Wednesday, February 29, 2012

7 Adar

Tonight/tomorrow is 7 Adar - the birthday and yarzheit of Moshe Rabbeinu.

"And you will command the Children of Israel" [Tetzaveh 27:20]

The Vilna Gaon asks why the verse begins with Hashem instructing Moshe "And you will command..." without first stating the standard opening "Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying..."

The answer, said the Gaon, is as follows:

The day of Moshe Rabbeinu's passing [and day of his birth] was the seventh of Adar. In most years, this day falls out during the week in which Parshas Tetzaveh is read. Now, in the entire Parshas Tetzaveh, Moshe's name is not mentioned, even once. This alludes to the fact that Moshe's demise took place during this week.

However, continued the Gaon, even though Moshe's name is not mentioned explicitly in Tetzaveh, it is nevertheless there in a hint:

There are 101 verses in the Parsha. If the letters that comprise the name "Moshe" - משׁה -are spelled out in their entirety, we would have the following:

מ the letters comprising Mem are מ מ -

שׁ the letters comprising Shin are שׁ י ן -

ה the letters compring Hey are ה א -

Total numerical value: 446

If we add up the numerical value of all these letters, and then subtract the numerical value of משׁה [Moshe: 345] - we will be left with the number 101 - the exact number of verses in the parsha.

Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein

Amnon Yitzchak: Prepare for War

''Prepare the refrigerators, the war is at the doorway''

“The People of Israel are called to prepare the refrigerators and to buy a stock of canned goods and dried food products. We are located at the entrance on the way to a mess. I know things that you don’t know and it’s forbidden to me to reveal. I can only hint that you need to prepare the refrigerators. Iran is at the doorway!” so said Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak shlita this evening.

Source and more: Palm Tree of Deborah

Now that's a wedding ..... !

The Bobover Rebbe dancing at his son's wedding
The son of the Bobover Rebbe marries, in Brooklyn, some amazing photos and videos - here is the Mitzvah Tanz [mitzvah dance] - the rest can be found here: CrownHeights.info


Temple of Esther and Mordechai [video]

HT: Moriah

The iconic and legendary character of Esther, the Persian Queen, and the historical significance of the Temple of Esther and Mordechai in the City of Hamedan... A search of a non-Jewish Iranian filmmaker in the pages of the Persian cultural heritageand mythology relating to Esther, who is regarded as a savior of the Persian Jews. Today, the Iranian Jews are known as the children of Esther.

The Torah is Light

''To light up the lamp continuously'' [Tetzaveh 27:20]

The Ner Tamid  [perpetual candle] which the Kohen Gadol kindled in the Beis HaMikdash symbolized the Torah, as the verse states: ''The Torah is light'' [Mishlei 6:23]

In the same way that the Ner Tamid was never extinguished, and its light was a constant source of illumination, so too, the radiance of the Torah will always shine upon the world and its inhabitants.

Each and every individual is commanded to fulfill the precept of ''You should contemplate it day and night'' [Yehoshua 1:8].  By upholding this commandment we ensure that the Torah's light continuously shines and illuminates the world.

**********
The Vilna Gaon's diligence in Torah study was legendary. His days were spent in his room, delving into the depths of the Torah with every ounce of strength that he possessed.

On one occasion, the Gaon's sister arrived from a distant land in order to pay him a visit.  This was by no means a minor event, as the two had not seen each other for some fifty years !

The Gaon went out to greet his sister and, as the halachah dictates, recited the blessing that is said upon seeing an acquaintance that one has not seen for a long time - ''Blessed are You, Hashem... Who resuscitates the dead.''

After concluding the blessing, the Gaon said to his sister: ''My dear sister. I know that we have not seen one another for quite some time. However, when I leave this world and am called before the Heavenly Tribune, I will be asked to give an accounting for every single second of my life.  Each moment of time will be scrutinized and judged on whether or not it was utilized studying Torah and performing Hashem's mitzvos.  How, then, can I waste away the precious time that I have been allotted, by engaging in trivial conversations?''

''I therefore beg your forgiveness, but I must return to my room and resume my Torah study.''

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Tikkunim of the Last Generation [before Moshiach]

Dreaming of Moshiach was one of the first blogs  to call our attention to the imminent coming of Moshiach: it's author [Nava] was way ahead of her time, and also the inspiration for a lot of us who followed in her footsteps.   [Other very early Geula bloggers include Dov Bar Leib , Mystical Paths and Yaak]

In November 2007, Nava blogged this:

In Gemara, Chazal tells us that three divisions of sufferings came down to the world.

The first division of suffering was placed on the generations of the seven holy shepherds: Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov Avinu, Moshe Rabenu, Aaron HaKohen, Yosef HaTzaddik, and Melech Dovid, zs'l.

The second division of suffering was placed on the remaining generations, excluding our generation.

The third division of suffering was placed on our generation, the last generation.

The first two sufferings were a gradual process but the last suffering, the third, is the hardest and harshest. Whether it's an illness, unnatural death in a family, livelihood, divorce, finding a spouse, having children, etc. Every Jew, regardless where, when, what, who, why, is suffering!

This is the reason Chazal wrote in Gemara that if a person is not suffering in the generation of the End of Days, know that this person is not a Jew!!! If someone tells you he is not suffering, he is not the son/daughter of Avraham Avinu, zs'l.

Why is this very harsh decree occurring specifically in our generation, all at once and so numerous? The suffering is a necessity required before the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkenu. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, zs'l, explains it further in the Zohar HaKadosh, as follows:

When Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, zs'l, (Rashbi) was hiding in the cave, he wrote the Zohar HaKadosh in Ruach HaKodesh (Divine Spirit). Thru Ruach HaKodesh, he saw that  the last generation will be in a large fire and he cried for us and said, ווי לון מאן דגרמי דיוזיל ליה Oy to the people who will live in the last generation. Rashbi saw that our generation will transgress the Torah and commit adultery, lust, promiscuity, stealing, heresy, secularism, etc. He cried because he saw that we will need to go thru so many tests and suffering.

But why so much suffering in our generation? Why is the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) so powerful in this generation, more than in all past generations?

It is because HKB'H is so merciful and so generous!

The Zohar HaKadosh explains: Every soul comes into this world only for the reason to correct past lives for sins committed. HKB'H saw throughout all generations that many souls were unable to correct themselves and remained unworthy to enter Gan Eden. Even though they were reincarnated as humans, animals, inanimates, plants, food, etc., and also placed in Gehenom or Kaf Hakela. Yet, they were still unable to correct their souls.

Even after so many reincarnations, these souls were unsuccessful in their tikun and were placed in Heichal HaNeshamot (hall of souls).

The Zohar HaKadosh continues and says that HKB'H revealed Himself to the souls placed in Heichal HaNeshamot and the neshamot cried to HaShem, "Merciful Heavenly Father, help us correct ourselves, we want to succeed in cleansing our souls, we reincarnated as humans, plants, animals, we went thru Gehenom, Shaol Tachtit, Kaf Hakela... But we still have not properly corrected our souls...".

When Merciful HKB'H heard this, He said, "I'll place you all in one generation, a generation that will have much confusion, tests, suffering, and hardships, a generation where the truth will be absent, a generation where one will be easily trapped by the evil inclination. There will be many opportunities to get trapped into terrible sins; everything will be available to you in split seconds. It will be a generation that will feel exhausted from trying to do Teshuva, the evil inclination will be very powerful and adultery, lust, temptations, promiscuity, stealing, heresy, secularism, etc. will be everywhere."

"BUT, despite all these hardships, all neshamot that will succeed to pass these difficult tests and continue to have Emunah, will be tremendeously rewarded and will merit to live in the Geula."

This is the reason the holy Rashbi also said "אשרי מי שיהיה בדור הזה, Overjoyed is the person who lives in that generation."

Although it's difficult to comprehend, it's important to know: ALL PEOPLE IN THIS GENERATION: YOU, ME, HIM, HER, THEM, ARE FROM HEICHAL HANESHAMOT!!!

Read the complete post here: Understanding the Heels of Moshiach

Esther: Some Things You Should Know

Art: John Cox


Reprinted with permission from Tzaddik Magazine

written by Esther Bashe

Esther is a ''precious stone''.  She descended into the depths on a secret mission.  Her very name means ''hidden''.  Only when her mission was accomplished did she and Mordechai record the events on a scroll called Megillat Esther.  Written with ruach haKodesh [Divine inspiration] the contents of this scroll are read every Purim around the world, testifying to the hidden and miraculous presence of G-d in the darkest of moments.  A prototype of hidden redemption, the Purim story is especially relevant to our generation.

Sometimes there are dilemmas so enormous that the mind cannot fathom a way out.  In this case, there is only one solution to circumvent everything.  Go to the microcosmic source that holds the root of everything.  The Foundation Stone [Even HaShetiyah] in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem had this quality, lying beneath the Holy of Holies - a place radiating unparalleled spiritual symmetry and beauty of irresistible attraction.  This innermost point was hidden inside Esther, as well as other great tzaddikim and tzidkaniyot throughout history. Redemption during periods of great peril is sometimes brought about through a lone individual.  Other times it involves the interaction between a pair of redeemers, as in the case of Mordechai and Esther.

The potency of Esther's power lay in its hiddenness: it flowed from the all-inclusive good point she possessed.  It wasn't just any good point, it was the microcosmic hub found within every woman who played a redemptive role in Jewish history - for instance, the three matriarchs Sara, Rivka and Rachel, as well as Ruth, Devorah, Yael, Rabbi Meir's wife Bruria, Rabbi Akiva's wife Rachel, and many others who remain hidden.  Evil individuals seeking to harm or destroy the Jewish people often met their downfall through women who put their body and soul on the line for the sake of the Jewish people.  Esther cried out in profound distress: Hatzila M-cherev Nafshi - Save my soul from the sword!  [Psalms 22:21 This entire chapter in the Book of Psalms is attributed to Esther] The first letters of this verse spell ''Haman''.

Since Esther's innermost point included the root of every soul, she is said to have encompassed Klal Yisrael.  She was also the living spiritual paradigm of ishah yirat Hashem - the ''G-d fearing woman'' [Proverbs 31:30] spoken about extensively in our holy writings.  Her humility formed the basis for every salvation, and allowed her to resist the empty lure of fame and recognition - something that would have undermined her success entirely.

A Timeless vs Time-Bound Beauty
There is another deeper aspect to Esther's powerful influences that involves time itself. [Toras Noson on Esther]   All suffering is the result of existing in a realm bound by time. Exile in particular personifies the pain and anguish of life under the constraints of time. We are unable to see the whole picture, something reserved only for the higher timeless consciousness of the World to Come. [Berakhot 34b et al]

But at extraordinary moments in history the two realms intersect, bringing redemption.  The reality that exists above time is miraculous because it suffers no lack or damage of any kind. Everything is whole and complete, and as such, holds the key to all healing and perfection. The essence of the Purim miracle [as well as that of Chanukah] came from this timeless realm and penetrates deeply into our world every year during Chanukah and Purim.  It is the same place from where Mashiach pulls down his strength to repair a very troubled and diseased earth. Because Esther possessed this microcosmic good point in her generation, by straddling both realms, she was the conduit of salvation for the entire Jewish people during Purim.

When she descended into the depths of evil, the Other Side rejoiced, figuring it had won the biggest prize by capturing the ishah yirat Hashem, the quintessential G-d fearing woman herself. She now would be lost along with everything else she held within her.  Vi-ka asher avaditi avaditi - And if I perish, I perish - she wept [Esther 4:17].  Taken into the inner chambers of Achashverosh, she was submerged in the constraints of time - the ultimate expression of exile.  However, the profound humility and righteousness of Esther prevented the wicked Achashverosh from accessing her inner essence. [R'Chaim Vital: Etz Chaim, Sha'ar Klipat Nogah 4-5; Ma'amar Ha Nefesh 11:3].  She nullified herself entirely and remained unaffected by any contact with him.  Her purity protected her during her descent, enabling her to elevate and restore the sparks of holiness that fell into the lowest time-bound realm of evil.

Esther's ''capture'' and exile to the lowest time-bound realm of Haman and Achashverosh was intended to suppress all hope for redemption rooted above time.  This supra-temporal level is where the Jewish people draw their strength.  Therefore, since the dimension of time had engulfed Esther, to prevail over her meant prevailing over Israel - since they were all rooted in her soul.  Yet she overcame everything through her heroic efforts on behalf of the Jews.  In so doing, she prevailed over the time-bound astrological calculations of Haman to annihilate the entire people on the 13th of the Hebrew month of Adar [the day preceding Purim, observed as the 'Fast of Esther' today].  Instead, the tables were completely turned on Haman and his supporters when the day earmarked for the destruction of the Jews brought devastation to Israel's enemies.  The redemptive light of the timeless realm converted everything into good - all in the merit of Mordechai and Esther, the redemptive duo of Purim.

''For the Jews there was light, gladness, joy, and honor - so may it be for us.'' [From the prefatory verses of the Havdalah ceremony recited at the conclusion of Shabbat, based on Esther 8:16]

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gog u'Magog: Purim Rumor

That rumor from last week, about Gog and Magog beginning on Purim has apparently been clarified by Rav Fish, but as I have not personally seen it, I can only blog this as a rumor. Hopefully someone will be able to confirm whether or not Rav Fish did send this out [please leave a comment if you know]

''And I also heard from Rav Tidhar Eilon Azulai Shlit"a that already in the upcoming month of Nissan, the great revolutions of the Redemption will commence.''

HaRav HaMekubal Tidhar Elyon Azulai Shlita from the Yeshiva Shemen Sasson, allegedly said to two people who came to him for advice, that it will be the last time they would be able to do a certain kind of teshuva, and that the Gog and Magog war will begin Purim 5772, and continue for two weeks leading up to Rosh Chodesh Nissan 5772......

Read more at: Rashbi2012 Blogspot

The Path You Choose

Ahmadinejad: Plotting his own downfall.....

Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn stressed Sunday that “Lebanon’s people, army and resistance are an invincible fortress in the face of Israel,” noting that the Lebanese "will never forget that Iran stood by them in great difficulties," during talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran.

Ghosn also said that Israel would fear Iran's reaction, should it consider moving in a hostile way against any regional country.

Ahmadinejad told the minister that Lebanon and Iran should work toward unity to confront the west and Israel, Iran's official news agency reported.

Read the Full story here


Haman Is The Architect Of His Humiliating Downfall

With regard to Haman's downfall the U'Masok HaOr brings from HaChaim V'Hashalom that there are two ways Hashem saves Klal Yisroel from our enemies. One way is like Hashem did in Mitzrayim. Hashem pulls out all the stops to demolish our persecutors. Ten brutal nature-altering plagues, one after the other in vicious succession. Similarly by Sancherev whose massive army laid siege on the hopeless Yerushalayim and was poised to strike a fatal blow, Hashem miraculously wiped them all out during the night. This show of force, while devastating, is not embarrassing. In both these cases the victim had been bested by forces far more powerful than they could handle.

Another way that Hashem pays back our enemy and provides a salvation is by sending our oppressor into the trap he has laid for us. This is totally humiliating as the cunning calculation and great pride that went into preparing our downfall not only did not provide the desired result , but ended with our enemy lying in the very grave he prepared so meticulously for us. This was the downfall of Haman. The very same tree that he so proudly prepared was the tree he himself hung from. This was the theme all along even before Haman's final death. He schemed to wear the King's clothing and ride his horse by himself, yet he was the one pulling along his arch enemy in disgrace.

This theme repeats itself throughout the megila as a careful look will show Haman's hand in other events, all of which came back to haunt him. The path Haman paved to the top was simply a path he was preparing for his way back down, far down.

Source: Revach L'Neshama

Sunday, February 26, 2012

No Pain No Gain


נס - Nes - Miracle

ניסיון - Nisayon - Trial

"All the affairs of the world, whether for the good or for the bad, are trials [nisyonos] for a man"… [Mesilas Yesharim [Path of the Just] Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto]

When a person is destined to reach a level which is much higher than his present rung, it is necessary for him to undergo a descent first. [Lubavitcher Rebbe]

Before a person experiences a miracle - נס - , he is given a trial - ניסיון. There is no ascent [aliyah] without a prior descent [yeridah]. The lower the descent, the higher the potential ascent.

G-d tries the righteous, for knowing that the righteous will do His will, He desires to make them even more upright, and so He commands them to undertake a test, but He does not try the wicked, who would not obey.

Thus all trials in the Torah are for the good of the one being tried. [Nachmanidies, Commentary on the Torah; Genesis, p. 275; Chavel translation; ]

From here, we learn a number of important points. First, the purpose of a nisayon is not to reveal anything new to G-d, but to increase the spiritual reward of the person by bringing forth his or her latent greatness into actual deeds of righteousness.

Second, a person is only sent a nisayon that he or she has the potential to "pass," provided the person uses his free will properly.

Third [and this is implicit in the first point], the nisayon is intended for the good of the person—to elevate the person spiritually.

Nes can also be translated as "banner": The test is meant to "lift a banner" and reveal to the world, and to the person himself, the potential hidden within a human being.

The Cruel Bashar al-Assad of Syria - Torah Codes



Officials from more than 60 nations met Friday, calling on Syria's President Bashar al-Assad to step down and for the government to stop killing its people. That would allow humanitarian supplies to be delivered and evacuations to begin in Homs, which has seen heavy fighting.

Strait of Hormuz: US bolsters defences

US aircraft carrier in Strait of Hormuz [photo EPA]
Report: US ups defenses against Hormuz closing
Pentagon seeks to bolster sea- and land- based defenses aimed at thwarting any Iranian attempt to shut down strategic Strait of Hormuz, Wall Street Journal reports

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is bolstering US sea- and land-based defenses in the Persian Gulf in order to thwart any attempt by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

The report cited defense officials as saying that the military has notified Congress of plans to preemptively place new mine-detection and clearing equipment and expand surveillance capabilities in and around the strait.

The US military also wants to quickly modify weapons systems on ships to target Iranian fast-attack boats, as well as shore-launched cruise missiles, defense officials told the newspaper.

Source and more: YNET

Three Keys

Art: "Key" by Nikoletta Bati
"Engrave on it with signet-ring [type] engraving: "Holy to Hashem" פִּתּוּחֵי חֹתָם קֹדֶשׁ לַי־הֹוָ־ה 
[Tetzaveh 28:36]



In Maseches Ta'anis (2a) R' Yochanan states that there are three maftechos, three keys, in Hashem's possession that He never entrusts to others:

*the key to childbirth
*the key to rain
*and the key to resuscitating the dead.

The Gemara derived this from three verses:

*Hashem does not entrust the key to childbirth to a messenger, as the verse states: "G-d remembered Rachel; G-d hearkened to her and He opened (vayiftach) her womb" [Bereishis 30:22]

*Hashem does not entrust the key of rain to a messenger, as the verse states: "Hashem shall open for you His storehouse of goodness, the heavens, to provide rain for your Land in its time" [Devarim 28:12]

*And Hashem does not entrust the key of resuscitating the dead to a messenger, as the verse states: "Then you will know that I am Hashem, when I open your graves" [Yechezkel 37:13]

These three keys, remarked the Vilna Gaon, are alluded to in the verse: "Pituchei chosam kodesh laHashem" - פִּתּוּחֵי חֹתָם קֹדֶשׁ לַי־הֹוָ־ה -

The acronym of the word  חֹתָם [Ches, taf, mem] which means "seal" hints to the following words:

Ches - Chayah [a woman who has recently given birth]
Taf - Techiyas HaMeisim [the resuscitation of the dead]
Mem - Matar [rain]

The verse can therefore be read as follows:  "The keys of [pituchei] childbirth, resuscitation of the dead, and rain - ChoTaM - are designated for Hashem's use only ["kodesh laHashem"].

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein


[Special Offer: In-depth Name Readings]
Click here to access

Friday, February 24, 2012

Adar: The Sweet Smelling Month


Source: Bnei Yisaschar - Revach.net

The Arizal says that each month represents a part of a person's head. The month of Adar represents the "nose". Sweet smell, says the gemara Brachos [44b], gives pleasure not to the body but rather to the Neshama. The Bnei Yisaschar explains that when Adam and Chava ate from the Eitz HaDaas [Tree of Knowledge] they used all their senses for the aveira [sin] except their sense of smell. The pasuk says: she saw, she listened, she touched, and she tasted. But nowhere does it say that anyone smelled. Therefore the sense of smell has a certain purity that is unmatched by the other senses.

It is therefore appropriate that for the great Nes [miracle] that took place in the month of Adar, the month of smell, that both of the heroes of Purim, Mordechai and Esther had names referring to smell. Mordechai's name says the gemara Chulin [139b] is hinted in the name of the fragrance used in the Ketores called Mor Dror or Mira-Dachya as translated by Unkelos. Esther's real name, the Megila tells us [2:7], was Hadassa - the sweet smelling myrtle tree. Since a person's name represents their true inner self, Mordechai and Esther with their lofty purity were able to avoid the pitfalls of Achashveirosh and his materialism during his party and even while living in his palace. During the special month of Adar where these qualities reign supreme, these two pure tzaddikim saved Klal Yisroel from destruction.

Essential

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Few Interesting Links

Last night ex-PM of Australia and current Foreign Minister - Kevin Rudd - dramatically resigned at a 1am Press Conference in Washington: and is now in the process of trying to reclaim his former position as Prime Minister: see Rudd, Gillard in leadership showdown

My latest obsession: the Vilna Gaon: a letter he wrote while travelling to Eretz Yisrael Iggeres HaGra - The Vilna Gaon's Letter

Parsha Blog responds to yet another call for all Jews to make Aliyah: Why Not Make Aliyah [an opportunity to voice your own thoughts in the comments]

At the Gates of Heaven


R' Meir of Premishlan or, as he was fondly known, R' Maer'l, was renowned for his devotion to tzedakah. Any gifts he received from his Chassidim he immediately distributed to the poor. He explained himself in this way:

"Meir'l once went up to Heaven in a dream and observed what happened to people as they came to Heaven after they died.

"The first to appear by the celestial gates was a great Torah scholar, who was not granted immediate entry into Heaven. Instead, he was politely asked to wait outside a while so that the angels could determine whether his studies were pursued with pure intentions or in order to be recognized and praised for his great wisdom.

"The second soul to appear before the gates was that of a tzaddik who devoted his life to leading and advising his flock in their search to serve Hashem. He too was cordially asked to wait outside while his motives were thoroughly investigated.

"The third to arrive was a poor innkeeper who accepted all guests into his inn. If someone had money to pay for his room and board, the innkeeper would graciously accept it. However, if the person were too poor to pay, the host would gladly provide hospitality free of charge.

"The angels immediately decided that he should be ushered into the presence of Hashem without any delay. They had no doubt that his charity was pure because he had not done it for recognition and he helped the poor without expecting any reward in return.

"From this dream Maer'l learnt the enormous importance of tzedakah and decided to become a gabbai tzedakah to distribute Hashem's money among the poor."

Source: Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer

Purim - Tzedaka Appeal

A very young Israeli family is in need of assistance - their mother died suddenly, the father is trying to adjust to life with two babies and no income.

I am collecting on their behalf.   If you would like to help out, please donate via the Paypal button in the left column.  All monies raised will be used to relocate the family into suitable housing.

Please help if you can.





Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More Strange Earth Sounds: Missoula, Montana



You can read the Eye witness account here

Insight: Iran

HT: Joe

This program was aired last night on Australian TV: you may find it of interest.

Rabbi Winston on the Parsha and Purim [video]

Rabbi Pinchas Winston, based upon his book, "Redemption to Redemption: The Very Deep and Intricate Connection Between the Holidays of Purim and Pesach," discusses the connection between Yosef and his brothers, Shechem, and Purim.

Holding On

Story by Yaffa Eliach from "Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust", based on a conversation between the Grand Rabbi of Bluzhov, Rabbi Israel Spira and Baruch Singer: January 3, 1975.

It was a dark, cold night in the Janowska Road Camp. [The Janowska Road Camp was situated near the cemetaries and sand mountains outside the city of Lvov, in the Ukraine]

Suddenly, a stentorian shout pierced the air: "You are all to evacuate the barracks immediately and report to the vacant lot. Anyone remaining inside will be shot on the spot!"

Pandemonium broke out in the barracks. People pushed their way to the doors while screaming the names of friends and relatives. In a panic-stricken stampede, the prisoners ran in the direction of the big open field. Exhausted, trying to catch their breath, they reached the field. In the middle were two huge pits. [The vicinity of the Camp was scarred with bomb craters from WW1. The huge pits were used as torture sites and mass graves.]

Suddenly, with their last drop of energy, the inmates realized where they were rushing, on that cursed dark night in Janowska. Once more, the cold healthy voice roared in the night: "Each of you dogs who values his miserable life and wants to cling to it must jump over one of the pits and land on the other side. Those who miss will get what they rightfully deserve - ra-ta-ta-ta-ta." Imitating the sound of a machine gun, the voice trailed off into the night followed by a wild, coarse laughter. It was clear to the inmates that they would all end up in the pits.

Even at the best of times it would have been impossible to jump over them, all the more so on that cold dark night in Janowska. The prisoners standing at the edge of the pits were skeletons, feverish from disease and starvation, exhausted from slave labor and sleepless nights. Though the challenge that had been given them was a matter of life and death, they knew that for the S.S. and the Ukranian guards it was merely another devilish game.

Among the thousands of Jews on that field in Janowska was the Rabbi of Bluzhov, Rabbi Israel Spira. He was standing with a friend, a freethinker from a large Polish town whom the rabbi had met in the camp. A deep friendship had developed between the two.

"Spira, all of our efforts to jump over the pits are in vain. We only entertain the Germans and their collaborators, the Askaris. Let's sit down in the pits and wait for the bullets to end our wretched existence." said the friend to the rabbi.

"My friend," said the rabbi, as they were walking in the direction of the pits, "man must obey the will of G-d. If it was decreed from heaven that pits be dug and we be commanded to jump, pits will be dug and jump we must. And if, G-d forbid, we fail and fall into the pits, we will reach the World of Truth a second later, after our attempt. So, my friend, we must jump."

The rabbi and his friend were nearing the edge of the pits; the pits were rapidly filling up with bodies. The rabbi glanced down at his feet, the swollen feet of a 53 year old Jew ridden with starvation and disease. He looked at his young friend, a skeleton with burning eyes. As they reached the pit, the rabbi closed his eyes and commanded in a powerful whisper, "We are jumping!"

When they opened their eyes, they found themselves standing on the other side of the pit. "Spira, we are here, we are here, we are alive!" the friend repeated over and over again, while warm tears steamed from his eyes. "Spira, for your sake, I am alive; indeed, there must be a G-d in heaven. Tell me Rabbi, how did you do it?"

"I was holding on to my ancestral merit. I was holding on to the coat-tails of my father, and my grandfather and my great-grandfather, of blessed memory," said the rabbi and his eyes searched the black skies above. "Tell me, my friend, how did you reach the other side of the pit?"

"I was holding on to you" replied the rabbi's friend.

Memorial Sign for Jews killed in Lviv Janowska Concentration Camp


Shiur: Where Was G-d During The Holocaust? [shiur includes other topics] from Rabbi Y. Mizrachi - Divine Information.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Iran Prepares for War

Unconfirmed rumors from a wellknown and respected mekubal in Israel that the Gog u'Magog war will occur on Purim [yes!] - I will hopefully be able to blog more details about this tomorrow, once I have more information. Meanwhile.... Iran prepares:



Tension is continuing to rise, Iranian state TV has shown pictures of what it says are recent military exercises in central Iran.
Iranian warships have entered the Mediterranean, stoking already soaring regional tensions. The Iranian navy's top admirial said the craft, thought to be a destroyer and its supply vessel, were on a mission of peace, but also that Iran wanted to showcase its naval power. Unconfirmed reports said the ships might be destined for Syria.
Fears that the country's nuclear programme is aimed at developing nuclear weapons led to a decision by the EU to stop importing crude oil from Iran from July 1.
Tension is continuing to rise in the Middle East ahead of a planned inspection of Iran's nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency next week.

Kotzer Rebbe: It's Late, But Not Too Late



By Maariv in the Bracha of Hashkiveinu we ask Hashem, "V'Haser Satan Milfaneinu U'Mei Achoreinu", to remove the Yetzer Hara from in front of us and from behind us. What does this mean?

The seforim answer that when we want to do something good the Satan tells us there is no rush, start "tomorrow". Yet tomorrow never comes because there is always another tomorrow. But if we are ready, anxious, and willing to start immediately, the Satan employs a different strategy. He tells us it is too late. Had we done it yesterday it would have been great, but not anymore.

We ask Hashem to remove both these obstacles to our good deeds and self improvement. We ask Hashem to remove the Satan standing before us blocking us from taking action today. We also ask Hashem to remove the Satan from our rear-view mirror telling us to look back and see we missed our chance. This is the Kotzker saying, "It is always late but never too late".

The Mainstay of the Home

Art: Catherine Nolan
There is a special mission given to Jewish women, each of whom is called the ''mainstay of the home'' for the conduct of the entire home depends on her.

Every Jewish home must be similar to the Sanctuary and Holy Temple in which G-d's presence resided. It must be pure and holy, so that G-d can say ''I can dwell within them''.

Since the woman is the ''mainstay of the home'', it is she who makes the home a sanctuary, similar to the Holy Temple of which G-d says ''I will dwell within them''.

Based on Sicha of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Monday, February 20, 2012

Iran and Syria at the End of Time - Torah Codes

from Rabbi M. Glazerson

Terumah: Giving is Receiving


"Speak to the Children of Israel and let them take for Me a portion" [Terumah 25:2]

Why does the verse state "take for Me a portion" and not "give Me a portion"?

The Torah is showing us the greatness vested in the mitzvah of giving tzedakah. When we fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah, it may appear as if we are giving, but in truth we are actually taking (receiving) for ourselves a very great mitzvah.

The Midrash Rabbah elaborates on this idea: "More than what the host does for the poor man, the poor man does for the host". The host may have given the poor person a perutah for tzedakah, but the poor person has enabled the host to earn a mitzvah that is more valuable than "thousands in gold and silver" [Tehillim 119:72].

Someone who refuses to assist a poor person, said the Chofetz Chaim, can be compared to a farmer who piled up his wagon with wheat and then travelled to a large city in order to sell it. When the farmer arrived at the city, he was immediately met by dozens of eager customers waiting to purchase his produce.

He was afraid, however, that the customers would attempt to deceive him by taking bundles of wheat without paying for them. He therefore told them "Go ahead and fill your bags with wheat. But each time you fill up a bag, place one copper coin into my hat. When you finish filling your sacks, we will count the coins in my hat, and that way we will know how many sacks you have to pay for."

The customers agreed to the farmer's method and followed his instructions. The farmer's hat was soon full of shiny copper coins.

The farmer saw all the coins in his hat and was overcome by temptation. He quickly stole some of the coins and put them in his pocket.

How foolish is that farmer! remarked the Chofetz Chaim. He may have managed to swipe a few coins, but he will lose much more than he gained because when the time comes to pay for the wheat and the coins are counted, there will be less coins than sacks, and he will lose the payment for all those sacks. This foolish farmer will lose the payment of an entire sack of wheat for every coin that he took for himself.

This is also the case, said the Chofetz Chaim, when someone refuses to give tzedakah. He may hold on to a coin or two, but he will lose the immense reward from a mitzvah that could have been his.

Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Plan

This week's Parsha, Terumah, means ''contribution'', since the Tabernacle [mishkan] was constructed from contributions made by the Jewish people.

But why is the Parsha about G-d's house named after man's contribution?

Chassidic thought teaches that G-d created the world because He had a Plan, but the Plan contains a clause: The Plan is that G-d's presence should be revealed in the world.

The clause is that this should occur by the efforts of man.

At the giving of the Torah, G-d stated His Plan.  He taught us that we can reveal His presence in the world by performing the mitzvot.

But, at that moment, everything had come from G-d.

With the construction of the Tabernacle, G-d's clause began to be implemented.  Now man had made an effort to help G-d's Plan reach fruition.

It is for this reason that our Parsha, which speaks of G-d's house, is named after man's contribution.  For G-d's house could only be complete when His clause for human involvement was adhered to.

Source: Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe


All of us are part of The Plan.  We were chosen to be here to witness the Final Redemption, may it come speedily in our days.   We are gilgulim [reincarnations] of the D'or HaMidbar - the generation who wandered through the desert.  We complained a lot, both then and now.  But everything we are doing, and everything that is happening to us, is a tikkun [rectification].  


When the Lubavitcher Rebbe established the womens' group N'Shei Ubnos Chabad [Women and Daughters of Chabad], the Rebbe called in Rabbi Yosef Wineberg shlita who was at that time a young man and told him the following:

“It says in Kisvei Arizal [the writings of the Arizal] that the generation before Moshiach is the same generation as the Dor HaMidbar. At that time the women were exceptional in a number of areas:
  • They did not participate in the Chait HaEigel [the golden calf]
  • They gave their jewelry for the Mishkan.
  • They showed great love for the land of Israel.
The reward for this will be that in the generation before Moshiach the Talmidei Chachamim will follow the directions of their wives.

If we want to accomplish with the men we first must accomplish with the women.”

Saturday, February 18, 2012

US tells Iran ''Time is Running Out'' -

US Declares War on Iran




And then there's this:

[Reuters] - Belgium-based SWIFT, which provides banks with a system for moving funds around the world, bowed to international pressure on Friday and said it was ready to block Iranian banks from using its network to transfer money.

Expelling Iranian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication would shut down Tehran's main avenue to doing business with the rest of the world - an outcome the West believes is crucial to curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions.

SWIFT, which has never cut off a country before, has been closely following efforts in the United States and the European Union to develop new sanctions targeting Iran that would directly affect EU-based financial institutions.

Source and more: Reuters

Friday, February 17, 2012

How to Deal with Addiction

The Fear of Setting Yourself Free
By: Rabbi YY Jacobson


Rage Therapy
A man visiting a bar each evening, would routinely throw glass cups at the bartender and at the people sitting around and drinking. Yet he always made sure to follow up his violence by pleading for forgiveness. “I suffer from uncontrollable rage and I am deeply ashamed of it; please forgive me for my embarrassing and unforgivable behavior,” he would always say.

Finally, the bartender made an ultimatum with the man. He could not come back to the bar unless he underwent therapy for a full year. The man consented. He did not show up at the bar any longer.

After the year finally passed, the man showed up at the bar one evening. Lo and behold he took a glass and threw it right at the bartender.

“What’s going on?” the bartender thundered.

“Well, as you have suggested, I went to therapy,” the man replied, “and now I am not embarrassed anymore.”

Animal Laws
This week's Torah portion [Mishpatim] deals with the laws of animals that damage other people's animals or property (1). Say, for example, your domesticated usually well-behaved dog goes berserk and it suddenly attacks and bites another person's or dog in a public place. Or your domesticated bull suddenly and uncharacteristically gores and kills another bull. What's the law?

For the first three incidents, says the Torah, the owner of the bull pays for only half of the damage. Since it is unusual for the bull to let lose and gore somebody, the owner of the bull was not expected to be vigilant against it. Therefore, he is not deemed completely responsible for the loss and he splits the loss with the owner of the wounded animal.

This is true only for the first three incidents. After three incidents of such aggression, it is now established that this bull (or dog) is of a destructive nature and the owner is expected to guard his animal and is fully responsible for all damages done as a result of his failure to guard it (2).

Is "Repentance" Possible?
How about reorientation?

Can a bull or any other animal that went astray, resume their original status of innocence?

Yet, says the Talmud (3). This can be achieved in two ways. Either the owner rigorously trains his animal until its disposition is transformed from an aggressor to a restful animal. Another option states the Talmud, is to sell the animal or grant it as a gift to another person. With a new owner and new patterns and schedules, the Halacha (Jewish law) assumes the animal, coming from a species that is usually domesticated and well behaved, to be nonviolent until it is proven destructive again (4).

The Psychological Dimension
We pointed out numerous times that each law of the Torah contains in addition to a concrete, physical interpretation, also a psychological and spiritual rendition. This is one of the primary functions of the Jewish mystical tradition -- Kabbalah and Chassidism -- to explain the metaphysical meaning behind each law and Mitzvah of the Torah and the Talmud.

How can we apply the above-mentioned set of laws to our personal lives?

The Mystical Animal
Each of us possesses an animal within, an earthy and mundane consciousness that seeks self-preservation and self-enhancement. In the Jewish tradition, in contrast to some other traditions, the human animal is not seen as inherently evil and destructive, only as potentially evil and destructive.

Originally, when we are born, the animal within our psyche is innocent and even cute, like a cute little puppy. Its primary goal is merely to preserve its existence, to gratify its natural quests, and to enjoy a good and comfortable life. However, if our animal consciousness is not educated, cultivated and refined, this cute innocent animal can become a self-centered beast; sometimes the beast can turn into a monster, prone to destroy itself and others in its quest for self-enhancement and self-aggrandizement. Sometimes our animal can become addicted to various things (food, drugs, nicotine, alcohol, sexuality etc.) to desperately fill a void it’s experiencing.

Many people's animals do indeed become, at one point or another, damaging forces, causing pain to themselves or to others. Yet there are two categories of damaging human animals. One who's moments of aggression are seen as unusual deviations, and one in whom these destructive patterns become common behavior.

In cases where the animal is generally moral and decent and its act of destruction is an unusual anomaly, the Torah states, we ought to be more understanding of the "owner" of the animal. Nobody is entitled to gore or bite another human being ever, yet practically speaking we need to remember that even the most gentle husband could lose himself and raise his voice in rage and even the most loving woman may, in a moment of stress, make an obnoxious comment. It is painful, mends must be made, but it’s not the end of the world.

As long as the offender acknowledges his or her wrongdoing and accepts accountability for it, understanding and forgiveness should follow.

To be human is to err. Our goal is not perfection but accountability. Life will sometimes throw a curveball your way and in the shock that follows you may lose yourself and begin to “gore.” As long as you are accountable for your actions and words, your negative behavior is considered an “anomaly,” an aberration to your natural self.

But, if the incidents of abuse and destruction persists -- for example, if a husband continuously shouts at his spouse or children, or a person in leadership position shatters the lives of people under his control, or a wife has only derision for her husband, or a person cannot control their food or sexual addiction -- this behavior should not be condoned. We are dealing with an animal whose selfish, destructive and unhealthy inclinations have become the norm.

Making mistakes is part of life. But when these mistakes become regular habits, without being controlled and stopped, they are dangerous. Now they have turned into a life style, a routine, sometimes an addiction. The owner of this kind of animal cannot excuse himself or herself by saying, “I did not realize, I did not know.” He or she must take the bull at its horns (pun intended) and control it.

But how does such an animal return to its original innocent status? How does an animal gone wild regain the trust of the people it has hurt so badly? How can you change your life around?

Two Paths to Recovery
Two roads are available.

The first is a rigorous process of self-refinement, in which the animal learns to confront and challenge its deepest fears and urges and to de-beast its abusive character.

Yet, even before you manage to work through all of the dark chambers of your wild animal, the teachings of Judaism present another alternative as well: To change the jurisdiction of the animal.

Take your animal and submit it to the higher power, to the property of G-d. Even before elevating your animal to a higher realm, surrender it to the higher reality. Take your rage, your addictions, your depression, and your fear and submit them to G-d.

From G-d’s perspective, the universe is created anew at every single moment. You, I and all of existence are being re-created at each and every moment. So right now at this moment you can put your past demons to rest and start anew. You are a fresh newborn.

Talk to your animal, and reflect together on the following truth. Yes, I know that you have a complicated past and I am not denying that; I know you believe that you are prone and addicted to all types of behavior. But right now, my dear animal, we will look to the present, and we will live in the present. You and I were just created anew. With a clean slate. So let us finally begin to live. For real.

Yes, I know it is scary to really feel that you do not have luggage from the past and that you need to take full responsibility for your future, but please let us muster our courage and view ourselves from the perspective of existing in G-d’s domain. In His world, everything is recreated each moment. We can liberate ourselves from our past and defy ominous predictions of our future, as long as we do it now.

If you are serious, your animal will listen.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma
I read this fabulous story: [click here for the full story : article by Dov Greenberg]

In the 16th century, an innocent Jew was thrown in prison by a feudal baron who gave him a life sentence. For some reason, this tyrannical baron decided to show the man a bit of mercy. He told him, “Look Jew, you’re my prisoner for life, there’s nothing that will change that. But this I will do for you: I will grant you one day of freedom a year during which you can return to your family. Do whatever you want. I don’t care which day you choose. But remember, you have only one day a year.”

The man was conflicted. Which day should he choose? Should he choose Rosh Hashanah, to hear the sounding of the shofar? Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year? Passover, to celebrate a seder? His wedding anniversary?

This prisoner, not being able to make up his mind, wrote a letter to one of the rabbinic leaders of that generation, the Radbaz, asking for his advice.

The Radbaz said the prisoner should choose the first available day. Whatever it is, grab it now, don’t wait — be it a holiday, a Shabbat, a Monday, a Wednesday.

A Flood of Positive Energy
This was a marvelous reply. More important, it holds true for us as well.

Practically speaking, take your self and your animal and submit them to G-d, by submerging yourself in goodness and holiness. Fill your days and nights with meaningful and good behavior, with the study of Torah, the observance of Mitzvos, with acts of goodness and kindness and with a life of productivity and meaning, and much of the evil of the animal will wither away.

To post a comment on this article, or to view the footnotes please click here

Wake Up! An Almost Nuclear Iran!

by Yochonon Donn     [HT: Shawn]

Harav Moshe Wolfson, shlita, spoke Tuesday night in a rare mid-week assembly for his kehillah, Emunas Yisroel in Boro Park, asking bluntly why there is no greater uproar within the community over the potential for war over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “Why are we quiet? Where is the awakening? Why is everyone so apathetic?” asked Rav Wolfson, who is also mashgiach of Yeshivah Torah Vodaath. “Everyone is busy with narishkeiten, we don’t hear the alarm? We don’t know that we have to pierce the heavens for rachamim from the Ribbono Shel Olam?” 

Rav Wolfson told the packed beis medrash of nearly 1,000 people that the potential for a war encompassing Iran, Israel, Europe and the United States over the next few weeks is a real one, and Klal Yisrael must prepare itself spiritually. “Everyone knows that there is currently a growing danger from Iran – and it is a great error for whoever does not know this,” Rav Wolfson said. “Why should a Yid not know what is happening to [other] Yidden? Everyone must know what is happening in regard to other Yidden. Everyone must know what is happening in Eretz Yisrael.” 

Rav Wolfson began talking this past Shabbos about the dangers from the Iran crisis, when he stopped and said that it was not a subject to discuss on Shabbos. He said he would continue the topic during the week. The last time he called for a special asifah during the week to discuss current events was in 1991, prior to the Gulf War. 

Rav Wolfson started his address, which was carried live by Kol Halashon, with the famous Rambam, who writes that it is a mitzvah to daven during troubled times. “If you don’t daven,” the Rambam says, “then it is a cruelty, since it will get worse.” “The leader in Iran says clearly – he repeated it this week – that he wants to kill, Rachmana litzlan, every Yid in the world, just like Haman,” Rav Wolfson said. “If he will be successful, chas v’shalom, in getting the nuclear bomb – and experts says he will have it by the summer – it will be a great danger for Klal Yisrael.” 

“A good part of the world’s Jews live in Israel, and the government there says that they will attack Iran first, before they could get the nuclear bomb. If that happens, everyone knows that that will cause a world war.” Rav Wolfson said that he heard that Harav Yosef Rosenblum, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivah Shaarei Yosher, spoke recently about the crisis with Iran – he said that during this eis tzarah, “Hashem is judging us on every klal and on every prat.” 

Rav Wolfson quoted the Pesikta, who says that the year when Moshiach will come all nations will battle each other. The spark that will set it off, according to the Medrash, will be when the king of Paras – which is modern-day Iran – will threaten “Arabia,” presumably Saudi Arabia, such as is happening today. Arabia will go for an alliance with Edom – the culture of Edom is today’s Western world, Europe and United States. Paras will then destroy the world and the Yidden will be thrown into turmoil. Hashem will then say: “Do not fear, the time for your Geulah has come.” Rav Wolfson noted how eerily similar this Medrash is to what is occurring today. “We don’t have to be in a panic,” Rav Wolfson said, “Hashem will perform miracles for us. But efsher takeh. Maybe the time for the Geulah has arrived. We must prepare for the Geulah.” 

Rav Wolfson said that since the Holocaust, Hashem has performed great miracles for the Yidden. Eretz Yisrael, which today hosts most of the world’s Yidden and most of the Torah world, merited supernatural siyatta diShmaya during its wars. When the Palestinians shoot missiles from Gaza, they land mostly in empty areas and cause little damage. When then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein shot 39 Scud missiles during the Gulf War, only one Yid was killed – that man had previously received a klalah from the Chazon Ish. “This a hashgachah niflaah that is reserved only for Yidden who learn Torah, who keep the mitzvos and who will ultimately do teshuvah,” Rav Wolfson said. “Hashem wants to do nissim for us. Israel is surrounded by 300 million Arabs and we are still there; that means Hashem wants to do yeshuos. We must prepare for yeshuos.” 

But just like Eliyahu had to daven on Har Hacarmel even though Hashem had already promised to bring rain, Hashem still wants the tefillos of Klal Yisrael today, even though He had promised to bring yeshuos. In order to qualify for these miracles, Rav Wolfson said, we must strengthen in Torah, tefillah and chessed. He specifically suggested saying Tehillim 46 every day, adding that he is asking his own kehillah to have the kapitel printed out and stuck to the back of every siddur. During the Suez campaign in 1956, the Belzer Rebbe asked that people say that particular kapitel, since it is a segulah to prevent warfare. “Everyone has to be mispallel that Klal Yisrael should be saved from chevlei Moshiach, that he and his family should be saved,” he said. 

Rav Wolfson also spoke about kevias ittim for Torah, not interrupting even “if the cell phone rings.” “I heard from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, that when a Yid sits down to learn it should be like Shabbos,” Rav Wolfson said. “That is the only time that one is pattur from work.” “In a beis medrash it is Shabbos. … If someone interrupts his learning and he picks up the phone, he brings the marketplace, he brings the office into Shabbos. He is mechallel the Shabbos.” 

But above all, Rav Wolfson said, Yidden should keep in mind that we live in momentous times, and we should prepare for the upcoming era with emunah and bitachon. “In the next couple of weeks there will be news,” Rav Wolfson said, “and with the help of Hashem, it will be good news for Yidden.”

Source: Rabbi Eli Goldsmith

Thursday, February 16, 2012

8 Guidelines for Guaranteed Digestive Health and Healing

[HT: Ilya]

Occasionally readers email me links to really interesting sites, and this is one of them:

Traditional Jewish Medicine is an approach to healing that uses Torah principles to help treat illness.

First, let me preface this study by noting a fascinating observation by the Holy Arizal, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria, OBM. The verse in Deuteronomy 8:2 states that "Man does not live by bread alone, but rather from that which eminate from the mouth of Ha-Shem" The Arizal points out that this verse teaches us that food is more than just nourishment for the body. There are also "sparks of holiness" contained in food, and when we eat food in the appropriate way, eating with focus and intention and saying a blessing on the food before eating it, the holiness in that food is unlocked and nourishes the soul. This is crucial to our overall health, because “Man does not live by bread alone." Taking this one step further, I would suggest, as we shall see shortly, that this not only applies to our souls, but our bodies as well!

Continue reading at: Traditional Jewish Medicine

The Spiritual Meaning of Snow

by Rabbi Simon Jacobson

[Snow for Israel this weekend... ]


Nothing is as it appears. What lies beneath the enchanting snowflakes floating gently from heaven to earth? From whence do these white angels originate? Is this heaven speaking to us?

Mysticism teaches that everything in the physical universe has a spiritual counterpart. Just as a teardrop is a manifestation of human emotion, and anger is an expression of repressed energy, so physical phenomena actually evolve from and are a manifestation of a spiritual reality. Thus snow is a channel of energy, it is a Divine voice speaking to us through visual imagery so that we can experience it with our bodily senses.

Meteorologists may perceive snow to be a result of pressure systems and precipitation levels; physicists will recognize the subatomic particles that create snow; but the mystic sees the cosmic energy that snow manifests and the facets of our psyche that it illuminates.

Let us explore the spirit within the snow.

Water in all its forms is a symbol of knowledge. Descending water represents the transmission of knowledge from a higher to a lower place, the flow of information from teacher to student. On a cosmic level, rain and snow reflect different ways in which divine energy flows to us from a higher spiritual plane.

Water flowing downward thus describes G-d’s way of transmitting His energy to us and represents the conduit through which our material existence and G-d interact. The purpose of existence is to create unity between G-d and man, so that we, in our limited, material existence can become integrated and unified in an intimate and equal relationship with G-d. To achieve this neither the Divine nor the human can be compromised. Unity achieved on G-d’s terms would annihilate our identities, our existence. Can we (our egos, vanities, and needs) co-exist with G-d who is infinite, uncontained and undefined? And unity attained on our material, finite terms would compromise G-d, because He would have to limit Himself to our existence.

If water - the divine wisdom - were to flow continuously, it would totally submerge and obliterate, not allowing space for any other existence. So water flows in various measures to allow for the transmission to be internalized. Sometimes water flows as rain and sometimes it freezes to different degrees producing snow, hail or sleet, which are all metaphors for the teacher monitoring and transforming the flow into forms that the student can contain and assimilate.

Rain is a transmission that is more on Divine terms. Admittedly it falls in drops which symbolizes some level of contraction, but it flows continuously like a stream of information retaining its fluidity and it is absorbed quickly into the earth.

Ice on the other hand, is a transmission that is more on the recipient’s terms. The information has solidified into a compact state so that the student can internalize it. The flow has ceased and turned into a solid form, so the student is not overwhelmed by the continuous flow of new ideas.

Snow is an intermediary state between fluid water and solid ice. In order to appreciate the spiritual implications of this, we need to examine the properties of snow.

A snowflake needs at least two components in order to form. In addition obviously to cold air, it requires water droplets (vapor), and a nucleus. The nucleus is made up of dust, minerals or other microscopic particles in the air. A snowflake is formed when water takes shape around these microscopic particles and the cold air turns it into ice crystals. Thus snow has two components: water and earth - earth being the particles, and the water being the droplets. Earth is the material world - without any recognition of G-dliness; water is the knowledge of G-d - divine energy without any containers. Thus snow, being half heaven and half earth provides the perfect intermediary between these two worlds.

Snow consists of separate snowflakes that are actually independent properties - each comprised of about 100 ice crystals. Snowflakes cling to each other but they are not intrinsically one. In contrast, water is one unified entity. Although it consists of droplets, each drop joins with another and they become one body of water. What is the symbolism of this in the flow of knowledge?

When a teacher has to reach out to a student who is far beneath his or her level of knowledge and understanding, he or she cannot allow the water to just flow freely, it has to be dressed up in metaphors and it has to be paced. In order for the student to understand a new concept, the teacher needs to create a point of reference by using examples, anecdotes, stories, and analogies. Thus snowflakes represent the need to explain gradually, step by step, in a language that is accessible to the student.

Snow falls gently and silently, teaching us in our own process of educating others and educating ourselves, that we need gentleness. If we educate with a sledgehammer - with unceasing rain pour - it will simply submerge and destroy the crops. Even when it rains on earth, science tells us that on a higher level, the beginning process could have originated in snowflakes. So snowflakes are a symbol of that first gentle step.

Who has not been awed by the beauty of the city or countryside covered in snow? The serenity and whiteness of snow attracts us. We sense the purity of snow when we wake up in the morning and the streets, which are so often filled with grime, are all covered with a white blanket of snow. Snow is a great equalizer - no matter how big the building, or the car, whether a Lexus or a Hyundai, they’re all covered equally by the snow. Snow has the ability to cover over the impurities of life and remind us of our own purity.

So snow is heaven speaking to us - speaking to us through purity, speaking to us gently and gradually on our terms. Snow is the intermediary stage between heaven and earth; ice is a little closer to the level of earth; sleet is in between snow and ice. Thus every weather condition sends us a message and lesson - whether it’s rain, snow, ice, sleet or hail.

Ultimately, the intention is that the snow should melt and turn to water. Once the snow falls and blocks our driveways and streets, we want it to melt. In the education process the student needs to pause which requires a freezing of the water, but then at some point it has to melt and integrate into our system in order for us to grow.

***

The idea of educating through metaphor is further expressed through the numerical secret of snow. The gematria (numerical equivalent) of the Hebrew word sheleg [snow] is 333 [shin=300, lamed=30, gimmel=3]. It says in Kabbalah that sheleg is the gematria of three times the letter alef. When you spell out the letter alef, it is 111. [Alef, lamed, and fei is 1+30+80=111] So 111 times 3 is 333 which is sheleg.

What is the significance? The verse states, “Vayidaber Melech Shlomo shaloshes alafim moshel - King Solomon, [the wise one] spoke in 3,000 metaphors.” The number 3,000, three elefs [elef is one thousand], is snow. [The letter alef also refers to the word elef, 1,000]. So snow relates to the concept of three thousand metaphors.

What’s the relationship between the two? Sheleg, snow, is the concept of metaphor itself. The spiritual dimension of snow serves as an intermediary between Divine energy and the universe. Snow is the concept of explaining knowledge in metaphor. Its cosmic significance is this: To understand the process of how G-d created the universe, G-d could not allow the borders of divinity and spirituality to just flow ceaselessly and annihilate the boundaries of existence. G-d had to contain it, and the way He contained it is reflected in snow.

The mystique of snow is precisely because of its dual quality of heaven meeting earth, water meeting land. Next time you look at the snowflakes gently dropping from heaven, blanketing earth in its white embrace, remember that you are witnessing a kiss – the kiss of the Divine and the mundane.