Sunday, December 15, 2019

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Essence of Chanukah

Rabbi Kessin from 2017

Financial Advice from Yaakov Avinu

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"So he divided the people with him, and the flocks, cattle, and camels, into two camps" [Vayishlach 32:8

Ya'akov Avinu a"h prepares himself for a meeting with Esav with a three-pronged strategy - gifts, prayer and battle.

In preparation for the battle that awaits him, he divides his wives and children, livestock and all his possessions, into two camps. In this way, if Esav smites one camp, then the remaining camp will survive.

The sefer 'Eved Hamelech' points out an important foundation: The Torah uses this incident to teach us a strategy for life. A person should not invest all his money in one place. From whom do we learn this? From Ya'akov Avinu as it says, "So he divided the people with him".

This guidance on protecting one's assets also appears in Chazal [Baba Metzia 42a]: "A person should always divide his money into three, a third in property, a third in business and a third he should keep in his possession."

Ya'akov Avinu's approach imparts a practical lesson on how to protect one's possessions. If one divides one's belongings, with each part being guarded in a different way and different place, then if he loses one half, or it disappears or is stolen, he will still be left with the remaining half.

In connection to this idea, Harav Munk shlita, in his sefer 'Darkei Noam', quotes a wonderful story that is brought in Chazal, about the shrewdness and wisdom employed by one who was exploited, in order to retrieve his money:

A certain merchant traveled to a distant place and took with him a considerable amount of money. He debated what to do with this sum. On one hand, he was afraid to walk around with such a large amount, but on the other hand, he was afraid to entrust in the hands of someone he hardly knew.

In the end, he decided to dig a pit in the ground and he hid his money in that pit. But what he didn't realize was that a pair of envious eyes was watching his every move from the house next door…

As soon as he left, the neighbor discreetly dug up the money.

Sometime later, the merchant returned to the place where he had hidden his money yet to his dismay – the money was no longer there!

He looked all around and noticed that there was a hole in the wall of the neighboring house, from which one could observe the entire area, including this part of the ground where he had hidden his money… He hurried over to the house and poured out his 'predicament' to the owner:

"My dear acquaintance, I recently came to stay in this area and I am still not familiar with the local people. I possess two wallets, one contains five hundred zehuvim and the second one contains one thousand zehuvim. I hid the first wallet in a secret place, and now I am debating what to do with the other wallet. Is it worth hiding it in the same place as the first wallet, or is it better that I give it over to one of the locals for safekeeping?

"The best thing to do," advised the owner, who was already picturing one thousand zehuvim falling into his hands, "is to hide it in the same place as the first wallet."

As soon as the merchant left his house, the neighbor realized that his advice would not serve him at all. In just another moment, the merchant will uncover the hole and discover that all his money has disappeared! Then he will certainly not hide his second wallet in the same place!

He came up with a grand idea…

He took out the wallet which was still full of money and quickly replaced it in its original hiding place. The merchant, who was waiting for this to happen, then approached the pit, took the wallet that had been returned and hurried home…

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Trump Signs Order Targeting Anti-Semitism

President Donald Trump signed an executive order to interpret Judaism as a nationality, not just a religion, that allows the Education Department to withhold federal funding from colleges and universities if they fail to combat anti-Semitism. He made the remarks at a White House Hannukah reception, flanked by first lady Melania Trump.

An Eighth of an Eighth

"I have become unworthy through all the acts of kindness" [Vayishlach 32:11]

The Vilna Gaon was once asked to explain Chazal's statement [Sotah 5a]  "Said R'Chiya bar Ashi in the name of Rav: A Talmid chacham must have one-eighth of an eighth [of haughtiness]".  

Rashi explains that it is essential for a talmid chacham to possess this minute amount of pride in order to prevent those who are ignorant in Torah learning from making light of him and his words.  Why did Chazal choose specifically the measure of one-eighth of an eighth?

The term "one eighth of an eighth" answered the Gaon, is not a reference to a particular measure. Rather it is hinting at the eighth verse of the eighth parsha of the Torah.  The eighth portion in the Torah is Parshas Vayishlach, and the eighth verse of the parsha [32:11] begins with the word "katonti" - "I am very small".

While a talmid chacham must possess a certain amount of arrogance, it must be a "very small" amount.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Prayer for Rain

Prayer: via Rabbi C. Ingram
Video: HT Dudi


Heavenly Father, Creator of Heaven and earth:
You form the clouds and gather them one by one.
Please, in Your mercy, send rain of blessing and goodwill to speedily moisten and revive the parched earth of rural Australia.
May the fields of our fair island again be adorned with healthy crops and green vegetation.
May those who work the soil not become destitute for lack of produce.
Satisfy us all with Your goodness!
May all the inhabitants of this blessed land know that You are G-D who sends relief to the ailing. May the earth be filled with the knowledge and the glory of G-D as the waters cover the sea bed! Amein

Imposter Sydrome

Disgraced Prince Andrew's daughter, Princess Beatrice, has spoken about her  'imposter syndrome'  which apparently is a psychological disorder defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.  ''Imposters'' suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.  I must admit I had never heard of this particular syndrome before now, but it rang a few bells for me.

I often think I'm an imposter, and I shouldn't be on the internet at all.  To remedy this, I immediately put up another blog post.  Of course, I believe it is the yetzer hara trying to prevent me blogging about Moshiach.   Now I have another name for it.... 'imposter syndrome'..... I guess there's a term for everything these days.

You need a thick skin to be a blogger with a wide audience, and I don't have a thick skin, I am extremely sensitive.  I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to delete my blog, or just turn it off and keep it for myself only, use it as a filing system [which is actually how it began - it was my virtual filing cabinet where I would post any article that I wanted to refer to later, which had a relevance to my life].

There are some very disturbed people out there, some just leave nasty comments and others have their own blogs where they attack from the safe comfort of their own site.  I  generally don't read these blogs, but occasionally when I have some waiting time and I check them out, I never fail to be amazed that they are still ranting about the same stuff over and over again, attacking others and getting facts wrong.... deliberately mis-reading and or mis-quoting and sticking a knife into their rival bloggers' latest post.

I used to publish every comment I received, with the exception of the obvious scammers or Xtian links, but over the past six months I've been deleting quite a few because they are cruel.  I guess some of these people have issues with themselves and are venting at the nearest outlet that touches a nerve.... hopefully they will get the point and move on, as their bitterness is not welcome here.

Disagree with me all you like, that's fine, but please do it kindly and I'll publish you. I'm not really sure what I write that needs disagreements anyway, I steer clear of controversy for that reason.  

Imposter syndrome.... a new term for the yetzer hara or, as I choose to think of it, a new term for hateful bloggers and commenters... they are im-posters.

Messianic Headlines We See Today

Rabbi Lazer Brody on the Tamar Yonah Show.

It’s human nature to believe that we control the world. However, as hard as we may try, the Creator of the universe reminds us that He controls all. As Israel faces a possible third election, possibly even held on the Purim Holiday, it looks like G-d will have the last laugh! So what’s really going on in the news that’s happening and affecting us all? What lessons do we need to learn, and what do we have to do in order to bring about a pleasant arrival of the Messiah? Rabbi Lazer Brody joins Tamar and tells us what we all need to do, and what we might see in the future!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Small in his own Eyes

"[My merits] have become small" [Vayishlach 32:11]

When G-d shows His kindness to a person, it brings that person closer to G-d, causing his feeling of self-importance to diminish, since "everything is like nothing before G-d".

Therefore, it was precisely due to the fact that G-d had been so kind to Yaakov that he became small in his own eyes - for the kindness brought him closer to G-d, and so he felt that he was not worthy of G-d's promise to be saved.

Source: based on Tanya Igeres Hakodesh ch.2

How could Yaakov the patriarch fear that "perhaps... I have become soiled with sin" [Rashi v. 12] when surely he was aware that he had not sinned?

A tzadik is not static - he constantly grows spiritually from one level to the next.  After reaching a higher level, his previous actions are spiritually deficient compared to his current standing. They are thus considered as "sins", metaphorically speaking. [The Hebrew word for sin - chet - can also mean ''deficiency'' [see Kings 11:21]  Thus Yaakov was worried that perhaps due to such ''sins'' he was not worthy to be saved.

Source: based on Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Were You Ever Despised or Treated as Inferior?

I've linked to this post in the comments of another blog post, but it actually deserves it's own blog post as I know some people don't see the comments.

This amazing post at Myrtle Rising is like a gift.  Please go there and read it.

Were You Ever Despised or Treated as Inferior? Then You Need to Read Rav Avigdor Miller's Dvar Torah for Parshat Vayetzei

Eliyahu Ha Navi and the Death of the Satan

The title sounds like a Rabbi Kessin shiur, but it's actually Rabbi Yehuoshua Zitron.  Part 20 in his Moshiach video series.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Leftover Sparks

".... Lavan was informed that Yaakov had fled. He took his relatives with him and pursued him" [Vayeitze 31:22,23]

The Maggid of Mezritch taught: "Yaakov had left behind letters from the Torah which he had not yet extracted from Lavan. This is why Lavan pursued him - to give him the letters which remained with him.  An entire chapter was added to the Torah by these letters."  [Ohr Hame'ir, beg. Parshas Vayeitzei, see Ohr HaTorah vol 5, p.869a]

The "letters of the Torah" which Yaakov left behind were "sparks" of holiness.  In fact, Yaakov had spent twenty years in Lavan's house extracting whatever sparks of holiness he could find there, and when the process was complete, he left. At least he thought it was complete....

In truth, however, Yaakov had left some sparks behind, so Lavan chased Yaakov to give them to him.

Why did Yaakov leave sparks behind?

Chassidic teachings explain that, while most of a person's achievements in life come through his own conscious efforts, there are some "super-conscious" achievements that are so lofty they cannot occur intentionally.  So, while we are usually the ones that choose our own paths in life - to find the sparks which we are destined to elevate - sometimes our "sparks" pursue us, because they are too sublime to be "extracted" solely by our own endeavors.

Source: Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Gutnick Chumash