Sunday, May 31, 2015

Beha'alotecha: Great Dreams

Photo: Kaycee Kennedy

Written by Chanan Morrison - Rav Kook Torah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: RavKookTorah.org

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fine-Tuning the Soul



Tune Up Your Soul: Good Things Enter When You're On The Right Channel

There is a common misconception that the good things in life come from being in the right place at the right time. In truth, everything that is good comes from being on the right channel with the right reception. 

This is what the sages call z’chut—sometimes translated as “merit.” What it really means is a kind of fine-tuning of the soul. 

How do you fine-tune the soul? You have three knobs: What you do, what you say and what you think. Adjust them carefully for static-clean reception.

Source: Chabad

Thursday, May 28, 2015

''We'll probably be at war this summer''

''In the year King Moshiach is revealed, nations will be provoke one another... '' [Yalkut Shimoni]



Military posturing is quietly reaching new extremes in Europe, the Mediterranean and the South China Sea. And the provocative bluster has just reached new heights. 

The source was anonymous. But the mouthpiece has a measure of credibility. High profile military analyst and former US Naval War College lecturer John Schindler tweeted last week: “Said a senior NATO (non-US) GOFO to me today: ‘We’ll probably be at war this summer. If we’re lucky it won’t be nuclear.’ Let that sink in.”

The warning comes as Europe engages in some of its biggest ever war games — right on Russia’s front door. It’s a deliberate ploy, intended to remind Moscow of the consequences of its duplicitous invasion of Ukraine.

Half a world away, the “w” word was mentioned again yesterday. This time in an editorial by a Chinese state controlled paper. Said the Global Times: “If the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a US-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea.”

High-profile US Billionaire investor George Soros told the World Bank last week: “If there is conflict between China and a military ally of the United States, like Japan, then it is not an exaggeration to say that we are on the threshold of a third world war.”

Story at: News.com

Hassidic rabbis see Gaza rocket as sign to observe Shabbat

A number of rabbis are musing about the possible spiritual meanings behind Tuesday night's rocket fired at Israel and have called upon residents in the area to strengthen their observance of Shabbat as a means of ensuring the area's safety.

According to a report from popular haredi news website Kikar Hashabbat , the Sadigora Rebbe, who heads that hassidic dynasty, said Wednesday that "we have merited to see miracles since the rocket did not injure anyone or cause damage to property," crediting this to the "thousands of Jews that observe Shabbat and the right to prayer [in Ashdod]." 

The Sadigora Rebbe also took the location of where the rocket fell as a sign, since it fell close to the Big Fashion shopping mall, which is open on Shabbat.

More at J. Post

Will Eliyahu Precede Moshiach?

There is a tradition that Eliyahu (Elijah the Prophet) will come before Moshiach, to inform the world of the advent of Moshiach. Is this showing of Eliyahu a mandatory pre-requisite for Moshiach?

The Talmud relates: [Sanhedrin 98a]

Once, Rabbi Joshua met Moshiach and asked him: `When are you going to come?'

Moshiach replied: 'Today!'

Rabbi Joshua then met Eliyahu, who asked him: `What did he (Moshiach) tell you?'

Said Rabbi Joshua: `He lied to me, for he told me that he is coming today, but he didn't come!'

Said Eliyahu: `He didn't lie, but this is what he really meant: He will come "Today, if you hearken to the voice of G-d." [Psalms 95:7]

Maharsha explains that if Moshiach comes today, we assume that Eliyahu came yesterday to the Supreme Beth Din (in Tiberias).

Another explanation is that if we merit, and Moshiach comes sooner (before the appointed time), he may then come on his own before the revelation of Eliyahu. This is presented in Krayti U'playti [by Rabbi Yonason Eibschutz]

Rambam posits [Hilchos Melachim 12:2] that it is not a certainty that Eliyahu must come before Moshiach. Although some Sages maintain that before the advent of Moshiach, Eliyahu will appear, yet, there is no definite basis for this.

This poses a difficulty, inasmuch as the Talmud states [Eiruvin 43b] that Eliyahu will come first, and as is seen in Tanach [Malachi 3:23] "Behold I send unto you Eliyahu the Prophet."

How do we reconcile these two statements re: the coming of Eliyahu?

The answer is seen in the timing of Moshiach, as the Talmud cites the verse: [Isaiah 60:22; Sanhedrin 98a] "In its time will I hasten it" - If Jews do not merit, Moshiach will come in his appointed time; but if they merit, then Moshiach will come sooner, in haste.

Rambam holds that there is an order to the coming of Moshiach, that Eliyahu comes first to foretell of his coming. This, however, is effective only when Moshiach comes in his appointed time. But when Jews merit and the redemption is hastened, as expressed in [Song of Songs 2:8] "He is leaping over the mountains, skipping over the hills" - G-d then changes the order, as a sign of His love for Jewish merits and good deeds. This is expressed in the Rambam's concise words.

The Sages note that Eliyahu comes first, to convey the news of Moshiach; yet, this is not definite. For, perhaps G-d will have mercy and bestow His holy spirit upon the Jews to serve Him with a full heart; then He will swiftly bring Moshiach without the need for Eliyahu's message. [Otzar Blum, Sanhedrin ibid.]

Source: Sichos in English


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Nepal quake aftermath: 1,000 monasteries flattened

May 2015 – NEPAL – An estimated 200 Buddhist nuns and monks died after more than 1,000 monasteries collapsed in the 14 districts hit hardest by the earthquakes, according to the Buddhist Philosophy Promotion and Monastery Development Committee [BPPMDC]. The committee, under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, said that all 215 monasteries in Sindhupalchok district were flattened by the April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks. Six monks have been reported dead in the district so far. A total of 150 Buddhist monasteries collapsed in Gorkha, 105 in Dhading, 60 in Rasuwa and 60 in Solukhumbu. There are reports of them destroyed in Nuwakot, Dolakha, Ramechhap, Okhaldhunga, Makwanpur, Lamjung and Syangja as well. “What we have is a preliminary report of damages caused by the quake,” said Bhadra Bahadur Golay, under-secretary at the BPPMDC.


Read more at: The Extinction Protocol

Entering the King's Palace



"A man's holy items shall remain his" [Naso 5:10]

To what can this be compared, asked the Chofetz Chaim? Answer: to a King who summoned his servant Reuven, to appear before him.

Reuven was filled with dread and thought "why has the King summoned me? Perhaps someone has slandered me and falsely accused me of committing some crime".

Reuven approached his trusted friend Shimon, and asked him to accompany him to the King's courtyard; yet Shimon refused!

"What shall I do" thought Reuven. "Shimon my closest friend has refused to join me; I will go and ask Levi. True, Levi is not my best friend, but perhaps my plea will sway him enough that he will accompany me."

"I am prepared to join you" replied Levi, "but I am afraid of entering the King's palace. I will accompany you to the King's courtyard, and then I will have to part from you."

Left with little choice, Reuven approached Yehudah, whom he hardly knew.

Surprisingly, it was Yehudah who agreed to join Reuven on his visit to the King. He agreed to enter the palace and intercede on Reuven's behalf.

"When a person departs from this world", concluded the Chofetz Chaim, "and is summoned to appear before HaKadosh Baruch Hu, the King of all kings, his closest "friend" - the gold and silver that took so much effort to amass - will refuse to accompany him. His sons and daughters escort him partway, but they will not enter the King's palace.

"Only the mitzvos and good deeds that he performed during his life - the things he appreciated least - will be the ones to accompany him all the way to the Throne of Glory. Only they will plead on his behalf!"

This is as the verse states: "A man's holy items" - the mitzvos and holy deeds that a man has done throughout his life - "shall remain his" - only they will remain with him to intervene on his behalf after passing from this world.

Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein on the Weekly Parsha

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Shavuot Departure of the Baal Shem Tov


[Shavuot is the Yarzheit of the Baal Shem Tov]

Biographical note: Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer [18 Elul 1698-6 Sivan 1760] - the Baal Shem Tov ["master of the good Name"] - a unique and seminal figure in Jewish history, revealed the Chassidic movement and his own identity as an exceptionally holy person, on his 36th birthday, 18 Elul 1734. He wrote no books, although many claim to contain his teachings. One available in English is the excellent annotated translation of Tzava'at Harivash, published by Kehot.

* * *

Following the revelation of Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov, on 18 Elul 1734, as a great Jewish leader and mystic, many of the Jewish community, especially in Poland, became followers of the Chassidic path of Judaism. Twenty-six years later, the time arrived all too soon for the Baal Shem Tov to pass on to the next world.

For Passover 1760, Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz, came to visit his Master, the Baal Shem Tov. On the afternoon preceding the festival, Seventh Day of Passover, Rabbi Pinchas was feeling weak and decided not to go to the mikveh, as was his custom.

The next day during his morning prayers, he had a premonition that the Baal Shem Tov would soon pass away. Rabbi Pinchas began to pray more intensely, begging that the Heavenly decree against the Baal Shem Tov be lifted. But he felt that he was unable to affect the decree and started to deeply regret that he had not gone to the mikveh before the holiday.

Interestingly, after morning prayers, the Baal Shem Tov asked Rabbi Pinchas if he had gone to the mikveh on the previous afternoon. When he answered he had not, the Baal Shem Tov replied, "It's too late to correct that now."

* * *

After Passover, the Baal Shem Tov fell ill. However, he did not tell his followers and continued to pray before the ark. Whoever among his close followers might have been able to effect changes with their prayers, he sent on missions to other communities. Rabbi Pinchas, knowing of the Heavenly decree against the Baal Shem Tov, did not return to his home but stayed on in Medzibuz.

Previously, on the eve of Shabbat Hagadol, the Sabbath preceding Passover, the Baal Shem Tov had sat down to write a last will and testament addressed to his disciples. He concluded it with the words, "I write this today because last night my [heavenly] master and teacher [Ahiya of Shilo-a biblical prophet,] revealed to me that this is my last eve of Shabbat Hagadol…."

Seven and one half weeks later, on the eve of Shavuot, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov called his personal scribe, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh, and dictated to him some final revisions and amendments to an earlier, detailed will, ordering among other things that all his books and manuscripts be given unto "my disciple and peer, the Prince of Torah, Rabbi Dov Ber [the Magid of Mezritch,] son of Rabbi Abraham, except for all the books in Yiddish which belong to my G-d fearing daughter Adele."

He reaffirmed article 18 of his original will to the effect that his copies of "the commentaries of Gersonides on the bible, and the book Neveh Shalom [a 15th century philosophical-homiletical work, with Kabbalistic overtones composed by Rabbi Abraham Shalom] both with my marginal notes and annotations, are to be given unto my disciple, dear to me like a son, the Pillar of fire, Rabbi Jacob Joseph Hacohen [of Polnoy]."

* * *

On Tuesday evening, the [first] night of Shavuot, all of the followers of the Baal Shem Tov gathered with him to spend the night in Torah study, as is the custom. The Baal Shem Tov expounded on the Torah portion of the week and the meaning of Shavuot.

In the morning, he sent for his closest followers to gather in his room. He told Rabbi Leib Kessler and several others to arrange for his burial. Because they were members of the Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society) and were knowledgeable in signs of illness, he showed them the signs on his body and explained how the soul emanates from each part. Then, he told them to gather a minyan to pray with him. Before they began, he said, "Soon I shall be with the Holy One, blessed be He."

After the prayers, Rabbi Nachman of Horodenka went to the Study Hall to pray for his Master. Later, the Baal Shem Tov said, "He petitions in vain. Maybe if he could have entered in the Heavenly gate where I was accustomed to enter, his prayers would have helped."

When the shammesh (attendant) of the Baal Shem Tov entered his master's room, he heard the Baal Shem Tov saying, "I grant you these two hours. Do not torture me."

The asked, "Rebbe, who are you talking to?"

The Baal Shem Tov answered, "Don't you see the Angel of Death? Before, he always ran from me. Now that he has been given control over me, he stands straighter and laughs at me."

Later, during the festival day meal, he asked his attendant to put mead in a large glass. Instead, the shammesh put it in a small glass. The Baal Shem Tov remarked wryly, "'Man has no power on the day of death,' even my attendant does not obey me."

After the meal, many of the town's people, who did not know of the Baal Shem Tov's condition, came to see him. As always, he delivered a discourse of Torah to them.

All of his close disciples were sitting in the room of the Baal Shem Tov while he lay in his bed. He gave them a sign. "My friends, when I leave this world, both clocks in this room will stop."

He asked for a large cup of water and a basin to be brought to him. While he was washing his hands, His followers saw the hands of the big clock stop. They stood in front of it so that the Baal Shem wouldn't see that it had stopped.

He said to them, "My friends, I am not concerned for myself because l know that when I leave through the door of this world, I'll immediately enter into the door of the next world."

The Baal Shem Tov then sat up in his bed and told them to gather around him. He spoke words of Torah, explaining about the column upon which one ascends from Lower Paradise to Upper Paradise, and how this was so in each of the Four Worlds. Then he described the World of Souls, and expounded the order of worship. He instructed them to say with him, "Let the pleasantness of the L-rd our G-d be upon us" [Psalms 90:17].

He lay down and sat up several times. Meanwhile he concentrated on mystical kavanot (intentions) until they could not distinguish the syllables of his speech.

Finally he lay down and told them to cover him with a sheet. Then he began to tremble as when he said the nineteen blessings of the Amida prayer. Slowly he became quiet.

They saw that the small clock had stopped. They waited for a long time but he didn't move. Then they put a feather under his nose to detect his breathing, whereupon they finally had to accept that he had passed away.

A Rabbi Jacob of Medzibuz, reported that Rabbi Leib Kessler of the Burial Society saw the departure of his soul as a blue flame rising.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition of Tzvi Meir HaCohane (Howard M. Cohn. Patent Attorney) on //besht.com, and supplemented from other written and oral sources, mainly "The Great Maggid" by J. I. Schochet (Kehot).  Ascent of Safed


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Trumpet Shofar Sounds

Better late than never I guess.... this Australian mainstream newspaper has finally picked up the Shofar noises around the world.  

Here is the link:  News.com

Here is one of the videos, several more at the News.com site.  And quite a few blogged by me in the past - click on the EARTH SOUNDS label below.

''Something Big is About to Happen''

I am not an American, and I do not listen to Alex Jones, at least not regularly, but this video he has just uploaded was sent to me, and it seems to tie in with statements made by rabbis and Binyamin on other blogs, that something big is about to happen -  very soon.  


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Secrets of Reincarnation The Vilna Gaon on Yonah

A Glimpse into the world of Remez

Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna, commonly known as the Gaon [literally "genius"] was probably the most influential Jewish leader in modern history. He never assumed any official position of leadership and spent his time in almost total isolation toiling day and night in torah study. He became the undisputed greatest torah scholar and kabbalist in modern history.

The book of Yonah is read every Yom Kippur in all orthodox synagogues. The simple meaning of the story contains the theme of repentance. However, as is known there are 4 main dimensions of interpretation in the torah. They are 1: "Pshat" [simple,literal meaning], 2: Remez [allusion, hinted], 3: Drosh [not explicit interpretation], 4: Sod [secret meaning, which form the acronym PaRDeS (orchard)]. The Vilna Gaon on Mishlei [1:6, commentary "chemda genuza"] explains: "The 4th level of Torah, called "Sod" [secret] is the inner and primary meaning. The other lower meanings, are also true, but serve primarily for the purpose of straightening a man in order that he be sufficiently spiritually developed to understand the Sod". These four dimensions of interpretation exist certainly in the 24 books of the bible but even in the mishna and in the talmud. 

Very few people can delve properly beyond the pshat. Only one who has attained mastery in the four levels can be capable of deciphering the hidden code. The Vilna Gaon was such a rare person and offers us a spectacular view of a parallel book of the Yonah story in the realm of "Remez". Note that the simple meaning of the book is also true as we see, for example, that the Midrash Raba lists the "special fish" which swallowed Yonah as one of the creatures specially prepared during the 6 days of the creation of the world. Yet in the Vilna Gaon's "remez" version of the story, the fish is not real but is only symbolic of the grave of Yonah. 

This parallel story of Yonah is one of a human being who got caught up in materialism, dies, goes through Gehinom [purgatory], and returns in a reincarnation. The Sages teach that the vast majority of people alive today are reincarnations, which are sent back down because they did not complete their previous "mission". So this book, can very well speak personally to many of us. In Chapter 4 verse 3 the Vilna Gaon gives us a sign into how to see what went wrong in our previous lives.

And how could one know what he corrupted before [in his previous gilgul]? There is on this two signs. One - that [sin] which he stumbles many times in this gilgul. On this they said "let him examine his ways", which ones does he stumble. Two - which sin does his soul desire greatly, because it was used to it previously and became second nature. Therefore there are some men who desire one sin more, and others who desire a different sin. And on this they said "examine his ways" - that he should also fix his ways.

To read the whole thing go to: a glimpse into the world of Remez

Friday, May 15, 2015

Anticipating the Geula


In his definitive work on Moshiach, Otzrot Acharit Hayamim, Rabbi Yehoshua Chayun of Bnei Brak quotes the Maharal: "The essence of yemos HaMashiach is the return of the world to its complete spiritual tikkun, as was in the time of Adam Harishon before the sin." 

In various places, such as Maseches Brachos it says: "There is no difference between the olam hazeh [this world] to Yemos Hamashaich [time of Moshiach] but for 'shi'abud malchuyos' [dominion of the nations].

The explanation for this given there, is that in Yemos HaMashiach, the way of the world will not change from its present state of nature to a way that goes against nature, etc., 'ein chadash tachas hashemesh' [there is nothing new under the sun]. Nevertheless, there will be a most awesome and wondrous change from its current shape and form, physically and spiritually, including the living, the inanimate, the vegetation, the desert and the people. And there is no contradiction here, for the world, as it will be in Acharis hayomim, is naught but a return to its original state before the aveira of Adam Harishon. 

Thus, indeed, 'ein chadash tachas hashemesh' for what was once is what will again be. 

There are many wondrous things written by Chaza"l about these times, but I will mention just two more: First, the biggest change in yemos Hamashiach is the cancellation of the yetzer hara [evil inclination]. The whole world will change immensely due to this great and wonderful chiddush. Animals will live in peace with each other  - can you imagine your neighborhood cats hanging out with the dogs and mice of the street?" There will be no money or financial dealings since there will be no more need for money. Hashem will directly give us our daily needs. 

One hint we have to the cancellation of money is in Maseches Sanhedrin 97, where it says, "ein ben Dovid ba ad shetichleh prutah min hakis [the son of David does not come until people's pockets are empty of even one penny]." 

We can understand this vital issue if we think carefully about what money has caused throughout the generations. All the gashmius and havalim [physicality and vanities] of the world start with money... and since there will be no more gashmius, everything will be purely for the sake of serving Hashem and for ruchnius [spirituality] -  there will thus be no more need for money, banks, etc. 

In the Nevuos [Prophets], we read that before Moshiach comes Hashem will take away all the gashmius.  His nation have so fallen in love with "es maahavecha". Therefore we can understand that a World of emes [truth] would have no need for gashmius and the likes and seeing as how it truly controls our lives, I'm sure we will not miss it when it is gone. 

Adapted from: Revach L'Neshama

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Vatican to Recognize ''Palestine''

ROME — The Vatican said Wednesday that it had concluded a treaty to recognize Palestinian statehood, a symbolic but significant step welcomed by Palestinians but upsetting to the Israeli government.

Read more at: NY Times

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

In Reverse



"...and I will remember My covenant [with] Jacob, and also My covenant [with] Isaac, and also My covenant [with] Abraham I will remember." [Bechukotai 26:42]

Why are the forefathers listed in reverse order? asked R' Shmelke of Nikolsburg.

Chazal have taught us, answered the Rebbe, that "The world depends on three things - on Torah study, on the service of G-d, and on kind deeds [Pirkei Avot 1:2]

Each one of the forefathers was noted for a different character trait.

Yaakov embodied Torah study.  He was "a wholesome man abiding in tents" [Bereishis 25:27] who studied Torah in the yeshivah of Shem and Ever. 

Yitzchak, who had been bound to an altar, represented service of Hashem.

Avraham, the paradigm of hospitality, represented the trait of kindness.

The order in which the verse lists the forefathers - Yaakov, Yitzchak and Avraham - corresponds to the order utilitzed by Chazal to enumerate the three things upon which the world depends: first "Torah", then "service of G-d" and finally "kindness" [Torah, Tefilla, Tzedaka]

Source: Rabbi Yitzchak Bronstein

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Reward


A person might pray for his friend before praying for himself for one of two reasons:

a) because his friend's problem genuinely bothers him more than his own problems; or
b) because he wants the reward of being answered first. [see Rashi Vayeira 21:1]

Generally, with acts of kindness, the result for the recipient is more important than the donor's motive. So even if a person prays for another because he wants the reward of being answered first he will still be rewarded, for after all he performed an act of kindness in praying for another.

Nevertheless, it goes without saying that the first approach above - the person with pure motives - is vastly superior.

Based on Sichas Shabbos Parshas Vayeira 5743, Lubavitcher Rebbe

Monday, May 11, 2015

Above Nature



"When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land shall rest a Sabbath to the Lord.
You may sow your field for six years, and for six years you may prune your vineyard, and gather in its produce,
But in the seventh year, the land shall have a complete rest a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field, nor shall you prune your vineyard." [Behar 25: 2-4]


One of the reasons for the Sabbatical year is to allow the land to rest for a year, to enhance its fertility. From this it follows that after six consecutive years of intensive agriculture, the land is at its least fertile point in the seven year cycle. So the Torah's promise that the land "will yield produce [sufficient] for three years" in the naturally infertile sixth year, is totally irrational and requires a person to accept an authority which is higher than his mortal understanding.

The Talmud [Sanhedrin 97a] compares the six agricultural years to the six millenia of this world, and the Sabbatical year to the seventh millennium [when the Redemption will have arrived].

Since the Jewish people suffer from a gradual regression in spiritual stature as the generations pass, a person might ask: "How could the efforts of the spiritually weak and "infertile" sixth millennium bring the true and complete redemption?

The Torah answers: It is the super-rational self-sacrifice and commitment to Judaism of the final generations of exile, that will bring the blessings of the Redemption.

Based on Likutei Sichos vol 27, Lubavitcher Rebbe

Friday, May 8, 2015

Before Redemption, A Great Roaring of Water


[originally published at Yiddishkeit.org by R. Yaakov Nathan]

The prophectic words of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, from the newsletter HaKria V’HaKedusha [Tammuz, 5704/1944]
Translation from Shmais.com

Psalm 93
The Lord is King; He has garbed Himself with grandeur;
the Lord has robed Himself, He has girded Himself with strength;
He has also established the world firmly that it shall not falter.
Your throne stands firm from of old; You have existed forever.
The rivers have raised, O Lord, the rivers have raised their voice; the rivers raise their raging waves.
More than the sound of many waters, than the mighty breakers of the sea, is the Lord mighty on High.
Your testimonies are most trustworthy; Your House will be resplendent in holiness, O Lord, forever.

This chapter of Tehillim was composed by the G-dly poet regarding Yemos Ha’Moshiach (the Messianic days). He hints briefly at the events which will take place before the geula (redemption). The central theme of the chapter is that the Jews living at that time will understand by means of these events, that the galus (exile) is over and geula (redemption) has begun.

Hashem will be king by wearing greatness! We generally think the world is run by nature and we forget entirely that there is a G-d who rules over nature. It’s only when an unnatural occurrence takes place such as a flood, earthquake, and other terrible upheavals–that we remember that there’s a ruler of the world who rules over nature; Then all will say that G-d is king! He put nature aside and showed his absolute sovereignty over nature.

The poet goes on to speak about the time when Hashem will be revealed in clothes of gevura (judgement) and the world will recognize and acknowledge that He is king. He explains that this will happen during Yemos Ha’Moshiach before the geula because "Hashem wore the gevura" which he girded Himself with in the past. Gevura refers to Torah, and Hashem girded Himself with its strength at the time of the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people at Sinai. At that time there were such strong thunder and lightning that the nations of the world thought the world was coming to an end. Bilaam explained to them that Hashem is giving might to His people–that Hashem was giving his strong Torah to His people, and it has the power to build worlds or destroy them.

Regarding this the poet says that in Yemos Ha’Moshiach, when Hashem will be king by wearing gevura, he won’t do this by wearing a new garment of gevura which is designated for a new purpose. It will be the old garment of Mattan Torah (the giving of the Torah), of Hashem's giving might to His people. Hashem will rise to fortify the Torah in the world, and just as when it was given the first time it ws accompanied with proof that He is the ruler over nature, so too the second time. The process of kabbolas ha’Torah (receiving the Torah) will include displays of gevura whose purpose is that the entire world accepts the Torah. But, continues the poet, He has also established the world firmly that it shall not falter.: many will err and think that Hashem is destroying the world. That’s why the poet writes that the world will remain fortified and it will not falter. It will only be the Jewish people and the Torah which will be elevated once again: Hashem is giving might to His people!

Your throne stands firm from of old; You have existed forever: already before the creation of the world when Hashem was alone You have existed forever – You prepared Your throne of Your kingdom. The purpose of the creation is in order to strengthen Torah and the Jewish people; the Torah –  as the Sages say: "for the sake of Torah which is called 'first,' the world was created". Already back then it was established that Hashem would come enclothed in gevura in order to fortify a place for Torah. This time it won’t be in order to destroy the world, but in order to fortify the Torah, and to bring about the realization of the promise "and Hashem will be king over all the world" through this – that the world will gain knowledge of Torah (and accept it) through the Jewish people.

The rivers have raised, O Lord, the rivers have raised their voice; the rivers raise their raging waves: the literal meaning of the verse is that the rivers will lift up Hashem; the rivers will raise their voice, the rivers will make a lot of noise! This means that the roaring and raging of the rivers will elevate Hashem. The only meaning in this is that Hashem will be uplifted by His making the oceans roar before the geula. Through this noise everybody will understand that Hashem is elevated.

The practical conclusion is that the roaring rivers will bring great changes to the world; for example: they will drown an entire nation or at least a great portion, and this natural disaster will cause a revolution in man’s perspective. They will see this as a G-dly punishment. It’s also possible that this natural disaster will change the world political map by a chain of events which will begin with that nation that drowns.

In summary: before the geula there will be a great roaring of water which will shake the world with its intensity, to the point that the world will return to elevate Hashem. That’s how we can understand the verse–that the water will elevate Hashem by means of their noise and rage.

More than the sound of many waters, than the mighty breakers of the sea, is the Lord mighty on High: the sound of the many waters will cause the powerful ones to break, and then Hashem will be the powerful One. This means that as a result of the crashing waters, the mighty ones of the earth will be wiped out. World empires will collapse in the face of the water’s strength and then people will acknowledge and agree that Hashem is the only mighty One in heaven.

Your testimonies are most trustworthy; Your House will be resplendent in holiness, O Lord, forever: The ones who relate your testimony are very loyal; holiness suits Your house; G-d–will be forever! The G-dly poet concludes the chapter with a description of the world after all of humanity will acknowledge Hashem’s kingdom. The world will say that the prophecies about Hashem and the geula of the Jewish people were absolutely true. This means that at the time of the complete geula it will be obvious–Jews will return to Eretz Yisrael and the Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple) will be rebuilt, and all the nations of the world will be drawn there in order to learn G-d’s ways from up close.

The nations will also say–Your House will be resplendent in holiness–holiness suits the Beis Hamikdash; i.e. holiness will return and rest in the Beis Hamikdash as in the past, and the nations will acknowledge this. You have to say that this is the intention of the poet because these promises were not fulfilled yet. Nobody can say "Your testimonies are most trustworthy", that all the prophecies have come true. And nobody can say "Your House will be resplendent in holiness" without it being actually so.

The nations will ask Hashem to continue to have His Presence rest in the Beis Hamikdash forever. This indicates the perfection of the geula of the Jewish people–that the nations won’t bother them at all, to the point that the nations themselves will ask Hashem to continue to have His Presence rest in the Beis Hamikdash.

The poet, as is his way, is brief but that leaves us with little in quantity but a lot in quality. This psalm contains everything about geula, including the eve of geula and the "end of days." The central motif of the chapter are the roaring waters which will demonstrate Hashem’s might and transform humanity entirely in a spiritual way. These roaring waters will be the sign of the beginning of the complete geula. Following it, the glory of Hashem, the Torah and the Jewish people will be elevated in the world until true peace will reign and all the prophecies will be realized in their entirety.

We can only wait for those great stormy waters which will force the nations to admit that Hashem is king–all will have to concede that this is not a natural disaster but an act of G-d.

Note: In the "HaKri’a V’hakedusha" of Tammuz 5704 (1944) which was edited under the Previous Rebbe’s supervision, this article appears under the name G. Zarchi about chapter 93 in Tehillim, based on Midrash and words of the Sages.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Tiberias Rabbi: Tragedy on the Way

HT: Yaak

With summer coming, the northern Israeli city of Tiberias could be a dangerous place, says a well-known rabbinical figure in the city.

Rabbi Dov Kook, according to video obtained by the Kikar Shabbat web site, recently made a speech in which he told followers to “run away” from the city, lest they be caught up in a coming tragedy – which is set to happen because of the immodest dress that pervades the city, he said.

“I am telling all religious people in Tiberias to boycott this city,” he told listeners at a recent speaking engagement. “It is not allowed to live here, I would like to say to the religious people here.”

At issue is a beach area that was formerly reserved for men and women on different days, but recently was made a “mixed” beach. The beach is opposite Tiberias's ancient Jewish cemetery, which has the remains of many rabbis, community leaders, and kabbalists, and has been in use for hundreds of years.

Tiberias, on the banks of Lake Kinneret, is one of Israel's most popular summer vacation destinations, and has dozens of hotels surrounding on the water. The hotel district roughly follows the contours of the ancient settlement of Tiberias, which dates back over 2,000 years. 

Rabbi Kook suggested staying far away from the city, or at least the tourist areas near the beaches. “Whoever goes there is a sinner,” he said. “He will not have peace in his household. The souls in the cemetery are being forced to witness this immodesty. They are aware of what is happening and are terribly hurt. A terrible tragedy is coming to Tiberias, there is no sin which is worse than this immodesty,” he added.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lag B'Omer - An Inward Focus

by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

The 33rd day of the Omer Count is a special day in the Jewish calendar. It is known as Lag BaOmer, the day that marks the passing of the great Talmudic sage and mystic, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. This second century rabbi and kabbalist requested that the day of his passing should be marked with happiness and celebration.

One of the many Lag BaOmer traditions is for children to go on outings and play with bows and arrows. Among the many reasons for this custom is one that has an important life lesson.

To use a bow and arrow effectively, the shooter must first pull the bow towards himself. Once the bow is pulled as far back as possible, the arrow can be released with significant force and hopefully meets its target quickly and accurately.

The only effective way to change other people is to begin with ourselves. The lesson here is simple but powerful. In order to conquer and affect the world around us we must first move inwards. When we look deeply into our own soul, realizing the amazing potential that we possess, only then can we influence others.

The Rebbe of Kotzk once said: "When I was younger I thought I would change the world. I then decided that I would work on my city, and later concentrated just on my family. But now I have decided just to try and change myself." I do not believe the Kotzker Rebbe meant that he would work only on himself and ignore others. After all, he led a big community and was responsible for thousands of followers. What he was saying is that the only effective way to change other people is to begin with ourselves.

Improving our own character and personality is within our control. We choose to progress or stagnate, to become angry or stay calm, to give or to hold back. We cannot control other people, but we can influence them by moving inwards. Changing ourselves will change others.

Rabbi Mizrachi talks about Lag B'Omer 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Why Me

Art Tricia McKellar


Excerpts from an article by Nechama Greisman

Sometimes people look at difficulties in life as a punishment. According to Chassidus, when a person has to face tests and challenges in life, this is not because he deserves punishment. Rather, he has to face challenges in order to raise him up to a higher level. HaShem would like him to bring out his emunah — his faith and trust in G-d, or his ahavas Yisrael, his love for a fellow, or for the Torah. Let’s say you have to contend with a very, very unpleasant person. You say, perhaps, “Why did HaShem make me the daughter-in-law of this woman who is so difficult to deal with?” You keep saying to yourself, “My friend has such a nice mother-in-law; how come I got her?”

The answer is that perhaps HaShem wanted… not perhaps. HaShem definitely wanted you to work on a certain trait and you would never know how to work on it if you didn’t have practice. So this difficult person that you have to deal with is a way of bringing out or working or strengthening those middos [traits] that might be weak in you, but not in your friend. That’s why she doesn’t have that test. This is not, G-d forbid, a punishment.

Tests, or nisyonos, can generally be classified into two groups. There are nisyonos of poverty, whether material or spiritual, and there are nisyonos of wealth, whether material or spiritual. In the simplest sense, when a person lacks something in life, whether it’s a lack of money or a lack of personality traits that we would like to have, or lack of husband or lack of parents, or any lack, anything that we think we should have, or want to have and we don’t have, that is called a nisayon of poverty. When a person has wealth, more than other people are endowed with, such as intellectual wealth, good looks, outstanding qualities of some sort, or simply a lot of money — this is a test of wealth.

Each kind of test is given to a person to develop a different kind of middah that is vital for true service of HaShem.

A person could spend his whole life being very discouraged, depressed and angry over his lot in life, and it will lead him nowhere. However, a Jew who is filled with Torah will learn to deal with his situation.

One must realize that if HaShem placed him in a particular situation, this is for a reason. It is something that is clearly necessary for him, and it is certainly for his benefit. There is a story about a man who had a terrible wife. Later on, he found out that in a previous incarnation he was guilty of a sin that carried the death sentence. However, instead of administering the death sentence, the Heavenly Court decided that he would have a wife who would regularly shame him in public. Each time this happened, it removed part of the death sentence. We don’t always realize that when we experience some negative situation, it is part of the account from the past or the present. I once read an article that was written by a famous dancer in the New York City Ballet. She described the painful exercises that she had to go through to keep fit for performing on stage. She described it as actual physical pain. When you read it you say, Ribono shel Olam, who would want to be a dancer? It is such a terrible life. But there were plenty of rewards and that’s why she did it.

Similarly [lehavdil], when a person is imbued with faith in HaShem, he knows that sometimes he has to pay a price for other good things in life. Every painful experience for the body is a tikkun [rectification] for the soul. Suffering cleanses. Of course, this does not mean that one should look for suffering, G-d forbid. But if this happens by Divine Providence, then one must accept suffering with love, knowing that it is for the person’s own good. 

Acceptance is the first thing that the test of poverty is supposed to bring out. To accept it and not say it was a mistake, I don’t deserve it, this is bad. To say, “HaShem understands why it happened. He knows that it was addressed to me, it wasn’t a mistake, it wasn’t meant for someone else. If I got it, it’s my package, and that it truly is for the good, whether I understand it or not.” 

If anybody here in this room has gone through a difficult time, and I think every one of us has, in different ways, you will know that it isn’t easy to say these words and truly internalize them and believe them. For some people it can be a lifetime task learning to accept with love what HaShem gives us. But you don’t learn that unless you have this test. If you never had a hard day in your life how are you going to learn to accept difficulties? So HaShem gives one person an illness, another one has a child who has a problem, another one is not pretty, or whatever.

Source: Chabad

Monday, May 4, 2015

Emor: Two Short Vorts

Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro - The Vilna Gaon's Overflowing Cups 

In the first pasuk of Emor it says twice to tell the Kohanim: Emor and V'Amarta. Rashi quotes the gemara in Yevamos that says the double language is, "L'Hazhir Gedolim Al HaKetanim", to tell the adults to caution the children. 

How do Chazal see this from the fact that is says twice to tell them, asks Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro? 

He answers that the Dubno Magid once asked the Vilna Gaon what is the most effective way to influence children. The Vilna Gaon answered with a Mashal. 

He said to take a large cup and surround it with smaller cups. Then pour into the large cup and keep pouring until it spills over the top right into the little cups. To have children absorb the lessons, you must fill yourself with an overdose of whatever traits you want to teach them. They will become filled from the overflow. 

The Kohanim were implored twice, to give them a double measure of Kedushas Kohen. The reason for this is obviously in order for it to spill over to the children.


Preparing Food on Yomtov

 דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם מוֹעֲדֵי יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר-תִּקְרְאוּ אֹתָם מִקְרָאֵי קֹדֶשׁ אֵלֶּה הֵם מוֹעֲדָי שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תֵּעָשֶׂה מְלָאכָה וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן מִקְרָא-קֹדֶשׁ כָּל-מְלָאכָה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ שַׁבָּת הִוא לַיהוָה בְּכֹל מוֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם

Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: The Lord's appointed [holy days] that you shall designate as holy occasions. These are My appointed [holy days]: [For] six days, work may be performed, but on the seventh day, it is a complete rest day, a holy occasion; you shall not perform any work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.   Emor 23:2-3

Why did this Parsha in the first Posuk start talking about Yom Tov and in the next Posuk talk about Shabbos? The Vilna Gaon provides the answer. There are שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים that are from the Torah but you are allowed to do Melacha for food. The first and last day of Pesach make two days and a third is one day of Shavous, a Fourth is a single day of Rosh Hashanah, and then again two days of Succos adding up to six days that the Torah gave us But then the last Yom Tov is שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן Yom Kippur and hence the connection of the two Posukim is explained.

Source: Revach.net

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess- Master of the Miracle

Yarzheit: 14 Iyar

Ohel of Rabbi Meir Ba'al HaNess

By simply saying the phrase אלהא דמאיר ענני "Eloka d'Meir aneini" three times , which means "the G-d of Meir Answer me !", a person will be saved from trouble, if they promise to give charity to the poor and needy in the memory of the soul of Rebbe Meir Baal Haness . Donations can be made at Rabbi Meir Baal HaNeis.com

The Chida says that the source for this custom is the Gemara [Avodah Zara 18a-b] where Rebbi Meir bribed a guard to release his imprisoned sister-in-law. The guard asked what happens if he's caught and Rebbi Meir told him to say ''G-d of Meir answer me'' and he would be saved, and that's what happened. From there comes the custom of donating money or oil for the neshama of Rebbi Meir, saying Eloka D'Meir Aneini, three times.

Rebbi Meir Baal HaNess said he would help those that gave to the poor of Eretz Yisroel, for the sake of his neshama.

Reb Dovid of Dinov points out a fascinating allusion: 

Mishlei 12:25 says דְּאָגָה בְלֶב-אִישׁ יַשְׁחֶנָּה - if one has worry in his heart, he should suppress it.

Mesechta Sanhedrin 100b explains this as ישיחנה לאחרים, tell it over to others. Mesechta Horios 13b says אחרים refers to Rebbi Meir. Putting it all together – if one is in a time of trouble give tzedaka for the neshama of Rebbi Meir Baal HaNess.  [Source: Tzemach Dovid]

Anytime, and especially on the yahrzeit, it is a big zechus to give tzedaka or light a candle li'luy nishmas Rebbi Meir Baal HaNess. 

There is a custom that when something is lost, a person immediately promises to give some money to the Tzedakah of Rebbe Meir Baal Haness in the merit of finding what was lost, and say the following [red text in picture below]

Friday, May 1, 2015

Truth

Art Robert Dowling


There's nothing higher than finding truth on your own.

All worlds were made, all barriers put in place, every veil over G‑dliness hung, and the soul plummeted from its pristine height into the confusion of this harsh world— —all for this one thing alone:

That you should uncover truth on your own.

by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman  from the wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt'l