Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Strange Sounds Explained by Scientists

HT: Moriah

[Basically... they don't really know.... but they have a few theories]

We have analyzed records of these sounds and found that most of their spectrum lies within the infrasound range, i.e. is not audible to humans. What people hear is only a small fraction of the actual power of these sounds. They are low-frequency acoustic emissions in the range between 20 and 100 Hz modulated by ultra-low infrasonic waves from 0.1 to 15 Hz. In geophysics, they are called acoustic-gravity waves; they are formed in the upper atmosphere, at the atmosphere-ionosphere boundary in particular. There can be quite a lot of causes why those waves are generated: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, storms, tsunamis, etc. However, the scale of the observed humming sound in terms of both the area covered and its power far exceeds those that can be generated by the above-mentioned phenomena.

Full article at: Geochange

Bibi Willing to Cede Judea and Samaria

A senior political source claims Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is willing to uproot most of Yesha in exchange for Obama's backing.

Arutz Sheva has received an unconfirmed report that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu plans to announce a plan to uproot communities and carry out mass evictions in Judea and Samaria.

Due to the political impasse between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu is expected to propose a final status solution that would leave Israel with only the major settlement blocs and eastern Jerusalem.

All Jewish communities outside the major settlement blocs would reportedly face destruction under the plan.

The report follows a report Monday morning in the Hebrew-language Ma'ariv newspaper claiming that Netanyahu has agreed to relinquish sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.

A senior political source told Arutz Sheva that Netanyahu will present the plan to retreat from Judea and Samaria to U.S. President Barack Obama in exchange for the U.S. endorsing the principles Netanyahu laid out in his Bar Ilan speech.

Those principles are:

  1. The Palestinians must recognize Israel as the Jewish nation’s state.
  2. The treaty must be an end to the conflict.
  3. The Arab refugee problem must be solved outside of Israel’s borders.
  4. A Palestinian state will have to be demilitarized and a peace treaty must safeguard Israel’s security.
  5. The settlement blocs will remain within the State of Israel and Jerusalem will remain its united capital.
  6. While Netanyahu did not specifically mention the Jordan Valley in his Bar Ilan speech he did specify Israel would retain the strategically critical region "regardless of whatever final status agreements are made with the PA."

Full article: Israel National News

The Last Song

The Mechilta states that "there are ten songs" beginning with the song at the sea led by Moshe, and concluding with the tenth song which will be sung with Moshiach. All the [nine] songs mentioned in scripture are written in the feminine [shirah] since their rejoicing was followed by ["gave birth to"] further servitude. The tenth song of Moshiach is written in the masculine [shir] to indicate that it is permanent.

Chassidic teachings explain that the first nine songs emphasized primarily a desire to come closer to G-d from a distance, like a woman who longs to come closer to and receive from her husband. However, the tenth song of Moshiach will be sung from a feeling that G-d is already close and found openly in our midst, like a husband who is gracefully endearing himself to his wife.

Source: Sichas Shabbos Parshas Beshalach 5752, Lubavitcher Rebbe

Monday, January 30, 2012

Parshas HaMann: Segula for Parnossa

Art: Heidi Malott

Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Riminov [1745-1815], a disciple of the Holy Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk, instructed everyone to read "Parshat HaMann" specifically on the Yom Shlishi [Tuesday] of Parshat [Torah portion of] Beshalach in the "Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum" format, i.e. reading the Hebrew verses twice and the Aramaic translation of Onkelos once.

Not to be confused with the evil villain of the Purim story, Parshat haMann [The Chapter of the Manna] is found in the 16th Chapter of the Book of Exodus: verses 4-36. This Chapter details the episode of the miraculous "Manna" [bread from heaven] that sustained the Children of Israel during their 40-year journey in the desert.

Rav Yosef Caaro, the "mechaber" [compiler] of the monumental Halachic text, the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 1:5, instructs us to recite it daily. Other giants of Halacha also point to the importance of reciting it daily: The Tur 1; Aruch Hashulchan 1:22; Shulchan Aruch HaRav 1:9.

By so doing, every Jew acknowledges that his/her livelihood comes from only from Hashem. Reciting the Parshat HaMann daily strengthens one's Emuna and Bitachon [belief and trust] in HASHEM, and is a "Segula for Parnassa" [auspicious for having a healthy income].

To read Parshat haMann in Hebrew [with the Aramaic translation of Onkelos], please visit: Tefillos.com

English version here: Ou.org

Miriam's Tambourine

"Miriam's Tambourine" - Michoel Muchnik
Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women came out after her with tambourines and with dances [Beshalach 15:20]

The righteous women did not delegate their responsibilities to their leader, Miriam the prophetess. Rather, each and every woman made for herself a tambourine, in a personal effort to trust in G-d's redemption and rejoice in it when it comes.

There is always a temptation to leave the responsibility of inspiring the people to Jewish leaders. However, we can learn from the righteous women in Egypt that it is every single person's obligation to inspire his or herself and all of the people that he or she comes into contact with.

Source: Sichas Shabbos Parshas Beshalach 5752, Lubavitcher Rebbe

House Swap: Israel / Sydney

A Sydney family is looking for a house swap Israel / Sydney anytime between June 3rd and third week June. Preferable around Ranana or Tel Aviv area but open to options. House is 'kosher' but probably not acceptable for ultra-orthodox..... speak to owner for more information. Close to shule, shops, beaches, parks, transport. If you know anyone who wants a Sydney holiday please forward this post to them. To contact advertiser please email me [devorahjane at gmail dot com] and I will forward on.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

4 Shevat: Yarzheit Baba Sali

Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzeirah - The Baba Sali
Born: Tafillalt, Morocco,1890
Died: 4 Shevat, Israel, 1984

Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzeirah was of a well-known rabbinical dynasty. His grandfather was the famous tzaddik, Rabbi Yaakov Abuchatzeirah. He had great skill in Talmudic interpretation and many of his halachic decisions were accepted and took root among his followers. He was regarded as someone who possessed the Ruach Hakodesh or "Divine Spirit".

Although still very young, people flocked to R' Yisrael for blessings for their parnassa (income), family, and health. Consequently he became known as "Baba Sali," (our praying father) because of the prayers that he would invoke on behalf of those who sought out his guidance.

One day, young Yisrael's father told him, "My child, you have a great power to bless people which you cannot measure. Your words can bring great help to men. From now on, you must use this power to say good things about others and to bless them."

Young Yisrael gave his word. Soon it became known that the blessings of this young child brought miraculous results. He became famous as Baba Sali. A master of the Kabbalah and a great Torah Sage, he took over his father's position as head of the yeshiva and Rabbi of the community. Although he regularly gave many lectures in Torah and kabbalah, he did not permit his students to write them down because he wanted his scholarship to remain unknown. Nevertheless, his fame as a holy man and a righteous Tzaddik continued to draw Jews to him from all over. Even Arabs came to receive his blessings and the coins he gave for charity.

At 19 he was inducted as the Rosh Hayeshiva, after his father's death. After an extended one year trip to Eretz Yisrael he returned, and was compelled to take the position of Rav of the community after the murder of his brother by an Arab. He gave daily lectures, served as a judge in the beit din (rabbinical court), and set the tone for the kehilla. The community appreciated that nothing escaped his holy, penetrating eyes. From throughout Morocco, people converged on his home for his blessings, his counsel, and his encouragement.

In 1964 when Baba Sali noted that much of Moroccan Jewry had emigrated to Eretz Yisrael, he followed them to fulfill his dream of settling there. Baba Sali chose Yavne as his home because many of his followers had settled there.

In 1970 he moved to Netivot where he was steadily visited by Chassidim, Ashkenazim and Sephardim who sought his unique counsel. He stressed emunah (faith), humility, ahavat Yisrael (love of fellow Jews) and kiyum hamitzvot (fulfillment of mitzvot). His phenomenal memory allowed him to access information at will, whether it dealt with law, Talmud, Kabbalah,etc.

He was very humble and did not want to attract attention, however, his prophetic powers and his miraculous prayers soon became renowned. Thousands of Jews from all over the world would come to seek his advice and blessings for children, health, and livelihood. Baba Sali was very close to other great Torah scholars, especially the Lubavitcher Rebbe, whom he referred to as "the Great Eagle in the Heavens." He strongly encouraged the Rebbe's Mitzvah campaigns, especially urging young girls to light candles for Shabbat and Yom Tov.


Young and old, men and women, observant and secular, Sephardim and Ashkenazim of every stripe, all streamed to the door of the great kabbalist and tsaddik, Baba Sali, in Netivot, seeking his blessing and help. Everyone, without exception, held him in the highest esteem.

Once a man from Holon, Eliyahu, was scheduled to have his legs amputated. His spinal cord had been damaged by a bullet in the Yom Kippur War. He had already spent much time in the hospital, and so was reconciled to his fate. The procedure was to take place on Friday.

That Thursday, an elderly woman acquaintance suggested that he receive a blessing from Baba Sali before the operation. She said that she knew of someone who had been paralyzed, yet was healed through Baba Sali's blessing. Although Eli was not at all observant, he decided to try it anyway, in desperation. Maybe, maybe....

It would have been impossible to get permission to leave the hospital the day before the operation, so Eli snuck out. He didn't even disclose his intention to see Baba Sali to his concerned family.

Eli sat on a chair in the waiting room near the entrance to the tsaddik's room. After many hours, finally his turn came. The custom was, before anything, to approach Baba Sali on his couch and kiss his hand, but because of the advanced thrombosis of his legs and the crippling pain that accompanied it, Eli was unable even to rise to enter the room.

Following Baba Sali's instruction, Rabbanit Simi, his wife, approached Eli and asked, "Do you put on tefillin?" Do you keep Shabbat? Do you say blessings?

"No," admitted Eli, and burst into sobs.

Baba Sali seemed to be moved by Eli's suffering and his sincerity. He said to him, "If you do my will and observe the Shabbat and repent completely, then G-d, too, will listen to my will."

With great emotion, Eli promptly cried out, "I accept upon myself the obligation to observe the Shabbat in all its details. I also promise to do full tshuvah, to 'return' in repentance all the way."

At Baba Sali's directive, Eli was served tea. After he drank it, the Rabbanit suggested that being that the Rav had blessed him, he should try to get up, in order to go and and kiss the Rav's hand.

After much effort and pain, Eli managed to rise. He couldn't believe it-his legs were obeying him! Shakily, he walked over to Baba Sali and kissed his hand! By then nearly delirious with shock and joy, he began to thank Baba Sali profusely. The Rav interrupted him, saying with a smile, "Don't thank me. Just say: 'Blessed are those who sanctify His name publicly!'"

As if in a dream, Eli stumbled out the door and descended the stairs. He experimented, walking this way and that. He had to know: Was he really awake? Could this truly be happening? With each step, his legs felt better.

On his "new" legs, he went over to Yeshiva HaNegev, not too far from the home of Baba Sali. When the students realized they were seeing the results of a miracle that had just occurred, they surrounded Eli with happy dancing and singing, and words of praise and gratitude to G-d.

Rejoicing in his new-found ability to walk, Eli returned to the home of Baba Sali to say goodbye properly and to thank him again. He also expressed his fear that his legs would relapse to their previous weakness and disease. Baba Sali calmed him, saying cheerfully, "Don't worry. In the merit of your oath to 'return' and repent, and especially that you promised to observe Shabbat according to its laws, which is equal to all the commandments, G-d has done this miracle and nullified the decree against you. Now it is up to you to fulfill your words."

Leaving Baba Sali's house again, Eli telephoned his mother. "I'm all better!" he shouted, without explanation. She figured that fear of the surgery had caused him to loose touch with reality. "Are you coming home?" she asked with concern. "Or will you go straight to the hospital?"

Eli then told her what he had promised Baba Sali, the blessing that he had received from the tsaddik, and the miraculous improvement that had already occurred. As soon as he hung up, he called his doctor at Achilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and informed him of his cure. The doctor told Eli to be back at the hospital the following day, and to "stop acting crazy!"

Eli did go to the hospital the next day. The doctor was barely able to accept the evidence of his eyes. After a few days and many tests, Eli was released. The first thing he did was to return to Netivot, to thank Baba Sali again. The Rav requested of his household that a seudat hoda'ah, a meal of thanksgiving to G-d in honor of the miracle, be prepared and served. At the end of the meal, Baba Sali blessed a bottle of water and told Eli to deliver it to the hospital so that his doctor could drink l'chaim from it. "And tell him," added Baba Sali, "not to be so hasty to cut off legs."

Baba Sali's gabbai (attendant) during most of his years in Netivot, Rabbi Eliyahu Alfasi [who witnessed much of the story and heard the rest of the details from Eli of Holon], reports that he once asked Baba Sali how he performed this great miracle. The tzaddik answered him innocently, "Believe me, Eliyahu, all I did was tell him 'Stand up!'"

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Boy Who Can See In The Dark

Two Approaches to Toxic Situations

by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

One of the strongest powers of influence is our surrounding. Our friends, family, acquaintances and work colleagues have a strong impact on our development and behavior .Sometimes the environment can be negative or toxic. The people around us may create a culture of negativity that poses an enormous threat to our growth. Even if we are strong on the inside we are still vulnerable and can be adversely affected by forces on the outside. How do we protect ourselves from dangerous influences from those around us?

Remaining in, or coming to terms with a negative surrounding is too dangerous. We only have two options. The first is to remove ourselves from the environment. The second is to infect others with positive energy until the culture is transformed.

The Torah tells of two great men that lived in challenging times and were threatened by a toxic culture of evil behavior and distorted values. The first was Noah and the second Abraham. Noah was righteous and deserved to be saved even when the world was being flooded and destroyed. However the Torah also criticizes him for failing to influence and change those around him. He achieved salvation by distancing himself from the rest of society. Abraham on the other hand, was able to generate positive energy. His belief, kindness and sense of love became infectious. He inspired, educated motivated and encouraged others to come around to a belief system that taught morality, faith, goodness and kindness. He and Sara began as a tiny team fighting the entire world, but ended with a tremendous following of people with positive values.

The Torah tells us about both these great people, because they both have something to teach us. Sometimes the Noah model is the only option. We must make our positive development a priority which sometimes means moving away from negative influence. However, the preferred model is that of Abraham. We need to learn to communicate our values and attitudes with warmth excitement and enthusiasm. Our convictions and commitment to growth should be so strong that they become contagious. Our journey of life should be filled with such happiness that it becomes an attractive option to those around us.

Pain Precedes Gain

[Kol HaTor]

There are seven ways for the beginning of the Redemption to occur in practice, with the help of God.

[a] pangs and pleasure. We must know beforehand that the beginning of the Redemption will come by way of suffering and pleasure, as hinted at in the sentence “pangs for Yosef.” It will come with the quality of Din when the awakening starts from below. The footsteps of the Mashiach come with pangs, and sometimes even indirectly. On the other hand, in contrast, the quality of Lovingkindness is present, as it says, “he [Israel] stretched out his right hand, and placed it on Efraim’s head.”

We must know beforehand, that during the period of the footsteps of the Messiah, whenever there is trouble, help will come, and the help will come out of the trouble, as it states: “it is a time of trouble for Jacob; but out of it he will be saved.” The Gaon, in his commentary on Habakkuk regarding the verse “I will rest on the day of distress, ” states that this sentence refers to Mashiach ben Yosef, and that we should know beforehand that Eretz Israel is obtained by suffering. But in that manner it is definitely obtained. The footsteps of the Mashiach comes with disturbances and obstacles brought on by the Angel of Esau as well as by Armilus, the Angel of the mixed multitude. Finally, however, the Angel of Esau will fall into the hands of the Angel of Yosef--as we find in the Midrash Tanchuma [on the parsha “Ki Tezeh”]--with the help of the Mashiach ben David, as happened when Judah saved Yosef, and as meant by the words: “out of the strong came forth sweetness, ” and by “He will accept the work of our hands.”

Therefore, God forbid that we retreat when difficulties arise or when an obstacle appears to prevent us from continuing to work. On the contrary, we must trust that out of that obstacle, help will come to Jacob, and from the straits we will reach the breadth [abundance] of Divine help.

Source: Yedid Nefesh

Thursday, January 26, 2012


"But against all the children of Israel, no dog shall whet its tongue" [Bo 11:17]

R' David Bodnick, one of the outstanding disciples of the Alter of Novaradok, was taking a stroll.  Along the way, he passed the estate of an extraordinarily wealthy family.

There was a ferocious dog chained to a pole near the gate of the mansion to deter intruders.  When the dog saw R' Bodnick, it began to bark wildly and it pulled on its chain.  The chain was not strong enough and it finally snapped.  The dog charged at R' Bodnick.

The master of the estate saw what was happening and realized that this was a life-threatening situation.  He attempted to restrain his dog, but it was of no use, the dog overpowered its master and continued its charge towards R' Bodnick.

This dog is simply following the will of its Creator, thought R' Bodnick.  I too must now do the will of my Creator - I must now arouse myself to repent.

R' Bodnick did just that. Amazingly, the fearsome dog calmed down and meekly returned to its pen.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

From Now Until Iyar....

....every two weeks is a Yomtov [holiday]

Rosh Chodesh Shvat
15 Shvat: Tu B'Shvat
Rosh Chodesh Adar
14 Adar: Purim
Rosh Chodesh Nissan
15 Nissan: Pesach
Rosh Chodesh Iyar

Source: Rabbi Dovid Klein, Tsfas

Queensland Warning: Flood Deluge ''has just begun''

Australia: Dozens of people have been evacuated from their homes, hundreds of streets closed and Australia Day celebrations cancelled as drenching rain continues to fall across the state.
Conditions are expected to worsen with creeks already breaking their banks, sending floodwaters into homes and businesses...

Read more: News.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

29 Teves: Yarzheit: Rav Yitzchak Kadouri zt'l

An enormous crowd filled the streets of Jerusalem's Bucharim neighborhood to take part in the levaya of the elderly mekabol, HaRav Yitzchak Kadouri zt"l, who passed away on 29 Teves 5766 (2006) at the age of approx 107.
Painting of Rabbi Kaduri by Elena Girshbein

Yitzchak Kadouri (nee Diva) born in Baghdad to R' Zeev Diva, who worked as a spice dealer. As a boy he studied at the Zilcha beis medrash, which drew talmidim from the city's chareidi families. He visited Eretz Yisroel twice in his youth, once traveling through Jordan and a second time through Damascus. After the second time he decided to settle in Baghdad based on the advice of talmidei chachomim in Baghdad who feared the Enlightenment Movement would harm the spiritual development of chareidi youth as the Alliance began to launch activities in Iraq and other countries.

Upon his arrival in Eretz Yisroel the second time he changed his last name from Diva to Kadouri and fixed his place of study at Yeshivat Porat Yosef in the Old City. HaRav Yaakov Ovadia assisted him during his first years in Jerusalem, opening his home to the young man and even teaching his sons gemora for several months.

In Eretz Yisroel it was discovered he had studied from the tzaddikim of Iraq, applied himself to his Torah studies intensively and learned secrets of kabboloh and here in Jerusalem he wanted to study the proper kavonos of the set tefilloh. For several years he was a part of the group of mekubalim who gathered around HaRav Saliman Eliyahu.

The youngest member of the group, R' Yitzchak formed close ties with HaRav Ephraim Hakohen, the head of the mekubolim in Jerusalem and the father of HaRav Shalom Cohen, today rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Porat Yosef. Later he joined the group of mekubolim studying at Beit Knesses Oz Vehadar at the yeshiva. During this period HaRav Kadouri refused to accept tzedakah and decided to earn his living from a bookbinding business he started himself using a bundle of money he had brought from Baghdad.

The chaburoh surrounding HaRav Ephraim Hakohen included Jerusalem's leading mekubolim, such as HaRav Ezra Addes, the grandfather of HaRav Yehuda Addes ylct"a, HaRav Aharon Abud, HaRav Shaul Shaharbani and HaRav Aharon Raful, who would pray according to the kavonos of the Rashash and lived in the yeshiva housing rooms.
After marrying his first wife, Sarah, HaRav Kadouri lived in Shechunat Habucharim, one of Jerusalem's first neighborhoods built outside the Old City walls. He would stay at the yeshiva all week, coming home shortly before Shabbos.

In 5694 (1934) HaRav Kadouri was given a spacious apartment near the yeshiva on the street leading from the Jewish Quarter to the Kosel Maarovi when he agreed to bind all of the yeshiva's books and to copy by hand certain rare books deposited in the yeshiva library. The yeshiva paid him a salary of two liras per month, one for his bookbinding work and another as a member of the group of mekubolim. He agreed to bind only the yeshiva books, keeping the books he copied in his private collection. Before binding every book he would study it carefully and became one of the city's most knowledgeable scholars on many works. Often yeshiva members would come to his home to study from the books.

He would spend all day studying with the group of mekubolim and then spend the evening at home binding books. After Tikkun Chatzos he would go to sleep, waking up before dawn for Shacharis. In 5706 (1946) the yeshiva building turned into a fortress to defend against constant attacks by Arabs, but this did not prevent the yeshiva's rabbonim, including HaRav Yehuda Tzadka, from paying a visit to HaRav Kadouri's home to celebrate the bar mitzvah of his son, David.

With the imminent threat of the Old City falling into the hands of the Jordanians, HaRav Kadouri sought a way to save the yeshiva's sifrei Torah and the enormous collection of sifrei kodesh in his home. After all his efforts to smuggle out the books failed he hid in his library on the last day before the Jewish Quarter fell, unable to part with the books. A short time later Jordanian soldiers took over the house and the entire yeshiva with the surrounding buildings went up in flames. When news of the fire was brought to HaRav Kadouri at his home in Bucharim, he burst out in tears.

Following the petiroh of HaRav Ephraim Hakohen, head of Jerusalem's mekubolim, toward the end of 5709 (1949) HaRav Kadouri was selected to head the group. Yeshivat Porat Yosef had already relocated to Geula but the group of mekubolim opted to attach themselves to Yeshivat Beit Kel on Rechov Rashi. Nevertheless the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivat Porat Yosef, HaRav Tzadka and HaRav Ben-Tzion Abba Shaul zt"l set aside a room where HaRav Kadouri received people every day for years until he started his own yeshiva, Yeshivat Nachalat Yitzchak, on Rechov David in Bucharim.

During the course of his lifetime he wrote only a handful of articles, although others may never have reached the eyes of his talmidim. Some of his writings attacked those who engage in practical kabboloh without understanding any of the secrets of kabboloh. The secrets of the amulets he would write for healing and success were given to him by HaRav Yehuda Phetaia. He was also extensively involved in studying the kavonos of tefilloh. All other secrets of kabboloh which other figures professed to engage in were foreign to him.

Over the years he battled against figures involved in oaths and lots. In one of the few articles he published on this issue, written for the book Tamim Tihiyu by HaRav Yaakov Hillel, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Chevrat Ahavat Shalom, he stressed that the only amulet formulations permitted to be written are those written by HaRav Yehuda Phetaia, "because he has foundations in the language of requests for mercy and the names are known, without any error."

In the article he also attacks users of oaths and praises HaRav Hillel's fight against those who mislead others to believe tricks presented in the guise of applied kabbalah. "His entirely beneficial intention is to save Am Yisrael from people who use sorcery and demons to demonstrate their power and deceive their followers and demand much money from them and take oaths and sometimes mix the sacred and the profane, demons with the names of angels, and sometimes inadvertently cause harm to those who ask them questions and there are amulets that are nothing but rattles. Therefore he who fears the Word of Hashem will avoid applied kabbalah."

HaRav Kadouri wrote several kabbolah books, primarily the different formulations of the amulets, but refused to print and distribute them, keeping them only for those familiar with sod. When people would come to him asking for amulets he would insist they recite a chapter of Tehillim for a certain period and made clear that without full Shabbos observance the amulet would provide no benefits.

His entire life was filled with Torah study, day and night, and lengthy tefillos at Yeshivat Nachalat Yitzchak together with his kabbalah talmidim.

HaRav Kadouri's meals were extremely meager and he abstained from numerous types of food. Every morning he would study Chok LeYisroel after breakfast, and then would delve deep into gemora sugyos for hours on end. He would study late into the night, sitting and learning for hours without rest. Whenever a new book came into his hands he would study it from cover to cover and was able to recite entire excerpts from memory.

According to his talmidim HaRav Kadouri knew the entire Shas and poskim verbatim. While studying he would often hold his beard in his hands, but refrained from doing so on Shabbos to avoid pulling out any hairs. When a beard hair fell out during the week he would keep it in a special box.

Throughout his lifetime he also adhered to asceticism in his speech. He never uttered an untoward word about others and would keep his distance from people who spoke excessively. Every full moon he would travel to the gravesites of various tzaddikim around the country to pray.

In general he spoke exceedingly little. For many years he did not say shiurim, but had others say them in his presence. He would make only comments, as he felt necessary.

His home was open to all. Even after certain household items and pieces of jewelry were stolen, he refused to shut the doors to the public and continued to help everyone who sought his assistance.
HaRav Kadouri avoided leaving Eretz Yisroel unnecessarily, but when he had to conduct a fundraising campaign for the yeshiva building he traveled abroad with his son. The moment he was told the amount collected would suffice for the phase of the building under construction he would insist on returning immediately. On one occasion an entire audience was waiting for his arrival, but he refused to remain abroad any longer, saying he was unable to direct his prayers while outside of Eretz Yisroel. Once the building was complete he stopped leaving Eretz Yisroel.

His wife, Sarah, who managed their modest home loyally until her last day, passed away on Lag B'Omer 5749 (1989). Five years later he remarried and his second wife. She too helped him maintain his daily schedule of Torah and chessed.

For decades people would come to his home seeking advice and brochos and asking him to pray for them. Many people were spared following his blessings, but he remained humble in his ways, devoting most of his time to the study of Torah, both nigleh and nistar.

During the last weeks of his life, he was rushed to Bikur Cholim Hospital to be treated for influenza. Following his recovery he returned home, but a short time later contracted an acute lung infection. He spent the last 13 days of his life in critical condition under the treatment of Bikur Cholim's top physicians, who kept him anaesthetised and connected to a respirator. His family members and talmidim did not leave his bedside and Jews everywhere prayed for his recovery.
Shortly after Shabbos ended, the family and close talmidim, along with a group of Jerusalem mekubolim, were summoned to recite Vidui and prayers at his bedside. They pleaded tearfully and cried out to Heaven, but at 10:00 p.m. HaRav Kadouri passed away.

The mittoh was brought to the yeshiva adjacent to his home and throughout the night and the morning hours family members, talmidim and other followers recited Tehillim under a heavy veil of sorrow. Hundreds of people were unable to make their way into the packed building.

In the late morning the police began closing streets leading to Rechov David and thousands of participants were already on hand when the hespeidim began at noon on Sunday. The police apparently underestimated the crowd and observers said that they were seriously understaffed to control the hundreds of thousands who attended.

Among the eulogizers were HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu, HaRav Beniyahu Shmueli, HaRav David Batzri, HaRav Yehuda Addes, HaRav Ovadia Yosef, HaRav Shlomo Amar, HaRav Reuven Elbaz and HaRav Moshe Cohen. All of the maspidim recounted the deceased's tzidkus and elevated character, his unique avodas Hashem, his devotion to Torah study day and night, his frugal lifestyle and his many acts of chessed. They also said he felt the suffering of every Jew in Klal Yisroel and would pray wholeheartedly for anyone in need. Before the procession set out it was announced that only those who immersed in a mikveh beforehand would be permitted to carry the mittoh.

Following the many hespeidim and a short address by President Moshe Katsav the levaya set out on foot toward Har Hamenuchos via Rechov Yechezkel, Malchei Yisrael, Torah Mitzion, Hatzvi and Yirmiyahu. All of the stores along the way closed down for hours as the very long stream of people passed.
When the mittoh arrived at the burial plot shortly before 3:00 p.m. the deceased's talmidim and leading mekubolim recited Shlosh Esrei Middos and Kabolas Ol Malchus Shomayim. A bitter cry could be heard throughout the cemetery as the mittoh was lowered into the ground. For hours afterwards thousands passed by the gravesite to pay their final respects.

Over 100 medics and paramedics were on hand during the procession with 10 Magen David Adom ambulances and 22 Hatzoloh motorcycles.

Throughout the day the Municipal Traffic Department worked in cooperation with Israel Police, which dispatched 700 officers to control the city's main thoroughfares and provide security for the procession. Traffic lights were adjusted and a special information hotline was set up. Early in the morning the Sanitation Department began to clear refuse bins to facilitate free passage.

Chacham Yitzchak Kadouri is Buried on Har Menuchos - Givat Shaul, Israel, and  is survived by a son and a daughter, grandchildren and other descendants.

Same Weird Noises: Germany

[Video summary from You Tube]

Anybody knows this sound?
We were doing a video of our dog, as suddenly our Cockatoo freaks out und we`ve heard a strange noise...
First we thought about our water pipes from the bathroom (got some trouble with it before), till we recognized, that this sound is coming from outside.
It was really loud and strongly, maybe you can`t hear it so good by watching this video.
Please watch this video from the start till the end, cause by watching this lately, we noticed, that this "hum" almost started by the beginning of this video !
This video is taken in MönchenGladbach in NRW, Germany.
Maybe some from our surrounding area heard that too and can say something about it.
Thank you !
Ps: it was Sunday evening, 22nd of January 2012!

Patience: Eventually All Will Be Revealed

If the world did not need you and you did not need this world, you would never have come here. G-d does not cast His precious child into the pain of this journey without purpose.

You say you cannot see a reason. Why should it surprise you that a creature cannot fathom the plan of its Creator? Nevertheless, eventually the fruits of your labor will blossom for all to see.
[Tzvi Freeman Bringing Heaven Down to Earth]

Spiritual Darkness

"And there was a thick darkness throughout the land of Egypt... No man could see his brother nor could any man rise from his place" [Bo 10:22-23]

This verse, said R' Chanoch of Alexander, teaches us a valuable lesson in Divine service.

''And there was a thick darkness throughout the land of Egypt'' - when it is a period of spiritual darkness - and ''No man could see his brother'' - when somebody only cares about himself and ignores the plight of others - then ''nor could any man rise from his place'' - he will not be able to rise from his low spiritual state.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Monday, January 23, 2012

Life's A Beach: Australia

Some winners in the Australia Day Council's photography competition. [Australia Day is celebrated on January 26]

Kookaburra Family by Ken Griffiths NSW
The Bay of Blue Fire by Cally Edmonds NSW
"Having explored the east coast of Tasmania, only a short time ago, The Bay of Fires was a definite highlight. We were expecting to see the bright red lichen rolling over the boulders, in its full glory; instead we were greeted with bad weather and occasional glimpses of light. Australia's unpredictable weather patterns had taken over, but it was a five-minute window of sunlight that allowed me to take this photograph, capturing the aquamarine waters slipping past the rocks, creating a magnificent contrast from the white sand. This photo, I believe, shows so much about not only Australia's hidden gems, like The Bay of Fires, but it also gives an insight in to just how much Australia can shine even on its bad days."

Beached by Robert Baillie NSW
"When I took this photo I thought it really showed the great Australian pride in our country and the laidback attitude of its people. On Australia Day this gentleman had covered his Tinny in Australian flags and had been parading along the water, for the crowd on the bank to enjoy. The outgoing tide must have left him beached but not to be fussed he had settled down for a quick nap. “She’ll be right mate, the tide will come up eventually!”

Full photo gallery can be found here

Midnight: The Threshold

At the dividing point of the night, I will go out into the midst of Egypt... [Bo 11:4]

Rashi comments: At the literal level [p'shat] Moshe informed Pharoah that the plague would start at midnight precisely.

A non-literal [agadic] interpretation is that G-d told Moshe the plague would start at precisely midnight, but Moshe decided not to tell this fact over to Pharoah because he feared that the Egyptian astrologers might err in their calculations of the exact time of midnight. Then, when the plague failed to come at the time they expected, they would come to the conclusion that Moshe had spoken falsely. Therefore, Moshe told Pharoah that the plague would start at 'around midnight'.

Mizrachi comments: The Torah states that Moshe told Pharoah the plague would begin כַּחֲצֹת הַלַּיְלָה. Literally, this means 'around midnight'. However it is unthinkable that G-d should express Himself in such an uncertain manner. Therefore, Rashi understood that כַּחֲצֹת means precisely midnight. This unusual translation was achieved by rendering the word not as a noun but as a verb: ''when the night divides''.

The second agadic interpretation of Rashi solves this problem by explaining that G-d did indeed express Himself in precise terms, but Moshe chose to use a more ambiguous expression, for fear of being misjudged.

Ibn Ezra: The term כַּחֲצֹת הַלַּיְלָה could be rendered 'after midnight' i.e. in the second half of the night [as in Ruth 3:8]

Ramban: Moshe was clearly not trying to tell Pharoah the exact timing of the plague at all, for he did not mention which day the plague would occur. Rather, Moshe was hinting generally that the next plague would cause Pharoah and his servants to arise in the middle of the night.

Perhaps we could argue that Rashi accepted the problem presented by Ramban that the warning of a precise time seems totally superfluous here, as Pharoah was in any case not informed of the date.

Furthermore, we do not find that most of the other plagues were associated with a specific time. Even in those instances when the dates were specified [e.g. before the plagues of death of cattle and hail] the time was not. So, why do we find that in this final plague, an exact time was given?

[One exception to this rule was the plague of hail. Rashi explains that Moshe drew a line on the wall and said that when the sun would reach the line, the hail would fall [Vaera 9:18]. But in that case, there was a reason for giving a time, so that those who ''feared the word of G-d'' [Vaera 9:20] would be able to put their slaves and cattle under shelter before the plague started. In our case, however, there is no practical reason to mention the time.]

Since the time appears to be of no relevance here, Rashi concluded that the reference to midnight was primarily a descriptive statement which conveyed the unique quality of the impending plague.

We are therefore left with a question: the distinctive feature of the plague of the firstborn is that it was carried out by G-d Himself, as verse 4 states: ''I will go out into the midst of Egypt''. But if we would follow the usual translation of the word כַּחֲצֹת [around midnight] then how would the verse convey the unique quality of this plague, that G-d was involved personally? Surely, one would expect G-d Himself to be of the utmost precision?

[In fact, we find that the plague of hail was enacted with extreme precision. So, it would be unreasonable to suggest that the plague which G-d enacted personally would be around a certain time, and thus less accurate than one of the previous plagues in which He was not directly ''involved''.]

Therefore, Rashi was forced to conclude that, at the literal level, כַּחֲצֹת הַלַּיְלָה must be rendered [not as 'about midnight' but] as ''precisely midnight'' i.e. even though this is an unconventional [and thus apparently non-literal translation] it is nevertheless necessary to preserve the basic implication of the text, that the plague occurred at a specific time to express G-d's personal involvement.

However, since this interpretation resorted to an unconventional translation, Rashi felt it necessary to bring also a second interpretation from agadic sources.


Midnight as an Expression of Infinitude
It was explained above that Pharoah was informed of the time of the plague of the firstborn primarily as an expression of G-d's personal involvement. This is highlighted by the comment of Rabbi Yehudah ben Basaira in the Mechilta that midnight is not a definitive moment in time, but rather, a threshold. Thus G-d's revelation at ''midnight'' expresses His true infinitude, how He can be simultaneously revealed in our world that is bound by time, and yet, remain aloof from it.

Source: Based on Likutei Sichos Vol 21 Lubavitcher Rebbe - Gutnick Chumash

Rockiah presents The Call

From a reader in Bet Shemesh

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Seventh Day

Art: Miki Karni
Va'eira: An Island in Time
[extracts from "The Curtain Parted" by Robert L. Kremnizer]

In the midrash of Va'eira, Moshe tells Pharoah that the Jews will not work on Shabbat. What is the mystery of Shabbat that is so important that Pharoah is forced to cope with the fact that Jews will not work on this day? For most uninitiated Jews, Shabbat seems an enormous chore: a day without shopping, travelling, television.... who wants to live like this? Who would voluntarily undertake this imprisonment? Intelligent caring Jews shake their heads in dismay and extend their hearts to pity the misguided fanatics involved in this primitive rite, for whom reason appears not to exist.

In truth, it is difficult to communicate the preciousness of Shabbat because to a large extent its joy must be experienced. The apparent restrictions are in fact gates to new, greater and dazzling freedoms. These freedoms, however, become available only after the experience of Shabbat is lived, and lived repeatedly. Those not prepared to invest the time and energy, sadly never discover the wonder of the phenomenon.

We have a saying, that more than the Jewish people have kept the Shabbat throughout our history, the Shabbat has kept the Jewish people. The celestial properties of Shabbat are a necessary ingredient for the spiritual thriving and prospering of a Jew.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that the blessings of Am Yisrael come to us because of Shabbat. Indeed, whoever keeps Shabbat properly obtains these unlimited blessings. Fascinatingly, these blessings come to those who actually fix their boundaries on Shabbat - not of course physical boundaries, but those which a Jew takes on for spiritual reasons. Am Yisrael and Shabbat therefore are absolutely and completely inter-dependent, and without Shabbat we cannot access these unlimited blessings.

Shabbat is best understood in terms of withdrawal from the creative and destructive physical activities into spiritual ones. On Shabbat a Jew abstains from 39 forms of labour and withdraws from the physical into the spiritual, surrendering his dominion over the creative and destructive processes of the world. On the seventh day, a Jew imitates G-d's withdrawal from the creative processes, to journey into touch with Hashem and, in doing so, renews personal vigour and recharges spiritual potential.

The Neshamah
The Jewish soul, the neshamah, has five levels. Three of these levels are enclothed in the body, two are not. The highest of the levels of the neshamah not enclothed in the body is called "Yechidah" - that part of the soul which is bound-up together with Hashem. On the day of Shabbat, the observance of Shabbat reaches that level of every neshamah which is "Yechidah", higher than any revelation of his neshamah in his body.

The three lower levels of the neshamah are revealed in the body. The neshamah has various powers which are revealed through organs of the body. For example, the neshamah has a power to see, and the power to see is revealed in the body. It is revealed in the body even without the organ which is instrumental in doing the seeing.

If a man's eye is impaired, he cannot see, but he still has the power to see. The proof is that we can mend the eye and the sight is restored. Similarly with hearing. Again, there is the power to hear and there is the instrument which hears. If the instrument is faulty, hearing is impaired. Nevertheless while the ear is faulty, the power to hear remains. Separate the neshamah from the body, by death, remove the power to hear, and the best ears in the world will still hear nothing.

The neshamah also has powers which are not enclothed or revealed in the body. The level of the Yechidah, as we have just learned, is not revealed in the body whatsoever. This is the level of the neshamah which responds when a Jew keeps Shabbat. Since this level of neshamah is independent of the physical body, the revelation is equal in all Jews.

As every Jew's Yechidah is part of Hashem Himself, there can be no concept of superiority or inferiority or a quantitive difference in a Jew's Yechidah; and it is specifically this level which is revealed on Shabbat. This is because the Yechidah, bound up and part of Hashem, is exposed and highlighted by the keeping of Shabbat. Not surprisingly, one can actually feel this. Ba'alei Teshuvah often report this phenomenon.

This is what Yaakov was doing establishing the boundaries for Shabbat as an inheritance for Am Yisrael forever. This inheritance is so specific that even Pharoah was bound by it in this parsha. These are the gates to freedom, mistakenly perceived by the uninitiated as limitations on freedom. When keeping Shabbat, a Jew is in touch with the level of his neshamah which is the Yechidah, and by doing so he is directly in touch, in a feeling sense, with G-d.

Obama breaks into song

Well, if he doesn't get to serve a second term as President, he's got a great career as a soul singer....
Obama breaks into song as a tribute to Al Green [video]

Saturday, January 21, 2012

So Many Sinners, How Can Moshiach Come?

Can the Moshiach come in our time, even though there are people who have not yet repented and don't keep the Torah?

Regarding the coming of the Redemption, our sages taught: “This matter depends only on repentance.” Maimonides likewise writes that “The Torah has promised that the Jewish people will ultimately repent at the end of their exile, and will immediately be redeemed.” However, the Redemption will not be delayed even if this condition is not fulfilled. There are three reasons for this:

1) There is no one who has not had at least one thought of repentance at least a few times in the course of his life. Even one such thought can transform a person from an utter rasha to a perfect tzaddik.

2) Many of those who do not keep the Torah and its commandments were not raised in observant homes, and have not had the benefit of a comprehensive Jewish education. As such, they have the halachic status of victims of duress, and the Torah exonerates them for their lack of observance.

3) The Redemption will come even before the Jewish people repent. It is written in Psalms, “And He will redeem Israel from all its sins.” Commentators explain, “Even sin will not obstruct the Redemption, for He will redeem Israel from sin.”

G-d is merciful and overlooks transgressions, as described in the verse: “Who is a G-d like You, Who pardons iniquity, and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not maintain His anger forever, for He delights in mercy.”

Rabbi David Kimche comments on this verse: “As to those people who remain when the Redeemer comes..... even though their unworthy deeds could make them liable for the punishment of not being redeemed from exile, G-d will not direct attention forever to their deeds, for He delights in mercy.”

[From Exile to Redemption, pp. 128-29. Sicha of Parshat Vayechi 5751. Shabbos 68b. Bava Kama 28b. Tehillim 130:8. Meztudas David, loc. cit. Michah 7:18]

Source: ChabadWorld.net

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Trapped Soul of the Autistic Child

HT: Moriah

Carly Fleischmann has severe autism and is unable to speak a word. But thanks to years of expensive and intensive therapy, this 13-year-old has made a remarkable breakthrough.

Two years ago, working with pictures and symbols on a computer keyboard, she started typing and spelling out words. The computer became her voice.

"All of a sudden these words started to pour out of her, and it was an exciting moment because we didn't realize she had all these words," said speech pathologist Barbara Nash. "It was one of those moments in my career that I'll never forget." [More at ABC News]

Olympic Games 2012

The 2012 Olympic Games - July 27 to Aug 12 - are shaping up to be a monumental event.  Iran threatened to boycott the Games due to the official Logo, which they say spells the word ZION - and indeed it does spell the word Zion as you can see. Whether it is by Divine Providence as a hint to the Geula..... or some sinister plot, I do not know.

Judging by the preparations currently underway in London, with the Thames looking like a battlefront, the Olympic organisers are taking no chances in attempting to ensure that all goes well.

Terror on the Thames? Thankfully it's just an exercise as armed police and special forces prepare to protect the Olympics in Britain's biggest peacetime security operation. Read more at: Britain's Biggest Peacetime Security Operation

A History of the Games and The Lubavitcher Rebbe's Warning
compiled and written by Rabbi Elozor Reitchik

The Olympic Games began over 2700 years ago and was a religious event in honor of one of the many Greek gods.

- The original Olympic Games took place in Olympia, where temples for idolatry were situated. The modern-day Olympics, which resumed in the year 1896, are directly connected to the ancient games since they begin with the lighting of the Olympic Torch. The Torch is ignited by the sun's rays in the temple on Olympia, and from there it makes its way to the country where the Games are held.

- Even the fact that the Games take place every four years, as well as the Olympic symbol of five interlocking rings, are connected to idol worship. The five intertwined circles represent Venus, which traces a perfect pentacle across the sky every 8 years. To the ancient Greeks, Venus became the symbol of perfection and beauty, qualities prized in athletes' bodies. As a tribute to Venus, the Greeks used "her" 8-year cycle to organize their Olympic Games. The 4-year schedule follows Venus' half cycle.

Sourced in Idolatry
The Olympic Games took place in Munich, Germany in 1972. The Lubavitcher Rebbe referred to this in a sicha on Shabbos parshas Vayeishev, Shabbos Chanuka, 5733, and said that this was an inyan of avoda zara. Free translation follows:

The entire concept of the Olympic Games is connected with idol worship. These games began with the Greeks, who had a custom of going to a certain place and running there, jumping on stones and bones, dancing, fighting, and killing, etc. The modern version is the Olympic Games, but the source is idol worship.

In those days, the Greeks attained very high levels of wisdom, even the wisdom of mathematics and astronomy. After reaching very high levels of wisdom, they began to think -- what about faith?

There was a mountain near the city, and it wasn't a high mountain, but a mountain that goats and sheep, cows and oxen, and people too, could climb. This mountain wasn't in some forsaken place in the mountains of darkness, but right near the city. So the wise men of Greece declared that their two idols were there, that one had hit the other and killed him, and they did all sorts of evil things there. Including every possible bad trait, and even those you can only think of, and they said that these idols were their gods, and were omnipotent -- the name of this mountain was Olympia.

Then they decided, that once every few years they would gather there, and each one would take his cat, etc., with him, and one would strike another, and jump, and celebrate a holiday there.

All this was in the time of the Greeks. In recent years, this became the Olympic Games, which take place every four years. Therefore, the Olympic Games that take place in our generation are sourced in idol worship.

The Olympic Torch
On Chanuka 5732, a few months before the start of the Olympic Games in Munich, the Olympic Torch was carried through Eretz Yisrael on its way to Munich. The Rebbe spoke sharply about this and in a talk said on Shabbos parshas Chayei Sarah he said:

This was the custom of the Greeks 2000 years ago. Nothing remains of the Greeks themselves, aside from their books, and among the things written in their books, is the custom to take a torch and to run with it from place to place. Now they want to take this Greek custom and celebrate Chanuka with it!

The whole point of Chanuka is the Jews' victory over the Greeks, and as we see and all know, nothing remains of the Greeks aside from their language and their books. Now they want to dig up an ancient custom from the cemetery -- not from the "beis ha'chayim" ["place of the living," a jewish euphomism for a graveyard] but from the "beis ha'kevaros" ["place of graves"] -- and resurrect this Greek custom, the opposite of the whole point of Chanuka!

In 5748 (1988), before the bar mitzva of Eliyahu Schusterman, his father, Rabbi Gershon Schusterman of Los Angeles prepared a speech in which he derived Jewish lessons to be learned from the Olympic fire which burned on Mt. Olympia in Greece, from which the Olympic torch was lit to open the Olympic Games.

When he sent in the speech to the Rebbe, the Rebbe crossed it all out and wrote: as was publicized, the beginning of all this was actual idol worship.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe completely negated any Chabad activity in connection with the Olympic Games, since they are sourced in idol worship. And the Games today are connected and associated with the symbols of Greek idol worship.

The Massacre in Munich could have been Prevented
In a sicha given on Shabbos Chanuka 5733, in which the Rebbe explained the connection between the Olympic Games and avoda zara, the Rebbe also referred to the fact that a group of Israeli athletes were called "Maccabi," the opposite of what the Olympic Games are about:

The name "Maccabi" is for Yehuda Ha'Maccabi, who fought the Greeks and everything they stood for, and he won over the Greeks and killed them. How could a group called "Maccabi" participate in Olympic Games and dance before the Greeks of our time?

It's a general question about the whole issue -- what do they need this for, especially when doctors say that running is not healthy for the head and heart? The whole thing is illogical! What do they want from these men? They take away the time they could have used to sit and study wisdom.

The Rebbe also focused on the fact that the Games took place in Munich, Germany. He said that if Israel insisted on sending athletes to the Olympic Games, at least they should have announced that since the Games were taking place in Germany, which is responsible for the murder of millions of Jews, the Israeli athletes would not participate.

During the Olympic Games in Munich, eight "Black September" terrorists abducted 11 Israeli athletes. After killing two of them, they began negotiating. The terrorists and their captives were flown by helicopter to a nearby airfield. There, the West German police tried to overpower them and failed. The other 9 Israeli athletes were killed.

From Mincha Gedola to the Crack of Dawn

In my blog post about the sunken Costa Concordia, I speculated that.... if we count 266 days - [38 weeks] - which equals the nine months of a human pregnancy [chevlei Moshiach] - we end up on October 7/ 21 Tishrei - Hoshanna Rabba 5773

If you read that blog post, you will remember that the same number 266 was echo-ed by the amount the DOW fell when the Stock Market crashed on August 2nd 2011 [Mincha Gedola].

Seems that The Vilna Gaon predicted this a few hundred years ago:

...The Vilna Gaon on the Mechilta [Shmos 14:20] and the Midrash Talpiyos [Gog] say, that the Gog U'Magog war shall begin three hours before "Hanetz Hachama" [crack of dawn] on Hoshana Rabba, and shall last three hours only. This is why we say " הוֹשַׁעְנָא שָׁלֹש שָׁעוֹת " If we connect this to what the Zohar quoted above said that the war will be in the 73rd year of the century, it comes out that the war shall take place on Hoshana Rabba of 5773.

The date 773 equals "crack of dawn on Hoshana Rabba":
.תשע"ג בְּגִימַטְרִיָּא הָנֵץ הֹשַׁעְנָא רַבָּא

Why do you need to control me?

"Let My People Go!"
But Can They Let Themselves Go?

By: Rabbi YY Jacobson

Three Boys
Three boys are in the schoolyard bragging how great their fathers are.
The first one says: "Well, my father runs the fastest. He can fire an arrow, and start to run, I tell you, he gets there before the arrow".
The second one says: "Ha! You think that's fast! My father is a hunter. He can shoot his gun and be there before the bullet".
The third one listens to the other two and shakes his head. He then says: "You two know nothing about fast. My father is a civil servant. He stops working at 4:30 and he is home by 3:45"!

The First Commandment
The Biblical account of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt has been one of the most inspiring stories for the oppressed, enslaved and downtrodden throughout history. From the American Revolution, to the slaves of the American South, to Martin Luther King’s Let Freedom Ring, the narrative of the Exodus provided countless peoples with the courage to hope for a better future, and to act on the dream.

Moses’ first visit to Pharaoh demanding liberty for his people only brought more misery to the Hebrew slaves; the Egyptian monarch increased their torture. The Hebrews now would not listen any longer to the promise of redemption. Now let us pay heed to this strange verse in the weekly portion, Vaeira:  ''So G-d spoke to Moses and to Aaron, and He commanded them to the children of Israel, and to Pharaoh the king of Egypt, to let the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.'' [1]

G-d is charging Moses with two directives: Command the people of Israel and then command Pharaoh the king. However, the verse is ambiguous: What did G-d command Moses to instruct the people? The message for Pharaoh is clear: Let the children of Israel out of Egypt. But what is it that Moses is supposed to command the people themselves?

The Jerusalem Talmud [2] says something profoundly enigmatic: G-d instructed Moses to command to the Jewish people the laws of freeing slaves.

The Talmud is referring to a law recorded later in Exodus: [3] If a Jew sells himself as a slave, the owner must let him go after six years. He is forbidden to hold on to the slave for longer. This was the law Moses was to share with the Israelites while they were in Egyptian bondage.

The Basis for the Commentary
The Talmud bases this novel and seemingly unfounded interpretation on a fascinating narrative in the book of Jeremiah: [4]

''Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: So says the Lord G-d of Israel; I made a covenant with your fathers on the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves, saying: "At the end of seven years you shall let go every man his brother Jew who has been sold to you, and when he has served you for six years you shall let him go free from you."

The question is, where do we find a covenant made by G-d with the Jewish people when they left Egypt to free their slaves? In a brilliant speculation, the Talmud suggests that this is the meaning of the above enigmatic verse, “G-d spoke to Moses and to Aaron, and He commanded them to the children of Israel, and to Pharaoh the king of Egypt, to let the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.” The commandment to the children of Israel was to set free their slaves.

Yet this seems like a cruel joke. The Children of Israel at this point were crushed and tormented slaves themselves, subjugated by a genocidal despot and a tyrannical regime, enduring horrific torture. Yet at this point in time G-d wants Moses to command them about the laws relevant to the aristocrat, the feudal lord, the slave-owner?! [5]

What is more, as the Torah puts it: “G-d commanded them to the children of Israel, and to Pharaoh the king of Egypt to let the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.” It seems like the two instructions—the one to the Israelites and the one to the Egyptian king—are linked. And furthermore: the commandment to the Israelites preceded the commandment to Pharaoh. But what does the commandment to the Jewish people that they free their slaves one day in the future have to do with the mission to Pharaoh to set the Hebrews free from bondage?

Who Is Free?
The answer to this question is profoundly simple and moving, and is vital to the understanding of liberty in the biblical imagination.

Before Pharaoh can liberate the Jewish slaves, they must be ready to become free. You can take a man out of slavery, but it may prove more challenging to take slavery out of a man. Externally, you may be free; internally you may still be enslaved.

What is the first and foremost symptom of bring free? That you learn to confer freedom on others.

The dictator, the control freak, or the abusive spouse or parent, does not know how give others freedom. He (or she) feels compelled to force others into the mold that he has created for them. Uncomfortable in his own skin, he is afraid that someone will overshadow him, expose his weaknesses, usurp his position or make him feel extra in this world. Outwardly he attempts to appear powerful, but inwardly his power is a symptom of inner misery and confinement.

Only when one learns to embrace others, not for whom he would like them to be, but for who they are, then can he begin to embrace himself, not for whom he wishes he was, but for who he is. When we free those around us, we are freeing ourselves. By accepting them, we learn to accept ourselves.

Who is powerful? He who empowers. Who is free? He who can free others. Who is a leader? He who creates other leaders.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power,” Abraham Lincoln said. Ask yourself, do you know how to celebrate the soaring success of your loved ones and constituents? Do you encourage them to spread their wings and maximize their potentials? Can you allow others to shine?

Pharaoh may set you free physically. But former slaves can become present tyrants. People who were abused often become abusers themselves. It is what they know about life; it is the paradigm they were raised with. They grew up in abuse and slavery, so they continue the cycle with others. The first Mitzvah the Jews had to hear from Moses before even he can tell Pharaoh to let them go free was: One day you will be free. Remember that freedom is a gift; use it to free others.

To leave a comment at Rabbi Jacobson's site, or to read the footnotes, please click here