Monday, October 31, 2011

Miracle in Ashdod

[INN] A classroom in a special education school in Ashdod has served as a makeshift synagogue on Sabbaths for 40 years running. Throughout those years, not one Sabbath prayer was missed. Until this last Sabbath. And that was what saved the congregants from a Gaza missile that struck the synagogue's ...

Peru quake leaves 18th century cathedral seriously damaged

Lima Peru: Peruvian authorities said Saturday that 134 homes were destroyed and 103 people treated at hospitals for injuries during a 6.9-magnitude quake just off the central coast. 

Civil defense chief Alfredo Murgueytio told The Associated Press there were no deaths and most of the collapsed homes were of adobe.

Two adobe churches also were seriously damaged, including the 18th century cathedral of the provincial capital of Ica.

The cathedral, build by Jesuits, already was weakened by a 2007 earthquake as well as temblors in 1813 and 1942. Both it and another church in Ica were too damaged to safely enter, said Alberto Bisbal, a top civil defense official.

Source: Washington Post

Converts and Soul Roots


And Abram took Sarai his wife, his nephew Lot, and all their belongings, as well as the souls that they made in Haran; and they left to go into the land of Canaan [Lech Lecha 12:5]

When a person is in a state of small-mindedness (mohin d'katnus), he gives birth to the souls of converts. (1) This is the meaning of: "the souls that they made in Haran," which is the three aspects of Elokim in Smallness, having the numerical value of the word Haran (2).

(1) This idea, found throughout the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, is based upon the principle of root and branch souls. When a root soul falls to a lower level, it is in order to raise up the "branch" souls that are connected to him, who themselves are on a low level. Although converts may have very high souls - according to the Talmud, they observe the mitzvos with more exactitude than born Jews - before their conversion, their souls are locked in a Gentile body. A similar teaching can be found in the writings of the Baal Shem Tov concerning ba'alei teshuva - returnees to Judaism. Their ability to repent comes from the influence of a Tzaddik who has fallen to a lower level and raised himself again.

It is necessary to understand why G·d created a situation in which a Tzaddik falls from his level. It would certainly be better for him to remain constantly on his level and serve G-d with an expanded consciousness and to love Him perfectly. The Baal Shem Tov and my Master, Rabbi Dov Baer (the Maggid of Mezritch) explained it as follows. When the Tzaddik falls from his level and endeavors to regain his strength, he creates the souls of converts. This is like someone who wants to take his friend out of the mud. He also has to go down into the muck to raise him up." [See Kedushas Levi, by R. Levi Yitzchok of Berditchov, on the verse: "Your ointments have a goodly fragrance" (Song of Songs 1:3)]

(2) G-d's Name "Elokim" has the numerical value of 86. When multiplied by three, gives the number 258, which is the numerical value of the word "Haran." The implication is that when Abraham and Sarah were in the land of Haran - in a state of small-mindedness - they gave birth to the souls of converts: "the souls that they had made in Haran."

[See R. Yitzchok Luria, Etz Chayim, Sha'ar HaKelalim, chapter 13.3]

Sefer Baal Shem Tov: The Baal Shem Tov's Teachings on the Torah
Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Shore

Friday, October 28, 2011

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

Noahh 5952-5772

by Rav Yaakov bar Nahman

“How long can you tread water?” or “Now what did he mean by that?” and there is that song from a few decades ago “Rain drops keep falling in my head” (anyone remember what it appeared in?) [Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - Devo.]

Noahh’s name means “comfort” or “comfortable”. That’s cute but why would a child be given such a name? Can you imagine yourself calling your newborn son “Comfort”? Imagine the kids are outside playing ball with friends and you want your boy to come home. “Comfort, come home now.” Or how about the child’s first day in school and the teacher is asking everyone to tell his name and it goes like this, Moshe – Johny – Fredy – Abe – Shimon – Comfort and then there a moment of silence in the room before the rest of the class is rolling on the floor in laughter……

So why did his parents do it?

In last week’s parshah the very ground had been cursed by HaShem regarding mankind/ The Midrashim (ancient mystic sages’ commentaries) teach us that on top of that mankind was stuck with the fingers of his hands connected side by side, instead of freely movable individual fingers. This made farming and many other works difficult. When Noahh was born his father saw that Noahh’s hands were different. His fingers were separated from each other, individually movable. From that he realized that the curse was ended and said, “This (boy/man) will be our comfort”. Thereby the otherwise odd name.

That is quite something on its own. Yet there is even more to learn from the name and its implications. The reprieve of the Divine double curse was a boon for mankind. But, mankind had fallen under yet another curse and made things worse.

In last week’s parshah we had, [6:] 2 “that the ‘sons of God’ saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives, whomsoever they chose. 3 And the LORD said: 'My spirit shall not abide in man forever, for that he also is flesh; therefore shall his days be a hundred and twenty years.' 4 The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the ‘sons of God’ came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them; the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.”

Those ‘sons of God’ were members of a race of Angels who had gone down to earth for the purpose of trying to prove to HaShem that mankind is a worthless, unreliable creation and they are so much better. However to go down to earth and mingle with mankind they had to downgrade their “vibratory state” and become physical beings. They were soon to discover that not only were they no better, but they were even less moral and moral deviant and lustful etc. than mankind. To boot they taught mankind various “tricks of the trade’ that we would have been better off without. Among others, the art of warfare, the art of political intrigue, con-artistry, makeup for women and the art of the temptress to make them more alluring and able to control and play intrigues.

The Nephilim were powerful giants who had inherited the lustfulness etc. of their fathers.

From all that developed the violence and decadence we read about in the beginning of this week’s parshah. The Wild West, Chicago in the reigns of Al Capone Joe Bananos etc, all wrapped together were small potatoes compared to what went on back then.

Noahh’s father, who was one of the few decent people around in those days, got a glimpse of info from heaven - not just that Noahh’s arrival into the world signified an end of the Divine double curse, but also the end of the reign of terror and hyper-decadence that was so rife. What he did not get to see was that the end of the mess was to come about via the end of almost all of life on the planet.

The repair and rebirth of life forms' existence could only come about by the destruction of the decadent life forms and then to plant a new start. That HaShem did this by using a core of symbolic survivors of world wide destruction was in a way mercy on his creation. The only other option was to totally destroy the entire creation and start totally anew as had been done before Adam.

This eradication of evil and a second chance given to the world was also a “comfort”/Noahh.

Then to give mankind a set of rules that, by them, mankind would have guidelines to help prevent again falling into the hyper-decadence and violence of the destroyed generation..... HaShem gave the 7 Noahide Law Covenant. This too was a “comfort”.

Would that mankind through the ages had kept to that covenant, comfort would have been the order of the day, instead of the disease, warfare, famine etc. etc. that we have been experiencing all these millennia.

But mankind was still suffering from the poisoned mind set of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil.

Noahh spent 120 years building the Ark. Probably union workers with strikes like Israel and Italy combined. When people asked whatever for an immense boat in the middle of the eastern Turkish landmass, far from the ocean, far from any lake or river big enough to carry it, he warned them about the upcoming deluge and why it was coming.

They all laughed at him. However there came the day when the rains started: at first drip–drip then a drizzle, then actual rain. “See I told you so”. “Oh you crazy old fuddy duddy we have rains many times a year every year what are you dithering about? In few hours it’ll stop as usual.” But it didn’t stop. Instead it got harder and harder, heavier and heavier. Then Noahh hit the steam whistle and told his family and private zoo “All aboard that’s goin’ aboard”. Then all the ‘invited guests’ scrambled in and HaShem shut and sealed the door. The rain got heavier and people started singing “Raindrops keep falling in my head”. The panic started. They realized “Crazy old Noahh” was right after all. A major destructive extinction level deluge was coming. “Hey we give up we’re ready to repent” “Too late folks the ship's leaving harbor, time for repenting was before the rains began, the time window for reception of repentants is closed.” “What can we do now?” “How long can you tread water?”

Okay all joking aside. That is a funny way of describing what went down. But we need to learn from that, as our ancient sages have warned us, the final end game will be like that. There will be “natural” warnings; there will be those who warn verbally. Those who listen will be saved, those who won’t – won’t. Pay attention that in the soon-to-come final cleansing there will be a time when it will be too late.

Folks don’t miss the boat.

I feel it’s also worth mentioning another point about the 7 Noahide commandments. Would that most, even not all, non-Jews observe properly those few commandments this world would be so much better a place. I’ll tell you something I feel is really sweet and beautiful. There are 7 Noahhide Covenant commandments and 613 commandments given to the Jews in the Sinai Covenant. Add that up to 620 which is gematria (numerology sum) of the Hebrew word Keter which means crown.

Understand the importance of that seemingly little point. Both covenants are between HaShem and mankind. HE is THE KING and humans are HIS kingdom subjects. When we together follow his Covenant Commandments we are recognizing HIS KINGSHIP by making HIS crown (620/Keter).

When you, yes little ol’ you, wherever you are, whatever you feel your status in the world is, can by merely making the commandments that are relevant to your covenant nation’s with HIM of the two, you – yes you – are partaking in the coronation of HaShem. Isn’t that great? Wouldn’t it be a pity to miss out on that? Wouldn’t it be great to be a part of that?

With those tidbits as food for thought I send to all of you my precious brothers, sisters, friends and students my blessings for

Shabbat Shalom Umevorakh and for a good new month.

Rav Yaakov B

One Who Suffers

Art: 'The Garden of Melancholia' - Mike Worrall

The Talmud [Berachos 5] says one who suffers should examine his actions. If he doesn't find anything bad, he should consider it is due to "bitul Torah" [neglect of Torah study]. 

The commentators note "bitul Torah is also something bad. So how can one say he didn't find anything bad??"

The Vilna Gaon explains "If a person learned Torah properly, he would have found the "bad thing", since Torah opens a person's eyes to good and evil. [i.e. according to one's level of Torah learning will be his level of sensitivity to good and evil].

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nir ben Artzi - Codes in English

A special video from Rabbi Glazerson for Shirat Devorah readers - esp. Josh :) : Nir ben Artzi in Torah Codes - in English - with clarification regarding the word "chozeh" and more.

No Fear


In our rapidly changing society, events occur with such speed that before we absorb one, another is already upon us. Additionally, our attention span has become nil. We no longer know how to listen.... even while someone is talking to us, we are busy texting someone else or scrolling through our Blackberrys. So let us pause for a moment and review recent events.

During the last months, we have lost many great Torah sages, but I wonder if we truly feel the terrible void that has been left. And now, the beloved Rebbetzin Bathsheva Kanievsky has been called on high. Her sudden demise represents a tragic loss, especially to the many thousands of women who found solace and comfort through her loving guidance, wisdom and sage advice. May her holy neshama have an aliyah and may she continue to daven for all of us.

This past week has also been a cause for jubilation and thanksgiving. For the past five years, all of us have been davening for the safe homecoming of Gilad Shalit, and now, Baruch Hashem, this past Succos we saw our prayers answered. I realize that there has also been some controversy over the exchange that made his freedom possible – a thousand savage monstrous killers released for one frail, painfully thin little Jewish soldier! To many it is incongruous to even imagine that such a disproportionate, suicidal deal could be struck. Surely, this was a grossly dangerous, ridiculous exchange.

I am not going to argue the pros and cons of that, but I do know that every Yiddishe neshama is precious to us. Our sages teach that ‘kol ha mekayem nefesh achas’ – all those who save just one life, it is accounted to them as though they saved an entire world’. Of course, you could protest, “At what price?” These savage killers could, G-d forbid, take many more lives and encourage more kidnaping.

I am not a halachic expert and I am not here to make a judgment call on that. We are Am Yisrael, and we march to the tune of a different drummer. It is not that we are unaware of the terrifying dangers that this deal represents, but just the same, to us, every Yiddish neshama is precious, so even as we offer prayers of thanksgiving for Gilad’s homecoming, we also pray that Hashem protect us from these barbaric monsters and that they perish before they inflict more harm.

Throughout the years, in my classes, I have taught that one can always find some sort of “remez” - allusion in the parsha (Torah portion of the week) to events that are unfolding before our eyes. This time, it was not only the parsha, but the Book of Psalms as well which stunningly confirm this teaching.

The Book of Tehillim designates a psalm for each day of the week. Gilad Shalit was released on the third day – Tuesday, and the psalm for that day is number 60. There are two words in that Psalm that jump out and demand our attention – Succoth and Gilad. Indeed, the release occurred on the holiday of Succoth, followed by the words, “li Gilad.” “Gilad is mine”

As for the parsha which we read on Simchat Torah, it is written, “And Hashem showed him the entire land – the Gilad” [Deut. 34:1]

Farfetched? Coincidence? Remez (a sign), a message? Take it as you will, but the fact is that these are the passages that we read from the Torah and the Book of Psalms at the time that Gilad Shalit was returned to his land. So take a few moments, put aside your Blackberry and your cell phone, and think. Think some more and absorb.

For a long time now, in many of my messages throughout the world, I have quoted a passage from our sages which teaches that our final redemption will be akin to the first one when we went forth from Egypt. In Jewish history, everything is replayed – What was it that broke Pharaoh and Egypt? – The Ten Plagues. And indeed, today we have experienced the beginnings of this very same phenomena. Time and again, I have demonstrated how each of these ancient plagues has unfolded before our very eyes.

At one of my programs, a young girl approached me: “I have to admit that your examples cannot be refuted, but Rebbetzin,” she challenged, “what about the plague of wild beasts that roamed the streets of ancient Egypt? Surely such occurrences could never happen in our 21st century.”

Well, last week, we witnessed the unbelievable – lions, lionesses, tigers, wolves, bears, monkeys, roaming the streets of Ohio. Can you imagine looking out of your window one morning and seeing lions and bears in front of your home? You’d probably shake your head in disbelief and think that you were having some sort of a nightmare.

Yes, events are unfolding so rapidly that even as they do, we remain immune. We are so preoccupied with our addictive gadgets that we don’t see, we don’t hear, and we don’t think, but while we are playing games, time is relentlessly marching on. The signs are becoming more and more intense and menacing, but we congratulate ourselves and rejoice in a false sense of security. Bin Laden and Khadaffi have been killed, so what is there to fear? We forget that even before their elimination, they had become “has been” and no longer represented a global threat. Tragically, we are oblivious to the new menace that threatens us – IRAN!. Ahmadinejad is given free rein to continue her Satanic agenda while Washington ties up Israel’s hands and instructs her to “take risks for peace.”

Just recently, Ahmadinejad’s long arm reached the U. S. where he planned to murder the Israeli and Saudi Ambassadors .... Make no mistake about it, he has many partners ready to execute his nefarious plans and some of them are right here in our own neighborhood. Just consider Chavez of Venezuela. And mind you, he has these partners throughout the world, the most dangerous being Israel’s Moslem neighbors who, in the guise of democracy and with the support of the U.S. have overthrown their dictators. These terrorists have been romantically dubbed “Revolutionaries of the Arab Spring”, but they are the harbingers of a bitter Arab winter that could freeze the world.. They have only one agenda: “Kill the Jews! Obliterate Israel!”

Ironically, it is Washington that helped choreograph this ominous scene. With America’s blessing, Mubarak of Egypt, Khadaffi of Libya, have been eliminated, paving the way for Iran’s domination of the region. It is maddening when you think about it. It was only yesterday that America helped unseat the Shah of Iran, paving the way for the mullahs to take over and impose sharia law, and it is that road that made it possible for Ahmadinejad to institute his satanic plans.

As I write these words, the murderer of Khadafy is joyously celebrating, but even as this news reaches us from Libya, so does the announcement that henceforth Sharia will be the new law of the land. Ahmadinejad is laughing up his sleeve. Not only has Washington given him the green light and tied Israel’s hands, but Washington has also eliminated all his neighbors who would obstruct his path. To be sure, he has one more obstacle to overcome..... American troops stationed in Iraq. But not to worry – Washington will soon pull them out as well.

As you my readers know, I am a survivor of the Holocaust. I smell the toxic fumes that assailed us in pre-Hitler Europe, but not only has our generation lost its ability to see, to hear, but we have also lost our sense of smell, so as the toxic fumes assail our nostrils, we fall asleep and become oblivious.

I have just touched upon a few events that must give us pause, but trust me, my friends, there is much, much more. When will we realize that there is no one to help us – that in the entire world there is no one to even raise a voice on our behalf. We, the Jewish people are like one little lamb among 70 ferocious wolves who stand ready to pounce upon us and totally devour us.

There is only One source of help for us, only One support, and that is our Heavenly Father, the Almighty G-d. From time immemorial, He has saved us from their clutches. We need not fear.. We need only turn to Him – and if we do so, not only will He answer us, but He will take our hands and lead us through the dense darkness that looms menacingly before us.

“If only My people would heed Me – If Israel would walk in My way, I would subdue their foes and against their tormentors turn My Hand...” [Psalm 81]

What a simple teaching, and yet, how difficult to understand.

When Sheker Met Pachsa

This is one of the first things I ever blogged..... a timely message for the world.

by Rabbi Daniel Travis

Two by two the animals came into the Ark to Noach. [Bereishis Noah 7:9]

The concepts in this verse are illustrated by the following allegory:

Sheker (lies/deceit) approached Noach and requested entry into the Ark. Noach refused sheker on the grounds that it did not have a “mate.” When sheker left Noach, it met pachsa (financial loss and destruction) and proposed that they form a partnership, so that together they could gain entry into the Ark. Pachsa agreed, stipulating that any profit which would be earned through sheker would be handed over to pachsa to be destroyed.

There are many questions to be asked about this allegory. Why did our Sages see fit to single out sheker from all the possible negative character traits? Furthermore, why was it necessary for sheker to find a mate? Surely it would have been better to deny sheker entrance to the ark altogether. On the other hand, if sheker belonged in the world, should it not have been allowed to enter the ark without having to fulfill any conditions?

The decree of the flood was sealed on account of the dishonesty of that generation. Sheker was rampant, and there was no way to stop it short of wiping out the entire world. In the process of reconstructing the world, God wanted to make sure that the sins which had caused it's demise would not be repeated. Therefore sheker could not be allowed to perpetuate in its present form. However, it was important that sheker continue to exist in order for the iniquities of the previous generation to be rectified. This could only come about through recognition of the utter futility of any involvement with sheker.

When pachsa joined forces with sheker, causing the loss of all profits earned through sheker, it made it glaringly evident that any association with sheker is totally counterproductive. The lesson that would be learned from the alliance between sheker and pachsa allowed sheker to continue to exist.

After leaving the ark, sheker came to pachsa and requested all of the profits that it had acquired through under-handed methods. Pachsa reminded sheker of their agreement, and sheker was unable to respond. Although under normal circumstances sheker would have denied ever making such a promise, this case was different. Denying the truth would be tantamount to self destruction, for without its partnership with pachsa, sheker would not be allowed to exist.

At the time of the flood sheker joined with pachsa to teach the following generations the futility of trying to acquire wealth dishonestly. Although this type of destruction is certainly a punishment for one’s crooked behavior, there is a flip side to this relationship. Since pachsa “wed” itself to sheker, it can not affect any money earned one hundred percent honestly.

This concept was vividly demonstrated to the Jewish people after their Exodus from Egypt. For forty years they were sustained every day with manna, a miraculous food that descended from the heavens. Each individual was instructed to take an omer each day – not more, not less. If someone tried to “steal” a little bit more than he was allotted, the extra manna would disappear. The futility of taking more than was Divinely allotted was quite clear. Although we are not privileged to see this principle in action in such a striking fashion, it is still in effect even in our times.

Someone once came to Rav Mordechai Schwab and told him that one of his investments had gone sour, causing him a loss of seventy thousand dollars. Rav Schwab asked him if the money had been earned honestly to which the man replied in the affirmative. Rav Shwab assured him that he would recover the money, for wealth acquired honestly does not get lost. Within a few months the investment turned a profit.

Similarly, when Rav Chaim of Volozhin was hosting a meal in his home, one of his guests inadvertently knocked over the table. All the delicate porcelain on the table came crashing to the floor. The guests were all stunned into silence, in anguish over the tremendous loss which they were certain had occurred. Only Rav Chaim remained calm. He explained to his guests that property loss can occur only if the money used to purchase that property had been acquired corruptly. Since he knew that every penny used to buy the dishes that now lay on the floor had been earned honestly, he was sure that none of the porcelain had broken, so there was nothing to worry about. When they picked up the dishes, they found that not a single one was broken or damaged.

From the above incidents we see that the partnership that sheker established with pachsa still remains in force. As such, we can be sure that any funds acquired without a tinge of corruption are not subject to pachsa, and will be spared from damage.

(c) Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org

The Dove's Message

Art: Charnine
"The dove came to him toward evening, and behold it had plucked an olive leaf with its beak"[Noach 8:11]

Rashi, quoting a Midrash, recounts that the dove said to Noach: "Let my food be as bitter as an olive - as long as it is provided by the hand of HaKadosh Baruch Hu - and not as sweet as honey - if it will be provided by the hand of flesh and blood."

Why, asked the Dubno Maggid, would the dove make such a statement to Noach before taking leave of him and the ark?  Hadn't Noach so graciously provided for it and cared for all of its needs over the course of an entire year?

Rather, answered the Maggid, the dove was concerned that perhaps Noach would suspect that it had returned not because the flood had ended but because it knew that it would receive all of its food on the ark.  This is why the dove told Noach, "I have not returned for food. For I prefer to be sustained with food that is as bitter as olives, as long as it is provided by Hashem, rather than with food that is as sweet as honey but provided by man!"

Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hashem Sent Me


A true story - from a friend: 
Just now. Driving through the rain. Spotted an obviously Jewish man in his late 60s. Offered him a lift. He said "How did you know I needed a lift so badly? I am running late to an important meeting". I said "Hashem sent me to you". He asked me what I do for work and I told him. He said, "How interesting. This meeting you are driving me to, a group of us retired friends are deciding where to invest a pool of our finances. We were debating bonds, shares or property. You just decided for me. We want you to develop an 18 month construction project for us. I'll be in touch tomorrow." My jaw dropped and he smiled and said to me "Hashem sent me to you"!

Pray for the Redemption....

HaRav Moshe Halberstam, the Kiviashder Rebbe zt"l

HT: Yaak

Brooklyn, NY - Klal Yisroel suffered an irreplaceable loss as the Williamsburg community mourned the passing of one its most revered Rabbanim, Harav Moshe Halberstam, the Kiviashder Rebbe, zt’l, who was niftar yesterday.  He was 87.

The Rebbe, who was a direct descendant of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, zy’a, was famed for incredible levels of yiras Shamayim. 

“He feared an aveirah like someone trembles from a revolver pointed at his head,” his son Rav Boruch Nosson Halberstan recalled at the levayah yesterday.


On Hoshana Rabbah, a visitor asked him what the primary focus should be during davening on this special day.

“Daven for the Geulah Shleimah [pray for the Redemption]” the Rebbe instructed. “Everything is included in this request.”

Source and complete article: VIN News

The Sign of the Rainbow


And it shall come to pass, when I cause clouds to come upon the earth, that the rainbow will appear in the cloud. [Noach 9:14]

When does God show a rainbow?  

Rashi: When it arises in His mind to bring darkness and destruction to the world.  

Bachaye: The rainbow does not appear on every cloudy day or on any occasion that it rains, but only when the generation deserves destruction, to indicate that God is guarding His promise.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nir ben Artzi's Divine Prophecy - or not?

Jerusalem - Israeli Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Rav of Beit El and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalyim discounts claims that Kabbalist, Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi’s warnings several weeks ago of impending trouble in Turkey prove that he has the gift of divine prophecy, following yesterday’s devastating earthquake in Turkey.

“There are no prophets in our days,” R’ Aviner was quoted as saying in an interview with Israeli website Srugim . “Real prophecy ended 2,300 years ago and in our day only children and the mentally unbalanced have the gift of prophecy. While ruach hakodesh does exist, as described by R’ Chaim Vital in his sefer Shaarei Kedusha, it does not give one who is so endowed the ability to predict the future.”

R’ Aviner described R’ Ben Artzi as a “dear Jew, like every other Jew”, but cautioned that many of R’ Ben Artzi’s predictions have failed to materialize and suggested that those who want to know what will occur when Moshiach arrives should heed the words of the Rambam who said “no one will know what will happen at that time until it actually happens.”

While his previously written sefer “Ben Or L’chodesh” clearly states that there is no prophecy in our day, R’ Aviner insists that he was not targeting R’ Ben Artzi, but rather the notion that anyone has the gift of divine prophecy, a concept that R’ Aviner called “troubling”.

Asked to explain the cause of yesterday’s earthquake R’ Aviner told Srguim “earthquakes happen. We must daven that something like this never occurs in Israel.”

Source: VIN News

Also see: Rabbi ben Artzi on Turkey's quake: it's Round 1

and Focus on the Light   :  "In mid-September, 2011, Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi asserted that, "The leader of Turkey said what he said - and will receive a mighty blow from the Creator!"
The same week, just 6 weeks ago, Rabbi Nachman Kahana wrote these words: "I am waiting to hear a news bulletin that an earthquake of unprecedented force has swallowed up half of Turkey..."


Back in April, Rabbi Glazerson showed Torah Codes revealing that Nir ben Artzi is a chozer [seer] in the times before Moshiach - video in Hebrew only:

Noach: A Vessel of Giving and Receiving



This week’s Torah reading begins with the words “These are the generations of Noach/Noah… the earth was full of corruption…Hashem said to Noach, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth …Make for yourself an Ark.“ [6:9;14]

Noach is instructed to build an Ark to protect himself and his family from the subsequent Great Flood.

The reason given for the flooding/cleansing of the earth is, “… the earth was full of corruption.” The Talmud says that this means that the inhabitants of the earth were consumed with robbery and theft. [Sanhedrin] “…for all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth.” This is understood to mean that even the animal kingdom had become corrupted and there was interspecies relationships occurring even amongst the animals themselves. [Ibid]

Theft is an act of ‘receiving’ from another without consent, whereas interspecies relationship is an act of ‘giving’ without the other partner’s consent. In both actions there is a misalignment between the giver and the receiver.

The generation of the flood sensed that giving was an important part of their humanity, but allowed their selfishness to warp the give and take in the universe. They became selfish receivers and dominant givers, meaning that they received from others without giving in return and their giving was a dominating and abusive act.

The actions of humans affect the environment, and eventually even the animal kingdom became influenced by the unbalanced behavior of the human beings. Nature itself became infected with the tyranny of this generation, and the animals began mating with others not of their species. The masculine and feminine, giver and receiver, are designed to work in sync, yet, lacking the proper balance, giving became a method of controlling the receiver and receiving became a selfish act. This set the stage for wanton abuse.

Noach was commanded to build an Ark, a vessel which contained the universe in microcosm. Within this miniature world, Noach was obliged to give himself totally to the care of each of the animals, as well as the humans, that were ensconced within the ark.

His entire existence was both a constant labor of feeding and caring for the creatures, each according to their specific needs and schedules, and simultaneously an act of protection for himself and his family - sheltered as they were within the confines of the ark.

So on the one hand he was being protected from the outside forces of the flood, and on the other hand, his primary function in the Ark was to give to those who needed his care.Based on this state of existence, once the flood was over, Noach was able to rebuild a humanity based on a balanced equilibrium of giving and receiving.

The Energy of the Week:
A Vessel of Giving and Receiving

Our existence is a constant flow of giving and receiving.

To create a harmonious balance we must be sure that even as we protect ourselves and our loved ones, we are also giving out to the universe.

In order to give we must know how to receive, and in order to properly receive we must learn the art of giving, this way we complete the circuitry of life’s flow.

This week’s Torah reading imbues us with the energy of attaining this balance, to be able to give openly and simultaneously be capable of receiving that which we need to continue this cycle of receiving/giving.

We ourselves become an ark, a vessel, of reciprocity, and the energy of giving and receiving flow seamlessly through us, creating a harmonious, balanced universe.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ariel Sharon: Remains Responsive

The New York Times reports: Ariel Sharon, who suffered a debilitating stroke nearly six years ago while serving as prime minister of Israel and remains in a coma-like state, responds to some requests and, despite being fed intravenously, has put on weight, according to his son Gilad Sharon.

“When he is awake, he looks at me and moves fingers when I ask him to,” Mr. Sharon said in a telephone interview. “I am sure he hears me.”

Details of Mr. Sharon’s health and status have been closely guarded by the family. His son agreed to discuss the matter as he prepares to publicize a biography of his father that he has finished after four and a half years.

Titled “Sharon: The Life of a Leader,” and due out Tuesday in Hebrew and English, the book says of the famously stout former general: “He lies in bed, looking like the lord of the manor, sleeping tranquilly. Large, strong, self assured. His cheeks are a healthy shade of red. When he’s awake, he looks out with a penetrating stare. He hasn’t lost a single pound; on the contrary, he’s gained some.”

A year ago Mr. Sharon, who is 83, was transferred from a hospital outside Tel Aviv to the family ranch in southern Israel. But Gilad Sharon said that the stay was brief and that his father was returned to the hospital, where he had remained. He hopes that in the coming year his father will come home permanently.

“The problem is Israeli bureaucracy,” Mr. Sharon said. “I think it would be better for him to be at home.” He added that his father had been visited every day since his stroke either by him, his wife, Inbal, or his brother Omri. “We haven’t missed a single day,” he added.

He said that in recent times there had been no improvement in his father’s condition.

The book asserts that doctors and nurses urged the family to let Mr. Sharon die after his stroke in January 2006 because, as it paraphrases one doctor as saying, “Based on the CT scan, the game was over.” The Sharon brothers would not hear of it and insisted on an operation and other efforts to keep their father alive.

“I told them about a dream I had had many years ago,” Mr. Sharon recounts in the book, speaking of his discussions with the medical staff of Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. “In that dream I was with my father in the hospital. He was lying in bed, surrounded by medical staff, and they had all either given up or lost hope and were about to leave, and my father didn’t say a thing, but he stared at me with this look, with those green-gray eyes of his, and I knew I would never give up, and that I simply would not leave him. This was a dream I had when my father was healthy and strong and the scenario was completely divorced from reality. I did not tell a soul about the dream at the time, but now I shared it with them and my fear that it was happening now and that I would never be able to forgive myself if we did not fight to the end.”

While it has long been assumed in Israel that Mr. Sharon was kept alive due to his sons’ insistence, the book offers the first public acknowledgment and detail of the decision. Mr. Sharon was widowed twice, and his sons are in charge of his farm and his care.

Gilad Sharon adds in the book that while he insisted on not letting his father die more out of instinct and sentiment, it turned out he also had medicine on his side: the CT scan had been misread. Doctors acknowledged after the operation that his father was healthier than they had realized, according to Mr. Sharon.

Ariel Sharon was elected prime minister in 2001 and was at the height of his power when he had the stroke. Having spent his career as a hawk and a champion of the settler movement - amply documented in the new biography - he shocked his political base by removing Israeli settlers and soldiers from Gaza only months earlier, in the summer of 2005. He then left his political home in the rightist Likud party and established the centrist party, Kadima.

In the book, Gilad Sharon says he gave his father the idea of Israel’s unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza, saying that it had become impossible to protect the Jewish settlers there adequately and that most Israelis did not want to pay the price to keep the territory.

Two months after Mr. Sharon’s stroke, his deputy, Ehud Olmert, was elected prime minister.

Gilad Sharon, who was a confidant of his father’s and had access to his private papers, is not kind to his father’s longtime rival Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister and Likud leader. Mr. Sharon says in the book that in 1997 Mr. Netanyahu promised to make his father finance minister but then reneged.

“Netanyahu summoned my father to a meeting in his office,” he writes. “Standing at the entrance to the room and putting an end to the shortest meeting in the history of the prime minister’s office, my father said to Netanyahu, ‘A liar you were and a liar you have remained.’ ” (Mr. Netanyahu’s office denied that Mr. Sharon said that.)

Recounting his father’s decision to withdraw from Gaza, Mr. Sharon says that Mr. Netanyahu - who was by then his father’s finance minister - hesitated and demanded that the withdrawal be subject to a referendum. Mr. Sharon refused, and Mr. Netanyahu walked out of Parliament as the vote on the withdrawal was taking place. At the end, according to the book, Mr. Netanyahu returned to the floor and voted in favor.

“This was a true manifestation of Netanyahu’s character,” Gilad Sharon writes. “Not only was he subversive, but he was also a coward.”

A spokesman for Mr. Netanyahu’s office said, “Gilad Sharon has a long history of being highly critical of Prime Minister Netanyahu, and these charges are neither new nor surprising.” The spokesman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added that the parliamentary vote in question was a procedural one and that when the real decision about the Gaza withdrawal took place the following summer, Mr. Netanyahu voted against it and left the government.

Gilad Sharon joined the opposition Kadima Party last year and is thought to be interested in entering politics. He said, however, that having just finished the book, he was still contemplating his next step.

Source: NY Times/Matzav.com

Gilad's Release: A Message in the Torah Parsha

What would the Lubavitcher Rebbe have said about Gilad Shalit and the reference in the parsha to his release?

Rabbi Shmuel Butman presents Shabbos Night Live [video] - highly recommended!

And to pre-empt any queries regarding the 'speaking' at the Rebbe's grave: people go to the graves of tzaddikim to ask that those tzaddikim assist them, and so they 'speak' to the tzaddik...... don't misunderstand and think that chassidim pray to their Rebbes and not to Hashem.... that is not the case at all.   However, a tzaddik can intervene for us in Shamayim and bring about a salvation. Their merits are much greater than ours, they are closer to Hashem, they can [and do] intercede on our behalf..... This is why Jews will make a special trip to daven at the gravesites of tzadikim.


english from COLlive.com on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yarzheit: 25 Tishrei: R. Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Deberamdiger of Berdichev [1740 - 25 Tishrei 1810] is one of the most popular Rebbes in chassidic history. He was a close disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch. He is best known for his love for every Jew and his active efforts to intercede for them against [seemingly] adverse heavenly decrees. Many of his teachings are contained in the posthumously published, Kedushat Levi.

A Story of Rebbe Levi Yitzchok

The Jewish wagon drivers of Berdichev felt they had to be ready for work as soon as it became light, so in order to save time, they would wrap tefilin and pray speedily next to their wagons, and at the same time do all the little tasks necessary to prepare the wagons for the road that day. When the Berditchever first saw them doing this, he raised his eyes towards Heaven, and exclaimed, “O Merciful Father, how wonderful are your children, the Jewish people. Even while they work, they pray!”

Of course, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was not one to fail to try to improve the situation. One day he approached the wagoners as they were completing their prayers and removing their tefillin and tallises. Walking right up to them, he mumbled, “Why-do-you-pray-so-fast-no-one-can-make-out--the-words-yadayada-blablah-etc”

“WHAT?” they exclaimed in amazement. He repeated: “Why-do-you-pray-so-fast-noone-can make-out-the-words-yadayadablablah-etc”

“Rabbi, please slow down. And a bit louder. We can’t understand a word you are saying.”

“Aha!” Rabbi Levi Yitzchak pounced. “So how to you expect The Holy One to understand and accept your prayers, the way you race through them?”

“No, Rabbi,” responded immediately the most quick-witted one. “It is just like a baby that is first learning to talk. It sounds like nonsense and no one can understand. EXCEPT the baby’s mother; she can always understand her child.”

The Berditchever was delighted with their answer. He repeated it at every opportunity. It became yet another quiver in his arsenal to remind his Jewish flock as well as G-d of the ongoing love affair between them.

[Source: Yerachmiel Tilles]


Rebbe Nachman predicts the passing of Rebbe Levi Yitzchak

The Rebbe's conversation on Sunday night, the week of Noah 5570:

"My teachings are very great. They are filled with divine inspiration and can be used to predict the future. Listen carefully and pay close attention to my lessons and you will see the future. After things happen, you will also see that they were predicted in my lessons. It all has been set forth in my teachings."

I heard this after the Sabbath of Beraishis 5570. I had come to the Rebbe on Sunday night to show him the lesson "In the Beginning.... Before the Eyes of All Israel" as brought in Chapter 67 of the second part of Likutei Moharan.

That week we actually saw the Rebbe's words come true. That Sabbath's lesson had actually revealed deep secrets and predicted future events.

On the previous Thursday, the 25th of Tishrei, the famed Tzaddik and holy light, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchov passed away. Friday night was the Sabbath of Bereishis, and the Rebbe revealed the lesson "In the Beginning... Before the Eyes of All Israel". In this lesson, the Rebbe spoke of the "glory of Israel". He said that when a Tzaddik passes away, this "glory of Israel" is eclipsed.

News of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok's passing did not reach us until the following Monday. When the Rebbe revealed this lesson, we had no idea of his inference.

When we later heard of the passing of this great Tzaddik, we then understood the Rebbe's meaning. The lesson speaks of the eclipse of the 'glory of Israel", a title the Rebbe had often given to Rabbi Levi Yitzchok. He also spoke of him as the attribute of Tefillin. [During the previous summer, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok had travelled through Wallachia, and Rabbi Nachman had his Tefillin examined. He explained that both are "the glory of Israel".]

Esrogim had not been available that year, and only arrived miraculously at the last moment. The Rebbe said that he knew Esrogim would come, for he trusted in the Tzaddikim of our generation, particularly in the great Tzaddik, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, the glory of our congregation.

It is therefore obvious that with Divine inspiration the Rebbe had revealed in that lesson that the sainted Rabbi Levi Yitzchok had passed on. Look carefully into this lesson and you will see that it all speaks about this. Search, and you will find it."

Source: from the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, by Rabbi Nathan of Nemirov
Translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Release of Gilad Shalit in Torah Codes

Two new videos:



Five Years: Gilad - Before and After




In the blink of an eye

Did you feel it?

Yesterday was a kind of turning point. Erev Hoshana Rabba, the ushpizin of Yosef, and the miraculous release of Gilad Shalit.

How could it possibly be coincidental that Gilad, whose soul is connected to Yosef as we saw in Rabbi Glazerson's Torah codes, was released on the day Yosef is the spiritual guest in everyone's sukkah? There are no coincidences in this world, everything that happens here is orchestrated by Hashem. If you don't understand this yet, you need to go back and start again.

I know I'm not the only person in the world whose life has changed dramatically over the past few months. The world is moving into a new era, the signs are all there, and it's happening so quickly. Who would have thought that Gilad would be home for Sukkot? Alive. Talking. Sane. An unbelievable miracle.

I, for one, am not worried at all about the release of the terrorists. Hashem is in control here, and will take care of business, but for the moment, it's enough to have Gilad back. Ness gadol haya po. A great miracle happened here, make no mistake about it.

Everyone has a mission in life. For Gilad, it was a huge one, and not too many people would have the strength or will to survive in a dungeon for five years... but Gilad is special, he was given the necessary tools [as we all are] to cope with the ordeal that is/was his mission in this world. Whatever tikkun he was chosen to do, on behalf of klal Yisrael,  has now been achieved. We are one step closer to the Redemption. It should give us all encouragement in our own lives, when we are facing some kind of test, that there is a time limit to suffering, and one day we will all be set free from whatever kind of Galus has been given to each one of us.

Remember: things can go from the very worst to the very best...in just the blink of an eye.' [Rebbe Nachman of Breslov]


Gilad

All I can say is, thank God he's home.



In this forced interview, Gilad bravely answers some cruel and ridiculous questions from an insensitive reporter:



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Obama Thinks

Obama would have to be the most fascinating person I've ever kept an eye on.  Mainly because he makes no sense.  This article sheds some light.

The President isn't exactly a socialist. So what's driving his hostility to private enterprise? Look to his roots.

Barack Obama is the most antibusiness president in a generation, perhaps in American history. Thanks to him the era of big government is back. Obama runs up taxpayer debt not in the billions but in the trillions. He has expanded the federal government's control over home mortgages, investment banking, health care, autos and energy. The Weekly Standard summarizes Obama's approach as omnipotence at home, impotence abroad.

The President's actions are so bizarre that they mystify his critics and supporters alike......

Continue reading at: Forbes.com

It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Art: Mike Worrall
The world thinks the release of 1027 terrorists in exchange for one Israeli soldier is fair. [See UNwelcome]

The world is so crazy, people don't even realize it anymore.... . They should have marked their heads in advance, like the king suggests in this story:

"A king was informed by his chief minister that there had been blight on the crops that year. They were affected so greatly that anyone eating the grain would become insane. "But" said the minister, "there is no need for us to worry. I have set aside enough grain from last year's harvest for the both of us that will last until the harvest of the following year."

The king shook his head. "No," he said. "I will not allow myself any privileges other than those shared by my subjects.  "We shall eat of the same grain," the king continued, "and we shall both go insane together with the rest of the population. But here is what we shall do. You and I will mark our foreheads with an indelible imprint, so that when we go insane, I will look at you and you will look at me and we will know we are insane."
[Rebbe Nachman of Breslov]

It's All Good



Written by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski

Rabbi Baruch of Mezhibozh was reciting the prayer before Kiddush Friday night, and as he read "I thank You G-d for all the kindnesses that You have done for me, and for those that You will do for me in the future...." he paused and reflected, "Why must I thank G-d in advance for future kindnesses? Why not just wait until those kindnesses occur and thank Him then?" After a few moments of meditation, Rabbi Baruch said: "Ah, I understand. When those kindnesses in the future occur, they may be packaged in such a manner that I will not recognize them as kindnesses, but perhaps experience them as sufferings, and I will then not be in a position to appreciate them and be grateful for them. That is why I must thank G-d for them in advance."

After a few moments, Rabbi Baruch began to weep. "How tragic" he said, "that G-d will be doing kindnesses for me and I will not be able to recognize them as such."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nir ben Artzi on Shalit's release

Nir ben Artzi talks about the Shalit deal and says that the terrorists being released will get a hero's welcome in Gaza and will then eat each other up. He said that if the same deal would have gone through three years ago, the terrorists would have been organized and it would have been 100 times worse than what it will be now. He says that with Hashem's help, the whole thing should be successful.

Source: Kikar HaShabat

Spiritual Growth

The Hebrew term for festivals רגלים, is a derivative of the word  רגל meaning "foot".  This alludes to a level of profound commitment to G-d where one is not merely serving his Maker due to one's understanding, or due to one's spiritual sentiments, but rather, out of simple obedience, like a "foot soldier".

On the other hand, the festivals are also associated with joy, where a person's positive feelings towards G-d take outward expression.

What is the connection between obedience and joy?

The answer is hinted to by the fact that the Torah fixed the festivals according to the agricultural cycle.  In order for a seed to grow, it must first shed its outer shell, and only through this is the seed able to grow many hundreds of times in size.  Similarly, when a person puts aside ("sheds") his superficial preconceptions ("shell") about Judaism and observes all the mitzvot with absolute loyalty, he will experience an enormous spiritual growth.

And likewise, a person who serves G-d with joy which "breaks all boundaries" will experience an unrestrained spiritual growth.

Source: Based on Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Does Noam Shalit have Stockholm Syndrome by Proxy?


In psychology, Stockholm Syndrome is a term used to describe a real paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims....


Noam Shalit: No sign of life from Gilad yet
Father of captive soldier says there is no finalized timetable for his son's release. 
'Inshallah he is well,' he says ......

Inshallah ?

Source: Heading Home

19 Tishrei Yarzheit Vilna Gaon

Painting of the Vilna Gaon from Yesodei Hatorah School corridor wall

Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna - The Vilna Gaon - Leader of Lithuanian Jewry, Torah scholar and kabbalist. Born: Vilna, Lithuania, 1720 Died: 19 Tishrei Vilna, Lithuania,1797

Popularly referred to as the Vilna Gaon, the Gra (initials of Gaon Rabbi Eliyahu), or simply as the Gaon. Considered to be the greatest Torah scholar of the past two centuries.

Even as a child Eliyahu of Vilna amazed the congregation when, at the age of 7, he delivered a learned discourse in the Great Synagogue in Vilna. By 10 years of age he had surpassed all his teachers, and, studying by himself with total concentration, he acquired knowledge of the vastness of Torah in both its revealed and mystical aspects. Every minute of his life was devoted to Torah study. He never slept more than two hours in a 24-hour period; he never accepted any rabbinic post or leadership of a yeshivah. He taught few disciples, selected from the foremost Torah scholars of his time. He also mastered astronomy, mathematics and music.

Known for fierce opposition to Chassidut, which was initiated in 1736 by the Baal Shem Tov, he and his followers in this anti-Chassidic Movement were known as "Mitnagdim," or opponents. Their opposition was based on the beliefs, vigorously denied by Chassidic leaders, that Chassidut took liberties with the Oral Law, that it substituted emotion for intellect in the Study of Torah, that its form of prayer departed too far from the traditional form of prayer, etc.

The Vilna Gaon cleared a new path to Talmud study, focusing on gaining a clear understanding through keen analysis of the principals and approaches of the early authorities. His methodology stood in sharp contrast to the pilpul system of the Polish yeshivahs, an intricate system of creating a complex framework with which a series of questions would be answered. He toiled hard on emending the the talmudic and midrashic texts. Subsequent discoveries of ancient manuscripts confirmed the soundness of his corrections, which appear in the Vilna edition of the Talmud [Haga'ot Hagra].

His works which were recorded and published by his disciples, include Aderet Eliyahu, a commentary on the Torah; a commentary on Ecclesiastes; Shenot Eliyahu, a commentary on the Mishna, Order of Zeraim; Biur Hagra, a commentary on Shulchan Aruch; a commentary on Sefer Yetzirah, a kabbalistic work; and many other works.

His commentary on the Torah is filled with interesting allusions that show the oneness of the Written Torah and the Oral Law, demonstrating their common source in Divine revelation.

The Vilna Gaon was revered in Vilna and throughout the world for his phenomental knowledge and saintly character. One of his most outstanding disciples was Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, the founder of the yeshivah of Volozhin. Following the Gaon's approach to learning, this institution spread Torah for more than a 100 years. Today most yeshivas follow the study pattern of Volozhin, keeping alive the approach to Torah pioneered by the great Vilna Gaon.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Sacrifice of Gilad: It's All In His Name



Rabbi Katz has just analyzed Gilad Shalit's name, and uncovered some hidden secrets as to his mission in life. 

You can read it here: Gilad Shalit, Names, And The Akeidah


With heartfelt prayers for Gilad's safe return.

18 Tishrei: Rebbe Nachman's 201st Yahrzeit


Rebbe Nachman of Breslov's histalkus [ascent from the body] took place in Uman, a Ukrainian town in Kiev oblast, on the 18th of Tishrei, which is the second day of Chol HaMo'ed Succos, 5571 [Oct. 16, 1810]. According to his express wish, Rebbe Nachman was buried in the old Jewish cemetery, together with more than 20,000 martyrs of the Haidamack massacres of 5528 [1768]. His surviving family members included his second wife, who built over his grave the original Ohel [a wooden structure to accommodate those who wished to pray nearby]; his daughters Adel, Sarah, Miriam, and Chaya; and several grandchildren. According to one tradition, the Rebbe's father, Rabbi Simcha, survived him, as well.

It is customary for Breslover Chasidim to gather together on "Chai Tishrei" in order to commemorate the Rebbe's Yahrzeit. As is commonly the case in the Breslov community, there are no special minhagim [customs] associated with this event, other than lighting a Yahrzeit candle, giving Tzedakah [charity] in Rebbe Nachman's memory, and engaging in the study of Rebbe Nachman's writings.

Video: Rabbi Chaim Kramer speaks about Rebbe Nachman

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The fire in Tuva Zangaria Mosque - New Codes

Erev Sukkot: Sunshine.....

....but rain predicted for the rest of the week.... as soon as Sukkot begins, the rains come too.
The view from Vaucluse, Sydney
"During these seven days you must live in Succahs. This is so that future generations will know that I (G●d) had the Israelites live in Succahs when I brought them out of Egypt." [Leviticus 23:42-43]

One year, in the holy community of Kitov, it poured with rained on the first night of Succos. Rabbi Chaim, a great Torah scholar and opponent to the fledgling Chassidic movement ("the Sect"), was slightly aggravated that he would not be unable to enjoy the first night in the Succah.

While waiting in his house for the rain to abate, R. Chaim saw one of his acquaintances casually walking down the street as if he had already finished his Yom Tov meal in the Succah. When Rabbi Chaim inquired as to where he was going, the man told him that he was returning from having dinner in the Succah of Rabbi Gershon Kitover.   "And Rabbi Chaim," he continued, "there was a miracle there because not a single drop of rain was falling through the schach."

Rabbi Chaim asked his son to go to Rabbi Gershon's Succah and see if it really wasn't raining there. When his son came to the Rabbi Gershon's Succah, he looked in and sure enough, everyone was sitting, talking and eating. There was not a single drop of rain coming through the schach into the Succah. Rabbi Gershon invited Rabbi Chaim's son to join them but he refused, explaining that he had to return to have Yom Tov dinner with his father.

When the son returned, he told his father, R. Chaim, that it was true. "Father, Rabbi Gershon was sitting in his Succah, and I saw with my own eyes that there was not even a single drop of rain coming into the Succah."

Rabbi Chaim rolled his eyes. Of course he believed his son's report but he wasn't that impressed. The rain finally relented and Rabbi Chaim and his son went into their own wet Succah for Kiddush and the Yom Tov meal. Naturally, they discussed the miracle of Rabbi Gershon's dry Succah and other miracles that the so called Tzaddikim of the Sect were able to do. Rabbi Chaim said, "In my opinion, creating such miracles, as obviously done by our friend Rabbi Gershon, is against the spirit of the Torah."

Early the next morning, Rabbi Chaim and Rabbi Gershon met on their way to the mikveh, in preparation for fulfilling the mitzvah of the lulav and esrog.

"Rabbi," said Rabbi Gershon to Rabbi Chaim, "I understand that you were sitting in your Succah last night and speaking loshon hara about me."

Rabbi Chaim answered with astonishment, "How did you find out about what I said in my Succah? I was sitting there completely alone with my son. And I'm sure he didn't tell you what I said. The only logical answer is that a Heavenly angel told you. But that seems impossible because an angel does not have the authority to speak loshon hara."

Rabbi Gershon answered, "Our Sages teach us that 'Whoever fulfills one mitzvah acquires one angel to speak up in his defense, and whoever does one transgression acquires one prosecuting angel to speak against him.' So it was that prosecuting angel who you created last night by your loshon hara about me who came and told me what you said."

And so it was.

Freely adapted by Tzvi Meir HaCohane (Howard M. Cohn, Patent Attorney) from a story found in TREASURY OF CHASSIDIC TALES ON THE FESTIVALS by Rabbi S.Y. Zevin

The Sukkah and the Heavenly Hug


Adapted from the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s teachings by Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson

The Sukkah hut is frail and vulnerable, but its walls have basic specifications: They must be two full walls, plus a third wall of only 3.5 inches, measured in Hebrew as a ‘Tefach’ handbreadth. It’s okay to have 3 or 4 full walls; but the minimum is two plus a tiny bit of a third.

What is the spiritual significance of this tiny third handbreadth-size wall?

Anatomy of an Embrace
Two great Jewish thinkers, Rabbi Isaac Luria and Rabbi Schnuer Zalman of Liadi, turn our attention to the affectionate words uttered by the Bride in the Song of Songs: "His left arm is under my head, and His right arm embraces me."

These metaphors address two distinct moments in the relationship between G-d, the Groom, and His people, the Bride. During the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur "days of awe," G-d's "left arm," as it were, is under the head of Israel. The left side represents introspection, strict discipline and awe.

Sukkos, on the other hand, is "the time of our joy," when “G-d's right arm embraces me."

Our arm is divided into 3 sections. The first is the arm itself, from the shoulder to the elbow; the second is the forearm, from the elbow to the wrist; and the third is from the wrist to the fingertips.

Our Sukkah walls represent the "right arm's embrace." The first full wall represents a Divine embrace from the "shoulder" to the "elbow;" the second wall reflects the "forearm," and the third tiny wall symbolizes the palm’s embrace.

Expressions of Love
There are three ways of expressing love.

The first is words. "I love you," when uttered sincerely, has impact. A second, more powerful expression of love is a kiss. A genuine kiss expresses a deep intense feeling that may not be grasped in words. Words can state, "I love you," while a kiss declares, "I love you more then I will ever be able to tell you."

An embrace is a third expression of love.

Dissecting the Hug
Which form of love do children cherish most?

Children enjoy being spoken to. They certainly take pleasure from being kissed. Yet, most children, especially infants, cherish being hugged. When our children hurt themselves or break something, they cry and come running to their parents for a hug to calm them down and to restore their confidence.

Two significant features set apart an embrace from the other "love communicators."

Affection is directed primarily toward the face of the beloved. You speak to one's face, kiss one's cheeks or lips, or gaze at one's eyes. An embrace involves the nape and back of the one being embraced.

Another feature that distinguishes an embrace is the firm physical bond of a hug. When I utter words of love, even when I kiss, I am not holding on to you. But when I embrace you, even if you wish to escape my embrace, you are "trapped" in my gripping hug; I don't let you tear yourself away from me.

Two forms of love
There is reciprocal love and unconditional love. The first is directed to the face of the beloved one; the second is directed to the back of the beloved.

I may love you because of what I receive in return for my relationship. You may be wise, deep, sensitive, kind, beautiful, humorous, challenging etc. - qualities expressed through your face, eyes, ears and mouth - and I love you because of these or other qualities that enrich my life.

This type of love is communicated in words of affection, or in a kiss, directed toward the face of the beloved, the primary location of reciprocity. Expressing my attachment in these forms shows that I cherish you because of your qualities.

This love may be deep and can bestow blessings and fulfillment. Yet it is conditional on reciprocity. As long as you are here for me, I am here for you. In essence, I love you because I love myself, and you make my "self" so much deeper and happier.

Yet there is a deeper love of an embrace, in which my arms encircle your backside. The hug represents an unconditional, unqualified and absolute love. It is not about your face, it is about your back, an area lacking meaningful reciprocity. I don't love you because of me; I love you because of you. You may not give me anything in return for my love, you may even want me out of your life, but I still love you with all my heart.

Do you embrace your children?
That’s why children need their parents to embrace them.

When children get hurt or break something, they are searching for affirmation that their validity was not compromised. They are yearning to hear that their value does not depend on them being perfect and impeccable, but that their dignity is absolute. "Show me," asks the child, "that you love me unconditionally because of who I am and not because of what I achieve."

When a child cries because their finger is bleeding, and you simply place a band aid on the wound and go away, you may have forfeited the opportunity to teach your child the most important lesson: Your dignity stems from your very being. Even when you will fall in life and bleed badly, your very being and identity is indispensable.

We also relate to G-d on these two levels.

All year around, G-d's light relates to us as a result of the choices we make. The more we rise to the higher truth, the more we hear G-d’s silent voice resonating in our souls.

Throughout the year, we experience G-d's presence only through our efforts and toil to refine our behavior. When we meditate, pray, reflect, study and live morally and holy, we catch a glimpse of G-d's love toward us. When I work against my immoral temptations and cravings, I can at times sense a reciprocal kiss from G-d.

Throughout the year, we enjoy a reciprocal relationship with G-d. G-d might talk to you, He may even kiss you or gaze at you, but You must show Him your face. If you don't turn your back on Him, He will be there for you.

But during Sukkot, G-d shares His love unconditionally and embraces us.

We eat, drink, chat, and relax in a Sukkah- all mundane activities with little spirituality. Yet when performed in the Sukkah, these acts are a Mitzvah, a medium through which we relate to Him.

The Sukkah walls are saying: I love and cherish you not because of what you do for me or because of what I gain from you. I am attached to you not because of your spiritual sophistication or because of your noble pursuits. I love you because I love you. I am one with you as you are. I am in love with your very core.

So for a real good hug, spend time in a Sukkah.

Sustaining the Embrace
Each Jewish holiday leaves us with a special energy that affects the entire year. This Divine “hug” even while we are in a physical mode, empowers and inspires us to transform our physical and mundane endeavors throughout the year into tools through which to bring Divine light into the world.