Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The ''Flame''

Disclaimer: This is speculation.

HT: Dov bar Leib

We already saw the star on the East swallowing the seven stars on the North [see this post]

when a star on the East side will swallow seven stars on the North side, and a flame of black fire will be hanging in the firmament 60 days..... [Zohar]

And now we have something called the "Flame Virus'' [a hint?]

Exactly 60 days before Tisha B'Av. The Flame virus is now being called the most dangerous malware virus ever created, as revealed today by Russian sources:

A massive, data-slurping cyberweapon is circulating in the Middle East, and computers in Iran appear to have been particularly affected, according to a Russian Internet security firm. Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab ZAO said the "Flame" virus was unprecedented both in terms of its size and complexity, possessing the ability to turn infected computers into all-purpose spying machines that can even suck information out of nearby cell phones.

Source: Flame Computer Virus Strikes Middle East, Speculation Continues
 Also see: Telegraph

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hidden Secrets in Torah

Extracted from ''Letters of Fire'' by Rabbi M. Glazerson

The Torah has a revealed [nigleh] and a hidden [nistar] aspect.  One who looks at it in a superficial manner deals only with the revealed aspect.  However, if one deeply contemplates the Divinely-given Torah, one begins to discover the secrets hidden beneath the revealed aspect.

The root  סכה can mean either ''to cover'' or ''to see''.  In his works Kad Ha-Kemach and Sidduro shel Shabbat, Rabbeinu Bachyei mentions the dual meaning of the root  סכה, and relates it to a verse in Mishlei:  ''An utterance spoken in the right context is like golden apples in silver coverings''.  The word for coverings is maskiot, which comes from the root שׁכה.  Since the letters שׁ and ס are interchangeable this root is equivalent to סכה.  The silver coverings, says Rabbeinu Bachyei, have small holes in them, through which one can see סכה the golden apples within.

The ''golden apples'' within the coverings symbolize the secrets of the Torah, while the ''silver coverings'' symbolize the revealed aspect.  Only by means of the ''coverings'' - the revealed Torah - can man glimpse the ''golden apples'' within; for the secrets of the Torah are deeper than the ocean and wider than all the world, and man's intellect would not be able to grasp them at all without the aid of the revealed Torah.

Thus the covering - סכה - is what makes the seeing - סכה - possible.  Similarly, the משׁל mashal [fable or simile] or סמל [semel - symbol] is like a שׂמלה [simlah - garment].  On the one hand, it covers the inner content, but on the other hand it enables one to view and understand it.

If a person is lazy and does not exert himself in his studies, he will not see the inner meaning and will be left only with the outer ''covering'' - סכה.   His Torah study will be full of unresolved questions and apparent contradictions.  But one who labors indefatigably will discern - סכה - the truth hidden within the Torah.  Labor [עמל - amal] leads to revelation of the inner secrets of both the person who studies and of the Torah which is studied.  Thus, the letters following עמל in the alphabet are  פנם [penim ''inner''].

פ follows ע
נ follows מ
ם follows ל

The Torah's outer cover, its revealed meaning, enables one to see its inner light.  This may be compared to tinted glasses which are necessary in order to gaze at the sun.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Last Revelation

There is a tradition that King David passed away on Shavuos: in the year 2924 [837 BCE].  Read more here: The Shepherd Who Became King

The Baal Shem Tov also left this world on Shavuos:

On the day of his passing from the world [the first day of Shavuos], the Baal Shem Tov was in his bed surrounded by his closest chassidim. Only Reb Hershelah Tzvi, the Baal Shem Tov's only son, was absent.

The chassidim warily asked, "Rebbe, don't you want to give your son a few last instructions?"

The Baal Shem Tom answered with a sigh, "How can I? He is still sleeping."

A few Chassidim rushed out to wake Reb Hershelah. "Reb Hershelah, quick, wake up, your father the Rebbe is getting ready to leave the world."

"Oh no," answered Reb Hershelah with a shock, "that's impossible! I don't believe my father is passing on to the next world."

"Reb Hershelah," they said with a solemn voice, "the Rebbe said that he will leave the world today."

Reb Hershelah quickly dressed and rushed to his father's room. When he arrived at his father's side, Reb Hershelah started weeping, "Father, father, please don't leave us."

The Baal Shem Tov reached out and held his son's hand. "My dear son, I'm going to depart from this world. One thing I want you to know is that you have a very holy soul. When your mother and I conceived you, the very Heavens shook. At that time, I had the power to bring any soul I chose, even that of Adam HaRishon [the first man]. But I selected your soul because it was very holy and possessed all that you will need."

"Please father, tell me something before you depart," begged Reb Hershelah. So the Baal Shem Tov started to speak to his son, but his voice was barely audible.

"Father, I can't understand what you are trying to tell me," said Reb Hershelah in a distraught voice.

The Baal Shem Tov gathered his strength and spoke louder, "My dearest son, there is nothing that I can do now. Just listen and remember this Name." Then the Baal Shem Tov motioned to his son to come closer. Reb Hershelah bent down very near to his father and the Baal Shem Tov whispered the Name to him. Then he said, "Whenever you concentrate on this Name, I will come and study with you."

Reb Hershelah spoke, "But what if I forget the Name?"

"Come close to me again," said the Baal Shem Tov, "and I'll tell you a way of remembering the Name."
After the Baal Shem Tov whispered the way to remember to Reb Hershelah, he closed his eyes and his soul ascended.

And to this day, no one knows the Name or how to remember the Name.

And so it was.

Freely adapted by Tzvi Meir HaCohane Cohn from a story in SHIVCHEI HABAAL SHEM TOV and translated in IN PRAISE OF THE BAAL SHEM TOV by Mintz and Ben Amos.

No Common Ground

Two people in Vilna had an argument that required a Din Torah. The agreed to choose the Dayanim through Borerus, where each one chose one Dayan and the two Dayanim would choose the third. One side chose the Vilna Gaon. The other side chose someone who wasn't a Ben Torah and the Vilna Gaon said he would not hear the case together with this other Dayan. He said that the Daas of a Ba'al HaBayis is completely different from Daas Torah and they would never see things eye to eye. 

When the Vilna Gaon was asked where his basis for this was in the Torah, he said that it can be found in Parshas Bamidbar. When discussing the encampment of the Shevatim, the Torah says each Degel had three Shevatim under it. By the last Shevet in each group the pasuk say's "U'Mateh," and the Shevet... By Zevulun who was last in the Degel of Yehuda, right after Yisachar, it says [Bamidbar 2:7] "Mateh," without the letter "Vav".

The Vilna Gaon explains that the letter Vav connects what is written previously with what the Torah is saying now. Since Yisachar learned Torah, and Zevulun were the businessmen, their outlook was always different and there was no common ground between the two. Therefore, the connecting "Vav" was left out.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Nevua: An Out of Body Experience

Shavuos: How Could the Bnei Yisroel Oversleep The Day of Matan Torah?

Our Minhag is to stay up all Shavuos night in order to make sure we don't oversleep on the morning of Kabalas HaTorah. Chazal tell us that on the morning of Matan Torah the Bnei Yisroel were sleeping and Moshe Rabbeinu had to wake them up and bring them to Kabalas HaTorah. How could this be? Weren't they up preparing all night for this unprecedented historic event?

Reb Chaim Yaakov Safran, the Komarna Rebbe, in the Hakdama to the Chumash Heichal HaBracha, answers as follows. 

The Rambam says that there are many levels of Nevuah [prophesy]. Typically, it is an out of body experience where the Navi's neshama reaches such a high level that it leaves his body, which remains in a trance, while the neshama receives the nevuah. The Rambam calls this "sheina", sleep. In order to prepare to hear Hashem's words at Har Sinai the Bnei Yisroel brought themselves to this state of "sheina". 

On the other hand, Moshe Rabbeinu who had purified his soul and body to a state of perfection, was the only Navi in history that was able to receive nevuah in a perfectly conscious state. This is called "Aspaklariya HaMeira".

This explains the midrash. Bnei Yisroel went to "sleep" or "sheina" to enable themselves to hear Hashem's words. Until, that is, Moshe Rabbeinu woke them up. He brought them up to his level of Aspaklariya HaMeira in order for the Torah to be given to humans and not angels. At Har Sinai we heard, for the only time in history, Hashem speak while we were fully conscious.


Shavuos: Torah, Tikkun, Segulas and More

Reb Boruch of Mezibuzh says that on Rosh Hashana we are judged on material matters, but on Shavuos we are judged on spiritual matters. [Botzina Dinehora] 

It says “ad mochoras haShabbos”, meaning that we have the whole sefira including the 50th day to teshuva and purify ourselves (the word “sapir” can mean purify). And if one can’t purify himself, even on the last day, then he has no choice but to attach himself to the Tzadik Emes, and he will lift him up and purify him. Through his attachment to the Tzadik Emes, he will be able to do teshuva. [Divrei Dovid] 

Read the post at: Shavuos - Torah, Tikun, Segulas and more

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Media and Chassidic Women

Chaya writes:  When you slam Orthodox Jews because you think you're defending or somehow liberating the women of our communities, you're actually doing us a huge disservice.

Hi. I'm Chaya, and I am a Chassidic Jewish woman. I am also a media professional with a degree in Women's Studies from a large, very liberal university (magna cum laude, baby!).

In the past few days, I've been reading the backlash against "the asifa," a recent mass meeting of religious Jewish men meant to draw a few boundaries around Internet use in our homes (meaning religious Jewish homes; not your house).

Whenever religious Jews make a stink about some cultural issue, the media moves in on it with a bizarre kind of vengeance. Like yesterday, Katie J.M. Baker published an article on Jezebel about the event, in which she actually compared Jewish men to ants!

See: "While men in traditional Orthodox garb filed into Citi Field as steadily as a never-ending line of ants approaching an anthill…" Um, where have I seen Jews compared to insects before? Oh, wait, WWII. 

Why Tzadikim Atone for Us All

Regarding the Horrific tragedy in Northern Israel of the Atias family zt"l

Question: How can the death of a Tzaddik become a Kapparah [atonement]?
Answer by Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

Answer: The Tzadik is not a personal individual that has an impact only on himself, he is a public figure who impacts on all those around him; the loss of a Tzadik is therefore a public loss, not an individual or family one. The Tzadikim are here not for themselves, rather for others - that is how they live their lives and that is how they also die; Just as the death serves as atonement to the deceased himself, so the departure of a Tzadik does to his community.

Also see: A Kapora for Am Yisrael

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shavuot Video: King David's Passing

Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson - Exploring a strange Talmudic story about the passing of King David - 
''A Dead King and Hungry Dogs''

Shelah HaKadosh Prayer for Children

This Monday, 21 May, 2012 is Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan when this special prayer for parents should be said.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Yom Yerushalayim May 20

How did the "Western Wall " survive for almost three thousand years of wars and destruction? 

The answer lies in an ancient Jewish Midrash. "Behold - He stands behind our wall'' - this refers to the Western Wall of the Temple. Why so? Because God has sworn that it will never be destroyed." [Midrash Raba, Song of Songs 2:4]    

Source: Evidence for Torah - A website which I just discovered and is well worth a visit.

In The Desert

Bamidbar, the name of this week's parsha as well as the name of the entire 4th book of the Torah, means "in the desert". However, the name Bamidbar itself does not seem to bring to light any unique qualities of the Parsha at all. At this point, the Jewish people have been situated in the desert for a considerable period of time: throughout the whole book of Vayikra and part of the book of Shemos. So what is added now by stressing that the Jewish people were "in the desert"?

The answer to this question lies in the fact that "we always read Parshas Bamidbar before Shavuot" [Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim]. Before we experience the giving of the Torah once again - for spiritually the Torah is given anew every Shavuot - it is necessary to recall and take to heart the fact that the Torah was not given in a civilized environment, but in a desert.

The lesson here is twofold:

1. A desert is a place of utter desolation where "no man can live". Thus the Torah was given there to indicate that it should be embraced without any preconceptions or ulterior motives. When a person lives in a civilized place and he encounters a new idea or suggestions, he will first evaluate it to determine whether it is acceptable according to societal norms. With Torah, however, this would be a mistake; the correct approach to accepting the Torah is "we will do, and (later) we will understand" (Shemos 24:7). Therefore the Torah was given in a desert, where nobody lives, to indicate that one needs to be truly "open-minded" - i.e. not influenced by one's environment - to appreciate its values.

2. The Torah was given in a desert to teach that sharing the Torah with those who currently find themselves in a spiritual desert is fundamental to Torah Judaism. It is not the case that the Torah can "also" reach those who are found in a spiritual wasteland; to the contrary, this is a central theme of the giving of the Torah: To transform every spiritual desert into a "civilized environment".

Based on Sichas Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (5732 and 5734)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Seven Stars on the North and 60 days

I have updated this post as some new information has been passed on to me from Dov bar Leib, which is actually very exciting:

The seven stars on the North side, as mentioned below, ARE the Pleiades - they are actually known as the Seven Sisters in Greek mythology because it is composed primarily of seven bright stars in a very large nebula which can be seen as a Messier object called M45 by Astronomers. The key point being that the Pleiades highlights 7 stars.....

.. when a star on the East side will swallow seven stars on the North side, and a flame of black fire will be hanging in the firmament 60 days..... [Zohar]

[The star on the East side would be the Sun itself]........ It is hard to keep up with the plethora of gods and goddesses from Greek mythology, but one thing that sticks out with regards to the Seven Sisters is that they are the nursemaids to Dionysus, the god of drunkenness and the grape harvest. The Sin of the Spies was during the grape harvest in Eretz Yisrael, but the spies were dispatched on the last day of Sivan, not at its molad, which is this coming solar eclipse in the Ring of Fire. [Source: Dov bar Leib]

May 20 [Yom Yerushalayim] will see the alignment of the earth, moon, sun and the Pleiades - as well as an Annular Solar Eclipse  [see video]

You can read more about this eventful date, and the Mayan Messiah Theory at: Venus Transit and the Star of Moshiach

60 days after this brings us to erev Rosh Chodesh Av - July 19.
July 20 is when Obama's Presidency reaches it's three-and-a-half-year mark: which could refer to Sefer Daniel [where President Obama is hinted to] - see ''time and times and a half of time'' for more on this.

And as Devash just blogged: Sixty days after Shavuot, the London Olympics will begin.

It's just speculation on my part ...... we'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ubuntu Philosophy

An anthropologist suggested the following game to a group of children in a tribe in Africa: He placed a basket full of fresh fruits under a tree. He then said that whoever reached the basket first in a race would be the winner of all the fruits. As he gave the signal to begin the race, the whole group held hands, ran bonded together and then sat and enjoyed the prize together.

When he asked why they had done such thing, when he had offered the possibility to one to be the ultimate winner. They replied: " UBUNTU"-- how could one of us be happy [feel happiness] while the rest are in despair, unhappy?

Ubuntu in the Xhosa culture means: "I am, because we are."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Greece: Bank Run

Greek Depositors Withdrew $898 Million From Banks Monday 

ATHENS—Greek depositors withdrew €700 million ($898 million) from local banks Monday, the country's president said, as he warned that the situation facing Greece's lenders was very difficult.

In a transcript of remarks by President Karolos Papoulias to Greek political leaders that was released Tuesday, Mr. Papoulias said that withdrawals plus buy orders received by Greek banks for German bunds totalled some 800 million.

Citing a conversation he had with Greek Central Bank Governor George Provopoulos, Mr. Papoulias said "that the strength of banks is very weak right now."

Source: WSJ

Greece and Europe: Back on the Brink

Europe is back on the economic brink.

With a leaderless Greece approaching another milestone in its struggle with debt, European stock markets closed yesterday's session at a 4-and-a-half year lows.  Source: ABC

Following news that Greece has failed to form a government, the Greek stock market is crashing.
It went from being up modestly to down 4.5% in a matter of seconds......Greek banks are getting totally crushed.  Source: Business Insider

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Lesson for Ahmadinejad from King Titus

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on May 12 said that Israel poses little threat to the Islamic Republic and compared it to a pesky insect.

“Israel is nothing more than a mosquito which cannot see the broad horizon of the Iranian nation,” Ahmadinejad said while speaking in northeastern Iran’s Khorassan province, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.  [ Before Nuclear Talks, Iranian President Compares Israel to Mosquito ]

Our Sages tell us: When Titus was traveling back to Rome on a ship with the Jewish captives and the vessels of the Holy Temple, a storm at sea threatened to drown him. He said: "It seems that the G‑d of these people only has power over water. When Pharaoh came, He drowned him in water. When Sisera came, He drowned him in water. Now He is about to drown me in water. If He wants to show His strength, let Him come onto dry land and fight with me there!" 

A Divine voice came forth and said to him: "Wicked one, the son of a wicked one, descendant of Esau the wicked, I have an insignificant creature in My world called a gnat. Come ashore and do battle with it!" Titus went ashore and a gnat [mosquito] came and entered his nostril, and pecked at his brain for seven years. 

One day, Titus was walking past a blacksmith's shop. The gnat heard the noise of the sledgehammer and became silent. Titus said: "There is a remedy!" Every day they brought a blacksmith and he hammered in Titus' presence. To a gentile blacksmith he would give a handsome stipend, but to a Jew he would say: "It is sufficient that you see your enemy suffering!"

For thirty days they brought smiths to hammer in Titus' presence. Then the gnat adjusted to the noise of the hammer, and continued pecking at Titus' brain even when the hammers were struck.

Rabbi Pinchas ben Arova said: "I was with the great men of Rome at the time when Titus died. They examined his brain and what they found in it was the size of a small bird!"

As Titus lay dying, he instructed his servants: "Burn me and scatter my ashes over the seven seas so that the G‑d of the Jews cannot find me and bring me to judgment."  [See: Death of Titus]

The Path of the Just

The Mesillat Yesharim [The Path of the Just] is probably the most popular musar [instruction] work in Jewish literature.

Authored by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, also known as the RaMCHaL after his initials, Mesillat Yesharim is studied in all Yeshivos and is considered the finest such work ever written. Indeed, Rabbi Yisroel Salanter, founder of the Musar movement which stressed the study of such books on piety, said, "All the classical works of Musar demonstrate that man must fear God. The Mesilas Yesharim tells us how."

"I have been given permission (from upstairs) to ask and understand in any and all matters of the holy Torah even the most difficult passages in the Zohar.."  [RamChaL]

 More and more, however, people are also realizing that Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto was one of the most brilliant thinkers of the past several centuries. Both his depth of thought and systematic mind are evident in all his works, which are literally filled with important basic insights. Over two hundred years ago, Rabbi Eliahu, the famed Vilna Gaon, declared that Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto had the most profound understanding of Judaism that any mortal human could attain. He furthermore stated that if Luzzatto were alive in his generation, he would go by foot from Vilna to Italy to sit at his feet and learn from him.

A new point-by-point summary of the book can be found at Daf Yomi Review

Then read the entire book in english at: Shechem

Monday, May 14, 2012

No Shortage of Onions

"If you ask "What will we eat in the seventh year?" [Behar 25:20]

The year 5719 [1958-1959] was a shemittah year.  With the encouragement of the great Chazon Ish [R' Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz], a special committee was formed in order to assist shemittah-observant Jews.  Despite their endeavours, however, there was a noticeable shortage of onions.

One mornin, an ownerless cargo ship sailed into the Jaffa seaport.  Amazingly, the ship was fully stocked - with onions!

After a thorough investigation, it turned out that the ship was an Egyptian carrier that had been on its way to Egypt.  The captain had made a navigational error, and had mistakenly sailed the ship into Jaffa.  When he realized that they were nearing the coast of Israel, he and his crew abandoned the ship in a panic.

That year, there were plenty of onions for the shemittah-observing farmers - "The strong warriors who do His bidding, to obey the voice of His word" [Tehillim 103:20]

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Dreams and Messages

Last night I had one of the most amazing dreams I've ever had: I was travelling through a place which seemed to be a Paradise. It was so real, and the colours were so intense, the sky and sunrise were different to anything I've ever seen before.   I tried to find an image on Google that represented my dream, but nothing came close to the colors I saw, and I remember thinking in my dream that if only people knew about this, they'd all be rushing to get here.  I really hope that the dream was a message about the world in the near future: if so, we have a lot to look forward to.

The video below was sent to me by a reader [Jacob] and is an introduction to a few videos he has on the Afterlife. To see all the other videos go to: You Tube

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bechukotai: Prophetic Letters

by Rabbi Chanan Morrison

Five Double Letters
Of the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, five are called 'double letters,' as they take on a different form when appearing at the end of a word. The five letters are Mem, Nun, Tzadi, Pay, and Chaf. When placed together as one word, they spell M-N-Tz-P-Ch.

According to Talmudic tradition [Shabbat 104a], the dual form of these letters goes back to the prophets. The abbreviation M-N-Tz-P-Ch can be read as Min Tzophim — 'from the prophets.'

From the Prophets
This claim — that the special form of these letters originated with the prophets — needs clarification. The Torah of Moses is complete and whole in itself. Even a prophet is not allowed to add or invent a new mitzvah. The Torah explicitly states:

"These are the decrees, laws and codes that God set between Himself and Israel at Mount Sinai, through the hand of Moses" [Lev. 26:46]

The phrase ' These are the decrees' indicates that only the decrees that Moses set down in the Torah are in fact between God and Israel. How could the prophets change the Torah by adding new shapes of letters?

The Talmud explains that the prophets did not actually introduce anything new. There always existed two ways to write these five letters. With the passage of time, however, it was forgotten which shape belongs at the end of the word, and which at the beginning and middle. The prophets did not devise the two forms; they merely recovered the lost knowledge of which letterform belongs at the end of the word.

Why Two Forms?
Still, we need to understand: why do these letters have dual forms? What is the significance of their relative position in the word? And why were the prophets (and not the sages or the grammarians) the ones who restored this knowledge?

Letters are more than just elements of speech. They are the building blocks of creation. The Sages taught, "The universe was created with ten utterances" [Avot 5:1]. Each letter in the alphabet represents a fundamental force in the world.

Rav Kook explained that the 'final forms' — the shape that these letters take at the end of words — are the holiest. The final forms most accurately portray the sublime essence of each letter, fully expressing its ultimate purpose. To better understand this statement, we must analyze the morphological differences between the two forms of these letters.

With four of the letters — Nun, Tzadi, Pay, Chaf — the regular form is smaller and more cramped. The 'leg' of the letter is constrained and bent upwards. The form appearing at the end of the word, on the other hand, allows the 'leg' to stretch and extend itself fully. It is the final form that truly expresses the full content and power of these letters.

The two shapes of the letter Mem are distinguished in a different fashion. The regular Mem has a small opening at the bottom. It is called the Mem Petuchah, the Open Mem. It is open and revealed to all.

The final Mem is closed off on all sides. It is called the Mem Setumah, the Sealed Mem. Or perhaps — the Esoteric Mem. This form of Mem is more sublime than the regular Open Mem. Thus, the holiest written object, the stone tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments, contained only Sealed Mems, with the center part of the Mem hanging miraculously in place. The final Mem is closed off and concealed. It guards its inner secret, which due to its profound holiness may not be revealed to all.

Why is the more elevated form used at the end of the word? A hidden light appears at the ultimate vision of every noble matter. The hidden light of the M-N-Tz-P-Ch letters belongs to the end. The beginning and middle appearances of these letters are open and revealed. Their light steadily increases, until it brings us to the final, sublime conclusion.

The prophets are called tzofim, visionaries, as they were blessed with prophetic vision. Their greatness was that they could perceive the final outcome while still living in a flawed present. Understandably, it was these tzofim who sensed that the more elevated letterforms belong at the end.

Source: Rav Kook Torah

Lies from Obama's Past

Glenn Beck reviews the Lies of Obama [video] HT: Joe

Friday, May 11, 2012

What Is My Mission In Life? Why Am I Here?

I've been enjoying the blog posts from Rav Menachem at Absolute Truth 613, and I know a lot of you are doing the same.

The other day, he wrote about discovering our mission in life, and one of the ways in which this can be done is by looking at your birthdate, checking what that week's Parsha was, and then finding the Aliyah for the particular day you were born.  The easiest way to do this on the internet is by first discovering the parsha of your date of birth, by going to Hebrew Calendar and entering in your birth year and month, then checking the box ''Weekly Sedrot on Saturdays''.  Then click ''Preview Calendar'' and you will see the Parsha for the week listed under Saturday.

Now you know your birth Parsha, you can easily find the Aliyah for the day of the week you were born by going to the Chabad Parsha page, Click onto your Parsha, then onto ''text of parsha with Rashi'' [Rashi's commentary may help shed some extra light] -  and you will see at the top of the page there are Seven Portions, representing each day of the week.  The first portion relates to Sunday, second to Monday etc.

The text you will find there relates to you, somehow.  I must admit that finding mine didn't bring me any closer to discovering my mission in life, as I couldn't really relate any of it to my life's circumstances.  Sometimes, though, it can be very obvious, and the text will strongly resonate with you.

There is another way to discover what your mission in life is, and that is by looking at the things that are the hardest for you to do.  Those things that are the most difficult are the very reason we were re-incarnated - in order to rectify them. For more info on this see Rectifying Past Lives.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Surrender to God

You shall not desecrate My Holy Name.  [Emor 22:32]

Rashi: [It teaches us:] Surrender your life [and do not transgress God’s commandments], and [thus] sanctify My Name.


In Chassidic thought it is explained that a person who actually surrenders his life to G-d is superior to one who merely wishes to do so.  This is because the desire to surrender to G-d stems from the Godly Soul [nefesh haElokis]*, and so long as the person has not surrendered himself in actuality then his Animal Soul [nefesh haBehamis]** has not been affected by this desire.

Furthermore, the Animal Soul's inherent desire is to live. Therefore, if the person actually surrenders his life, the Animal Soul has consented to an act which is the very opposite of its nature.

Since the Godly Soul and Animal Soul are coupled together, the act of surrendering one's life also teaches the Godly Soul how to go beyond its own nature, as it learns from the Animal Soul's total sacrifice.

[Sefer Hamaámorim Melukat: Lubavitcher Rebbe]

*also known as the yetzer tov - good inclination
** also known as the yetzer hara - evil inclination

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Many Jews Prepare to Leave France for Israel

by Ben Shapiro

According to the Jewish Agency for Israel, over 5,000 Jews from throughout France attended a fair in the heart of Paris about immigrating to Israel. The fair was attended by the Chairman of the Jewish Agency, former member of Knesset, Soviet expatriate and dissident Natan Sharansky. 

“I cannot recall having seen such a massive number of people interested in aliyah [immigration] since the days when lines of people stretched out of the Israeli embassy in Moscow,” said Sharansky. 

The fair took place the same day as the election that rousted Nicholas Sarkozy, a reliable anti-Iran voice in Europe, from power, replacing him with the far less reliable Francois Hollande, a socialist with heavy ties to anti-Israel populations. 

The French Jewish community is comprised of approximately 500,000 people. Immigration from France to Israel has increased significantly over the past several years, largely due to upticks in perceived anti-Semitic feeling in the country.

Source: Breitbart
HT: Dov bar Leib

Jewish Spiritual Healing

As a follow-up to yesterday's blog about psychic healing, here is an article from the website Jewish Healing which has a great deal of information for all who want to learn more.

The main difference between Jewish healing and and the rest of medicine

by: Ya'akov Gerlitz, Dipl.Ac and C.H

The main distinguishing feature of Jewish healing is that it is an "open" medical system. An open medical system is one where the body is viewed from the perspective that it continually receives vitality and life from outside of itself. All medical systems reject this notion. That is, all except one, Jewish Healing. According to Judaism, healing is a function of Divine Will. It does not matter whether the healing comes through the medium of an aspirin, homeopathic remedy or the blessing of a Rebbe. The final fact remains that all healing comes from Hashem.

This is good news. According to many vitalistic medical systems, when a person's vitality runs critically low there is no way to revive it. There comes a point where even the best acupuncturist and herbalist has to say that the qi is so deficient that it cannot be tonified. Homeopathy teaches that there comes a point where the disease becomes so complicated and deep seated, with the vital principle and organs so damaged that there is no hope of a cure (Western medicine is not a vitalistic medical system, thus it has not opinion on the matter).

Of course, we know from Jewish law that a doctor is not allowed to give a negative prognostication. A doctor's right to heal is limited to healing, not predicting the future. As it says in the Torah, "that even if a sword is on one's neck he must pray to Hashem to save him." When my mother, zt"l, was sick with cancer and the situation turned from bad to worse, I spoke to a Rabbi to discuss a variety of issues, and he told me that we have to continually pray and hope that Hashem would perform a wonder and that she would recover. This is a Jew's task; to pray to Hashem.

All healing comes from Hashem. In the act of Jewish healing our job is to connect a person to the Divine source of all life. When I perform acupuncture I don't just try to harmonize the body and correct any imbalances, I also try to connect the person to Hashem's Divine Will.

As the Ramchal says, "to the extent that a person is connected to Hashem, there is wellbeing." This does not mean that people who are sick are bad people. That is not the intention of this, but rather that at its core all sickness is a distancing of Divinity within a person. It should be mentioned here that these rules do not apply to a Tzaddik. They are in another category, different spiritually from us mere mortals. In short, Tzaddikim take upon themselves the suffering of the generation and its rectification. This can manifest itself in many ways, one of them being the suffering of physical ills and pains. This subject is long and complicated, but suffice it to say we are discussing the general population.

Many of the techniques we use in Jewish healing are designed to bring in a new influx of Divine "light" into the individual being treated. This is also one of the purposes of Jewish prayer. It is this light that sustains and vivifies creation. When we pray for a person we are beseeching Hashem to send more of His light into the person needing the healing. This light not only heals the person, but also has a positive effect on creation as a whole (see other paper for an elaboration on this).

Being that Hashem is Merciful, Compassionate and Kind (not only is He the epitome of these attributes, He created them), there is nothing Hashem would rather want for a sick person but to heal him and bestow upon him goodness. The issue usually lies with the person himself. Many times it is we who do not accept the blessings that Hashem is sending us. Jewish healing has techniques that help resolve these (usually subconscious) self destructive issues and thus promote health and healing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Psychic Healers

A few weeks ago I published an article: The Healing Powers of Rabbi Mendel Morozow

This weekend the NY Post published the article below, entitled ''A too-high price for ‘faith healing’ by Eliyahu Federman - Source: NY Post
[HT: Josh ]

Just a note: to be fair to Rabbi Morozow, a doctor [or healer] is entitled to charge for their services.  If some people think the price is too high, that doesn't necessarily mean the healer is not to be trusted - I don't know what the going rate is for a ''healing'' session generally, but I think it is somewhere around the $200 mark for one appointment [if you know, please leave a comment].  Does anyone personally know someone who has been psychically healed?

''A too-high price for ‘faith healing’ by Eliyahu Federman 

The practice of “faith healing” carries obvious dangers, such as discouraging those who need conventional medical help from seeking it. When the “healer” charges for it, the obvious worry is financial exploitation of the vulnerable and naïve. And I, for one, am more disturbed when the person charging for this “help” is a respected figure such as a rabbi.

Yet in my own Jewish community, I’m seeing a rise in rabbinical authorities charging money for psychic healing sessions.

Rabbi Mendel Morosow, for instance, in a recent interview on the Jewish news site COLlive, claimed to have healed a boy by simply “focus[ing] energy on him for a few minutes,” so that the boy “no longer need[ed] any operation.” He further claimed to have healed someone from gout — also through “focused energy.”

According to his own site, Morosow charges $300 an hour for his services.

Over the years, I’ve personally come to know at least five psychic healers in my Jewish community. I have family members who’ve paid for these “services.”

It was troubling to see Rabbi Morosow, like me a member of Chabad-Lubavitch, describe his practice as being consistent with Chabad and Judaism.

I’m sorry: Charging exorbitant hourly rates for faith-healing “services” belie Chabad values and Jewish tradition. It’s what televangelist faith healers like Peter Popoff do, not mainstream rabbis.

Yes, countless stories attest to the efficacy and care of the late Rebbe Menachem M. Schnerson’s blessings and counsel. But the Rebbe never claimed to possess psychic or supernatural healing powers. He even once crossed out the word “psychic” when a PhD student used that term to describe his powers.

And he never charged money to those who sought his advice or blessings. Indeed, he customarily gave them dollars.

And the Rebbe encouraged those with physical issues to seek medical help; often suggesting they seek the advice of several doctors to ensure the right treatment was being pursued. Maimonides, the physician and Torah scholar, embraced the need to work within nature in order to heal sickness. He scoffed at the notion that disregarding nature, by avoiding medical advice, could ever be the will of God — and prohibited using spiritual incantations to cure physical wounds.

Rabbi Morosow does recommend medical intervention in the case of a “serious health issue,” which certainly suggests any of his positive results are merely from the placebo effect. A widely cited Journal of American Medical Association study showed “therapeutic energy” healers couldn’t even detect the presence of a concealed hand from a few inches away. Bottom line: As appropriate as it may be for clergy to treat spiritual and emotional issues, physical ailments should be the sole province of medical professionals. Religious authorities who charge money for mystical treatments are tarnishing the faith.

Eliyahu Federman contributes to the Huffington Post, Algemeiner Journal and Jerusalem Post.

France election 2012: Nicolas Sarkozy booted out of office having exhausted France

Nicolas Sarkozy who rode to office five years ago promising a historic "rupture" was on Sunday night booted out of office having exhausted his nation.

Story: Telegraph

Sunday, May 6, 2012

''Sons of Aaron'' and ''Kohanim''

Birkhat Kohanim by Alex Levin
The son of a Kohen's forbidden marriage may not serve in the Temple, yet he can still make a Korban, and it will be accepted.

by Chanan Morrison

Emor: Agents of Holiness
The Talmud in Nedarim 32b describes the kohanim as sheluchei didan. The kohanim act as our agents or emissaries as they perform the Temple service.

Yet this idea — that the kohanim act as agents for the Jewish people - appears to violate the legal definition of the powers of a shaliach. An agent acts on behalf of the one sending him [the principal], executing his wishes. The agent cannot do that which the principal himself is incapable of doing. So how can the kohanim perform the Temple service on our behalf, when non-kohanim are not permitted to serve in the Beit HaMikdash?

Potential vs. Actual
The parashah opens with special directives for kohanim: "God spoke to Moses: Tell the kohanim, the sons of Aaron..." [Lev. 21:1]. Yet the text appears repetitive — "the kohanim, the sons of Aaron." Do we not know that the kohanim are descended from Aaron?

These two terms — 'kohanim' and 'sons of Aaron' — indicate two different aspects of the special sanctity of kohanim. The first is an intrinsic holiness, passed down from father to son. The phrase "sons of Aaron" refers to this inherent sanctity.

The second aspect is an additional layer of holiness, one's actual functioning as a kohen. This aspect is designated by the term 'kohanim.' [The verb lechahein means 'to serve,' so the word 'kohanim' indicates their actual service.] Thus the term "sons of Aaron" refers to their inherited potential, while 'kohanim' refers to their realized state of priestly service.

The Chalal
Usually a kohen will have both potential and actual kohanic-holiness. Yet there are certain situations that allow us to distinguish between the two.

A kohen is forbidden to marry a divorced woman. Should he nonetheless marry a divorcee, his son falls under a special category. He is called a chalal, from the word chilul, 'to defile holiness.' Despite his lineage, a chalal may not serve in the Temple.

Yet if a chalal went ahead and offered a korban, his offerings are accepted after the fact [Maimonides, Hilchot Bi'at Mikdash 6:10]. This is quite surprising. In general, a chalal has the legal status of a non-kohen. If a non-kohen brought an offering, his service would be disqualified. Yet the offerings of a chalal are accepted after the fact. Why is this?

The distinction between potential and actual kohanic status, between "sons of Aaron" and 'kohanim,' allows us to understand the unusual status of a chalal. Due to the fact that he is the son of a divorcee, he has lost the realized sanctity of a functioning kohen. But he still retains the inherited sanctity of "sons of Aaron." This intrinsic sanctity cannot be revoked. Therefore, while a chalal is not allowed to serve in the Temple, after the fact his offerings are accepted.

The Sages derived this ruling from Moses' blessing of the tribe of Levi: "May God bless his strength ['cheilo'], and favor the works of his hands" [Deut. 33:11]. Even the works of those who are chulin, who have lost part of their kohanic-sanctity, are still acceptable to God [Kiddushin 66b].

[That a chalal falls under the category of "the sons of Aaron" but not 'kohanim' is seen in the Midrash Halachah quoted by Rashi. "One might think that chalalim are included? Therefore it says, 'the kohanim'" - excluding chalalim from the special laws of kohanim.]

Continue reading at: Rav Kook Torah

Friday, May 4, 2012

Can You Wait?

by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

There is an interesting agricultural Mitzvah in this week's Torah portion called Orlah. The commandment states that when we plant a tree we are prohibited to eat its fruit for the first three years. Once this time has passed we are free to enjoy the fruit and thank G-d for the blessings He has given us.

There is a mystical explanation of the Mitzvah that provides an insight into one of the foundations of personal and spiritual growth.

The very first failing of the very first human beings was the desire for instant gratification. The first transgression recorded in the Torah is when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit. Although this story is famous, what is not so well known is that the fruit of the forbidden tree was not intended to be eternally prohibited. Adam and Eve were created on Friday afternoon before Shabbos. They were instructed not to eat the fruit only for three hours until Shabbos. Once Friday night had arrived the fruit would have been theirs to enjoy. They lacked the self control to delay that pleasure.

The three years that we wait before eating fruit of any tree is a reminder of the three hours that Adam and Eve did not wait to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

The delicacies of the world were given to us to enjoy. But self control and discipline reminds us that there is more to life than just eating delicious fruit. Creating boundaries around our indulgence helps create a focus and consciousness that there is a bigger picture. Enjoying life's blessings is just a small part of an existence also filled with meaning, values and a higher purpose. Greed, lack of control, the need for instant gratification and hedonism are destructive and create empty lives and purposeless existence.

The delicious fruit trees are G-d's gift to us. But the commandment to wait three years before enjoying them is an even greater gift, the gift of discipline and self control.

Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess - Master of the Miracle

Yarzheit: 14 Iyar - 6 May 2012

Ohel of Rabbi Meir Ba'al HaNess

By simply saying the phrase אלהא דמאיר ענני "Eloka d'Meir aneini" three times , which means "the G-d of Meir Answer me !", a person will be saved from trouble, if they promise to give charity to the poor and needy in the memory of the soul of Rebbe Meir Baal Haness . Donations can be made at Rabbi Meir Baal

The Chida says that the source for this custom is the Gemara [Avodah Zara 18a-b] where Rebbi Meir bribed a guard to release his imprisoned sister-in-law. The guard asked what happens if he's caught and Rebbi Meir told him to say ''G-d of Meir answer me'' and he would be saved, and that's what happened. From there comes the custom of donating money or oil for the neshama of Rebbi Meir, saying Eloka D'Meir Aneini, three times.

Rebbi Meir Baal HaNess said he would help those that gave to the poor of Eretz Yisroel, for the sake of his neshama.

Reb Dovid of Dinov points out a fascinating allusion: 

Mishlei 12:25 says דְּאָגָה בְלֶב-אִישׁ יַשְׁחֶנָּה - if one has worry in his heart, he should suppress it.

Mesechta Sanhedrin 100b explains this as ישיחנה לאחרים, tell it over to others. Mesechta Horios 13b says אחרים refers to Rebbi Meir. Putting it all together – if one is in a time of trouble give tzedaka for the neshama of Rebbi Meir Baal HaNess.  [Source: Tzemach Dovid]

Anytime, and especially on the yahrzeit, it is a big zechus to give tzedaka or light a candle li'luy nishmas Rebbi Meir Baal HaNess. 

There is a custom that when something is lost, a person immediately promises to give some money to the Tzedakah of Rebbe Meir Baal Haness in the merit of finding what was lost, and say the following [red text in picture below]

For the Sake of Prayer

Art: Chava Roth

The Mishna in Pirkei Avos says that Torah is acquired in 48 ways, consisting of Middos, Yiras Shamayim, and teaching methods, including things like humility, happiness, learning with others and from a Rebbi, etc. Yet prominently missing from this long list is Tefila. How is it possible that Tefila which is the answer to all problems did not make the top 48? 

Rav Binyomin Finkel says that the reason Tefila is not on the list is because Tefila is needed for all 48 ways. In order to manage to do even one of the things on the list you need to daven for help from Hashem. 

Rav Mattisyahu Solomon has a different approach. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos says there are three pillars of the world, Torah, Tefila, and Gemilus Chasadim. The three pillars says Rav Mattisyahu are all completely interrelated and success in any one depends on success in the other two. 

We often think that we need to daven in order that Hashem should give us the things we so desperately need or want. Quite the opposite says Rav Mattisyahu. Hashem holds back our needs from us in order that we should daven, for if we didn't daven the world would cease to exist. Therefore he explains that we our lack of Torah is in order to force us to daven, meaning the purpose of davening for Torah is not only to acquire Torah but for the davening's sake itself.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wherever You May Find Yourself.....

by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

I have had much experience in bikur cholim - visiting the sick. Even at the age of six I would accompany my saintly father on his rounds to slave labor camps where young Jewish men were incarcerated by the Hungarians prior to the Nazi occupation.

The place where I was born and where my father was the chief Orthodox rabbi was located on the banks of the Tisza River. It was called Szeged (not to be mistaken for Szigit), the second largest city in Hungary. It was from Szeged that Jewish boys were shipped off to Yugoslavia and forced into torturous labor.

Every week my father would visit them and try to smuggle medication, letters, messages - and, most significantly, a concoction the Jewish physicians in our community invented under my father's guidance. This concoction was designed to simulate an illness that appeared to be infectious but in reality was totally benign. The symptoms induced by this potion were sufficiently frightening to prevent the Hungarian Gestapo from shipping the boys to the slave mines.

As the Nazi occupation became more imminent my father's visits became more hazardous. The Hungarian Zsandars took control of the camp; if they were to catch my father smuggling medication or anything else it would have meant certain death.

What to do? My parents came up with an idea. My mother, the great tzaddekes of blessed memory, sewed the formula into the lining of my coat. I would accompany my father, and when no one looked I slipped the medication to the boys.

Because I was a little girl, no one bothered to search me, and that was how I was initiated into the meaning of bikur cholim. My parents outlined to me the mission and the purpose very clearly: Whether the one you visit is in bondage or lying in a hospital bed, your mission is to help.

Many years have passed since those nightmarish days, but my parents' example is permanently etched in my heart. So I make a concerted effort to do my bikur cholim even if it's 2 a.m. after a long night of teaching Torah classes at Hineni and meeting with numerous people for private consultations. I try to bear in mind my parents' teachings - save lives, give a kind word, comfort your fellow man, touch a life, and bring hope and strength to a sick one lying in a hospital bed as well as family members who stand vigil trembling and praying at their bedside.

Since the middle of Pesach, as I explained in my previous two columns, I have found myself in a different position - a position that, baruch Hashem, I had never been forced to endure. Outside of joyous experiences such as giving birth, G-d had never tried me with the test of being confined to a hospital bed. So now it was I who was dependent on nurses' kindness. It was I who was waiting for a doctor. It was I who had to ring the bell and summon someone for help with the most elementary things, such as getting off the bed and even just sitting up.

Every moment was a challenge. I wondered how I would have the strength to get through all of this and then I remembered the berachah my father gave me so many years ago: "Mine kind, zolst eemer kenen geyben un zolst keinmol nisht haften beyten" - "My child, may G-d grant you the privilege of always being able to give and never having to ask." And now here I was, having to ask assistance for the most basic human needs.

The Patriarch Yosef found himself enveloped in darkness, and what kept him going was d'yukno shel aviv - the image of his father. In my own darkness, I, too, clung to the image of my father. I recalled the months when he was a prisoner of his hospital bed. He would greet whoever came to see him - nurse, doctor, housekeeper - with a smile and would thank them profusely. He asked about their welfare and blessed them from his heart.

My path was clear. Now it was my turn to bless all those who came to my door - whether it was to inquire about my condition or to give me an injection or to take me for an X-ray. I thanked them from my heart and blessed each one of them with the words that from time immemorial have been the symbols of our people.

Not once, but many times, I would notice a shocked reaction. One of the nurses actually said, "In all my years of working in hospitals, no one ever blessed me; no one ever inquired about my family or my life."

My father imparted this wisdom to me that he learned from his father, who had learned it from his father, going all the way back to our Patriarchs whose mission was to give blessings to all mankind.

I do not think any of the staff members at Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego had ever met an observant Jew. My father's voice whispered to me, "My child, my precious light, wherever you are and whatever you do, never forget you represent the Torah, and the way people will see you and judge you is how they will see and judge our people."

So on every occasion and with every encounter I spoke to people of our Torah and the wisdom of our people that was granted us at Sinai. And soon we had Torah classes - discussions and explanations. Teaching became part of my daily life at Scripps Memorial and suddenly the days were not so heavy. The hours went by quickly. I smiled for the sake of others and smiles came right back to me.

Hashem should grant that you, my dear friends, will never find yourselves in a hospital or in any other difficult circumstance. But if, G-d forbid, your destiny decrees that you have to pass this test, then rise to the challenge. Put a smile on your face and share your Torah wisdom. Remember the passage that is written so clearly and yet is so easily forgotten: "For this is your knowledge and your wisdom in the sight of the nations."

I now prepare for my journey home and I look forward to returning to my family. Staff members come to say goodbye, and as they do their eyes are moist with tears. They tell me things like, "You touched us all, you brought the light of G-d into our lives."

This light is the heritage of our people, bequeathed to us at Sinai. Every one of us can kindle it and light up the world. That is our mission and our purpose. Wherever we go, wherever our destiny takes us, this light is our torch.

''Massive Mobilization''

Israel strengthening its southern and northern borders, deploying at least 22 battalions of troops to protect the country from the growing tension with Egypt and the ongoing conflict in Syria. Israeli generals say they're on alert from the threat of terror attack ahead of Egyptian presidential elections as well as Syrian turmoil.

RT's Paula Slier reports in Tel Aviv.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012