Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's All Good

When things go wrong.... there is usually a reason why.... do some soul-searching and try to work out why this particular thing happened and what Hashem is trying to tell you.

And they said to one another, "Indeed, we are guilty for our brother, that we witnessed the distress of his soul when he begged us, and we did not listen. That is why this trouble has come upon us." [Miketz 42:21]

The brothers realized immediately that when misfortune befalls a person, he must search his deeds to find a negative word or action that may have brought on such a punishment.  Then he should do teshuvah.

The brothers' teshuvah was remarkable in that:

1) They were able to feel remorseful about a bad deed they performed some twenty years earlier.

2) The fact that they could not find a more recent sin to explain their current misfortune shows that in the past twenty years they did not sin at all.

3) Their teshuvah was immediately effective in reducing the punishment: Yosef had promised to imprison one of the brothers, but after the brothers did teshuvah, Shimon was released [see Rashi to v.24].  Similarly, Yosef's harsh attitude towards them changed, for they were given food and their money was returned. And eventually, as a result of their teshuvah, Yaakov and their entire family were saved from hunger.

Source: Based on Sicha of the fifth day of Chanukah: Lubavitcher Rebbe

Rewarding the Wicked

Image: "Entrance to Gan Eden" by Menachem Kuchar
For Hashem admonishes the one He loves, and like a father, He mollifies the child... [Proverbs 3:12]

Often, when G-d loves someone, He causes him or her to suffer in this world in order to cleanse him or her of the slightest trace of impropriety, so that they will be absolutely flawless when they enjoy the rewards of the World to Come.

Conversely, G-d showers prosperity upon the wicked in this world, so that they will have no claim to reward in the Afterlife.

Last day of Spring....

.... or Autumn if you're on the other side of the world.

It's my birthday... another year older... my daughter made me this cake: (she's very talented... b"eh)

I just clicked onto my Stat Counter and saw that the 770,000th visitor had just visited Shirat Devorah.

Truly amazing! Thank you to everyone who clicks onto this site every day, and all the other occasional visitors, and all the commenters and emailers, I really appreciate your input.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Seeing Right Though You

The time has come when the truth is finally being exposed.

Both Hitler yemach shemo and Ahmadinejad are Amalek, we knew that.....  ages ago.

Now it's all over the news:   Ahmadinejad 'like Hitler'

The world of truth is seems to be arriving faster than we could have imagined.

And all those TSA body scanners at the airports are letting people know that the time has come when "we can see right through you".

All the lies are being exposed, people are being seen for who they really are. Secrets are being revealed.

It seems like the times of Moshiach are very very close.

Life is but a dream

Art: UKTara

"At the end of two years, it happened that Pharoah was dreaming....." [Miketz 41:1]

Pharoah's dream is the very beginning of the story of Egyptian exile.  The dream predicted a famine which eventually caused Yaakov and his family to settle in Egypt where, a generation later, they were enslaved.

In the times of exile, the Jewish people are forced to withstand the fluctuation between two contradictory modes of life: love of G-d at the time of prayer, and then total immersion into the physical world during one's business and private affairs the rest of the day. 

Chassidic teachings compare this situation to a dream, because in a dream two opposite, contradictory phenomena can co-exist simultaneously.

In order to hint to this idea, the precursor of the Egyptian exile - our current story - was recorded in the Torah as a dream.

Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe vol 15 p.346

Under the Jacaranda Tree

Springtime in Sydney

One Small Step... One Giant Leap

Art - The Garden of Melancholia: Mike Worrall

from the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

There was once a tzaddik who became very depressed and melancholy. This depression caused the tzaddik great difficulty, and it became worse and worse. He fell into lassitude and heaviness, where it was literally impossible for him to move.

He wanted to make himself happy and uplift himself, but it was impossible for him to do anything. Whenever he found something that would make him happy, the Evil One would find sadness in it. Therefore it was impossible for him to do anything to make himself happy, since in everything he found sadness.

He pondered G-d's kindness that "He did not make me a heathen" and realized that this could be a source of great joy, without any sadness.

{The main thing is to make a small beginning. G-d said "Open for Me like the eye of a needle, and I will open for you like the gates of the Temple" [Shir HaShirim Rabbah 5:3]. Thus, no matter how low a person is, if he makes even a single motion to serve G-d, it is something very great on high, and it can bring him back completely. [Likutey Halakhoth, Tefillin 5:43]  The main thing is to make the first move. If one begins even a little bit, one can go very high}

When a person tries to find joy in something that he himself did, it is possible to find sadness in every joy. No matter what he does, he can find shortcomings, and he will not be able to uplift himself and be happy. But in the fact that "He did not make me a heathen" there is no sadness. This is from G-d, G-d made him the way He did, and had pity on him, not making him a heathen. Since this was G-d's deed, there are no shortcomings in it, and hence there is no defect in this rejoicing. No matter what, there is an unimaginable difference between him and an idolator.

The tzaddik began to make himself happy with this. He rejoiced and uplifted himself little by little, continuing more and more, until he came to such a level of joy that he was on the same level of joy that Moses experienced when he went on high to receive the Torah. Through this uplifting and joy, he was able to fly many miles into the supernal universes.

He saw himself, and he was very far from the place where he had been originally. This bothered him very much. He felt that when he descended, he would be very far away from his original place. When it was discovered that he had disappeared, people would consider it a great wonder. The tzaddik did not want such publicity since he always wanted to "walk modestly with G-d". [Micah 6:8]

The joy came to an end, since joy has a limit. Therefore, joy begins automatically and ends automatically. When joy begins to end, it ends little by little. The tzaddik therefore descended little by little, coming down from the place to which he had flown during his time of joy. He eventually returned to the place from which he had ascended. He was very surprised, since he was in exactly the same place where he had been at first.

He realized that he had returned to the exact same place where he had been at first. Looking at himself, he realized that he had not moved at all, or if he had moved, it had been at most by a hairsbreadth. The hair on the head is the gate to the intellect. In Hebrew, the word sa'ar (hair) and sha'ar (gate) are the same. Therefore, if a person improves himself by a hairsbreadth, it can bring him back completely. Similarly, if a person strays from G-d by a hairsbreadth, it can do much damage [Likutey Halakhoth, Choshen Mishpat, Nezikin 4:3]

He had moved so little, that no one other than G-d could measure it. The tzaddik was very surprised at this. Here he had flown so far, through so many universes, and at the same time, he had not moved at all. This showed him how precious in G-d's eyes is even the slightest motion.

When a person moves himself even a hairsbreadth in this world, it can be considered more than thousands of miles, and even thousands of universes. This can be understood when we realize that the physical world is no more than the central point in the midst of the spheres. This is known to masters of astronomy. Compared to the supernal universes, the entire physical universe is no more than a dot.

When lines extend from a single point...
When lines extend from a central point, the closer they are to the point, the closer they are to one another. The further they extend from the point, the further such lines get from each other. Therefore, when the lines are very far from the point, they are also very far from each other. This is true, even though near the central point, they are extremely close to each other.

If one imagined lines drawn from the earth to the upper spheres (the orbits of the planets around the earth: a relativistic geocentric view of the universe) one would see that even if one moved a hairsbreadth, the movement would be reflected as a motion of thousands of miles in the upper spheres. It would be in the same ratio as the spheres are higher than the earth. The spheres must be very huge, since there are stars without number, and each star is at least as large as our planet.

This is all the more certainly true when one considers the supernal universe, compared to which, even the highest astronomical spheres are like nothing. Therefore, the distance between these extending lines in the supernal world is without measure. A movement of less than a hairsbreadth, so small that only G-d can estimate it, can consist of a passage through thousands of universes and thousands of miles in the supernal worlds. How much more so is this true when one travels a mile or more to serve G-d.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Feldman's Firey Friday Night

by Henry Benjamin 

A planned Shabbat dinner for twenty ended with unexpected guests for Rabbi Pinchus Feldman and his family…members of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs Fire Brigades.

The remains of the kitchen
As the family was preparing to welcome special guests from London, a smell of smoke pervaded their Penkivil St home in Bondi…followed by billowing black smoke as an an inferno engulfed their special Pesach kitchen.

When the fire was put out, Rabbi Feldman was amazed to discover that in the charred remains of the special kitchen, the haggadas and siddurs on the bookshelved had escaped unscathed.

Rabbi Feldman told J-Wire: “It seems my granddaughter had wandered into the kitchen and had played with knobs setting the stove alight. It was covered in polythene and paper as the kitchen is in use only at Pesach. The family was in a state of panic for a few miunutes as Rosie could not be found but we found her unharmed in another part of the house. I cannot explain why the Haggadat were not damaged…I will have to leave that to others. We were waiting for our special guests Rabbi Rappaport and his family from London. They are in Australia is here for their son’s wedding in Melbourne this week. We smelled smoke and thought it might have been the food burning but suddenly there was this huge billowing cloud of black smoke. My daughter Chana closed the door to the back of the house. The fire brigade told us that her actions delayed the fire spreading by about five minutes…just enough time for them to get it under control. Otherwise, it would have engulfed the whole house. If the brigade had taken ten minutes longer, the house would have been gone.”

It will be some time before Rabbi Feldman and his family can move back into their home. Rabbi Feldman said: “The only serious damage was in that room but the rest of house had heavy smoke penetration. But it is just amazing that in that room everything was destroyed…except the Haggadahs and the siddurim…simply amazing.”
Rabbi Feldman with the Haggadahs

The Rappaports had their Shabbat dinner with their host, the Central Synagogue’s Rabbi Levi Wolff while the Feldmans relocated to family homes nearby. No-one was injured in the blaze.

In the meantime, they expect to have their kitchen replaced and functional in time for Pesach… but the Haggadahs are ready for action.

Mikeitz: At the End (of Days)

The word Mikeitz means "At the end" as in the saying "the end of days" [Daniel 12:13]

In Aramaic the word "days" is almost identical to its Hebrew equivalent, but the last letter switches from a mem to a nun    ימים = ימין

The Zohar notes that this Aramaic word  ימין is identical to the Hebrew word  ימין , meaning "right" and on this basis, the Zohar concludes: There are two 'ends', one on the spiritual 'right' and one on the spiritual 'left'.

In Jewish mysticism, "left" represents the side of evil.  So, the 'end of the spiritual left' refers to the day when evil will cease to exist, with the end of exile, i.e. "the end of days" (קץ הימים).

"Right", on the other hand, represents goodness and holiness.  Thus we refer to the "end of the right" to indicate that there is no dilution of values in the realms of holiness, so the end is as good as the beginning.  The term קץ הימים ("end of the spiritual right") is thus an allusion to the final redemption, when good will triumph over evil, and we will see how good is found consistently throughout the entire world.

We are thus left with the question: Which "end" does the word Mikeitz refer to - the "end of the left" or the "end of the right"?

In fact, both could be argued:

a) At the beginning of our Parsha, Yosef is released from jail.  This was the end of Yosef's exile, i.e. the "end of the left".

b) On the other hand, we then read how Yosef suddenly rose to power and became ruler over Egypt - his redemption, represented by "the end of the right".

How could the two opposite concepts of exile and redemption be alluded to by the same expression?

Chassidic thought explains that the inner purpose of exile is that the Jews should be scattered around the world in order to "rescue" sparks of holiness which had been lost in physicality.  Thus, redemption is not the elimination of exile, but rather, it is the goal of exile.  And therefore, both concepts are hinted to by the same word.

Source: Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Gutnick Chumash

Friday, November 26, 2010

Peace and Quiet

Image: Blue Mountains, Sydney Australia

R. Shimon ben Gamliel said" "The world endures on account of three things: judgment, truth and peace." [Pirkei Avot 1:18]

Man's body is a miniature world [Tikunei Zohar 69:101a].  One of the things that preserves this world is peace.

A contentious person is always in pain.  At work he gets embroiled in arguments; at home he fights with his spouse. There is friction at his table and tension in his sleep.

A peace-loving person, in contrast, is calm and secure.  Everyone likes him; no one makes trouble for him.  He is happy to see others, and others are happy to see him.  He eats in serenity and enjoys restful sleep.

That is why peace is called שׁלום  - shalom. The word can be broken up into שׁלו "tranquil" and ם for מנוחה - "rest".

from the writings of the Ben Ish Hai

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Rosh Hashanah of Chassidus: Yud Tes Kislev

The Alter Rebbe - Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi author of The Tanya
The 18th of Kislev  marks the completion of the annual cycle of daily readings from the Tanya. The 19th and 20th of Kislev are the "Rosh HaShanah of Chassidus".

On Yud-Tes Kislev we re-commence the annual cycle of daily readings in Tanya, as divided by the Rebbe Rayatz.

It is the anniversary of the release of the Alter Rebbe - Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (Hebrew: שניאור זלמן מליאדי‎), the first Rebbe of Chabad, who was informed upon by misnagdim in Russia and arrested on trumped-up charges of supporting the Ottoman Empire.

His informers pointed to the fact that he would urge his followers to send money to the Land of Israel as "evidence" of his alleged insurrectionist aspirations (in fact, the money was sent to support poor Jews). At the time, the Land of Israel was a part of the Ottoman Empire, which was at war with Russia.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman was charged with treason, and released in the secular year 1798 on the Jewish date of Tuesday, 19 Kislev.

The 53 days of Rabbi Shneur Zalman's imprisonment are said to correspond to the 53 chapters of the first section of the Tanya.

19 Kislev is also considered to mark the day upon which Rabbi Shneur Zalman was conceived, for he was born exactly nine months later, on 18 Elul. [Shemu'os Vesippurim, Refoel Kahn, vol. 1, p. 39]

Rebbetzin Menuchah Rachel born (1798)

On the very day that Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi was liberated from prison, a granddaughter was born to him -- the daugher of his son Rabbi Dovber and his wife Rebbetzin Sheina. The girl was named Menuchah Rachel -- "Menuchah", meaning "tranquility" (Rachel was the name of a daughter of Rabbi Schneur Zalman who died in her youth).

In 1845, Rebbetzin Menuchah Rachel realized her lifelong desire to live in the Holy Land when she and her husband, Rabbi Yaakov Culi Slonim (d. 1857), led a contingent of Chassidim who settled in Hebron. Famed for her wisdom, piety and erudition, she served as the matriarch of the Chassidic community in Hebron until her passing in her 90th year in 1888.
The 19th of Kislev is also the yahrzeit of R. DovBer, the Maggid of Mezritch, who [as successor to the Baal Shem Tov] was the mentor of the second generation of the chassidic movement - from 5521 (1761) until his passing on the third day of the week of Parshas Vayeishev, Yud-Tes Kislev, 5533 (1772). His resting place is in Anipoli.

Rabbi Dov Ber was born in Volhynia in 1710, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, though other sources say his year of birth is unknown. Little is known about him before he became a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov. A Hasidic legend states that, when he was five years old, his family home burst into flames. On hearing his mother weeping, he asked: "Mother, do we have to be so unhappy because we have lost a house?" She replied that she was mourning the family tree, which was destroyed, and had begun with Rabbi Yohanan, the sandal-maker and master in the Talmud. The boy replied: "And what does that matter! I shall get you a new family tree which begins with me!"

How aptly those words described the role he was later to play; for the boy was destined to become the successor to the Baal Shem Tov.

Source: Chabad

Testing Times

Everything in the world - whatever it is and whatever happens - is a test, designed to give you freedom of choice. Choose wisely.

Occupy yourself with doing good, and the bad will automatically fall away.

Rely on nothing and no-one but G-d. This is true simplicity. Anything else means pursuing a complicated course of action.

Pray, pray, pray.  Whatever you need... praying is the best way to get it.

Keep in mind that the essence of your prayers is the faith you have in them that they will be answered.

Remember: things can go from the very worst to the very best .... in just the blink of an eye.

from the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Great Pretenders

Art: Mike Worrall

This world is a world of illusion.  The truth is hidden.  We are constantly bombarded by deception. People are not always who they appear to be.

There are some people who deceive everyone around them: they put on their masks to present themselves to the world, but if you follow them home, you will see them for who they really are.   It doesn't matter how many "good deeds" they do in public, if they behave like an animal in their own home, abuse their family.... manipulate their friends... they will be judged accordingly. They are the deceivers, the hypocrites, the mutton dressed up as lamb.

A time is coming when their deception will be obvious to all.

A time is coming where we will see the truth, and those who lie, cheat and steal, who abuse others less fortunate, who manipulate and terrorise, will be seen for who they really are.

The masks will fall, and the truth will be seen.

That time is coming, and it's coming very soon.

The Talmud [Bava Basra 10:] tells of what we now call a near death experience. Rav Yosef the son of Rav Yehoshua was 'dead' for a short period of time and then was resuscitated. To his father's question of what did he see, he responded: "I saw an olam hafuch (an upside down world). The elyonim ('high' people) were low and the tachtonim ('low' people) were high."

His father responded: "You saw an olam barur (a clear world)!"

Korea: Fulfilling the Prophecy ??

Flashpoint . . . smoke billows from houses on Yeonpyeong island after the North Korean artillery barrage. Photo: AFP

NORTH KOREA has burnished the leadership credentials of its 26-year-old dictator-in-waiting with a deadly artillery attack on South Korean territory, causing its neighbour to return fire and scramble F-16 fighters.
Two South Korean marines died, and at least 12 were wounded. There were reports of civilian injuries and houses were set ablaze as scores of shells fell on Yeonpyeong island.
A North Korea expert at Beijing's Central Party School, Zhang Liangui, told the Herald that Kim Jong-un was deliberately destabilising the environment in order to mobilise the military and consolidate his power.

[The following is authored by Dan S]

It is just beginning here in November 2010, the month of Kislev:  click to read North Korean Attack

Zohar Va'era

In the future the children of Yishmael will stir great wars in the world. And the children of Edom [the West] will gather against them, and make war with them, one on the sea, and one on the land, and one near Jerusalem; and each one will prevail over the other but the Holy Land will not fall to the hands of the Christian nations.

During that period of time, a nation from the "edge" of the world (note where North Korea is located geographically) will be awakened against wicked Romi. And it will make war against her for three months, and many nations will gather there, and they will fall by her hand, until all the children of Edom will gather against her from all corners of the earth. And after, G-d will awaken Himself against them, as it says, a "a sacrificial slaughter for the Lord in Batzra", and it says, "to shake the corners of the Land."

Zohar HaKadosh:

A nation will arise from one end of the world (North Korea) against the wicked Rome (Christian nations led by Obama) and will war against them for 3 months. Other nations will join in this war and will fall into the hands (of the nation from edge of the world), till all Edom will unite against this nation. Aterwards, Hashem will 'arise' against them, as it says, A gigantic massacre in the land of Edom.

Note: Immediately following this 3 month war, the evil leader of Edom (America) will spread out his rule over the entire world. Nine months into that move called the final tribulation and birthpangs of Mashiach, he will get up and destroy all the enemies of Israel and mankind.

[And thank you to Bramy for reminding me of this video below]

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Judging Others

 וַיְהִי אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה  - And it came about, after these words....  [Vayeishev 40:1]

The "words" that are referred to here are those of Potifar's wife, who bad-mouthed Yosef throughout Egypt.

From the actions of Potifar's wife, we can learn a powerful lesson about judging other people:

At first glance, Potifar's wife's actions appear to have been utterly evil.  Not only did she cause Yosef to be sent to prison, but furthermore, she spoke badly of him so that his name was blackened throughout Egypt.

Rashi however enlightens us to the truth, that even these actions were intended for the sake of Heaven! Despite the fact that she was brought up in the corrupt, idolatrous atmosphere of Egypt her intentions were pure, to the extent that our sages compared her to Tamar, the mother of "strong ones and righteous ones" [Rashi]. 

From this we can learn the importance of not judging other people by their first appearances.

Source: Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Art: Abraham Leon Kroll

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Divided Heart

Rebbe Nachman taught: A person's heart contains two inclinations: one towards good and one towards evil. This causes division within the heart. An example of this division is when a person feels he "knows" that G-d is always present, yet is lax in using his prayer time to really speak to G-d. If he truly felt G-d's presence, he would certainly pray with all his might. The fact that he is lax and does not exert himself to pray with full concentration shows that part of him "does not acknowledge" G-d's presence. This is the result of a "divided" heart. [Likutey Moharan I 62:2]

Strife, simply defined, is a lack of accord between two parties. Two countries might argue between themselves, so might two families or two individuals. The strife that exists within one's own heart is the result of a schism between one's right side, which strives for spirituality, and one's left side, which pulls towards materialism. Someone who has not yet succeeded in fully purifying his heart will always feel this "inner strife". Questions of faith, and confusion concerning both one's immediate and longterm goals are all symptomatic of a divided heart.

Rebbe Nachman explained it this way: The world is full of strife. There are wars between the great world powers, there are conflicts within different localities, there are feuds among families, there is discord between neighbours and friction within a household, between man and wife, between parents and children... Life is short; people die a little each day. The day that just passed will never return, but people still fight, and never once do they remember their ultimate goal in life.

The characteristic traits of each nation are reflected in individuals. Some nations are known for their anger, for example, and others for bloodthirstiness. Each nation has its own particular trait. In the same way, these traits are to be found in each household. Even someone who wishes to live in peace can be dragged into conflict by virtue of his living among conflicting parties.

Man is a microcosm, holding within himself the world and everything in it. A man living alone can become insane, because his personality is forced to focus upon the "warring nations" within him, and he finds no peace. When Moshiach comes, all these wars will be abolished.

If someone's heart is divided, what can he do to "pull himself together"?

Rebbe Nachman placed much emphasis on the study of the Codes of Law. The Codes abound with discussions, sometimes quite heated, between the various Sages regarding what is permitted and what is forbidden, what is pure and what is impure, and so on. One's goal during one's studies should be to clarify the opinions of the Sages, bringing "peace" to the opposing views and coming to a clear conclusion. This method of study - examining opposing views and arriving at a peaceful solution - can have a deep and lasting effect upon a person's character. Employing one's Binah (understanding) to resolve a conflict of Torah Law can bring "peace" to one's divided heart, the heart divided between two inclinations.

Though this method of study is an advanced one and will certainly pose difficulties for those who are unfamiliar with the system of Talmudic research, Rebbe Nachman's directive to study the Codes in order to achieve lasting benefit is a universal one. In several lessons, he speaks about the importance of studying and knowing the Codes in order to proceed on the proper path in life.

Rebbe Nachman taught further: The good inclination is known as "a poor but wise child" [Ecclesiasties 4:13] - poor because few listen to him, wise because he leads one on the path of life. The evil inclination is compared to "an old foolish king" - people tend to listen because he is king, but his advice is foolish. These two inclinations represent the kingdom of holiness and the kingdom of impurity. One who studies Torah with effort strengthens the kingdom of holiness. [Likutey Moharan I 1:2]

The Arizal used to expend tremendous effort in his studies of the Codes. He exerted himself so much that it caused him to break out in a sweat.

Rebbe Nachman teaches that advice which comes from improper sources overwhelms the heart and putrefies it. The heart is then compared to an outhouse; the advice of that heart is malodorous. Rabbi Chaim Vital thus writes that the reason the Arizal worked himself into a sweat when he studied was in order to break the illusory powers of the evil inclination that envelop the heart. We know that excess waste products pollute one's system and we know that sweating is one way of purifying the body of this waste. The 613 commandments of the Torah are called the "613 precepts of advice". This type of advice also brings harmony to the heart, clearing it of division.

Source: "Anatomy of the Soul" by Chaim Kramer

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trust Only in Hashem

"Yet the chief wine butler did not remember Yosef, and he forgot him" [Vayeishev 40:23]

This verse seems redundant, noted the Maharam of Amshinov. Why must it state that "he forgot him" once it already informed us that "the chief wine butler did not remember Yosef".

The Rebbe answered: As soon as Yosef uttered his request to the chief wine butler he realized that he had sinned, as he had trusted in a human being instead of Hashem.  He therefore prayed to Hashem that the butler would forget his request entirely! And, indeed, "he forgot him".
Rashi explains that Heaven punished Yosef and made him remain in prison an additional two years because he placed his trust in the chief wine butler.

The Alter of Novarodok's (R' Yosef Yozel Horowitz) level of bitachon was legendary.

One night, the Alter was sitting alone in his house in the woods learning Torah by candlelight. He continued learning until his very last candle burned out.

The Alter was now left sitting in complete darkness and it saddened him that he would have to stop learning for lack of a candle. But then the Alter decided that he must strengthen his faith in Hashem and trust that He would provide him with all that he needed - including a candle.

The Alter quickly got up and opened the door of his home. At that very moment, a man stepped out of the forest, handed him a candle, and disappeared.

For twenty-five years, the Alter saved the candle as a remembrance of that miracle and to show his students that Hashem takes special care of those who sincerely trust Him.

But then a fire broke out in Novarodok.  The Alter's home was among the many homes that were destroyed in the fire.  The fire consumed everything that was in the house, including the wondrous candle.

"You should know" said the Alter to his students, "that Heaven made us lose the candle in order to teach us that we must trust in Hashem even when we have no proof that He will help us".

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Generation with the Face of a Dog

"With the advent of the footsteps of Mashiach, insolence will increase and prices will soar; the vine will yield its fruit, yet wine will be dear; the government will turn to heresy and no one will rebuke them; the meeting place of scholars will be used for immorality; Galilee will be destroyed, Gavlan will be desolate, and those who dwell on the borders will wander about begging from town to town without being pitied; the wisdom of the scholars will degenerate, those who fear sin will be despised, and the truth will be lacking; youths will put old men to shame, elders will rise in deference to the young, a son will revile his father, a daughter will rise up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's enemies will be the members of his household; the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog; a son will not feel ashamed before his father.

So upon whom can we rely? -- Upon our Father Who is in heaven."               [Sotah 9:15]

It's been totally apparent to me for a long time now that these days there is no-one who can help, and the only place to go to is straight to the top: to Hashem.  I  have stopped asking people for assistance, because I know there is none.  People have their own troubles to deal with, there's not much energy (or time) left for other peoples'.  I guess that's what it means when it says that the generation before Moshiach will have the "face of a dog".  

So I really want to share this with all of you, because it's pretty awesome.

I've been having some money problems lately, something I haven't really had to worry too much about for a few years now, but suddenly it seemed that everything changed, and the money stopped.  I wondered how I was going to pay my bills, like many other people who read this blog and who email me, money is the biggest problem of all.

So I said to G-d that it was too much for me to deal with.  I have enough to cope with one way and another, and I can't take on the "money" problem, it's just too hard.  Maybe G-d could step in and sort it all out.

That same day, in fact just hours after my conversation with G-d, the phone rang.  It was a rabbi who I have known for quite a long time. He asked me to do some transcription typing for him.... quite a lot of work, and enough to pay the bills for now anyway.

So I start typing..... as I am one-quarter of the way thru the work, suddenly I realise I am typing the answer to another problem I have.   Not only has this rabbi given me a way to pay the bills, he has given me the solution to a difficult issue.    And he doesn't even know that he's solved two problems for me, he is just the intermediary, the real problem-solver is Hashem.

I'm going to ask his permission before I blog the "solution" I just typed up for him.   But the main point of this is to say that G-d is listening, don't be afraid to ask for assistance.  That's what we're supposed to be doing now, in this generation with the "face of a dog" we can only turn to Hashem.   That's the whole point..... we have to learn to rely solely on G-d and not on other people.  

The Way It Is

The Kotzker Rebbe said: "Aub es geit nit vi es vilt zich, darfmen vilan vi es geit!" - "If it does not go the way you want it to be, then you have to go along with the way it is from Heaven".

[Rabbi Chaim Dalfin as heard from Reb Zelig Levin]

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tzedaka: Testing God

No-one ever became poor by giving charity. [Gittin 7a; Yoreh Deah 249]

The basic law of charity is to give one-tenth (ma'aser) of the income.  A higher level is chomesh or one-fifth [Yoreh Deah 249:1]. 

The Talmud teaches that one should give tithes in order that one become wealthy [Taanith 9a].

There was a wealthy man who commanded his son to give tithes. The field yielded one thousand kurim a year.  After his passing, the son felt that one hundred kurim was too much to give away so he did not tithe that year.

The following year, the yield was one hundred kurim. When confronted with the poor yield, his family said "Last year you gave tithes, the field was yours and the tithes G-d's.  This year the field is G-d's and the tithe yours." [Tosafot]

The Talmud further states that one is permitted to test G-d in giving tithes, to see whether one's income will increase. [Tosafot]  Conversely, any loss of income a person will sustain is decreed on Rosh Hashanah.  If he merits, it will go to charity [Bava Basra 10a]. "The door that does not open for charity will open for the doctor" [Yerushalmi]

Source: "The Master of Prayer"  by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, commentary by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

The Effects of an Eclipse

Source: Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Vol. XV
"The Rebbe's Treasure: Interpretations of Talmudic Stories"

The Talmud [Sukah 29a] states that eclipses are bad signs for the world. The Talmud then elaborates on what can cause an eclipse:

An eclipse of the sun occurs for the following four reasons: For not having eulogized a chief judge (a chief judge is comparable to the sun, for he enlightens and clarifies things for the community - Maharsha); for not having helped a betrothed maiden when she called for help (to save her from ill treatment); for committing adultery and for killing two brothers on the same day.

Because of the following four reasons the moon and the stars eclipsed:

For committing forgery, for false witnesses, for raising sheep and goats in the land of Israel (that is, for letting goats and sheep pasture from other people's fields - Rashi), and for cutting down fruit-bearing trees.

The Shaloh [Noach p.274b] explains that seeing the lunar eclipse implies a bad sign. Hashem would ascertain that the Jews would see it if they were sinning. However, if they were not sinning, Hashem would darken the sky so that the eclipse would not be visible.

This interpretation is not satisfactory, for the Talmud states: "For the following reasons an eclipse occurs and not an eclipse is seen". The very occurrence of an eclipse is a consequence of the aforementioned sins and not the sight of the eclipse. Furthermore, in cloudless locations such as Egypt [see Rashi Vayigash 47:10 and Vaera 7:17] the Jews would always be capable of seeing the eclipse regardless of their behaviour.

The Rebbe's Commentary:
How can we say that something as natural and predictable as an eclipse can have an affect on people's welfare? Furthermore, how can we say that the actions of people can provoke the occurrence of something that takes place as regularly and naturally as an eclipse?

It is a wellknown fact that Torah scholars had a vast knowledge of science in general and astronomy in particular. Astronomy was very important for the Jews in order to establish the calendar and proclaim the new months. Even great non-Jewish individuals would ask the Rabbis scientific questions. Therefore, we cannot say that the Rabbis were uttering nonsense when it came to the subject of the eclipse.

Mazal - or constellation - occurs when the stars are in a certain position. Some days or times are auspicious for a good mazal, others are known to be times in which misfortune could happen, G-d forbid, due to the unfavorable mazal. So at certain moments, the mazalot can have influence on the people. Even the day on which one is born has an influence on his characteristics (Shabbat 126a). Therefore, specific mazalot provide people with good or bad tendencies. (Nevertheless, the Rambam in Hilchot Teshuva 5:4 says that a person is not controlled by his natural tendencies and he has the power to change them)

During the time of an eclipse, the stars are in a position that can have a bad influence on the people. At such a time, the four aforementioned sins are more readily transgressed! For this reason the eclipse is a bad sign for the Jews, because they are more likely to sin than at some other time. As a result, they might be punished. Hence it is not our actions that cause the eclipse, but rather the eclipse that can alter our actions, triggering a heavenly punishment.

Therefore, if Jews are doing Hashem's will, the effects of the eclipse will not concern them. Chazal even say that we should not worry about the influence of stars if we do what Hashem wants. For as long as we do not let the bad mazal alter our actions, we do not deserve any punishment.

Jews are not limited by the boundaries of nature, including the celestial bodies. We have the power to change our mazal by doing good deeds. Our mazal depends on our actions and our prayers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Send me an Angel

An Angel is a messenger - "malach" in Hebrew. An Angel has no free will, they are intermediaries between G-d and the world.... so there is no point "praying" to an angel as advised by some "spiritual" sites. We pray to G-d and only G-d.

There are good and bad angels. The Satan is the worst of all.

Angels can come to earth when sent on a mission. As angels are only made of the elements of air and fire, it is very difficult for an angel to come to earth, they have to concentrate very hard, to focus themselves here. That is why they vanish suddenly when their mission is complete.

Sometimes only one person will see the angel..... sometimes many will see it. You will not realise it is an angel, it may have taken the form of a human in order to carry out its task. Often people are given tests by angels, appearing as beggars, asking for money or help.

The angels such as those who spoke to Abraham and Jacob were purely spiritual forces which appeared in human form.

Before a baby is born, an angel teaches the baby Torah in the womb:

The Talmud says :

A candle is lit on his head and he is able to see from one end of the world until the other end .... There isn't a better period for a person than these days [in the womb] ... They [the angels] teach him all of Torah ... and as he enters the world, an angel hits him on his mouth and he forgets it [to be recalled later throughout the course of his life through learning]. [Niddah 30b]

For every mitzvah (or good deed) a person does, an angel is created. This angel defends you in the Heavenly Court. And when we sin, or tell lies, or harm others.... we create for ourselves a prosecuting angel.

According to Maimonides, the degree of Divine Providence you experience is directly proportional to your attachment to God, and therefore the commandments which create that attachment are the true "guardian angels" of a person.

Rebbe Meir says: "If a person does one commandment, he is given one angel to guard over him; if he does many commandments, he is given many angels."

The angels that accompany us, watching over us, are our own, the ones we have created with each commandment we do. We might imagine that when we leave this world we'll be accompanied by millions of angels, but our Sages teach us otherwise. We are told that the quality of the angel depends on the quality of our mitzvah. It's a long way to the World to Come, and sometimes a person can arrive there with only one angel because all the others fell by the wayside, too weak to complete the journey. In order to create a powerful angel, we have to do each commandment "like fire," in Hebrew, K'AiSh, K = Kavanah (intent), A = Ahavah (love), and S = Simchah (joy), with deep intent, love, and joy.

Everything is by Divine Providence. If a leaf is turned over by a breeze, it is only because this has been specifically ordained by G-d to serve a particular function within the purpose of creation. [Ba'al Shem Tov]

The Talmud teaches that in many matters G-d controls the world through intermediaries (angels). In fact, the Talmud states that there are only three keys that G-d didn’t give over to intermediaries. They are: the Key of Rain (parnosa/sustenance), the Key of Childbirth, and the Key of Techias HaMaisim (the Revival of the Dead).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Story of Two Souls

Original Art by Esther Zibell
by Meyer Levin

The mystery of two souls that were separated and how the Baal Shem Tov brought them together when they suffered re-birth on earth.

The Baal Shem Tov said: From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to Heaven. And when two souls who are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together, and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.

At the beginning of every year, among the hundreds of pilgrims who made their way to the cottage of the Baal Shem Tov in Medzibuz, there always came a very small woman, poorer than the rest, and humble. She was the wife of a wood-cutter in a distant village. Each year she came on foot to Medzibuz, and bowed her small head before the Besht. And each year she would say to him: "I pray to G-d to give me a child. Rabbi, if you too will say a little prayer for me, the Almighty One will surely send me a child".

But the Baal Shem Tov knew that no soul was yet allotted to be born through her, and each year he said to her "Go home and wait".

Year by year he watched her growing older, he saw how she became bent with toil, and how the lines on her small face deepened with the pain of her unfulfilled desire.

But one year he said to her: "Go home. This year, a child will be given to you."

For the next five years, the little woman did not come to the Baal Shem Tov. He knew that she had a child, and that it was difficult for her to make the journey with the infant.

But on the fifth year he saw her coming. She led a child by the hand. She was so bent and shrunken that she seemed smaller than the young boy who walked beside her. She said to the Rabbi "G-d has blessed me with a child but I cannot keep this child".

The Besht put his hand on her and said "Is this not the son for whom you prayed so many years?"

"He is the flesh of my flesh" said the old woman, "but his soul is not kin to my soul. I cannot look into his eyes, for they are the eyes of a stranger. Rabbi, he is a gentle boy, and obedient, and good, but he is not of my poor world. I tremble before his wisdom."

The Baal Shem Tov looked at the boy. The child was beautiful, with a large head and great black eyes that were filled with mysterious wisdom.

"I am afraid of his eyes" said the mother. "Rabbi, when he was born, and he opened his eyes for the first time, and looked into my eyes, it was as if I had been pierced by two hot beams. I was terribly frightened. I knew at once that he was not my child. And ever since then, I have been frightened."

"Leave the child with me", said the Baal Shem Tov.

Then he raised the boy in his house, and as the boy grew, he began to study the books of the Law, and he learned so quickly and so perfectly that he was soon the best of all the scholars in the house of the Baal Shem Tov.

Many wealthy Jews, hearing of the intelligence and beauty of the scholar, came to the Besht seeking to make a marriage contact for their daughters with the boy Issachar. "It is not yet time for him to marry" the Besht would say to them.

But when Issachar was fully grown, the Besht called his trusted follower Rabbi Wolf and said to him: "I will give you the name of a certain man in a village far from this place. Go there and find the man. Ask him to give us his third daughter as a wife for our young Issachar."

Then the Besht told Rabbi Wolf of certain signs by which he would know the girl. He also told him her name, and her age, and how she would seem.

Rabbi Wolf journeyed to the distant village, and began to ask among the richest houses there for the man whom he sought. But the man was not known among the wealthy, nor was his name known in the synagogue. Then Rabbi Wolf went to all the places where men gathered, old and young, and enquired for the man he sought. But he did not find him.

At last Rabbi Wolf despaired of fulfilling the command of his master. He wandered alone on the road. Not far from the village he saw a poor man who was coming to the town, carrying on his back a great basket filled with vegetables. The man was bent under the weight of the basket.

"Tell me your name", said Rabbi Wolf to the gardener.

The man spoke his name, and the messenger knew that this was the man he sought.

"Set down your basket" he said. The man set down his basket.

"I have been sent to seek you by Rabbi Israel, the Baal Shem Tov. He asks if you will give your third daughter in marriage to our young scholar Issachar."

A smile came onto the face of the gardener, and he laughed with joy. "Why shouldn't I?" he said. "My house is filled with daughters! They run around barefoot, they quarrel over each crust of bread. And where will I ever get money to provide each of them with a dowry?"

"There is no need of a dowry", said Rabbi Wolf. "Besides, my master will provide the wedding, and give the bride wedding clothes, and furnish a home for the bride and groom."

The gardener was overjoyed. "It just happens that the daughter for whom you ask is the quietest of all the girls. She does the work about the house, and she comes out to help me in the garden. She is good and gentle. And yet, sometimes, she is as a stranger among us."

Then Rabbi Wolf told him the name of his daughter, and give him other signs to make sure that she was the one.

On the next day, the little old man and his daughter set off for Medzibuz with Rabbi Wolf. When they arrived, they were received with great honour by the Besht. The girl was given good clothes to wear, and shoes to put on her bare feet.

For the wedding festival, the Besht had sent to the little village where the mother and father of Issachar lived, and the aged couple came to see the wedding of their son.

A great feast was prepared, and the canopy was made ready. The Besht himself read the service of the marriage, and blessed the husband and wife.

When the wedding was concluded, the Besht sat at the head of his great table. On one side was the father of the girl, and on his other side was the mother of the boy. All the chassidim sat around the table. The Besht said "I will tell you a story". They knew by his voice that this was no idle story, and all became quiet and listened.

Then the Baal Shem Tov spoke:

Long ago in a distant land there was a King who passed his days in worry and his nights in torment because he had no heir. Year after year went by. He called in every wise man and every sorcerer in his kingdom, but their wizardry was of no avail. He sent to all the corners of the earth, and brought wise men and sorcerers to his court, and they tried with all their might to force the Supreme Will to send down a child to the King. But none of their efforts availed.

At last, the most learned of the sorcerers said to the King: "I have thought of a way". The King said "Tell me what it is, and I will do it, even if I have to destroy my Kingdom in its accomplishment."

The sorcerer said "In your land there are many Jews. These Jews have a powerful G-d. Send out a command forbidding the Jews to worship their G-d, forbidding them on pain of death to indulge in any of the practices of their religion until a son is born to the King. Afterwards, if a son is born to you, you may allow them to return to the practices of their religion. And say in your command that if any Jew is found worshipping his G-d while a son is not yet born to the King, he shall be put to death."

The King agreed and sent out a declaration that the Jews were forbidden to read their holy books, or put on tefillin, or wear a tallis, or circumcise their male offspring, or to perform any of the rites of their religion, on pain of death, until a son was born to the King.

Then darkness and bitterness came over all the Jews of that land. Many fled the Kingdom; others pretended obedience by day, but at night crept into houses of prayer that they had dug under the earth; they hid themselves in secret places, in graveyards, in forests, and there they worshipped their G-d with feverish intensity, begging that they be saved from the commands of their King.

The angels on high saw the suffering of the Jews. Then the purest choir of souls that encircle the throne of the Almighty had pity on the Jews, and begged G-d to send the King a son. But the Almighty would not yield or change the order of the going down of the souls.

At last one soul, purer than all the rest, the soul of a Tzadik who had been freed forever from earthly bonds, and who had won his place in the highest rings of Heaven, came before G-d and said: "I offer to suffer gilgul (reincarnation) and take earthly form again. Let me go down and be born as a son to that King, so the Jews of his land may be free once more to worship G-d."

G-d consented. Then the soul of the tzadik went down to earth, to be born as the son of the King.

But when the child was born, the King, in the greatness of his joy, forgot all about the Jews, and as no Jews were permitted to come into the palace, there was no-one to remind him of their suffering. The laws against them were not withdrawn and, just as before, they were forbidden to worship their G-d.

The prince grew. He became a beautiful boy, and he surprised everyone with his quickness in learning. The King took care that the prince should have no desire unsatisfied. The boy was surrounded by every luxury known to man, and provided with every delicacy. A hundred slaves bowed to the slightest movement of his fingers.

But the prince seemed to take no joy in luxury. He desired only wisdom. The most learned men in the kingdom were brought to the court to become his teachers, but the boy was so quick to learn that before he was six years old he had sucked dry the knowledge of all the wise men of the land. Then the King sent abroad once more and brought scholars and magicians to his court. But none of them could quench the thirst that was in the prince. Soon he knew all the languages of men, and all the sciences of men, and yet he was sad, seeking some unknown thing.

All day long he wandered by himself in the garden. His father the King would come to him and say "Why are you unhappy?" The boy would answer: "Bring me a sage who can teach me happiness".

The King was more grieved than he had been before the child was born. He did not know where to find such a sage.

At last, the King heard his people talking of a learned man who had appeared in the city, who spoke in the streets and in the marketplace, and whose words were filled with marvellous wisdom. The King sent out messengers to seek out the man, and after many days he was found in one of the small streets of the city. "Will you teach my son wisdom?" the King asked him.

The old man was willing to become the teacher of the prince, but he only asked one thing: "Give me a chamber that shall be for me alone. Let no-one be permitted to come into that chamber. And during one hour of each day, let me retire into that chamber, and be alone. Let no-one disturb me, or spy upon me in that chamber". The King granted this request and the stranger became the teacher of the prince.

The prince was happy with his new master. There seemed no depth of wisdom which he had not plumbed. They were together all day long and spoke of things on earth, and below, and above.

The prince did not know why it was, but he loved the aged stranger. He loved to walk with him in the garden, to sit by his side at the table, to listen to his voice. But during one hour every day the prince was unhappy. He asked the old man "Where do you go, when I cannot find you?"

The teacher said to him "I have a closed chamber and for one hour each day I am alone there".

The boy could not bear to think that his beloved friend should have a secret from him. He did not wish to spy upon his teacher, but at last, like a child, he could withhold himself no longer. One day he hid behind the curtains of his master's private chamber. He saw the master come into the room, and stand before the altar, and put a fringed shawl over his head, and wind tefillin around his arm. Then the boy stepped from his hiding place and said: "Here I am".

The old man was not angry with him, for he loved the boy. But he feared what might come of this knowledge, and he said to the boy "No-one must know of what you have seen here".

The boy said "Why do you do these things?"

The man said "I am a Jew".

The boy said "In all the times when you have been with me, I have felt at peace because you were at peace. But in this chamber I have seen you joyful, and I have never seen you so joyful."

The man said "Here I worship my G-d, and I worship my G-d with joy".

The prince wanted to be like his teacher in every way, and he said "Teach me to worship your G-d".

"It is forbidden" said the old man. Then he explained to the prince how the King had forbidden the Jews to practice their religion until a son was born to him. "With many others, I fled the Kingdom" he said, "but when I heard that there was a prince in the land, I returned. Nevertheless, the Jews are still forbidden to worship their G-d, therefore I put on my prayer shawl and tefillin in secret in this room, and no-one must know what I do."

After that, at the same hour every day, they retired to the room of the teacher, and the boy learned to read the books of Torah. He learned quickly, and the Tzadik's soul that was in him became joyous. At the end of that hour each day it became more difficult for him to tear himself away from his studies. "Let us spend all of our time studying the Torah" he said.

"Then we must go away from here" said the sage. And he made a plan. "We will escape at night, and go to a far city where we may freely worship our G-d."

In the middle of the night they wrapped their holy books in bundles and went out of the palace and fled. The old man took the prince to a distant city where he was known and honoured. There the boy grew, soon he became celebrated among the rabbis for his wisdom. "He will be a tzadik" they said of him.

But when they spoke in that way of his perfection, the boy became sad, and a vast yearning and loneliness came over his face. For he had already knocked on the innermost door of Heaven, and the door had remained closed to him, while a hand had shown him the blot that was upon his soul.

One day the sage took the prince to visit the head of the rabbis of that city. As they came into the house of the great rabbi, his daughter saw the young prince and her soul quivered. The prince looked at the girl and he felt that she would be the end of his loneliness.

Afterwards, the girl went to her father and asked of him that he speak to the teacher of the young scholar. The head of the rabbis came to the sage's house and said "Your young scholar is the worthiest of the young men. Let him become the husband of my daughter."

So the two children were married. So true was the love of their souls, that at the moment of their marriage a single light streamed upward to Heaven, and lighted the whole world.

But on the night of their marriage, the boy said to his wife: "Dear one, there will be times when my soul will leave my body, my body will lie as dead, and you will be stricken with fear. At those times you must not call anyone, nor be alarmed, but must remain sitting by my side, and wait silently until my soul returns to this body."

She answered "Beloved, I shall do as you say."

So they lived together in that city, and they were happy in their love.

But once, at night, the soul of the prince left his body, and was away for a very long time. The bride sat by his body, and held his hand, and waited. The hand became cold as stone. The face became white as snow. The brow shone in the pallor of death. From moment to moment she leaned her head to his heart, and she heard how the heart beat ever more faintly.

The bride was frightened, she wanted to run from the house and call people to help her, but she remembered the words of her husband, and sat by his side, and waited.

At last, when dawn came creeping, a flush of colour returned with the first flush of light to the cheeks of her husband. Soon she felt warmth in his hand. Then she knew his soul had returned to his body. But his body was very weak, and he did not rise from the bed.

"Know", he said "that this night I pierced to the highest of Heavens, and stood before the Unnameable Presence. And I asked what would become of me. My soul was born in sin, all my youth I was raised in luxury in the palace of a King, while my people suffered. And for the youth that I passed in ignorance and in luxury, and for that I lived uncircumcised, there is a stain upon my soul, and my soul will be forever prevented of attaining perfection. Then, there is only one thing that I may do. I may consent to immediate death. Afterwards, my soul must be reborn to a pure but humble woman, and the first years of my life must be passed in poverty, for only in that next incarnation may I attain perfection. Beloved, I must depart from this life. Beloved, let me go."

Then his wife said to him: "Only on one condition will I consent that you give yourself to death. Let me die with you. Let me be reborn when you are reborn. Let me come back to earth, and as your wife be one with you again."

He said: "May it be so".

They lay down to death together, and their souls went forth in the same breath. For timeless ages their souls strayed in the darkness where there is no boundary of space. And at last the soul of the boy returned to earth to be born as the son of a little old woman who lived in poverty in a wood-cutter's hut on the mountain. And the soul of the girl returned to earth to be born as the daughter of a poor gardener, the father of many daughters.

Then, far from each other, the two children grew. And in each child there was a sadness and a yearning for it knew not what, and each child, though gentle and good at home among its people, was as a stranger in its world.

And so all the days of their childhood and youth were a seeking for they knew not what, their eyes looked with hope toward each new soul, and yet they saw into endless darkness, until they forgot what they awaited. But know, my friends, that these two souls at last have found each other and have come together here as bride and groom on this day.

Then the Besht was silent. And all those who sat in the house felt a sweet joy arise within them, and they looked up with eyes that seemed to greet the wanderers of eternity, and all of their faces seemed to be lit by a single mightly flame that rose toward the Heavens.