Sunday, August 30, 2015

Torah for Non-Jews

Regarding the teaching of Torah to non-Jews, here are some of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's guidelines - reprinted from Chabad Talk

Encouraging Gentiles to Study Torah for Its Own Sake

In the Messianic era: “The sole occupation of the entire world”—Gentiles as well—“will only be to know G–d ... ‘As the waters cover the sea.’” This means that the “knowledge of G–d”—knowledge and comprehension—will envelop and conceal the existence of Gentiles until it becomes their entire being. Thus, [in order to prepare for this state of existence] some parallel to this must exist even now, by the Torah—in a comprehensible form—being found amongst Gentiles as well.

The Talmud states:

From where do we know that even a Gentile who occupies himself with Torah [related to the Noahide Code] is comparable to the High Priest? It is written, “That the man should keep them and live by them.” It does not speak of Priests, Levites, or Israelites, but of “the man.” You have thus learned that even a Gentile who occupies himself in Torah study is like a High Priest. The dictum that “A Gentile who occupies himself in Torah study deserves [divinely-imposed] death, as it is written, ‘The Torah that Moses commanded us is an inheritance’—an inheritance for us, and not for them” does not contradict this. For, “In that case [where Gentiles are encouraged to study Torah], it is referring to their seven [wide-ranging categories of] Mitzvot.” [Rashi explains that] “They occupy themselves with the laws of those seven Mitzvot to become expert in them.”

Seven Laws of Noah

Gentiles should not only study Torah related to the Noahide Code for the purpose of knowing how to act, i.e., as a preparation and means for observing their Mitzvot. Rather, they are obligated to study Torah for its own sake. (The reason that this was not counted among their Mitzvot is that “positive Mitzvot were not counted [among the seven general Noahide laws],” just as the Mitzvah to give charity was not counted. )

It emerges that when Jews influence Gentiles to study Torah (in “their seven Mitzvot”), this is a fitting preparation for the fulfillment of the prophecy: “The sole occupation of the entire world”—Gentiles as well—“will only be to know G–d,” for several reasons:

When Jews influence Gentiles “to undertake the Mitzvot in which Noah’s descendants were commanded,” this refines the limbs of the body with which they perform these seven Mitzvot.

When Jews influence Gentiles to study the legal aspects of the Noahide Code to enable them to perform their Mitzvot, this refines the aspect of the mind that is related to the limbs of the body with which these Mitzvot are performed.

When Jews influence Gentiles to study Torah (in the laws of “their seven Mitzvot”) for the purpose of Torah study alone (not in order to know how to act, but in order to thoroughly understand the area of Torah relevant to them for its own sake), this refines the non-Jew’s faculty of intellect, by permeating it with comprehension of Torah. This is a fitting preparation for the era when “The sole occupation of the entire world will only be to know G–d”—knowledge of G–d for its own sake, and for no other purpose.

Furthermore, even the concept of “Keter [the Crown of] Torah” applies to Gentiles. This means that Torah [related to the Noahide Code] encompasses the non-Jew’s entire being. This resembles the prophecy that “[The earth will be filled with the knowledge of G–d] as the waters cover the sea.”

In the Sifri it is written: “The Crown of Torah is laid out so that the world’s inhabitants will not have reason to present a challenge [to G–d] ... the Crown of Torah is laid out for all the world’s inhabitants.” The simple meaning of the expression “inhabitants of the world” is a reference to Gentiles. In this case it is saying that Gentiles might come forward with a claim that they are entitled to receive the “Crown of Torah” in connection “their Mitzvot.” To this the response is given that “it is laid out for all the world’s inhabitants,” i.e., they can indeed attain the level of the “Crown of Torah” as well.

Based upon the above, even the prophecy that “The earth”—referring to all Gentiles—“will be filled with the knowledge of G–d as the waters cover the sea” has a parallel in the efforts of the Jewish people during the era of exile. We accomplish this by influencing Gentiles to study Torah related to the Noahide Code in a manner of the “Crown of Torah,” such that this study encompasses and permeates their entire being. This is similar to the prophecy: “The sole occupation of the entire world will only be to know G–d ... ‘As the waters cover the sea.’”

Hitva’aduyot 5745, Vol. 3, pp. 1838-1839.

Independent Value of Gentiles’ Torah Study 
Gentiles should study Torah related to their Mitzvot, for they must study the details of their Mitzvot in order to be able to put them into practice. It may be said that their obligation to study the Noahide Code is not merely a “preparation for a Mitzvah,” but an obligation in its own right.

The reason for this is that along with the duty to adhere to the Noahide Code, they are obligated to keep these Mitzvot in a regular, natural manner, which necessitates previous study of the specific laws related to these Mitzvot. Thus, this study is not merely a “preparation for a Mitzvah,” but one of the Mitzvot in their own right, for otherwise [the Noahide Code] cannot be observed. Thus, this study has the halachic status of Torah study.

Hitva’aduyot 5749, Vol. 2, p. 447. cf. Likutei Sichot, Vol. 14, pp. 38-39

Prayers for Others



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

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Crash Advice

It probably is a good idea to stock up on essentials, if you haven't already done so.  Just in case. 

This from today's Independent:

A former adviser to Gordon Brown has urged people to stock up on canned goods and bottled water as stock markets around the world slide. 

Damian McBride appeared to suggest that the stock market dip could lead to civil disorder or other situations where it would be unreasonable for someone to leave the house.

“Advice on the looming crash:

No.1: get hard cash in a safe place now; don't assume banks and cashpoints will be open, or bank cards will work,” he tweeted.

“Crash advice No.2: do you have enough bottled water, tinned goods and other essentials at home to live a month indoors? If not, get shopping. 

 “Crash advice No.3: agree a rally point with your loved ones in case transport and communication gets cut off; somewhere you can all head to.”

Source:  Independent UK

Monday, August 24, 2015

Remaining Humble


Photo: Gordon McBryde


The way to know if your service of G·d is absolutely true and selfless is whether you remain humble after you pray with great concentration and do not consider yourself deserving of reward. 

from the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov: Ohr HaGanuz LaTzaddikim, Ki Teitzei



Friday, August 21, 2015

Ten Shirot



Chazal tell us that ten great Shirot were sung to Hashem. Nine have already happened and the tenth is the big one we wait for every day.

1) Shirat Adam - The song Adam sang after Creation was completed: Mizmor shir l'yom hashabbat. To this day, it is part of our Friday night davening.

2) Shirat HaYam - The song at Yam Suf [Beshalach]

3) Shirat Ha'Be'er - Song of the Well in the desert [Bamidbar 21:17] when the Emorim were killed after plotting an ambush and the mountains crushed them. Their blood came up through the Be'er revealing the Nes to Bnei Yisroel.

4) Shirat Haazinu

5) Shirat Ha'Givon in Sefer Yehoshua when the sun remained up through the night to help Yehoshua in his battle.

6) Shirat Devorah in Sefer Shoftim - When Bnei Yisroel defeated the mighty Sisra's and Yael killed Sisra.

7) Shirat Chana in Sefer Shmuel

8) Shirat David - Tehilim 18 when David was saved from Shaul.

9) Shir Ha'Shirim of Shlomo Ha'Melech.

10) Shir HaGeulah - the song that will be sung in the times of Moshiach, as it says in the Book of Yeshayahu: "On that day there will be sung this song in the land of Yehuda.... [26:1]"

There are different versions of this list and other Medrashim say
1. Shirat Mitzrayim
2. Shirat Yehoshafat

Source: Revach.net

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Moshiach ''will be seen 5776'' - Torah Codes

A message from Rabbi Glazerson:

Try to watch this properly as it is very significant
מי משיח ''Who is Mashiach''  appears in a skip of 358 which is the Gematria of משיח
מי המשיח ''Who is Mashiach''  minimal in the whole Torah
בן דויד - ''ben David'' - minimal in the whole Torah in a skip of 26 which is the Gematria of G-d in Hebrew and English
תשעו יראה -   ''will be seen 5776''

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Mystery of September 23

Back in May of this year, Devash blogged about about September 23 this year, speculating that it is a date to watch out for.  [Apart from the fact that it is Yom Kippur]

Another blogger has just given us even more reasons to speculate:  see The Mystery of September 23 :  “September 23rd is the day Obama makes a pact with the devil. It was not by chance that the Pope and Obama are meeting on the Day of Atonement. (September 23, 2015) They will make a pact that will seal the fate of the United States of America. My vengeance will be poured out from this point forward. (September 23rd) There is no turning back.''

The source of that quote is not a kosher one.  Nevertheless I think it's all quite interesting.

The Book of Remedies

Refuah Shelaimah:
Libi Chavah Leah bas Sharonne Rivka - 3 years old - please have her in mind in your prayers



by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum


At one of the most critical junctures of Jewish history, with Assyrian King Sennacherib's vast army closing in on Jerusalem, Hezekiah King of Judah suddenly fell mortally ill. His entire body was covered with horrible sores. The prophet Isaiah came to him and said, "Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you will die and not live" [Isaiah 38:1; Kings II, 20:1].

With God's prophet telling him to make his will and prepare to die, a lesser man might have given up the fight. Not Hezekiah. He had a tradition from his ancestor, King David: "Even if a sharp sword is pressing on your neck, don't despair of pleading for God's mercy" [Berakhot 10a].

The Midrash throws light on the meaning of Hezekiah's illness. "Rabbi Levi said: Hezekiah mused, `It isn't good for people to enjoy constant good health until the day they die. This way they'll never think of repentance. But if they fall sick and then recover, they'll come to repent their sins.' God said to Hezekiah, `This is a good idea. And I'll start with you!'" [Bereshit Rabbah 65:9].

Hezekiah saw that illness can have a positive side if it prompts us to examine ourselves. What have we been doing with our lives? How have we been using our bodies? What is our true purpose in this world? How can we attain it?

As Hezekiah lay in mortal danger, he asked the prophet where he had gone astray. Isaiah explained that he had failed to carry out the first commandment of the Torah, to be fruitful and multiply. Hezekiah said this was because he had seen with holy spirit that his offspring would be unworthy. But Isaiah said this was not his business: he had an obligation to have children. Hezekiah understood his mistake and undertook to marry and have children.

That sickness is a prompt from God to examine ourselves was a lesson Hezekiah, spiritual leader of his people, had long wanted to teach. The point is brought out in a rabbinic comment on Hezekiah's prayer as he lay sick: "I did what is good in Your eyes." Enumerating Hezekiah's achievements during his reign, the Rabbis said he was alluding in his prayer to two major innovations: he "joined Redemption to Prayer, and he put away the Book of Remedies" [Berakhot 10b; Pesachim 56a].

"Joining Redemption to Prayer" literally refers to Hezekiah's institution of the rule that during the daily prayer services no interruption may be made between recital of the blessing of Redemption that follows the Shema and commencement of the silent Amidah prayer. But what about the Book of Remedies? What was it, and why did Hezekiah ban it?

Extant clay tablets and papyruses indicate that the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt possessed a vast body of medical knowledge. Hundreds of therapeutic plant, mineral and animal substances were in use, as well as a wide variety of surgical and other treatments. It would be easy to speculate that the Book of Remedies included medical techniques borrowed from other cultures with which the Jews had contact.

On the other hand, Rabbi Shimon bar Tzemach [the TaShBaTz, 1361-1444] states that the source of the book was supernatural: when Noah was in the ark during the flood, destructive spirits injured his sons, but an angel took one of them to the Garden of Eden and taught him all the remedies in the world [Seder HaDorot #1657].

The Ramban (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman of Girondi, 1194-1270) opines that the Book of Remedies was composed by Hezekiah's ancestor, King Solomon, whose God-given wisdom enabled him to deduce the healing properties of the various trees and plants from allusions buried in the Torah [Ramban, Commentary on the Torah, Introduction].

By any account, the Book of Remedies contained the accumulated healing wisdom of the Jewish People. Why then did Hezekiah put it away? It was not that the remedies were ineffective. On the contrary, in Hezekiah's view they were too effective! "When a person became sick, he would follow what was written in the book and be healed, and as a result people's hearts were not humbled before Heaven because of illness" [Rashi on Pesachim 56a]. In the words of the Rambam : "They did not have trust that it is the Holy One, blessed be He, Who heals and binds up wounds."

Resort to the Book of Remedies turned sickness and healing into nothing but a mechanical process. Hezekiah was not seeking to withhold medical expertise because of some morbid desire to make people suffer their sicknesses to the full so as to somehow expiate their sins. Far from wanting them to be sick, Hezekiah saw that reliance on the Book of Remedies actually prevented people from being truly healed. While the remedies it contained might alleviate their bodily ailments, the very effectiveness of these physical cures allowed those who used them to avoid confronting the underlying spiritual flaws to which their bodily ailments pointed.

King Hezekiah wanted the people to understand that illness, terrible as it may be, is sent by God for a purpose. It is to prompt us to examine ourselves and our lives, to ask ourselves where we have strayed from our mission and what steps we must take in the future in order to attain genuine self-fulfilment. Concealing the Book of Remedies would encourage people to take their lives in hand and actualize their latent spiritual powers, playing an active role in their own healing process.

Putting away the Book of Remedies was thus intimately bound up with King Hezekiah's second innovation, "joining Redemption to Prayer." This was more than a technical rule of religious ritual. Hezekiah redeemed prayer itself! He taught people how to pray again. Prayer brings us to the ultimate connection with God. And precisely because prayer is so exalted, it is surrounded by endless obstacles. For many people it seems like a meaningless, tiresome burden: prayer is in exile. Hezekiah sought to tear down the barriers and reveal the new-old pathway of prayer in its true splendor.

Prayer is not just a matter of asking God for favors. It is our way to channel divine power and blessing into ourselves, our lives and the whole world. Through prayer the soul rises to God and is healed, and in turn sends healing power into the body. By truly redeeming prayer Hezekiah was able to put away the Book of Remedies. There was simply no more need for it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

3 Elul - Yarzheit Rav Kook


It was the first of Elul, 5695 (1935), when Rabbi David Cohen (known as ‘the Rav HaNazir’) arrived at the guest house where Rav Kook was staying in Kiryat Moshe.

Exactly twenty years had passed since their first transformative encounter in Switzerland. This time he held in his hands a special document to show his dying master.

For twelve years, the Rav HaNazir had labored to organize Rav Kook’s writings into a systematic, comprehensive work. As his revered master lay on his death bed, he showed him the beginning fruits of his labor - the title page of the first volume of Orot HaKodesh. Rav Kook rejoiced; and he shed tears.

On the day of his death, Rav Kook motioned to his son, Rav Tzvi Yehudah, to come close. “Please pay off any outstanding debts. I do not want to owe anyone, not even the smallest amount.” He then made a second request: “Please prepare my writings for publication. But take care that the only title given to me is ‘rabbi.'”

With great effort, Rav Kook turned his face towards the scholars in the room. When it became clear that his soul would soon depart, the people cried out, “Shema Yisrael!” Rav Kook whispered after them, “Shema Yisrael,” breathing his final breath with the word echad - one. “The Eternal is one.”

The Rav HaNazir wrote:
“When the Rav passed away, We heard a heavenly voice. The voice called out, “Haim, ad olam!” ‘Life, forever!’ Even after completing life in this world, the soul continues, and it grows even stronger, with blessing, in eternal life.”

[Stories from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Malachim Kivnei Adam, p. 420; preface to Orot HaKodesh, pp. 24, 30.]


Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook was born on the 16th Elul 5625 (September 1864). On the day of his bris, he received a kippah as a gift. From that day on, his parents always kept a kippah on his head. Even while he was sleeping, Avraham Yitzchak's parents did not take the kippah off his head so that he should not be bareheaded - not even for a minute. The little boy would not fall asleep without his kippah. When he turned over and it fell off, he immediately woke up.

Avraham Yitzchak was four years old when he was brought to the cheder (school) in his home town of Geriva, to learn to read. The teacher offered him a siddur and turned to the page with the alef-bet. The child stubbornly refused to learn.

"Why won't you study?" asked the teacher.

"I want to learn from the big books" replied Avraham Yitzchak shyly.

"Which big books?" asked the teacher.

Avraham Yitzchak did not know how to answer. Instead he ran home and brought back a Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, and another large heavy book. The teacher smiled and said to the child: "If you want to be able to learn from the big books, you must first study from the small books." Avraham Yitzchak understood and began to read the alef-bet from the siddur.

In the same cheder, there was a class of older children who were studying Torah. Every Friday, these children were tested on the material they learned all week. One Friday, an interesting thing happened. One of the older children did not know the answer. There was silence. Sudddenly, the voice of a small boy from the youngest reading table was heard. It was the answer, spoken clearly and correctly. Avraham Yitzchak had been listening to the lessons of the older children and had understood them.

Little Avraham Yitzchak invented an unusual game to play with his friends in cheder. He arranged the children in rows. Each child had a knapsack on his back, as if they were getting ready for a long journey. Avraham Yitzchak was their guide. The small soldiers asked: "Where are we going?"

"To Israel, to Eretz Yisrael..."

*************************************

After many years of diligent study, Rav Kook was appointed as the rabbi of Zoimel, one of the small villages in Lithuania. After serving as rabbi of the town of Zoimel, Rav Kook was appointed the rabbi of a large city, Boisk. In Boisk, the Rav could sit and learn Torah for many hours each day. There was a time when he would learn 50 or 60 pages of Talmud in one day.

Many years passed before the Rav went to live in Eretz Yisrael. When the possibility of becoming the Rav of Jaffa arose, he refused all other appealing offers which came from European Yeshivot which asked him to be their Rosh Yeshivah or from great cities abroad, whose congregants wanted him to be their rabbi.

In addition, the congregation of Boisk refused to allow their rabbi to leave, until the Jews of Jaffa wrote to them explaining that the mitzvah of yishuv Eretz Yisrael, settling the land of Israel, takes precedence over everything else.

On Friday 28th Iyar 5664 (10 May 1904) Rav Kook went to live in Eretz Yisrael. He was received at the port of Jaffa with great honours and began his term as Rabbi of Jaffa. At that time, Israel was under Turkish rule and Jewish settlements were first being established. Jaffa was one of the main centers of Jewish settlement.

Hundreds of people from Jerusalem, Rishon LeZion, Rehovot and Petach Tikvah came to welcome the Rav and to form their own impressions of this unique figure, and his wife the Rabbanit Raiza Rivka.

The first World War broke out. The Rav had gone to Europe on shlichut, as an emissary for Eretz Yisrael, and could not return to his home in Jaffa because of the war. He stayed in London and served as a rabbi of the city. But he was constantly worried about the fate of his community in Jaffa and the hardships facing Jews in Israel which was then in a state of siege and famine.

After the war ended, the Rav returned to Eretz Yisrael. The Jews of Jaffa wanted him to continue as their rabbi. At the same time, the community of Jerusalem asked him to become their rabbi. The Rav debated this dilemma for quite some time. He knew that a small part of the Jewish community of Jerusalem did not want him as Rabbi. He did not want to be the cause of fights and arguments in the Holy City. On the 3rd Elul 5679 (29 August 1919), the Rav came to Jerusalem and only after a while did he bend to the will of the community, and become the rabbi of Jerusalem.

Here he established the centre of the world-renowned Yeshiva Merkaz HaRav, the "Centre of the Rav". Later, along with Rav Yaakov Meir Charlop, he instituted the Chief Rabbinate of Eretz Yisrael, with both rabbis acting as Chief Rabbi. All his time and effort was dedicated to the Rabbinate, the affairs of the community, and to the learning of Torah.

*******************************

The author, Tikvah Sarig, tells the following story about Rav Kook:

On the first Yom Kippur eve, after my father passed away, I was not yet five years old. Every morning since his death, my mother would wake me before dawn and wipe the sleep from my eyes with the same words: "Get up, my daughter, my neshama, my soul, to pray for the memory of your righteous father, the tzaddik".

What a tzaddik was, I did not know, but I imagined he looked like this: a kippah on his head, his beard long, his eyes warm and good, the palms of his hands soft, and his voice, melodic. Just like my father who was taken from me.

It was erev Yom Kippur. After the pre-fast meal, my mother took me to the house of Rav Kook. The sun was about to set. We marched quickly to the Rav's house. The streets were filled with worshippers, clad in white, hurrying to the synagogue to hear Kol Nidre, the opening Yom Kippur prayer.

Opening the door, we were welcomed by the fragrance and warmth of burning candles. Rebbetzin Kook and her daughter opened their arms to us and began to cry. My mother patted my head.

"Soon you will go into the Rav's study to receive his blessing" said the Rebbetzin.

With her words, my fear grew. I sighed loudly. Just then, the great door opened and from within, a righteous man, a tzaddik, came out. He was all dressed in white, his gartel was embroidered with gold. On his head he wore a white kippah; his beard was long. His eyes, warm and good, were looking at me with pity and kindness.

"Aba! Daddy!" I cried and clung closely to my mother, hiding my face in her dress, my limbs trembling. I heard my mother's voice through my tears: "Go my child. Receive a blessing from the honoured Rav!"

She led me a few steps towards him. The Rav took my small hands into his warm, soft ones.

"Do not cry, my child" he said, placing his hands on my head. "Do not be afraid of me. I was a friend of your father. Come here and I will bless you on this holy day."

The Rav's hands were soft and warm - just like my father's. His voice was melodic - just like my father's. I felt as if a river of kindness and warmth washed all over me - from my head to my toes - just like when I used to sit on my father's lap.

*********************************

Rav Kook was so righteous that he always forgave his enemies and even loved and blessed them.

*********************************

In his last days, the Rav became very sick. He suffered in terrible pain. It was difficult for him to learn, and it was difficult for him to hide his anguish from his students and relatives.

On the morning of the 3rd Elul, his condition became worse. Even though speaking was very hard for him, he strained himself and demanded of his family and students not to add any titles to his name on the cover pages of his books, not to eulogize him, telling them (do not call me) "Rabbeinu, our Rabbi, and not the "Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael" - "Simply HaRav - the Rav".

A large crowd stood outside the house, where the Rav lay on his deathbed. He raised his eyes to the window in his room. Everyone in Eretz Yisrael knew that a great leader, a teacher, a man of wisdom, was about to leave the land he loved so much.

The Rav grew weaker by the hour. His family, relatives, and a number of his students gathered around his bedside. In his last hours, the Rav's face was turned towards the wall. His students knew that it was written in the Talmud: "If a man passes away with his face towards the wall - it is a bad sign, and if his face is turned toward the people, it is a good sign". With his remaining strength, the Rav struggled and turned himself to face the people. At the last moment, all those who were standing around the Rav broke out saying "Shema Yisrael".

At sunset, on the third day of Elul 5695 (Sept 1st, 1935) the Rav passed away. The news flashed through the Jewish nation with the speed of lightning. The backbone of the Jewish nation was broken. The Rav of the generation was gone, the Rav of the era, the Rav of Eretz Yisrael at the time of her rebirth.

Exactly 16 years (3rd Elul) after Rav Kook ascended to Jerusalem, he ascended to Heaven.

Source: Reprinted from "Stories from the Life of Rav Kook" edited and translated by Masha Fridman

More on Rav Kook at Rav Kook Torah

Overcoming Obstacles



Elul - L'Dovid Hashem Ori - When You Carry Valuable Merchandise

The Ohr HaMeir says that in life there are certain people who have it easy. Everything goes smooth for them and no obstacles stand in their way. They think that they have reached perfection, they are on top of the world. On the other hand some people cannot catch a break. Every time they make a move something goes wrong. Are they traveling on the wrong road?

The Ohr HaMeir explains with a Mashal. If someone is traveling on the road carrying a sack of wheat husks, his trip is easy. He can travel wherever he wants, for as long as he wants, feeling secure and knowing no one will rob him of his goods. However, if he is carrying a satchel of precious stones he sweats every step, knowing that he is a hunted man.

Dovid HaMelech says in L'Dovid Hashem Ori [Tehilim 27:3] "Im Takum Alai Milchama B'Zos Ani Botei'ach" - if the enemy is constantly attacking me, in this I find confidence. Why? If my path in life was devoid of any value I would not encounter constant resistance from the Yetzer Hara. The fact that there is an obstacle in my path at every turn is a sign that I, my actions, goals, and ambitions are very valuable. So valuable that the Yetzer Hara is throwing all his resources at me to stop from accomplishing my dreams.

As we start Elul and head quickly towards Rosh Hashana and a new year, contemplate the past year. Did you have it easy? Did you get anything worthwhile accomplished? The Ohr HaMeir would venture to guess that the answer to the first question is not the answer to the second!

Source: Revach L'Neshama

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Opening the Gates


Judges and police officers you shall appoint in all your cities..... [Shoftim 16:18]


Source: Mipeninei Noam Elimelech
Translated by Tal Moshe Zwecker

This verse can be understood in the light of the teaching found in the Talmud in Berachos [61b] that "Tzaddikim are judged by their yetzer tov [good inclination] and the wicked are judged by the yetzer hara [evil inclination]. The average person is judged by both."

The righteous have an admonisher inside them who reproves and reprimands them even about the good deeds that they perform. He points out the defects and shortcomings of their actions, how they are lacking and how they should have been performed for the Almighty Creator. In this way they are "judged by their yetzer tov".

The wicked are just the opposite. Not only do all their actions appear good in their eyes, but their evil inclination shows them that even the evil deeds they do are good. Thus, the wicked are judged by the yetzer hara.

But the average person is judged by both, and as the Tanna taught, "we are average people" - that a person should always consider himself a beinoni, average, as someone who walks on both paths. On the one hand, he should constantly rebuke himself, debating his own actions; he should consider himself to be falling short of properly serving Hashem and fulfilling his obligations. When doing mitzvos, he should understand well that he has not acted properly with true clarity and purity as befitting the service of the Almighty; he should be humble and lowly in his own eyes.

Even so, one should not consider himself wicked, Heaven forbid, as our Sages taught: "Do not be wicked in your own eyes" [Avos 2:18] Otherwise if one does consider himself wicked, he will have no motivation to perform the mitzvos, not to learn Torah or pray or perform any good deed. He will give up hope, resigned that he is not worthy enough to do these things. Therefore, one must hold on to both paths at the same time in order to be complete. Then he will fulfill the teaching of our Sages "With all your heart" [Devarim 6:5] - with both inclinations. This is the meaning of "we are average people" and the "average person is judged by both".

Thus it says "Appoint for yourself judges and police officers". This refers to the two judges we spoke about, the good and evil inclinations. The good inclination is an "officer" since it polices the nation, preventing them from committing any offence, and so the good inclination admonishes and rebukes man for his misdeeds and shortcomings in serving G-d.

"In all your cities" [literally "gates"] - every mitzvah and holy act has its own gate. When a person learns, prays, or does any other act of holiness in this world, he opens the gates to that specific mitzvah above.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Blessings in Disguise


"See! I am giving to you today a blessing and a curse" [Re'eh 11:26]

How could G-d, who is the very essence of good, issue a curse?  Are we not taught that "no evil thing issues from Above?"

In truth, however, G-d does not issue curses at all, and only blessings are "issued from Above".  The problem lies "below" in our ability to receive G-d's blessings.  If a person is not a fitting receptacle for the goodness which G-d bestows upon him, he will simply be unable to accommodate G-d's blessings.  The result will be that after its downward path through the spiritual worlds, the blessing is received in a way that appears, to our human eyes, as a curse.

As least that is how it appears in the spiritually  dampened moments of exile.  Thus Onkelos, who authored his work amidst the Babylonian exile, interpreted the word קללה as "curse".  However, Targum Yonason wrote his commentary in the Land of Israel during Temple times, when even the average person could easily appreciate that "no evil thing is issued from Above".  Thus he rendered קללה   as חילופּא - "substitute"  - indicating that G-d Himself only issues blessings, but His blessings may later become "substituted" by something else.

And this also explains why, in the Messianic Era, we will not only forgive G-d for the sufferings of exile, but we will thank Him [See Isaiah 12:1 ] for then it will be evident how even G-d's "curses" were in fact blessings in disguise.

Source: Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

Thursday, August 13, 2015

NY: City Removes Moshiach Banner from Kingston Ave

White vans equipped with cherry pickers were seen on Kingston Avenue on Tuesday afternoon, hoisting up workers so they could remove a series of signs which stretched from side to side of the neighborhood's main street. 

In response to complaints, city workers arrived in Crown Heights to remove the twenty foot banners which were hung by a group of activists, calling on residents to urge Congresswoman Yvette Clarke to vote "No" on the proposed nuclear deal with Iran. 

While they removed the anti-Iran signs, the workers also removed other signs that were hung across Kingston Avenue.

Source: COL


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Anne Frank Reincarnated

Most of this video is not relevant for us, but starting from 5:49 it gets very interesting, as this woman believes herself to be a reincarnation of Anne Frank.

The Key


All beginnings require that you unlock new doors.
The key is giving and doing.
Give charity and do kindness.

[Rebbe Nachman of Breslov]

To give tzedaka to Israelis in need go to:  Amiti

Monday, August 10, 2015

For The Sake of Giving

נָתוֹן תִּתֵּן לוֹ וְלֹא יֵרַע לְבָבְךָ בְּתִתְּךָ לוֹ 
You shall surely give him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him [Re'eh 15:10]

A poor person appeared before he tzaddik R' Mendel of Rimanov.  He poured his heart out before R' Mendel, sparing no detail of his difficult situation.  The Rebbe gave the man a substantial sum of money. Then, as the man turned to leave, the Rebbe presented him with yet another coin.

''Why did the Rebbe give the man tzedakah twice?'' asked the Rebbe's family.

He answered: ''The first time I gave him it was out of sympathy, as I was very saddened by the severity of his predicament.  The second time, however, was purely for the sake of fulfilling the mitzvah of tzedakah.''

''We find an allusion to this in Scripture'', concluded R' Mendel.  ''For when the Torah tell us to give charity, it uses a repetitive expression ''Natan titein lo''.  This is to teach us that we should ''give and give again''.  

''The first time we give charity, it should be for the sake of ''lo yeira le vavecha'' - that our hearts should not be wicked against our friends.  We must learn to feel compassion in our hearts, then Heaven will have compassion toward us.

''The second time we give, however, we should do so purely for the sake of the mitzvah of giving - ''be titcha lo''.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Current Events, Suffering and Tisha BÁv

Another great shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin - includes timing of ''blood moons'', Iran, ISIS and much more

Recorded on Tisha B''Av

click here to listen on You Tube

Friday, August 7, 2015

In Anticipation



The Sefer Chareidim says that one of the 17 parts of a mitzva that you must do in order to fulfill a mitzva completely is to yearn to do the mitzva even if you cannot do it at this moment. For example we should long for the Beit HaMikdash in order to be able to bring korbanot. We should want to live in Eretz Yisroel to be Mikayem mitzvot that are only relevant when planting in Eretz Yisroel. 

Rav Levi Yitzchok MiBerditchev in the Kedushas Levi says that is pshat in the pasuk [8:1] "Kol HaMitzva Asher Anochi Mitzavecha Hayom Tishmirun La'asot" - ''All the mitzvos that I command, you should watch to fulfill''.   Sometimes the word "shamar" [watch], means wait in anticipation, as when Yaakov "watched" to see what would happen with Yosef's dreams. 

Similarly here the pasuk says every mitzva that I command, you should yearn to keep even if you are in Chutz La'Aretz and cannot do it. Then in that merit, continues the pasuk, you will be zocheh to "V'yirashtem Et HA'Aretz"; Hashem will eventually bring you to Eretz Yisroel to realize your aspirations.

Source: Revach.net

Thursday, August 6, 2015

''Israel Stands Alone''

The AR"I is cited as saying: "Gog u'Magog has the numerical value of seventy, corresponding to the seventy nations, because Gog and Magog will then rule over seventy nations, and they will all come together against Israel.

The AR"I emphasizes another aspect that is also embedded in the verses of the prophecy and the Haftarah, that of a universal war against Am Yisrael.

.... afterwards will come the definite redemption. [Likutei Torah, Parshat Shemot. Cited in Be'er Moshe by the Ozrover Rebbe]   Source

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Overwhelmed by Troubles

''....when you see a generation overwhelmed by many troubles as by a river, await him...'' [Sandhedrin 98a]

A new lecture from Rabbi Mizrachi including the suffering of our times and how we are living in The Time Immediately before Moshiach 


Eikev

Written by Yehuda Katz

וְהָיָה | עֵקֶב תִּשְׁמְעוּן אֵת הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים הָאֵלֶּה 
And it will be, because [eikev] you will heed these ordinances...
[Eikev 7:12]

Rashi comments that when the Torah uses the word "Eikev" [Hebrew], it teaches us that this is referring to the Mitzvoth that man usually neglects. Eikev in Hebrew can also mean the heel of feet, meaning the commandments that a person might "step" on because he considers them to be minor.

We find in Genesis 25:26 that Yaakov was named his name because he held onto Esav's heel when he emerged from his mother's womb. Yaakov comes from the Hebrew root "eikev" meaning heel. 

A question can be asked, What's the connection between "Yaakov's" name and "Eikev" found in our verse?   I would like to propose the following original answer as follows, Bezrat Hashem: When Yaakov held on to Esav's heel, he was telling the world that the very things Esav tramples on are in fact "held" in high esteem by Yaakov. These are the very attributes that Yaakov considers important, namely modesty, humility, honesty, etc. Yaakov knew their value, and held on to them. Esav on the other hand "stepped" on them with his heel.....

This is precisely where Yaakov has the greatest power over Esav and the manner in which he conducts his life. Israel will always be able to defeat Esav as long as they are capable of upholding the attributes Esav tramples on. 

In Kabbalistic thought Esav represents the evil inclination. We are all constantly seeking out methods to conquer that which ails us spiritually, yet here lies the key to our victory. Let us all grasp the very attributes that the Evil inclination abhors, and hold them in high esteem as our forefather Yaakov had done at the time of his birth. Let us all be more humble, modest and gracious to our fellow man.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Olives to Forget, Olive Oil to Remember

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

It is written, “A land of wheat, barley, grape, fig, and pomegranate; a land of olive oil and date-honey” [Devarim 8:8].

This is surprising. For the first five products on this list, it is the fruit itself (wheat, barley, grape, fig, pomegranate) that is mentioned, but for the olive the verse mentions only what is derived from it, namely olive oil. Why?

The Maharsha cites a statement from the Gemara: “Our Rabbis taught: Five things make one forget one’s learning:

Eating something from which a mouse or cat has eaten, eating the heart of a beast, frequent consumption of olives, drinking the remains of water that was used for washing, and washing one’s feet one above the other. Others say: He who also puts his clothes under his head.

Five things restore one’s learning: Wheat bread, and especially wheat itself, eating a roasted egg without salt, frequent consumption of olive oil, frequent indulgence in wine and spices, and the drinking of water that has remained from kneading. Others say that dipping one’s finger in salt and eating is also included.

‘Frequent consumption of olive-oil’ – this supports the view of Rabbi Yochanan, who said: ‘As the olive causes one to forget 70 years ears of learning, olive oil restores 70 years of learning’ ” [Horayot 13b].

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Trait of Arrogance

וְלֹא תָבִיא תוֹעֵבָה אֶל בֵּיתֶךָ 
Nor should you bring an abomination into your house [Eikev 7:26]


The verse teaches us, noted R' Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev, just how despicable the trait of arrogance truly is.  It is so abhorred that one is forbidden to even allow a haughty individual to enter his home.

We learn this from a verse in Mishlei: ''Every haughty heart is the abomination of Hashem'' [Mishlei 16:5]

We see, therefore, that a haughty individual is referred to as an ''abomination'', about which our verse explicitly states:  "And you must not bring an abomination into your home''.

Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Torah Codes of Malayasian Flight MH370 Proved Correct

On 24 March this year I published Rabbi Glazerson's video [below] where the Torah Codes told us   that the plane was ''ín the sea'' - @ 3:00 on the video.

Now we know that information was correct: see here for story.