Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Reb Zusha of Anipoli - Yarzheit 2 Shevat

by Menachem Posner 

Reb Zusha of Anipoli was one of the most beloved stars in the constellation of the third generation of Chassidic masters. Humble and self-effacing, he is forever remembered in the many tales of his awe of G‑d and his deep love for His creations. Elder brother of Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, and beloved pupil of Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezrich, Reb Zusha wrote no books and never amassed a large following. Yet, in his signature, understated way, he contributed greatly to the emerging Chassidic movement.

1. His Father Had an Inn in a Small Village Near Tiktin

His exact date of birth is unknown, but it is believed that he is the son of Eliezer Lipa, a wealthy and learned innkeeper in a small village near Tiktin. Spiritually sensitive, he was attracted to the teachings of Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezrich, the primary student of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement. Legends abound about how he influenced his brother, Elimelech, to become a chassid as well.

2. His Mother Was Unlettered But Pious

Like most Jewish women of her era, Mirel, mother of Elimelech and Zusha, did not know how to read Hebrew. She was generous to a fault, and every Thursday she hired a driver to help her distribute funds to poor people, so that they would have something to eat on Shabbat. She was so modest that the driver never saw her face and never learned of her identity.

3. He and His Brother Were In Self Imposed Exile

The two brothers wandered from place to place, without a penny in their pockets, forced to live by the kindness of strangers. This “forced exile” was not uncommon among spiritual seekers of the era who wished to cleanse their souls through suffering. In living a homeless life, they were emulating G‑d Himself, who has been without a “home” since the Temple was destroyed.

For Reb Elimelech and Reb Zusha, however, there was another element. Traveling incognito, they were able to meet many people whom they would inspire to return to G‑d. Oftentimes, they would “stage” conversations in which R’ Elimelech would berate R’ Zusha for sins he supposedly committed. Hearing R’ Zusha’s copious sobs, the listener would realize that he too had to repent for the very same sin.

4. His Name Is Spelled Many Ways

His first name is Meshulam. His second name is sometimes written Zussman (this is how the Alter Rebbe and other contemporaries wrote it), Zushia, Zusia, Zisha, Zusil and Zusha. He is among the few Chassidic rebbes so venerated to be referred to as “the Rebbe, Reb Zusha.” There is ambiguity regarding his family name, as various immediate family members are known as Weisblum, Lipman, and Aurbach.

5. He Learned a Lesson From Everything

A central tenet of Chassidic teaching is that everything can serve as a catalyst from which one can gain inspiration and insight into one’s service of G‑d. Reb Zusha was known to learn seven lessons from a thief: a) He works quietly without others knowing. b) He is ready to place himself in danger. c) Even the smallest detail is of great importance to him. d) He labors with great toil. e) Alacrity. f) He is confident and optimistic. g) If he did not succeed the first time, he tries again and again.

6. He Left Very Few Written Words

Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin once explained (partially in jest) that the great Chassidic masters only shared what they had themselves learned from their teachers. Whenever Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezrich began to teach, Reb Zusha became so enraptured that he would scream “ai, ai, ai” with such excitement that the others would remove him from the lecture hall. Since Reb Zusha never heard, he never taught.

Some of his teachings are posthumously collected in Menorat Zahav (Warsaw 1902) and Butzina Kadisha (Pietrykaw 1912).

7. His Peers Respected Him Greatly

The Alter Rebbe, known among the students of the Maggid as “the Rav” due to his erudition, had tremendous respect for Reb Zusha. When he was ready to print his new book, the Tanya, Reb Zusha was one of two people he asked to write an approbation.

The Alter Rebbe once said that there are three people whom he loves on a soul level. There are varying traditions regarding who these three are, but all agree that Reb Zusha was one of them.

In recent years, a letter written by the Alter Rebbe was discovered. In it, he exhorts his followers to send donations to Reb Zusha along with their names so that “their names be remembered before G‑d, who hears the voice of His servants…”

8. He Hid His Learning

Stories abound of Reb Zusha hiding the deepest teachings in simplistic words. Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber of Lubavitch related that several of the Maggid’s students were once discussing the fine points of a particularly difficult passage in Maimonides’s code (others say it was in the Zohar). Zusha approached them and asked what was bothering them, but they dismissed him, implying that it was above his level.

Reb Zusha began to cry, “Zusha doesn’t understand this concept, oh, Zusha doesn’t understand,” until he fell asleep. When he awoke, he lucidly and clearly explained the concept to the two students who had previously dismissed him, having learned it in his sleep from Maimonides himself.

9. He Was Poor but Happy

A story is told about an individual who could not understand how to accept suffering with love. The Maggid sent the questioner to visit Reb Zusha, who was known to be destitute. “I am not sure why you were sent to me,” said Reb Zusha, “What can I tell you about suffering? I have everything a person could possibly wish for!”

10. He Recognized His Unique Purpose in Life

There is a famous anecdote that tells of Reb Zusha quaking with fright on his deathbed. “I am not afraid of being asked why I was not Moses,” he explained to his students. “After all, G‑d already has a Moses. I am afraid, however, of being asked, ‘Zusha, why weren’t you Zusha?’ ”

11. He Humbly Referred to Himself in Third Person

Humble to a fault, Reb Zusha never referred to himself as “ich,” Yiddish for “I.” Rather, he would say “Zusha doesn’t understand” or Zusha feels badly etc.” He was known to have said to the earth upon which he trod, “Dirt, dirt, you are greater than Zusha, So why is Zusha walking upon you? Never fear, the day will come when he will be buried under you.”

12. Five Meanings of Teshuvah

Reb Zusha was a master of repentance. Throughout the day, he would record his “failings” in a notebook. Each night, before going to sleep, he would cry and plead for forgiveness until his tears had washed away whatever he had written.

He is known for his teaching that the Hebrew word teshuva, translated as “return” or “repentance,” is an acronym for five elements.

T: Tamim - "Be sincere (tamim) with the Eternal, your G‑d."

Sh: Shiviti - "I have set (shiviti) G‑d before me always."

U: Ve-ahavta - "And you shall love (ve-ahavta) your fellow as yourself."

V: Bechol - "In all (bechol) your ways, know Him."

H: Hatzne-a - "Discreetly (hatzne-a) walk with your G‑d.

13. He Saw Only the Good in Others

Even where others saw failings, Rabbi Zusha saw only positive. “It is known,” Reb Zusha once said, “that whenever a Jew sins, an evil angel is created. I have never seen a robust evil angel. Each one is missing a hand, a foot, or another limb. Even when a Jew sins, he is broken deep down inside—creating an angel that is broken or lame.”

14. He Wished to Fear G‑d

Reb Zusha’s fear of heaven was legendary, eclipsed only by his boundless love of G‑d. It is told that Zusha once asked G‑d to grant him proper fear of heaven. Upon completing his impromptu prayer, Zusha found himself trembling with fear. So great was his awe of G‑d that he soon found himself writhing on the floor under a bed.

“Please master of the universe,” he begged, “allow me to love you like Zusha.”

And G‑d granted him his wish.

15. Buried Right Near the Maggid

He passed away on 2 Shevat, 5560 (1800), and is buried in Annipoli, right near the resting place of his beloved master, Rabbi Dov Ber, who lived his last years in Annipoli. The cemetery was destroyed by the Nazis and a common marker has been erected for the Maggid, Reb Zusha and others.

Source: Chabad

Monday, January 27, 2020

Pharaoh's Name Hints to the Plague

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"Hashem said to Moshe, "Come to Pharaoh, for I have made his heart and the heart of his servants stubborn" [Bo 10:1]

The Mefarshim wonder how Moshe knew to tell Pharaoh about the plague of Locusts since Hashem did not mention anything about this plague? Here is just one explanation:

The Chatam Sofer brings in the name of the Gaon Rabbi Shimshon of Ostropoli zya"a, that the letters בומ"ף are  pronounced using the lips, and are interchangeable since they are all uttered using the same source. So too the letters אחה"ע  which are all guttural sounds, are also interchangeable.

So, if we change the פ of  פרעה to a ב, and the ע to א, and then re-arrange the letters, it will spell the word ארבה - locust. Through saying בא אל פרעהHashem was hinting to Moshe, put the letters בא into פרעה

This explains the continuation of the verse, למען שתי אתתי אלה בקרבו, translated as, "so that I can put these signs of Mine in his midst". The word אתת can also be translated as 'letters', meaning 'put these two letters (of  בא) in him', and you get ארבה. This is the plague with which you must now smite Egypt!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Corona Virus and Hints to Moshiach

Today is the first day of the Chinese new year of the Rat, just by the way

The calculations below come from Yeranen Yaakov and I take no credit for any of them.

מצמיח קרן ישועה Coronation of Mashiach 
קורונה [Corona] is how it's spelled in Wikipedia which is the gematria of 367 and is also the gematria of המשיח בא [the Moshiach comes] with the kollel

It originated from snakes, which are in the Parasha and represent the yetzer hara/the satan and were the cause of another famous plague in Parashat Korah

נגיף קורונה (coronavirus, as Wikipedia has it) - if we use the ף as 800 - has the gematria of 1230. 

1230 is the gematria of the phrase in Daniel 12:7 in red below:  And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he lifted up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and swore by Him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and a half; and when they have made an end of breaking in pieces the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Quick Blog before Shabbas

There are several things I wanted to blog in the past couple of days but I didn't have the energy.... I had a bad reaction to some medication and I'm waiting for the horrible stuff to get out of my system.

First, this diagram posted on FB by Yaakov Sandler, which shows how a marriage between a man and a woman needs to include Hashem, and without Hashem you just have FIRE.  This is an indication to me that the fires in Australia have been so bad because of the Same Sex Marriage vote some time ago.  How can a marriage between same sex individuals include G-d?  It can't, as the diagram belows shows you.

Unrelated to the above, is an 8 minute extract from Rabbi Kessin's video - Rabbi Mendel Kessin explains that the reason President Trump is being irrationally attacked from before he was even inaugurated all the way up to the current impeachment, is because, as the good part of Eisav, he is here to reverse everything that Eisav himself and his ideological progenitors have done to the Jewish people over the last 3000 years. He is here to elevate Yaakov/Israel. The attack includes accusing Trump of anti-semitism by anti-semites themselves...as well as being accused by Democrats of doing things that they themselves did...ie Russia and Ukraine.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Arrogance is the Root of all Vices

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto 

“But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and I will increase My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt” [Vaeira 7:3]

Rashi explains: “But I will harden”: Since he [Pharaoh] behaved wickedly and defied Me, and I know full well that there is no delight among the nations to make a wholehearted attempt to repent, it is better for Me that his heart be hardened, so that [I can] increase My signs and My wonders in him… Nevertheless, in the first five plagues, it does not say, “And the Lord strengthened Pharaoh’s heart,” but “Pharaoh’s heart remained steadfast.” These are the words of Rashi. Since Hashem saw that Paroah had intentionally hardened his heart, He reinforced his hardness of heart, but at first, despite all the plagues that befell him, Pharoah persisted stubbornly in his rebellion and was not inclined to do teshuvah, even after seeing the truth before his eyes that whatever Moshe said came true with every plague.

We need to clarify, from where did he get the strength to persist with his wickedness and hard hardness and refuse to let the Jews go. After all, the Egyptians were struck with painful plagues, so why did he not change his mind?

This is because the vice of arrogance was his ruination. Arrogance is the root of all vices.

When a person is proud and arrogant, he is not ready to listen even to true messages that others tell him, even if he sees the truth before his eyes. His arrogance blinds him to the obvious truth; consequently, he becomes trapped by his pride.

On the contrary, when a person behaves humbly and unassumingly, he is a receptacle for all positive virtues. He has a sympathetic ear to hear others and is capable of accepting his fellow’s point of view. If the latter is right, he admits the truth and accepts those who say it, whether they are younger or older than him. However, Pharaoh, the wicked, did not behave in this way. He stubbornly hardened his heart despite the painful plagues.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Genuine Wonder or Optical Illusion

Art: Jacek Yerka
"Provide a wonder for yourselves" [Va'eira 7:9]

Why, asked R' Elimelech of Lizhensk, would Pharoah ask Moshe to "provide a wonder for yourselves"?  Since Pharoah was the one who wanted proof of Moshe's legitimacy, would it not have made more sense for him to say "Provide a wonder for me"?

The difference, answered the Rebbe, between a genuine wonder and one which is no more than an optical illusion is that the illusion amazes only those who witness it.  However, the one who performs the feat is not impressed in the least, since he knows that it was no more than a delusion.  A genuine wonder, on the other hand, amazes not only its spectators, but even the tzaddik who performs it.

This, then, was Pharoah's intention when he said: "Provide a wonder for yourselves" - Provide us with a true wonder, one that will not only dazzle us but will even make an impression upon yourselves."

Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Brisker Rav's Prediction

The Brisker Rav

Yitzchok Zev (Velvel) Halevi Soloveitchik (Gri"z), also known as the "Brisker Rav," was the last rabbi of the town of Brisk (Brest, Belarus) before the Holocaust. His father, R. Chaim Soloveitchik, was Rosh Yeshiva of the Volozhin yeshiva, while his maternal grandfather, R. Rafael Shapira was its long-time Rosh Yeshiva. He was an extraordinary learner, and was said to have memorized the entire Babylonian Talmud, along with Rashi, by age 16. After the closing of the Volozhin yeshiva, the family moved to Brisk, where his paternal grandfather, R. Yosef Ber Soloveitchik, was Rav. The position then passed to his father and later to himself. He Holocaust forced him to flee to Jerusalem, where he maintained a position of non-participation with the Israeli government, including opposition to receiving government funding for yeshivot. His children and followers founded several yeshivas in Jerusalem, all known as Brisk.  [Source: Sefaria.org]

Yeranen Yaakov translates Rav Fish on the Brisker Rav's prediction for Moshiach 5780/81: click here to read

Friday, January 17, 2020

Psalms to say for Other People

by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

Q: Are there certain chapters of Psalms to say when praying for someone?

A: First of all, it is good to say the chapter of the person for whom you are praying, which is his age plus 1, as we learn from the Ba’al Shem Tov. For example, if a person is 23 years old, this means that he is already in his 24th year, so chapter 24 is his chapter for the year. This is the chapter that we should say when praying for him. In addition, various chapters are recommended for specific issues, and are written in some holy books and books of Psalms.

Another way to pray for someone is to spell out the letters of his name according to chapter 119 in Psalms. In this chapter, there are eight verses for every letter of the alef-beit. The correct way to spell out the name is as follows: For every letter of the person’s name, we take the verse that begins with that letter in chapter 119, as per its place in the name. For example, if we want to pray for someone named Moshe David (משה דוד) we read the first verse of the letter mem in chapter 119, followed by the second verse of the letter shin, etc. When we get to the second name, in this case, David, we continue. The letter dalet is the fourth letter, so we would read the fourth verse of the letter dalet, the fifth verse of the letter vav, etc.

If the full name has more than eight letters, we begin again from the first verse of the letter for the 9th letter of the name, etc.