Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Indonesian Quake

At least 18 people dead and dozens more trapped under rubble after 6.8-magnitude earthquake strikes off the coast of Indonesia.

A mosque in the town of Bandar Baru was also destroyed during the quake, though it is not clear if anyone was inside at the time. 

Read more:   Daily Mail

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

5777: The Year of the Olive Branch and Eternal World Peace

Art Barbara Harmer

by HaRavi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

Today we're going to devote our thoughts to the coming year. The number of the year has many allusions. This coming year is 5777, according to the Jewish calendar, the number of years from creation. The way we usually count it is as 777, the 5000 being set apart. It is customary to create an acronym out of the letters that spell the 777, which are תשעז .The acronym which is customarily given starts with the two words, "May this be a year of…" [תַ נְ שׁ אֵ הֵ תּ ]And what we are asking for is to interpret the two final letters, which in our case are עז .So the full acronym depends on what the letters עז stand for.

Storm Season

According to the weather reports, we are expecting some massive storms this summer.... here is a photo of yesterday's storm as it blew in over Bondi Beach - I'm not complaining, storms are my favourite thing... and yesterday's thunder was just incredible.

Photo BobBBaker

Monday, December 5, 2016

Amen: A Wonderful Segulah

Art Baruch Nachshon

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

In this week's parashah Vayeitzei we find a hint and wonderful inspiration about answering Amen after a blessing:

The influential Rabbi Eliyahu Roth once told his audience:

It is important to know that answering Amen properly has a positive effect on us both physically and spiritually, and it prevents sickness from visiting our homes. Each person must contemplate, what is more important to him; is it to go visit doctors, or to answer Amen loudly, which is a wonderful segulah to be saved from all these and bring salvation and success in all matters.

It is written in the sefer “Meorot Hadaf Hayomi” [Bechorot 43a] in the name of Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein:

As we know, one hundred blessings were instituted in order to save people from the curses that are written in the parashah of Reproof. If so, we can conclude that a reason for answering 90 times Amen each day is in order to be saved from the 90 bodily blemishes that disqualify a Kohen, as listed by the Rambam [Hilchot Biyat Mikdash 8:1]. Indeed, proof supporting this is found by the fact that the word “המום – blemish” has the same numerical value as אמן – Amen!

Causing Abundance to Shower from Heaven

Rabbanit Meislish, shetichye, who inspires large audiences about this important matter, relates:

My father, the Admor of Bobov, ztk”l, who lived in New York, used to celebrate Purim also on the fifteenth of Adar, in order to rejoice with the Jews living in Eretz Yisrael.

One year, amidst the celebration, my father was offered “brandy” and he recited the blessing “Shehakol nihiye bidvaro.” Afterward he began to recite the blessing “Borei nefashot,” while the Mashgiach of the yeshiva stood by his side. The Mashgiach was married for eight years but was still childless, and he sensed that this was an opportune time of grace. He therefore answered Amen with great concentration after the blessing of “Borei nefashot,” contemplating the meaning of the words “Borei nefashot.” This was his heart’s desire, to merit nefashot – souls.

At the same time, one of the gabaim was also present who had only one son and he wished to have more children but had not met with success. He turned to my father and said: “I too yearn to have a child.” My father closed his eyes and replied: “Borei nefashot – creates souls” is in the plural form.” The Gabai and the Mashgiach shouted together: Amen! Exactly ten months passed since that day and the wife of the Mashgiach, after having been married for nine years, gave birth to a girl, whereas the wife of the Gabai gave birth to a boy. Twenty years later the two children got married and built a home together.

And for her it is not at all surprising. This is stated explicitly: “פתחו שערים ויבוא גוי צדיק שומר אמנים – Open the gates, so the righteous nation, keeper of the faith [lit. Amenim], may enter,” since the power of answering Amen opens the gates of Gan Eden and showers down upon us abundance from the Supreme Source. It is amazing how one small word “Amen” can bring about supernatural salvation.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Another Date for Nibiru

H/T: Neshama

In this video, Rabbi Glazerson discovers a date for Nibiru: ''the  month of Kislev, the  year 5777, and the word ''Chanukah''.  He also notes that this year the date of Xmas and the first day of Chanukah are on the same day.

Rabbi Moshe Cordovero gave a date of the 25th day of the sixth month.  Perhaps it is actually the 25th day of the ninth month, which would be Chanukah.

The War of Thoughts

Everything starts in the spiritual world and then it manifests down to the physical world.

The Zohar says that at the time of Gog u Magog, we are going to be controlled by our thoughts.  It is ''Milchement Giggim'' - the war of thoughts. [click here to see video of Rabbi Anava on this topic: from 29 mins onwards]

In every generation there is a ''Haman'' who comes to destroy us.    Haman is a descendent of Amalek - Amalek is a nation, but it is also a kelipa, a spiritual impurity caused by a negative act, which comes like a virus to attack you. When the Jews left Mitzrayim, Amalek came to attack them straight away. It came from the rear, to cool them down.  The gematria of the word Amalek is the same as the gematria of the word ''safek'' - doubt.  Amalek comes to cool you down and make you doubt the truth.

Rabbi Anava says that these days it is the war of the screens, and we are controlled by our screens: our computers and our phones.

So here we all are, on the internet, where everything is available in an instant, and while we can choose what to look at, in the process we may get side-tracked and end up reading something that causes us to doubt the truth.  This is the spiritual side of the war of Gog u Magog, the spiritual Amalek causing us to doubt.  Ten minutes ago we were excited about some new Torah we had learnt, and then we read a comment from an Amaleki which causes us to doubt that same thing.

We need to be extremely careful who we listen to, and what we read.   Amalek is always there, waiting to pounce on us from behind.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Kislev: The Month of Dreams

The Month of Dreams

Keshet [bow] is the Hebrew name for Saggitarius. At dawn during Kislev a constellation reminiscent of a bow appears on the horizon - the Keshet, identified by our Sages as the sign of this month.

The bow was used in the past to shoot missiles, such as arrows, at the enemy. In the Midrash, the bow symbolizes the projection upwards of the scorpion from the brambles into which it had been cast. Projection implies shooting upwards from below. In the words of R' Bachyei:

"After the soul has received its judgment in purgatory, it will be projected up from there much like an arrow from the bow. That is the reason for the proximity of Akrav [Scorpio] to Keshet, as alluded to by our Sages who said "They descend to Gehinnom yelling and crying... and rise".

Source: Gad Erlanger "Signs of the Times"

The Month of Kislev according to The Book of Formation [Sefer Yetzirah] - Kislev is the ninth of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar.

Kislev is the month of Chanukah--the only holiday in the Jewish calender which spans, and hence connects, two months: Chanukah begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev and concludes in the month of Tevet [either on the 2nd or 3rd, depending on the number of days in Kislev].

The name Kislev derives from the Hebrew word for "security" and "trust." There are two states of trust, one active and one passive, both of which are manifest in the month of Kislev. The miracle of Chanukah reflects the active trust of the Maacabim to stand up and fight against the Hellenistic empire and its culture. Kislev's sense of sleep reflects the passive trust that G-d's providence always guards over Israel.

In the tradition of Chassidut, the 19th day of Kislev, the day of the release and redemption of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the author of the classic text of Chassidut, the Tanya [the disciple of the Magid of Mezerich, the successor of the Ba'al Shem Tov] from prison [where he was placed for the dissemination of the innermost mysteries of the Torah] is referred to as "the New Year of Chassidut" (implying that it is through the spiritual channel of this day that the inner wisdom of Chassidut and the power to integrate this wisdom into one's daily life is brought down into this world).

The foundation of the way of Chassidut is absolute trust and faith in G-d's omnipresence and the omnipotence of His Divine providence.

Color: Blue-Violet

Letter: samech

The word samech means "to support". The experience of feeling supported corresponds to the trust and confidence in Divine providence associated with the month of Kislev, as described above. So do we find expressed in Psalms: "G-d supports (somech) all the fallen and lifts up all the bent over;" "Even when he falls he will not be let to fall to the ground, for G-d supports (yismoch) his hand."

The shape of the samech is a circle, which represents the all-encompassing omnipresence of G-d and His providence. The "great circle" of G-d's Infinite light is explained in Kabbalah and Chassidut to reflect His "right arm" which embraces (and supports, from beneath) with great, infinite love all of reality, as is said: "And from beneath, the arms of the universe."

Mazal: keshet [Sagittarius--Bow]

The bow of Kislev is the bow of the Maacabim. It symbolizes their active trust in G-d to fight against the empire and culture that then ruled the earth. Though the Chashmonaim themselves were from the Priestly tribe of Israel, the "art" of the bow is ascribed in the Bible to the tribe of Benjamin in particular, the tribe of the month of Kislev.

The Kohanim [and Leviim] are not considered as one of the twelve tribes in the correspondence of the tribes to the months of the year [according to the Arizal]. As an all-inclusive manifestation of the Jewish soul, the Kohanim contain and reflect the spiritual source of each of the twelve tribes of Israel. This is especially so with regard to the tribe of Benjamin, for in his portion was the holy Temple wherein the Kohanim served. Thus the relation of the Kohanim to Benjamin is similar to that of soul to body. The Kohanim fight the holy war embodied in the bow of Benjamin.

The bow of war of Kislev is actually projected [shot] from the bow (the rainbow; in Hebrew both "bow" and "rainbow" are identical--keshet) of peace [between G-d and Creation] of the end of the previous month of Cheshvan, as explained above. The two bows [semi-circles] unite together to form the complete circle of the samech of Kislev.

Tribe: Benjamin

Sense: sleep

The sense of sleep is the tranquility and restfulness that comes with trust and security in G-d and His Divine providence. So do we find in the blessings at the end of Leviticus [26:5-6]: "And you shall dwell securely in your land. And I shall give peace in the land, and you shall lie down without fear...."

As the word "sense" [chush] is cognate to "quick" [chish], the sense of sleep implies the ability to sleep well but quickly [as is told of great tzadikim who required very few hours of sleep per day].

The very talent of Benjamin to shoot straight at his target depends upon a most tranquil inner spirit. He shoots and hits almost asleep. G-d carries his arrow to its intended destination. A tranquil personality is one with little inner friction and tension. The sense of sleep entails the ability to release stress, confident in the support of G-d.

The sense of sleep entails as well the sense of dreaming. In accord with our faith in Divine providence, especially manifest in relation to the connection between the weekly Torah portions and the annual cycle of months and their events, all of the dreams of the Torah are contained within the portions that are read during the month of Kislev.

When one possesses complete trust in G-d one dreams good dreams of the future. Good dreams at night reflect good thoughts throughout the day, especially the optimistic attitude and consciousness taught by Chassidut [whose New Year is the 19th of Kislev]: "Think good, it will be good."

Source: HaRav Yitzchak Ginsburgh

Also see:  Kabbalah of Dreams


by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

It is written, “Vayikra [And he called] his name Jacob” [Toldot 25:26]

Who called his name Jacob?

According to the Ohr HaChaim, the term vayikra refers to the Holy One, blessed be He, Who personally named the newborn child. Other commentators believe that Jacob’s name was given to him by his grandfather Abraham. For Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, the identity of the name-giver has no particular importance.

The situation is entirely different for Esau, whose name was given to him by the people, as clearly evidenced by the expression: “They called his name Esau” [Toldot 25:25]. In other words, everyone recognized his character and specific traits, and thus his name was in accordance with his deeds and characteristics.

The name given to a child at the time of his circumcision constitutes somewhat of a spark of Ruach HaKodesh, a spark that manifests itself for a few moments in the hearts of the parents when they decide upon the name that will accompany their child for his entire life.

(It is said that the Gerer Rebbe, Rabbi Yisrael Alter, was once asked by one of his chassidim to choose a name for his newborn son. With surprise accompanied by a smile, the Rebbe replied: “The little Ruach HaKodesh that you have, you want to give it to me?”)

Influencing a Person’s Life

In ancient texts we find, “Tell me your name, and I will tell you who you are.” A person’s name encapsulates his personality, virtues, and potential, as well as the role assigned to him in this world.

After 120 years on earth, when a man arrives before the Celestial Court, he will be asked to present himself by name. Hence the famous custom, at the end of Shimoni Esrei (before saying Yiheyu le’ratzon imrei phi [“May the words of my mouth”]), of reciting a verse whose first and last letter are the same as the first and last letter of the person’s name. This is a segula for not forgetting one’s name before the Celestial Court.

At a somewhat deeper spiritual level, we find that a person’s life unfolds according to the letters that form his name, especially in light of the possible combinations of these letters. A person’s name can influence his destiny and future for good or bad, as emerges from the Zohar: “[T]he name is of great significance and potency, and the combination of letters with one another works either for good or bad. Connected with this mystery is the combination of the letters of the holy Names, and even the letters in themselves can be made to reveal supreme mysteries” (Zohar II:179b).

The Midrash also warns us in this regard by stating: “We should always be extremely careful about the names we give to our children, for sometimes a name can have a good or bad influence, as we see with the spies” (Tanchuma, Ha’azinu 7).

This warning and advice are quite useful for someone who is well-versed in the deep mysteries of the holy letters, someone who knows how to combine the letters of a name in a positive way. Yet what can be said for us, we who have no knowledge of the secrets of the letters? How should we choose names for our children?

The holy Tanna Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel already looked into this question and said, “The Ancients, because they could avail themselves of Ruach HaKodesh, named themselves in reference to [forthcoming] events. Yet we, who cannot avail ourselves of Ruach HaKodesh, are named after our fathers” [Bereshith Rabba 37:7]

This means that we name our children after our holy ancestors, having faith that just as the names of the Ancients helped them to succeed, these holy names will also help our children to succeed in life.

A Segula for Longevity

As we have said, a person’s name testifies to his character and inner nature. In the Gemara we find that Rabbi Meir would commonly examine each person according to his name. After a certain incident, Rabbi Yehudah and Rabbi Yossi were also careful to evaluate each person according to his name, just like Rabbi Meir. From this comes the custom of naming a child after one of his holy ancestors, people who were righteous, pious, and holy.

In halachic literature, we find several customs in regards to this issue. For example, in Chochmat HaNefesh the Rokeach cites his teacher, Rabbi Yehudah HaChassid, who in his testament warns against naming one’s son Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, or even Moshe, for otherwise he may die, fall ill, lose his mind, or other things of this nature. However the book Brit Avoth believes that what he meant is that one must not give his three sons the names Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, although he does not know if it means that these names must not be given in succession, meaning one after the other. Whatever the case, in Responsa Minchat Yitzchak we find that if a person does not heed this warning, then of him it is said: “Hashem protects the simple” (Tehillim 116:6).

The book Brit Olam discusses the custom of not naming one’s son after oneself. It also mentions a custom practiced by the Sephardim of Jerusalem, who regard it as a segula for longevity for a father to name his son after himself. This custom is also cited in the book Even Sapir, which states that in Yemen, when a man has had sons who died in their youth, it is considered a segula to name his next son after himself.

An extraordinary story is told about Rabbi Yaakov of Lissa, the author of Netivot HaMishpat, who carried the name of his father while his father was still alive. After Rabbi Yaakov was born and it came time for his circumcision, his father, who was known for his great diligence in Torah learning, was completely immersed in a difficult sugia. When the mohel reached the words, “His name in Israel shall be,” his father believed that he was being asked for his own name, and so he said “Yaakov.”

Each time that the author of Netivot HaMishpat was called up to the Torah, and the shamash summoned “Rabbi Yaakov ben Yaakov,” the congregants tried hard to understand how this had happened. They were then told this unusual story regarding the great diligence of Rabbi Yaakov’s father.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What Does Satan Really Want?

Latest from Rabbi Mendel Kessin.
The Trump victory, yarzheit of Rachel Imeinu, the Mabul, the significance of 9 November...... and he's only just getting started.

Pidyon Nefesh

I've had some recent correspondence about something called ''Pidyon Nefesh'' -  which means ''Redemption of the Soul''.    This involves giving money - sometimes a very large amount of money -to a known tzadik, in order to mitigate a spiritual judgement which is affecting that person in the form of an illness.

Rabbi Nachman teaches [Likutei Moharan 180], “Money is an aspect of dinim [judgments], and the dinim can only be sweetened at their source.” “The most important thing is not to be miserly when giving a pidyon, so that none of the dinim should remain unsweetened. A person must give what he is told to give. Only the Tzaddik knows which dinim are on a person.”

The way it works is that if a person has been judged in Shamayim, either in this life or even from a past life, for something that he or she has done, they suffer from illness or other calamity as a tikkun [correction].  By paying money to the tzadik, this atones for the original wrongdoing, and a doctor is then able [i.e. given permission from Shamayim] to heal the person.

''There are 24 Heavenly Courts that judge a person in Shamayim. There is one tzaddik in a generation that can influence all 24 Heavenly Courts. Rav Kaduri is quoted as saying he had governance over 5-6 Heavenly Courts, so if the judgement causing the problem occurred in one of those 5-6, he could help a person. otherwise, he'd send people to Rav Berland [who is the one in the generation who has access to all 24 Heavenly Courts] to help them where he couldn't. Rav Mordechai Sharabi also used to send people to Rav Berland for help - even 40 years back, when Rav Berland was a complete unknown.''

Note that a true tzadik will return the money if the pidyon does not work.

For a complete guide to how Pidyon Nefesh works: click here.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Secret of ''Good Inclination''

Rabbi Kessin's most recent shiur, which I have not yet listened to.

''Everybody knows that Evil Inclination, or Yetzer HaRah, or Satan, or Malach Hamaves, is an angel assigned to do the job.

We've also heard about Good Inclination, or Yetzer Tov.

However, the nature of Yetzer Tov is obscure. Somehow nobody heard about an angel representing Good Inclination. What is it, really? What kind of a creature, what kind of a being is hiding behind the term?

The nature of Good Inclination is revealed by R' Mendel Kessin.

The series on Ramchal's Derech Hashem continues.

The The shiur was given in Lakewood, NJ, 11/19/2016.''