Friday, June 29, 2012

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Administriva, Slowdown

We have a slow-loading web page problem on the primary blog page (for those who read us directly on our blog web site, http://mpaths.com).

The problem turned out to be in the Twitter tweet-displaying widget in the sidebar.  We’ve removed it for the time being.

Reb Akiva’s tweets can still be read or follow on Twitter here.

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Jerusalem, Morning through Evening

Good Morning from the Kotel – by Reb Gutman Locks

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Afternoon at Kiryat Belz and the Main Belz Synagogue – by Reb Akiva

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Sunset over Malcha – by Reb Akiva

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

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I Am Glad That I Met You

at the Western Wall by Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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I had to convince Daniel to put on tefillin. When he came back from praying for his loved ones at the Kotel he did not look pleased as almost everyone does.

     I asked him if it was a positive experience. He looked at me and tears came to his eyes. These were not the tears that I am used to seeing at the Kotel, tears that come when the intellect is overwhelmed by the spiritual reality that often shows Itself here. His were tears of sorrow. I asked him, “What’s the matter?”

     He answered, “Sometimes you do something wrong in life, and you can’t make up for it. Like you hurt someone…” There were more tears.

     He was torn. I said, “You are a very fortunate person. Most people just move on without any thought of who they may have hurt. You are sensitive, and this is a very good thing.”

     His tears came quicker. “But, will I be forgiven?” he asked.

     “You have to ask the person you hurt to forgive you.”

     “And what if they refuse, and won’t let you?”

     “You have to ask them three times, and then, even if they do not forgive you, you are forgiven by G-d. We all make mistakes in life. Life is a series of ups and downs. There has to be forgiveness or we couldn’t go on.” His tears stopped. “And if you did any damage you have to pay for it,” I told him.

    “And what if they won’t accept anything from you?” he asked.

    “Try again,” I said, “And if they really will not take it then give the money to some needy person.”

    “Obviously, we have to learn our lesson when we do something wrong so we don’t do it again,” I said, “or else the forgiveness is not really worth anything.”

     I told him, “Whatever you do in life, good or bad, you should evaluate what you did. If you can really say, ‘Hey, I did great!’ then that will help you to repeat what you did good. And if you have to say, ‘I really blew it that time. Man, am I sorry!’ then, by recognizing what you did wrong, that will help you not to make that mistake again.”

     I made him smile for the picture. As he was leaving he quietly said, “I’m glad that I met you, today.”

     I said, “So am I.”

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

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Who is the Best Painter of All?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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Putin at the Kotel

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Western Wall, the Kotel, in the old city of Jerusalem yesterday.  Our own Reb Gutman Locks was nearby (as close as was allowed by security) and got a picture…

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Yeranen Yaakov translates a conversation caught by the media and reported by Kikar Shabbat…

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Kotel last night and struck up a conversation with a Haredi Russian-speaking man there.  During the course of his visit, Putin spoke with other visitors at the site, asked many questions, and chatted at length with an ultra-Orthodox immigrant from the former Soviet Union. That conversing man who merited to have a few minutes of friendly conversation with President Putin told the President about the importance of the Kotel to the Jewish nation, about the Beit Hamikdash which was destroyed, and about Shlomo Hamelech A"H who built it. President Putin, who intently listened to him, replied, "Exactly for this reason did I come here, to pray that the Beit Hamikdash will be rebuilt. I wish for you that your prayers will be accepted." The President shook the hands of the Jew warmly and parted from him with departing wishes.

The video of that conversation is here.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

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Nachal Charedi – Reality Check

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

soldierIn the past I wrote about my Air Force Daughter.  Since that time she has now been joined by Infantry Son.

Being ultra-orthodox, charedi if you will, we were not willing to throw our son into cultural morass of the Israeli Defense Forces at their whims.  Since the IDF has been “preparing” for ultra-orthodox recruits, we targeted him at the ultra-orthodox infrantry program – Nachal Charedi / Netzach Yehuda – The Mighty Men of Judah infrantry combat unit.

Our son contacted a friend, a former yeshiva student in yeshiva with him, who was now a training sergeant in Nachal Charedi.  He couldn’t help, letting us know “the battalion is full”.  The battalion is full??? What if you’re ultra-orthodox and you want to fight in the army? 

Next, by hashgacha pratit (Divine Providence), I was being picked up from the train station and was asked for a ride by someone from synagogue I recognized…in an army officers uniform.  Turns out he’s an army chaplain and a captain.  We asked him if he could help and he was able to put us in touch with Nachal Charedi’s battalion rabbi.  The rabbi was able to get our son on the list.

We breathed a sigh of religious relief, if not parental worry.  Our son was going to be in a proper religious environment, while putting his life on the line to defend all the Jewish people and non-Jewish citizens living here.

Two and a half weeks before his enlistment date we got a harbinger of things to come.  I received call… “hello, is this (Reb Akiva’s son’s father)?  Your son has to report for basic training tomorrow”.  “What???  His orders say 2 1/2 weeks from now.  We haven’t prepared him (done the preliminary army supply shopping), it’s not what his orders say.”  “He has to report tomorrow, the orders are changed by this call.  He should report to (normal Jerusalem enlistment point A).”

What can you do?  I took off work, ran home, grabbed my boy and headed to the mall.  Why?  As we learned with Air Force Daughter, there are things your child needs for army service that the army doesn’t provide.  Some are obvious (a cell phone to call home), some less so (a durable watch with a timer function).  We also had feedback from her on what’s a waste of money (like dirty laundry bags) and what’s good to have (boot polish). 

Enlistment day is a big deal in Israel.  It’s normal for a number of family members to join the enlistee in going to the enlistment point.  But everyone was ready for that in 2 1/2 weeks…so he lost out.

That evening we got a call…. “your son has to report to (unusual Jerusalem enlistment point B) tomorrow.”  “What, we were told (normal enlistment point A).”  “The orders are changed by this call, (click).”  I didn’t even know where enlistment point B was! 

He made the point, we said goodbye and off he went to be a soldier.

He was bused to the Nachal Charedi training base somewhere in the Jordan Valley.  Basic training is similar in every army.  The difference for Nachal Charedi is the unit has time for the daily Jewish prayer cycle, and a 45 minute religious learning time per day.  I had sent him with a couple of thin paperback editions of mishna and gemora, so he’d be able to use the religious time effectively.

He came home the first time 2 weeks later, for Shabbos.  I asked him how it was going, how was the availability to pray and the time for religious learning.  He said “we’re giving a minimal time to pray, you can just barely get through it if you go at maximum pace and are completely rested when you start.  It’s not adequate for Monday’s and Thursday’s (when the Torah is read).  Everyone just falls asleep at the learning time, as we’re exhausted and sleep deprived due to the training schedule.  And because our unit was called to training early, the glatt kosher kitchen isn’t open, the cooks haven’t arrived per the schedule yet.  We’ve been eating (glatt kosher) canned tuna and canned corn 3 times a day for 2 weeks (except for Shabbos where we had some Challah and packages of deli meat).”

Ok, I thought, it’s the army.  Screwing up logistics is normal, and training them till they drop as part of basic training is normal too.

During training they ask you what your army job preferences are.  They’ve “tested” you in advance, people with special skills might be directed to intelligence or radar or something like that.  And as part of training they rate how you do with the basics.  Being in an infantry unit, the choices are naturally somewhat limited.  Combat.  Supply.  Guard.   Those were my son’s choices.

At the end of basic training there’s an army ceremony for the graduating unit.  It’s a big deal, parents or family attend and greet the newly minted soldier.  We went to our daughter’s, driving all the way to Haifa for it.

Our son arrived home for his 3rd Shabbos off.  “Hey Tatti (Dad in Yiddish), my training is done.”  “What??? When’s your graduation ceremony.”  “Doesn’t seem we’re having one, and they told me they’ll call me with orders on what to do next.”

After Shabbos he got a call, “report to base [t]”.  We had no idea where that was, but turns out Israeli army bases are listed in Google Maps – so we were able to get directions.

To make a long story short… he arrived, he was assigned his last choice.  Ok, it happens.  But that’s where it went bad.

He’s not on a Nachal Charedi base.  His guard unit commanders are NOT from Nachal Charedi, not from the religious unit – only the soldiers are, and not all of them.  The commanders are male but do not respect the religious soldiers religious rights.  They are NOT given time for prayer nor for learning.  He’s been faced with numerous times of having to violate Shabbos or Yom Tov, and there is no unit or battalion rabbi to which to direct questions.  Unit members and even commanders have violated Shabbos or Yom Tov intentionally, including eating and shoving food in people’s faces on Yom Kippur.

He was not able to hear the megillah on Purim and has been extremely limited in the abilities to meet Jewish religious obligations for Jewish holidays.  NOT because his base is somewhere out in the middle of nowhere or because of army responsibilities, his base is near a residential mixed religious Jewish neighborhood, but because his commanders prohibit it or create a duty schedule that prevents it (when it doesn’t have to).

His Nachal Charedi – Ultra-Orthodox religious unit experience has been a nightmare.  The Israeli Army did not provide the capacity necessary for even the current numbers enlisted, and because of that he and the members of his unit have been shunted off to an area incompatible with even the minimal promises of a religious unit.  He’s being prevented from performing basic religious practices that are a guaranteed right of every member of the IDF – not to mention even the slightest accommodation of an ultra-orthodox soldier.

Oh, but they did give the unit a gift.  For the ultra-orthodox guard unit… they installed a big screen TV with 150 cable channels in their common room.  (Anyone who knows the ultra-orthodox community knows TV, particularly and especially broadcast TV, is avoided and prohibited.)

None of this is that unusual or so terrible for an army – getting the day to day things right is not their goal (killing people and destroying things in defense of their country is).  But if you’re going to promise to provide an “appropriate” environment to ease a significant percentage of the ultra-orthodox community into army service – treating them as bastard stepchildren is not the way to go about it.

My next child has already gotten their army exemption.

UPDATE:

Being this post is getting some significant attention, I wanted to add a few clarifications.  Some Nachal Charedi soldiers report a good experience, it seems the “luck of the draw” whether you get assigned to a core combat unit or thrown to one of the outlying units for “overflow” – and I certainly don’t want to bet my son’s religious life on the luck of the draw.

Also, some of my son’s yeshiva buddies, a couple of bochrim from the States and Canada that didn’t want to leave Israel, joined the IDF directly to the primary IDF combat brigades (Golani and Givati).  There they’ve reported a great religious experience!  Seems as religious guys in a non-religious brigade, their religious rights are scrupulously observed and their (generally) respected by their co-soldiers and commanders.  They’re even given extra time for davening every day (beyond the required time – which they get just by asking).  Being in a non-religious battalion it’s easy for them to be rotated off duty for Shabbos and it be taken by non-Shabbos observant soldiers (not by their request, that would be a violation of Shabbos).  They’ve told my son that 10% of the Golani combat brigade is religious bochrim, over half (of that 10%) from outside of Israel (the #1 sniper in Givati is a Chabad bocher from Crown Heights.)

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Jewish Robotics

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     I have been keeping my eyes open for some way to get yoga out of the Jewish community, and then I met this nice guy from Maryland. He and his son sang the Shema together very sweetly. It turned out that I knew his rabbi’s father very well. I told him that I wanted to give his rabbi a message about his father. He made a small recording, picturing me saying the message. Amazing world of technical gadgets we live in!

     I asked him what he did. He told me that he works in robotics. I asked if he could make a living doing such a thing. He said that he did.

     I said “Great. Give me your card. I want to contact you and learn how to get something to replace yoga. I think this could be wonderful.” And I “danced” a few steps of what I imagined a robotic exercise might be. You know, flowing movements with your arms, and legs, and body kind of dancing to imagined music.

     He looked at me strangely. Up until then I made perfect sense to him. He kind of twisted his face in wonder, and then said, “I think maybe you might be referring to aerobics. I work in robotics. You know? Like robots…machines…”

     “Oh, then I guess that won’t work…” I said, with a little weak smile. 

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Teshuvah and Personal Exile

by Reb Nati @ Mystical Paths

Teshuvah - the way out of Galus Prati - ‘personal exile’.

When it comes to Yishmoel, he equals Pere Odom, ”rebellion”, for this is his base mida.  We know the tikun , the ‘spiritual repair’, is learning and teaching of Jewish law, the codes ‘Shuchan Aruch’.   Thus there is no need for tanks, jet fighters, or missiles let alone soldiers. There is a spiritual way to combat all this, and it is far less expensive.

Just think of all the poor we could help if we today stopped spending on weapons which only deal with the symptom and do not cure the disease. Just think what the world would be like without any weapons and no war we could end all suffering. This is the holy job of the Jews to bring heaven to earth and to see with spiritual eyes the needs of others and to provide the cure.

Reb Noson of Breslev, zt”l told us on his very last day of life that there are three things we must practice to be considered shassidim of Rebbenu Nachman of Breslev, tz”l. They just so happen to be the very same things which free us from the bondage of the galus, of the three kilpot that hold us back from total connection to Hashem.

Kesher to the Tzaddik, come to the grave of Rebbe as per the instructions of Rebbe Nachman. Which is bitul,  the opposite of Esav.

Learn Shuchan Aruch, a minimum of two halachot a day.

And Hisbodedut, spend at least one hour in secluded personal prayer each and every day.

You may ask why these things and not some other mitzvot…

As we have mentioned previously the nature of the kilpot are based on evil traits that their human counterparts possessed. Esav, ga’a’va, Extreme Arrogance. Yishmael, ‘Pere Odom’ unrestrained rebellion. And the Erev Rov, ‘Kiferah’ sorcery or heresy, total delusion from the truth.

This being known, we can now know from the news what we need to work on…

In Israel we are now under threat of Arab invasion, nullification of the State by the western nations and the de-Torah-ifcation of the Jews by the Erev Rav. We do not need to build and deploy the latest super weapons to protect ourselves, the ‘Iron Dome’ is nothing compared to the shield we from the spiritual our father in heaven. The Merkavah 4 is a nice toy, but it’s not the best choice in our arsenal. The Negev, the F-16, is all of no use for they only treat the symptom.

We need not succumb and surrender to the U.N. nor do we need to demonstrate against he government. We need to cancel all this out at its source, its spiritual source. “Some rely on chariots and others on horses and the strong legs of man are no guarantee of victory”. But we will trust only in Hashem.

So the Super weapon that is the most successful against the Yishmaelim is to study and teach the Codes the Shulchan Aruch. This is the only 100% proven weapon to counter Arab terrorism. Submission to the codes is the exact opposite of rebellion from Torah so it is the cure at the root cause for this problem. Being connected and bitul to a Tzaddik is the cure for arrogance, neutralizing the Esavian western nations, and Hisbodedut, is the ultimate cure for heresy thus a complete destruction of the Erev Rov.

We need to understand it’s up to us!

There is only one way to repair what we and our forefathers have damaged. It is only in the realm of the spirtual that we can effect repairs. And the medicine for this generation are the words of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev,  for he said himself that his Torah was not for his generation ‘200 years ago’ but for the last generation.

So here we are.  Are we going to leave this mess for our children and grandchildren (if the world can bear it that long)?

We have the cure…know if you can damage then you can also repair.  Rebbe Nachman says “there is no such thing as despair at all in the world”  Know for sure we can fix it, but to do so we must change how we look at it.

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Together

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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These American High School boys just finished a 3 month study program in Israel and are on their way back to the States.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

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Out of the Matrix

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

Chodesh Tov, Sh’Vuah Tov.

Shishi parshas Korach

As we go through the parsha of each week we should realize that everything about any of us and for sure the goings on around us, ‘world events’, are all included in them. The past, present and future are all inside. All we have to do is decipher it.

So there is no real News, yet we are flooded with media news entertainment that serves only to distract us from the truth. The spiritually alert will find the truth even in the mundane news of the world.  And in the news we find the very things we need to work on.

I’m not a fan of going to the news. My rav, Rabbi Shalom Arush, shlita, said it causes a defect in our Emunah. “Why should we go and search the lies to find the truth?”

We shouldn’t, but the Tzaddik can hear or see in the news the truth of what is really going on by understanding the message hidden in the lies.

There is a revelation of G-dliness in the mundane, ‘seeing past the Hester Panim’ or the hiding of the face.

What I’m referring to is the ability to understand from the events and conversations we have every day, and to perceive from them the messages ‘prophesy a direct communication from Hashem.’  The Gemara hints at this principle (Baba Batra 12b) ”For from the day the Holy temple was destroyed, prophesy was taken away from the prophets and given to children and mad men”. Prophesy meaning Hashem’s communication with us, i.e. showing us where we have gone wrong and what direction we need to take. So the Gemara calls all these events ‘the prophesy of mad men and children’, because now we can only receive Heavenly guidance from these everyday events and we for the most part and they are not aware of it, for they have their own ideas of what they are telling us and why. Yet everything we are told or experience has an underlying message which is for our own good.

The main thing to know that it whatever you hear see or experience, whether from from someone close to you or someone distant, and especially your wife and the members of your household, all of this is the WORD OF HASHEM.  It is mainly through these communications that we receive the direction to help us with our spiritual perfection.

We can know and understand what we need to fix by or through our everyday experiences. So what’s in the News that applies to me and you and us as a nation and a people?

It would seem that the whole of the world is screaming at us ‘The Jews’ to do T’shuvah.

But for now we still live for the most part in spiritual blindness. We are now under three different kilpot of Galus. Edom, Yishmael, and Erev Rov.

In Israel, our holy Rebbeim are telling us of an Arab invasion, the ‘Erev Rav’ government is telling us of an imminent Iranian nuclear threat. And the United Nations ‘of Esav’ are squeezing the life out of us.  In the U.S., the Federal Reserve is struggling to avoid a financial collapse.

With all of this going on and with the next day bringing with it untold stress we have no idea what is about to happen. OK, so now we know what midot we need to work on, by the messages we receive. ‘And in any case we still just have to be Jewish’.

Over and over again we read the words in the Torah, “if you will harken today”, “if you will listen today”, we are told that we can only serve Hashem today, not yesterday and not tomorrow - only TODAY is our service valid. For yesterday lies in the realm of arrogance, i.e. “I did” or “we did” - we rarely hear the words Hashem did, it seems to be human nature to take credit for all our past accomplishments.

This is pure arrogance and is the base mida of Esav, the western nations, the “UN”. We must free ourselves of this base nature if we want to serve Hashem for Hashem says “I and the arrogant cannot live together.” So Hashem leaves them without a blessing, i.e. only enough sefa spiritual bounty to leave them alive but no more.
The base mida of Esav is Ga’ava, “ego centric unbridled arrogance”, the most destructive force of all and is the bases for all Avoda Zora and heresy.

The second problem arises from dwelling on tomorrow. We literally cause the concealment of the Creator and by this cause much suffering. Our worries and longing for a better tomorrow are full of all our materialistic cravings which stems from our inherent atheistic attitude.  We all have it, not one of us are completely free of this and it is a daily fight to overcome this. This attitude is one of “we don’t believe in divine providence, we do not understand that all comes from and originates with Him.” This is Kifirah! This is the grave sin of k’fui tovah baseless ungratefulness, and comes about through ‘Bakchiyan’ baseless complaints.

The realm of The Erev Rav, and their base mida of Kifirah -Heresy, sorcery to the point of delusion. A total distraction to the point of not living in reality. This ”we will” do tomorrow attitude, and by my might or my savvy or by our military or financial prowess I will overcome, by my intellect, or money or political power or my wisdom, again a total lack acknowledgement of Hashem. This leads to total spiritual death over time, for it is a willful disconnection form the truth that Hashem runs every detail of everything in creation The Tzimtzum is such that He is inside every minute detail of everything that exists in the world, and that causes us to become deluded. It us who hide Him, by not acknowledging and revealing, that it is Hashem that is everything ‘Ain Od Milvado! Thus concealing Him from ourselves and the world.

Now the only area we really need to deal with is today for if today we will listen and not rebel, and keep the Torah, then we will have repaired the yesterdays and not broken the tomorrows, and after many of these we become free to live a life totally dedicated to Hashem. An Emunah filled life of freedom to serve Him without regrets of the yesterdays ‘Esav’ and without the worries of tomorrow ‘Erev Rav’. And this leaves us only with today and with this we only have to deal with Yisroel.

(to be continued)

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“I Prayed!”

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     This little boy came all the way from South Africa with his family to Jerusalem. I put tefillin on his father, and even though his grandfather refused, I pulled him in, too.

     Often, non-religious Jews think that tefillin represent restriction, obedience, having to learn a difficult subject; in short, they feel that the mitzvahs impose a total loss of freedom. But when I showed his grandfather how to picture his loved ones and pray for them, it truly reached him. He took my hand and thanked me warmly for showing him how to not only take advantage of his visit to the Kotel, but how to express his love for his family. 

     Before I sent them to stand by the Kotel to send blessings to their loved ones, I bent down and told the little boy that he should pray, too. I said, “G-d really loves little children. He listens to everything you say. Go ask G-d to bless your Mommy and Daddy and Grandpa and Grandma and everyone you love.”

     Some five minutes later they returned, and with a big smile, the boy proudly announced, “I prayed!”

     The boy learned a valuable skill that day.

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A Bit of Economics–Massive Stimulus Failure

3 minutes to learn of massive government failure.  Direct video link.

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Landing on Mars–This August

This is cool. Direct video link.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

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Replacement Theology

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

In my photo series from Kever Shmuel HaNavi (photos of the tomb of the biblical prophet Samuel), I took a few shots of the mosque part of the building and asked the question “why in the world are muslims building a mosque at the site of a Jewish biblical prophet?”

If the Xians built a church there, I could understand as it’s well known that the Catholic church built up a “replacement theology”. Replacement theology (or supersessionism) is the idea that the Xian (and specifically the Catholic) Church has "replaced" the Jewish people in God's plan of salvation as His chosen people.  “We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation, for they have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against (the xian man-god)…hence (Jerusalem) was necessarily destroyed, the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election.”

What was less familiar to me is that Islam does the same thing, except to BOTH Judaism and Xianity.  I found an imam and asked him.  He threw some of their textual quotes at me…

“We believe in (Islamic god name) and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma'il (Ishmael), Ishaque (Isaac), Ya'qub (Jacob), and to Al-Asbat [the twelve sons of Ya'qub (Jacob)], and that which has been given to Musa (Moses) and 'Iesa (Jesus), and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them.”

“And We bestowed on him [Ibrahim (Abraham)], Ishaque (Isaac) and Ya'qub (Jacob), and ordained among his offspring Prophethood and the Book [i.e. the Taurat (Torah) (to Musa - Moses), the Injeel (Gospel) (to 'Iesa - Jesus), the Qur'an (to Muhammad SAW), all from the offspring of Ibrahim (Abraham).”

So Islam claims the Torah and the Bible, though not as they’re written…

Imam – “In regards to the Bible/Old/New/Torah .. in Islam we are taught to neither believe nor disbelieve about what is mentioned therein. If something is confirmed in the Quran we take it as belief and true. If something is mentioned in the books and the Quran or the Prophet did not confirm nor negate it we do not take a position on it as absolute truth. And obviously if it contradicts the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet it is rejected.”

About this I think we have a saying from Pirke Avos (ethics of our fathers), ‘he who says “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine, this is an evil man”.’

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Under the Wall

via reader Yaakov

Under the old city of Jerusalem near the Kotel (Western Wall) lie the Kotel tunnels.  In the midst of the tunnels is a spot that’s the closest to the Beis HaMikdash (without actually entering the Temple Mount).

Occasionally special prayer quorums go there.  Here’s a video of one such…

Direct video link.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

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“With His Wing He Will Cover You…”

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     “Beneath His wings you will be protected… I take shelter in the refuge of Your wings… In the shade of Your wings You shelter me… In the shelter of Your wings I sing joyously.” [i]


[i] Psalms 91:4, 61:5, 17:8, 63:8

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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Oh, No!

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     I was on my way to the Kotel (Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel). The Rova (Jewish Quarter) was rather crowded, as it can be these days. I was walking down the steps by the Chabad Shul (Synagogue) and there was a small boy in front of me slowly bouncing his bicycle down the steps.

     When he reached the bottom step I noticed something colorful fall from his hand. I asked, “Did you drop something?”

     He looked down, and then he looked up at me and started crying loudly, “Aaaagh!”

     I looked down and saw his unopened Popsicle had bounced out of his hand and fell through the slots in the sewer cover. Oh, no, major disaster!

   “Yaaaha!” he cried to me. He was almost hysterical.

     “Okay, don’t worry. How much did it cost?” I asked.

     He held up a finger. (one shekel)

     “Okay, I will stand here and watch your bicycle. Take this and go buy another Popsicle.” I said, and I gave him two half shekels.

     He looked at the coins and asked, “Do these two make one shekel?”

     I said, “Yes. Go to that store right there at the top of the steps and get one. Here, better take this instead.” And I took back the two half-shekels and gave him a two-shekel coin in its place.

     He squeezed the coin tightly in his hand and ran back up the steps. He spoke with the owner in front of the store, but then he called to me that they did not have the kind of Popsicle that he lost. I told him to go back to the other store at the far end of the street, and that I would wait for him.

     A couple of minutes later the boy returned with the biggest smile his little face could possibly hold. He had to show me what he had. He held up TWO POPSICLES! HOORAY! I cannot imagine the child being any happier.

     A group of Israeli tourists watched the entire scene, and when they walked by they called out, “col hakavod lecha” (a saying that more or less means, ‘You did great.’)

     To tell you the truth, if you think the little boy was smiling, you should have seen my face. I was much happier than he was. He was happy because he went from the disaster of losing one Popsicle to getting two in its place. I was happy because I turned a little boy’s painful sorrow into great joy. And all this for only two shekels (about US$0.52), too!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

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Shmuel

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

On a mountain top just north west of Jerusalem is the home town and holy burial place of the biblical prophet Samuel, Shmuel HaNavi.

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A building has been built over the site (as you can see), and a mosque prayer tower attached.  Why are the muslims praying at a Jewish holy site, I have no idea.

The building is large, yet Jews and the general public are restricted to a small room in the basement (pictures of that later).

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As you can see below, the entrance room is huge but unused and in general disrepair.

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The sign there says it all, but still doesn’t make sense…

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Prophet Samual Mosque.  There is no prophet samuel in Islam (as far as I know???)  Here’s the inside of their space, which is locked, gated, and chained (though I think there’s a person in there!)…

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As you can see it’s a large and nicely architected space.  Unfortunately it’s reserved for muslim use only.  And that’s not why we stopped by.  We stopped by to daven (pray) at the Kever (holy tomb) of Shmuel HaNavi (the biblical prophet Samuel).  We pray that in the merit of the holy prophet, Hashem should open the gates of prayer to our requests…

If you go past the entrance way, down the hall, down the stairs and down the stairs again, you come to a little room open to for Jewish use and the general public.  (A non-Jewish tour group stopped by while I was there, having only access to the same area.)

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As we leave, here’s a panoramic view of Jerusalem from Kever Shmuel…

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And a view of the surrounding ruins of the ancient home town of Shmuel.

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Billboard Update

As a follow up to the billboard on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway on the way into Manhattan, a reader sent a new picture saying “this billboard was replacing the other one on the way to Manhattan”.  Don’t know if it’s an actual replacement (it’s clearly not the same board), but it’s interesting nonetheless...

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For those who don’t know, that’s an advertisement for the new Lipa Shmeltzer music CD, Leap the Faith.  Lipa Shmeltzer is a chassidic Jewish musician who primarily sings in Yiddish with a modern Jewish pop music style.

Who knew the Brooklyn Queens Expressway is now a battleground of orthodox Jewish advertising?

By the way, did you know you can buy Jewish music for Instant Download at Amazon.com?  Lipa’s new album is only $8.99 on Amazon!  (From anywhere in the world – why pay NIS 80 in Israel?)  And if you buy it here via this link, our blog will get a referral commission!

Video – Short Clips from the Album

 

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Monday, June 18, 2012

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Jerusalem In The Distance

Photos by Reb Akiva on Mystical Paths

I took a drive to the top of Ramot, the north west hilltop neighborhood of Jerusalem close to sunset.  I took some shots of Jerusalem looking in, that’s looking south east.  The golden sunset make the color great, but a hazy dusty day took much of it away again…

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The first set of homes is Ramot.  You can spot the new spindle bridge at the top right.

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Here’s the entrance to Jerusalem, the new Begin Highway in front, camera zoomed in…

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“Don’t Lecture Them!”

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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    Their rabbi brought them from England. When I put tefillin on them he sternly warned me not to lecture them about marrying a Jewish girl. (He knows me from before).

     When I was about to take the picture I said to them, “I have a problem…. Your rabbi told me not to do something, but G-d told me to do it. Who should I listen to?”

    “G-d, of course!” they all said.

    “Okay,” I said loudly “then, you got to marry a Jewish girl! This is the most important thing in the world for you!”

    The rabbi was nervous (3rd from the right), but the boys loved it.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

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Who Are They Addressing?

by Reb Aharon Rubin on Mystical Paths

(Photo of a billboard on the way into Manhattan, New York, USA)

I just wonder who they are addressing and what kind of person do they think is going to take notice? A person who is aware of holiness? Such a person no doubt is already naturally careful at what he looks at and probably wouldn't see the billboard either. A person not in touch with holiness? Putting up such a notice is like scratching a boil he hadn't noticed.

I wonder under whose auspices such a billboard was erected. We are instructed to keep a low profile in golus. Unfortunately, today a low profile amongst frum Jews is the exception from the rule [or so I have been led to believe - please correct me if i am wrong).

Such a billboard might even be viewed as a Chillul of G-d's Name Chas VeSholom, but it definitely makes Jews stand out and that is not a good thing. Light and truth do not need to shout out in order to be seen.

This is unfortunately a wide-spread problem: it needs to be addressed.

Going round in a car with a loudspeaker announcing a levaya HaShem yerachem, is not on, not in a place where gentiles are living> It's not right to have loud music blearing late at night or till the early hours of the morning. It's their land - we are the guests and it's up to us to behave that way.

There is a big difference between not being ashamed of one's Jewishness and acting without shame, without tsnius - modesty, modesty in behavior. We see that Yaakov Ovinu took pains that he and his sons should not stand out amongst their neighbors even when those neighbors were idolaters. All the more so today, when a lot of our host nation population recognize G-d.

It's high time this problem was addressed and I pray it's not too late.

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Flip Flop

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     The young man wearing tefillin walked into the Kotel thinking that he was not Jewish, and the young man without tefillin walked in thinking that he was Jewish. They were both wrong.

     The boy with tefillin was told by his mother that she was a Jew. I explained to him that this means that he is a Jew, and that he could put on tefillin, and that he had to marry a Jewish girl. He was very happy.

    The boy without tefillin has a Jewish father. The boy converted to Judaism, but it was a Reform conversion. I explained that we discourage people from converting to Judaism. But, if their father is Jewish, then, for the father’s sake, we do not discourage them from converting. I told him how to follow up on his desire and to have a Kosher (Orthodox) conversion. I also told him that I would wait at the Kotel for him to come back after his proper conversion and put on tefillin.

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When the World Wakes Up

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

(View from the Jewish Quarter, Old City, Jerusalem, Israel)

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

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Translation Fail

Pizza Hut in Israel ordering web site, via Google Translation…

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Now available with your pizza, Nasty Peach!  (Actual product, NesTea Peach Flavor.)

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(Pizza Hut stores in Israel have different levels of kosher supervision depending on the particular branch.  Some are kosher, some are kosher l’mehadrin.  Check before ordering.  Pizza Hut stores in the U.S. are NOT kosher [as far as I know].)

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Friday, June 15, 2012

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Even From the Farthest Corners of the Heavens…

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     “If your outcasts be at the utmost parts of the Heaven, from there He will fetch you and Hashem will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will do you good…”[ii]

     These Jews are from India. They have just come to live in Israel. It was the first time he had ever put on tefillin. He told me their history. Some 2,100 years ago their ancestors sailed from Israel to India. [This was approximately 170 years before the destruction of the Second Temple.] A storm destroyed their ship and only 7 families survived. They stayed together and did not intermarry.

     “If someone would marry a ch-ristian or a Hindu we would not allow our children to marry with their children. We lost almost all of our Jewish tradition, but we kept Shabbos. The Jewish DNA test found us to be from the tribe of Moses.”

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     When I first saw the boy I thought that he was an African-American. I asked him why he was wearing a Jewish star. He answered me in Hebrew saying that he was a Jew and that he was living in Israel. I was surprised, and asked him his history.

     The older, darker man walked up and the boy told me that he was his father. The father was born and raised in Brazil. He is not Jewish, but he married a Jewish woman who was praying on the women’s side of the Kotel. As you can see, he was very happy that his son was putting on tefillin for the first time.

    Jewish souls are coming into the world any way possible so they will be able to come home and witness that G-d keeps His word.

     “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.”[iii]


[ii] Deuteronomy 30:4

[iii] Jeremiah 31:10  

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

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More Signs of Redemption

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     According to numerous health reports, coffee and chocolate are healthy for you, too much exercise can harm your body, drinking a moderate amount of alcohol is good for you, and people who are a little overweight live longer.[i]

Redemption is happening!


[i] WebMD

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A Conversation on Yoga

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

yogaI was recently contacted by a family friend, who is preparing to offer a yoga class in his Jewish community.  Here’s how our conversation went…

Friend

I'm going to be starting a Jewish yoga class here in (anonymity preserved) and was wondering about talking to you regarding your position on certain things.  For starters, our class is going to be all men.  Second, unless I slip, I have been asked NOT to use Sanskrit at all, and to avoid poses that, in particular, are named after any avodah zara.  Third, our goal is to infuse a Jewish theme into every class, along with sprinkling different Jewish concepts and ideas into various poses.  Our music will be entirely Jewish music as well.  Thoughts?

Reb Akiva

Regarding running a yoga class for the Jewish community, I think the problem is a good bit harder than just not doing a few things.  Let me try to focus my thoughts in a few points...

1. Exercise and stretching exercise is fine.  If you just taught people to stretch, all would be well (kind of, see point 4 for a concern).

2. Yoga combines the physical exercises with what most would probably describe as relaxation techniques (focused breathing and concentrations or meditations).  Again, one certainly can't argue that relaxation is bad, and we all have to breath!

But the problem starts here.  Yoga's focused breathing with certain physical positions facilitates certain mental states.

It's not just the focus of the yoga meditation.  It's the actual body positioning together with the breathing patterns enable certain mental states - and those mental states align well with yoga meditative goals - which are Hindu religiously oriented.  (This is why every Hindu guru starts his meditation cycle with yoga and remains in a yoga position during Hindu meditation.)

3. Clearly any references to yoga anything is problematic.  First, some of the names include references to Hindu deities.  Others are worship positions.  And just using yoga terminology will lead people who find it valuable to go do additional research, picking up full yoga books or videos, etc (leading them right into full practice).  This is easy to avoid by using only English and eliminating any yoga references.  (If you need ways to describe things, take a look at Pilates for their terminology - since the exercises have some similarities).

4. Yoga has a demonstrable unusual effect on women in particular.  It seems to directly enhance the female libido.  (See several recent articles on this in the New York Times, written by yoga experts and noting practically every yogi at the top of the primary systems has accusations of major, um, interaction, with his female devotees.)  This information struck me as really odd, but apparently yoga has a strong multi-century history in this area.

5. There are a couple of positions and system focuses are are especially problematic.  The thumb and forefinger circular position while in a lotus position is a spiritual energy preservation move.  Anything dealing with Kundaline power, heck anything that focuses on any power, is an outright giant red flag.

How to you filter through all that and end up with stretching exercise and some relaxation without all the dangers?  I don't know. 

I would suspect though that it's not about trying to replace yoga techniques with Jewish ones or trying to infuse yoga with some Jewishness.  Rather, it's about extracting the core physical and relaxation components of yoga out of it, and dropping the rest.  For example, don't try to include a Jewish meditation focus, just don't meditate as part of the yoga. 

Let me see if I can give an example I have more personal experience with...

There's a Jewish Karate program called Tora DoJo.  It mixes moves from a few different karate systems and drops the bowing.  But it still includes some focus on chi, and at the higher belt levels gets more and more involved in focusing thoughts for punches and so forth - almost meditative.

Then there's the Israeli martial arts system Krav Maga.  Krav Maga is fully as effective as Karate, actually more so.  It's a 100% secular system, focuses on the moves and the training approach to learning them only.  No chi, no focusing thoughts or meditation, just positioning for the best move force and training in a variety of ways to build the muscle memory to make it smooth and almost automatic.

Tora DoJo, even though it's designed as a program for Jews, gets into a Chinese spiritual-cultural perspective at the highest levels.  Senior levels of Krav Maga are just dangerous, no spirituality in the mix.

Can you strip down yoga so people get the physical benefits of the stretching and positioning, and the relaxation benefits of easy repetitive breathing - without any of the rest?  If so, you will have created a "neutral" yoga with no worries.  But we haven’t seen such yet in any kosher or Jewish yoga program to date.

Friend Replies

Parallels/similarities definitely exist between all meditative systems - including Jewish meditation - so I'm not sure I agree that removing anything meditative is the answer or necessary.  Why not have JEWISH meditation combined with physical movement? Movement that lends itself toward JEWISH meditation (and/or other meditative techniques) doesn't seem to be the problem...what seems to be the problem is the end goal.

As for the women's libido thing: every exercise can be related to sexuality. Lost weight, increased heart rate, endurance, flexibility, strength - all of those things matter during intercourse.  It can be argued that running, or Zumba (ever so popular in the frum world now) do the same thing.  In terms of a teacher taking advantage of his (or her) position, that seems to be a reality or pose a problem in many, many situations.  My opinion: it's not about yoga, it's about the balance of power, guidance, etc.  Anyway, this is a men's class.

I'm also wondering if any of this/your research is based on written Torah sources, or if it's primarily first-hand experience.  I learned Rambam Hilchot Ovdei Kochavim and I've also learned Mishnayot Avodah Zarah. Very little seems to touch upon this sort of thing.

Reb Akiva

I agree there's various forms of Jewish meditation that are good.  But Jewish meditative forms have no tradition or instruction of being combined with exercise movements or specialized body positions.

On the libido thing, there's certainly a history of hatha yoga being based on tantra, which hatha focus on and many practices associated with "to unite the cosmic male and female principles in a state of ecstasy."  That's (as far as I know) not the focus of modern yoga, but it's an interesting conjecture that some of the practices that had enhancing effects in this area are continued, stripped of their focus.  Regardless, as you said your focus is teaching men, and if your exercise regime enhances their marital relations in a kosher relationship, nothing wrong with that.

The Gemora Avoda Zarah goes into much more detail of practical types and activities of avoda zara. 
But I'm personally more interested in the focus, and comparing the meditative and spiritual goals of such approaches versus the Jewish spiritual and meditative goals.  This takes one into seforim of chassidus and kabbalah. 

The avoda zara aspects of eastern meditation styles are not physical actions, they're mental actions.  Both Jewish and non-Jewish approaches describe meditative states and goals - and the states at different points are the same steps along the way.  It's the goals and ways of moving along the paths that are different.  And that is where they are very different.  For an example, take a look at the sefer Tavarat HaRivash (attributed to the Baal Shem Tov). 

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

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Good Jew, Avoid Manhattan, Close your Eyes!

via CrownHeights.Info

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A huge billboard on the Manhattan-bound Brooklyn-Queens highway in New York City (USA). It says, “Fellow Jew, You're Going into a Danger Zone; Shield Your Eyes.”

Really??? And Brooklyn is a Holy Land???

This is a particularly problematic attitude.  Shmiras Aynayim is an important concept.  It means we’re responsible for what we choose to see.  If we choose to read inappropriate materials or view inappropriate images, then we’ve caused ourselves a form of damage and are responsible for it.

The problem is when this concept is taken to the extreme.  Perhaps we should go around with blinders on?  Perhaps we should require our women folk to put on burka’s so we won’t accidentally see a curve?  Perhaps we should not enter Manhattan, or never leave our neighborhood in Brooklyn, or never leave our house or synagogue because we might come across an inappropriate sight?

Perhaps we should close our eyes while driving to avoid an inappropriate billboard?  (Not a good idea, but all the suggestions in the previous paragraph are real things done by a select extreme few within Judaism.)

The problem in general is Jews are supposed to engage in this world.  We are never monks on the mountain.  We’re here to light up the world, and to do that we have to interact with it.  Not roll around in the muck, not absorb it.  But yes, to engage it.

A segment of our religious population has become terrified of the outside world.  (Not so terrified as to not be able to engage an advertising agency.)  And they seek to impose their position on their brethren.  They believe it’s not safe to engage, as they fail to see how to do that without absorbing and rolling in the muck.

It’s not just sad, it’s contrary to the goals of Torah.  We are to be a light unto the nations, not a hidden light cowering only in our own neighborhoods… a voluntary ghettoization. 

They must learn… those who emit light don’t absorb.  Those who give, those who do, those who go to fulfill the mission direct from the Torah… those who shine need not fear the shadows.

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We’ve Got Gas

And we’ve got it ahead of schedule!

(Reuters) - A U.S.-Israeli consortium began supplying Israel with natural gas from its offshore Pinnacles well on Wednesday to help stave off a national energy shortage expected this summer.

Israel lost about 40 percent of its natural gas supplies in early 2011 when saboteurs in the Sinai peninsula began attacking the pipeline that carried gas to Israel from Egypt as part of a 20-year deal. In April, Egypt officially terminated the deal, sending Israel scrambling to find alternative power sources.  (The Reuters reporter fails to mention the repetitive blowing up of the supply pipeline by Egyptian terrorists, which also cut off supplies to Jordan and Syria as they get it farther down the pipe after it passes through Israel.  The report also fails to mention the impact to all the foreign investors in that pipeline, losing any possibility on return for investment with the cutting off of the foreign buyers.)

As a result, the Israeli government instructed all exploration groups in its economic waters, where large reserves of natural gas were recently discovered, to speed up operations.

Texas-based Noble Energy, which leads the Pinnacles group, said they were starting to supply Israel with 150 million cubic feet of gas per day almost a month ahead of schedule.

"Though limited in resource size, this well will provide much-needed gas production rate just in time for the hot summer months," the company said in a statement.

The new supplies will replace more expensive and dirtier fuels Israel has had to turn to, like diesel and fuel oil, and save the economy about $170 million this summer, Noble said.  (Looking forward to lowering of electricity rates here in Israel…a man can hope, can’t he?)

(Globes of Israel) The Pinnacles field is one of Yam Tethys's two satellite fields, which are being developed as stop-gap measures, due to the depletion of the Mari B well, until the Tamar gas field, also owned by Delek and Noble Energy, together with Isramco Ltd. (Nasdaq: ISRL; TASE: ISRA.L) and Alon Natural Gas Exploration Ltd. (TASE: ALGS) comes on line next year.

The Pinnacles field will save Israel NIS 650 million this summer alone. The natural gas will provide environmental benefits through improved air quality and carbon dioxide emissions reduced by over 250,000 metric tons over the summer months. The field cost $105 million to develop.

Producers will receive $5-6 per million BTU for this gas, and because the gas will replace fuel oil for electricity generation, fuel cost savings to Israel will be about $13 per million BTU. Project schedule was another Pinnacles challenge; each day of delay cost Israel NIS 7 million and three million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions. The Pinnacles was among the fastest development projects in the industry, taking only ten months from approval to subsea installation.

Noble Energy owns 47.1% of the Pinnacles field, and Delek Group owns 52.9%, through Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L) and Delek Drilling LP (TASE: DEDR.L).

Noble Energy Mediterranean VP Lawson Freeman said, "We are excited to bring the Pinnacles well on line. With time of the essence, Noble was able to utilize rigs from our Mediterranean drilling program and deploy subsea equipment from our other global projects. We are also pushing hard to accelerate the Noa development in the same way."

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Rejecting the Rabbis

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     There are many Jews who reject the teachings of the Rabbis. I am not referring to the irrational screamers who are so wrapped up in their own egos that they cannot see the wisdom of others. I am referring to a number of religious Jews who have become disheartened with their religious lives. They attribute their frustration to the rabbinical tradition that they have always followed. These Jews are not at all vocal opponents of the rabbis, actually they hide their objections because they do not want to upset their families or, even worse, make it more difficult to marry off their children. It is with these Jews in mind that I write this article.

     This subject could indeed take an entire volume to deal with, but most briefly:

     The argument goes, “G-d did not command us to do those things! It was the rabbis. I am not going to do their added commandments. I will only follow what is written in the Torah.”

     The standard answer is, “G-d commanded us to listen to the Judges in our day, and the rabbis fill that role for us today, so it is G-d Who has told us to listen to them.”

     This answer is not working for everyone, so here are some other points to think about:

Question: The rabbis taught us to say a blessing that G-d commanded us to light Shabbos candles, but lighting candles is merely a rabbinical law. So it is a “lie” to say that blessing.

Answer:  G-d commanded us to bring in the spiritual light of Shabbos. The rabbis have simply given us a beautiful tool to initiate the celebration. Although we make the blessing on the physical light of the candles we do so to usher in the spiritual light of the Holy day. So the blessing is quite appropriate.

Question: The rabbis have made so many fences that G-d did not tell us to obey. For instance, having money in your pocket on Shabbos is not forbidden by Hashem. It is merely one of those many rabbinical rules!

Answer: Hashem’s laws of Shabbos include not writing. The rabbis saw that handling money led to doing business, and doing business led to writing. So the rabbinical rule not to handle money is a fence that keeps us away from transgressing a Torah prohibition. If you feel frustration over this law you argue and fight with the rabbis but not Hashem and His Torah. If the fence were not there, when you were frustrated you could very easily complain against Hashem’s rule.

     Historically, Jews who have moved away from the rabbinical statutes keep on moving away until they move on to intermarriage. Today, there are “rabbis” who put on tefillin every day, yet they officiate at marriages between Jews and non-Jews, and even between men and men! Once you open the door and reject the ancient teachings of the sages you can go on and on until there will not even be a Written Torah.

     These arguments and explanations can go on for a long time, but here is my personal take on the problem. I have no source for what I am telling you other than my personal experience and observation.

     There is a teaching, “A Jerusalemite cannot be a Chassid.” A Chassid is a great person who has a Rebbe whom he loves and follows. But here in Jerusalem the Presence of Hashem is so strong that the knowing, religious Jews look straight up without even a holy Rebbe in between.

     I believe that Jews who live in even the most secular communities can also look straight up. If you will put G-d first in your life, and search for Him in you every deed then you will welcome the sages’ expert advice, but you will not put them between you and the Goal. This does not mean that we discard the rabbis, G-d forbid. It means that we seek their sage advice, but we follow Hashem directly.

     Torah learning and the performance of mitzvahs has for many become automatic, routine, even boring, or burdensome. Dear readers who are experiencing these problems, if you stop and think just what a mitzvah is when you do it you will never be burdened by it. A mitzvah is a spiritual opportunity that brings holiness into our lives. A mitzvah elevates the physical and reveals its spiritual nature.

     Paying attention when we say a blessing brings to mind that G-d is Most Holy. When we think about His holiness we take on some of that holiness ourselves. But sadly, Hashem and His holiness have been put to the side, and intellectual accomplishment has tried to replace Him.

     When we spend our time looking up, and we are thankful for the spiritual opportunities that being in this world gives us, we do not discard any wise teachings. We want any information or techniques that could help us to accomplish our spiritual desires. I would not put these wise men between myself and the Goal, but surely it is smart to ask the ones who have succeeded, “How did you do it?”

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

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An Analysis of Israeli PR – a Joke

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The Proper focus or "The Road to Reality"

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

This is a continuation of my last post, "Proper focus"
 
The Road to Reality begins with the mind. The most important aspect of a person and the reflection of ones true self, the self that will inherit the world to come is the the mind, for it is the true essence of the soul, or "Spiritual Awareness" thus we must guard it, least we contaminated it, with the impure.  In effect we must guard our "Spiritual awareness" thus we will be sensitive to Hashem, this is what is required if we want to recognize Him. This is the whole of the Torah to know that He is KeL 'G-D'. This is Truth!

Truth is by the way, all exclusive all inclusive, and in order. We know this by way of ReMeS hints form the word אמת EMeS. The Hebrew word is made up of the three letters ALeF BeiS, the first the middle and the last thus inclusive. The truth is always in order never mixed up ever! Thus in order. and Exclusive because if you chop it up we are left with SHeKeR lie, one truth chopped into one hundred pieces is 100% lie, for example, if we take out the ALeF א we are left with  מת if we take away ALeF which stands for the Name of Hashem ELoKiM then we are left with MeM TaV or the word MeS or death, so take Hashem out of the truth and it leaves only death. (OK back to the topic)

It is very important to  constantly guard one's awareness, or "memory" of the spiritual realms, and not to fall prey to spiritual forgetfulness, which is the "death of the heart". 'Therefore, as soon as a person gets up in the morning, He should contemplate that spiritual reality'. The totality of the the MiTZVoT are this to end, "to bring us to a true awareness of who we are and what is expected from us", to be aware of the Creator, "Hashem". Throughout the day, he should strive to understand the hints Hashem sends him in his thoughts, speech and deeds on how to serve Him. A person who thinks he understands these hints might mistakenly wish to restrict himself to 'this-worldly' matters through which Hashem guides him. But this would be improper, for two reasons. first, this would be risky in that holiness in this world is surrounded by the 'KiLPoT'. Secondly there are better ways of serving Hashem i.e. through Torah and prayer. At any rate people as a whole lack the ability to understand Hashem's hints. However, the world we live in is permeated with this process, an occurs automatically, when we sleep wear TZiTZiT and TeFiLiN, learn Torah, pray and even when we engage in business.

Let me explain a few of these. when we sleep our souls ascends and  is one with the world to come. The MiTZVoT of TZiTZiT and TeFiLiN correspond to the spiritual greatness and expansiveness. The Torah which we learn is Ha ETZ CHaiM literally 'The Tree of Life, which contains and provides all sustenance, there is more than enough for everyone to receive what he needs.We only need to believe it and function as if we do to for it to be manifest in this world. Prayer is how we deal with this-worldly life, and is the SiNoRoT SHeFaH, 'the conduit' to receive both material and spiritual, and the only way to connect to holiness in this world. And lastly Business. It is through this interaction that we redeem the NiTZaTZoT HaKeDuSH 'The Sparks of Holiness' this is the spiritual power of the Holy letters which were broken and fell into and which are scattered throughout the world. this is our primary function to redeem and to rectify. Ill give you a MuSHaL. 'an example', Money, "it is by the way, the biggest virtual reality on the face of the planet it's value we assign to it, as in itself it is totally worthless", we receive it an according to the sparks that correspond to the root of our soul, not by working by the way, these objects i.e. the money, we receive that are common to our soul's root we now receive the vitality from the broken letters that are contained in that particular object, as a result those letters are absorbed into our life force and are made whole. when we are finished rectifying the letters that pertain to our soul's level at the time the object i.e. the money it is passed on to others and the process continues. sometimes the object returns to the person because his soul has developed over course of time and now he can elevate/rectify other letters that he was unable to previously.

 In order to guard our awareness of spiritual reality, we must protect himself from the evil eye, which corresponds to "death of the heart" and the shattering of the Tablets.In particular we must guard our own eyes from being deceived by false Imagination, Which is brought on by the NeFeSH BeCHeMiuS 'the animal soul' and its traits. for animals to have imagination. Such false imagination is brought by disbelief, like that of speaking slander, and as a result falls into animalistic cravings. From this state his animalistic traits and imagination grow stronger. He then falls, instead of loving and serving Hashem he then experiences animalistic desires. Such false imagination seeks a container, a GuF, a body, to enter.

Therefore it goes into people who create HaLaKHiC 'legal rulings' insights. Holy Torah insights create Heaven and Earth, bringing about SHeFaH  V'BRaCHa 'abundance and blessing' for the whole world. Should Torah insights be created through false imaginative faculty,HaS V'SHaLoM  Hashem forbid, then vain heavens are thus created , bringing both spiritual and physical famine into the world. We see this today, with recent rulings, by the Erev Zeir in NYC, this energy of the false imagination was created at twilight after the the sixth day of creation and remained with out a body. Thus it seeks a body in which to rest. It therefore goes to those who learn HaLaKHaH and who can create realities with their words of Torah, in hope that a body will be created for it to enter. The KiLPoT always seek out KeDuSHa to feed from.

This is from Reb Noson's likutey tefilot "A person can over come this false imaginative faculty through a NiGGuN, chassidic tune, joyous music, which can even inspire prophecy. Understand a musical instrument gather together air RUaCH i.e. wind or "spirit" Initially it contains a mixture of both good and evil, a depressed, evil spirit and a good holy spirit of prophecy. A person who contains both these spirits can not experience prophecy.A holy person or musician separates the good spirit of prophecy from the depressed spirit. He thus builds a tune of joy. and when a prophet hears this tune he receives a spirit of prophecy. Depression strengthens false imagination. A depressed spirit blurs the clarity of the good spirit of prohecy, of spiritual "memory", clinging to the supernal reality. Playing joyful music brings forth the good spirit, overcoming the RuACH BiLBuL 'spirit of false imagination', a RuACH RA the evil spirit, the RuACH TZuSS 'the spirit of foolishness'. This is what causes men to sin, for it is written "man would not sin if it were not for a spirit of foolishness has entered him".Therefore the harp hanging over the bed of  MeLeCH DoViD's bed would begin to play a holy tune at midnight. Midnight is an ideal time to strengthen oneself to arise and serve Hashem".

We will return with more on "The Road to Reality"
Reb Nati



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