Friday, April 29, 2011

Why Me?

"...You shall not stand by [the shedding of] your fellow's blood...." [Kedoshim 19:16]

The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything that a person sees is orchestrated by G-d as a specific message to him. 

This is the inner significance of Rashi's comment to verse 16: The fact that you see someone whose life is in danger proves that "you are able to save him".  For the fact that G-d allowed you to witness this event must surely be for a practical reason - namely that you, of all people, have the ability to save this person.

Likewise, if one sees a person "drowning" spiritually, it is a sign from Above that one has the ability to draw him back to the fountains of living Judaism.

[Based on Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe]

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Fifth Year

Arbol de higo (fig tree) by  Ivette Guzmán-Zavala

"In the fifth year, you may eat its fruit" [Kedoshim 19:25]

While the fruits of a tree's fourth year are holy, and may be eaten only in Jerusalem, the fruits of the fifth year may be eaten anywhere.

According to Chassidic thought, the fruits of the fifth year actually correspond to a greater degree of spirituality than those of the fourth year. This is because the ultimate expression of spirituality is not that which must remain confined to a certain holy place (such as Jerusalem). Rather, the greatest holiness is that which permeates the mundane fabric of everyday life, so that even the lowest parts of this physical world are devoted to the "praise of G-d".

Based on Likutei Sichos, Lubavitcher Rebbe

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Revenge is [not] Sweet

"You shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against the members of your people" [Kedoshim 19:18]

There are times, said the Chofetz Chaim, that a man grows angry with a friend who did not do him a particular favor.  Such feelings are completely unjustified.

To what can this be compared?  To a man who was walking down the street, looking for his friend.  As he passed people in the street, he would ask them "Have you seen my friend perhaps?"

"Try looking for him in the town square," he was told.  "There are many people gathered there; maybe your friend will be among them."

He went to the town square, searched for his friend, yet he did not find him.

Would it even ocur to him to feel anger toward those individuals who directed him to the town square?  Of course not! He realizes that he must simply continue his search.

The same thing applies to the prohibitions of taking revenge and bearing a grudge, said the Chofetz Chaim.  We are forbidden to feel anger towards a friend who did not do us a favor.  What reason can there be to be angry with him?  Hashem obviously did not designate him as the one who would bestow this particular kindness upon us.  We must simply turn to someone else, and place our request with him; perhaps he is the one who will be able to assist us. 

If a person accustoms himself to constantly thinking in this manner, he will never bear a grudge or feel the need to take revenge.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Sunday, April 24, 2011


from the writings of the Ben Ish Hai

"Hashem safeguards the faithful, and repays the one who goes beyond to make arrogance" [Psalms 31:24]

It is bad enough to give in to negative traits that are part of our nature. Much worse is to arouse or cultivate negative traits, as did the Erev Rav in the desert.
Ben Ish Chai
They "desired a desire" - they desired to have desire - and they said "Would that we were given meat to eat!" [Numbers 11:4]

Another example is a poor man who is haughty. Wealth naturally pushes people toward arrogance, but if a poor man is haughty, he has brought it on himself.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who overcome their nature to serve G-d faithfully. An example is sharp Torah scholars who could find grounds to permit the forbidden but do not [see Eruvin 13b].

G-d punishes or protects most people through angels. But He "repays the one who goes beyond to make arrogance" - G-d personally punishes anyone who goes beyond his nature to make himself arrogant. And "Hashem safeguards the faithful" - He personally protects those who go beyond their nature to serve Him faithfully.

A Direct Line to God

from Sefer Baal Shem Tov:

There is a sign by which you can know if your prayers have been accepted.

If you can pray without extraneous thoughts, at the very least, or ideally, with fear and love according to your level, then you know that your prayers have been accepted.

Thus it says, "You will direct their heart, You will cause Your ear to hear."[Psalms 10:17]

It follows that when a person prays, he can know if his words were accepted and that G·d has listened. [Toldos Yaakov Yosef, Behaloscha]

Friday, April 22, 2011

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]

Rebbetzin Jungreis: the Birth Pangs of Moshiach Part 2

[To read Part 1, click here: Birth Pangs of Moshiach]

In last week’s column I began the first part of my response to the woman who wrote expressing her fears regarding the escalation of anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel throughout the world. In that column, I explained that our Sages and Prophets predicted it: and they tell us that that which we are witnessing today are “Ikvisei D’Moshiach” a period in which we can hear the footsteps of Messiah and the birth pangs that will precede the coming of that great day. At the conclusion of that column, I asked how long that labor will last, and how we can protect ourselves from the suffering that will accompany that period.

For that too, our sages have an answer. "Let he who wishes to be spared the birth pangs of Messiah occupy himself with Torah and gemilas chasidim (acts of loving kindness) and let him be scrupulous about Seudah Shlishis – the third Sabbath meal."

The first two recommendations – Torah and gemilas Chasidim, are self-explanatory and do not require much elaboration, for he who is committed to Torah and mitzvos and to reaching out with loving-kindness, must, of necessity, become a better, more spiritual person. But eating a third Sabbath meal is not as readily comprehensible.

We are enjoined to have three seudos – meals – on the Sabbath – Sabbath eve (Friday night), Sabbath noon (following prayer in the synagogue) and the third seudah – meal in the late afternoon as the Sabbath queen prepares to depart. Through these three meals we honor the three Patriarchs, the three sections of our Scriptures (Torah, Prophets, and the Writings), and we recall the three Sabbath meals of manna that G-d provided us during our sojourn in the wilderness [Exodus 16:25].

The final Sabbath seudah is called Shalosh Seudos, which translated literally, means “Three Meals” rather than Seudah S’hlishis – the third meal. Our sages explain that the reason for this is that all three Sabbath seudos are embodied in this one.

This third meal presents a most auspicious time for prayer. To this very day, when I close my eyes, I can hear the sweet voice of my revered father and my beloved husband, of blessed memory, leading their congregations in singing Psalm 23, the psalm that is traditionally chanted at the Shalosh Seudos.

“The L-rd is my Shepherd, I shall not want...” The task of the shepherd is a lowly and lonely one. Day in and day out he is destined to wander from place to place, seeking pasture for his flock, and yet, David did not hesitate to refer to G-d as a Shepherd for he perceived that G-d’s love is so total, so encompassing, that when it comes to caring for His children, nothing is beneath Him. What a magnificent and fortifying thought – for no matter where life takes us, even if we have to walk in the treacherous valley overshadowed by death, we need not fear, for G-d our Shepherd, will always be there to lead us to greener pastures, even if at first, we do not recognize that the pasture is green.

Still, it is difficult to comprehend how the mere eating of a third meal, singing Psalm 23, and discussing words of Torah could have such awesome power that they can actually protect us from the suffering that will accompany the birth pangs. But there is a profound lesson at the root of this teaching. The first two Sabbath seudos are eaten when we are hungry, but after a festive noontime seudah, we are hardly in the mood for another meal. So it is not to satiate our hunger that we gather around the Shalosh Seudos table. Rather, it is to celebrate the Sabbath and sing her praises, and that is why the Third Meal encompasses them all. The Third Meal is symbolic of the conversion of the physical to the spiritual, and ultimately, that is our purpose, to become spiritual beings and to free ourselves from the shackles of materialism – and that is something that our generation, obsessed with materialism and the pursuit of pleasure has yet to learn.

You might of course wonder, “Why must we experience birth pangs in order for Messiah to come? Why can’t he just announce his presence? But the Messianic period will be very much like Shalosh Seudos, when we sit around the table – not to satiate our physical hunger, nor to glory in our material achievements, but to celebrate our spiritual attainments.

In order for that to happen, we will have to divest ourselves of all the icons we hold dear. Therefore, our hallowed institutions, the bastions of strength in which we placed our trust, will have to fall away. It is that painful disintegration to which we are witness today. From the corporate world to governments, to religious institutions, to science and medicine, they have all failed us. And worse, we no longer feel safe or secure in our daily lives. Terrorists and suicide bombers have become a reality of our existence and no army or police force is capable of shielding us from them. Shorn of all of our defenses, we stand vulnerable and terrified, and wonder what life is all about as we see our idols crumble before our very eyes.

How long will these birth pangs last? Until we recognize the simple truth — that “we can rely on no one but our Heavenly Father.” So let us sound the shofar, awaken ourselves from our lethargy and heed the voice of our Father calling us.

But even as we do so, let us not despair. There is an amazing Midrash that recalls the story of three great Biblical figures: Reuven, Aaron and Boaz, about whom the sages said, had they only known that the Torah would record their deeds, they would have done even more.

How can we understand such puzzling teachings? How can it be that such spiritual giants would have needed the additional incentive of being inscribed in the Torah to conduct themselves more nobly? It has often occurred to me that there is a deep lesson to be gleaned from this Midrash that could be a great source of spiritual strength in these troubled times.

When Reuven discovered that the pit into which his brother Joseph had been cast was empty, he was overcome by inconsolable grief and cried out, “The lad is gone! And I – where can I go?” [Genesis 37:30] But had Reuven known that Joseph was on his way to Egypt to prepare the path for the family of Jacob, a path that would eventually lead the nation to Sinai, he would have rejoiced!

When Aaron went to greet Moses who was returning to the Auschwitz of Egypt, his heart fell, for he feared for the life of his younger brother. Had he only known that Moses was coming to redeem the nation, he would have greeted him with an orchestra!

Had Boaz, from whose fields Ruth gleaned, known that she would one day become his wife and the great grand-mother of King David, he would have rejoiced and made her a magnificent festive meal.

Had they only known what the Torah had mapped out for them, their hearts would have been filled with elation rather than trepidation.

Similarly, all our journeys, be they personal or national are guided by G-d. There is an ultimate goal – a destination to which we will all arrive. It is not for naught that we are launched on our paths. Our struggles are not in vain. So when our journeys become difficult, when our hearts tremble with fear, let us recall Reuven, Aaron and Boaz. Let us remember that we have not yet witnessed the end – and the end will be good. That which we are experiencing are birth pangs. Let us hold fast, for very soon, we will see blessed new life that will make all our sacrifices and suffering worthwhile.

Finally, dear friends, every day when you daven, read the little closing paragraph with great concentration: “Do not fear sudden terror or the Holocaust of the wicked when it comes... It shall not stand, for G-d is with us.”

You need only believe it. You need only place your full trust in G-d. Follow the light of His Torah and that light will pierce even the most dense darkness.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Preparing for the End - or not? [Video]

"100 days Of Disasters" [aired on Australian TV 19 April 2011]

2012 prophecy, current/recent weather events, Mayan Calender, Comet, Tsunami, Solar Flares, Nibiru....

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Four Questions

Chag sameach!

The Secret of the Ten Plagues

[Hat tip: Dudi]

The following [extracts of a] letter are taken from a pamphlet written by the Tzaddik, Rebbe Shimshon from Ostropoli. He writes at the end of the pamphlet that anyone who studies the wondrous and awesome secrets written here, even one time in a year, and especially Erev Pesach, is guaranteed that he will be saved from any kind of accident or disaster or strange death for the whole of that year, and that everything that he turns his hand to will be successful!

" briefly as possible I will answer Your Honor’s question regarding that which I wrote about the symbols DaTSaCH ADaSH BeaChaB  דצ"ך עד"ש באח"ב) ) etc. and how the Redemption is hinted at by these symbols..."

".....all these words of the Ari z”l are obviously the most wondrous and awesome secrets, sealed , closed and locked away from the slightest understanding, for who is there that could explain them? And, in fact, I have been asked many times by some of the greatest Rabbis to explain these words to them, and I refused. However, because of my great love for Your Honor, I will explain them to you as they were revealed and explained to me in a dream."

To read the entire letter go to: Shuvubonim

An Infinite Light is Coming....

Art: Aura Liliane Ritchie
I've had two "Sydney tsunami" dreams in the past few weeks, other people I know have also had "Sydney tsunami" dreams...   and although we don't get a lot of quakes here, Australia has had three earthquakes (on each side of the continent) in the last two days.    I don't think my dreams were prophetic or anything like that, but I do know that the weird weather is terrifying a lot of people.   Some New Zealanders moved out of Christchurch and over to Australia, and now the ground is shaking here as well. 
Meanwhile, an email came in overnight from someone who has contributed to this blog in the past:

"The reason for the severe weather in the world.....
An Infinite light, is coming into, a finite world."

That's all it said. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pinchas and Eliyahu HaNavi: The Same Soul

There is a midrash that states that Pinchas and Elijah the Prophet are the same person. 

According to the Midrash, Pinchas and Elijah the Prophet are the same person. The simplest meaning is that the same soul descended to the world twice -- once in the body of Pinchas and once in the body of Elijah.

The same statement can be found in a number of places in Midrash. What is interesting is that "Pinchas is Elijah" and "Elijah is Pinchas" are written interchangeably. When Pinchas is being discussed, the Midrash says that Pinchas is Elijah. When Elijah is being discussed, the Midrash says that Elijah is Pinchas.

Since Elijah the Prophet lived hundreds of years after Pinchas, it would apparently make more sense to say that "Elijah is Pinchas", and not the reverse. After all, Pinchas lived before Elijah, and was Pinchas before he was Elijah.

According to an explanation in the Zohar, the soul of Elijah was actually created during the Six Days of Creation. He has existed ever since as an angel, but on occasion, he descends to the world in human form, born of a mother and father.

This is why the Midrash sometimes uses the phrase "Pinchas is Elijah", even though Pinchas was born first. The essence, the soul of Elijah existed before Pinchas was born.

Elijah and Pinchas led similar lives and their paths complement each other. Pinchas is a symbol of zealousness for G-d and His commandments. He displayed self-sacrifice to prevent G-d's name from being desecrated. Elijah the Prophet is a guest at every circumcision, to witness the Jewish People imprint their bond with G-d in their flesh.

Through our single-minded commitment to fulfilling G-d's will, as epitomized by the deeds of Pinchas and Elijah, we will merit the ultimate Redemption, which will be heralded by Elijah the Prophet, who is Pinchas.

[Bereishis 1:20. Yalkut Simoni, Pinchas. Zohar, 3:15,1; Igrot Kodesh, vol. III, p. 160. Likutei Sichot vol II, p. 343]
Source: Chabad World

Friday, April 15, 2011

On Pesach The Door is Opened

"On the first two nights of Pesach the door is opened." [Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 480]

Our Sages state: "That which He does, He commands His children to do." [Shemos Rabbah 30:9, Yerushalmi, Rosh HaShanah 1:3]   Since G-d commands us to open the doors on the nights of Pesach, it is obvious that He does so Himself.

This means that on the nights of Pesach, G-d opens all the doors and portals for each and every Jew [see Pirkei d'Rebbe Elazar ch 32: 'The treasures of Divine dew are opened on this night']. 

No matter what our actions were during the past year, we are then all able to attain the most lofty and rare spiritual heights, in a manner of "Pesach"  and "leaping" infinitely higher than anything we have ever previously attained. [the deeper meaning of the word "pesach" is 'to leap over']

[From a sicha of the Lubavitcher Rebbe - second night of Pesach 5711 - Likutei Sichos Vol. IV, p.1298]

Redemption on our Doorstep

Yud Alef [11th] Nissan is today: [Friday April 15] - it is the birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.  In this video from 20 years ago, dated 5 Cheshvan 5751-October 13, 1991, the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l  meets with Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu zt"l [Hebrew with English subtitles] 

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Band: 8th Day
Song: "Ya'alili"
Album: Chasing Prophecy
Directed by: Larry Guterman
Produced & Written by: Chaim Marcus
This is the official music video featuring "Ya'alili" from 8th Day's new album called ''Chasing Prophecy'', composed by Shmuel Marcus, produced & arranged by Bentzion Marcus.

Alon's Near Death Experience [Video]

Alon Anava shares his near-death experience in depth. A must see video if you are interested in life after death. After his clinical death, Alon experienced a reality that is both frightening and hopeful. Alon was truly given a second chance. See what Alon has done with a second chance. This experience led Alon down a completely different path, allowing him to truly choose life - eternal life.

[Hat tip: Andrew]

Watch the entire video at: AlonAnava

Rebbetzin Jungreis: the Birth Pangs of Moshiach

by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Several weeks ago, I published a letter from a woman who expressed fear regarding the world situation – the escalation of anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel that is reminiscent of pre-Holocaust Europe. Her letter provoked a torrent of e-mails from young and old, quite a few of which I published, but I had yet to respond to her specific questions regarding her fears which, B’ezrat Hashem, I will now do.

My Dear Friend:

Firstly, allow me to apologize for the delay in responding to your specific questions, but since you are familiar with my columns, you are aware that I always allow my readers to respond to the challenges that are under discussion. However, I have not forgotten your original question and will devote this column to it..

I wish that I could tell you that your fears are unfounded, that your imagination is running away with you, and that reality proves you to be wrong, but sadly, you are right on target and those who make light of your worries are sleeping, even as our people slept in pre-Holocaust Europe.

That which we are witnessing today was all predicted by our prophets and sages, but alas, we are no longer familiar with their teachings. Ours is a generation that the prophet Amos described: “And days shall come upon you, saith the L-rd, and I shall send a hunger into the land – not a hunger for bread, nor a thirst for water – but a hunger for the Word of G-d.”.... It is this spiritual famine that we are witnessing today. We simply do not comprehend and we continue on our merry way with business as usual.

Maimonides taught that, when suffering is visited upon us, we are commanded to cry out and awaken our people with the sound of the shofar. Everyone must be alerted to examine his or her life and commit to greater adherence to Torah and mitzvos. Maimonides warned that if we regard the tragedies that befall us simply as “the way of the world” – “natural happenings”. We will be guilty of achzarius – cruelty.

At first glance, it is difficult to understand why Maimonides would choose the term “cruelty” to describe those who view trials and tribulations as “natural happenings”. Such people may be unthinking, apathetic, foolish, blind or obtuse, but why accuse them of cruelty?

The answer is simple. If we regard our pain and suffering as “mere coincidence,” we will feel no motivation to examine our lives, abandon our old ways, and change. So yes, such an attitude is cruel, for it invites additional misfortune upon ourselves and others.

It would be the height of cruelty to dismiss that which is occurring in the world today as mere happenstance. Great Torah luminaries of past generations, such as the Chofetz Chaim and Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman, told us that we are entering the final stages of history – a period in time called “Ikvesa D’Meshicha” – “Footsteps of the Messiah”. Our Torah foretells four exiles through which our people would suffer: Egypt, Babylonia – Persian-Mede Empires, Greece and Rome – the exile in which we presently find ourselves, for it was the Romans who exiled us when they destroyed the Second Temple.

In Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, an early Midrashic work, it is written that, before the coming of Messiah, we will have to contend with a fifth source of tribulation that will come from Yishmael – the Arabs -- who will inflict terrible suffering on the world and on our people. This teaching is reaffirmed by Rabbi Chaim Vital, the illustrious disciple of the Arizal, who wrote that before the final curtain falls upon the stage of history, Yishmael will inflict torture on our people in ways the world has never before seen.

One need not have great powers of discernment to recognize the painful veracity of these predictions. Consider only the suicide bombers, the decapitations, the hijackings, the missiles, the rockets, and the constant, senseless brutal acts of terror.

We are the generation that has been destined to witness the fulfillment of the prophecy given to Hagar [Genesis 16:11-13]. “Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you shall name him Ishmael....and he shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him, and over all his brethren shall he dwell.....”

The long arm of Ishmael’s terror has indeed reached every part of the world.

There is yet another amazing prophecy in the Yalkut Shimoni – a Medieval/Midrashic compilation that eerily foretells the events of today and should give us all pause. Rabbi Yitzchok said, “The year in which Melech Hamashiach will be revealed, all the nations of the world will be provoking each other...The king of Persia (Iran) will provoke the King of Arabia. The King of Arabia, will go to Edom (the leader of the Christian nations) to take counsel and the King of Persia (Ahmadinejad) will threaten to destroy the entire world.

“The nations of the world will be outraged and panic. They will fall on their faces and will experience pains like birth pangs. Israel too, will be outraged and in a state of panic ask, “Where do we go?”

“But say unto them, ‘My children, do not fear. The time of your redemption has come... And this last redemption shall be different from the first that was followed by further bondage and pain. After this last redemption, you shall not experience any further pain or subjugation” [Yalkut Shimoni, Isaiah 59]

The Klausenberger Rebbe Z’tl, referring to this teaching, said, “Remember these words. They are perhaps not understood now, but in time they will be, and will be a source of strength to our people.”

Had you heard these prophecies centuries ago, when they were written, you might have laughed and scoffed – even if you read them as recently as 1970, you would have been hard-put to believe it, for of all the Moslem countries the Shah’s Iran was probably the friendliest. But today, the impossible has become possible and events are unfolding so rapidly that we have difficulty absorbing their impact. So how are we to understand it all?

The Yalkut compares our suffering to birth pangs. But birth pangs are deceptive-- when the contractions begin, it’s easy to ignore them since they are mild and occur between long intervals. As the birth becomes imminent however, the contractions intensify and the pain becomes more intense. And just when it appears that the woman can no longer endure the pain, the baby is born and new life enters the world. It is these labor pains to which we are witness today.

How long will the labor last? It’s anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain – please G-d, the birth is sure to take place. In the interim however, we may very well ask, “Is it possible to ease the suffering? Is it possible to protect ourselves from these painful contractions?”

The answer to that is a most emphatic “Yes!”

[To be continued]

Source: Hineni

Click here for Part 2: The Birth Pangs of Moshiach

The Scapegoat

The he goat shall thus carry upon itself all their sins to a precipitous land, and he shall send off the he goat into the desert. [Acharei 16:22]

For what sins does the scapegoat atone?

Rambam: The scapegoat atones for the entire Jewish people...for all transgressions of the Torah, both severe and less severe sins; those violated intentionally and those violated unintentionally, whether the person was aware of his sin or not - all are atoned for by the scapegoat.  But this is provided that one does teshuvah.  If one does not do teshuvah, the goat atones only for less severe sins.

Which sins are considered "severe" and which are considered "less severe"?

The "severe" sins are those for which a person is liable either for execution by a court or soul excision (kares)... Other prohibitions and all positive commands that are not punishable by soul excision are "less severe sins".

Now that the Temple no longer exists and there is no Altar to atone, there is only teshuvah, and teshuvah atones for all sins.  [Laws of Teshuva 1:2-3]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Redemption 5771 - Torah Codes....

......but only if the Jews do teshuvah.
Rabbi Glazerson's latest Torah Code videos.


[by Tzvi Freeman]

"Rebbe!" the man cried. "Nobody gives me respect! Everybody steps all over me and my opinions!"

"And who told you to fill the entire space with yourself, so that wherever anyone steps, they step on you?"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Regarding Predictions of Future Events

The following was written by "YK":

As you may know, key Israeli government ministers and individuals from time to time consult with Tzaddikim and Mekubbalim. Key military figures, individuals from the Mossad, and others, for example, used to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe now and then [see the sefer Sippurim Meheder Harabi, available from Chish in Kfar Chabad].

Here is a true story from an excellent two volume set about the Abuchatzeira dynasty of Mekubbalim that sheds light on various predictions that have been floating around of late. [The sefer is called Abir Yaakov by Chanoch Regal, and is available in the US in English from Z Berman books - they have the best price]. It is also available in Hebrew. It was printed with the bracha and encouragement of "Rabi David" Abuchatzeira, the Mekubbal in Nahariya, who is "the real deal" and is respected and accepted across the board. The story is related by Rabi David:

"Tzaddikim Determine the Future"

One day the Baba Sali was dining with some people who regularly came to greet him and receive his blessing. An important minister of the government entered, wishing to consult the venerable sage regarding "something of extreme importance to the entire nation." As he began to speak, one could hear the hesitation and confusion which had almost completely overtaken him. "Honorable Rabbi," he said slowly, "the seer whom I consulted told me that she was able to see..." The Baba Sali cut him off in mid-sentence, shouting: "it will come onto her, null and void, null and void, it will come onto her."

The confused minister who was not accustomed to such shouts and was still influenced by the black forecast told him by the seer, tried to present the situation again. "But honorable Rabbi, the seer said..." The Baba Sali continued shouting, "It will come onto her, it is null and void."

As the minister attempted to speak once more, the Baba Sali saw that he was not satisfied and said to him: "My son Rabi Meir resided in Ashdod. He has expertise in such matters and understands about forecasting the future. Go to him and tell him your story."

The minister did not wait even a moment. He parted from the Baba Sali and set out for Ashdod. There, he thought he would meet the true "expert" in matters of the future. Perhaps this Rabi Meir whom the Baba Sali recommended so highly would be able to deal with the difficult prophecy which the seer of the future had told him.

He made sure that this was indeed the home of the son of the Baba Sali from Netivot and went inside in obvious hesitation and confusion. He described his visit to the seer and what she had told him. Rabenu Meir did not permit him to even complet his sentence and interrupted him, shouting, "It will come onto here, null and void, null and void, it will come onto her."

The minister was shocked and began to wonder why he had even made the journey. He attempted to explain to Rabenu Meir that he did not go to just any seer who had no previous reputation. He began to tell Rabenu Meir her entire "resume" and her vast experience. Many politicians and people of wealth came to her door and she prophesied with precision about what is destined to happen. Rabenu Meir was not convinced and he insisted that her terrifying prophecy would happen to her. "Null and void, it will come onto her."

The man now understood that it was not for nothing that the Baba Sali instructed him to travel to Ashdod. He asked Rabenu Meir, "Can the honorable Rav explain something to me? Today I went to see his father in Netivot and he responded with the same expression. I then came to see 'his honor' ['kvodo'], who repeated the same words verbatim. On the other hand, the seer is not just making things up. Her reputation and experience are certainly worth something. May the Rav tell me, who really knows the future - you Rabbonim or this seer who was never mistaken in her forecast?

Rabenu Meir smiled at this innocent minister and said to him, "Let me explain something to you. This seer is aware of what will happen in the future. Tzaddikim, however, determine the future... now, choose as you wish."

Also, those of you who remember, during the Gulf War a certain well respected and influential rabbi was making dire predictions about what would happen as a result of the war, and it scared a lot of people. The Lubavitcher Rebbe mentioned these "predictions" during a number of farbrengens, in which he rejected the predictions completely, and said, "chas veshalom to scare people who survived the Holocaust with such stories". The Rebbe then said how there would be no poison gas, and that the war would go well for the Jews.

So, the bottom line is - if you hear a scary prediction and are bothered by it, go to a real Tzaddik, a real Mekubbal and ask their eitzah and bracha....

Monday, April 11, 2011

To Bring the Redemption

The following story is attributed to Rabbi Yaakov Eizik Blatner of Tatrask, written by Rabbi Rafael Nachman Kahn, translated from the Hebrew by Basha Majerczyk

The tzaddik Rabbi Yisroel of Ruzhin related:

"Before he passed away my great-grandfather, the Maggid of Mezeritch, declared that he would refuse to enter Gan Eden until Moshiach redeemed the Jewish people from exile. And so it came about.  When the Maggid was nistalek (ascended to the upper worlds) the Heavenly Court had to convince him that the time was not yet ripe for the Redemption. The Maggid was ultimately won over, and he agreed to enter Gan Eden.

"His son, my grandfather Reb Avrohom "Der Malach" [the angel] insisted that he would not allow himself to be similarly seduced. "Under no circumstances will I enter Gan Eden until Moshiach comes!" he announced before his passing. But when G-d Himself dragged him by the arm and brought him inside, there was nothing he could do but go along with Him....

"My father, Reb Shalom [of Porovitz] declared himself immune to such tactics. "I will not enter Gan Eden until Moshiach comes, even if G-d Himself tries to force me!"  So what happened? When he absolutely refused to budge, G-d expanded the borders of Gan Eden so that my father suddenly found himself already there...

"As for me" the holy Ruzhiner concluded, "even that ruse will not work. I will merely jump out and flee until I succeed in bringing Moshiach."

Where Are You?

You are wherever your thoughts are.  Make sure your thoughts are where you want to be.

[Rebbe Nachman of Breslov]

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Teshuvah: Transcending Time

Teshuvah has the power of retroactivity, for although the past is no longer under a man's prerogative, nevertheless G-d, Who is beyond any category of time and therefore transcends the categories of time and limitation - has endowed teshuvah with a special and wonderful quality, by means of which man can regain mastery over his past.

Moreover, by means of this special power of teshuvah, man is able not only to render the past neutral and ineffective, but he can even reverse it and turn it into something positive. as our Sages of blessed memory expressed it: "Willful wrongs become, in his case, as though they were merits" [Yoma 86b]

"This power of teshuvah, whereby man is enabled to regain control over the past, is possible because, on the one hand it is derived from a source which transcends the category of time, as mentioned above.....

"....and, on the other hand, it is drawn upon fully and implemented in a way that it permeats the whole being of the repenter, reaching to the very core of his Divine soul, which likewise transcends time and change, and always "remains loyal to Godliness" because it is "verily a part of Godliness above".

Source: Excerpted from a public letter written by the Lubavitcher Rebbe during the days of Selichos 5720 - [Gutnick Chumash]

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Video They Don't Want The World To See

The Truth About Israel: Trust in G-d, and you will have peace.

When the Jewish people will trust in G-d, that the Land of Israel belongs unequivocally to them, and are willing to declare this openly to the nations of the world, then “No one will contest the matter, and you will not need to go to war.” In fact, even weapons will prove unnecessary…” The Lubavitcher Rebbe, [Likutei Sichos, vol. 34, p. 8]

All the nations are one day going to come together and start talking peace amongst themselves. This talk of peace will have one underlying goal: to destroy Israel. And their rationale shall be: because they [the Jews] established for themselves their own government; and though the Jews will be in tremendous danger at that time, nevertheless they will not be destroyed; in fact, from that very situation they will be saved.  [Rabbi Moshe Cordevero (Ramak) on Zohar Bereishis, 199 - approximately 500 years ago]

Please visit The Truth About Israel to read more.  [Note: video is not connected to this website]

Barrels on a Riverbank

Told by Rabbi Y.S. Zevins in Sippurei Chassidim; translation/adaptation by Yanki Tauber

One of the central figures in the history of Chassidism was the famed "Seer of Lublin," Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Horowitz (1745-1815), who presided over the spread of Chassidism in Poland and Galicia; many of the great Chassidic masters of the time were his disciples. This story, however, is not about the "Seer" but about his maternal grandfather, Rabbi Kopel of Likova; in fact, it happened many years before the Seer's birth.

Reb Kopel earned a living by purchasing barrels of vodka and beer from the local distillers and selling his wares to the taverns in and around his native village of Likova. It was not an easy life, with the heavy taxes exerted by the government and the hostile environment facing a Jew in 17th-century Europe. Yet his faith and optimism never faltered.

Each year, on the morning before Passover, Reb Kopel would sell his chametz to one of his gentile neighbors. Chametz is "leaven" -- a category that most famously includes bread but also all food or drink made with fermented grain. The Torah commands the Jew that absolutely "no leaven shall be found in your possession" for the duration of the Passover festival, in commemoration of the leaven-free Exodus from Egypt. In the weeks before the festival, the Jewish home is emptied and scrubbed clean of chametz; on the night before Passover, a solemn candle-lit search is conducted for every last breadcrumb hiding between the floorboards. By the next morning, all remaining household chametz is eaten, burned or otherwise disposed of.

What about someone like Reb Kopel who deals in leavened foods and has a warehouse full of chametz? For such cases (and for anyone who has chametz they don't want to dispose of) the rabbis instituted the practice of selling one's chametz to a non-Jew. Reb Kapel's neighbors were familiar with the annual ritual. The Jewish liquor dealer would draw up a legally-binding contract with one of them, in which he sells all the contents of his warehouse for a sum equal to their true value. Only a small part of the sum actually changed hands; the balance was written up as an I.O.U from the purchaser to the seller. After Passover, Reb Kopel would be back, this time to buy back the chametz and return the I.O.U. The purchaser got a tip for his trouble -- usually in the form of a generous sampling of the merchandise that had been legally his for eight days and a few hours.

One year, someone in Likova came up with a novel idea: what if they all refused to buy the Jew's vodka? In that case he would have to get rid of it. Why suffice with a bottle or two when they could have it all?

When Reb Kopel knocked on a neighbor's door on the morning of Passover eve, Ivan politely declined to conduct the familiar transaction. Puzzled, he tried another cottage further down the road. It did not take long for him to realize the trap that his gentile neighbors had laid for him. The deadline for getting rid of chametz -- an hour before midday -- was quickly approaching. There was no time to travel to the next village to find a non-Jewish purchaser.

Reb Kopel did not hesitate for a minute. Quickly he emptied the wooden shack behind his house that served as his warehouse. Loading his barrels of chametz on his wagon, he headed down to the river. As his neighbors watched gleefully from a distance, he set them on the river bank. In a loud voice he announced: "I hereby renounce any claim I have on this property! I proclaim these barrels ownerless, free for the talking for all!" He then rode back home to prepare for the festival.

That night, Reb Kopel sat to the Seder with a joyous heart. When he recited from his Haggadah, "Why do we eat this unleavened bread? Because the dough of our fathers did not have time to become leavened before G-d revealed Himself to them and redeemed them", he savored the taste of each word in his mouth. All his capital had been invested in those barrels of vodka and beer; indeed, much of it had been bought on credit. He was now penniless, and the future held only the prospect of many years of crushing debt. But his heart was as light and bright as a songbird. He had not a drop of chametz in his possession! For once in his life, he had been given an opportunity to truly demonstrate his love and loyalty to G-d. He had removed all leaven from his possession, as G-d had commanded him. Of course, he had fulfilled many mitzvot in his lifetime, but never at such a cost -- none as precious -- as this one!

The eight days of Passover passed for Reb Kopel in a state of ecstatic joy. Then the festival was over, and it was time to return to the real world. With thoughtful steps he headed to his warehouse to look through his papers and try to devise some plan to start his business anew. Clustered in the doorway he found a group of extremely disappointed goyim.

"Hey, Kopel!" one of them called, "I though you were supposed to get rid of your vodka. What's the point of announcing that it's 'free for the taking for all' if you put those watchdogs there to guard it!"

They all began speaking at once, so it took a while for Kopel to learn the details. For the entire duration of the festival, night and day round the clock, the barrels and casks on the riverbank were ringed by a pack of ferocious dogs who allowed no one to approach. Reb Kopel rode to the riverbank. There the barrels stood, untouched.

But he made no move to load them on his wagon. "If I take them back," he said to himself, "how will I ever know that I had indeed fully and sincerely relinquished my ownership over them before Passover? How could I ever be sure that I had truly fulfilled the mitzvah of removing chametz from my possession? No! I won't give up my mitzvah, or even allow the slightest shadow of a doubt to fall over it!"

One by one, he rolled the barrels down the riverbank until they stood at the very brink of the water. He pulled out the stops in their spigots and waited until every last drop of vodka and beer had merged with the river. Only then did he head back home.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Potentially Great

וְאִם דַּל הוּא "And if he is poor" [Metzora 14:21]
[Written by Rabbi Yisroel Bronstein]

The offerings of a wealthy man and that of a poor man, remarked the Chofetz Chaim, are not equal.  A wealthy man brings an offering in accord with his wealth, while a poor man brings an offering that is within his means.

The Mishnah is Maseches Nega'im states that a wealthy metzora who brings a poor man's offering does not fulfill his obligation with that offering.

The same thing applies, said the Chofetz Chaim, to a Jew's spirituality.  A person must put forth the utmost effort when it comes to serving Hashem, and he must utilize the potential that Hashem has granted him.  For example, Hashem demands much more from a talmid chacham than from someone who is ignorant in Torah learning.  Each individual must harness his own potential and level to its maximum.

There are times when you pray or study Torah and you think to yourself:  "I may not be totally focused during my prayers and learning, but compared to my friend, I am far superior."

This is a grave error.  The friend may fall into the category of a spiritually "poor man" - perhaps he never learned how to pray properly; perhaps he has worries that gnaw at his peace of mind; or perhaps the friend does not possess the same intellectual capabilities that you do.

Your friend's deeds may appear inferior to your own, but Hashem, Who knows and understands the hearts of every man, sees that your friend is praying and studying Torah to the best of his ability, thereby satisfying that which is required of him.  It may very well be that it is you who are the inferior one!

Reb Zusha was on his death bed, and tears were streaming down his face. "Why are you crying?" asked his disciples. "If God asks me why I wasn't like Moses or Maimonides," answered Reb Zusha, "I'll say, I wasn't blessed with that kind of leadership ability and wisdom.

"But I'm afraid of another question" continued Reb Zusha, "what if God asks: Reb Zusha, why weren't you like Reb Zusha? Why didn't you find your inner being and realize your inner potential? Why didn't you find yourself? That is why I am crying."

Faith and Feet

A man wrote to the Lubavitcher Rebbe that he was having problems with his feet, and how he should go about rectifying the problem from a spiritual point of view.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe replied: "The Alter Rebbe explains in Tanya, in the first letter of his fourth section of the Tanya, that the feet of a person are symbolic of the mitzvah of tzedakah.

Just as one's feet support the entire body (without them one would not be able to stand), so too with the mitzvah of tzedakah. Without it, the Jew and the Jewish world would not be able to survive. Therefore I suggest you increase your giving of tzedakah. This should be done not only with your money, but also with exerting yourself physically for another Jew.

Additionally, the Alter Rebbe compares the feet to emunah (faith in G-d). Just as the feet hold up the entire body, so does the mitzvah of emuna support the entire Jewish nation.

In the Zohar it says that eating shmura matzah on Pesach strengthens one's emunah. Therefore I suggest that you eat matza and study by heart the first few chapters of the second section of the Tanya, known as Sha'ar HaYichud v'HaEmuna, where it discusses at great length the fundamentals of faith. These spiritual remedies will bring a cure to your aching feet."

To another person the Rebbe wrote a more simplified version of the above:

"Feet symbolize faith in G-d : emunah. Therefore putting your simple faith in G-d's hands that He will remove the footaches is the only thing you should do."

Based on Igros Kodesh, Lubavitcher Rebbe
translated by Rabbi Chaim Dalfin

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pollard and Moshiach

"Your release is tied up with the Moshiach Ben David's return to the Land." - quote from  Esther Pollard's letter to Jonathan Pollard: Aug 1, 2010

Why is Jonathan Pollard thought to be so connected to Moshiach ben Yosef ?  Could some please leave a comment and explain it .....

Here is an old post from April 2009, a letter from the Rimnitzer Rebbetzin to Jonathan, where she also mentions the connection to Moshiach.

Rimnitzer Rebbetzin's letter to Jonathan Pollard
"When the heart of one Jew beats with pain, the hearts of all the multitudes feel it as well.”
These words are contained in the following letter which the Rimnitzer Rebbitzen wrote to Jonathan Pollard ahead of Pesach in 2009. Every word is heartfelt and deeply meaningful. The full text follows below [and was  published with permission from the Rebbetzin]:

BS’D 4 Nissan 5769 Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dear Holy and Honorable Brother, Jonathan,

It is with great sorrow and great joy that I write this letter to you.

Sorrow, that this letter is necessary and that it will reach you in some dreary prison cell and joy that the words of a fellow sister may bring you some comfort and strength. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Frayda Milka Abramowitz and I am the rebbetzin of the late Rimnitzer Rebbe ZTZ’L and holy Tzadik. (May his merits be a protection to us all) The Rebbe was an awesome Tzadik and thousands have had miraculous salvations and miracles through the intervention of his holy and heartfelt prayers. The Rebbe lived in a town in Moldova, Russia near the Ukraine, which was called Ribnitza.

There, he was a lone single Jew serving Hashem against the wishes and rigid laws of the notorious KGB and he did everything right in front of their noses, breaking every law they implemented and being a true servant of Hashem. They tried to make his life miserable and they followed him and threatened him but when a man holds on to Hashem with true sincerity and overcomes fear of man for the law of Hashem, then even his enemies make peace with him. Eventually, even the dreadful KGB came to realize that he is a man of G-D and they secretly began coming to him to ask him for blessings for their personal trials and challenges. He would tell them that if they promised never to hurt any Jew again, he would pray for them. They promised, he prayed and G-D performed the miraculous.

The Rebbe was a Shochet and made sure the Jews ate Kosher and he was a Mohel, who risked his life to circumcise children. The Rebbe was very stringent about going to the Mikvah and since it was forbidden and there were none available he would go to the Dniester River, even in the thick of winter when the temperature dropped thirty or forty below zero and the winds were howling and he would break the ice water with an ice pick until he would succeed in reaching the icy waters and then he would immerse three hundred and ten times. (a Kabalistic number with special intentions) By the time the Rebbe immersed and came out of the water his clothing were solid frozen and he could not wear them so he did the only thing he could possibly do. He would dip his clothing into the icy waters, wring them out and put them on his own frozen body while dripping wet and run up the mountain for approximately two miles and go home to say his prayers. He would do this once or twice a day and sometimes even more. A Super human feat, no doubt. How did he accomplish this? Well, the fire of his own soul must have melted the frozen ice.

In 1971 he immigrated to Israel and in 1973 he came to the U.S. and lived in Brooklyn N.Y. I married him in 1980 after his holy rebbetzin passed on. At the time I was thirty three, divorced with three little daughters and he was going on ninety. Our meeting and marriage is a most wondrous drama designed by Hashem and being married to him for a little short of sixteen years all I can say is that I have tasted heaven, right here on earth. The Rebbe was so angelic. He was holy and wise, kind and loving. He would have loved you and you would have loved him. By Techiyas Hamaysim (resurrection) I hope to personally introduce you to him. The Rebbe had an amazing sense of humor, was very down to earth and could relate to anyone on their own level.

At the time I married him I had no idea how old he was. I would have married him even if he was two thousand years old. After we were married I once asked him “By the way, how old are you?” so he answered me with a straight face “Why, I must be hitting Forty soon” so I told him “How can you say that you are forty. It is written in the Mishna in Pirkai Avos that a young man should marry at eighteen and we just got married so you must be eighteen” he laughed heartily and asked “and how old are you?” I answered him that I was thirty three. “Oy Vey” he said while putting both his hands on the side of his head “What in the world have I done here, I married such an old woman.” Such was his sweet and sharp sense of humor.

I am presently in the midst of writing a book about his life. I have already done over eight hundred interviews in Israel and now G-d willing I will begin doing interviews here in the U.S. I have collected beyond amazing stories. I am enclosing a photo of my husband so that you can enjoy looking at his holy countenance. The Rebbe passed on Isru Chag Succos thirteen and a half years ago and he is buried here in Monsey N.Y. a few minutes from my present residence.

And now holy brother Jonathan, I ask Hashem to allow me to find the proper words that can express to you the feelings that the entire nation of Israel has in regard to you and your unjust imprisonment. I sit facing my computer and tears fill my eyes as I imagine you sitting in some lonely corner reading this letter. I can only try to imagine what it must feel like to be in a place where you are very conscious of every second the clock is ticking away and where that very second lasts an eternity. I can only try and imagine what it must feel like when the bird flying outside the prison wall seems to have more freedom than you do. I can only try to imagine what it must feel like when you long to be home with your incredible wife, sitting at the Shabbos table and tasting all the Shabbos delicacies. I can go on and on because everything you desire and hope for and yearn for and long for is unreachable to you at this point and everything that is painful and uncomfortable and lonely is your present physical reality. You have become entrapped in a seemingly endless abyss where hopes are born, visions are witnessed and dreams are dreamt while reality holds its threatening hammer trying to shatter it all. Your life has become a war of sorts fluctuating between faith and despair, between hope and disappointment between physical darkness and spiritual light, between gratefulness for the good and wondrous and desperate prayer for the nightmare to finally end.

Holy Jonathan, what is the purpose of this letter? Can I write words that are meant to strengthen? Can I find words that will comfort? Can words turn the key to your freedom? Can they send you home to your beloved and devoted wife so that you can be her glorious King at the Pesach Seder table rather than an inmate in some despised prison cell? I sure wish that it could.

Hashem is the only one that has that capability. It is He that designed every intricate pattern of your most challenging drama. It is He that will say “Dayenu.Enough!!!” It is He that will create your journey of true freedom. No Governments, no Presidents, no Dignitaries, and no Lawyers.

Messengers, they can all be but only by the will of Hashem’s command. So why is Hashem involved in this entire “Jonathan Pollard Scenario?” You Jonathan may not realize how important a character you are in the story of our Final Redemption. By all means you are not a private citizen. You are a key character and your soul is made of holy iron. On a personal level you have turned yourself into a Tzadik. You have joined the ranks of the righteous of our nation. You have passed your test with flying colors. Do not be fooled for even a moment by your inmate number and by your prisoner’s uniform. They are merely props that were put on the stage to enhance your performance. Every thought, every move, every word that you utter from the constraints of your prison cell moves mountains and builds worlds. You have projected unconditional love instead of hate, forgiveness instead of anger, and joy in place of sorrow. The Rabbis that went to visit you were all in awe of your sterling qualities and strength of Character. They spoke of your unshakable faith. Where they expected to meet a man of weakness and anger they found one of unimaginable courage and love. An evolved soul you are and I would not be in the least surprised to find that you are one of the thirty six hidden Tzadikim that uphold the gravity of our nation and our world.

We live in parallel universes and as there is a Jonathan imprisoned down here there is a higher form of a Jonathan up there and it is that very Jonathan that guides your thoughts and words and feelings and it is that Jonathan that whispers in your soul and tells you and sings to you and gives you the strength to believe that there is way more to this story than what meets the physical eye. It is that Jonathan that knows the spiritual reasons behind all this. It is that Jonathan that knows where the root of your soul comes from. It is that Jonathan that understands the contribution you are making towards our imminent redemption. It is that Jonathan that is in touch with the deep everlasting love of His creator. It is that Jonathan that has all the answers to the most puzzling questions. It is that Jonathan that understands what his secret mission is and what his life’s goal should be.

That upper Jonathan never leaves your side. He hovers over you and smiles at you and roars with holy laughter as he whispers to you while explaining the wonders of the final episode in your excruciating and most unique drama.  Jonathan, if you happen to be wondering where G-D is hiding and why the day of your redemption has not yet arrived after hundreds of thousands of prayers have been uttered and an ocean of tears have been shed on your behalf, then know that you and Hashem and the entire nation of Israel and the Holy land of Eretz Hakodesh are all tied together in an intangible knot of unity and purpose. The Birth pangs of Moshiach are happening at a faster pace and at a higher frequency. The countdown is moving at the speed of lightning and the deception is truly, most amazing. As it gets darker the hidden light is about to burst in an explosive surge of holy and joyous energy. As the economy is drowning quickly it is about to explode in a wave of unimaginable abundance. As the enemies plan to annihilate us Hashem is planning His glorious revelation. As the nations spit forth evil terroristic leaders the beauty of our king Moshiach is about to be revealed.

Picture the following: Imagine that you had an electronic device that could tune into thought frequencies. You know Jonathan; you would never cease to be amazed. Imagine that this little device had a channel that could tune into emotions and another channel that could tune into the heartfelt prayers that are traveling heaven bound. Even more so, try to imagine that the machine was so incredibly sophisticated that it could even tune into the on goings in the heavenly Chambers. What a new life that could mean for you. Every single second this device would inform you of another Jew saying a prayer on your behalf. Every second of the day or night it would reveal another tear shed and another sigh that emerged deep from within the heart of a fellow sister or brother on your behalf. Every second you would be receiving brain wave messages of thousands of people thinking about you, praying for you, sending you their wishes for health and joy and hope and faith. Imagine this device keeping track of the endless visions of your caring large family as they all sit and imagine the moment of your release from prison life to your smiling wife waiting for you as the plane doors open to bring you home. Imagine that you could tune into the heavenly Chambers and hear the Voice of the Divine Presence speak. “Blessed is Yonnasan Ben Malka! “May he have the strength to survive another day as his salvation is so close. May he know comfort and healing and love and may he experience true Freedom forever. May he never end enjoying his unimaginable upcoming ecstatic rewards.”

Jonathan, while sitting in an isolated cell, you have somehow succeeded to attach yourself to an entire nation. There is not a moment that goes by without someone talking about you or sending you their best wishes and asking Hashem to release you from severe bondage. It is not possible that you would be oblivious to these happenings. You are tied to us all by invisible strings that have a power that nothing can ever break. Hundreds of thousands of strings that tug at your heart and soul and fill you with super human strength to survive that which would normally be impossible. No Prayer ever goes to waste. No tear ever vanishes. No thought ever disappears. It reaches its intended target and it makes great waves. Waves that are large enough to save you from actually drowning. Waves that carry you over the restless oceans. Waves that lift you up to the loving arms of Hashem. As He rocks your very world and shakes it from its very foundation He never the less joins you on that disorienting journey and whispers into your soul of better days yet to come.

Jonathan, do you remember those Twin Towers that stood so powerful and tall and made a statement to the world? One moment they stood. An hour later they were melted into mere nothingness. Who would have ever imagined such a possibility? Just so, holy Jonathan, now you sit behind locked prison doors with your release a seemingly distant dream and in the mere blink of an eye you could be sitting next to your Esther, in our holy Jerusalem having Moshiach himself as your honored guest, reciting the blessings at your Seudas Hoda’ah celebration, joined by the entire Am Yisroel. Amen.and so may it be His will.

The birth pangs of Moshiach.What are they? They are Jonathan in a prison cell. The birth pangs of Moshiach.Why are they? Because Hashem’s original thought is His end deed. Your soul must have willingly volunteered for this high mission. Otherwise how can one answer the fact that you have miraculously survived twenty three long torturous years of this nightmare?

It is not humanly possible to go through all this and remain as strong and faithful as you are. Something super natural is going on here. Physically your health may be challenged but spiritually you are a wonder to behold.

The Soul is stronger than the body and the Spirit is richer than the challenges which it endures.

How many people can find and marry their true soul mate while serving time?

How many men are fortunate to have wives that are as devoted to them as Esther is to you?

How many men can say that a mere spiritual connection keeps their marriage rock solid strong? How many couples are fortunate enough to be adopted by Harav Mordechai Eliyahu (Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel) who loves you as his most Cherished Children?

Yes, Hashem has tested you severely but He keeps throwing in some sweet smelling spices in your package deal, to constantly rejuvenate you and when you feel that your breath is being taken from you and you have no more strength to inhale even one more prison breath, a new letter arrives and fills you with new oxygen and new life and new hope. Suddenly, you feel like an Angel is standing over your shoulder and singing a most exquisite melody and the harmony of his song is so deliciously soothing and he carries you away on His outstretched wings of holiness to wider and more beautiful places than to what your dreary prison walls project. On the dance floor of your mind, you dance with Hashem Himself as He convinces you of His never ending and eternal Love. Your prison experience encompasses the highest and the lowest, the darkest and the most awesome light merged into a strange unity. Darkness is your daily reality. Light, are the gifts of Esther, the Rabbis, your family, the Nation of Israel, your connection and love for Hashem and the faith of a glorious and joyous future. The highest experience is the intensity and sacrifice of your mission and the lowest experience is the terribly shocking betrayal of those for whom you have sacrificed.

My brother, Yonnasan Ben Malka. I have been planning this letter for the longest time. I have carried it around in my consciousness. Endless times a day I said to myself that I am going to stop the world and sit down to write this letter but the emotions were much too overwhelming to express and the pain much too difficult to carry and the proper words would simply elude me. I want you to know that every night when I kiss the Mezuzah I have a certain routine that I say which includes the blessing of; “Blessed are you Hashem who releases Prisoners” and I ask Hashem that until that wondrous moment arrives He shall keep you healthy and strong and joyous and I ask Him to give you whatever it takes to make you hold on to Him with every fiber of your being. I also say the specific prayer for you and Esther that someone in Jerusalem gave me many years ago. Then I would ask Hashem to give me the proper words so that I could write you a letter that would actually make a difference and bring you some measure of comfort and relief. Then I pray for Gilad Ben Aviva (Shalit) and the three young boys in Japan and all the other prisoners I know or was told about and for all the ones that I don’t know as well. The plight of prisoners deeply touches the hearts of free men. In a sense we cannot really say that because in this terrible exile none of us are free men. Until we are not standing in our Bais Hamikdash basking in the revealed glory of Hashem, we are all prisoners of our Galus mentality.Yonnasan Ben Malka, in the month of Nissan we were redeemed and in the month of Nissan may Hashem once again redeem us. May you and Esther stand together on the hilltops of Jerusalem with this entire nightmare happily behind you.

May those who were messengers to oppress you beg your forgiveness and make peace with you as the wonder of your soul is revealed to all and we the entire nation of Israel will humbly and sincerely ask your forgiveness because it is not for your sins that you carry this heavy burden. We are responsible for each other and you have volunteered to carry our sins as well. We are all a reflection of each other.

In the school of life you have been an outstanding student. In the University of Life you have turned into an excellent teacher. Even the rabbis who went to visit you claimed that they learned so much from you. Your diploma is already waiting and signed by all the giant men of spirit who walked this planet before you. The “Freedom Academy Award” is going to be granted to you and then Hashem, His Holy Angels, the Patriarchs, the Matriarchs, the Prophets and Prophetess, the Moshiach himself and the entire nation of Israel will give you a roaring standing ovation, as pure and joyous tears will roll from your holy eyes. Jonathan, no you are not a prisoner. You are a great hero and you are beloved by the entire nation of Israel. The day of your freedom will be the beginning of our freedom. The day of your rejoicing will be the beginning of our rejoicing.

There is no doubt that there is a deep connection between you and the Nation of Am Yisroel. You are not a separate entity. You are a key character in the Messianic puzzle. The Jewish nation is one united Heart. When the heart of one Jew beats with pain, the hearts of all the multitudes feel it as well.I know that you cannot return letters but perhaps you can tell your dear Esther that you have received it. I hope it was a dose of healthy oxygen for your heart, body, soul and spirit. Even a better scenario; I hope you are out of prison even before this letter reaches you. I will e-mail Esther a copy. I do not think this is my own voice. I believe this is the voice of an entire nation who is with you on this journey, deeply identifying with your plight.

Stay strong Yonnasan, our holy brother. Inhale Freedom and exhale Slavery. Inhale Faith and exhale Despair. The way out of any trouble is with an abundance of Joy. Does Hashem want you to be Joyous even in Prison? Yes, by all means He does. It is written that we will all be redeemed in the merit of the Joy we maintained even through the horrors of our exile. Many of us make this great error thinking that if you are in pain then you cannot feel joy. The source of joy emanates from within our souls. You can have troubles. You can identify with troubles, yet you can live on Happy Lane as you simultaneously live on Challenge Lane. What is the tool that can make this phenomena a reality? Faith, holy Yonnasan. Undisputed faith. To believe that Hashem designed our lives with total precision and exactitude. To believe that we each play a very significant part in the scheme of creation.

And mainly to believe that Hashem does everything with utmost compassion and unconditional love. Easier said than done, I know, but joy is of a spiritual substance while sorrow and anguish are the result of our own interpretation to the complexities of life. Yonnasan, your sorrow may be deeper than others, your anguish may be more extreme yet you are on an exalted mission and your rewards will be far, far greater.

As I end this letter I say a silent prayer to Hashem that each and every word shall enter your heart, soul and spirit, soothing you and healing your body of all its ailments. May it be an infusion of strength, an upgrade in perspective and a comfort in the dark prison night. May the walls of your prison stretch beyond its physical dimensions to include the lights of compassion shining from the hearts of every Jew who ever prayed for you, or shed a tear of hope on your behalf.

May your weariness turn into positive energy. May your constant holy longing for freedom become a pure sacrifice on the holy Alter of Exile. May the narrowness of your prison be exchanged to the openness of Hashem’s possibilities. Jonathan, instead of looking at the clock and counting “Twenty Three Years, plus” please, look at the clock and see that each second that goes by you are one second closer to your Freedom, one second closer to being home with Esther in Jerusalem and one second closer to Moshiach’s imminent arrival. In spite of what logic throws at you, No man has the power to imprison you and No man has the power to free you. Hashem is sitting in the Control Tower. He is pushing ALL the buttons that control your life. He wrote the script and He chose you to play “Jonathan Pollard.”

Your performance is mesmerizing. Even the script writer is stunned by your talents and capabilities. The entire world is watching and the Drama hurts. The audience is very emotionally involved. The Grand Finale is about to begin. The curtains are drawn. The stage is set. The audience wants to witness the exquisite Climax of the story. Jonathan, broaden your horizons. Stretch them beyond your prison walls. Whenever you feel isolated and alone then try and remember that an entire nation is behind you. Try and remember that you are the heartbeat of this Drama and every breath you inhale in prison causes thousands to pray that you finally breathe the holy air of Jerusalem.

Everyone knows that there was a great bond of love that existed between Jonathan and David. Soon everyone will know that there will be a great bond of love between Jonathan and the Son of David. Because when Moshiach will arrive He will point at you and tell the world the real story behind the story. Then your sacrifice will be taken to new heights. Then all the betrayal will be to your advantage. You will be exalted and beloved by the entire world. You will no longer be known as Jonathan, the prisoner. You will be known as Jonathan, the Tzadik. Jonathan, the great Jewish Hero. Jonathan, who played an important role in our final redemption.

With hope for your imminent release,
Frayda Milka Abramowitz, Rimnitzer Rebbetzin