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.


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

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

Parshas Korach: It’s All in a Name

by Rabbi Eytan Feiner 

The name “Korach” appears regarding but a few individuals in Tanach, the most notorious of whom occupies the spotlight in this week’s parsha. [1] But if a person’s name serves as the window to his core essence, encapsulating his uniqueness,[2] then how are we to understand the interesting choice of the name “Korach” for the antagonist in this parsha named after him?[3]

Naturally, our first task is to locate another place in Tanach in which the same word or shoresh is found. Our search leads us to parshas Re’eh (14:1) where we find the following: “Lo sisgodidu vi’lo sa’simu KARCHA al meis…” “Lo sisgodidu” refers to the making of an incision, the infliction of a cut on one’s body– essentially echoing the idea of perud and separation. And yes, is that not precisely what Korach accomplished in his attempt to usurp the power and authority of Moshe and Aharon? He succeeded, to a certain degree, in creating a cut and separation within the ranks of the Jewish People.[4] Interestingly enough, immediately on the heels of a “lo sisgodidu” comes the mention of making a “karcha” (same shoresh as “Korach”)…

Continue reading: It's All in a Name

Soul Mazal Names:
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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

Venus Observations

This post was accidentally deleted, now re-instated, sorry for the confusion everyone...


Venus Observations

Re: the recent Venus Transit and the speculations in Seven Stars on the North and 6 Days

This letter was published in the [UK] Jewish Tribune.

Written by Amnon Goldberg

Your photo of the recent transit of Venus reminded one of the statement "Venus lies upon the Sun in summer to cool it off lest it scorch the Earth" (Sefer Gedulat Moshe). Venus (known as Nogah, Ayelet HaShachar, Kochav HaErev, Estahar, Cytherea, Aphrodite, Phosphorus, Hesperus etc), is the only celestial object apart from the Sun and Moon that can be seen by the unaided eye at daytime.

"He who is born under Venus will be wealthy and unchaste....because of its fire" (Talmud Shabbat 156). Indeed, with an atmospheric pressure one hundred times that of ours, and its 1000 degree waterless atmosphere of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulphuric acid, the Venusian climate is a veritable hell.

"The beauty of Benayahu ben Yehoyada shone like Venus", "Esther was so named because she was as beautiful as Estahar" (Megillah 13). "There are nine spheres....the third contains the planet Venus" (Maimonides, Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 3). "The seven branches of the Menorah correspond to the seven planets" (Bamidbar Rabbah 15). "Each planet has its own angel ....Venus has Aniel". In the Kabbalah, Venus is viewed as being a physical manifestation of the Supernal Sefirah of Netzach - Victory.

That Venus displays the same face to the Earth every time they are nearest to each other, which can be as close as 26 million miles (only 100 times the distance to the Moon), is known as 'orbital resonance', and is not explainable in terms of the billions of years that orbital evolutionists claim. Rabbi Avigdor Miller said that we need not be dismissive of Immanuel Velikovsky's theory about the roles Venus and Mars played in the worldwide upheavals that took place during the time of the Exodus c1300 BCE.

The claim that Galileo's telescope observation of the phases of Venus disproved the geocentric model has long ago been disproved. Measurements of radar returns from Venus and discrepancies in its predicted perihelia would seem to undermine Einstein's Theory of Relativity. If Relativity is ever shown to be wrong, then all the experimental results that continue to fail to detect the Earth's motion would mean that the Geocentric paradigm would not just remain a primus inter pares, but would actually become the favored model of the universe, in accordance with the Bible and Jewish Sages: "The Earth is suspended at the center of the universe" (Maimonides)!


  1. "Venus lies upon the Sun in summer to cool it off lest it scorch the Earth" (Sefer Gedulat Moshe).

    There is no "summer" or "winter" for the sun. The temperature of the sun does not change based on what the season on Earth is.

    Secondly, the transit of Venus across the sun occurred in spring, not summer. Summer starts on June 21.

    Thirdly, even if it were summer, it's not summer all over the Earth. When it's summer in the US and Israel, it's winter in the Southern Hemisphere. If the issue at hand is a danger of the sun scorching the earth, it would be just as valid to say that Venus should transit the sun in winter, since we don't want the Southern Hemisphere to burn up either.

    Furthermore, looking at the last few transits of Venus, none of them have occurred at a time when it was summer *anywhere* on Earth.

    Nov 23 1396 (autumn in Northern Hemisphere/spring in Southern)
    May 25-26 1518 (spring/autumn)
    May 23 1526 (spring/autumn)
    Dec 7 1631 (autumn/spring)
    Dec 4 1639 (autumn/spring)
    Jun 6 1761 (spring/autumn)
    Jun 3-4 1769 (spring/autumn)
    Dec 9 1874 (autumn/spring)
    Dec 6 1882 (autumn/spring)
    Jun 8 2004 (spring/autumn)
    Jun 5-6 2012 (spring/autumn)

    Furthermore, the transits upcoming in 2117, 2125, 2247, 2255, 2360, 2368, 2490 and 2498 all occur in the spring and autumn. NONE of them will occur when it is summer anywhere on Earth.

    The claim that Galileo's telescope observation of the phases of Venus disproved the geocentric model has long ago been disproved.

    Cite, please? Please explain who disproved it and when (long ago) it was disproven and how.

    but would actually become the favored model of the universe

    I doubt that. Disproving a heliocentric model does not automatically make a geocentric model correct. But before we get to that, please provide some proof that the heliocentric model of the Solar System is wrong.

    The Wolf
  2. The Wolf, Amnon Goldberg has a perverted view of the Universe. He listens to no arguments. The question is how he merited to appear here, on this blog.
  3. I am just new at all this being person in Teshuvah, HaShem please help me, anyway I wonder if its okay to speak of the planets in such a way? Are they thinkers? do they have faces? Isnt this astrology and is this wrong? I am just not sure. I cant make heads or tails of the wolf comment. Okay any answers would be very much appreciated.
  4. Let us get more accurate information about what Einstein said. Since the Earth and the sun are moving through the galaxy at a speed of about 18 miles a second, the relative positions of the two bodies are more of an interlocked sinusoidal pattern. Einstein stated that we have no way of really determining that the Earth is going around the sun and that it is possible that the sun could be in a pattern that is more congruent with it going around the Earth (just like the Torah intimates). Don't mess with my Jewish friend Einstein. His Law of Relativity (no longer called the Theory of Relativity due to extensive proof) had its origin from scriptures. Hashem gave us Einstein at the exact time He wanted this information to be known and it all is according to Torah.
  5. One can do no better than quote the Great Albert himself:

    “The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either coordinate system could be used with equal justification. The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the Earth moves,” or “the sun moves and the Earth is at rest,” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different coordinate system” .

    "It is my firm belief that it is the Sun that revolves around the Earth, as I have also declared publicly on various occasions and in discussion with professors specializing in this field of science" (Lubavitcher Rebbe)
  6. B'H


  7. In Talmud it is written, that Orion causes heat: Were it not for the heat of Orion the world could not endure the cold of Pleiades; and were it not for the cold of Pleiades the world could not endure the heat of Orion. Berakoth 58b
    Velikovsky in some book describes, that Venus several times collided with Mars & Earth in Exodus times. It appeared from Jupiter or was comet, origin of Venus is quite mysterious.
    I agree with geocentric system, it's understandable-visible with clear eye.
  8. Venus exhibits phases similar to the Moon. Galileo maintained that the Ptolemaic Geocentric model could not account for these phases. His argument would be correct if one insists on circular orbits; but if one allows for elliptical orbits in the Ptolemaic model, then the argument falls flat. Galileo's 3 proofs for Heliocentrism could just as well prove the Geocentric Tychonic universe.
  9. To the Wolf:
    The following words are from a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt'l, to the Organization of Orthodox Scientists (1971):

    "...It was conceivable, in those days, that if one approached a student who dabbled in science and told him that according to the Torah-hashkofo [Torah outlook], the sun revolves around the earth, he might well repudiate Torah altogether. So, in an effort to encourage the student to put on Teffilin [ritual prayer boxes], the well-meaning Rabbi did not mind conceding that the earth revolved around the sun. But surely there is no longer any justification whatever to perpetuate this ‘inferiority complex!’ Certainly there is no basis for holding on to views which have come down in outdated elementary and high school textbooks on science.

    This matter of the sun and the earth is a further case in point. To declare categorically in the name of science, that the earth revolves around the sun, and not vise versa, is, as noted above, turning the scientific clock back to the 19th century and Medieval science. It is also at variance with the theory of relativity, which has likewise been universally accepted. Science now declares—as categorically as it is permissible for contemporary science—that where two bodies in space are in relative motion, it is scientifically impossible to determine which is at rest and which in motion."
  10. Internet Doomsday probably by July 9
  11. The majority of the readers of this blog share the perverted views of Amnon Goldberg, it appears. The owner of this blog also, it seems. Fortunately, the Truth is not democratic.
  12. We live in interesting times - ''Novelty'' - as Terence McKenna wrote:

    The Final Slope
  13. Yes, interesting times. It is said that Moshiach will not be so acceptable to the regilious Jew. Again, the Truth is not at all democratic. Kudos to The Wolf.
  14. "The majority of the readers of this blog share the ... views of Amnon Goldberg, it appears."

    Indeed, we live in an Olam shel Sheker, to borrow a phrase.

    Explaining relative motion in either model is of course possible. But still, the earth revolves around the sun. To cite myself from an earlier comment on my own blog:

    there are significant objections to this assertion, imho. i am no expert in the Rebbe's thought or in astronomy, and others can correct me, but perhaps i will present it in a later post. in shorthand: stellar parallax, the coriolus effect, the motion of pendulums, the fact that all *other* planets still would be rotating on their axis, so why not earth, and the need to resort to epicycles in the ptolmaic model to account for the apparent retrograde motion of the planets. of course you can describe motions from any vantage point using any coordinate system, but the heliocentric model explains it much more simply and accounts for all these phenomena.


    1. Then isn't it interesting that Joshua stopped the sun on 3 Tamuz? That would imply that the sun is moving? It doesn't say he stopped the earth.

      ''And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed...''[Yehoshua 10:1]
    2. Lyubavitcher Rebbe Menahem Mendel Yortzait is 3 Tammuz.
    3. Indeed, how to interpret pesukim like this is a good question. But a good question, rather than a definitive proof. Indeed, heliocentrist rabbis have already addressed this question.

      (For instance, "The Malmad Hatalmidim understands that the pursuit was so hot and successful that they were able to accomplish as if the day was longer.")

      The Torah also says that Hashem has an outstretched arm, even though we know Hashem does not have a body. Not everything is intended to be taken literally. Some things might be written idiomatically -- that is, we say that the Sun rose this morning, even though we know the earth is rotating. Or, it could be written from the typical observer's perspective. Or, some things might be written according to the limited understanding of the people of the time, because the Torah is not a science book. To cite Isadore Twersky, summarizing the views of Rabbi Yosef Ibn Caspi, a Rishon: ""A statement may be purposely erroneous, reflecting an erroneous view of the masses. We are not dealing merely with an unsophisticated or unrationalized view, but an intentionally, patently false view espoused by the masses and enshrined in Scripture. The view or statement need not be allegorized, merely recognized for what it is."

      Or, in the language of Chazal, dibra Torah kilshon benei Adam.

      kol tuv,
  15. ariela:
    anyway I wonder if its okay to speak of the planets in such a way? Are they thinkers? do they have faces?

    You are correct; these are meant to be taken metaphorically, or to express deep concepts in cryptic fashion.

    Isnt this astrology and is this wrong?
    It might be astrology. Whether it is forbidden, or incorrect, might be a dispute among Rishonim. Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about it.

    All the best,
  16. Those that take the trouble to study the scientific case for geocentricity will find that a literal interpretation of Tenach and Chazal is fully scientifically supported in such works as:

    "Geocentrism", Avi Rabinowitz, B'Or HaTorah 1986
    "De Labore Solis - Airy's Failure reconsidered", Walter van der Kamp 1988
    "Geocentricity”, Gerardus Bouw 1993
    "True Science supports the Bible", Malcolm Bowden 1998
    "Torah Metaphysics versus Newtonian Empiricism", Shimon Cowen, B'Or HaTorah 1999
    "Galileo was wrong", Robert Sungenis 2008
    "Hashemesh b'gvuraso" Yosef Zalman Bloch 5769
  17. Thanks. I'm aware of attempts to support geocentricity, for religious reasons. (Just as I'm aware of attempts to support the idea that Jews and gentiles have a different number of teeth, for religious reasons.) I'm also aware that at a certain level of scientific / mathematical complexity, most readers are unable to really follow the line of argument or realize its deficiencies, and simply walk away with the impression that an impressive scientific case has been made.

    By the way, don't google and visit B'Or HaTorah's website. Google Chrome warns of malware...

  18. Agree with Klishlishi. Josh is a religious rationalist. The Jewish people do not fall in the realm of rationalism but are a miracle itself. That is why the teachings of the Zohar, chassidus bring out the inner meanings of Torah. There is Torah Nistar. The Torah Niglah is a guide for the Jewish people to live a life that G-D commands and is holy. But for the mysteries, you need to go to Torah Nistar. When science concurs with Torah, you know they've gotten it right; otherwise, forget it.
  19. Just learned a lot things happened under Venus. I am quite new in Jewish and the topic you mentioned here is really important for me. That's why thanks goes to you for it. You can check out the interesting video Didn't realize the major effect forgiving has on our health.
  20. "Josh is a religious rationalist."
    Disbelief in geocentrism is not a mark of religious rationalism! There are plenty of modern rabbis who are not "rationalists" who know that geocentrism is not true.

    Was Ramban (Nachmanides) a 'religious rationalist'? No, but he reinterpreted a pasuk about the genesis of the rainbow on the basis of what he knew from Greek science, such that it could not have been a new creation. He did NOT say that we must disregard science. Go ahead and dismiss the Ramban, a kabbalist.

    And anon, *do* you believe that Jews and gentiles have a different number of teeth?

    kol tuv,
  21. If Relativity is true, then geocentrism is a full primus inter pares (a first among equals) and can in no way be said to be "not true". It is a perfectly acceptable way of viewing universe, not just as a mind game, nor as a philosophy, nor just religiously, nor as a mathematical construct, but in terms of hard Einsteinian physics.

    And should Relativity ever be shown to be disproven (not a few modern scientists are Anti-Relativists; others believe in "Absolute Space"; others in the existence of the Ether) - "it takes only one experimental result to disprove an entire theory" (Stephen Hawking) - then the zero velocity results of all the scores of Michelson-Moreley-type experiments that have consistently failed to detect the Earth's purported 67,000 mph velocity round the Sun - are real, not apparent, and we go back to a Geostatic Earth.

    Nowhere in the Tenach is any diurnal or annual motion attributed to the Earth. Only its fixity and staticity is referred to - "Hashem writes what He means and means what He writes": "We cannot feel our motion through space; nor has any experiment ever proved that we are actually in motion!" (Professor Lincoln Barnett)
  22. I am not going to prove in a blog comment section that geocentrism is false. Certainly you can cite statements out of context, that most people here have the scientific background to evaluate, but will convince them that there is substance to the argument.

    However, might I ask you the following question, assuming that the Earth does not rotate.

    Does Venus rotate? Could an observer on Venus, who was born on Venus, make exactly the same "venocentric" assertions, that Venus is fixed in place and the rest of the universe rotates around it?

    Same question for Mars. And Jupiter. And Neptune. We can only assert that one of them it stationary at a time, at MOST.

    At any rate, here are two interesting links. here and here.
  23. "Could an observer on Venus, who was born on Venus,"
    Build a proof on an impossible assumption?
    Oh, sorry, of course it's possible - if they sent a pregnant astronaut to Venus!
    And that would assert that Venus is fixed!
    Looks like you can interest NASA in a new project.

    "We can only assert that one of them it stationary at a time"
    You're in perfect agreement with the geocentrists there.
  24. Even the English Arch-Atheist Bertrand Russell was forced to admit that "Whether the earth rotates once a day from west to east as Copernicus taught, or the heavens revolve once a day from east to west as his predecessors held, the observable phenomena will be EXACTLY the same: a METAPHYSICAL assumption has to be made".

    Current Relativistic scientific thinking is that heliocentrism, plutocentrism, alpha centauricentrism....AND geocentrism are by definition all EQUALLY valid and in NO WAY can be said to be wrong.

    Relativity does not say that the universe has no center: it says that we cannot DETERMINE where that center is.

    To do so, one would have to go outside of the universe, observe it from the outside, something that we cannot do even theoretically (except from Olam Haba!), and then report back in what is the true state of cosmic affairs. Torah Jews believe that they already have had that report!

    "We know that the difference between the heliocentric theory and geocentric theory is one of relative motion ONLY, and that difference has NO physical significance. If the Galileo Affair had taken place after Einstein had framed his General Theory, it would have resulted in an EVEN DRAW draw out of physical and mathematical necessity” (Sir Fred Hoyle).

    The Jewish scientist Michelson of Michelson-Morley zero-velocity experiment fame stated on his death bed that one thing he wanted to do was to have his experiment performed on the Moon, away from the Earth, to see if the interference fringes on his interferometer showed up there, unlike on Earth. NASA refuses to have his experiment performed on the Moon or on a Shuttle because if Special Relativity is shown to be wrong and the intereference fringes appeared from orbit, whilst not on Earth, then it would mean that the Earth was stationary in am ABSOLUTE, non-Relativistic sense, the entire card castle of modern cosmology would collapse, and Geocentrism & the Tenach would be re-enthroned. Something which NASA, the Scientific Establishment and TPTB cannot allow to happen!
  25. "Build a proof on an impossible assumption?"

    No, a thought experiment. If any frame of reference is equally valid, then a frame of reference with Venus at the center is also equally valid. And that Venutian would still see all the other planets rotating. I think you simply did not understand what I was saying.

    "Something which NASA, the Scientific Establishment and TPTB cannot allow to happen!"
    Really?! A conspiracy theory, that NASA is NOT interested in advancing scientific knowledge and so are deliberately suppressing experiments? I thought it could not get any sillier.

    By the way, the best illustrative example of this approach of "Torah Jews believe that they already have had that report" is at this Imamother forum. Read the very first post there. Do you agree, for example, with the statement that: ""Science" tells us that the Pacific Ocean is the largest body of water on the planet. The Torah tells us that the Mediterranean is the largest (hence it's name "yam hagadol"). We know the Torah is right because it comes from the One who created the Oceans. "

    Also, see this post on Avakesh.

    Have a great Shabbos,


    1. A hypothetical situation that's completely out of touch with reality isn't a strong enough argument to force the Torah out of its simple meaning.
      Isn't that one of the wonders of Hashem's creation? He created a universe with intelligent beings at its center that have the ability to imagine alternate realities!
      And by the way (and I'm saying this not as a logical argument but as a gut feeling, so you may disagree with me) the fact that anti-geocentrism vastly diminishes the importance of Man in the universe and therefore his obligation to moral behavior (whereas the Torah holds that every action of every human being has a critical effect on the entire universe), seems to throw some doubt on the sincerity of its proponents.
    2. No, not "a hypothetical situation that's completely out of touch with reality". A thought experiment. View the universe from position A. Now view the universe as if you were standing in position B. Now view the universe as if you were standing in position C. Could you describe the universe identically? If so, what makes the geocentrist perspective so compelling, over a venocentric perspective, for example? And isn't it interesting that the Coriolis effect is observable on every planet, and will be explained as rotation on every other planet, but by other means for planet earth? (Saying this targeting a specific subset of geocentrist here.)

      The "observer, born on Venus" was a way of making the thought experiment more concrete, and to aid in visualization. But instead, you entirely missed the point and carried on as if I were putting forth an argument entirely out of touch with reality.

      You wouldn't be a geocentrist if you didn't (incorrectly) believe that the Torah promotes geocentrism. The science and pseudoscience follows.
  26. While we are at it, another source, where these issues get fleshed out in a way I don't want to bother with. Link causes a download of a word document from Reply
  27. Klishlishi: You write "Current Relativistic scientific thinking is that heliocentrism, plutocentrism, alpha centauricentrism....AND geocentrism are by definition all EQUALLY valid and in NO WAY can be said to be wrong."

    Actually, they are all wrong. The right way to say it is that for every free falling object(such as the Sun, the Earth, the Moon, Venus, Mars, etc) a local Lorentz reference frame can be constructed, such the physics will be the same as for all other local Lorenz reference frames. The Earth, in its local Lorentz frame, is rotating around its axis in 24 hours. That is all: the Earth is not moving, that is the big Chiddush. The physics is the same here as in a local Lorentz frame, constructed in the same way, of Venus, of of Mars, or of the Sun. Each not moving, but rotating, in its local Lorentz reference frame.
  28. There exists an academic and media mafiosi which attempts to discourage, suppress, ostracize, threaten, and demote individuals who even start to show an interest in "heterodox ideas".

    It still exists, but in the Internet Era its power has been weakened.

    Organised pressure groups, chicanery, sharp practice, and jealous histrionics abound in the "altruistic" Scientific Establishment, all geared to prevent and discredit any research and experimentation that threatens the establishment "status quo" or is against "informed opinion", especially in the area of today's three "sacred
    cows" of Evolution, Relativity and Heliocentricity.

    Any doubters or nay-sayers are lambasted with epithets like "dupe", "heresy", "shameful", "disgraceful", "pseudo-scientific fanaticism", "fog of nonsense", "red herrings", "shallow", "starry-eyed fundamentalism", "extreme", "lack of balance, "dogmatic","bigoted", "hysterical", "far fetched", "ignorant", "of no help to anyone",
    "height of presumption" etc.

    Even on this forum, the term "perverted" has been used!
    500 years ago heliocentrism was viewed as the heresy. Now its the geocentrists who are the 'heretics'!

    When even President Reagan in 1984 dared to express his doubts in the theory of evolution, public questions were raised as to his sanity!

    Researchers like Immanuel Velikovsky (catastrophist), Halton Arp (anti-Big Bang), Stefan Marinov (anti-Relativist), Pons and Fleischmann (cold fusion), Robert Gentry (pleochroic haloes), Richard Milton (anti-evolution), Barry Setterfield (decrease in
    speed of light), Eric Braithwate (free energy), Walter van der Kamp (geocentrist) etc., were shown to have reasonable cases, or even to be substantially correct, yet they were all greeted with epithets like "stupid", "drivel", "loony", "harmless fruitcake",
    "in need of psychiatric help" etc., and conspiratorial attempts at the highest levels were made to silence them, ban their publications, restrict their access to laboratories, deny them telescope time
    etc. in blatant disrespect of the pursuit of novel human knowledge.
  29. General Relativity stipulates that any observer can consider himself to be at rest ­ and that solving Einstein's field equations for his position will properly and satisfactorily describe all phenomena observed from that vantage point.

    Einstein taught that there is a force inside a sphere of matter that is in motion. He wrote plainly to Ernst Mach on June 25, 1913, "If one accelerates a heavy shell of matter S, then a mass enclosed by that shell experiences an accelerative force. If one rotates the shell relative to the fixed stars about an axis going through its center, a Coriolis force arises in the interior of the shell, that is, the plane of a Foucault pendulum is dragged around."

    Mach's Principle states that an Earth rotating on its axis every 24 hours produces EXACTLY the same weather patterns, Coriolis Forces, Foucault Pendulum, equatorial bulge etc, as a universe rotating round a stationary Earth every 24 hours.
  30. Dunash wrote: General Relativity stipulates that any observer can consider himself to be at rest ­ and that solving Einstein's field equations for his position will properly and satisfactorily describe all phenomena observed from that vantage point."

    This is not true. See my previous comment. Mach's Principle is not physics. That is, it is "philosophy" that played a role in the long construction of General Relativity, but it is not true.
  31. The ways of the Soton & Yetzer Hara has it that the biggest opposition to geocentricity comes not from gentiles, not from Reform Jews, but from.....Orthodox Tenach-believing Jews! Those Orthodox Jews who oppose geocentricity so glibly should beware "lest they be found fighting against G-d"!

    Ernst Mach (he of the speed of sound "Mach Number" fame)
    proposed an important principle which is that the mass of the universe is a major controlling factor in all relative movements of the various bodies, particularly the planetary system relative to the rest of the universe.

    Whether the universe rotates around the Earth or the Earth spins on its axis is indeterminable. It is a matter of the geometry of moving bodies and whatever reference grid we choose will give EXACTLY the same results.

    The subject of geocentricity is held in such HORROR by orthodox scientists, that rather than use such an emotive word, they use "Mach's Principle" as a code word for the same subject.

    Mach took Newtonian relativity to its logical conclusion, stating quite plainly:

    "Obviously it matters little if we think of
    the Earth as turning about on its axis, or if
    we view it at rest while the fixed stars
    revolve around it. Geometrically these are
    exactly the same case of a relative rotation
    of the Earth and the fixed stars with
    respect to one another.All masses, all velocities, thus all forces are relative. There is no basis for us to
    decide between relative and absolute
    motion. If there are still modern authors
    who, through the Newtonian water bucket
    arguments, allow themselves to be misled
    into differentiating between relative and
    absolute motion, they fail to take into
    account that the world system has been
    given to us only once, but the Ptolemaic
    and Copernican views are only our
    interpretations, but both EQUALLY TRUE".

    Einstein held likewise.

    If Mach is wrong, then so is Relativity.

    If however Moshe Rafal is one of the growing number of ANTI-Relativists, then what is his explanation for the zero-velocty result of the Michelson-Morley experiment, and positive result of the Michelson-Gale experiment?!