Friday, October 9, 2015

The Secret of the Snake

Recorded in 2013, an excellent shiur from HaRav Dov Ber Pinson

The Secret of the Snake



Our thoughts and prayers are with Israel. Video: Adele bat Miriam is the name of the woman who was stabbed early Sunday morning outside of Shaar Shchem. Her husband was murdered, and her 2-year old son was also injured in the attack.


Sweetening Judgments

from the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

When the messengers who bring suffering are despatched, they are made to take an oath: that they will neither set out nor return except on such and such a day, at such and such a time, and only (carry out their mission) by using the designated means. However, repentance, prayer and charity have the power to nullify (the enactment of) this oath.

Reciting the Torah chapters concerning the Choshen, the Breastplate [Exodus 28:15-30; 39:8-21] is a tikkun [rectification] for harsh judgments.

A person who suffers affliction should give charity. This charity will be considered as if it were a fee paid to a judge for his services, which when accepted, nullifies the verdict's validity. And through this his suffering will be alleviated.

When a person rebukes his friend for the right motives, he has a thread of lovingkindness drawn over him.

A person who does not accept rebuke will experience suffering.

To sweeten harsh judgments, recite Psalm 39 and Psalm 77.

When the nations have issued an evil decree against the Jews, Psalm 62 should be said.

A person can determine and understand his sins from the suffering which he experiences.

There are four things which abolish harsh decrees: Tzedakah (charity), crying out to G-d, changing one's name and improving one's conduct.

Crying out to G-d helps the individual only prior to the final decree.

A person's accusers are beaten off by the study of Torah.

A final decree accompanied by an oath cannot be abolished, even for the sake of an entire community.

The effects of a decree against a person apply only in a specific place. He can save himself by changing his location.

A person should tell others of his anguish so that they will pray for mercy on his behalf.

Accepting suffering with love is like bringing a sacrifice.

A person who falls down while walking should see this as a sign of a downfall on a spiritual level. Falling down while walking sometimes serves to nullify a pronouncement of death which has been issued against the person.

A person who finds himself suffering from harsh judgment should make it a habit to gaze at the Heavens.

The Holy One exonerates the person who teaches righteousness to the wicked.

A man of truth receives G-d's lovingkindness undisguised by judgments.

Trust in G-d sweetens judgment and draws down lovingkindness.

Through faith [emunah] it is possible to convince G-d to follow your will.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


The pasuk [Genesis 2:20] tells us that Adam gave names to all the creatures. Chazal tell us that this was a great Chochma on his part. Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz asks, why was this such a great accomplishment?

He answers that for each animal, Adam linked, with his deep insight, each animal's characteristics to its parallel in the heavenly court. Just like there is an "Ari" and "Shor" in the Merkava, he was able to spot the traits of a lion and ox and understand the connection.

However when it came to his own name, he did not link it to something heavenly. He called himself Adam as in Adama, the lowly earth. This showed Adam's great modesty. He wanted to remind himself of his lowly makeup and always remain humble.

However, says Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz, the name Adam is in fact a very exalted name. Adam is from the word, "Adameh L'Elyon" - I am compared to the elevated. A person is created B'Tzelem Elokim and is compared to Hashem Himself, and not just the Merkava. 

Furthermore he adds, that the comparison to Adama, the earth, is also very distinguished. Just like the earth never disintegrates and remains forever, similarly a person's neshama, his Chelek Elokai MiMa'al is also Nitzchi - eternal.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Yes - Obama is Gog

Confirmation in a video on Devash's blog: click here

Thank you Devash for the English summary and all your other informative blog posts.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

What is Hoshana Rabbah ?

Willow tree - ''Aravah''

The seventh day of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabbah, and is considered the final day of the divine “judgment” in which the fate of the new year is determined. It is the day when the verdict that was issued on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is finalized.

The Midrash tells us that G‑d told Abraham: “If atonement is not granted to your children on Rosh Hashanah, I will grant it on Yom Kippur; if they do not attain atonement on Yom Kippur, it will be given on Hoshana Rabbah.”

Isaiah says, “They seek Me day [after] day.” The Talmud explains that these two “days” refer to the day when the shofar is sounded [Rosh Hashanah] and the day when we take the willow [Hoshana Rabbah]—the day when the heavenly judgment begins, and the day when it concludes.

In addition, on Sukkot we are judged regarding how much rain will fall in the upcoming year. Thus, on Hoshana Rabbah, the final day of Sukkot, this judgment is finalized. Considering how much our wellbeing and economy depend on bountiful rainfall, it is clear how important this day is.

Read more :  click here

Friday, October 2, 2015

Rainbows before the Storm

Rainbows are generally seen after storms. Recently though we have seen a lot of rainbows without any previous rain.    Well, here comes the storm in the form of Hurricane Joaquin. The meaning of ''Joaquin'' is ''God has established''.   God established the Rainbow.  It is God's sign, it cannot be used as a logo for anything that goes against God's Laws.   [Also see Hurricane Joaquin as a Sign and East Coast Hurricane and Hoshanah Rabbah

The Prophet Yechezkel [Ezekiel], according to many authorities, began his prophecy in Eretz Yisrael, in the fifth year of  King Yehoiachin's exile. Ezekiel wrote the words which appear below, referring to Obama and the war of Gog and Magog which is apparently on our doorstep.  And in 5776 a Hurricane named Joaquin [Yehoiachin] is aiming directly at the man whose name is encoded in Chapter 38.

In the verses below, starting from the א of the first נשיא [President], every seven letters spell out the name Obama in Hebrew:

Ezekiel 38
   - א ויהי דבר-יהוה, אלי לאמר. ב בן-אדם, שים פניך אל-גוג ארץ המגוג--נשיא, ראש משך ותבל; והנבא, עליו. ג ואמרת, כה אמר אדני יהוה: הנני אליך, גוג--נשיא, ראש משך ותבל. ד ושובבתיך, ונתתי חחים בלחייך; והוצאתי אותך ואת-כל-חילך סוסים ופרשים, לבשי מכלול כלם--קהל רב צנה ומגן, תפשי חרבות כלם.   And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying Son of man, set thy face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; and I will turn thee about, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed most gorgeously, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them handling swords

Thursday, October 1, 2015

19 Tishrei Yarzheit Vilna Gaon

Painting of the Vilna Gaon from Yesodei Hatorah School corridor wall

Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna - The Vilna Gaon - Leader of Lithuanian Jewry, Torah scholar and kabbalist. Born: Vilna, Lithuania, 1720 Died: 19 Tishrei Vilna, Lithuania,1797

Popularly referred to as the Vilna Gaon, the Gra (initials of Gaon Rabbi Eliyahu), or simply as the Gaon. Considered to be the greatest Torah scholar of the past two centuries.

Even as a child Eliyahu of Vilna amazed the congregation when, at the age of 7, he delivered a learned discourse in the Great Synagogue in Vilna. By 10 years of age he had surpassed all his teachers, and, studying by himself with total concentration, he acquired knowledge of the vastness of Torah in both its revealed and mystical aspects. Every minute of his life was devoted to Torah study. He never slept more than two hours in a 24-hour period; he never accepted any rabbinic post or leadership of a yeshivah. He taught few disciples, selected from the foremost Torah scholars of his time. He also mastered astronomy, mathematics and music.

Known for fierce opposition to Chassidut, which was initiated in 1736 by the Baal Shem Tov, he and his followers in this anti-Chassidic Movement were known as "Mitnagdim," or opponents. Their opposition was based on the beliefs, vigorously denied by Chassidic leaders, that Chassidut took liberties with the Oral Law, that it substituted emotion for intellect in the Study of Torah, that its form of prayer departed too far from the traditional form of prayer, etc.

The Vilna Gaon cleared a new path to Talmud study, focusing on gaining a clear understanding through keen analysis of the principals and approaches of the early authorities. His methodology stood in sharp contrast to the pilpul system of the Polish yeshivahs, an intricate system of creating a complex framework with which a series of questions would be answered. He toiled hard on emending the the talmudic and midrashic texts. Subsequent discoveries of ancient manuscripts confirmed the soundness of his corrections, which appear in the Vilna edition of the Talmud [Haga'ot Hagra].

His works which were recorded and published by his disciples, include Aderet Eliyahu, a commentary on the Torah; a commentary on Ecclesiastes; Shenot Eliyahu, a commentary on the Mishna, Order of Zeraim; Biur Hagra, a commentary on Shulchan Aruch; a commentary on Sefer Yetzirah, a kabbalistic work; and many other works.

His commentary on the Torah is filled with interesting allusions that show the oneness of the Written Torah and the Oral Law, demonstrating their common source in Divine revelation.

The Vilna Gaon was revered in Vilna and throughout the world for his phenomental knowledge and saintly character. One of his most outstanding disciples was Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, the founder of the yeshivah of Volozhin. Following the Gaon's approach to learning, this institution spread Torah for more than a 100 years. Today most yeshivas follow the study pattern of Volozhin, keeping alive the approach to Torah pioneered by the great Vilna Gaon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Fall of the Stocks and the Fall of the Cross

Share markets took a dive on Monday, Jeff Berwick suggests it is the Shemita correction and could just be the beginning of  a catastrophic fall season.  See: ANOTHER BLACK MONDAY IN THE MARKETS – WILL DEUTSCHE BANK BE THIS CYCLE’S LEHMAN BROS? 

''We need to remember that we are followers of JC and his life, humanly speaking, ended in failure, the failure of the cross.”

So said the Pope in his final speech during his US visit.

Why? The answer is to gradually prepare us for “One World Religion,” where no symbol or religion will prevail over the other.

Full story at Pope Invoking Globilization

Reading Between the Lines of Obama’s Jewish and Muslim Holiday Messages

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Where to see the Blood Moon Eclipse

In Australia we will not see a red moon, although most other parts of the world will see some of it.   The following regions will see all or part of the eclipse: Europe, South/West Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Arctic, Antarctica. Click here for a map of where the moon will appear blood red tonight.

Wishing you all a chag sameach and happy moon-watching.

The Fallen Sukkah of David

Art by Joan Landis

by Rabbi Gedaliah Aharon Kenig zt''l - founder of Nachal Novea community in Tsfat and foremost Breslev leader of the previous generation.

Integrating the mind through perfect faith
Reprinted from Tzaddik Magazine

The sukkah is associated with King David.  It is thus called the ''Sukkah of David''.  It could have been called by another name, like the ''Sukkah of Israel'' or the ''Sukkah of Moses'', yet our sages connect sukkah to David haMelech.

The fourth evening of the holiday of Sukkot marks the yahrzeit of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, who is referred to as the nachal novea mekor chochma - ''the flowing river, source of wisdom'' [Proverbs 18:4].  He proclaimed an astounding concept to the world:  ''There is no such thing as despair!''  Nothing in the world is beyond hope.

How can such a claim be made when everything points in the opposite direction? Everyone experiences situations textured with despair to the point that it appears the entire world has ended.  Everything seems black, with no glimmer of light.  The despair these situations engender is called the ''Fallen Sukkah of David.''

Yet Rebbe Nachman asserts: ''There is no such thing as despair!''  Although it is impossible to avoid difficult situations, the mind possesses a special power that can prevent one from falling completely during hard times.  On Sukkot we pray:  ''May the Compassionate One raise for us the ''Fallen Sukkah of David''.  Conceptually, the Sukkah of David represents a spiritually cleansed mind connected to a higher spiritual level, a place beyond our own intellectual perception of the world.

Integrating the Mind
According to the kabbalah, the sukkah represents the levels of perception beyond the conscious mind called makifim or ''external intellect''.  In contrast, pnimim or ''internal intellect''' is the knowledge we have successfully acquired.  These two levels are dynamically related: when the higher intellect enters our mind enabling us to understand it, the new insight becomes encompassed within our internal intellect.

Makifim are those levels of understanding that transcend intellectual grasp. They surround and hover above the conscious mind, radiating understanding into the internal intellect.  It is this upper level of intellect surrounding the mind that is called sukkah.  This is similar to a physical sukkah, which completely surrounds us.  During the holiday of Sukkot, we are required to enter the sukkah with our entire body, which includes the head, our intellect. Without the entire body entering the sukkah, the mitzvah of sukkah remains unfulfilled.

''David merited the crown of malchut - kingship'' [Kohelet Rabbah 7:2]
The physical universe and everything that occurs within it, is part of the lower level of the World of Action, and connected to the kabbalistic sefira of malchut.  Malchut itself possesses a type of ''intellect'' expressed as the animating intelligence contained by everything in the world.  This intelligence corresponds to King David and the lower internal intellect mentioned earlier.  The crown of King David, however, symbolizes the higher surrounding intellect, corresponding to the concept of sukkah.

When we don't understand why things are a certain way in the world, the power of faith should be exercised. Faith draws down the highest light into any situation. If you believe that there is a G-d Above Who governs the world, you won't dismiss something as meaningless just because you don't understand it. On the contrary, despire your current inability to understand, you will know everything is functioning according to a Higher Plan which is just and fair.  This faith will then illuminate your entire reality. In every situation, you now connect the upper surrounding intellect, called sukkah, to the lower internalized intellect, corresponding to your current perception of how the physical world operates.  When you believe that whatever happens is governed from Above, it is clear that it is good.

''When I dwell in darkness, G-d will be a light for me'' [Micha 7:8]
Even if I am sitting in darkness and don't understand what is happening, if I nonetheless believe that everything is just and fair because it is supervised by G-d, then this faith is a light for me.  Despite the darkness, it does not even occur to me to despair, since the same governing Power that brought me here to this situation or state of mind will do everything for my good and ultimately take me out of this darkness.

Through this expression of lower intellect, you will now attain the higher intellect, called sukkah. The merging of these two intellects is called the ''Sukkah of David'', which occurs when your perception of the way the world operates [Malchut David] is joined with the upper surrounding intellect [sukkah].  The opposite occurs when the two are separated, a division caused by thinking everything is under the jurisdiction of nature and human agency.  ''David'' is separated from sukkah - our perception of this world is separated from the upper intellect, faith in Divine governance of the world. This state is called ''The Fallen Sukkah of David''.

Thus, when Rebbe Nachman says ''There is no such thing in the world as despair'', he is drawing down the highest light into the human heart to give us the ability to understand that regardless of the difficulties we experience, there is a higher Power in charge of every detail in the world.  The process of attaining this level of understanding is called ''raising the fallen sukkah of David''.  Sukkat David is the rectified state of mind where the upper and lower intellect are united.

Turning Darkness into Light
G-d created us in order to know Him.  How is it possible for a limited physical human being to know G-d, Who is Infinite?  It is only possible to know G-d through facing the difficult challenges in life, and strengthening ourselves to get through them.

During times when it is extremely difficult to find G-d, one may fall, since it seems that G-d doesn't exist. The difficulty of the search itself brings one to a state of nothingness. By strengthening oneself during these moments, the very obstacles which prevented perception of G-d can be transformed into a vessel for Divine light.

Sometimes we undergo bitter situations where our understanding disappears completely. Even though we want to believe in G-d, we live inside a dark cloud. However much we search, we cannot find Him. This is a very dangerous situation, because we are unable to see G-d in spite of a sincere desire to find Him. What can we do?

Rebbe Nachman has advice for this dilemma as well.  Cry out ''G-d! Where are You? I don't see you but I believe You are here! Where are you?''  These cries will eventually enable you to return to your proper place, because the question of ''Where are You?'' indicates a belief in the existence of the thing for which you are searching.  You believe G-d is present, but you just don't know where.  The repeated cries of ''Where are You?'' from the depths of the heart are answered with: ''Here! Deeply inside, where You have always been.''

''The whole world is filled with His Glory''
One begins to sense G-d's direct supervision over every detail. Anything that seemed unjust or unfair is now understood as being orchestrated in a wondrous way for the good. Only by passing through darkness and obstacles can we draw closer to G-d, which is a fulfilment of the Divine will.

Sometimes during difficult times we say ''Oy! This is too much! I've had enough obstacles and darkness! I'm finished!''  This way of thinking is erroneous, since we were not created to remain on a single level.  On the contrary, we were created to continually ascend from level to level.  Difficult situations are necessary in order to progress and come closer to G-d.  The message of Rebbe Nachman is that it shouldn't even occur to a person to despair and think ''I can't go on''.  Strengthen yourself over and over again, and eventually you will make it through.

There is always a limit to difficulties because G-d doesn't leave us in difficult straits forever.  The only purpose of obstacles is to create a vessel to receive light. Material obstacles and the vessels they can create have measure and definition. However, G-d's light is unlimited.  We need only to strengthen ourselves and not give up. Sometimes one becomes so weak in the last moment and loses everything. This is a shame, since at that very moment a vessel is being completed to receive a higher light. At the end, the darkness can become so overwhelming that we think we are lost and give up completely, G-d forbid.

Constantly strengthening oneself is the secret to our existence.  There is no book in the world that can tell the entire awesome story of what the Jewish people have undergone since inception. Yet, despite everything, we continue to exist. This is only because of our patience, trust and will to strengthen ourselves anew each time, despite constant suffering.  We will continue to develop, and with the help of G-d, we will exist until the end, when the purpose for which we were created will be fulfilled. To know the unlimited light of the Infinite One.

Vessels to receive light are formed through obstacles. By overcoming the obstacles, the obstacles themselves are transformed into vessels of pleasantness.  Rebbe Nachman calls this pleasantness ''supernal delight'' which can now flow into completed vessels.  The delight that the upper intellect can experience is more pleasant than anything in this world. This is the meaning of ''May the Compassionate One raise for us the Fallen Sukkah of David.''

Rebbe Nachman is proclaiming to the entire world a message that everyone must hear.  There is no such thing as despair! There is no situation beyond hope! The Jewish people have always found themselves in difficult situations, and today is no different. Instead of losing hope, we must strengthen ourselves with perfected faith, especially during the days of Sukkot, when we bring our entire physical being into the sukkah.  We will then be worthy of being illuminated with a new light, which will reestablish the ''Fallen Sukkah of David forever''.  Amen.

Translated and adapted from a shiur given in Tsfat.