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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!

20140411_121158

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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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

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Eye to the Infinite - Sleep, Sedation and Meditation

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

Sleep is a mysterious state that continues to confound scientists. Beyond its physical and psychological bene­fits, sleep also pro­vides a way for the Inner Mind to reveal itself. It is a time when, depend­ing on the person’s soul-root and spiritual level, higher levels of consciousness from higher worlds can filter through.[1]

When we dream, we have little control over what mind-scripts are played out. We generally dream about whatever is on our mind or niggling the subconscious but dreams may also be a rich source of spiritual experience.

While body and mind relax, the Inner Mind or higher in­telli­gence, can “speak” to the person in symbols and allegories, using imagery from the subcon­scious, to give over its message. A fascinating Midrash describes the meta­physical process.

“When a person sleeps, his body speaks to the Neshomoh, the Neshomoh [speaks] to the Nefesh, the Nefesh to the Mal’ach (Angel), the Mal’ach to the K’ruv, the K’ruv to the Master of the Wings, and the Master of the Wings tells be­fore He Who said and the world came into being.”[2]

 The Midrash tells us that during sleep, consciousness (Da’ath)[3] merges with the Neshomoh (Binoh). It ‘con­verses’ with the Neshomoh, relaying every action, thought and feeling of every minute during the day that has been re­corded by the body cells and inscribed on the bones; all this is now relayed to the Ne­shomoh.

The Neshomoh then relays this to a Higher Consciousness referred to as Nefesh. This Nefesh (the collective Un­con­scious of which the individual Un­conscious (Chochmoh) is part) links to higher states and entities – the “Mal’ach” [Angel] and “K’ruv” [Cerub], which connect to still higher lev­els, until the soul’s source in G-d. With a righteous individual,[4] this can result in regular spiritual revelations and messages during sleep.

But perhaps the Midrash is telling us something even more amazing. By relaxing and qui­et­ing the activity of the subconscious mind, we can imitate sleep. Brainwaves during medi­ta­tion are known to be similar to those during deep sleep. Might imitating sleep be a means of ac­cessing the inner mind and higher states of consciousness?

Find out in the next installment...

[1] See Zohar II, 52a, 195b.

[2] Levit. Rabboh, 32: בשעה שהאדם הזה ישן הגוף אומר לנשמה והנשמה לנפש והנפש למלאך והמלאך לכרוב והכרוב לבעל כנפים ובעל כנפים יגיד דבר לפני מי שאמר והיה העולם

[3] There are two types of Da’ath: Da’ath of the mind (see next chapter) and Da’ath-knowledge the body receives at a cellular level.

[4] See Brochoth 6b.
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A Great Passover Chassidic Customs & Halacha Guide

Chabad has put out a wonderful day by day customs and halacha (Jewish law) guide for Passover in English, for internal use by the chassidic community.  It includes daily adjustments to the tefilot (prayers) and so forth.  Very detailed, very nice.

It’s free and in English, click here.  Note the times mentioned are valid for New York only.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

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Free Passover Koshering Guide

Artscroll is offering a free download on kashering (koshering) your kitchen for Passover.  It’s a nice guide…

Here’s the link – click for free PDF download.

A few notes of my own on reading it…

a. When they discuss using an “even-meluban” (a hot stone), I have personally seen, done myself, and have a tradition from my wife’s family, to use a normal clothing iron.  Or, to put it another way “are you going to iron your countertops this year”, yes. 

b. Chabad chassidim have a further chumra to both kasher and cover (the article discusses doing one or the other other) with a thick cover. 

c. The current “thick cover” of choice is vinyl floor tile/covering.  This choice is particularly hygienic, heat resistant, water proof, inexpensive and very easy to cut to shape.

d. On blow torching an oven to kasher it, sticking a hand blow torch with the gas bottle attached into a hot oven is CRAZY DANGEROUS.  I’m amazed I’ve never heard a story of an explosion resulting from such.  (Yes I’ve done it myself, yes it was stupid, no I would not do it again.)  The article discusses covering the inside of the oven with foil.  Another alternative I’ve seen is having a metal box insert inside the oven.  You insert food pans into the insert.  It works.

Be safe.  There are too many stories of people (especially children) getting injured during Pesach cleaning (with harsh chemicals or when boiling or torching).  Speak with your rav, don’t risk life or limb for every chumra (just for some of them :-).

Chag Kasher v’Samayach.
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A Typical Secular Israeli

 

A Typical Secular Israeli

by Reb Gutman Locks

 

     I called out, “Come put on tefillin.”

     “No way!” was his reply.

     He walked around the Kotel area, and then, when he came close by, I called again, “Come, you didn’t come all this way to look at the stones. Come put on tefillin. You’ll have a good time.”

     Nope. Didn’t budge.

     A few minutes later as he was walking out I tried again. With a big smile I called out, “Chabibalah” (Sweetie pie) come do a mitzvah.

     He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Okay, I’ll do it for you.”

     After he read the Shema, I told him that the door to Heaven was open for him, “Pray for everything you want. You did a great thing just now and Hashem is listening.”

     He prayed for a brief moment and then turned for me to take off the tefillin.

     I asked, “Did you pray for everything that you need?”

     “I prayed for everyone,” he said, as he moved his arms in a large circle.

     I asked, “What about all of your needs.”

     “We are all one,” he answered.

     Here is a guy who hasn’t put on tefillin since his bar mitzvah 36 years ago. As far as I know he is totally secular, but still, he has it in his heart to pray for all of us, and he knows that we are all one. A typical secular Israeli.

 

 

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Monday, April 07, 2014

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Ha Ha, No Jews, Get It?

Gabriel Iglesias is a modern American ethnic comedian.  Crude, though not overly so by current standards, with a lot of contextual cultural humor. 

He was recently invited (paid) to do some shows in Saudi Arabia and other nearby Arab countries.  In the clip below, he tells a story of a local aspiring Saudi Arabian comedian telling him a joke…

Direct video link.  (Some crude and mildly inappropriate language.)

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Sunday, April 06, 2014

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A Visit to the Shmura Matzah Bakery

Direct video link, embedded below…

And don’t forget to support our Maos Chitim / Kimcha D’Pischa 100% charity direct campaign for Passover Charity Help for the Needy…

You can support the needy of Israel for Passover – right here, right now, 100% charity with NO overhead…  Donate to the Needy of Israel for Passover
Click HERE !

 
This year is particularly tough. One of our neighbors is literally homeless, another says "I have wine and matzah, and literally nothing else."  One can't afford her medicine, another can't afford shoes for her children.  The stories are heartbreaking, but you can help...   Right here, right now.. (CLICK HERE) ….

100% charity direct!  Our Jewish holy day charity campaigns raise money to support the poor and needy in Israel, which we are obligated to treat as members of our local community.  We do so via our registered Israeli charity and with the rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Chaim Faro.  We also do so with NO office expenses, NO advertising expenses, NO salaries, NO overhead of ANY kind (except for credit card processing fees of ~3.5% and currency conversion fees of ~1%).  100% tzedakah (charity) direct to those in need.

This Passover, lets help make sure our brethren in Israel are able to celebrate the holiday!  If you can help, please do - now.  If not, you have our blessings that Hashem should help you and all the needy of Klal Yisroel!

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Slavery and the Ten Commandments

Slavery and the Ten Commandments

 

by Reb Gutman Locks

 

Meir Asked:

     Why when Hashem gave us the Ten Commandments did He start by saying, “I Am Hashem who brought you out of the land of Egypt?”

 

Gutman’s Response:

     Knowing that Hashem brought us out of Egypt is the key to knowing where we want to go today, and how to get there.

     The day that Hashem gave us those Commandments was one of the most important days in the history of the world. Hashem was speaking to the entire Jewish Nation teaching us what we have to do in order to stay out of physical and spiritual slavery.

     Surely, the Torah recounts our history, but even more importantly, it teaches us about our very lives today.

     We made a terrible mistake back then, and because of it we became enslaved. We went into Egypt to earn a living, and we forgot the Torah. We had to go down into Egypt, but we did not have to forget the Torah. Money became the objective. The slavery that came from this mistake was bitter, and we saw no way out. Year after year, we cried out for the bitterness to end, but to no avail.

     Then, Hashem in His kindness took us out of that slavery. He brought us out into a wilderness, with no apparent way to provide for us and our children. But we trusted in G-d, and we went out happily, relying only on Him. Lo and behold we found our livelihood lying on the barren, desert floor! It was there right in front of us. All we had to do was bend over and pick it up. But, be careful, if we took more than we needed, that extra portion rotted.

     So it is today. If we go out into the market place to make a living, which we still have to do, and our intention is solely to make money, we will soon become enslaved in the same bondage that enslaved us back then in Egypt. But if we go out into the world to make that same money in order to do holy deeds, then that same work will become holy work.

     So why did Hashem begin His most important statement to us identifying Himself as the One Who brought us out of Egypt? He was telling us, just like He took us out of Egyptian slavery back then when we relied upon Him, so will He take us out of our personal, current slavery, if only we rely upon Him now…and how do we rely on Hashem? By fulfilling His commandments. And this is why we find that even after Hashem brought us out of Egypt does He say, “I am Hashem…Who takes you out of Egypt…”[1]

     When we follow His Torah with a full heart we are like the tribe of Levy. They also went down into Egypt, but since they maintained the Torah and its mitzvahs in Egypt they were not enslaved.  So are we able to go out into the world today and not be enslaved by it, if only we cherish Hashem’s Torah and fulfill it with joy.

 



[1] For instance: Leviticus 22:33

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Thursday, April 03, 2014

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Maos Chitim - Passover Charity 100% Direct

It’s that time of the year, Passover is ALMOST HERE.  With Passover comes the obligation of Maos Chitim or Kimcha D’Pischa, supporting the needy for Passover.

You can support the needy of Israel for Passover – right here, right now, 100% charity with NO overhead…

This year is particularly tough. One of our neighbors is literally homeless, another says "I have wine and matzah, and literally nothing else."  One can't afford her medicine, another can't afford shoes for her children.  The stories are heartbreaking, but you can help...

Right here, right now...

100% charity direct!  Our Jewish holy day charity campaigns raise money to support the poor and needy in Israel, which we are obligated to treat as members of our local community.  We do so via our registered Israeli charity and with the rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Chaim Faro.  We also do so with NO office expenses, NO advertising expenses, NO salaries, NO overhead of ANY kind (except for credit card processing fees of ~3.5% and currency conversion fees of ~1%).  100% tzedakah (charity) direct to those in need.

This Passover, lets help make sure our brethren in Israel are able to celebrate the holiday!  If you can help, please do - now.  If not, you have our blessings that Hashem should help you and all the needy of Klal Yisroel!

Thank you.  And may Hashem provide you with abundant blessings and simcha for this Passover.  And may we all merit the ultimate blessing, the ultimate exodus with the coming of Moshiach Tzidkaynu for Passover this year!

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Living Jewish Chassidic Shabbos Parsha Sheet - Metzora

Living Jewish for Parshat Metzora 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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