Monday, December 31, 2012

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Aliyah Tovah

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     This young American is a music producer, and a sound technician. He just moved to Israel and became an Israeli citizen. This is called aliyah (ascent). Whenever we come to Israel, even for a visit, we come up, and whenever we leave, we go down.

     This is also true about Jerusalem. Even if we travel from one part of Israel to Jerusalem we say that we are going up to Jerusalem, and when we leave Jerusalem, we go down. This is a spiritual ascent and descent. We recognize that Israel is spiritually higher than the other lands, and that Jerusalem is the highest place in all of Israel.

     What practical difference does this make? When we care enough to take a look, the spiritual nature of reality is much easier to see here than in other lands. G-d is equally everywhere, but He makes it easier for us to see this here. Obviously, He does so because He wants us to be here.

     When I asked the young man why he made aliyah, he told me that he came because he could not find a Jewish wife in America. He thinks that he came here for an entirely physical reason. He doesn’t realize what is actually going on.

     G-d gives us the physical land of Israel for spiritual reasons. He wants us to use the holiness of this land to bring His Torah into the world. G-d gives men the strong physical desire for a woman for the same reason. He wants us to bring more souls into the world so they can fulfill His commandments. Not only do mitzvahs reveal holiness in this world, but the souls that do them go on to an even higher place than they were before they came into this world. This is the soul’s descent and ascent. This is also why marriage is called, “going down in order to come up.” The single man is leaving the, in some ways, higher life of only learning Torah, and is going down into the very physical life of marriage and family. And his going down will bring him even higher.

     When we only look at the physical aspects of marriage, it can be very difficult at times. But we know that the reward of staying together far outweighs the difficulty of putting up with someone else’s moods. Living in Israel can also be very frustrating, but when we look at the benefits of living in this holy place it makes the daily frustrations easy to put up with.    

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

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Idolatry – Yes or No?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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Within the last two weeks, I have been asked if the following techniques are alright for a Jew (are they kosher), or do they involve some type of avodah zarah (idolatry). 

Thai Massage

Oriental Martial arts

Prajna medicine

Emotional Freedom Technique - tapping

     The problem with saying that any particular practice is perfectly alright is that not all people who apply these various “arts” follow their own rules. Nor do all of these systems have a single source, so one may be alright, while another with the same name or practice might be a problem.

     For instance, oriental martial arts (such as karate) are said to be free from idolatry, but when I checked out karate in Okinawa in 1957 the teacher told me that when you reach the very high level of Fifth Degree Black Belt you were to call on spirits to assist you in the art of breaking bricks with your bare hand! Does this condemn all Karate? I do not think so. But, it is an obvious warning.

     Today, there is a very popular American, evangelical (Xian) American football player who kneels down and prays to his deity on the field before the game. Everyone sees him do this, and he is so good at the game that he is inspiring young people to do the same. Does this forbid American football? No, not at all. So, even though a particular practice may be idol-free that does not mean that any particular teacher of that “art” is not including his idolatrous teachings.

     There are some general rules that you can watch out for, and then you should be able to judge these things for yourself. But surely, to be safe, it is good to ask someone who has the experience and knows the subject. Know that not all rabbis are familiar with the actual practices of idolatry, so they will not know what is safe and what is not. Their answers will depend upon how you explain the practice to them.

     One big rule is, if the practice is dealing with “energy,” and if this so-called energy is coming from or through the “healer” or practitioner, and moving on to the person he is working with, then that practice is spiritually wrong and you should not be part of it.

     Obviously, if the “healer” or practitioner calls on the names of spirits or entities or such, you should not be part of it.

      If the practice copies practices that are known to be part of a religion, such as sitting in the “lotus” position with your thumbs forming a circle with your forefingers when you meditate, then it is not for you.

     Often, the actual techniques can be alright if they can be entirely extracted from any association with the idolatry. 

Reb Akiva adds, this can be particularly tricky as it requires the person to be an expert in the practice and be an expert in the Jewish proscriptions against avodah zara, idol worship.  Few Westerns today (including rabbis) recognize avodah zara practices, even when they’re literally in front of them.

      A recent example; a friend went to a practitioner of the new fad, “tapping.” Depending on whom you learn it from, they will tell you all sorts of “facts” about what is going on, but basically, the person who is being worked on learns to gently tap certain spots on his or her body and this relieves them of their anxiety.

     My friend was told by the Jewish man who taught the practice to him that he learned it from someone who taught him to call on deities when he tapped himself! But the Jew threw out all of the deities and just kept the physical tapping. He also cleaned up the statement that you make when you tap.

     Obviously, there is no physical healing happening, but many people who do this say that it helps them. They quickly and gently tap their nose many times, or their forehead, or some other spot on their body, and they say something like, “I have been nervous about such and such and this is going to relieve me.” And it helps them. Okay…, psychological healing is also healing, as long as there are no spirits involved.

     As for “prajna medicine”; every site that I checked for this proudly displayed idols and praises of them. Other sites warn against the actual “natural” elements that pranja uses, saying that such problems as excessive lead content have been found in some of their “medicines”.

     Another basic rule when seeking out such “cures” is to use your head. Do not ask a barber if you need a haircut, and do not ask a natural healer if he can heal you. Certainly, some of it works, but do not bet your life on it.

     Be well.

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How Do I Know?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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Question(s):

     How do I know which path to take? How do I know the truth, if Hashem is guiding me, or if I am imagining things? Does Hashem really talk to us through everything like the Baal Shem taught?

Gutman’s response:

     The greatest value of the Torah is that it shows us a path that has safely led the Jewish people for thousands of years. We see that the Jews who follow it, end up with Jewish families. This is certainly one of the most important goals for a Jew. But still, within a Torah life, there are many options we can choose. So how do we know which path is true? Which path is for me? How do I guide myself on a daily basis?  

     First, if you were not raised in a traditional family, find a family that is happy following their way in Torah. See if they love and respect each other, and if you can say, “I would like my family to be like this.” Then follow their way as long as it works for you. The objective is to be happy with your Torah observance, and for your family to find joy in serving Hashem.

     As for the truth; when G-d first created the Universe, He did so with Truth and Righteousness ruling. But He soon saw that the world could not stand up to such strict judgment. So Hashem created Mercy to come into the world to throw down Truth, so Peace could be. Peace is the goal, not Truth.

     If the absolute truth were known who among us could survive the deserved judgment? Certainly, I could not!

     So G-d, in His kindness hides some of the truth and allows us to be forgiven. Of course, there is a limit to His patience, but for most of us, if we will try with a good heart, He will guide us to live a peaceful life.

     As we go, we all make mistakes… we fall… we pick ourselves up… we dust ourselves off… and we try again. Such is life… a series of ups and downs.

     Yes, every single blade of grass blows in the wind in a way that Hashem dictates, and if we see it, it was sent to teach us something about life. Whatever we do comes back to us. But we have to pay attention to the simple, pleasant responses, or they will become more severe, until we learn what they came to teach us.

     It is the fortunate person who learns of his mistakes and corrects them while he is still here. In the next world there is reaping, but no sowing. Now is the opportunity to make the world a better place, which also makes a better place for us, both in this world, and in the Next.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

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Update from Iran’s Jews - Murder

I received the following update from a contact in Iran’s Jewish community.  The Jews of Iran have been treated as national property since the Islamic mullah’s took over…

Shalom Rabbay ! A sad news , Sorry !

Rabbi ! Last night , in Tehran - Iran , a jewish man,  22-years-old, Daniel, was killed with a gun.

He had gathered all the supplies (gold, jewelry, money) and was going to move to America.  [Assumablely this means he sold all the family worldly possessions to be smuggled out of the country, the only path available for Jews to leave.]

That same night, his friends (that they are Muslims) killed him with guns and looted property.

This is the third murder of Jews occurred in recent months in Iran.

Please say tefilla [pray] for us ....

Anyone able to help the Jews of Israel should certainly do so!

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=Torah

The Torah portion, =3 style.  (If you don’t know what =3 is, good for you!)  My teens thought this was great.

Get it Done – Vahechi, direct link.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

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The Stability Initiative

This is the first new political thought I’ve heard out of Israeli politicians in pretty much a generation.  All of the current Israeli government politicians haven’t done much of anything but try to balance between current events.

Agree or disagree, it’s at least good to hear some new thinking.

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Philistines

This is a story I missed last year – archeology and biblical alignment.  Oh, and the Philistines were migrants to southern Israel…interlopers from Greece.

gath(Excerpts from) In Israel, diggers unearth the Bible's bad guys - By MATTI FRIEDMAN (AP)

At the remains of an ancient metropolis in southern Israel, archaeologists are piecing together the history of a people remembered chiefly as the bad guys of the Bible.

The city of Gath…is helping scholars paint a more nuanced portrait of the Philistines, who appear in the (navi’im – shoftim & shmuel alef – judges and samuel – bible) as the perennial enemies of the Israelites.

Close to three millennia ago, Gath was on the frontier between the Philistines, who occupied the Mediterranean coastal plain, and the Israelites, who controlled the inland hills. The city's most famous resident, according to the Book of Samuel, was Goliath — the giant warrior improbably felled by the young shepherd David and his sling…

Greek roots - In a square hole, several Philistine jugs nearly 3,000 years old were emerging from the soil. One painted shard just unearthed had a rust-red frame and a black spiral: a decoration common in ancient Greek art and a hint to the Philistines' origins in the Aegean.

The Philistines arrived by sea from the area of modern-day Greece around 1200 B.C…  At Gath, they settled on a site that had been inhabited since prehistoric times. Digs like this one have shown that though they adopted aspects of local culture, they did not forget their roots. Even five centuries after their arrival, for example, they were still worshipping gods with Greek names.

Archaeologists have found that the Philistine diet leaned heavily on grass pea lentils, an Aegean staple.  Ancient bones discarded at the site show that they also ate pigs and dogs, unlike the neighboring Israelites (for whom the Torah prohibits non-kosher animals, those without cloven hooves that chew their cud)…

gath2Diggers at Gath have also uncovered traces of a destruction of the city in the 9th century B.C., including a ditch and embankment built around the city by a besieging army — still visible as a dark line running across the surrounding hills.  The razing of Gath at that time appears to have been the work of the Aramean king Hazael in 830 B.C., an incident mentioned in the bible Book of Kings (malachim)…

"Gath fills a very important gap in our understanding of Philistine history," Gitin said.  In 604 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded and put the Philistines' cities to the sword. There is no remnant of them after that…

Samson's pillars? - The hero Samson (Shimshon haGibor), who married a Philistine woman, skirmished with them repeatedly before being betrayed and taken, blinded and bound, to their temple at Gaza. There, the story goes, he broke free and shattered two support pillars, bringing the temple down and killing everyone inside, including himself.

pillarOne intriguing find at Gath is the remains of a large structure, possibly a temple, with two pillars.  Maeir has suggested that this might have been a known design element in Philistine temple architecture when it was written into the Samson story.

Diggers at Gath have also found shards preserving names similar to Goliath — an Indo-European name, not a Semitic one of the kind that would have been used by the local Canaanites or Israelites.  These finds show the Philistines indeed used such names and suggest that this detail, too, might be drawn from an accurate picture of their society.

The findings at the site support the idea that the Goliath story faithfully reflects something of the geopolitical reality of the period, Maeir said — the often violent interaction of the powerful Philistines of Gath with the kings of Jerusalem in the frontier zone between them.  (That frontier zone is the area south of Beit Shemesh today.)

"It doesn't mean that we're one day going to find a skull with a hole in its head from the stone that David slung at him, but it nevertheless tells that this reflects a cultural milieu that was actually there at the time," Maeir said.

Check out the full story - In Israel, diggers unearth the Bible's bad guys

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

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Sodastream

My family are very happy customers of Sodastream.  What’s a Sodastream?  It’s a way of making your own soda (or pop or coke) at home, including a carbonation machine, special bottles and flavor mixes (optional, you can add anything you like) that mimic popular soda flavors.

This product is great if you care about the environment (no disposable plastic bottles – reusable plastic bottles that last 1-2 years each), great if you consume a lot of soda or have a large family and don’t like hauling around case after case of soda, runs about 1/2 the cost of regular soda purchases, and their “full flavor” products use less sugar, less corn syrup and less additives than regular soda.

Sodastream Genesis Home Soda Maker Starter Kit

Why do I mention it?  Because a bunch of DivestHoles continue to target this great product that I enjoy and use daily. 

So I encourage you to do the opposite, buy it.  Sodastream is made in Israel, and indeed some of their manufacturing occurs in Judea and Samaria.  They provide employment for the local population… that means Jews and Arabs.  And they sell their products worldwide, to any and all who would like to buy it.

For my orthodox Jewish readers, many Sodastream machines are permitted for use on Shabbat – just be sure to select one that does NOT have a digital display if you’re going to use it on Shabbat.  (The machine works by a mechanical action and is therefore permitted on Shabbat, but some machines have an electric digital quantity display, making those models prohibited.)

Non-Digital 4 Shabbat or Anyday - Sodastream Dynamo Deluxe

Digital Readout, Basic - SodaStream Fizz Starter Kit - Black/Silver

Digital Readout, Fancy - Sodastream Revolution Deluxe Home Soda Maker

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Regarding the Article; Ein Od

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

aleph

A reader asked; “But G-d also has a transcendent property correct? Many “rationalists”, Rambam’ists, and even those who take tzimtzum (contraction) literally might say that your explanation is misguided or even kfira (denial of G-d). I am so confused. I don’t know what to believe.”

“How do people know when we feel the oneness of the universe, we are not just feeling a separate oneness from G-d that He created?

Please help.

Gutman’s response;

      Of course G-d has “a transcendent property.” The entire physical aspect (creation) is but a tiny thought of the Creator.

     Whatever we feel is the One feeling (there is none other) but do we ever actually feel the entirety of the Infinity? Of course not. All we feel is our own limited feelings.

     What should you believe? Look at the practical differences between these two thoughts. One side says that G-d literally withdrew Himself from the place where He put His creation, and to this day He remains above it.

     While the other school says that the Zohar teaches that there is no place devoid of G-d. He never actually withdrew Himself. He merely hid Himself, and to this day He remains everywhere, but He is hiding.

     Those who follow, or believe in the school that says G-d is not in this world will have a more distant “relationship” with their Creator. Those who follow the school that believes that to this day G-d fills, surrounds, and actually is All, will have a more intimate “relationship” with their Creator.

      Both schools have many followers. Which makes more sense to you? The bottom line is you should believe like the righteous community you live with, but my advice to you is, choose your neighbors carefully.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

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A Rebellious Student

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     Israeli kids can drive their teachers nuts! Here is a good example.

     A nonreligious teacher brought his class to the Kotel. He did not bring them because he wanted to, or because he thought that it was a good idea, but of all things, a couple of years ago, the Israeli equivalent to the Board of Education decided that all of the Israeli school children have to come to the Kotel twice a year. Obviously, they think that there is some kind of educational value to this “historical” site.

     Back to this wild kid pictured above; the class was leaving their obligatory visit, and the teacher was calling out, “Okay, let’s go, let’s go.” I called out to this boy to come put on tefillin. The boy looked at his teacher, and the teacher yelled, “No way! We have to go. Why would you want to do a thing like that?”

     So obviously, being an Israeli, albeit a recent immigrant from Russia, (they learn quickly) the boy nodded okay to me, came over and let me help him put on tefillin. You see that look in his eye? Not only was he happy to be doing a mitzvah, but he was extremely happy to be doing something proper while his frustrated teacher had to wait. In fact, to the teacher’s great dismay, we got a bunch of his students to put them on.

Rascals! 

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Monday, December 24, 2012

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Good Yoga – Bad Yoga?

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

th (7)Comes word that in the middle of an ultra-orthodox chassidic Jewish community in New York, a group of Jewish women have formed a yoga practice.

This comes after a recent article on an ultra-orthodox Breslev chassidic yoga class in an ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Israel.

“…a pioneering group of Jewish women at … are stretching and bending, kosher-style…  Mainstream Western yoga classes are off limits for observant Jews for a number of reasons…  Still, they are drawn to yoga for the same physical, mental, and emotional benefits that have created the yoga boom in Western secular culture. …these women are forging a path that offers them the best of both worlds…

“The challenge of yoga intrigued me,” said the (teacher), “but I was worried that it might not be compatible with Judaism.” She consulted numerous rabbis and got varying opinions. Some religious authorities pronounced yoga ‘strictly forbidden!’- but (the teacher) kept digging.”

These women are practicing “Power Vinyasa”.  Let’s do a little digging of our own:

- Power yoga is a term used to describe a vigorous, fitness-based approach to vinyasa-style yoga. The term came into common usage in the mid 1990s, in an attempt to make Ashtanga yoga more accessible to western students.

- One of the founders of Power Yoga says, “I never diverged from teaching Ashtanga. Power Yoga was simply a name.”

- Ashtanga, the closing relaxation is very important and is an opportunity for entering a (yoga) meditative state.

- Ashtanga Yoga consists of eight ‘limbs’.  7 & 8 are ‘meditation’ and ‘spiritual consciousness’.

- A focus of Ashtanga yoga and Power Yoga is the vital aspect of internal purification.  The founding yogi teaches this is the six poisons that surround the spiritual heart. “It is said that God dwells in our heart in the form of light, but this light is covered by six poisons…”

- Avoid the moon. Both full and new moon days are observed as yoga holidays in the Ashtanga Yoga tradition.

Ok, what about this particular course?  The teacher’s teacher said, “her special brand of yoga has an aspect of mind-body unity; practicing a yoga pose, feeling a connection to your soul and therefore to your Creator, and getting enlightened by that…”

Continuing in the article on the New York class, “one of the students…. agrees that it’s the physical and mental benefits that hooked her into yoga. “I like the holistic feel. It’s fun and powerful…”

Let me finish with a statement from Reb Gutman, our blog expert on Hinduism, meditation and yoga.  “I have no idea how to get them to understand.  They want to do this!

The Yetzer Hara, the evil inclination, does not come in the middle of the ultra-orthodox Jewish community and try to trip people up (draw them into aveyrot – sin) with a desire for bacon. 

I credit the Jewish teachers with good intentions.  From the description they’ve removed the obvious Hindu external aspects from their class.  No Hindu names, bowing, no sun salutation.  They play Jewish music and (probably) make the yoga meditative statements using Jewish terminology.

But the foundational basis of these practices is Hinduism, and it should therefore be no surprise that performing these practices results in Hindu style responses.  “Feeling the connection…getting enlightened by that.”

Zumba.  Pilates.  Krav Maga.  There is no shortage of secular exercise and movement practices offering similar health benefits. 

There is no good yoga for a Jew.

[ I’m going to add one narrow exception.  I was approached by a chassidic Jew suffering from Parkinson's disease who told me a particular set of yoga movements offered him significant relief.  Yoga as a medical treatment for a significant medical condition would appear to be permitted (consult your personal rav). ]

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Friday, December 21, 2012

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There Is Nothing Else – Ein Ode

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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(There Is One & www.thereisone.com)

A reader asked:

     I know this is your favorite topic so I am asking you: It is a famous, old, but hard to understand question:

     G-d is one – “ain od milvado” – (there is nothing besides G-d),[ii] therefore; is the table G-d?

     Are we human beings G-d, or just our souls, and if just our souls, then how do we understand “there is nothing other than G-d”?

      How do I explain to my 4-year-old daughter where G-d is?

Gutman’s response:

     G-d is infinite. The Infinite, by definition, has no limits, therefore it must be all. If there would be anything other than the infinite, then that so-called infinite would not be endless. Since It is all, It must be both the lofty Infinite One, and at the same time, It has to be the tiny limited objects, too.

     The Infinite could say, "I am all, including the finite objects." But the finite objects (even though they are actually tiny portions of the Infinite), cannot say that they are the Infinite, because this finite object, is only one tiny, finite object, and it is not the other finite objects.

     The Infinite hides Its infinity to allow the finite to feel as if it is a separate, individual being. But in truth, the One is still all even after the finite entities have come into being. There is nothing else.

     Show your daughter the cover to There Is One, or go to www.thereisone.com and see the light bouncing off the water.

    How many lights are there?

    Most viewers say that there are many lights bouncing off the water. But really, there is only one light pictured there. It is the sunlight.

    How many reflections are bouncing off the water?

    There are many, tiny reflections of the One Light bouncing off the water.

     Each reflection is made of, and is a small portion (area) of the One light. The one light is in the air above the water, and it is on the water, and it is bouncing off the water. It is the one and only light in the picture. The reflections are tiny, individual rays of the one light that are being reflected off the water.

     Each object in creation is like a tiny reflection of the One Infinite One. No one tiny table (reflection) can claim to be the Infinite, but even that tiny table is a drop of the Infinite, presently being drawn into the shape of a limited table. Like a drop of water in the ocean; when you touch the drop in the ocean, you are touching the ocean, but the drop cannot claim to be the ocean.

     Explain to your daughter that even though we cannot see the light in the room, we know that it is here because of what it shows us. The light lights up the objects in the world so we can see them, but we do not see the light itself. Somewhat like this, we do not see the Infinite, but we do see the tiny bits and shapes that the Infinite creates in order to give us a world to live in.

     Where is G-d? G-d is everywhere. He fills, surrounds, and is, all.

    Hope this helps

    Be well


[i] Deuteronomy 4:39

[ii] Deuteronomy 4:35

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

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Live Blogging the End of the World

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

mayan-weather-forecast-spoof

We’re live blogging the Mayan predicted end of the world, from Israel!  Since according to the Jewish calendar, the new day starts with nightfall (as it says in the Torah, there was evening there was morning, one day), Friday starts NOW.  Here we go…

4:00 PM – It’s a dust storm in Jerusalem.  The air is thick and a bit hard to breath.  Could it be the end of the world?

5:45 PM – Evening prayers are held in the office building.  Everyone prays at length with seriousness, perhaps for the last time with the end of the world?

6:15 PM – My wife is late with the car for me to head home.  Could there be events already hitting where she is?  Is it the end of the world?

6:30 PM – My wife called, she’ll be arriving in a moment.  Thursday night weekend traffic (Israel work week is Sunday through Thursday) is heavy, like it might be fleeing in the end of the world.

7:15 PM – Traffic into Jerusalem was very heavy, but leaving Jerusalem very light.  Are people streaming into the Holy City for the end of the world?  No one was spotted fleeing for their lives.

7:20 PM – My 13 year old daughter asks if she can stay home from school tomorrow, since “the family should be together for the end of the world”. And do I have to finish my homework since it’s the end of the world tomorrow?  (Yes she actually said that.)

9:00 PM – It’s 9 and my children won’t go to bed.  It feels like the end of the world!  AHHHHHHH.

9:15 PM – OMG, we’re supposed to be invaded by angry gods, hit by a wayward planet, burnt to a crisp by solar flares, and thrown into chaos by the reversing of Earths’ magnetic poles.  I’m not sure my home bunker (built into all apartments in Israel) is rated for all that.

10:00 AM – Heavy rains, dust (desert sand storm) and fog at the same time.  The leaves are falling off the trees.  Is it the end of the world?  (Or just winter?)

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

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Lies and the Jerusalem News

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The Torah (the holy bible) uses the Hebrew terminology “yishuv haaretz”, settle the land.  This is a command from G-d to the Jewish people, settle the land.

This leads to Jewish towns being called “yishuvim” (in Hebrew), literally settlements.

This is biblical terminology.  In more modern terminology, Jewish towns are called villages, communities, towns and cities. 

But the Jewish people were (and are) proud to have returned to the Holy Land, to the Land given by G-d to the Jewish people.  The waves of returning Jewish people were called “the first (wave of) settlement, the second (wave of) settlement, etc.”  And they “settled” in Tel Aviv, Petach Tikva, Netanya, etc, all at one time new yishuvim – settlements.

They DID NOT settle in Jerusalem, Haifa, Tiberious.  There they moved to the cities and, as necessary and appropriate, built new neighborhoods, districts, areas.  Today’s Jerusalem has 53 times the population and 32 times the land area of what it was 110 years ago. 

Jerusalem population year 1900 - estimated at 15,000. 
Jerusalem population year 2011 - 801,000.
Jerusalem land area year 1900 – guesstimate 4 sq. km.
Jerusalem land area year 2007 – 126 sq. km.

So when Jews, particularly religious Jews, say they’re going to develop an area, build a neighborhood or build a new community, they like to use the biblical terminology that they’re going to “settle”. 

But if YOU were adding a neighborhood to a CITY, building a new suburb or a new suburban commute town, you’d say you’re BUILDING A NEIGHBORHOOD or DEVELOPING an OPEN AREA, or building a suburb or commuter town.

Even by Associated Press standards, “East Jerusalem Settlement” is a contradiction of terms.  You can’t “settle a city”.  You can expand it, develop it or build it up, but you can’t “settle” it.

Dear Associated Press, you can try to delegitimize the Jews all you want.  But the bible commands us to settle the land…

And that means, Jews BUILD.  Contrast that with our neighbors.

A few other factors worth mentioning…

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Givat Hamatos is SOUTH of Jerusalem.  How can something in the South be “East”???  (The answer is in diplo-speak, East Jerusalem means any area the Palestinians want, whether it’s north, south, east or west.)

Where exactly is Givat Hamatos?  Far away?  Distant eastern hill? OR IN THE MIDDLE OF EXISTING NEIGHBORHOODS?????

jeru1

1.5 miles from Malcha mall.
1/2 mile from Talpiot.
INSIDE the Gilo and Har Homa neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

There is ZERO possibility of this empty block ever ending up as Palestinian territory.  So what’s the kerfuffle about????  (That Jews should not build.)

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Guerilla Menorahs in California

Menorah’s illegal in California?  It seems one city has taken holiday display questions to the extreme, making ANY public holiday display illegal…

(CrownHeights.info) Recently, S. Monica, California has been at the forefront of the secularist war against the public commemoration of religious holidays. This affected all holiday displays including Menorahs…

m1But Chabad of S. Monica (went guerilla) – setting up portable Menorahs for public parks and on pickup trucks for other public lightings.  “Normally we set them up and we left them there,” Levitansky, Chabad’s (local rabbi shaliach), said of the menorahs, which he said will take “four or five” people to lift. But as a result of a ban passed by Santa Monica City Council last June outlawing any private unattended displays on city-owned property, all menorahs (or any non-city sponsored holiday display) being lit in public spaces will have to be removed each night.

“They’ve banned us from having nonattended displays in the park, but if they’re attended, you can have them there. That’s our plan.”

One faith blog referred to Chabad’s activities quite positively:

More cheerful has been the response of the Jewish movement Chabad, who have demonstrated great ingenuity in displaying their menorahs on a hit and run basis.  Although unattended permanent displays are not permitted, there seems to be nothing wrong with temporary ad hoc (displays).

Politely and peacefully, Chabad’s guerrillas transport their menorahs in pickup trucks, set them up to light in various public places, while groups of supporters remain in attendance as long as needed.

It’s a pleasure to see the menorahs, with all the effort and devotion that goes into making them available to public view.

For present purposes though, I leave the last word to Judaism, and we should recognize the clear and present danger posed by Chabad’s activities. They stand a real risk of spreading a blessing through the whole city, and if that happened, then where would we all be?

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

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Why Israel Pays Palestine

th (3)The State of Israel pays the Palestinian Authority approximately $100 million per month, though this was paused as of this month.  While I’d seen this described as “taxes collected”, the description made no sense to me.  What taxes is Israel collecting that belongs to the Palestinian Authority?

Maybe it is really bribe money or basically buying them off?

I didn’t know, so I did a little research.  Here’s what I found, with my own thoughts mixed in…

(Excerpted from article) By Daniel Engber – Slate

…Why does Israel collect taxes for the Palestinians?

That's the arrangement they worked out during the Oslo accords of the early 1990s. Before the Palestinian Authority was set up, the Israelis taxed imports and exports in the occupied areas and withheld payroll taxes from visiting Palestinian workers. (This is a strange misnomer – Israel taxes imports/exports to and from Israel, whether they’re headed to a Palestinian area or to Jordon, exactly like any other country.  And if someone works in Israel, whether they’re Palestinian or American, they pay Israeli “non-resident worker” taxes.)

The PLO and the Israeli government had to work out a new taxation system for the newly self-governing areas. The Protocol on Economic Relations of 1994 gave the PA the right to collect taxes directly from its people, and indirectly via Israel.  (Meaning Israel was pressured to send them some money to give them an economy, but it was wrapped up nicely as a “tax transfer package.”)

Here's one example: Israel continued to collect customs duties and the "value-added tax" on imports that came through Israeli ports. But if those imports ended up in the Palestinian areas, Israel would have to turn that money over to the PA. Israel is also supposed to send back the value-added tax that Palestinians pay for Israeli goods, as well as any excise taxes that Palestinians have to pay for fuel, cigarettes, and alcohol. 

(Ok, let me see if I have this straight.  If a Palestinian buys a pack of cigarettes in Israel, the taxes on that purchase go to the Palestinian Authority.  Just like if an Israeli buys a pack of cigarettes in New York, the taxes go to…NEW YORK – BECAUSE THAT’S THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDING THE INFRASTRUCTURE ALLOWING FOR THE PURCHASE.)

Palestinians who work in Israel provide another important source of revenue for the PA. According to the Protocol on Economic Relations, the PA gets back more than three-quarters of the money withheld from the paychecks of Palestinians who work across the border. 

(Of course, they occasionally bomb industrial zones created to provide them jobs, like the Erez zone by Gaza, and/or boycott industrial zones providing them jobs like in Barkan.  They also boycott working locations like in the settlements, yet demand more tax money at the same time.  Strangely, when I work in Israel I get taxed by Israel and the United States doesn’t get anything.)

These rules go both ways. The PA collects (a tiny bit of) money on behalf of Israel, as well. 

(Not too many Israelis working in Ramallah or Gaza [none?]. Not a healthy work environment for a Jew.  Not healthy at all.)

On the 20th of each month, representatives of each government get together to go over recent transactions and determine the total rebate.

(And since there is no way to actually track purchases of Palestinians in Israel or the actual pay slips of each Palestinian worker, who even further are probably getting paid in cash and no actual taxes are being withheld, at best they’re estimating by number of work permits issued.  This is all imaginary transactions, guesses and demands.)

The final number reflects the indirect taxes owed to the PA, minus anything the Palestinians owe for Israeli utilities like electricity and telephone service. Once the two sides have sorted through the bills and receipts, Israel is supposed to hand over the rebate within six days. 

(Except they haven’t been subtracting the utilities, meaning Israel has been remitting the demanded amount NOT including the multi-million dollar electric bill.  So who pays it?  My electric rates increased 20% in the past 2 years, that’s who.)

The amount of the transfer varies from month to month, depending on how much the Palestinians happened to buy or import. Payments tend to be about $100 million (article originally said $50 million, but was written in 2006), which covers around half of the Palestinian Authority's total operating expenses…

(It’s worth noting half the Palestinian Authority’s operating expenses are subsidies for convicted murders and terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons.  So Israel is “paying collected taxes” (ha) to cover the family living expenses of mass murdering terrorists and the missile purchase expenses of those trying to destroy it, bound by an agreement that the other side violated by firing missiles and double-violated by going to the U.N.

No worries, it’s all good.)

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A Real Jew with a Pure Soul

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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A Reader wrote:

     I follow your blog, and just want to say a BIG thank you for bringing me closer to my Creator. Your writing is beautiful.

     My parents are both Jewish, but not religious. I live in Moscow, and I'm 31. I used to live in New York when I was a teenager and studied at Nefesh Academy Jewish school. I am very proud of that because now I know about my religion, although now, that I'm in Russia, it’s hard to keep mitzvahs. There are no more teachers that used to support me.

     I'm very happy to read your blog. I wish someday I could call myself a real Jew with a pure Neshamah (soul). Thank you for everything.

Elnora Leah

Gutman’s Response:

     Thank you for your very nice letter.

     Do not worry. Things are not as dark as they may seem. You are a real Jew. There are no half Jews. Every morning we say, "The soul you have given me is pure." Your soul is absolutely pure. Do not sell yourself short.

    When a Jew allows his animal soul to sin, even after that sin that soul is still a portion of Hashem from the Highest that is temporarily housed in an earthly body. But now, because of that sin, the person has allowed a veil to come upon his holy soul. This makes it harder for his holy inclination to successfully influence his animal inclination. This means that the next sin becomes even easier than the last one! Yikes!! With each additional sin comes an additional veil, until life gets very dark. It becomes hard to see out into the wonderful world that G-d has given us, and it becomes hard for the world to see the holiness that dwells within us.

     But…, if that soul can urge its animal inclination to behave itself, and to even do mitzvahs, then those veils will begin to melt away. With each mitzvah, another veil melts away, until finally, the pure soul shines again :~)  

      If you will try to help other Jews to do mitzvahs, or have them come to your Shabbos table for dinner, you will begin to feel more fulfilled.

    Hashem bless you to find the proper Jewish mate so you will be able to make a large, happy, healthy, family.

Send me good news

Be well,

Gutman

Reb Akiva adds:

Chabad has Chabad Houses all over the world to give Jews a place to be Jews, and provide supporting religious services and an environment to make it happen.

Their online Chabad House locator is here, and here’s the list for Moscow – which shows over 30 shuls, Jewish institutions and even a kosher grocery.  Hopefully some of them are nearby.

The married rabbi – rebbitzen teams they send out around the world are extremely dedicated to reaching out and supporting Jews and Judaism worldwide, practically everywhere Jews can be found.  Don’t hesitate to give them a call.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

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No Secular Limits for the Frum Jew?

A cute video, though I’m ambivalent about it’s message.

Direct video link.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

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Oh No, Jewish Babies

A couple of professors (one an Israeli) from Columbia Unniversity have determined the cause of the lack of peace in the Middle East….Jewish babies!
(A significant thing to notice is the birthrate listed for the West Bank Arabs – the “Demographic Threat” is OVER [if it ever really existed].)
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Saturday, December 15, 2012

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More Rova Doors and Gates

Some pictures from the Jewish Quarter, Old Jerusalem, Israel, by Reb Gutman Locks...


 (Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem)





















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Friday, December 14, 2012

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How Wondrous are Your Works…

by Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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Would we even know that this was a bird in flight if it wasn’t labeled? It is a peacock! Who designed such a thing, and gave it the ability to fly, too? What are we to learn about our Creator from His works?


[i] Psalms 139:14

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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At the Kotel…

with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

American Boys on a Tour of the Kotel

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Like Father, Like Son (We Pray)

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A Chanukah Story for the 5th Night

image004It’s been my incredible merit to share this story, of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the 5th night of Chanukah, for 17 years.  This is the original, via translation from Yiddish by a senior Shaliach of the Rebbe (Rabbi Avraham Korf of Florida), that I received in the earliest days of email and the Internet. 

In the last few years I’ve seen various editions of it, as well as heard a few contesting it.  NO ONE contested it when it came out, and it’s told by those directly involved.

My favorite Chanukah story…a little light dispels a lot of darkness. 

From the Hebrew weekly, Shav'uon Kfar Chabad, a wondrous account sent in by Rabbi Moses Hayyim Greenvald from 18 years ago...

Since the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt"l, may his merit guard over us, Jews all around me -- of every stripe and persuasion -- can't seem to stop talking about the Rebbe. At the synagogue I pray at, at work. It amazes me to see how every Jew seems to have a story about a personal encounter or experience with the Rebbe.

I say it's a mitzvah to tell these stories so that our children and children's children will hear about the Sanctification of G-d's name by means of a tzaddik who walked amongst us and was a faithful shepherd for all the children of the generation. It's widely known that Hasidim place great importance on tales of the righteous, as it is written, "Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord O ye Servants of the Lord" (Psalms). In order to comply with this precept myself, I offer a wondrous account about the Rebbe and my father. Until now this was known only in our family circles. I now find it incumbent upon me, after the Rebbe's passing, to tell the story publicly.

My father, Rabbi Abraham Zvi Greenvald, was born in Lodz, Poland, and was orphaned from his father at the age of 8. His mother was left with seven little orphans, and she worried much about the education of her eldest boy, whom she sent to live with a cousin, the exalted scholar Rabbi Menachem Zemba, may G-d avenge his blood. It was he who raised my father with great self-sacrifice. Understandably, he was concerned about my father's studies and even tutored him personally.

My father was almost 17 years old when there took place in Warsaw "The Great Wedding" -- the nuptials of the daughter of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph Isaac (Schneersohn) with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who would later become the seventh Rebbe. My father used to tell about this wedding almost as a spiritual exercise -- both regarding the wedding itself, in which participated the cream of Polish Hasidic leaders, and also that my father was able to meet personally with the young bridegroom. This meeting, my father would later realize, would portend much in the future.

A youth of about 17, my father arrived at the wedding together with his relative and teacher, Rabbi Menachem Zemba. On the morning after, Rabbi Zemba told him he was going to visit the bridegroom in the hotel, and if my father wished, he could accompany him. Understandably, my father agreed.

My father could not remember and repeat all that the two spoke about, but he did remember well the end of the conversation, before these two personalities parted ways. The Rebbe turned to my father and said, "In another few days, it will be Hanukkah. Do you know why many small synagogues hold festivals on the fifth day of Chanukah?" My father did not know what to answer, and he recalled that Rabbi Zemba just looked at the Rebbe waiting for an answer. Then the Rebbe, turned to my father and said, "The fifth Hanukkah candle signifies great darkness because this day cannot fall on the Holy Sabbath. And through the Hanukkah candles, the greatest (spiritual) darkness of the world is illuminated. And for this reason, the potential of Hanukkah comes to fruition specifically through the fifth candle, which signifies the darkness. And this is the function of every Jew, in every place -- in Warsaw or London -- to illuminate the darkest place."

As mentioned earlier, my father did not remember what the Rebbe and Rabbi Zemba spoke about during their long conversation. But he said he would never forget that all the tractates of the Babylonian Talmud flew around the room. When they left the hotel, my father recalls, Rabbi Zemba was extremely excited and didn't stop speaking about the meeting to everyone with whom he conversed for several days.

After that meeting, nearly 10 years passed.

My father survived the Holocaust, first in the Ghetto, and afterwards in the Extermination Camps. His first wife and their five little children were slaughtered in front of his eyes. When the war ended, and he was left alive by the grace of G-d, he experienced a mental and physical breakdown. For two years, he moved from displaced persons camp to displaced persons camp, trying to learn if there were relatives -- close or distant -- who survived. In the end, it became clear that all his brothers and sisters -- each one of them -- was liquidated by the oppressor, may its name be blotted out.

In the year 5708 (ca. 1948), he traveled to the United States, to Philadelphia. There lived his uncle, Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Greenvald of the Amshinov Hasidim, who he had never met because the uncle immigrated to America before he was born. But the uncle arranged my fathers travel to the U. S. and received him with great love, and did everything to make it easier for him and to comfort him after the portion of awesome suffering he underwent . . . Under pressure from his uncle, with the intervention of the Amshinov Rebbe, my father decided to put his life back together, married a second wife (my mother, of blessed memory).

She was a child of Karkov, daughter of Rabbi Zushya Sinkowitz, may G-d avenge his blood, of the elders of the Alexander Hasidim. Together with his sister, he succeeded in fleeing immediately at the beginning of the war, running from country to country until they set sail for Canada. There, they raised in the house another cousin, the great leader, Mr. Kuppel Shwartz, one of Toronto's leading Jews. Before my parents were wed, Mr. Shwartz took my father to New York for an audience with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph Isaac (Schneersohn) to obtain his blessing.

My father told me that he trembled to see the change that had overtaken the Previous Rebbe, how age had crept up on him since the Warsaw wedding. (It was very difficult to understand the Rebbe's speech; one of the Hasidic elders who stood in the room explained what the Rebbe was saying). Mr. Shwartz told the Previous Rebbe that my father had been saved, but lost his family in the Holocaust. Then, from the holy eyes of the Previous Rebbe there began to fall streams of pure tears. The Rebbe blessed my father and wished him a long and good life. Before he left, my father told the Rebbe that he had been fortunate to be at the wedding of his son-in-law, the Rebbe, in Warsaw. Then, my father tells, the Previous Rebbe's eyes brightened and he said that since his son-in-law lived here, and he was at the wedding, he should certainly visit him to pay his respects.

Mr. Shwartz and my father left the Rebbe's chambers, and after they were shown where to find the chambers of the Ramash, as he was known then, they knocked and entered, saying they came at the instructions of the Previous Rebbe. My father was elated that the Ramash remembered him immediately. His first question was that my father should tell about last days of Rabbi Zemba because he heard he was killed in the Warsaw Ghetto but did not know any details.

After my father told all he knew, the Ramash said, "since the Rebbe told you to visit me, I am obligated to say to you words of Torah. And since the month of Kislev is close to Hanukkah, it is known the custom of many Hasidim," followers of the Baal Shem Tov, to celebrate the fifth day of Hanukkah. What is the reason? Since the fifth day can never fall on the Sabbath, if so, then it implies strong (spiritual) darkness. This is the potential of the Hanukkah candle -- to illuminate the greatest darkness. This is the mission of every Jew in every place he may be -- New York or London -- to illuminate the darkest place.

Needless to say, my father was startled as he had all but forgotten the very same thing that the Ramash had told him nearly 20 years earlier. And now, his memory was jarred, and he realized that the Ramash had repeated, almost word-for-word, what he told him then, in the hotel in Warsaw.

After his wedding, my father served as a rabbi and teacher for Congregation Adath Israel in Washington Heights. There we were born, my sister and I. My father remained there some five years, and, with the help of Mr. Shwartz in Canada, moved to Toronto and worked there as a rabbi and teacher in the Haredi congregations there.

Over the course of years, in Toronto, my father became close to the Satmar Hasidim in the city, since he ministered in his rabbinical work to these Hasidim. Though he never sent us to the Satmar schools, he sent us to educational institutions that were spiritually similar. Me and my brother were sent to the well known Nytra Yeshivah. Though my father's outlook was philosophically close to Satmar, he never spoke against the Lubavitcher Rebbe. On the contrary, he always spoke of him in with praise and in especially respectful terms, as did his children.

In the winter of 5729 (ca. 1969), I was married. My father told me that even though I wasn't a Lubavitcher Hasid, he feels the need to go with me to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe to receive his blessing for my wedding -- just as he had done, even though he had not seen the Rebbe for some 20 years. I agreed with a whole heart.

But then, I learned it's not so simple to visit the Rebbe.

Only after negotiations with the Rebbe's secretary -- and only after my father explained to him that we could not wait several months to reserve a place in the queue for audiences -- did he agreed to place us in line, but only after we promised we would only ask for a benediction and would not detain the Rebbe. My father promised and we left Toronto on the appointed day. I don't remember the exact hour we entered the Rebbe's chambers, but it was closer to morning than night, if not dawn itself.

I saw the Rebbe's face for the first time in person. His face, especially his eyes, made a great impression on me. My father gave the Rebbe the customary epistle on which were inscribed the names of myself, my bride-to-be and my father's request for a benediction. The Rebbe took the epistle from my father's hands. Before he opened it, he looked at my father with a broad smile and said, "Not more than 20 years ago the time had arrived, especially as the Previous Rebbe sent you to me." My father stood, scared and trembling, and couldn't find the energy to open his mouth.

Meanwhile, the sexton banged on the door, but the Rebbe waved his hand as to negate the knocking, like someone who was saying, don't pay attention.

In the midst of all this, the Rebbe opened the epistle, glanced at it, and immediately began to give us his blessing, blessed my father with a long life and good years, and said, roughly, "Just as you rejoiced at my nuptials, may the Lord give you nachas and strength to dance at your grandchild's wedding." Tears poured from my father's eyes, and I was also elated. My father had been physically broken from all he had endured in the camps, and this benediction of the Rebbe's was especially dear.

Before we left, my father got together the strength to ask the Rebbe that since he had promised the secretary we would enter solely to request a blessing, and he has a pressing question, would the Rebbe permit him to ask it. The Rebbe smiled and laughed, and said (roughly): "Since the Rebbe the father-in-law sent you to me, I am obligated to answer all questions. And as before, we heard loud banging on the door, and the Rebbe signaled we should ignore it.

My father turned to the Rebbe and said that for different reasons, we had lived among the Satmar Hasidim and their fellow travellers for many years. There, we frequently hear complaints about the views of Lubavitch. "Even though I do not accept all the gossip that I hear, they have nonetheless succeeded in raising within me a great doubt about the Lubavitch view in connection with working together with the "wicked people." The verses are well known, such as "And those that thou hatest the Lord shall hate." "How is it that Lubavitch can openly work together with those who battle against G-d and his Torah?"

My father told the Rebbe that he requests forgiveness for the question, and did not mean to offend. Quite to the contrary, he really wants to understand the Rebbe's view so he can answer others as well as himself. The Rebbe then turned to my father with a question. "What would your neighbors do if a neighbor's daughter began to keep bad company? Would they attempt to return her to the way of Torah and the Commandments, or would they say, 'And those that thou hatest the Lord shall hate and it is forbidden to involve oneself with the wicked; therefore, we should distance ourselves from her and not bring her closer?'"

The Rebbe did not even wait for an answer, and promptly added: "This zealous one would answer that with a daughter, the injunction of 'From thy flesh do not conceal thyself would apply.'" And then the Rebbe's eyes became serious, and he knocked on the table, and said: "By the Al-mighty, every Jew is as precious as an only child. With the Rebbe, the father-in-law, every Jew was 'From thy flesh, do not conceal thyself.'"

Then the Rebbe looked at me, and at my father with a constant gaze, and said: "One concludes with a blessing. As it is known, it is customary among Hasidim to celebrate the fifth day of Hanukkah with festivities. What is the reason? Since the fifth day cannot ever fall on the Sabbath, this signifies that it is the height of darkness. With the light of the Hanukkah candle, it is possible to illuminate the darkest thing. This is the mission of each Jew, to illuminate even the darkest places. It does not matter where he lives -- Toronto or London. Every Jew is veritably a part of G-d above, the only child of the Holy One, Blessed be He. And when one lights his soul with the candle of holiness, even the distant Jew is stirred in the darkest place."

My father was startled in the most shocking way. He didn't even hear the last words of the Rebbe's blessing, nor how we left the Rebbes chambers. All the way back to Toronto he was silent. Only two words: "wonder of wonders. Wonder of wonders."

Since then, about 10 years passed.

In the year 5739 (ca. 1979), my youngest brother was married in the city of London. The whole family, my father, my mother, my sister, my brother-in-law, and I flew to the wedding in an airplane. On the way to London, I saw my father was preoccupied. Something was bothering him. I asked him what was wrong and he didn't want to say. Only after I asked several times, he told me. "A few minutes after I left the house in Toronto, the neighbor -- one of the dignitaries of our congregation -- came to see me, rivers of tears pouring from his eyes. He said he would tell me a story that he would not otherwise tell to anybody willingly, but that maybe I could help.

It turned out that the daughter of this community leader wavered very much in her ritual observance. In the beginning, the parents didn't really know about it, because she hid it from them. But two weeks earlier, the great catastrophe became known to them: she eloped with a Gentile to London. Since then, the atmosphere at home was one of crying and mourning, the 9th of Av.

All the efforts of relatives in London came to naught. Therefore, he asked my father, since he was travelling to London, maybe he would look into the matter, and G-d would be merciful. Maybe he could find the daughter and prevent her from descending into the depths of iniquity? My father was a close friend of this neighbor, and was affected greatly by the story. I also took it to heart and thought about what I could do in London.

The nuptials were held at a good and auspicious hour. On the first night of the Seven Benedictions, my father turned to the bride's father and told him the story about the neighbor's daughter. Perhaps he had some advice, who, where? Maybe he could look into the matter and do something? The bride's father, as soon as he heard the story, said to my father that he had no understanding of such matters, but did have a friend who was a Lubavitcher Hasid, who the Lubavitcher Rebbe had always charged with all types of errands. The man's name was Rabbi Abraham Isaac Glick, and if there's somebody who can help, it is this man, who had already managed to save from the streets of Europe many confused souls.

That night, the bride's father telephoned Rabbi Glick, told him the story and explained how pressing the matter was. Rabbi Glick asked for the telephone number of the girl's parents in Toronto -- perhaps they knew some details that would help, like addresses, telephone numbers. Perhaps they would give him some clue where to start searching. Rabbi Glick promised to do what he could.

I don't know where Rabbi Glick searched, where he went, nor with whom he consulted. But one night, about 10 days later -- my father and my mother decided to stay in London until after Hanukkah -- Rabbi Glick called the bride's father and told him to come immediately. "I have a very good surprise," he said.

The bride's father and my father hurried to Rabbi Glick's house. As they entered, they saw a girl sitting, crying. At the entrance of the salon, a Hanukkah candelabrum was lit. Suddenly, as my father looked at the menorah, he saw five candles lit, and he almost fainted and fell to the ground. He remembered the strange sentence the Rebbe had told him some 50 years earlier, then 30 years earlier and then 10.

"The fifth Hanukkah candle signifies the power of the Hanukkah menorah, and the mission of every Jew is to illuminate even" the darkest place -- Warsaw or London, New York or London, or Toronto or London . . ."

"What will that zealous one do when his daughter wavers ...with the Holy One, Blessed be He, every Jew is an only child ... With the Previous Rebbe, every Jew is 'From thy flesh, do not conceal thyself.'" There's no need to mention that the girl completely repented and became on observant Jew. There's also no need to mention that the zealous one shut his mouth and ceased speaking against Lubavitch.

When my father returned to Canada, he made every effort to obtain an audience with the Rebbe. He felt a need, a spiritual duty after what had happened, to see the Rebbe. But in those years, it had become very difficult to obtain a private audience. But the following month of Tishrei, the year 5740 (ca. 1980), my father succeeded seeing the Rebbe on the night that a group of holiday visitors had a group audience. My father said that from all the emotions that were coursing through him, he could not utter anything during the audience. When he tried to tell the story, he would break into tears. The Rebbe heard just a few sentences, turned to my father and said, "The father-in-law has a very distant vision."

Every time my father would tell this story, he would say that the real wonder was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Even more than his vision of events to come from 50 years beforehand, was his heavenly humility of, that he said, "The father-in-law has a very distant vision."

The chain of wonders has not stopped. On 14 Kislev 5748 (ca. 1989), exactly when the Seven Benedictions for my firstborn child ended, on the day which represented the passage of 60 years from the Rebbe's wedding in Warsaw, my father passed away -- all just as the Rebbe had blessed my father, that he should rejoice at the wedding of his grandchild.

We should be happy that this man, Holy to G-d dwelt amongst us. Since it is known that "The righteous are greater in their death than in their lives," certainly the Rebbe will cause a flow of blessings, salvation and comfort from On High, to each and all, until we merit to the promise of the verse, "And a Redeemer shall come unto Zion," in accord with the holy will of the Rebbe, soon and in our time. Amen.

-- Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Greenvald

The copy that I received 17 years ago was originally provided by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Kazen, a"h (who has passed away), the original founder of Chabad Online (www.chabad.org). At the time I received this, an online web site was a new thing (for those who know 'net history, it originally came with a Gopher address), and a Jewish web site was a wondrous thing. It came with the stipulation that the site be advertised, which I have done here, and donation info provided. To donate to Chabad Online, click here.

It also came with the stipulation that this acknowledgment be included, though I don't know if the contact information is outdated or still accurate:

Translation provided courtesy of:

FRIENDS OF LUBAVITCH OF FLORIDA, (Est. 1960)

Rabbi Abraham Korf
Lubavitch Regional Director-Florida
e-mail: rabbi@bcfreenet.seflin.lib.fl.us
voice: (305) 673-5664; fax: (305) 673-0269

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Donde Esta Dios? (Where is G-d?)

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     A group of non Jews from Latin America came to the Kotel with their tour guide. I remember only a little Spanish, but it was enough to ask them, “Where is G-d?”

     Being Xians, they all answered, “En mi corazon” (in my heart).

     I told them that G-d is everywhere, and not just in your heart, “En todos los lugares!” After explaining in completely broken Spanish that G-d is Infinite so He has to be everywhere, I asked them again, and this time I took the picture, “Donde esta Dios?” And they all answered with a smile, “En todos los lugares (in every place).

     Everyone you meet is an opportunity.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

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How Many Lights?

by Reb Gutman Locks

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     How many lights on the fourth night of Chanukah? Click here to see if you are right.

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Why Should I Help You?

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

image003     Why did this young boy stop at the entrance to the men’s side of the Kotel to put tefillin on this soldier? He doesn’t know that soldier. He never even saw him before! But still, he cared. Why should he care?

Click on the link to find out why.

Why Should I Help You? (Direct video link)

Gutman’s new video….

 

READ IT!
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