Monday, January 31, 2011

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What’s Wrong With Dope?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

image001 (3)     “Hey, don’t you see it, man?” He was standing in front of the Kotel, stoned out of his mind. He looked at me and asked, “How come you don’t see it?” He was looking at the stones and seeing lights and hearing sounds, or maybe it was seeing sounds and hearing lights. He was really “getting off” on it.

     So what could possibly be wrong with this?

   Here’s what wrong. It rips you off. big time! (Translation for those of you who did not experience “the sixties,” “a rip off” is a thief who grabs something away from you, something that you want to hold on to.) And this is just what drugs do to your life. They rip off both your physical life, and from my point of view even worse, they rip off your spiritual life, too. And, that’s what hurts so bad.

     A guy was crying to me, “I need money. I’m broke. I only have five dollars in the bank. I have to pay my bills. What am I going to do?” He was really having a hard time, and for a good reason, too. After all, creditors were closing in on him.

     I said, “No problem. Give me your bank book, and I’ll fix it right up for you.”

     He gave me his bankbook. I wrote in 6 zeros, right after his five dollar balance, and I gave it back to him.

     He looked at it and said, “Wow! Thanks a lot. You saved my life. I’m rich. I have 5 million dollars in the bank!”

     And this is what drugs do to your life. Drugs lower your standards so that you are satisfied with much less, and you call it more! That guy who was stoned in front of the Kotel was seeing the physical Western Wall, and because of the drugs that he had smoked, he was seeing it as if he was having a spiritual experience. He wasn’t. He was having a drug experience.

     The real problem is not that he was having a good time. The “munchies” are fun while you are munching. (Stoned people often get ravenous appetites to stuff food, usually, for something like a few candy bars.) The problem is that he is so satisfied with his drugged experience, that he will never feel the need to do the hard work that is necessary in order to have a true spiritual experience. He will go through his entire life “getting off” on the stones, not even knowing that there is a true spiritual Revelation available.  And that’s why they call it “Dope!”

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Story from Teveria

teveriaForwarded by my wife…

A True Story told over by HaRav Fishel Schachter, Parshas Va’era, 2008

There was a chareidi family that took a vacation to Teveria. The wife and 2 daughters went down to the kineret to go swimming. The husband went to daven by Reb Meir Baal HaNeis. The girls start to wade in the water, and the older daughter steps too far in and is swept into a current, but she couldn’t swim, and begins to go under. The mother is watching as the daughter is pleading for her life, but the mother couldn’t swim. The mother runs onto the highway and is desperately trying to flag down cars for help. They are swerving around her, honking at her, screaming to get out of the road. Finally an elegant car stops and a well dressed man asks what’s happening. The mother screams my daughter is drowning. He throws off his coat and runs and dives into the water. The man’s wife is screaming to him saying,  “Remember you just had a heart attack.” He dives into the water and comes up with the little girl. The mother breathes a sigh of relief for a moment, until she realizes that this was the younger daughter who must have jumped in to save the older daughter. She screams “I have another daughter there!” He jumps back in and screams “Where is she? Where is she?” The mother is pointing to him, “Over there, over there.”  He dives to the bottom and begins to drag her limpless body to the shore, but now there are people on the shore, who are screaming “Her head is still in the water! Her head is still in the water. Lift it out!!!”  He lifts her head and puts it on his shoulder and brings her ashore. There was an arab man was on the beach, who started doing CPR on the girl. They called the ambulance and the ambulance crew said they took a pulse, but her head was in the water too long, there’s nothing they can do. They go off to the hospital, and the doctors say there’s no hope. The family began davening for a miracle. They’re waiting and waiting, davening. The Doctor took an MRI, and when he saw the results, runs back in and said, “I can’t believe it, regular brain activity resumed”. The daughter finally wakes up and leaves the hospital two days later. The doctors said they never saw anything like it, she was deprived of oxygen for so long, it was impossible to have this outcome.

A few days later, the family makes a Seudas Hod’ah (meal of thanks) to thank H” for the miracle, and wanted to invite the man who jumped into the water to save their daughter. They couldn’t find him, so thought maybe he called into the hospital to see how she was, and they were right. They found him. He was an attorney from a non observant kibbutz, with no connection to yiddishkeit his whole life. They invited him to the seudah and he told them this story. He was recovering from a heart attack before this incident, and he and his wife were headed up North for a vacation, when he saw this chareidi woman in the street. His wife said keep driving, she’s a meshuganah, but he said she looks desperate, so decided to help. He told the family that he had been sick for awhile, and used to be an Olympic swimmer, but hadn’t swam in YEARS. But just last week, as part of his therapy for the heart attack, he was in a hotel that had a pool, and he started to swim laps during the week. His wife was yelling at him that it was dangerous, and he told her that for some reason, he felt that he had to do this for some reason. He felt that he just loved it. He told them that If he hadn’t done this he wouldn’t have been in shape enough to rescue their daughters. “So I jumped in and saved your first daughter, but then you told me there’s another daughter. I went back in, and as I was pulling your 2nd daughter to shore, and realized that I didn’t bring her head above the water, I was going out of my mind – during those crucial last few moments, I didn’t bring her head above the water, I was going out of my mind.” Afterwards, I came home and cried to my wife, “I killed that girl.” My wife said what are you talking about, you saved her, you risked your life. “But I’m so stupid, I didn’t take her head out of the water.” No, she said, you just didn’t realize. “NO, She died because of my stupidity” I said, “It was my fault, she would have lived!”. So I ran back to that place, and climbed to the top of a mountain, and I said, “Ribbono Shel Olam, never in my life did I pray to you. I was raised on a kibbutz, and laughed at prayer. I wouldn’t be caught dead praying, I would have been so embarrassed. G-d, this is the first time in my life I’m praying to you. I’ll never be able to live this down. I won’t be able to go on. PLEASE, H”, consider it as if I prayed to you my whole life, and combine all those prayers that I could have said, and use them to save this girl. Please G-d” He continued to tell the family, that “I went back home and called the hospital, and they told me that an hour ago (as I was saying this prayer) she woke up!”

Think about this story, was he a hero b/c he took off his jacket and jumped in? Was it that he jumped in twice? Where was the gift of life? It was at the moment that he said “I blew it, I tried and I tried and blew it.” Instead of falling to despair, he took that broken heart, and instead of letting it turn into depression and sadness, he converted it into Tefillah. A tefillah that he never had before in his life. And miracles came from it. There are moments in life that we think we blew it. We have to realize that those very moments, if used correctly, are the seeds for redemption, Moshiach, refuah and yeshuah for everyone.

-Transcribed from a shiur by Rav Fishel Schachter, shlita

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

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Egypt: The YouTube and Twitter Live Revolution

Real time news reports and images of what’s happening aren’t coming from the mainstream news. They’re coming from YouTube and Twitter…which is impressive given the Egyptian government has completely shut down the Internet, SMS messaging, Blackberry service, and more.

Here’s what one Egyptian blogger said, “Still no Internet. Calling in tweets to a friend in Jordan #Jan25”.

Whatever is going to happen in Egypt, it’s coming to a head right now…  (Egyptian blogger/twitterer)

- no police seen anywhere
- in tahrir now [Cairo main city square], everyone here, ppl of ALL classes, army letting us in, very peaceful
- word is army has permission to shoot live ammunition at protesters
- we just had an air show of military planes flying at low altitudes trying 2 scare people
- crowd in tahrir [Cairo square] keeps growing. We're not going anywhere.

That said, news reports from Tunisia just announced “Exiled Leader of Tunisia’s Islamist movement just boarded a plane (from London) to return to Tunisia.”  So the possibility of changing from a secular dictatorship who basically wants stability and control and uses Israel as a boogeyman to an Islamic religious dictatorship that has a visceral hatred and desire to destroy Israel and Judaism as a religious imperative is a possibility.

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A Pinhole

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

image003 (11)     Yesterday I asked a soldier to put on tefillin. He was a nice guy, but he refused. I tried all of my standard tricks, but none of them worked. I have a fairly new one that I use with soldiers. I call out, “Smole! Yamin! Smole! Yamin!” (Left! Right! Left! Right!) It is the command that they are given when they march, and I “command” them to march over and put on tefillin. They usually smile, but it rarely brings them over to put on tefillin. I tried a couple of other things, but he wouldn’t budge. He said, “I put on tefillin at my bar mitzvah, and that was enough.” He smiled, and walked off.

     I went back to my cart and started to help someone else. To my great surprise, the soldier walked over, rolled up his sleeve and waited for me to help him. I quickly put tefillin on him and gave him a copy of the Shema to read. When he finished, and also prayed for his family, I took the tefillin off and had to ask, “What made you change your mind?”

     He said, “My grandfather would never forgive me if I came to the Kotel and didn’t put on tefillin.”

     What do we learn from this nice story? Well, we see that love for the family can bring someone to some amount of Torah observance, but we already knew that. Here is something different to think about: Nothing I said or did actually brought him over. It was clearly his grandfather who gets the credit for that. But, if I had not walked over to him and tried, he would never have thought of his grandfather’s love of the Kotel and the mitzvah of tefillin.

     What’s the point? We (you and I) have to reach out to help. It is only then that G-d decides if we are going to succeed.

     “Open for me (an opening the size of) the sharpness of a needle, and I will open for you the upper gates.”[i]


[i] Zohar, Leviticus 95, Exodus 39:33 Rashi, Shir Hashrim Rabbah 24

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Harley’s in Israel?

Israel’s got a little bit of everything.  Harley Davidson Israel and souped up motorcycles?  Yes we can!  (I never expected to see this in Israel!)

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The flag behind the motorcycle reads Harley Davidson Club Israel (in English).

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And I don’t know what kind of bike this is, but in Israel it costs probably twice or three times what a car costs.  Nice though.

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So if you’re Jewish and looking to take your bike on ride, consider the highways, byways and holy-ways of Israel.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

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Path to the Beis HaMikdash Found

Here’s a few videos showing a new path found from the City of David excavations to the Temple Mount.  This path appears to be an ancient man-sized sewer channel that operated during the time of the 2nd Beis HaMikdash (Jewish Holy Temple)…


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Friday, January 28, 2011

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Israel Views: Netanya

In the middle of the coast of Israel sits Netanya, a beautiful beach resort grown into a medium sized city.

Netanya is unusual in Israel for it’s intense mix.  A sephardi community, a charedi community, a large number of French immigrants and Russian immigrants, a significant tourist industry, food manufacturing, high tech (Cisco has an R&D office there among others), and one of Israel’s two Ikea stores is there.

But when one says Netanya, the first thought is the beaches (which include a religious beach – segregated hours for men and women, on the north side of town)…

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Some parts of Netanya are a residential dream land of pretty and colorful buildings facing the sea.  Warm sea breezes and incredible ocean sunsets are part of every day, with the actual shoreline beautified in semi-tropical style.

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Though one shouldn’t think that doesn’t include synagogues.  For a city classified as a not-religious-majority city (such as Jerusalem or Bnei Brak), Netanya has the highest number of synagogues per capita in Israel.

Pictured – Chabad of North Netanya

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The center of town is all stores, malls, entertainment and small businesses.  (Industry is packed into a large and growing industrial park on the southeast side of town.)

Pictured – Netanya downtown.  On the left is a performance theatre, the regional courthouse, and a mall in the distance.  On the right are a series of storefronts, these 3 blocks are mostly hair stylists.

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But of course, the major draw is…the sea.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

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Why Are You Sad?

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by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

     Someone asked, “How do you battle sadness?”

    This problem severely hampers so many people, and in truth, it is a senseless struggle. Anyone who wants to rid himself of this handicap can do so anytime he chooses, if only he will be persistent in following this advice.

     There are two types of sadness, common sadness and severe, persistent sadness, which is really depression. Common sadness often comes for a good reason. When we make mistakes, we want to feel sad about them so that we will correct ourselves. This is a very positive thing. It is a sadness that forces us to ask, “What did I do wrong?” And then we are pushed into changing our behavior.

     However, if we are generally sad, without a good reason, then we are not sad; we are depressed. While sadness can come for a good reason, depression never does.

     Everyone has two rooms in their house. In one of these rooms there is a hole in the roof, and cold rain is pouring in. There is a chair in that room right under the hole. When the owner of the house sits in that chair, he rightfully feels miserable. Really! After all, ice cold rain is pouring down on him, and he feels horrible. He sits there all day long, and he complains all day long because of his terrible situation. And he is right. It is terrible!

     But you know what? He has another room in his house. And the other room does not have a hole in its roof. It is dry and comfortable in there. Actually, it is a very pleasant place to sit.

     When you ask yourself, “What’s wrong with me?” your mind will immediately search for everything that could possibly be wrong. And you know what? There is plenty to complain about. You start to list the things that are wrong, and you feel bothered by them, even depressed, about each and every one of them. Some people live their entire lives sitting in this room, asking, “What’s wrong?” and feeling sad.

     But, if instead of asking, “What’s wrong with me?” you ask, “What is right for me?” and you start to list all of the wonderful things that you have, you will begin to move out of the miserable room, and over into the nice, dry room. You will be comfortable, and after a while, you will even become happy. The more wonderful things you list, the happier you will be.

     But the mind screams, “HEY, THERE IS A HOLE IN THE ROOF IN THE OTHER ROOM!” And you know that the mind is right. There is a hole in the other room. So you go back into that room to see what is wrong. This is the exact time that you can cure yourself of the persistent sadness.

     When the mind insists that you go back into the wet room, you have to ask yourself, “What is good in my life?” At first it will be a struggle because you are so accustomed to the wet, miserable room, but do not give in. You must make the effort to move into the dry room. Make a list of those good things. Read the list over and over again.

     Do you go for kidney dialysis three times a week, like so many thousands of people do? No, you do not. Well, thank G-d for that. Do you have a headache? No, you do not. Thank G-d for that. How is you broken leg doing? What? You do not have a broken leg? Thank G-d, again and again. Thank Him for all of the good that He is giving you. You have food. You have family. You have friends, a place to sleep, and on and on… thank G-d. Thank G-d. Thank G-d!

     The more you thank Him, the longer you will stay in the dry room. And after some time, you will be so accustomed to living in the dry room, that you will wonder why you ever wasted a single minute of your precious life by being sad.

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The Story of a Fancy Black Paper Bag

An Economic Story with an Important Lesson by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

I received a package from the U.S. the other day.  My package arrived the traditional way among immigrants in Israel…a family member in the U.S. bought a desired item that’s unavailable or significantly overpriced in Israel, passed it to a friend who was visiting Israel, who carried it in their suitcase.  Israel lost tax revenue, business income and profit because the combinations of that tax and profit made my item expensive enough in Israel that it was worth the hassle and wait to have it brought in via the immigrant family-friend network.  But that’s not the focus of our story today.

P1030124My package arrived in a lovely black paper bag.  The bag was from Brooks Brothers, an upscale business men’s clothing store chain in the United States.  Befitting their image as an upscale chain of top quality goods, the bag was heavy coated paper that felt almost plastic with a gold embossed company label and logo.  It was pretty and fancy and classy…yet still just a disposable paper bag meant to be used once in carrying a purchase home.

It’s a status bag, yet in ultimate purpose being no different from the cheap plastic bags used to carry home groceries.  (Pictured above, though the picture fails to capture the embossing and line-pattern on the black of the bag.  Much classier in real life.)

It was an impressive bag for it’s purpose.

But as I picked up my bag I noticed something on the bottom…in gold..embossed…

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So I thought for a moment and said, let’s tell the story of this little bag.

The U.S. is a top exporter of lumber and it’s byproducts, such as wood pulp.  My paper bag was clean bright white on the inside, and strong, so it’s likely it had no recycled paper but was original wood pulp, possibly from Washington State. 

The raw materials, wood pulp, was shipped from Washington State to China via a seagoing transport freighter.  It was received in a Chinese port, unloaded and transported to a Chinese paper factory.  The Chinese paper factory processed the wood pulp and produced different grades of paper, including the high weight (possibly with some cotton content) paper used for my page.

A roll of paper was shipped by truck from the Chinese paper factory to a Chinese paper-bag making factory.  There they did a two color printing with heavy ink, producing the plastic-like feel, ran it through embossing, then through folding and gluing.  Then they added the rope handle, which may have been a manual process.

The bags were boxed in boxes manufactured at another Chinese factory that specializes in shipping boxes.  The boxes were loaded onto pallets (produced at another Chinese factory using low grade wood – often infested with local beetles that are an invasive species in the U.S.), which were loaded back on to trucks headed back to the port.

At the port they were loaded on to a transport freighter headed to the port of Long Beach outside of Los Angeles.  On arrival at the port they were unloaded and placed on trucks for delivery to regional Brooks Brothers distribution centers throughout the United States.

On arrival to the distribution centers the boxes were removed from the pallets and individually re-shipped to the individual Brooks Brothers stores found in many upscale U.S. malls and other upscale locations.

My bag was taken out of it’s box by a store stock clerk, who stacked it under the cash register for use.

So for Brooks Brothers (and you can assume all similar businesses) it was cheaper to buy printed disposable paper bags that were created from wood shipped from the U.S. to China, shipped around China, shipped back to the U.S. and re-shipped out to individual stores, than it was to have them made locally in the U.S.

Meaning the United States of America can’t compete in making a PAPER BAG even including the cost of literally shipping the source material and resulting bag around the whole planet.  A paper bag who’s only manual steps (and therefore labor costs) might be attaching the handle and loading the finished boxes onto trucks.

Need more be said?  This is the economic problem that must be solved.  Stimulus won’t help, even a focus on education won’t help.  Jews of America, if this problem is not being solved then (b’derek teva, according to the natural path) the future of the United States of America can only be bleak and continue it’s slow-to-moderate decline. 

Without a solution here, and almost NO ONE is even paying attention at this level, the Golden Age of America is past.

That saddens me, but it would be foolish to ignore it.

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Revolution in Egypt?

The Arab world is in turmoil.  Tunisia's dictator fell to a populace desiring a democratic revolution (though what they end up with is anybody’s guess).  Lebanon’s government today fell to a Hezbollah manipulated constitutional maneuver that put them in control of the government.

And RIGHT NOW something big, possibly along Tunisian lines, is happening in Egypt….

Thousands of Egyptians entered the open-ended Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo until the overthrow of President Mubarak, comes after thousands of Egyptians took part in mass demonstrations calling for the first time to bring down the regime of President in Cairo and Mahaaftat, and subjected to violent attacks by security forces.

Reportedly chanted the protestors, saying, "sit-sit ... so leave the system. "

Is this good or bad for Israel?  Who knows at this stage. 

Live Twitter Feed from the middle of the Egypt situation (Egyptian blogger).

Twitter Search for the Egypt revolution hashtag #jan25 (why Jan 25? I don’t know).

Current videos of the situation…



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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

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Questions On Conversion

Question:

If Noahide concept is not a subjective rabbinic interpretation of Tanach, (Bible) can you please cite the Tanach sources where the G-d of Israel explicitly laid down what you claim for the 70 Nations? If Judaism does not proselytize, how are the 70 Nations suppose to know about what you claimed since they weren't "present" at Mt. Sinai (where the Torah was given to the Jewish people)?

Gutman Answers:

    The Seven Laws of Noah are not only for the 70 Nations. They are for all descendants of Noah, which includes all of us. However, the Jewish people accepted the Torah, which the 70 Nations rejected, so we have been given not only the seven laws, but many more laws, too. Much of the Torah is learned from the Oral Torah (Talmud) which includes the details of these laws.

     Judaism does not proselytize by trying to bring the other nations into the Jewish people, but we certainly are obligated (privileged) to help the nations live righteous lives. This is one of our two main tasks. We are to be a “nation of priests,” and we are to be a “light unto the nations.” Besides helping each other, we must help non-Jews come to righteousness, too. We do this by teaching them these seven laws.

        These laws are prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, stealing, eating flesh that was taken from an animal before it was killed, and not having just courts in their lands.

Another Question on, “I Converted

    Why one must assume that the potential candidate for conversion was a Jew in a previous life. The whole reincarnation thing is far removed from actual Torah.

    As I am quite sure that you are aware, this is straight from Hinduism.
With all of the obsession against yoga (a good obsession btw) I cannot fathom why the falseness of the "previous life" business is pushed as part of our faith. Judaism is what our forefathers do, and Torah is the unequivocal truth. Sometimes and in some areas there exist distance.
I do believe reincarnation is far removed from the truth.

Gutman Answers:

     Look in the book, The Mishna Brurah, Laws of Yom Kippur, Mincha. There is a story there of a man who refuses to repent. He says, “I am so used to sinning that I am going to continue to sin, and worse comes to worse, G-d will come and kill me.” The commentator there says, “No, this man must repent, or he will have to come back to this world again, and again until he does repent.”

     Also, look in the prayer book at the prayers that we say when we retire at night. “I hereby forgive anyone who has angered me,… in this incarnation or in any other.”

     We see here, in these books of Jewish Law and prayer, that reincarnation is part of our Torah.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

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Spotted–Fresh Healthy…Poison, Now Insured

When I go sailing and enjoy some fresh sea air, I immediately think of clogging it up with some smoke, tar, and nicotine.

Spotted in Jerusalem…a cigarette vending machine…now accepting Mastercard, Visa, and Diners Club…located in the cafeteria of the Israel National Institute for Health, Welfare and Disabilty (Bituach Leumi) headquarters.

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Defense Projects from Bizzaro World

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The IDF spokeperson’s blog reports on a new Israeli Defense Force strategic initiative to protect Israeli homes and civilians from war criminal rocket fire from Arabs of the Gaza Strip into Jewish civilian areas (including farms, schools, kindergartens, medical facilities, and homes…all classified as war crimes by the Geneva Convention).

The new strategic initiative?

"Launching the Strategic Security Forestation Project in Towns Surrounding the Gaza Strip".

The speaker, GOC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Tal Russo, said of it: “…I was born into the strategic security forestation in the Hula Valley, which was then used to defend from Syrian shelling. ... The project …allows us to upgrade our mission of defending the southern communities with environmental benefits.”

idfprojectforestation2Now I am not a military man, so maybe someone can help me understand the benefit of tree saplings in defending from attacks by small and medium sized rockets???

In 5 years when these trees have grown they would help someone from being observed and targeted by SHELLING…but the enemy is using Google Maps and randomly targeting buildings without observation.

Perhaps the army is planning on the blessings of divine protection and providing trees to act such as the Holy Ceder of Safed (which ate a Katyusha during the Lebanon 2 war).

Or perhaps as we say tehillim (psalms) to Hashem the army has become infiltrated with druids and environmentalists who hold that the trees themselves will rise up and protect us.

Trees and forestation are a wonderful idea.  Many benefits for the environment and nation.  And strengthening the environment does have a long term national strength benefit.

But defending against rocket attack???  I don’t get it.

Some rely upon chariots and some upon horses (and trees???), but we rely upon and call out in the name of Hashem.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

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A Jew You’ll Never Meet

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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I just received this letter:

Something that may make you proud - on a snowy Wednesday on Long Island, my brother, who gets your emails, was driving down a main road and saw a man, distraught, waiting on the sidewalk. Thinking that this man might be Jewish, my brother pulled over to give him a ride. He accepted and while driving, they had a conversation. My brother asked him if he was Jewish. He said no and that he works for the church. When leaving, he offered my brother money for the ride. My brother refused the money but said, “Listen to me--if a Jew ever walks into your church, don't let him come inside, send him away.” The man laughed, but he agreed to do it.

Gutman responds:

Good for your brother! He made my day, and a few more days after this one, too. Tell your brother that he is doing great. First off, he looked for a Jew to help. This is the toughest thing for many people. Then, when it turned out that he was helping a non-Jew, he didn’t give up. He went on to figure out how to try to help a Jew, anyway!

     I bet that someday a Jew is going to walk into that church, and this man whom your brother helped on that cold, snowy day is going to remember your brother’s kindness and his promise. He is going to tell that Jew that he has to leave. The Jew is going to take the refusal to heart, and he is going to go to a Jewish house of worship, instead.

      And your brother will have accomplished what he set out to do. He tried to help a Jew he didn’t even know, and in the end, he will. He is going to receive a great blessing for this. The truth is, your brother has already received a great blessing in that he has learned to try to help his fellow Jew. There is no better way to help yourself spiritually, than to help another Jew come to the Torah. I hope that someday he hears about how his kindness actually helped that Jew.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

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Missing a Chance for the Geulah

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

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Approximately 20 years ago, a group of chassidim/rabbis/shluchim from Eretz Yisroel, who were in Crown Heights (Brooklyn, USA) for a conference approached the Lubavitcher Rebbe and asked him why he doesn’t declare himself Moshiach and the coming of the Geulah.  They asked the Rebbe what he was waiting for?

The Rebbe answered “Me? You’re waiting on me?? You have over 100 rabbis here for the conference, why haven’t YOU made a declaration?”  The rabbis hurried off to make such a declaration, but the moment was already lost.

Rabbi Nati (who’s been busy trying to make interesting Torah videos and hasn’t blogged here in a while but was our frequent co-blogger in the past) brings sources that explain that while the final Geulah is similar to the first Geulah (the exodus from Egypt)…As the geulah was (in Egypt), so the geulah will be. First the Jews cried out, Hashem heard and remembered. He sent Moshe rabaynu. When Moshe rabaynu came to redeem the Jews, he came to the elders. And the elders declared the redemption and informed the people, and Moshe accepted the leadership and began the redemption. We must CRY OUT to Hashem, together as one, as the Jewish people, it's time. And, we must demand, yes demand, of the elders, the gedolim of our generation, the princes of Torah, to declare it's time for the redemption.

Yeranen Yaakov brought the following news report from Matzav on Friday…

Various admorim and Torah giants were known for asking morei horaah, halachic adjudicators, to pasken that Moshiach should come. These rabbonim would say that a morah horaah, a posek, is given certain powers to issue a halachic ruling that can impact the metzius, the reality, of the world.

It was with this in mind that Rav Menashe Klein, noted posek and author of the Mishneh Halachos, who currently resides in Eretz Yisroel, posed a request to the posek hador at his home in Meah Shearim.

Rav Klein, during a recent visit to Maran Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, asked the centenarian gadol to pasken that Moshiach should come. Rav Elyashiv politely refused, stating, “We cannot pasken [that the geulah should come], but rather, we should believe in and anticipate [the coming of the geulah].”

And thus was another opportunity lost.

Why?  Why can they not pasken that the geulah should come?  Why???  Because we won’t believe it?  Because they can’t pasken when they believe the klal won’t listen? 

If the pashkevilim (the announcement posters in religious Jewish neighborhoods) are to be believed, the gedolim have no problem paskening on almost any issue – clearly including many that the klal are going to ignore.  Whether or not one should advertise on a particular web site, or go to the concert of a particular religious musician in a religious forum with religiously organized seating, whether a charedi school should be banned for teaching a class in science and english, whether the specific features of a cell phone are allowed or not.

Every little thing down to not only what’s an appropriate level of dress but the actual size, shape and color of the garments can bear the signature of Daas Torah and pronouncements in the name of the gedolim and poskim of the generation.

BUT THE GEULAH, ABOUT THAT THEY DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY???

Ribono Shel Olam, Master of the Universe, TRULY we have no one else to turn to!  Truly it is dark and impossible to see.  Truly we cry out AD MOSAI, until when????

Borei Olam, Creator of the world, if the big voices, the holy voices, those steeped in Torah from the day of their birth, refuse to cry out, please listen to our simple voices.  Please ignore our many aveyrot and lack of Torah and hear our honest and simple cry…

WE HOLD THAT IT IS TIME, BRING THE GEULAH SHALAYMA AND MOSHIACH NOW!

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Friday, January 21, 2011

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Brothers

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

My two sons were fighting in the car today, throwing loads of insults back and forth.  I stopped them and said “this is not the way a Jew acts, this is not the way of the Torah.”

My younger son looked at me and said “brothers fighting is definitely from the Torah!  Look at Yitzchok and Yishmael, Yaakov and Easav, and Yosef and all this brothers!  And they didn’t have anything good to say about each other either!”.

Hmmm, he has a point.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

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I Converted to Judaism

mikveh

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

Hello Reb Gutman,

I am writing regarding your post on Mystical Paths with the title, “I Would Convert.”  

You said to that man, "You were born a member of one of the 70 Nations, and you must find your spiritual path among them."

I was born a member of the 70 Nations, and I converted to Judaism.  Are you saying I should not have converted?

Thanks, (a reader)

Gutman responds:

     When someone comes to an Orthodox rabbi wanting to convert, the rabbi must send that person away. That person was born into a certain nation and should find his or her way with the Seven Mitzvahs of Noah, which form the spiritual path given to the 70 Nations. This is a complete and holy path. Those who follow it become holy people who enjoy shares both in this world and the in World to Come.

     If he returns to the rabbi and again asks to convert, the rabbi must send him away again. After all, he was born a member of one of those nations for a good reason. Besides, Jews are a people, not a religion. Why would anyone want to change his people?

     If that rejected person returns a third time, the rabbi is to again tell him to keep the Seven Commandments of Noah and be a holy person.

     If the person returns a fourth time, the rabbi is to question him to see if he wants to convert for the right reason. Is he converting to marry a Jewish girl he loves or to get a better job? If so, the rabbi is to reject him completely. There is no set number of times that a potential convert should be sent away, but he should be discouraged from converting.

     If after these rejections he still wants to convert, because he loves G-d and the Jewish people, then we assume that in his last lifetime he was a Jew, but he did not act as a Jew should act and was reincarnated as a non-Jew with a strong desire to return to his people. Or, it could be that one of his ancestors had special merit and therefore he has a strong desire to become a Jew. The rabbi then begins the long process that leads to his proper conversion.

     On the surface, there is no reason for a member of the 70 Nations to convert. If he will follow his spiritual path properly, he will not lack anything. In fact, Jewish writings teach that anyone can attain the level of ruach hakodesh which is a spiritual level just under prophecy…. a Jew or a non-Jew.

     According to the Tanna De Bei Eliyahu, all people can experience Divine inspiration. “The reward is commensurate with the effort—the greater the sacrifice, the greater the revelation. It all depends on one’s deeds.”

    You asked if you did the right thing by converting. If you pushed through the obstacles and came back again and again and your conversion was kosher k’halacha – according to Jewish law, then, welcome home.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

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Kosher Yoga?

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

babyyoga

We receive a question by email about Kosher Yoga for Pregnant Jewish Women (Pre-Natal Yoga), is it ok?  We’ve written extensively about problems with (kosher) yoga in the past, here’s our newest reply…

It's easy to think that yoga is just exercises.  And indeed there's nothing wrong with "just exercise".  But yoga is always more than "just exercise".  It starts with breathing techniques that then bring along focusing thoughts in certain ways and pronouncements or sounds that to focus one in certain ones...which are forms of meditation.  It then usually includes where to focus those thoughts...on universality, on nothing(ness), etc.  At which point any experienced Hindu Guru recognizes the pattern as the basic meditative processes of Hinduism.

Every yoga program Reb Gutman Locks (a former Hindu Guru now an orthodox Jew who writes frequently here on Mystical Paths) and I have looked at have shown themselves to contain something inappropriate (meaning clearly not kosher) within the first 5 minutes of research.  This also and specifically includes programs described as kosher yoga or kosherized yoga or Jewish yoga or Jewish mystical yoga and/or held in orthodox synagogues, Jewish community centers, and even Chabad houses.  Some of the things we've found have literally been frightening and almost unbelievable.

We've also received direct reports of people, orthodox Jews, who have been involved in kosher yoga programs who found it interesting enough to go out to the book store and pick up some additional information on yoga.  A few years later they're heavy meditative yoga practitioners but no longer Jewish religious practitioners.

I am certain that the people trying to kasher (make kosher) yoga are well meaning and think they're bringing the benefits of a health improving exercise to the Jewish community.  But yoga is a foreign religious technique that's masquerading as an exercise, not an exercise technique with a little bit of foreign religious ideals.

The confusion on this point is that like many foreign things sold to an American audience, it's heavily watered down in it's first presentation.  So with just a little bit of "om'ing" and a little bit of "focus on nothingness" during mostly exercises, it certainly doesn't SEEM like anything can be wrong or anything seriously spiritual is going on.  But the foundation is laid and builds up from there.

Net net, we can't say every "kosher yoga" system is a problem as we haven't personally examined every system.  But we have found some problems even in "kosher" yoga systems developed by orthodox Jews which even have a rabbinic approbation or two. 

However, if someone has been taught a specific yoga exercise or two that helps with a specific health problem, and it involves ONLY the exercise, there should be no problem as it's for health and avoids any of the thought focusing or meditative aspects. 

But as an exercise system, yoga of any sort should be avoided.  There seems to be adequate alternatives, such as Pilates, that offer similar benefits without the spiritual risks.  This applies to pre-natal exercise systems as well.  There seems to be no shortage of such systems which are carefully tailored to a pregnant woman’s unique exercise needs.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

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Once You Have Their Attention…

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by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

Yosef in Australia wrote:  

      Gutman, I am telling your stories to the boys in Camp Gan Israel in Melbourne. They love your stories. They are approximately 13 years old.

   Thank you again for writing your stories down, spreading the light.

Gutman’s answer:

     Tell them, that, especially if they have tefillin on, they should pray for the Jewish people all over the world, and certainly those of us in Israel. Tell them that G-d loves to hear His children’s prayers. Also, tell them that I want them to come to the Tefillin booth by the Kotel when they are in Jerusalem and help put tefillin on the soldiers.

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    Once you have your audience’s attention, you can move them along. You can give them tools to help shape their lives, and lovely dreams to think about. These young boys are open to my suggestions because they enjoy the stories. It is a wonderful opportunity to move them along their spiritual journey.

    In these two or three short sentences I showed them the importance of tefillin, prayer for others, that G-d listens to children, and most of all…that even little kids can help. Now, they are imagining, “What is it going to be like when I bring a Jewish soldier over and put tefillin on him at the Kotel?”

     May they all fulfill their wonderful dreams, soon. And I hope we get a picture of it to show you, too.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

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Do It For Your Grandmother’s Sake

image001 (2)

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

Two French cousins in their late twenties came to Jerusalem to bury their beloved Grandmother. One of the young men had never put on tefillin. His cousin brought him over to the tefillin stand for us to help him.

     After he read the prayers, I had him pray for his family and for all of the things that he wanted. He showed almost no emotion. I had to talk him into taking a picture of him wearing tefillin. He insisted, “I do not need a picture.” I explained, “But your family does need it.”

     I told him that his grandmother’s spiritual position is now is fixed, and she cannot improve it. But, even though she cannot improve her place, that he can elevate her soul by doing a mitzvah, and asking G-d to give her the “credit” from that mitzvah. This is, in fact, what we do when we pray. We apply our merit to the thing(s) that we are praying for. Unlike physical credit that dwindles when you use it, spiritual credit increases when you use it.

     He smiled. It was the first time he had showed any real emotion. He liked the idea that he could help his grandmother. I patted him on his chest and said, “Do you know what your grandmother would want from you more than anything else?”

      “What?” he asked.

     “Jewish grandchildren,” I said. “Your grandmother would want you to marry a Jewish girl so that you can give her Jewish grandchildren.” His eyes watered a little. One of the other men from the tefillin stand whispered to me that he did not have a bris. (He was not circumcised.) When his cousin first brought him to the tefillin stand, he had asked if an uncircumcised Jew could put on tefillin.

     I told him that in order to have Jewish children, he had to have a Jewish wife. I made him promise that he would marry only a Jewish girl. He easily agreed. The idea of helping his grandmother really opened up his heart.

     I went on, “In order for your children to be spiritually sensitive Jews, and to have a greater spiritual role in this world, you have to be circumcised before they are conceived. This is what your grandmother would want.”

     He said that he would do it. I told him be sure to take a rabbi with him when the doctor does it, to make sure that it is kosher. He liked the idea. He even wrote down my email address, saying that he wanted to send me pictures of his Jewish babies.

     Will he follow through and actually do these things? I feel that he will. We will see. But what is certain is, if we (and I am including you in this “we”) do not try to help these totally assimilated Jews, their chances of having Jewish families is almost zero.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

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Winter Sunset over Jerusalem

Photos by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Summer in Israel offers blazingly clear blue skies.  But winter adds some clouds to the picture, which results in some amazingly colorful sunsets.

Sunset on a winter’s evening in Jerusalem.  That’s Har Nof on the right, and just barely visible in the distance by the middle-left is Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital.

JerusalemSunset

Turning left from where I was standing is the orange sun hitting the buildings of the Beit HaKerem neighborhood (if I have my Jerusalem neighborhood orientation right – which I don’t guarantee).

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And a business sunset view caught my eye glancing out a business office in the Givat Shaul government district.  Artsy and new age, orange sunset off blue glass reflecting the clouds…

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May all your sunsets be beautiful and holy, and may G-d grant you the time to stop and appreciate them.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

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Winter Brachot

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths Winter Wonderland

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A reader sent along the following picture, commenting ‘25" of snow in New Engand. What are we doing? Getting our visas to Israel ready!’

Everywhere Jews go we adapt ourselves and Judaism to our environment.  In Minnesota for Succot, we build insulated succah walls and install propane heaters in the succah.  A minchag of thick schach helps as well to keep the cold out.

In Florida, the succah walls are reed fence, letting the air flow through due to the heat and humidity.  And making kiddush early is important to avoid the afternoon rains.

In New York, wood wall succahs and retractable rain covers are the thing.

In Israel Succot every year is pleasant with a few days of scorching hot weather.  The Gemora teaches that in the time of Moshiach the nations will complain “why are the Jews getting the sole reward for mitzvot?  You didn’t offer us any (or didn’t offer any to the current generation).  So Hashem will answer, ‘ok, so here’s a little mitzvah of succah, lets see how you do’.  And after everyone is in their succah Hashem will send a heat wave…after which all the nations will leave their succahs, kicking them on the way out.  The Jews will be sitting in theirs, sweating over their soup and trusting in Hashem.’

This past week in Israel we’re ENJOYING cold wet weather.  Because in Israel it’s easier to see the brachot of Hashem more clearly and we know we’re completely dependent on Hashem for every drop of water.  So we thank G-d for the cold wet days and ask for more of them!

May everyone merit to see the blessings of the weather and not, G-d forbid, the curses (as those of Australia and Brazil are seeing right now.)

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

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Life Data Shows Pali Lies

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Professor Hans Rosling is a professor of statistics that has come to renown in the last few years for demonstrating graphically the associations between number of children, mean income of the people of the country, and life expectancy (average age of death).  His statistics show a clear pattern throughout the world that life expectancy grows as family size decreases and incomes increase and explain it in amazingly easy to understand ways.

Now Instapundit pointed to a Rosling style chart today that impresses by showing the massive change in China’s family sizes and life expectancy since 1970 (where average family sizes decreased from 5 to 1.7 and life expectancy raised from 50 to 75).

savegazaBut I noticed two important outliers on the chart.  Israel and “West Bank and Gaza”.  Israel because it’s the only country with a high life expectancy AND an average family size larger than 2.  And “West Bank and Gaza” because it has a MASSIVE family size of 5 and a high life expectancy of (almost) 75.

How can a territory under constant war and terrorism and “occupation” with practically no local economy and no health system of it’s own maintain a family size of 5 and a life expectancy of 75 – ten years MORE than any other country with a similar family size???

Source animated data chart here.

age_outliers

 How indeed? 

Here’s an example of Hans Rosling’s data presentation…

(Boycott Israel photo clipped from demonstration photos at Atlas Shrugs.)

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I Used to be an Orthodox Rabbi

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Pathsssssssssssssss

image003 (8)     The other day, I helped a nice American man and his son to put on tefillin. He did not wear a yarmulke (head covering), so I was very surprised that he could read the prayers in Hebrew so well. He said that he was a reform rabbi. This was really unusual; rarely have I seen a reform rabbi put on tefillin.

     I wanted to make an important point to him, without turning him off, so I was very diplomatic. I said, “It’s not so bad that the reform movement doesn’t follow the Torah the way it is written. Most Jews in the world don’t. But it is really wrong that you tell your congregations that the way you follow the Torah is the way that it is supposed to be followed. It would be much better if you would tell them the way you do it, and then explain that you do not do it the way the Torah says.

     I was surprised that he agreed with me. Normally, people jealously defend their chosen path. He told me that he used to be an Orthodox rabbi, but some years ago his 17 year-old son was murdered. He said that he was so angry with G-d that for years he did not follow any mitzvahs at all. He ate non-kosher food, didn’t keep Shabbat; he did absolutely no mitzvahs. He was angry that G-d took his son away from him.

     He said, “But then G-d spoke to me. Not like a voice, but inside my heart.” He put his hand over his heart. “I realized that instead of being angry with G-d for what He took from me, I should be thankful for what He gave me. I had 17 wonderful years with my son. I saw that I was focusing on my loss, and ignoring the good that I had been given.”

    Little by little, he is coming back to Torah and mitzvahs.

     We can certainly learn from this man. One of the best ways to make sure that you have a good day is to thank G-d for all of the good that He has given you.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

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Free Moshe Yess Album

Mostly Music is offering one of Moshe Yess’s albums for free.

Check it out (free for download, see the Buy Download button).

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Spotted: Jerusalem Light Rail

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Jerusalem is the holy city, but it’s also a living city.  Neighborhoods, shopping districts, business districts, schools, hospitals, grocery stores, restaurants, synagogues, government buildings, traffic.

Like every city there’s constant activity.  Some old buildings are torn down, new ones built up.  New roads are built, old ones repurposed.

Anyone who’s visited Jerusalem in the last 6 years knows it’s been in the middle of a relatively big change with the building of a light rail system.  Roads have been closed off as tracks are laid, stations are being built and massive disruption to traffic patterns and access to parts of the city has occurred.  Over time and over budget (as such projects tend to be) the question has been…will it ever end?  Will it actually work?

It’s not done, it’s just testing.  But yesterday the following was spotted…

JerusalemLightRail

That’s it!  It’s the light rail on the new spindle bridge!

Looking forward to all that traffic saving easy Jerusalem travel in the near future.  (Looking forward to Moshiach too.)

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

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Farewell Rabbi Yess

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

As noted by Shirat Devorah, Rabbi Moshe Yess passed away today (or yesterday?)  Many remember Rabbi Yess as a Chabad chossid who became a musical contemporary of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, advancing religious Jewish music into a contemporary pop style.  This early generation of contemporary Jewish musicians didn’t become “big stars”, the market for their product simply wasn’t big enough.  They were lucky if they could even make a living.

However, about 20 years ago Rabbi Yess left the music scene after receiving a reply from the Lubavitcher Rebbe indicating he should use his influence to spread the goals of bringing Moshiach and the Geulah (and referring to him as rabbi, from which he accepted the title along with the task).

With the departure of the Rebbe from our physical presence, Rabbi Yess spent his time as a Geulah researcher – similar to some of the writings of this blog (and certainly it’s early years).  He spent time correlating modern events to biblical prophecies and tying the two back to writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.  He was a committed Chabad Meshichist, but not one who went around shouting Yechi but rather did the research to back up his beliefs with halachic, talmudic, and kabbalistic sources.  We corresponded on such things a number of times.

As he left his music behind he started Messiah Watch International, where he published his findings, research and beliefs.  As a web site it’s a generation 1 technology poorly organized mess.  But the research was and is worth paying attention to for geulah watchers.  With his passing who knows how long the site will continue to exist.

He was a fellow traveler, an elder, on the road and will be missed.

His site presents a session of Rabbi Yess discussing Geulah signs on the Coast-to-Coast late night radio show in the US (known for discussing odd events of all sorts).  Here’s that program (38 minutes, English)…

And here’s an example of his music from the past…



READ IT!
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Be Happy with Mitzvot (video)

A video by Reb Gutman Locks…

Direct video link.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

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The Zen Buddhist at the Kotel

What’s the Main Difference???

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths 

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Someone just asked me, “What’s the main difference between Judaism and the Eastern religions?” Pictured here is a perfect example. I am talking to a Japanese Zen Buddhist monk. He was wearing a formal Buddhist monk robe while he meditated in front of the Kotel. He has spent his entire life strictly following the Zen principles and life style. He has never participated in sports. He never married, nor has he ever had a job outside of a monastery.

He sat at the back wall in front of the Kotel meditating for several hours today. He did not move, not even the slightest bit. On the bench next to him were a small begging bowl and a sign in Japanese and in English that explained that he was meditating for peace. To many people, this might seem to be a wonderful thing to do. After all, what is better than peace?

I answered the fellow’s question by saying that the main difference between the Torah and Eastern (and many Western) religions is that when they become spiritually advanced, they withdraw from the world. They live in ashrams, monasteries, or in huts alone on the side of a mountain.


image006Their objective is to completely detach from the world….”Do not make waves. Whatever action you take makes a wave, and you will have to ride on that wave,” they teach. “It is better that you do not move.” They insist that “all creation is merely a dream, an illusion. It is zero… absolutely nothing!”

The Torah teaches that G-d created a real world. Creation is not zero, it is One.

“It is all One.”

While their books teach them to forsake the world, the Torah teaches us to engage it. We are to elevate the things around us by using them for holy purposes.

When this “spiritual” monk wanted to bring peace to this part of the world he came to the Kotel, sat alone. and meditated on “nothing.” When a spiritual Jew wants to bring peace to this part of the world, he comes to the Kotel, he prays, and looks for someone to help.

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Video: The Ten Rememberences

a video by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Direct video link.



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Sunday, January 09, 2011

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Spotted: ATZ–Automatic Tzedakah Machine

Spotted on the street… an ATZ, Automatic Tzedakah (Charity) Machine…

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Here’s a close up of the screen and a translation of the options…

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  • - Press Here for Salvation from all Bad Things.
  • - Press Here for Blessings for Good Events (Simchas).
  • - Press Here to Request a Blessing from the Torah Leaders of the Generation.
  • - Press Here to Give your Tithe.
  • - Press Here for a 40 day prayer session for you at the Kotel.
  • Press, swipe credit card and type in your name and your mother’s name and your prayer request. 

    Remove your card and take your receipt.  Your blessing will be dispensed momentarily.

    READ IT!
    // // 3 comments

    Eat a Cheeseburger Instead

    by Reb Gutman Locks @ mystical paths

    image003 (7)This one is really nuts! A guy in his mid-thirties came up to me Shabbos afternoon at the Kotel. He had read my book, Coming Back To Earth, and wanted to thank me. “It was truly inspiring,” he said. He lives most of the year in Tel Aviv, and his main “thing” is placing Jews in homes for Shabbos meals. He is doing a tremendous job. He places hundreds of Jews in homes every Shabbos, where they find a warm Shabbos meal with a warm Jewish family.

        He told me how he became religious.

        “About 12 years ago, I was standing there in the plaza,” he pointed behind us. “And a rebbetzin (rabbi’s wife) came up and started talking to me. I was not at all religious. She said, ‘The next time you’re going to eat pig (a pork product), eat a cheeseburger instead.’”

         Eating a cheeseburger is no less forbidden than eating pig, but it just doesn’t seem to be as bad, since the prohibition against mixing milk and meat is not so well known--nor does it seem so disgusting.

         He went on, “I forgot all about what she told me, but a few months later, I was in a restaurant and I ordered a bacon sandwich. Then, for some reason, I remembered what she said. I called out to the waitress, ‘Make it a cheeseburger instead.’ That cheeseburger tasted delicious! It was the best I had ever eaten. I thought, ‘Wow being religious is great!’ From then on, I did little by little until I’ve come to observe all of the Torah’s commandments.”

        I would never recommend telling a Jew to eat a cheeseburger, but here is a case where it actually brought someone home!

    (We learn from the Torah, a religious law from G-d himself, that it is forbidden for the Jewish people to cook or eat or derive benefit from dairy products and meat products together.  For religious Jews this means an absolute separation between these two, to the extent that a religious Jew will have one set of pots and dishes for cooking and eating their hamburger and steak, and another set for eating their macaroni and cheese.  No lasagna with meat, no hamburger with cheese.  In religious Jewish life, foods have one of three designations…dairy, meat, or parve – meaning no dairy and no meat ingredients and may be used with either.)

    READ IT!

    Thursday, January 06, 2011

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    Truth and Faith (video)

    Truth and Faith, a chassidic lesson produced by Rabbi Nati, taught by Rabbi Ehud Sadeh.

    Direct video link, here.  9 minutes, English.

    READ IT!
    // // 3 comments

    I Would Convert

    by Reb Gutman Locks

    Reb Gutman, I would convert to Judaism, out of pure love and desire for G-d... I just have trouble.

    Evolution is a scientific fact for example... as is the universe being billions of years old. I don't understand how a God as viewed by the Jews would stand idle for billions of years until we evolved into homo sapiens before revealing himself. Also, the story of Jonah in the fish’s belly, the lack of evidence for the Exodus, Noah’s Ark all doesn’t make sense scientifically.

    Rebbe, Please answer + help me.

    Reb Gutman answers:

    All of your questions have been answered logically many times. Check with Ask Noah for the details. However, even after you get your answers, do not try to convert to Judaism. You were born a member of one of the Seventy Nations, and you must find your spiritual path among them. “Ask Noah” will teach you how to be a righteous gentile. You will have a wonderful life in this world and a share in the World to Come.

    READ IT!
    // // 11 comments

    The Horror of a Kabbalah Cult

    Excerpted from A Mother in Israel with permission.  Substantially edited as the author’s order of events was rather confusing, seemingly in the order he thought about them rather than when they happened.

    It’s been a while since we’ve spoken about the Kabbalah Cults.  These are organizations that have taken the deepest and most esoteric part of Judaism, kabbalah, and attempted to extract the “holy technology” without it’s religious context or the requirements of those involved being extremely pure and extremely meticulous in their Torah and mitzvot.

    The results are dangerous. Dangerous spiritually, mentally, and financially.  A Mother in Israel received a detailed story of one who became entailed in such a cult.  We excerpt and re-order it here, though it’s worth reading the whole thing there.

    A bit of kabbalah background to start.  Kabbalah speaks extensively about the energy or “light” of Hashem and how to disseminates throughout creation.  It also speaks of how we can be better receptacles (kelim) for the pure energy of Hashem or, G-d forbid, if not thoroughly following Torah and mitzvot receive such energy in a more back-handed fashion.  Kabbalah cults always focus on “receiving the light” and gaining exceptional abilities by doing so (always omitting the Torah, mitzvot, and purity parts).

    IMG_6359

    “My Story of Bnei Baruch” (“Free” Kabbalah Centers)

    I’ve never been to Israel. (My story takes place over the Internet.)  I’ve met very few people from the center in person and only once went to meet some other local ‘students’ in my region. I was one of those guys ‘studying’ over the internet, exchanging emails and watching lessons live with others while talking on instant messaging programs, bombarding each others with emoticons.

    After the first night I kept ‘studying’. I would download every lesson. I would make sure I could watch them live, to my own loss, to the loss of my sleep and health, and to the loss of my other personal affairs. It was normal at that time to cancel meetings with friends and family to watch their broadcasts. Because of the time zones, my schedule had to be significantly altered. They make a big point about watching the thing live, because by this you will ‘draw more light that reforms’ by ‘connecting all your points in the heart at the same time’.

    I listened to the lessons on my mp3 everyday. I didn’t think about anything else. I woke up and put on my headphones, I went to sleep with my headphones, listening to Michael Laitman through an interpreter. I wanted so badly to achieve ‘equivalence of form’.

    No real explanation is ever given about anything you ask about the study material. Formally, they answer questions with more obscure stuff, but substantially, the answer is always ‘faith above reason’. Faith in what? Faith in the promise that Michael Laitman makes me that I’ll become a ‘god’.

    I can only imagine (what) those guys go through, waking up at 3 am in the morning to ‘draw the light that reforms’. Can you imagine … to wake up at 3 am in the morning to read some texts they will NEVER understand, written by some obscure kabbalist years ago, during 3 full hours … in the hopes that by doing this they will become GOD HIMSELF (by giving live kabbalah lessons on the internet?)

    (After being focused on nothing but these lessons for a period of time) bigger problems started to appear. I started to hate EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. I disagreed with everyone, and constantly picked arguments with people over meaningless things. People were surely annoyed by me. Deep down in ‘my’ soul, I felt this enormous hate for everyone. I wanted to kill everyone.

    I would have gore images flashing in my mind, amputation, death, horrific images. They all looked like they were my own imagination. It didn’t look like hallucinations. No, they were just very vivid imagery. Like, if I say the word ‘elephant’, you will think of an elephant. But the elephants I was seeing in my mind were all monstrous and ugly, and they stomped people, and tortured them in many different ways. And I really enjoyed this. I enjoyed the hate. I would walk in the streets and parks and imagine everyone around me being crushed by evil things, and electrocuted by lighting coming out of my body. I felt so much hate. And those imaginations were very vivid, yet at the same time they looked like my own imagination, it looked like I was just imagining those things because I wanted to, out of fun or boredom. I rarely associated those things with Bnei Baruch or kabbalah. Everyone around me was seen by me as just an egoist, and all the things I had to do, my work and other affairs, all that was just hindering my progress of uniting with, and becoming, the ‘creator’. So I hated everyone, even the ‘group’ and ‘friends’, because they were doing such a poor job and ‘disseminating’ and ‘uniting’. The world was a stumbling block to my progress.

    I became careless with my affairs. There was much loss during this period, things I will never recover. Time wasted. So this … ‘study’ is not ‘free’ at all [Bnei Baruch differs significantly from other kabbalah cults in offering all basic lessons for free.]  I became obsessed with some specific people. I wanted to teach them what ‘real love’ was (as if I knew), as opposed to the ‘egoistic love’ they had. Many relationships were lost, and never recovered. I had some very intense urges and desires that are too embarrassing to share. I was turning into a psychopath and I knew this was happening! After all, the ‘kli’ had to grow large enough to contain the ‘light’. I was always evil like that, I thought, I just never noticed it because there was no ‘light’ shining on my mind to show me my evil; my ‘ego’ was just growing because of the influence of the light. This is what they will say to you. You have to think carefully about this: what ‘light’ would make you turn evil? Who would shine this light on you, and why?

    You really start to believe all sorts of crazy things trying to understand what are the spiritual things they are talking about. Like people in red are out to get you. Or all sorts of crazy stuff I won’t mention but that just go way beyond the weirdness meter. I believed I would wake up and everyone would reveal to me that the world was just a show, that everyone was the puppet of the ‘creator’, they were pretending to live and could read my mind. Very weird behavior came out of this. Very weird thoughts. Very weird visions and imagery. Very weird concepts. Nothing ever made any sense anymore from then on. This is why Bnei Baruch always insists that people don’t change their habits and jobs and clothes and that they just behave like normal people, not because they are normal, but because it is important to give a positive image of Bnei Baruch (like when they asked students not to smoke in public.)

    They have a story about some kabbalist/student of theirs named ‘Shimon form the market’… Essentially, this guy Shimon, they tell, after devoting himself for a long time to the ‘god’ of the kabbalah just had a psychotic break and went around in the local marked doing stupid things he would never do. This is understood to be a sign of amazing progress! They’ll even sing about this, wishing it happens to them! He ‘crossed the machsom (the barrier)’ that day! I don’t know the details, and I really don’t want to research this stuff at this time, but HAVING A PSYCHOTIC BREAK IS THE PURPOSE OF THEIR KABBALAH [teachings]! The whole deal of ‘crossing the machsom’ is about this, you ‘cross the machsom’ when you have your own, personal psychotic break. When you lose track of what is real. This is why you have people fainting at their conferences.

    There are only 3 things in the universe, we are told by [this kabbalah cult]. The ‘light’, the ‘vessel’ and the ‘screen’. That is, the Creator (light), the creature (vessel) and… something else. This screen is the magical sixth sense that the ‘creator’ will give you if you read the writings of Baal Hasulam with a big enough desire with the correct group and intention everyday for 3 to 5 years.

    [The “Baal HaSulam” is Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, who wrote a commentary on the Zohar called the Sulam, the Ladder, and a sefer explaining the Sefirot of kabbalah.  For some reason it seems these books are the foundational or conceptual books used by the kaballah cults.]

    The ‘massach’ is something that ‘covers’ the ‘kli’, and in fact becomes the new ‘kli’. The ‘kli’ is, in fact, you. Technically, the ‘kli’ is your desires, but since kabbalah understands that we are just pure desires, with even our reason functioning as a slave to our desires, the ‘kli’ is, in fact, you.  Everything is backwards in kabbalah, they call this the principle of ‘inverse relationship between lights and vessels’. That is, white is black and black is white, evil is good and good is evil. But anyway, the screen is the most desired ‘spiritual gift’ you can receive. It allows you to start ‘climbing the ladder’ that ultimately will lead you, and all the ‘friends’, and all humanity eventually, to become GOD. You receive it after your psychotic break, I mean, after ‘crossing the machsom’.

    So this thing, this massach, stands between you and the ‘light’ of the creator. Its function is to reject the ‘light of God’. That is because, according to kabbalah, you have to REJECT THE REAL GOD before you can start to work on BECOMING A “GOD”. This is the real meaning of their evil, evil, deceitful doctrine. They teach this story to every new student: The story about the host and the guest: imagine God invites you for dinner. The most perfect dinner ever, right? A normal person would enjoy the meal and have much fun, it would be perfect, or at least an immense honor. Not for the kabbalist! They just feel frustrated that they are not the host, that they are not God. So they throw a tantrum, and reject the food, saying to His face that they will only eat unless the host makes them a “god” too. This intention and attitude is the ‘massach’, or screen is the essence of kabbalah. It is the REJECTION of all the blessings of the real God. It is the rejection of all reality, the belief that everything is just an illusion of our minds, that one day we will all have power over it, when we unite as one mind. The ‘massach’ is like a thick shell that keeps you separate from the real world, and gives ‘you’ a space to ‘create’ your ‘inner light/reality’.

    After rejecting God and reality, you can start to correctly receive the ‘light of hochma’, or light of ‘wisdom’. It is the light that will give you understanding and open your eyes, and turn you into a god… The name is interesting. They butchered the meanings of the creation story of Adam and Eve, and in fact, they ask you not to read the Torah (because it is a very old book that was not written for our generation, and we cant understand that when it says ‘donkeys’, it is really talking about some sublime spiritual thing, that is much better explained in the writings of Baal Hasulam). But anyway, isn’t there a story in the Torah about someone who rejected God while craving some tree of ‘hochma’, that would turn you into a ‘god’ too? They have drawings explaining this story… They will draw rectangles divided in the middle, or concentric circles with lines cutting them, or whatever, always quoting their beloved Baal Hasulam, and will explain to you that those things in scripture are all spiritual things, not real things, so Adam and Eve, Abraham, Egypt and all those stories become ‘zat the binah’ or ‘gar de binah’ or the ‘light of adam harishon’ or whatever!

    (Once) they get you to believe that those abstract spiritual things are real things, they can supply you with tons of nonsense articles and books and videos trying to explain them to you and how to ‘contact’ or ‘perceive’ those things. You don’t understand the books and articles and videos? That’s because you are not supposed to understand it, you are supposed to ‘feel’ those things, like you feel your hand, so have some faith above reason and a lot of desire, and they will be ‘revealed’ to you.

    Can you see the psychological RAPE that is believing all this stuff? If you can’t see it, I can only pray for you. Oh, wait, kabbalists don’t pray like everyone else. A prayer, for them, is just the desires in your heart. Poetic, isn’t it? There is no point in worshiping anything, just in desiring very strongly that we will be spiritually sucked and ‘lifted’ by ‘galgata’, ‘ab’, ‘sag’, ‘ma’ and ‘bon’ into the spiritual world, so we will become like ‘them’. Those are not ‘demons’ or anything like that, they are ‘partzufim’, spiritual entities with no self will, created by the ‘creator’. They are like robots, really.

    I also did a lot of ‘dissemination’ back then. I was once trying to explain to some guy about kabbalah. He showed some interest in it. He was a voodoo practitioner, among other ‘black magic’ stuff he studied and ‘practiced’. He asked me what kabbalah is all about. So I told him the story that I heard from Michael Laitman, about the chariot rider and the horse. The ‘creator’ is the chariot rider, and we are the horse. Kabbalah, I said, quoting Laitman, is used to turn us into the chariot rider, while still being the horse. So we will guide creation and our own destinies the way we want, and in the same direction this ‘creator’ wants, while we feel we are ‘him’, too, while still living in this earth. That’s interesting, he said. My voodoo teacher has this story, very similar, to explain voodoo: evil spirits use humans for their own profit, as cattle, as if to ‘plow the fields’. Voodoo is used to put us in the place of the farmer, and the evil spirits in the place of the cattle, to change places, so evil spirits will do our bidding, and harm other people for us.

    So you see, voodoo and (kabbalah cults) are basically the same idea, except that in (kabbalah cults), the ‘evil spirits’ already proclaim themselves to be the ‘creator’, and you never get to be the ‘chariot driver’ anyway, you just ‘feel’ like him, you are still the horse! And you don’t have to say you study kabbalah because you want power to harm others, you just do it because ‘you love the others’, and want to accelerate the ‘path of suffering’ of the world… This guy started to study kabbalah because he thought it was more cool than voodoo.

    It is interesting to note that you get an immense desire to harm others with these supposed ‘semi-divine’ powers you’ll undoubtedly have, before and after you ‘cross the machssom’. Before you ‘cross’, you just think you’ll have those powers… After you ‘cross’, you really think you can change reality with your mind… Every crisis and earthquake, every plane-crash, every murder… You start to think that those things are the ‘spiritual attack of the creator’ and of the kabbalists, sending pain to the world until it realizes how evil it is… (the cult kabbalists) really enjoy disasters and crisis and wars for this reason, they feel it will draw more people to them.

    I know for sure now that supernatural entities do exist, and they can, through organizations like Bnei Baruch, be very evil and deceptive, and will harm you in ways you won’t imagine. Bnei Baruch is a cult, but not just about money or political influence. It really is spiritual sabotage. They say they have a real secret doctrine that came, passing from teacher to student, from Adam and Abraham to Baal Hasulam, and us… But really, their metaphysics and cosmology is no different than voodoo! … Even after separating from them, and trying to forget all this, I still had night terrors, and depression, and anxiety, and suicidal urges, and I wanted to run away, and scream, and I feared everything.

    They will make you addicted to their ‘light’. In a sense, it’s like sex. Bnei Baruch even calls it that! We are supposed to have ‘zivug’ with the ‘light’, and the ‘seed’ of the light will grow inside us, and we will give birth to a new ‘kli’. They even say that there is ‘violent zivug’, and ‘consensual zivug’. In a sense, spiritual rape. Both seem to be important. ‘kli’ means ‘vessel’ or ‘desire’, right? No. It means ‘instrument’. Think about that. Do you want to be the ‘instrument’ of this spiritual thing, whitch may or may not be the ‘creator’? Do you think that the real God needs Michael Laitman to speak for Him? Do you want to join the ‘world instrument’ of whatever is it that moves the tongue of Michael Laitman? He has suggested in numerous occasions that it is not him that talks, but a ‘spiritual’ thing that he calls ‘creator’ that talks during the lessons, through him.

    The group exists to BRAINWASH you! They mean this LITERALLY!  Their lessons, the live lessons which they encourage everyone to attend live, don’t give them a profit, on the contrary, I’m sure it’s very expensive for them! Would the real Creator of the universe need us to gather over the internet at the same time to change our hearts? Not Him! He could do it anytime. But they worship something else, something limited, who only calls itself ‘creator’, and needs us to gather like sheep at a specific time, to devour us all together.

    They also need tithes. You see, they need to bring the ‘science of correction’ to all the peoples of the world. They have at least 3 hours of daily video archived EVERYDAY, since at least the year 2000, on a private server! That’s a lot of data! Why do they need this? Who pays for it? They also have their own TV channel now in Israel. Soon one in the US too? Those guys in the lessons pay for this with tithes? Why the massive archive? If you ask about watching older videos, they will tell you not to do it, but to join in the present lessons, because there is more ‘light’ there.  They started to ‘disseminate’ in China, and said that they don’t really need to translate all the ‘Jewish stuff’ about Moses and all that into Chinese to have students from there, they only need to translate the technical stuff the Baal Hasulam wrote about ‘partzufim, sephirot’ and all that incomprehensible garbage.

    I also remember them saying that they only observe Jewish religious customs to ‘lure in’ (aka, fool) religious Jews, because those things really have no meaning in themselves… The important thing is the ‘intention’ (aka, the screen, or masach… The screen IS the intention. This screen is the thing I was talking about above, whose function is to reject God…). 613/620 commandments? No, they are actually 613/620 desires, or ‘klis’, that have to be corrected!… So you have to put a ‘masach’ on each of them? Isn’t that interesting? You have to reject ALL the commandments of God, in your intentions, in order to reach the ’125th step of the spiritual ladder’, and ‘become a god’!

    It is my belief that this stuff has nothing to do with Judaism or with God or with good intentions or with altruism. It is a brain-washing cult. Their conferences are meeting places for demons to feast on the pain of miserable people. Their objective is none other but to drive THE WHOLE WORLD INSANE. The more miserable you feel, the better for them.

    I hope other people find somewhere else the happiness they are desperately seeking in (a kabbalah cult). Because (a kabbalah cult) will give you just some very euphoric moments, where you will believe you are the ‘creator’, and you are bonding with others… In fact, you are bonding with something else… And its not the creator… All you’ll be able to, and want to do, will be to destroy things, not create, destroy your life and the life of everyone else around you, and those euphoric moments will be surrounded by complete despair, those moments of ‘illumination’ will be collected from you as very heavy price afterwards in the form of total emptiness (they even have articles talking about this, and how this is a good thing, how it is good to suffer to ‘pay’ this ‘creator’…). Its hard to believe that an organization that only talks about love and friendship could be so destructive, but this is the stuff suicides are made off.

    Reminder, we’ve edited this for brevity and re-ordered it to reduce the confusion factor.  The original is here.  If you’re interested in learning kabbalah as a Jew, consult your local orthodox rabbi for a program of complete Torah and mitzvot observance and learning, and to be directed to a kosher kabbalah teacher after achieving a solid level of Torah learning and life maturity.  Alternatively learn some chassidus, which presents some of the knowledge of kabbalah but safely wrapped and filtered.  If you’re a non-Jew, kabbalah’s not for you – it’s not even for us if we’re not properly grounded in Torah, mitzvot, and maturity!

    READ IT!
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