This Total Lunar Eclipse or "Blood Moon", is on April 4, 2015 and will be visible in most of North America, South America, Asia and parts of Australia. The Moon will be totally eclipsed (totality) for about 5 minutes. From beginning to end, it will last for 3 hours and 29 mins. This is the third eclipse in the 2014–2015 tetrad.
"On the first two nights of Pesach the door is opened."[Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 480]
Our Sages state: "That which He does, He commands His children to do." [Shemos Rabbah 30:9, Yerushalmi, Rosh HaShanah 1:3] Since G-d commands us to open the doors on the nights of Pesach, it is obvious that He does so Himself.
This means that on the nights of Pesach, G-d opens all the doors and portals for each and every Jew [see Pirkei d'Rebbe Elazar ch 32: 'The treasures of Divine dew are opened on this night'].
No matter what our actions were during the past year, we are then all able to attain the most lofty and rare spiritual heights, in a manner of "Pesach" and "leaping" infinitely higher than anything we have ever previously attained. [the deeper meaning of the word "pesach" is 'to leap over']
[From a sicha of the Lubavitcher Rebbe - second night of Pesach 5711 - Likutei Sichos Vol. IV, p.1298]
He [Rabbi Akiva] used to say "Everything is given on pledge and a net is spread out over all the living. The shop is open, the merchant extends credit, the ledger is open and the hand records therein. All who wish to borrow may come and borrow. But the collectors make their regular daily rounds, and take payment from a person with or without their knowledge...."[Pirkei Avot 3:20]
A person usually goes about their daily life thinking that whatever they do is basically okay. Even if this is not the case, they figure if no one knows, then it's not the end of the world; they'll just fix it afterwards. They may even realize that G-d knows about their indiscretions, but since the person considers them to be only temporary, everything will somehow straighten out in the end. These are the type of thoughts that Rabbi Akiva is addressing in his statement in Pirkei Avot. He reminds us that whatever we take from this world must be left behind when we leave; nothing can be taken with us when we die.
Paying Back What You Eat
One way to understand this is found in the book ''Chesed L'Avraham'' written by the grandfather of the Chida, Rabbi Chaim David Azulai a"h. He writes that when a person dies, the chevra kadisha comes to attend to the body before the levaya [funeral]. They cover the body in the place where it was when the soul departed, and everyone returns home. The deceased remains alone with himself. When the body is put into the grave, if the person enjoyed a lot from this world, the first thing that happens is that the worms come to demand their portion. In other words, they must now return whatever they took from this world, whatever they ate simply to fill their stomach. Yet if they ate only in holiness and purity, i.e. only kosher food and only in quantities necessary to sustain a healthy and strong body to serve G-d, then there is nothing to take back. This is one understanding of "they take payment''.
With or Without His Knowledge
Since there are specific times during the year conducive to repentance and forgiveness, a person may think that everything automatically works out. For example, there is the month of Elul - the Hebrew month set aside for teshuvah, intensive introspection and repentance - which is followed by Rosh Hashanah and the atonement of Yom Kippur. But the reality is that G-d is not obligated to wait until these specific times and can send messengers to collect what is due at any point. Sometimes, one may even be aware of their situation and upon a little soul searching, may even realize they might need to go through something unpleasant. But usually, this level of self-awareness is rare and one has no realization that anything is amiss or in need of change. But G-d operates in His ways. It is here the idea "with or without his knowledge" comes into play.
You Are Your Own Judge
Rebbe Nachman transmits the following idea in the name of the holy Baal Shem Tov. Before any decree is issued in the world, G-d forbid, the entire world is assembled to give their agreement. In this instance, the 'entire world' encompasses the inanimate, plant, animal, and human levels. They are all notified and asked if there is any opposition to the decree. This even includes the person who has the negative decree hanging over them. When everyone reaches agreement, the judgment is passed.
Who in the world would agree to a negative decree against oneself? Obviously, if you were to ask the person directly, they would defend themselves and oppose the judgment. For this reason, a similar situation is presented to them, and their opinion is asked without realizing it has anything to do with their own case. Someone will ask them: "What do you think about what so-and-so did?" They respond. "Whoo whoo, they deserve this or that..." In heaven they say: "Is that right?" You just passed judgment on yourself..." The case is closed and the person doesn't comprehend what just transpired. According to Rebbe Nachman, this is an example of "taking payment with or without his knowledge".
The whole concept of how a person is asked each time about their own judgment is profoundly deep. Each word of every story we hear has lofty and exalted significance. For example, we may hear a story about two people involved in an argument that has nothing to do with us. In the rare case it does, we need to be even more careful. But most of the time, it is simply a seemingly random story where everyone takes the liberty of jumping into the fray, taking a stand on who is right or wrong, and who deserves what. The very words a person utters are then taken and applied to his own case and he will be compelled to bring his own words to fruition. This is why Rebbe Nachman advises us to be very careful about what we say. Don't let an inadvertent word slip out in the wrong way or pass judgment on another's behavior. If you do, you are agreeing to your own verdict, since no judgment can materialize without your agreement.
Controlling Your Thoughts
King David says Zamoti bal yalavar pi - "My thoughts dare not pass through my mouth." [Psalms 17:3] There are two important ways to understand this verse. Firstly, the word zamoti is related to the Hebrew word for "muzzle" - z'mam. King David alludes to this as if to say "G-d! Since I don't weigh my words seriously enough, put a muzzle on my mouth to prevent me from saying anything irresponsible or improper."
The second explanation of how to understand this verse concerns controlling our thoughts. Sometimes a person blurts out an empty phrase, without even knowing why they said it. But the reality is that there are custodial forces appointed over a person from heaven; sometimes they are good and sometimes not. They seize upon these same words and turn them around on the one who uttered them. These ramifications ought to give each of us serious pause for thought.
It is not necessary to express every thought that comes to mind. Thus King David refers here to the need for an even deeper level of restraint. He would like G-d to place a muzzle on his mouth to stop him from verbalizing anything that enters his head. Since according to Rebbe Nachman, it is through these very words that they "take the payment from a person with or without his knowledge".
We witness how people suffer from a bundle of woes that they carry, whether external problems or personal health issues G-d forbid. Yet the reality is that they agreed and signed off on everything. Without their agreement, these difficulties could not have materialized. One may say "I never agreed to such a thing!" The recording is then played back for them and they are asked "You don't remember what you said in such and such year when someone told you a certain story? Was it any of your business to comment? You gave your commentary anyway and here are the consequences." G-d should guard us.
This spiritual dynamic accompanies us every single day, hour by hour. It is written "Whoever sits in the refuge of the Most High.." [Psalms 91]. The Talmud calls this particular chapter of Psalms "a song against evil forces" since it is recited by those who want to be saved from misfortune and accidents.
For instance, when mourners attend a funeral they recite these verses since they possess tremendous protective power against negative spiritual forces seeking to harm a person. It is further written: "His angels he will charge for you, to protect you on all your paths." This refers to the fact that there are angels who constantly accompany a person to safeguard him from harm. According to our sages, these protective angels are more accurately called the yetzer tov and the yetzer hara - the good inclination and the evil inclination. In contrast to what most people think, they are both responsible for protecting a person from disaster, since the fundamental role of the yetzer hara is to serve a person. However, if one comes too close and is drawn after him, the yetzer hara is no longer obligated to fulfill his protective duty. One then becomes enslaved to him, and the yetzer hara does whatever he wants with the person.
Forces Created From Our Own Actions
Along with the yetzer tov and yetzer hara, come all sorts of other forces, G-d forbid, which are created when a person stumbles, for example, in eating non-kosher food or is involved with any kind of negative thoughts, speech, or actions. In this case, damaging forces are created in the world that are bound to the person who created them. These forces are called mezekei alma - "destroyers of the world". Their whole purpose is to cause damage and they don't even realize this is their role.
To illustrate, it is like a child who plays with matches because he thinks it is fun. An adult comes along and admonishes him, but when he sees that the child doesn't understand, he takes the matches away by force. This is because the adult understands very well that the child is doing something dangerous. The child though, doesn't comprehend this fact. He screams and cries "Why did you take them away from me?" Likewise, these "destroyers of the world" don't even understand they are destructive. Their actions are not intentional, but since they were created from damage, this is their fundamental essence.
It is these forces that accompany us wherever we go. They catch our every word in an attempt to interpret it according to their crooked way of thinking, because after all, they are a creation based on crookedness and damage. Since they are an undesirable creation, everything about them is undesirable. They even have the ability to compel a person to undergo judgments from the upper worlds. They facilitate a person's undoing to such an extent that life is endangered, and the individual has no idea what is actually going on.
We don't know. We don't actually see these forces or perceive them with our senses, but what do we know? We know that there are tzaddikim on the highest of spiritual levels, who know about these matters with such clarity that they simply advise us to have compassion on ourselves and acknowledge we don't know what goes on around us on a spiritual plane. For this reason, they caution us to guard ourselves from undesirable speech, thoughts, or deeds since they bring detrimental consequences.
One may take note of the many criminals at large in the world, who say and do terrible things, but seem to have it good without any suffering. So where do these ideas fit in? The answer is that something much worse is actually going on for them. The criminal doesn't pay for his actions in this world. It simply waits for him in the next world, where everything comes back to him in a much more penetrating way. This is what the Talmud refers to when it states "Afflictions atone for a person". Whatever difficulties one goes through in this world serve as a huge atonement for him. It is preferable and worthwhile to undergo it here, since in the next world, one contends with not only afflictions, but humiliation along with much more unpleasantness.
The only advice is to say to oneself "Stop". Just as we need to be careful about what we put into our mouth, i.e. kosher and healthy food, likewise we must be careful about what comes out of it by guarding our speech. The same caution applies to our actions. We should do nothing that the Torah, or our sages, forbid. Similarly with thought; we shouldn't think that just because our thoughts are only between us and G-d they can be easily fixed. It doesn't exactly work like this, since many holy books describe the power of thought as greater than the power of deed. It is possible to do teshuvah or repair an action, but it is much more difficult to do the same with a thought. You can nullify or gain control over an action, but once you think it, a thought is out of our control and possession.
Thus Rebbe Nachman's advice to everyone is to weigh our deeds in a way that will be truly positive in this world and the next, and to live good and thoughtful lives, with proper consideration for our every thought, word, and action. Since there will be no-one to pass a bad judgment, every negative decree will be opposed.
Remember that you are never asked directly about your own situation, rather only about someone else's story. Thus don't rush to pass judgment either verbally or even in your thoughts as to who is right or wrong. Unless it concerns you directly and practically, just leave it without comment. You will feel profoundly satisfied, and it will be so very beneficial not only to you but to the entire Jewish people.
May G-d enlighten us with higher levels of self-awareness to improve our lives, as well as the entire world, every day and every moment.
Rabbi Ephraim Kenig shlit'a, is CEO and Rosh Yeshiva of the Nachal Novea Mekor Chochma institutions as well as the head administrator at Talmud Torah Magen Avot, in the Old City of Tsfat.
When one embarrasses someone else, not only does he commit a transgression between man and man, but he also violates G-d's command. In order to correct this, one needs to do the exact opposite of the wrong.
In this case, the sin includes hurting someone's feelings. Therefore, one needs to improve his respect and positive feelings for all people, especially towards friends. In addition, since embarrassing someone generally comes from having ego or anger, one must go to the other extreme in removing these ugly traits from his character. See Rambam, Laws of Personality Development, chapter 2.
Based on Igros Kodesh of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Vol. 16 #5863
We are told many times that we will be tested before the coming of Moshiach. We will be tested on many levels. The tests will become harder and harder, in order to separate the wheat from the chaff. Hashem wants - no, Hashem needs - to know where we stand.
No death is ''accidental'', no birth is accidental, no marriage is accidental. Every single thing that happens in this world is guided by Hashem's Hand.
The fact that these children died because they came from an observant Jewish home, who kept food warm overnight, by means of a blech, for the Shabbas meal, can bring people to two different conclusions. The first obvious conclusion that some people may draw from this is that being orthodox is not necessary, and indeed it is dangerous.... we are putting our lives at risk by observing these ''outdated'' rituals. Who needs a blech when we have ovens that will heat up at the touch of a finger? Obviously orthodoxy is a dangerous way to live. We have proof !
But children can die in many other ways as well...... these children died davka because they were orthodox. They died for their religion, al Kiddush Hashem.
How many times has G-d stepped in and we have experienced a ''miracle''. I'm sure you can come up with your own experiences, but I remember being at someone's house for a Shabbos lunch many years ago, it was an extremely hot day summer's day, and the air-conditioning was working well. Suddenly there was the sound of a mini explosion and the air-con died. One of the guests suggested the host check out the situation and asked where the main controls were situated. The host, being a baal teshuvah and very serious about Shabbas, refused and said he would call a contractor when Shabbos had ended. Some of us were pretty concerned, and worried about it for the rest of the day.
As it turned out, the contractor arrived early the next morning, and told them that he couldn't believe the house hadn't burned down, that the electrical wiring had blown and they were bloody lucky as their house could have been destroyed. He shook his head and got to work.
So yes there are miracles, and yes there are tragedies. You can't throw your hands up in the air and denounce orthodoxy because a tragedy happened to an orthodox family. Our faith is being tested. Which path will you choose to follow? That is what G-d wants to know.
I believe that those children were only meant to live for their respective years. Three years, five years, seven years..... those souls were perfect souls with only a few years to spend in this world before their final resting place in Gan Eden, where we all aspire to be.
They were all sent to the one family in Brooklyn, to be brought up as orthodox Jews and die al Kiddush Hashem. Their parents must indeed be incredibly worthy of the job of raising such great neshamas.
The continued suffering of the mother and daughter who are fighting for their lives is of great concern to us all. We should continue to pray for them....
Please pray for a Refuah Shelema for:
Gilsom Gila bat Siporah Frances [Gayle Sassoon] and
Siporah bat Gilsom Gila [Siporah Sassoon, daughter of Gayle and Gaby] who survived the fire and are currently in the hospital. Daily Tehillim
First he comes for the banks and health care, uses the IRS to go after critics, politicizes the Justice Department, spies on journalists, tries to curb religious freedom, slashes the military, throws open the borders, doubles the debt and nationalizes the Internet.
He lies to the public, ignores the Constitution, inflames race relations and urges Latinos to punish Republican “enemies.” He abandons our allies, appeases tyrants, coddles adversaries and uses the Crusades as an excuse for inaction as Islamist terrorists slaughter their way across the Mideast.
Sod1820 isreporting that the Lubavitcher Rebbe told Bibi Netanyahu that he would be the last Prime Minister [of Israel] before Moshiach - that he will ''pass the baton'' to Moshiach. The original Facebook post on this topic can be found here
I believe it. Thank you to Yaak for the heads up.
Archive Video: Benjamin Netanyahu meets the Lubavitcher Rebbe - 18 November 1990
The Effects of an Eclipse Source: Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Vol. XV "The Rebbe's Treasure: Interpretations of Talmudic Stories"
The Talmud [Sukah 29a] states that eclipses are bad signs for the world. The Talmud then elaborates on what can cause an eclipse:
An eclipse of the sun occurs for the following four reasons: For not having eulogized a chief judge (a chief judge is comparable to the sun, for he enlightens and clarifies things for the community - Maharsha); for not having helped a betrothed maiden when she called for help (to save her from ill treatment); for committing adultery and for killing two brothers on the same day.
Because of the following four reasons the moon and the stars eclipsed:
For committing forgery, for false witnesses, for raising sheep and goats in the land of Israel (that is, for letting goats and sheep pasture from other people's fields - Rashi), and for cutting down fruit-bearing trees.
The Shaloh [Noach p.274b] explains that seeing the lunar eclipse implies a bad sign. Hashem would ascertain that the Jews would see it if they were sinning. However, if they were not sinning, Hashem would darken the sky so that the eclipse would not be visible.
This interpretation is not satisfactory, for the Talmud states: "For the following reasons an eclipse occurs and not an eclipse is seen". The very occurrence of an eclipse is a consequence of the aforementioned sins and not the sight of the eclipse. Furthermore, in cloudless locations such as Egypt [see Rashi Vayigash 47:10 and Vaera 7:17] the Jews would always be capable of seeing the eclipse regardless of their behaviour.
The Rebbe's Commentary:
How can we say that something as natural and predictable as an eclipse can have an affect on people's welfare? Furthermore, how can we say that the actions of people can provoke the occurrence of something that takes place as regularly and naturally as an eclipse?
It is a wellknown fact that Torah scholars had a vast knowledge of science in general and astronomy in particular. Astronomy was very important for the Jews in order to establish the calendar and proclaim the new months. Even great non-Jewish individuals would ask the Rabbis scientific questions. Therefore, we cannot say that the Rabbis were uttering nonsense when it came to the subject of the eclipse.
Mazal - or constellation - occurs when the stars are in a certain position. Some days or times are auspicious for a good mazal, others are known to be times in which misfortune could happen, G-d forbid, due to the unfavorable mazal. So at certain moments, the mazalot can have influence on the people. Even the day on which one is born has an influence on his characteristics (Shabbat 126a). Therefore, specific mazalot provide people with good or bad tendencies. (Nevertheless, the Rambam in Hilchot Teshuva 5:4 says that a person is not controlled by his natural tendencies and he has the power to change them)
During the time of an eclipse, the stars are in a position that can have a bad influence on the people. At such a time, the four aforementioned sins are more readily transgressed! For this reason the eclipse is a bad sign for the Jews, because they are more likely to sin than at some other time. As a result, they might be punished. Hence it is not our actions that cause the eclipse, but rather the eclipse that can alter our actions, triggering a heavenly punishment.
Therefore, if Jews are doing Hashem's will, the effects of the eclipse will not concern them. Chazal even say that we should not worry about the influence of stars if we do what Hashem wants. For as long as we do not let the bad mazal alter our actions, we do not deserve any punishment.
Jews are not limited by the boundaries of nature, including the celestial bodies. We have the power to change our mazal by doing good deeds. Our mazal depends on our actions and our prayers.
In recent years the custom for girls to light Shabbos candles before they are married has re-emerged. This is actually an ancient practice which is indicated by Rashi's comment to verse 67.
Here we see that Rivkah lit candles before she was married, for only after Yitzchak had taken her into "the tent of Sarah his mother" and witnessed her Shabbos candles burning for the entire week, did he take her to be his wife. In fact, it was primarily the observance of this mitzvah that proved to Yitzchak the suitability of Rivkah as a spouse, and a mother in Israel.
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When one embarrasses someone else, not only does he commit a transgression between man and man, but he also violates G-d's command. ...
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"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." "How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."