Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Hope for Geula [Redemption] 5775

In a few days it will be Rosh Hashanah 5775: what does the new year hold for us?  Moshiach?? Another amazing posting from Yaak : click here to read

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Rope of Moshiach


Tomer Devorah's most recent post:   Don't Let Go of the Rope  reminded me of this story:

Rav Refael Dovid Auerbach (the brother of Rav Shlomo Zalman) related that over 90 years ago his father, Rav Chaim Leib Auerbach, once approached one of the caretakers who used to light the stove in a shul in the Old City of Yerushalayim. Although the caretaker was over 95 years old, he awoke early each day to light the stove and heat the shul before davening. The caretaker mentioned that his father used to travel to see Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk. Rav Chaim Leib asked the caretaker if he could relate anything his father had told him about the Tzaddik. The elderly man told him ten stories about the author of Noam Elimelech. Later Rav Chaim Leib told all of them over, but Rav Rafael could remember only three of them.

It was Rebbe Elimelech's custom, the caretaker related, to teach two types of Torah at shalosh seudos, the third Shabbos meal: one on the weekly parshah and the other about the days of Moshiach. Rav Rafael recalled the concepts that Rebbe Elimelech taught about the days of Moshiach, as told to his father by the old caretaker of the shul in the Old City.

In the times of Moshiach, the chareidim will be trampled and so badly mistreated that had this been so in the times of the Baal Shem Tov, no-one could have withstood it due to their fragile souls. However, in the times of Moshiach the hearts of the people will be so tough that they will be able to endure the trampling and degradation that will be common in those days.

In the times of Moshiach, there will be great foolishness, and the line between good and evil will blur. Rebbe Elimelech brought the analogy of sifting flour with a sieve. At first all the grains of the flour - the fine and the coarse - are shaken together, battered against the sides of the sieve. In the midst of the shaking, the fine flour passes through the sieve's holes and falls to the bottom, again receiving a blow when it lands.

When the course leftovers see the fine clean flour, they become arrogant and say "See how lowly you are? You have fallen to the bottom and received an additional beating while I, the coarse waste, have been left above and not received any beating."

The coarse grains do not realize how short-lived is their triumph, because in just a short while the sieve will be overturned and the coarse grains will end up in the trash for good.

In the generation of Moshiach, Hashem will, so to speak, stretch a long rope from one end of the world to the other, and all of Klal Yisrael will take hold and grasp the rope. Hashem will take one end of the rope, and violently shake it until they will all be in the air. Not everyone will be able to withstand this shaking and many will fall to the ground. The foolish ones will say "If Hashem is shaking us so hard, surely He wants us to loosen our grasp" and they will fall to the ground. Only the wise ones will hold on tight with all their strength and might. This is "chevlo shel Moshiach" - literally "the rope of Moshiach" - usually translated as "the labor pains of Moshiach".

Source: "Mipeninei Noam Elimelech" translated by Tal Moshe Zwecker

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Angel of Forgetfulness

It happened once in the time of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech that the government had a case against a certain Jew. The courts ruled, found him guilty, and he was sentenced to death by hanging. As was the custom, the courts granted him one last request, and he asked that they notify his sons of the verdict.

The sons were notified, and they immediately set out to see their father. On the way they stopped in Lizhensk to see Rebbe Elimelech and ask his advice and guidance. When they related the whole story to the Rebbe, he answered, in his holy manner, that they had nothing to fear - their father would not be hanged.

They left Lizhensk comforted, reassured by the words of the holy Tzaddik, believing that his promise would come true. However, when they arrived they saw that nothing had changed. On the designated day, their father was brought forth to be hanged and no-one said a word to save him.

According to the law, before a sentence was carried out, they would read the charges and the verdict that had been pronounced. But when the officials went to retrieve the necessary documents, they could not find any of the papers relating to the judgment and could not proceed with the execution. They hastened back to the courthouse, but they found not a trace of the ruling nor even a memory of the case. The judges themselves were no longer able to recall the case, nor were they able to remember who the witnesses were or what testimony had been given. Everything was totally forgotten. After a lengthy delay and numerous searches, they reluctantly released the prisoner since they could bring no charge against him.

On the trip back home, the sons, this time with their father, stopped once more in Lizhensk to see Rebbe Elimelech. The Rebbe told them: "I had no other alternative except to make use of the angel of forgetfulness to cause them to forget the whole matter completely."

[Ohel Elimelech 283]

Source: Mipeninei Noam Elimelech compiled by Tal Moshe Zwecker

Shabbat for the non-Jew?? Explained below.



The new book for Noahides '''The World of the Ger'' is available for pre-sale at Gergear



Video: Rabbi Chaim Clorfene - ''Shabbat for the Noahide''


 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Soul and the Afterlife - Where do we go from here?

A fascinating shiur from Rabbi Manis Friedman on the cycle of a soul: what happens to the soul after we die, and how a soul is born into this world. Highly recommended! Lots of information for newcomers/beginners..... you'll love this one!


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Steven Joel Sotloff hy''d -Torah Codes

The beheaded US journalist Steven Sotloff fasted on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and prayed in the direction of Jerusalem while he was held captive by the Islamic State militants, says a fellow hostage.
Source

Rabbi Glazerson finds his name encoded in the Torah.

 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The World of the Ger


Introducing the new book - "The World of the Ger
Written by Rabbi Chaim Clorfene with Rabbi David Katz

Rabbi Chaim Clorfene is the co-author of the highly respected guide for Noahides, The Path of the Righteous Gentile. First published in 1987, it was the book that introduced the Seven Laws of Noah to the English-speaking world and began a movement that has grown exponentially over the past generation. Now, Rabbi Clorfene is in pre-publication production of the much-awaited, The World of the Ger, a book which he calls an introduction to the second phase of the Noahide movement.

The book will be available soon iy''H......

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Most Difficult War of All

"When you go out to war against your enemies" [Ki Teitzei 21:10]

"The most difficult war of all" remarked the Chofetz Chaim, "is man's war against his yetzer hara."

In his youth, R' Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky [the Steipler Gaon] was conscripted into the Russian army.
It was not easy serving in the Russian army. He was surrounded by numerous anti-Semites and he often had to stand guard in sub zero temperatures. 

Despite the difficult circumstances, the Steipler used great cunning and devised various strategies that enabled him to observe the Sabbath.

It was so cold outdoors that whoever was on guard duty was given a special, thick coat to wear during his shift. But there was only one such coat, so the soldiers took turns wearing it.

One Shabbos eve, when the Steipler came to do his guard duty, the soldier who was wearing the coat took it off and, instead of handing it to the Steipler, hung it on a tree.

The Steipler now stood trembling in the freezing cold, and he was unsure as to what he should do. It was already Shabbos, and removing an item from a tree on the Sabbath is forbidden. On the other hand, without his coat he would freeze.

Five minutes, he thought. Let me see if I can bear not wearing the coat for just five minutes. If, after five minutes, I feel as if I simply cannot stand the cold, then I will retrieve the coat; after all, this is a life-threatening predicament.

Five minutes passed, as the Steipler stood shivering in the bitter cold. Another five minutes, he thought. I'll wait five more minutes and then I'll get the coat.

Another five minutes passed, then another, and yet another, until the night had passed and the guard on the next shift came to relieve him.

The Steipler had not moved from his place the entire night, nor had he transgressed any of the holy day's sanctified commandments.

The war against one's yetzer hara is a most difficult one. The way to emerge victorious is by devising clever strategies. Yet one should not attempt to overcome his yetzer hara all at once, for that will prove to be too difficult. Rather, he should progress gradually, taking a step-by-step approach, as the verse states: "Thoughts conceived in counsel will be firm; wage war with strategies" [Mishlei 20:18]

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein 

Friday, August 29, 2014

3 Elul: Yarzhet Rav Kook zt''l



Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook was born on the 16th Elul 5625 (September 1864). On the day of his bris, he received a kippah as a gift. From that day on, his parents always kept a kippah on his head. Even while he was sleeping, Avraham Yitzchak's parents did not take the kippah off his head so that he should not be bareheaded - not even for a minute. The little boy would not fall asleep without his kippah. When he turned over and it fell off, he immediately woke up.

Avraham Yitzchak was four years old when he was brought to the cheder (school) in his home town of Geriva, to learn to read. The teacher offered him a siddur and turned to the page with the alef-bet. The child stubbornly refused to learn.

"Why won't you study?" asked the teacher.

"I want to learn from the big books" replied Avraham Yitzchak shyly.

"Which big books?" asked the teacher.

Avraham Yitzchak did not know how to answer. Instead he ran home and brought back a Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, and another large heavy book. The teacher smiled and said to the child: "If you want to be able to learn from the big books, you must first study from the small books." Avraham Yitzchak understood and began to read the alef-bet from the siddur.

In the same cheder, there was a class of older children who were studying Torah. Every Friday, these children were tested on the material they learned all week. One Friday, an interesting thing happened. One of the older children did not know the answer. There was silence. Sudddenly, the voice of a small boy from the youngest reading table was heard. It was the answer, spoken clearly and correctly. Avraham Yitzchak had been listening to the lessons of the older children and had understood them.

Little Avraham Yitzchak invented an unusual game to play with his friends in cheder. He arranged the children in rows. Each child had a knapsack on his back, as if they were getting ready for a long journey. Avraham Yitzchak was their guide. The small soldiers asked: "Where are we going?"

"To Israel, to Eretz Yisrael..."

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After many years of diligent study, Rav Kook was appointed as the rabbi of Zoimel, one of the small villages in Lithuania. After serving as rabbi of the town of Zoimel, Rav Kook was appointed the rabbi of a large city, Boisk. In Boisk, the Rav could sit and learn Torah for many hours each day. There was a time when he would learn 50 or 60 pages of Talmud in one day.

Many years passed before the Rav went to live in Eretz Yisrael. When the possibility of becoming the Rav of Jaffa arose, he refused all other appealing offers which came from European Yeshivot which asked him to be their Rosh Yeshivah or from great cities abroad, whose congregants wanted him to be their rabbi.

In addition, the congregation of Boisk refused to allow their rabbi to leave, until the Jews of Jaffa wrote to them explaining that the mitzvah of yishuv Eretz Yisrael, settling the land of Israel, takes precedence over everything else.

On Friday 28th Iyar 5664 (10 May 1904) Rav Kook went to live in Eretz Yisrael. He was received at the port of Jaffa with great honours and began his term as Rabbi of Jaffa. At that time, Israel was under Turkish rule and Jewish settlements were first being established. Jaffa was one of the main centers of Jewish settlement.

Hundreds of people from Jerusalem, Rishon LeZion, Rehovot and Petach Tikvah came to welcome the Rav and to form their own impressions of this unique figure, and his wife the Rabbanit Raiza Rivka.

The first World War broke out. The Rav had gone to Europe on shlichut, as an emissary for Eretz Yisrael, and could not return to his home in Jaffa because of the war. He stayed in London and served as a rabbi of the city. But he was constantly worried about the fate of his community in Jaffa and the hardships facing Jews in Israel which was then in a state of siege and famine.

After the war ended, the Rav returned to Eretz Yisrael. The Jews of Jaffa wanted him to continue as their rabbi. At the same time, the community of Jerusalem asked him to become their rabbi. The Rav debated this dilemma for quite some time. He knew that a small part of the Jewish community of Jerusalem did not want him as Rabbi. He did not want to be the cause of fights and arguments in the Holy City. On the 3rd Elul 5679 (29 August 1919), the Rav came to Jerusalem and only after a while did he bend to the will of the community, and become the rabbi of Jerusalem.

Here he established the centre of the world-renowned Yeshiva Merkaz HaRav, the "Centre of the Rav". Later, along with Rav Yaakov Meir Charlop, he instituted the Chief Rabbinate of Eretz Yisrael, with both rabbis acting as Chief Rabbi. All his time and effort was dedicated to the Rabbinate, the affairs of the community, and to the learning of Torah.

*******************************

The author, Tikvah Sarig, tells the following story about Rav Kook:

On the first Yom Kippur eve, after my father passed away, I was not yet five years old. Every morning since his death, my mother would wake me before dawn and wipe the sleep from my eyes with the same words: "Get up, my daughter, my neshama, my soul, to pray for the memory of your righteous father, the tzaddik".

What a tzaddik was, I did not know, but I imagined he looked like this: a kippah on his head, his beard long, his eyes warm and good, the palms of his hands soft, and his voice, melodic. Just like my father who was taken from me.

It was erev Yom Kippur. After the pre-fast meal, my mother took me to the house of Rav Kook. The sun was about to set. We marched quickly to the Rav's house. The streets were filled with worshippers, clad in white, hurrying to the synagogue to hear Kol Nidre, the opening Yom Kippur prayer.

Opening the door, we were welcomed by the fragrance and warmth of burning candles. Rebbetzin Kook and her daughter opened their arms to us and began to cry. My mother patted my head.

"Soon you will go into the Rav's study to receive his blessing" said the Rebbetzin.

With her words, my fear grew. I sighed loudly. Just then, the great door opened and from within, a righteous man, a tzaddik, came out. He was all dressed in white, his gartel was embroidered with gold. On his head he wore a white kippah; his beard was long. His eyes, warm and good, were looking at me with pity and kindness.

"Aba! Daddy!" I cried and clung closely to my mother, hiding my face in her dress, my limbs trembling. I heard my mother's voice through my tears: "Go my child. Receive a blessing from the honoured Rav!"

She led me a few steps towards him. The Rav took my small hands into his warm, soft ones.

"Do not cry, my child" he said, placing his hands on my head. "Do not be afraid of me. I was a friend of your father. Come here and I will bless you on this holy day."

The Rav's hands were soft and warm - just like my father's. His voice was melodic - just like my father's. I felt as if a river of kindness and warmth washed all over me - from my head to my toes - just like when I used to sit on my father's lap.

*********************************

Rav Kook was so righteous that he always forgave his enemies and even loved and blessed them.

*********************************

In his last days, the Rav became very sick. He suffered in terrible pain. It was difficult for him to learn, and it was difficult for him to hide his anguish from his students and relatives.

On the morning of the 3rd Elul, his condition became worse. Even though speaking was very hard for him, he strained himself and demanded of his family and students not to add any titles to his name on the cover pages of his books, not to eulogize him, telling them (do not call me) "Rabbeinu, our Rabbi, and not the "Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael" - "Simply HaRav - the Rav".

A large crowd stood outside the house, where the Rav lay on his deathbed. He raised his eyes to the window in his room. Everyone in Eretz Yisrael knew that a great leader, a teacher, a man of wisdom, was about to leave the land he loved so much.

The Rav grew weaker by the hour. His family, relatives, and a number of his students gathered around his bedside. In his last hours, the Rav's face was turned towards the wall. His students knew that it was written in the Talmud: "If a man passes away with his face towards the wall - it is a bad sign, and if his face is turned toward the people, it is a good sign". With his remaining strength, the Rav struggled and turned himself to face the people. At the last moment, all those who were standing around the Rav broke out saying "Shema Yisrael".

At sunset, on the third day of Elul 5695 (Sept 1st, 1935) the Rav passed away. The news flashed through the Jewish nation with the speed of lightning. The backbone of the Jewish nation was broken. The Rav of the generation was gone, the Rav of the era, the Rav of Eretz Yisrael at the time of her rebirth.

Exactly 16 years (3rd Elul) after Rav Kook ascended to Jerusalem, he ascended to Heaven.

Source: Reprinted from "Stories from the Life of Rav Kook" edited and translated by Masha Fridman



More on Rav Kook at Rav Kook Torah