Sunday, September 30, 2012

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The Real Mitzvah of Lulav

by Reb Gutman Locks

To properly fulfill the mitzvah of Lulav it takes more than the four species. It takes joy, too. See the video instructions here.

Direct Video Link - Proper Way to Shake the Lulav and Etrog

Chag Samayach, a HAPPY and JOYFUL Yom Tov!

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

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What Are You Supposed to Think?

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     What are you supposed to think when you see a Jew who looks like this? “Weirdo! Ha! Ha! I wonder where he has been? Oh Boy! Look at that!” …and on and on.

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     But you know what? We all have looked like we needed help at sometime in our lives. And you know what else? If you will extend yourself, and help even the strangest cases, G-d is going to extend Himself, and help even you.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

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Eighty-Three-Year Old Russian

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     He was leaving the Kotel when I asked him to put on tefillin. He looked at me as if I was an ex-communist cell leader still trying to boss him around. I called over someone from Russia who explained to him what tefillin are. It was the first time in his life that he put them on. There is an opinion that putting on tefillin only once in your entire life satisfies the commandment that G-d gave us 3,300 years ago, “…and you shall bind them as a sign upon your arm….” If so, then Boris is in.

          If you look around, you will find that Jew G-d gave to you to bring in.

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Thailandi

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     This Israeli has lived in Thailand for the past 22 years. He speaks Thailandi. He is holding his son whose mother is a Thailandi woman. It is hard to go further away than he has, yet he quickly agreed to put on tefillin and he was open to the idea of going to the Chabad House in Thailand. I told him, “If your family sees you making Kiddush on Shabbos, and dancing on the holidays, maybe they will want it, too?

     No matter how far we wander, as long as we are alive, whenever we want, there is a way to come home. “Every Jew has a share in the World to Come.”[i]


[i] Sanhedrin 11:1

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

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There Is A Saying…

by Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     If you have two Jews, you will have at least three opinions. I think that this is even more so when you have two Israelis. To get the majority here to agree is truly a rare occasion. So it was with great joy that I read today that two-thirds of the Jews in Israel will fast this Yom Kippur, and that over eighty percent will use the day either to pray, or for general introspection.[i]

     I could understand if this great majority were agreeing to go to a party, or to take a vacation, but these hundreds of thousands of Jews are agreeing to give up all food and water for 25 hours, and only because it is a holy day…a day that brings compassion and forgiveness for our transgressions.

Surely G-d, You can bring Your redemption now, please.


[i] Ynet News

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He Caused Others to Call Out

Avraham didn’t only call out (to G-d), he caused other’s to call out.

Video link.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

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Please Forgive Us

th (1)Mystical Paths is a personal effort of a small group of incredibly dedicated individuals.  It is not a commercial venture (and it’s certainly not physically profitable.)  As such we have neither editors or proofreaders, nor legal advisors to chart the sometimes bewildering aspects of the sea of new media.

- For errors in articles, poor writing or being the opposite of inspiring, please forgive us.

- For snag, snark and sarcasm, please forgive us.

- For inappropriate copying, lack of attribution or lack of linking, please forgive us.

- For improper tone or approach to certain topics, please forgive us.

- For inaccurate information, poor analysis or lack of understanding, please forgive us.

- For overly aggressive comment filtering and insufficient comment filtering, please forgive us.

- For ignoring emails from readers, suggestions and linkbacks, please forgive us.

- For any article or unfiltered comment that hurt anyone, please forgive us.

---for all these and more, please forgive us and pardon us for both unintentional and intentional mistakes and errors over the past year (and years).

May Hashem grant you and your family complete forgiveness and pardon this Yom Kippur, and write you, your family and all of Klal Yisroel in the book of life, health, and prosperity this year.  And may He grant all of us the coming of Moshiach tzidkaynu, mamosh, NOW.

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Did You Serve?

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     When I asked this seventeen-year-old Israeli to put on tefillin, he refused.

     I asked again. With a stern look he said, “Did you serve? When you serve, Ill put on tefillin.” He was asking me if I went into the army.

     “Hayiti,Chabibi, Hayiti!” (I was, my dear friend, I was).

     In 1982 they called for volunteers for the Lebanon War. I was in California. I was on the first plane to Tel Aviv. They gave me a uniform, a rifle, and a truck to drive the generator repairman to the frontline bunkers. I went into every bunker on the Golan. I was only there for a month, but it was enough for me to be able to say that I served. I grabbed his arm, and said, “I went into the army, so you can put on tefillin!”

     While I was putting tefillin on him he asked, “Why don’t the other ‘Chareidim (ultra religious) go into the army?”

     I said, “You have to ask them.”

     He read the Shema, and prayed for his family and for our soldiers.

     Ha! Here’s one more great reason to serve in the Israeli army.

-----

th(YNetNews)   ZAKA chairman's son joins IDF. Members of extreme Eda Haredit faction not surprised to hear son of their former operations officer, Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, has been drafted...

aaUp to a decade ago, ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav was considered the symbol of ultra-Orthodox extremism in his role as the legendary operations officer of the Eda Haredit faction.

Only recently, however, his 18-year-old son Ariel joined the Israel Defense Forces. After a strict screening procedure, the young Meshi-Zahav was assigned to the Golani infantry brigade and participated in an oath taking ceremony several weeks ago.

Yehuda Meshi-Zahav began changing his ideological perception during the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2001 when he founded ZAKA, a network of voluntary community emergency response teams in Israel.  (ZAKA is an emergency rescue and recovery – RECOVERY of deceased remains – these are the guys that arrive after terrorist attacks and bombings and collect all the body parts for dignified burial.)

The former extremist, who was arrested dozens of times in the past for acts committed as part of his opposition to the State and its institutions, was given the honor of lighting an honorary beacon on Israel's 55th Independence Day official ceremonies in 2003.

An associate of Meshi-Zahav said he accepted his son's decision to enlist without any objection.

A senior Eda Haredit source expressed his contempt for the ZAKA chairman after learning that his son had been drafted…"He is a person who knew how to explain to everyone why Zionism is a lie, and at an older age he suddenly decided to change.”

Collecting body parts after terrorism attacks can give one a new appreciation for the efforts of the security forces and government trying to protect it’s citizens.  Kol HaKavod to R. Meshi-Zahav, and may his son stay safe and have much success as a physical defender of Klal Yisroel.

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The Illegal Shofar

Direct video link. 

(h/t Y.L.)

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

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Calling for Moshiach Together, Today

(more here)

The Chafetz Chaim, one of the leading tzaddikim of the generation before World War II, said: "If only thousands and millions of sincere Jews would show to Hashem how they truly desire Mashiach, he would surely come immediately."

Let's follow the advice of the Tzaddik and pray all together, giving tsedaka right before.

The moment will be: TODAY September 23, 2012 - 17:00 Israel, 8:00 Los Angeles, 11:00 New York, 10:00 Peru, 12:00 Buenos Aires, 17:00 Paris, 19:00 Moscow, 23:00 HongKong, 1:00 Sept 24 Sydney…

5 minutes where we gonna be connected and united, all Jews over the world, whatever our beliefs or affliliations!

SAME MOMENT, SAME PRAYER: this is the first time since our exile: GREAT! We cannot miss this opportunity. Let's just do it with confidence and happiness, with our heart. That's all we need!

Spread the word... to the World, so B'H we can be thousands or millions !

PRAYER TEXT IN YOUR LANGUAGE:
תפילת עברית
" ריבונו של עולם,
אנו בני ישראל מבקשים שמשיח צדקנו יגאל אותנו עכשיו מהגלות ברחמים, לשים סוף לכל סבל, לגלות את שמך ולהביא שלום לעולם."

English Prayer
“Master of the Universe,
We, the children of Israel, ask you for Mashiach to redeem us , now and with mercy, from exile and all suffering, to reveal your Name in the world and to bring peace.”

Prière en français
“Maître de l’Univers,
Nous les enfants d’Israël te demandons Mashiach, maintenant et avec miséricorde, afin de nous délivrer de cet exil et de nos souffrances, de révéler ton Nom dans ce monde et d’y amener la paix.”

Oración españolas
"Maestro del Universo,
Nosotros, los hijos de Israel,
Suplicamos por Mashíaj, para redimirnos ahora y con misericordia, del exilio y el sufrimiento de todo, para revelar su nombre y apellidos en el mundo y traer la paz”.

Preghiera italiana
“Ribono scell' Olam,
Noi, i figli d'Israele,
Ti preghiamo a mandarci Moshiach,
Adesso e con misericordia, per salvarci dall'esilio e da tutte le sofferenze, per manifestare il Tuo Nome in tutto il mondo, e per portarci la pace”

Phonetic (English)
“Ribono shel olam,
Anu, Benei Israel, mevakshim shemashiach tsidkenu yagel otanu achshav mehagalut berachamim, lessim sof lechol sevel, legalut et shemcha ulehaviya shalom leolam.”

Phonetic (French)
“Ribono chel Olam,
Anou, Bnei Israel, mevakchim chemachia’h tsidkenou yagel otanou akhchav mehagalout berakhamim lessim sof lekhol sevel, legalout ète chemkha oulehaviya chalom leolam.”

(more here)

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Friday, September 21, 2012

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Unjustified

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Knuckle Bump

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     When I told this Israeli to talk to G-d, he “smacked” his knuckles against the sky as if he was “knuckle bumping” Hashem! I thought that I had seen everything, but this one cracked me up.


Knuckle Bump - A recent fad type of handshake

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

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Fouling the Land

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Strip mining the West Bank…

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But a satellite photo gives no perspective on what’s going on…

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For a feel for the scope, take a look in the middle left of this picture, the black square is a full size 18-wheeler dump truck…

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Literally cut right up to the neighborhood street…

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That’s ok, here’s reclamation for you… just dump the city garbage right over the edge into the quarry!  (Again, for scope, on the top left of the picture on the bottom of the street are two buses.)

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We love G-d’s gift, the Land of Israel, and the Jewish people have spent the last 140 years or so reclaiming, recovering, rebuilding, reforesting and reviving the Land of Israel.  And they….

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Wine Starts Here

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

The Land of Israel is very very good.  It’s an amazing place that squeezes an incredibly wide variety of climates and conditions into a very small area.

Within a 30 minute ride of my home must be over 20 wineries.  Not because I live in grape country, many of the wineries and their vineyards are in widely disparate climates and grow completely different types of grapes (and offer different types of wines).  It simply seems that the Land of Israel is simply blessed to support growing grapes just about anywhere!

My wife and I stopped by the Gush Etzion Winery before Rosh Hashana, tried a few excellent wines (bringing a few bottles home for the holiday), watched them processing (their processing area is set up for tours), and took a few pictures of the grapes.

A few weeks before we attended a wedding at the Psagot Winery.  Completely different types of grapes and wine, still amazing quality (and a beautiful wedding).

The blessings in Israel just shine through.

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A chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy) beneath the full moon, Psagot Winery outside of Lower Migron, Shomron (West Bank), Israel.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

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Bomb in Paris Kosher Grocery

(BusinessWeek) A French news agency is reporting that four people were injured when a small package bomb exploded inside a kosher grocery store in a Paris suburb.  (Other reports say a firebomb, a grenade or a molotov cocktail.)

The Sipa news agency says that the explosion was set off by two hooded people dressed in black who entered the store around midday and put a package inside, citing an unnamed police official and a Jewish organization. The two fled after throwing a rock through the shop's window shortly before the explosion, the police official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak publicly about the investigation.

The official said the injured people are being treated for wounds to their arms and legs from the explosion and broken glass.

The attack took place in Sarcelles, a suburb about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Paris.  Sometimes called “Little Jerusalem,” Sarcelles, north of Paris, with 60,000 residents is home to a large Jewish community.

A French Jewish umbrella organization, CRIF, said in a statement that "it fears this attack" is connected to the days of violent protests from Asia to Africa against the U.S.-produced film "Innocence of Muslims," which ridicules Prophet Muhammad.

…Because when a Coptic Xian produces a film negative about Islam, one would expect Jews to be attacked???

Police stated motives for the attack are unclear.

…Because people firebomb Jews now and then for the fun of it in France???

My dear Jewish brethren in France, please carefully consider your options for the future.

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Insulted!

Having been religiously insulted by this French Magazine on Rosh Hashana, though I don’t speak French nor did I see this until today and it was published last week, I am asking for all Jews who care about their heritage to rise up, march to the nearest (kosher) bakery and burn all the croissant’s to be found!

If one cannot find croissants in one’s area, one can march against any (kosher) restaurant serving crepes!  If one can find neither, assaulting any location with belgian waffles will do in a pinch!

Beware the wrath of the Jew, oh French sarcastic writer!  We will assault your breakfast food and force you to start the day with a bagel!

DeBreakfast those who would insult Judaism!!!

(h/t Elder of Ziyon(for those of our readers and security forces known to check this blog for whom English is not their mother tongue, this article is sarcasm and parody – no actual intent or instruction towards violent action is intended.)

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“Oh! No!”

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     I almost always try to get a picture of them smiling happily, but in cases like this, I try to get them to see themselves looking foolish. It is not so clear to the viewer, but the look on his face is really him saying, “Oh! No!”

     If you look closely you can see that he has at least four earrings piercing his ears! Not such a bright thing to do. To get them to understand why it is not so bright (to put it mildly), when I take the picture, I ask, “When you get married, who is going to wear the pants in the family?” This means who is going to be the boss in the house.

     Men, especially inexperienced men, think that they are going to rule the house when they get married. They feel that this is how they have to express their manliness. The smart woman very quickly learns to say, “That’s right dear, you are in charge, now please help me wash the floors, and also please take out the garbage.” And the smart man soon learns that he is in charge, as long as his wife doesn’t need anything.

     Back to my young man in the picture…After they answer my question about who is going to wear the pants and they say, “I am!” I ask, “Then, who is going to wear the earrings?”

     Almost always they catch on right away, laugh, look a little stupid, and say something like he did, “Oh, I was young when I did it.”

     And I said, “Okay, but you are not young anymore. Take them out so the girl will know that you are looking for a girl, someone who wears earrings.”

     He said that he would take them out, and I told him to come back when he has them out so I can see what he really looks like.

     Is a secular Jewish man allowed to have earrings? Yes. Is it a smart thing to do? No.

And if you love your fellow man (or woman) and you are in a position to help them, then you have to be pretty callous not to try.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

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Off for Rosh Hashana

The holy Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana begins at sundown of Sunday night this year (2012 according to the secular calendar), continuing through Monday until Tuesday night.

We will resume blogging, G-d willing should we merit to do so, on Wednesday.

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Rosh HaShonoh Meditation

by Reb Aharon Rubin on Mystical Paths

Rosh HaShonoh.

The time of תקיעת שןפר - blowing the Shofar.

Close your eyes.

You are standing before G-d right now.

G-d sees with a glance and KNOWS everything about me,

My innermost thoughts, my travails, my inner battles,

Those fought valiantly and those otherwise;

My triumphs and my aspirations ...

EVERYTHING…

I stand before my Infinitely Loving Father;

I embrace Him, with mind, Soul and heart.

Though I weep with trepidation, I love His embrace,

I want it to laaaaaast..

The Shofar sounds.

The only Mitsvoh [today] from the Torah for Rosh HaShonoh.

I am one with G-d, through this Mitsvoh.

A window to Heaven, an opening to higher worlds, another type of exis­tence, the world of revelation of G-d; the sound of the Shofar….

I allow myself to become enveloped in it, to be transformed;

As I listen to the sound of the Shofar and think only of G-d,

With tears, with longing, with silent prayer, with a beseeching heart,

Crowning Him as King of the world,

Asking Him to reveal His Oneness, His Onlyness,

His unique relationship with us,

G-d stands from His Throne of Strict Judgment and ascends His Throne of Loving Mercy,

He stretches out His Hands to us and joins us,

Joins us in our pain and our joy and our prayers,

And He pleads too for His Only Children.

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Fifty-Two Years

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     This Israeli stood in front of me as I tried to bring men over to put on tefillin. He seemed grouchy, as if he was totally against what I was doing. I smiled and said, “Come, put on tefillin. He looked at me as if he did not know what to do. I added, “It is almost Rosh Hashanah. It won’t hurt.”

     He nodded a tiny bit, and walked over. I put tefillin on him and he read the shema, all without the least hint of a smile. When he finished he said, “It’s been 52 years since I last put on tefillin. I laughed and said, “Don’t make me wait another 52 years for you to come back.”

     What actually made him turn… what went on inside his head? I do not know. But I do know that if I had not asked, he would not have changed. This is a tremendous thing for him to do a few days before he will be judged for the New Year.

     As I have been telling you, helping others is not the hard part, caring enough to want to help is.

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An Elevated Video for Rosh Hashana

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

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The Kotel–Inside the Men’s Area

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

In the Western Wall plaza, the Western Wall or Kotel (sometimes translated as Wailing Wall) being the outer wall and sole remaining piece of the ancient Jewish Temple, the men’s side has a covered area by the left side.

In the past years, the back part of this area has been cleared out and opened up a bit more.

Passing through a low arch, there’s a major seforim (Jewish holy book) area…  Notice the plexiglass panel in the floor, that’s for viewing the ongoing underground excavations.

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Stepping into the area and looking left, we see what appears to be a staircase, currently blocked off…  I’m not certain how it connects, but it may be the tunnel tours passes by there, or that’s now used as part of a new path to a women’s balcony that’s now in the back of the Kotel men’s area (accessible via the tunnel tour entrance).

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Looking right in the same room, we see another room which has been set up as a aron area, a sefer Torah and/or Tanach scroll storage area…

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Looking out of the room, we’re towards the Kotel within the covered area…

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Friday, September 14, 2012

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Only in Israel…

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When I spotted this in Jerusalem I thought “some time of Shabbos patrol service?”…

Then I realized it’s a mobility cart has special controls allowing it’s use on Shabbos (for someone who’s disabled) without violating Jewish law (and the sign is added to avoid maris ayin – the appearance of Jewish law violation). 

How cool is that?

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It’s Not the Years…

It’s the Miles that Did It

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     Have a wonderful New Year. A year filled with blessings, joy, health, prosperity, and tremendous spiritual awareness. May Hashem bless you, your family, your friends, and may you accomplish your very purpose for being in the world.

May you be written and sealed for a good and sweet year.

With warmest regards,

Gutman

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Baptized!

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     He is from Switzerland. He was baptized as a child, and was raised an Xian. But, guess what? His mother is Jewish. For some reason he learned to speak basic Hebrew, but he did not know what Rosh Hashanah is. He is returning to Switzerland, and is dating a non-Jewish girl.

     Will he turn and live a Jewish life, or go on as his mother did? Surely, I told him why he should not reject his spiritual inheritance. After all, he was born a Jew for some reason. I pointed out that his discovering that he is Jewish was obviously the reason he came to Jerusalem.

     The Torah portion of the week (when this Jew came to the Kotel), referring to the days of Redemption says, “Then Hashem, your G-d… will return and gather you in from all the peoples to which Hashem, your G-d has scattered you.”[i] We are seeing this happen today.


[i] Deuteronomy 30:3

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Shana Tova uMetuka!

PomegranateIt’s the Shabbos before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

In Judaism, the New Year is not a moment of partying.  It’s a time of reflection of the year past, consideration of how to improve ourselves in the year to come, Yom HaDin – judgment day before G-d, and the day when we proclaim Hashem’s kingship (as the King of kings) over us.

We come to this day with trepidation.  Will we be judged for good and merit blessings showered into our lives, or G-d forbid otherwise? 

We also come to this day with awe, as we have a role which no other can perform – to proclaim G-d’s kingship over us and the world, and in doing so making Him king by giving Him a people and kingdom, an awesome responsibility.

So we wish each other the most wonderful of blessings, a Shana Tova uMetuka, a good and sweet year, and a Ksiva vChasima Tova, that we should be written into the book of life (and goodness, and blessing, and health, and an honorable livelihood, and children, and success), that our Father our King should recognize our blessings and fulfill them.

And Hashem should recognize our merits, with which we are filled as a pomegranate is filled with seeds, and judge us as a father to His children – overlooking our lapses and failings with love and focusing upon our merits.  As we must do with each other! 

Our wishes to all our readers for a good and sweet year, filled with blessings for everyone and their families!

And may we merit the ultimate blessing, the geulah shalayma (the complete redemption) and the coming of Moshiach tzidkaynu (the righteous redeemer) – bringing a world of only good and peace.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

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U.S. Embassy Attacks Update–Fake Provocation?

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

U.S. news sources seem to be running behind on this one.  Further, they’re missing of almost obvious inconsistencies is…troubling.

New attack, Yemen.  The U.S. embassy in Yemen, a heavily fortified embassy, has just been overrun.  Early reports state a firefight in progress, and photos show a mob on the building (unclear if they’ve penetrated in the building).

The movie, NOT.  The supposed film, Innocence of Muslims, that is supposedly the provocation for these attacks on U.S. embassies in the Arab world, upon some investigative research seems NEITHER to be an actual film NOR created by an Israeli-American or funded by Jewish donors.

Dave from IsraellyCool spotted (ahead of the MSM by half a day), the supposed producer interviewed by the Wall Street Journal DOES NOT EXIST. 

Worth further mention is no proof of any existence of the movie beyond the 14 minutes release on Youtube, and production quality so laughably low it’s impossible any real money (the story quotes “$5 million”) was spent.

By the Jews, NOT.  Again, the initial interview quotes state a movie by an Israeli-American real estate developer.  Research quickly found no Israeli citizen by that name, nor any registered U.S. real estate developer by that name.  Some of the people involved who were interviewed stated the producer was clearly NOT Israeli or Jewish, and reviews of the producer’s interview indicate a strong Arabic accent. This is a blood libel, blaming the Jews, plain and simple.

Attack (and murder) of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, PLANNED.  Direct interviews of nearby witnesses stated that local security forces were withdrawn from the area on that day, whereas on all previous days they presented a heavy presence and checkpoints in the area.  The attackers, described as a group of at least 80 men, arrived armed with heavy weapons – the type used for military assaults.  They entered the building and immediately assaulted the “secure room”, the maximum security retreat location in the building – they knew the layout.  This was not some outpouring of religious indignation, this was a planned assault on a U.S. embassy.

What’s really going on?  Through the smoke and confusion, it’s hard to say.  A guess is the movie itself is a plant, funded by a Middle Eastern group (or nation or terrorist organization) to use as cover and generate mobs for a set of assaults on United States diplomatic outposts and associated sites in the Middle East.  The fact these events started on 9/11 is no coincidence.

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Happy Kids

by Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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A new study about to be released by the World Health Organization (WHO)[i] proves that two current smears against Israel are totally false.

     They found that adolescents in Israel are the 3rd happiest in the world. According to the findings of the “Happiness Index,” Israeli teens are happier than the vast majority of teens in the world. The percentage of happy teens in Israel is outranked only by Armenia and Macedonia. Israel is tied in third place with Holland, Iceland and Spain.

     The study that was conducted among almost 5,000 teens in the 6th, 8th and 10th grades also found that female teens tend to be happier than male teens 51% to 47%. It further showed that Israeli Arab youths were happier than Jewish youths by 55% to 47%.

     First, this study by non-Jewish, non-Israeli polltakers puts to rest the myth that life in America is better for Jewish children than in Israel. The children here are healthier and happier than the Jewish children in America.

     This study also shatters the Arab and left wing’s vicious political lies regarding the treatment of Arabs in Israel. They scream that Israeli Arabs are treated even worse than the Jews were treated by the Germans during the Second World War, yet the Arab teens here are among the happiest in the world. This lie is firmly believed not only throughout the Arab and Muslim world, but by all anti-Semitic populations, especially on college campuses where they are happy to grab onto any vicious lie they hear, as long as it is against Jews.

     Know how to answer their false claims.


[i] Times of Israel Sept 5, 2012

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

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A Jewish Boy’s First Haircut

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     There is a tradition not to cut a Jewish boy’s hair until his 3rd birthday. The source is attributed to the Torah likening man to a tree in the field, and just as we do not shear the fruit of a tree for its first three years, so too, the custom is not to cut a boy’s hair until his third birthday.

There is a joyful celebration that accompanies the snipping off of some of his locks that is called the upsherin (Yiddish: shearing off). The day marks his moving from being a baby to being a young boy, and, most important, at this time his formal Torah education begins.

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U.S. Embassies Under Muslim Attack???

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

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What the heck???

The U.S. ambassador and/or up to 4 U.S. diplomatic personnel have been killed in Libya.  The U.S. embassy in Egypt has been attacked by a mob (the diplomatic personnel were evacuated prior) and defaced.

What’s going on?  You’re going to love this one…

An “Israeli-American real estate developer” raised money from “American Jewish donors” to produce a film about the “hypocrisies of Islam” in California.

14 minutes of the film were released in July on Youtube, and just recently close captioned in Arabic. 

Besides being low production quality and ridiculous in approach, the film is culturally and religiously insulting in a satirical but disgusting fashion.  And the Islamic approach to someone insulting their religion is to demonstrate it’s peacefulness by killing those doing the insulting (and often killing some of themselves in the process of riots and so forth).

The U.S. response to the attacks on their embassies has been to… wait for it… APOLOGIZE. “The U.S. embassy in Cairo put out the following statement early Tuesday:  “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. [source]”

After a harsh political response in the U.S. (during US election season), the White House quickly repudiated the diplomatic statement by the U.S. Embassy to Egypt, announcing to a News Blog (NOT via diplomatic channels, NOT via the State Department, and NOT via the U.S. Embassy in Egypt) “The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government”.  NOT REPUDIATED.

The U.S. is presenting a position of NOT defending it’s embassies in supposedly allied nations and repudiating the free speech rights of American citizens.

Nothing to worry about here.  Move along.

I’m of mixed feelings about the Jewish involvement.  If Jewish American’s want to express themselves, why can’t they?  On the other hand, sticking your head up in the middle of a global culture war draws fire to the whole community.  Fire the whole community may not be prepared to deal with.

Hashem Ya’azor, protect us against our own stupidity!

UPDATE – I missed the point that these attacks were on 9/11. (Yesterday.)  I also missed that NO AMERICAN news media picked them up until Israeli YNet reported it!

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Ari & Jeremy Run for Knesset

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

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I was invited to a political rally for Ari & Jeremy, two guys who have been building a career in the Israeli PR and Aliyah outreach business, with successful radio and video media programs.

What makes a couple of guys drop from a growing and promising business and media path to suddenly run for the Israeli parliament?  I attended to find out. 

Simply stated, these guys are passionate about Israel and passionate about making a difference.  That in and of itself differentiates them from possibly all of the members of the Knesset.

So are these guys a joke or are they serious?  And can they get anywhere?

What’s shocking is that not only are they serious, but they’ve already had a serious impact.  They’re getting enough attention and taking serious enough positions that other candidates and party officials are having to respond and in some cases match them.

What are their positions?

1. Unity.  They think it’s crazy for parties in a similar space to be divided, resulting in a bunch of tiny parties with limited or no voice.  They’ve committed to giving up their seats if that results in a single party block.  (Their area of focus is the national religious parties, but this statement could apply equally as well to the ultra-orthodox parties.)

2. Good Governance.  This is an issue that’s uniquely American, having a government that actually works.  No crony-ism, no influence peddling, an actual government that works, and works fairly. 

3. Representation.  Israel works by a parliamentary majority system, meaning elected officials are not beholden to voters of a particular area.  Therefore they offer no constituent services, and when you have trouble with the Israeli system you have no “representative” to turn to.  Ari & Jeremy committed to providing actual constituent services to their voting public.

4. Transparency.  They’re report on who they’re meeting with, what they’re doing, what they voted for or against.  And they hope when they start, the rest of the Knesset will have to follow.

Frankly these are hot button issues in Israel.  EVERYONE, not just American immigrants, agrees that the Israeli system doesn’t work well (at all?)  As I’ve told some secular Israeli co-workers, the fact that the State of Israel survives and thrives is an obvious example of Hashem’s miracles at work – because it’s a nes min hashamayim (it’s a heavenly miracle!) that anything gets done here.

EVERYONE feels disenfranchised, knowing there is no one to turn to when dealing with challenging government interactions. 

And EVERYONE feels that the politicians are taking advantage (whether true or not, that’s due to the lack of transparency.)

These guys say they’re going to change that, and they’re already forcing some of the politicians to improve their positions in response.  I’m impressed, as these guys are ALREADY making a difference (and they haven’t been elected to anything or gotten onto a party list yet.)

Here’s a video clip of them sharing some key points…  (Direct link here.) My final thoughts after the clip.

Their initial target constituency is English speaking immigrants of the national religious bend.  As a black hat beard wearing guy, I challenged them on this.  Do they intend to be a narrow interest, or narrow constituency, focused team?  Why haven’t they reached out to the large number of ultra-orthodox English speaking immigrants (of Jerusalem and Ramat Beit Shemesh for example)?  Or for that matter secular English speaking immigrants of Tel Aviv?  Or the many Israelis who have spent time in America and “get it”.

The answer I received was they started with what they know and where they have connections.  They’re very respectful of the Torah learning community and would be thrilled to gain traction there as well.  But given the time available until their party elections, they focused where they had an immediate in.

Unfortunately the registration deadline for their party elections has passed.  But if they make a realistic position on their party list, these guys are worth supporting in the next Israeli election.

Though I didn’t sign their party papers in time (not knowing the deadline was so close), these guys have my support.

Their web site is here.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

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An Entity Issue

by Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     A young man came up to me at the Kotel early in the morning and asked for help. He was very concerned about something that was going on in his life. He had heard about my background, and he really wanted my advice.

     When I asked him what was the problem, he hesitated, and then with a slight tremble, he moved his hand slowly up and down his arm, and said, “It seems that I have an entity issue!”

     I knew what his words meant, but I was not sure that he did. I asked, “What are you talking about?”

     He said, “I have been bothered by certain feelings, and I met a Sephardi mekubal (mystic), and he told me that there is an ‘entity’ on me.” Now he looked scared.

     “Why do you believe such a thing?” I asked.

     He answered, “Sometimes it feels like I have insects crawling all over my arm, and there are other unusual things, too.”

     I could see that he really believed what he was told. I said, “There is no entity on you.”

     He argued, “The mekubal told me things about myself so I know that he is right.”

     “Baloney!” I said, holding back what I really wanted to say. I said, “The real problem is that you have a huge worm in your nose!”

     He looked at me like I was nuts.

     “Why don’t you believe me when I tell you about the worm in your nose? … because it is just too outrageous, ridiculous! And neither do you have an “entity” on you. It is total nonsense, and you should not believe it for one second. You are exaggerating normal feelings, and saying that something is on you. No one can spiritually do anything to you unless you invite them to do it, and even then, it is only your imagination turned palpable.”

     He would not listen. He wanted to believe that fairy tale. I told him that there was a genuine scholar of Kabbalah coming to the Kotel within an hour, and he could ask him to see who was right.

     He left, still convinced that he had some spiritual entity crawling on him!

     When the rabbi I referred to came I told him what the young man said.

     He said, “Imagination!”

     I asked, “That’s it…only imagination?”

     He added, “Someone (the so-called mekubal) has a talking sickness.” (spreading foolishness)

     I did not plan to send out this story, but then, that very afternoon, a young women asked me how to get the “energy off” her that some man she had dated is putting on her. When I saw that there was more than one case of this type of foolishness going around, I realized that the subject needed to be addressed.

     I told her the same thing that I told that young man in the morning, “Because you are still interested in that man you dated, you are imagining that he has some control over you, and he doesn’t. When you are ready to leave him, and move on in your life, those imagined feelings will stop bothering you.”

     I explained to both of them that they should be looking up to the One Who is All. They should attribute everything that happens to Him and not think for a moment that there is any spiritual reality to the feelings on their arms. This is the type of foolishness that you find in India. But a Jew is supposed to talk to G-d, and have G-d lead him or her in their lives, not “energies” and “entities”!

     Hashem is everywhere, including inside your head. Talk to G-d. Do not invent problems when we already have enough. 

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9/11–The World Changes in an Instant

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

The world changes in an instant.  Sometimes for a country, sometimes the whole world.  These are events you don’t forget, though our children may not have experienced one…yet.

9/11 and 7/7.  The collapse of the Soviet Union.  The fall of the Berlin Wall.  The Six Day War.  The Kennedy Assassination.

Events of a lifetime.  In the time before “we were like dreamers.”  The time “after”, things are never the same again.

It’s all in the Hands of Hashem.  We don’t understand why, we certainly don’t know when. 

What are the events of THIS generation?  We aren’t prophets, though we are the great-great grandchildren of them.  So we can “get a feeling” and hints from the holy writings – the pressure points are in place.

We are believers, the children of believers, and we know it’s all part of the plan.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

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Help Us Help Them Out – 100% Tzedakah

Dear Friends:

It's been an honor and a privilege to be a part of your lives for this past year.  (The Jewish New Year starts this coming Sunday evening!)

We wish all of you, and all of Klal Yisroel, a good and sweet year, a year filled with blessings for health, parnossa (making a good full complete honorable living), children, Torah, and all the good things of this life.  And especially the ultimate good, may this year bring us the ultimate blessing, Moshiach Tzidkaynu and the Geulah Shalayma!

As the days of awe come upon us, as the King, the King of Kings, sits upon the kisay hakovod and opens the book of judgment, we are taught that three things will help us at the time of our judgment...

Teshuva - repentance, returning and reconnecting to Hashem and His Torah.
Tefillah - prayer, calling out to our G-d and our King, in the words taught to us by the sages and in our own words.
Tzedakah – charity but literally justice, giving of ourselves and our hard work to those who have less and are in need via the gifts G-d has given to us which includes an obligation to share with those less fortunate.

For those who can give, there are always those who desperately need and we can help make a difference. We can literally emulate G-d by giving with no possibility of return.

If you wish, we at Mystical Paths (under rabbinical supervision) offer you the opportunity to DIRECTLY help those in need in the Land of Israel.  DIRECT means no overhead, no advertising, no office expenses – 100% charity (minus ~3.5% credit card charges and money changing fees).  EVERY bit helps, every dollar, shekel, euro, rubel, rand… hey we’ll take any currency you’re willing to give IN ANY AMOUNT. 

And if not us, here’s other VERY WORTHY charities in Israel… Help the Hungry in Israel via Yad Eliezer
Help The Poorest in Israel via Colel Chabad or Help Terror Victims via Yad Sarah.

DIRECT ASSISTANCE – Straight from you to the needy for the High Holidays…


L'Shana Tova uMetuka - A Good and Sweet Year!!!

(Donations rabbinically supervised by Rabbi Chaim Farro and via our registered legal Israeli charity – information and registration certificate available upon request.)

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Why the Kippa? (Yarmulke)

by Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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A reader asked:

     I always pray for my family, why do I need tefillin? Why do you wear a hat and jacket? Why the kippa?

Gutman’s Reply:

     First I will answer you in a way that you will understand. Then, I will give you the real reason.

     If you love someone very much, and you ask him (or her) to do something for you, and at the same time he asks you to do something for him, how would it be if you refuse him? Could you expect him to keep doing what you ask even though you refuse to do what he wants? You are praying that G-d will bless your family, but you are questioning His commandments. It seems sensible to put tefillin on, if for no other reason than you keep asking Him to bless your family.

     Obviously, the primary reason we do mitzvahs is because G-d told us to do them. But there are many other wonderful reasons to do them. For instance, when we do a mitzvah we say a blessing that reminds us that mitzvahs make us holy. I cannot think of a better reason than this. What could be more wonderful than becoming holy?

     But there is even more that happens when we put on tefillin. Tefillin remind us of G-d’s commandments. They identify us as Jews. They give us a physical act to express our love for G-d, and His Torah. On and on, there are so many wonderful reasons (read: benefits) to do a mitzvah.

     But what about the kippa? The rabbis invented kippas. Or, did they? 

     Hashem told Moshe, “You shall make vestments of sanctity (holy garments) for Aaron (the Priests) …for glory and splendor….”[i]

     Today the Temple is not standing. Our prayers and other acts have to fill in for the lack of the Temple service. For instance, our Shabbos tables have to be arranged so they help to replace that missing service. We have to conduct ourselves in a holy way at the Shabbos table, two loaves of bread to remind us of the double portion of manna for Shabbos, they are dipped in salt to remind us of the sacrifices, we wash our hands to remind us of the priestly purity required, words of Torah, wine as was offered with the sacrifices, and on, and on.

     So too, like the kohen, we must we dress in a holy way. The rabbis instituted the custom that all Jewish men should wear a head covering, but they did not invent the idea. They merely brought the Torah into our lives. The kohanim wore head covers. It is wise to take advantage of all of the tools that we have.

     As for the hat and coat, if you live in a community where the righteous people wear sandals, shorts, and tee-shirts, then this is perfectly acceptable.

     But there are advantages to wearing a “religious” hat and coat. Our clothes protect us. If we dress like immodest people, we can soon act like them. It would be very uncomfortable for a man in a black hat and coat to go to a “mixed” beach.

     We usually dress on the outside like we feel inside. So our clothes can be a statement. Surely others judge us by the way we look. Actually, our clothing is likened to our deeds. This is why it is a custom to buy new clothing for the New Year, implying that we are going to do new and better deeds in the coming year.

     Obviously, the bottom line is what we do, and not how we look. But we are told to avoid even the appearance of sin. So, we see that what we wear can be important.


[i] Exodus 28:2, 4, 40

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Sunday, September 09, 2012

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Calling for Moshiach Together

(more here)

The Chafetz Chaim, one of the leading tzaddikim of the generation before World War II, said: "If only thousands and millions of sincere Jews would show to Hashem how they truly desire Mashiach, he would surely come immediately."

Let's follow the advice of the Tzaddik and pray all together, giving tsedaka right before.

The moment will be: September 23, 2012 - 17:00 Israel, 8:00 Los Angeles, 11:00 New York, 10:00 Peru, 12:00 Buenos Aires, 17:00 Paris, 19:00 Moscow, 23:00 HongKong, 1:00 Sept 24 Sydney…

5 minutes where we gonna be connected and united, all Jews over the world, whatever our beliefs or affliliations!

SAME MOMENT, SAME PRAYER: this is the first time since our exile: GREAT!  We cannot miss this opportunity.  Let's just do it with confidence and happiness, with our heart. That's all we need!

Spread the word... to the World, so B'H we can be thousands or millions !

PRAYER TEXT IN YOUR LANGUAGE:
תפילת עברית
" ריבונו של עולם,
אנו בני ישראל מבקשים שמשיח צדקנו יגאל אותנו עכשיו מהגלות ברחמים, לשים סוף לכל סבל, לגלות את שמך ולהביא שלום לעולם."

English Prayer
“Master of the Universe,
We, the children of Israel, ask you for Mashiach to redeem us , now and with mercy, from exile and all suffering, to reveal your Name in the world and to bring peace.”

Prière en français
“Maître de l’Univers,
Nous les enfants d’Israël te demandons Mashiach, maintenant et avec miséricorde, afin de nous délivrer de cet exil et de nos souffrances, de révéler ton Nom dans ce monde et d’y amener la paix.”

Oración españolas
"Maestro del Universo,
Nosotros, los hijos de Israel,
Suplicamos por Mashíaj, para redimirnos ahora y con misericordia, del exilio y el sufrimiento de todo, para revelar su nombre y apellidos en el mundo y traer la paz”.

Preghiera italiana
“Ribono scell' Olam,
Noi, i figli d'Israele,
Ti preghiamo a mandarci Moshiach,
Adesso e con misericordia, per salvarci dall'esilio e da tutte le sofferenze, per manifestare il Tuo Nome in tutto il mondo, e per portarci la pace”

Phonetic (English)
“Ribono shel olam,
Anu, Benei Israel, mevakshim shemashiach tsidkenu yagel otanu achshav mehagalut berachamim, lessim sof lechol sevel, legalut et shemcha ulehaviya shalom leolam.”

Phonetic (French)
“Ribono chel Olam,
Anou, Bnei Israel, mevakchim chemachia’h tsidkenou yagel otanou akhchav mehagalout berakhamim lessim sof lekhol sevel, legalout ète chemkha oulehaviya chalom leolam.”

(more here)

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A Quarter of a Jew

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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    James is from London, He has a very thick British accent. I could not understand him when he told me that his name is James, so he said, “Jacob, in Hebrew.”

      Someone brought him over to me saying, “He says that his grandmother was Jewish.”

     He was holding a large, brand new chr-istian bible. I asked. “Was your grandmother really Jewish?”

     He said that she was, so I asked, “Well, was it your father’s mother, or your mother’s mother?”

     He said that it was his mother’s mother. I asked if he was sure. He said that she was Jewish, but no one else in the family was Jewish.

     I said, “Since your mother’s mother was Jewish, your mother is Jewish, and since your mother is Jewish you are Jewish, and since you are Jewish I am going to take your Jewish blood pressure.” I rolled up his sleeve started to put tefillin on him.

     He objected, “Are you going to do this to me even though I am only one-quarter of a Jew?”

     I explained that there are no fractions of Jews. I assured him that he was an entire Jew, and I put tefillin on him. He tried to repeat the blessing, but he horribly mispronounced every word. 

     He read the Shema in English, and I showed how to pray for his family. Then, I explained in detail why the ch-ristain religion was not for him. He seemed to have understood.

     I said, “Throw away that chr-istian bible and get a Jewish one. You are a Jew. When you go back to London go to a Chabad House and tell the rabbi that you just found out that you are Jewish, and ask him what you are supposed to do. You will meet a nice Jewish lady to marry, and you can make a Jewish family. Today is a big day in your life.”

     He was very happy. But then, when I took off the tefillin, he started to cry. I asked him why he was crying. He said, “I feel so strange, so different now.”

     These tears come when a significant spiritual realization, or revelation occurs. It is a startling experience for someone who studied the bible, and thought that he was not Jewish, to find out that indeed he is a Jew. The feeling rises up, floods the intellect, and the person breaks down crying. His mind did not know how to handle the overwhelming new reality.

     James the chr-istian walked into the Kotel, and Jacob the Jew walked out!

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

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Is the Geulah for You?

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

geulah_bookRabbi Josh at Parshablog posted this recent thought…

….I don't know what to make of (other site). In comments there and elsewhere, they are very much in favor of this belief in (not mainstream Moshiach position). …they describe how they are geirim (from a background of high level involvement in their previous religions)... Is this just switching from one false messianism and idolatry to another?

The reason I point it out is that so many of the discussions on the English Geulah blogs are framed by people with outside influences, be they "Noahides" (non-Jewish believers in the Torah laws of Noah and non-Jews), baalei teshuva (Jews without a religious background who learned and took on observant Jewish practice and belief or Jews of observant practice who left it and then returned), gerim (converts), or Xians.
-------------

One could read that to mean R. Josh is implicitly saying only those people care about Moshiach and the Geulah or that Moshiach and the Geulah is an outside influence on traditional Judaism.

This is not a ridiculous thought. 

Half of the Jewish world spent the last 1,500 years in Xian nations, and it wasn’t an easy time.  The Jewish communities were at the same time demonized by their Xian neighbors and targeted for conversion.  They were harassed, restricted, forcibly preached to, faced instances of forced conversion, expulsion, slaughter and genocide – all in the name of the Xian religion. 

The Jewish holy books in those communities were censored (when not being outright burnt), removing any references Xian censors decided were inappropriate, defamed their religion, or discussed the Messiah in ways they considered inappropriate.  (These censored portions have ONLY been returned to new publications of seforim [Gemora, Mishna Torah, etc] in the last 20 years!)

So for the rabbis of ancient Europe to teach their congregations that Jews have nothing to do with a messiah was a defensive measure.  Under constant persecution, building religious defensive structures against the positions of the persecuting religion was a survival mechanism.  (I am not saying they built untruthful positions, rather they avoided a place of differences – different messiah concepts – by just avoiding the concept.)

This didn’t work completely.  Moshiach and Geulah concepts are integrated into Judaism, such that when someone arrived claiming to be Moshiach, much of the Jewish world bought it.  The Jewish world suffered two major instances of false messiahs, those of Shabtai Tzvi and Frank.

In response to those incidents, concepts of Moshiach and Geulah were further de-emphasized.  This was part of the major concern and opposition to the growth of the chassidic movement.  Further complicating Judaism’s outlook was the rise of the reformation movement, to which traditional Judaism fought back with “any change (any reform) is a breach of Torah”.

Now we come to current times.  Moshiach was basically a persona non grata until the Lubavitcher Rebbe re-emphasized the topic.  Censored materials have been republished, allowing all to study the ancient traditional positions on the topic of Geulah.  And, as R. Josh notes, perhaps as no time in Jewish history there’s an influx of those not born as religious Jews but becoming so by choice (whether via conversion or learning about their heritage).  Those Jews bringing with them interest in all aspects of Judaism, often digging into obscure areas the mainstream doesn’t generally concern itself with, as well as bringing their spiritual baggage along.

Is it a bad thing?  I guess that depends on where you sit.  There were good reasons these things were de-emphasized, and traditional Judaism is loathe (for some of the reasons mentioned above) to accept change – and that includes in areas of emphasis.  Yet, the world is changing at an ever increasing pace and the traditional Jewish world is beset with influences that it’s not fully prepared to handle. 

This is where those Jews by choice come in.  Yes, they may arrive with baggage and outside interests.  But they also dig in to Torah to find and align themselves with the traditional Jewish position on their areas of interest. 

Geulah is a hot topic of our time.  It may be because world events seem to be aligning closely with Nach (the biblical prophets) as well as with zman-geulah statements of the Gemora and Midrashim.  (Or it may be we’re so flooded with information in this Internet generation that we can’t help but pick out patterns from so much chaff.)

So it’s no surprise that those with such interests focus on it.  But is this a problem, or is it those Jews who had the interest and then grounded themselves in the proper Torah positions of such things are the ones prepared to discuss it?

Though following the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s bringing the topic back to the fore, there’s no lack of mainstream Torah scholars who delve into such topics either.

The Geulah, it’s for all of us!

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