Thursday, April 26, 2018

Facilitated Communication Exposed

This is a must read:  Facilitated Communication: Who Is Really Doing The Talking 

For everyone who has been sucked in to the FC whirlpool, and believes the nonsense that is brought down.   A huge thank you to Rivka for once again giving us truth and reality on the internet.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Components of Creation

Rabbi Kessin elaborates on the different parts of creation as set forth by the Ramchal. Parts 1 and 2.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Power Behind the Redemption - Addendum

A three minute follow-up to last week's shiur.

Judge Well

Source: – Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin

It is written, “With righteousness shall you judge your fellow” [Kedoshim 19:15].

The Sages interpret this to mean, “Judge your fellow favorably” [Shevuot 30b]. 

How can we apparently lie to ourselves by judging people favorably in every case, when in certain cases we can see them doing the very opposite of something favorable? What is the meaning of this mitzvah in that case? 

The Sages have said, “Any man who is insolent will in the end stumble into sin” [Taanith 7b]. This means that shame serves as a barrier and an obstacle to sin. Once a person has breached the barriers of modesty and shame, there is nothing to prevent him from sinning, as it is written: “It is a good sign if a man is shamefaced. … No man who experiences shame will easily sin” [Nedarim 20a]. 

The same applies to a person’s influence on others. The first one who sins completely breaches the barriers of shame. The one who follows him does not require as much insolence to sin, and the third person needs even less, once these barriers have been broken down. 

This is why the sin of desecrating Hashem’s Name is so grave. A person who openly sins diminishes the intensity of the fear and shame that are engraved in man with regards to committing a sin, thereby prompting others to sin as well.

We can now understand how the advice given to us by the Sages, to judge others favorably, is designed to help us. It is meant to ensure that the barriers of shame are not breached within our own hearts, for once we are certain that everyone is righteous, how could we dare to be the first ones to sin? However if a person tries to find fault with everyone, he will be more likely to sin at a time of weakness.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Absence of Truth

I would like to direct you all to a new post at Emunaroma which exposes the fake video confession of Rav Berland.  Please click here to read.

Rabbi Kessin, in his latest shiur, told us that all the news today is manipulated and not worth watching.  It's all fake news, only telling us the things they want us to know.  Say what you like about Donald Trump, but when he invented the term ''fake news''  he was right on the ball.

Truth is absent.  That is just one major sign that Moshiach is imminent.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Tazria: Following Your Destiny

The Angel in charge of conception is called לילה / Leila. When Hashem wishes a human being to be born, He bids the Angel Leila "Bring me this neshama from Gan Eden". The neshama, though, resents being uprooted from its Divine source, and complains to the Almighty "I am pure and holy, linked to Your Glory. Why should I be degraded by having to enter a human body?" Hashem responds: "The world where you will live surpasses in beauty the one from whence you emanated. You were fashioned for the sole purpose of becoming part of a human being and being elevated by his deeds."

The meaning of this is that although in Olam Haba the soul enjoys undisturbed tranquility and bliss, nevertheless the present world, despite all its tribulations, is of greater beauty. Only as long as a person lives on earth does he have the opportunity to study Torah and fulfill the mitzvos, thus accumulating merits.

Hashem subsequently compels the soul to merge with the seed for which it was destined. Even before the fetus is formed, the angel inquires of Hashem "What shall be its fate?"

At that point, the entire future of the unborn child is preordained. Hashem determines whether it is to be male or female, whether he or she shall be healthy or suffer from some sickness or handicap, his appearance, the degree of his intelligence, as well as all his mental and physical capabilities. Moreover, all particulars of his circumstances are already decided - whether wealthy or poor, what shall he possess, and who will be his future spouse.

We see that all details of a person's life are predestined. However, there is one exception. Hashem does not decree whether someone will become a tzaddik or a rasha. Each one decides how to fashion himself by means of the faculties and capabilities that were pre-ordained for him.

A person should not feel pride in his intelligence, strength or money, for these qualities are not of his own achievement, rather they were Divinely decreed for him before birth. There is only one field of endeavour in which accomplishment results from the individual's effort - whether and to what extent he will study Hashem's greatness by delving into His Torah and emulating His ways. To the degree in which he succeeds in this endeavour, he has actually accomplished something for himself.

While still in the mother's womb, the child is taught the entire Torah. He is shown a vision of both Gan Eden and Gehinnom, and the angel in charge of him entreats him "Become a tzaddik! Do not become a rasha!" When the child enters the world, the angel strikes his lips, causing all the Torah knowledge previously imparted to him to be forgotten. [Nevertheless, that knowledge was absorbed by his subconscious mind, enabling him to retrieve it during his lifetime].

Source: The Midrash Says

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

We Have the Geula Backwards

THE WORLD HAS IT ALL WRONG. We have come to believe – whether from our teachers, or from our books that The Geula – the Final Redemption – will cause all of our pain and suffering to go away. How many times in history have Jews, individually and collectively longed for Moshiach (The Messiah) to come to alleviate us from our pain and suffering. From the hurbans – destructions of the two Holy Temples in Jerusalem, the expulsions, the massacres, the inquisitions. the false messiahs, the pograms, and the Shoah (Holocaust) came the cries for Moshiach, the wailing for the better times of the Geula. We sat there, longer for, cried for the expected healing of our problems that Moshiach would bring.

The World has it all wrong. It has it backwards. It is NOT that the Geula will bring the Healing. It is that the Healing will bring the Geula.

Continue reading at

Sunday, April 15, 2018

And This is Your Sign

And this is your sign [that the Redemption is close]: When you see that the Nero of the East who is in Damascus has fallen, the kingdom of the children of the East [Yishmael] will fall, and then the salvation for Israel will sprout.

 נרון מזרחי [Nero of the East] is the same gematria as בשאר אסאד [Bashar Assad] - plus the words.

See: Yeranen Yaakov

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

How To Prepare for the Final Redemption

This post is the latest from the Rav Ofer Erez site by Avraham B.

Rav Ofer explains what we need to do in order to prepare for the final redemption. 

As the redemption nears, G-d is preparing each and every one us in very deep spiritual ways. One of the most important aspects of preparing for the final redemption is coming to an understanding that we are unable to bring upon the redemption on our own but rather Hashem Himself, alone will do it all for us. 

This aspect of the final redemption is called “Yeush d’Kdusha” Holy Despair. It is when we realize and understands that we cannot do anything without one hundred percent divine assistance, not ninety-nine percent but a hundred! 

Click the clip below to play: “Holy Despair – State of Redemption” [If you can’t see the English subtitles, go to the YouTube page directly, and click on the square-shaped icon in the bottom right of the screen, to switch on subtitles/captions for this clip].

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


Apologies for my absence, I was unwell over Pesach, but have made a miraculous recovery since it ended..... I am accepting this illness with gratitude, even more so because it has gone away now.   I have learned that suffering is a tikkun, so I thank Hashem for the opportunity !

Which brings me to this video, which I found in one of the comments of a rather controversial post at Emunaroma ''Thank G-d for Anti Semites''.  The post upset a few readers, you can leave a comment there if you feel the need to.  Rivka at Emunaroma is a wonderful friend of mine, who I've never met in person, but I feel like I've known her forever.   I'm not sure if I agree with everything written in her post, but it's out there and you can comment if you want to.... I don't have the mental strength right now to think too hard about it, but I do want to share this video below, where Rabbi Mizrachi is talking about how great it is to receive an insult, and how we should appreciate our suffering and accept it for what it really is.  It reminded me of something Rav Berland said : Every word is a diamond!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Moshiach's Seudah

Acharon Shel Pesach, the last day of Pesach has a special connection to the coming of Moshiach and is celebrated accordingly, by partaking of Moshiach's Seudah [the meal of Moshiach..... sometimes known as the Third Seder]

The last day of Pesach  is celebrated by eating a special, festive banquet called Moshiach's seudah, a custom initiated by the Baal Shem Tov. The connection between the last day of Pesach and Moshiach is explained by the Tzemach Tzedek: "The last day of Pesach is the conclusion of that which began on the first night of Pesach. The first night of Pesach is our festival commemorating our redemption from Egypt by the Holy One, Blessed be He. It was the first redemption, carried out through Moshe Rabbeinu, who was the first redeemer; it was the beginning. The last day of Pesach is our festival commemorating the final redemption, when the Holy One, Blessed be He, will redeem us from the last exile through our righteous Moshiach, who is the final redeemer. The first day of Pesach is Moshe Rabbeinu's festival; the last day of Pesach is Moshiach's festival."

Pesach is the festival which celebrates freedom. The first day celebrates the redemption from the first exile; the last day celebrates the future redemption from the final exile. The two are intimately connected, the beginning and end of one process with G-d in the future redemption showing wonders "as in the days of your exodus from Egypt."

That Moshiach's festival is celebrated specifically on the last day of Pesach is not merely because Moshiach will redeem us from the last exile. Being last has a significance beyond mere numerical order, for that which is last performs a unique function. When the Jews journeyed in the desert after leaving Egypt, they marched in a specific order, divided into four camps. The last to march was the camp of Dan, which is described by Torah as "ma'asaf l'chol hamachanos" - "gatherer of all the camps." Rashi explains this as meaning that "The tribe of Dan...would journey last, and whoever would lose anything, it would be restored to him."

The concept of "gatherer of all the camps" - restoring lost property and making sure that nothing is missing - may be applied to various situations. The Baal Shem Tov, for example, taught that just as the Jews in the desert made forty-two journeys before they reached their final destination, Eretz Yisroel, so there are forty-two journeys in each Jew's individual life. The birth of a person corresponds to the initial journey when the Jews left the land of Egypt, and at each stage of life a Jew is somewhere in the middle of one of the forty-two journeys he must experience before he enters the next world.

Not only a person's entire life, but also every individual service to G-d has various stages or "journeys." In particular, the conclusion of a specific service acts as the "gatherer of all the camps" - to make sure that nothing is missing from that service. Pesach, it was noted earlier, is associated with the concept of redemption, and our service on Pesach is correspondingly directed towards hastening the arrival of the final redemption. But even if service on Pesach was deficient, if opportunities were missed, not all is lost: the last day of Pesach acts as "gatherer of all the camps" for the entire festival. Just as the tribe of Dan restored lost articles to their owners, so the last day of Pesach provides a Jew with the opportunity to rectify omissions in the service of Pesach, and thereby regain what is rightfully his.

Because Pesach is associated with the redemption through Moshiach and the last day of Pesach is the finish to and completion of Pesach, the last day of Pesach accordingly emphasizes the coming of Moshiach.

The notion of "gatherer of all the camps" applies not only to each individual Jew's life and service, but also to Jewry in general. The forty-two journeys between leaving Egypt and entering Eretz Yisroel took place in the desert, the "wilderness of the nations," which is an allusion to the period of exile when Jews sojourn amongst the nations of the earth. The forty-two journeys in the desert served as the means wherewith Jews left the limitations of Egypt.  Thus all the journeys undertaken until the Jews actually entered Eretz Yisroel may be viewed as part of the exodus from Egypt. So too with the journeys in the exile: until Jews merit the final redemption, they are still journeying to reach Eretz Yisroel.  In every generation, Jews are somewhere in the middle of one of those forty-two journeys.

As in the journeys in the desert, there is a "gatherer of all the camps" in the generations-long journey of Jews to the Messianic Era. Our present generation is that of "the footsteps of Moshiach," the last generation of exile. It is the "gatherer of all the camps" of all generations of Jews.

That this generation of exile is the "gatherer of all the camps" of all generations is not just because it is the last. Exile is not just punishment for sin.

The mission of Jews is to elevate and refine this corporeal world, to reveal G-dliness and to transform the physical into a dwelling place for G-d. Dispersed throughout the world in exile, Jews have been given the opportunity and the means to carry out this mission in all parts of the world.

This has been the Jews' task throughout their history. "Gatherer of all the camps" in this context means that if any portion of that task is missing, it now can be rectified. Thus the era of "gatherer of all the camps" is the era when the world will have been fully refined and G-dliness revealed: the Era of Moshiach.

It is for this reason that it is our generation which is that of "the footsteps of Moshiach" and "gatherer of all the camps." For the service of Jews throughout the generations has been all but completed, and only the finishing touches - "gatherer of all the camps" - is needed. We stand ready and prepared to greet Moshiach.

Moshiach, of course, could have come in previous generations. The Talmud, for example, relates that at the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, a cow lowed twice. The first time meant that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed; the second time meant that Moshiach was born. In other words, the potential Moshiach was born immediately after the destruction and had the Jews merited it then, he would have been the actual Moshiach.

Although Moshiach could have come in previous generations, the future redemption nevertheless has a greater connection to our generation - just as the idea of Moshiach is emphasized on the last day of Pesach,  although the whole of Pesach is associated with the future redemption. For both are the concept of "gatherer of all the camps" and we accordingly celebrate Moshiach's seudah specifically on the last day of Pesach.

There is still more to the connection between the last day of Pesach and Moshiach. The prophet Yechezkel describes the exodus from Egypt - which took place on the first day of Pesach - as the birth of the Jewish nation.

The last day of Pesach, the eighth day, is therefore the day of the circumcision, which is "the beginning of the entry of the holy soul." Moshiach is the yechidah - the most sublime level of the soul - of the Jewish people. Until the body of Jewry has undergone circumcision it is not whole; its holy soul is missing. Moreover, the Alter Rebbe writes, the highest level of circumcision will take place in the future, when "The L-rd will circumcise your heart."

The Haftorah read on the last day of Pesach is also connected with the Messianic Era. It states: "The wolf will lie down with the lamb...He will raise a banner for the return...the earth will be full of the knowledge of the L-rd." All of these verses refer to the Messianic Era.

Thus the relationship between the last day of Pesach and Moshiach. But why do we mark this relationship by eating a meal?

Belief in Moshiach is a cardinal tenet of the Jewish faith, enshrined as one of Rambam's thirteen principles of belief: "I believe with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach; and although he may tarry, I will wait for him every day that he shall come." But abstract belief is not enough. Our intellectual awareness must be translated into concrete action - by eating of Moshiach's seudah. Moreover, the food from Moshiach's seudah becomes part of our flesh and blood, and our faith in, and yearning for Moshiach permeates not just the soul's faculties but also the physical body.

Moshiach's seudah was initiated by the Baal Shem Tov, and there is good reason why it was by him specifically. In a famous letter to his brother in law, R. Gershon of Kitov, the Baal Shem Tov tells of the time he experienced an elevation of the soul to the highest spheres. When he came to the abode of Moshiach, he asked, "When will the Master come?" to which Moshiach replied, "When your wellsprings shall spread forth to the outside." In other words, it is the Baal Shem Tov's teachings - Chassidus - which will bring Moshiach, and it is therefore particularly appropriate that it was the Baal Shem Tov who initiated Moshiach's seudah on the last day of Pesach.

In the time of the Baal Shem Tov, the principal element of the seudah was matzah. The Rebbe Rashab, fifth Rebbe of Chabad, added the custom of drinking four cups of wine. Matzah is poor man's bread, flat and tasteless. Wine, in contrast, not only possesses taste, but induces joy and delight, to the extent that our Sages say, "Shirah (song) is said only over wine."

Chabad Chassidus conveys the concepts of Chassidus, first propounded by the Baal Shem Tov, in an intellectual framework, enabling them to be understood by a person's Chochmah (wisdom), Binah (knowledge), and Da'as (understanding) - ChaBaD. And when a person understands something - in this case the concepts of Chassidus - he enjoys it that much more. Chabad, in other words, introduced "taste" and "delight" into Chassidic doctrines, which until then were accepted primarily on faith alone.

The four cups of wine also allude to the Messianic Age, for which the dissemination of Chassidus - especially Chabad Chassidus - is the preparation. The four cups symbolize: the four expressions of redemption; the four cups of retribution G-d will force the nations of the world to drink; the four cups of comfort G-d will bestow upon the Jews; the four letters of G-d's Name which will be revealed; the four general levels of repentance.

[Source: Sichah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Acharon Shel Pesach, 5742]

Friday, March 30, 2018

“By Seder night, we’re going to bring the Geula”

The following story is from Kalman Wiseman at where you can read the full post, I have posted an edited version here.:

On Motzae Shabbat, 10th Nisan 5778, two of the nation’s leading Tzaddikim, Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, and Rav Dov Kook of Tiveria, shlita, met in Holon, at a private home. These two leaders of Am Yisrael made the Kiddush Levana, the blessing on the new moon, together, and then sat down to share a Malaveh Malka meal.

Much of this historic meeting was captured on film, and below, we’re privileged to share with the English-speaking public a free translation of what these two Tzaddikim spoke about.

“Rav Kook is going to bring the light of redemption the light of Moshiach and the light of yetziat Mitzrayim. Like the days when we left Mitzrayim, Hashem is going to show us wonders. We’re going to see wonders that have never been seen since the creation of the world, Bezrat Hashem.

“We’re going to put together the Beit HaMikdash, we already ordered a lamb for the korban. We need to have 10 lambs for all the yeshiva.” [Rav Kook smiles]. “Everyone should donate 50 nis so we can get 10 lambs, so we can bring the 10 Korban Pesach. We’re going to do a Korban Pesach on Har Habayit, mamash.

Rav Kook says “I merited to understand a little bit of what he said, it’s the deepest of the deep. I’m amazed how the people who follow him and listen to him, how they understand what he’s saying. I understood only a little bit. He’s a genius, he’s a gaon, he’s a computer [of Torah] he’s an angel.

“He has the mind of a computer, focused and concentrated, he’s a treasure, a storehouse of Torah. He went through terrible, terrible suffering, and he’s a computer of Torah. Halavi (if only) I should understand everything he says. He’s not a person he’s got the mind of a computer.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Secret of the Shape of our Body Parts 4 and 5

Parts 4 and 5 in this series from the Zohar about the shapes of the lines on our hands and face, and the shape of our body.  To see previous lectures click on the ANAVA lable below, or visit YouTube for the full list of Rabbi Anava's Zohar videos to date.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Pesach: How to See a Miracle

Rabbi Alon Anava - from the teachings of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Conscious and the Subconcious Mitzvot

Do we really have free choice? Most people tend to view this as a yes-or-no type of question, but the correct answer is in fact, yes and no.

a) The inner core of the soul is totally at one with G-d. At this subconscious level, the soul of every Jew wishes to observe all the mitzvot and to avoid transgressing any prohibitions. There is no desire for evil here; there simply is no other option than doing good.

b) At the conscious level however, where we interact with the more superficial layers of the soul's complex psyche, there is room for both good and evil. Here, the soul's inner desire to observe all the mitzvot is felt only as a weaker 'signal', which is susceptible to 'interference' from the opposing messages of our animalistic instincts. So at the conscious level, we do indeed possess free choice.

In general, the Torah speaks to our conscious mind. We are told to observe the mitzvot with the full awareness of what we are doing, and we are charged with bringing an awareness of spirituality into our normal, daily lives.

However, at this conscious level, we are susceptible to being drawn away from a life of holiness, or stifled by the limitations that the world appears to present. So while most of the mitzvot were given to the conscious part of the soul, G-d saw it necessary to give us some mitzvot which speak directly to the inner core of the soul, helping the soul's unlimited energy and total commitment to good to flow outwards to the conscious mind. These special mitzvot help us stay in tune with our subconscious commitment to Judaism, when our conscious observance becomes strained or limited.

With most mitzvot, G-d told Moshe to address the Jewish people with the term דבר "daber" [speak] or אמור "emor" [say]. While the mitzvot conveyed with these terms are of course obligatory, the more passive, indirect mood of the words "speak" and "say" indicate that these mitzvot are directed at the superficial layers of the soul which possess free choice.

Parshas Tzav, in contrast, uses the more direct imperative term צו "tsav" [command], alluding to a type of mitzvah which speaks to the soul's inner core that does not possess true free-choice; and is simply "commanded" to obey G-d's will. These special mitzvot which are included in this Parsha are aimed at helping our inner identity of unquestioning and uninhibited commitment to the Jewish faith surface in everyday life.

Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Monday, March 12, 2018

Did the Rabbis Invent the Noachide Laws ?

Where do the Noahide Laws come from?  Did the Rabbis ''invent'' them ?  Rabbi Tovia Singer answers.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Fire at R' Elimelech's Kever on his Yarzheit

Just a few days ago, it was the yarzheit of Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, and a fire broke out causing immense damage: Heavy Damage Seen Following Fire At Tziyon Of Reb Elimelech In Lizhensk On Yartzheit

Pictures of the Ohel of Reb Elimelech before the fire can be seen here.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Meshane Makom Meshane Mazel - Change your Place, Change your Mazel

Following yesterday's post about the Three Blessings, there are two other ways to change your Mazal.

One is by changing your Hebrew name [but this should not be done without a long consultation with a learned Rabbi, and is usually only done in the case of a severe life-threatening illness] and the other one is by moving to a new address, or even a new city or country.

By changing our place in life we can change our destiny.  In Hebrew this is called ''MeShane Makom [change your place] MeShane Mazal [change your fortune]..  Mazal has many descriptions but basically it means the way your blessings come down to you.  In Jewish Astrology the signs are known as Mazalot.  That's why we wish people ''Mazal Tov'' on a joyous occasion, because their Mazal is good.    The story below will help you understand.

Art: Jacek Yerka
Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles

Many of Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov's ways might have seemed strange to an outsider, but Reb Zev Wolf Kitzes, the Baal Shem Tov's constant companion, had enough confidence in his Rebbe never to doubt his actions. He knew that in the end -- even if it took years -- all would be for the best.

Reb Zev Wolf once accompanied the Besht on a visit to a certain village Jew. The impoverished villager welcomed the Besht into his home.

"I must have a donation of 18 rubles," the Besht requested. The poor man did not have this large sum. But, considering that it was the Besht making the request, the villager took some of his furniture and his cow, sold them, and gave the Besht the money. Reb Zev Wolf looked on silently while the Besht took the money and then departed.

Several days later the villager's rent was due on his inn. He could not produce the sum and the landlord evicted him. The villager, seeing no future for himself in this small village, decided to try his luck elsewhere. He finally found himself a tiny hut in a different village with a different landlord. By selling some more of his possessions, the villager managed to buy a cow. The cow provided him with his sole source of income; he sold her milk and eked out a meager living.

Some time later the landlord's cow became sick and her milk was unusable. One of the landlord's servants who knew of the new tenant quickly went to this villager and bought milk for the landlord. When the landlord was served the milk, he commented, "This milk is of a superior quality. Tell the owner that I will pay handsomely for the privilege of being his only customer."

This incident turned the tide of fortune for the villager. Each day he delivered milk to the manor and each day the landlord commented on the quality of the milk and milk products derived from it. He grew fond of the Jew and began to consult him about his business, slowly turning over to him many responsibilities. The landlord trusted him implicitly and appreciated the Jew's honesty, reliability, and faithful service.

The landlord's relationship and bond with the villager became so deep that, being childless, he transferred ownership of that village and the nearby city to the Jew. Feeling that now everything was in good hands, the landlord took leave and went abroad after having given the Jew legal title to that area.  A few years later, Reb Zev Wolf came to the village of the new landlord collecting money on behalf of Jewish prisoners and captives. Reb Zev Wolf had already collected all but 300 rubles of the sum which the Besht had designated.

Upon meeting with the village rabbi, Reb Zev Wolf questioned him as to why he was so festively attired."I am going, together with a group of the town dignitaries, to greet the landlord of this city who will be paying us a visit today. Why don't you come along with us? He is a Jew and will most probably be willing to contribute to your cause."

Reb Zev Wolf accompanied the rabbi and his companions. The landlord greeted the delegation warmly, paying special attention to Reb Zev Wolf. After a little while, the landlord took Reb Zev Wolf aside."You don't remember me, do you?" he asked. Reb Zev Wolf could not place the wealthy man's face. The landlord went on to retell the story of his change of fortune. Then, he took out 300 rubles and gave it to Reb Zev Wolf.

It was only upon returning to the Besht that Reb Zev Wolf understood the entire story. "The last 300 rubles were donated by the village Jew whom you once asked for a donation of 18 rubles. Today he is a wealthy man."

"Let me now tell you why I extracted that large sum from him when his circumstances were so difficult," explained the Besht. "A change of fortune was awaiting him in the future but not in that place. It was necessary to bring him to the end of his rope so that he would be forced to leave and settle elsewhere. That is exactly what happened. The rest you already know."

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Rebbe of Rebbes: R' Elimelech of Lizensk

"Today, in our bitter exile, there are people who receive ruach hakodesh more easily than in the time of the prophets." [Noam Elimelech]

Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk was the student of Dov Ber of Mezerich, the brother of Meshulam Zushia of Anipoli. He was born in 1717, and died on 21 Adar in 1786.

During the lifetime of Dov Ber of Mezerich he traveled widely with his brother all over Poland to spread Hassidism. After Dov Ber's death, Rebbe Elimelech settled in Lizhensk and attained great fame, thanks to his lofty life. During his lifetime, Lizhensk was turned into a center of Polish-Galician Hassidism. There, many famous Tzadikim and Hassidic activists of Galicia were educated and obtained their inspiration during the 18th century.

Rebbe Elimelech is the author of “Noam Elimelech” [Lvov 1798], a book of commentaries on the Pentateuch. In that book, the role of a Tzadik is set out and explained, and the doctrine of Hassidism is explained in greater detail. This book was subject to an intense investigation by the opponents of Hassidism. Many of his expositions are published in his work “Darche Tzedek”, and other works.

The Melitzer Rebbe shlit'a, a direct descendant of the "Noam Elimelech", stated that Rebbe Yisroel of Ruzhin said that 500 years before Rebbe Elimelech was born, the world received abundance in his merit. Now, after his death, even more so!

It is said that Rabbi Elimelech promised anyone who would visit his grave that they would not leave this world without teshuva.

Kever of Rabbi Elimelech in Lizensk, Poland [Photo: יהונתן וואקסמאן]
Ohel of Rebbe Elimelech, Lizensk Poland [Photo: יהונתן וואקסמאן]

After Rebbe Elimelech passed away, Rebbe Reb Zisha of Hanipoli was approached by his brother’s students to be their new leader. Rabbi Zisha declined and explained his reason with a parable. “The possuk in Bereshis 2:10 states “And a river went forth from Eden to water the garden and from there it split into four paths.”

The Torah is eternal and alludes to all events above and below for all generations. Eden alludes to our holy master the Baal Shem Tov. The river was his student the holy Mezitcher Maggid. The garden refers to my brother the Rebbe Elimelech.

This then is the meaning: a river flows from Eden to water the garden, the Torah flows as water from the Baal Shem Tov by way of the Mezritcher Maggid to the Rebbe Elimelech. From there it separates into four paths: they are :

1.The Holy Rebbe the Chozeh or Seer of Lublin;
2.The Holy Rebbe Avodas Yisrael the Koznitzer Maggid;
3. The Holy Rebbe Mendel Rimanover; and
4.The Holy Ohev Yisrael the Apta Rav.

Stories of Noam Elimelech

The Light of The Rebbe’s Prayer Sash
related by the Rabbi of Madin, grandson of the Ropshitzer
Rebbe Elimelech had a custom that after the afternoon Mincha service he would converse with his close followers. He would then proceed to a special private room to pray the evening Maariv service alone in seclusion, purity and sanctity.

Rabbi Naftali Ropshitzer, a student of the Rebbe always yearned to also be in that room. He constantly wished to see the deeds of his Rebbe and how he prayed at that time. Once he stole into the room unnoticed and hid beneath the bed. The holy Rebbe entered and closed the door behind him. He took his “gartel,” the traditional sash or belt used by Hassidim for prayer and preceded to fasten it about himself.

The first time he wound the sash about his waist the whole house was filled with an awesome unbelievable light. The second time he tied the gartel winding it around, the light grew in intensity until the Ropshitzer could no longer endure it. He grew weak and found himself fainting. He called out in a loud voice.

Rebbe Elimelech heard the cries of distress coming from his student and recognized their source. “Naftali my son are you here?” the Rebbe asked. “Fortunately, you did not remain here for the third and final time I wound the gartel. If you had remained your soul would have surely left your body from the intensity of the great light. Therefore leave now.”

An unusual guest for Tea
related in the name of The Shinover Rebbe

The author of the Hasidic work Maor va’Shemesh was a student of the Rebbe Elimelech. Once he asked the Rebbe Elimelech to be allowed to serve him, thereby learning directly from his Rebbe. Rebbe Elimelech conceded and asked him for a cup of tea. After preparing the tea, the student entered the room to give it to the Rebbe. Inside he saw the awesome figure of an old man sitting beside Rebbe Elimelech. He was overcome by fear, trembling and shaking so much so that he dropped the cup spilling the tea on the floor and ran out.

Later Rebbe Elimelech saw his student and asked him why he hadn’t given him the tea he requested. He answered that he had brought it but when he saw the figure of the old man he was so frightened he spilled the tea. The Rebbe then said to him in Yiddish “Oy vey iz das kind voos ken nisht kiken dem taten in poonim arayn: Woe is to the child who cannot look his own father in the face.” That old man you saw was none other than our forefather Avraham peace be upon him!

More can be found at Jewish Gen

The Three Blessings

Chassidus teaches that the Angel Michoel is responsible for bestowing the Jewish people with the three blessings of  health, wealth and children.  Some people have all three, some people have only one of them, and some people have none at all.  The word ''children'' does not just refer to being blessed with having children, but also that the child grows up to be a mensch... that you receive nachas [loosely translated as pride and pleasure] from your children.

The Zohar teaches that if a Jewish woman covers her hair, she will be blessed with all three..... [Likutei Sichos, vol. 13, p. 188 Lubavitcher Rebbe]

.... unfortunately, these days, it is not always that simple.   Our souls are all reincarnations and our situations in this life are probably determined by our past lives and whatever needs to be atoned for and fixed in this life  [although for women, covering the hair is still a very good way to give yourself and your family extra blessing from Above].

Of course, Torah, Tefilla [prayer] and Tzedaka [charity] can improve all three blessings.

There are two tests – for a wealthy person, his challenge is to not believe that he is the creator [of his wealth].

For the person in dire straits, it is to still believe.

Both can be educated through the “Ma-an” [manna - the daily seeds which fell, giving the Jews food during their duration in the desert].

For the wealthy person, the Ma-an was literally the Jews' sustenance  - for though people were famously wealthy – having taken the Egyptian wealth, nonetheless they were in a desert, and the Ma-an was their sole sustenance which forced them to daily look Heavenward.

In contrast, the Ma-an was miraculous in that if you took extra even for one day, it rotted [in other words, the poor person could appreciate that extra was actually not a blessing].

How To Unlock Divine Flow 

However, the key to unlock the Divine infinite flow is by setting aside one’s ego – acknowledging that everything is merely G-d’s kindness.

We find there is a commentary that explains that after Yitzchok gave Maaser [tithe] on the produce of his fields, he discovered that the same produce multiplied one hundred times.

In other words, what Hashem is coming to teach us is that from the reward of giving Maaser, man is blessed even a hundred times more. 

We can ask, if the ultimate reward is spirituality, and fulfilling unconditionally G-d’s will, why does the Torah promise physical rewards [as we learn in the Shema]?

Furthermore, why would it be so laudable that in the messianic era so many Divine miracles will create a miraculous physical abundance [such as “When you plant, things will grow” – “The taste of the tree’s bark will be like its fruit” – all indicating a world of complete physical pleasure]

The answer is that in truth, everything in the physical flows from the Torah.

Hence when a Jew engages in the Torah [as the Zohar teaches, “First G-d creates through Torah, then Jews maintain through its study”] so this manifests not only spiritually, but also physically.

In the era of Moshiach this flow will be apparent.

Sources: Likutei Sichos 4 Page 1099; Likutei Sichos 5 Page 12; Likutei Sichos 37 Page 79; Kabbalah Wisdom OhrTmimim

Note....there are a couple of other ways to improve your mazal, and these will be mentioned in my next post.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Tests of Wealth and Poverty

Art Tricia McKellar

Excerpts from an article by Nechama Greisman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Chabad

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Term ‘Al’ – Spiritual Growth and Greatness

Art Gustav Klimt

by Rabbi David Pinto Shlita 

 It is written, “The men came al [with] the women. Everyone whose heart motivated him brought bracelets, earrings, rings, body ornaments – all kinds of gold ornaments – every man who raised up an offering of gold to Hashem” [Vayakhel 35:22]

This verse deals with the donations that the Children of Israel brought to the Sanctuary. Why does it say, “The men came al [with] the women” rather than, “the men and the women came”? In reality, the Sanctuary was meant to atone for the sin of the golden calf, a sin which only the men had to rectify, since they were the only ones responsible for it.

The women had no part in this sin [Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 45]. Thus in order to be forgiven and rectify their sin, the men yearned to participate in the construction of the Sanctuary more than the women. Hence they brought their offerings with even greater zeal, something that we learn from the phrase: “The men came with the women.” Given the fact that it was the men who committed the sin of the golden calf, it was incumbent upon them to quickly build the Sanctuary in order to return to the spiritual level that they once occupied, but then lost. As for the women, they brought their offerings for the sake of the mitzvah alone, something evident in the very letters of the terms ha-nashim (“the women”) and ha-anashim (“the men”).

The letter aleph, which only appears in the term ha-anashim, refers to the Sovereign (Aluph) of the universe, namely Hashem. This indicates that in making the golden calf, the men sinned before Hashem. Furthermore, we should underline that in contrast to women, men are obligated to study Torah. Now it is a well-known fact that “one who is commanded and fulfills [the command] is greater than one who fulfills it, though not commanded” [Kiddushin 31a]). When a person has been given a Divine command, the evil inclination cleaves to him in an attempt to prevent him from fulfilling G-d’s will. Hence for a person to conquer his evil inclination and fulfill Hashem’s command as should be, he needs to invest more energy and demonstrate even greater zeal.

This is why the men, who were obligated to bring an offering for the construction of the Sanctuary, had to act with extra zeal in order to fulfill their obligation. Hence it is stated that the men “came al [with] the women” – the term al alluding to spiritual growth and greatness. It means that in order to grow spiritually, men need a greater impetus than women.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Language of Birds and Animals

Rabbi Aryeh Leib of Polonoye, the Maggid desperately wanted to learn the language of birds and animals. He thought this knowledge would be useful in soothing the souls of his followers to whom he preached.

The language of the animals, birds and even the plants and rocks is always known by at least one person in every generation. At that time, this knowledge was known by Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the holy Baal Shem Tov.

Rabbi Aryeh Leib decided, although possibly presumptuously, to beg his Rebbe, the Baal Shem Tov, to teach him this language. He reasoned that it was all right to ask because, "after all, I only plan to use the power for the sake of Heaven. With the knowledge of the physical world, I will really be able to help my followers overcome their worldly concerns.”

Having made up his mind, Rabbi Aryeh Leib traveled to Mezibush. The trip took almost no time because his mind was engrossed with thoughts of listening to the speech of birds and animals.

It was already night when he arrived in Mezibush. The study house of the Baal Shem Tov was lit up and bustling with students. Reb Aryeh Leib entered and saw the Baal Shem Tov sitting at a table speaking with a few of his close followers. While Reb Aryeh Leib was sure that the Baal Shem Tov had noticed him, the Rebbe’s eyes didn’t meet his to acknowledge his arrival. Later, after most of the students had already left the study house, Reb Aryeh Leib still waited and hoped to be recognized by the Baal Shem Tov. Finally, when the Baal Shem Tov walked out of the study hall, he glanced over to Reb Aryeh Leib and greeted him without any emotion, “Shalom Aleichem” he said.

Reb Aryeh Leib was very upset. "Why didn’t he greet me as he always had before?” he wondered. "Maybe I should just leave. But then again, there is nothing more important to me than learning the language of the birds and animals. No! I won't leave. I'll wait for a good time to approach him," he thought.

For the next few days, the Baal Shem Tov didn’t say anything special to Reb Aryeh Leib. Then, after Shabbat, the Baal Shem Tov asked Alexei, his wagon driver, to prepare his wagon for a journey. He invited Reb Aryeh Leib and several other Chassidim to join him. Reb Aryeh Leib and the others readily agreed and he was filled with joy thinking that his wish might finally be fulfilled.

The next day, after many long hours of travel, the Baal Shem Tov instructed Alexei to stop at an inn. The Baal Shem Tov went right up to a room that was especially prepared for him by the innkeeper. The Chassidim stayed together in the main room of the inn. Being tired after the long trip, they all immediately fell asleep.

Only Reb Aryeh Leib couldn’t fall asleep. He kept wondering if the Baal Shem Tov would teach him the knowledge he desperately wanted to learn. Early in the morning, he heard the Baal Shem Tov pacing back and forth in his room. So he gathered his courage and went upstairs to speak with him. When he reached the top of the stairs, he saw a bright light shining from the Baal Shem Tov's room. He started to go into the room but then realized that the bright light was beaming from the face of the Baal Shem Tov. He stood glued to the floor, unable to look away from the Rebbe's face that was ablaze like a fire.

When the Baal Shem Tov walked over to him, Reb Aryeh Leib nearly fell to the floor with fear. He begged forgiveness for disturbing the Baal Shem Tov.

The Baal Shem Tov gently put his hand on his student’s shoulder and said “Reb Aryeh Leib, stand up. Don't be afraid. What is it that you want?”

But Reb Aryeh Leib was too embarrassed to say anything. So he turned around and went back downstairs.

The next day, as they continued their journey in the wagon, the Baal Shem Tov asked Reb Aryeh Leib to sit next to him. Reb Aryeh Leib was very excited by the invitation.

The Baal Shem Tov said to him, "I know that the main reason for your joining me is to learn the language of the birds and animals. I’ve decided to teach you what you want so desperately to learn. There is, however, one condition that is of the utmost importance. You must listen with your full attention to what I’m about to say.”

“Oh yes Rebbe, I promise to give my undivided attention to all that you say,” Reb Aryeh Leib answered.

The Baal Shem Tov continued, "To begin, it is known that the Heavenly Chariot is supported by a face of an eagle at one corner, the face of an ox at another corner, the face of a lion at another corner, and the face of a man at the last corner. It is also known that from the eagle face flows the life power to the birds, from the ox face flows the life power to the domestic animals, from the lion face flows the life power to the wild animals and from the man’s face flows the life power down to the lower man. Also the language of the birds, the animals and people comes from the Heavenly Chariot. A wise person that can see things at their source in the Heavenly Chariot can understand the speech of the birds and animals."

As the Baal Shem Tov continued with the deeper, primary teachings from our Holy Books such as the Zohar and the Tikkunim, the wagon entered a forest.

Reb Aryeh Leib was listening with all his attention to the Baal Shem Tov. Suddenly he felt a branch brush against his cheek. At that moment he began to hear the animals and birds speaking to each other.

Meanwhile the Baal Shem Tov continued talking. Reb Aryeh was so enthralled with the speech of the animals and birds that he divided his attention. With one ear he listened to the Baal Shem Tov and with the other ear he listened to the birds and animals.

Later, when the wagon came out of the forest, the Baal Shem Tov said, “So you understand all that I said.”

“Oh yes!” answered Reb Aryeh Leib.

Then the Baal Shem Tov passed his hand over the face of Reb Aryeh Leib. At that moment, Reb Aryeh Leib still heard the sounds of the animals and birds but could no longer understand their speech.

The Baal Shem Tov said, “Because you couldn’t hold your full attention on what I was saying, you’re not ready to be entrusted with the knowledge of the language of birds and animals."

And so it was.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Happy Purim

Make a list of everyone to whom you want to send Mishloach Manot.

Throw it out.

Now give the Mishloach Manot to everyone who wasn't on the list.

That's what Purim is all about.

The four mitzvot of Purim are:

1. Hearing the megillah [twice]

2. Matanot L'evyonim – we give gifts or money to at least two underprivileged people. To donate Tzedaka direct to Israeli families: click here

3. Mishloach Manot - we give a gift of at least two varieties of ready-to-eat foods to at least one person. Many have the custom to give to a greater number.

The two mitzvot listed above were devised to generate a powerful bond between all Jews. When there is love and unity amongst Jews, our enemies cannot harm us.

4. To partake in a Seudah, or festive meal.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Secrets of Face and Palm Reading

I have not yet heard these lectures, but the topic is fascinating and I'm sure everyone will want to hear them.  Rabbi Alon Anava is discussing the hidden secrets of our past and reincarnations which are marked in our facial features and on the lines of our hands. What does this extraordinary information reveal to us and how can it affect our connection to G-d and the rectification of our souls?

The shape of my face and the structure of my face features are hidden secrets of my soul. Where did my soul come from, what was it's journey and where am I going...?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Esther: Some Things You Should Know

Art: John Cox

written by Esther Bashe

Esther is a ''precious stone''.  She descended into the depths on a secret mission.  Her very name means ''hidden''.  Only when her mission was accomplished did she and Mordechai record the events on a scroll called Megillat Esther.  Written with ruach haKodesh [Divine inspiration] the contents of this scroll are read every Purim around the world, testifying to the hidden and miraculous presence of G-d in the darkest of moments.  A prototype of hidden redemption, the Purim story is especially relevant to our generation.

Sometimes there are dilemmas so enormous that the mind cannot fathom a way out.  In this case, there is only one solution to circumvent everything.  Go to the microcosmic source that holds the root of everything.  The Foundation Stone [Even HaShetiyah] in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem had this quality, lying beneath the Holy of Holies - a place radiating unparalleled spiritual symmetry and beauty of irresistible attraction.  This innermost point was hidden inside Esther, as well as other great tzaddikim and tzidkaniyot throughout history. Redemption during periods of great peril is sometimes brought about through a lone individual.  Other times it involves the interaction between a pair of redeemers, as in the case of Mordechai and Esther.

The potency of Esther's power lay in its hiddenness: it flowed from the all-inclusive good point she possessed.  It wasn't just any good point, it was the microcosmic hub found within every woman who played a redemptive role in Jewish history - for instance, the three matriarchs Sara, Rivka and Rachel, as well as Ruth, Devorah, Yael, Rabbi Meir's wife Bruria, Rabbi Akiva's wife Rachel, and many others who remain hidden.  Evil individuals seeking to harm or destroy the Jewish people often met their downfall through women who put their body and soul on the line for the sake of the Jewish people.  Esther cried out in profound distress: Hatzila M-cherev Nafshi - Save my soul from the sword!  [Psalms 22:21 This entire chapter in the Book of Psalms is attributed to Esther] The first letters of this verse spell ''Haman''.

Since Esther's innermost point included the root of every soul, she is said to have encompassed Klal Yisrael.  She was also the living spiritual paradigm of ishah yirat Hashem - the ''G-d fearing woman'' [Proverbs 31:30] spoken about extensively in our holy writings.  Her humility formed the basis for every salvation, and allowed her to resist the empty lure of fame and recognition - something that would have undermined her success entirely.

A Timeless vs Time-Bound Beauty
There is another deeper aspect to Esther's powerful influences that involves time itself. [Toras Noson on Esther]   All suffering is the result of existing in a realm bound by time. Exile in particular personifies the pain and anguish of life under the constraints of time. We are unable to see the whole picture, something reserved only for the higher timeless consciousness of the World to Come. [Berakhot 34b et al]

But at extraordinary moments in history the two realms intersect, bringing redemption.  The reality that exists above time is miraculous because it suffers no lack or damage of any kind. Everything is whole and complete, and as such, holds the key to all healing and perfection. The essence of the Purim miracle [as well as that of Chanukah] came from this timeless realm and penetrates deeply into our world every year during Chanukah and Purim.  It is the same place from where Mashiach pulls down his strength to repair a very troubled and diseased earth. Because Esther possessed this microcosmic good point in her generation, by straddling both realms, she was the conduit of salvation for the entire Jewish people during Purim.

When she descended into the depths of evil, the Other Side rejoiced, figuring it had won the biggest prize by capturing the ishah yirat Hashem, the quintessential G-d fearing woman herself. She now would be lost along with everything else she held within her.  Vi-ka asher avaditi avaditi - And if I perish, I perish - she wept [Esther 4:17].  Taken into the inner chambers of Achashverosh, she was submerged in the constraints of time - the ultimate expression of exile.  However, the profound humility and righteousness of Esther prevented the wicked Achashverosh from accessing her inner essence. [R'Chaim Vital: Etz Chaim, Sha'ar Klipat Nogah 4-5; Ma'amar Ha Nefesh 11:3].  She nullified herself entirely and remained unaffected by any contact with him.  Her purity protected her during her descent, enabling her to elevate and restore the sparks of holiness that fell into the lowest time-bound realm of evil.

Esther's ''capture'' and exile to the lowest time-bound realm of Haman and Achashverosh was intended to suppress all hope for redemption rooted above time.  This supra-temporal level is where the Jewish people draw their strength.  Therefore, since the dimension of time had engulfed Esther, to prevail over her meant prevailing over Israel - since they were all rooted in her soul.  Yet she overcame everything through her heroic efforts on behalf of the Jews.  In so doing, she prevailed over the time-bound astrological calculations of Haman to annihilate the entire people on the 13th of the Hebrew month of Adar [the day preceding Purim, observed as the 'Fast of Esther' today].  Instead, the tables were completely turned on Haman and his supporters when the day earmarked for the destruction of the Jews brought devastation to Israel's enemies.  The redemptive light of the timeless realm converted everything into good - all in the merit of Mordechai and Esther, the redemptive duo of Purim.

''For the Jews there was light, gladness, joy, and honor - so may it be for us.'' [From the prefatory verses of the Havdalah ceremony recited at the conclusion of Shabbat, based on Esther 8:16]
by Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz From "Manos HaLevi"

Translation by R. Carmel Kehati [words in brackets are the translator's additions]

"And thus I [Esther] will approach the king." [Esther 4:16]

Rabbi Yosef Gackon writes, concerning Esther's three-day fast, that Esther [in fasting for exactly three days] had the following kabbalistic intention. Namely, that three days and nights contain seventy-two hours, and "B'chen" ["thus", in 4:16] equals seventy-two numerically [in letter-gematria], corresponding to the [exalted 72-letter] Name of G-d hinted in the three verses [that begin], "Vayisa", "Vayavo","Vayet" [Exodus 14:19, 20, 21, each of which contain seventy-two letters precisely]. It was with the power of this Name that G-d split the [Red] sea and had the Israelites cross over, and He guided them in His protection and they had no fear [of the enemy].

From that Name, [the flow of] the Divine life-force comes to Esther's supernal [corresponding]sefira; for Esther [as our Sages say] was greenish [olive skinned] in complexion [green is a color associated with the sefira Chesed, Divine kindness, as the life-flow descends through the upper worlds]. Esther, with the power of these seventy-two hours, approached [G-d], King of the world, in her prayers; for she was sure of His help [that He would answer her and save the Jews]. Then, in this [lowly physical] world, she approached King Ahasuerus.

Much more at: Secrets in the Book of Esther

Monday, February 26, 2018

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Rabbi Kessin Shiur and The Purim Codes

Rabbi Kessin's latest shiur is now up on You Tube.  The sound is not great but definitely better than the audio which was available a few days ago.  In the lecture he mentions the Purim Codes in the Torah, which you can read about and watch in the Purim Codes video below.

[The following is adapted from Keeping Posted with NCSY, Fall 1999 edition and also from article by Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld]

There is a famous "code" in Megillat Esther :- towards the end of the story, King Ahashveirosh allows the Jews to avenge themselves of their enemies on the 13th day of Adar. In Shushan, the capital, the Jews kill 500 men and hang Haman's ten sons on a gallows. Queen Esther then approaches the King with an additional request: "...allow the Jews who are in Shushan to do tomorrow as they did today, and let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows" [Esther 9:13]. It's curious that she would request the hanging of Haman's already slain sons. Nevertheless, the King complies.

The Hebrew word for "tomorrow" ["machar"] occasionally refers to the distant future. Further, the Sages tell us that whenever the word "king" appears in the Megillah it alludes to the King of kings as well. Thus, the verse could be understood as a request by Esther to G-d to again hang the ten sons of Haman at some point in the distant future. Now, when the Megillah lists the ten sons of Haman during their hanging [Esther 9:7-9] there are a number of unusually-sized letters. [There is a tradition to write certain letters in the Torah larger or smaller than the standard size.]

According to the most accepted tradition, there is a large 'vav' [numerical value = 6] and a small 'tav' [400], 'shin' [300] and 'zayin' [7]. The following suggestion has been made: The large vav refers to the sixth millennium [of the Hebrew calendar]; the small letters refer to year 707 of that millennium. The meaning, then, is that G-d agreed to hang Haman's ten sons again in the year 5707 = 1946-7.

When listing the ten sons of Haman who were hanged [Esther 9:6-10], three letters, namely Taf, Shin, and Zayin, are written smaller than the rest [most printed texts reflect this; if yours doesn’t, look in another]. The commentaries offer no explanation for this other than that it is a prophecy. The letters "Taf-Shin-Zayin" represent the Hebrew year 5707, corresponding to the secular year 1946-47.

On October 16, 1946 (21 Tishrei, 5707) ten convicted Nazi war criminals were hanged in Nuremberg. (An eleventh, Hermann Goering, a transvestite, committed suicide in his cell. The Midrash tells us that Haman also had a daughter who committed suicide.) As if the parallel were not obvious enough without further corroboration, Nazi Julius Streicher’s last words were: "PURIM FEST 1946!". [In case you question the accuracy of Streicher’s last words, they are are well-documented; they appeared in Newsweek, October 28, 1946]

It is fairly safe to assume that (a) Streicher did not know about the three small letters in the Megilla, (b) he did not know that these letters corresponded to the year in which he was being hanged, and (c) even had he known, he would have had no motivation to reinforce the validity of Jewish texts, traditions, or prophecies. One could not ask for a more independent confirmation of the all encompassing knowledge to be found in the Sifrei Tanach.

Rabbi Weissmandl - a great Hungararian scholar and holocaust survivor - made a number of findings concerning Megillat Esther using skip distances of 12,111 letters - the exact number of letters in Megillat Esther. If one starts with the first regular mem [as opposed to the "final mem"] in Bereishis 4:14, where the name Esther [vocalized differently] appears for the only time in the Torah, and count at intervals of 12,111 letters, one finds spelled out the phrase "Megillat Esther." Coincidence? I think not.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Remembering Amalek - Parshat Zachor

Rabbi Kessin has a new shiur, audio only : Purim Amalek and the Modern Era
[the sound quality on that audio is not great, I'll have to try and listen on another device with better sound control]

Women and Parshat Zachor by Rabbi Da'vid Sperling

There is a well-known mitzvah to remember Amalek by listening to Parshat Zachor each year on the Shabbat before Purim. We will examine the question of whether women are also obligated to listen to this Torah reading on Shabbat.

The Sefer HaChinuch [603] writes that the mitzvah to remember Amalek applies to men and not women – "for they (the men) are obligated to wage war and take vengeance on the enemy and not the women". This explanation connects the mitzvah to remember what Amalek did with the command to go to war against them. As men are obligated in the war against them, and not women, the mitzvah to remember Amalek is also limited to men. Others explain that as this mitzvah is time-bound, women are exempted under the rule of positive time-bound commandments that do not apply to them.

On the other hand, the Minchat Chinuch [ibid] disagrees completely. Firstly, the Torah command to remember Amalek could not be limited to the Shabbat reading before Purim – there was no Shabbat Zachor until after Purim was established. If so, the essential Torah mitzvah is to read the section recalling Amalek once a year – which removes it from the category of a time-bound mitzvah, and therefore women are in fact obligated. The rabbinic decree to perform the mitzvah on Parshat Zachor does not alter this fact. 

Secondly, why should we assume that the mitzvah to remember Amalek is connected to the mitzvah to wage war with them? Perhaps they are two separate commands that are not linked – and if so, women would be obligated in recalling even if they do not take part in the war against them.

Thirdly, it is not so clear that women are exempt from going to war against Amalek. The Mishna [Sotah chapter 8] states that for a milchemet mitzvah (an obligatory war), a groom leaves his wedding chamber to go out to war, and "even a bride leaves her chuppah". And the Rambam [Laws of Kings 7:4] quotes this as halacha. So, even if the Chinuch is correct in linking the mitzvah of remembering to that of waging war – again women should be obligated. 

On the other hand, others disagree with the Rambam and explain that the bride leaves her chuppah because … the chatan has gone to war, and she can't have a wedding by herself! [Radbaz ibid]. Still others understand that a woman leaves the chuppah in order to play a supporting role behind the lines – which would leave our question of whether they are obligated in remembering Amalek somewhat unresolved. If the mitzvah to recall is only required by those who need to actually take up arms against Amalek, then women (based on this understanding) would be exempt. On the other hand, if the need to remember is in order to encourage us to go to war, then perhaps women, who would play a part in the war effort, also need this encouragement.

In practice, there are women who are very particular about Parshat Zachor and make every effort to hear it. On the other hand, there are those who rely on the major halachic opinions which exempt women from this mitzvah.

Source: Nishmat