Thursday, January 31, 2013

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In Case of Attack by Terrorist or Gunman in U.S…

Watch the video below.

If you don’t have time, here is the key advice for handling a workplace situation involving a terrorist, gunman, or crazed shooter in the workplace or school in the U.S.A…  Remember, these are the authorized approved instructions by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security:

1. Know all the exits, even if just visiting an office for a meeting or a store to buy something.

2. Hide under desks or conference tables if running for an exit seems like a bad idea, because hiding under a conference table with 10 other people will surely prevent you from being found.  Don’t forget to turn your cell phone to silent.

3. If while evacuating you come across other injured people. leave them there to die.

4. Though you are in an office, classroom, store or conference room with modular furniture and office cubes, hide behind the sturdy doors (that aren’t there) and barricade them with heavy furniture (which isn’t there).  Turning off the lights (in a location which otherwise has every room well lite) will also convince a terrorist or gunman that no one is hiding there.

5. If it appears you can’t get to an exit or conceal yourself, grab the nearest pair of scissors or maybe a sharp pen to attack and overpower the gunman or terrorist.  We know you don’t have a gun of your own because we took them all away from non-criminals.  Good luck.

6. Remember the authorities will NOT be able to help the injured while trying to eliminate the gunman or terrorist.  Therefore, if you are injured please try to bleed quietly to avoid interrupting the police in their work.  Further, be aware we’ve already instructed the other civilians to leave you to die, so calling for help will merely annoy everyone.  If you can crawl out of the facility with the gunshot wounds, that would be best for everyone involved.

7. When running for your life remember to MAKE NO SUDDEN MOVEMENTS, to run with your hands in the air, and not to point at the gunman chasing after you because pointing is a threatening movement by the police.

8. Do not scream or yell no matter how excited or injured you may be, nor even if you’re actively being shot at by a terrorist behind you while running for your life.  Raise your hands and SPREAD YOUR FINGERS (no, not the middle one, you could be arrested for that) and don’t mind if the police violently throw you to the ground “just in case”. 

9. STAY CALM, that’s an order.

Yes, this is real - not sarcasm. Thanks to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for this important instructional video.

Direct video link.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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Where’s It Hard to Live?

imageReb Akiva – (Speaking to a young orthodox American Jew in his early 20’s.)  How’s your job?  How’s the economy effecting you and your friends?

Yosef – Well, thank G-d, I work in my family business which is in the food industry.  Everyone’s gotta eat, so my parnossa (job/income) is fine.  But most of my friends, they get a lot of temp work, jobs that last a few months, places that bring in extra help but let it go if business drops even a little.  Almost none of them can hold down any type of regular job.

Reb Akiva – Have you considered making aliyah (moving to / living in Israel)?  The Israeli economy has been growing (moderately) over the past 4 years while the U.S. economy has been in recession (and now shrinking towards the technical definition of depression).  And with the finding of offshore gas deposits, Israel is getting ready to grow as an energy exporter, with all of the associated economic impact.

Yosef – Live in Israel?  Small apartments instead of stand alone single family houses.  My family has a 3 story house and a pool, where am I going to get that in Israel?  Or be able to afford that in Israel?

Reb Akiva – Umm, Yosef, you already told me for your friends simply having a stable job or income is a no longer easily achievable dream.  While your family has been fortunate and built a nice business, some of that success was due to the positive business and economic conditions of the times. 

Times have changed, and you need to consider the possibilities and options in light of that.  Your parent’s generation’s options are not yours.  The U.S. is not the roaring U.S of the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s.  And Israel isn’t the developing nation slightly above a 3rd world country any longer.

The opportunity spectrum seems to be swapping places between the two.

As I share my knowledge with my children, I find I have to be careful not to fix them into my life/career goals and path to get there – because my path and it’s conditions no longer exist.  Further, I highly doubt those conditions will every return.  (This doesn’t mean new options and opportunities won’t – but that particular generation of conditions is gone.)

For the American Jew, Israel may have been a religious decision in the past that entitled significant sacrifice.  For the younger generation, Israel is becoming a land of opportunity for the future where the U.S. is now providing less.

I wish you and your friends much success in life.

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What’s the Difference?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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      Is a mitzvah a ritual, an exercise, or an actual spiritual deed?

     A ritual is something we do that stands for something else. It is a ceremony. We have to know what it stands for in order to know what is happening. No matter how many times we do the ritual, unless someone tells us what it stands for, we would never figure it out from the ritual.

     An exercise is a practice to develop something, or to train you for some time in the future when you are going to do the actual act that you are preparing for. Although an exercise might not be the actual deed you are training for, still it improves your performance. It does something to you.

     A spiritual deed is an act that actually makes physical and spiritual changes when you do it. It implements something. It puts something into effect. Whether we understand what that particular spiritual deed does or not, still, it does something when we do it. Surely, if we understand what it does when we do it, it will be more effective, but even if we have no idea what is going on, the deed changes something physically and spiritually in some way.

Mitzvahs are not merely rituals, and they should not be performed as if they were. They are not mere exercises either. Mitzvahs are physical deeds with spiritual purposes. Each mitzvah is designed in its own way to bring about some physical and spiritual change. They improve the world, and when done properly, they also increase spiritual awareness. I have seen many Jews who have never seen tefillin even once in their lives break down crying when I helped them to put them on. A ritual cannot do this, nor will a physical exercise do it.

     But when a Jew puts on tefillin, or does any other mitzvah, not only does something physical happen, but something spiritual happens, too.

     A good example is the mitzvah of tzedaka (charity). Every coin you give changes something physically, and it changes something spiritually. It is not a ritual, nor is it just an exercise. The poor person actually gets the physical coin, and you who gave the coin receive a spiritual coin in its place. The physical coin reduces the poor person’s suffering, and the spiritual coin elevates your opportunity to receive blessings in this world, and its benefit stays with you forever, even in the World to Come.

     Even the rabbinical mitzvahs that might seem to be mere rituals accomplish something spiritual. For instance, the command to light Shabbos candles comes from the rabbis, and to many it might seem to be a ritual. But if we look, we find many spiritual things happen when we light those candles, and we begin to understand why the rabbis taught us to bring in Shabbos this way.

     Whereas Hashem told us to observe and remember the holiness of Shabbos, the rabbis taught us to usher it in with light. Light is a spiritual reminder. We cannot see the light itself, but we see what it does. It removes darkness and it reveals what is around us. Since we light only after we have everything prepared for the holy day, we begin to feel peaceful when we light. It is a “time of favor” which means that G-d is paying specific attention to our prayers. There is so much more happening when we light Shabbos candles then just physically lighting the candles.

     Try to see what is happening when you do any mitzvah. Are you binding G-d’s words to your arm? What does that change? Wearing His holy uniform? How should we feel when we are dressed as a servant of the Holy One? Recognizing His greatness in song? Guarding our home by affixing mezuzahs? Sharing His gifts with the poor? 

     If we do mitzvahs only understanding their physical characteristics, we will still get credit for those mitzvahs, but most likely, we will not gain the spiritual awareness that is supposed to come when we do them. Spiritual awareness begins to bring the spiritual reward to us while we are still in this world, and not only in the Word to Come.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

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Lost & Confused

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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Someone wrote:

     I am a 40 year old married man with 2 children. My daughter I had with a woman which I never married. My son is with my current wife of 12 years, but was born out of wedlock. I was raised on the belief of Christianity, most of it Catholic.

I've committed just about every sin G-d commanded not to do. When I say every sin, I mean every sin. I've slept with men's wives, paid for 3 abortions, lied, used G-d's name in vein, you name it, I've done it.

My question is, is there any hope for me? I've never had guidance to lead me in the right direction. Just recently, within the last few years, I've realized that I have been following a false idol in jesus. So we can add that to my failures as well.

I'm not sure who I am, I might be a Jew, I really don't know. When I pray, I repent & pray for wisdom, knowledge, & understanding. Most of all when I pray, I pray for Truth, truth of the right way, to live my life so I can teach my son. Is it my fault that there was a lack of guidance to teach me? Will I be held accountable?

Should I leave my family, go to Jerusalem and live in the streets until I find the right way? There are no Jewish Synagogues in my area. I see no light given from the Jewish people, I thought from scripture, Israel was suppose to be a light unto the nations? How am I suppose to know how to live, if there is no example being shown? Does G-d even hear my prayers?

So many questions, with very little answers, I feel completely lost & alone. How do I teach my children, when I don't even know truth?

Thank you for your time,
Lost & Confused.

Gutman’s Answer:

When a person sins, he digs a hole in the ground and he has to stand in that hole. Now he is lower than he was before he sinned. Being lower, it is easier for him to sin again, so he sins again and the hole gets deeper. This makes it easier to sin again, which he does and the hole gets even deeper. On and on, this person sins and sins, again and again, until he even comes to think that his sins are not so bad, maybe not even wrong!

The hole gets so deep that he can no longer see the sunlight. It is dark and lonely in that deep hole. There seems to be no hope. How can he possibly pull himself out from there? Even if he would stand on his toes he could not reach the top of the hole to pull himself up… darkness, sorrow, emptiness, a living hell!

But then, for some reason this person begins to feel regret. Not just because it hurts him so much, but because he realizes that he has hurt others, too. He begins to cry. He cries and he cries until he feels that there is nothing left. He has become an empty shell filled with remorse. There is no hope. He is like a dead man.

But, since he had thought of others, a little light comes to him. It is not much, but it is a tiny hope. If he looks up into that light, if he sees that harming others was even worse than harming himself, that light will become brighter. He will begin to sob even deeper than before when he was crying only for himself.

If he truly regrets all that he has done wrong, and sincerely promises from the depth of his heart not to do any of those horrible things again, and he thinks that, if he ever gets out of that hole, he will try to pay back those people whom he hurt, his world will turn over for him. It will turn completely upside-down. That deep, deep pit that he is standing in will become a high mountain that he will stand on.

From there he will again be able to see right from wrong. He will breathe fresh air, and stand in the sunlight. If he will keep his word, and not sin again, if he will look for those people he hurt to apologize to them and to try to pay them back, if he will now look for others to help, he will stay on that mountain top in the warm sunlight for the rest of his life. He will become a righteous person, a blessing to all those around him.

Or, he can slide back into his deep narrow hole in the ground. It is entirely up to him.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

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Limitations

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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Some of us were born with, or developed greater than normal limitations. There are certain skills that we do not have. In these areas of life we cannot perform as other people perform, and we usually need help to do those activities.

     Once a year, a Special Needs class stops by my house for breakfast. They daven neitz (pray at sunrise) at the Kotel, and then come by. I enjoy their company. I tell them funny or interesting stories, things that I have done over the years. They have a good time. But in between the happy stories I also slip in some important advice.

     I explained that everyone comes into this world with certain skills, and certain limitations. Usually, the limitations come with a skill to compensate for what we cannot do.

     For instance, I am one of the world’s worse spellers. Also, I cannot stand to read (let alone follow) computer instructions… YUCK! They drive me up the wall. So, in a number of ways I am quite limited. But, as if to make up for this limitation, I was also given a gift of creativity. I am good at improvising, or inventing different ways to do things.

     My job in life is not to try to develop the skill of spelling, or to learn how to follow technical instructions. I’m sorry; it’s just not for me. I get a computer spell-check program, or a friend to help me. But instead of worrying about what I cannot do, I try to bring my creative skill into the world. I find better or more interesting ways to do things. This is what I came into the world to do, not to spell.

     I told them to look for the special things that they are good at and to stress those things. Maybe they have extra kindness. So they can spend their days being kind to whomever they meet. I explained that there are many people in the world who would never listen to someone like me, but they would listen to them. They might be able to bring someone to do a mitzvah when I couldn’t.

     Everyone has something they are good at, and this is what we came into the world to do. Don’t worry about the skills that you do not have, but stress the ones that you do have.

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Why “Mystical Paths”?

by Reb Akiva @ the Mystical Paths blog

Question:

Reb Akiva, why “Mystical Paths?”  “Mystical” is not something you hear much in Jewish circles.

Answer:

I thought the answer to this question was this:

“When I started the Mystical Paths blog 9 years ago, the U.S. pop music star Madonna was the major representative of kabbalah (the mystical secrets of the Torah, Judaism and G-d) to the world.  I couldn’t sit silently and watch the holiest of the holy, the deepest of the deep, be represented and primarily misrepresented by a pop singer who, in her stage persona, is the opposite of everything Torah and kabbalah would have us achieve. 

(One type of opposite.  There are various negative paths, or powers of klipah.  The negative path of U.S. culture is not violence or inhumanity.)

Since I was trying to present some truthful and handle-able approached mystical secrets and draw attention of those being attracted by people turning kabbalah practices into an American street cult, I chose a term sufficiently new-agey to do so.”

But my daughter recently was wondering what a particular book was and pulled out a copy of Sefer Yetzirah.  It starts like this:

With 32 mystical paths of wisdom … He created His universe …

That was not in my conscious thoughts when I named this blog, but I’ll take it.  And it shows that Mystical Paths are a part of Judaism.  And with the powerful draw of today’s society, maybe needed more and more.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

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Ben Ephraim?

by Dov bar Leib, with edits and annotations by Reb Akiva

th (4)Who is Mashiach ben Ephraim??  Ben Ephraim returns society to common decency.  He fears G-d but is not necessarily Shomer Mitzvot (a strict observer of the biblical commandments for the Jewish people).

In today’s divided Jewish people, each segment coming out of the Holocaust with a spiritual defect and a spiritual strength, each Moshiach prior to the coming of Ben Dovid (the ultimate redeemer) effects a tikkun, a spiritual repair and an associated physical change in the Jewish nation.  Yet because of each segments’ defect, it’s unlikely they’ll recognize the one bringing the repair.

Moshiach ben Ephraim will not succeed against those who oppose him, because Mashiach ben Ephraim can only defeat the spiritual defect of the Erev Rav.  He cannot defeat the Erev Ze'ir, those who want the exile to continue or do not understand that decency is a necessary prerequisite to the Torah. 

The Erev Rav worships the Avodah Zarah of world public opinion and personal popularity.  According to the Zohar Bereishit 25, they have five soul roots: Amalekim (the most wicked full of himself prideful son of Eliphaz ben Esav), Nefilim (fallen angels), The Giborim (Men of Renown or Mighty Ones who are the sons of the Fallen Angels who had relations with human women), Refa'im (Og from the pre-flood world.  The Zohar places them as a sub-category of the Anakim.  Refa'im can also mean weak ones or even ghosts.  The City of the Refa'im was the first city conquered by the 4 kings lead by Kedarla'omer in Gen. 14:5), and Anakim (the Giants in Hevron).

If one looks closely, one can see these soul roots in action in modern society.  G-d splintered them off clearlly this time in order for us to see the final birur against the Erev Rav in action.  G-d willing more Jews will be brought out of their evil spell. 

The Erev Ze'ir is different.  They have Jewish souls, but they desire for the world of exile to continue.

Yechezkel 37: 16-17 Moreover, Son of Adam:  Take for yourself one wooden stick and Write upon it For Yehudah!  And for the Children of Yisrael his companions (his friends) then take another wooden stick and write upon it For Yosef, the Stick of Ephraim! and the entire House of Yisrael his companions.  And bring then together toward you into one wooden stick and they will be one(s) in your hand.

Devorah HaNavia, the lead of this past week’s Haftara, was the Eishet Lapidot. Now this is interpreted in three ways by Chazal:

1) She twisted wicks for the Menorah in the Mishkan at Shilo. Since wicks of that Menorah give off the light of Torah, then she is propagating Torah throughout Israel.

2) She was the wife of Barak aka Lapidot who goes off and fights the war against Sisera and Yachin with Devorah at her side. Barak is of course from Sheivet NAFTALI. (We will get back to that in a bit later.) So the question comes up. Why is Devorah sitting underneath a Tomer tree (Date tree) on top of Har Ephraim judging the nation. This brings us to option number three.

3) Her first husband, Lapid or Lapidot, was from the Tribe of EPHRAIM. He passes away, but she is a widow who likely (or maybe not) had children from her first husband. Again, either his name was Lapid or it was Lapidot. So if option three is more likely than option 2, her first husband was Lapid from Sheivet Ephraim ben Yosef. I will have to look at the Gemorrah in Chulin where this is discussed. This option then allows for option number 2 to take place where Barak becomes a 2nd husband.

Option number 3 would therefore explain why, as a widow, Devorah would be sitting under a date tree on the property of her first husband on Mt. Ephraim.

The 3rd Admor (Rebbe) of Sadigora did not think that it was beneath his dignity to sweep the streets of Bnai Brak or Tel Aviv where he lived on Yom Atzamot (The Day of the Ingathering of the Dry Bones), Hey B'Iyar. And for that alone it rained on the 5th of Tevet, his Yahrzeit, for 51 years straight, until this year when it did not. So sweeping and cleaning the Holy Land cannot be beneath the dignity of anyone.

If the stick on which it is written For Yosef, the stick of Ephraim! and the stick on which it is written For Yehudah! came together in the hand of Yechezkel HaNavi, then they can can come together in the hand of the leadership of Israel too.

For whatever reason, the gilgul of Naftali ben Ya'akov has been put in charge of the For Yehudah faction and Lapidos has been put in charge of the For Yosef faction.

We are not in the time of Moshiach Ben David yet, but we truly are in the Mashiach ben Ephraim mode and all the players except Seriah (Chushim ben Dan) are on the scene right now.

Seriah will likely appear in when the Syrian War somehow blows up since his is the lion cub that leaps forth from Bashan, the Golan Heights. And he will chop off Esav's head. The two kings have not fallen yet.

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Shin

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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There is only place where the letter shin appears with four arms; on one side of the tefillin head piece. The shin on the other side of the head piece has three arms as usual. Why does that shin have four arms while in all other places in the entire Torah it has three?

     The head piece of the tefillin is a reminder of the tablets that the Ten Comments were inscribed on. One of the most amazing things about those tablets is that the commandments could be read from either side. This sounds impossible since the letters would seem to be backwards from the other side. But when we look at the “empty” spaces between the four arms of the shin on the head piece, in that emptiness we see another Hebrew letter. Can you see it? The empty space forms a three armed shin just like the one on the other side of the tefillin. It is as if we can see the three-armed shin from the other side. This helps to remind us of the Tablets of the Ten Commandments.

    Well, I always thought that there was no other place anywhere that a four- armed shin appears. That was before I went up on my roof after davening this morning. I looked up at the sky above the Temple Mount, and there I saw…

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Friday, January 25, 2013

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Tehillim at the Kotel

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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Young Charadi Boys Saying Tehillim (Psalms) with their rebbe (teacher) at the Kotel

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

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Out to get Egypt

morsi-mccainThe Jewish Zionist controlled media complex in the United States is out to get Egyptian President Morsi… says Egyptian President Morsi:

(Powerline)  Last week in Cairo (Egypt), seven U.S. senators had a highly contentious meeting with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi during which the Muslim Brotherhood leader implied that he was the victim of an American media run by the Jews.

…Their stop in Cairo included a 90-minute meeting with Morsi that devolved into an uncomfortable set of exchanges as the senators pressed the Egyptian president to explain his 2010 comments describing Jews as “bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians” as well as “the descendants of apes and pigs.” …

… inside the meeting, the discussion over Morsi’s 2010 remarks was much more heated than either side publicly acknowledged afterwards... Addressing the comments was the first item on the senators’ agenda, and the discussion did not go well…

“We tried to give President Morsi an opportunity, now that he is the president, to put his comments in a different context because he was claiming that he was taken out of context. On their face they seemed to be very offensive and inappropriate,” Coons said. “It was a difficult conversation.”

Morsi told the senators that the values of Islam teach respect for Christianity and Judaism, and he asserted repeatedly that he had no negative views about Judaism or the Jewish people, but then followed with a diatribe about Israel and Zionist actions against Palestinians, especially in Gaza.

Then Morsi crossed a line and made a comment that made the senators physically recoil in their chairs in shock, Coons said.

“He was attempting to explain himself … then he said, ‘Well, I think we all know that the media in the United States has made a big deal of this and we know the media of the United States is controlled by certain forces and they don’t view me favorably,’” Coons said.

The Cable asked Coons if Morsi specifically named the Jews as the forces that control the American media. Coons said all the senators believed the implication was obvious.

“He did not say [the Jews], but I watched as the other senators physically recoiled, as did I,” he said. “I thought it was impossible to draw any other conclusion.”…

Multiple senators impressed upon Morsi that if he was saying the criticisms of his comments were due to the Jews in the media, that statement was potentially even more offensive than his original comments from 2010.

…“The conversation got so heated that eventually Senator McCain said to the group, ‘OK, we’ve pressed him as hard as we can while being in the boundaries of diplomacy,’”…

(Read the whole thing)

Following the meeting the U.S. sent Egypt hundreds of new F-16’s and M1A1 Abrams tanks.  And one of the senators in attendance was filing an emergency bill to give Egypt hundreds of millions of additional dollars in economic support.

Guess they didn’t recoil that far.

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If You Don’t Have a Good Time When You Do a Mitzvah…

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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…You Didn’t Do It Right

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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Israeli Election–Final Results, Torah Wins?

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(KikarShabbat) Achievement for United Torah Judaism – Seven seats. The morning after, one of the biggest winners in the elections is United Torah Judaism, rising to seven seats in the next Knesset.

The Charedi Israeli news is alight with election results.  1 more seat – 1 more seat – 1 more seat.  They achieved an increase in parliamentary representation of… 1 more seat.

imageThey may end up OUT of the coalition, lose minister positions, and possibly have a semi-cultural war over the new coalition’s goals of required universal draft and national service with no or limited exceptions for Torah learning.  But they won… 1 more seat.  Yay!  Torah wins!  (???)

Full Results via Ynet… (commentary after the graphic)

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Shaul HaMelech (biblical King Saul) lost his mandate at Migron, when he sat for 7 days and refused to attack the Plishtim.  His rule didn’t end immediately after, but it was that incident that removed his mandate to rule and saw other actors stepping in.

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The modern Jewish village of Migron, on the historical biblical Migron hilltop, was destroyed by the (now previous) Israeli government due to weak documents challenging ownership of the land (15 years later).  Anywhere else such a challenge would be met with compensation if granted, but in Israel the Jews are thrown out.

And in the past Gaza war, the Israeli army sat for 7 days… and under orders from the Prime Minister – Defense Minister – Foreign Minister, did not (ground) attack.

What type of coalition government will be formed in Israel is currently unknown.  Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party was the big winner in the election becoming Israel’s second largest party, yet being another newly created party it has no history to look at or government members to evaluate.  It’s a complete newcomer to the political scene, along with ALL 19 members now elected to the Knesset (and sure to gain 3 or 4 ministerial positions, assuming they join the coalition.)

But what is clear is Likud leader and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lost the trust of more than a slim plurality of Israelis, and effectively lost his mandate.  He won’t immediately lose his position, but his ability to act big and alone is…gone.

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Kotel Provocation ?!!!???

kotel-bibi-2(Ynetnews) The Palestinians called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to visit the Western Wall after casting his ballot in a Jerusalem school a "provocation."

"Netanyahu is trying to gain more Israeli votes on Election Day by provoking the Muslims and soiling the holy sites," a top Hamas figure said. The Islamist group also called for an uprising in the West Bank as a result of the "recurrent provocations."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a Jew.  The Kotel – the Western Wall is a JEWISH holy site open to EVERY JEW in the world.  It also happens to be open to visit to ANYONE of ANY RELIGION.

The Western Wall is … THE WESTERN WALL of the HOLY JEWISH TEMPLE OF G-D in JERUSALEM. 

bibi-kotelI am proud and pleased that the Prime Minister of Israel saw fit to visit the Western Wall on the day of the election.  Whether a ploy or not, the man wanted to say a prayer for success – for himself and for his state and for the Jewish people.  Good for him!

Interestingly, if any Muslim or Arab wishes to visit the Western Wall and say ANY PRAYERS THEY WISH, it is open for them to do so.

It was, is and remains a place of prayer for anyone wanting to connect to G-d.  It’s also the most holy Jewish site currently accessible to the Jewish people.

The Temple Mount, referred to by the muslims as Al Aqsa, is currently under the control of the Muslim Waqf and contains 3 mosques.  JEWS are NOT ALLOWED to visit except under strict control, in VERY limited numbers at VERY limited times, with police and muslim escort, and are prohibited from prayer of any sort under threat of arrest and imprisonment. 

Christian or other non-muslim access is limited to specific times, and the location is open only to pray if you are muslim.  Of course muslims are also open to cavort, picnic or play soccer on the site if they wish to do so and are frequently found to use this incredibly holy site as a park, picnic area or soccer field.

The Jews treat this site, both the Kotel and the Temple Mount, as the holiest spot in the WORLD – the closest physical place to G-d on the planet.  And yet, STILL make it a place where ANYONE can connect to G-d.

The Muslims?  Not so much.

Enough with the Hamas lies, Palestinian Authority lies, Palestinian lies, Arab lies, and Muslim lies. 

Open your eyes and see things for what they are.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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Preliminary Israeli Election Results Graphic

Translated graphics from Ynet hebrew site.

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segments poll

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Israel Election Sights

It’s election day in Israel!  Here’s what it looks like…

Banners are everywhere near (but not exactly in front of) polling stations.  This one is for “Bayit Yehudi – the Jewish Home Party”, though someone stuck a Netanyahu (Likud – Israeli PM right now) sticker in the middle.

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Pictures, pictures, everyone wants to vote for a face!  Here we see Shas (religious party) leader Aryeh Deri, and below Likud and current Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Worried about Jewish Home popularity, the Shas poster says “Return Home”.  And the Likud poster says “A Strong Prime Minister makes a Strong Israel”.

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Anyone parking near the polling station was immediately physically spammed.  Here we have a Bayit Yehuda – Jewish Home flyer covered by an Otzma Yisroel – Israel Independence flyer.

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The Strong Influence party is an insta-party by Israeli outreach rabbi Amnon Yitzchok.  Lots of his stickers around, each partially torn down.

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Spread around the area were flyers for Am Shalem – another insta-party by Rabbi Amsalem.  That’s one technique, litter advertising.

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Near the polling station where some parties giving out materials.  Seems a little late for stickers and so forth.  Here was a Bayit Yehudi table.

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The election process is significantly simpler yet apparently more secure than US elections.  There’s several levels of quick checks to go through, here’s a polling station.  Each person arrives, is ID’d with verification by 4 poll operators, is checked off the citizens of the area list, is handed an official numbered polling envelope and sent to the polling station.

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You’re presented with a tray of post-it slips.  Each has the party voting initials and the party name.

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You take the slip for the party you’re voting for, place it in your official voting envelope, seal it, and drop it in the blue voting box in front of the poll operators.  This particular vote (not mine) was for The Jewish Home party.

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G-d willing, the election should be for the good and take Israel in good directions in the future.

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The Segulah of Parshat HaMon

hamon_new_02Rebbe Mendel of Riminov said that saying Parshas HaMon on Tuesday of Parshas B'Shalach is a Segulah for Parnossa (wealth, income).

That's today, and here it is...

Parshat HaMon - w/Artscroll Linear Translation
Parshat HaMon - Hebrew w/Onkolos

The process seems to be that this should be 3 times, twice in Hebrew and once with targum onkolos (the aramaic translation of Onkolos).

Two explanations of why are here and here.  Here’s a brief excerpt from Zchus Avos Yogen Aleinu

The source of this custom is Reb Menachem Mendel of Rimanov, one of the four primary disciples of the Noam Elimelech.   The halachic works say that it is a good thing to read Parshas Hamon everyday. (Tur 1; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 1:5; Aruch Hashulchan 1:22; Shulchan Aruch HaRav 1:9).

Shevet Mussar says that the segula of Parshas Hamon is when it's read "shnayim mikra ve'eched targum" and Siddur Segulas Yisroel says to say it with the cantillation (trup or the musical Torah notes).   Mishna Berura quotes the Talmud Yerushalmi in Brochos that says one who says Parshas Haman will not lack sustenance, and quoting the Taz says that reading it alone isn't sufficient, but one has to understand from the reading that our sustenance come about through Divine intervention. By reading the account of how Klal Yisroel was sustained by Hashem in the desert for 40 years, we ingrain in ourselves that our livelihood comes about only because Hashem wills it. …It's not a magic incantation but an affirmation of Hashem being the "Hand that feeds us".

A wish of great parnossa to everyone!

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Musical Effect

th (2)A knowledable rabbi learned in the secrets of Kabbalah commented on Why Isn’t The Culture Jewish

The Ari HaKodosh (the holy Rabbi Yitzchok Luria, the leading kabbalist of Safed from 300 years ago and the “father” of the current Jewish mystical perspective) says the highest world is called “taamim”, literally notes.

What this means on a personal level is that music and rhythm is the highest influence, influencing thought, desire, speech and action.

There's no getting away from it.

A recent study has shown that kids pick up first the rhythm in a language, then the words.

It's the “tune” they tune into..

It is then little wonder the great Rebbes of yesteryear placed such an emphasis on music.

If the music is pure, the outcome - thought, speech, action - will be too.

If not, G-d forbid, it enhances negative drives and desires or even drives them.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

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What a Great Feeling!

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     I was on my way to the Kotel yesterday afternoon when I saw a middle-aged couple huddled over the ATM machine in front of the bank. They were really upset. I recalled seeing someone hit the machine earlier in the day, frustrated that it didn’t work.

     I walked over to them and said, “It’s broken.”

     “It swallowed my card!” he cried out, without even looking up. Their heads were almost bumping as he kept hitting the button.

     “The bank opens tomorrow afternoon,” I said. “You’ll be able to get it back then.”

     “We’re leaving in the morning,” he said, as he frantically pressed the button again and again.

     They were religious, American tourists. Obviously, they needed their credit card to be able to pay their bills, and to get to the airport.

     “What a mess!” he hit the button again.

     I know nothing about those machines. In fact, I have never used one in my life, (I don’t get along too well with machines, and instructions) but I told him to do what I would do. “Hit all the buttons hard!”

     He started punching all of the buttons with his finger, one at a time, and hard! There must be a dozen or more of them. By the time he hit the 4th or 5th button his card popped out of the slot.

     “Ooooh!” You could hear their great relief as they breathed out. He thanked me and I continued on to the Kotel feeling really happy.

     “Ha! Not only did I relieve two Jews’ difficult situation, but I did a specific Torah mitzvah, too.”

     Even if it were not a Torah commandment I would have felt good for helping them. They seemed like really nice people. And to feel stress turn into relief is always a great feeling. But remembering that we are specifically commanded to return a lost object made it even nicer.

    The truth is, whatever mitzvah we do should bring us that great feeling of doing something that helps.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

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Why Isn’t The Culture Kosher?

A great video discussion by Rabbi Wallerstein on why certain current cultural trends are NOT KOSHER. He includes discussions of Zumba, Rap and Pole Dancing. Kosher Pole Dancing? Kosher Zumba? He explains why there is simply NO WAY.

UPDATE – Several commentors (via comments and email) have pointed out that the rav slips from a cultural explanation to one that can easily be understood as racist.  Reviewing the video on this basis, I agree.  We do not condone such ideas, and certainly would feel strongly if such was directed at us.  I have therefore removed the video.  (I am not, G-d forbid, accusing the rabbi of being racist, I don’t know him.  Just saying a few unfortunate statements in this video lesson can be interpreted that way.)

However, I want to summarize his points with which I agreed:

1. The Yetzer Hara, the Evil Inclination, is able to slide some negatively impacting elements into the religious Jewish community under the guise of exercise and modern health.

2. Music and body movements have an impact on our perceptions and emotions.  Certain types of music styles are heavy in their impact, and these types of music are integral parts of these problematic exercise routines.  Further, these routines usually target women.

(I’d add two points here.  First, studies on music impact have even shown listening to “fast” paced music while driving results in the driver driving faster or listening to certain types of music result in the driver driving more recklessly.   Second, if you’ve ever seen young children (2-4 years old) react to certain types of music, you can directly see a “body” reaction to music without any type of cultural filter.)

3. If you want to consider compatibility between an exercise routine or type of music and orthodox Judaism, just imagine yourself sitting with your 12 year old child going over Torah homework immediately after listening or exercising to such music or routines.  Can you return from gyrating to thumping tunes and discuss the parsha, a Rashi or a Mishnah?

When viewed in such a context, the incompatibility is obvious.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

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Help! (…defeat a desire)

by Reb Gutman @ Mystical Paths

Here are a few lines from a long letter asking for help.

image003Rabbi Gutman,

     I am a 30 year old Persian-Jew. I come from a conservative Jewish family. I go to temple almost every Shabbat. I keep Kosher with regards to meat and chicken. I am very close with my family.

     Four months ago I met a secular Muslim Persian girl, a year older than me. When I say secular, she actually celebrates Christmas and doesn't celebrate any Muslim holidays. Please keep in mind I am very Zionist. Anyways, I am ashamed to admit this but I have had relations with her.

    I know I'm a Zionist, I am a proud Jew, I keep kosher, I go to temple all the time, I celebrate all the Jewish holidays...but Rabbi, I am in love with her, and it kills me. I have never clicked with anyone so much. I know I can't be with her, and I've told her that. I told her marriage is impossible. She wants to convert but I told her no, because my parents would kill me, and because I don’t want to be with someone who converts to Judaism for me, but I want to be with someone Jewish, or someone who converts for G-d, not me. I have explained to her, that it is not fair to her, that I can never eat meat at her parent’s house. I have explained to her I don't want my kids around Christmas trees, or anything related to Christmas, and that this is not fair to her parents, because this is something they love to do.

     Please give me some guidance. I cry every night when I sleep, and I feel dead. I know it is very wrong that we have had sexual relations. Not counting that, she is an amazing girl. I would die for her. I know I can't marry her, but sometimes in the back of my head, I think about it...I think what if she converts, and I can teach her Judaism. But then I tell myself "be realistic!" Please Rabbi, help me. I don't want to keep crying and be depressed.

Thank you and Shabbat Shalom!
--D

Shalom D,

    I am very glad that you wrote to me. I admire you for knowing that you cannot marry that girl. She may or may not be a great person but, as you well know, you cannot marry a non Jewish girl, and certainly not an Iranian non Jew, or it would destroy your family. You have placed your love for your family and Torah above the great pull of your physical desires. G-d will bless you for this, and will give you a wonderful wife as soon as you are ready.

    If you really love that girl you will want to do what is best for her (and for you). You should leave her so she will be able to find a nice Iranian man in her church so she can marry and make a nice family.

    As you know her family and yours would not be compatible. To even think of bringing them into your parents’ home would be a disaster. You love your mother and father and do not want to cause them grief.

   What I suggest to you is for you to part from her for 90 days and give both of you some breathing space, and then see what happens.

    During these 90 days you should visit every rabbi in the entire area and have them introduce you to the nice young available Jewish girls. Within a month or two you will have met some 20 nice girls to choose from.

     Obviously, if you sit at home alone you will miss the physical relationship with the non Jewish girl, and you will call her every time you get lonely.

     To be frank with you, I am surprised that you could even consider the possibility of bringing her Iranian Muslim family into your parents’ home, after your family has escaped from the Iranian Muslim cruelty! This shows you the great power that the animal instinct has over common sense.

     I really feel that G-d is going to bless you for not giving in to the strong pull of your eyes and heart, and not marrying her, but by insisting on doing the best thing for everyone.

     Take my advice and go look for that girl who right now is also looking for you.

Send me good news real soon

Be well,
Reb Gutman

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

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All Costs

via Lma’an Yishme’u

Alexander the Great once visited the King of Katzia to observe that country's laws and customs. Just then, two citizens were admitted to have their judgment rendered by the king.

"My master, the King!" called out the plaintiff. "I bought a desolate piece of land from this man here, dug it up, and discovered a buried treasure. So I told him to take the treasure; I bought a ruin, not a treasure!"

"Just as you are afraid of being punished for stealing, so am I!" responded the other. "I sold the ruin to you, including everything in it, from the depths of the earth, until the sky!"

The king asked one man if he had a son, and the other, if he had a daughter. He advised that their children get married and the treasure be given to the new couple. Alexander looked on in amazement.

"Didn't I judge well?" queried the King of Katzia. "Sure!" replied Alexander the Great. "But if I had been the arbitrator, I would have killed them both, and taken the treasure for the kingdom's coffers..."

The King of Katzia then asked, "Does the sun shine in your country?" "Yes," replied Alexander.

"Does it rain?" He nodded affirmatively.

"Do you have animals?" "Yes," he said.

"Well, then," declared the King of Katzia, "the sun shines and the rain falls in the merit of those animals."

(ויקרא רבה כז, א)  (Midrash Vayikra Raba)

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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Another Sign…

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     Here is another sign that the redemption is happening right now. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that being overweight may lead to a longer life.

     The study included a detailed review of over 100 previously published research papers connecting body weight and mortality risk among 2.88 million study participants living around the world.

     The study confirms that obese people, and even more so, the extremely obese, tend to die earlier than those of normal weight. But the findings also suggest that people who are overweight, but not obese, may live longer than people with clinically normal body weight.

     An article in 2005 also showed that being overweight was associated with lower mortality, but the study was vigorously attacked by the medical society. Now, however, dozens of other studies have reached the same conclusion even though it is hard for researchers and the public to accept it.

    The obvious conclusion is; have another challah on Shabbos, and don’t skimp on the cholent either.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

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Yoga Challenged in US as Religious Practice

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

(Althouse) Yoga in Public Schools – An Establishment (Government Supporting Religion) Clause Problem

Yoga programs have been popping up in U.S. public schools, funded and presented by a Hindu religious foundation.  Recently they’ve come under fire by parents claiming their children are being taught religious practices in public schools – an action illegal in the United States (it’s illegal for any U.S. government institution, a school in this case, to fund or promote the practice of any religion)…

The kids are stretching, readying their minds for learning, don't you know? But here's one mother's report:

"They were being taught to thank the sun for their lives and the warmth that it brought, the life that it brought to the earth and they were told to do that right before they did their sun salutation exercise"...
The woman… was able to take her son out of the classes — which is an appropriate accommodation but insufficient to solve an Establishment Clause violation. (In the old prayer-in-school cases, excusing the students who chose not to pray did not suffice.)

The school's program was richly funded by the K.P. Jois Foundation, whose Hindu founders connected yoga to their religion.

"It's stated in the curriculum that it's meant to shape the way that they view the world, it's meant to shape the way that they make life decisions," Eady says. "It's meant to shape the way that they regulate their emotions and the way that they view themselves."

"And then the question becomes — if it is religious, which it is, who decides when enough religion has been stripped out of the program to make it legal?" [says …chief counsel of the …National Center for Law and Policy]. "I mean, that's the problem when you introduce religion into the curriculum and actually immerse and marinate children in the program."...

"It is the stated goal of both the Jois Foundation and the district itself to prove scientifically that Ashtanga yoga works for kids here in the district and then export it nationally," Broyles says.

The Jois Foundation has a director… says the values taught in the program aren't specifically Hindu. But making religion generic doesn't solve your problem. Consult the original Warren Court school-prayer case, Engel v. Vitale, which involved a prayer concocted by the state that stripped out all denominational specificity.

My position…is that the government should not use schools for exercises that reach into the spiritual aspect of the child's mind. Quite aside from whether courts would see an Establishment Clause violation, it should be rejected as a policy choice. Even where you have trouble deciding whether something is religion or not, if it's a religion substitute, operating like religion, you should be revolted by the government intruding into the sphere that belongs to the individual, parents, and private organizations. And on this ground, I would object to all sorts of indoctrination and idol-worship.

Public schools must be committed to teaching real substance of the secular kind. Think: math and science.

Imagine if a Christian foundation were handing out huge grants to public schools to adopt a program based on its values, with generic prayer-like incantations led by the teacher….

(The full article at Althouse.)

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Monday, January 14, 2013

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Jewish Conversion

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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A reader asked:

     “Would you comment on Ruth, the Moabite's conversion? Also, please explain why only Orthodox conversions are considered Kosher today?”

Gutman’s reply:

    There is a tremendous amount of confusion on this issue. Another reader wrote a wildly incorrect statement, “The Messiah himself will come from women who were not Jews (Ruth and Tamar), and Moses intermarried, and so did David and Solomon.”

     The process of conversion to Judaism is not like conversion to any other religion. If someone converts to Buddhism, and later converts to Islam (or any other religion) he is no longer a Buddhist. He is now a Muslim.

     But if a non Jew undergoes a kosher conversion to Judaism, and then some time later decides to become a Buddhist (or any other religion) he is still a Jew, but now he calls himself a Jewish Buddhist.

     The reason for this is that unlike all other religions, Jews are not members of a religion. Jews are a people. Religion goes according to a person’s belief, but a person who has a Jewish mother is a Jew no matter what he believes. Many people discover late in life that they are Jews even though they have never intentionally fulfilled a single mitzvah! This is why the requirements are so difficult to satisfy.

     Now, among Jews there are tremendous differences in belief. So, if someone converts to Judaism according to the Reform rules, only the Reform Jews will consider that person to be a Jew. If someone converts according to the Conservative rules, the Conservative and the Reform Jews will consider that person to be a Jew. If someone converts according to the Orthodox rules, all Jews will consider that person to be a Jew. Since that potential convert wants to be a Jew, and wants to be accepted as a Jewish person, it is necessary for him or her to satisfy the Orthodox standard. 

     The conversion process changed when the Torah was given to us as a Nation (Mt. Sinai). Before this time, conversion was done by sincere acceptance of the Jewish People as your people, and the Jewish ways as your ways.

When Yitzchak first saw Rivka, he brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, married her, she became his wife, and he loved her.[i] Why did he bring her into his mother’s tent before he married her? Any why would such a wealthy man not give his new bride her own tent? Why did he marry her before he loved her?

     This is the prime example of a holy, Jewish marriage.

     Bringing her into his mother Sarah’s tent shows that Rivka filled the void that was in that tent since Sarah passed away. Rivka became the mother of the Jewish people. She accepted, and loved the ways of Sarah, and only then could Yitzchak marry her. He saw that it was proper and good, so he married her, and then he loved her. Not like those who love first, and then follow their hearts.

     Since the Torah has been given to us as a Nation, things are different. Now a Jewish court has to approve conversions. The court has to be convinced that the potential convert is sincere, and is trying to convert for a proper reason. Even though the Torah does not record all of the details of those historical conversions, certainly the leaders of Israel upheld the law that G-d has given to us. Know that there were courts involved in all of those conversions.

     Why is conversion discouraged? All other religions want you to join them. We believe that a person was created what they are for a good reason, and that is the path they should take. When a non Jew keeps the Seven Commandments of Noah, he or she becomes a holy person. He will have a wonderful life in this world and a share in the World to Come. This is the path he should take.

     Unlike other religions, we do not say that you have to be like us. Whoever you are, we advise you to become the best possible you.


[i] Genesis 24:67

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The Jewish Sound of One Hand Clapping

new video by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

Do you know any Jews involved with Buddhism? Finally, there is a tool to help them. You will enjoy it, too. Click on the link to hear the wondrous sound of one hand clapping.

Direct video link.

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Start the Week with Tzaddikim Dancing

Shared by reader YL, here’s a video of Breslev Tzadikim singing and dancing on erev Rosh Hashana in Uman by the kever of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev…

40 minutes!  Direct video link.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

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Refuah Shalayma Rav Ovadia

Mystical Paths was saddened to hear of the leading Torah Gadol HaRav Ovadiah Yosef having a major health incident…

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, 92, was hospitalized on Saturday morning after feeling ill, suffered a minor stroke, a hospital official said.  The rabbi has undergone extensive testing and he is fully conscious and communicative.

A source …said the rabbi felt numbness in his left hand around 2:30 am Saturday but refused to go to the hospital or call a doctor on Shabbat. He felt ill at the synagogue during the morning's prayer. A doctor who was among the worshippers asserted that Yosef was suffering a stroke and that he should be taken to the hospital.

On motzei Shabbos, the condition of the Gadol Hador is described as stable and the rav is conscious and alert.

The tzibur is asked to be mispallel for מרן הרב עובדיה בן גורג’יה

The rav was discharged from the hospital within the last hour, the hospital said. Earlier today (Sunday morning), the rabbi stepped out of his hospital room and greeted his well-wishers.

Mystical Paths wishes HaRav Ovadia a speedy and complete refuah!

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

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Save the Starving Palestinians (Not)

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

A commentor wrote, “If (you) really wanted to do something spiritually uplifting, how about sending food aid to the Palestinian concentration camps/ghettos that Israel's apartheid government created? Baby formula is a nice gift for those Palestinian mothers too lacking in calories to produce their own milk…

Wouldn't that be nice? I bet the Kotel would love it.”

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So much ignorance in such a short note.  Lets see if we can share a few FACTS…

Palestinian Authority Budget :

$52.5 million per month received in Arab donations.
$100 million per month received from Israel in “tax rebates”.
$166 million per month received in US and EU donations.

That’s $3.8 BILLION dollars a year. Population, their inflated figures = 2.1 million people.

If we do a little math, we find the Palestinian government is spending $1,820 per citizen per year.

Comparisons, GDP per capita -

Egypt = $2,932
Syria = $2,803
Philippines = $2,345
Honduras = $2,162
Nigeria = $1,522
Pakistan = $1,199
Kenya = $833

Palestine = $2,112

So Palestinians are living better than the people of Kenya, Pakistan and Nigeria.  They live similar to Honduras and the Philippines, and only slightly less well than their “brothers” in Syria and Egypt.

ramallah-shop

Ok, how about life expectancy?  The “poor” Palestinians must be showing themselves by dying earlier, right?

Average Life Expectancy…

Saudi Arabia – 72.8 years
Jordan – 72.5 years
Brazil – 72.4 years
Morocco – 71.2 years
Honduras – 70.2 years

and the “poor starving” people of Palestine?

Palestine – 73.4 years !!!!

So the “poor starving” people of Palestine are outliving the OIL RICH kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the stable Arab nation of Jordan, the economically exploding nation of Brazil, and the long term stable kingdom of Morocco!!!!

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Ok, last statistic – infant mortality.  Infant mortality is perhaps the KEY statistic to whether a country is poor or starving.

Infant Mortality – deaths per 1,000 live births, smaller is MUCH better…

Saudi Arabia – 20.02 infant deaths per 1,000 births
Lebanon – 25.49  infant deaths per 1,000 births
Philippines – 26.48  infant deaths per 1,000 births
Brazil – 28.28  infant deaths per 1,000 births
Honduras – 31.71  infant deaths per 1,000 births
Iran – 32.84  infant deaths per 1,000 births
Turkey – 33.64  infant deaths per 1,000 births
Kenya – 67.80  infant deaths per 1,000 births

So how are the “poor starving” children of Palestine doing?

Palestine – 22.19  infant deaths per 1,000 births

The Palestinians have a better infant survival rate than Kenya, Turkey, Iran, Honduras, Brazil, the Philippines and Lebanon.

…NOT SO “POOR”, NOT SO “STARVING”.

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Propaganda is rarely reality.  Next time take a moment and check.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

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Jerusalem Weather Infobit

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

A reader wrote, “I didn’t know it snows in Jerusalem?”.

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Jerusalem is a mountain city.  Originally, the ancient city (Ir David) was a mountaintop closely connected to another mountaintop – which comprised the Holy Temple (Har HaBayit).

Over the past 140 years, and particularly with Israel’s growth and sovereignty, and the re-unification of the city, Jerusalem has grown to include each surrounding mountaintop…

- The Old City and Har HaBayit
- Meah Shearim extending to Geulah and beyond
- “French Hill” (there’s a hint it’s another hilltop)
- Ramot (“the Heights”, another hint)
- Ramat Shlomo (“Shlomo’s Heights”)
- Har Nof (“Mountain View”)
- Har Choma (“The Mountain of the Wall” – cliff edge)

…to name a few.  This does lead to curving roads rather than the straight lines of many modern cities, but also allows the city to easily segment into local communities of various types. 

DSC00650Jerusalem is approximately 2,500 feet (or 760 meters) in elevation, making it a 1/2 mile high city.  During the spring, fall and early summer it tends to have cool evening temperatures and low humidity.  It’s usually 5-10 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than Tel Aviv and the Israeli coastal plain during the day, and can can be as much as 15 degrees cooler at night.  (Exceptions are late summer and heat waves containing hot desert winds blowing across the whole country.)

Israel as a whole is a nation of seasonal rains, winter only.  This means it literally never rains except in winter (almost never).  Average winter temperatures range from the low 60’s to 30 or so.  The coastal plane usually stays in the 60’s – 50’s, and the mountain areas may run from the 50’s – 40’s.

soldiers_kotel_snowWHEN the seasonal rains join up with a cold front, the temperatures may fall into the low 30’s and… snow.  Jerusalem seems to get a touch or dusting of snow every 3-4 years, and a serious snow storm (serious means 5 inches of snow) every 10 years or so.  Northern areas with higher mountains, such as Meron and Safed (Tzfat) will see light snow a few times every winter.

Israel’s only location with serious snowfall is Mt. Hermon, the most northern location in the country at the tip of the Golan Heights.

For those places where snow falls, it rarely lasts more than a day or two.  This year’s snowfall being a “major” one, the snow has lasted 3 days and might make it to 4 or 5 on the top of roofs and under trees.

Temperatures are back up today and predicted to return to a normal winter range of 50’s – 60’s through the week.  Given Israeli homes limited heating abilities… THANK G-D.

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Israel Jobs Group

There’s many online resources for finding jobs in Israel.  A reader sent me one I hadn’t heard of, a Facebook group he manages.  Worth checking out.  Click the image to jump to the group page.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

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Jerusalem Weather Report

by Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

- Roofs in the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel -
- The Temple Mount is just beyond the large tree--Taken from Gutman’s roof -

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- Kotel, Western Wall, Wednesday afternoon January 9 -

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Sammy Saves a Jew

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     Sammy has been learning in Jerusalem for the past year, and is about to return to America to move on in life. He felt to come to the Kotel to see if he could help a fellow Jew to do a mitzvah as a way of saying “good-bye.”

     Sammy is a friend of mine. I am the one who first encouraged him to try to help others to put on tefillin. He has only tried a few times and those few times that he came to help he did a better job of talking to the visitors than actually putting tefillin on them, but this time he was determined to not only bring a Jew in, but to also put tefillin on him.

     He was standing there for only a few minutes when his “customer” arrived. The visitor was from Holland, 44 years old, and had never put on tefillin before. Sammy talked him into putting on tefillin, and then physically put the tefillin on him. Not only that, but he did such a nice job of helping him, that when he finished, the visitor asked for instructions how to buy a pair of tefillin. Sammy showed him how to do the mitzvah in such a special way that he had a very good time, and he wanted to do the mitzvah every day.

     I do not know if you can tell from the picture, but as happy as the tourist was, Sammy was even happier. What a nice way to say “Thank you and see you later,” to the Kotel.

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Instability in the U.S.???

What is going on in the U.S. of A???

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"The president is going to act," said U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, giving some comments to the press before a meeting with victims of gun violence. "There are executives orders, there's executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet. But we're compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and the rest of the cabinet members as well as legislative action that we believe is required."

“Following controversy over its purchase of around 1.2 billion bullets in the last six months alone, the Department of Homeland Security has put out a new solicitation for over 200 million more rounds of ammunition, some of which are designated to be used by snipers.  A series of new solicitations… show that the DHS is looking to purchase 200 million rounds of .223 rifle ammunition over the next four years, as well as 176,000 rounds of .308 caliber 168 grain hollow point boat tail rounds in addition to 25,000 rounds of .308 caliber bullets.

“It is the type of ammunition and not necessarily the quantity that is troubling.”  …acquisition of .308 rounds is of concern because they are set to be used by well-trained snipers.  …the math adds up to 135,384 potential kills for the snipers to make, using the 176,000 rounds of ammunition, basing the figures on the fact that United States Army …snipers in the Vietnam War expended 1.3 rounds of ammunition for each …kill.

The DHS’ decision back in March to purchase of 450 million rounds of .40-caliber hollow point bullets that are designed to expand upon entry and cause maximum organ damage prompted questions as to why the federal agency required such powerful bullets and in such large quantities… This was followed up by a more recent order for a further 750 million rounds of assorted ammunition, including bullets that can penetrate walls.

The … media responded to the controversy by focusing on a purchase of 174,000 bullets by the Social Security Administration (???) while completely ignoring the fact that the DHS had purchased well over a billion rounds.

Having recently acquired riot gear, the DHS also purchased a number of bullet-proof checkpoint booths that include ‘stop and go’ lights.

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