Friday, March 31, 2017

Cyclone Debbie's Destruction



Cyclone Debbie has caused billions of dollars of damage to our beautiful Whitsunday Islands, and the fallout from it is now affecting the entire eastern side of Australia  - there is a 2,000 km line of flooding from the north to the south as the system makes it way down.  Unprecedented flood levels are being seen.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Soul Connections: Roots of Our Souls


Rabbi Dov Ber Pinson explains how our souls relate to one another, why we may feel a ''connection'' to someone we have just met -

''Ever wonder where first impressions come from? Why are we more prone to like one type of people more than others?''


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Cyclone Debbie



Bearing down on north Queensland in Australia is Cyclone Debbie which had intensified into a hurricane and is now hopefully classed as a Category 4 but possibly Category 5.   Thousands have been evacuated from the area.   The largest storm to hit Australia since Yasi in 2011.

Cyclone Debbie Descends


Other Peoples' Money



''He shall return the article that he stole, the withheld funds, the article left for safekeeping, the found article.... or anything else regarding which he swore falsely" [Vayikra 5:23-24]

Gedolei Yisrael have always exercised great caution when dealing with the money of others, so that they would not be guilty of the severe transgression of theft.

by Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

One erev Shabbos, when R' Isser Zalman Meltzer returned from the mikveh, he suddenly realized that he had used two clothing cubbies at the mikveh.

Perhaps I took someone else's space, thought R' Meltzer. I might very well owe the mikveh attendant twice the amount that I usually pay!

One of his family members saw how much the matter was troubling R'Meltzer, so he offered to go to the mikveh and pay the attendant for the extra cubby.

"It is I who must go" replied R' Meltzer. "For the halachah states explicitly that one who steals from his fellow must not only repay him, but he must verbally appease him as well. The responsibility to appease the attendant is my responsibility alone."

Monday, March 27, 2017

Communal Benefits

Art: Xinature

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

One of the questions often asked of the great poskim is how a person can atone for the sin of theft if he cannot remember the people from whom he has stolen!

In the book Tuvcha Yabiu, Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein Shlita advises one who wants to repent and atone for the sin of theft to donate some money for the needs of the community.

The Rav Shlita cites an amazing incident that occurred in Israel, an incident that he himself witnessed:

“Someone had placed some comfortable benches next to the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron. A few years ago, when I went to Meron, I saw a Jew who was lying down on one of these benches, and when he got up he said something like, ‘Oh, how it’s good to relax on these benches!’

“As it turned out, the man who was responsible for placing the benches there had sinned against the very same Jew relaxing on them. Since this Jew had benefited from these benches, it was considered as if the transgressor had atoned for his sin, thereby erasing it. The same applies to returning a stolen object: If we do something for the community by donating things that the public needs, and if we also pray to Hashem so that those against whom we have sinned will forgive us, we will attain atonement and forgiveness for our sin.”

Friday, March 24, 2017

Suffering and Debt


Dovid HaMelech in Sefer Tehillim [Psalms 25:18] makes the following request of Hashem: “Look at my affliction and toil and bear all my sins.”

The seventh bracha of the Amidah, “Re’ah [Na] V’anyenu” ["Look… at our afflictions"] closely parallels this passage in Tehillim, and it is, in fact, the only bracha in the Amidah where we ask Hashem to “look” at something for us.

It is said in the name of the Apter Rav that if a person is suffering, he should affirmatively acknowledge and state “may my pain and suffering be a kapara [atonement] for all of my sins”. In this way, a person acknowledges that the purpose of his suffering or affliction is not meaningless or some kind of torture, but to achieve redirection and/or atonement. With this affirmative acknowledgement, the kapara is achieved.

"Gam zu le'tova" : this too is for the best

"Zol zein a kapara" : it should be accepted as a recompense for punishment.


Rebbe Nachman said : "There are sins whose punishment is debt. One who is punished for such a sin is constantly in debt. All the merit in the world does not erase his punishment. He can do every possible good, still he must remain in debt.

These sins can even cause others to fall into debt. When such transgressions become common, there are many debtors in the world.

The remedy for this is to repent in general for all your sins. Even though you do not know what sin is causing these debts, repent in general and ask G-d to also save you from this particular sin.

If the Torah were written in order, we would know the precise reward and punishment for each commandment."

[Rebbe Nachman]

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Korea: Rabbi Nachmani's Prophetic Words


This is a re-blog, for the readers who have not ever seen it, inspired by the latest post from Dov Bar Leib.

Rabbi Levi Saadia Nachmani zt''l, speaking in 1994 [about a month before he passed away], warning us about Korea's nukes.




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Waiting for You


Artist Unknown

"For hundreds of years, perhaps since the beginning of Creation, a piece of the world has been waiting for your soul to purify and repair it.

And your soul, from the time it was first emanated and conceived, waited above to descend to this world and carry out that mission.

And your footsteps were guided to reach that place. And you are there now."

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

Monday, March 20, 2017

Real Love






Real love is reciprocated: "As in water, face reflects face, so is the heart of man to man" [Proverbs 27:19]. Reflections in water are an apt metaphor for the reciprocity of feelings.

The Hebrew word for "water" - mayim - is a reflection of itself: it is the same read forwards or backwards.

Love is reciprocated, though, only if it as strong as the love of father for son, brother for brother, or husband for wife. Weak love might not be returned.

"Love your neighbour like yourself" - love him so strongly that he will naturally reciprocate with love like you have for him.

from the writings of the Ben Ish Chai

Friday, March 17, 2017

The First Tablets -v- The Second Tablets



There are a number of key differences between the first and second tablets:

The Tablets themselves: The first tablets were ''the work of God'' [Ki Tisa 32:16], whereas the second tablets God told Moshe to ''carve for yourself'' [34:1]

The writing:  The Talmud states that only the first tablets possessed the quality of ''God's writing'', which would have caused the words to be forever engraved in Israel's heart and never forgotten [Eruvan 54a and Rashi ibid]

The spiritual level of Israel: By the first tablets, the Jewish people were tzadikim [saintly], whereas by the second tablets they were ba'alei teshuvah [penitents].

The spiritual level of Moshe:  Moshe was given ''one thousand lights'' as a present when the Torah was given, but with the sin of the golden calf they were taken away.

The second tablets had the advantage that (a) they were given with ''halachot, midrash and aggadot'' and (b) Moshe's face shone with light when they were given.

Source: Lubavitcher Rebbe Hayom Yom 17 Tamuz

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Why We Cling To Tzadikim

Art: SRG


This is a re-blog from 2012, as once again we have had commenters who are confused about why we pray at the graves of tzadikim.


The Lubavitcher Rebbe would often answer requests by saying that he would pray for the person at the grave of his father-in-law, the previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak.

The following is extracted from "Not Just Stories" by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski MD
Published by Shaar Press

Every person has a direct line with G-d, and we are not permitted to pray to intermediaries. Indeed, the propriety of prayers where we appear to be asking for blessings from angels or for their intervention on our behalf, is the subject of debate, and must be interpreted in such a way that does not violate our basic belief that we relate only to G-d as the One from Whom everything emanates.

Yes, there is also the concept of faith in a tzaddik, which is derived from the verse in Exodus [14:31] "They had faith in G-d and in Moses, His servant". The sages derived from this verse that believing in the leader of Israel is equivalent to believing in the Creator [Mechilta]. In addition, the Talmud states that if there is a sick person in one's household, let him go to a chacham [a wise man] to pray for his recovery [Bava Basra 116a]. Inasmuch as everyone has a direct contact with G-d and we do not work through intermediaries, why is the prayer of a tzaddik more potent that one's own prayer?

There are several ways in which we can understand the concept of faith in a tzaddik. First and foremost is that the opinion of a wise man, a tzaddik, as a Torah authority, must be accepted and followed even if we are in disagreement with it [Sifri, Deut 17:11].

There is also a concept of receiving a blessing from a tzaddik and this has its basis in a statement from G-d to Abraham "And you will be a blessing" [Gen 12:2] which the Midrash interprets to mean that G-d gave Abraham the power to bless people, and that gift has been given to other tzaddikim as well. Nevertheless, a person must understand that even though the tzaddik conveys the blessing, the origin of the blessing is G-d.

A woman once came to Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobel, pleading for a blessing to have a child. To the amazement of the bystanders, the Rabbi, who was exceptionally kind and benevolent, said brusquely to her "I'm sorry, I cannot help you". The woman left the room tearful and broken hearted.

Noting the bewilderment of his chassidim, Rabbi Mordechai said "Just wait a few moments, then go find the woman and bring her back here." The chassidim did as they were told and when the woman came back, the Rabbi asked her "What did you do when you left here?"

The woman replied "I turned my eyes to Heaven and I said "Dear G-d, the Rabbi refuses to help me. Now You are my only hope. Bless me that I have a child."

Rabbi Mordechai said to the chassidim "This woman believed that I had magical powers, and she was trusting in me rather than in G-d. When I refused her request, she placed her trust in G-d where it belongs. She will now be blessed with a child."

The primary function of a tzaddik is to assist people in the proper service of G-d, to help them recognize their character defects and show them how to do teshuvah.

The power of a tzaddik is in his strong belief in G-d, and anyone who has that strong a belief can bring about similar results. When the tzaddik prays for a sick person, for example, and says that G-d is the healer of the sick, his belief is so strong that it actually brings down the Divine healing upon the person. In fact, said Rabbi Mordechai, the prime reason for having a relationship with a tzaddik is to learn how to perfect one's belief in G-d.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Reb Shaya'le's Awesome Power


Recently someone asked me how to get rid of ants.  I remembered a story I heard about a famous rabbi whose picture, when hung in the room, would rid the house of pests, notably mice but also other kinds of vermin.  Although I have not had a chance to test this myself, I am assured that it does work. [If you're going to try this, print out the photo below and perhaps laminate it, and put it in the room where the pests are bothering you] 

Reb Shaya'la of Kerestirer [1851- 1925] was a famous chasiddic Rebbe from Hungary in the early Twentieth century. [His yarzheit is on 3 Iyar] Many make the trip to his Kever and spend Shabbos at his house in northern Hungary. His picture is believed by many to be a segulah and a amulet of protection. Many stores have his picture to keep away mice. 

The Famous Mouse Story

Affectionately known as Reb Shaya'le [Rabbi Yeshaya Steiner of Kerestir], the Kerestirer Rebbe lived around the beginning of the 20th Century. He was a very pious man and extremely humble, always referring to himself in the diminutive [Shaya'le]. He was known as a "miraculous" person. His greatest pleasure was to host a very elaborate Melave Malka, the meal that follows Shabbos, on Saturday night. Often he would have his chassidim shecht fresh chickens for his meal.
Reb Yeshaya'le Kerestirer

One motzei Shabbos, while Reb Shaya'le was eating this special melave malka meal, a chossid came to him with an urgent request. He was a man who had a warehouse full of foodstuffs and he made his living by buying and selling food. For the past number of months, his warehouse had been taken over by mice who were eating his grain and other commodities and his entire livelihood was threatened. He asked Reb Shaya'le for a blessing that the mice should leave his warehouse. 

At that time, each small town in Europe was ruled by the local church pastor. Some of the pastors were kind towards the Jews and others were very harsh. Reb Shaya'le asked the chossid if the pastor of the town he lived in was kind or harsh. The chossid replied that he was very harsh toward the Jews. Reb Shaya'le then instructed the chossid to go to his warehouse and to tell the mice, "Reb Shaya'le says to go to the estate of the pastor." The chossid followed the Rebbe's advice and instantly hundreds of mice raced out of the warehouse all heading in the direction of the pastor's estate. 

The chossid's business was saved and ever since Jews who have been plagued with this problem have used Reb Shaya'le's picture to accomplish the ridding of mice from their homes.

Source: Jewish Gen

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

From Delight to Affliction



From the teachings of the Ben Ish Chai

Anyone who speaks lashon hara - afflictions come upon him. [Arachin 15b]

A lashon hara speaker changes the order of letters.  By causing a falling out between friends, he turns לשׁון - "tongue" into נשׁול - "fall".

By ruining a precious vessel - "the lips of knowledge are a precious vessel" [Proverbs 20:15] - he turns יקר "precious" into קרי - "impurity".

Measure for measure, ענג - oneg -"delight" will turn into נגע - nogah - "affliction" - and afflictions will come upon him.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Pink Before The Storm



''Red sky in the morning, shepherds' warning....''

This morning we had a stunning pink sky, the calm before the supercell storm, which is currently hitting eastern parts of Australia.



Friday, March 10, 2017

Why We Get Drunk on Purim



by Rabbi Chanan Morrison



Why did the Sages enjoin us to become inebriated on Purim?

Assimilation in Ancient Persia

The Talmud in Megillah 12a states that the near-annihilation of the Jews in the time of Ahasuerus was a punishment for participating in the royal banquet, where they prostrated themselves before Persian idols. What led them to this act of disloyalty?

The Jews of that time believed that the root cause of anti-Semitism was due to a xenophobic hatred of their distinct culture and religion. In fact, this was Haman’s explanation for seeking to destroy them:

“There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every people; neither do they keep the king’s laws.” [Esther 3:8] In order to overcome this hatred, the Jews felt that it would be prudent to adopt the customs and ways of their idolatrous neighbors. They demonstrated their allegiance as loyal Persian subjects by attending the royal banquet and bowing down to the Persian idols.

To their consternation, the Jews soon discovered that their efforts were futile. They were shocked to learn of Haman’s plot to annihilate them, despite their best attempts at integrating into the local culture.

Accepting the Torah Again

With the realization that assimilation is not the answer, and that their only true protection is God’s providence, the Jews reaffirmed their commitment to keep the Torah and its mitzvot. This is the meaning of the verse, “They confirmed and accepted upon themselves” [Esther 9:27] - “they confirmed what they had accepted long before” at Mount Sinai [Shabbat 88a].

The Talmud teaches that their renewed commitment to Torah complemented and completed the original acceptance of Torah at Sinai. What was missing at Sinai? The dramatic revelation at Mount Sinai contained an element of coercion. Alone and helpless in the wilderness, the Israelites were hardly in a position to refuse. The Midrash portrays this limited free choice with God’s threat to bury them beneath the mountain had they refused to accept the Torah. In the time of Ahasuerus, however, they voluntarily accepted the Torah in a spirit of pure free will, thus completing the original acceptance of Torah at Sinai.

Effusion of Good Will

This appears to be the explanation for the unusual rabbinic requirement to become inebriated on Purim [Megillah 7b]. It is ordinarily forbidden to become drunk, since without the intellect to guide us, our uncontrolled desires may lead us to improper and unbecoming behavior.

But on Purim, the entire Jewish nation was blessed with an outpouring of good will to accept the Torah. On this special day, we find within ourselves a sincere yearning to embrace the Torah and its teachings. For this reason, we demonstrate on Purim that even when intoxicated we do not stray from the path of Torah, since we are naturally predisposed to goodness and closeness to God. Even in a drunken state, we are confident that we will not be shamed or humiliated by the exposure of our innermost desires. As we say in the Shoshanat Ya’akov prayer on Purim:

“To make known that all who place their hope in You will not be shamed, and all who take refuge in You will never be humiliated.” [Silver from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Olat Re’iyah vol. I, p. 441]

Achashverosh & Haman in Therapy: The Psychological Brilliance of Esther


Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson

Summary: Henry Kissinger may have been the world’s most famous Jewish diplomat, but he certainly was not the first. The Purim Megillah, named for Queen Esther, paints a picture of a smart, resourceful, courageous woman of faith. But a close reading of the story, and a proper analysis of her actions in the story also reveal her to be a masterful tactician and diplomat that even Kissinger would be blown away by. The simple question is the purpose of Esther’s two banquets. What was the point of the first? And why wasn’t one enough? Why couldn’t she have asked what she needed the first time? These questions are answered in the Megillah by the change of a single word. According to the Maharil, the main Purim miracle took place when Achashverosh had trouble falling asleep, yet his insomnia seem to have had no really influence on the Purim story. What actually happened that night? Why could the king not fall asleep? The sermon examines the relationship between Joseph Stalin and the ruthless Lavrentiy Beria, and uses it as a parallel for that of Achashverosh and Haman. Understanding this relationship and an in-depth analysis of Achashverosh will help expose the brilliant maneuvering of Queen Esther and the purpose of her two banquets.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Mystical Teachings of Purim


I have so many Purim posts waiting to be published, I had to choose which one.... finally settled on Rabbi Anava for today.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Oscars, Superbowl, Elections & the Year of Purim

Art 'Surreal World' by Mohn-Blume


by Tzvi Freeman

“What’s the inner, deep, kabbalistic meaning of the mess-up at the Oscars this year?” asked David.

We were enjoying a Shabbat meal in Los Angeles. David is a friend who works in that world of big screen entertainment while living in a Torah-observant universe at the same time. So he’s constantly looking for deeper meanings.

As for me, I was looking to buy time so I could think. “What happened at the Oscars?” I asked.

“You know, the best picture of the year award!” he answered. “They announced the one that everyone expected, and then in the middle of all the acceptance speeches, someone came running onstage to announce that it was all wrong.”

“So which picture won?”

“Oh, a small-budget movie that bombed at the box office.”

I’m searching for kabbalistic meaning. Not coming up with much. I don’t quite traverse two worlds as David does. Couldn’t find Elijah the Prophet anywhere to help me, either.

So David went on.“It seems to be a pattern. Like this is the Year of Big Surprises.’’ “It seems to be a pattern. Like the Superbowl. What a comeback! People were walking out, switching off their sets—and then, boom! Everything turned around. Same with the federal elections. And the World Series! And Brexit, too. Well, that one started before Rosh Hashanah. But it still seems like this is the Year of Big Surprises.”

He was looking at me, as though I had an explanation.

“Sounds a lot like Purim,” I said. Hey, I had to say something. “Back in Persia it looked for sure that one side was gonna be the winner. And then—boom—everything was turned upside-down.”

“Yes!” exclaimed David. “It’s a Purim year!”

Now was my chance to sound like I really had an answer. “In the Purim story,” I continued, “after the big turnaround, everything had an explanation. 20/20 hindsight. But in foresight, totally the opposite.”

“Right!” said David. “That’s just what’s been happening this year, again and again!”

“So maybe,” I continued, “that’s the way Moshiach is going to arrive.”

David got it right away. “You mean nobody will expect it. Everyone will see the world going in the opposite direction. And then—boom—everything will turn around. And we’ll see in hindsight how everything was really going that way all along. Despite disaster after disaster, everything in the world was really moving towards its perfection.”

“As long as it happens real soon,” I answered.

“I’ll make l’chaim to that!”“L’chaim to the biggest turnaround in history that will make sense only in retrospect!” said David. “L’chaim to the biggest turnaround in history that will make sense only in retrospect!”

“L’chaim!”

I looked to the door. Elijah could enter any minute.

Source: Chabad

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Clothes Have No Emperor

Art: Vladimir Kush

by: Rabbi Yosef Y. Jacobson

Death of a queen

The opening chapter of the Purim Meggilah is strikingly enigmatic.

Here is the story in brief: The Emperor of Persia, Achashverosh, throws a party in his capital city, Shushan, to celebrate the firm establishment of his kingship. On the seventh day of the feast, "when the heart of the king was merry with wine," he orders seven of his chamberlains to bring Queen Vashti before him, "to show off her beauty."

Vashti refuses to appear. The king becomes furious and he has her executed.

Why did Vashti refuse to appear before the guests? The Talmud explains [1], that when Achashverosh offered to show them his wife's beauty, the guests insisted that she appear without any clothes. Vashti, a wicked queen who found special glee in torturing and violating Jewish girls and women on the Sabbath day, was punished with leprosy on her skin. Under such conditions she naturally refused to expose her body.

But if so, why did Vashti not send a private message to her husband explaining that it would be humiliating for her and him if she were to expose herself before the guests. Though the king was intoxicated, it is hard to imagine that he would bestow a death sentence on a wife who has just spared him tremendous shame [2]!

Also, why does this story occupy the entire first chapter of the Megillah? Though it is a prelude to understanding how Esther, the hero of the Purim story, became the queen of Achashverosh, nonetheless, the detailed description of the event that brought about Vashti's execution seems superfluous in the story of Purim.

The power of evil

In the Kabbalah, where all biblical figures and episodes are depicted as parables for metaphysical realities, Achashverosh, the mighty monarch of a world power, serves as a parable for the King of Kings, the Creator of the universe [3]. Vashti, the wicked queen of Persia, symbolizes the reign of evil in the world [4].

Naked evil has no appeal or power to attract. In order for evil to gain popularity among the masses, it must be "packaged" well; it must be "dressed" in nice garments that will cover up its true identity.

The two evil monsters of the last generation, Hitler and Stalin, presented their colossal murderous strategies as moral and noble programs dedicated to healing the world of its diseases. This was true throughout history. The inventors and implementers of bloodshed and violence usually presented their schemes as ethical and humane endeavors.

This is valid concerning the evil we perpetrate in our personal lives as well. We embrace many of the destructive and immoral temptations we feel in our heart only because they package themselves outstandingly well. The glittering veneer of comfort and happiness that these temptations display lure us into their trap. If every unhealthy craving we experience presented itself without any masks, we would immediately cast it away.

Thus, the Kabbalah teaches [5] that man's daily challenge in life consists of choosing substance over packaging, inherent value over good PR. When one feels an urge to eat something, to engage in a certain intimate act or to say something, he or she ought to reflect whether this is an inherently healthy and moral thing to do, or is indeed hollow and empty, merely exhibiting itself as promising and enjoyable.

The hallmark of a spiritual life is one that always seeks to be in tune with the true essence of things, and not merely with their external appearance.

Removing the masks

This is how Jewish mysticism understands the symbolism behind the opening story of the Meggilah: Vashti, symbolizing the power of evil, can only retain her power and glory if she is garbed in garments that conceal her real identity. If Vashti removes all her masks, she instantaneously loses all of her appeal and charm.

Therefore, when the King of Kings insists that Vashti appear at His feast in her bareness, she must refuse Him. Because the "clothes" of evil have no "emperor" within them.

This brought about the end of the Vashtinian rule. When evil is called on its nakedness, its nothingness is exposed and its power lost [6].

Footnotes

1. Megillah 12b.
2. The Talmud (ibid. Quoted in Rashi to Esther 1:12) explains, that Vashti sent her husband humiliating messages, thus kindling his wrath to an extreme. What follows is the mystical interpretation of the story, as it is presented in the writings of Chassidism.
3. Midrash quoted in Meoray Or 1:182. Cf. Rikanti to Genesis 29:10, quoted in Mechir Yayin to Esther 1, 12:13. Erkay Hakenuyim under the entry of Achashverosh.
4. See Or Hameir Megiilas Esther. Likkutei Levi Yitzchak Megillas Esther p. 79. Toras Levi Yitzchak p. 17.
5. See Tanya chapter 16.
6. See Tanya chapter 29.

The nucleus of this explanation was presented by the Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760, founder of the Chassidic movement). It is quoted in his name by Rabbi Zee'v Wolf of Zhitamir (a disciple of the Maggid of Mezrich, heir to the Baal Shem Tov) in his Chassidic work Or Hameir on the Meggilah. Reference to it is made in Or Hatorah (by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, the Tzemach Tzedek, 1789-1876) Megilas Esther p. 72.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Seventh of Adar



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

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

The answer, said the Gaon, is as follows:

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

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

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

מ the letters comprising Mem are מ מ -

שׁ the letters comprising Shin are שׁ י ן -

ה the letters compring Hey are ה א -

Total numerical value: 446

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

Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein

Friday, March 3, 2017

Terumah: The Tachash and the Erev Rav


by Rabbi Chanan Morrison

The Talmud gives an account of the enigmatic Tachash, a mysterious creature whose beautiful multicolored hide was used as a covering for the Tabernacle:

“The Tachash that lived in the time of Moses was a unique species. The Sages could not determine whether it was domesticated or wild. It only appeared at that time for Moses, who used it for the Tabernacle. Then it vanished.” [Shabbat 28b] What is the significance of this unique animal? What was its special connection to Moses, that it made its appearance only during his lifetime? And why did Moses incorporate the colorful Tachash in the Tabernacle, albeit only for its outermost covering?

Mixed Blessings from Mixed Multitudes
The Tachash is said to have had one horn, this picture is
for illustrative purposes only, and not a real Tachash

In Aramaic, the Tachash is called Sasgona, for it was proud (sas) of its many vivid colors (gona). According to Rav Kook, the multihued Tachash is a metaphor, representing Moses’ desire to include as many talents and gifts as possible when building the Jewish people - even talents that, on their own, might have a negative influence upon the people. The metaphor of the Tachash specifically relates to Moses’ decision to allow the Erev Rav - “mixed multitudes” from other nations - join the Israelites as they left Egypt.

The Erev Rav were the source of much grief. They instigated the Sin of the Golden Calf and other rebellions against God in the wilderness. And their descendants throughout the generations continued to bring troubles upon Israel. Nevertheless, at the End of Days, all the troubles these difficult and diverse forces caused will be revealed as having been for the best, as the absorption of the Erev Rav served to enrich the Jewish people.

One disturbing aspect of the Erev Rav is the phenomenon of many dynamic forces abandoning the Jewish nation during its long exile among the nations. Yet this is not a true loss, since only that which was foreign to the inner spirit of Israel is cast off. These lost elements of the Erev Rav were ultimately incompatible with Knesset Yisrael, the national soul of Israel; thus they were unable to withstand the pressures and hardships of exile. It saddens us to lose that which we thought was part of Israel, but in fact, they were never truly assimilated within the nation’s soul.

This outcome benefits the world at large. As these ‘fallen leaves’ join the other nations, they bring with them much of what they absorbed from the holiness of Israel. As a result, other peoples have become more receptive to Israel’s spiritual message.

Could the Tachash be Domesticated?

The Sages were in doubt as to the ultimate fate of the multi-talented Erev Rav. Would they be truly absorbed within Israel, enriching the people and remaining forever a part of it? Or would they only serve as a positive influence on the world, outside the camp of Israel?

The Sages expressed this uncertainty by questioning whether the Tachash was a domestic creature. A wild animal cannot be trained and will not permanently join man’s home. It can only be guided indirectly. A domesticated animal, on the other hand, is completely subservient to man and is an integral part of his household. Would the Erev Ravultimately be rejected, like wild animals which can never be truly at home with humanity? Or would they be domesticated and incorporated into the house of Israel?

Moses and the Tachash

Just as the Tachash only made its appearance in Moses’ time, so too, this absorption of foreign talents was only possible in Moses’ generation. No other generation could have taken it upon itself to accept alien forces into the nation. Once the contribution of the Erev Rav to Israel is complete, the nation’s spiritual restoration requires that they will be purged from the Jewish people. “I will purge your dross... and then you will be called the city of righteousness, faithful city” [Isaiah 1: 25-26].

We usually avoid destructive forces which may delay and hinder the ultimate good. However, a far-reaching vision can detect the underlying purpose of all human activity, as all actions ultimately fulfill the Divine Will. The great hour of Exodus resonated with the highest vision; the first redemption of Israel initiated the historical process that will culminate with the final redemption. Moses, the master prophet, “the most faithful of all My house,” saw fit to include those varied forces that ordinarily would be rejected. And yet, like the skins of the Tachash, they were only suitable for the most external covering.

“The new heavens and the new earth which I will make are standing before Me.” [Isaiah 66:22] All of the wonderful forces of the future - “the new heavens and the new earth” - are not really new. They already exist. Even now, they are “standing before Me.” By accepting the Erev Rav, Moses planted these diverse gifts within the Jewish people. Like seeds, they decay in the ground; but ultimately they will sprout and bring forth new life. The brilliant future light, with all of its spectacular colors and breadth, is not new; it was secreted away long ago. This resplendent light is hidden, like the multi-hued Tachash, until the time will come for it to be revealed once more. [Sapphire from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. III, pp. 105-107]

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Nibiru -Planet X, Gog & Magog -What Does It All Mean? [audio]


The Tamar Yonah Show: Israel NewsTalk Radio

Whether you agree or disagree that there is a mysterious Nibiru or Planet X on a close almost-collision course with Earth, astronomers, common people, and religious leaders are still talking about a star coming towards earth that can wreak havoc. Is there a Planet X, or Nibiru, or dwarf star out there? And if so, where exactly do Jewish sources talk about this? And what does Nibiru have to do with the Messiah coming?

Rabbi and film maker, Yuval Ovadia, joins Tamar and talks to her about his documentary [video below] ‘PLANET X – NIBIRU – Gog-Magog — AMAZING REVELATIONS’ which has been seen by tens of thousands of people, and says that the natural disasters and weather changes we are seeing today, are not by accident. Find out why, on this show.  Click here to listen.


Terumah: Giving is Receiving




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

President Trump Address to Congress Full Speech Video and Transcript





FULL SPEECH: President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress By The Hill Staff – 02/28/17 09:21 PM ES:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and Citizens of America:

Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our Nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains. Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.

Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice –- in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present.

That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world. I am heretonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.

A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning.

A new national pride is sweeping across our Nation.

And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.

What we are witnessing today is the Renewal of the American Spirit.

Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.

All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free.

In 9 years, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our founding — 250 years since the day we declared our Independence.

It will be one of the great milestones in the history of the world.

But what will America look like as we reach our 250th year? What kind of country will we leave for our children?

I will not allow the mistakes of recent decades past to define the course of our future.

For too long, we’ve watched our middle class shrink as we’ve exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries.

We’ve financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit — and so many other places throughout our land.

We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross — and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate.

And we’ve spent trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled.

Then, in 2016, the earth shifted beneath our feet. The rebellion started as a quiet protest, spoken by families of all colors and creeds -– families who just wanted a fair shot for their children, and a fair hearing for their concerns.

But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus — as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country.

Finally, the chorus became an earthquake – and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first … because only then, can we truly MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

Dying industries will come roaring back to life. Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need.

Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve.

Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land.

Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and ultimately, stop.

And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety, and opportunity.

Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people.

It’s been a little over a month since my inauguration, and I want to take this moment to update the Nation on the progress I’ve made in keeping those promises.

Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart, and many others, have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.

The stock market has gained almost three trillion dollars in value since the election on November 8th, a record. We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of the fantastic new F-35 jet fighter, and will be saving billions more dollars on contracts all across our Government. We have placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential Federal workers.

We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a 5 year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials –- and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government.

We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job‑crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every Government agency; imposing a new rule which mandates that for every 1 new regulation, 2 old regulations must be eliminated; and stopping a regulation that threatens the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners.

We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs — and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.

We have withdrawn the United States from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership.

With the help of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have formed a Council with our neighbors in Canada to help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams.

To protect our citizens, I have directed the Department of Justice to form a Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime.

I have further ordered the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, along with the Department of State and the Director of National Intelligence, to coordinate an aggressive strategy to dismantle the criminal cartels that have spread across our Nation.

We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth — and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.

At the same time, my Administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security. By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone. We want all Americans to succeed –- but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos. We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders.

For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime.

As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised.

To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this question: what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?

Our obligation is to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States. We are also taking strong measures to protect our Nation from Radical Islamic Terrorism.

According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country. We have seen the attacks at home -– from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon and yes, even the World Trade Center.

We have seen the attacks in France, in Belgium, in Germany and all over the world.

It is not compassionate, but reckless, to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur. Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values.

We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America — we cannot allow our Nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.

That is why my Administration has been working on improved vetting procedures, and we will shortly take new steps to keep our Nation safe — and to keep out those who would do us harm.

As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS — a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women, and children of all faiths and beliefs. We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.

I have also imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel.

Finally, I have kept my promise to appoint a Justice to the United States Supreme Court — from my list of 20 judges — who will defend our Constitution. I am honored to have Maureen Scalia with us in the gallery tonight. Her late, great husband, Antonin Scalia, will forever be a symbol of American justice. To fill his seat, we have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill, and deep devotion to the law. He was confirmed unanimously to the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination.

Tonight, as I outline the next steps we must take as a country, we must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited.

Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.

Over 43 million people are now living in poverty, and over 43 million Americans are on food stamps.

More than 1 in 5 people in their prime working years are not working.

We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years.

In the last 8 years, the past Administration has put on more new debt than nearly all other Presidents combined.

We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved, and we’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Our trade deficit in goods with the world last year was nearly $800 billion dollars.

And overseas, we have inherited a series of tragic foreign policy disasters.

Solving these, and so many other pressing problems, will require us to work past the differences of party. It will require us to tap into the American spirit that has overcome every challenge throughout our long and storied history.

But to accomplish our goals at home and abroad, we must restart the engine of the American economy — making it easier for companies to do business in the United States, and much harder for companies to leave.

Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world.

My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone. At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.

We must create a level playing field for American companies and workers.

Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes — but when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them almost nothing.

I just met with officials and workers from a great American company, Harley-Davidson. In fact, they proudly displayed five of their magnificent motorcycles, made in the USA, on the front lawn of the White House.

At our meeting, I asked them, how are you doing, how is business? They said that it’s good. I asked them further how they are doing with other countries, mainly international sales. They told me — without even complaining because they have been mistreated for so long that they have become used to it — that it is very hard to do business with other countries because they tax our goods at such a high rate. They said that in one case another country taxed their motorcycles at 100 percent.

They weren’t even asking for change. But I am.

I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be FAIR TRADE.

The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that the “abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government [will] produce want and ruin among our people.”

Lincoln was right — and it is time we heeded his words. I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers, be taken advantage of anymore.

I am going to bring back millions of jobs. Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration. The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers.

Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others –- have a merit-based immigration system. It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially. Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon. According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.

Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits: it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families –- including immigrant families –- enter the middle class.

I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws.

If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.

Another Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program –- the building of the interstate highway system. The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding.

America has spent approximately six trillion dollars in the Middle East, all this while our infrastructure at home is crumbling. With this six trillion dollars we could have rebuilt our country –- twice. And maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to negotiate.

To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital –- creating millions of new jobs.

This effort will be guided by two core principles: Buy American, and Hire American.

Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better Healthcare.

Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America. The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we will do.

Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits. As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone. Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his State — it is unsustainable and collapsing.

One third of counties have only one insurer on the exchanges –- leaving many Americans with no choice at all.

Remember when you were told that you could keep your doctor, and keep your plan?

We now know that all of those promises have been broken.

Obamacare is collapsing –- and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. Action is not a choice –- it is a necessity.

So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.

Here are the principles that should guide the Congress as we move to create a better healthcare system for all Americans:

First, we should ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage, and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges.

Secondly, we should help Americans purchase their own coverage, through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts –- but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the Government.

Thirdly, we should give our great State Governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out.

Fourthly, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance – and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately.

Finally, the time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across State lines –- creating a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring cost way down and provide far better care.

Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing, and hope.

Our citizens deserve this, and so much more –- so why not join forces to finally get it done? On this and so many other things, Democrats and Republicans should get together and unite for the good of our country, and for the good of the American people.

My administration wants to work with members in both parties to make childcare accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents have paid family leave, to invest in women’s health, and to promote clean air and clear water, and to rebuild our military and our infrastructure.

True love for our people requires us to find common ground, to advance the common good, and to cooperate on behalf of every American child who deserves a brighter future.

An incredible young woman is with us this evening who should serve as an inspiration to us all.

Today is Rare Disease day, and joining us in the gallery is a Rare Disease Survivor, Megan Crowley. Megan was diagnosed with Pompe Disease, a rare and serious illness, when she was 15 months old. She was not expected to live past 5.

On receiving this news, Megan’s dad, John, fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child. He founded a company to look for a cure, and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life. Today she is 20 years old — and a sophomore at Notre Dame.

Megan’s story is about the unbounded power of a father’s love for a daughter.

But our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration keeps too many advances, like the one that saved Megan’s life, from reaching those in need.

If we slash the restraints, not just at the FDA but across our Government, then we will be blessed with far more miracles like Megan.

In fact, our children will grow up in a Nation of miracles.

But to achieve this future, we must enrich the mind –- and the souls –- of every American child.

Education is the civil rights issue of our time.

I am calling upon Members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.

Joining us tonight in the gallery is a remarkable woman, Denisha Merriweather. As a young girl, Denisha struggled in school and failed third grade twice. But then she was able to enroll in a private center for learning, with the help of a tax credit scholarship program. Today, she is the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college. Later this year she will get her masters degree in social work.

We want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty just like Denisha.

But to break the cycle of poverty, we must also break the cycle of violence.

The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century.

In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone –- and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher.

This is not acceptable in our society.

Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job.

But to create this future, we must work with –- not against -– the men and women of law enforcement.

We must build bridges of cooperation and trust –- not drive the wedge of disunity and division.

Police and sheriffs are members of our community. They are friends and neighbors, they are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – and they leave behind loved ones every day who worry whether or not they’ll come home safe and sound.

We must support the incredible men and women of law enforcement.

And we must support the victims of crime.

I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American Victims. The office is called VOICE –- Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.

Joining us in the audience tonight are four very brave Americans whose government failed them.

Their names are Jamiel Shaw, Susan Oliver, Jenna Oliver, and Jessica Davis.

Jamiel’s 17-year-old son was viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member, who had just been released from prison. Jamiel Shaw Jr. was an incredible young man, with unlimited potential who was getting ready to go to college where he would have excelled as a great quarterback. But he never got the chance. His father, who is in the audiencetonight, has become a good friend of mine.

Also with us are Susan Oliver and Jessica Davis. Their husbands –- Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver and Detective Michael Davis –- were slain in the line of duty in California. They were pillars of their community. These brave men were viciously gunned down by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record and two prior deportations.

Sitting with Susan is her daughter, Jenna. Jenna: I want you to know that your father was a hero, and that tonight you have the love of an entire country supporting you and praying for you.

To Jamiel, Jenna, Susan and Jessica: I want you to know –- we will never stop fighting for justice. Your loved ones will never be forgotten, we will always honor their memory.

Finally, to keep America Safe we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war and –- if they must –- to fight and to win.

I am sending the Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the Defense sequester, and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.

My budget will also increase funding for our veterans.

Our veterans have delivered for this Nation –- and now we must deliver for them.

The challenges we face as a Nation are great. But our people are even greater.

And none are greater or braver than those who fight for America in uniform.

We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens. Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero –- battling against terrorism and securing our Nation.

I just spoke to General Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.” Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity. For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom –- we will never forget him.

To those allies who wonder what kind of friend America will be, look no further than the heroes who wear our uniform.

Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world. It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies across the globe.

We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism.

But our partners must meet their financial obligations.

And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that.

We expect our partners, whether in NATO, in the Middle East, or the Pacific –- to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost.

We will respect historic institutions, but we will also respect the sovereign rights of nations.

Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people –- and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America. But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict — not more.

We must learn from the mistakes of the past –- we have seen the war and destruction that have raged across our world.

The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long process of rebuilding.

America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align. We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict.

We want peace, wherever peace can be found. America is friends today with former enemies. Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these World Wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.

Hopefully, the 250th year for America will see a world that is more peaceful, more just and more free.

On our 100th anniversary, in 1876, citizens from across our Nation came to Philadelphia to celebrate America’s centennial. At that celebration, the country’s builders and artists and inventors showed off their creations.

Alexander Graham Bell displayed his telephone for the first time.

Remington unveiled the first typewriter. An early attempt was made at electric light.

Thomas Edison showed an automatic telegraph and an electric pen.

Imagine the wonders our country could know in America’s 250th year.

Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people.

Cures to illnesses that have always plagued us are not too much to hope.

American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.

Millions lifted from welfare to work is not too much to expect.

And streets where mothers are safe from fear — schools where children learn in peace — and jobs where Americans prosper and grow — are not too much to ask.

When we have all of this, we will have made America greater than ever before. For all Americans.

This is our vision. This is our mission.

But we can only get there together.

We are one people, with one destiny.

We all bleed the same blood.

We all salute the same flag.

And we are all made by the same God.

And when we fulfill this vision; when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began.

The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.

We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.

The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls.

And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action.

From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears –-

inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past –-

and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.

I am asking all citizens to embrace this Renewal of the American Spirit. I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country. And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment and —

Believe in yourselves.

Believe in your future.

And believe, once more, in America.

Thank you, God bless you, and God Bless these United States.