Wednesday, August 31, 2011

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Birthright, You’re Great!

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     Since 1999, Birthright has sent some 220,000 young Diaspora Jews on free trips to Israel. What’s so great about giving young Jews a free 10-day trip to Israel? A new study shows that Birthright alumni are nearly 60 percent more likely to marry Jewish partners.[i]

Birthright, you’re great!


[i] Haaretz Aug 23, 2011

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A Talk for Rosh Chodesh Elul

by Rabbi Nati @ Mystical Paths

A quick 20 minute video-audio talk about Rosh Chodesh Elul and preparing ourselves for the coming of Rosh Hashana (now just 1 month away), by Rabbi Nati.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

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Joy!

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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Question:

     How do you find spiritual joy in your life?

Answer:

     There are literally hundreds of things that you can do that will bring joy, and there are even more that will bring sorrow. Here are a few of the things that will bring a lasting joy, but they only work if you actually do them.

     Count your blessings---Everyone has both blessings and disadvantages in their life. When you focus on what you are missing, you will feel handicapped, deprived. When you focus on what you have, you will feel privileged, blessed.

     Spend time with optimistic friends, and avoid negative people.

     Help others. When you help others with their physical needs, G-d will increase your physical blessings. When you help others with their spiritual needs, G-d will increase your spiritual blessings.

     Have guests for Shabbos.     

     When you do a mitzvah:

          Remember Who you are working for: the Creator of the Universe.

          Try to see why G-d wants you to do that mitzvah.

G-d wants you to do that mitzvah because doing it elevates both you and the world around you. It elevates you because you did a holy thing, and it elevates the world because more holiness was brought into the world. And now that you are more holy you will be led to do even more holy things. The result is doing that mitzvah made you more holy, made the world more holy, and increased holiness makes it easier for even more holiness to be brought into the world.

     Gain the spiritual perspective. As you go through your day spend time remembering that you are not your body… that your body is only a vehicle that you are temporarily riding in. Your body is a gorgeous opportunity, a precious tool that you have been given so you can bring goodness into the world, but it is not what you are. It is a garment that you are wearing so you can fulfill your purpose on earth. The soul, which is entirely spiritual, can do nothing without a physical body

     The more time you spend believing that you are simply a physical person, the more time you will spend trying to accumulate physical things. This is physical nature. The more time you spend remembering that you are a spiritual being who is passing through this physical world, the more time you will spend trying to give. This is spiritual nature. “Taking” brings a short-lived joy that is followed by a responsibility (to guard the thing that you just took). “Giving” brings an instant joy that is followed by an ongoing blessing from the One Who gave you what you were able to give.

    Take care of your body. It is hard to be happy when your body hurts. You wouldn’t feed your pet animal unhealthy things, or let it do dangerous things, so don’t do it to the animal you are riding in either.

     Remember, G-d wants you to be happy, especially when you do a mitzvah.

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The Well Equipped Nuclear Conference Room

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Welcome to the well equipped Israeli (business) conference room…

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The Israeli business conference room is located in a hardened physical room on the office floor with 2 feet of reinforced concrete (called a mamad in Hebrew) and a heavy steel door (painted in pretty colors), aka a mini-bunker.  The door and room is air tight, with rubber seals around the door.

1 – This is a blast muffler on the air intake for the room.  The pressure wave from a blast can kill and air intakes into a bunker can actually focus the killing force.  The blast muffler prevents this.  A must for every well equipped safe conference room.

2 – Electric centrifugal vortex-style air pump with hand crank backup.  This guarantees fresh air for you and 50 of your colleagues should your business meeting turn into protective experience.  Should the power fail, a handy dandy hand crank can be attached to check out the muscle power of the group.  Very important for any conference room acting as a bunker for a large group of people.

3 – NBC, Nuclear Biological Chemical air filtration system.  If your enemy really want’s your meeting to end in a genocidal fashion, this system will keep you alive.  At least until you open door.

4 – White board.  For drawing, presenting your ideas or doodling while worrying about survival.

Such rooms can be found in office buildings and office towers throughout Israel.  At least someone is taking seriously the words of various surrounding madmen who have nothing better to do than threaten genocide against Israel and the Jews.

May Hashem bless us that all such equipment is a complete waste, never having to be used.

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Doomsayers

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     Why is it that whenever something different happens, so many people cry out, “Watch out! Hell is coming!”? Now it is with Rosh Hashanah. “Oy! Oy! Here comes judgment! You’d better turn from your evil ways!”

     Why can’t they point to the wonderful, exciting opportunity that Rosh Hashanah brings?

    The New Year is a time for putting on new clothing, that is, our new deeds. It is a gorgeous opportunity to stand before the actual King of the Universe, and to tell Him our plans for the coming year. We get to hear the sound of the shofar, which reminds our souls of what we heard when the Torah was given on Mt. Sinai, and what it will sound like when the dead are brought back to life. It is a time when the King allocates our annual physical and spiritual portions....

     Wow! I am really looking forward to it.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

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Updated URL to mpaths.com

We’ve updated the primary URL for Mystical Paths to mpaths.com.  This process can take up to 48 hours to take affect correctly (which is why we’re timing it for erev Shabbos, Israel time).

This should work – http://mpaths.com

and this is definitely working – http://www.mpaths.com

And this will continue to work as well – http://mysticalpaths.blogspot.com  and be auto-redirected to www.mpaths.com.

All other feeds (RSS), Facebook readers, mobile readers, etc, should continue to work fine.  If anyone is having any trouble with any access methods, please let us know.  Comment below or email the contact email on the sidebar.

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Getting Hacked & Security – Heavy Duty Part 3

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Part 3 of on online security after having my Google accounts stolen by a hacker…and I’m a computer expert!

Part 1 here – Basic protection from the ‘basic’ hacker, viruses and spyware.
Part 2 here – Safe passwords and 2 level verification.

Now it’s time to get serious.  Parts 1 and 2 will protect you from your neighborhood hacker, the teen next store and my 13 year old son (who keeps telling me he “almost” got into his friend’s Facebook or Gmail account).  But I was hacked with a secure connection, good password, virus and spyware protection.  That level of attack requires a more serious level of protection.  Unfortunately that means this article will be more technical than the past ones (though I’ll do my best to keep it understandable to the average person – no guarantees though).

Right before writing this article I was contacted by someone else in my neighborhood who was hacked the same way by the same hacker!

So here we go…

When you log in to Google or Facebook, Google or Facebook injects a marker into your browser noting that you’re authorized.  (This is called a browser cookie.)  Each one of these markers or cookies has an expiration date and time.  Many web sites set an expiration time of 5 or 10 minutes.  Meaning, if you don’t do something on the site every 5 or 10 minutes, your authorization expires and you have to log in again.

Having to log in again and again is a pain, so Google and Facebook set your authorization time to days or weeks.  This is why you can disconnect from the Internet while leaving Facebook or Gmail up in your browser and have it still work after you reconnect.  Great for your convenience but bad for security (which is why your bank or stock trading account never does this).

If I can steal that cookie from your browser I can access your Google or Facebook and change your passwords to take control.  Part 1 of these articles described a main way to do this is by “listening in” to your computer’s conversation with Google or Facebook and described how to turn on a secure (encrypted – SSL) connection to prevent this (and turn on security for your home network to prevent a local listener).  That’s the attack method of your neighborhood hacker.  The professional hacker has other ways to grab the same marker/cookie.

If you’re in Gmail in one browser tab and open another browser tab for another Google product (like Reader or Plus or Documents), you don’t have to log in again.  This is because any tab that identifies itself as Google is allowed to check the marker/cookie to see if you’re logged in. 

So a hacker can steal your logged-in marker/cookie IF you go to a web site that has a hidden program (a ‘script’) that; pretends to be Google OR breaks through the browser security to steal information from another tab.  These things aren’t supposed to be possible…except sometimes they are.  This is called a Cross Site Attack (cross site scripting attack, cross site reference attack, and more, also called XSS).

There’s a second method a professional hacker can use that doesn’t defeat security, it tricks you into doing it for him.  Web sites are allowed to pop-up windows and open new tabs in your browser.  This is normal behavior if you click a link on many sites.  A hack attack site may open a tab or pop up a window that looks like Google or Facebook without you doing anything or just passing over part of the page, asking for your login information.  Since you’ve got Google or Facebook open in another tab, you figure it simply timed-out and needs you to re-login.  So you enter your info, the pop-up or tab disappears and everything seems normal…except you just gave away your login information to the hacker.  This is called ClickJacking.

Here’s three ways to prevent this type of attack:

1. Do NOT open additional tabs and go to ANY OTHER web site while logged into Google or Facebook.  Only go to Google or Facebook sites (NOT Facebook apps). 

2. Use the Firefox browser with the NoScripts add-on.  This add-on specifically protects against Cross Site and ClickJacking attacks.

3. Use one browser (like Chrome) for Google and Facebook, and another browser of a different type (like Firefox) for all other web browsing.

You can combine 2 and 3 for additional security.  Plus, crank up your Google and Facebook by adding these settings…  First for Google…

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Turn OFF multiple-sign-on.  Prevents someone logging in to your account from somewhere else (in theory) while you are logged in.

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Check what other applications are allowed to access your account.  This is another door to your account.  It’s normally used if you go to a site that allows you to “Sign On with Google”.  DON’T DO IT (convenient but insecure).

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As you can see from below, I allow the site called Plaxo to use my Google login information.  No others (and I’ll be removing that one).

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Now for Facebook…

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Login Notifications – sends you an email if someone logs in to your account from another computer.  Lets you know your being hacked! Activate it!

Login Approvals – that’s the 2-level authorization that sends a code to your phone if it gets a login from a computer that hasn’t logged into your account before. Activate it!

Recognized Devices – these are the computers that Facebook recognizes as allowed to access your account.  Add your home computer, office computer and anywhere else you log in from frequently.

Active Sessions – this says where you are logged in from right now.  As I said above, a login authorization can last weeks or a month, so you may see places you were in the recent past.  IF YOU SEE SOMEWHERE that you weren’t or that’s not you, close the session. 

FINAL SUGGESTIONS -

Your online information and accounts ARE NOT SECURE.  Even with all of this, there is the possibility that you WILL BE HACKED at some point.  Here’s easy measures you should take for that eventuality:

For Gmail…

Export your contacts -

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Then Export Contacts on the More drop-down.

Backing up your email archive is harder.  Here’s a site that has instructions on how to do it…which is basically start up another email account and use the IMAP feature to get your emails.

If you use Google Docs or Blogger, set up a backup account that you don’t normally use and give it administrative access (for Blogger) and Share/Edit rights (for Google Docs).

For the real technie, a good options to guarantee control of your accounts is to buy a domain, use domain-lock transfer protection, set up either forwarding emails or get low price hosting and make your email accounts, and then use Gmail (assuming it’s your favorite email client) to POP3 pull the emails from there.  Since your domain is locked and hosting operates by personal info, even if it’s briefly hacked a phone call will get it back.

GETTING BACK YOUR GOOGLE / GMAIL ACCOUNT…

Getting back your stolen Google account is HARD.  Google has a recovery form that requires you to be logged into another Google account and then provide a LONG LIST of detailed information about your Google account.  This information includes…

What Google products you use (Gmail, Youtube, Blogger, etc).  WHEN you started to use each one (month, year).  In Gmail, what your Labels are, who are the top 5 email-addresses you email, did you create your account by invite, who invited you, when did you create your account (day, month, year).  What was the recovery email address, what were the recovery phone numbers (if using 2-step verification). 

IF you get all of those correct, you will get a quick automated response.  IF NOT, you’re up for human review which may take anywhere from 1 day to 1 MONTH.  There is no help desk, no help email, no help phone number.  There is not even any way to PAY to get a human involved.

If you can’t get enough information correct, you’re only choice is to keep trying until you get more correct or to beg the help-volunteers on the Google help forums (help.google.com).  The assistance of about 50 readers posting on my help request in the help forum was what got Google’s attention to help me.

Be prepared.  Secure everything you can.  Backup everything you can.  Prepare backup access.  And gather all the info necessary in case you’re hacked.

Don’t make my mistake. It can and does happen, even to those (like me) who think they know better.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

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The Arrival of Stern Judgement?

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

I’ve received several copies of a geulah warning email going around…

i heard over this from a man israel who came here america to save jews// he went to rav kook from tibres & his friend to Rav Batzri from jeruselm and they both gave the same answer within year it will begin rosh hashana--hoshana rabba 5772 economy doller will fail the riot will start looting jewish business perscution of jews by black people"."

Let’s do a bit of a quick analysis and some explanation (from this confusing email).

As Dov bar Leib has written on Mystical Paths several times, according to the cosmic calendar, the Jewish year 5772 aligns with the mystical holy day of Hoshana Rabba.  So has of this coming Rosh Hashana we are living the year of Hoshana Rabba (and on Hoshana Raba of this coming year, we are in Hoshana Raba of Hoshana Raba.)

Hoshana Raba is associated with the final sealing and beginning of application of judgments – those judgments brought down from Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur.  This is why the prayers of Hoshana Raba change from “annul the decrees” to “sweeten the severities”. 

Accordingly, following the cosmic calendar, the year of Hoshana Raba brings an end to the opportunity for teshuva of the nations (whether through honest societal application or through pressure min hashamayim – from events directed from Heaven).  The 10 days of teshuva (the period of Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur) are ended, as is the extra “last chance” period that continues from Yom Kippur until Hoshana Raba.  Any merits from the past are used up and the force of the current judgment comes into play.

The stability of the world through the cosmic 10 days of teshuva was exactly that, stable.  The period of joy of the time of the cosmic Yom Kippur through the cosmic Sukkot (a specific period of simcha – joy) was without compare in the history of mankind.  Wealth grew and flowed throughout most of the world, with healthcare, vaccinations and economic support reaching even the most dire regions of the world – and many poor nations moving to growth nations or even regional players.

But then comes Hashana Raba.  The party ends, judgments are due. 

The world financial situation is already almost at the point of no return. It is extremely EASY to look at MANY factors of the European Union and the United States and see things so far gone there’s almost no chance of recovery.  Add in some natural disasters and it’s easy to predict chaos.

That’s what the warning above is about.  That said, this is not the first (or second, third, or fourth) such warning from rabbis that we’ve heard go out (this year, last year, the year before, etc.)  With current conditions it’s wise to prepare for national and international instability, wherever you are. 

But prophecies?  The accuracy rate is currently running, umm, not so good (to put it mildly).

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Dodging Rockets

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

With only a short time before the children return to school, I made a mistake yesterday.  I assumed cease fires mean something to the Palestinians and I headed to Ashkelon National Park & Beach.  Ashkelon State Park is a beautiful park of archeological sites, with Roman ruins, Caananite ruins, and Muslim ruins, and a very nice beach that’s sparsely used (almost private) with facilities (showers and bathrooms) and lifeguard coverage.  With a relatively high entry price per person, but something I avoid by belonging to the Israel National Park’s society (a great deal for anyone with a large family), the park and beach are only lightly used.

I travelled through Kiryat Malachi and the center of Ashkelon.

Updated Emergency Bulletin from IDF Homefront Command.

The following defensive measures apply to all communities within 40 kilometers of the Gaza strip: Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beer Sheva, Netivot, Sederot, Kiryat Melachi, Kiyrat Gat, Gedera, Hevel Yanveh, Gederot, Gan Yavneh, Yad Binyamin.

It was a quiet day.  I checked the news and my Twitter feed (where I have several IDF spokes-people), all was quiet on the Gaza front.  Ashkelon National Park is about 7 kilometers from the Gaza border.

A beautiful day. The water was warm, the waves calm, the lifeguard warning was “white flag – no safety concerns”.  (In the water, that is.)

As we entered the National Park, we were given a flyer for a music festival to occur at 8pm that evening.  3 well known Israeli pop-music artists were going to perform at the “Breeze Festival”.  Not our thing (not modest, not a music we would listen to) but it’s nice to see that Israeli cities arranging public events throughout the summer.  The park has a Roman era amphitheater that repurposes into a modern small concert venue nicely.  (Glenn Beck did the same thing the a larger one in Cesarea this week for his event.)

After some time in the water and sun and as the afternoon was drawing to a close, I signaled it was time to wash up, pack up and head home.  As we drove through the park and out we saw a large police presence preparing security for the evening’s planned concert.

About 30 minutes later Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza struck just offshore from that beach, followed by additional rockets striking the city of Ashkelon.

Let me be clear.  1.5 hours later and 500 meters east and this would have been a massacre.  Hundreds or thousands would have been injured or killed.  (30 minutes earlier and 100 meters east and it could have been me and my family.)

Of course the festival was cancelled and the city moved to protective measures.  1 hour later a family home in a small Jewish town about 4 kilometers east was hit, injuring an infant.

I don’t want to hear another word about #RamadanMassacre or poor shell shocked Gazans.  EVERYONE knows (even if they pretend otherwise) that EVERY SINGLE ROCKET SHOT FROM GAZA is a WAR CRIME and ATTEMPT TO KILL JEWISH CIVILIANS.  And every shot the IDF takes is an attempt to stop rocket fire or terror actions and an attempt to kill terrorists – militants – murderers.

The statistics are telling (but who cares about reality)…

Palestinian Results Last 2 Weeks – 8 Israeli civilians dead, 1 Israeli soldier dead, 30 Israeli civilians injured, 2 Israeli soldiers injured. (Oh, and a number of Palestinians injured by misfires, as well as 3 Egyptians as a few rockets went the wrong way and hit Rafah, Egypt.)

IDF Results Last 2 Weeks – 14 Palestinian Terrorists/Militants/Soldiers dead, 1 Palestinian civilian dead, 11 Palestinian Terrorists/Militants/Soldiers dead, 4 Palestinian civilians wounded.

It would be nice if someone where to ask (or answer), why are the Gaza Palestinians trying to start a war RIGHT NOW?  (Similarly interesting, why is Israel restraining it’s response right now?)

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

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Interesting – Multiple Husbands @ Ressurection?

Rav Aviner, a leading mizrachi rav, has many interesting questions addressed to him and often comes up with some of the most interesting rabbinic responses of our time.

Here’s one of his questions of the week…

Q: If a woman was married to two different men during her lifetime, who will she be with after the Resurrection of the Dead?

A: There is an answer to this question in the book "Piskei Teshuvah" of Ha-Rav Avraham Pitrakovsky (#124). He quoted the book "Shut Matzav Ha-Yashar" on the Zohar that there was a young woman who was married to a wonderful man who died at a relatively young age. The young woman did not want to marry again. She said, "Why should I get married to someone else? During the Resurrection of the Dead I will be married to my second husband, and my first husband is dearer to me than anything. I prefer to remain a widow all of my life and then be married to my true soul-mate."

There is a similar question in the book "Ha-Techiya Ve-Ha-Pedut" (question #6) of Ha-Rav Sa'adia Gaon: how will I find my wife during the Resurrection of the Dead? Ha-Rav Sa'adia did not want to answer since it is forbidden to answer a halachic question before someone who is greater than him in wisdom. Since this is a question of the Resurrection of the Dead, Moshe Rabbenu will be there and it is therefore forbidden for me to answer. If there are questions that arise now - what can we do? We have to answer them. Questions that have to do with the future, however, we leave for Moshe Rabbenu and the other prophets.

It therefore seems that the question in "Shut Matzav Ha-Yashar" cannot be answered, but this was before the Zohar was revealed. After the Zohar was revealed, our question was answered.

The rest at Torat HaRav Aviner.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

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“Tatte, Up!”

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by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

    I was at a bris (circumcision) this morning, and a little boy showed me how to daven (pray): Stand in front of your father, on your toes if you can, look way up at his face, reach up with both your arms as far as you can, open and close your hands a few times trying to grab him, smile, and call out, “Tatte, up! (Daddy, pick me up!)”

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Now a (Free) Audio Book!

Reb Gutman’s book on the weekly Torah readings, From the Old City – A Practical Torah Commentary, has been made into an audio book and is now available for free download.  Click here or the picture below.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

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Reb Mendel

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     “Mendel” is probably the most popular name in Chabad families around the world. It is also a very popular name within the general Jewish population. There must be hundreds of thousands of Jews named Mendel today. But if you mention the name Reb Mendel to any adult Chabadnik, they will know who you are referring to…Reb Mendel Futerfas (1906-1995). Reb Mendel was a legend in his own time.

     Reb Mendel operated underground cheders (religious elementary schools) in communist Russia. He would also dig mikvahs inside closets in Jewish homes in order to give Jewish women a way to have their babies conceived in spiritual purity. The atheist communist regime outlawed such religious practices, and the police vigorously enforced their laws. He was caught and imprisoned in freezing Siberia for 14 years. The man exemplified mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice). When you saw Reb Mendel, no matter where you were, you stopped, stared, and if you could even formulate words in your head, you wondered, “What has this man been through?”

     One day, a student of Torah asked Reb Mendel about the most perplexing problem in his life: He did not know which path to follow. Surely, he knew that he was going to follow a path of Torah, but there are so many different paths within the Torah-observant world. He asked Reb Mendel, “Which path of Torah should I take?”

     Reb Mendel answered, “Take the path that leads to joy.”

     There are four types of joy in this world. There is physical joy, such as comes from eating delicious, kosher food when you are hungry. Then there is emotional joy, like the joy you experience when you see your loved ones after having been away from them for a long time. And there is intellectual joy, like the joy you experience when you master a difficult tractate of Talmud. And finally, there is spiritual joy, which comes only when Hashem reveals His holiness to you.

     Which joy do you think Reb Mendel was referring to?

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

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Iron Dome and Protection from Heaven

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Israel deployed it’s Iron Dome rocket/missile defense system in response to Hamas of Gaza firing over 100 rockets (and counting) into civilian cities in Israel over the last 3 days.  (That’s a war crime, but the world doesn’t care – it’s only dead Jews.)

The good news is Iron Dome works, more or less.  Hitting a bullet with a bullet, or rocket with a missile, is very challenging.  Doing it with (relatively) short range incoming rockets even more so.

Amazingly, the system works.  But there’s 4 problems.

1. It’s not absolute.  Some rockets are getting through.  And some of those getting through have killed people.

2. There is a cost problem.  Shooting down a $100 rocket with a $50,000 interceptor will cause a real drain on resources.

3. There was a false sense of security it provided, in two forms.  The first is “we don’t have to worry about the build up of these low tech rockets by the enemy because we can just knock them down” among the politicians and generals.  The second is among the population who’s been videoing incoming rockets and intercepts, “we’re safe, the defense system is in place.”

4. We believe we can rely upon the strength of our arms and not our Father in Heaven.  Relying on our Father in Heaven does NOT absolve us from doing our part, preparing defenses and dealing with the enemy before they’re killing us.  But in preparing defenses we shouldn’t be impressed with our tech, our strength or a stockpile of armaments.  In the end it’s ONLY our Father in Heaven upon whom we can rely.

Say some tehillim (psalms) and beseech Hashem, for (at the moment) it’s a time of trouble for Yaakov.

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40 Days

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

It is now, right now, 40 days until Rosh Hashana. 40 days before Rosh Hashana the mekubalim (the kabbalists) of Jerusalem begin their preparations for entering a new year.  Preparations begin among the mekubalim with netaris hadarim, the disavowement of vows made under pressure or by accident over the past year.

As we see a new year coming, now just in range, we also see the old order passing QUICKLY.  Stock markets have plunged and plunged again.  Currency markets are a sneeze away from disaster.  The economies of the Western nations are weak, not improving, and themselves teetering due to a failure to address the problem of spending beyond their means.  Except for Israel, which is holding stable, growing a bit, and in the past year has found major gas deposits, oil deposits, and a way to extract oil shale which it has in abundance.

As Rosh Hashana and then Hoshana Raba, the day of the closing of the judgments, comes this year, big changes are coming.

Israel today is at war.  It’s barely being mentioned in the news and if it is it’s a ‘cycle of violence’ or some such fecal material.  But right now, under the noses of the ‘world’ and with their tacit permission – and with the U.S. taxpayer funding most of the operation (the rest by the E.U.) – the ‘government’ of Gaza has declared responsibility for and executed war operations against Israel.

War operations that consist of firing missiles at civilian buses and civilian passenger cars, maiming and killing the occupants.  (That’s a war crime by any definition.)  War operations of aiming and firing rockets into the middle of civilian cities.  (That’s the classic definition of a war crime!)

It hasn’t stopped, it hasn’t slowed down.  Every few hours, if not more frequently, hundreds of thousands of civilians are running for their lives.  Now and then, G-d help us, a few aren’t making it to shelter and are killed.

Yet the world will be screaming about “excessive force” and war crimes of internationally legal defensive measures.  They won’t let the facts get in the way.  Already the Arabs are screaming about a “Ramadan Massacre”.  That they massacred Jewish civilians is irrelevant.  [Actually it’s not irrelevant to them, it’s the point.]

It’s not yet Elul but Rosh Hashana is in sight.  It’s time for Teshuva, Tefilla, Tzedakah and Chesed.  It’s time for Tehillim neged tillim (Psalms to offset missiles – works in Hebrew).  It’s time for Perek Shirah and Tikkun Klali.

And it’s time for wise preparations where ever you are.

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On the Face of Evil

insights by Reb Aharon, author of Eye to the Infinite @ Mystical Paths

A gut voch!

In reply to the previous post, “The Face of Evil”, which included a picture of a man who’s literally calling to drink Jewish blood…

The Ari HaKodosh says it's spiritually harmful to look at a Rosho's (an evil one’s) face just as, conversely, looking at a tsaddik's (a righteous one’s) face brings holiness.

(Reb Akiva adds…  Several people also pointed out that involvement with foul language coarsens one and is not useful as a source of inspiration or positive direction.)

(As we are now 40 days from Rosh Hashana) A kesivoh vechasimoh toivoh.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

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The Face of Evil

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

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This is the face of evil.  This is a person who dances for joy in children killed by an RPG in a civilian car on a civilian road.  This is a person who sings in happiness at a civilian bus shot with a missile.

This is the face that the world has been convinced is peaceful and deserving of a state.  That would have the Jews risk their safety for and compromise with.

These are his own words…

@israel_shield I am praying to drink your blood soon and get our lands back again. f(censored) Israel & Jewish viva Hitler #eliat #f(censored)israel

There IS evil in this world.  There are those with whom there is NO compromise.  Do not doubt it or they will be successful.

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Major Attack in Israel

News Report by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

We’re not a news outlet, but it seems the mainstream media is ignoring what’s going on right now in Israel. So we’ve combined a few of our sources to give you a quick summary…

- A civilian Israeli bus was ambushed by automatic weapons fire on the way to Eilat (the resort city at the southern tip of Israel) about and hour or two ago.  Many injured (though not major injuries) but no reported deaths from this attack.  At least 10 injured from this attack.  For those counting, that’s a Palestinian war crime.

- A second civilian Israeli bus was ambushed and hit by rocket or missile fire a brief time after the first bus was attacked.  The bus exploded and caught fire killing some and injuring others among the passengers.  At least 4 dead from this attack.  If you’re paying attention, that’s another Palestinian war crime and a casus belli for war.

- An Israeli civilian car filled with children was similarly attacked. Reports are unclear if it was hit with a rocket-propelled-grenade or automatic weapons fire or shot at by an anti-tank missile (and missed).  At least 3 injured from this attack.  This is yet another Palestinian war crime, with a specific target of children.

- Around this same time and Israeli Army patrol jeep along the Egyptian / Israel / Gaza border area was hit by an IED (an improvised explosive device), injuring and killing some IDF soldiers.  This is NOT a war crime nor a casus belli IF you are at war with a  declared enemy. 

- As emergency and security forces arrived to the site of the bus attacks, they came under automatic weapons and mortar fire!  As I’m writing this some of the injured still haven’t been evacuated due to ongoing heavy fighting.

- A report of incoming missile fire from across the Egyptian border near the Eilat International Airport was received.  The airport has been closed.  Firing at a civilian airport is another war crime and a violation of every transport convention in the world.

- Unconfirmed reports of either an explosion or gunfire have also been received from Be’er Sheva (southern Israeli city about 3 hours by car NORTH of where these incidents occurred).  Police have set up security roadblocks at all entrances to the city.

- Unconfirmed reports that the terrorists are wearing Egyptian army uniforms.

- Confirmed reports that first emergency responders have gotten help to some of the victims but are trapped and under fire.

- IDF warns of sympathy rocket attacks from Gaza. Southern communities in rocket range should take precautions.

- Some of the terrorists have been killed, unclear if the murderous attack has ended or not.

Summary: At least 3 planned simultaneous attacks and 1 of opportunity.  At least 30 injured and 5 dead reported at this time.

May Hashem avenge the blood of the fallen, protect those involved and strengthen those responding.

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Why Don’t Jews Proselytize?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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Someone asked:

     Why aren’t Jews supposed to reach out to non-Jews and try to convert them?

Gutman’s response:

     We are supposed to reach out to non-Jews, and we are supposed to “convert” them. In fact, this is one of our main obligations. We are told that we must be a “Light onto the Nations.”[i] However, the light that we are to show them is not the light of becoming a Jew, but rather, the light that comes from rejecting idolatry.

      We have always been obligated to reach out to non-Jews, and to explain to them what it means that G-d is Infinite. This was the main, worldly work of our father Avraham, and it is still supposed to be a main function of his descendants, today. For the past 2,000 years we have experienced an extremely difficult exile. Our wellbeing was always subject to the whims of the many host rulers. This is why we have not been able to fulfill this task. But now that we have our land again, and are secure in many places around the world, we are expected to complete this task that Avraham began.

     The concept of “Infinite” - without limits, is not such a simple subject for the average mind to understand. We have to explain it to them many different ways so they will begin to fathom what “Infinite” really means. At least, they are to truly understand what a limited being is. Then, we are to show them how worshiping anything less than the Infinite One is worshipping an idol.

     Done properly, this can be a very interesting and enjoyable task, and we get better at it each time we try.

     As to why we do not try to convert them to Judaism: Since we know that there are no accidents in creation, we know that they were created gentiles and not Jews, for a good reason.

     We have to assume that it is to their advantage to fulfill their created nature and purpose in having been born as they are. Or else, why were they created as they are? This is why a rabbi is to push potential converts away over and over again… to make sure that conversion is really in that person’s best interest.

     When non-Jews reject idolatry they elevate themselves to a vastly higher spiritual level. When they reject all of the forbidden actions,[ii] they become righteous people. They earn a wonderful portion in this world, and a share in the World to Come. This is a magnificent gift that you can give them.


[i] Isaiah 42:6

[ii] Idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery (forbidden relations), theft, eating meat that was taken from a still living animal (extreme animal cruelty), and unjust courts

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

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What’s So Funny?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     When I told this Russian boy that he had to marry only a Jewish girl, he laughed. I asked him, “What’s so funny?”

     He said, “I was here last year. You put tefillin on me then, too, and you said the same thing!”

     “Well, have you been working on it?” I asked.

     He motioned to the Kotel Square and said, “My Jewish girlfriend is standing over there, waiting for me.”

     I told him, “Good, you marry her, and make lots of babies.”

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

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Brain Hack – Tzedakah!

charityPsychology Today, via Lifehacker, reports giving charity relieves stress! (Say what??)

It might seem a little counterintuitive, but if you're stressed out about finances, Psychology Today recommends you donate a few dollars to help relieve your own anxiety.

The idea comes from a study published in 2008 where participants were given an envelope of money and asked to spend it by 5 p.m. the same day. Each participant was assigned to either a personal spending group, where they had to use the money to purchase something for themselves, or a gifting group, where they had to give the money away. It turns out that by the end of the day, those who spent money on charity rated happier than those who spent the money on a personal expense.

Why does giving money to a worthy cause or a friend in need lift your spirits? First, it may foster a sense of social connectedness. One theory posits that the more modest your means, the more you and your close family and friends may need to rely on one another to get by; hence, the greater focus on generosity.

Second, donating money gives you a sense of making a difference. That’s a welcome antidote to the feeling of helplessness that can come from watching wild stock market gyrations and wildly frustrating budget stalemates.

Third, sharing even a little money may reduce your body’s stress response. Elizabeth Dunn, PhD, the same University of British Columbia psychologist behind the $5 spending study, also led another recent study that looked at how monetary stinginess affects cortisol, a stress hormone. In the study, college students played an economic game, for which they were paid $10. Students had the option of donating some of this payment to another player. Those who kept more of the money for themselves reported feeling more shame. And greater shame, in turn, predicted higher levels of postgame cortisol.

So a case can be made that giving away a few bucks is good not only for your soul, but also for your mind and body. No matter the amount, reminding yourself that you still have the wherewithal to share could be just what you need right now.

So not only is giving tzedakah a mitzvah and helping your fellow a direct and positive way to make this world a better place, but it actually has a direct and positive health and emotional effect on your body and brain.

Now that’s a mitzvah with a kick!

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Monday, August 15, 2011

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Change our URL? (a poll)

Given the recent hack problem, one of the ways to guarantee we can maintain control of the blog is to use our own domain name.  (Meaning instead of mysticalpaths.blogspot.com, to use something else we own.)

For many years we’ve maintained a shortcut URL to the blog, mpaths.com.  So we have the option of using that, picking another, or staying with our current blogspot URL (and the associated risks).  Some online hints we’ve read seem to indicate that Google will maintain the blog “authority” given there’s a Google Blogger feature to reassign to a custom URL, so changing the URL won’t hurt the blog search results but may be confusing for you, our readers.

So we’re soliciting your opinion.  Below is a blog poll, please give us your opinion of changing the blog web site URL.  If you read the blog by RSS reader, email or mobile device, there would be no change or impact for you in such a change.

To see the poll or vote, you must come to the blog web site.  Poll below…

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Getting Hacked & Online Security – Part 2

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Part 2 of (probably 3 or 4 parts) on online security after having my Google accounts stolen by a hacker…and I’m a computer expert!

Part 1 here.

The agony of passwords. 

Passwords are annoying and it’s very common for people to use simple passwords.  Some people do have their accounts stolen by “brute force attacks”, meaning the hacker uses a password guessing program and just keeps “guessing” until he wins.  This works if you have a single word or any of a list of very common passwords.

Over the past years security experts have tried to train us (and many systems require us) to add numbers, upper and lower case, and even symbols to our passwords.  This means getting stuck using passwords like “haha12=+”.   What a pain!

Because computing power has increased, even these mixed passwords are now less secure and guessable in a weekCurrent recommendations say: use 4 word passwords - length is the key.  Meaning a password like this: “correct mystical rabbinical paths.” is EXTREMELY secure and easy to remember.  That last part is probably the most important.

This means we must change our passwords to LONG passwords. Four word passwords are easy to remember, particularly if you include non-simple or personal words (such as a spouses middle name or the type of car you drive… “mazda matilda maximum multiple”.)

Even worse, many of us use the same password at multiple sites.  WE ALL DO IT, but if our password is stolen (from somebody watching us type it, having it written down where someone can find it, having a spyware program on our machine, or having an online service we use hacked with emails and passwords stolen from them) the e-thief instantly has access to everything we do online.

The best solution to avoid this is to use a different password everywhere.  But that’s humanly impossible without using password management software.  Here’s a free and good password management program, though it is a bit complicated to use and you have to backup the password data file in case your computer hard disk crashes.  A good free and automatic way to do this is with this online backup service with 5gb free and automatic backup-sync.  That “automatic-sync” is the key, anytime you update the password list it get’s automatically backed up off your computer (and 5gb is plenty for a password file and other basic stuff).

A weaker solution is to use at least 3 passwords.  One for email and Facebook, one for banking / credit cards / financial stuff, and one for any other internet services you use (travel, gaming, blog commenting, etc). This limits damage to one “area” of your life if a password gets stolen.

To avoid this problem complete (having your password stolen by being watched, read, spied upon, or the problem of a guessed password) Google and Facebook have recently added “2 step authentication”.  This means IF you get your password right, THEN you still have to do something else to log in.  The something else for Google and Facebook is to SMS your pre-registered cell phone with a secret code that you then have to enter.  This is a major pain in the rear-end but is complete protection against password theft or guessing.  (Unfortunately there are still other ways to steal your account, more on that after this.)

Here’s how you enable 2 step authentication on Google and Facebook – (both require you to provide Google and Facebook with either a valid cell phone number or a valid home phone number, or both)

Google

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Facebook

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(for the next steps, you first hit Edit next to the item displayed, then the extra things below appear)

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This is not how my account was stolen but is good practice that I’ve now activated personally (and had not before this e-theft affected me). 

In the next post on this topic we’ll really get into it, how my and my wife’s Gmail accounts were stolen from a clean non-infected non-spyware’d computer on a secure network – and how you can avoid it happening to you.

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“Casarse con una chica Judia!”

by Reb Gutman Locks at the Kotel… @ Mystical Paths

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“Casarse con una chica Judia!” - Spanish for... No matter what, you marry a Jewish girl!
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

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Systemic Failure?

by Dov bar Leib with additions by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

stock_market_crashIt is the onset of Mincha Gedolah of the 6th Millennium.  But there is an additional headwind for Western Civilization coming up within the next two to three months.  This is the end of the Year of Hoshana Rabba.

We are already seeing clear signs teetering of current international and national systems.  Financial markets and monetary models pushed to the edge, regional political players pushing the edge of their power envelopes, dictators pursuing their personal agendas and ideologies, and aspects of Islam pushing global destabilization while Arab societies are…who knows where they’re going?

While we cannot predict the future, we see more and more events that seem to be clearly aligning with the holy words of the biblical prophets.  While years ago we were looking for simonim (signs) in small events or statements and directions of global leaders, today we’re looking at major events happening in major countries throughout the world…on a constant basis!

I believe that we will see systemic failure begin by the end of 5771 or by the end of Tishrei 5772.  Edom (today represented by the Western Nations – and particularly the U.S. and Great Britain) has no reward built up to enter the New Age which starts with the Year of Shmini Atzereth.  Hoshana Rabba is the end of the judgment process for the Nations of the World.  And the Edom part of that equation is zero going forward into 5772. 

So there are two headwinds:  Mincha Gedolah which just began and the Judgment for the Year of Shmini Atzereth which begins on Rosh HaShana 5772 and concludes on Hoshana Rabba three weeks later.  By the end of Tishrei 5772 all reward from the previous year's judgment will be used up.  Since it is the end of the Age, all of Edom's reward must be used up by the end of Tishrei 5772.  I cannot even begin to guess how this will play out.  But the riots of London seem to be a major start.

Systemic failure is the natural consequence of two events.  One just occurred:  The onset of Mincha Gedolah of the 6th Millennium on Rosh Chodesh Av that just passed.  The 2nd event is that we are ending an Age because this it the year of Hoshana Rabba.  

By the end of 5771 or the end of Tishrei 5772 all of Edom's reward in Olam HaZeh will be used up.  So systemic failure is a natural consequence of the fact that Western Civilization has no merit to lead the world into the New Age which begins after Hoshana Rabba 5772. 

It would be nice if Israel/Ya'akov were ready to lead.  But it appears we still have some internal work to do before that’s the case (and we can see this in the culture protests currently going on in Israel – simultaneous “social protests” in Tel Aviv and “kedushah” protests going on in Jerusalem) .  So there will be a few months of collapse and chaos while we are forced to get our act together.

We can see this coming even quicker in the U.S. as the Federal Reserve just announced in a backhanded way that they will be starting QE3 (Quantitative Easing Round 3 – a fancy word for printing money, continuing the devaluation of the U.S. dollar) even though they will not call it that so that the Chinese don't dump U.S. bonds.  Personally I don't believe that the Chinese are so stupid as the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve seems to think that they are. 

The herd on Wall Steet is not to be trusted, for there is no clear judgment anymore as they flail from direction to direction in hopes of finding security and good returns – neither of which are reliably available anymore.

The key to this moment is money for it’s own sake is no longer is no longer acceptable.  While it’s even harder during hard times to focus on charity and helping others, these are exactly the merits required at this time.  Though one must beware of institutional charity schemes which are sometimes spending the majority of their resources on advertising and raising the money, helping the needy, helping your neighbor, your community, and the needy of Israel is always a mitzvah.  Even more so as we all are under extra pressure and often in need of some help during these times.

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Does G-d Know?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

image003     This question keeps coming up. Does G-d know what we are going to choose, and if so, are we really free to choose what we want? If He already knows what is going to happen, aren’t our choices already set? If so, how can there be free will!

     A prophet might know the future. For instance, he could know that Israel is about to fail at something, and G-d has sent him to warn us. But if he knows that we are going to fail, why bother to warn us? If he knows that it is going to happen, then it is already set, and we cannot do anything about it. This seemingly proves that we do not have free will!

     This is, in fact, the Eastern belief of karma. They say, whatever you did in the past must come back to you. Therefore, they conclude, do not do anything!

     This is not the Torah’s teaching. Yes, the Torah teaches mida keneged mida (portion across from portion), that what you do will come back to you; but the Torah also teaches that we have free will. We are taught that no matter what is set to come, we, with our deeds can reverse that decision and turn our future to the good. This is why G-d sent prophets to warn us.

     So, even though G-d knows what is set to come, and He knows what we are going to choose, still, we are free to change our minds, and most importantly, our deeds and choose to do something else instead. And, of course, G-d knows that we were going to make that change, too.

     How does this affect our lives today? Why hasn’t the Redemption come? Obviously, its time has not yet come. But if we have to wait for its time, why do anything to try to bring it? If it is set for a certain date, shouldn’t we just sit back and wait peacefully.

     No. The Redemption is set to come by a certain date, and no matter what, it will not come a second later than that moment. But… it could come earlier. If we use our free will, and do the proper deeds, then we can make it happen now. This is our free will, and it is one of the many differences between the Torah and the East.

     The practical aspect of this difference is, since they feel that they cannot change anything, they say, “Let go… detach.” And since we know that we can change the world, we say, “get involved… make the world a better place.” Not only will you enjoy yourself more, and not only will you reduce suffering, you might even add that tiny drop that was needed to bring the final Redemption right now!

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Friday, August 12, 2011

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For now, we need them both.

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

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Getting Hacked & Online Security – Part 1

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

hackerA number of people responded with questions about my experience on getting my Google account hacked and what I learned about it.  This article is going to be computer oriented and a bit technical, but I’ll do my best to keep it as understandable to everyone as possible.

I am a computer expert.  I’ve been working with computers since I was a child (and as my teenagers frequently remind me, the grey in my beard indicates that was a long time ago).  I can program, build a web site or build a computer from parts.  I can administer databases and networks. 

I don’t say any of that to impress anyone (G-d forbid) but rather to point out I’m about as well informed and educated on computer security matters as anyone who’s not a specific expert on computer security can be.

On the same day, at the same time, my Google account and my wife’s Google account were stolen – taken over by hackers.  I use my Google account for personal email (Gmail), documents (Google Docs), operating this blog (Blogger), posting videos for this blog (Youtube), pictures for this blog (Picassa), the feed for this blog (Feedburner), operating a blog for my synagogue, and operating a professional career blog.  Naturally it (was) my destination for bank statements, credit card statements, my connecting email for Facebook, Twitter, domain hosting (GoDaddy), web hosting accounts, and more.  I’d been using Gmail since 2004, so basically my whole electronic life was linked to the account along with an archive history of that life.

Losing access to my account was devastating, opened me to potential identity theft, and lost me access to this blog and others.

So how’d a computer expert get hacked and what can you do to avoid it?

Let’s start with the simple and surprising.  My computer was NOT infected.  I did not have a virus OR spyware.  That is the first level of protection everyone must have, anti-virus and anti-spyware (spyware doesn’t try to take over your computer or steal data on your computer – instead it watches what you do and gathers passwords or account numbers as you do things).

Here’s my recommended free anti-virus and anti-spyware programs…

Anti-Virus – Microsoft Security Essentials is free if you have a legal copy of Windows and rated as providing good protection.  It’s also very easy to use.  Another alternative that’s actually hacker recommended is Avira

Anti-Spyware – Spybot Search & Destroy offers good free anti-spyware detection & prevention.  It is a bit complicated to use though.

One way people can get hacked without their computer being infected is “someone else” listening in on their network.  This could be a neighborhood teenager or someone intentionally driving around the neighborhood hooking into your wireless network.  This is avoided by activating the security on your wifi network router.  When turning on such security there are usually multiple options.  Note the first option, called WEP, has been cracked and is no longer considered secure.  Use a WPA2 setting if it’s offered and you are using Windows Vista or 7 (older Windows may not be able to connect to WPA2).

But this is NOT what happened to me. My network is secure on the highest setting.

This can also happen to you VERY EASILY if you’re connected to a wifi hotspot that’s not secure.  Say at the local Starbucks or coffee bar or even using your neighbor’s unsecure network.  It can even happen to you if you are on a secure network that’s public, say at a hotel or airport.  Meaning anyone on the same network as you can “watch” and “listen in” to everything you do on the internet!  If you “secure” your connection you can prevent them from listening to what you are doing – but they will ALWAYS be able to see where you are going (so they’ll see you went to Hotmail, but not what happened once you connected).

It’s even possible to “listen in” to your internet activity from other places on the internet. This requires a hacker to have control of a computer at your internet company (like at Comcast or Bezek), but it’s possible. 

Both problems are avoided by making sure your important connections are using a “secure” connection (https).  Some sites, like banks, do this automatically.  But others, like Facebook and Gmail have options and DO NOT (or did not in the past – Gmail recently changed their default to do so).  Here’s how you turn on a secure connection for Gmail and Facebook…  [ Note turning on a secure connection for Facebook will make some Facebook game apps not work.  I’d rather have the security! ]

Gmail -

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Facebook -

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But this is NOT what happened to me.  My accounts were stolen while I was on my secure home network on a secure (https) connection to Gmail.  So while what I’ve told you so far will stop my 13 year old son from hacking you, it didn’t stop the Egyptian hacker who hacked me.

And that freaked me out!  I scanned and re-scanned my machines for a hidden virus or one that isn’t known yet.  I checked and rechecked my network security.  I checked my connection history.  All was secure but my accounts where stolen.

I consulted multiple tech experts until I reached a top information technology security consultant, who explained to me how it happened.  And that will be the topic of part 2.

Picture of a hacked account…

hacked

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Melave DeMalkoh - Accompanying the Shabbos Queen

deep insights by Reb Aharon, author of Eye to the Infinite @ Mystical Paths

shabbos_queenThe seforim[1] tell us that there is a bone in the body that never gets destroyed; it doesn’t receive sustenance from any food except food eaten at a Melave Malka seudoh. This is the bone G-d uses to start the process of Techiyas hameisim. It’s called ‘Luz’.

Now these are perplexing statements to say the least. What is this bone? Why does it not get any benefit from anything we eat, except the melave Malka? Why does G-d need this bone to start the techiyas hameisim process? What is the significance of it being called ‘Luz’ and what has it to do with techiyas hameisim?

It gets stranger. The Zohar Hakodosh[2] informs us that this ‘bone’ Luz, has another name, בתואל הארמי - Besuel the sly one, and also,בת בתו של א-ל – the daughter of the daughter of G-d. So it’s called Luz and Besuel, and it’s the daughter of the daughter of G-d. Interesting.

There is a discussion in the Midrash as to what this bone is. There are those who say it is a small bone at the top of the spine, the size of a lentil. Others say it’s a clod of earth from the decomposed body [after death]. The Ari Hakodosh[3] tells us a rule about such discussions in Midrash; there is never any disagreement; the Rabbis are merely presenting and expressing various facets of the same diamond, different views of the same thing.

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan zt”l[4] suggests that the ‘Luz bone’ is in fact the DNA of the person. Perhaps we can take this a step further and thus understand all the various statements of Chazal.

Rabbi Chaim Vital[5] says the soul is attached to the finest part of the physical body. He further says that though there are levels in creation, e.g. human, animal, vegetable, mineral, the levels have an in-between stage, an interface. I suggest that there is an interface between the neshomoh and the body. There is something between the physical and spiritual, between even the DNA and the Neshomoh, that binds the soul to the body. This is the Luz ‘bone. It does not receive any nourishment from normal food because it isn’t physical. But it is nourished by the melave Malka because that meal represents the purpose of this ‘bone’.

What are we doing when we eat the melave Malka? What is its significance? During Shabbos we are in a higher spiritual realm. The Zohar HaKodosh calls the world of Shabbos, ‘the world of souls’. When we take leave of Shabbos and enter once again the six days of the week, we are re-entering the physical. And that is exactly what techiyas hameisim is, the rejoining of the soul with the physical.

Therefore, this ‘bone’ receives nourishment only and especially from the melave Malka. Chazal implied by that the true nature of this ‘bone’. Chazal say it is situated between the head and the spine meaning that it lies between the Neshomoh [which is often referred to as being in the head of a person] and the physical. It is called the daughter of the daughter of G-d because the Zohar always refers to the soul as the daughter of G-d: this ‘bone’ is a step removed from the soul, hence ‘the daughter of the daughter of G-d’. It is called בתואל הארמי - Besuel the sly one, because it lies between the physical and spiritual, neither completely one nor the other.

And therefore it is called Luz. Where do we find Luz mentioned in the Torah? What does it refer to? We find it mentioned in Parshas VaYaytsay and VaYishlach where Yaakov names a place originally called Luz, ‘Beis E-l’ – literally the House of G-d. That’s why the sages called this bone ‘Luz’, because it is our personal ‘Beis E-l’. This Luz is the House of our G-dly soul, the House of G-d.

May we merit to see Techiyas Hameisim. Enjoy your Melave Malkah.


[1] See Siddur Rav Yaakov Emden

[2] Beginning of Toldos

[3] Brought down many times by Rav Chaim Vital; see for example ’Mamar Pesiyos shel Avrohom Ovinu’.

[4] In an essay entitled ‘The Resurrection’.

[5] Sha’ar HaKedushoh

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The Arab Mind

image003 (1)by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

       Last week, I received 22 letters from a non-Jewish woman in Holland. Although her children and husband are Muslims, she has been a church-attending x-ian for the past few years. Some of the letters were quite long. She asked for help in learning the Zohar (the Jewish book of Mystical Wisdom and Theology).

     I answered every letter, but instead of teaching her the Zohar, which we are not to do, I directed her to the Seven Mitzvahs of Noah. Non-Jews are free to learn whatever subjects they want, but we are not to teach these things to them. When non-Jews study the Torah it takes them away from the role that they were sent into this world to fulfill. Obviously, this would do them great harm. Also, Jewish mysticism can only be learned in conjunction with the performance of the mitzvahs or it quickly degenerates into the occult.

     In her letters, she mentioned dozens of deep Kabbalah concepts trying to show me how much she already knew. Apparently, she had spent a lot of time studying these subjects. She wrote intelligently, and she showed respect and admiration for the Kabbalah.

     Each time she tried to engage me in the Zohar, I gently explained how she had to understand the basics first and I wrote to her about the prohibition of idolatry. Once she saw that she was not going to get what she was looking for without first understanding idolatry, she seemed to have listened. In fact, she learned not to worship an idol. She went so far as to say that she understood that yashka was not G-d, nor an “incarnation” of G-d, but, in her opinion, he was a loving man.

      She went on to explain that before she became a x-ian, she used to side with the Palestinian Arabs but now she has a balanced view. She does think, however, that the Muslims demonstrate love of G-d more than anyone else.

     I asked her if she thought that it was G-d-loving for a father to murder his daughter because she went on a date with a non-Muslim. Is it a sign of loving G-d that although only one out of five people in the world is a Muslim, four out of five wars in the world involve Muslims?

She wrote;

    “Yes, they put G-d first. They want the man to lead the family spiritually, meaning the man has to lead the prayers. How will a x-ian do that? He cannot!. And no-one can be in the business of dating Muslims. No x-ians, no Muslims. If a boy likes a girl, first he goes to her father to ask him for her hand. Then families meet, etc. So there is not supposed to be any dating like in the western world.

     “Who is inciting all the Muslim wars and the 'Arab spring'? The CIA !! You need to watch Alex Jones on youtube sometime. Then you'll learn that 9/11 was an inside job. Israel and Saudi-Arabia were the pro-western pact in the Middle East. Now look what the CIA wants. After all Arab governments will have fallen they want the Saudi royal family out. Why? They're going to dig for oil in Alaska so they're no longer 'useful'. So America only has friends as long as they can be used. I believe they'll only keep friends with Israel as long as they have an agenda in the Middle East, and afterwards they'll backstab you just as well. So make friends with your neighbors while you still can!”

     This apparently intelligent Arab x-ian woman, who is living in the West (Holland), believes that she has rational, balanced opinions. She totally defended Muslim men murdering their daughters if they bypass the traditional dating system! She truly believes that Israel and the CIA are to blame for the infamous Muslim terrorist attack on 9/11!

     Are the opinions of this woman typical Arab thinking? Can we dare say such a thing? Arab opinion polls report that 88% of the world’s Arabs consider Israel to be the greatest threat to their lives.[i]

     I wrote to her saying that she was brainwashed and that she should go to www.asknoah.org, because I would not be able to help her.


[i] Survey conducted 2010 in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and UAE by the University of Maryland in conjunction with Zogby International.

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