Friday, June 29, 2012

Appreciate it While You Have it

by Rabbi Eli Mansour

“The nation settled in Kadesh; Miriam died there and was buried there. The nation had no water…” [Chukat 20:1-2]

Why did Beneh Yisrael suddenly run out of water when Miriam died?

Rashi explains that as Beneh Yisrael traveled through the desert, a miraculous, mobile well accompanied them to ensure that they would have a constant, adequate water supply. This well was provided in the merit of Miriam, an exceptionally righteous woman and prophetess, and once she died, the well was taken away, leaving the people without water.

The question, however, remains, why didn’t the well remain even after Miriam’s death? Was her great merit insufficient to continue providing the nation with water even after she passed on?

The Keli Yakar [Rav Shelomo Efrayim Luntschitz of Prague, 1550-1619] offers a remarkable explanation. He notes that when the Torah reports the death of Miriam, it simply states that she died and was buried. No mention is made of eulogies or mourning, in contrast to the Torah’s accounts of the deaths of Aharon and Moshe, where it is explicitly mentioned that the nation wept for the loss of their leader. It seems, the Keli Yakar observes, that the people were not moved by Miriam’s death, and did not properly eulogize or mourn for her. They failed to appreciate the fact that their constant water supply was directly and solely due to her. God therefore took away the well so that the people would appreciate what an exceptionally righteous person they lost. As they did not properly appreciate the miracle of the well and Miriam’s greatness which provided it, it had to be taken away.

The Keli Yakar’s insight teaches us the importance of appreciating everything we have while we have it. If we take everything we have for granted, then God is compelled to take it away, Heaven forbid, so we can appreciate just how valuable it is.

Unfortunately, we take so many things for granted in our lives. People do not generally appreciate their vision until, God forbid, they or someone they know suffers vision loss. We do not appreciate our health until, God forbid, we or someone we know takes ill. We do not appreciate our children until we meet a childless couple.

Each morning, we are required to recite a series of Berachot thanking Hashem for things that may appear simple and trivial. First and foremost, we recite “Elokai Neshama” to thank God for restoring our soul, for enabling us to wake up in the morning. We recite the Beracha of “Poke’ah Ivrim” to thank Him for our eyesight, “Malbish Arumim” to thank Him for our clothing, “Zokef Kefufim” to thank Him for allowing us to stand up straight, and “She’asa Li Kol Sorki” to thank Him for our shoes. We receive all these gifts, and so many more, each and every day, and our Sages who composed the liturgy wanted to ensure that we thank God for each one of them.

These blessings, like most of our blessings, are not fully appreciated until they are taken away from us. I once saw somebody I know running out of a burning building in a bathrobe; he was at the gym when a fire erupted, and he had no time to put on his clothes. This is when I appreciated the Beracha of “Malbish Arumim.” When we hear of somebody who wrenched his back during the night, we appreciate the Beracha of “Zokef Kefufim.” The Beracha of “She’asa Li Kol Sorki” came into focus for me after a bizarre experience I had once when I traveled to Mexico City to deliver a lecture in a large synagogue there. The hotel in which I stayed offered a free shoeshine service, whereby guests leave their shoes outside their room at night and then have it returned shined early the next morning. So, I left my shoes outside the room, and when I opened my door the next morning to go to the synagogue for Shaharit and my lecture…they were not there. I went down to the lobby to meet the people who had come to take me to the synagogue, and they saw me there without any shoes. This is when I appreciated the Beracha of “She’asa Li Kol Sorki,” that even the shoes on our feet should never be taken for granted.

Rav Avigdor Miller [1908-2001] would occasionally put his head in a sink full of water for several moments, until he needed to come out of the water for air. He explained that he wanted to feel grateful for the air we breathe at every moment of our lives. In order to truly feel appreciative, he deprived himself of air for several moments, during which time he was able to appreciate how precious the air is.

Part of the reason why it’s so difficult for us to appreciate our blessings in life is because we’re so busy complaining about our “problems.” These “problems” are things like traffic jams, a flat tire, a head cold, a misbehaving child, or a broken piece of furniture. When our emotional energy is expended on worrying about these “problems,” we are not able to feel happy and grateful for our blessings – that we have a spouse, children, a roof over our heads, a source of livelihood, friends, clothing to wear, and so on.

One Rabbi recommended that we each compile a list of ten blessings in our life and keep this piece of paper with us when we pray the daily Amida. When we reach the Modim section, in which we thank God “for Your wonders and favors that are given at all times,” we should look at the list so we can be grateful for the particular blessings in our lives. This will help us experience true gratitude, and appreciate what we have while we have it, so that the Almighty will continue showering us with these blessings and not, Heaven forbid, take them away from us.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Parshas Chukat: The Mysterious Friday Fast

The Magen Avraham cites a 'practice of individuals' to fast on the Friday prior to the reading of Parshas Chukas (OC 580). In general, it is an anomaly to have a fast day scheduled for a Friday. Of even greater significance is the fact that most fast days are established on a specific calendar date, while this one is not. The Magen Avraham writes that no matter what day of the month the Friday prior to Parshas Chukas falls, that is the day when 'individuals' fast.

What is the significance of this fast day? It commemorates the burning of 20 24 wagonloads of the Talmud and other Sefarim in France. When the event happened, it occurred on the 9th day of Tammuz. However, various Rabbinic authorities of that day learned through dreams that the 'cause' of the incident was not related to the day on the calendar, but to the fact that it was the day before the Torah reading of Parshas Chukas.

The Magen Avraham explains that the Aramaic Targum of the opening words of the parsha [Bamidbar 19:2] "Zos Chukas HaTorah" [This is the law of the Torah] is "da Gezeiras Oraiysa" [this is the Torah's decree]. This was understood to be a Torah decree that such a tragic event would occur on the Friday before this Torah reading.

The Imrei Shammai supplies additional historical background to this incident. He says that in the exact place where the Talmud and other Sefarim were burnt, the Jews of that town had in previous years publicly burnt the Rambam's Sefer - Moreh Nevuchim.

The Moreh Nevuchim was a controversial work. In those days, the Rambam did not yet have the unquestioning allegiance that he gained in later generations. As surprising as it may seem to us, he had his detractors and there were authorities that were highly critical of the Moreh Nevuchim. In fact, there were even some places where his Sefer HaMadah - the first volume of his Major Work "The Yad HaChazakah" was not accepted.

As a Heavenly punishment for this earlier burning of the Rambam's works, 20 cartloads of Torah books were now publicly burnt. When the Jewish community saw this, they recognized their earlier misdeed and repented by establishing a fast day. They prayed for forgiveness and subsequently there was no more controversy about the Moreh Nevuchim.

In this way they were very fortunate. They had a clear Sign from Shomayim in terms of what they had done wrong. It did not take a genius to put two and two together and draw the appropriate conclusion. The connection was obvious. This is the historical background of the custom of 'individuals' to fast on the Erev Shabbos preceding Parshas Chukas.

Source: Revach.net

Strait of Hormuz: Leverage Against Danger......

.... but more a sign of approaching Geula


Iran will use Strait of Hormuz as a lever if it faces danger


TEHRAN – The Iranian Army commander has said that the Islamic Republic will use the Strait of Hormuz as a lever if it faces danger.

“The imposition of new sanctions by the hegemonistic countries will not affect our movement, but if a situation arises that the Iranian nation is exposed to danger, we will use all levers including the Strait of Hormuz… to defend (the country),” Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan told reporters on Sunday when asked if Iran would take advantage of the major oil transit waterway if new sanctions are imposed on the country.

Story:  Tehran Times

See comments at: Geula Update from Rav Fish Hukat 5772

Background see: Dire Straits of Hormuz

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Three Levels of Forgiveness



Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much. [Oscar Wilde]

The people criticized G-d and Moshe: "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There's no bread and no water, and we're sick of this unwholesome (manna) bread." G-d sent venomous snakes upon the people, and they bit the people. Many people of Israel died. The people came to Moshe and said "We have sinned! For we have spoken against G-d and against you! Pray to G-d that He should remove the snakes from us!" Moshe prayed on behalf of the people. [Chukas 21:5-7]

Even after the people criticized Moshe heavily, resulting in a punishment of venomous snakes, we nevertheless find that Moshe did not bear a grudge and prayed for the people to be saved. "From here we learn" writes Rashi, "that if a person asks you for forgiveness you should not be cruel and refrain from forgiving."

This principle is recorded by Rambam in his legal Code, the Mishneh Torah, in three places and there are a number of variations which need to be explained.

1) In Laws of Personal Injury, Rambam describes the method and process of forgiveness. "Once the attacker has asked forgiveness once, and then a second time, and we know that he has repented for his sin and he has abandoned the evil that he has done, then one must forgive him". However in Laws of Teshuvah these details are omitted. Instead, we are told that "When the sinner asks him for forgiveness, he should forgive him with a full heart and a willing spirit." Similarly, in Laws of Moral Conduct: "If the person returns and aks him for forgiveness, then he should forgive."

2) The person who forgives is given a different name in each of the three laws. In Laws of Moral Conduct he is called the "forgiver"; in Laws of Teshuvah a "person", and in Laws of Personal Injury he is called the "injured party".

3) One further detail is that in Laws of Teshuvah a person is told not to be "difficult to appease". Why does Rambam use this phrase, and why only in Laws of Teshuvah?

The Explanation

Forgiveness can be carried out on three levels:

1) When one person sins against another, he becomes liable to be punished for the sin that he committed. In order to be relieved of this punishment he needs to appease both G-d and the person that he sinned against. Therefore, through forgiving a person for his sin, one alleviates him from a Heavenly punishment.

2) A higher level of forgiveness is to forgive not just the act of sin but the sinner himself. i.e. even though one person may forgive another for a particular bad act (thus relieving him from being punished) there still may remain a trace of dislike for the person in general. Thus, a higher level of forgiveness is to forgive the entire person completely for his wrong, so that there remains no trace of bad feeling between them.

3) The highest level of forgiveness is an emotion that is so strong and positive that it actually uproots the sins of the past, making it as if they never occurred at all. After such a forgiveness, the sinner will be loved by the offended party to the very same degree that he was loved before the sin.

It is these three types of forgiveness which Rambam refers to in his three different laws:

1) In Laws of Personal Injury, Rambam discusses the laws of compensation for specific damages that one person causes another. Thus, when he speaks there of forgiveness for a sin, he is speaking of the forgiveness that is required to relieve the sinner from the punishment of that specific sin. Therefore, Rambam spells out the precise method of forgiveness that is required to achieve atonement ("when the attacker has asked forgiveness once, and then a second time, and we know that he has repented for his sin etc. then one must forgive him"), because only by following this precise method can we be sure that the sinner will be acquitted of this punishment.

To stress the point further, Rambam speaks in terms of an "injured party" and the "forgiving" of the injury, as we are speaking here of a specific sin and its atonement.

2) In Laws of Moral Conduct, the focus is not on the actual sin and its atonement, but rather, the character of the forgiver. And, if a person is to be of fine character, it is insufficient to forgive a person just so that he will be freed from punishment. Rather, one should forgive another person completely (i.e. the second level above). Therefore, in Laws of Moral Conduct, Rambam stresses that "When one person sins against another, he should not hide the matter and remain silent" for it would be a bad character trait to harbor resentment, keeping one's ill feelings to oneself. Therefore "it is a mitzvah for him to bring the matter into the open".

Thus, we can understand why Rambam omits here details of the process of forgiveness, for the main emphasis here is not the atonement of the sinner, but the required character traits of the victim.

To stress the point further, the person is termed here not as the "injured party" but as the "forgiver".

3) In Laws of Teshuvah, Rambam is speaking of the highest level of forgiveness which is required for a person to achieve a total "return to G-d". For this to occur, the forgiveness must be done in a manner that is so deep that one uproots the sin totally; as if it had never occurred at all. This is because total forgiveness is a crucial factor in the sinner's overall return to G-d, as Rambam writes: "Sins between man and his fellow man... are not forgiven until... the person has been asked for forgiveness..."

Thus, Rambam stresses here that "A person should be easily placated and difficult to anger, and when the sinner asks him for forgiveness, he should forgive him with a full heart and a willing spirit" (despite the fact that these details are more appropriate to Laws of Moral Conduct), because the goodwill of the victim is a crucial part of the sinner's teshuvah. Only when the victim is completely forgiving - to the extent that the sin is uprooted, as if it never existed - can we be sure that the sinner has returned to be as close to G-d as he was prior to the sin.

To stress this point further, Rambam writes "It is forbidden for a person (not an "injured party" or "forgiver") to be cruel and difficult to appease" - i.e. here we are not talking merely of the minimum forgiveness that is required to relieve the sinner from his punishment. Rather, here we are talking of the victim as a "person". And one can hope that he will not merely "forgive" his fellow who hurt him, freeing him from punishment, but that he will allow himself to be "appeased" completely, thereby helping his fellow Jew to come to a complete Teshuvah.

Source: Based on Likutei Sichos Vol 28 Lubavitcher Rebbe

Monday, June 25, 2012

Chukat: The Death of a Tzaddik

Source: Rav Kook Torah
As the Israelites neared the end of their forty-year trek in the wilderness, they lost two great leaders, Miriam and Aaron. While a tremendous loss for the nation, their passing had a hidden spiritual benefit.

The Torah informs us of Miriam's death immediately after enumerating the laws of the Parah Adumah, the red heifer whose ashes were used for purification. The Talmudic sages already wondered what connection there might be between Miriam's death and the Parah Adumah :

"Why is the death of Miriam juxtaposed to the laws of the Parah Adumah? This teaches that just as the Parah Adumah brings atonement, so too, the death of the righteous brings atonement." [Mo'ed Katan 28a]
While this connection between Miriam and the Parah Adumah is well-known, the continuation of the same Talmudic statement, concerning the death of Aaron, is less so.

"And why is the death of Aaron juxtaposed to [the mention of] the priestly clothes? This teaches that just as the priestly clothes bring atonement, so too, the death of the righteous brings atonement."

In what way does the death of tzaddikim atone for the people? And why does the Talmud infer this lesson from both the Parah Adumah and the priestly clothes?

Larger Than Life
The principal benefit that comes from the death of tzaddikim is the spiritual and moral awakening that takes place after they pass away. When a tzaddik is alive, his acts of kindness and generosity are not always public knowledge. True tzaddikim do not promote themselves. On the contrary, they often take great pains to conceal their virtues and charitable deeds. It is not uncommon that we become aware of their true greatness and nobility of spirit only after they are no longer with us. Only then do we hear reports of their selfless deeds and extraordinary sensitivity, and we are inspired to emulate their ways. In this way, the positive impact of the righteous as inspiring role models increases after their death.

While stories of their fine traits and good deeds stir us to follow in their path, certain aspects of great tzaddikim — extraordinary erudition and scholarship, for example — are beyond the capabilities of most people to emulate. In such matters, the best we can do is to take upon ourselves to promote these qualities in our spiritual leadership, such as supporting the Torah study of young, promising scholars.

Two Forms of Emulation
In short, the death of tzaddikim inspires us to imitate their personal conduct — if possible, in our own actions, and if not, by ensuring that there will be others who will fill this spiritual void.

These two methods of emulation parallel the different forms of atonement through the Parah Adumah and the priestly clothes. Ritual purification using Parah Adumah ashes was only effective when they were sprinkled on the body of the impure person; no one else could be purified in his place. This is comparable to those aspects of the tzaddik that are accessible to, and incumbent upon, all to emulate.

The priestly garments, on the other hand, were only worn by the kohanim. It was through the service of these holy emissaries that the entire nation was forgiven. This is like those extraordinary traits of the tzaddik that are beyond the capabilities of most people. These qualities can be carried on only by a select few, with the support of the entire nation.

Muhamad Morsi the President of Egypt - Torah Code

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Living Waters of Miriam



"The congregation had no water, so they ganged up against Moshe and Aharon..." [Chukat 20:2]

Water assists the digestive system to break down food, and the water within the bloodstream carries those nutrients to all parts of the body.  This represents the mission of all Jewish women: to bring the well of living water - Torah - to nourish all segments of the Jewish people, even those who totally lack knowledge of it.  Thus we find that, while still in Egypt, Miriam devoted herself to small children, and her heroic efforts led to the annulment of Pharoah's decree against children.  Consequently, it was in her merit that the well water came, since water represents the universal dissemination of Torah.

Thus, when a mother, sister or teacher educates a child, we witness the modern-day "living waters of Miriam" sustaining the Jewish people in exile, making it possible to go peacefully throughout our current "sojourn" in the "desert" of exile.

In addition to providing water to drink, Miriam's well also made it possible for the mitzvah of taharas hamishpachah [family purity] to be fulfilled.  There was no other source of water in the desert, so Miriam's well served as a mikvah, enabling children to be born throughout the forty years.

The custom of drawing water on Motzei Shabbat [to draw from the well of Miriam] is cited in the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch.  This appears to suggest that it is applicable today; however, this was not a custom practiced in the House of the Chabad Rebbeim.  In any case, it certainly applies to all of us spiritually: studying this law about Miriam's well influences the whole week, that it may be a healthy week in both spiritual and physical terms.

Source: Gutnick Chumash: Based on various Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Friday, June 22, 2012

Solutions While You Sleep


I had a personal salvation this week, after several months of wondering why I was going through so much suffering - which was actually worse than anything I'd ever experienced before - and on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz I was given the answer via a dream - even though I didn't remember the dream, I woke up with the answer, just as I had prayed for it before I went to sleep.  Once I'd acknowledged it and dealt with it, the judgment on me seemed to disappear, and I felt so much better.

If something of great importance is transmitted to you while you sleep, you will wake up with it on your mind, and it is vital that you realize it for what it is, and act on it.  The part of our soul that ascends while we sleep can answer our deepest questions, so pray hard before you sleep for the answer, and if the time is right, you will receive it.

We have been taught that all suffering has a time limit, and if you are someone who is suffering through some kind of agonizing problem, know that it will end, and you will be given the solution to it eventually - the remedy is in your own hands, and Hashem will supply you with the answer if you genuinely want to rectify it.

This is known as a tikkun - a rectification - and the bigger the problem, the more likely it is that it is part of your life's mission to get through it and come out the other end, a better and stronger person.

Often the people we are drawn to are the ones who can help us fix ourselves, and sometimes we can also be the ones to fix them as well.  That is how tikkunim are achieved - some people have to meet simply for that reason, and therefore they are drawn to each other on some level, as their soul knows they have to work something out.  Soul attractions are real, not accidental.  We are magnetically drawn to those people who can help us find our way.  

This following piece of advice is from Shlomo's blog - A Perfect World Now

As the Vilna Gaon writes [Commentary on Jonah]:

“The main thing [to keep in mind, is that the purpose of reincarnation], is to affect the repair of a [negative] influence, originating in a previous lifetime...

[One way] to discern exactly what that negative influence is, is to reflect upon the type of wrong your soul yearns after the most, in this lifetime. That which you yearn after most, is likely something you became habituated to in a previous life.

And therefore pay attention to your vices. [They tell you exactly what you have to work on in this lifetime.] ...The main thing is, to repair that which one stumbled in in a previous [life] ...

That’s why some people are drawn after one type of sin, more than another. And that’s also why our Sages say, that one must continually judge himself, and weigh his actions..."

The Turbulent Journey of a Soul

The Needle and the Water-- The Turbulent Journey of a Soul
Four Levels of Resurrection: The Body, Animal Soul, Rational Soul, and Divine Soul -- Exploring Two Letters by the Lubavitcher Rebbe

A shiur from Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson
In honour of Gimel Tamuz: the 17th 18th yarzheit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe [this Shabbos]

at  The Yeshiva.net

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Yosef HaTzaddik

[HT: Jacob]



According to many opinions [some Say 27th of Tammuz] Tonight Wednesday Night/ Thursday is the Yartzeit of the Holy Yosef HaTzadik Son of Yaakov Avinu A”H Zecher Tzadik VKadosh Livracha

Many will light candles lilui Nishmasoi [In his memory] and will daven [Pray] that in his merit we should be worthy of Kedusha [Holiness and Purity] in regards to the Bris. 

Just as Yosef who withstood the most difficult tests so too we his descendants should merit the same. 

It is also known to be a great time for one to ask forgiveness for any Aveiros [sins] of the past in regards to this area.

Healing Powers of The Month of Tamuz

based on the teachings of HaRav Yitzchak Ginsburgh

What can we do to free ourselves from the cult of life as a tragedy? The first step is to see it for what it is—a form of shallow idolatry that cultivates a shallow approach to life’s true sorrows and pain. As the sages teach us, when a person experiences pain or sorrow it is a call from God above for soul-searching and a change in direction. 

The life-as-a-tragedy stance can be taken only when trust and faith in God’s goodness and loving-kindness has been cast away. Once these are gone, worship of the tragic becomes possible. In fact, one of the names used in the Bible for idols is simply “sadness.”

Recognizing that depression and loss of faith in life are forms of idolatry help bring home the Biblical statement that to follow God means to “Choose life!” But to choose life, one needs to be able to see the goodness in life. This second step involves our outlook on ourselves and on others.

The sense of the month of Tamuz is: sight. This means that the month of Tamuz is the best month of the year to learn to exercise our sight in the most positive way possible. Rectified sight involves both shying away from that which is negative (an ability associated in Kabbalah with our left eye) and training ourselves to see things in a positive light (associated with our right eye). In essence, both aspects are included in the right eye, which means that we should seek to see only the good points in others.

What stops us from being able to see the good in others is, almost always, envy. The sages teach us that envy breeds lust and pride. If you look upon others with envy, not only are you unable to see the good in them, but you are actually increasing your own lusts and cravings for those things that are the opposite of life. In turn, greater lust leads to greater envy and the cycle constantly becomes more vicious. To heal yourself you need an expert eye doctor. According to Chassidut, the first expert eye doctor was Moses, who healed the spiritual sight of the entire Jewish people with his own qualities of selflessness and unconditional love for all Jews.

A person who has healed his sense of sight in this sense gains the power to heal others with his gaze. The story is told of the greatest lover of the Jewish people in recent generations, Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, who would pray with eyes wide open facing the street and the comer and goers. His critics charged him with immodesty, but he would not change his ways. The inner meaning of his puzzling conduct was that his kind and encouraging gaze whilst clinging to God in prayer (not concentrating at all on those outside) was enough to change people for the better. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, one of Rebbe Levi Yitzchak’s great contemporaries found this idea in the verse: “A bit more and the wicked will be no more; for you will gaze at his place, and he will be gone.” Rebbe Nachman explained that by these words, King David meant that by ignoring the wickedness in a person and by searching for the good in him or her, one’s gaze has the power to annul evil. This is the Jewish response to life-as-a-tragedy stance.

Read complete article here: Tamuz: The End of Tragedy

The video below has been previously blogged by others, but contains references to the month of Tammuz specifically, so here it is again.



Hat tips: Joe and Miguel

Ulpana: Praying for Salvation

A fast was called for today in support of the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El. Many supporters are fasting in a “mini Yom Kippur” in hopes of changing the decree. ‘Mini Yom Kippur’ as Yidden Fast, Pray for Ulpana

Police held a large-scale exercise at an IDF base in the Arava region of southern Israel today to simulate the evacuation of five apartment buildings in the West Bank outpost of Uplana. The homes are slated for demolition by the end of the month in line with a High Court ruling, which said that the structures were built on private Palestinian land. Israeli Police Hold Large Scale Drill Ahead Of Ulpana Evacuation

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Melbourne Quake

THE biggest earthquake for more than a century has hit Victoria tonight with millions feeling it when it struck just before 9pm (AEST), lasting up to 20 seconds in some areas.
Story: News.com


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

For the Sake of Heaven

Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi took [himself to one side] along with Dathan and Abiram..... [Korach 16:1]

Chazal state in Pirkei Avos [5:20] : ''Any dispute that is for the sake of Heaven will have a constructive outcome, but one that is not for the sake of Heaven will not have a constructive outcome.''

What sort of dispute was for the sake of Heaven? - the dispute between Hillel and Shammai. And which was not for the sake of Heaven? - the dispute between Korach and his entire company.

Why, asked R'Yonason Eybeschutz, does the Mishnah state: ''The dispute between Korach and his entire company''?  Wasn't the dispute between Korach and Moshe?

From here we learn, said R'Eybeschutz, that the dispute was not between Korach and Moshe at all; rather, it was really between Korach and his assembly, as each one of them was vying for leadership and power!  Moshe Rabbeinu, however, did not take up their quarrel; on the contrary, he tried his utmost to appease them so as not to carry on a dispute that would eventually lead to disastrous results.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Monday, June 18, 2012

Moshiach on a Donkey

Art: Elhanan Ben-Avraham

Moshe complains about the accusations hurled against him and says, "Lo Chamor Echad Meihem Nasasi", I didn't even take a single donkey from them [Korach 16:15]. Rashi says this refers to when he came down to Mitzrayim to redeem them on a donkey, and he paid for it from his own money. Rav Shimon Schwab asks, why would Moshe think that he should have taken the money from Bnei Yisroel.

Rav Schwab answers that the gemara in Sanhedrin [98a] says that when the geula comes, if we are zocheh [deserving] Moshiach will arrive on clouds, if not then Moshiach will come come as a pauper on a donkey. Why? The whole world needs to know that Hashem is bringing the geula and Moshiach has no power by himself. If Bnei Yisroel are Maaminim and Ovdei Hashem then Moshiach can come in grand fashion and we will all place thanks in Hashem and not Moshiach. But if we do not recognize Hashem's hand, then Hashem will need to send a Moshiach who is powerless and destitute to show that it is not his charisma, brains, or money that will release us from the galus.

Moshe was the Goel in Mitzrayim. Bnei Yisroel was not zocheh and Moshe came riding into town on a donkey lacking any pomp or grandeur. He came with the stick in his hand and the shirt on his back. To show his poverty he should have asked Bnei Yisroel to pay for his donkey. Even then he did not, since he did not want to take anything from any member of Klal Yisroel.

Source: Revach.net

Sunday, June 17, 2012

European Bank Run

SAVERS take billions of Euros out of European banks to protect their cash. Pity that's just going to make the storm worse.
  • Savers make a run on European banks 
  • Putting cash into property, hoarding at home 
  • Removing cash will just make banks less stable 
  • How shock waves will hit if Greece drops the Euro 
Savers across Europe are fleeing the continent's debt crisis.

In Europe's most economically stricken countries, people are taking their money out of their banks as a way to protect their savings from the continent's growing financial storm.

Worried that their savings could be devalued, or that banks are on the verge of collapse and that governments cannot make good on deposit insurance, people in Greece, Spain and beyond are withdrawing euros by the billions - behavior that is magnifying their countries' financial stresses. The money is being hoarded at home or deposited in banks in more stable economies.

Read more: News.com

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why Me?

by Rabbi Aron Moss

Question of the Week:
Does G-d pick on some people? I think he is picking on me because I have suffered one loss after another for much of my life. It seems that as soon as I have survived one tragedy, another one comes crashing down on me. I always bounce back but I am starting to take it personally...

Answer:
There was once a tow-truck driver who lived near a muddy old country road. Every day he would jump into his truck and drive a mile or so to a particularly sludgy bend in the road, and every day his truck would get stuck in the mud. But it was a trusty old truck, and its chunky tires and growling engine would always be able to beat the mud and climb up onto solid ground.

Most days, as he drove along he would encounter other motorists who had unknowingly ventured onto the muddy road and got stuck in the bog. Some of them had been trapped there for hours, haplessly revving their engines and watching their wheels spin aimlessly in the muck. The truck driver would appear like a savior and offer them a tow, drag them out and set them back on the road.

The truck driver's son once asked him, "Why do you always drive down this muddy road. You always get stuck in it. Why don't you take your truck somewhere smoother, where the road is clear and dry?"

"That's the whole point," said the truckie to his son. "My tow-truck has the power to get through that mud. The only reason I pass by there every day is to find others who are stuck and can't get out themselves. That's what a tow truck is for."

Some souls are like tow-trucks. They somehow have the strength to burst through the thickest and muddiest roads of life. No matter what life throws at these people, they muster the inner fortitude to get through. And so they keep getting thrown into the abyss, over and over again.

What these souls probably don't even realize is that they are helping others. When you face a tough time and beat it, you bring light into that dark place, which can shine a path for others who are stuck in their own darkness. It could even be that the only reason you had to pass through that dark roadway is to help drag other souls out of their darkness.

Sometimes we help others directly, by sharing our experiences and teaching a new way to those who can't see a way out. Or it may happen indirectly. The mere fact that you went through it and survived blazes a pathway, opens a door, and other suffering souls whom you may never meet suddenly find a way out of their quagmire and are set free.

So perhaps you are a tow-truck soul. Perhaps sometimes you are being towed. We all experience both. But if we would realize that every time we conquer our own darkness we may be helping someone who can't help themselves, we would be inspired to keep on trucking.

Ask Not Whether, But How

by Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson

Kill the Messenger? Why were the Spies Condemned for Reporting the Facts?

The difficult we do immediately; the impossible takes a little longer. -- General Montgomery

The Hole in the Roof
A rabbi stands before his congregation and reports to them that a massive hole has been found in the roof of the synagogue.

"Now I have good news and bad news for you," the Rabbi continues. "The good news is that we have the money to repair it; the bad news is that the money is in your pockets."

If We Win?
The story is told that the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, recently convened an emergency session to figure out a solution for the devastated Israeli economy.

One brilliant minister said, "Let's declare war on the U.S., and then, in the wake of the utter destruction America will bring upon us, we will receive billions of dollars for reconstruction, like Germany and Japan.
"Sounds great," responded another member of the Knesset. "One problem: What will we do if we win the war?"

Twelve Jews on a Mission
This week's portion, Shlach, tells the story of 12 men who were dispatched by Moses from the desert to go and survey the Land of Israel and its inhabitants. The purpose of their journey was to prepare the Jewish people for the subsequent conquest and settlement of the Land.[1]

Upon discharging the spies on their mission, Moses presented them with a list of questions they needed to answer. "See the Land," Moses said to them. "How is it? And the nations that dwell in it—are they strong or weak? Are they few or numerous? And how is the land in which they dwell—is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they dwell—are they open or are they fortified?"

When the 12 spies returned from their 40-day tour of Israel they presented to the people a report of their findings.

"We arrived at the Land to which you sent us," the spies said, "and indeed it flows with milk and honey and this is its fruit. But the people that dwells in the land is powerful, the cities are greatly fortified and we also saw the offspring of the giant.

"We cannot ascend to that people for it is too strong for us," the spies proclaimed.

The report that the spies brought back demoralized the Jewish nation and drained it from the motivation to enter the Land. As a result, the spies were severely punished and the entire generation ultimately died in the desert, never making it into the Land. Only 39 years later, in the year 1276 B.C.E., did the children and grandchildren of this generation cross the borders of Israel and settle the Promised Land.

Kill the Messenger?
One of the many questions raised by biblical commentators [2] concerns the reason for the spies receiving punishment. Moses gave them a detailed list of questions about the Land; he instructed them to make their own observations as to what will await the people upon their arrival.

This is exactly what the spies did. They came back with an answer to all of Moses' questions and reported what they perceived to be the reality of the situation. If Moses expected them to cover up their observations -- that the Land was inhabited by mighty men and its cities were greatly fortified -- he should have never sent them in the first place!

Why were the men faulted for relating what they had seen?

Introducing Paralysis
The answer is that if the spies had merely related to the people the reality of the situation as they saw it, everything would have been fine. But they did more than that. They used the difficulties they observed as an incentive to introduce the option of surrender and capitulation in the face of crisis.

Had the spies returned and said, "Hey guys, we have seen a mighty people and well-protected cities in the Land, so now we need to devise an effective strategy of how to go about our challenging mission," they would have fulfilled their task splendidly. The moment they responded to the obstacles by saying "We cannot do it anymore," they swayed an entire people to abandon their G-d-given destiny.

The spies are condemned in Jewish tradition for substituting the "how will we do it" with the "can we do it?"

Conquering Your Darkness
Each of us has a domain in our life that needs to be conquered, a terrain that needs to be transformed into a "holy land." Some of us need to battle fear, temptation, addiction, or shame. Since the challenges that lay in recovery's path are at times frightening, we are naturally tempted to believe that we are incapable of overcoming our darkness and we thus surrender to our demons.

Though this feeling is understandable, it is a sad mistake that must be fought tenaciously, for it robs us of the opportunity to liberate our souls and arrive at our personal "Promised Land."

The option of resignation compels us to remain stuck for the rest of our lives in a barren desert made up of shame, insecurity and weakness.

The question ought never to be, "Can I do it?" The resources to repair the hole in our personal roof are always present. Every problem can be dealt with. The only legitimate question is, "How do I do it?"[3]

To see the footnotes, click here

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Amazing stories of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu zt'l

The following are excerpts from the book "Avihem shel Yisrael" on Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu of blessed memory

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu (1929-2010) was one of the greatest torah scholars and kabalists of our times. He was elected chief rabbi of Israel in 1983, a post which he originally rejected, but Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira (Baba Sali) convinced him to accept the office. He was exceedingly humble, and was beloved by a wide range of Jews. The following are some of the tens of thousands of stories told over by eyewitness accounts.

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu zt'l was very careful to guard himself from all forms of avodah zarah (idol worship). Once he was on a visit to Canada, and the mayor invited him to the museum which had all sorts of christian statues which are essentially idols of silver and gold. When they came out of the museum, Roni, the driver, saw the Rav lift his eyes to the heavens and say "Master of the world, please clean me from this tuma now". They started to drive away and suddenly the car slipped on the snow and fell into a channel. Everyone came out of the car and saw that, thank G-d, nobody was hurt. But when they returned, Roni heard the Rav say "Master of the world, thank you."

The wife of Rav Yitzchak Kaduri (the late chief sefardi kabalist) told over that one time she arrived at the home of Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, and saw him learning with a man dressed in white who had an extremely impressive appearance. Since she did not want to disturb their learning, she decided to return the next day. When she returned the next day, she told the rav that she came the day before but didn't want to disturb his learning with the man in his room. The rav asked surprisedly, "you saw him?" she answered "yes, why is the rav surprised?", "if so", he answered "you merited to see Beniyahu ben Yehoyada!" (see Shmuel II ch.23:20-22)

"Several times, the Rav came to me in dreams to tell me what to do. One time I needed to drive the Rav but did not arrive. I fell asleep and didn't wake up. Twelve minutes before I was supposed to arrive at the home of the Rav, I see the Rav in a dream, saying to me "Roni, where are you?". I jumped from the bed, and arrived at the home of the Rav at the exact time we were supposed to leave. One time, I wanted to take my daughter out of her kindergarten and to move her to a different kindergarten. The Rav was not happy about this. Because this would have hurt the first kindergarten teacher, and she was a woman with a difficult financial status. But, for me it was difficult with her, and I decided to move her to the other kindergarten. At night, the rav came to me in a dream and said to me "don't cause hurt to the kindergarten teacher. She doesn't have parnasa (money) and your daughter won't be damaged". I was shocked, and in the morning I asked the Rav what to do. He answered me, "Like I told you in the dream".

Source and more at: Daf Yomi Review

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tzedaka With Intent

Question: Is it permissible to donate a sum of money to charity in the merit of which someone should become healed or for any other personal request or is it improper to do this, for the Mitzvah is not being done for the sake of Heaven, rather, for one's personal purposes?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Pesachim (8a) teaches us that our Sages said: "If one says, 'I am hereby donating a certain amount of money to Tzedakah in order for my son to live,' he is a completely righteous person." If so, the Gemara teaches us that there is nothing wrong with one who donates a sum of money to charity in order for his son to be healed, for ultimately, he intends to donate the money even if, G-d-forbid, his son does not recover. He is merely requesting that the merit created by him donating money to charity help his son recover; however, this is regardless of his will to donate money to charity because doing so is a great Mitzvah.

Similarly, Rashi in his commentary on this Gemara in Pesachim explains that we do not say that because one donates this sum of money in order for his son to be healed that this action is considered not for the sake of Heaven; rather, we say that he has fulfilled the Mitzvah of giving charity as his Creator has commanded him and he intends this to serve his own purposes as well, i.e. for his son to live.

Maran Harav Shlit"a proves from here that any action one performs for the sake of Heaven and in his mind he intends for this to be for his own benefit as well, for instance, one who eats on Shabbat in honor of Shabbat and in order to make the holy Shabbat enjoyable as per Hashem's command while also having in mind for his own personal enjoyment, we do not say that he is performing the Mitzvah not for the sake of Heaven; rather, since his intention includes doing so for the sake of Heaven as well, it is indeed considered that he is doing so for the sake of Heaven and his reward shall be great. Many other great Poskim write accordingly.

This concept has other far-reaching ramifications regarding the Mitzvah of Yibum (levirate marriage). This Torah commandment entails one brother marrying his deceased brother's widow if he left over no children in order to establish a name for the deceased brother. The Gemara in Masechet Yevamot (39b) tells us that Abba Shaul holds that if the brother does not intend for this to be for the sake of Heaven, rather, he wishes to marry his brother's widow because of her beauty, wealth, and the like, he may not marry his deceased brother's wife, for the Torah only permitted him to marry her when he intends to do so for the sake of Heaven. However, if this is not the case, this constitutes a severe prohibition.

It is nevertheless common that the deceased's brother claims that although his intentions are not purely for the sake of Heaven, he nonetheless intends to fulfill the Mitzvah of his Creator to establish a name for his deceased brother as well. In this scenario, is it considered that he is doing so for the sake of Heaven or not? Based on what we have discussed above we can prove that as long as some thoughts of doing so for the sake of Heaven are mixed into one's intentions, he is in fact considered to be doing so for the sake of Heaven and we sometimes suggest to the brother to perform the Mitzvah of Yibum by marrying his deceased brother's widow and establishing an everlasting name for his brother, in accordance with the opinion of Maran HaShulchan Aruch.

Summary: One may donate charity in order for a relative or the like to recover from an illness, for he intends to do so for the sake of Heaven as well, in order to fulfill Hashem's commandment. The same applies to the fulfillment of any Mitzvah which one performs for his own benefit as well. If one intends to perform a Mitzvah solely for the sake of Heaven, this is an especially unique Mitzvah, for such Mitzvot cause Hashem great satisfaction and are the most anticipated by Hashem.

Source: Halacha Yomit

Italian Bank Crisis

''The problem for Italy is that where Spain goes, there’s always the perception that Italy could follow.....” Italy Moves Into Debt-Crisis Crosshairs After Spain Bank Rescue 

The first to fall: BNI blocks bancomat, online, and any way of getting to one’s account.
See:  More on Closure of BNI, Italy

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Moshiach News

One must openly publicize to all that we are currently in the period of Ikveta Dimshiha - this matter is clear as the sun. 

A must read from Yeranen Yaakov: Rav Shmuel Eliyahu on the Geula Situation - Part 1 of 2

Friday, June 8, 2012

Covering The Hair, Changing the Aura

Picture: Headcoverings by Devorah

I've had this post in draft for a long time now, and was inspired to publish it after reading Human Aura
where we can actually see a photo of the affect that it has - just as tefillin does for men. I've said this to people many times, but they didn't seem to understand, however a picture paints a thousand words, so check out the Human Aura blogpost and see for yourself......and if you are a spiritual person and that alone doesn't make you want to commit to covering your hair, I don't know what will !

Here are some extracts from letters of the Lubavitcher Rebbe regarding [married] women covering their hair.

It is an explicit law -- and not only a custom -- of the Torah that a [married] woman is to cover her hair, "kissui harosh". Moreover, from the great reward received for performing this law, one can apprehend that there is great import to fulfilling this law....

As the Zohar states in Parshas Nasso, [quoted in Mishnah Berurah, Laws of Kerias Shema, Chapter 75] and I choose to quote only the blessings mentioned there, omitting the negative aspects resulting from failure to comply with this law:

"Her children will be superior to other children; moreover, her husband will be blessed with all blessings, blessings of above and blessings of below, with wealth, with children and grandchildren, etc."

[Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIII, pp. 345-346]

Much more can be found at Sichos in English
P.S. You may think that the last quote about being blessed and having superior children is an exaggeration, but I can tell you that it is NOT.  Even if you look at some women who do cover their hair, and who appear to have troublesome lives/children/lack of money.... just imagine how much worse it could have been... things are not always as they seem, and I guarantee that any step towards increasing modesty [of which hair covering is no doubt one of the hardest things to do] will bring you extra blessings in your life. Click on the link under the picture above to purchase and learn more about hair coverings.  The site belongs to another Devorah, and well worth a visit.

How to Deal with Economic Challenge

The "days" and "nights" of life
by Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson

The Debate
An architect, a surgeon, and economist are arguing who of them holds the most prominent position.
The surgeon said, 'Look, we're the most important. The very first thing G-d did was surgery: to extract Eve from Adam's rib.'

The architect said, 'No, wait a minute, G-d is an architect first and foremost. G-d made the world in six days out of chaos.'

The economist smiled, 'And who made the chaos?’

The Dual Canopy
"On the day the Tabernacle was erected, the cloud covered the Tabernacle," the Bible records in the Torah portion of Behaalosecha (1). "Then, in the evening, there would be upon the Tabernacle like a fiery glow till morning."

"From then on it remained that way," the Torah continues. "The cloud would cover it [by day] and a glow of fire by night (2)."

Two points require clarification. First: What was the significance and purpose of this dual miraculous canopy that hovered over the Tabernacle in the desert -- a cloud during the day and a glowing flame during the night (3)?

Second: Like every episode recorded in the Bible, this one, too, contains a spiritual interpretation that continuously plays itself out in journeys of the human spirit. How can we apply the story of this Tabernacle canopy to our lives today?

Smugness Vs. Despair
The Tabernacle was the edifice erected by the people of Israel in the Sinai desert to serve as a home for the Divine presence. In Jewish writings, the Tabernacle represents the place in the human heart where the light of G-d resides (4). The Tabernacle, then, exists timelessly within the human soul.

This sacred and noble place within us, declares the Bible, must include both a cloud by day and a fire by night. Let us apply this practically:

Each person experiences in his or her life "days" and "nights" -- moments of light and moments of darkness, times of happiness and contentment as well as times of agony and turmoil. For some, the days are longer than the nights; for others the nights sadly exceed the days. Yet most humans possess a share of both realities.

Now, when things are going well for us -- when we're paying the bills nicely, the kids are healthy, our spouses are there for us and we're satisfied with our lot -- we often forget how vulnerable we really are in this world. We tend to become smug, complacent and desensitized. We often become apathetic to other people's pain. We don't feel the need for genuine friendships, and certainly not for a relationship with G-d. We don't feel the urgent need to be real. At moments of bliss people often feel that they are on top of the world and they do not need anybody. They forget their humaneness and simplicity.

On the other hand, when things become (heaven forbid) difficult and painful – your company “is in der erd” (Yiddish for “is in the ground”), a loss in the family, illness of a loved one, a marriage goes sour, the bank is after us, our children are not doing well or we are overcome by inner mental or physical challenges -- we often fall prey to feelings of despair and loneliness. We sink into the morass of life's hardships, as we say to ourselves, "it's dark and it's getting darker."

Maintain Perspective
Thus, the Torah this week teaches us a movingly profound lesson.

If you are to become a human Tabernacle, if you wish to discover the grace of G-d within your heart, you must recall the darker cloud hovering above you even during times of brightness and splendor. A person must always remember that ultimately he cannot claim ownership over anything in his life: Life is a gift, love is gift, parents are gifts and children are gifts. Financial success, too, is not a natural symptom of your brilliant investments; it is a gift. One ought never to become blind to the truth that everything can change in a single instance (5) and that there is so much pain in the world. When you remember the clouds, you will never become arrogant, detached and false.

On the other hand, when night falls upon us, when life exposes its painful and darker side to us, we need to recall the glowing light hovering above us. We must remember that every experience we endure is part of our life's mission to serve G-d under these circumstances and to transform the world into a home for goodness and G-dliness. Every challenge contains an opportunity for deeper growth and for a deeper relationship with our soul and our G-d. Each cloud contains a flame within.

Judaism's Mission Statement
This is the powerful significance behind the mitzvah, the Jewish tradition, to recite twice each day the Shema Yisroel, the most reverent Jewish prayer, once in the morning and once in the evening.

When dawn breaks and the sun emerges to embrace us with its warmth, we state: "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One." Each of us is essentially a reflection of G-d, a recipient of His grace.

When night falls and darkness makes its way into our lives, we once again declare: "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One." G-d is one means that the same G-d Who was present during the "day," is also present during the "night." Darkness is painful and bitter, but it, too, must become part of a dynamic relationship with life and with G-d (6).

The Breaking of the Glass
This is also the mystical reason for the enigmatic Jewish custom to break a glass under the wedding canopy (the Chupah) at the moment when the groom and the bride are about to enter into a private room and celebrate their union, and the guests are about to begin feasting and dancing.

Granted, we break a glass during a marriage ceremony to remember the destruction of Jerusalem and all of the broken hearts in the world. But couldn't we do the breaking a little earlier, during the more solemn moments of the ceremony? Must we, at the happiest moment of a bride and a groom, introduce sadness and melancholy?

The answer: Those who at the peak of their personal joy and remember the pain that is still present in the outside world, will, at the moment of their pain, remember the joy out there in the world. On the other hand, those who at a moment of a personal high, become totally submerged in their own mood and are indifferent to the broken hearts around them, then, when struck by pain and hardship, they will remain stuck in their own quagmire, unable to reach out and glean hope and inspiration from the laughter and joy still present in the world (7).

Thus, the Torah states: "From then on it remained that way, the cloud would cover it [by day] and a glow of fire by night." This is an eternal directive. During your days, look up to the clouds; during your nights, gaze up to the fire.

And if during your days, you will remember the clouds, then during your nights you will remember the flame (8).

To view the footnotes: click here

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Out of Order


Teshuvah has the power to wipe away a person's past deeds, and transform him into a new person.

This is the inner reason why the account of the Second Pesach offering [Beha'alotecha 9:2] - which represents the concept of correcting and compensating for the mistakes of the past - was recorded out of chronological order, because teshuvah has the power to re-arrange a person's life ''out of chronological order'', wiping away his past mistakes.

Based on Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Edan's Got Talent

Piano-playing Edan Pinchot, head adorned with a yarmulke, does an amazing job on America's Got Talent.

 

Moses' Worst Crisis

How We Inspire the People Who Inspire Us
Sigmund Freud’s Advice to the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1903

What was the advice Sigmund Freud gave the Rebbe Rashab in Vienna in 1903. World renowned teacher Rabbi YY Jacobson explores one of the most fascinating stories of the Rebbe Rashab paying a visit by Sigmund Freud. 

Watch video shiur by Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson at: TheYeshiva.net

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Flames and Games

Dov bar Leib reminded me of something I had thought of a few days ago, regarding the Flame in the rakia [cyber-space], with this article: Cyber Spy Program Flame Compromises Key Microsoft Security System

You see, it was Barack Obama who made the connection between the Flame Virus and the Olympic Games: ''Obama accelerated the stuxnet attacks - codenamed "Olympic Games" - [see Barack Obama behind Stuxnet virus - report]

We can now join the two things together: the ''flame in the rakia'', and the Olympic Games with the ZION logo - not only because the Games' torch/flame is alight, but because the virus is also alive.

Why use the codename ''Olympic Games''?   I think it's another hint to us, as everything is hinted to us, if only we can see clearly.

Whether or not I'm jumping to conclusions, I do not know, but it is an interesting topic to think about, especially considering that the Games begin erev Tisha B'Av - a date which some people feel will be big news this year.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Shomrei Emunim Rebbe's Out of Body Experience

HT: Yaak

“I got there and I simply witnessed the medical miracle. A man who was pulseless was alive and alert the very next day, propped up in bed. There is no explanation other than a miracle”.

Read about it at: The Yeshiva World

3rd Quake topples Italian Bell Tower

MILAN - A strong earth tremor of 5.1 magnitude hit northern Italy late on Sunday, in the same area struck by two deadly quakes in the last two weeks.

An 18th-century clock tower in the town of Novi di Modena collapsed during the quake. It had been severely damaged in the previous tremors and toppled over in a "red zone" in the historic centre which had been declared unsafe.

"The church bells started ring, the ground was shaking and people were panicking. Thank God no-one was in any of the houses -- they'd all been evacuated."

Read more: click here

Partial Lunar Eclipse June 4 [video]

HT: Miguel

 

BeHa'alotecha: Great Dreams


Written by Chanan Morrison - Rav Kook Torah

In contrast to the unique level and clarity of Moses' prophecy, ordinary prophecy is bestowed through the medium of visions and dreams:

"If someone among you experiences divine prophecy, I will make Myself known to him in a vision; I will speak to him in a dream." [Num. 12:6]

Why Dreams?
Dreams, Rav Kook wrote, serve an important function in the world. Great dreams are the very foundation of the universe. Dreams exist on many levels. There are the prescient dreams of prophets, and the conscious dreaming of poets. There are the idealistic dreams of great visionaries for a better world; and there are our national dreams of redemption — "When God will return the captivity of Zion, we will be like dreamers" [Psalms 126:1].

Of course, not every dream falls under the category of a great dream. Some dreams are inconsequential, as it says, "Dreams speak falsely" [Zechariah 10:2]. What determines whether a dream is prophetic or meaningless?

True and False Dreams
True servants of God concentrate their aspirations and efforts on rectifying the entire world. When one's thoughts and actions are devoted exclusively to perfecting all of creation, then one's imagination will only be stimulated by matters that relate to the universal reality. The dreams of such individuals will naturally be of great significance. Their dreams are tied to the inner truth of reality, to its past, present, and future.

But for those people who are preoccupied with private concerns, their imaginative faculties will be limited — like their waking thoughts and actions — to personal issues. What truth could be revealed in imaginings that never succeeded in rising above the thoughts and wishes of a self-centered individual?

The Sages expressed this idea with the following allegorical imagery: prophetic dreams are brought by angels, while false dreams are brought by demons [Berachot 55b]. What does this mean? Angels are constant forces in the universe, pre-arranged to perfect the world. True dreams relate to these underlying positive forces. Demons, on the other hand, are non-holy forces based on specific objectives which are inconsistent with the overall universal order. False dreams are the resultant fantasies of such private desires.

The True Reality of Dreams
What would the world be like without dreams? Life immersed solely in its material aspects is coarse and bleak. It lacks the inspiring splendor of wide horizons; like a bird with clipped wings, it is unable to transcend the bitter harshness of the current reality. The ability to free ourselves from these shackles is only through the power of dreams.

Some foolishly take pride in being 'realists.' They insist on only considering the material world in its present state — a partial and fragmented view of reality. In fact, it is our dreams that liberate us from the limitations of the current reality. It is our dreams that accurately reveal the inner truth of the universe.

As that future reality is steadily revealed, we merit an increasing clarity of vision. Our perception approaches the aspaklaria me'irah of Moses, with whom God spoke "face to face, in a vision not containing allegory, so that he could see a true picture of God" [Num. 12:8].

[Adapted from Orot HaKodesh vol. I, p. 226; Ein Eyah vol. II, p. 279]

Source: RavKookTorah.org

I Hear You, Akiva

Amongst the various reasons why I blog is the fact that my life was pretty much destroyed by a rabbi, many years ago. 

It's often a struggle for me to maintain any emunah at all, wondering why Hashem allows corrupt and misguided rabbis to continue to represent Him......but my blog helps in some way, and hopefully helps others as well. 

If not for the internet and the Torah available on it, I sometimes doubt if I would have any faith left at all... and so I blog... and so do many others.

When I read Akiva's post Jewish Blogger Comes Out and thought about the misguided attitude of the Asifa Brigade - how they truly have no idea how hard it is for so many people to connect to Torah in their own communities - and who find solace on the internet, and actually manage to learn.......I was reminded of this story of the Baal Shem Tov, which is obviously happening right in front of our eyes:  

I heard from my teacher and father-in-law, who was the chief disciple of Rebbe Yechiel Michal of Zlotchov, that once when the Baal Shem Tov was traveling on the road, he stepped into a wooded area to pray the afternoon prayer. His disciples were dumbfounded to see him hitting his head against a tree, crying and screaming. Afterward, they asked him what had happened. He explained that he had seen, with divine inspiration, that in the generations before the coming of the Moshiach there would be a multitude of rabbis, and that they would be the very ones who would impede the redemption. [Otzar Chayim]

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mysticism: Manna for All

But the multitude among them began to have strong cravings. Then even the children of Israel once again began to cry, and they said, "Who will feed us meat?  [Behaalotecha 11:4]


Ordinary bread [''bread from the earth''] which is the product of hard physical labor, is a metaphor for the ''revealed'' interpretations of the Torah [nigleh] found in the Talmud, which require arduous analysis, questioning etc.

On the other hand, manna [''bread from Heaven''] represents the mystical teachings of the Torah, which are of such a ''heavenly'' nature that there is no disagreement or argument.

Logically speaking, a person might think that it is necessary to have a firm grounding in classic texts, and achieve a certain degree of spiritual greatness before one can progress to the study of mysticism.  However, the Torah teaches here that even the wicked individuals who complained to Moshe ate manna.

From this we can learn that it is appropriate for people from all walks of life to study the mystical teachings of the Torah - particularly as they are formulated clearly and methodically in the teachings of Chassidus.

Based on Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

'Beware a rerun of the Great Panic of 2008'

Head of World Bank warns Europe is heading for 'danger zone' as world markets suffer bleakest day of the year so far

The head of the World Bank yesterday warned that financial markets face a rerun of the Great Panic of 2008.
On the bleakest day for the global economy this year, Robert Zoellick said crisis-torn Europe was heading for the ‘danger zone’.

Mr Zoellick, who stands down at the end of the month after five years in charge of the watchdog, said it was ‘far from clear that eurozone leaders have steeled themselves’ for the looming catastrophe amid fears of a Greek exit from the single currency and meltdown in Spain.

The flow of money into so-called ‘safe havens’ such as UK, German and US government debt turned into a stampede yesterday.

Read more: Daily Mail