums and history books. The horror has faded from our collective souls.

We have forgotten that they rise up against us in every generation, for we (most of us) haven't seen it blatantly, directly, in our face for 3 generations. Perhaps our brethren in Israel have been our proxy, taking the brunt of those who would destroy the Jewish people for the recent past. But for those of us not in Israel through the past generations, we have forgotten what it's like.

We have forgotten so well that we can't even IMAGINE it being the case anymore! When one organization after another is making pronouncements that they want to SLAUGHTER THE JEWS, we laugh it off as ridiculous. When multiple countries are BLAMING THE JEWS for their woes and/or the world's woes, we shake our heads at their ignorance and stupidity - we don't get a shiver at the fulfillment of "and they rise up", we don't feel a twinge of fear at their threats.

Because we don't believe it can happen, it can happen again, or that it's starting again in this generation. How can this modern day and age, this time of enlightenment, intelligence, and information actually generate such threats?

But my dear friends, they have, they are, it is. Do not ignore "they rise up against us", for though a dim memory of the past it's with us again.

Yet I say this not to generate worry and fear. For the pasuk ends "and HaKodesh Baruch Hu (the Holy One, Blessed Be He) saves us from their hand." When we see and believe in the first part of the pasuk, we also must believe the in the second part.

The Passover Seder is not just an exercise of a historical practice, not just a cultural icon to pass on to the next generation. It's also a LESSON we give to our children. Until the Geulah Shalayma, the total and complete redemption, they will rise up against us in every generation. We must prepare, and know that ONLY by holding on to HaKodesh Baruch Hu will we be saved from their hand.

Chag Kasher v'Samayach, a Kosher and Happy Passover!
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Friday, March 26, 2010

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It Won't Be Long Now

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Just now, on my way to the makolet (grocery store), I saw a family of Americans Jews wheeling their suitcases into the Rova (Quarter). They were a religious family so they had a bunch of kids, and each one of them was pulling a suitcase as big as he or she could handle. They were rushing over the bumpy stone street, hurrying to their apartment to begin the preparations for the Pesach Seder. Everyone one of them was smiling a huge smile.

When the Moshiach comes at least 15 million of us are going to be rolling our suitcases into Jerusalem for the Pesach Seder, and every one of us is going to be smiling a huge smile. Stay tuned. It won't be long now.
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Pesach , Matzah, Maror

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

What does it it mean in our generation,i.e.The Haggadah?

Reb Nati's Shabbos HaGedol Drush

Adom the first man, ate from the Etz HaDa'as, the Tree of knowledge. It's fruit, in fact was ordinary grain, (Sandhedrin 70b). But, the simple fact that Hashem forbade it, made it the "forbidden tree." The germatria of CHaMeTZ levened bread, added to Se'OR levening, equals 639, also the numerical value of ETZ HaDA'aT is 639.

When adom ate from it, he ate leavened bread He had his taste of G-dlessness. Experiencing what he saw as evil this impaired his Awareness.

This, then, is the Matzah, the unleavened bread. Symbolizing Perfection of Da'as. Of intimate knowledge. Of Awareness. And of eperience. And of knowing that all it is Divine Grace. Knowing that all our experiences are one That it is all Hashem Himself, (Likutey Moharan I,4).

This is beyond human intellect but then again Hashem is above reason. We can reach Him only with intimate Knowledge, only by the experience of the heart only through Emotion (likutey Moharan I 33:4). On Pesach we Matzah. But we must make sure to "eat" the matzah of perfected Da'at. in doing so, we rectify Adom misconception IE his "leavened bread"(Bnei Yissaschar, Nisan 8:4,7).

And this is the story of Pesach. The story of Creation. Of the continual and continuous Process of Creation. Adom, Man, Knew of Creation. But he fell. He could not raise himself up again. For He could not forget his passed deed. He was overburdened with guilt. Adom was unaware of creation as being NOW! So, when Hashem appeared in MItzrayim, His message to the Jewish people was- N
OW is another Creation! And, in changing the "laws of nature", He showed - I have changed Nature- so now you can change yours!

In each every generation there is a new creation. Jewishness is not something which only took place it is something that is continuously taking place every wher noit just in some far away land. It is also not a franchise of those who claim an unbroken chian of tradition. Infact, ture Jewishness is not to be found in the laurels of those of us whose "Jewishnwss" begins and ends with an unspoken flaunting of tradition. Neither can it be found in the sale Jewishness of yesterday. No matter how enthused we were then - today, yesterday is gone, and we must start again. Creation is a Process.

And by the way so is Jewishness!

Jewishness is Here! Jewishness is Now! And Jewishness is with You! And within You! Every Jewish soul is in some way relives the entire story of Creation. All of it the Creation, the Fall of man, the Flood, the Exodus... (Likutey Halachot, Ona'ah 3:1; Shiluach Haken 4:61).

But this time, each time, with our lives the story is ours to rewrite.

Shabbos HaGedol is the time to transcend the Illusionary constrictions of the mind. To cease living out the srcipt of limited human/self awareness, and to forget the past and begin again to be Jewish. Now! Shabbos HaGedol is the time to begin again and to truly get ready for our immediate and complete Redemption, you need to see. You are and can become aware of the fact that we are already redeemed we just have not woken up to it!

Something to think about? Hashem has sent, A Moshe in every generation to bring us out! We just are unaware of it! So the solution is, that, just like Hashem changed nature to bring us out of Mitzrayim. We need and can change our nature and come out of this Golus , NU! So what are you waiting for?


Come join me in the land of freedom, Gut Shabbos and Blessings, Have Kosher and Joyful and meaningful Pesach. And Remember It's for the kids so lighten up and sit down and make it fun and meaningful for them so as that they can can feel and see and come out!

Reb Nati
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

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What’s the Most Important Thing?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Although Passover is, by far, the most memorable and beloved holiday of the entire Jewish calendar, it also brings the greatest number of details, requirements and restrictions. Observing each of these elements is crucial during this week of preparation and especially for the Seder itself. To list them all would (and does) fill an entire book.

There are the Torah commandments and there are the rabbinical commandments. There are also the customs that, surprisingly, vary tremendously between the Sephardim and Ashkenazim. There are the unique customs that have developed around the diaspora. For example, Indian Jews eat different foods on Passover than Temanni Jews, and some Jews will dip their matzah in their soup, while others would be aghast at such a move! Some will eat beans, and some would never do such a thing. There are strict requirements as to the minimum amounts of matzah, bitter herb and wine that must be consumed, and only within a specific period of time. And perhaps most important of all are the amazingly strict requirements not to have any leavening or related products in our possession for the entire week. Confusing this even more is that some authorities say certain foods are leavened while others swear that they are not.

On and on, the list of requirements that ensure a successful Seder can certainly seem overwhelming. It is no wonder that the favorite question a sharp student will ask his rebbe right before the Seder is, “What is the most important thing that I must watch out for?”

Last Pesach, right before leaving the Kotel to rush home for the Seder, a rabbi friend of mine asked me that very question. To his great surprise, I immediately answered, “Make sure that the children have a good time.” He looked at me as if I might be joking; his face was all twisted up. He wanted to know some great Kabbalah about the four cups of wine, or maybe how to lean to the side when drinking them. Or maybe I could give him some great Chassidic teaching on how to do teshuva (repentance) while trying to gulp down that impossibly hot horseradish. AAGHHHH! But, no, I simply said, “Make sure that the children have a good time.”

The next afternoon, he came up to me, smiling. He’s a smart guy and he took my words to heart. He said, “It was the best Seder ever. The kids were great. Everyone was laughing. We all enjoyed ourselves tremendously. But tell me, how can you really say that keeping the kids happy was the most important thing to watch out for? After all, this is a very serious holiday.”

I explained, “There is only one reason we have the Seder at all: to remember the Exodus from Egypt. And there is only one reason why we must remember the Exodus from Egypt: so we will remain Jews. If we forget our past, there will be no reason to go on as a people. There is only one way for us to remain Jews, and that is to raise Jewish families. Without the children coming back next year, there won’t be any Jewish families. It’s for the kids’ sake that we go through all this each year and, God willing, we will get to do it for them again next year, too. And if they have a good enough time, then surely someday we will even get to do it for their kids.”

Have a happy Pesach. It’s essential.
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Odd Passover Thoughts

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Sell your Chometz Online....

Worldwide with Chabad.org by timezone
In the US at Torah.org and pay $18
In Tel Aviv in Hebrew

"Please remember, even if you are working in the office over Chol HaMoed, no chametz may be brought into the office over Chol HaMoed." - Internal email at large Tel Aviv based (secular) Israeli corporation.

A Kosher and Happy Passover!
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Monday, March 22, 2010

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From Slavery to Freedom

Help us help the poor in Israel for Passover. Helping the needy for Passover is a mitzvah and responsibility of every Jew. Help two chassidim help their neighbors with no overhead costs. Click here for more info and to donate.

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

We were rushing home for the Passover Seder last year, when one of my guests asked me a question that was really bothering him. He felt that he was so attached to food that he was actually addicted to it. I pointed out that he was not at all overweight, so he could not be too attached to it. He insisted that his desire for food was so strong that it ruled over him. I told him that his self-judgment was way too critical, that he was being unfair to himself. But this very meal that we were going to have would provide him with a clear answer to his question.

There are many religions, especially from the East, that insist their followers minimize their relationship with the world. Asceticism is quite common there. The Torah’s view is the opposite of this. While followers of Eastern religions wish to withdraw from the world, we are commanded to be involved with it. Our job is the same job that G-d originally gave to the first man, Adam, in the Garden of Eden. We are charged with taking care of His garden. We are to guard it and make sure that it flourishes. We are to do this by elevating it.

At first, the garden seems to be an entirely physical world. But that view only addresses its surface. The physical garden is not only Hashem’s gorgeous, physical creation. This lower, physical garden is a reflection of His upper, entirely spiritual garden. It is our job to reveal the underlying spiritual garden that permeates the physical garden. We do this by elevating the lower, physical world. How do we elevate the lower, physical world? We use it for holy purposes.

Back to my guest, I explained that the actual purpose of life is to reveal G-d’s Presence right here in this lower world. The sages tell us that this revelation can only come in joy.[i] They go on to explain that the joy they are speaking of is not the lower, sensual joy, but the joy that comes from doing a mitzvah. Well, not everyone can get ecstatic over elevating cow skin by writing on it and putting it on a doorpost. But after you learn and experience what a mezuzah really is such joy can come. Sadly, this is not a source of instant great joy for most Jews. However, eating is. And Passover night is the best time of the year to be totally involved with eating, and this eating is for a most holy purpose.

Why do we eat those delicious, gourmet matzahs? Gourmet? You bet. The definition of gourmet is that their preparation “involves high-quality ingredients and skilled preparation.” If you are fortunate enough to be eating those delicious, handmade, round, guarded matzahs, they certainly are all this and more. Their ingredients are guarded and their preparation is done by only skilled workers. They even have a guard standing over them with a stop watch to make sure they are made properly!

Then there is the strongest horse radish possible. It is so strong that you have to use goggles, and maybe a clothespin to pinch your nose shut while you grind it!

There is the best red wine you can afford, special foods tied to historical facts, plus the most delicious, festival meal to go along with it all (if you have any room for it). What a wonderful menu.

What a great night to indulge your senses. But with every bite we are reminded why we are eating this food. We are not eating this great food for our senses alone. But obviously we have to use our senses to eat it. We are eating it to satisfy the commandment to remember our going out of Egypt. Every bite is taken and enjoyed for a spiritual reason.

And this is how we elevate our senses and the physical world around us. We use them for holy purposes. Whatever you feel you want, you can find a holy way to have it.

When we go to work solely for money, we become slaves to our work. No matter how much money we earn, we will always want more. We will be so attached to it that we will want to work seven days a week in order to get more.

But when we go to that same job, not just to make money, but to make money to be able to do good deeds, then that very job turns into a holy job. The same work that enslaves us can become a source of freedom. It is then that we find ourselves leaving the slavery of Egypt, going out headed for the Promised Land.

[i] Gemora Shabbos 30b
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

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Hashgocha Protis, Again

Help us help the poor in Israel for Passover. Helping the needy for Passover is a mitzvah and responsibility of every Jew. Help two chassidim help their neighbors with no overhead costs. Click here for more info and to donate.

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Remember, Hashgocha Protis (Divine Providence) is not when G-d does something for you. He is always doing everything for everyone. Hashgocha Protis is when you see that G-d is stepping in and doing something for you.

I was on my way to daven (pray) at the Kotel, when my shoe lace became untied. I stooped down and tied it, reminding myself that I had to wash my fingers before I davened.

As happens quite often these days, I forgot all about it.

When I walked into the Kotel area, I noticed that one of the straps of the head tefillin on someone standing by the tefillin stand was upside-down. The outer black surface of the strap was against his neck. I called over to the man who had helped him to put them on and told him that the strap was backwards. He didn't understand me. I said it again, louder. He looked at me as if I were speaking Chinese. I said it again louder, and I even pointed my finger to the problem. He walked around the guy and looked at his face!

By then I was too frustrated to wait. I huffed over and turned the strap around myself. You can imagine how I looked at the guy who couldn't understand my instructions 3 times! When I turned the strap over, I touched the young man's neck.

"Okay, no big deal. I'll go wash my fingers," I thought. It was then that I remembered that I had forgotten to wash after touching my shoelace.

Normally, the fellow I told to fix the strap 3 times would have heard me the first time. G-d had blocked the communication!

Of course, beside the experience of Hashgocha Protis, there is a side issue here. How come I got so frustrated when G-d was doing me such a big favor?

The importance of discussing these incidents is not for you to marvel at our lives, but so that you will be encouraged to look carefully at your life. If you look, you will see that these things also happen to you. Sadly though, most people do not pay very much attention to the subtle things that are happening in their own lives.

Clarification on washing: If you tie your shoelaces, AND they are not dirty, AND you do not touch your shoes, you do not have to wash. If you touch someone's skin (including your own) in an area that is normally left uncovered you do not have to wash.
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

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Kimcha d'Pischa - Help the Poor for Passover

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

When we say "Zeman Charusaynu", the time of our redemption has arrived on Passover, will others be able to say it as well? Unfortunately, some just aren't able to do so. In the past few years many have lost their jobs, lost their cars, lost their homes. Others, who were committed to learning Torah while being generously supported by Jewish communities from around the world have lost that support and find themselves struggling to enter a job market where even those with top skills are having trouble.

Now we're just two chassidim trying to do what we can for those around us in need. We operate with no overhead (beyond basic credit card charges to accept donations), no office, no secretary, no staff, no advertising. Every dollar / pound / euro / rubel / krona / etc that we raise goes direct to the needy. Since (to be honest) we're at the point of being needy ourselves, we can only rely on you to help us help others. (And if you want to help us too, the donation form [now] offers a place to designate some for us. And if not, that's ok too! We're asking for others, not for ourselves.)

Kimcha D'Pischa, Charity for the Poor to help with Passover Needs is a mitzvah required by every Jew. If you'd like to help us help those in need in Israel (and the needy in Israel are considered as the poor of your own city), please DONATE HERE...





Thank you and tizku l'mitzvot!
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Purim Charity Campaign Report & Passover's Coming!

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Dear Friends,

We want to sincerely thank you, each and every one of you who contributed to our annual "Two Chassidim Doing What They Can" Matanot L'Evyonim (Gifts for the Poor on Purim) appeal. Baruch Hashem (thank G-d) we raised a bit and were able to help some needy families celebrate a happy Purim. This is just a sample of where the money went:

1. Anat, whose video we featured was able to purchase medicine for herself and treats for her children. She bought the children costumes so they were not left out, and had a full table for the Purim meal.

2. Another individual was able to have his operation because your donation helped them pay for various post operation costs. To him this was the ultimate gift for Purim and Baruch Hashem (thank G-D) he is on the road to recovery.

3. Other families were able to actually have a full table to enjoy Purim and have a festive meal because of your generosity.

See the video below of YOUR work on Purim.

Now we are approaching Pesach and again we ask for your help. The poor are manning their places asking for help. Those who we (actually YOU) have helped past years are asking, "can you help us this year?" The cost of assisting an average family completely for Passover is about $300. This just covers wine, matzah, vegetables and a chicken. It does not include the other expenses of putting Pesach in the home, just for basics.

Please help us to help the poor. They are relying on your donations to bridge the gaps.

DONATE FOR KIMCHA D'PISCHA, charity for Passover Needs...




PURIM REPORT:

3.7% of each donation went to Paypal for credit card processing costs.
0.5% of each donation went to Currency Changing service to change to Shekels.

Total overhead: 4.2%

All donations distributed on Purim Day fulfilling the mitzvah of Matanoy L'Evyonim (except for 1 very late arrival that came after Purim ended in Israel).
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War Crime in Israel Today

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

(YnetNews) Today an innocent civilian at a civilian location (no where near a military site) was struck and killed by a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

1. That's a WAR CRIME. We await the condemnations from the UN, the EU's foreign policy chief Baroness Caroline Ashton who's currently visiting IN Gaza, and from the United States of America.

2. Israel "insults" the United States by announcing the BUILDING of Jewish homes during a diplomatic visit. Hamas COMMITS A WAR CRIME during an EU diplomatic visit while the diplomat is calling for borders to be opened. We await the EU's response to this insult and apology for asking for the borders to be opened that would allow enhanced hostilities.

3. We await the assignment of an international commission to investigate this war crime, perpetrated during a cease fire. Paging Judge Goldstone.

4. We await an apology for all those who have declared the Hamas rockets to be "toy rockets", "not dangerous weapons", "a joke", and "nothing anyone should be worried about", and "little harmless fireworks".

Waiting...

Waiting...

Still Waiting...

STILL WAITING...

Forgive me for getting political, but the hypocrisy is just upsetting. Hashem Ya'a'zor, for the world surely won't.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

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From the Kotel: Bless Your Children

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

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We are on are way!

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

We are on are way! Refresh yourself, Take an "Emunah Moment"

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

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Danger to Muslim's of the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem!!!

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

ONE OF THE PRIME REASONS FOR TODAY'S ARAB RIOTS IN JERUSALEM IS THE INTENSE DANGER TO THE MOSQUE OF OMAR aka THE DOME OF THE ROCK AND THE AL AQSA MOSQUE OF THE NEWLY DEDICATED HURVA SYNAGOGUE.

See how close it is! See the intense danger to the Islamic shrines! See, see, see!!!

Click the picture for a larger image.

Man I hate when reality intrudes on my hyperbole.
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The Blessing of the Trees

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

With the arrival of Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the gain the opportunity to perform the mitzvah of the blessing of the trees. Here's a video with Rabbi Lazer Brody, Rabbi Nati and I doing so in Israel...

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Monday, March 15, 2010

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How the Barbarians Won - The Fall of Western Civilization

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times, Biden -- a real friend of Israel's -- was quoted as telling his Israeli interlocutors: "What you are doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and endangers regional peace."

This statement by a Vice President of the United States of America demonstrates that the barbarians have won and Western Civilization is toast...

No longer is the West fighting it's war. No longer does it fight for it's principles, it's goals, it's objectives. It does not fight for an ideal, not even something as simple as "for the defense of the Homeland."

Today, the United States of America fights and dies in Afghanistan because a Jew in Jerusalem built a room extension on his apartment. The soldier from Great Britain fights and dies because a Jew went to pray at the Tomb of the Biblical Matriarch Rachel. And the NATO coalition fights and dies because a Jew ascended past the 7th step to pray at the tomb of the founder of the Abrahamic religions.

The Mongols conquered Western Civilization of the 20th century directly through it's own key advantages... "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", but no responsibility to the country, community, or creating progeny to pass on the civilization and culture. "Equality and multi-culturalism", but no respect or minimal deference to the national culture that brought the ability of others to maintain and enjoy their cultural context with peace and economic opportunity.

The Mongols conquered Europe by using their 1.3 average birthrate and acceptance of anyone in "trouble" to provide immigrants and migrant workers to bridge the labor gaps and sending mass people "fleeing persecution" yet bringing the culture of persecution with them.

They conquered America by attacking it via religion, where American equality doesn't allow judgement based on religion. So to rationalize the attacks the American intelligencia had not choice but to judge America at fault for making the attackers angry.

When Western multi-culturalism and acceptance left no place for Western civilization to value itself, all that it was began to crumble.

Of course, civilizations do not die quietly. While crumbling from within and attacked from within and without, they flail around looking for magic solutions and places to apply blame.

P.S. Did I miss something in the news? Since when is the US fighting IN Pakistan?
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Stands Alone


by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

In the blink of an eye Israel moved from having a big brother ally to standing alone. What happened? Israel announced construction in Jewish Jerusalem during Vice President Biden's visit.

Not "East Jerusalem". Not a mixed Arab/Jewish neighborhood. An empty Northern Jerusalem hilltop that was developed into a Jewish neighborhood over the past 20 years. (Neighborhood = 30,000 residents.)

THERE IS NO CONCEIVABLE PEACE MODEL IN WHICH NORTHERN JERUSALEM IS EVACUATED BY ISRAEL. The ONLY models where this happens (G-d forbid) are Israel's subjugation or Israel's destruction.

That being the case, what is the current US - Israel diplomatic row about? An empirical analysis finds a few limited possibilities:

1 - An imperial presidency is insulted that a client state had the nerve to create a situation in conflict with the presidency's goals. It's "insulting". Similar moves by the Palestinians (naming a public square after a murderer of Israeli civilians and Americans!), Iranians, Russians or Venezuelans are ok because they're not client states.

2 - The current US administration has (unstated) policy goals that require Israel to be sacrificed. Frankly, this is perfectly ok - the US administration should be tending to US goals.

3 - The US administration is 'peeved' that they've lost perceived Middle East influence and they're throwing a tantrum (Chicago politics style).

The cause and motivation is irrelevant at this point. A commentor on a topical news article wrote, "Wake up idiot - these are the only friends left to Israel. If you havn't noticed Israel has turned a rouge state for the last year and half - you want to turn the only people who still are talking to you into enemies? be my guest."

This is a bit of a problem for two reasons. First, if actions such as defending yourself (as humanly as possible in this world) from a rain of rockets and building in clearly Jewish areas turns away friends - then they aren't friends. Second, if these types of actions cause this level of row, then literally it's impossible to live and please such "friends".

Net net, Israel has just learned a lesson. The Jewish people STAND ALONE with on their Father in Heaven. Friends are transient at best and are happy to use you when they have their own concerns.

The issue is JERUSALEM. We've come to the heart of the matter. And Israel is being given a choice...cut out it's heart and hand it to it's 'friend' (who will hand it to it's enemy), or stand up for itself and stand ONLY with Hashem.



The Hurva synagogue, torn down 3 times by the Arabs (the last time blown up by the Jordanians in 1949) is being rededicated today. It stands as the highest structure in the Old City Jerusalem. It is NOT accidental that on the day it's rededicated the Arabs are rioting and the US administration is demanding that ALL building be stopped in ALL of Jerusalem.

Mi Hashem Ayli - whoever is for Hashem must stand with Jerusalem.

A private message for Prime Minister Netanyahu: Mr. Prime Minister, this past Shabbos, as all this row blew up, we finished a sefer of chumash in synagogue and said Hazak Hazak v'nisChazek. 3 times be strong! Do not give an inch, for there is little left to give and be assured Israel will survive. And so far everything has been given only for a pot of lentils.

You find yourself in an uncomfortable position for secular Israel, stand with Hashem or stand with a 'friend' who clearly doesn't have Israel's interests at heart? Be strong, be Jewish, stand with Hashem.


Photos:

1 - Satellite photo of Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of Jerusalem.
2 - Headline DrudgeReport.com, David Axelrod trying to snow the US public.
3 - DrudgeReport, Indonesians riot against Obama for a minor perceived insult.
4 - Hurva synagogue, Kikar Shabbat photo shoot of the rededication.
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Emunah Moments

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

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East Jerusalem? Check Your Directions Clinton!

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Why can't anyone talking about Jerusalem get their directions straight? Just for reference, East Jerusalem would be to the...East. When speaking of areas north of Jerusalem or south of Jerusalem, perhaps it would be more appropriate to say "North" or "South" Jerusalem instead of the completely inaccurate "Occupied East Jerusalem". Not only is the occupied inaccurate, but so is the simple map direction! See here...

This map is VERY interesting. It identifies those parts of Jerusalem previously OCCUPIED...by the Jordanians from 1949 until 1967.

- The top BLUE circle identifies the area that the US is screaming about right now, Ramat Shlomo. It is NOT part of what EVER was "occupied East Jerusalem". And it's not east, it's north!

- The bottom BLUE circle identifies Gilo, the area they were screaming about 6 months ago. It's also NOT part of what EVER was "occupied East Jerusalem". And it's also not east, it's south!

- The little blue circle to the right in the previously Jordanian occupied area is the Shimon HaTzadik / Sheik Jarah neighborhood, where the Jewish residents were slaughtered and exiled - their homes occupied by Arabs illegally since 1949. After 1967, the Arabs were permitted to stay but pay rent to the (descendants of the) owners. Having not paid the rent for over 40 years, they're being threatened with expulsion. Naturally they are protesting this racist action of not being able to keep and stay in expropriated proprieties as spoils of war.



If the news can't even get the directions straight, why should we believe anything else?

(Map courtesy of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.)
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You Are So Blessed

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Two of you wrote that we who live in Israel are so blessed, and that if only you could, you too would be here.

Well, you are right. We are blessed. But, even if you cannot come here right now (and I wonder if that is really true), you can do something to bring Israel to the place where you live.

What is so special about living in Israel? Is it special there are so many religious neighborhoods here? No, that can't be it, because there are plenty of places outside of Israel that have lots of religious neighborhoods. Is it special because there are so many Jewish people living here? No, because there are many other cities where you live that have lots of Jewish people living there, too.

Then, what is it?

There are two main reasons why this Land such a special place for us to live. Number one: This is the land that G-d gave to the Jewish People. This is our homeland, and everyone knows that it is always best to be at home.

Number two: This is the place where Hashem makes His Presence more easily seen. It is easier to live a spiritual life here than anywhere else in the world.

So what can you do, those of you who are not yet so blessed to live here? You have to bring that wonderful revelation of Hashem into your home, into your office, and into your neighborhood. And how do you do that? You perform mitzvahs with joy.

Mitzvahs are not merely obligations as many believe. The mitzvahs are actually physical and spiritual blessings that G-d has given to us, and each one has been given for a specific reason. The mitzvahs are spiritual exercises that are designed to help to open the mystical curtain that hides His Glory from us. If you will do the mitzvahs with joy, you will begin to bring the advantage that we have here, into your neighborhood, too.

The very purpose of creation is to reveal His Holy Presence right here in this world. The Prophets and Sages were clear as to how this can be done. They explained that this most treasured revelation can come only through joy. They went on to explain that this joy has to be the specific joy that comes when you do a mitzvah the way G-d intended for us to do them.

This means that not only are we to do the mitzvahs physically, but we must also strive to do them spiritually. So, for instance, when we give tzdeka (charity) not only are we to give the poor person the coin, but we must try to look and see what is happening spiritually when we open our hearts and hands to help another being.

Not only is the actually performance of a mitzvah designed to bring this mystical experience, but even the steps along the way to doing a mitzvah can bring it. This can happen if we prepare for the mitzvah with the same intention as when we actually do the mitzvah.

With this awareness, you will be able to spend your entire day either doing mitzvahs, or on your way to do a mitzvah. And when you understand what a mitzvah really is, you become very happy.

Why should doing a mitzvah make you so happy? One reason is, when you do a mitzvah, you are being a faithful servant of the Hoy King. What a wonderful thing to be! Also, when you do what your Father said to do, you make Him very happy. And what is nicer than making Someone you love happy?
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Friday, March 12, 2010

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Emunah News Network: Helping the Poor over 4 Years

A special Emunah News Network Report...two chassidim helping the poor over 4 years in Israel. View the video and help them help the poor again this year! Kimcha D'Pischa, charity for the poor for their Passover needs, is a personal responsibility we all have.





Thanks to a special tzadik, Uriel Maarav, for his help in making this video happen. Check out BurtWest.com for professional voiceovers.
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

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From the Kotel: G-d is Everywhere

Video by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths



(Direct video link.)
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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

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An Adult's Emunah

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Children have a simple faith. A faith that expects their parents, and the world, to be fair. They don't understand real evil or those who would (G-d forbid) take advantage of them, until (G-d forbid) they encounter it (and if they're young, such an encounter will not be educational [in a negative way] but rather damaging).

When we get older we see all doesn't appear so fair anymore. People succeed that didn't work hard. People fail and lose everything that worked very hard. A young father dies of a heart attack. A middle aged woman who helped everyone she came in contact with is falsely convicted of a crime and suffers societal punishment. It's not that there is no fairness or justice, but we encounter many instances that from our perspective clearly aren't.

To understand we must graduate from a child's faith to an adult faith. If we are fortunate, it remains a "simple" faith - faith that we can only rely upon and count on it all being fair because of our Father in Heaven. Yet adult enough to recognize that indeed, from our limited worldly perspective some things don't appear fair. To know that we do not have the width of vision to understand the person reaping unwarranted success is being rewarded in this world to be denied it in the next. To see that the young father leaving this world is getting his reward sooner. To realize the woman is being given the opportunity to be scrubbed clean from lifetimes (yes plural) of errors, and even a window to, through earthly suffering, reach toward being a tzadekes.

We can't see these. But we either learn to trust our Father in Heaven that the world is not random, that these things have a greater meaning than we can measure, or we stomp our feet like the child and scream "not fair not fair not fair". And after screaming a while, we sulk off and say "if it's not fair I'm not playing". That's the way of the child.

At some point, to grow wise we must grow up.
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Monday, March 08, 2010

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We've Got Threat Mail

(Click to see Insulting Picture Included) -- Usurper regime of Israel is a usurper regime forced turbulence Muslim world and confiscation of millions out of the Land is!

Israel is a terrorist regime for crimes that are committed. The brutal killing civilians; the soil and draw blood innocent children and women, defense, and hundreds of terrorist incident around the world and other disasters of this kind!

We are anti-Zionism
We say a terrorist and Israel, far from human perspiration.
We want this regime to deterioration and destruction of the murderer reach our desire that this disgraceful stain from the Middle East and dirty to clean.

Yet the mission of the criminal regime of occupation, aggression, war, luminous and preparing the grounds of unjust world cause the world to humiliate and insult to the whole humanity!

We name the sinister regime to delete the map!!!

We have certainty and Palestine will be free indeed to the people and there will be the Palestinian state will be formed and the future of Middle East will be.

No doubt that the victory of brave men, 22 days of the war in Palestine by Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in the victory of the war 33 days showed that eliminating Hamas is not a dream but the fact that the promise to fulfill the promise God gives Hezbollah!

And counting the picture to eliminate the Zionist regime has begun.


...We do not worry. Not because they have a really lousy auto-translator. Not because we take comfort in the IDF. Certainly not because of hope in support from the United States.

We do not rely upon chariots and upon horses, but upon the name of Hashem.
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From the Kotel: Marry a Jewish Girl

Video by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

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I'm a Jew and I'm Proud...

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

...and I'm willing to say it out loud.

In the past several months, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu made a very strange statement/demand of the Palestinians, and by extension the Arab nations as well. He said, "Recognize that Israel is a Jewish country."

It seemed rather odd, kind of like "recognize that America is a democracy." Well, clearly it is, so what's the point of pointing out the obvious? And why would anyone have a problem recognizing it. What are you going to say, "America is not a democracy, it's a dictatorship?"

Surprisingly the Palestinians didn't just laugh or say "that's pretty stupid and obvious", they refused. They will not say "Israel is a Jewish country." Of course they don't have to say anything they don't want to, but to argue over whether the sky is blue seems pretty ridiculous.

In the past week, PM Netanyahu added two indisputably Jewish religious sites to the list of "heritage" sites up for repair and refurbishment money from the government...the Cave of the Patriarchs (the Marat HaMachpelah) in Hebron and the Tomb of Rachel (Kever Rochel) in Bethlehem.

How "indisputable" are these sites? These sites are directly mentioned in the Torah (Bible) and there's a continuous chain of historical mentions and even drawings going back literally thousands of years. There is literally no other sites except for the Kotel (Western Wall) and the associated Har HaBayit (Temple Mount) that have such a chain of history. These are the prime holy sites of Judaism.

The first Rashi of the Torah asks why the Torah starts with the creation of the world. Rashi answers that it shows Hashem created it, and when people would try to say that the Jews stole the land of Israel from it's inhabitants, they should answer that Hashem created the world and He gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people, as is the right of the Creator to decide.

The Torah, the Bible, and even the Koran say that the Land of Israel was given to the Jewish people.

Yet today, the Xians may claim their holy places, the Muslims may claim theirs...but the Jews...

(Jpost) Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday continued his verbal assault on Israel, according to Saudi paper Al Wattan, which quoted him as saying that that al Aksa Mosque, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb “were not and never will be Jewish sites, but Islamic sites.”

The Palestinians refuse to recognize Jewish sites, the Turks now refuse, and the UN, well, anyone's but the Jews.

The situation is so ridiculous and upside down it's almost beyond belief. But this is also a standard wake up call. Hashem's calling to us, "Return dear children. You may be lost in the wilderness, but it's time to listen and hear the call and start to find your way back."
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The Holy Rebbe, the Noam Elimelech

Today is the yaretzheit of the holy rebbe, the Noam Elimelech, Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk.

This story is related by the Rabbi of Madin grandson of the Ropshitzer:

Rebbe Elimelech had a custom that after the afternoon Mincha service he would converse with his close followers. He would then proceed to a special private room to pray the evening Maariv service alone in seclusion, purity and sanctity. Rabbi Naftali Ropshitzer, a student of the Rebbe always yearned to also be in that room. He constantly wished to see the deeds of his Rebbe and how he prayed at that time. Once he stole into the room unnoticed and hid beneath the bed. The holy Rebbe entered and closed the door behind him. He took his “gartel,” the traditional sash or belt1 used by Hassidim for prayer and preceded to fasten it about himself. The first time he wound the sash about his waist the whole house was filled with an awesome unbelievable light. The second time he tied the gartel winding it around, the light grew in intensity until the Ropshitzer could no longer endure it. He grew weak and found himself fainting. He called out in a loud voice. Rebbe Elimelech heard the cries of distress coming from his student and recognized their source. “Naftali my son are you here?” the Rebbe asked. “Fortunately, you did not remain here for the third and final time I wound the gartel. If you had remained your soul would have surely left your body from the intensity of the great light. Therefore leave now.” (Eser TzachTzachos #27)
From the MiPeninei Noam Elimelech, selections from the sefer Noam Elimelech translated into English.

It is spoken quietly of among chassidim...the Tanya is the book of intermediates, the path for everyone to reach high and far. But the sefer Noam Elimelech is the book of tzaddikim, the path for the righteous to reach even higher and bring the klal along!

Last year Reb Nati merited to be at the kever of the Noam Elimelech, zt"l, on his yaretzheit. Below are a few photos from the Kever Noam Elimelech...

Kever Noam Elimelech

Kever Noam Elimelech
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Friday, March 05, 2010

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Israel Views: The Peace Train

Photos by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

HaShalom Train Station in Tel Aviv is not so named for Peace purposes (Shalom meaning Peace), but because it's location on Derech HaShalom (The Peace Boulevard). Intentional or not, it's worth noting that Israeli Army Headquarters is also on Derech HaShalom.

Find your way...


HaShalom station is marble and glass with a geometric curved roof. Kind of neat...


Americana comes to Israel...The Gap invades with stores in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem...


The train station sits on a highway overpass, the trains running between the highway lanes and next to the channeled HaYarkon river - dry most of the year but an actual river after recent heavy rains...


...and with that I had to run downstairs and catch my train home.
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Thursday, March 04, 2010

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Wearing Tefillin = Smuggling Babies?

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

(CrownHeights.info) It was just before sunset when Rabbi Eli Silberstein, director of the Roitman Chabad-Lubavitch Center serving Cornell University in Ithaca, suggested, as he had done time and time before, that his driver, Ken Kaplan, don tefillin while it was still daytime. The two men, who were heading to Montreal, stopped at a gas station in Watertown just before crossing the border...

The pair got out, Kaplan popped the truck, and soon the rabbi was helping the driver wrap one of the box’s leather straps around his arm.

No sooner had they finished, that a person approached the car.

“It was right after I put the tefillin back in the trunk that someone came up to us and said, ‘You can’t leave now, I need to talk to you,’ ” recalled Silberstein. “He was so suspicious of what we had been doing that he took our license plate number.”

They tried to explain and Kaplan drove off. At the border, Canadian officials inspected the car and, finding nothing suspicious, waved them through.

“When we got to Montreal, I got a call from my wife saying that the police in Watertown were searching for us, and that we were under suspicion for trafficking babies across the border,” said Kaplan. “The guy in the gas station saw us standing over the trunk with the straps and assumed that we were doing something criminal.”

On their return, Kaplan and Silberstein were held up for hours as more than a dozen officers combed through the vehicle.

They managed to keep their sense of humor about it.

“I was so annoyed to be detained like that, we were there until 3:00 in the morning,” said Kaplan. “But it was funny. I was laughing during the whole thing. I guess life can’t be boring.”


I don't even know what to say. Remember, Tefillin, not dangerous and not made from babies.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

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Purim with Rav Shalom Arush

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

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From the Kotel: Pray for Your Family

A new short video series by Reb Gutman Locks...Wisdom from the Kotel. Enjoy.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

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Popping

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

We were recently 'accused' of being very aliyah (moving to Israel) encouraging. Since we don't write articles specifically on the topic of aliyah, I had to think a bit to figure out what was so pro-aliyah about Mystical Paths. I think I've got it, it's the beautiful land of Israel photos! That being the case, I guess this is a pro-aliyah post...

The corn poppy is an incredibly beautiful vibrant red flower. In the Holy Land, as soon as the winter rains slow down and a few warm days come, the corn poppy pops up as a prime wildflower all over Israel...


These poppies are such a vibrant red that I have to tone down the digital camera color recognition, otherwise they appear as a blur...


The fields are briefly alive with spots of red. Hills, sides of roads, scrub areas...bright red everywhere...


Then, as fast as they appeared they're gone. A few days of buds, 1-2 weeks of red...then they're but a memory...until next year.
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A Brief Purim Moment with HaRav Shalom Arush, shlita

Reb Nati caught a brief moment with HaRav Shalom Arush, shlita, the Breslev Tzadik of Meah Shearim and author of the Garden of Emunah, on camera at his yeshiva's annual (Shushan) Purim party in Jerusalem...

(G-d willing, he got a few more clips which we'll put together in another day or so into a longer video.)

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Monday, March 01, 2010

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Purim is Revelation of Hiddenness

by Rav Nati at Mystical Paths

How did Mordechai do it? How did he unite a splintered and conflicting Jewish nation? How did he unify the conflicting parts of every Jewish soul? With one way, because this one way resolves both conflicts. Because the resolution of either conflict effects a resolution of the other.

When the point of Mashiach in every Jewish soul is revealed, then the Moshiach will appear (Likutye Halakhot, Hashkamat HaBoker 1:8, 15).

Due to his efforts to save the Jewish people, Mordechai was obligated to curtail his Torah learning. As a result, his rank in the Sanhedrin was lowered (Megillah 16b; Yoreh Deah 251:14 look at the Bach, Taz).

There were those of us who had literally abandoned the Torah. Not out of wickedness, but out of ignorance and despair. We even went as far as to marry out, turning our backs on Jewish life, divorcing ourselves from Torah. We became lifeless Jews. And there were those of us who even while learning Torah "abandoned" it (Megillah 11a).

We, too, became lifeless Jews. Because we stopped yearning and learning Torah for a life permeated with G-d awareness. We were not at all interested in viewing Torah as a vehicle of closeness to Hashem. Instead, we were satisfied to have no aspirations other than it's auxiliary benefits i.e. honor and prestige and a life of luxury.

But Mordechai was a Tzaddik who cared, he cared for his lifless brothers. He wanted to bring us back to life. But how was he to do it when only the Torah can give life and we were divorced from it? So Mordechai had to "divorce" himself from his studies, he curtailed his studies.

The world existed even before the Torah was given. Not by merit of our fulfilling Hashem's revealed Will, but rather by the bounty of His unconditional gifts. This is the treasure that Hashem created for those whose only merits are fulfilling of His hidden will. Because even in the mundane we fulfill His will, the will that created the world. And in every mundane act is hidden the Torah, the hidden Torah which gives life to the mundane world (Likutey Moharan ii,78).

Rare is the Taaddik who can draw from this Hidden Torah - the Torah that existed before it was given. But the one who can opens the treasure chest of Hashem's unconditional gifts.

And to open the treasure chest, to draw life from there, such a tzaddik must observe the hidden Torah. He must abandon his learning and involve himself in the mundane affairs. He must act like a commoner, like a man of the world, and conceal what a great Tzaddik he is. And thus he elicits the Unconditional Gift of the Life and draws it for every person, because this great Tzaddik does not ask Hashem for favors in virtue of his merit. Though he knows well the Torah hidden in the affairs of the world, that knowledge does not make him feel meritorious. So keeping the Hidden Torah while hiding himself well, he beseeches Hashem to bestow His Unconditional Gifts.

So Mordechai the Tzaddik decreased his learning in order to give life to his brothers. And giving us life, he saved our lives from Haman's decree against all the people.

But Mordechai's peers could not understand him. No matter how they tried to look at him or how hard they tried to understand his words and deeds. He was so much greater than they that he was peerless. Even 85 sages, many of whom were prophets, had their doubts about Mordechai's greatness (Ruth Rabbah 4:5) How could it be that in such days of darkness, a person could attain such greatness? They hadn't. And the Sanhedrin judged by what they saw that Mordechai had ceased his learning. And though permitted to do so to save the people, he forfeited his esteem and was demoted.

They did not see what Mordechai concealed, that he had never ceased his learning (Ya'arot Davash I,17, Avodat Yisrael, Zakhor). He was learning the Hidden Torah and humbly accepted his demotion (Mishnat Rebbi Eliezer 10, Marit HaAyin, Shekalim 5).

And to allude to this Torah and express it in halakhah, Mordechai made two provisions:

1) That the Name of Hashem should not be apparent anywhere in the mundane story of Megillah. Rather, His Name should be hidden, in acronyms, throughout the Megillah (Sha'ar Hakavanot, Purim; Likutey Halakhot, Purim 4:4).

2) that Halakhah permit the suspension of Torah study to allow one to hear Megillah reading (Orach Chaim 687:2).

But Megillah reading itself is Torah learning, what need is there to ask permision? The answer is that Mordechai excluded the megillah reading from the status of Torah learning (Rav Soloveitchik). And he did that to show us that even when we can't learn for whatever reason, we can still learn. We can learn Hidden Torah.

Shushan Purim Samayach,
Reb Nati
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