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A conversation about G-d, the mysteries and secrets of the universe and one's own soul, and the Holy Land of Israel... along with the occasional speculation about biblical prophecies and the end of days.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Tracking Down Dr. Death

“The Holocaust …produced some of history’s worst human beings. The thing is, though, besides those who made it into your textbooks—the Hitlers, Görings and Himmlers—many escaped unscathed, free to live out the rest of their days pretending to be mild-mannered expats who’d moved to Argentina simply because they preferred empanadas and polo to bratwurst and car manufacturing.

One SS member to ultimately escape prosecution was an Austrian concentration camp doctor called Aribert Heim, who later became known as “Doctor Death.” The atrocities committed in the Nazi camps have their very own scale of horror, and Heim sits somewhere near the top (his trademark was injecting gasoline into healthy people’s hearts and keeping their skulls as trophies). Despite his horrific crimes, he managed to mostly evade the authorities, and when they did finally catch up with him, in the early 60s, he had already fled Germany.

Almost 50 years later, a New York Times journalist got a tip that Heim had converted to Islam and had been hiding out in Cairo…

Read it.

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Talking to G-d

Talking to G-d

 

by Reb Gutman Locks

 

The easiest way to open your heart…Gutman’s new video

 

 

Talking to G-d 

 

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

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Chabad House Attacked in the Ukraine

This past Shabbos night (Friday night April 18), the Chabad House (a Jewish community inreach organization operated world wide by Chabad Lubavitch chassidim) in Nikolaev, Ukraine, was attacked by unknown assailants with Molotov cocktails (petrol or gas bombs).  The attack was caught on camera…

pica

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Fortunately (hashgacha pratit), a passing driver saw the fire, stopped and put it out.

The Chabad Shaliach, Rabbi Sholom Gottlieb, stated it was a serious incident reaching the level of terror.

Being located in Southern Ukraine near the Black Sea and Crimea (100km from Crimea), it’s unclear but possible this is a result of Russian Nationalism and Russian rebels challenging the sovereignty of the Ukrainian government.  This also follows closely on the heels of threats to the Jewish community in Donetsk, Ukraine.

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Looking for Myself

Looking for Myself

 

By Reb Gutman Locks

 

Michael asked:

     I am fascinated with the concept of gilgulim, [reincarnations] and I’m curious to find out more about my own past-life (past-lives?) history.  I would imagine that this would bring a certain enlightenment and clarity regarding my personal “soul-identity” and how to optimally focus myself to fulfill my life mission.  What do you think about the idea of finding out this information?

 

Gutman responds:

      Direct recollection, or revelation of previous lifetimes has been hidden for a good reason. Not having this knowledge allows us to have freewill, whereas having direct knowledge of our previous lifetimes would give us such an advantage that we would not have the trials that we were sent here to overcome.

     Because of this, Hashem buries that information and virtually anything that anyone comes up with, whether through meditation, hypnotism, or (G-d forbid) from “seers” or such, is certainly no more than someone’s imagination.

     However, there is a way to find out what you are looking for. Look at your present abilities, your lacks, your likes and dislikes, as these were brought with you when you came into the world as a result of what you did or did not do in your last incarnation.

     So, for instance, if you are terrible at math, but good at art, you can know that you did not come into the world to be a scientist. See what it is that you love to do more than the people around you. You brought that love or skill with you, and now you must take advantage of that ability.

     You do this by applying that love, but be sure to apply it in a holy way. If you apply your love merely in an animal way, then certainly you will set up your next incarnation to come back with an immense animal inclination! But, if you apply that love in a holy way, then if you come back, it will be as a leader, or someone who will help many people.

     Also, if there is something that is good to do, but you do not like to do it, for instance, a particular mitzvah, then this too was brought with you from what you did or did not do in a previous lifetime. You must overcome this dislike and learn to love that particular mitzvah, or you will surely have to come back hating that mitzvah even more! Everything comes for a reason.

     Our job is to elevate the physical world by using it for holy purposes, and we have certain skills and limitations that direct us to our particular way to do this.

     Whereas the Eastern religions instruct their followers to do as little as possible -“detach-don’t make waves”- so they will not have to come back to this world again, the Jewish mystics say, “Coming back is not so bad, it allows you to do some more mitzvahs.”

 

 

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

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Cross Currents Uses Me

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

armyson_updated

Cross Currents grabbed a 2 1/2 year old article I wrote to make a point in their article against draft service in the Israeli army for ultra-orthodox (charedi) Jewish citizens.  Here’s what they wrote, with additions by me in (parens) and comments interspersed…

I received an email from a Charedi man …who is very troubled by the current rejection of the (Israeli universal) draft. It is obvious that he does not count himself among those who do not understand that learning Torah all day requires extreme dedication and personal sacrifice, and is providing a profound service to the Jewish people — including by helping protect it.

** This is the classic “mystical” Torah argument mixed with martyrdom.  The mystical argument says “beyond the religious value and moral value of Torah learning, there is a mystical energy value of the learning that benefits the community and/or country and/or Jewish people – one that ‘protects’”.  Not everyone buys that argument, and that includes great sages of generations past.  Further, we can easily attack the ‘protects’ argument (even if we follow the spiritual energy value argument) by noting that the yeshiva’s RUN AWAY when their towns come under missile fire.

IF the yeshiva community wants to display that THEY fully believe that Torah learning protects, THEN they should deploy yeshiva students (in learning) TO towns and cities that come under fire.  Taking this to it’s maximum extent, they should deploy directly behind the army lines to protect those going into combat… they don’t.

The martyrdom argument “extreme … personal sacrifice”, why does no one appreciate it?  It depends on whether that sacrifice is perceived as of benefit or being used for the community OR whether it’s “personal”, for their own benefit.  In other words, will these be rabbis who deploy to the community (or like Chabad that opens centers to benefit Jews everywhere), or is it perceived that their Torah is for themselves?  That perception is somewhat of a reflection of charedi community attitudes.

In other words, his problem is not with those who are successful in learning, but with those who are not. Why are they not in the Army, and why are the Gedolim, at present, making no effort to send them where they belong? This is my reply:

In an ideal world, it is obvious that any charedi boy who is not successful in his studies, and is prepared to go out to work, ought to be doing military service in any situation where everyone else is subject to conscription. That is indeed simple fairness; the IDF is preserving the security of Israel, and those who do not protect Israel by learning should certainly participate.

** But the same religious community that doesn’t prepare “any charedi boy who is not successful in his studies” to go to the army OR to go to work!  In the ideal world every boy would be completely successful in yeshiva and become a Gadol Torah (a great scholar).  Yet we don’t live in an ideal world, and if every boy learned Torah all the time, there’d be no businesses and lots of people would be mighty hungry.

But, and this is a particularly large but, in order to respect the religious liberty of all people, a civilized nation has to provide the opportunity for a soldier to preserve his own religious values to the maximum extent possible — in our case, Torah and Mitzvos. If we expect Brazil and Denmark to respect the rights of religious soldiers or exempt them from mandatory service, we can and should expect the same of Israel.

** Israel is AT WAR.  They try to kill us every day.  This puts us in a status of a Milchemet Mitzvah, war that is a mitzvah.  In the case of a Milchemet Mitzvah, EVERYONE NEEDED is REQUIRED BY THE TORAH to assist in the fight.

In other words, the State of Israel should be expected, at a bare minimum, to provide a proper and kosher environment where a person can remain observant while serving in the Army. The problem is that it has thus far failed to achieve this quite basic goal. We know about the Hesder officers who were disciplined for excusing themselves from hearing a woman sing. A friend of mine in Hesder (Yeshivat HaKotel) told me that because he wasn’t fit for a combat unit, he spent a year in an office with a young woman who found it uncomfortable to keep her pants closed. And besides the two officers who resigned from involvement with Nachal Charedi because the IDF wasn’t keeping its promises, Rabbi Akiva Path described in detail his son’s horrible experience. He had nothing but tuna fish and corn for weeks, there was insufficient time for the most basic davening, he was challenged to violate Shabbos and Yom Tov repeatedly, and he would have had to go AWOL to perform the Mitzvah of hearing the Megillah on Purim — not because of any military need, but because of the arbitrary decision of the base commander.

** The Israeli army is struggling with these changes.  There will be some social challenges, and people may have to stand up for their rights.  YET ALL THE EXAMPLES ABOVE, including my own son, are a LIMITED NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS AND PROBLEMS among over 10,000 ultra-orthodox young men that have been in service in the orthodox battalion.  In the follow up story about my son I mention that the Nachal Charedi rabbis closed down his unit due to the problems that occurred there.  It should have been fixed sooner, but it was dealt with.

What the US Army was anxious to provide to soldiers in Iraq was denied a charedi soldier on a base next to a community with religious residents — for no reason whatsoever. Participating in Nachal Charedi directly impeded his ability to perform Mitzvos. No one who values the Mitzvos of the Torah can declare that acceptable under any circumstances whatsoever. It’s a deal-breaker — and this is why there is, at present, no “deal.” It’s why the next Path boy got an exemption.

** “No one who values the Mitzvos of the Torah can declare that acceptable under any circumstances whatsoever.”  Bad assumption: the reason was they mistakenly released too many men from the unit to spend Purim at home.  They didn’t have enough men to secure the base!  Because of the error he got Passover off and the next Purim.  BUT YES, if the commander was knowledgeable on religious matters, he could have called the base rabbi and asked him to read megillah at the guard posts!  Hmm, where can they get knowledgeable commanders from?  Only from religious men who stay in service long enough to become commanders!

“No deal” only applies if you have the LUXURY of other people’s sons doing the job for you.  In the U.S., the religious Jewish community doesn’t have to find people to operate the garbage trucks, or the electric system, or the sewers, or be the police, or firemen, or farmers, or… the army. 

In Israel, it’s a Jews.

Pictured above, my son, now an IDF army sergeant in Nachal Charedi.  With beard, and payos.  Here’s the follow up article that Cross Currents ignored.

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Exit G-d of Creation. Enter G-d of Revelation.

by R. Aharon Rubin, author of Eye to the Infinite

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We say in davening every morning:

שבחי ירושלים את ד', הללי אלקיך ציון
כי חזק בריחי שעריך, ברך בניך בקרבך
השם גבולך שלום, חלב חטים ישביעך

“Laud the L-rd, O Jerusalem, praise your G-d, O Zion, For He has strengthened the bars of your gates, He has blessed your children within you, He Who has set [firm] your borders with peace, has satiated you with the fat of wheat.”

The verse-syntax contrasts the general with the particular, the peripheral with the central.

Jerusalem is to praise the L-rd, but Zion, “your G-d”. (“L-rd” is general and even impersonal; “your G-d” is immediate, immanent and individual.) Secure gates and boundaries roundabout are set against the blessing of indigenous progeny and agricultural prosperity (the fat of wheat) within.

I suggest that also hinted within these verses is the secret of Pesach compared with Shovuos.

Jerusalem comes from the words Yeru Sholaym – Complete Fear (of G-d). Yeru-sholayim was the Mountain of G-d. Our sages say that just by going up to Jerusalem (of old), sleeping the night within its walls, would render the person righteous; it automatically instilled the fear of G-d.

But fear means G-d is distant. He is “the L-rd”. The Transcendent. The Unapproachable. Thus, שבחי ירושלים את ד' - “Laud, O Jerusalem, the L-rd”.

Within that Jerusalem (not geographically), there is Zion. The word Zion means a signpost, a mark. We read in Tehillim – “For G-d chose Zion, He desired it for His abode”. (Specifically, Zion refers to the Temple, G-d’s abode on earth.) If G-d has chosen Zion, marked it off for Himself as it were, then we have a relationship.
We have a bond between the transcendent and the immanent, the eternal and the transient, the infinite and the finite, the perfect and the imperfect.

G-d is interested in me; He becomes “my G-d”.

הללי אלקיך ציון -  “Praise your G-d, O Zion”.

In the Exodus, for a relatively short period of time, the ‘G-d of Creation’ revealed Himself. It was curtains up with the G-d of Genesis at centre-stage. There was no mistaking Who was Boss.

But with the forced realisation of the ultimate reality and truth (if one is not ready for it) comes a paralysing fear, and the quelling of personality. Where G-d takes centre-stage, there is no room for anything else. It is the fear of Yerusholayim and the secret of Matsah. It is the reality of עד שנגלה עליהם מלך מלכי המלכים וגאלם – “till the King, King of kings, revealed Himself over them and redeemed them”. (עד שנגלה עליהם מלך מלכי המלכים – with the letters - is gematriah אני יוצא בתוך מצרים)

There is no space for ‘human pride’. No false air.

(It brings to mind the Midrash of how G-d disposed of the angels who disagreed with His creating the world: “He placed His finger amongst them and burnt them”. Where G-d reveals His Light, like a large torch next to little flames, all else is extinguished.)
It is שבחי ירושלים את ד' - “Laud, O Jerusalem, the L-rd”. First Yeru-sholayim – the fear, then “the L-rd” – apart from me.

But with no room for mental manoeuvring, man is little more than a robot or animal. Which is why we bring barley for the Omer offering on the second day of Pesach. Barley is basically animal food – as opposed to wheat. (The ability to speak to and praise G-d, the gift given at the time of Exodus, is hinted at in the Matsah we eat and the Mitsvoh of Haggadah – the Arizal says the word Pesach comes from Peh Sach – “a speaking mouth”. But the basic innate state of Israel at that time was that of barley.) Though on Pesach the Jewish nation was born, it still had a long way to go to mature as G-d’s Chosen People. But with Bris Miloh, the Paschal Offering and the Exodus from Egypt, the foundations were set. This is also the secret of barley.
(ח"ג הפס"ח, ד"ם פס"ח, ד"ם מיל"ה גימ' שעור"ה עה"כ.)

Besides animal fodder, barley denotes the initial mindset, referred to kabbalistically as katnus d’moichin – translated by R. Aryeh Kaplan z”l as “constricted consciousness” but perhaps equally referring to the initial subconscious programming essential for (later)  intelligent functioning.

The Arizal notes that barley - שערה - has the same root letters as שער – a gate. (Bris Miloh, the Paschal Offering and the Exodus from Egypt are all described by the Zohar as “gates” to holiness and attaching to the Shechinoh.) And שער is the numerical value of כף מם, נן,פף, צץ – the end letters commonly known as אותיות מנצפ"ך. In other words, the secret of barley is the primary frame of mind; it is there to set boundaries within one’s thinking, to train the mind; it constitutes the gates and boundaries of the inner mind.

The Midrash tells a moshol: A man discovered an orchard and vineyard, its trees and vines trailing in the ground and worms and vermin covering the decaying fruit. He staked up the trees and vines and trained the branches against the supports. The result: healthier trees, improved growth, and an abundance of luscious fruit.

So, says the Midrash, was Israel at the time of the Exodus. Unformed and raw, a nascent nation, G-d’s revelation as Creator and Controller of the natural world had the effect of staking up the trailing vines – making a nation out of an enslaved people, lifting up the heads of a broken populace. 

This is כי חזק בריחי שעריך – “For He has strengthened the bars of your gates”. (Note the word שעריך – “gates” – a hint to the barley offering שערה, as explained above. Besides the letters שע"ר, the entire phrase is gematriah 3 times מצה – another hint to Pesach, and its first and last letters are gematriah עמר בפסח – the Omer on Pesach.)

It is השם גבולך שלום – “He Who has set [firm] your borders with peace”, the setting up of safe peripheral gateways and borders. (Note that גבולך is gematriah ה' נ"ו – i.e. 5 times 56, which equals 280, the gematriah of מנצפ"ך. Also, שלו"ם is gematriahעומ"ר שעורי"ם – if the final מ"ם of שלו"ם is taken as 600.)

But after the last plague, the smiting of the Egyptian firstborn, and with the Israelites let out of Egypt, G-d in his role as revealed Creator of the world, as it were took a step backwards. Thus we find Parshas B’shalach opening with the words, “When Pharaoh sent out the people from Egypt, etc”. One verse earlier, it was “G-d took you out of Egypt”. Now it was Pharaoh that sent us out.

Exit G-d of creation. Enter G-d of revelation.

The G-d of genesis had, as it were, removed His finger from the pie. It was the start of an altogether different relationship. G-d went before us in a pillar of cloud and fire. He led us like a father leads his son. The revelation of the splitting of the Reed Sea was unlike that of the ten plagues. It was “This is my G-d … the G-d of my fathers”.

After Pesach, we start eating chomets again. It commemorates the time when the people were given a chance to prove themselves, the freedom to think for themselves and develop intellectually. It culminated in the acceptance of the Torah on Shovuos. What was שבחי ירושלים את ד' - “Laud, O Jerusalem, the L-rd”, became הללי אלקיך ציון – “praise your G-d, O Zion”.

The Parsha of Bereishis starts with 42 letters which Rashi in Sukkah tells us hold the secret of the 42-letter Name of G-d. Not surprisingly, it is the Name associated with the creation of the world. (Interestingly, מ"ב – the Hebrew letters for the number 42, stands for מעשה בראשית – creation ex nihilo.) The Ritvo, in his explanation on the Hagaddah, brings a Midrash that this Name was inscribed on Moses’ staff, with which he acted as G-d’s emissary to bring the plagues. In other words, the first 42 letters of Bereishis, the power of Genesis, were used in Egypt.

After these 42 letters, there are then 49 letters till the words יהי אור – “Let there be light”. I suggest these 49 letters hint at the 49 days of the Omer, through חשך על פני תהום – “darkness on the face of the depths”, as the Jewish People mature, emerge and develop, till the Revelation on Sinai, “Let there be light” – the revelation of the inner light of creation, the חלב חטים ישביעך – “He has satiated you with the fat of wheat”.
חט"ה – “wheat” is gematriah 22, the 22 letters of the aleph-beis. It denotes the inner light, that which is transmitted from higher than this created world, higher than the 42-letter Name. On Shovuos we bring the double loaves of wheat, double, because man’s intelligence met, as it were, with G-d’s, double, as in 2-2.

Look at the words: בר"ך בני"ך בקרב"ך (-“He has blessed your children within you”). Which letters are repeated? The letters ב"ך – gematriah of חט"ה – 22. This is the hidden light of the Torah. (3 x 22 = 66. + ציון (156) = 232 = יהי אור) The entire phrase is gematriah 628 = אורייתא or טו"ב תור"ה – (אין טוב אלא תורה).

The 3 times 22 perhaps also allude to the marriage of 22 from above (G-d’s) and 22 from below (our reaching up), resulting in a new 22, the bond where G-d and His People meet. And the total of 66, the letters ס"ו, depict the inner light - ו - infusing the peripheral ס, the primary gates and borders of the barley offering.

May we merit a Simchas Yom Tov and a Geulah Sheleimoh.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

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Living Jewish for Shabbos Pesach

Living Jewish for Shabbos Pesach is now online and available here.
For Shabbos Parsha newsletters, it doesn’t get any cooler than this!  Chassidus, stories, Torah, Chabad, the Rebbe.  It’s all here!

A note from the publisher: Attached is the Living Jewish for Shabbos Pesach.  However, even if you do not receive it before Shabbos you can still read it before Shevi'i and Acharon Shel Pesach in that it is relevant to the Yom Tov - Seudas Moshiach.

To dedicate an edition of Living Jewish or simply make a donation please email me or contact us at livingjewishweekly@gmail.com

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Jews in Ukraine under Direct Threat?

donetskjewsYnet News is reporting on a chilling flier given to Jews in the eastern Ukrainian province of Donetsk, ordering them to register with the local authorities:

A leaflet distributed in Donetsk, Ukraine calling for all Jews over 16 years old to register as Jews marred the Jewish community’s Passover festivities Monday, replacing them with feelings of concern.

The leaflet demanded the city’s Jews register and supply a detailed list of all the property they own, or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated.

It was signed by the head of government in the region and was distributed by masked men outside the Donetsk synagogue after Passover prayers, and beyond. The region is home to about 17,000 Jews.

The leaflet was written in Russian and had Russia’s national symbol on it, as well as the Donetsk People’s Republic insignia.

“Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality,” the flyer began, “due to the fact that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported Bendery Junta,” a reference to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement which fought for Ukrainian independence at the end of World War II, “and oppose the pro-Slavic People’s Republic of Donetsk, (the interim government) has decided that all citizens of Jewish descent, over 16 years of age and residing within the republic’s territory are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register.”

The leaflet detailed what type of documents the Jewish citizens would need to supply: “ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles.”

If the message was not made clear enough, the leaflet further stipulated the consequences that would come to those who failed to abide by the new demands: “Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revoke and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property.”

To add insult to injury, the leaflet demanded the Jews pay a registration fee of $50.

Is this for real?  It certainly seems to be.  Is it a false flag by Ukrainian authorities to draw the West in?  Possibly.  While the Ukrainians have a tremendous anti-Semitic history – and the soil of the Ukraine is literally soaked with Jewish blood, this whole incident is remarkably odd.  Even further considering Putin has forcibly put down anti-Semitism within Russia (and this is coming from the “Russian separatists”). 

Whether the Jews are being made pawns in this conflict, are the target of locals taking advantage of the situation to let their anti-Semitism loose, or if this is the actual policy of the “Russian separatists” – in any case, the situation is extremely disturbing. 

Will the “World” stand by and do nothing?  Of course it will.  (Anyone want to bet on whether the “Boycott-Divest” movement will suddenly start protesting and boycotting against Russia?)

As for us?  For those Jews outside of the Ukraine, hakol kol Yaakov – we must raise our voices in holy prayer for our brethren in the Ukraine.  And for those Jews in the Ukraine, especially in conflict regions, nu?

May Hashem guard and protect Klal Yisroel wherever they may be.  And may we merit the ultimate protection with Moshiach during this Passover season.

Moadim l’Simcha!  A gutten Moed!

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2:30 a.m.

2:30 a.m.

by Reb Gutman Locks

 

        The first morning of Chol HaMoed Pesach (weekdays of the festival) - Chassidic boys singing and dancing at the Kotel

 

 

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

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Kosher for Passover, Really?

It’s Kosher for Passover (rabbinically certified) Israeli cigarettes!

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Free samples of poison, get your free poison…

(The box sign says: “Have a Kosher and Happy Spring Holiday”)

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They are not looking too enthusiastic.

Not related, but neither is this little guy…  (this was up on the 4th floor, yowza)

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A Kosher and Happy Passover!

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Maos Chitim–Thank you!

We have completed our Maos Chitim – Kimcha D’pischa campaign, distributing all the donations Thursday, Friday, and today.

I was to give a special thank you to all those who donated.  It’s a tremendous merit to act as your shaliach (agent) in helping those in need.  People were shaking our hands, hugging us, crying, even chasing us to kiss our hand.  It’s unbelievable to make such a difference in people’s lives.  People have been hurting and in serious need, and you’ve made a real difference.

As you sit down to your Passover seder, know that the merit of the many you’ve helped sit with you. 

May Hashem bless you abundantly in the merit of your tzedakah.

And may we merit the ultimate blessing, the coming of Moshiach tzidkaynu, this year!  L’Shana HA’ZE b’Yerushalayim, let it be THIS YEAR in Jerusalem!

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Pesach- What's the Most Important Thing?

 

Pesach- What’s the Most Important Thing?

 

by Reb Gutman Locks

     Although the holiday of Passover is, by far, the most memorable and beloved holiday of the entire Jewish calendar, it also brings the greatest number of details, requirements and restrictions. Observing each of these elements is crucial during this week of preparation and especially for the Seder itself. To list them all would (and does) fill an entire book.

 

     There are the Torah commandments and there are the rabbinical commandments. There are also the customs that, surprisingly, vary tremendously between the Sephardim and Ashkenazim. There are the unique customs that have developed around the Diaspora. For example, Indian Jews eat different foods on Passover than Temanni Jews, and some Jews will dip their matzah in their soup, while others would be aghast at such a move! Some will eat beans, and some would never do such a thing. There are strict requirements as to the minimum amounts of matzah, bitter herb and wine that must be consumed, and only within a specific period of time. And perhaps most important of all are the amazingly strict requirements not to have any leavening or related products in our possession for the entire week. Confusing this even more is that some authorities say certain foods are leavened while others swear that they are not.

 

     On and on, the list of requirements that ensure a successful Seder can certainly seem overwhelming. It is no wonder that the favorite question a sharp student will ask his rebbe right before the Seder is, “What is the most important thing that I must watch out for?”

 

   Last Pesach, right before leaving the Kotel to rush home for the Seder, a rabbi friend of mine asked me that very question. To his great surprise, I immediately answered, “Make sure that the children have a good time.” He looked at me as if I might be joking; his face was all twisted up. He wanted to know some great Kabbalah about the four cups of wine, or maybe how to lean to the side when drinking them. Or maybe I could give him some great Chassidic teaching on how to do teshuva (repentance) while trying to gulp down that impossibly hot horseradish. AAGHHHH! But, no, I simply said, “Make sure that the children have a good time.”

 

    The next afternoon, he came up to me, smiling. He’s a smart guy and he took my words to heart. He said, “It was the best Seder ever. The kids were great. Everyone was laughing. We all enjoyed ourselves tremendously. But tell me, how can you really say that keeping the kids happy was the most important thing to watch out for? After all, this is a very serious holiday.”

 

   I explained, “There is only one reason we have the Seder at all: to remember the Exodus from Egypt. And there is only one reason why we must remember the Exodus from Egypt: so we will remain Jews. If we forget our past, there will be no reason to go on as a people. There is only one way for us to remain Jews, and that is to raise Jewish families. Without the children coming back next year, there won’t be any Jewish families. It’s for the kids’ sake that we go through all this each year and, God willing, we will get to do it for them again next year, too. And if they have a good enough time, then surely someday we will even get to do it for their kids.”

 

     Have a happy Pesach. It’s essential.

 

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Friday, April 11, 2014

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Living Jewish for Parshat Acharei is up…

Living Jewish for Parshat Acharei is now online and available here.

For Shabbos Parsha newsletters, it doesn’t get any cooler than this!  Chassidus, stories, Torah, Chabad, the Rebbe.  It’s all here!


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Thursday, April 10, 2014

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Bad Interpretations of Jerusalem Protest Photos

Today there were protests in Jerusalem due to the arrest and imprisonment of a Torah student who refused to report for his draft notice (refusing even to apply for an exemption).  I’ve previously written about this sad situation, with both sides over-reacting and pushing the other – resulting in social conflict and unrest.

In today’s protest, neither side understands the other – and both are demonizing the other.  Since the situation is so sad and painful, I’ve decided to caption some of the protest photos with RIDICULOUS and HUMOROUS completely inappropriate captions.  This is definitely socially unacceptable, so here goes… (bad inappropriate humor starts here)

a1

Officer, could you hold my baby while I protest for a bit?

My wife is busy cleaning for Passover.

 

a2

Chometz burning practice.  Chometz burning practice.

Practice now, get it right for Tuesday.

 

a3

Hey buddy, you’ve got some mud on your pants,

hold still while I wipe it off with my riot baton.

a4

Is he doing the happy dance?  I think he feels like a room without a roof.

 

a5

Ewww, I stepped in some doody.

 

a6

Oh it’s raining again, oh yeah it’s raining again.  Oh oh it’s raining again.

a7

Oh fooey, my Chewbacca mask fell off.

a8

Ok, who let one rip?  Yuck, what in the world did you eat?

a9

“This is the Chometz police. 

Bring out all your leavened products and deposit them in the truck or else!”

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Matzah = Mitzvah

 

Matzah = Mitzvah

 

by Reb Gutman Locks

 

     In Hebrew, “matzah” is spelled exactly the same as “mitzvah”. See why.

 

G-d Said, "Be Holy"

 

 

 

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