Sunday, August 30, 2015

Torah for Non-Jews

Regarding the teaching of Torah to non-Jews, here are some of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's guidelines - reprinted from Chabad Talk

Encouraging Gentiles to Study Torah for Its Own Sake

In the Messianic era: “The sole occupation of the entire world”—Gentiles as well—“will only be to know G–d ... ‘As the waters cover the sea.’” This means that the “knowledge of G–d”—knowledge and comprehension—will envelop and conceal the existence of Gentiles until it becomes their entire being. Thus, [in order to prepare for this state of existence] some parallel to this must exist even now, by the Torah—in a comprehensible form—being found amongst Gentiles as well.

The Talmud states:

From where do we know that even a Gentile who occupies himself with Torah [related to the Noahide Code] is comparable to the High Priest? It is written, “That the man should keep them and live by them.” It does not speak of Priests, Levites, or Israelites, but of “the man.” You have thus learned that even a Gentile who occupies himself in Torah study is like a High Priest. The dictum that “A Gentile who occupies himself in Torah study deserves [divinely-imposed] death, as it is written, ‘The Torah that Moses commanded us is an inheritance’—an inheritance for us, and not for them” does not contradict this. For, “In that case [where Gentiles are encouraged to study Torah], it is referring to their seven [wide-ranging categories of] Mitzvot.” [Rashi explains that] “They occupy themselves with the laws of those seven Mitzvot to become expert in them.”

Seven Laws of Noah

Gentiles should not only study Torah related to the Noahide Code for the purpose of knowing how to act, i.e., as a preparation and means for observing their Mitzvot. Rather, they are obligated to study Torah for its own sake. (The reason that this was not counted among their Mitzvot is that “positive Mitzvot were not counted [among the seven general Noahide laws],” just as the Mitzvah to give charity was not counted. )

It emerges that when Jews influence Gentiles to study Torah (in “their seven Mitzvot”), this is a fitting preparation for the fulfillment of the prophecy: “The sole occupation of the entire world”—Gentiles as well—“will only be to know G–d,” for several reasons:

When Jews influence Gentiles “to undertake the Mitzvot in which Noah’s descendants were commanded,” this refines the limbs of the body with which they perform these seven Mitzvot.
When Jews influence Gentiles to study the legal aspects of the Noahide Code to enable them to perform their Mitzvot, this refines the aspect of the mind that is related to the limbs of the body with which these Mitzvot are performed.

When Jews influence Gentiles to study Torah (in the laws of “their seven Mitzvot”) for the purpose of Torah study alone (not in order to know how to act, but in order to thoroughly understand the area of Torah relevant to them for its own sake), this refines the non-Jew’s faculty of intellect, by permeating it with comprehension of Torah. This is a fitting preparation for the era when “The sole occupation of the entire world will only be to know G–d”—knowledge of G–d for its own sake, and for no other purpose.

Furthermore, even the concept of “Keter [the Crown of] Torah” applies to Gentiles. This means that Torah [related to the Noahide Code] encompasses the non-Jew’s entire being. This resembles the prophecy that “[The earth will be filled with the knowledge of G–d] as the waters cover the sea.”
In the Sifri it is written: “The Crown of Torah is laid out so that the world’s inhabitants will not have reason to present a challenge [to G–d] ... the Crown of Torah is laid out for all the world’s inhabitants.” The simple meaning of the expression “inhabitants of the world” is a reference to Gentiles. In this case it is saying that Gentiles might come forward with a claim that they are entitled to receive the “Crown of Torah” in connection “their Mitzvot.” To this the response is given that “it is laid out for all the world’s inhabitants,” i.e., they can indeed attain the level of the “Crown of Torah” as well.

Based upon the above, even the prophecy that “The earth”—referring to all Gentiles—“will be filled with the knowledge of G–d as the waters cover the sea” has a parallel in the efforts of the Jewish people during the era of exile. We accomplish this by influencing Gentiles to study Torah related to the Noahide Code in a manner of the “Crown of Torah,” such that this study encompasses and permeates their entire being. This is similar to the prophecy: “The sole occupation of the entire world will only be to know G–d ... ‘As the waters cover the sea.’”

Hitva’aduyot 5745, Vol. 3, pp. 1838-1839.

Independent Value of Gentiles’ Torah Study 
Gentiles should study Torah related to their Mitzvot, for they must study the details of their Mitzvot in order to be able to put them into practice. It may be said that their obligation to study the Noahide Code is not merely a “preparation for a Mitzvah,” but an obligation in its own right.

The reason for this is that along with the duty to adhere to the Noahide Code, they are obligated to keep these Mitzvot in a regular, natural manner, which necessitates previous study of the specific laws related to these Mitzvot. Thus, this study is not merely a “preparation for a Mitzvah,” but one of the Mitzvot in their own right, for otherwise [the Noahide Code] cannot be observed. Thus, this study has the halachic status of Torah study.

Hitva’aduyot 5749, Vol. 2, p. 447. cf. Likutei Sichot, Vol. 14, pp. 38-39

Prayers for Others

A person might pray for his friend before praying for himself for one of two reasons:

a) because his friend's problem genuinely bothers him more than his own problems; or

b) because he wants the reward of being answered first. [see Rashi Vayeira 21:1]

Generally, with acts of kindness, the result for the recipient is more important than the donor's motive. So even if a person prays for another because he wants the reward of being answered first he will still be rewarded, for after all he performed an act of kindness in praying for another.

Nevertheless, it goes without saying that the first approach above - the person with pure motives - is vastly superior.

Based on Sichas Shabbos Parshas Vayeira 5743, Lubavitcher Rebbe

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

An Elevated Impression

"You shall make a guard-rail for your roof" [Ki Teitze 22:8]

A roof, being the highest part of any structure, alludes to the ego, which gives a person an elevated impression of himself.

Thus, in order to prevent a person from "falling off his roof" by allowing his feelings of swollen self-esteem to degenerate into selfishness, we are warned to "make a guard-rail for your roof" - to carefully control and temper the ego with "guard-rails".

Source: Likutei Sichos, Lubavitcher Rebbe

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Crash Advice

It probably is a good idea to stock up on essentials, if you haven't already done so.  Just in case. 

This from today's Independent:

A former adviser to Gordon Brown has urged people to stock up on canned goods and bottled water as stock markets around the world slide. 

Damian McBride appeared to suggest that the stock market dip could lead to civil disorder or other situations where it would be unreasonable for someone to leave the house.

“Advice on the looming crash:

No.1: get hard cash in a safe place now; don't assume banks and cashpoints will be open, or bank cards will work,” he tweeted.

“Crash advice No.2: do you have enough bottled water, tinned goods and other essentials at home to live a month indoors? If not, get shopping. 

 “Crash advice No.3: agree a rally point with your loved ones in case transport and communication gets cut off; somewhere you can all head to.”

Source:  Independent UK

Monday, August 24, 2015

Updated: World Markets Continue to Plunge - Plus Torah Codes

Asian markets suffered major losses on Monday, extending a sell off that has touched nearly every corner of the globe.  See: CNN

Global stocks sell-off deepens as panic grips markets

This 2 Day Stock Market Crash Was Larger Than Any 1 Day Stock Market Crash In U.S. History

Remaining Humble

Photo: Gordon McBryde

The way to know if your service of G·d is absolutely true and selfless is whether you remain humble after you pray with great concentration and do not consider yourself deserving of reward. 

from the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov: Ohr HaGanuz LaTzaddikim, Ki Teitzei

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Shemitah Correction !!

In what may be the beginning of the ''Shemitah''' correction, stocks around the world have plunged.

Stock Market: Dow Plunges 530 Points and More Than 1,000 for the Week - watch the video there

World's wealthiest lose $182billion

Gut voch everyone, and here's hoping this is the beginning of the new beginning !

Important Update: ''a 358 point crash on Thursday'' - there you go.... 358 is gematria Moshiach... see
Devash's blog for more.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ten Shirot

Chazal tell us that ten great Shirot were sung to Hashem. Nine have already happened and the tenth is the big one we wait for every day.

1) Shirat Adam - The song Adam sang after Creation was completed: Mizmor shir l'yom hashabbat. To this day, it is part of our Friday night davening.

2) Shirat HaYam - The song at Yam Suf [Beshalach]

3) Shirat Ha'Be'er - Song of the Well in the desert [Bamidbar 21:17] when the Emorim were killed after plotting an ambush and the mountains crushed them. Their blood came up through the Be'er revealing the Nes to Bnei Yisroel.

4) Shirat Haazinu

5) Shirat Ha'Givon in Sefer Yehoshua when the sun remained up through the night to help Yehoshua in his battle.

6) Shirat Devorah in Sefer Shoftim - When Bnei Yisroel defeated the mighty Sisra's and Yael killed Sisra.

7) Shirat Chana in Sefer Shmuel

8) Shirat David - Tehilim 18 when David was saved from Shaul.

9) Shir Ha'Shirim of Shlomo Ha'Melech.

10) Shir HaGeulah - the song that will be sung in the times of Moshiach, as it says in the Book of Yeshayahu: "On that day there will be sung this song in the land of Yehuda.... [26:1]"

There are different versions of this list and other Medrashim say
1. Shirat Mitzrayim
2. Shirat Yehoshafat


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Moshiach ''will be seen 5776'' - Torah Codes

A message from Rabbi Glazerson:

Try to watch this properly as it is very significant
מי משיח ''Who is Mashiach''  appears in a skip of 358 which is the Gematria of משיח
מי המשיח ''Who is Mashiach''  minimal in the whole Torah
בן דויד - ''ben David'' - minimal in the whole Torah in a skip of 26 which is the Gematria of G-d in Hebrew and English
תשעו יראה -   ''will be seen 5776''

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Mystery of September 23

Back in May of this year, Devash blogged about about September 23 this year, speculating that it is a date to watch out for.  [Apart from the fact that it is Yom Kippur]

Another blogger has just given us even more reasons to speculate:  see The Mystery of September 23 :  “September 23rd is the day Obama makes a pact with the devil. It was not by chance that the Pope and Obama are meeting on the Day of Atonement. (September 23, 2015) They will make a pact that will seal the fate of the United States of America. My vengeance will be poured out from this point forward. (September 23rd) There is no turning back.''

The source of that quote is not a kosher one.  Nevertheless I think it's all quite interesting.

The Book of Remedies

Refuah Shelaimah:
Libi Chavah Leah bas Sharonne Rivka - 3 years old - please have her in mind in your prayers

by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

At one of the most critical junctures of Jewish history, with Assyrian King Sennacherib's vast army closing in on Jerusalem, Hezekiah King of Judah suddenly fell mortally ill. His entire body was covered with horrible sores. The prophet Isaiah came to him and said, "Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you will die and not live" [Isaiah 38:1; Kings II, 20:1].

With God's prophet telling him to make his will and prepare to die, a lesser man might have given up the fight. Not Hezekiah. He had a tradition from his ancestor, King David: "Even if a sharp sword is pressing on your neck, don't despair of pleading for God's mercy" [Berakhot 10a].

The Midrash throws light on the meaning of Hezekiah's illness. "Rabbi Levi said: Hezekiah mused, `It isn't good for people to enjoy constant good health until the day they die. This way they'll never think of repentance. But if they fall sick and then recover, they'll come to repent their sins.' God said to Hezekiah, `This is a good idea. And I'll start with you!'" [Bereshit Rabbah 65:9].

Hezekiah saw that illness can have a positive side if it prompts us to examine ourselves. What have we been doing with our lives? How have we been using our bodies? What is our true purpose in this world? How can we attain it?

As Hezekiah lay in mortal danger, he asked the prophet where he had gone astray. Isaiah explained that he had failed to carry out the first commandment of the Torah, to be fruitful and multiply. Hezekiah said this was because he had seen with holy spirit that his offspring would be unworthy. But Isaiah said this was not his business: he had an obligation to have children. Hezekiah understood his mistake and undertook to marry and have children.

That sickness is a prompt from God to examine ourselves was a lesson Hezekiah, spiritual leader of his people, had long wanted to teach. The point is brought out in a rabbinic comment on Hezekiah's prayer as he lay sick: "I did what is good in Your eyes." Enumerating Hezekiah's achievements during his reign, the Rabbis said he was alluding in his prayer to two major innovations: he "joined Redemption to Prayer, and he put away the Book of Remedies" [Berakhot 10b; Pesachim 56a].

"Joining Redemption to Prayer" literally refers to Hezekiah's institution of the rule that during the daily prayer services no interruption may be made between recital of the blessing of Redemption that follows the Shema and commencement of the silent Amidah prayer. But what about the Book of Remedies? What was it, and why did Hezekiah ban it?

Extant clay tablets and papyruses indicate that the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt possessed a vast body of medical knowledge. Hundreds of therapeutic plant, mineral and animal substances were in use, as well as a wide variety of surgical and other treatments. It would be easy to speculate that the Book of Remedies included medical techniques borrowed from other cultures with which the Jews had contact.

On the other hand, Rabbi Shimon bar Tzemach [the TaShBaTz, 1361-1444] states that the source of the book was supernatural: when Noah was in the ark during the flood, destructive spirits injured his sons, but an angel took one of them to the Garden of Eden and taught him all the remedies in the world [Seder HaDorot #1657].

The Ramban (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman of Girondi, 1194-1270) opines that the Book of Remedies was composed by Hezekiah's ancestor, King Solomon, whose God-given wisdom enabled him to deduce the healing properties of the various trees and plants from allusions buried in the Torah [Ramban, Commentary on the Torah, Introduction].

By any account, the Book of Remedies contained the accumulated healing wisdom of the Jewish People. Why then did Hezekiah put it away? It was not that the remedies were ineffective. On the contrary, in Hezekiah's view they were too effective! "When a person became sick, he would follow what was written in the book and be healed, and as a result people's hearts were not humbled before Heaven because of illness" [Rashi on Pesachim 56a]. In the words of the Rambam : "They did not have trust that it is the Holy One, blessed be He, Who heals and binds up wounds."

Resort to the Book of Remedies turned sickness and healing into nothing but a mechanical process. Hezekiah was not seeking to withhold medical expertise because of some morbid desire to make people suffer their sicknesses to the full so as to somehow expiate their sins. Far from wanting them to be sick, Hezekiah saw that reliance on the Book of Remedies actually prevented people from being truly healed. While the remedies it contained might alleviate their bodily ailments, the very effectiveness of these physical cures allowed those who used them to avoid confronting the underlying spiritual flaws to which their bodily ailments pointed.

King Hezekiah wanted the people to understand that illness, terrible as it may be, is sent by God for a purpose. It is to prompt us to examine ourselves and our lives, to ask ourselves where we have strayed from our mission and what steps we must take in the future in order to attain genuine self-fulfilment. Concealing the Book of Remedies would encourage people to take their lives in hand and actualize their latent spiritual powers, playing an active role in their own healing process.

Putting away the Book of Remedies was thus intimately bound up with King Hezekiah's second innovation, "joining Redemption to Prayer." This was more than a technical rule of religious ritual. Hezekiah redeemed prayer itself! He taught people how to pray again. Prayer brings us to the ultimate connection with God. And precisely because prayer is so exalted, it is surrounded by endless obstacles. For many people it seems like a meaningless, tiresome burden: prayer is in exile. Hezekiah sought to tear down the barriers and reveal the new-old pathway of prayer in its true splendor.

Prayer is not just a matter of asking God for favors. It is our way to channel divine power and blessing into ourselves, our lives and the whole world. Through prayer the soul rises to God and is healed, and in turn sends healing power into the body. By truly redeeming prayer Hezekiah was able to put away the Book of Remedies. There was simply no more need for it.