Friday, September 27, 2019

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Moshiach ''Standing by the Door''


The Satan is dying.  Moshiach is coming and the Satan knows his time is almost up, and he's fighting to hold on and everyone is doing their darndest to remove the President.  Rabbi Kessin has told us this for many years now.  

As we rapidly rush towards 5780, there is an item that has gone viral all over the internet, and that is the story of Rabbi Kaduri and the Israeli election. [which I told you about back in June] But there's more to this story, if you have not yet seen it somewhere else.  

A report in Israel's daily Yisrael Hayom this week addressed a report that's been spread recently on WhatsApp groups and social media that Rav Yitzchak Kaduri zt''l predicted the current situation of the deadlock between Likud and Blue and White and the fights between the right and left. 

The message on social media says that a ''sefer named U'Shevuato L'Yishchak'' which Rav Kaduri wrote in his youth, was recently found in the yeshiva of mekubalim Nachlas Yitzchak.  A prediction was found in the sefer saying ''On the eve of the year 5780, the Year of Tikkunim, there won't be a government in Israel for an extended period of time.  The camps will quarrel greatly with each other without reaching any decision.  And then, on the day of Rosh Hashanah, the sitra achra [literally the other side - evil] will fight with the sitra d'kedusha [side of holiness] in Shamayim [Heaven] and HaKodesh Baruch Hu and His Legions will decide between them.  This is all I can reveal, and from herein on I swore not to reveal more secrets.''

The report adds that ''In the ancient sefer ''The Bris of the Persimmon'' written by the mekubal R' Sasson Chai Shoshani who was called the ''Navi from Mitzrayim'', there is a wonderful quote which has special meaning during these days:  'The day will come that two ministers will win the government in Israel.  The name of both will be Binyamin and neither will succeed in establishing a government.  On that day you should know and understand that Moshiach is already standing by the door and on the Shabbos afterward, He will come and reveal Himself.'

Yisrael Hayom spoke to Moshe N, who is the assistant of R' Yosef Kaduri, Rav Yitzchak Kaduri's grandson, and the Rosh Yeshivah of Nachlas Yitzchak.  ''In the yeshiva, there's all types of handwritten documents from Rav Kaduri with holy names and similar things that we keep in the safe' Moshe said.  'These are passed down from generation to generation, secretly - only between the mekubalim - and it's forbidden to reveal them.'

'In writings based on the kaballah of R' Sasson Chai Shoshani, Rav Kaduri speaks about the Geula and that before Moshiach comes they won't be able to form a government.  So what was publicized [on social media] is very close to what is written in the documents, but the wording of the published report is not exact.  The chavrusa of Rav Kaduri, Chacham Menachem Menashe, the author of Ahavas Chaim, wrote similar things.  He wrote in the name of R' Sasson Chai Shoshani in Parshat Ki Tavo, the parsha we read this past Shabbat, on what will be at the end of days, how there will be a war with the Erev Rav about Shabbat and how the Erev Rav will have the majority.'

'The documents of Rav Kaduri say something similar but it's written in a more detailed way and it speaks specifically about this year as a year that can turn into a  year of Geula.  It doesn't say ''elections'' - that's an intepretation - but it writes about the fight between two different sides in Am Yisrael, that this is a stop on the way to Geula and one of it's signs.  Ultimately, the Geula is dependent only on us, Am Yisrael.'

[YWN Israel Desk - Jerusalem]

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Tamar Yonah talks Elections with Rabbi Kessin

Who will/should lead after the elections?

Tamar Yonah interviews Rabbi Mendel Kessin Sept 24

Click here to listen [scroll down the page]

Monday, September 23, 2019

When Silence is Deafening



"The hidden things belong to the Lord, our God, but the revealed things apply to us and to our children forever: that we must fulfill all the words of this Torah." [Nitzavim 29:28]


[Written by Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein]

Rashi explains that a Jew is not expected to offer his friend rebuke for the sins that lie hidden within his heart, for how can he possibly know what another man is thinking?  Therefore, in the case of hidden sins, Hashem exacts retribution from the sinner alone.

On the other hand, a Jew is expected to rebuke his fellow man for the sins he does openly.  Consequently, when Jews overlook other people's misdeeds, Hashem's anger is brought upon all of them.

A terrible dispute broke out in Radin, the Chofetz Chaim's hometown. Though the Chofetz Chaim was by now in his later years, he rushed to the shul and approached the bimah.  From there, he addressed the community.

"My dear brothers!" began the Chofetz Chaim.  "If someone would have offered me 2,000 rubles to deliver a derashah in shul, I would not have accepted it! I am not willing to sell my precious time for money.  However, because of the situation, I am forced to speak.  We must know that there will come a time when each and every one of us will be required to stand before the Heavenly Court and give an account of all the deeds that he performed over the course of his life.

"You must be aware that strife is a very serious matter!  A person may have performed scores of mitzvos in his life, but if he was guilty of causing or involving himself in matters of dispute, then he is like a person who tried filling a bag that had a large hole at its bottom - all the mitzvos he performed will be lost.

"I have no doubt that when the individuals from Radin who were involved in the dispute come before the Heavenly Court, they will attempt to clear themselves by stating the following:

"We cannot be held accountable! For in our city there lived an elderly Jew, by the name of Yisrael Meir, whom we deemed to be a talmid chacham.  He saw all that was transpiring, yet he remained silent."

"Therefore, my dear brothers" concluded the Chofetz Chaim in a voice filled with emotion, "I beg of you - do not mention by name before the Heavenly Court!"

As these words left the mouth of the Chofetz Chaim, he broke down and wept bitterly, and his frail body trembled. This sight made a very powerful impression on the people of Radin, and the dispute was resolved immediately.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. .... Edmund Burke
Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.....Elie Wiesel

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Final Countdown, Atheistic Government, Immorality, Enemies



Rabbi Yehoshua Zitron
Mashiach Part 16: The Final Countdown- Atheistic Government, Immorality, Enemies

Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Bit More Salt



"Cursed is he who secretly strikes his fellowman" [Ki Tavo 27:24]

Rashi explains that this curse refers to one who speaks lashon hora - when someone speaks evil, he secretly "strikes" his fellowman.

The Chofetz Chaim was traveling in the company of a well-known rabbi on their way to performing a mitzvah.

After traveling for some time, they decided to rest at an inn.

The woman who owned the inn realized that her two new guests were highly esteemed rabbis, so she quickly set a table and offered them various delicacies.

When they had finished eating, she approached them and asked "How was the meal?"

"It was excellent!" remarked the Chofetz Chaim. "The food was delicious."

"And how did you enjoy the food?" asked the hostess to the other rabbi.

"The food" answered the rabbi, "was certainly adequate, but it could have used a bit more salt."

Their hostess cleared the table and entered the kitchen.

As soon as she left the room, the Chofetz Chaim turned to the rabbi and, with sorrow in his voice, said: "All my life, I have taken the utmost care not to speak or hear words of lashon hora. But now that I am in your company, you have caused me to falter - I am greatly distressed that I have made this trip. I am sure that this trip was not truly for the sake of a mitzvah, for it is impossible that one who has set out to perform a mitzvah should come to violate such a grave transgression!"

"But what did I say?" asked the rabbi. "I said the food was good. I just added that the food could have used a little salt."

"You have no idea," answered the Chofetz Chaim, "of the incredible power of one's words. In all likelihood, the cook is a poor widow who works in this inn to support her family. I am sure that because of your comment, the hostess will go to this poor widow and tell her that the guests are complaining about her cooking. The widow, in defence of her cooking, will deny that the guests have any grounds for complaints. At that point, the hostess will become incensed and shout at her "Do you think the distinguished guests are lying? You are the one who is the liar!" Ultimately, the hostess, in a fit of anger, will fire the poor unfortunate cook."

"Just look at how many sins you have committed with your words: (1) You spoke lashon hora; (2) you caused both the hostess and myself to hear lashon hora; (3) you caused the hostess to relate the words of lashon hora to the cook; (4) you caused the cook to lie in defence of her cooking; (5) you caused the cook terrible suffering."

"Surely you are exaggerating" said the rabbi to the Chofetz Chaim.

"Not in the least" responded the Chofetz Chaim. "Come with me and I'll show you."

The two rabbis entered the kitchen and were greeted with a sorry sight. The poor cook was standing with her head in her hands, sobbing.

The rabbi took one look at the widow, and immediately understood just how correct the Chofetz Chaim had been. He quickly made his way to the hostess and pleaded with her to forgive the cook and restore her to her position.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Chai Elul

Art Baruch Nachshon

"Chai Elul" -- the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Elul -- is a most significant date on the Chassidic calendar. The founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, was born on this date, in 1698. It is also the day, 36 years later, on which the Baal Shem Tov began to publicly disseminate his teachings, after many years as a member of the society of "hidden tzaddikim" during which he lived disguised as a simple innkeeper and clay-digger, his greatness known only to a very small circle of fellow mystics and disciples.

Elul 18 is also the birthday -- in 1745 -- of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, who often referred to himself as the Baal Shem Tov's "spiritual grandson" [Rabbi Schneur Zalman was the disciple of Rabbi Israel's disciple, Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch]. After gaining fame as a child prodigy and young Talmudic genius, Rabbi Schneur Zalman journeyed to Mezeritch to study under the tutelage of the Baal Shem Tov's successor--as he later explained, "to study I knew somewhat, but I needed to learn how to pray"--and was soon accepted into the intimate circle of Rabbi DovBer's leading disciples. Rabbi Schneur Zalman established the "Chabad" branch of Chassidism, which emphasizes in-depth study and intense contemplation as the key to vitalizing the entire person, from sublime mind to practical deed.

Last Election Before Moshiach?

Israeli election ballot

פקד פקדתי
The words above ''pekod pedoti'' refers to the order of the counting of years.  Rabbi Kessin tells us - in the video blogged yesterday] that the gematria of פקד פקדתי represents the year 5780 - the letters adding up to 780.  He says this is an indication that in 5780 we will stop the counting due to Moshiach's arrival.  [Note this is not a prophecy, it is customary to look for hints in the number of the year.  We hope and pray that Rabbi Kessin's words are indeed a small prophecy]

Rabbi Kessin was asked the question ''will this be the last Israeli election before Moshiach?'' [as predicted by Rabbi Kaduri]

Video: 11 minutes - sound not great, turn up speakers to maximum


Monday, September 16, 2019

The Coming of Moshiach and the Greatness of Torah (part 2)


Rabbi Mendel Kessin shiur given last night in Israel


Frantic

by Rabbi Aron Moss

Question:

Why is life so frantic at the moment? It seems like things are unusually hectic, not just for me but everyone I talk to. Shifts in personal life, career moves, some good and some bad, big stuff and massive changes, all in the last week or so. Is something going on spiritually that I should know about?

Answer:

Oh yes. We are in the final month of the Jewish year, the month of Ellul. A lot has to happen in these last weeks of the year.

The Jewish view is that time has a personality. Each year has a character of its own. It's like a guest who stays with you for twelve months, follows you around everywhere you go, and then leaves so another guest can move in. Each year arrives with its particular energy and feel, and then that energy makes way for a new year with its own personality and style.

Some guests are easy, others can be quite demanding. But each leaves a gift behind -the lessons learned, the challenges faced, and tasks fulfilled in the year gone by.

Every year on Rosh Hashana it is decreed in heaven what each person needs to face in the year to come. We are each given a specific set of obstacles to overcome, lessons to learn and changes to make over the course of the year.

As the year comes to a close, we need to deal with any unfinished business. We must complete this year's spiritual task list while this year still exists. Rosh Hashana will come and this year will be gone, along with all its challenges and opportunities. New ones will then arrive, but first we have to finish up with the old. Next year has its own energy and its own tasks.

So now, at the end of the year, the pace speeds up, the intensity is increased and everything is thrown at us. Our guest is about to leave. We need to say goodbye to this year soon, but before we do we need to squeeze every last opportunity out of it. No wonder it's hectic. It is the drama of saying farewell forever. There is no time to waste. This year will never be again. 

Source: Tanya Igeres Hakodesh 14

Rabbi Aron Moss is Spiritual Leader of Nefesh

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Eisav Effect



''I always look orange'' says Donald Trump, blaming it on the LED lightbulbs.

It's not the lightbulbs.... it's the Eisav effect.... Eisav was orange, actually it's described as red:

And the first one emerged ruddy; he was completely like a coat of hair, and they named him Esau. [Toldot 25:25

According to Rabbi Kessin, at the End of Days Eisav does teshuva, making Trump the tov she'b Eisav - the good part of Eisav. 

Isaac told Esau that he would be a slave to his brother. However, when Jacob’s descendants would rebel against G‑d and his Torah, Esau’s descendants would be able to throw off their yoke and rise up against their masters. Only then would Esau have any power over Jacob.    It is interesting to note how similar Jacob’s blessing was to Esau’s. They were both blessed with the dew of the heavens and the fatness of the earth, and there would be times when each one would dominate. The primary difference between the two is that Jacob would control when he would have mastery over Esau, i.e., when he fulfilled G‑d's will, whereas Esau would not. He would have to bide his time until the Jews rebelled against G‑d. Only then would he have power. Perhaps the reason for the similarity is that after Jacob received the blessings, and it was established that Jacob would be the one to elevate Esau and the world, Esau could now also receive the blessings, along with the ability to refine himself if he tried. That is why he was also blessed with “dew,” which, as we explained, refers to a transcendental revelation of G‑dliness necessary to refine the world.
[Source: Chabad]

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Electrifying Fence

Art Luis Beltran

by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh
Source: Inner


The Value of Life

In this weeks Torah portion of Ki Teitzei God instructs us to construct a fence around the roof of our new homes in order to prevent someone from falling off the roof and being killed [Deuteronomy 22:8]. This commandment is the origin of the general directive to do what we can to prevent danger and bloodshed, particularly in our own homes. The image of the fence around the roof is the image of the epitome of the value of life.

The Mashiach Connection

The image of the roof also connects to the image of Mashiach. In Psalms 102:8 King David writes: “I have been diligent, and I have become like a lone bird on the roof.”

The image of the bird is the image of Mashiach (as explained in Rabbi Ginsburgh’s audio lecture on the Torah portion of Va’etchanan). Mashiach is described as a bird sitting in a nest in the Garden of Eden, waiting to redeem the world. In this verse in Psalms, the image of Mashiach is the image of a bird on the roof. In a related image in the Midrash, [Yalkut Shimoni, Isaiah 60:499], the Mashiach once again appears on the roof, this time as a human being.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe would often quote this Midrash, in which the Mashiach stands on the roof of the holy Temple in Jerusalem and turns to the Jewish People saying, “Humble ones, (humility is a basic characteristic needed to merit the redemption) the time of your redemption has come.”

The Eternal Bird of the Soul

As birds obviously do not need a fence on a roof, the commandment to construct such a fence clearly relates to people. The verse supports the need for a fence by saying that “you should not put ‘blood’ (dam) in your home.” The two letters of the Hebrew word dam –dalet, mem – are the two last letters of the Hebrew word for “man,” adam (alef, dalet, mem). If a person falls off the roof and is killed, it is the dam that is being destroyed. Only the dalet and mem of adam need a protective fence. The first letter, alef, is not touched. It is the inner bird of the soul of adam, and is eternal.

Messianic Newness

Our verse specifies to construct a fence when we build a new home, implying that all old homes will have already been built with a fence. The new home also alludes to the new, third Temple. The concept of newness always relates to Mashiach, who teaches us the new, inner dimensions of the Torah. The commandment to build a fence around the roof of a new home is unique in its expression of consciousness of Messianic newness.

The Home — The Written Torah

The concept of the home also relates to the House of Israel and the lineage of King David and the Mashiach, called the House of David.

In our meditation, the image of the home is the image of the Written Torah (the five books of Moses, the Prophets and Scriptures). The Written Torah comes from the faculty of chochmah, (“wisdom”) and is a relatively male intellectual faculty.

The Roof — The Oral Torah

Our verse begins with the words “Ki tivneh” (“When you build…”). The Hebrew word tivneh can also be read as tevunah, “deep understanding.” Tevunah is the origin of the Oral Torah. (The oral tradition began with the Patriarchs. It is comprised of the laws and traditions passed from generation to generation). It is a relatively female mentality. When we build a new home, we build (tivneh) from the faculty of tevunah. Tevunah is the place in the mind that dictates that we must make a fence around the roof of a new home. In Kabbalah and Chassidut we learn that this commandment to actively protect life is one of the central and original thoughts behind the oral tradition of the Torah. It alludes to the origin and purpose of the Oral Torah, which is to create a fence around the Written Torah to protect it from spiritual danger.

The Fence Around the Roof

When we ascend in our consciousness to the high point, the “roof” of an idea or experience, we have reached its climax or epitome. It is precisely here that danger lies. Thus, the first teaching of the first mishnah of the Oral Torah is that we must make a “fence” (syag) around the Torah. If one doesn’t have a fence at the high point of his new house — his new consciousness and new Messianic dimension of the Torah — he is liable to fall.

The Fallen Sparks

The word in our verse (which is part of the Written Torah) for “fence” is ma’akeh. The word in the first mishnah of the Oral Torah for a fence is syag. The numerical value of ma’akeh is 215, while the numerical value of syag is 73. Together they equal 288, one of the most important numbers in Kabbalah. 288 is the number of sparks that have fallen into creation after God created high-energy, unstable worlds, which collapsed. These 288 sparks dispersed throughout reality, where they are captured and hidden. The purpose of the descent of our souls to the world is to redeem these 288 sparks. When this is accomplished, the redemption will be imminent.

Mathematical Fencing

The number 288 is a double square — 2 times 12 squared. Thus, the average value of the words ma’akeh and syag is 12 squared. The initial letters of these two words, mem and samech, equal 100, which is 10 squared. So we see that these two words fit together nicely.

If we calculate the triangles of 215 and 73 we will arrive at another amazing phenomenon. The triangle of a number is the sum of all numbers up to and including it. (For example, the triangle of 3 is 1 plus 2 plus 3 = 6). The triangle of 215 (ma’akeh) is 23, 220. The triangle of 73 (syag) is 2,701. The sum of these two numbers is 25,921. This number is a perfect square, the square of 161. 161 is another important number in Kabbalah. It is the numerical value of the Divine Name of God that represents tevunah, the faculty that builds a new home, as above. Tevunah is the spiritual force that creates the conditions in which the new dimension of Torah (the new home) is revealed. That new dimension has a roof, which is its epitome and summit. When the new Torah consciousness reaches that epitome, it needs to have a fence to protect it.

Electrum

Although our meditation is based on an image from the Torah portion and is beautified by mathematical associations, its most important goal is to help us to better serve God. Let us explore the image of the fence in our Divine service.

In Kabbalah, the fence symbolizes a field of light that protects one from falling — both spiritually and physically. This light is called chashmal. (In modern Hebrew, chashmal means “electricity.”) This word appears in the Bible only in the book of Ezekiel [chapter 1], in the vision of the Divine chariot — the deepest and most mystical part of the Bible. The meaning of chashmal in Ezekiel is the light of electrum, a certain color of light related to electricity. (The Talmud tells of a very spiritual child who once played with chashmal, became electrified and died). This light can be dangerous, but in our context it represents the secret of the fence that protects the person on the roof.

The Electric Fence

The Ba’al Shem Tov teaches that the secret of chashmal is the secret of the electric fence around the roof. He explains that in our service of God, chashmal represents the three-staged process of submission, separation and lowliness. Submission is being in a state of existential lowliness. This is followed by separation, the ability in the soul to clearly separate between positive and negative energies. The final stage of this process is sweetening, in which we reincorporate some of the negative energies into the positive, transforming the negative to sweetened goodness.

This spiritual service is the secret of the fence. The fence ensures that we retain the consciousness of beginning every moment anew with submission, and then progress to separation and sweetening. This consciousness is particularly crucial during our spiritual “highs,” when we experience the Messianic powers with which God has endowed us. The gift of these Messianic powers makes us responsible for our own environment. When we begin all that we do with submission, we will be protected on the roof of our spiritual endeavors. In this state of lowliness, we can address our environment just as the Mashiach, saying “Humble ones, the time of your redemption has come.” The redemption itself is the redemption of the 288 sparks – the ma’akeh and the syag.

Who is the Faller?

The Torah commands us to put a fence around our roof, adding the unusual phrase, “Lest the faller fall.” Our Sages explain that “the faller” is someone who is predisposed to fall. In Kabbalah we learn that the quintessential “fallers” are the 288 fallen sparks, which are in a state of existential fall since the beginning of creation. The commandment of the fence and its power is to raise and redeem those fallen sparks.

This is the most important directive for us to fulfill. When we strongly identify with the oral tradition of the Torah, the mate of the Written Torah, we create a complete home with a foundation and a roof. When we add the electrified fence of submission, separation and sweetening, we pave the way for Messianic consciousness to redeem the 288 fallen sparks and subsequently to redeem the entire world.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

13 Elul: Yarzheit Ben Ish Chai

The Ben Ish Chai
Chacham Yosef Chaim of Baghdad

To read some of his teachings and connect with his soul on his yarzheit, click on the BEN ISH CHAI label below this post.
The date of his yarzheit this year - 13 Elul/13 September - will see a rare Harvest Moon - click here to read more.


by Chana Lewis

Chacham Yosef Chaim (1832-1909), known as the Ben Ish Chai, was a highly-revered Torah scholar and master of Kabbalah. Based in Baghdad, Iraq, he was recognized by the Sephardic community both locally and abroad as an eminent Halachic authority.

Youth

Yosef Chaim was born on the 27th of Av, 1832, into a long chain of rabbinic figures renowned for their spiritual influence on the Baghdad Jewish community over the centuries. His father, Chacham Eliyahu Chaim, the son of Chacham Moshe Chaim, was the head rabbi and leader of Baghdad's Jewish community.

At the age of seven, Yosef Chaim fell into a deep pit in the courtyard of his home while playing with his sister. He was eventually saved by a miracle, and in gratitude to G‑d he decided to devote his life to the study of Torah. As a young boy, he spent many hours absorbing Torah from the books in his father's extensive library. He went on to attend Beit Zilka, the Jewish seminary of Baghdad, headed by Rabbi Abdallah Someich.

When Yosef Chaim was fourteen years old, a question arrived for his father from Rabbi Chaim Palag'i, the chief rabbi of Turkey. His father was very busy and unable to answer for several days, so the young Yosef Chaim answered the question in his father's stead. The Turkish rabbi was so impressed with the boy's response that he predicted he would be a great sage. In a letter to Yosef Chaim's father, he enthused: "Your son, dear to your soul, has already preceded you and decided this case. May his father rejoice in him…"

In a special room secluded for study, Yosef Chaim continued to strive toward spiritual perfection, studying all of the Torah day and night. At midnight he would rise to recite the Tikkun Chatzot, lamenting the destruction of the Holy Temple, and at sunrise he would recite the morning prayers. For six consecutive years, he fasted by day and ate only at night, to weaken physical drives that could interfere with his Divine service. He built a mikvah, a ritual bath, in his home, so he could purify himself at any time.

At the age of eighteen, he married Rachel, the daughter of Rabbi Yehudah Someich, a relative of his teacher. Together, they had one daughter and a son. Yosef Chaim was known for the attention he showered upon his children, teaching them Torah and conversing with them, despite his demanding schedule. He often composed little riddles and puzzles to entertain them, some of which are recorded in his book Imrei Binah.

Leader of the Baghdad Community

When Yosef Chaim was twenty-five years old, his father passed away, and he became the unofficial leader of the Baghdad community. The title chacham – "wise one," the traditional Sephardic title bestowed upon rabbis – was appended to his name. Despite his young age, he was highly respected, and one of his disciples, Rabbi Dovid Chai Hacohen, testified that if Rabbi Yosef Chaim had lived during the time of the Temple, it would never have been destroyed. For unlike then, when the Jews disregarded the admonitions of the prophets, the entire Baghdad community lovingly obeyed every word uttered by Rabbi Yosef Chaim. During his lifetime, per his influence, all the Jews of Baghdad observed Shabbat and Torah law. Chacham Yosef Chaim refused a salary for his public service. Instead, he supported his family by partnering in his brother's business. He personally funded the publishing of his books, refusing sponsorship or charity, and any income from these books would be distributed to the poor. He was also known to donate his books for free to Torah scholars.

He attempted to bridge the gap between the Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities, who often followed widely differing practices, by referencing his contemporaries abroad, and reflecting on their approaches in his own writings. He felt strongly that Torah scholars needed to show mutual recognition for one another, even when they disagreed, lest their names be forgotten with the passage of time.

Though his legal decisions carried weight primarily amongst Sephardi populaces, his Ashkenazi counterparts recognized his genius, held him in high esteem, and often quoted his rulings.

For fifty years, from his appointment until his death, he lectured for one hour daily on Torah law and aggadah (historical and anecdotal material) in the Tsallat L'ziri, "the small synagogue." Four times a year, he lectured at the Great Synagogue of Baghdad, built with dirt from the land of Israel.

Chacham Yosef Chaim understood that cut-and-dry Torah law would not appeal to many, so the bulk of his discourses were coupled with Kabbalah and Aggadah. He helped his followers make associations between Biblical lore and the law, so their hearts would be drawn to the wisdom of Torah, and they would remember it.

His seminal work, the Ben Ish Chai, is based on the three-hour classes he presented each Shabbat. He'd begin each lecture with a Kabbalistic interpretation, in simple language, of the Torah portion of the week, and then present a selection of related practical laws. Two important figures guided his work: Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar, and Rabbi Isaac Luria, the Arizal.

His approach was based on preservation of local traditions, even in Halachic rulings. He would not recommend a change in local tradition unless there was compelling reason to do so. His rulings testify to his innovative approach which gave credence to local tradition, and to Ashkenazi and Sephardi rulings alike.

The Ben Ish Chai became the standard reference book for Torah law among Sephardim. It appealed to a wide audience, scholars and commoners alike, including women, who were usually not provided a religious education. Due to its widespread popularity, Chacham Yosef Chaim came to be called by the name of his book.

Many stories testify to his greatness. On one occasion, a scholar from Baghdad visited a great rabbi in Jerusalem, Rabbi Yaakov Shaul Elishar, to request his blessings. The elderly sage responded, "Why have you come to me? You have Chacham Yosef Chaim in Baghdad. There is no one like him in the world."

Chacham Yosef Chaim deeply loved the Land of Israel. He supported the Jewish settlement by printing all his books there, and throughout his life, gave money to the messengers from Israel who came to collect for the poor. In 1869, he journeyed to Israel where he visited the gravesites of numerous holy figures in Jerusalem and Hebron, and met with eminent Kabbalists. Though offered a rabbinical post there, he decided to return to Iraq. He brought back with him a large stone to be placed at the entrance to the synagogue where he lectured.

Days before his death, on the 8th of Elul, Chacham Yosef Chaim went on a pilgrimage to the grave of the prophet Ezekiel, and he became sick shortly after. On the 13th of Elul, 1909, he died and was buried that same night. He was deeply mourned, his funeral attended by over ten thousand people—Jews and non-Jews alike. Years after his death, Jews still made it practice to visit his gravesite every Friday.

Legacy

Despite his passing over 100 years ago, his legacy is very much alive in the hearts of those who continue to live by his seminal work, the Ben Ish Chai. Many of his disciples became great Jewish scholars who continued to disperse his teachings.

The extensive work of Chacham Yosef Chaim encompasses all aspects of Judaism: Torah law, Kabbalah, Q and A's, sermons, parables, proverbs, and prayers, liturgics and poetry for Shabbat and holidays. His work reflects simultaneously broad knowledge of the sciences, medicine, astronomy, physics and economics. His approach to Torah, though stringent, is imbued with love for its practice, and his followers, whose numbers continue to grow even today, revere his commitment to Torah law and the inspiration he brought to it.

Many schools, particularly in Israel, have been built in his name. Thousands continue to glean from the wisdom of Chacham Yosef Chaim, studying his books, but more importantly, living by them.

Source: Chabad

Video below: Rabbi Alon Anava: Parshat Ki Teitzei: Ben Ish Chai: How To Win Your Battles

False Prophet Syndrome



The term ''false prophet'' has been used a couple of times in the past month: once by a blogger who linked to me, and yesterday by a blogger referring to other people.

One of the reasons I started blogging was because I was sucked in to someone else's fake Torah.  I wanted to start a site that only contained TRUE Torah.

To that end, I started to publish short articles from Torah giants.  When you read Torah on my blog you can be sure it is real Torah.  Such greats as the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Ben Ish Chai, Noam Elimelech etc.  

When you watch a video on my blog, you can also be certain that the Rabbis I choose are teaching True Torah.... such as Rabbi Anava to name just one.

There is a grey area when it comes to predicting future events.  One of my favourite lecturers, Rabbi Mendel Kessin, has often stated that he is NOT a prophet and he could be wrong when he predicts future events.  Everyone needs to bear this in mind - his 21st Century series of videos where he speaks about America, Israel and Moshiach are his interpretation of current events but he is not a Prophet. Hashem will do whatever Hashem will do, and no rabbi, however great, can be sure of how things will turn out.  I think it is important to remember that.

I took great offence when the blogger who I will not name called me a False Prophet.... I don't do prophecy and I hope that nothing on this blog has caused anyone to lose faith in anything.... although I myself threw my hands up in the air and deleted my entire blog back in 5770 when Moshiach didn't come.... even I was susceptible back then.  

Nothing is certain, everything is unknown, even the way the Geula will play out.  No human these days knows for sure and we must all keep that in mind when we listen to some of the lectures that I post here regarding future events.  The most important thing is to keep praying for the Geula and keep learning Torah.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Rabbi Kessin on Anti Semitism and More


HT: Alex

This new video is published on You Tube by ''The Nation of Israel'' who I haven't heard of before. They sat down with Rabbi Mendel Kessin to speak about the misrepresentation of Trump's comments about Jews being disloyal to Israel, Bernie Sanders, orgs like IfNotNow and J Street...as well as the upcoming Israeli election.  A few minutes into this video, he is asked about Trump's ''chosen'' comment although that word is not used..... and he has the answer for all the doubters out there. [The sound is not great on this video, and I have my volume at 100%.... although my computer's sound is not the greatest at the best of times !]... actually I just remembered that I can now get You Tube on my TV.... 

Purification of America


Following my brief visit to the other side of town, so to speak, here is an old Rabbi Kessin lecture which just came up on my FB feed together with an annoucement which I didn't really understand, about Judea/Shomron and some kind of plan to be revealed after the elections. If you know what this is about, please leave a comment.  Meanwhile here is Rabbi Kessin from 2016 discussing the Purification of America.  This seems like something I need to hear to purify myself :)   My blog is back to normal folks !


Understanding


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

A New Outlook


Last night I reluctantly started to watch The Family.  I have never watched anything that involves Xtianity and when I say I watched it reluctantly, I am totally serious.  There were several times I almost turned it off, but I forced myself to continue watching. 

The main reason I turned it on in the first place was because of the topic coming up on Tomer Devorah's blog, and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.  And there was also my own blog post where I thought Trump's ''chosen'' comment was a joke.  I don't think that anymore.

After watching one episode of The Family, I now understand that when Donald Trump looked up and said he was the Chosen One, he was totally serious.  Devash is right.



This of course confuses everything for me.  Until now, I have thought that Trump was working towards our Moshiach, but I now think he is working towards a Xtian messiah, and I am re-reading all of Tomer Devorah's posts with a new outlook.

Truthfully, I don't know what to think about the future right now.  

For those of you who have not seen The Family, and I'm sure that is nearly all of you, I suggest you watch it as reluctantly as I did.  It is full of references to JC and it is difficult to sit through I admit, but at the same time it will remove any delusions you may have regarding current events.

I would like to contact Rabbi Kessin and discuss this with him, but I have no access to him.  Someone reading this who does have access to Rabbi Kessin, please make him sit down and watch The Family.

Update:  Just saw this on Instagram: Trump's latest post - watch out !

''Departing MCAS Cherry Point in North Carolina for Fayetteville, North Carolina. This is amazing!'' -
President Donald Trump

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Moshiach: The End is Here


Rabbi Yehoshua Zitron, Part 15 in the Moshiach series
To see previous lectures in this series go to Torah Anytime


Friday, September 6, 2019

Rav Kook's Ascension to Heaven


To commemorate Rav Kook's yarzheit this week, Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz gave this interesting shiur


Thursday, September 5, 2019

851: In It's Time I Will Hasten It

Here is an excerpt from an old Rabbi Kessin shiur from 2001: The Events of 9-11 - A Torah Perspective - based on a midrash in Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer, Perek 30.

I found it interesting, and some of the things he says I had amazingly not heard of previously, but then again back in 2001 I had not heard of Rabbi Kessin either.


Opening the Gates

''Karma'' is the word given to the Hebrew term ''midda kneged midda'' - measure for measure


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Mipeninei Noam Elimelech
Translated by Tal Moshe Zwecker

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

For the Sake of Peace

from the writings of the Ben Ish Chai

"Tzedek, Tzedek shall you pursue, that you may live and inherit the earth." [Shoftim 16:20]

"Pursuit" in Scripture is usually in order to destroy, as in "Five of you shall pursue a hundred" [Lev. 26:8].  Why, then, are we told to pursue tzedek - truth - as if it were an evil that we wish to eradicate?

There are times when we must keep away from the truth.

G-d asked Abraham: "Why did Sarah laugh, saying "Will I really give birth, when I have become old?" [Genesis 18:13]. Actually, Sarah had said that Abraham was old [Gen 18:12].  G-d changed the report for the sake of harmony between the two.

Why did G-d mention age at all?

To teach us to use falsehood when necessary for peace.  Being overly "righteous" about it is forbidden.

There are times when truth destroys and falsehood builds.

This is demonstrated by the very word שׁקר - "falsehood". Two of its letters stand on a single base, making them unstable.  Why, though, is the first letter - - sometimes formed with a stable base?  To show that we should not always discard falsehood. On occasion it is necessary.

Returning to our verse: "Tzedek, tzedek shall you pursue, so that you may live and inherit the earth".  The first tzedek means "charity" or "kindness".  The second means "truth". (Tzedek bears both meanings in Biblical Hebrew).  Our verse hints that truth is to bring charity and kindness in its wake.  Sometimes, charity and kindness require you to "pursue" and banish truth.  When?  "So that you may live" - when life is at stake.

If a critically ill person asks you how he looks, don't reply: "You look as if your condition is deteriorating."  That might hasten his death.  Lie and say: "You look as if you are on your way to recovery."  His joy at hearing this may help him recover.

You may also have to banish truth to bring peace.

Let's say Reuven sent a messenger to pick something up from Shimon, whose response was to curse Reuven.  Afterward, Reuven asks his messenger "What did Shimon say?"  To prevent a feud, Shimon must refrain from telling him the truth.

Pursue truth "and inherit the earth" - banish truth to bring peace, which preserves the earth.

Source: Od Yosef Hai, Derushim Shoftim - Ben Ish Chai

Monday, September 2, 2019

New Rabbi Kessin Shiur


This shiur is called the Greatness of Torah Part 1, and was just given in Israel, but he talks about Moshiach from about one hour in, and then talks about the End of Days and the upcoming Israeli elections.


3 Elul - Yarzheit Rav Kook


Tonight [Monday] light a candle for the yarzheit of Rav Kook.... the man in the picture on the top left hand side of this blog [unless you're on a cell phone in which case you can't see the left hand side]... with the quote ''Before the world of truth can come, the world of lies must disappear.''


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

"Which big books?" asked the teacher.

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

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

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

"To Israel, to Eretz Yisrael..."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on Rav Kook at Rav Kook Torah

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Complainer

by Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson - The Yeshiva.net


The Raah Bird

This week’s portion Reah repeats—for the second time in the Torah[1]—G-d’s “Kosher List,” of mammals, fish and birds, suitable for Jewish consumption. In the category of birds, the Torah enumerates twenty-four species of birds which are not kosher. One of them is called by three names—the Raah, Dayah and Ayah.[2]

The Talmud explains[3] that these are three names for the same bird. The Torah specifies all of them, because if it would mention only one name, then if someone knows the bird by one of its names not mentioned in the Torah, he might have entertained the idea that it was kosher.

What type of bird is this Raah/Ayah/Dayah creature? Many have translated it as the Vulture or the Hawk. Yet, after all the research, it seems that the most accurate translation for the Raah bird is the Kite, or in its scientific term—the Milvus. Indeed, in Arabic the Kite is known as the “Chadaa” (חדאא), quite similar to the biblical Dayah.[4]

Three Names

Why three names for the same bird? “Raah” stems from the verb “to see.” “Dayah” is from the verb "to fly, sore, or glide." “Ayah” is from the verb “to wail, scream, cry.” All these names describe characteristics of this bird. This Kite indeed is scattered all over the Middle East, feeding chiefly on smaller birds, mice, reptiles, and fish. In the capture of fish the Kite is almost as expert as the osprey (the “Shalach” in the biblical language), darting from a great height into the water, and bearing off the fish in its claws. The wings of the Kite are long and powerful, bearing it through the air in a peculiarly graceful flight. That is why it has been called the Glede or the Kite, representing its gliding movements.

The sight of this bird is remarkably keen and piercing. From the vast elevation to which it soars when in search of food, it is able to survey the face of the land beneath, and to detect the partridge, quail, chicken, or other creature that will become its food.

Should the Kite suspect danger near its nest, it escapes by darting rapidly into the air, soaring at a vast height above the trees among which its home is made. From that elevation it can act as a sentinel, due to its incredible eyesight, and will not come down until it is assured of safety.

The Talmud’s Observation

What is remarkable is that seventeen centuries before all of the scientific research, the Talmud described it in a few words: [5]

אמר רב אבהו, ראה זו איה,ולמה נקרא שמה ראה? שרואה ביותר. וכן הוא אומר [6] נָתִיב לֹא יְדָעוֹ עָיִט, וְלֹא שְׁזָפַתּוּ עֵין אַיָּה. תנא עומדת בבבל ורואה נבלה בארץ ישראל!

Rabbi Abahu said, the Raah bird is the same as the Ayah. Why is this bird it called "Raah?" Because it sees exceedingly well.

The Talmud proceeds to prove this from a verse in Job:[7]"There is a path which no bird of prey knows; and which the kite’s eye has not seen." The very fact that the biblical verse underscores the fact that the Kite’s eye has not perceived the hidden path indicates that the kite usually possesses piercing vision.

The Talmud continues to illustrate the kite’s keen eyesight:

We have learnt that this bird stands in Babylon, and sees a carcass in the Land of Israel!

Now, that’s impressive, being that the distance between Babylon (present day Iraq) and Israel is some 500 miles.[8]

Three Questions

The obvious question is why the Talmud uses such a strange illustration: “This bird stands in Babylon and sees a carcass in the Land of Israel!” It could have used so many more examples of what he bird is capable of seeing and where it is capable of seeing it?

Another, more substantial question: The reason some animals are not kosher is because the negative characteristics these animals possess can have a negative impact on their consumer. “You are what you eat” is not only a cliché. It is why we are instructed to abstain from eating certain animals whose traits we would not wish to incorporate into our psyche. Kosher animals, on the other hand, are characterized by peaceful traits that are worth imitating. [9]

But why, then, is this bird not kosher? Surely keen eyesight and perception are worthy traits. Shouldn't this bird then be kosher? [10]

What Do You See?

The Talmud is not only illustrating the keen vision of the Kite, or the Raah; it is also explaining to us why it is not kosher: “This bird stands in Babylon, and sees a carcass in the Land of Israel!” When you gaze at the land of Israel, you can see many things, including many positive and heartwarming items; yet what does this bird see? Corpses! Being a carnivorous bird, which kills, devours and eats the meat of other animals, its eyes gaze at Eretz Yisroel but observe only one thing: the carcasses in the land! [11]

This is what makes it a non-kosher animal—because this quality is prevalent among some people as well, and we do not want to “eat” and incorporate this type of behavior into our psyche.

Helpless Critics

Some people are simply chronic complainers. They will gaze at their wife, children, relatives, community members and all they will see are flaws, deficiencies, mishaps and negative attributes.

Some people never stop criticizing everybody and everything. While some see the good in everybody, even in the worst situation or person, these characters manage to somehow see the evil in everybody and in everything. They can always show you how everyone has an “agenda,” and everyone is driven by ulterior motives; there are smelly carcasses everywhere.

Are they right? They may be partially, or even completely correct. Every person has flaws. Even the greatest saint has demons; even a great man usually has some skeleton—a corpse—in his closet. That is why we need a Torah to guide us, and that is why the Torah asks of us to never stop working on ourselves, to challenge our conventions, to scrutinize our motives, to refine our behavior, to make amends of our mistakes. But why is that the only thing you manage to observe?

The “Holy” Preacher

A story:[12]

A renowned Maggid (traveling preacher) arrived one day at the hometown of Reb Shmuel Munkes, a noted disciple of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, who was a deeply pious man with an incredible sense of humor. After reading his letter of approbation, lauding him as a tzaddik wont to wander from town to town for the sole purpose of inspiring fellow Jews, the townspeople—who were simple, G-d fearing, innocent Jews—invited him to preach.

Throughout his sermon the Maggid berated his fine audience, chastising them for “dreadful sins.” He rebuked the, for being such terrible, lowly and horrendous Jews, evoking G-d’s wrath. He proceeded to describe in vivid detail the severe punishment that awaited them as a result of their evil ways. When finished, the proud orator quickly retired to his room, leaving his crestfallen audience to wail over of their horrific moral state and the Divine retribution about to befall them.

No sooner had he made himself comfortable, when a man walked into his room. It was Reb Shmuel himself.

Reb Shmuel took out a long knife and a sharpening stone entered his room. He proceeded to sharpen his knife.

After a few tense and wordless moments, the Maggid broke the silence. “What’s this all about?” he asked with a look of astonishment.

His eyes still trained on the sharpening stone, Rabbi Shmuel Munkes replied in mock sincerity: “As the honorable Maggid knows, we simple folk never had the merit of having a righteous scholar in our midst. Who knows, perhaps it is because of our wanton sins you just described.”

Bemused as to where this was heading, the Maggid replied, “Yes, yes, but what does any of this have to do with the knife you are sharpening?”

“Well,” retorted Reb Shmuel, “We were taught by our parents that before Rosh Hashanah one should pray at the gravesites of the righteous. And sadly, we never had in our cemetery the grave of a righteous man. All of our residents—as you have eloquently described us—have been utterly wicked.”

“Of course, of course, nodded the Maggid. But why the knife!?”

“It's rather simple,” explained Reb Shmuel calmly. “The nearest burial site of a tzaddik is very far from our town. It is extremely cumbersome for the townsfolk to make the yearly trek. We decided that we finally need to have a righteous man buried in our midst.

“After hearing your speech,” Reb Shmuel continued in a straight face, “I know there is no one more holy and righteous than you in our entire region. So I decided to… slaughter you and bury you right here in our very own cemetery. Finally, before Rosh Hashanah, we will be able to come pray at your sacred grave site.”

As the grim reality began to set in, the Maggid adeptly switched course. “Come to think of it,” he stammered, “I am not all that righteous after all. I have committed some small sins here and there; they were obviously all inadvertent.”

Reb Shmuel dismissed the Maggid's confession: “Honored Maggid! You are still very righteous and learned. As for the transgressions? They are so minor; who would even know that these were sins. Your humility is nothing but proof of your exceptional righteousness. Besides, relative to our heinous sins—which you have just described in your sermon—you are, trust me, a complete tzaadik! You are the man we need buried here.” By now, Reb Shmuel was done with the sharpening of the knife. The “holy preacher” began to panic. “On second thought,” stuttered the Maggid, “Some of my transgressions were a bit more serious, such as…” He went on to share some immoral things he has done in his life, which disqualified him from being a tzaddik. Rabbi Shmuel quickly dismissed these as well: “To us you are still a great Tzaddik. You are far better than anything we have.” Finally the Maggid confessed to some rather ugly and embarrassing transgressions. He admitted that in truth he was far from the great tzaddik that he portrayed himself to be. He was actually a disgraceful low life. Now, it was Rabbi Shmuel’s turn to preach: “How dare you admonish these beautiful, innocent and pure Jews, when you yourself are a despicable, immoral charlatan! How dare you cause such fine, lovely, well-intended Jews so much anguish. It is you who needs to transform his life; it is you who needs to repent for all of his transgressions. 

The Maggid got the message. He left the town in deep inner shame. He never again rebuked his audiences with stern, harsh words. The Mirror How did Reb Shmuel know that this guy was really playing a game and that he was far from holy? The answer is simple: When you are pure and holy, you see innocence and purity in others. When you are in touch with your own soul, you sense the soul in others. When you have a genuine relationship with G-d, and your appreciation of the G-dliness within every person far more palpable. When you don’t suffer from an inflated ego, or from terrible insecurity, you will truly appreciate the goodness in others. To be sure, there are corpses, skeletons, demons and ghosts in almost every human person; that is what makes them human. Even the Holy Land has its share of carcasses—physical and psychological. But when that is the only thing you see, it means that you are a non-kosher person. You need your own cleansing. The Bias toward Israel Today This insight of our sages concerning the non-kosher Raah bird is so relevant today when it comes to Israel. Is Israel a perfect country? We all know the answer. Israel has many challenges and problems. Is the government perfect? Only a fool can think so. Over the last three decades the Israeli leadership has made some historical errors which might take generations to fix. But there are those who when they look at Israel see nothing but “corpses.” In our own day and age, with modern technology we were all blessed with the eyesight of the kite. We sit in our homes in Babylon (or US, or Canada, or Europe, Australia, South Africa, or anywhere else in the world), and with the help of CNN or BBC or other news cameras we can see Israel. But often, all the reporters, journalists, bloggers, academics, politicians see in Israel are stinky corpses. When they report on Israel, you would think that the country does nothing besides producing Palestinian Children corpses. And this is how you know how terribly biased and unfair they are. When someone criticizes Israel—that is legitimate. There is much to comment and argue about. But when one has nothing but criticism for Israel, when there is nothing good to say about Israel, when Israel is portrayed as the most racist country—then you know it has nothing to do with Israel; rather, the person spewing the hate is treif. At the end of the day, it is all a matter of perspective. Each of us has to choose what we are going to see—in ourselves and in the world around us. 

Footnotes and Source: click here