Thursday, December 31, 2015

Responding to Stress

Rabbi Dr Abraham Twerski talks about stress: just take two minutes and watch this. You won't forget it.

 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Unity is Strength


"Behold! the people, the Children of Israel, are more numerous and stronger than we" [Shemot 1:9]

The verse teaches us, said R'Yisrael of Rizhin, that when the Jews act as one people, free of discord and strife, then the nations of the world see them as ''more numerous and stronger'' than themselves and realize that they cannot dominate the Jews.

This can be compared to a father who invited all his children to his home.


When they arrived, they gathered around him.

The father held several thin twigs in his hand. He gave one to each of his children and then asked them to break them.

His children snapped the dry twigs with ease.

The father then passed around a bundle of several twigs.  "Now" said the father "please try breaking this bundle."  Each one tried to break the bundle but none succeeded.

"You see" said the father "as long as you remain united in the same way that these branches are united, nobody will ever be able to harm you! But if you act divisively and there is disharmony among you, then be aware that a lone individual is as feeble and easily broken as a thin twig."

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mashiach's Arrival: Now, Later or When?

Rabbi David Pinto Shlita

 

Historic Flooding in the UK

Parts of the United Kingdom have been inundated with floods, and the rain continues to fall. The cities of York and Leeds have been brought to their knees, in what the leader of one local authority described as “a catastrophe waiting to happen”.

Underwater

 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Shemot: Names


The word "shemot'' means ''names'', as in the verse ''these are the name of the children of Israel who came to Egypt'' [Shemot 1:1]

A person's name is an extremely personal matter. Whenever a person hears his name called out, the word resonates in his heart, and lifts his spirits.  People feel so strongly for their names that they will pay fortunes to have their names written on buildings, as they yearn for their identity to be perpetuated in stone. 

In fact, a name is such a deep-rooted entity that, if a person faints, whispering his name into his ear can actually bring him back to consciousness.

Rashi comments [1:1] that naming is the best sign of affection.  Seemingly there are greater signs of affection than mere naming. A parent can show love to a child through giving a gift, or through words of affection, or through physical embracing. Why did G-d show His affection to the tribes through repeating their names?

However, these other signs of affection are all relative to the situation at hand. For example, what might be a generous gift for one child would be an insult to another. Similarly, words of affection must be specific for a particular child at his level. And while a hug may always seem appropriate, it requires the presence of the child and his conscious alertness. Only the calling of a name breaks through these barriers and is applicable in all circumstances.

Consequently, when the Jewish people were immersed in the idolatrous culture of Egypt, they had few merits and so the only possible sign of affection was to repeat their names.  This teaches us that G-d's love for a Jew is unconditional.

Source:  Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pronouncing the Name of G-d

God said to Moses: "Ehyeh asher ehyeh'' (I will be what I will be) [Shemot 3:14]

Rashi explains that G-d's reply to Moshe's question [about His Name] was ''I will be with them in their present time of need, just as I will be with them at the time of future persecutions.''

Obviously, Rashi does not agree with those commentators who suggest that G-d told Moshe to tell the Jews His true Name [Rashbam, Rambam & Abaranel].  Rather, according to Rashi, G-d was responding with words of encouragement to tell the Jewish people.  [In this respect, Rashi agrees with Ramban].

After the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach '' all flesh will see together that the mouth of G-d [Havayeh] spoke.''  And then we will be permitted to pronounce the Tetragrammation exactly how it is written.

Source: Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe


Friday, December 25, 2015

The Result of Causing Someone Else to Suffer


Watsons Bay Sydney
the view last night 

וְעֵינֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ כָּֽבְד֣וּ מִזֹּ֔קֶן לֹ֥א יוּכַ֖ל לִרְא֑וֹת Yaakov was no longer able to see." [VaYechi 48:10]

Chazal tell us various reasons why Yitzchok became blind. but why did Yaakov become blind?

Rav Shlomo Zalman Zelaznik Ztz"l. the Rosh Yeshiva of Eitz Chaim. explained with the principle that if someone suffers on your account, you are punished, even if you have done nothing wrong. In Yaakov's case we find two people whose eyes suffered on account of him. The first was Yitzchok. who Chazal say became blind so that Yaakov would be able to fool him and take the blessings. The second is Leah. whose eyes were swollen because she was destined to marry Eisav. while Rochel was supposed to marry Yaakov.

 "Either of these two occurrences," says Rav Zelaznik, "were enough cause to warrant Yaakov losing his eyesight despite his complete innocence of any wrongdoing. If such is the Midas HaDin when we are completely innocent of any wrongdoing, certainly, if we actually play a part in the suffering of another person, we are in huge trouble."

Source: Revach.net

Thursday, December 24, 2015

''The Beginning of the End Times''


Well he's a bit late to come to the party now, but the Pope has made a startling declaration by saying that this year could be ''the last Xmas'', that the current chaotic state of the world marks the beginning of the “end times”, and that this time next year the world is likely to be unrecognisable.

As Devash points out, his name is GeOrGe MArio BerGOGlio so he may have a heads up on all this.

You can read it here:  Pope says....




Taking Care of Business





'Zevulun will live by the sea coast....'' [Vayechi 49:13]

Zevulun would engage in business and provide food for the tribe of Yissachar, who would engage in Torah study. [Rashi to v. 13]

Until we reach the time when the nations will provide for the Jewish people [Brachos 35b] - after the coming of Moshiach - the majority of the Jewish people fall into the category of Zevulun, rather than Yissachar. Since this state of affairs is Divinely orchestrated, it follows that G-d's plan for creation must be carried out to a greater extent by the businessman than the Torah scholar - for otherwise, G-d would have made a world with more Torah scholars than businessmen.

This is because the ultimate purpose of creation is that ''G-d desired a home in the lowest realms'' [Tanchuma, Naso 7:1] and it is predominantly the businessman who works in these lowest realms, with the intention of elevating them to a higher purpose.

Source: Based on Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe [vol 30 p 137]

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Teachers


Art: Jacob Taanmann
Yarzheit: 11 Teves - In memory of two great teachers: Ze'ev Yosef ben Sholom a"h and Rochel bas Mordechai a"h  who tragically left this world as the result of a surreal car crash on December 20, 2007 - we miss you and think of you every day.

Tzadikim never die, their light continues to shine forever.

"Teach them thoroughly to your children" [Devarim 6:7] - "your children" refers to your students. [Sifrei]

"Whoever teaches another man's son Torah is considered as if he had borne him." [Sanhedrin 19b]

A talmid once approached R' Chaim Shmulevitz to relate a chiddush (original Torah thought). R' Chaim listened to the student in amazed silence. The "chiddush" was, in fact, an idea which R' Chaim himself had offered in a shiur (lecture) which this student had attended.

R' Chaim was certain that the student was not trying to deceive him. There could only be one explanation. The student had absorbed R' Chaim's lecture well, but after a period of time, had forgotten having attended it. Later, when reviewing the relevant material, the student had thought of R' Chaim's chiddush, thinking that it was his own.

R' Chaim later remarked: "I then realized that here was a real talmid, assimilating my chiddushim in his thoughts as if they were his very own! It was the happiest day of my life!"


Ever Mindful

When still active as Rosh Yeshivah of Mesivta Torah Vodaath, R' Yaakov Kamenetzky once visited the home of his son R' Shmuel. Late at night, R' Shmuel heard his father leave his second-floor bedroom and go downstairs.

Concerned, R' Shmuel made his way downstairs, only to find his father jotting something down in a pocket notebook. R' Yaakov explained: "A certain bochur in yeshivah has been having some problems. I just thought of a way to help him. I jotted it down in my appointment book to make sure that I won't forget."

How Can I Leave?

The weddings of his talmidim were of particular importance to R' Moshe Feinstein. One Friday morning, someone met him in New York's Port Authority bus terminal, waiting to board a bus to the annual convention of Agudath Israel.

It seemed hard to believe that a car had not been provided to take R' Moshe to the convention. R' Moshe's companion explained: "Certainly a car was provided. The Rosh Yeshivah was to be driven to the convention last night, following the chuppah at a talmid's wedding. The car was waiting after the ceremony ended, but the Rosh Yeshivah said: "How can I leave without first dancing with the chassan?" He insisted that the car, which was to pick up other Roshei Yeshivah, not wait for him, and he would not trouble anyone to come for him a second time."

For a Student's Honour

R' Eliyahu Moshe Shisgal (late son-in-law of R' Moshe Feinstein) was a revered and beloved Rosh Yeshivah. Once, during a lecture, a student disputed a point that R' Shisgal had made. The student's remarks seemed so ludicrous that the rest of the class burst into laughter.

R' Shisgal chastised his students. "Why do you laugh? Is this the proper way? Besides, how can one be sure that what he suggested is wrong? Perhaps it is we who are in error?"

Having spoken, R' Shisgal excused himself and left the room, returning a few minutes later with a gemara that he had climbed two flights of stairs to get. He read aloud a passage from the commentary of Rashi and concluded "It is apparent from Rashi that our explanation is correct." The student who had posed the question no longer felt chagrined.

Source: Rabbi Shimon Finkelman "For Love of Torah"

Monday, December 21, 2015

Yaakov's Secret

Art by Alec Levin

In Parshas Vayechi, Rashi explains that Yaakov wished to reveal to his sons when the end of Israel's exile would finally take place (ha'keitz), but the prophetic vision was closed off from him.

Rabbeinu Bachye elaborated on Rashi's words: Yaakov observed that the letters ח and ט do not appear in any of the brother's names. These are the two main letters of the word חט- sin. Yaakov took the fact that the brothers' names did not contain this word as an indication that they were clean of sin and worthy of being told when the future redemption would occur.

But then Yaakov noticed that the letters ק and ץ, which together spell the word קץ (keitz - the end of the exiles) also do not appear in their names. At that point Yaakov thought that perhaps his sons were not worthy of knowing this secret after all.

Because of his hesitation, Yaakov kept the secret closed and did not reveal the information to his sons.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein


Surely, if Yaakov would have indeed revealed the time of Moshiach's coming to his children they would have been totally devastated to hear that they had so long to wait.

When Yaakov's sons would hear that Moshiach was not scheduled to come for a long time, they would have realized that some considerable additional effort was needed to bring him sooner - as the Talmud states that through additional merit the Redemption comes earlier  [Sanhedrin 98a].  

Thus, Yaakov hoped that by revealing that ''the End of Days'' was a long way off it would motivate his children to add substantially in Divine Service, so as to bring Moshiach sooner.

Nevertheless, despite his good intentions ''the Shechinah departed from him'' and Yaakov found himself unable to reveal the ''End of Days''.  For, ultimately, God wants us to bring Moshiach through our own efforts, and not through the assistance of ''revelations'' from above.

Source: Based on Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe vol 20 pp228

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Australia's Prime Minister - A True Friend

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is a true friend of the Jewish people, and of Israel.  In this just-released video, you can see his visit to The Central Synagogue in Sydney in honour of Chanukah.



How to Avoid An ''Evil Eye"



"Ben Porat Yosef, Ben Porat Alei Ayin" [Vayechi 49:22].

Rashi says that this means that Yosef will multiply and be beyond the reach of Ayin Hara [the evil eye]. As a reward for not taking his master's wife, no one will be able, through jealously, to inflict any harm on what belongs to him.

The Shulchan Gavo'a brings from Rav Eliyahu Dessler that no matter how rich a person is, no one is ever jealous of a totally selfless person whose whole life is about giving. An element of jealousy stems from the intended or even unintended flaunting of oneself before others.

Yaakov gave Ephraim and Menashe a bracha "V'Yidgu LaRov" - they should multiply like fish. There are two attributes of fish that Yaakov had in mind. Fish are not seen from the dry land. Moreover the fish live a life totally separated from the inhabitants of the land. They don't compete with them in any way. That is why the Ayin Hara does not affect them.

If a person lives a life of Yosef, where he doesn't want what doesn't belong to him, and he lives and enjoys his material assets out of the public eye, he too will not suffer from any unwanted evil eyes.

Source: Rav Eliyahu Dessler

Friday, December 18, 2015

Why Belief in Moshiach is One of the 13 Principles

"Eternity" by Charnine


Why is the belief in Moshiach one of the thirteen principles of the Jewish Faith? Rabbi Gershon Avtzon, Menahel, Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati answers:

To clarify the question: There are 613 commandments, yet there are only 13 principles. This shows us clearly that not every commandment is a principle. To put things in perspective: Two of the most basic Mitzvos are putting on Tefilin (for men) and keeping Shabbas. Yet, neither of them are part of the 13 principles. This shows us that the principles are more than just basic commandments, they are the pillars of Judaism.

For example: Principle number one is the belief in Hashem. This is understood: One can not claim to be a believing Jew, if he does not believe in Hashem. [A Perspective: For many of the commentaries, there is no Mitzva to believe in Hashem! How can one ask "what are the commandments" if he does not believe in a commander?]

Another one of the principles is that the Torah was authored by Hashem and only written by Moshe Rabbeinu. This is also understood. Most of the laws of the Torah are learned  from extra letters or words in the Torah. If one believes that the Torah was authored by a human, is it shocking that there are extra letters or words?

If the above understanding of the 13 principles is true, why is the belief in Moshiach one of them? Can't I be considered an orthodox Jew - Keeping Kosher, Shabbas, and just not believe in Moshiach?  

A perspective: The Chasam Sofer [Shalas U'teshuvos on Yorah Deah, letter 356] writes that in truth the belief in Moshiach is not in itself a principle. It is just that being that Moshiach is written about in the Torah, if one denies Moshiach, he is denying part of the Torah! However, the accepted opinions are that believing in Moshiach itself is a principle. For all Mitzvos are written in the Torah, and according to the above, they should all be included.

The Answer: The Lubavitcher Rebbe gives a fascinating explanation [Hadran on Rambam 5746 chapter 10]. In order to understand it, we must first explain a basic Chassidic idea. What do we mean when we say - in the Sh'ma prayer, with our eyes covered - that Hashem is ONE? The explanation: Hashem's oneness - does not only mean that there is no other creator, rather - means that there is no other creation but Hashem. The entire world - even though it seems as an independent entity - is really G-dly.

In the time of exile, this truth is hidden. It seems that the world is an independent entity, and that keeping Torah and Mitzvos are a struggle. When Moshiach comes, the Truth of creation will be revealed. The world will be seen as a place created solely to do Hashem's will.

Chazal tell us [Yalkut Shimoni on Yirmiah Remez 315 and others] that in the messianic era, if one would want to desecrate the Shabbas by picking a fruit off the tree, the tree will "scream" at him to stop.

If one does not believe in Moshiach, then one does not believe that Hashem's true unity will show. He then believes that the world will remain "independent" of Hashem's oneness. It is obvious that such a person is missing in his basic belief in Judaism.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The State of the World and ''Loshon Hara''

A new shiur from Rabbi Mizrachi


Speech Therapy


"Ten things were created on the eve of Shabbat at twilight.... [two of these were] the ketav and the michtav...." [Pirkei Avot 5:9]

Both ketav and michtav could be translated as "writing", but if so, one of them is redundant. Michtav can also mean "speech" as in "The michtav of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness" [Isaiah 38:9].  Hezekiah did not write anything; he spoke of his gratitude to G-d for healing him [Midrash Shmuel].

Why was speech created on the eve of the first Shabbat?

Observant Jews rarely commit the cardinal sins. Our problem today is sins of speech: profanity, lashon hara, falsehood, scoffing, flattery and idle chatter. We tend to take these lightly, but G-d is very particular about our speech. On the day of judgment He will scrutinize every word we ever uttered [or wrote]. To make this point, He created speech on the eve of Shabbat at twilight.

Just as the world was created in six days and the seventh was a day of rest, so the world will last in its present state for six millennia and then enter the Messianic era, the Shabbat of history. 

In our times - twilight on the eve of the great Shabbat - the evil inclination concentrates its attacks on our speech.

from the writings of Hacham Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad [The Ben Ish Hai]

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hail !


We had some weather here today: check out the size of the hail !  Tornado and freak storm


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Geula Shiur for Women

HT: Rivkah Lambert Adler

The Rebbetzin has requested that this video is for WOMEN ONLY.  Obviously this cannot be policed on the internet, but you've been told.

Starting at 30:27, Rebbetzin Orit Esther Riter begins talking about Geula. What should we be looking for when it comes to Moshiach? What is Gog uMagog and why should Jews who are trying to live by God's laws not be overly concerned? What happens to free will when Moshiach comes? And more.

 

It's All Good


Now Yosef could not bear all those standing beside him, and he called out, "Take everyone away from me!" So no one stood with him when Yosef made himself known to his brothers. [Vayigash 45:1]

Yosef could not bear that Egyptians would stand beside him and hear his brothers being embarrassed when he would make himself known to them. [Rashi]

We can learn from the example of Yosef towards his brothers that one should never seek revenge against a person who causes him any form of distress or damage.  Rather, one should repay even a guilty offender with kindness. [Tanya ch.12]

Why should we be kind to guilty offenders?

Because whatever that person did to you ultimately stems from G-d.  The person was merely an agent from G-d, Who decreed that this thing should happen to you.

Thus, since "everything that G-d does is for the good", you must repay the person - who brought this "good" to you - with kindness.

Source: Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

Monday, December 14, 2015

Reincarnation Explained Part 3

Part 3 of Rabbi Alon Anava's Reincarnation Series
Parts 1 and 2 here

 

My Father's Honor

Art by Alec Levin
"Therefore, tell my father of all the honor that is given me in Egypt" [Vayigash 45:13]

The Ohev Yisrael [R' Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Apta] was travelling with his son, R' Yitzchak Meir, through the neighboring towns. Wherever he went, hundreds of Jews came out to greet him, the gadol b'Yisrael, and showed him great honor.

The Ohev Yisrael was distressed by the amount of honor that he was receiving and, because of his great modesty, he truly believed that he did not deserve it. He therefore turned to his son and asked: "My son, why is everybody honoring me so much, being that I am not worthy of it?"

R' Yitzchak Meir saw how distraught his father was, so he consoled him: "Do not let it worry you, Father. For these people have come to honor me."

"And why do you deserve such honor?" asked the Ohev Yisrael.

"That is obvious" replied R' Yitzchak Meir. "It is because I am the son of the Apter Rav."

The Rebbe smiled, and he said: "This, my son, is what Yosef meant when he stated "Therefore, tell my father of all the honor that is given me in Egypt - for all the fame and honor that I receive in Egypt is only thanks to my father's merit!"

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Reincarnation [Gilgulim] Explained

Rabbi Alon Anava gives a comprehensive talk on Reincarnation. Videos Parts One and Two.

 



To see Part 3 click here

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Precious Menorah: A Chanukah Story

Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Shore

Everyone knew of the tzadik from Sassov, Rabbi Moshe Leib. Thousands of people constantly streamed to him to ask for blessings and advice on personal and business matters, and he never refused them his precious time.

Once, when Rabbi Moshe Leib was visiting the town of Brod, a wealthy woman came to him to ask him to pray for the recovery of her daughter who was seriously ill. When the woman introduced herself and mentioned her father's name, Rabbi Moshe Leib realized that he knew of her family, who were famous for their generosity to the needy. As the conversation progressed the wealthy woman described her child's illness, and the tzadik promised to pray for her. As it was customary to give the tzadik a monetary donation to distribute among the poor or for a specific urgent cause, the woman removed an envelope from her purse and placed it on the table, but Rabbi Moshe Leib refused to accept it. "I don't want money from you!" he said.

"But Rabbi, what do you mean? What is it that you want from me? I will do anything in the world to help my daughter!"

"I know that you have a very beautiful and precious Chanuka menora. That is what I want!" Rabbi Moshe Leib said quietly.

"Rabbi, I do have the menora you describe, but it is a family heirloom and my most precious possession. However, if you want it, I will gladly give it to you!"

The Rebbe listened carefully, nodding his head. "I am aware that the menora is very special and precious to your family. If you agree to let me have it, you must mean this most sincerely; you must give it to me with no compunctions or inner doubts whatsoever."

"I understand completely, and I agree wholeheartedly. The menora is yours; I will bring it to you today," the woman said in a strong, firm voice.

That evening, when she came and presented the menora to Rabbi Moshe Leib, his students were buzzing with amazement. How had the Rebbe known about the menora's existence? Why had the Rebbe asked for a gift, something so far out of character? And why in the world did he want it anyway, when it was a known fact that he used only the menora he had received from his teacher and Rebbe, Reb Shmelke of Nicholsburg?

On the first night of Chanuka, as the Rebbe prepared to light the first wick, Reb Yechiel Tzoref the silversmith stood at his side. He had no idea why he had been chosen for this great honor, but he was beaming with happiness. After the light was kindled, the Rebbe beckoned to Reb Yechiel to enter his study. "I want to tell you a story about your grandfather, may he rest in peace, for whom you were named.

"When the time came for your grandfather to arrange a match for his daughter, he was so poor, he couldn't find a suitor. No one would lend him money, since it was obvious he could never return the loan. After exhausting all of his acquaintances he decided to approach a certain very wealthy man. When he asked him to lend him money to arrange a marriage for his daughter, the wealthy man replied, 'I know you will never be able to repay me, but I will make a deal with you. I know that you own a very beautiful menora, the likes of which I have never seen. If you will give it to me, I will give you 10,000 gulden, enough for the marriage and even more!'

"When Reb Yechiel heard the demand, he was shocked. It was his most precious possession. He, himself, had made it from silver coins that his Rebbe, Reb Zushe of Anipoli, had distributed to his Chasidim each year as Chanuka 'gelt.' Reb Yechiel had collected the prized coins year by year. When he had amassed quite a collection, Reb Yechiel melted them down and formed from them a magnificent menora. It was this menora which the rich man wanted. No, thought Reb Yechiel, he couldn't even think of relinquishing it.

"Having refused the rich man's offer, Reb Yechiel went everywhere to try to borrow the money, but in the end he failed. He had no choice but to accept the rich man's terms and part with his beloved menora. When the wealthy man passed away and stood before the Heavenly Court there was great confusion as to how to rule in his case. On the one hand, the rich man had certainly performed the mitzva of giving money to help poor brides. But on the other hand, he had coveted the prized possession of a poor man and caused him great pain.

"Finally, the Court reached a decision. The wealthy man's reward would be withheld, since the mitzva was intertwined with the sin of coveting the possession of another. "That is why I have arranged to return the menora to you, his grandson. The sin has now been atoned for, and the wealthy benefactor of your grandfather will rest in peace, enjoying his eternal reward."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mazal Tov !

As promised, a photo of the wedding yesterday in Israel of Moishe and Lizzi.




The Hidden Greatness of Yosef



וַיִּקְרָא פַרְעֹה שֵׁם יוֹסֵף צָפְנַת פַּעְנֵחַ
And Pharaoh named Joseph "Tzafnas Pa'neach" [Mikeitz 41:45]

Rashi explains: "Tzafnas Pa'neach - mepharesh hatzefunos [decipherer of the cryptic]"

If that is the meaning of Yosef's title, asked the Sefas Emes [R' Yehudah Leib Alter of Gur], then would it not have been more appropriate to reverse the order of the words and refer to him as "Paneach tzefunos"?

Yosef, answered the Sefas Emes, merited his unique ability to reveal that which was concealed on account of the fact that he acted with extreme modesty, always concealing his own righteousness from the eyes of others.

It is for this reason, he concluded, that he was referred to as Tzafnas Pa'neach. Tzafnas - because he went to great lengths to hide his greatness ["tzafnas" - the hidden one], "paneach" - he merited to decipher hidden matters.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Miketz: At The End [of Days]

The word Mikeiz means "At the end" as in the saying "the end of days" [Daniel 12:13]

In Aramaic the word "days" is almost identical to its Hebrew equivalent, but the last letter switches from a mem to a nun    ימים = ימין

The Zohar notes that this Aramaic word  ימין is identical to the Hebrew word  ימין , meaning "right" and on this basis, the Zohar concludes: There are two 'ends', one on the spiritual 'right' and one on the spiritual 'left'.

In Jewish mysticism, "left" represents the side of evil.  So, the 'end of the spiritual left' refers to the day when evil will cease to exist, with the end of exile, i.e. "the end of days" (קץ הימים).

"Right", on the other hand, represents goodness and holiness.  Thus we refer to the "end of the right" to indicate that there is no dilution of values in the realms of holiness, so the end is as good as the beginning.  The term קץ הימים ("end of the spiritual right") is thus an allusion to the final redemption, when good will triumph over evil, and we will see how good is found consistently throughout the entire world.

We are thus left with the question: Which "end" does the word Mikeitz refer to - the "end of the left" or the "end of the right"?

In fact, both could be argued:

a) At the beginning of our Parsha, Yosef is released from jail.  This was the end of Yosef's exile, i.e. the "end of the left".

b) On the other hand, we then read how Yosef suddenly rose to power and became ruler over Egypt - his redemption, represented by "the end of the right".

How could the two opposite concepts of exile and redemption be alluded to by the same expression?

Chassidic thought explains that the inner purpose of exile is that the Jews should be scattered around the world in order to "rescue" sparks of holiness which had been lost in physicality.  Thus, redemption is not the elimination of exile, but rather, it is the goal of exile.  And therefore, both concepts are hinted to by the same word.

Source: Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Gutnick Chumash

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Chanukah Segulot

Art: Michoel Muchnik


It is considered important to sit opposite the lit Hanukkah candles for a full half hour after lighting and to look at the flames. This action is regarded as a Segula for the healing of one’s soul and one’s fears. It is related that the light of the Hanukkah candles is connected to the light that G-d created at the time of creation that was hidden away and will be revealed only at the End of Days - because this unique light was created before the idea of fear was brought in to the world, looking into the Hanukkah lights is supposed to alleviate fears.

Rabbi Yair Chaim Bacharach (1639-1702) promised that women who sit by the Hanukkah candles for a half hour will merit peace of mind for the entire year, a rare commodity in our days…

It is also related that the very first half hour of when the Hanukkah candles burn is considered an especially auspicious time for prayer - the angels are believed to sit above the candles and take the prayers directly up to Heaven.

The Slonimer Rebbe wrote that for those who have seen immodest sights- which is unfortunately almost unavoidable today - looking in to the flames of the Hanukkah candles erases those images from one’s memory.

It is considered important to use olive oil when lighting the Menorah, as olive oil is known for blessing the user with a good memory, wisdom and children who will rise above others in their wisdom in the same way that the olive oil floats above the water.

The Rabbi of Rodzin explained that there is a tremendous Segula on the eighth night of Hanukkah for those wanting an easy childbirth or children. He said that the things that the most righteous could not get granted at Neilah on Yom Kippur can be asked for by the simpleton on the eighth night of Hanukkah. Those who wish to be blessed with children should recite the verse from Psalms 80 that reads, “G-d of Hosts, return, we beseech You, look from the heaven and behold be mindful of this vine.” The vine is in reference to the woman who wishes to be as fruitful as a vine.

Source


Monday, December 7, 2015

R' Mendel Kessin on Chanukah

The Kabbala of Chanukah Candles

Candles are placed in the menorah from right to left, with the number of candles corresponding to which night of Chanukah it is. There is also one additional candle, which is usually elevated, called the “shamash,” or service candle. The shamash is lit first, and is then used to light the other candles, from left to right.

In other words, the candles are positioned from the right side of the menorah but we light from left to right. [Code of Jewish Law, Orach Chaim, 676:5]

After the candles are lit, the blessings are then said:

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.

Note: some siddurim state the words as "Le'hadlik ner SHEL Chanukah", however this is incorrect - As noted by the Hid"a [Rav Haim Yosef David Azulai, 1724-1807], there is profound meaning and significance in this sequence of words, as the first letters of these words - "Lamed," "Nun" and "Het" - are the same letters that begin the three words "Noser Hesed La'alafim" ["He preserves kindness for thousands of generations"]. Therefore, even though some Siddurim print the text of the Beracha as "Le'hadlik Ner Shel Hanukah" one must ensure to recite the proper text - "Le'hadlik Ner Hanukah" [Rabbi Eli Mansour]

This prayer is said on the first night only:

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

The candles should be in an even row, no curves, no height variations. They should be well-spaced so their flames do not appear merged (and if candles, that they do not melt each other). No use should be made of the lights shed by the Chanukah candles, such as reading by their light. For the Friday eve of Chanukah, the lights must be kindled before sunset and before the Shabbat candles are lit. Additional oil (or larger candles) should be provided to ensure that they can burn until half an hour after nightfall.

In the Talmud, the relationship between the menorah and the mezuzah is established: "The Chanukah menorah should be outside of the door on the left side and the mezuzah should be on the right side in order that we should be surrounded by G-d's commandments."

If for some reason there is no mezuzah on the doorpost, the menorah should be placed on the right side. If lighting next to a window, the menorah should be placed on the right side of the window, however there is no point lighting at a window if your windows are so high up that no-one will see the candles.

Although today we place the Chanukah menorah indoors, in the time of the Talmud and today, in Israel, the menorah is placed outside the door.

The menorah is compared to the mezuzah. Both are on the outside. Both are near the door. Yet something deeper is alluded to when the Talmud compares the menorah to the mezuzah.

There are several differences between the two items: the mezuzah is on the outside, but it functions for the inside of the house to protect the inhabitants. The menorah is on the outside with its message for the outside world to proclaim to all the miracle of Chanukah.

In the language of the mystics of the Kabbala, the left and right have deep significance. The left is attributed to gevurah, the concept of strength. The right is associated with chesed, the act of giving. The mezuzah is on the right; it is G-d's protection of our houses so that no evil may enter. That is the chesed, the kindness - that He stands on the outside and guards our house.

The Chanukah menorah is on the left symbolizing Hashem's strength (gevurah) and control of the world and the great miracles He performed for us.

These days we do not put the menorah outside generally for practical reasons or perhaps we are afraid of the people in the street. So we light the candles inside and illuminate the house. G-d's strength and ability to do miracles and wonders are still around. However, we need the menorah inside to tell us that message. It no longer stands outside of our houses relating to the person who is in the dark, that the message of Chanukah is for him. The menorah is now inside the house, and its message is now for us.

The light of the menorah reassures us not to fear the darkness. It is a reminder that the darkest hours come before the dawn, and at a time when we had no friends, G-d helped us overcome our numerous enemies.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Instant Salvation




"And they rushed him out of the dungeon" [Miketz 41:14]

In the Chofetz Chaim's later years, the Communist Revolution raged in Russia.  One of the aims of the wicked Communists was to stamp out any trace of Judaism from the hearts of the Jewish people.  They spared no effort at trying to achieve this goal. They mercilessly leveled harsh decrees against the Jews, and only thanks to the mercy of Heaven were Jews able to remain firm in their faith.

"Look at what the Torah states in Parshas Miketz", said the Chofetz Chaim to one of his students.  "The verse says that 'Pharoah sent [messengers] and called Yosef, and they rushed him out of the dungeon.'  For twelve years Yosef languished in prison and no one paid any attention to him.

'But when the moment that Hashem had designated for Yosef's salvation finally arrived, he was immediately rushed out of the dungeon.'

''We are in a similar situation. Our predicament appears to be hopeless: the Communist regime, in their cruelty, will stop at nothing to sever our ties with the holy Torah. Yet when Moshiach comes and our moment of redemption arrives there will be no delays and we, too, will be rushed to our Land.''


Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Rebbe Nachman Miracle in Our Days

This is a true story, involving some friends of mine, and it's happening right now.  [told with the permission of the couple]

Last Rosh Hashanah, Lizzi travelled to Uman to pray at the kever of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, to help her find her beshert [loosely translated as soul mate].  Lizzi knew the time was right, and she also knew she needed some help from Shamayim.  Lizzi prayed very hard that Rosh Hashanah, and then travelled back to Israel.

A few weeks later, Lizzi's aunt Sonni who lives in the UK, had a dream.  In the dream she saw her niece Lizzi, standing under a chuppah.  She also recognised the choson [groom] - he was the son of her friend Susie, who lives in Melbourne Australia.

Sonny rang Susie to tell her about the dream.  Susie immediately relayed this incredible dream to her son Moishe, who was a bit skeptical, but eventually agreed to ''meet'' Lizzi on Facebook.

Lizzi and Moishe became Facebook Friends, and almost instantly they knew they had met their perfect match.

After only a couple of weeks, Moishe got on a plane and flew to Israel, met Lizzi, and within a few days they were engaged.  

Im yirtze Hashem, they will be married next week, in Israel.

Wedding photos will be posted then.    

This is why people go to pray at the graves of tzadikim.   

Lizzi lighting candles for Rebbe Nachman, as she does every night



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The POWER of Modesty

An amazing class by Rabbi Alon Anava about The Power of Modesty and the great spiritual levels a woman can reach by being modest.  Enlightening and highly recommended.

 


Deciphering the Dream

Art Jacek Yerka

''In three days Pharoah will remove your head'' [Vayeishev 40:19]

The dreams of the chief baker and the chief wine butler, noted the Dubno Maggid, were very similar. Why, then, did Yosef interpret the dream of the chief wine butler favorably - that Pharoah would soon reinstate him to his post - but that of the chief baker unfavorably - that he was about to meet his end?

The answer, explained the Maggid, can be understood with a parable: An artist painted a magnificent portrait of a man balancing a basket full of bread on his head. Two men came to admire the painting. While they stood there, a bird landed atop it and began to peck away at the bread, which it thought was genuine.

''Such a marvellous artist!'' said one man to the other. ''This bird actually believes that the bread is real!''

''No'' responded the other, ''he is not much of an artist at all. For while the bread may be quite realistic, the man carrying it is not, for if it was, the bird would be afraid to approach the painting.''

We are now able to understand concluded the Dubno Maggid, why Yosef interpreted the dream of the chief baker unfavorably. When the chief baker related his dream to Yosef, he said ''And the birds were eating them from the basket above my head.'' Yosef understood that if the birds were unafraid to approach him, it was an indication that he was soon to be executed by Pharoah and was already considered a ''dead man''. For had he been ''alive''', the birds would have refrained from eating the food on his head!

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein