Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Good Wife Disagrees - The Majesty of Debate

by Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson

Who's listening?

"How is married life?" Greg asks his old buddy Mike.

"It's quite simple," Mike responds. "When we got engaged, I did most of the talking and she did most of the listening. Later, when we married, she began doing all of the talking and I began doing all of the listening. Now, ten years later, we both do all of the talking and the neighbors do all of the listening."

The biblical description of the woman's role

This week we begin the Torah afresh. The opening portion section of the Bible, Bereishis, captures the first 1,600 years of human history. It is filled with enrapturing tales that encapsulate the most profound mysteries and challenges of the human condition, including the enigma behind gender relationships.

It all begins with one 'innocent' verse, describing the raison d'etre of having two distinct genders in the world. "And G-d said, 'It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper against him (1).'" Until this point, Adam and Eve were fused into one body. Here they were divided into two distinct creatures, each one possessing his or her unique structure and personality (2).

Yet, the choice of words the Torah employs to describe the role of the feminine spouse — "a helper against him" — seems contradictory. If a wife is supposed to serve as a helper to her husband, she is obviously not "against him."

Much has been written to explain the meaning of this verse (3). One Jewish thinker, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (4), interprets the sentence exactly the way it sounds (5): The woman becomes a "helper" for her husband by sometimes being against him. What this may mean is that for a husband to become the maximum he can be, he must profess the courage to welcome the ideas and feelings of his spouse that are "against" his own.

The hollering husband

Some men cannot tolerate their wives disagreeing with them. They grow angry and frustrated, at times even yelling at their wives for daring to challenge their "sacred" views. What often transpires as a result is that the woman, in order to maintain a peaceful atmosphere in the home, remains silent or even removed.

Who loses the most?

It is the husband who loses most, according to this verse in the Torah. Frankly, a man at times must be saved from himself, from his ego, his insecurities, blind spots, rashness and temptations. When a man learns to genuinely embrace his wife's contrasting personality and her otherness, he will travel to places he could never reach on his own.

This does not mean, of course, that it is a biblical injunction upon every woman to disagree with her husband 100 percent of the time. (A man once asked me: If he stated an opinion alone in a forest away from his wife, would he still be wrong? I told him: Your mistake is that you think you need to state your opinion for her to know what you think.) For a relationship to work, wives and husbands need to learn the art of compromise. She must learn to see things from his perspective, and conversely, and they must both be flexible, kind, and reasonable.

What it does mean, though, is that it is unproductive and unhealthy when a man creates a climate in the home in which his wife must always agree with his opinions, answering "amen" to all his declarations and meshugasen.

Maintaining the balance

But how do couples guarantee that the proper proportions are preserved? How do we ensure that the "against him" component of a spouse does not overwhelm and subdue the "helper" dimension of a spouse?

The Talmud (6) states that in the beginning G-d planned to create man and woman as two distinct people. In the end, however, He created them as one (only afterward did He proceed to divide them into two, as stated above). Why did G-d "change His mind," so to speak?

Perhaps (7) He wished to teach us how a married couple ought to relate to one another. In marital relations, there ought to be both an "in the beginning" and an "in the end." In the beginning, husband and wife ought to be two; each party should express his or her opinion freely and uninhibitedly. Each of them ought to challenge his or her spouse to grow taller and deeper. Then, in the end, they ought to find a way to reconcile the different views into one unified pattern of behavior, making out of many -- one, E Pluribus Unum.

This may be one of the symbols behind an interesting distinction between the tefillin (phylacteries) that Jewish men wrap on their heads vs. the tefilin wraped on their arms. The tefillin we place upon our head is conspicuously divided into four sections or chambers. Each chamber contains another fragment of parchment inscribed with one portion of the Torah. The tefillin we place on our arm, however, is conspicuously made of one chamber and all of the four portions are inscribed on a single piece of parchment placed in one container.


On the "head" level — the analytical level — diversity between couples is desirable. Let each party argue his or her point. However, on the "arm" level — the level of implementation and action — there must be one path, one verdict, one pattern of behavior. If not, chaos might reign (7).

G-d's yearning not to be alone

G-d and His people are often compared in the Bible to a husband and wife (8). Thus, this verse — "It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper against him" — may also be understood symbolically as a statement concerning the relationship between G-d and humanity.

Prior to the creation of the world, G-d, the ultimate "Man" was "alone." Even after creating the world, G-d could have revealed His presence in our lives so that we would still acknowledge that G-d is in truth alone, for the entire universe is essentially an extension of His light and energy.

Yet G-d chose otherwise. He chose to create a world that would eclipse His reality completely and even oppose Him. G-d chose to create a human being with the ability to deny Him, to ignore Him, to expel Him from his life. Why would G-d arrange such a situation?

The answer is, because "It is not good for Man to be alone; I will make Him a helper against Him." What this represents symbolically is that G-d's profoundest pleasure and help stems precisely from this opposition to Him. When a human being, who by his very nature feels himself absolutely detached from G-d, cracks the shell of his physicality to discover the light of G-d within; when a person challenges the coarseness of his nature to find the tiny flame of idealism etched in the recesses of his heart — this grants G-d a pleasure and joy that His being alone could never have achieved.

The purpose of our creation, in other words, was not to generate light, but to transform darkness into light (10).

So the next time your wife disagrees with you, or the next time you "disagree" with G-d emotionally or psychologically — don't get frustrated. On the contrary, this is an opportunity for you to experience the ultimate raison d'etre of your marriage.

You can watch a video class by Rabbi YY on this same theme.


1) Genesis 2:18.

2) This is clear from the biblical narrative. Cf. Talmud Berschos 61a; Eiruvin 18a; Midrash Rabah Bereishis 8:1; quoted in Rashi Genesis 1:27.

3) See Talmud Yevamos 63a; quoted in Rashi to this verse.

4) 1745-1812. Rabbi Schnuer Zalman, author of the Tanya and Shulchan Aruch HaRav, was the founder of the Chabad school of Chassidus.

5) Torah Or Bereshis pp. 4-5. A similar interpretation can be found in the commentary Haamek Davar and Harchev Davar by the Netziv (Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, 1816-1893. He was the dean of the Volozhin Yeshiva and one of the great rabbis of his day.)

6) Talmud Berachos and Eiruvun ibid.

7) This idea was suggested by Rabbi Moshe Avigdor Amiel (1883-1946), a rabbi in Lithuania, then in Antwerp and finally, from 1937 until his death, chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, in his work Hegyonos El Ami, on Bereishis. (An English translation, entitled Jews, Judaism & Genesis was published in Jerusalem in the year 2000 by the Rabbi Amiel Library, under the auspices of the American Mizrachi movement).

8) The entire book of Song of Songs is based on this analogy. Cf. Rambam Laws of Teshuvah ch. 10

9) See Ezekiel 1:26; Torah Or ibid. p. 5a.

10) See Tanya chapter 26.

11) This essay is based on a discourse by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (Torah Or referenced in footnote #5), and on the commentary of Netziv (Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin) on this verse in Genesis, see Haamak Davar and Harchav Davar.

Below is a new video from Rabbi Alon Anava: How do we maintain achdut in marriage?

The Rainbow Covenant

God made a covenant with Noah that He will not destroy the entire world again with a Flood. The symbol of this covenant is the rainbow.

When observing a rainbow, we recite a blessing: "Blessed is God, Who remembers the covenant (of Noah)."

However, the rabbis discourage one from staring at a rainbow, since it has a negative message:  It is telling us that the world deserves (another) flood but because of God's covenant, it will not happen.

The Talmud relates that during the lifetimes of certain great sages, a rainbow was never seen, because they were capable of saving the world from a flood, in their own merit.

Rav Kook writes:

Were there not rainbows before the Flood? How did the rainbow suddenly become a symbol of protection from Divine punishment?

In truth, the rainbow was created immediately before the Sabbath of creation (Avot 5:6). Before the Flood, however, the rainbow could not be seen. It was a "Keshet Be'Anan," a rainbow in the clouds. The thickness and opacity of the clouds, a metaphor for the world's dense physicality — obscured the rainbow. Only after the Flood, in a world of diluted physical strength, did the rainbow finally become visible.

The rainbow is a symbol of weakness. Physical weakness, that the cloud no longer conceals it. And also spiritual weakness, that only a Divine promise prevents destruction of the world as punishment for its sins. The Sages taught in Ketubot 77b that rare were the generations that merited tzaddikim so holy that no rainbow could be seen in their days.

The Flood restored balance to the world in two ways. In addition to weakening the material universe, the aftermath of the Flood resulted in a bolstering of the spiritual and moral side, through the Noahide Code. The Flood annulled all previous obligations, and initiated a new era of repairing the world via the seven mitzvot of Bnei-Noah.

Read entire essay at Rav Kook Torah

Why was the rainbow chosen as a symbol of peace between Hashem and mankind?

Hashem said: "When I brought the mabul (flood), My bow was drawn against man. The rainbow resembles a reversed bow, signifying that there shall be no more "arrows from Heaven" sent to destroy humanity".

In the Torah portion that relates the establishment of the covenant between God and Noah (and all generations to come) by means of the rainbow, the word "covenant" (בְּרִית) is repeated seven times. These seven appearances of the word "covenant" allude to the seven colors of the rainbow studied and documented by Isaac Newton, and to the seven Noahide commandments.

The seven colors of the rainbow and the seven Noahide commandments correspond to the seven lower sefirot as follows:

RED - Gevurah (might) - The prohibition against murder

BLUE - Chessed (loving-kindness) - The prohibition against adultery

YELLOW -Tiferet (beauty) - The prohibition against theft

ORANGE - Hod (thanksgiving) - The prohibition against blasphemy

VIOLET -Netzach (victory) - The prohibition against idolatry

GREEN -Yesod (foundation) - The prohibition against eating the flesh of a live animal

INDIGO -Malchut (kingdom) - The injunction to establish a just legal system

by Rabbi Y. Ginsburgh
Read entire essay at:

Also see: The Seven Universal Laws for all Humanity

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Garments of Leather

by Rabbi David Pinto Shlita

It is written “Hashem made for Adam and his wife garments of skin, and He clothed them” [Bereishit 3:21]

Why did G-d choose garments of skin to clothe Adam and his wife?

The author of Tzafnat Pa’aneach offers us a subtle explanation: When Adam discovered that he was naked and needed to be clothed, he was in a situation that required him to recite the Shecheyanu blessing, for he would be wearing a new garment. However the Halachah forbids a person from reciting a blessing if he is naked.

Adam was therefore faced with a dilemma: Should he recite a blessing for his first garment, and if so, how should he say it?

Hence the verse states, “Hashem G-d made for Adam and his wife garments of skin, and He clothed them.” It specifically mentions garments of skin because Shecheyanu is not recited over leather garments, since “His mercy extends to all His creatures” [Tehillim 145:9]. By fashioning garments of skin for Adam while he was still naked, Hashem exempted him from having to recite Shecheyanu.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Torah Codes: ''Trump Will Be Elected''

Here are some new codes from Rabbi Glazerson which show that Donald Trump will be elected President.

Of course we have also seen codes that say President Hillary.

And we know that the name of Donald Trump has the same gematria as ''Moshiach ben David'' and we know that the name Hillary Rodham Clinton has an extremely unique gematria equalling the phrase ''a time of terrible distress'' which may well hint to her time as leader of America.

And we also have the widespread conspiracy theory that there will be no elections at all.

Anyway, here is the video of the latest Trump Codes.

Why does the Diaspora still keep Two Days of YomTov?

Question of the Week from Rabbi Aron Moss

Why on earth do we still keep two days of Yomtov outside of Israel? I know the history: in ancient times people didn't have calendars on their phones, because the calendar was not set in advance, but rather month by month. When witnesses saw the new moon they reported it to the rabbis in the Temple, and the rabbis would declare that a new month had begun. It would take a couple of weeks for the message to reach outlying communities, so they could never be sure of the correct date to celebrate the festivals. So the diaspora communities kept two days to be on the safe side.

That made sense back then, but for heavens sake, we have calendars today! Why do we still keep two days in the diaspora for every festival that is one day in Israel?

For me, this is one of the most ridiculous laws. It's like the World Jewish Council of Rabbis can't be bothered to overturn it or discuss it. Or perhaps they fear a backlash from Jewish bakers, butchers and grocers around the world who like having more Jewish festivals with more meals....

Can't we update this one already?


I remember I had a teacher who had little patience. If a student missed out on what he said, he got furious and thundered, "Why can't you listen the first time? I will not repeat myself."

This is not fair. Not everyone can grasp an idea all at once. There are some gifted individuals who are sharp enough to get it the first time. But many of us need to hear something twice before it sinks in. a good teacher should no this.

G-d is the greatest teacher, and time itself is His classroom. Every festival in the Jewish calendar is like a lesson G-d teaches to the world. On Pesach we learn about freedom, and G-d beams a light of freedom into the world. On Sukkos we study the meaning of true happiness, and G-d sends the gift of joy into our hearts. Each festival and its observances are the way we receive the lesson, the light and wisdom of the day.

When you live in the Holy Land, its very air makes you wise, it opens you up to spiritual wisdom. Like a gifted student, you get the lesson the first time. You need only celebrate one day of each festival, and its message hits home straight away.

In the diaspora, we just don't get it so fast. We need more time for the lesson to sink in, as the air here is not as spiritually refined as Israel air. And so we are given a second day, another chance to fully absorb the power of the festival and for the message to hit home.

Our sages prophesied that one day in the future, the holiness of Israel will cover the entire earth, and then we will all get it the first time. Until then, we in the diaspora can enjoy the extended holiness of an extra day.

Make sense? If not I am happy to repeat it...

Source: Likkutei Torah Shmini Atzeres 92c

Friday, October 21, 2016

Russians Mobilizing.....

On the yarzheit of the Vilna Gaon........

''When the Russians mobilize their fleet towards Jerusalem - GET READY FOR MASHIACH!!'' - Vilna Gaon

Quoting Rabbi Alon Anava : 

Rabbi Dov Eliach the author of the book 'Hagaon' [Chapter 2 page 765/60] says that the students of the Rebbe from Brisk confirm the Vilna Gaon said it. Also Rabbi Aryeh Levin confirmed he heard directly from Rabbi Chaim Berlin who heard it directly from Rabbi Yitzchak Itzkovitch of Volozhin who heard it directly from the Vilna Gaon.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

19 Tishrei - Yahrzeit - Vilna Gaon

Painting of the Vilna Gaon from Yesodei Hatorah School corridor wall

Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna - The Vilna Gaon - Leader of Lithuanian Jewry, Torah scholar and kabbalist. Born: Vilna, Lithuania, 1720 Died: 19 Tishrei Vilna, Lithuania,1797

Popularly referred to as the Vilna Gaon, the Gra (initials of Gaon Rabbi Eliyahu), or simply as the Gaon. Considered to be the greatest Torah scholar of the past two centuries.

Even as a child Eliyahu of Vilna amazed the congregation when, at the age of 7, he delivered a learned discourse in the Great Synagogue in Vilna. By 10 years of age he had surpassed all his teachers, and, studying by himself with total concentration, he acquired knowledge of the vastness of Torah in both its revealed and mystical aspects. Every minute of his life was devoted to Torah study. He never slept more than two hours in a 24-hour period; he never accepted any rabbinic post or leadership of a yeshivah. He taught few disciples, selected from the foremost Torah scholars of his time. He also mastered astronomy, mathematics and music.

Known for fierce opposition to Chassidut, which was initiated in 1736 by the Baal Shem Tov, he and his followers in this anti-Chassidic Movement were known as "Mitnagdim," or opponents. Their opposition was based on the beliefs, vigorously denied by Chassidic leaders, that Chassidut took liberties with the Oral Law, that it substituted emotion for intellect in the Study of Torah, that its form of prayer departed too far from the traditional form of prayer, etc.

The Vilna Gaon cleared a new path to Talmud study, focusing on gaining a clear understanding through keen analysis of the principals and approaches of the early authorities. His methodology stood in sharp contrast to the pilpul system of the Polish yeshivahs, an intricate system of creating a complex framework with which a series of questions would be answered. He toiled hard on emending the the talmudic and midrashic texts. Subsequent discoveries of ancient manuscripts confirmed the soundness of his corrections, which appear in the Vilna edition of the Talmud [Haga'ot Hagra].

His works which were recorded and published by his disciples, include Aderet Eliyahu, a commentary on the Torah; a commentary on Ecclesiastes; Shenot Eliyahu, a commentary on the Mishna, Order of Zeraim; Biur Hagra, a commentary on Shulchan Aruch; a commentary on Sefer Yetzirah, a kabbalistic work; and many other works.

His commentary on the Torah is filled with interesting allusions that show the oneness of the Written Torah and the Oral Law, demonstrating their common source in Divine revelation.

The Vilna Gaon was revered in Vilna and throughout the world for his phenomental knowledge and saintly character. One of his most outstanding disciples was Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, the founder of the yeshivah of Volozhin. Following the Gaon's approach to learning, this institution spread Torah for more than a 100 years. Today most yeshivas follow the study pattern of Volozhin, keeping alive the approach to Torah pioneered by the great Vilna Gaon.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Here Come The SuperMoons

The October full moon kicks off the first of three supermoons happening in late 2016 - [but whether it will be red or not is anyone's guess these days]

Sky-watchers are gearing up for a super-sized moon that will grace evening skies this Sunday, October 16. The so-called hunter’s supermoon kicks off a lunar triple play happening over the next three months.

The full moon on the 16th will appear 16 percent larger than average and nearly 30 percent larger than the year’s smallest full moon, which we saw back in April.

The full moons of November and December will also be supermoons. Next month’s supermoon promises to be the most impressive, as it will be the largest full moon visible in our skies so far this century.

More at National Geographic

The Sukkah and The Heavenly Hug

Wishing everyone a Chag Sameach !

Adapted from the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s teachings by Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson

The Sukkah hut is frail and vulnerable, but its walls have basic specifications: They must be two full walls, plus a third wall of only 3.5 inches, measured in Hebrew as a ‘Tefach’ handbreadth. It’s okay to have 3 or 4 full walls; but the minimum is two plus a tiny bit of a third.

What is the spiritual significance of this tiny third handbreadth-size wall?

Anatomy of an Embrace
Two great Jewish thinkers, Rabbi Isaac Luria and Rabbi Schnuer Zalman of Liadi, turn our attention to the affectionate words uttered by the Bride in the Song of Songs: "His left arm is under my head, and His right arm embraces me."

These metaphors address two distinct moments in the relationship between G-d, the Groom, and His people, the Bride. During the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur "days of awe," G-d's "left arm," as it were, is under the head of Israel. The left side represents introspection, strict discipline and awe.

Sukkos, on the other hand, is "the time of our joy," when “G-d's right arm embraces me."

Our arm is divided into 3 sections. The first is the arm itself, from the shoulder to the elbow; the second is the forearm, from the elbow to the wrist; and the third is from the wrist to the fingertips.

Our Sukkah walls represent the "right arm's embrace." The first full wall represents a Divine embrace from the "shoulder" to the "elbow;" the second wall reflects the "forearm," and the third tiny wall symbolizes the palm’s embrace.

Expressions of Love
There are three ways of expressing love.

The first is words. "I love you," when uttered sincerely, has impact. A second, more powerful expression of love is a kiss. A genuine kiss expresses a deep intense feeling that may not be grasped in words. Words can state, "I love you," while a kiss declares, "I love you more then I will ever be able to tell you."

An embrace is a third expression of love.

Dissecting the Hug
Which form of love do children cherish most?

Children enjoy being spoken to. They certainly take pleasure from being kissed. Yet, most children, especially infants, cherish being hugged. When our children hurt themselves or break something, they cry and come running to their parents for a hug to calm them down and to restore their confidence.

Two significant features set apart an embrace from the other "love communicators."

Affection is directed primarily toward the face of the beloved. You speak to one's face, kiss one's cheeks or lips, or gaze at one's eyes. An embrace involves the nape and back of the one being embraced.

Another feature that distinguishes an embrace is the firm physical bond of a hug. When I utter words of love, even when I kiss, I am not holding on to you. But when I embrace you, even if you wish to escape my embrace, you are "trapped" in my gripping hug; I don't let you tear yourself away from me.

Two forms of love
There is reciprocal love and unconditional love. The first is directed to the face of the beloved one; the second is directed to the back of the beloved.

I may love you because of what I receive in return for my relationship. You may be wise, deep, sensitive, kind, beautiful, humorous, challenging etc. - qualities expressed through your face, eyes, ears and mouth - and I love you because of these or other qualities that enrich my life.

This type of love is communicated in words of affection, or in a kiss, directed toward the face of the beloved, the primary location of reciprocity. Expressing my attachment in these forms shows that I cherish you because of your qualities.

This love may be deep and can bestow blessings and fulfillment. Yet it is conditional on reciprocity. As long as you are here for me, I am here for you. In essence, I love you because I love myself, and you make my "self" so much deeper and happier.

Yet there is a deeper love of an embrace, in which my arms encircle your backside. The hug represents an unconditional, unqualified and absolute love. It is not about your face, it is about your back, an area lacking meaningful reciprocity. I don't love you because of me; I love you because of you. You may not give me anything in return for my love, you may even want me out of your life, but I still love you with all my heart.

Do you embrace your children?
That’s why children need their parents to embrace them.

When children get hurt or break something, they are searching for affirmation that their validity was not compromised. They are yearning to hear that their value does not depend on them being perfect and impeccable, but that their dignity is absolute. "Show me," asks the child, "that you love me unconditionally because of who I am and not because of what I achieve."

When a child cries because their finger is bleeding, and you simply place a band aid on the wound and go away, you may have forfeited the opportunity to teach your child the most important lesson: Your dignity stems from your very being. Even when you will fall in life and bleed badly, your very being and identity is indispensable.

We also relate to G-d on these two levels.

All year around, G-d's light relates to us as a result of the choices we make. The more we rise to the higher truth, the more we hear G-d’s silent voice resonating in our souls.

Throughout the year, we experience G-d's presence only through our efforts and toil to refine our behavior. When we meditate, pray, reflect, study and live morally and holy, we catch a glimpse of G-d's love toward us. When I work against my immoral temptations and cravings, I can at times sense a reciprocal kiss from G-d.

Throughout the year, we enjoy a reciprocal relationship with G-d. G-d might talk to you, He may even kiss you or gaze at you, but You must show Him your face. If you don't turn your back on Him, He will be there for you.

But during Sukkot, G-d shares His love unconditionally and embraces us.

We eat, drink, chat, and relax in a Sukkah- all mundane activities with little spirituality. Yet when performed in the Sukkah, these acts are a Mitzvah, a medium through which we relate to Him.

The Sukkah walls are saying: I love and cherish you not because of what you do for me or because of what I gain from you. I am attached to you not because of your spiritual sophistication or because of your noble pursuits. I love you because I love you. I am one with you as you are. I am in love with your very core.

So for a real good hug, spend time in a Sukkah.

Sustaining the Embrace
Each Jewish holiday leaves us with a special energy that affects the entire year. This Divine “hug” even while we are in a physical mode, empowers and inspires us to transform our physical and mundane endeavors throughout the year into tools through which to bring Divine light into the world.


So what do you think?  Trump or Hillary?  Or will there be no election at all?

The following Wikileaks were received via email from AK, giving credence to the theory held by many that there will be a war instead of an election.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

New Kessin Video

Due to the arrival of a new baby in the family my blogging will be intermittent for a while.  [No I did not have a baby but someone very close to me did].  

Here is the latest video from Rabbi Mendel Kessin, recorded at the Ra'anana Kollel erev Yom Kippur. I have not heard the whole thing, and most of it we have already heard before, but for those people who had trouble understanding some of the concepts, he does go into more detail here.

This shiur focuses on the world and how we got to this point: with two meshuggenas running for President.  Trump vs Hillary and Hashem's Plan.

I would like to wish you all a chag sameach for Succot, and as I will be busy helping the new mother, I will not be able to update regularly until after the Chag.    Chag Sameach !   Moshiach Now !     

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

One Long Holiday

Art: Scarabuss

The Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Succot Connection

The Baalei Mussar say that the three Yomim Tovim in Tishrei, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Succot are all one long continuous Yom Tov, all with the purpose of fully returning to Hashem.

Rosh Hashana is the day we start this process by reflecting and contemplating where it is that we stand in our relationship with Hashem. After realizing that we are not where we should be and how far we have drifted, we spend the week between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur regretting and repairing the damage. On Yom Kippur Hashem forgives us and we start our relationship anew.

Succot we leave our home and go on a second honeymoon where we enjoy Hashem's company in Hashem's honeymoon getaway; alone together in the quiet of the succah, free from the distractions of the rest of the world.

Source: Revach L'Neshama

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Time Immediately Before Moshiach

A recent comment on ''Is Moshiach Really Coming'' asked for the signs that we are the final generation before Moshiach.  Here are the signs, for those who need to read them again.  

In the year King Moshiach is revealed, nations will provoke one another......... all the nations of the world are distressed and panicking. [Yalkut Shimoni Yeshiya 60]


by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet

The time appointed by G-d for the Messianic redemption is a closely guarded secret.1 Nonetheless, we are offered many hints to recognize its proximity: when certain conditions come about, await the imminent coming of Mashiach.

Most of these conditions are quite disturbing, clearly displaying a situation of the very “bottom of the pit.”2 One major source describes the world-condition in those days as follows: increase in insolence and impudence; oppressing inflation; unbridled irresponsibility on the part of authorities; centers of learning will turn into bawdy houses; wars; many destitutes begging, with none to pity them; wisdom shall be putrid; the pious shall be despised; truth will be abandoned; the young will insult the old; family-breakup with mutual recriminations; impudent leadership.3

Other sources add: lack of scholars; succession of troubles and evil decrees; famines; mutual denunciations; epidemics of terrible diseases; poverty and scarcity; cursing and blaspheming; international confrontations nations provoking and fighting each other.4 In short, it will be a time of suffering that will make it look as if G-d were asleep. These are the birthpangs of Mashiach, bearable only in anticipation of the bliss that follows them.

“When you see a generation ever dwindling, hope for him… when you see a generation overwhelmed by many troubles as by a river, await him.”5 “When you see nations fighting each other, look toward the feet of Mashiach.”6

Little wonder that some sages expressed apprehensions about those days in terms of, “Let [Mashiach] come, but let me not see him.”7 The prevailing attitude, however, is to await his coming in spite of all, even if thereafter we shall merit no more than sitting “in the shadow of his donkey’s dung!”8

The troubles and agony of chevlei Mashiach (birthpangs of Mashiach), however, are not unavoidable:

“What is man to do to be spared the pangs of Mashiach? Let him engage in Torah and acts of loving-kindness!”9

Moreover, there are also good and happy signs indicating the imminent coming of Mashiach: a good measure of prosperity;10 a renewal of Torah-study;11 and opening of the “gates of wisdom above and the wellsprings of wisdom below,”12 evidenced also by scientific and technological discoveries and advances; a manifestation and propagation of the mystical teachings of the Torah;13 and also “In the time that Mashiach will awaken, many signs and miracles will occur in the world.”14


1. Pesachim 54b; Midrash Tehilim 9:2. See Zohar Chadash, Bereishit, 8a.

2. Midrash Tehilim 45:3. See Ma’amarei Admur Hazaken-Ethalech, p. 103f.; and Besha’ah Shehik-dimu-5672, vol. I:p. 551; relating this to the principle (Midrash Tehilim 22:4; Zohar II:46a) that the darkest moments of the night are immediately before daybreak. Cf. Zohar I:170a. For this analogy see also the comment of R. Elijah, the Vilna Gaon, cited in Even Shelemah, ch. 11:5.

3. Sotah 49b

4. Sanhedrin 97a; Shir Rabba 2:29.

5. Sanhedrin 98a

6. Bereishit Rabba 42:4. Note Pesikta Rabaty 37:2 (ed. Friedmann, ch. 36)!

7. Sanhedrin 98b

8. Ibid. See also Zohar II:7aff.

9. Sanhedrin 98b

10. Sanhedrin 97a; Shir Rabba 2:29.

11. Ibid.

12. Zohar I:117a

13. Zohar I:118a. See Zohar Chadash, Tikunim, 96c; and Mayanei Hayeshu’ah, I:2. Cf. below, note 84. Note also Igeret Teyman, ch. 3, that prophecy shall be restored to Israel prior to the coming of Mashiach.

14. Zohar II:8a

Complete Teshuvah

Art: Maurycy Gottllieb

The focus of the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is teshuvah - return or repentance. We recite the Avinu Malkeinu prayer during this period, requesting: “Our Father our King! Return us in complete teshuvah before You.”

When is teshuvah full and complete?

Healing the Source

We can understand this phrase better in light of the request that immediately follows:

“Our Father our King! Send complete healing to the sick of Your people.”

What is “complete healing”? Often we are only able to alleviate the patient’s external symptoms. The true source of the illness, however, remains unknown or is untreatable. Such a treatment is only a partial healing. When we plead for complete healing, we are praying that we may succeed in discovering the source of the illness and completely cure the patient. Such a comprehensive treatment will result in full restoration of the patient’s health.

The same concept holds true for teshuvah. If we address a particular fault, we are really dealing with a symptom of a much larger problem. Correcting a specific sin is only partial teshuvah. When we ask for God’s help in attaining complete teshuvah, we seek a comprehensive teshuvah that corrects the root source of our various sins and character flaws. Such a complete teshuvah will restore our spiritual wholeness.

Elevated Perception

How does one attain complete teshuvah? In his book Orot HaTeshuvah, Rav Kook explained that this teshuvah is based on an elevated outlook on life and the world:

“The higher level of teshuvah is based on holy enlightenment and a penetrating perception of the beauty of Divine providence. This [elevated teshuvah] is the source and foundation for the lower teshuvah that corrects deeds and refines traits. The basis for elevated teshuvah is none other than the foundation of Torah, in all of its roots and branches.” [15:6]

“Teshuvah that is truly complete requires a lofty perception, an ascent to the rarified world that is replete with truth and holiness. This is only possible by delving into the depths of Torah and Divine wisdom, to the mystical secrets of the universe.... Only the higher [i.e., mystical] Torah can break down the iron barriers that divide the individual and society as a whole from their heavenly Father.” [10:1]

Source: Rav Kook: Silver from the Land of Israel, pp. 72-73. Adapted from Mo'adei HaRe’iyah, p. 66]

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Many Evils

Art Sarah Porter

It is written, “When many evils and distresses have befallen them” [Vayelech 31:21]

The Maggid of Dubno states that towards evening, as the peddler of goods stands in the marketplace with his baskets in hand, and most of his products are already sold, he wants to return home quickly. He therefore takes his remaining pears, prunes, and other products, and mixes them together in one basket and sells them at half price, for he wants to get rid of them as quickly as possible. 

Hence the Torah states, “When many evils and distresses have befallen them” – when you see a combination of various ills descending upon Israel, it signifies that all the “products” are almost gone, and that we have reached the remainder, the “footsteps of Mashiach,” meaning that he will soon arrive.

Source: Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita