Thursday, February 28, 2013

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Akiva’s Tech Academy – Java in 15 Minutes, Part 1

My son challenged me to teach him Java.  Here I try to do it in 10 minutes or less.  It took me 15, here’s part 1.

Akiva’s Tech Academy – Java in 15 Minutes, Part 1 – direct link.

[ This is a Khan Academy style video, meaning white board drawing with audio.  Oh, and I may not actually be very good at this.  You be the judge. ]

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Who’s Going to Fade Away?

Reb Aharon shared with me Yair Lapid’s video, now with English subtitles, talking about the Israeli culture conflict between the ultra-religious and the secular segments of Jewish society.

A very interesting talk.  25 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles.  Direct link.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

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Down, Down, Down, Down….

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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From a recent news article:

     According to a growing number of researchers, the human race is slowly becoming dumber, and dumber. Despite our advancements over the last tens or even hundreds of years, some ‘experts’ believe that humans are losing cognitive capabilities and becoming more emotionally unstable.

     “I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues. Furthermore, I would guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues.”[i]

Gutman adds:

    Although this is a new idea for science, the Torah has always taught that each generation, from the first man Adam on, becomes lower and lower. It is likened to a stone that is thrown. The further it gets from your hand, the more time gravity has to pull on it, so it goes lower and lower.

     Our righteous ancestors are our role models. They were great and holy people whom we try to emulate. Whereas the scientists believe that their ancestors were monkeys, we believe that we come from the most special people who ever lived.

     So does this predict a gloomy future? No, not at all. Even though our holy books tell us that we go lower and lower in each generation, they also tell us that with each generation we come closer and closer to the glorious, final redemption. This means that even though we are lower than our ancestors, we have an even greater opportunity to reveal the holiness in our lives then they did.

    Now is the most wonderful time of all. We are living in the age when Redemption is happening. With the least effort we can accomplish the most. All we have to do is really try.


[i] The scientific journal Trends in Genetics

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Hey, We Earned a Cup-o-Joe!

Thanks for those who clicked on the Amazon.com ad above (or link right here).  If you buy from Amazon via the ad (or link right here), we get a commission and it costs you NOTHING.

Support Mystical Paths for FREE when you buy from Amazon.com.

Here’s what other wonderful people like you are buying to support Mystical Paths:

Jaxon Crushable Ford Fedora - We earned $2.40, thank you!

Andis 30095 Micro Turbo 1200 Watt Hair Dryer - We earned $1.56, cool!

PF Flyers Men's Center Hi Reiss Sneaker - We earned $2.05 and that adds up to a cup of coffee! Maybe even an espresso!

If you're shopping at Amazon.com, click here to support the blog for FREE!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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Pollard (for Israelis)

From: Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home

Thank you to the thousands who joined the petition for the release of Jonathan Pollard for the arrival of President Obama in Israel in a few weeks.

Even if you have already signed - please contact urgently family and friends and ask them to also.

Dear Friends,

In just under a month President Obama will be coming to visit Israel.

After 28 years in prison, after dozens of first-rate American officials called for his release, and after CIA documents proved Jonathan's actions were not directed against the United States,

Now is the time to save Jonathan Pollard.

Please sign this petition to urge President Obama to release Jonathan Pollard as part of his visit to Israel.

I would appreciate very much if you can do a little more effort and pass it on to all your friends,

Best regards and appreciation,

Esther Pollard

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Every Jew Sees Miracles…

…if they’re looking for them.

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

The Land of Israel, the Holy Land, is a place of miracles…for those looking for them.  I had two recent contrasting experiences with the holy Jews of the Holy Land. 

Those who would divide the Jewish people, captured by the negative influences of the other side, invest in our differences.  And much of the “system” in Israel is built around those differences.  Are you orthodox, or ultra-orthodox, or observant, or traditional, or secular, or anti-religious?  Or a Jew living in the Holy Land?

One of my co-workers would be called a secular Jew from Tel Aviv.  He doesn’t go to synagogue, he doesn’t wear a yalmuka.  I have the honor, and responsibility, of being the first “charedi” (ultra-orthodox Jew) he’s ever spoken to.  This avowed secular Jew from Tel Aviv has shown me the personal prayers he’s written to Hashem, and is fully committed to helping others, doing chesed and making Israel a better place for all the Jewish people.  That’s “a secular Jew from Tel Aviv”.

Another co-worker was telling me of her family.  She comes from a ‘traditional’ home, meaning kiddush and Shabbat is observed, and some level of kosher, though not to a strict orthodox Jewish religious law level.  She married a wonderful man from an ‘atheist’ family, strongly avowed absolutely non-religiously-active Jews of Tel Aviv.  They went many years without children when she decided her home needs the blessing of Shabbos kiddush, and she challenged her husband to make kiddush and sit down for a Shabbos dinner for the blessing of children.  After some months of arguing, he finally yelled at her “fine, I’ll do it for a month.  But if you don’t get pregnant, don’t bother me about it again.”  She replied “fine, but if I do, you have to make kiddush every Friday for the rest of our lives.”…

Today they have 2 children and kiddush every Friday night.

There’s miracles to be found, if you’re looking for them.

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The Developing Modern Sodom

S’dom is one of the biblical archetypes of evil.  Yet it wasn’t a place of massively evil people.  It wasn’t a bunch of individual murders or depraved monsters.

It was a society enforcing a series of rules that, in total, created a completely immoral society.  Yet would anyone disagree that someone not following the rules of society should be punished?  …

Man who saved neighborhood boy being MAULED TO DEATH by 3 large pit bulls by running to get his firearm and shooting the dogs to face gun charges.  (Discharging your weapon in defense of others is ILLEGAL.)

Truckee, California to reconsider request of charity organization to feed the homeless (at the organization’s expense), after the organization lost their location.  (Now the homeless go hungry while the town council considers whether it’s ok to feed them.)

Workers at a rescue mission in Louisiana were forced by state health officials to destroy roughly $8,000 worth of deer meat because state law prevents the serving of venison in homeless shelters.  (Better the homeless go hungry that be put at risk of non-factory processed food, because starving is not a risk?)

A 15-year-old student at Middle School in Florida was told to change her pro-abstinence t-shirt after officials deemed it “inappropriate.” The (religious) teen wore the shirt, which read, ”Don’t drink and park… accidents cause kids”.  The school district has cited a dress code policy that disallows any clothing that “infringes on the rights of others” or contains “explicit content”.

What started as “nanny state” initiatives has moved on to government restrictions on helping the needy, feeding the hungry, or sharing a message on a moral position.

I realize I’ve only picked out a few quick examples, but several of these are published every week.

Modern day S’dom developing.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

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Pour’em - Until What?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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    We are told to drink so much on Purim that we cannot tell the difference between “Bless Mordechai and curse Haman,” or the other way around! What does this mean? How is it possible to drink like that?

    First, for a well known fact: if you mix drinks – whiskey, wine and vodka or whatever - the chances are that you are going to become violently ill and miss the entire point of the party. (You will also earn the great disrespect, to put it mildly, of the one who has to clean up after you.) It is best to drink wine since wine was served at the original Purim party.[i] Whatever taste you prefer is fine, but stick to one type throughout the entire day.

    The spiritual task on Purim is not simply to be happy. We must try to experience the highest spiritual joy possible. This joy comes when Hashem’s Presence is unmasked. How can drinking on Purim do this? By breaking down the human system of logic that prevents this understand from dawning. We try to take a peek into the greatest mystery of all. This can happen only when there is joy, and this joy has to be the joy that comes from doing a mitzvah. We are not searching for mere physical joy, such as the joy that comes from eating and drinking. But on Purim, even the joy that comes from eating and drinking is a mitzvah!

    Once, there was a holy king. This king was not just an ordinary king. This king demonstrated his royalty by exuding a wondrous feeling of bliss. This feeling was so strong and so enjoyable that when his subjects would come into the palace for a feast, they would say, “This feeling emanating from the king is so wonderful, if only there could be more of it.” They reasoned that the only thing stopping the king's bliss from entirely filling the room was their own bodies, which took up so much space.

     They decided to shrink in order to leave more room for the king’s bliss. And it worked. As they shrunk, more and more bliss filled the room. They enjoyed the additional bliss so much that they shrunk again and again until finally, they completely disappeared.

    Unfortunately, this left the king with a problem. “I want to enjoy a feast with my subjects, but every time I invite them over,“ he complained, “they disappear on me. I want to eat and drink with my friends, but they evaporate right before my eyes. I don’t want to eat and drink all this food by myself.”

      “Wait a minute, I know what I can do,” he reasoned. “After all, I am the king, so I can do whatever I want. I’m going to apportion myself around the banquet table. I am going to take small portions of myself and form these individual portions into different people, and on each person I am going to put a distinct mask. Each portion is going to see itself solely as the person that its mask depicts. And this mask is going to be stuck on each portion so that none will be able to remove its mask for the entire party. Maybe some portions will be able to sneak a peek from time to time, but for the most part, the masks are going to be permanently affixed.” 

    “What a party it will be! There will be eating and drinking and grand entertainment, with everyone ordering whatever he wants and eating whatever he orders. Then, at the appropriate time, when the feast is over, the strings holding on the masks will be loosened and each portion will be able to lift off its mask. Everyone will see it was really only me sitting there the entire time.”

    This is the hidden story of Purim. This is why we wear masks and costumes on Purim, hiding our true identity. The truth is, only the King will be at your Purim meal, but you will not know this because logic tells you that you and your friends are the only ones there.

    And this is why we drink so much on Purim. When the wine goes in, the mysteries come out. This year, when you are so very drunk, try to recall who is really filling your body. Try to take a peek under your mask.

    “Know this day and take it to your heart that the L-rd is G-d; in the heavens above and upon the earth below there is nothing else.” Ain od! (There is no other).[ii]


[i] Esther 1:7

[ii] Deuteronomy 4:39

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

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Who’s This?

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     I talked the older man into putting on tefillin. He was visiting Israel from New York State. He was very friendly, and spoke warmly about Jewish, cultural things.

      I wanted to help the younger one, too, but I could tell that he wasn’t Jewish. I did not know what their relationship was, and I surely did not want to embarrass anyone so, pointing to the older man, I asked him, “Who’s this?”

     “He is my father.” He answered.

     I was afraid of that. I tried to say something funny to get over the awkward feeling of a nice Jewish man like him having a non Jewish son. I asked, “Has he been a good father to you?”

     “Yeah, he’s been okay.”

    “Only, ‘okay’?” I joked.  “He’s feed you and clothed you all these years? And put you through school? Seems like he’s been a great father to you.”

     He smiled to show me that he was only kidding about his father. The boy is in college in England studying anthropology. The father is a hearing aid specialist.

     The father explained to me that they grew up in a Reform neighborhood. They went to Reform Temple, and his kids went to Hebrew classes, and were bar and bas mitzvah’ed.

     I felt so sorry for the guy. He was a sweetheart, and the boy was very nice, too. The boy was raised his entire life thinking that he was a Jew. But the Torah clearly says differently.

      I spoke to him softly. I told them that even though Reform custom teaches that children of a Jewish man are Jewish, the Torah insists that the mother has to be Jewish. Then I told him that although Judaism discourages conversions, if the person’s father is Jewish we do not discourage them. We believe everyone was born who they are for a good reason, and that they should develop and become righteous as they were born. But if someone has a Jewish father that merit will help them to convert if they choose. They took the conversation very well. I assume that they have heard at least part of it before.

     Some 36 years ago, in Maui Hawaii, I met a Jew who was traveling around the world on his sail boat. He was obviously a wealthy man, and his sail boat and crew showed it. We talked for a while and he told me that he was going around the world celebrating his building a five million dollar Conservative synagogue in his home town in Australia, or South Africa, I forget which it was. I asked him one of my favorite questions. “Now that you finished it, what would you have done differently?”

     He said, “I would have built five one million dollar synagogues in different neighborhoods instead.” He went on to explain. “Since there is just the one big beautiful Synagogue everyone drives on Shabbat to go there. If there were five smaller ones, we could have placed them in such a way that the community would not have to drive.”

      Then, he said something very interesting. “The Conservative Movement should have been more like the Chabad Houses. Instead of saying that it is alright to drive on Shabbat as long as you are going to pray, they should have said, ‘You are not supposed to drive on Shabbat, but if you do we won’t throw you out. The real problem,” he went on to say, “is that once they start driving to go to pray, they also stop on the way home to buy bagels and cream cheese and then they have lost the whole point of Shabbat.”

     If the Reform movement would only tell their people what the Torah really says about who is a Jew, it would give them the option to do what they think is best. The way they have done it now makes it perfectly alright to marry a non Jew and be completely comfortable in their community. Now they have second and third generation Reform members of their Temples who are not Jewish marrying Jews who have no idea that they are marrying non Jews. Ouch!

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Kever Esther & Mordechai

In Northern Israel, near Mt. Meron, is a location marked as the holy tomb of Mordechai and Esther.  This is not the only location noted as the Kever of Mordechai and Esther, another is in current day Iran but historical Persia, the location of the Purim story.  Here’s the one in Israel…

Down a hill is an entrance to a small cave and the remains of a kever with the entrance blocked.  Is this the holy resting place of Mordechai and Esther of the Megillah?  Perhaps, perhaps.

Commentor mochinrechavim added, "Mordechai returned with Ezra to Eretz Yisroel, so this location makes sense as I can't imagine Mordechai returning to live in Persia. Esther however was a queen and I cannot imagine it would have been possible to leave to be buried until the redemption like Yosef. The Jews during Purim were saved, but not redeemed."

2013-02-17 Miriam Fayga Trip North 132

2013-02-17 Miriam Fayga Trip North 130

2013-02-17 Miriam Fayga Trip North 131

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Close?

Excerpted from Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok at KosherTorah.com

thHow does one find God and draw close to "Him"? If God is everywhere and in everything, as the verse says, "the whole world is full of "His" Glory," how then can there exist such a place that is "far" from God?

God is everywhere, near and far, therefore, there can be no place closer to, or further from underlying Divine reality. What then are we actually talking about when we say that we want to draw close to God? How can we draw closer to that which we are already close?

Ah! You agree with the concept, but you say that while God may be close, you certainly do not feel or see the closeness. Why then is this so? Is this because of God, or is it because of us?

If God is here, and God is there, and God is truly everywhere, how is it that you can feel closer to God in one place, and further from "Him" in another? Is God at fault? Is God distant, or is it possible that it is our sensitivities and feelings that may be at fault?

Drawing close to God is never about a journey towards God. Drawing close to God is actually a journey away from everything that blocks our vision from seeing that God is already here.

This is why the path is called a return, teshuva, in Hebrew.

Rabbi Bar Tzadok writes at KosherTorah.com.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

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Increasing Joy

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     When the month of Adar enters we are told that our joy is to increase. Does this mean that automatically our joy increases at this time of the year, or is this a directive for us to do something to increase our joy?

     It turns out that both statements are true. Historically, the Jew’s good fortune increases at this time of the year. For example, if we have a court case pending we should try to have the date set for Adar so the results will be more favorable for us. So we see that this time of the year good things increase for us even without us doing anything.

     But what about the instruction aspect?... to increase our joy. What can we do about that? Here are three things that you can do to increase your personal joy. If you will do them, it is certain that your joy will increase.

1.    Set aside a certain time each day to count your blessings. Each of us always has good things going on in life and negative things going on in life. As our days go by we tend to stress the ones that pull on us the most. Sadly, it always seems that the negative things make more noise than the positive things. This means that we spend a lot of our precious time thinking about the negative things that are going on in our world, or even in the broader world. This brings us down.

     If you will just for a little while stress the good things that are happening to you, you will soon come up with a long list of wonderful things to think about; no medical operations scheduled, B”H, no headache today, B”H, no one trying to lock you up, B”H, you have food to eat, B”H, the family is healthy, B”H,… the list can go on for days. As you think about all these wonderful things you are certainly going to become happy.

2.    If you really want to get happy, pick someone else up. It never fails. Even if you only pick him or her up with pleasant words, when you see that you made someone happy, you are going to become happy.

3.    If you will look when you do a mitzvah to see what changes, and you come to a deeper understanding of the mitzvah, you will begin to experience spiritual joy.    

     For instance; why do we lift our hands when we wash them, especially when we wash for bread? Look and see if you can understand something about the mitzvah from the way we do it.

     The medical profession learned about washing hands to prevent the spread of disease only some 100 years ago. Before that they laughed at us for washing after we touched something unclean. When they wash they are sure to hold their hands up to allow the dirty water to fall back away from the area that they are cleansing.

     Even when we wash for cleanliness, physical cleanliness is not our primary reason for washing. We wash to elevate our hands, both physically by cleaning them, and spiritually by lifting them up.

      Part of the spiritual elevation comes from our remembering that we wash for bread to remind us of the kohen who would have to be in a state of cleanliness to eat his chalah. But the blessing that we say when we wash our hands does not really mention washing. It has come to mean that, but the root of the words natilat yadayim do not mean to wash our hands. They mean to lift up our hands.

     The more you do any of these three things, the more they work. Think about the good things going on in your life. Call someone up and say something nice to him. Try and see. Increase your joy. It’s the best time of the year to do it.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

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Kabbalah or Chassidus?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

sefirot

    What is the difference between these two Jewish systems of mystical Torah study?

     Most briefly, Kabbalah attempts to bring the Jew up into Heaven, while Chassidus tries to bring Heaven down into the Jew. The study of one of these mystical subjects does not preclude study of the other. However, most often, a Jew who is interested in mysticism will stress one or the other.

     While Kabbalah stresses the spiritual nature and structure of the Universe, Chassidus focuses on the Jew’s relationship with Hashem. Kabbalah tends to be intellectual, objective, factual. Chassidus tends to be emotional, personal, yearning.    

     A familiar teaching of Kabbalah is, “With Ten Emanations does G-d continually sustain the Universe.”

     A familiar teaching of Chassidus is, “The most important thing to remember is that G-d created all and that He is all.”[i]

     Each of us should study with the tools that bring us to our personal goal. Each tool produces its own results. Try to see where you would like to spend your time, where you would like to end up, and then you will be able to choose the proper tool to get you there.


[i] Levi Yitzchak the Berditchiver Rebbe

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Akiva’s Tech Videos – Routers and Internet

It’s yet more of my series of trying to explain the deep dark secrets of COMPUTER TECH to my school age children!

My son asked, “How do a connect a computer in my dorm to the computer classroom connection to the Internet?”  And this has become…

A Khan Academy style (kinda-sorta in a poor mans kind of way) – Connecting a Computer to the Internet, What’s Really Happening?

Direct video link here.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

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Rashbi’s Synagogue

On the mountain of Meron in Northern Israel is the well known holy site, the Kever of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (the tomb of Rabbi Shimon the son of Yochai), famous tanna, student of Rabbi Akiva, and author of the Holy Zohar.

Less known is that on the next hill past the kever is Rabbi Shimon’s synagogue.  This synagogue is 2,200 years old, and is the last of the 26 synagogues Rabbi Shimon built during his lifetime (and built to last!)

It is said that when the last arch of this synagogue falls, it will signal the arrival of Moshiach.  Only one arch remains (the others in the picture were rebuilt to prevent dangerous collapse.)

2013-02-17 Miriam Fayga Trip North 050

The last remaining arch…

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The larger middle arch fell during the Inquisition, around 1492.  Jews escaping from Spain rebuilt it.   Today the Parks Authority has braced it with a metal frame.

2013-02-17 Miriam Fayga Trip North 008

The view from the synagogue location.  The synagogue was above the ancient town, to be “in the highest place”.  It faces Jerusalem.

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2013-02-17 Miriam Fayga Trip North 038

Photo’s credit to my wife and daughter, from a tour this week.

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Woman’s Lib

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     Do you notice anything unusual about this young man who was davening next to me this morning? If you look closely you will see a little bump on his chest. She (the little bump) didn’t want to stay home with Mommy this morning so Abba brought her with him to the Kotel (Western Wall) to daven (pray).

     The secular woman’s lib type movement stresses equal rights for women. Their ideal marriage is when the man and woman are 50-50 equal partners.

The Torah insists that the man and woman are two halves that become one when they marry. Four arms, four legs, everyone do whatever they can to help.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

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I HATE PURIM CHARITY!!!

needy

(…says my Yetzer Hara)

It’s almost Purim again…

Purim Charity – matanot l’evyonim.  A mitzvah of Purim – everyone is REQUIRED to help the poor and the needy for Purim.

For the past 7 years we at Mystical Paths, Reb Akiva & Rabbi Nati, have offered to be your agent to directly fulfill this mitzvah for you with the poor and needy of Israel, with no overhead, expenses, office fees or advertising fees…

And this year our yezter hara, our evil inclination says…

- It’s too much hassle!

- Let someone else help them!

- You have to build these articles, time better used helping your wife wash the dishes.

- Procrastinate and don’t make a Purim charity video so people won’t know to help (successful effort on the yetzer’s part).

- You end up wasting almost half of Purim day changing money and running around distributing it.  You could be giving out Mishloach Manot with your children.

- What if the IRS or somebody thought this was some form of money laundering? You could get in trouble and make a Chillul Hashem!

- Don’t worry, there’s plenty of charities helping the poor.  You think you’re some kind of tzadik (righteous man) having to go do it yourself?

MESSAGE FROM REB AKIVA’S YETZER HARA – EVIL INCLINATION

DO NOT help us help the poor for Purim.  DO NOT donate below to allow us to directly distribute, with NO OVERHEAD or EXPENSES, directly to the poor and needy on Purim fulfilling the mitzvah of matanot l’evyonim. 

** Please give Reb Akiva and Rabbi Nati a break, let them sit around, munch snacks and drink some wine all Purim.  Other’s got this charity thing covered – no need to bother them. **

I’m not sure, the evil inclination is very persuasive, maybe he’s right?  What do you think?  Donate and make us work and run around helping the poor for Purim, or let sit on our tuchis (rear end) and enjoy the pleasures of this world?

YETZER Hara says: “I vote sit! Do not DONATE BELOW!”

- DIRECT DONATION LINK - click here -

** ALL DONATIONS via registered Israeli charity Yesh Ma L’asot.  Purim charity campaign supervised by Rabbi Chaim Farro of Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.  NO overhead or expenses beyond Paypal fees and money changing fees, approximately 4%.  YETZER adds, “avoid donating and you don’t have to care.”

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Why Does It Feel So Good?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     Did you ever wonder why if feels so good when you do another person a favor?

According to the Ba’al Shem Tov, helping that Jew could have been the very reason that you were born. He used to say, “A soul comes down to live on this earth for a period of 70 to 80 years for the sole purpose is to do another Jew a single favor, materially or spiritually.” In other words, it is worthwhile for a Jewish soul to make that tremendous journey and descent from heaven to earth in order to do something even once for a fellow Jew.

     Maybe that Jew you just helped was your ticket back to an even higher place than you came from? And if not actually higher, definitely richer. Helping him allows you to return with your mission fulfilled!  Surely that will make you happy.

      Rebbe Shmuel of Lubavitch taught, “G-d treasures the praise one lavishes upon a fellow more than the prayers of the righteous.”

     We are told not to do mitzvahs just because G-d commanded us to do them because that is such a low reason for doing something. But how about doing something that G-d treasures because you want to make Him happy?

     You want an easy way to make G-d happy? Say something wonderful about someone you know... and really mean it. When you give G-d such a treasure, it will surely make you smile. And when helping someone else makes you smile, that will surely make G-d smile.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

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Support the Path–Get the Path

This blog is an effort of Ahavas Yisroel, love of our fellow.  Not only does it not earn any money of note, some aspects of the upkeep cost us (besides the significant amount of time we invest).  You can support Mystical Paths for FREE…

* If you buy ANYTHING from Amazon.com and go there via the Amazon ad (at the top), we get a few percent of the purchase at no cost to you!  Click the ad, support the Path for FREE.  Help us buy a cup of coffee!

* We’ve added Jewish classified ads on the right.  If an ad catches your interest, click it and we get to buy a piece of gum!  Yay!

* We’ve also added Judaica Web Store (a little lower on the right), with topical ads.  Now featuring stuff for Passover and Israeli T-shirts. If you buy, we might be able to afford some matzah!  Yum!

-- If you don’t already know, you can read Mystical Paths many different ways.  Pick the way you like best! --

- Here’s the URL for iPhone, iPad or Android phone - * Phone/Pad *

- Prefer it by email?  Subscribe for a daily email of articles - * By eMail *

- How about on your Kindle or Kindle app? - * Kindle Edition *

- For your iPod or audio - MP3 form for vision impaired - * Audio/MP3 *

- Facebook updates of each new article here.

- Twitter alerts of each new article here.

- Anyone use Google Currents (a phone/pad app)?  We’re on Currents!

…Have a favorite reading style not listed here?  Let us know, we’ll add it!

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Kever Shmuel in the Distance

Here’s some pictures of Kever Shmuel – the holy resting place of the biblical prophet Samuel.  The angle of the picture shows parts of the Har Hotzvim Jerusalem Bio-Technology Park, and the Ramot neighborhoods of Jerusalem.  (It’s worth noting Ramot is considered “across the line”, meaning 5 blocks over is considered by someone looking at a map of where things were in 1947 to be territory of a different country.)

2013-02-04 Kever Shmuel 004

Zooming in a bit we see Teva, a drug manufacturer (keeping down U.S. drug costs by making low cost generics of high quality), followed by the new Ramot mall on the right, and a new school in upper Ramot.  The left is the older Ramot neighborhoods, over 20 years old.

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Zooming as much as was possible from where I was and the camera I had…

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The old, the new, the holy, the mundane, together every day in Jerusalem.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

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Ein Kobi

On the road to Beitar Illit is a little park.  At the back of the park is a narrow paved road leading into a valley with vineyards and… a 2,000 year old Jewish village from Roman times, Ein Kobi…

Not much is left above ground except foundations and one building, though that building may be of a later age.

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Steps!  The tops of the loose stones are cemented by the parks authority to prevent additional deterioration and keep the area safe for visiting.

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It was something reasonably large.  Think your building wall is going to last over 1,000 years?

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This is the highlight of the site.  Through a set of stairs one enters a very large extremely well engineered and constructed underground cistern.  From the cistern extends a water tunnel (behind me in the picture) to a lower section of the village.  Meaning, cistern, pool, running water, irrigation.  Wow.

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Just another site by the roadside in the Holy Land.

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Akiva’s Tech Videos – Remembering Stuff

Continuing my series of trying to explain the deep dark secrets of COMPUTER TECH to my school age children, here’s my (really limited attempted at a) Khan Academy style video – How Do Computer’s Remember Stuff

Increasingly worrisome for you my readers given the quality, I’m going to keep sharing these as I make them for my children.

Direct Video Link here.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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"Morally" Opposed to Circumcision

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

image003A (Jewish) Woman in Switzerland wrote:

     This is a big issue in my family. I am "morally" opposed to circumcision, and I am due to have a son in just over a month. I have moral opposition based on psychological and medical opinion and also I do not think Europe is overly safe and do not want my son "singled out" (which is not uncommon in Europe).

     All my moral issues aside, I see the anthropological basis for infant circumcision as it has a function but that is, in my opinion, the reason it was put in place. My "scientific" (not religious) opinion is that circumcision was done to lower the incidence of phimosis in adult males walking in desert conditions with sand blowing up under their "attire" which was loose fitting open clothing. Obviously the procedure is far more "memorable" for an adult than an infant.

     Now as for the religious basis, I am very upset about this because I do feel personally torn toward my duty as a Jewish mother and my son's personal comfort and what I see as his rights and not wanting him to endure pain so soon after birth. I also have studied as much as I can read and have come across a lot of literature that states that the TRUE Birt Milah was not radical amputation of the prepuce but rather was a more benign version in which excess skin was removed. During the Greek rule over Israel and subsequent immigration to Greece of Jews many Jews apparently would "re-stretch" the prepuce to its normal state so as not to be immediately distinguishable as Jews. In turn, as I heard it, a rabbinical decree was made to RADICALLY remove the prepuce so this could not continue.

      Now I am curious as to what amount of truth there is in the story and why a radical removal is necessary to fulfill the covenant? I would allow a modified less harmful version but I cannot allow such a painful and radical version due to my convictions of my son's rights. Naturally later if he wanted it I would pay in full for it.

Thank you in advance-

L

Reb Gutman’s response:

     Mazal tov on the upcoming, wonderful event. May it be in a good time.

     Your son will feel much more discomfort being forced through the birth canal than from his bris. Often, I see infants cry for less than one minute from the circumcision.

     The facts in the world today do not agree with you. Today, the major treatment in Africa to prevent AIDS is male circumcision. Their governments are circumcising all they can to stop that horrible disease.

     As to your fear of being identified as a Jew in Europe, the ones Europe has good reason to fear are the Muslims who are also circumcised. So that fear is unfounded.

   This procedure goes all the way back to Avraham who was commanded to do it to himself at the age of 99 and to his sons, and even to his male slaves. That was 4,000 years ago. Throughout the centuries, many Jews have risked their lives to circumcise their sons, but still they did it. And, if the reason for circumcision was to help men walking in the desert wouldn’t other people walking in the desert have adapted the procedure, too? But no, only Avraham’s descendants follow this commandment.

     If you want to look for a reason for the procedure, other than G-d told us to do it, then there is an important spiritual benefit to the bris, too. An uncircumcised male is much more drawn to the sexual experience than a circumcised male. For someone seeking a spiritual life, it is a great blessing to put the immense pull of the sexual experience into a more controlled place.

     If I may give you advice; His bris at 8 days old is a very minor experience compared to what he would have to go through when he grows up and wants to live a Jewish life, marry a Jewish girl, put on tefillin, as all spiritual Jewish men do.

   I hope this is enough information for you. If not, keep asking.

Be well

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

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Strings and Sefirot

by Dov bar Leib @ Mystical Paths

According to the Ancient Greeks, there were only the 7 lower sefirot since they were trapped by 7 dimensional nature.  Therefore they were spiritually trapped within nature and their animal souls which only have 7 dimensions.  They called them Spheres, and referred to their music as the Music of the Spheres (Sefirot).

Elokut is Keter, Chochmah, Binah, Chesed, Gevurah, Tiffereth, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, Malkhut

The Ten Sefirot.

800 years after The RaMBaN wrote his commentary on Bereishit, Dr. Michio Kaku figured it all out with String Theory!

Now, I realize that Dr. Kaku is a great physicist.  And I doubt that he learned either the Ramban or Kabbalah.  So has the World of Physics finally caught up with the Torah?

The last line of this video: The Mind of G-d is Music resonating through Ten Dimensional Hyperspace!

Direct video link.

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Interview with Rabbi Ozer Bergman

Jornal Mitsvá is a Jewish site targeted at Brazil by Gilson de Arruda, sometimes in Portuguese in sometimes in English.  They periodically interview rabbis and other interesting Jews.  Their last interview was Rabbi Ozer Bergman, one of the primary translators of the seforim of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev.  We reprint their interview with permission…

Dear reader, here is a simple interview, but very informative with the Tzadik Rabbi Ozer Bergman who has done much to bring Jews closer to HaShem, and their contribution is large, such as editing Likutey Moharan of Rebbe Nachman's notable, of blessed memory and currently starting editing Likutey Halachos of Reb Noson, of blessed memory and still numerous articles published on the Breslov.org blog. Ozer Bergman is an editor for the Breslov Research Institute, a spiritual coach, and author of Where Earth and Heaven Kiss: A Practical Guide to Rebbe Nachman's Path of Meditation. If you read the whole interview, surely your day today will be wonderful and God willing, much better for all the life!

01. How can a person better apply the attribute of Chesed between others?

Two basic requirements are [1] respecting and genuine realization that your fellow human being IS you. He has your needs, fears, weaknesses and was created in the image of God. [2] You do not lose by giving, by being generous. Yes, right away you will be missing some resource, but you will get it back. But you cannot test this! It has to be done with sincerity, in order to help.

02. Reading Rebbe Nachman’s teachings and living for it, how is daily life of a Breslover?

Rebbe Nachman's teachings, encourage, heal, inspire and offer deep insight into life, the more is able to study and think about them. One prays to God to carry the idea(s) from the mind to the heart, and from there into the action. Sometimes the action as to come from within. Others time it needs to wait for the trigger from an outside event.

03. What do you consider to be the main negative traits prevent a person from serving the Almighty?

Haughtiness -- I **DESERVE** to have what I want, when I want it, how I want. Fear, sometimes of others, sometimes of the changes that will occur if I give more of myself to being Godly. Lack of recognizing how powerful one's acts and behavior are. Even though you may not be world famous, God knows who you are and He thinks what you DOES make a difference!

04. What is a proper attitude for us to have towards the problematic situations that arise in our lifes?

It may not turn out the way I want, but I have to trust in God to do my best to respond appropriately to the situation He has put me in. Sometimes the situation is unpleasant because of what I did (or, did not) do. It might by MY fault, not God's! :-)

05. What is the special quality about Tefillah among other mitzvos?

All mitzvahs connect a person to God, but tefilah is personal "intimacy," like loving husband and wife, as it were.

06. Reciting the Psalms, studying the Torah, my thoughts are visiting holy places. Despite the good intentions of someone,he needs to get closer to the Tzaddik, to better follow the path of G-d.This tradition remains today?

ABSOLUTELY! This is a very broad and deep topic, very misunderstood. Psalms, Torah etc., are like ingredients for a cake, but we need the Tzaddik to help us "bake" them to make the perfect cake. As Rebbe Nachman teaches, the Israelites brought all the materials for the Mishkan (Tabernacle), but Only Mose Rabbeinu was able to erect the Mishkan. We need the Tzaddik, an he needs us!

07. The Patriarch was visited by the angels. Nowadays, are we visited by the angels when are connected to Divine service?

Sometimes, but this is not so much a contemporary concern or focus.

08. What qualities do one need in order to successfully attain spiritual greatness to serve Creator?

The same as to win the gold medal for Portugal! :-)

And a lot of tefilah. A LOT!

Any and every person, no matter how smart or strong or musical -- or NOT! -- can become spiritually great. It takes dedication and recognizing what you can do -- and doing it.

09. Some people make goals for themselves and accomplish what they set out to do. But others continually fail to reach their goals. What is a key factor in succeeding to reach one’s goals (material as well as spiritual)?

Honest effort and prayer to succeed. But first, the goals must be realistic! One may have a goal that is currently too great. He (or she) must may need to make intermediate goals to reach the big one.

And no giving up, even after a few setbacks. Sometimes we think it will only take a month. Some goals take years. Some take a lifetime. It depends on the person.

10. There are times when I am among people who make fun of me because of the positive values I try to live by. I tend to feel hurt and rejected by their mockery. What should one person do about such situations?

Avoid associating with such people. Associate with like-minded people. When it cannot be avoided, silence is usually the best response to mockery from the insincere. It hurts? Who said God wants us to always have a fun-filled ride? The pain and humiliation is a test of "you will love Hashem your God, with all your heart, all your soul and all your *me'od*". What is "me'od"? What Hashem is *moded* -- MEASURES OUT to you. Love Him when He measures out pain. It is for YOUR benefit.

But to the mockers -- silence to their insults.

11. One’s devotion with G-d must never be limited by one’s emotions, yet if one thinks he is on the low spiritual level?

One can never reall know his spiritual level. Yet, if he thinks he is lowly [1] he should continue to try to improve, even if only by tiny increments and even if takes years and years; [2] he should know that the tiny, tiny improvement of someone lowly is considered in Heaven quantum leaps forward.

12. What is main focus when doing a mitzvah?

Doing what God wants because He wants/commanded it.

13. Likutey Moharan’s English version is completed now, published by Breslov Research Institute –– when it was published for the first time by Reb Noson there was great delight and approach God. Today, being that this Rebbe Nachman’s magnum opus is edited in a different time and in a universal language what is going to happen?

Nothing -- UNLESS PEOPLE STUDY IT, on a regular basis. A book on a shelf, even the holiest book, helps little if it is not studied and lived.

Interview held on January 30, 2012 by Gilson R Arruda with Rabbi Ozer Bergman, originally published at Jornal Mitsvá.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

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Warning…again

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     Most likely, many of you do not want to hear this, but according to scientists at England’s Oxford University, vegetarians are 32% less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart disease than people who eat meat and fish.

     Why, for the thirty second joy of the taste that eating meat brings will man be so quick to shorten his life is beyond me. Man was not created to eat meat and fish. Meat eating came many years after man was created. It was only after the destruction by flood, in Noah’s generation, that man was given permission to eat meat.

     And what about the Temple sacrifices? Most of them were animals. When the Temple is restored, if the sacrifices return, there might again be an obligation to eat meat. We will see. But today, there is no obligation to eat meat.

     And what about the line in the Talmud that religious meat eaters love to quote? “There is no joy except with meat and wine.”[i] And therefore they conclude, “You have an obligation to eat meat on Shabbos and Holidays!” They never quote the next line in that gemora that explains that the joy the gemora was referring to was the joy of eating the meat of the holiday sacrifice, and since we do not have the sacrifices any more, that joy rests only on wine. Wine, which by the way, when consumed in moderation is very good for you. L ‘chaim!


[i]Gemora Pesachim 109a

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Ugh, Not More “Jewish” Yoga

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

A reader included me in an email conversation with an orthodox Jewish religious organization that advertised an offering of a new kosher yoga class for women.  Here’s my response...

We appreciate our reader’s enthusiasm, and you note well that many yoga programs - some of which are clearly inappropriate and violate halacha just from their description - are being held at different orthodox Jewish organizations across the U.S. (as well as some in Israel), particularly at Jewish outreach organizations (those organizations trying to share Judaism with Jews who have little background in their heritage).

We understand the strong goal of drawing unaffiliated Jews into outreach organizations, and can certainly relate that trying to present modern hip and seemingly new-agey practices in a Jewish context can be effective.  But many of these programs and approaches present spiritual and religious problems and general incompatibility with orthodox Judaism.  Yoga is one of the worst, as we’ve shown extensively, providing various aspects of hindu oriented spiritual experiences.

The religious leader of this organization replied that he’d take the question to a posek (a halachic decisor).  A good posek will dig, investigate and keep asking questions until he thoroughly understands what's being asked and the areas of halacha to apply. 

That said, how the sha'a'lah is asked definitely affects the answer and approach.  There's a big difference in asking "hi, we'd like to host a gender segregated kosher yoga program that's had all the hindu aspects removed" from "hi, we'd like to host a yoga program in a way that's kosher, and the teacher assures us she's done her best to remove the hindu stuff".  As more poskim are being asked such sha'a'lot and researching this topic, we're hearing a growing chorus of "absolutely not" answers. 

Yoga remains an incredibly difficult topic.  Clearly exercise isn't assur (prohibited), nor could we say "you can't hold your arm a particular way because another religion does so".  But the particular combination of things done in yoga - body positions combined with breathing patterns combined with meditation-like-controlled thinking has a specific psycho-spiritual impact. That impact is a hindu-style religious experience.

So, exercise program - ok.  Stretching exercise program (example - Pilates), ok.  Hip exercise dancing program (gender segregated with appropriate music), probably ok.  Breathing relaxation program (example - Lamaze), ok. 

Meditation (Jewish version), more problematic though there are indeed Jewish meditation approaches that are fine and the Lubavitcher Rebbe specifically wrote meditation, except for use by educated focused Jews in a proper religious context, should ONLY be used for medical benefit where significant health problems exist and the (neutral) meditation is shown to be medically effective.

But meditation + breathing + stretching/body positioning = hindu psycho-religious experience.  To be avoided by Jews, especially religious Jews.

Unfortunately most of the Western world, and this includes the Jewish world and rabbis, have little experience or contact with Eastern religions, meditation or spiritual practices.  When they’re told it’s just exercise or just stretching, it’s been kosherized or limited, it all sounds fine.  BUT EVERY TIME we get a full description, it ALWAYS involves the 3 foundational aspects of yoga and result in a psycho-spiritual impact. 

And that’s the bit that those without deeper knowledge miss in evaluating it.

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

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Oy Vey Shadchanim

by B. G. @ Mystical Paths

th1B.G. is a friend and member of our synagogue.  He’s also a religious Jewish man in his late 20’s, never married, looking for a shidduch (a religious match).  Here he shares some unfortunate negative experiences in the shidduch (being set up) space…

No means NO!!!

No means NO!!!   To all shadchanim, no means no.  I understand that we men may appear to be single-track-minded, but that doesn't mean that we are.

Tonight I was on an arranged date with a very nice girl, but it appeared obvious early on that there was no compatibility.  After an hour I asked for the check to end the date (which is a personal record for shortest date), and we went our separate ways.  The date was a coffee-shop date, so I left feeling hungry.  I met up with some friends to have dinner, and during dinner the shadchanit (match-er) then contacted me to ask how the date went.  I explained that the girl is a very nice girl, but that there was no connection and I felt no need for a second date.

As a side note, I have never had a date with a girl whom had so little to add to the conversation.  I understand that some people may be awkward or nervous, impairing their ability to converse, but that didn't appear to be the case, and I personally have no interest in someone like that anyway.

The shadchanit then began demanding that I go on a second date, “That one cannot just go on a single date and say no.”  Guess what?  It is possible to do so.  I work nights and don't have much free personal time, if I see something as being a waste of time, I will not continue to do whatever that may be.

Instead of trying to be understanding, she then began to bully me about the subject.  I try not to put people down, so I had no desire to go into specifics about why I had no desire to go on a second date.  I just didn't want one, and that should be good enough.

I will admit that this is the first time I've dealt with such a rude shadchanit, but it's not the first time I've heard of these problems.  People are drifting further and further from the shidduch scene, especially men, and this is amongst the reasons why.     We as men don't want to settle.  We may not need a trophy wife, but just because we are over 21 doesn't mean that we are desperate. 

We have those things we REQUIRE in a spouse.  If you won't listen, then how do you expect to come up with a proper shidduch?  It's not sales where if you ask enough people eventually someone will say yes.  Ask what we are looking for, then TRY to find it.

Enough is enough.  How else can you expect people to ask for your services if you won't listen to what your customer is looking for?  (A match arranging is providing a service, and it’s often a paid service – sometimes with very significant fees.)  And we as individuals going to shadchanim are customers.  Wake up and smell the dignity.

Men in their late 40's probably don't want someone too old to have kids, yeshiva guys are looking for more than a girl who's mother puts on a solid white shabbos table cloth instead of off-white, and someone in their late 20's is not looking to settle or waste time with extra pointless dates. 

We're not car shopping, we're not even apartment hunting, we are trying to make a life decision, so either learn to work with us or get out of the game.

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Eye to the Infinite – Intro

We are pleased to offer Eye to the Infinite, a Torah Guide to Jewish Mediations for Divine Awareness, in a weekly serialized form – with permission from and offer by the author…

Eye to the Infinite – A Torah Guide to Jewish Meditations to Increase Divine Awareness. 

A Compendium of Meditations and Techniques, adapted from the Writings and Teachings of the Masters of Kabbalah and Jewish Theology.

The book and this post Copyright © 2013 by Aharon Rubin – serialized on the Mystical Paths blog with permission.

About the Cover -

The Hebrew word for light, אור (Ohr), is repeated five times in the Genesis creation account; this light, says the Zohar, alludes to the hidden Infinite light that suffuses all creation. Called the Ohr HaGonuz, G-d’s hidden Infinite Light, it lies at the heart of all creation, constantly renewing the world ex nihilo.

The holy Ba’al Shem Tov explains that when five alephs occur consecutively in the Torah, they allude to these five times אור Ohr of Genesis, the holy and hidden primeval light that fills existence. G-d’s continuous Communication and Providence with every particular of the world, though hidden and even warped by the veils of physicality, can still be seen; by conceptualising that G-d is everywhere, that there is nothing besides Him, one can break through the husks that hide this inner truth, revealing the Divine Light within. The rows of five alephs on the book-cover represent this Hidden Light. In each of the five rows, the alephs become progressively more distorted, symbolising the five levels of Soul through which G-d’s revelation to the world becomes increasingly disguised, as It approaches the physical.

Excerpts from the Forward -

The title of this book, Eye to The Infinite, עין אל האין (Ayin El HoAyin), is a play on the Hebrew words for eye and nothingness – עין - Ayin and אין - Ayin, which are pronounced the same but spelt differently, and was inspired by the verse, אשא עיני אל ההרים מאין יבוא עזרי – “I lift up my eyes to the mountains, From whence will my delivery come?” (Psalms 121:1) and the homiletic discussion thereon in the holy Zohar (Vol II, 83a2), centring on the word מאין - Mei’Ayin.

Mei’Ayin is normally translated as ‘from whence’. On a deeper level however, אין – AYiN refers to G-d, blessed be His Name. The element of G-d’s incomprehensibility and unfathomable infiniteness is called by the holy kabbalists אין – AYiN. AYiN literally ‘nothingness’ but here means ‘utterly beyond comprehension’ i.e. the Infinite Being. The plain meaning of the verse מאין יבוא עזרי is a questioning “From whence will my delivery come?”, but according to this deeper interpretation, it may be translated as an exclamation of hope and trust: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains… From Ayin - the Incomprehensible One - will come my help”. Dovid HaMelech is saying that by contemplating creation, the awe-inspiring mountains3 and the grandeur of G-d’s world, one may come to a level of humility, a feeling of one’s own smallness before the Creator. This feeling of Ayin – the acknowledgement of one’s own nothingness - enables attachment to the Infinitely Incomprehensible, the Ayin.

The title also has the double connotation of the eye of human contemplation looking up towards Infinite G-d, and the ‘eye’ to the Infinite, i.e. the point from where one may enter and experience the Infinite. The ayin – eye represents conscious awareness, embodied by the seeing eye. In a state of meditative deveikus, this consciousness blends into the ‘eye’ of the Ayin, the Infinite, and so doing, enables the influx of Divine blessing to the benefit of all mankind, as will be explained in later sections.

The Sefer Chassidim [Book of the Pious] says that the title to a sefer (Hebrew book) should bear some hint to the author’s name. After deciding on the title, I saw Providential assistance in that it has indeed the same numerical value as my and my Father’s name.

Today, many people are thirsting for spirituality, seeking the world over for soul-fulfilment. Paradoxically, the answer to their search lies in the power and longing of their thirst. As a woman longs for her husband, so the soul longs to reunite with That with which it was once united. In the longing and craving lies the unmistakeable signature of G-d, the Divine Stamp that imprinted Its mark on their soul as it distanced from its Maker to incarnate within the physical. When cleared of the impurities that clog the consciousness, this Divine Imprint will shine through, allowing the person to behold their Creator, naturally and effortlessly.

----- !!!

WARNING - The material presented in the serialized Eye to the Infinite articles (and source book) requires a basic standard of (Jewish) holiness in conduct and living as prescribed by the Torah (and described by the Mishna, Gemora and Shulchan Aruch).  Please note: If you are dependent on medication for mental stability, or have thinking problems, please consult with your physician before attempting (thinking) exercises described here.

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Saturday, February 09, 2013

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Teaching Computer Networking

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Recently several of my children have begun computer lessons in school.  Since I have significant knowledge in this area, they asked me to explain a few things.  I decided to try to do so in the style of Khan Academy (though I’ve only got an iPad and some bad drawing software), which means a 5-15 minute lesson with illustrations to explain it.

Here’s my first attempt, explaining the technical details of home networking. (Direct video link.)

Sadly for you my readers (given the quality of the illustrations), I’m going to keep sharing these as I make them for my children.  (This first video also has some scratchy-echo sound, as I used the internal iPad microphone and tried to boost the sound afterwards.  Don’t worry, I figured this out and bought an external microphone for future videos.)

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Friday, February 08, 2013

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Insanity?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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A viewer left this comment by my video about Chabad: A Message to Chabad

     “And in all these years of helping Jews, has intermarriage gotten less, have more families enrolled their kids in yeshiva, has anything positive come out of all your efforts? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Gutman’s response:

     Albert Einstein is the one who coined the definition of insanity as trying something that didn’t work the first time, a second time. But Einstein, the genius that he was, didn’t have a Personal Computer. When something doesn’t work I hit the same button again, and sometimes it does work the second time. It’s a different world now. We reach out to everyone we meet. Sometimes we succeed, many times we don’t. But you know what? You save one person’s life, and you are credited with saving the entire world.

     Here is a good example:

I was walking into the Kotel (Western Wall in the Old City, Jerusalem) area late Shabbos afternoon when a Jewish man walked up to me and said, “I knew I would see you here.”

     He shook my hand so hard that I had to yell at him not to break it.

    He took me by the arm and moved me over to the side of the entrance. He said, “This is confidential.[i] I used to live in Asia. I was dating an Asian girl when I saw your video, ‘Jews Should Marry Jews.’ I immediately called her up and broke it off. I moved here, (Israel) made aliyah, (became an Israeli citizen) and am now in ulpan (full time Hebrew studies). Thank you very much.”

     I hit him on his arm and said, “You are a holy person. You heard the truth and you did not reject it. Good for you!”

     It is a blessing to help someone, and it is an additional blessing to find out that you helped him. Whenever I hear these stories I marvel at the wonder of the internet. No one I know of would have been able it into get it into this Jew’s head that Jews are supposed to marry Jews, but YouTube got in.

     A lot of religious people condemn the internet, and I understand why. But the people I am trying to reach use it, and they do not buy religious books, certainly not Jewish religious books. So thank G-d for YouTube and KosherTube and all of the other tubes that let me get good Jewish ideas into their heads.


[i] Since I do not identify the man I have not gone against his wish for confidentiality.

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

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Directions Please

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by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

“Hello, I need direction, please. I grew up in a non-believing home, became a Chr-istian at the age of 40, and 5 years ago studied the bible with a Hebrew understanding. I soon became aware that Je-sus, being a Hebrew, taught that the Torah of Moses is for today, too, and not as many Chr-istians believe, that it has been done away with. Now, through my studies and the help of Rabbi Singer’s audio teaching I no longer see Je-sus as messiah.

     Now, all my Chr-istian friends reject me, and not being born Jewish I am not sure where I fit in. Please help.”

Gutman’s Response:

     Good for you. Actually, you are an amazing person. The truth is more important to you than friends. And now that you are following the truth, you will have more friends than ever.

     First, go online and find some of the various groups who, like yourself, have stopped worshiping a man, and now worship only the One G-d, the Creator of all. They can be found at the various Seven Commandments of Noah sites. They will become your new friends, and there are lots of them spread all over the world.

     Study those Seven Commandments that G-d gave to Noah. You will become a holy person, with a wonderful share in this world, and a share in the World to Come.

      Then, if you learn them very well, you will become a very valuable teacher to many people in your community. You will be a great help to them. But you have to be able to answer such questions as, “If G-d is Infinite then He must be all, and if He is all, is He you? Are you G-d?” Look at my video on this subject to see how I like to explain the concept. G-d Is Everywhere

     When you become expert in this subject you will find yourself helping many people. This will be very rewarding for you. You will have many friends, and you will live a holy life. Let me know how you are doing.

Be well

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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

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Get Tested, Save a Life

We received a request from a reader to share a letter about getting tested for marrow donation compatibility.  My daughter has been involved at signing people up at Birthright events, and I urge you to consider getting tested.  For minimal effort you could save a life…

From: Arlene and Ami Bar-Yosef

Our son, Guy Bar-Yosef, was diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia this past April.  He has undergone aggressive chemotherapy, and now the doctors are saying that there is hope for recovery only if he receives a bone marrow (=stem cell) transplant from a matching donor.

We are turning to everyone and anyone who may be able to help.  Healthy donors are accepted into international registries between the ages of 18-45.  Blood type does not matter.  Because of Guy’s genetic lineage, we are specifically looking for donors with mixed genetic backgrounds – Ami’s parents were of Moroccan and Lithuanian origin, and Arlene’s parents hailed from Latvia (Baronovich, Russia, and nearby).

In Israel the organization which does tissue typing and matching is “Ezer Mizion”, and in the USA it’s “Be The Match” or “Gift of Life”.  People in the USA can ask for a kit to do the test at home and mail it in.  All other developed countries have similar setups, and Israeli hospitals conduct worldwide searches.

The initial test is merely a saliva swab taken from inside the cheek.  It is painless and quick.  If the person is found to be a tissue match, he/she will be asked to donate blood on a given day, at the hospital in Tel Aviv.  If the person is from abroad, the flight to Israel and all expenses will be paid.  It is similar to donating blood at Magen David Adom - no surgical procedure is involved.

Many of Guy's friends, colleagues and family members are coming forward to be tested, but they can't all afford to pay for the tests themselves.  So another way to assist is by a monetary donation, in any amount to "Ezer Mizion" in Israel.  It costs 250 NIS ($65) to process each test, and as they don't have the necessary budget, they seek donations to cover the costs.  

Ezer Mizion:  40 Kaplan St., Petach Tikva, Israel.  Tel:  03-9277772, via check,telephone, or on-line, (there's a place to name the person in whose honor the donation is being made).

The website is: https://www.ezermizion.org/Donate   (Donations are tax deductible and receipts will be issued). 

Anyone making a monetary donation, as well as those who go to Ezer Mizion to be tested should mention Guy Bar-Yosef’s name.

Time is of the essence. Anyone who has Facebook or other social network media, or who work or study in places where they can notify friends, colleagues, etc., is kindly asked to help spread the word.  We sincerely appreciate every and all effort made on Guy’s behalf.

Thanks so very much.

Arlene and Ami Bar-Yosef - arleneby@yahoo.com

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