Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What Does Satan Really Want?

Latest from Rabbi Mendel Kessin.
The Trump victory, yarzheit of Rachel Imeinu, the Mabul, the significance of 9 November...... and he's only just getting started.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Secret of ''Good Inclination''

Rabbi Kessin's most recent shiur, which I have not yet listened to.

''Everybody knows that Evil Inclination, or Yetzer HaRah, or Satan, or Malach Hamaves, is an angel assigned to do the job.

We've also heard about Good Inclination, or Yetzer Tov.

However, the nature of Yetzer Tov is obscure. Somehow nobody heard about an angel representing Good Inclination. What is it, really? What kind of a creature, what kind of a being is hiding behind the term?

The nature of Good Inclination is revealed by R' Mendel Kessin.

The series on Ramchal's Derech Hashem continues.

The The shiur was given in Lakewood, NJ, 11/19/2016.''

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Connecting to the Source

Art ''Holy Land'' Michoel Muchnik

by Rabbi David Pinto Shlita

It is written: “Sarah died in Kiryat-Arba, which is Hebron” [Chayei Sarah 23:2]

Rabbeinu Bechaye explained why the text mentions two names for the same place [Kiryat-Arba and Hebron].

Kiryat-Arba is called Hebron because the soul of anyone buried there unites [mithaberet] on high in the city of G-d with the four [arba] camps of the Shechinah.

This is why the Patriarchs sought to be buried in this place, namely that from there, souls merit to be reunited [leit’haber] with their source, which is the Throne of Glory.

Hence the meaning of “Kiryat-Arba, which is Hebron.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

G-d Speed

Art Majcho Zmajcho

Avraham sent Eliezer to fetch Rivkah at the earliest opportunity, as soon as she had reached marriageable age.  

Eliezer's miracle - where his journey was miraculously shortened, allowing him to complete a 17 day journey in one day - thus spared Rivkah from spending an additional 17 days in an atmosphere of idol worship.

From this we can be assured of the speed with which G-d will send Moshiach, saving the Jewish people from even an additional moment in Exile.

Source: Lubavitcher Rebbe Likutei Sichos vol 1

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Once A Clown

Here is some light relief, in the form of Jackie Mason, who returned to the internet to record this 90 second video on Donald Trump.

A Meeting of Extremes

Shortly before his marriage, Yitzchak had reached a remarkable degree of spiritual perfection.  Right at the beginning of his life he was the first Jew to be circumcised at eight days.  He was then educated by Avraham our father, and later showed an eagerness to sacrifice his life to G-d, at the Akeida, from which point on he attained the sanctity of a burnt offering [an olah temimah].

Rivkah, on the other hand, was ''a rose amongst the thorns'', born into a wicked, idol-worshipping family.

The union of Yitzchak and Rivkah was thus a meeting of extremes, and for this very reason it is recorded in the Torah, since Torah itself is a guide to uniting extremes.  For when any mitzvah is observed, a mundane physical object becomes infused with Godliness and holiness.

Thus, the marriage of Yitzchak and Rivkah represents the marriage of the spiritual and the physical. And this explains why the Parsha spends so much time discussing their story, since it was the basis of everything that was to follow.

Source: Lubavitcher Rebbe: Based on Likutei Sochos vol 20 p 95-96 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Prepare Yourself for the Banquet

"I am an alien and a resident among you" [Chayei Sarah 23:4]

What is the meaning, asked the Dubno Maggid, of the expression "alien and resident"?  An alien is a person who resides in a land temporarily, while a resident's status is a permanent one.  An alien, therefore, is not a resident, nor is a resident an alien.

The answer, said the Maggid, is as follows:  Chazal comment on the verse "For you are aliens and residents with Me" [Vayikra 25:23] - "This world is like a lobby before the World to Come; prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall." [Avos 4:21]

Each individual is required to prepare himself for his eternal residence in the World to Come by performing mitzvos and good deeds in this world, his temporary dwelling.  Thus Avraham Avinu was saying "I am both an alien and a resident; I am an alien temporarily living in the world before I will become a permanent resident of the World to Come."

The Chofetz Chaim illustrated this idea by way of the following parable: There was a very wealthy man who wished to build himself a luxurious house. He contracted an architect who began to draw blueprints for the future home.

"It is very important to me" said the wealthy man to the architect, "that the living room be spacious and comfortable. Yet it is also important that the hallway leading to the living room be very large as well."

The architect took the necessary measurements and began to tell the man what he thought. "There is most certainly not going to be enough space for both the living room and the hallway to be large and roomy. You are going to have to make a decision - do you want a spacious living room or a spacious hallway?"

"I'll give you a bit of advice." continued the architect.  "Being that the prevailing custom is to make the living room as large as possible and not to invest very much in the hallway, I'd suggest that you do the same. It would be ridiculous to do the opposite and make the hallway larger than the living room.  After all, you don't want people to laugh at you."

So it is with us, said the Chofetz Chaim. Our duty in this world is to prepare ourselves for the eternal life, so that our portion in the World to Come will be as great as possible. How are we supposed to do this? By living our lives according to the Torah and by performing the mitzvos.

How foolish is the man whose sole concern is to ensure himself a comfortable life in this world. He is comparable to the wealthy man who requests a large hallway but a small living room. When he arrives in the World to Come everyone will laugh at him!

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Rabbi Sacks on Leonard Cohen

''There's a crack in everything - that's how the light gets in.''  [Leonard Cohen]

...actually I would say that's how the light gets out.... because every single thing in this world contains a Divine spark,  and when we utilize that object in a good way, as part of a mitzvah, we redeem the sparks.  This is called birurim.

Sitting in his hotel room in New York, Rabbi Sacks suddenly had a thought about a connection between the late Leonard Cohen's final song "You Want It Darker", the current state of the world and the week's parsha of Vayera. 

The following is written by Zvi Hershcovich 

Leonard Cohen was given a Halachic Jewish burial in a quiet ceremony before the media was notified of the poet and musician's passing.

Leonard Cohen
Leonard [Eliezer Ben Nissan HaKohen] was born in Montreal on the 12th of Tishrei, 5695 [September 12, 1934]. His great-uncle, Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Cohen, a pious graduate of the Volozhin Yeshiva, had been the chief rabbi of Montreal and Canada.

Born in Westmount, both his grandparents were prominent Orthodox Jews. His mother's father was Rabbi Shlomo Kolnitsky-Kline, a graduate of the Kovno Yeshiva. He was called the Sar HaDikduki (master of grammarians), and he wrote important Sefarim, including a thesaurus on Talmudic interpretation. His father's father was Lyon Cohen, one of the founders of the Shaar Hashomayim Shul, of which Leonard was a member.

In an interview with Jeff Burger, he told the biographer that he often reads Tehillim to find inspiration for his music and poetry. "When they lift up the Torah and say ‘Etz chayim hi l’mah chazikim bah,’ that kind of thing sent a chill down my back," he said. "I wanted to be that one who lifted up the Torah."

He also recalled his pride at being a Kohen. "I wanted to wear white clothes, go into the Holy of Holies, and negotiate with the deepest resources of my soul," he told Burger. "That was poetry to me."

As Cohen's fame grew, he took public stands for Jewish causes and openly displayed his Judaism with pride, singing in Yiddish and going on a tour in Israel where he performed the Birkas Kohanim. During the Yom Kippur war in 1973, he flew to Israel to perform and raise the morale of Jewish soldiers. Cohen's father had fought in World War I, and he rushed to Israel, because as he later told the media, "I am committed to the survival of the Jewish people."

According to the New York Times, he was Shabbos observant on tour and wore Tefillin. He described inheriting his grandfather's Tefillin, gazing at them and trying to make sense of them. "I saw I really could use this material, how exquisite and skillful these prayers were, how they had been designed by minds that you have to incline your heads towards," he said. "These minds who designed these prayers or received the inspiration to design these prayers–these are incredibly subtle and exquisite prayers for lifting the soul."

Just before Rosh Hashana, Cohen released a single which he worked on together with Cantor Gideon Zelermyer of the Shaar Hashomayim and his choir. The song quotes directly from the mourner's Kaddish.

Cohen passed away on Monday, the 6th of Cheshvan [November 7] and was buried quietly in the Orthodox Jewish tradition near the entrance of the Shaar Hashomayim cemetery on Mont Royal.

The media was notified of his passing on Thursday when the Shaar Hashomayim issued a release which noted that, "Leonard’s wish was to be laid to rest in a traditional Jewish rite beside his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents."

Rabbi Adam Scheier shared in a post on social media, that the community had taken great pride in Cohen. "Our pride was not simply that a child of the congregation grew up to be successful and famous; rather, it was that Leonard took the Jewish themes and concepts that he learned at The Shaar and gave them new and inspired expression in his poetry and his songs," wrote Rabbi Scheier. "It was at The Shaar that Leonard first encountered the liturgy of Who By Fire, the praise of Hallelujah, and the reverence of Hineni, I’m ready, my Lord."

Friday, November 18, 2016

Rabbi Kessin: The First Error of Donald Trump

Finally, his first shiur after the election is here. Thank you Moriah, I'd been checking every day.... except today !

Thursday, November 17, 2016

R' Shlomo Carlebach - Yahrzeit 16 Cheshvan

Reb Shlomo with daughter Neshama

Shlomo Carlebach's ancestors comprised one of the oldest rabbinical dynasties in pre-Holocaust Germany. He was born January 14, 1925 in Berlin, where his father, Rabbi Hartwig Naftali Carlebach (1889-1967), was an Orthodox rabbi. The family fled the Nazis in 1931 and lived in Baden bei Wien, Austria and by 1933 in Switzerland before coming to New York City.

Carlebach emigrated to Lithuania in 1938 where he studied at a yeshiva. In 1938 his father became the rabbi of Congregation Kehilath Jacob, a small synagogue on West 79th Street in New York's Upper West Side. Carlebach came to New York in 1939 via Great Britain. He and his twin brother Eli Chaim took over the rabbinate of the synagogue after their father's death in 1967.

Carlebach studied at several high-level Orthodox yeshivos, including Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, New York, and Bais Medrash Gevoha in Lakewood, New Jersey. His voice and musical talents were recognized quite early during his days in yeshiva, when he was often chosen to lead the services as a popular Chazan ("cantor") for Jewish holidays.

As is engraved on his tombstone, he became a devoted hasid of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. From 1951-1954, he subsequently worked as one of the first emissaries (shluchim) of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, until he departed to form his successful model for outreach, reaching hundreds of thousands of Jews worldwide.

In 1972 he married Elaine Neila Glick, a teacher. They had two daughters, Nedara (Dari) and Neshama. Neshama Carlebach is a songwriter and singer with a substantial following who has written and sung many songs in her father's style.

Carlebach died suddenly of a heart attack on 20 October 1994 while traveling on an airplane to relatives in Canada. Seated next to him was the Skverer Rebbe's gabbai; they were singing the Rebbe's favorite melody, Chasdei Hashem ki lo Samnu ["G-d's lovingkindness does not end"].

Carlebach was very close with many famous hasidic rebbes, including the Amshinover Rebbe and Bobover Rebbe. He is regarded as one of the most successful kiruv personalities of the 20th century, reaching many Jewish souls through his music, storytelling, and teaching.

From the teachings of Reb Shlomo:

If you see someone doing wrong, you have to tell him. You have to tell him. You have no right to remain silent. If someone sees his friend walking in the wrong path, it is a mitzva to talk to him, tell him he is doing wrong, but it has to be done in private. Don't tell someone in public that he did wrong, because if you do, you are transgressing about fifteen laws. The G'mora says it's very easy to keep Shabbos, very easy to put on t'fillin, but Rabbi Akiva says the hardest thing is to tell someone when he is doing wrong. Rabbi Akiva was very holy, and he said, "I don't know if there is anyone in my generation who would know how to rebuke." You have to do it in a way that he listens to. Rabbi Tarphon said there is no one who knows how to receive rebuke either.

Both are really hard things to do. Before you tell him what he did wrong you have to tell him, "I am saying it to you because I am really your friend, I am concerned. It is not that I can't stand sin, like a missionary, that I want to abolish sin in the world. I really care for you, and it hurts me that you did wrong." Say to the person, "I don't want to change you. I'm not putting you down on a couch and analyzing you. I care for you, and it seems to me that you did wrong, so can you tell me why?"

Then he can tell you, "I know I did wrong. I'm sorry, and I probably won't do it again." Or he can tell you, "I didn't do wrong. You are wrong, because you don't know the whole story."

In any case, there has to be communication. What is communication for? Why did G-d give us the power of speech? The Torah is very strong on communication. I have the right to hate someone who did wrong, but if I didn't tell him, I'm transgressing. If the person accepts what you tell him, it is good; if not, tell him a few times. If he says, "I don't want to hear you; I don't want you to talk about it to me anymore,"then you don't have to grab him, tie him to a chair; you don't have to be drastic. Talk to him like a human being.

The Torah wasn't given to the angels. G-d gave the Torah to human beings. There is such a thing as hating; what can we do? Moishe Rabbenu came up to Sinai, and the angels were complaining to G-d, "Why are You giving the Torah to Moishe? Why aren't You giving it to us?" G-d said to them, "There is no hatred between you, so you don't need the Torah. They need the Torah below, because there is hatred in the world." So the Torah says if you hate someone, you have to talk to him. Imagine, if every anti-Semite took the time to talk to one Jew there would be less killing in the world. If everyone followed this one thing: if you hate somebody, talk with him, make contact with him, it would be a different world. If you want it to work, it will work.

The G'mora and Maimonides both say that if I see someone doing wrong and I don't tell him, then I become a partner in the sin. The G'mora says if I see the people of my house are doing wrong, and I don't tell them, I become a partner. If I see the people of my city doing wrong and I'm not raising my voice, I'm becoming a partner in what the city is doing. If the whole world is doing wrong, and I'm not speaking up, then I'm becoming a partner in the sin of the whole world.

This is one of my favorite stories. Once I was visiting my cousins in Belgium, and when they invited me for dinner, they said because of me they would eat kosher. So I come to see what is going on there, what they are going to be feeding me. "Because of you it will be really strictly kosher. We know you don't eat ham, so we bought horsemeat." What if I take out a bible, because you have to tell people when they do wrong. "Sit down you dirty sinners. You know horsemeat isn't. . ." Naturally this does not go. It says to rebuke, and that is not the level of rebuking. They don't know anything, so you can't rebuke them. It says you have to tell them in such a way that they know you care for them. If I say, "I am here for Shabbos, and it makes me uncomfortable that you don't keep Shabbos,"that means I don't give a damn about their Shabbos, just about my own. It is a very delicate thing.

The truth is, most of the time people know when they do wrong, they just don't have the strength not to do it. When you tell people they are doing wrong in a good way, it gives them strength not to do it again. The Mittler Rebbe says it suddenly becomes like two souls against one evil. If I'm too weak to overcome my evil, the minute someone tells me it is like two fires against one darkness. But it is hard to know how to tell people in a good way.

A Niggun is a Chassidic melody, often wordless and repeated several times, which is intended to express and stir one’s soul. Considered a path to higher consciousness and transformation of being.

The Story of the Krakow Niggun

Carlebach performing ''Krakow Niggun''

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What Will Happen in Israel When Moshiach Comes?

Part of a series of Question's and Answers, Rabbi Anava is posed the question of what will happen in Eretz Yisroel upon Moshiach's arrival.

Parshas Vayeira: Essence Vision

''Abraham's Tent'' by Michoel Muchnik

Written by Rav DovBer Pinson

This week’s Torah reading opens with the words “And now Hashem appeared to him…and he was sitting at the entrance of the tent.” [Vayeira:18:1]

In this verse we are not told to whom Hashem appeared. We eventually learn from the narrative that it was Avraham/Abraham. But his name is not used in the verse.

The verse begins as a sequel to the previous portion in which Avraham circumcised himself, as is inferred by the first words of the verse, ‘and now,’ making it a continuation of the circumcision story.

The Zohar teaches that the circumcision was the reason for this revelation. This was a revelation to the essence of Avraham. It is for this reason that the verse does not mention the name of Avraham, referring to him simply as ‘him’, alluding to his very essence.

A name is a description. To one person you may be called father/mother, to another son/daughter, to another boss/employee. Your friends may call you one thing, and your family calls you something else. To each person you are something else.

When there is an ‘appearing’ of Hashem to a name, to Avraham for example, it is to an aspect of who he is. At this time, however, there was a revealing to all of him. The very essence of who he is, beyond title and name.

Avraham receives such a depth of revelation and intimate connection with the Creator because he is coming from the circumcision. The act of circumcision is to physically and thus also emotionally/mentally/spiritually reveal that which has previously been concealed.

When Avraham became fully open with nothing concealed, the Creator also became fully revealed to him, to all of him. Nothing remains hidden. Essence to Essence.

This revealing of Essence to Essence occurs at the beginning of this week’s Torah reading. At its conclusion we read that Avraham is called a “Yirei Elokim,” which is translated as a ‘G-d fearing’ person, but can also mean 'A person who sees G-d.' [22;12] Thus, Avraham becomes a ‘see’er of Hashem.’

Through the Essence of the Creator being revealed to his very essence, he gradually acquires deeper and more spiritually sensitive vision. He can now access the inner reality within everything, the Divine animating force within all of creation, without any concealment.

The Energy of the Week:
Essence Vision

It is a truth about many of us humans, that upon encountering another person we tend to instantly ‘label’ them and feel like we know certain truths about them based on their appearance, dress, upkeep, life 'station', mannerisms, and so forth. The same may be true with all objects, places or events we come in contact with every day. We tend to be easily influenced or impressed with the external realities and overlook the essence of the thing or person. Without consideration of what lies beneath, we define a person, object or event by its external attributes or 'effect' upon us.

This week’s Torah reading enables us to see beyond the outer garments. We access a vision that takes us beyond the ‘names’ and ‘labels’ and provides us with deeper and truer visions. We learn to see beyond the concealments and trappings, and view the essence of the matter in its entirety.

This is an energy of vision that occurs on many levels. Beginning with seeing each person for their essence, their essential Divinity, and extending to every event that occurs in our lives. The energy this week inspires us to perceive the guiding hand of Hashem in every life event.

Essence Vision is to see within every encounter, every situation and person, the Divine animating force.

In this way we view everything that occurs as an opportunity and invitation to connect more deeply with Hashem.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

And Now a Red Super Moon in Australia

Photos: Luana Fabri Goriss

Also see Flickr

Super Moon Photos

Unfortunately, Sydney's clouds obscured the moon as it rose last night, and although there are photos around, I haven't yet seen one that I love...... but here is a great shot of the Super Moon last night, taken by Tonly Cheng in San Francisco.

Below: super moon rising in Israel - photographer unknown.

Supermoon over Heho, Myanmar’s Shan state. [AFP photo Ye  Aung Thu]

Monday, November 14, 2016

Special Safeguard For Newborns and their Mothers

Hanging a Shir LaMaalot at the Home of a New Mother and in the Hospital

It is customary to hang a Shir LaMaalot [Psalm 121] [1] in the room of the new mother and the newborn, immediately upon the expectant mother’s arrival at the hospital - in many cases a small laminated copy of the prayer is clipped to the baby's bassinet and/or pram. [2] This serves as a safeguard for the mother etc., both during the birth itself so that it will proceed normally and easily, [3] and also during the following days, so that they will survive for a long life. [4]

Another reason given is that this is a part of [the child’s] education so that the first thing that the child sees will be something holy (from this we may also infer how important it is to ensure that the child does not look at pictures of unclean things). [5]

Click here for a printable Shir Lamaalot card.


1. End of Sefer Raziel HaMalach, and elsewhere -  [The Sefer Raziel HaMalach talks about an angel called Raziel and some attribute that book to Adam]. See Tishbi on the letter lamed, entry for “Lilith.” Plaques featuring the verses of Shir LaMaalot along with the Names [of G‑d and angels] etc. contained therein are well known throughout the Jewish world, each community having its own specific customs.

2. From the Sichah of 19 Kislev 5747 regarding things one should be careful about for the safety of the woman giving birth, including at the hospital [edited version printed in Hisvaadiyot 5747, Vol. 2, p. 37. Teshuvot U’Biurim BeShulchan Aruch, p. 446]: “It is fitting and proper to publicize everywhere that Jewish people live, the custom of hanging Shir LaMaalot.” See also the Sichah of Yom Simchat Torah 5737 ([printed in MiGevaot Ashurenu, p. 96]. See also Likkutei Sichot, Vol. 25, p. 309, where the Rebbe points out that “One should try to obtain permission from the hospital administration by explaining this properly, with words that proceed from the heart, which enter the heart and will certainly accomplish their task (and we point out that thank G‑d this custom is constantly spreading throughout the Jewish world).”

3. And obviously this will forestall any complications such as “…she had difficulty giving birth” [Vayishlach 35:16].

4. For even after the birth (during the first three days) she is considered to be a patient whose life is in danger, and we may violate the Shabbos laws for her [Shabbos 129a; Rambam, Hilchot Shabbos 2:13; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, and also the Alter Rebbe’s edition 330:4] 

5. Sichot Kodesh 5737, Sichah 7 of Yom Simchat Torah; also printed in MiGevaot Ashurenu, p. 6, with the addition: “It is true that the child was just born, and cannot yet distinguish between light and dark or between sweet and bitter. Nevertheless, since he has already come into the world and he possesses eyes with which to see the world, we should see to it that before his eyes should be the letters of the aleph-beit, from whose combinations all of creation has come into being.” See details in Likkutei Sichot, Vol. 25, p. 309.

Source: Chabad

The Descent of a Lofty Soul - Moshiach

Art by Andreas

And they gave their father wine to drink on that night, and the elder came and lay with her father, and he did not know of her lying down or of her rising up -  וּבְקוּמָֽהּ

According to the Zohar, the dot in the הּ in the word וּבְקוּמָֽהּ [Vayera 19:33] alludes to the fact that G-d was secretly assisting this event, because Moshiach was to materialize from it [since Ruth, King David's great grand-mother, was a convert from the Moabites].  The latter event, between Lot and his younger daughter [19:35] is written without the letter vav - וּבְקֻמָֽהּ - to indicate that the union did not produce such great offspring.   Rabbi Shimon said "When the verse states that Lot ''wasn't aware'', it means he wasn't aware that Moshiach was destined to come from this union" [Zohar I 110b]

Why should the beginnings of Moshiach occur in such an undignified manner?  Ramak explains that when a very lofty soul is about to descend into the world, the forces of kelipah [“peel” or “shell”—words used by Kabbalah to describe layers of impurity] oppose the soul's descent vehemently. Sometimes, however, kelipah will consent to the soul's descent if it occurs amidst a particularly sinful act.  Thus, we find that from this undesirable act, the ancestor of Moshiach was born.

Source: Lubavitcher Rebbe

Sunday, November 13, 2016

''The Victory Of Donald Trump And The Consequences Of It Are Very Powerful''

This is an extremely interesting lecture from Rabbi Mizrachi.  You should know that the negative disastrous prophecies DO NOT have to happen.  They are there to scare us into teshuva.  I highly recommend listening to this, it is excellent.

''The Victory Of Donald Trump And The Consequences Of It Are Very Powerful''

Also see:  Trump is the Kelipa that is needed for the coming of Mashiah. [Rav Fish]

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The 70 Year Supermoon

Supermoon in Israel. Credit: Sergei25/Shutterstock.com

On 14 May 1948, the day before the expiration of the British Mandate, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, declared "the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel".

On the night of Sunday November 13, the Moon will be the closest to Earth it's been since January 1948 and will appear up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than an average full moon. This is the closest the Moon will get to Earth until 25 November 2034.    We know that the moon represents the Jewish people.  Is this supermoon a sign ..?

Click here to read more about the supermoon.

Click here to see photos.

Friday, November 11, 2016

11 Cheshvan - Yarzheit Rachel Imeinu

Jewish Mother's Day The 11th of Cheshvan 
by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

One of the most important days in the month of Cheshvan is the 11th, which commemorates the day of passing of our matriarch Rachel. Rachel was Jacob's most beloved wife and was the principal of his household and thus the principal of the entire house of Israel. From the first day of the year, the 1st day of Tishrei, the 11th day of Cheshvan is the 41st day. 41 is the numerical value of the Hebrew word "eim," which means "mother," thus the 11th of Cheshvan is truly the Jewish Mother's Day.

"Rachel cries for her children, she will not be comforted…"

Rachel constantly mourns over the exile of her children, the Jewish people, and the Almighty comforts her with the words: "Withhold your voice from crying and your eyes from tearing, for there is a reward for your actions… and the children will return to their border." Literally, "return to their border" refers to the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. But, more deeply, it refers to the return of our people to our natural spiritual environs: Judaism and our ancestral Jewish nature. These are the borders that truly circumscribe the uniqueness of our people. Amazingly, numerically, the value of the Hebrew word for "border" (g'vul / גבול) is exactly the same as the value of the word for "mother" (eim / אם); both equal 41.

In Hebrew, Cheshvan is written with the four letters: חשון. The borders (the first and last letters) of Cheshvan are chet - ח and nun - ן, which together spell the word chein - חן, meaning "beauty." The word chein - חן, "beauty" equals 58. The 58th day of the year is the 28th day of Cheshvan.

Rachel is described as the most beautiful woman in the Torah. The numerical value of the two middle letters, shin and vov, שו, is equal to isha -אשה , meaning "woman." Thus, the name of the month itself hints at the special and unique grace endowed to women.

King Solomon says that external beauty by itself is deceitful. If external beauty is all that a woman seeks then the name of the month becomes Marcheshvan, which means Bitter-Cheshvan. It is of such a woman King Solomon says: "And I find the woman to be more bitter than death." But, of true beauty, the beauty of a Jewish woman that emanates from within, he says: "The woman of beauty shall support honor." This true beauty is given to us, the Jewish people, by G‑d through the Torah, for "there is no truth but Torah" and "there is no honor but Torah."

It was Rachel, who was first endowed with this real beauty. Rachel is described as the most beautiful woman in the Torah, "She had a beautiful face and a beautiful figure." Thus, Rachel was the embodiment of the verse: "A woman who fears G‑d, she shall be praised," praised both for her grace and true beauty.

The beauty of the Jewish woman is not just a passive agent of spirituality. The sages teach that the offspring of Esau and his grandson Amalek can be defeated only by the children of Rachel.

Who embodies the spirit of Amalek in our day and age? In Hebrew, the words "Amalek" (עמלק) and "doubt" (safek / ספק) have the same numerical value. Thus, the spirit of Amalek that continues to plague each and every Jew is doubt; doubt in our faith, doubt in our Torah, and doubt in ourselves and the moral justification of our path.

But, sometimes the spirit of Amalek becomes bolder and captures a Jew (whether he be a private individual or a political figure) to the point of driving him or her to unconscious or even conscious self-hatred. This can result in a Jew's cooperation with the enemies of our people.

Finally there are the direct spiritual offspring of Amalek: those enemies who threaten the lives of Jews and our return to the Land of Israel.

The sages say that beauty is a woman's weapon. With everything that we have said about Rachel, her role as our matriarch, as the progenitor of Jewish nature, and of her beauty, it should now be clear that our weapon for defeating Amalek is the special beauty and grace of the Jewish mother. Joseph the tzaddik (righteous one) inherited his mother Rachel's beauty and he too is described as having a beautiful face and a beautiful figure. That is why the prophet says about him that "the house of Jacob will be fire and the house of Joseph its flame and the house of Esau straw, and together they will ignite him and consume him; and there will be no remnant for the house of Esau."

True Jewish beauty and grace destroy the enemy indirectly but, beauty is no regular weapon. True grace and beauty work by attracting the sparks of holiness that are bound within the enemy. These sparks are G‑d's will that the enemy still exist. Yet, when they are redeemed by their attraction to true beauty, they escape the enemy's grasp, leaving him void of any Divine source and causing his demise. True Jewish beauty and grace destroy the enemy indirectly by leaving him void of any beauty or grace himself, making him irrelevant and powerless.

The battle against Amalek in our generation must be conducted primarily with our ability to communicate to all around us the true nature of Jewish beauty and grace. It is to this beauty of Jewish nature and character that we return during the month of Cheshvan by reconnecting with our matriarch Rachel, with our own Jewish nature, and with ourselves.

Also visit: Rachel's Tomb

Yiddishe Mama

Rachel lost her own spiritual luxury - the privilege of being buried in the Cave of Machpeilah - in order to help her children. This represents the unparalleled quality of the "Jewish mother" who is always willing to sacifice her own needs, spiritual or physical, for the sake of helping her children.

And this is the inner reason why Jewish identity follows the maternal and not the paternal route. For even though the father possesses a greater degree of spirituality - since he has the privilege of observing more mitzvos than a woman - the quality of a Jewish mother is nevertheless greater, that she is willing to forego much of that spirituality in order to enable her to raise a family with tender loving care. And since this quality is even more quintessentially Jewish than the spirituality of the man, it is the mother that actually makes her children Jewish.

Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Parshas Vayechi

Mama Rochel understood that tending to a broken heart comes above even Kavod Hashem....

When Rochel, out of frustration, complained to Yaakov about not having children, Yaakov got angry with her. The mefarshim say, based on a medrash, that Yaakov was punished for getting angry at Rochel and telling her that she needs to daven to Hashem and not complain to him.

Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro points out that Yaakov was defending Kavod Shamayim (the honor of Heaven) and was correct that Rochel's complaints were unjustified. His mistake was that he addressed the words that she spoke and not the pain in her heart. Had he pierced the veil of her soul, he would have known that because of her anguish, the words escaped her mouth and she was not accountable for them. He should have been slower to defend Kavod Shamayim and faster to understand human suffering.

This he explains was the greatness of Rochel. After the destruction of the first Temple, when Bnei Yisroel went into Galus, all the Avos and Imahos came before Hashem with all their great zechusim but were turned away empty handed. All the heroism of the Akeida, Yaakov's Torah, and lives of pure mesiras nefesh to build Klal Yisroel, did not impress Hashem in that dark moment of history.

The only one who merited Hashem's attention was Rochel Imeinu. What was her great act that warranted this special treatment? That she gave the simanim to her sister and helped fool Yaakov. With this bravery, in her mind, she was sabotaging the history of the Jewish nation since she understood that it was her and Yaakov that were destined to build the nation. Nevertheless she chose to cast aside her own destiny and Hashem's grand plan in order to save her sister from a single embarrassing moment.

Only Rochel, who had such a deep understanding of another person's pain and how it carries more weight than the entire Jewish experience, can be Hashem's emissary to bring his children's pain before Him. Only tears from Mama Rochel can bring the Geula.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Trump Presidency: How did it happen? What does it mean?

All the Trump haters need to listen to this lecture from Rabbi Simon Jacobson.

Stunning. History in the making. Shocking upset. The greatest upheaval in US Presidential history. A devastating loss. These are some of the ways that the surprising election of Donald J. Trump is being described. No one (except for a select few, who perhaps are as stunned as everyone) expected it -- not in the establishment, not in the government, not in the media. Without even a campaign office in some of the states he won, without a well-oiled political machine, without spending exorbitant sums as the Clinton campaign spent, against all the polls and predictions, despite all his guffaws and offensive remarks -- despite all the odds, Trump pulled off this sound and astounding victory, winning states in which no one ever expected him to be a contender.

Every one -- foremost in the media -- is rubbing their eyes. Just look at their faces -- like a doe caught in the headlights. What happened?! No one can wrap their head around this.

What did indeed happen? Is Trump a genius? Was the establishment and the media too arrogant? Did the blatant bias of the most powerful voices in America backfire? How could so many experts and strategists have so misread the sentiments of the US public? How did a man vilified by many reputable voices win such a resounding victory? What does nit say about the credibility and reputation of the venerable New York Times, as one example of many media outlets that made it their crusade to defeat Trump (venturing far beyond their mandate of reporting the news without prejudice)? The questions will certainly be asked for years to come. But will anyone ever find the answers? Perhaps this belongs in one of those watershed junctures in history which can never fully be understood. Maybe there is an invisible hand which shows its guiding force at key moments in time?

Please join Rabbi Jacobson in this extraordinary presentation about this unprecedented election, as he places it in historical context of events that are shaking up the world today, forces that are disrupting the existing systems and institutions, leading us into a new era. Shock is the natural reaction to changes that jolt us out of comfort zones and conventional wisdoms. Groundswells like these can either overwhelm and upset our very foundations, they can demoralize and disorient us; or they can be seen as convulsions preceding a new birth. If we allow our egos to stand in the way, we will look to blame others and all types of factors (except ourselves) for these shake-ups. However if we stand humble, and set aside our own agendas, we can allow these seismic shifts to open up new horizons.

Huge Object on AllSkyCam

This enormous red object has been seen on the AllSkyCam four nights in a row.

The red dwarf star, our sun's binary twin, otherwise known as Nibiru.  And it appears just as Rabbi Cordovero described [click to read].....  ''Remember we used to play with Jacks?  That's precisely what he drew.  A star with several smaller bodies surrounding it with 70 rays of light streaming out... connecting itself to each body surrounding the star.''

The Rebbe's Blessing

Seen on Facebook:

The Rebbe's Blessing

and then there's this:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump Trumps

Well done Donald Trump!  Amazing news - the man with the gematria of ''Moshiach ben David'' - has won the US Election: it must be a sign for us that the times of Moshiach are very near.  [and an update: he will be the 45th President of the US.... 45 is the gematria of Geula - thank you Yaak for that info.]  I'm sure Ivanka's davening at the Rebbe's Ohel didn't go astray either.

Rabbi Mendel Kessin called it, as you would know if you listened to his ''21st Century'' shiurim, and he also said that Trump would rebuild America.  Whether he will get a chance to do so, or Hashem has other plans, remains to be seen.  

It is an irony that stock markets around the globe took a very sharp down-turn as Trump's victory became kinda obvious.  Investors wanted a Clinton win, people are nervous, Hillary was their safer opinion.  And the polls got it totally wrong - as we know, blessing comes to that which is hidden, and Trump's popularity was ''hidden'' - seems that people gave the indication they would be voting for Hillary, but when given the privacy of their polling booth, they actually voted Trump.

And in the year 5777 Trump will be 70 years, 7 months and 7 days old on his first full day in office.

It's going to be a wild ride from here on.

P.S. The date is 9 November which here in Australia we write as 9/ 11.  

What this Election is Really Saying to the Jews

Rabbi Pinchas Winston

A new shiur from Rabbi Pinchas Winston

Video has now been put up and can be watched below.

Sparks of Holiness

"They will leave with substantial wealth" [Lech Lecha 15:14]

The above verse indicates that amassing wealth was one of the purposes of Egyptian exile.  For this to be achieved, it was necessary for Yosef to become the ruler of Egypt and gather wealth from all the other lands.

According to chassidic teachings, ''sparks of holiness'' are trapped within the physical world and are released when a Jew takes the object and uses it to perform a mitzvah.  Therefore, one of the inner purposes of exile is for the Jew to utilize physical objects in the service of G-d.

Thus, someone who truly desires to cleave to G-d needs to involve himself in the physical performance of mitzvot, for this is also the only way he can fulfill his soul's mission.

Source: Based on Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

Monday, November 7, 2016

Lech Lecha: Father of Many Nations

Source: Chanan Morrison from the writings of Rav Kook

Notarikon in the Torah    -      [Notarikon is a method of deriving a word, by using each of its initial
(ראשי תיבות) or final letters (סופי תיבות) to stand for another, to form a sentence or idea out of the words]

Abbreviations and acronyms are common in rabbinic writings, but they are rare in the text of the Torah itself. Nonetheless, the Sages observed that a few acronyms - notarikon in Aramaic - may be found in the Torah. The first and clearest example is the new name that God gave to Abraham:

“No longer shall you be called ‘Abram.’ Your name will be ‘Abraham,’ for I have made you the father of many nations.” [Gen. 17:5]

God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, explaining that this new name indicates his new identity and mission. The name Avraham is short for “av hamon goyim,” ‘the father of many nations.’

The Talmud [Shabbat 105a], however, was not satisfied with this interpretation of the name. While the Torah explains “Avraham” to be a syllabic abbreviation of the words av hamon, the Sages converted it into a full-blown acronym. They wrote that each of the six Hebrew letters of av hamon (אב המון) indicates a different aspect of Abraham’s standing and influence in the world.

Aleph - I have made you a father [Av] to the nations;

Bet - I have made you chosen [Bachur] among the nations;

Hei - I have made you beloved [Haviv] among the nations;

Mem - I have you a king [Melech] for the nations;

Vav - I have made you exemplary [Vatik] among the nations;

Nun - I have made you faithful (Ne'eman) among the nations.

Of all the names in the Torah, why is Abraham’s name an abbreviation? Why did the Sages further expand this abbreviation, letter by letter?

Abraham’s Dual Influence

It would be a mistake to consider a notarikon as merely a homiletic or mnemonic device. Rather, it reveals deeper levels of meaning in the text. In addition to a literal understanding of the words, there is a wealth of profound ideas contained within the written text. This is similar to the workings of an acronym, where from each letter we extrapolate an entire word.

Of particular interest is the example that the Sages chose for a notarikon in the Torah - the name ‘Abraham.’ Why is this significant?

Abraham’s life-mission was to found the Jewish people. All three patriarchs, the Sages taught, are called ‘Israel’ (Breishit Rabbah 63:3). This is because their primary goal was to establish the people of Israel, a unique people who would serve as a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6).

But Abraham also had a powerful impact on all nations. His teachings of monotheism transformed a world of paganism and idolatry.

The Sages analyzed Abraham’s influence, noting that it incorporated six qualities - corresponding to the six letters of אב המון. Thus, like a notarikon, Abraham’s influence was on two levels. His explicit life-goal was to found the Jewish people. But Abraham had an additional level of influence, as he disseminated his ideals of monotheism and morality among all peoples.

Six Aspects of Universal Influence

By examining each letter of the phrase av hamon, we uncover a different aspect of Abraham’s influence. He was an Av - a spiritual father and mentor to many nations, the source for true knowledge of God throughout the world.

His teachings were Bachur - select and distinct from the jumble of confused beliefs and superstitions held by the pagan nations. His faith in one God was pure, free of erroneous influences. Furthermore, his Torah enjoyed a charismatic attraction. Recognizing its inner truth and beauty, many were drawn to it and inspired by it. It was beloved and Haviv.

Due to his sterling character traits and beliefs, Abraham was highly respected. He was regarded as a Melech, a king. The people looked upon him as a “prince of God” [Gen. 23:6]. Like a king in battle, he led the fight for truth in a world shrouded in darkness and ignorance, victorious by virtue of the truth of his vision.

Furthermore, Abraham’s Torah was not just some theoretical philosophy. He was Vatik among the nations - respected for his personal integrity and piety. Abraham sought to refine deeds and character traits through the holiness of his beliefs, and promoted a life of morality and justice.

The final quality of Abraham’s influence was Ne'eman - as a man of steadfast faith. As the Torah testifies, “He believed in God, and God counted it as righteousness” [Gen. 15:6].

Abraham and his radical ideas kindled a nascent spark of faith among the nations. This flame of faith continues to illuminate the paths of many nations - a flame that will be elevated in the future into a pure and refined faith in God.

[Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. IV, p. 264]

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Trump Seeking Rebbe's Blessing.....

Photo: COLLive

Blink and you'll miss it.... but here is a video of Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner visiting the Ohel of the Lubavitcher Rebbe seeking a blessing days before the election.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Misery of Life Without Faith

Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi returns after the holidays.

The Miraculous Torah Scroll

Danny Avidan, Rabbi Levi Wolff, Susan Avidan
Central Synagogue Sydney

Text by John Lyons, The Australian - 

After being buried in a Jewish cemetery in Nazi-occupied Hungary, a family Torah is about to complete a remarkable journey to Sydney.

The Central Synagogue, at Bondi Junction, in Sydney’s east, will soon receive its first pre-­Holocaust Torah, the final leg of a journey managed by property ­developer Danny Avidan.

The Torah will be flown from Israel to Sydney by his sister, Dorit Avidan Eldar, and her husband, leading Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar.

Before it is taken on to the plane it will have been carefully wrapped under the guidance of a rabbi.

In 1934 in Budapest, Mr ­Avidan’s grandfather, Haim Yacov Meir Bialazurker, was given a Torah by his 10 children to mark his 60th birthday.

But in 1944, amid the chaos of the Nazi invasion of Hungary, someone, without the family’s knowledge, buried the Torah in a Jewish cemetery in the hope it would survive.

As the war was ending, a man disguised as a Nazi soldier knocked on the family’s door — he had brought back the Torah, hidden in a potato sack.

Today, Yacov’s youngest daughter Susan lives in Sydney and is about to turn 90.

To mark her birthday, Mr Avidan — her son — will present the Torah to her at the synagogue on November 7.

Asked if she thought the Torah would survive the war, Mrs Avidan said: “We didn’t even think that we would survive.”

After the war, the Torah was taken to Israel, but it deteriorated to the point where it was no longer considered Kosher — which meant it could not be read from in a synagogue.

With the aim of presenting it to his mother, Mr Avidan had it ­restored, letter by letter, over many months. The Torah, which contains the five Books of Moses, is considered the central document of Judaism.

Mr Avidan began the project after reading a book by Susan Gordon, called Finding Eva, about his grandfather and the Torah.

“I had to find out more and I had to see that Torah,” Mr Avidan said. “I followed my feelings, went to Israel and found it.

He said that for his family, who came to Australia in the 1960s with little family and money, bringing the Torah was “a way of bringing and planting our heritage in our country, Australia”.

“Having my mother still with us to be able to embrace that, and feel the satisfaction of knowing that for me, my children and great-grandchildren in years to come will always know the story of where we came from — and the Torah will be our family root, our family tree, and hopefully keep us practising Judaism in the manner that my grandfather did and the manner that we try to do, and hopefully future generations in our family will do,” he said.

“In 1944 people were worried about surviving, eating, and my grandfather was very active with the Wallenberg movement and the whole Swedish movement in saving his family’s lives and as many people’s lives as possible by handing out Swedish papers.

“I don’t think the Torah was a concern. As the war was ending in Hungary, a person disguised as a Nazi brought him the Torah and, as far as I understood it, my grandfather was overwhelmed that the horror, the dark night of the last couple of years, had come to an end.

“He died a couple of days later.”

The Chief Rabbi of the Central Synagogue, Levi Wolff, said even if one letter of a Torah was cracked it was deemed not to be Kosher.

Asked how he saw this story at a human level, Rabbi Wolff said: “At first glance, it may seem like a stretch to find common ground between Danny’s Hungarian grandfather, his mother who resided in Israel and his Aussie children,” he said.

“Different language, different culinary tastes and vastly different recreational activities and sporting teams.

“Yet it is a microcosm of the Jewish experience ... Often, by necessity, we’ve been scattered and nomadic. At its core, our unity is based on one truth: the Torah. The values and moral compass found within teach us life lessons that are lovingly passed down from generation to generation.”

Click on the source to see video: The Australian

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mekubal Predicts Trump

Donald Trump holds a question-and-answer session with Jewish reporters at his offices at Trump Tower, New York, April 14, 2016. (Uriel Heilman/JTA

HT: Yaak

The head of the Republican Party’s branch in Israel, attorney Marc Zell, told an ultra-Orthodox website that an unnamed but “great” Jewish mystic told him Judaism’s major mystical work predicts an election victory for Donald Trump. 

''....a mekubal, or sage steeped in the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, had informed him that according to the tradition’s seminal text, the Zohar, Trump will be the next president of the United States.

 “Two days ago, a great mekubal came to me — I don’t want to say his name — with all his entourage from Bnei Brak, just to give me this message for Donald Trump,” Zell reportedly said. 

“According to the rabbi, the Zohar says Donald Trump will win next week. The rabbi didn’t ask for anything, but just wanted to send this message.”

Source and more at:  Times of Israel

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Spreading the Knowledge of the 7 Laws of Noah

Could G-d's blueprint for creation exclude over 99% of the world's population?

In this video from 1986, the Lubavitcher Rebbe is talking about the obligation of the Jew to teach the Seven Laws of Noah to the non-Jews.  I have not previously seen this video, I discovered it after searching for an hour, trying to find a different video which I subsequently could not embed. 

I know there has been discussion on other blogs that Jews are NOT obligated to teach these laws to the nations, but here is the Rebbe on video clearly stating the opposite.  

None of this in any way endorses any cults or groups attempting to latch on to the Jews by way of attempting to live as a Jew without either a kosher conversion or having a Jewish mother.  There is no midway point: just like a pregnancy.... you either are or you aren't.... you are either a Jew, or you are a Gentile, and that's it folks.

Related:  Reach Out To the Non Jews    United Nations  Torah for Non-Jews

The Sheva Mitzvot Bnei Noach - The Seven Laws of Noah
[Source: CreedofNoah]

1. The prohibition of worship of false Gods/idolatry [The essence of life is to recognize and believe in the Supreme Being, the Creator of the universe, accepting His laws with awe and love. There is only ONE God, God is ONE. Do not deny God. Acknowledge that there is ONE Almighty a timeless creator. God stands alone, He is infinite...The prohibition includes the prohibition against believing in a false prophet, false messiah and a false religion.]

2. The prohibition of blasphemy [Respect the Creator. As frustrated and angry as you may be, do not vent it by cursing your Maker]

3. The prohibition of murder [Respect human life. Every human being is an entire world. To save a life is to save that entire world. To destroy a life is to destroy an entire world. To help others live is a corollary of this principle. The act of murder includes the intentional killing of a human being, suicide, aborting a fetus except to save the mother’s life. The act of killing for self defense at any time or during times of war is not included in the prohibition against murder]

4. The prohibition of immorality and promiscuity [Do not engage in adulterous, incestuous, bestial or homosexual relations. Respect the institution of marriage. Marriage is a most Divine act. The marriage of a man and a woman is a reflection of the oneness of G-d and His creation. Disloyalty in marriage is an assault on that oneness.Wholesome families are a basis of healthy communities and societies. Immorality leads to inner decay. [Gen. 2:24].

5. The prohibition of theft  [The prohibition is inclusive of kidnap. Respect the rights and property of others. Be honest in all your business dealings. Since our sustenance comes from God, we should seek to earn it honestly, with dignity and not through deceit, we express our trust in Him as the Provider of Life. Theft is forbidden.]

6. The establishment of a judicial system.  [The establishment of courts of law to institute justice, truth, righteousness and morality over society is an essential institution. As well as to establish a police force and army as needed. A fair and effective legal system creates a society worthy of God’s blessing. It brings God’s ideals for our personal life into a formal order for society, and completes the other six laws.]

7. The prohibition of cruelty to animals. [Respect God’s creatures. Do not cause unnecessary suffering or pain to any creature, this includes not eating flesh removed from a living animal.]