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Sunday, September 21, 2014

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The Gift of Repentence

Some Torah from Rav Shalom Arush, shlita, is being made available to us to share.  We’ll be publishing, with some edits as appropriate for our audience.

on Mystical Paths, Torah by Rav Shalom Arush, shlita

Precious Jewish people, let’s think deeply about the love Hashem has for us. He wants to find merit in the Jewish people and therefore gave us the awesome gift of Rosh Hashanah, the day of judgment, every year, along with the holy days of Elul, the ten days of repentance, the holy day of Yom Kipur - the day of forgiveness from sin and after this the holy days of Succot. These are wonderful days in which we can seal for ourselves a good sweet year.

Really we want to ask, what’s such a great gift with Rosh Hashana? It’s the day of Judgment. Hashem judges us on everything from the past year. We need to realize that if it were not for this holy day and the days of tshuva (repentance) that accompany it, then a person would come to the heavenly court after 120 years in the world and he would be judged on his whole life from the time he became bar mitzvah. Now, however, we have the opportunity every year to go over our deeds and fix them. A person that merits to utilize this time properly, as we’ll explain, merits every year to “a clean slate”, to start a new page, clean and refreshed. Like the Holy Torah says on Succot “and take for yourselves on the first day”. On this our sages ask: why is Succot called the ‘first day’? It’s the first day that sins are counted, because all of the sins of the previous year were erased and forgiven. As a result of the repentance of the Yomim Noraim – the days from Rosh Hashana until Succot, all of the old “files” were closed and now we start a new page. We find that a person that passes away needs to give an accounting just from the first day of his last Succot until the day he passes away.

If he merited …an hour of tshuva everyday which is the ‘hour of hitbodedut’, then after his 120 years in the world there is nothing to judge him on at all. He’s all clean. At the most he’ll be judged on a few hours, from the time of his last hitbodedut. Every day he cleaned his slate of everything on that day and started a new day on a new blank page. Anyone who has this hour of hitbodedut and does a daily self assessment, cleans his slate every day and has a nice sweet life. There are no judgments on him, no problems.

Is there a greater kindness than this? Is there any gift as wonderful as this? Imagine to yourself a person that has debts hundreds of thousands of dollars to the government and creditors, each of which have their own teams of repo men coming his way. For him to pay back his dept would take all of his earnings for years and years. If you’d say to a person like this, listen we decided to give you the opportunity to wipe away all of your debt with just a minimal amount of work on your part… is this not the good news? Anyone who understands what a wonderful gift this is really needs to wake up to utilize these days to the fullest and to be filled with joy that Hashem gives us the opportunity to wipe clean everything from the past. Full of joy that Hashem allows us to start a new year on a new clean page. Everyone needs to see to it that they use this time to the fullest in repentance.

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Back Away

Back Away

 by Reb Gutman Locks


     There is a custom when leaving the Kotel not to turn our backs directly to the Kotel. Some just turn around and face the Kotel by the entrance when they leave, while others are strict to walk backwards all the way away from the Kotel, and even past the entrance. Why?

     First, it is interesting how this custom became popular. Some 25 years ago very few men paid attention to it. Then, for some reason, it caught on, and now most religious men turn back and face the Kotel before leaving.

     I like to think that this extra sensitivity to the Holiness there is another sign that the Redemption is unfolding, but Hashem is keeping it hidden. Once it becomes obvious that it is actually happening as prophesied thousands of years ago, everyone is going to rush home. But the reward for those who come home while the Redemption is hidden will be greater than the reward for those who come home after the Redemption has become obvious to all.

     This goes along with the important teaching that Hashem rewards us according to our effort, and coming home after the world wakes up is going to be almost automatic. So Hashem is hiding the fact that the Redemption has actually started to let us earn a greater reward.

     Back to the reason for the custom: The Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world. It is called the place where Hashem reveals Himself. It is said of the Kotel that His revealed Presence has never left. So when we are praying at the Kotel we are standing before the King. When the conversation with a King is over, no subject would ever be so rude as to turn his back to the King, but rather would slowly back away keeping his eyes turned toward the King just in case the King might say something more. Thus, those who are sensitive to the holiness that permeates the Kotel show their great respect for the King and their reluctance to be leaving His Presence.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

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Tikunei Zohar, Elul and Moshiach

A 30 minute video, in (somewhat broken) English by Rebbe Sholom Yehuda Gross, shlita.

Direct link here.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

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Living Jewish for Nitzavim and Rosh Hashana

It’s the wonderful incredible Living Jewish chassidic Torah sheet for Nitzvavim-Vayalech and ROSH HASHANA!

Get it free HERE.

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Israpundit–new address

A few weeks ago one of the oldest stalwarts of pro-Israel blogging had a problem with his site. Hackers managed to take over Ted Belman’s Israpundit domain name and steal it from him. So :

Israpundit is asking for your help  By Ted Belman

A few weeks ago Israpundit, my blog for over 13 years, got HACKED and my domain name, israpundit.com, was stolen.

I bought a new domain, namely israpundit.org and connected it to my most recent backup. Hardly skipped a beat.

Except that my traffic took an enormous hit as there was no way to inform my potential readers that the url for israpundit was changed to israpundit.org

Could you do a post to spread the word. Also notify your FB friends.

Take note. Hackers are constantly trying to disrupt any who tell the truth about Israel. It’s a never ending fight to keep them out.

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100% CHARITY DIRECT for the POOR for Rosh Hashana

This year my wonderful wife is running our annual charity campaign to help the poor of Israel for the Jewish High Holidays…


WHEN YOU DONATE TO A CHARITY, HOW MUCH OF THE MONEY ACTUALLY GOES TO HELP THOSE IN NEED?  50%?  25%???
 
Via our private charity campaign, all the money - that's 100% of your donation (except for transaction fees, ~4%) goes DIRECT to the needy families!  No advertising costs, no offices rented, no salaries (our time is donated), no overhead expenses - 100% charity direct to those in need!

Thank those that have already donated to our Yom Tov (holiday) Charity campaign! Every day I receive phone calls or am stopped by those whom YOU have helped in the past.  Once again, they are LITERALLY COUNTING ON YOU for Yom Tov!



I humbly request that you donate to our Holiday Campaign. Not only will you feel good because you did and get another mitzva that will help you on The Day of Judgement, but you will bring a smile and happiness to families in Israel. They will be able to celebrate Yom Tov with dignity. 



Wishing you and your families a Shannah Tovah U'Metukah and May we all be Inscribed and Sealed for a Good and Sweet Year.
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The “Spark”

The "Spark"


David from Sweden wrote:

 

Dear Reb Gutman,

     The "spark" in me, sometimes grows into a little fire, I grow wings and feel the connection. Sometimes it almost disappears completely, leaving me in that hopeless dark place again and all my "understandings" of the past looks like nonsense. My soul keeps me looking on, and I'm so tired...

David W

Gothenburg, Sweden

 

Gutman's reply:

 

     What you describe is the natural way of spiritual growth. You should be used to it by now, and not be fooled by the lows, nor too swept away with the highs.     

     When the ultimate experience comes - the revelation of G-d's Presence - you will experience the fulfillment you are seeking, but that too will pass. All this is to encourage you to continue doing the things that bring goodness into the world so you will be fitting to receive the reward that Hashem wants to give you.

Shalom

Gutman


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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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Emunah is the Purpose

Some Torah from Rav Shalom Arush, shlita, is being made available to us to share.  We’ll be publishing, with some edits as appropriate for our audience.

on Mystical Paths, Torah by Rav Shalom Arush, shlita

Hashem gave me the merit to find a simple proof that emunah is the purpose of the world, the purpose of Torah and mitzvot and the purpose of man. If a person learns Torah and performs mitzvot, but doesn’t live with the reality of Hashem at every moment, he didn’t get to the purpose for which the Torah and mitzvot were given. For if the Torah and mitzvot are themselves the purpose, then why did we come to this world, a world of darkness and concealment? The souls could stay in the upper world where they see Hashem eye to eye and there learn Torah like the tzadikim in Gan Eden. There they could also perform mitzvot as our sages say that Hashem puts on tefilin and prays and keeps mitzvot. Why come to this world? Because only here in this world do you need emunah. In the upper world, you don’t need emunah - there you see Hashem and delight in His light. The whole reason for which we came down to the world of darkness is to know Hashem and from within the darkness to come to complete emunah, to live the existence of Hashem every moment. The Torah and mitzvot are vessels that bring a person to this. If a person learns Torah and it doesn’t bring him to such an emunah that he lives the existence of Hashem every moment of his life, then why is he in this world? We see that the whole purpose for which a person is in this world is just to get to emunah, to find Hashem in the darkness at every moment and complete emunah is only when a person says thank You on everything. He knows everything is from Hashem and everything is good. Thank You Hashem!

One of my students was looking for a parking spot in a huge shopping center but the lot was packed. He drove around for fifteen minutes amongst the parked cars all the while praying: “Ribbono Shel Olam, please find me a parking spot. I have to park here. I have things to buy and there is nowhere for me to park. Help me.” Nevertheless he found nothing. All the spots were taken and where ever someone was about to leave their spot, several cars were already behind him waiting to get in. All of a sudden he remembered how I always say in my lessons that we need to thank Hashem for everything so he started thanking Hashem for not finding a parking spot and for the delay. He said, “Ribbono SHel Olam, everything you do is for the best, every delay is for the best, so this must certainly be the best thing for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” As he was saying ‘thank you’ he continued to drive around the lot slowly. All of a sudden, a guy sitting in his car in the parking lot, gets out of his car and calls out to him, “Come! Park here.” Even though several other cars were sitting behind him awaiting his exit, this guy said to them, “This is my friend. I was waiting for him.” And he never met the guy in his life.

When he told me this story, he asked: “How come when I prayed for help, nothing happened but when I said ‘thank you’ I was answered?” I told him that it is because our prayers are accepted according to our emunah. When a person prays for something, who’s to say he believes that everything is for the best? He says to Hashem, “Help me”, but he feels that what he is experiencing is not good and therefore pleads with Hashem to get him out of what he believes to be a ‘no good’ situation. Even if he says to Hashem “Only you can help me”, his emunah is still lacking therefore his prayers cannot be accepted. However, when he says ‘thank you’, he believes with complete emunah: this is what Hashem wants and it is the best thing for me. The result is that he believes in Hashem Blessed He with complete emunah and that is why his prayers are accepted immediately. Moreover, according to what we explained before that man’s whole purpose in this world is to come to emunah, and with every test he goes through the purpose is to bring the person emunah, when he says ‘thank you’ it means that in this specific test he has come to complete emunah and withstood the test in which case he fulfilled the purpose and there is now no more reason to delay answering his prayer. When he prayed to Hashem without saying thank you, he had still not yet achieved complete emunah because he thinks he is having a problem and troubles, but according to the emunah rule of thumb, he is in the best situation in the world.

Now, in the days of the month of Elul, in which we are strengthening ourselves with new desires and prayers for a good new year, we should strengthen ourselves to see that all the requests and desires we have should come from the standpoint of emunah, through thanking Hashem wholeheartedly for everything that happened in our lives up until this moment. Through this may we merit to have all of our prayers accepted and may Hashem extend us His right hand [of mercy] to accept us back in complete tshuvah and to really bring us close to serve Him.

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Not Enough Jews Died

A friend of mine wrote the following letter to the editor in a New Jersey Jewish publication…

Proportionality - September 4, 2014

It may seem difficult advocating for Israel with the left-wing media storm giving cover to anti-Semitism/ anti-Zionism. There are too many facts on the Jewish side of the argument and few opponents will give us the time to make the arguments.

However, we can chip away at their weapons if we focus our argument. The bulk of anti-Israel invective is founded on the idea of “proportionality.” The assumption that proportionality  involves a rough equality of losses — or is violated when harm is caused to civilians — is superficial, and it has no foundation in international law.

The principle of proportionality represents a noble aspiration inscribed in the international laws of war to balance the claims of military necessity and humanitarian responsibility. At the same time, proportionality is, as Emory University law professor Laurie Blanc emphasizes, “a legal term with a specific legal meaning.” It “forbids attacks in which the expected civilian casualties from the attack will be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage gained.” Accordingly, “widely different numbers of civilian casualties between two sides in a  conflict says nothing about the proportionality of particular attacks on specific targets.”

Each Israeli counterattack may have hurt civilians, but in the overwhelming number of cases even those roughly equate to the intended harm the military targets posed to Israel.  Hence, even here, anecdotal “proportionalism” actually exists, despite its dubious legal application. What the media is focused on is the totality of the casualties in relation to Jewish casualties. By that standard, every bombing mission in World War II by the United States and its allies would be a war crime. Or those critics would be happy with large scale Jewish  casualties (reflecting a certain nostalgia for the Holocaust model of appreciating Jews as victims). It is a testament to Hashem’s love of His people that He mercifully kept this to a minimum.

Focus on the targeting policy, which can be proved legitimate, and undercut people’s ignorance around “proportionality.”

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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The Temple Mount is Theirs!

commentary by Reb Akiva on Mystical Paths

Daoud Kuttab demonstrates cluelessness and ignorance about Jews and Israelis in an article on Al Monitor about the Temple Mount.  Let’s take a look…

HEADLINE - Jewish extremists try to change status quo at Al-Aqsa

AlAqsaFromKotel.JPG Photo: "AlAqsaFromKotel" by Wilson44691 - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Technically, and these technicalities matter in such a sensitive area, Al Aqsa is the mosque to the far SOUTH side of the Temple Mount (it has the silver dome).  The golden dome thing (the Dome of the Rock or Qubbat As-Sakhrah for Islamics, is NOT a mosque.  It’s a “shrine”.  And it’s not Al Aqsa.

If such a thing would be allowed or permissible by either religion (it’s not), both the Jewish Temple and Al Aqsa could exist on the Temple Mount without Al Aqsa having to be moved.

But let’s get into the meat (or holey cheese) of the article…

When Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset, set foot in Al-Aqsa Mosque around 10 a.m. Sept. 14, he was on more than a tourist visit. His venture to the mosque and short prayer in the area was seen as an attempt to declare Jewish sovereignty over the Islamic holy place.

Because everyone knows a Jew praying means “I declare it mine.”  I wonder if this will work for me in the U.S.?

It violated agreements not to change the status quo and cast doubt on an assertion by the Israeli prime minister's office that the status quo at Al-Aqsa would not change.

The status quo being Jews who enter the Temple Mount, in areas religiously permissible for Jews, are beaten and arrested if they attempt to pray.  Think about that… in Israel, there’s a place where it’s illegal for a Jew to pray.  Muslim or Christian or Buddhist, go ahead.  Jew – get beaten and arrested.

The rebellious parliamentarian walked barefoot in the courtyard of the Haram al-Sharif, an act meant to pay reverence to the area that what Jews believe was once the site of the Jewish temple. In 2013, an Israeli court barred Feiglin from ascending to the mosque area for fear that his uncoordinated visit might spark protests. Feiglin is so controversial that the United Kingdom refused him entry in 2008.

“the area that what Jews believe was once the site of the Jewish temple” – disregard all the archeological evidence, most of it produced by British archeologists in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  If they keep disputing it, will it make it go away?

That Feiglin would go to the Haram al-Sharif was known for days and required a large contingent of Israeli police. The visit proceeded after Palestinian men and women worshipers under the age 40 were barred from the area and all except one of the gates to Islam’s third-holiest mosque were closed.

This wouldn’t have anything to do with periodic riots or throwing down of bricks on the Western Wall below – for any and no provocation. 

While insisting that all Jews have a right to visit what they call the Temple Mount, Israeli security officials have in the past refused such provocative visits, citing the potential for violent opposition and thus denying access for security reasons.

So the Israeli police can and do suppress normal religious rights, like the simple ability to pray, due to Arab violence.  I guess asking the Arabs to control themselves or suffer consequences for not doing so is unreasonable?

In recent months, and under pressure from the right-wing Israeli government, including Feiglin himself, Israeli security has changed its position. Instead of banning such visits, it has undertaken unprecedented actions to bar Palestinian Muslims from their own mosque hours before them. Protests from Jordanian Islamic waqf officials, who are entrusted as guardians of the mosque, have fallen on deaf ears.

Each week, Israeli actions become more and more provocative. The visits are longer, and the ban on Jewish prayers at the mosque compound are increasingly ignored. What began with Jewish visitors inaudibly mumbling a few words is becoming louder and louder. Most Jewish intruders wear prayer clothes, often under their regular clothes, which points to their intention of holding prayers on the mosque compound.

Oh ALALALALAH help them!  The Jews are mumbling prayers!  Maybe they truly fear HaKol Kol Yaakov, the power of the Jewish people is in the voice of prayer?  “Most Jewish intruders wear prayer clothes, often under their regular clothes, which points to their intention of holding prayers on the mosque compound”, clue in note to Daoud… most religious Jews, exactly the type interested in visiting the Temple Mount, ALWAYS where “prayer clothes”, and usually “under their regular clothes.

Islamic officials have been screaming and shouting in opposition, but getting little response from the Arab and Islamic worlds, which are engulfed by their own problems. Azzam Khatib, director of the waqf in Jerusalem, told Al-Monitor that the Israeli government has frankly “explained to Jordan that no decision will apply to Al-Aqsa Mosque and that the status quo established since 1967 will remain respected.” He still called on the Arab and Islamic nations to “seriously support Jordan to protect these sanctuaries.”

The chief rabbis of Israel have ruled since 1967, and it has been reconfirmed over the years by additional rabbis, that Jews are not allowed to set foot on the mosque compound for fear that they might desecrate the remains of the temple destroyed in 70 AD. This religious ruling still stands, and a sign stating it meets all who enter the area from the Mughrabi Gate. New Jewish scholarship, however, argues that there are areas that are safe to trespass as they cannot possibly hold any remnants of the Temple beneath them.

Earlier the author says “the area that what Jews believe was once the site of the Jewish temple”, here he states a fact “areas that cannot possibly hold any remnants of the Temple beneath them”.  He misunderstands this as well, the restriction is not on walking on remnants of the Holy Temple, it’s on walking on areas that were restricted to either only Cohanim or only the Cohain Gadol.

The practice at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque has been to divide the mosque compound between Jewish and Muslim worshipers, based on the time and the space. Jewish extremists are trying to divide the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque according to time, with visits regularly scheduled for the morning to roughly coincide with the hours between Islamic morning and noon prayers.

So let me get this straight.  The intruding Jews are trying to arrange their intrusions to coincide with times that AVOID Islamic prayer or use of the facility?  The nerve of those Jews, being considerate during their invasion!

Today, at a time that the United States is leading a global campaign against Islamic extremists, in Iraq and Syria, a dangerous Jewish religious radicalism is allowed to flourish and is provided police protection by the State of Israel.

The current nationalist-religious fusion has been created with leaders like Feiglin gaining critical positions in the Israeli Knesset and government. Netanyahu is constantly worried about the threat to his own position from this extreme right, which dominates his own Likud Party. Religious-nationalist extremism, if allowed to continue, will have the same destructive consequences that other similar extremism has had in the region. Allowing it to change the status quo at Islam’s third-holiest place will most certainly lead to the eruption of a religious war in the Middle East.

He’s right.  The forming of JEW-SIS and the recent beheadings of pigs clearly show Jerusalem is about to be overrun with JEW-hadi’s.  If the Palestinians ever encountered even 1/10th of the evil perpetrated by the Islamic jihadis and their own terrorists from the Jews or Israelis, they’d be fleeing in terror.

Instead, after losing a war, they’re given control of their holy site – which they regularly use to organize riots and attack people nearby from, and suffer no functional consequences over a period of 45+ years. 

In the days of:

- the Islamic State and daily beheadings, enslavement, mass slaughter and genocide
-
Al Qaeda, now with more branches including India
- the breakdown of Iraq and Syria
- the bombing and then breakdown of Libya
- an anti-Islamic military coup in Egypt
- a democratic coup in Tunisia
- a suppressed democratic uprising in Bahrain
- semi-civil war in Yemen
- and Iran continuing pursuit of a nuclear weapon

…I don’t think the historical threat of “change the status quo at Islam’s third-holiest place will most certainly lead to the eruption of a religious war in the Middle East” really holds water any more.

The Palestinians actually have a practical problem.  For over 45 years they’ve been a false flag concern for the tyrants of the Middle East to use to redirect their people’s anger.  Now the people and tyrants have REAL concerns.  The “Palestinian Problem” is no longer even a blip on the radar.

Mr. Kuttab, you might actually have to make some compromises for a change.  And who knows, maybe doing so will actually lead to… wait for it… PEACE.  (gasp)

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Desire and Thanksgiving

Some Torah from Rav Shalom Arush, shlita, is being made available to us to share.  We’ll be publishing, with some edits as appropriate for our audience.

on Mystical Paths, Torah by Rav Shalom Arush, shlita

We find the two paths of service, the service of desire and the service of thanksgiving, this hinted to in the words of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev in Likketei Mohoran Torah 6. The service of desire parallels the “running” to want to progress without letting down. Like we learned that the word for desire ratzon comes from the word for running ritza. The service of thanksgiving parallels “returning”, to give thanks to Hashem and be joyful in our falls which is the aspect of being silent to Hashem. As is explained at length in Likketei Mohoran Torah 6, the aspect of returning is to “hear one’s own disgrace and be tranquil and silent”. The verse Rebbe Nachman brings to describe the service of being tranquil and silent is “Offering a Todah (thanksgiving offering) brings Me honor”. From here we learn that the main way of accepting disgrace and downfalls is give thanks on them to Hashem. So too, we see this from the Targum (the translation) of the verse “and Aharon was silent” which translates this verse as “and Aharon gave praise”. After his two sons died on the day of the initiation of the Mishkan, Aharon HaCohen gave thanks and praise.

When a person has these two fields of expertise, then he is on the right path towards tikun ha brit (rectification of brit). He can increase his desires and prayers and every day pray at least half an hour on tikun ha brit. So too, he won’t fall or get confused by his failures that must come along the way. They won’t weaken him at all. He sees Hashem in everything and how He is guiding him and doing everything for his good and thanks Hashem for everything.

Since really getting to these two fields of expertise takes very deep thinking, we’ll explain here practically how to do it. When a person is aroused to desire after a fall, he in essence shows that what happened to him was ‘not good’ and he doesn’t receive the fall with emunah. Even though it’s very subtle, there is a big denial of emunah here and every denial of emunah separates a person from Hashem. Therefore before a person strengthens himself in the work of desire, he needs to make sure that his first response is giving thanks to Hashem. Giving thanks means having complete emunah that this is what Hashem desires and is certainly for good, it means having total emunah that whatever happens to you is the best that could possibly be, and this is the purpose of the creation.

A person needs to be really strong, to work to strengthen himself, to prepare himself and to bring himself to very strong mental composure to completely ignore his mind and just hold to emunah. Whatever will be with him, no matter what, even if things look absolutely terrible, before he thinks what to do or what does Hashem want from him, even before praying, the first thing is to give thanks! Emunah is not something we can abandon, even for a second. Giving thanks is complete emunah, that I believe that this is from Hashem and it is for good! If a person doesn’t say thank You, even if he prays, he prays because he thinks that what is happening to him isn’t good and this type of prayer is not accepted, because prayer is received only according to emunah. When a person strengthens in desire without giving thanks on his situation, he strengthens his desires while feeling that something is not good and this is a denial of emunah.

We see from this something awesome, that it’s possible that two people pray. One prays with complete emunah, because he says thank You on whatever happens with him. The second prays out of “atheism” because he has arguments with Hashem on what is happening with him. This is a difference of Heaven and earth.

The work of giving thanks is the purpose man in this world. A person comes to this world in order to know Hashem while amidst darkness and concealment. The main darkness is the existence of evil, because Hashem is totally good. When a person says thank You this means that he doesn’t see the bad, he just cleaves to Hashem, lives Hashem, sees Hashem in whatever happens to him and he will get to complete emunah.

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HELP THE POOR for Rosh Hashana

Because her husband’s been lazy, this year my wonderful wife is running our annual charity campaign to help the poor of Israel for the Jewish High Holidays…



Shalom Wonderful Mystical Paths Readers!

I trust this letter finds you and your family well.  G-D willing next week we celebrate Rosh Hashanah and then the other Jewish high holy days of Tishrai (Yom Kippur and Succot).

As you know this summer was a difficult one for Am Yisrael (for the Jewish people – especially those living in Israel). We began with the kidnapping and murder of the three young Yeshiva boys. Then we a summer of war, with our towns and cities under constant bombardment and the Operation Protective Edge. It was a difficult time for all children, especially for people living in the south. Summer vacation is tough for children who do not attend camp let alone those who everyday were in a bomb shelter for hours and days at a time. Just as the conflict ended, at least for now, a young man from America was found dead in the Jerusalem Forest.

We all ask G-D: How much more suffering must we endure?



One thing is clear that came out of all the events of the summer is Jewish People Unite, Achdus! So many people donated items for the soldiers, prayed for the welfare of the boys and the young man from America. We all felt each others pain.

Now, I ask to feel the pain of people like me who are having a hard time preparing for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succot.  Children have just begun school, with so many associated expenses of clothing, uniforms and shoes, school supplies and books (school books in Israel are purchased by the parents – not provided by the school). Thank G-D the children are doing well in school. Yet, these expenses coupled with the necessities of the holidays are hard for the average family, crushing for those in need.



I beseech all of you to again reach into your pockets to help. Charity is one of the three things that help annul negative decree, as we say in our holiday prayers.  Let your charity in helping those in need in Israel stand for you this Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur!



The letters Aleph, Lamed, Vav and Lamed that make up the word Elul, the Hebrew month in which we are in.  These letters stand for “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.” But did you know there is another phrase from these letters as well? It is from Purim and one of the obligations of Purim. ELUL also stands for “man to his friend and gifts to the poor.”

Please dear readers, find it in yourselves to help us help the poor of Israel to celebrate the Jewish high holidays with dignity.

Wishing you, your families and friends a Happy Healthy and Sweet New Year. May we all be inscribed and sealed for a Shannah Tovah!  And may we merit the ultimate good, the coming of Moshiach Tzidkaynu this year!  Or now!



As always, the Mystical Paths charity campaign is rabbinically supervised by Rabbi Chaim Farro and via a registered Israeli charity.
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Wrestling with a Huge Dog

Wrestling with a Huge Dog

 by Reb Gutman Locks


     I was learning about dreams.[i] The best advice is, since dreams go according to their interpretation, whatever a dream shows, try to find a way to see it as predicting some wonderful thing that is going to happen.

     I tried for a week or so to remember enough of my dreams to interpret in some wildly favorable way, but to no avail. Then, last night, I had such a vivid, scary dream it would have been hard not to remember it. I only had to go over it once before its meaning came to me.

     I was in a house wrestling with a huge, wild dog. It seemed to be a fight for my life. Finally, I was able to pin the dog down. I was holding it by its throat looking for some way to kill it, or at least to knock it out. The battle was fierce. I reached for something to hit it with, but Instead, I grabbed its neck with both hands and squeezed as hard as I could until I knocked it out. I dragged its huge, limp body to the door and threw it out, but before I could slam the door shut the dog awoke and ran back into the house!

      I started to search for it, but then some rabbi looking fellow appeared in front of me and said, "He is in there learning Torah. I thought, "What in the world is he saying? The dog is learning Torah!"

     I opened the door to that room and there was a different dog laying there, sleeping quietly on the floor. It was much smaller than the dog I was fighting, and it was colored nicely with long black and white hair. I said, "That's not the dog I have been fighting." I left the room looking for the wild dog, and the dream ended suddenly!

     I am used to having crazy dreams, in fact in my entire life I have had only one or two good dreams, but this one stuck to me vividly, and I really wondered what it meant.

     Then, early in the morning, I smiled broadly as the dream's most obvious meaning came. Once I saw it, I wondered why I didn't understand it even as I was dreaming it.

     I was wrestling with my animal inclination, trying to kill it, or at least to knock it out. It was a fierce battle. Then I was told, instead of trying to kill the animal I should teach the animal Torah and it will change. It will become a much smaller, harmless, even handsome animal.

     Okay animal, here we go… into class; aleph bet gimel dalet, this is how you become a nice and even helpful fella.

 



[i] Berachos 55 

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Monday, September 15, 2014

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Elul and Self Assessment

Some Torah from Rav Shalom Arush, shlita, is being made available to us to share.  We’ll be publishing, with some edits as appropriate for our audience.

on Mystical Paths, Torah by Rav Shalom Arush, shlita

At the end of the year we come to the month of Elul (the Jewish month before Rosh Hashana), when we take time out to do our annual self assessment. This is the time to stop and assess how to bring what we’ve learned this year into practice and internalize it for the coming year.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches us that the [Kabalistic] intentions for Elul are a rectification for damage done in the area of brit (holiness). For Breslev Chassidim this means to look into Torah 6 in Lekeutei Moharan in which Rebbe Nachman describes for us how to practically apply the “intentions of Elul” and serve Hashem with the advice we find there. With this a person can rectify the damage done in brit like Rebbe Nachman explains in Torah 87 in Lekeuitei Moharan II.

In Torah 6 Rebbe Nachman teaches us that we need two types of expertise, that of running and that of returning. To put it another way we need expertise in going up and expertise in going down. The way of serving Hashem in these two times is completely different, but even so, these two types of serving Hashem complement one another and it’s impossible to succeed in repentance with one and not the other. If we look into Torah 6 and the way of repentance that Rebbe Nachman details, we’ll see the two types service to focus on this year.

The service of ratzon (desire) and the service of thanksgiving. Both of these we learn from the mishnah in Pirkei Avot “make your desire like His desire”. To go over these briefly:

Service of desire – a Jew needs to want everything holy, to want to reach all of the heights. We need to hold tight to good desires and not allow them to waver. Only through this can a person really make progress. Heaven is particular on the fact that a person didn’t desire something good, they will show him that if he desired, he could have achieved everything.

Service of thanksgiving – a person that believes that everything that happens to him if from Hashem, may His name be blessed, is obligated to say thank You on everything that goes wrong for him, because everything Hashem does He does for the good. Even when a person falls spiritually, he has to say ‘this is what Hashem desires and if Hashem wants this, then I also want this’ and then say thank You on everything. This service is the key to all of the salvations.

A person that goes with the service of thanksgiving without the service of desire cannot progress because he has no aspirations. He needs, as well, to go with desire and yearning. So too, a person that goes with just the service of desire won’t be able to handle his failures, practically speaking he lives a life of atheism [in that he doesn’t live with the emunah (faith) that there is nothing but Hashem] and is surely cut off from Hashem.

Our job is to be expert with the two type of service. The expertise with the service of thanksgiving is that when you give thanks, don’t think into things and don’t bring in any personal desires. Make your desire like His desire and say thank You without bringing your mind into the picture and without understanding where the good is in what’s happening. The expertise in the labor of desire is to aspire to all of the heights without using one’s mind at all, without thinking I can or can’t. You can always want. You can want everything.

The complete service is to hold tight to these two ways of service and to go with them together. “It’s good to hold tight to this and also from the other don’t release your hands.” With whatever happened to you until this day give thanks and through this you can begin to desire and plead to Hashem for help, that He save you and redeem you.

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Friday Night Kiddush, Meal, ROCKET ALERT

We went to synagogue and prayed the Shabbos prayer.  The weather was beautiful and services nice.  We chatted a bit after services and headed home to our families.

The wine was cold, the Shabbos table set in honor of the Shabbos queen.  I made kiddush (the blessings over the wine) and we began our meal in honor of the holy Shabbos.  My children had prepared sushi for the fish dish!

We discussed some Torah.  A bit about the Torah portion, some chassidic stories in honor of Chai Elul (the 18th of Elul – the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe of Chabad).

The meal ended and we said the blessings after the meal.

My wife was tired and headed to bed.  I relaxed on the couch reading a Jewish family magazine and discussing a bit about world events with my older children…

RED ALERT – RED ALERT – INCOMING ROCKET WARNING – RED ALERT – RED ALERT

The IsraelSirens.com site runs from my home. (We’re trying to fund a project to move it to a proper server here.)  Somewhere in Israel was under rocket attack.  Jews were grabbing their children and running for their lives…somewhere, somewhere not too far away.

We couldn’t see where, we don’t leave the computer screen turned on during Shabbos.  And actually, when we’re not expecting attacks, we don’t normally leave the speakers on either. 

We jumped, it was unexpected.  We worried, what was happening?

Imagine living in a world, a modern world, but one where people randomly attack you, attempting mass casualty attacks on civilian cities and towns – simply because of your religion.

That’s how it is in Israel today.  It’s a war crime – nobody cares.  It should bring a massive response – it won’t (too worried about what the world will say about Jews defending themselves).

When it starts a war, and it will start one, they will cry and scream about how the Jews are attacking.  But if there is any way to stop this without creating a massive deterrent by a massive attack – I’d like to know.

(This attack was on the Golan and came from either Syria or Lebanon.)

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