Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Subtle Evil

Art by Ileanap

According to Chassidic thought, the war against the seven Cana'anite nations alludes to the ''battle'' of refining one's overtly undesirable character traits [which fall into seven broad categories, stemming from the seven emotional facilities of the Animal Soul - the Nefesh HaBehamis]  Consequently, this ''war'' is not relevant to the tribe of Levi, or to those who aspire to their spiritual level - as Rambam writes that this could be ''any type of person - whose spirit inspires him, and he resolves in his mind to set himself apart [from worldly pursuit], to stand before G-d and serve as His minister, to work for Him, and to know G-d'' [end of Laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee Years].

In contrast, the war against Midian involved fighting against a subtle type of evil which is found in virtually every personality, even those who dedicate themselves as full time ''ministers'' of G-d.  Thus, even the Levites and those among the Jewish people who devote themselves ''to stand before G-d and serve as His ministers'' must participate in waging the spiritual war against Midian.

What is the ''subtle evil'' that can plague even the most dedicated servant of G-d? Chassidic thought explains that this is a lack of unity and camaraderie between one man and another, indicating underlying emotions of divisiveness and unjustified hatred.   All this arises from a sense of our over-inflated self-importance, which causes a person to be intolerant of others and eventually view them as enemies.  Clearly the war against these attributes is very important indeed.

Source: Based on Likutei Sichos vol 28 Lubavitcher Rebbe

Friday, July 29, 2016

Why Moshiach Hasn't Yet Come

I have not listened to this yet, may not have time to do so today, but the subjects he is talking about include ''why Messiah isn't coming'' .... I'm guessing he means to say ''why Moshiach hasn't come yet''.  Please leave a comment if you have already listened to it and let us know.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Your Special Mission

While Jewish law obligates each person to observe all the mitzvot, there is always at least one particular mitzvah to which one's soul is drawn more strongly.  According to Chassidic thought, this concept is hinted to by the fact that the Land was apportioned ''by means of a lottery'' [Pinchas 26:55] suggesting that one's primary mission in life, one's spiritual ''inheritance'' has been pre-allotted to him on High, and one has no choice in the matter.

The reason why a person's soul has a particular affinity to its ''special mitzvah'' is because each soul is a ''spark'' of the general soul which Adam possessed; and corresponding to its original ''location'' within Adam's soul, it will have a distinct spiritual path of its own.  Consequently, through observing his ''special mitzvah'' the person will become spiritually fulfilled, which will give him additional enthusiasm in the observance of all the other mitzvot as well.

How can a person discover what ''his special mitzvah'' is?  There is no simple solution.  However, being that a person's mission in life is centered around his ''special mitzvah'', it follows that his ''evil inclination'' will oppose this mitzvah strongly, which may give a person a clue as to what it is. Furthermore, Divine Providence will inevitably lead a person to circumstances which are conducive to the observance of his ''special mitzvah''.  [So if one is wealthy, for example, his special mitzvah is quite possibly to give charity.]

In addition to all the above, every person in a given generation will have a ''special mitzvah'' by virtue of the times in which he lives.  And in our times, this is the obligation to promote knowledge, belief and  yearning for the coming of Moshiach, since our souls have, by Divine Providence, been placed here in the last generation of Exile.

Source: Lubavitcher Rebbe - based on Likutei Sichos vol 2 p.346, Sefer Hama'amorim 5706 p.240, Sefer HaSichos 5752 vol 1 p.97

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Conflict, Strife and Tzadikim

Art: Jacek Yerka

Source: Rebbe Nachman's Wisdom by Rabbi Nathan of Nemirov

The Talmud teaches "In the future, G-d will grant 310 worlds to each Tzaddik".

Each Tzaddik builds his 310 worlds through conflict. Every word of strife is a stone. The letters of the words are called "stones". Thus the Sefer HaYetzirah states: "two stones build two houses...."

Words of strife are built of slippery stones.
Strife is maChLoKes. Slippery is meChuLaKim.

Stones created through strife are therefore slippery and cannot be joined. However, a Tzaddik can join these slippery stones. He can then build them into houses.

He makes peace between these stones, arranging them and joining them together until a house is built. This is the peaceful home.

The Tzaddik builds a peaceful home out of these slippery conflicting stones. Out of these houses he then builds a city, then a universe, until all 310 worlds are completed.

It is written [Prov. 8:21] "That I may give those who love Me substance".

"Substance" is YeSH [yud shin] - adding up to 310. These are the 310 worlds.

A Tzaddik inclines to the side of kindness. He even presumes the merit of those who oppose him.

The world cannot endure the light of a Tzaddik. Those who oppose the Tzaddik obscure his light enough so that the world can hear it.

A truly great Tzaddik must also face many judgments and accusations on high. Those who oppose him silence these judgments and accusations.

A man is on trial for a serious offence. Suddenly, another person becomes filled with zeal and says "I will judge him myself and take vengeance on him".

The others who wanted to bring the defendant to judgment are then silenced.

There are times when the defendant would find it impossible to endure the judgment of his original adversaries. The one who wishes to take personal vengeance is then actually doing him a favour.

It is better for him to endure the judgment of the individual than that of the many. He can bear the former, but the latter would be too much for him.

It is written [Pinchas 25:11] "Pinchas.... turned My wrath away from the children of Israel when he took my revenge among them, and I did not destroy them."

Pinchas killed the sinner Zimri, taking the judgment into his own hands. Had he not done this, the Jewish people would have been sentenced to annihilation. But because Pinchas took G-d's vengeance into his own hands, the accusation against the Jews was silenced.

A man stands up against a Tzaddik. He says "I will act against him! I will show him my strength and revenge!"

This man is actually silencing all other judgments against the Tzaddik.

There is another benefit that comes from such conflict. Before a Tzaddik can rise from one level to the next, he is first tested. [Sh'mos Rabbah 2:3] Those who can advance are called "those who have the power to stand in the King's palace".

Monday, July 25, 2016

Spiritual forces behind Trump's opposition & The Light Of Redemption

Rabbi Mendel Kessin - the sixth shiur in the ''current events'' series.

''What does the Ribbono shel Olam [Master of the World] have to do to bring the Moshiach?  He will not bring a Moshiach before He prepares mankind in order to receive Him.....'' Hashem has to prepare the people so they won't be destroyed when Moshiach comes.''

To see previous lectures by Rabbi Kessin, click on the KESSIN label below

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Red Moon Anyone ?

Keep an eye on the moon tonight, it was red in some parts of the world for the night of 18 Tammuz.

This photo was uploaded to Facebook by Luana:

and here is a link to a photo of it on Flickr:  ''I have never seen a redder moon rise"

Friday, July 22, 2016

17th of Tammuz

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

This year the fast on the 17th of Tammuz falls on Shabbat. Therefore, the fast is postponed until Sunday, the 18th of Tammuz. In the Sephardic and Eastern communities, it is customary to announce the fast on Shabbat.

Chazal relate that five dreadful events occurred on the 17th of Tammuz:

The first Tablets were broken. The daily [continual] burnt-offering ceased. The city’s wall was breached. Apostimos the wicked burned the Torah. An idol was erected in the Temple.

The Tablets were Broken

On the seventh of Sivan, after the giving of the Torah, Moshe returned to ascend Mount Sinai [it was still prohibited for the nation to approach the mountain, as they were warned prior to Matan Torah]. Moshe went to learn straight from Hashem all the rules and details and laws of the Torah, and to receive the Tablets of Testimony.

When Moshe went up to Heaven, he told Am Yisrael: ''At the end of forty days, at the commencement of the sixth hour [of the day], I will come and bring you the Torah.'' They thought that the day that he ascended counted as the first day. However, Moshe had told them it would be forty full days, and a full day begins at the sunset preceding it. Thus, the day that he ascended did not count as the first day because it was not a full day beginning at the sunset prior to it. As we know, Moshe ascended on the seventh of Sivan, and accordingly the fortieth full day came out on the 17th of Tammuz.

On the 16th of Tammuz the Satan came and confused the world with images of blackness and muddle, images of cloudiness, fog and turmoil, saying, certainly Moshe died, since the sixth hour of the morning already passed and he did not return.

The Satan said to them: Moshe, your leader, where is he? They said to him: He ascended to Heaven. He said to them: The sixth [hour] has passed! – But they paid no heed to him – Died! – and they did not pay attention to him. He showed them an image of his coffin. They ran to Ahron hysterically in confusion and said to him: Make us a G-d!

The next day, Moshe came down from the mountain. When Hashem gave Moshe the Tablets, the Tablets carried themselves. However, when Moshe descended and approached the Camp and saw the Golden Calf, the letters floated out of the parchment and the Tablets became unbearably heavy in Moshe’s hands. Immediately – “Moshe’s anger flared up,” and he threw them from his hands.

Also during the destruction of the first Beit Hamikdash, the [wall of the] city was breached in Tammuz, on the ninth day of the month. However, because one cannot burden the people excessively, we do not institute two consecutive fast-days. Therefore, the fast was set on the 17th of Tammuz, since the destruction of the second Temple was harder for us.

The Daily [lit. Continual] Burnt-Offering Ceased

During the destruction of the First Temple, the following occurred. On the ninth of Tammuz, the wall surrounding Yerushalayim was breached and the enemies charged through the city and caused destruction. However, the enemies could not enter the Temple, because the Kohanim barricaded themselves within and continued performing the services until the seventh of Av. But the supply of sheep for the daily sacrifice was lacking from the thirteenth of Tammuz, since they always kept a four day supply of sheep that were checked for flaws and ready for sacrifice. From the thirteenth of Tammuz and onward they bribed the enemies who made a siege on them: They lowered silver and gold, and they sent up sheep for them. This is what they did until the 17th of Tammuz.

The [wall of the] City was Breached

This event took place during the destruction of the Second Temple when the wall surrounding Yerushalayim was breached on the 17th of Tammuz as Titus and his army invaded the city. Whereas the destruction of the First Temple in the times of Tzidkiyahu Hamelech it says [Yirmeyahu 52]: In the fourth month, on the ninth of the month, the famine in the city became critical; there was no food for the people of the land. The city was breached, and all the men of war fled and left the city during the night,” etc.

In Yerushalmi it says that also during the destruction of the First Temple the city was breached on the 17th of Tammuz, but because of the terrible suffering at the time, they were confused about the date, and they thought that it was the ninth of Tammuz.

And even though Hashem knew the date, and the navi knew it as well, He recorded through the navi Yirmeyahu that it occurred on the ninth of the month as the nation believed, in order to demonstrate that, so to say, Hashem is with them in their suffering, and so to say, even His calculations got distorted, which is something which we cannot dare utter with our mouths or allow our ears to hear.

Apostimos Burned the Torah

This event which is mentioned in the Mishnah, its description is not recorded in the earliest sources. Yerushalmi only mentions: Where did the burning take place? Rav Acha says: passage of Lud; and Rabbanan say: by the passage of Terlosa.

The later commentators speculate that this event refers to the period of the Roman commissioner Cumanus. It took place approximately sixteen years before the Great Revolt against the Romans. At that time the commissioner’s troops provoked the Jews and their service in the Temple, causing large disturbances that subsequently quieted down. Regarding that period, Josephus relates the following:

“After this calamity [when ten thousand people were killed on the Temple Mount because of the uproar caused by the Romans] a new uproar began because of highway robbers, since on the main road next to Beit Horon, bandits attacked the convoy of Stephen, a servant of the Ceasar, and robbed him. Cumanus sent members of his army to the nearby villages where the robbery took place, and commanded the arrest of the villagers and to have them brought to him, since he accused them of not chasing after the highway robbers to catch them. One of the soldiers took the sacred Torah scroll in the village and tore it up and burned it. All over the Jews were frenzied, as if the entire country before them was consumed by fire. Immediately upon hearing what happened, people fueled by their zealousness over the holy scroll, rushed like arrows flying from a sling to Caesarea to see Cumanus, so he should not delay the punishment of the man who always cursed at G-d and His Torah. The Commissioner realized that the storm would not subside until he would calm their spirits. Therefore, he ordered the soldier hung on the gallows in the midst of the throngs demonstrating against him. Thereafter, the Jews returned to their homes.

According to this account, the event took place on the 17th of Tammuz, several years prior to the destruction of the Second Temple. The name Stephen was confused with Apostimos, and such mix-ups are quite common.

An Idol was Erected in the Temple

There are those who claim that also this was performed by Apostimos the wicked on the fateful day of the 17th of Tammuz. And there are those who claim that it is referring to the idol that Menashe Hamelech erected in the Temple, which was on the very day of the 17th of Tammuz as well.

Days of Peace and Truth

In the future, so the prophet Zechariah prophesied following the destruction of the First Temple, all the fasts; Tisha B’Av, the 17th of Tammuz, Tenth of Tevet, and the Fast of Gedaliah, will become days of joy and happiness. And this is what the prophet Zechariah says: “Thus says Hashem, Master of Legions: The fast of the fourth [month], the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth will be to the House of Yehudah for joy and for gladness and for happy festivals. [Only] love truth and peace!” [Zechariah 8:19]

Nevertheless, we should know that the sages stated that not everyone will merit to live until the End of Days and to see Yerushalayim in its glory. What must we do to merit to get to these glorious days? One must grieve over the destruction of the Temple and feel the pain of the holy Shechinah, who is wailing because she is in exile, as it says [Taanit 30b]: Whoever mourns over Yerushalayim merits and sees in her joy, and whoever does not mourn over Yerushalayim will not witness her joy.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Lofty Trait

"He perceived no iniquity in Yaakov" [Balak 23:21]

R' Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev remarked: 

Hashem, to Whom everything is revealed and known, does not look at the sins of a Jew, as the verse states: "He does not look [lo hibit] at the iniquity in Yaakov".

If this is the way of Hashem, how much more so is it forbidden for us - flesh and blood - to look at the sins of another Jew!  We, too, must cling to this lofty trait of "He does not look at the iniquity in Yaakov".

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

''We Are In A Very Special Time''

Rabbi Alon Anava - Mashiach is coming and G-d is putting pressure on everyone... why? so we can scream from Mashiach to come already!

You Were Sent To Earth With A Mission

Rabbi Simon Jacobson:  Your soul was sent to Earth with a purpose. Are you living up to it? If you want to change your life, start with that question. You can't get anywhere without a mission statement, and here is the basis of how to find yours.

Monday, July 18, 2016

For The Sake Of Heaven


"How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!" [Balak 24:5]

Rashi writes that Bilam was inspired by the Jewish tents "because he saw that the entrances were not opposite each other".

The arrangement of tents alludes to scholars convening together to discuss matters of Torah, each one offering his own interpretations.  Then, if their "entrances" - meaning their mouths - are "opposite each other" i.e. their intention is to show that their own ideas are superior than those of the others, then woe to them and their souls!  

But if their intentions are for the sake of Heaven, then they are certainly deserving that the Divine presence should rest with them.

Based on Ohr Torah of the Mezritcher Maggid

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Terror in France - 9 Tammuz

HT: Daniel

The Magen Avraham writes: [Orach Chaim 580:9]  it is the custom of pious individuals to fast on the Erev Shabbos preceding Parshas Chukas in observance of a tragic event which occurred on that day.   On 9 Tammuz 5004, 24 cartloads of the Gemora and other holy books were publicly burned in France due to allegations of heretical and rebellious teachings contained therein.

Rav Hillel of Verona, a student of Rabbeinu Yonah, writes that his illustrious teacher noted that just 40 days prior to this episode, the Jews had publicly burned in that very spot a number of copies of the controversial philosophical writings of the Rambam. Rabbeinu Yonah saw in this tragedy Divine punishment being meted out for their actions, and he viewed it as a Heavenly message supporting the legitimacy of the teachings of the Rambam. The Jews of the time repented their actions and prayed for Divine forgiveness, thus ending the bitter controversy over the philosophical views of the Rambam. 

Although fasts commemorating historical events are normally established on the calendar date on which they occurred – in this case 9 Tammuz – the Rabbis of the time mystically inquired regarding the nature of the decree, and received the cryptic reply “da gezeiras Oraisah” – this is the decree of the Torah. This expression is taken from Onkelos’ Aramaic translation of the second verse in Parshas Chukas. They interpreted this message as alluding that the decree was connected to the day’s proximity to the reading of Parshas Chukas, so they established the fast specifically on the Erev Shabbos preceding the reading of Parshas Chukas.  Source: Shema Yisrael

Erev Shabbos preceding Parshas Chukas 5776 - 10.30pm local time - 9 Tammuz - 84 people were killed when a truck careened through crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day in the southern French city of Nice.

So not only was it the same date - 9 Tammuz - it was also Erev Shabbat - the exact time that the fast day was decreed to be held.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Can a Disease Become a Cure?

We all have made our share of mistakes, intentional or unintentional. We all have our flaws and defects, our psychological scars and lacerations. Conventional wisdom tells us that we can heal from our wounds and grow through our pain. We may be able to erase our unwanted pasts or overshadow them with positive strength. But can our actual mistakes and deficiencies become healing agents? Can a disease become a cure?

Please join Rabbi Simon Jacobson in this Kabbalistic healing workshop and travel into the inner core of all ailments and discover surprising secrets of your soul, not the least of which is the startling truth: All disease stems from a response to correct an aberration. At the root of all afflictions -- of all negative energy -- lies tremendous potency. Learn how to tap these powerful forces which feed your pains and convert them into formidable allies.

The Day Moses' Face Turned Green and The Mystery of Death

by Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson

The Strings of the Heart

At the funeral of my father, eleven years ago, in May 2005, Elie Wiesel spoke. Wiesel and my father, Gershon Jacobson, were old time friends. Their friendship began in the early 1960’s, when they both worked as young, ambitious Jewish and Yiddish journalists. They were both survivors, although in different ways: Wiesel survived Auschwitz; my father carried the wounds of the Stalinist purges in the Soviet Union that deprived him of a normal childhood. They shared a common language and a soulful vocabulary. They were both wise, educated, cultured, intimately familiar with the past and present traumas of the Jewish nation, and committed to telling the story and embracing the vision of “Netzach Yisroel,” the eternity of Israel. They both understood pain, but never spoke of it.

Dr. Wiesel—who died two weeks ago, on July 2, 2016, was the only speaker at my father’s funeral and his eulogy lasted for three or four minutes.

Elie Wiesel said two things that stayed with me since. First, the famed holocaust survivor said that he knew my father for almost half-a-century, and yet never heard him gossip. For an ordinary man not to gossip is an extraordinary feat; for a journalist? It would seem impossible. My father spoke a lot about people; he made his living from analyzing and writing about people. But he never gossiped. He never spoke about the “people,” only about their ideas or behaviors. And he never got petty and personal.

Second, Dr. Wiesel asked, how does one mourn for a very close friend? Jewish law dictates the laws of mourning for parents, siblings, and other relatives. But there are no laws of how to grieve for a best friend.

Yet, “the heart possesses its own set of laws,” said Elie Wiesel.

Continue reading at The

Thursday, July 14, 2016

''Don't Miss the Train - Mashiach is Coming''

On July 13th, 2016 Rabbi Alon Anava was interviewed on the Kavanah Show on 101.9 ChaiFm on the topic of the urgency of getting ready for Mashiach.

The Tenth Red Cow

"They should take some of the ashes of the burnt purification offering [of the red cow] and place them in a vessel [filled] with spring water" [Chukat 19:17]

Rambam comments: "Nine red heifers were prepared from the time this mitzvah was given until the destruction of the Second Temple.  The first was prepared by Moshe, the second by Ezra, and there were seven from Ezra until the destruction of the Temple.  The tenth will be made by King Mashiach - May he be speedily revealed! Amen, may this be your Will!"

The fact that Rambam mentions the tenth red heifer that "will be made by King Mashiach" in his legal Code [the Mishneh Torah] is understood, since Rambam included in his Code many laws that will only be applicable in the future era.  What is difficult to comprehend is why he concluded this law with a prayer "May he be speedily revealed! Amen, may this be Your Will!"  Surely a legal Code is not the place for the author to record his personal emotions and feelings, or to lapse into prayerful wishes?

It could be argued, however, that with his "prayer", Rambam did teach us a point of Jewish Law - or, to be precise, three points:

Judaism requires a person:

1) Not merely to believe [intellectually] in Mashiach, but also to actively await and yearn [emotionally] for his coming [Laws of Kings 11:1]

2) Inevitably, feeling this void will lead a person to pray for Mashiach's coming, just as he prays for any other thing that is lacking in his life.

3) And being that the requirement to believe in Mashiach is in force at all times, it follows that likewise, a person must yearn and pray for Mashiach constantly.


1) Rambam included prayerful wishes here in his legal Code to indicate that awaiting Mashiach must not be only expressed intellectually, but emotionally too.

2) He stresses that Mashiach should come "speedily" to indicate Mashiach's coming should be a personal heartfelt desire.

3) He recorded the above principles, not in his codification of the laws concerning Mashiach, but here out of context, to indicate that one must express a yearning for Mashiach constantly, whatever the context of one's discusion happens to be.

Source: Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


by Rabbi Eli Mansour

“The nation settled in Kadesh; Miriam died there and was buried there. The nation had no water…” [Chukat 20:1-2]

Why did Bnai Yisrael suddenly run out of water when Miriam died?

Rashi explains that as Bnai Yisrael traveled through the desert, a miraculous, mobile well accompanied them to ensure that they would have a constant, adequate water supply. This well was provided in the merit of Miriam, an exceptionally righteous woman and prophetess, and once she died, the well was taken away, leaving the people without water.

The question, however, remains, why didn’t the well remain even after Miriam’s death? Was her great merit insufficient to continue providing the nation with water even after she passed on?

The Keli Yakar [Rav Shelomo Efrayim Luntschitz of Prague, 1550-1619] offers a remarkable explanation. He notes that when the Torah reports the death of Miriam, it simply states that she died and was buried. No mention is made of eulogies or mourning, in contrast to the Torah’s accounts of the deaths of Aharon and Moshe, where it is explicitly mentioned that the nation wept for the loss of their leader. It seems, the Keli Yakar observes, that the people were not moved by Miriam’s death, and did not properly eulogize or mourn for her. They failed to appreciate the fact that their constant water supply was directly and solely due to her. God therefore took away the well so that the people would appreciate what an exceptionally righteous person they lost. As they did not properly appreciate the miracle of the well and Miriam’s greatness which provided it, it had to be taken away.

The Keli Yakar’s insight teaches us the importance of appreciating everything we have while we have it. If we take everything we have for granted, then God is compelled to take it away, Heaven forbid, so we can appreciate just how valuable it is.

Unfortunately, we take so many things for granted in our lives. People do not generally appreciate their vision until, God forbid, they or someone they know suffers vision loss. We do not appreciate our health until, God forbid, we or someone we know takes ill. We do not appreciate our children until we meet a childless couple.

Each morning, we are required to recite a series of Berachot thanking Hashem for things that may appear simple and trivial. First and foremost, we recite “Elokai Neshama” to thank God for restoring our soul, for enabling us to wake up in the morning. We recite the Beracha of “Poke’ah Ivrim” to thank Him for our eyesight, “Malbish Arumim” to thank Him for our clothing, “Zokef Kefufim” to thank Him for allowing us to stand up straight, and “She’asa Li Kol Sorki” to thank Him for our shoes. We receive all these gifts, and so many more, each and every day, and our Sages who composed the liturgy wanted to ensure that we thank God for each one of them.

These blessings, like most of our blessings, are not fully appreciated until they are taken away from us. I once saw somebody I know running out of a burning building in a bathrobe; he was at the gym when a fire erupted, and he had no time to put on his clothes. This is when I appreciated the Beracha of “Malbish Arumim.” When we hear of somebody who wrenched his back during the night, we appreciate the Beracha of “Zokef Kefufim.” The Beracha of “She’asa Li Kol Sorki” came into focus for me after a bizarre experience I had once when I traveled to Mexico City to deliver a lecture in a large synagogue there. The hotel in which I stayed offered a free shoeshine service, whereby guests leave their shoes outside their room at night and then have it returned shined early the next morning. So, I left my shoes outside the room, and when I opened my door the next morning to go to the synagogue for Shaharit and my lecture…they were not there. I went down to the lobby to meet the people who had come to take me to the synagogue, and they saw me there without any shoes. This is when I appreciated the Beracha of “She’asa Li Kol Sorki,” that even the shoes on our feet should never be taken for granted.

Rav Avigdor Miller [1908-2001] would occasionally put his head in a sink full of water for several moments, until he needed to come out of the water for air. He explained that he wanted to feel grateful for the air we breathe at every moment of our lives. In order to truly feel appreciative, he deprived himself of air for several moments, during which time he was able to appreciate how precious the air is.

Part of the reason why it’s so difficult for us to appreciate our blessings in life is because we’re so busy complaining about our “problems.” These “problems” are things like traffic jams, a flat tire, a head cold, a misbehaving child, or a broken piece of furniture. When our emotional energy is expended on worrying about these “problems,” we are not able to feel happy and grateful for our blessings – that we have a spouse, children, a roof over our heads, a source of livelihood, friends, clothing to wear, and so on.

One Rabbi recommended that we each compile a list of ten blessings in our life and keep this piece of paper with us when we pray the daily Amida. When we reach the Modim section, in which we thank God “for Your wonders and favors that are given at all times,” we should look at the list so we can be grateful for the particular blessings in our lives. This will help us experience true gratitude, and appreciate what we have while we have it, so that the Almighty will continue showering us with these blessings and not, Heaven forbid, take them away from us.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Such Thoughts May Lead to Haughtiness

by Rabbi Yisroel Bronstein

''This is the statue of the Torah....'' [Chukat 19:2]

Rashi explains that the subject of the Parah Adumah [red cow] is referred to as ''statute'' [chukah] because this mitzvah ''is a decree [issued] by Me; you have no right to reflect upon it!''  That is, parah adumah is a decree that you may not question.

R' Eliyahu Meisels, the Rav of Lodz, had taken upon himself the task of collecting money for a certain young man in dire straits.

He turned to one of the wealthy, but miserly, men of Lodz to contribute towards the cause.  After much urging on the part of R' Meisels, the wealthy man yielded and gave him a considerable sum for tzedakah.

But then, the wealthy man began boasting about his act of kindness and he spared no effort publicizing what he had done.

The young man who had been the recipient of the tzedakah was humiliated by having his situation made so public.  In his distress, he asked R' Meisels to speak to the wealthy man and request that he cease talking about his act of tzedakah.

The Rav invited the arrogant fellow to his home and rebuked him for the anguish he had caused the young man.  He then added the following thought:  ''In the Torah's passage dealing with the parah adumah, Rashi explains that it is called a ''statute'' because this mitzvah ''is a decree [issued] by Me; you have no right to reflect upon it!''

''The same applies to the mitzvah of tzedakah'' concluded the Rav.  ''Before the person gives tzedakah he must think: It is a decree issued by Me - this is the will of Hashem!  However, once he has given the tzedakah ''you have no right to reflect upon it'' - it is forbidden to give tzedakah and afterwards reflect upon how much he gave and to whom, for such thoughts may lead to haughtiness.''

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Unknown artist

Know that the prohibition against Rechilut [talebearing] applies even if the speaker does not intend to arouse ill will in the listener’s heart against the subject, and even if the speaker believes that the subject’s actions were right and just. For example, suppose that Shimon criticizes Reuven for something that Reuven said about him or did against him, and Reuven asserts that he was right in what he said, and that Yehuda even said the same thing. Even as a defense for his own actions, if Reuven has caused Shimon to feel hatred for Yehuda, Reuven’s statement is called talebearing.

[Chofetz Chaim]

Friday, July 8, 2016

Gimmel Tammuz 5776

Art: Robert Kremnizer

The 3rd of Tammuz this year occurs on Shabbat [tonight and tomorrow].  Throughout Chabad this date is simply known as ''Gimmel Tammuz'' - the day of the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe  in 5754 [June 12 1994].

The Rebbe played a huge part in my life during his later years, and whilst I did not ever meet the Rebbe in person, I have had several dreams where he has appeared and subsequently I have experienced answers to my questions and a couple of miracles.

Chabad has a mass of information on the Rebbe and Gimmel Tammuz which can be found here.

Vision of Geula has an interesting post about Gimmel Tammuz and the date of Moshiach.  Click here to read.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Deliberate Inaction

From the Facebook page of a friend:

My grandfather was originally German, and everyone knew that German Jews [Yekers] were punctual, precise people! Time was important and in this vein, my grandfather referred to his wrist watch often. 

One day, my grandmother noticed he wasn’t wearing his watch and enquired after it. My grandfather, Ephraim, replied and said, “My watch was stolen at the Mikveh.” To which my grandmother queried, “And how do you know that is where you left it?” My grandfather looked at her and said, “Because I saw the person take it from my pocket.” 

This begged the obvious question, “Why didn’t you stop him?” 

To which he quietly and simply replied, “I didn’t want to embarrass him.” 

With those few words and his deliberate inaction we learn so much … how we should strive to be sensitive to others and to treat those that come into our realm.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Love This

I don't know what this is, perhaps Nibiru, perhaps not.  Whatever the case, I love the way these people are cheering Hashem.  This is how we should be all the time.  [And please ignore the final message in the last few seconds, that has nothing to do with the people cheering Hashem]

Moshe's Donkey and Moshiach

Art by Elhanan Ben-Avraham

Moshe complains about the accusations hurled against him and says "Lo Chamor Echad Meihem Nasasi" -  I didn't even take a single donkey from them [Korach 16:15]. Rashi says this refers to when he came down to Mitzrayim to redeem them on a donkey, and he paid for it from his own money. Rav Shimon Schwab asks, why would Moshe think that he should have taken the money from Bnei Yisroel.

Rav Schwab answers that the gemara in Sanhedrin [98a] says that when the geula comes, if we are zocheh [if we merit it] Moshiach will arrive on clouds, if not then Moshiach will come come as a pauper on a donkey. Why? 

The whole world needs to know that Hashem is bringing the geula and Moshiach has no power by himself. If Bnei Yisroel are Maaminim [believers] and Ovdei Hashem [servants of Hashem] then Moshiach can come in grand fashion and we will all place thanks in Hashem and not Moshiach. But if we do not recognize Hashem's hand, then Hashem will need to send a Moshiach who is powerless and destitute to show that it is not his charisma, brains, or money that will release us from the galus.

Moshe was the Goel in Mitzrayim.  Bnei Yisroel was not Zocheh and Moshe came riding into town on a donkey lacking any pomp or grandeur. He came with the stick in his hand and the shirt on his back. To show his poverty he should have asked Bnei Yisroel to pay for his donkey. Even then he did not, since he did not want to take anything from any member of Klal Yisroel.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Best Teshuva

Art by Lizzie Riches

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

The Gra wrote in his holy work Alim L’Trufa the following: Until his last day, a person should afflict himself, but not through fasting and pain, but by harnessing his mouth and desires. This is considered teshuvah, and it is more effective than all the fasting and afflictions in the world.

Likewise, it is written in the sefer Rosh Hagivah that when a person wishes to fast, it is preferable that he should rather accept upon himself to abstain from speaking than to abstain from eating, because in this way he will not cause any harm to his body or his soul, and he will not become weakened by the fast.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

ISIS, Obama and the Spies

Our Greatest Crisis Is Not ISIS, But Our Denial of It

By: Rabbi YY Jacobson

Terror in Turkey - Three Options

When faced with a gruesome enemy, there are two approaches: Retreat in fear, or go on the offensive.

But what if the enemy will pursue you wherever you are, so that retreat is ineffective? The only option then, it would seem, would be to take on your enemy and crush it; you’ve got no choice.

However, what if that goes against your entire way of thinking? If it runs contrary to everything you told yourself about the world around you? Then there is only one option left—and it is the most dangerous of all: deny the reality of the enemy; make believe he does not exist.

Two centuries ago, the French tyrant Napoleon Bonaparte was master of Europe. In Spain, an embattled English army under the Duke of Wellington was resisting his advance. One day a young lieutenant came into the British general's tent clutching a map in his trembling hands:

"Look, General the enemy is almost upon us!"

"Young man," the general replied coolly, "Get larger maps, the enemy won't seem so close."

This sums up the Presidency of Barack Obama.

Dismissing Reality

After the Islamic State began releasing videos of American citizens being beheaded, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett reportedly told President Barack Obama that Americans were worried that they would soon bring this violence here to the United States. Obama was unfazed.

“They’re not coming here to chop our heads off,” the president promised.

In his 2016 State of the Union address, Obama blithely dismissed the Islamic State as “fighters on the back of pickup trucks” who he said “do not threaten our national existence.”

As Marc A. Thiessen explained in a recent Washington Post column, Obama has openly declared that climate change is a much higher priority for him than terrorism because “ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States. Climate change is a potential existential threat to the entire world if we don’t do something about it.” Indeed, According to the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who spent hours interviewing Obama about his foreign policy doctrine, the President “gets frustrated that terrorism keeps swamping his larger agenda” and “his advisers are fighting a constant rearguard action to keep Obama from placing terrorism in what he considers its ‘proper’ perspective, out of concern that he will seem insensitive to the fears of the American people.”

The “proper” perspective. No wonder, Mr. Thiessen points out, the president keeps getting the terrorist threat wrong. No wonder, just before the Islamic State took over large swaths of Iraq, Obama said stopping them was not “something that we have to wade into” because they did not pose “a direct threat to us.” No wonder, the day before the Islamic State carried out its massacre in Paris, Obama boasted “we have contained them.” No wonder, the day before the San Bernardino, Calif., massacre, Obama assured Americans they were safe from a Paris-style attack, declaring “The American people should feel confident that, you know, we are going to be able to defend ourselves and make sure that, you know, we have a good holiday and go about our lives.”

Well, on June 12, 2016, 49 Americans in Orlando were busy going about their lives when an Islamic State terrorist murdered them in cold blood. Almost the same numbers of travelers in Turkey were going about their lives this past Tuesday, June 28, 2016, as they were blown to pieces.

The Cancer

Responding to criticism of President Obama’s handling of terrorism, White House press secretary Josh Earnest boasted recently of all the setbacks the Islamic State has experienced in recent months, noting that in Iraq “45 percent of the populated area that ISIL previously controlled has been retaken from them. In Syria, that figure is now 20 percent.”

That’s like a patient who ignored a cancer diagnosis bragging that he finally reduced the tumor in his lung — glossing over the fact that he let it spread and metastasize to his other organs. If he had attacked the Islamic State cancer early, Obama could have stopped it from spreading in the first place. But instead, he dismissed the terrorist group as the “JV team” that was “engaged in various local power struggles and disputes” and did not have “the capacity and reach of a bin Laden” and did not pose “a direct threat to us.” He did nothing, while the cancer grew in Syria and then spread in Iraq. Our leaders did nothing as thousands were slain in the most barbaric ways, as genocide and ethnic cleansing became a fun sport, as thousands of girls were sold as sex slaves.

Now the cancer has spread. Its goal is to sow destruction and death everywhere, from Sydney to Orlando.

According to a recent CNN analysis, since declaring its caliphate in 2014, the Islamic State has carried out more than 90 attacks in 21 countries outside of Iraq and Syria that have killed 1,390 people and injured more than 2,000 others. The Islamic State has a presence in more than a dozen countries and has declared “provinces” in Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Washington Post reported in 2015 that “since the withdrawal of most U.S. and international troops in December, the Islamic State has steadily made inroads in Afghanistan” where it has “poured pepper into the wounds of their enemies . . . seared their hands in vats of boiling oil . . . blindfolded, tortured and blown apart [villagers] with explosives buried underneath them.”

Gun Control Debate

Astoundingly, in the aftermath of the Orlando blood bath, our President and many leaders went back to call for gun control.

Sure, anyone with a questionable background and possible link to terror groups and a Jihadist inclination should never be allowed to purchase a weapon. That is common sense. That law should be implemented immediately. But to see the core of the issue as gun control would be akin to saying that the key solution to defeating Nazi Germany in 1945 was to avoid selling guns in Europe to anyone who wanted to own them.

There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. FYI, Mohammed is the most popular name for a child today on our planet. If we are to assume that the large majority of them are peaceful citizens, and only a very small fraction, say five percent of Muslims, believe in Jihad, we have on earth today 80 million (!) people who are ready to do what the Jihadist in Orlando did! That is 80 million who are ready to die so that all “infidels” die!

And even if you are a staunch optimist and claim that only one percent of Muslims embrace Jihad, that is an awful 16 million—more than the entire Jewish nation.

And what if the number is higher than five percent?

Does nobody get this?

“Radical Islam”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016, President Obama, explaining why he doesn’t use the phrase “radical Islam,” asked the question, “What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change?”

The question itself indicates the mess we are in. As Ed Rogers put it in a recent essay, the difference is that calling these terrorists what they are — radical Islamists — would be reassuring to those Americans who have doubts about Obama’s proficiency as commander in chief. After all, he is the one who used the term “jayvee team” to describe the Islamic State. He is the one who declared Iraq “sovereign, stable and self-reliant.” He is the one who took six years to declare the Ft. Hood shooting a terrorist attack and not an incident of “workplace violence.”

Using the phrase “radical Islam” isn’t about trying to make the Islamic State “less committed to trying to kill Americans.” Mr. President, it is not about the Islamic State, it’s about you. Your specific refusal to use the term rattles Americans and increases doubts about your grasp of the threat that the Islamic State presents.

Some people like to boast that our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president ended two wars. The fact is, this president has neither won nor ended any wars. At the end of his eight years in office, the United States will be facing more grinding conflicts than existed when he won the presidency.

When it came to terrorist networks, the George W. Bush administration had a mantra: We’re going to fight them over there so that we do not have to face them here at home. Obama abandoned that mantra. And now the danger is getting closer to home with each passing day.

The enemy is ruthless and cruel—a throwback to the 7th century. The greatest crisis today is not ISIS; it is a lack of leadership to confront it, or even demonstrate that it understands what we are dealing with.

At such times, what the world needs is resolute and confident leadership. We need leaders who can name the enemy, who can articulate the evil facing us, and then go ahead to vanquish it. Sadly, we got neither.

Imagine if in 1945, Roosevelt and Churchill would declare that the most serious issue facing humanity was global warming. We would deem them insane. Well, today, we have young Islamists blowing themselves up around the world every week, killing and maiming thousands upon thousands of innocents; we have ISIS operatives everywhere, and our leaders are out for lunch. Do they really not realize the depth of cruelty, barbarity, and hatred we are facing?

What type of brainwashing and venom does it take to inspire a 17-year-old to enter the bedroom of a 13 year old Jewish girl and stab her 18 times?!

It baffles me why is it that as ISIS paraded down public highways in Iraq, with thousands of fighters cheering and dancing we did not bomb them and finish them off? Why did we allow--and we still allow--this most vicious cancer to enjoy the time and freedom to grow and spread around the world?

The Spies

In this week’s Torah portion, ten of the spies whom Moses had sent to spy out the land came back with a report calculated to demoralize the nation.

“We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large ... We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are ... The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height ... We seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” [Numbers 13: 27-33]

How could they say such nonsense? They had left Egypt, the greatest empire of the ancient world, after a series of plagues that brought that great country to its knees. They crossed the sea that split. They stood at Sinai. They ate the manna.

But they were struck by fear—and this is the nature of fear. When you are afraid of something, it often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those who say, “We cannot do it” are probably right, as are those who say, “We can.” If you lack confidence you will lose. If you have it – solid, justified confidence based on preparation and past performance – you will win.

In every generation, we need the leaders who will fearlessly define the enemy, and then fearlessly advance to defeat it.

Source: The