Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Tikkun of Tu b'Shvat

a Mystical Interpretation by David Aaron

The celebration of Tu B'Shvat--the 15th of the month of Shevat on the Hebrew calendar--is not mentioned in the Bible. The oldest reference is found in the Talmud, where Tu B'Shvat is called "the new year of the trees." The Talmud ascribes significance to this date only in terms of the legal implications of taking tithes [10%] from fruits.

About 500 years ago, the Kabbalists revealed the deeper meaning of Tu B'Shvat. They taught that Tu B'Shvat is an opportune time for rectifying the transgression of Adam and Eve. Amazingly, just through the simple act of eating fruit during the Tu B'Shvat festive dinner, we are able to contribute to this cosmic repair ["tikkun"].

But how? How are we "fixing" the transgression of Adam and Eve, according to the Kabbalists? First let's explore the transgression of Adam and Eve, and then we can understand the mystical meaning of the Tu B'Shvat holiday, and why eating fruit is the way we celebrate it.

Amazingly, just through the simple act of eating fruit during the Tu B'Shvat festive dinner, we are able to contribute to this cosmic repair of Adam and Eve's transgression The Torah says that G‑d put Adam and Eve in the garden "to work it and to guard it."[1] The Jewish oral tradition teaches us that this refers to the do's and don'ts of the Torah. The do's are called the "positive mitzvot" and the don'ts are called the "negative mitzvot." Adam and Eve were given very little to do: "eat from all the trees of the garden."[2] And their only don't--their single prohibition--was not to eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. [3] What was that about?

The Torah teaches that G‑d created the world so that we could experience goodness in general, and His goodness in particular. Experiencing His goodness—-bonding with G‑d—-is the greatest joy imaginable. G‑d empowers us to bond with Him by serving His purpose for creation. Just as when we do for others, we feel connected to them, so, too, serving G‑d enables us to bond with Him. Ironically, serving G‑d is actually self-serving—-profoundly fulfilling and pleasurable.

If we eat and enjoy the fruits of this world for G‑d's sake-—because this is what He asks of us-—then we are actually serving G‑d and bonding with Him. We serve G‑d by acknowledging that the fruits of this world are His gifts to us and by willfully accepting and enjoying those gifts.

The root of Jewish life is, in fact, enjoyment—-the pleasure of connecting to G‑d. We connect to G‑d by serving Him, and this means obeying His command to enjoy the fruits of this world.

While in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve's entire obligation was to enjoy all the lush fruits-—with the notable exception of one forbidden fruit. Sure enough, they went after that one. This misdeed demonstrated their confused orientation to the real meaning of pleasure. Rather than seeing the fruits as pleasurable because they are G‑d's gifts and enjoying them as part of their service to G‑d, they wanted to partake of them independently of G‑d-—in fact, contrary to His will.

The Art of Receiving

As already explained, real pleasure is experiencing a connection with G‑d. We enjoy the ultimate spiritual pleasure when we enjoy the physical pleasures of this world as part of our divine service. Then, the act of receiving and enjoying G‑d's gifts to us is amazingly transformed into a selfless act of serving G‑d.

We can understand now that G‑d’s only desire in giving Adam and Eve those two mitzvot was to give them the ultimate pleasure—-bonding with Him. True pleasure was not in the taste of the fruits, but in eating and enjoying these gifts from G‑d. This was the way to serve and connect with Him—-the Ultimate Pleasure.

But Adam and Eve misunderstood this. They did not see physical pleasure as a conduit to the spiritual pleasure of bonding with G‑d. Rather, they sought pleasure independent of G‑d.

This is the root of all wrongdoing: when instead of seeing the pleasures of this world as a gift from G‑d, enjoying them in the service of G‑d and using them as conduits to a connection to G‑d, we seek pleasure independent of any connection to G‑d. In other words, is the pleasure about us, or is the pleasure about our relationship with G‑d?

There is a fundamental difference between having pleasure and receiving pleasure. If we want to have pleasure, it doesn't matter where it comes from There is a fundamental difference between having pleasure and receiving pleasure. If we want to have pleasure, it doesn't matter where it comes from. Having pleasure is void of any connection to a reality greater than ourselves. It is simply a selfish desire to experience a particular pleasure for its own sake. Receiving pleasure, on the other hand, is rooted in the soul's desire to serve G‑d's purpose, which is to receive the ultimate joy of connecting to Him.

Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit because they were confused about their purpose on earth and, consequently, what is truly pleasurable in this world. They were clueless about what would bring them meaning and joy in life.

Following Adam and Eve’s fatal mistake, G‑d told them, "Because you ate from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from, the earth has become cursed."[4] G‑d was not punishing the earth because of Adam and Eve's transgression; rather He was informing them that their distorted orientation towards physical pleasures has turned the earth into a source of curse rather than blessing for them and for their descendants.

Depending on how we view the physical world, it is cursed or blessed Depending on how we view the physical world, it is cursed or blessed. If we look at the physical world as a conduit to a connection with G‑d, and if, as a service to G‑d, we gratefully receive His gift of delicious fruits, we thereby experience His presence and the physical world becomes blessed. The physical world then becomes a bridge between the human and the divine. But if we fixate on the physical, independent of any relationship with G‑d, and mistakenly perceive this world as the source of our pleasure rather than as a bridge to G‑d, then this world becomes a barrier to G‑d and a curse for us.

Now that we understand the transgression of Adam and Eve, we can begin to appreciate how we can contribute to its rectification on Tu B'Shvat.

On Tu B'Shvat, the new sap begins to rise up into the trees. And we bring abundance to this process when we celebrate Tu B'Shvat.

More than the baby wants to suck, a mother wants to nurse. The Talmud says that more than the baby wants to suck, a mother wants to nurse. The mother not only gets tremendous pleasure from nursing her baby, but the flow of her milk is actually generated by its sucking. The more the baby wants to suck, the more milk the mother has to give. This principle also applies to our relationship to G‑d.

G‑d wants to give us the greatest of all pleasures, which is a connection with Him. But if we don't recognize that to be the greatest pleasure, and we don't want it, then He can't give it to us. Of course, G‑d could give it to us, but it would just be a waste, because we wouldn't recognize it for what it is.

The Power of a Blessing

On Tu B'Shvat, we take a fruit, and before enjoying it, we recite a blessing: "Blessed are you, G‑d ou G‑d, king of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree." In other words, "You, G‑d, are the source of this blessing." In doing this, we attempt to rectify the transgression of Adam and Eve.

When I taste an apple with that kind of consciousness, I cannot but experience the presence of G‑d within the physical An apple is not just an apple; an apple is a blessing. Maybe I could believe that apples come from trees, but a blessing could only come from G‑d. If I really contemplate the mystery and miracle of the taste, fragrance, beauty and nutrition wrapped up in this apple, I see that it's more than just a fruit--it is a wondrous loving gift from G‑d. When I taste an apple with that kind of consciousness, I cannot but experience the presence of G‑d within the physical. When I recite a blessing before I eat and acknowledge it as a gift from G‑d, I reveal the divinity within it, and the transient sensual pleasure of the food is transformed, because it is filled with eternal spiritual pleasure. The food then feeds not only my body but also my soul. However, when I eat without a blessing, it's as if I stole the food. Perhaps it will nourish and bring pleasure to my body, but it will do nothing for my soul. The soul is only nourished when it experiences its eternal connection to G‑d.

Tu B'Shvat is an opportune time to celebrate how eating and enjoying the fruits of trees can be a bridge to G‑d, and how it can bring back the blessing to the earth.

When we enjoy the fruits of the previous year as wonderful gifts from G‑d and affirm our yearning for G‑d's presence manifest in the fruit, we are like a baby sucking its mother's milk with great appetite. We draw forth with great abundance the "milk of the earth"—-the sap in the trees rises up with great abundance, so that they will bear much fruit in the coming year.

Unlike Adam and Eve who sought pleasure separate from G‑d and who turned physical pleasure into a barrier to G‑d, we—-on Tu B'Shvat-—enjoy the fruits as G‑d's gift and experience their pleasure as a connection to G‑d. In this way we rectify the transgression of Adam and Eve. We free the earth from being a curse for us—-a barrier to G‑d. We transform it into a bridge, so that it becomes a wellspring of blessing and G‑d-given pleasure.

1. Genesis 2:15
2. Ibid. verse 16
3. Ibid. verse 17
4. Genesis 3:17

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Nobody Lied

A recent video clip on Facebook, taken from a longer shiur by Rabbi Mizrachi, is causing some controversy on the internet.

Firstly, let me say that I respect Rabbi Mizrachi very much, and I listen to his shiurim all the time.  I have learnt a great deal from him.

However, he is wrong to say that people are lying about the Lubavitcher Rebbe's stance on wigs. No-one is lying.  I even have a book right next to me called "Beautiful Within'' which clearly outlines the Rebbe's viewpoint at the time, and there are several quotes from his letters to various people.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote  thousands of letters in response to questions he received from people all over the world.  Many of these letters have been published in volumes called ''The Igros''.  Everyone who wrote to the Rebbe received a personalized response.  That means that several people could ask the same question and receive DIFFERENT answers - because the Rebbe tailored these responses to these specific individuals.  

Generally speaking, the Rebbe did instruct women to specifically wear wigs [sheitels] as a wig covers the entire head and no stray hairs poke out, as they sometimes do when wearing a scarf or tichel.

And herein lies the catch...... in the days of the Rebbe, wigs DID cover the entire head.... these days some of them don't as they can be specifically constructed to allow the woman's own front hair to be brushed over the wig to appear more natural.  That is just one issue.  Of course the other issue is that some women are wearing very long wigs and 99% of the wigs worn today are made from human hair, which may have been offered up to an idol before it became a wig.

Would the Rebbe allow these kind of wigs ?  No, he probably would not have. 

But the Rebbe is not here to instruct people any more.  People rely on his teachings and writings and do not deviate from them.  That is why Lubavitchers and others continue to wear wigs.

The Rebbe is also not here to pull some of his followers into line..... a minority have given the majority a bad name.  

So in summing up, Rabbi Mizrachi is both right and wrong..... the Lubavitcher Rebbe said both things, to different people, at different times.  That was over 25 years ago, when wigs were obviously wigs.

People have different challenges in life.    Wearing a natural-looking wig is perhaps the only way some women can do this mitzvah.

Soon the Moshiach will come and sort everything out.  In the meantime, everyone calm down and realize that just because someone is wearing a long wig, or dressing slightly off-the-derech.... it doesn't mean that they are worthy of your abuse.  [Please do not think that I am directing that last comment at Rabbi Mizrachi - absolutely not ! is for other writers on the internet who have an ulterior intent]

Total Lunar Eclipse: Super Blue Red Moon

On Wednesday night we will see an eclipse of the moon, the second full moon for the month, making it a ''blue'' moon, which will turn red.

Neshama's blog: Once in 150 Years 

Where and when to see the eclipse: full map

Monday, January 29, 2018

Current Events and Tu B'Shvat

Latest from Rabbi Mendel Kessin

Includes discussion about VP Mike Pence's speech, Bibi Netanyahu's visit to India and the connections to Tu B'Shvat, and the Messianic process.

When the Tzadik Decrees

Art Maya Angelou

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto 

When I was a young boy, I used to watch Father, zy”a, light many lamps in cups of oil in memory of the tzaddikim, may their memories be blessed. Father would light untold amounts of these lights, to the extent that he would often say that if he had eye problems, it was surely due to the smoke that emanated from them. Nevertheless, he would scrupulously light the wicks with unbridled joy and deep concentration.

One day, Mr. Amram Ben-Chamou, a”h, came to visit precisely when Father was lighting the candles. Mr. Ben-Chamou explained that he suffered from heart problems. The doctors had informed him that if he suffered another heart attack, no matter how light, he would die.

“Does the number twenty-six, which is the numerical equivalent of Hashem’s Name, י-ה-ו-ה, find favor in your eyes?” asked Father.

“Yes!” answered Mr. Ben-Chamou.

“In that case, Hashem will add another twenty-six years to your life, in the merit of the tzaddikim for whom I am now lighting candles,” was Father’s blessing.

Mr. Ben-Chamou was pleased with these words and left with a spring in his step.

Twenty-six years came and went. Mr. Ben-Chamou was struck with a heart attack. His wife, who stood devotedly at his side, called me up to ask that I come and bless him with a complete recovery. I asked to speak with the sick man. He said to me, “I want you to know, honored Rav, that I am on the brink of death.”

“Why do you talk like that?” I asked, surprised.

“Your father, zy”a, blessed me that I live another twenty-six years. This coming Monday completes twenty-six full years from the time of that blessing. I am sure that I will die then. Nothing can help.”

That very Monday, he returned his soul to his Maker. I was left with the lesson of the greatness of tzaddikim, who are able to decree what will be. Hashem fulfills their decrees, in the merit of their attachment to Torah throughout their lives. Moreover, this tale teaches the significance of lighting candles in the memory of the tzaddikim of old.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Ploughing Together

Art by Vitaly Urzhumov

One of the Torah’s 613 commandments is the prohibition of ploughing a field, harnessing an ox and donkey together. Many reasons and insights have been presented to explain this mitzvah.

The Zohar reveals to us some of the mystical depth behind this commandment. It writes that the shor (ox) represents Esau and the Western world, while the chamor (donkey) represents Yishmael and the Arab world. The Torah is alluding to us in this commandment that if these two powers join together – i.e. the “ox” and the “donkey” plowing together - they can destroy the entire world.

The Mystics add that if the Jewish people do a collective teshuvah and repent from our errant ways, as the prophet exhorts us: “Shuvu banim shovavim …Return, O wayward sons…” [Jeremiah 3:14], we will reach shleimus (perfection) and thus be able to eliminate the power of the shor [Esau] v’chamor [and Yishmael], which will ultimately lead to Bias HaMoshiach, the Coming of the Messiah, speedily and in our days.

To prove this connection they point out that the Hebrew words “Shuvu banim shovavim”, “shleimus”, “shor v’chamor”, and “Bias HaMoshiach” all have the exact same gematria (numerical value) – they all equal 776 - and are thus related to each other on a mystical level.

Source: Torch Torah Weekly

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Messages in ''Shirat Devorah''

This week's parsha is Beshalach, where we read the Haftorah of Shirat Devorah: The Song of Devorah. The following text was written by Joel Gallis a''h and Dr Robert Wolf

The Zohar says that the upcoming, final war of Gog and Magog will be similar to the war with Sisera in that it will also have tremendous miracles. These miracles will be due to the merit of Devorah. And a Torah Code analysis of the Song of Devorah, confirms this. The words, Mashiach, Gog and Magog, are all secretly coded in the song, overlapping each other, each coded with an interval of 102 spaces. 102 is the gematria of emunah (true faith). And it's interesting that the codes appear in the verses where Devorah admonishes the tribes that didn't participate in the war, and praises the ones that did. This is a hint that we all must be willing to fight for Jewish survival. When Hashem sees our emunah and effort, He then takes over.

Shirat Devorah - Devorah's Song - is located in the haftorah for Parsha Beshalach. We should read it, and if we can, sing it often, for her song is indeed about the final redemption and Mashiach. We should sing this song now and show our great emunah to Hashem, thanking Him in advance for destroying our enemies completely.

The Song of Devorah applies to all Jews, but it is especially connected to the Jews in America. In order to place our complete trust and faith in G-d, we must place our entire essence in Hashem's hands. But how can we do that when we, and most of our possessions, time and energy, are invested in lands away from our true home. The Song of Devorah is the key to unlock the door to our redemption, because it is the Song of total freedom. Freedom from the world of material possessions, the urge to accumulate, and the phony happiness and pleasures we derive from our wealth. This total freedom, will free us from the Soton's hold on us. The Song of Devorah can break the chains that bind us to the material temptations of America. Evidencing this is the fact that there are 356 words in the song, the same as the gematria of America, אמריקה.

The following text of Shirat Devorah is from

Judges: Chapter 4

4. Now Deborah was a woman prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth; she judged Israel at that time.

5. And she sat under the palm tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Beth-el, in the mountain of Ephriam; and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.

6. And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh-naphtali. And she said to him, "Indeed the Lord, God of Israel, commanded, 'Go and draw toward Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun.

7. And I shall draw to you, to the brook Kishon, Sisera, the chieftain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will give him into your hand.' "

8. And Barak said to her, "If you will go with me then I shall go, but if you will not go with me, I shall not go."

9. And she said, "I shall surely go with you, but your glory will not be on the way which you go, for into the hand of a woman will the Lord deliver Sisera." And Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.

10. And Barak gathered Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and ten thousand men went up at his feet; and Deborah went up with him.

11. Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the Kenites, of the children of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses; and he pitched his tent as far as Elon-bezaanannim, which is by Kedesh.

12. And they told Sisera that Barak, the son of Abinoam, had gone up to Mount Tabor.

13. And Sisera gathered all his chariots, nine hundred iron chariots, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth-goiim, to the brook Kishon.

14. And Deborah said to Barak, "Rise, for this is the day which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Did not the Lord go out before you?" And Barak went down from Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men after him.

15. And the Lord confused Sisera and all the chariots and all of the camp with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot, and fled on foot.

16. And Barak pursued the chariots and the camp, to Harosheth-goiim; and all of Sisera's camp fell by the edge of the sword, not even one was left.

17. And Sisera fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.

18. And Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, "Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not." And he turned in to her into the tent, and she covered him with a garment.

19. And he said to her, "Give me now a little water to drink, for I am thirsty;" and she opened the flask of milk and gave him to drink, and covered him.

20. And he said to her, "Stand in the doorway of the tent; and it shall be, if any man comes and asks you and says, 'Is a man here?,' then you shall say, 'There is not.' "

21. And Jael, the wife of Heber, took the tent-pin, and placed the hammer in her hand, and came to him stealthily, and thrust the pin into his temple, and it pierced through into the ground; and he was in a deep sleep and weary; and he died.

22. And behold, Barak pursued Sisera, and Jael came out to meet him, and she said to him, "Come and I will show you the man whom you seek," and he came to her, and behold, Sisera lay dead, and the pin was in his temple.

23. And God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan, before the children of Israel.

24. And the hand of the children of Israel prevailed constantly harder against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin, king of Canaan.

Chapter 5

1. Now Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying.

2. "When breaches are made in Israel, when the people offer themselves willingly, bless the Lord.

3. Hear, O kings, give ear, O princes; I, to the Lord I shall sing, I shall sing to the Lord, the God of Israel.

4. Lord, when You went forth out of Seir, when You marched out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, the heavens also dripped; also the clouds dripped water.

5. The mountains melted at the presence of the Lord, this (was at) Sinai, because of the presence of the Lord, the God of Israel.

6. In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, caravans ceased, and travellers walked on crooked paths.

7. The open cities ceased, in Israel they ceased, until I Deborah arose; I arose as a mother in Israel.

8. When they chose new gods, then there was war in the cities; was there seen a shield or a spear (when the) forty thousand (went against) Israel?

9. My heart is toward the lawgivers of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people, (saying,) 'Bless the Lord.'

10. The riders of white donkeys, those that sit in judgment, and those that walk on the path, tell of it.

11. Instead of the noise of adversaries, between the places of drawing water, there they will tell the righteous acts of the Lord, the righteous acts of restoring open cities in Israel. Then the people of the Lord went down to the cities.

12. Praise! Praise! Deborah. Praise! Praise! Utter a song. Arise Barak, and capture your captives, son of Abinoam.

13. Then ruled a remnant among the mighty of the nations; the Lord dominated the strong for me.

14. Out of Ephraim, whose root was against Amalek; after you (will be) Benjamin with your abaters; out of Machir came down officers, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the scribe.

15. And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah, as was Issachar with Barak; into the valley they rushed forth with their feet. (But) among the divisions of Reuben, (there were) great resolves of heart.

16. Why do you sit between the borders, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? At the divisions of Reuben, (there are) great searchings of heart.

17. Gilead abides beyond the Jordan; and Dan, why does he gather into the ships? Asher dwelt at the shore of the seas, and by his breaches he abides.

18. Zebulun is a people that jeopardized their lives to die, as did Naphtali, upon the high places of the field.

19. The kings came and fought; then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.

20. From heaven they fought; the stars from their courses fought against Sisera.

21. The brook Kishon swept them away, that ancient brook, the brook Kishon; tread down, O my soul, (their) strength.

22. Then were pounded the heels of the horses by reason of the prancings, the prancings of their mighty ones.

23. 'Curse you Meroz,' said the messenger of the Lord, 'curse you bitterly (you) inhabitants thereof,' because they came not to the aid of the Lord, to the aid of the Lord against the mighty.

24. Blessed above women shall Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, be; above women in the tent shall she be blessed.

25. Water he requested, (but) milk she gave him: in a lordly bowl she brought him cream.

26. She put forth her hand to the pin, and her right hand to strike the weary; she struck Sisera, pierced his head, and wounded and penetrated his temple.

27. At her feet he sank, fell, lay; at her feet he sank (and) fell; where he sank, there he fell down dead.

28. Through the window the mother of Sisera looked forth, and peered through the window; why is his chariot late in coming? Why tarry the strides of his chariots?

29. The wisest of her princesses answer her, she too returns answers to herself.

30. 'Are they not finding (and) dividing the spoils? A damsel, two damsels to every man; a spoil of dyed garments to Sisera, a spoil of dyed garments of embroidery; dyed garments of embroidery for the neck of the spoiler.'

31. So may perish all Your enemies, O Lord; but they that love Him (should be) as the sun when he goes forth in his might." And the land rested forty years.

A Hebrew/English format of Shirat Devorah can be found at Mechon-Mamre

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

I'll Have What She's Having

Who is rich? He who is satisfied with his lot, as it is said: ‘When you eat the toil of your hands you are fortunate and it is good for you’ [Psalms 128:2]

Rabbi Mizrachi has a knack of stating things that should be so obvious to us, and yet we never realized it, or put it into words.  

In this shiur [39:30-41:00] he talks about the fact that people can be happy and comfortable with life, but get resentful and envious when they compare what they have with someone else.

We love our own home.... and yet when we get to go inside the house of a new friend and see what she has.... we think we want/need that.

It's a challenge to be content with your own lot when people around you seem to have so much more money and a better life. If this is your challenge, try becoming friends with people who have less than you do to help you appreciate what you have.

Everything is fine.... until you compare.

Don't compare.  Everyone has a different mission in life, and different needs.  Everyone has exactly what they need to complete their own mission.  Hashem doesn't make mistakes.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Wake Up Call

A large family of my favourite bird - the kookaburra - have taken up residence in a tree very close to my home.  Every morning and evening I am treated to their laughing sounds. It's said that when you hear the kookaburras during the day, rain is on the way.

If you have never heard a kookaburra - native to Australia and New Guinea only - here is just one kookaburra laughing.... now multiply that sound by six....

And for Leah.... here is Joe's photo of a junior kookaburra eating mince meat.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Parshas HaMon

Art: Heidi Malott

Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Riminov [1745-1815], a disciple of the Holy Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk, instructed everyone to read "Parshat HaMann" specifically on the Yom Shlishi [Tuesday] of Parshat Beshalach in the "Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum" format, i.e. reading the Hebrew verses twice and the Aramaic translation of Onkelos once.   This year it will occur today Tuesday 23 January.

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

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

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

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

English version here:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Olam Ha-Bo in An Instant

Unknown Artist

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

Commenting on the verse that states, “the Children of Israel walked on the dry land amid the sea” [Beshalach 15:19], the author of Noam Elimelech writes, “Just as the Children of Israel did at the Red Sea, the great Tzaddikim managed to perceive the unlimited greatness of the Eternal, even as if they found themselves on dry land in the middle of the Red Sea.”

One may ask a few questions on this passage:

1. How can one imagine that, on the one hand, the Children of Israel had reached such a spiritual level that they saw the Divine Presence, could even point out G-d, and had Divine inspiration enough to sing the Shirah with Moses, yet on the other hand were forced to purify themselves of the forty-nine levels of impurity once they left the sea [Zohar, Yitro 39a]?

2. Why did they have the merit to see the Celestial Chariot when they passed through the Red Sea, while at the same time they were still stuck in their impurity and continued to worship idols? The Children of Israel should have normally purified and sanctified themselves first, having the privilege to see the Shechinah only after receiving the Torah.

It is because our Sages teach that one can merit the world to come in an instant [Avodah Zarah 10b, 17a]. Incidentally, one can also lose it in an instant. They could therefore not linger for a second longer, and well before reaching the threshold of the fiftieth gate of impurity, they reached elevated spiritual levels. “For they were driven from Egypt for they could not delay, וגם [and also] provisions they could not make for themselves” [Bo 12:39]. The word וגם has the same numerical value (49) as מט (forty-nine levels of impurity). Yet in their impurity, they nevertheless did offer the Passover sacrifice, and did circumcise themselves, mixing in this way (as we have seen) the blood of the Brit with that of the Passover sacrifice.

Even though they knew that they were not meritorious, they believed in G-d Who promised to strike all the firstborn of Egypt in the middle of the night [Bo 12:29]. If they sprinkled blood on the lintel of their doors, He would pass above them and spare them [v.13].

The behavior of the Children of Israel is thus unique in the annals of history. What other people managed to believe in G-d and offer Him sacrifices while wandering in the desert, in an uncultivated land, far from G-d and devoid of the Torah to guide them?

It was the survivors of the plague of darkness that repented and merited the world to come in a few moments. When the Eternal saw that they devoted themselves completely to Him, even thought they were still impure, He blessed them with shefa (abundance), with light and holiness, and enabled them to reach great spiritual heights in allowing them to witness the miracle at the Red Sea. It was because He looked into their hearts and knew that they aimed only to obey Him.

The Children of Israel nevertheless had to rectify all their sins in the desert. Imbued with holiness when then passed through the Red Sea, they knew exactly how to get rid of their impurity, and how to get closer to the Holy One, blessed be He.

But those who didn’t improve their behavior showed that, in fact, they refused to get closer to G-d and to leave Egypt. Therefore they died in the plague of darkness because they wanted to “help” the forces of evil that function in the night [Zohar II:164b]. It was thus the darkness that punished them [cf. Shabbat 105b]. The Eternal also revealed Himself as much to those that didn’t believe in Him, as to those that recognized Him without even having received the Torah or witnessed the miracle at the Red Sea. They could therefore rectify all their bad traits and merit the world to come in an instant.

Friday, January 19, 2018

4 Shevat Yarzheit Baba Sali

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Truth About The End

Don't believe all the negative prophecies on the internet.

It is easy to prophesy disaster. If the prophecy comes true, then you have spoken the truth. If it does not, then you can say: G‑d relented and forgave. 

A negative prophecy cannot be refuted – but a positive one can. 

If the good foreseen comes to pass, then the prophecy is true. 

If it does not, then you cannot say, ‘G‑d changed His mind’ because G‑d does not retract from a promise He has made of good, or peace, or return. [Yirmiyahu] 

It is therefore only when the prophet offers a positive vision that he can be tested. 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

In the redemption from Egypt, our Sages explain, only one Jew out of five left. Four-fifths of the people died in the plague of darkness.

In the Future Redemption, by contrast, no Jew will be left behind. Every member of our people will share in Mashiach's coming.

Why the difference? Because at the time of Mashiach's coming, the truth of G-dliness will be revealed. At the core of every Jew lies a soul that is "an actual part of G-d," a spark of His being. When the truth of G-dliness will be revealed, every Jew will realize that G-dliness is the truth of his own being.

By anticipating the Redemption and applying its truths to our own lives now, we can bring it closer. Realizing and focusing on the G-dly spark within ourselves serves as a catalyst for the revelation of G-dliness throughout existence.  [Lubavitcher Rebbe]

See No Jew Will Be Left Behind

@ 2:24:20 in this video

Question to Rabbi Kessin:  If one-fifth [of the Jews] went out with Moshe, does that have to be repeated in this Redemption?

Answer from Rabbi Kessin: No.  Because with Moshe Rabbeinu they went out with zchus - they merited to go out because they suffered for 210 years.

Today it's not zchus, it's b'ito [in it's time].  It's the End, and when it's the end everybody goes out.
That's a big difference.
It's the End Time.

At that time they earned the right to be redeemed.  

We must be redeemed because G-d swore he will bring the Redeemer for his Great Name.

And that's why Yaakov wanted to reveal to his kids the acharis yaamim...  that is b'ito.... that is the End.

The Serpent's Lie

''Garden of Eden'' Unknown Artist

The Rebbe Reb Zisha once asked his brother "My beloved brother, in the holy writings it is written that all the souls were once included and contained in Adam, the first man. If so, we must also have been there at the moment he sinned and ate from the tree of knowledge. Why didn't we prevent him from doing so?"

The Rebbe Reb Elimelech answered him thus: "Brother, we were obliged to let him eat the fruit. If he had not, the serpent's lie would still stand and would never have been proven false. The serpent said to him "Your eyes will open and you will be as G-d, knowing good and evil and able to create worlds." This is why Adam had to eat the fruit - once he did so, he saw that even though he had eaten of the fruit, he was still just a human being and no more."

Source: Mipeninei Noam Elimelech - translated by Tal Moshe Zwecker

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Moshiach's Password ''5778''

In his latest shiur, Rabbi Kessin tells us of the special code words given by Moshe Rabbeinu that identified him as their saviour sent by Hashem to take the Jews out of Mitzrayim.  Those words are פָּקֹ֤ד פָּקַ֨דְתִּי֙ - [pokod pokadeti] I have surely remembered you

Shemot 3:16 ''Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and say to them, 'The Lord God of your forefathers has appeared to me, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, "I have surely remembered you and what is being done to you in Egypt."

You can read more about these words by clicking here.

These are the words used by the Redeemers: Moshe  and Moshiach.

Now Rabbi Kessin gives us some extra information.

The gematria of  פָּקֹ֤ד פָּקַ֨דְתִּי֙ is 778.  This may represent the year 778.....  but how do we know that this could actually be the year 5778?  Because there is a Vav missing from the word פָּקֹ֤ד , and Vav is the number 6, representing the sixth millenium - 5778.  So those words are quite possibly hinting to the fact that when the Moshiach arrives with these special code words, it could very well be this year 5778.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Interpreting Dreams

Art: Sharon Tomlinson

written by Chanan Morrison

The Sages made a remarkable claim regarding dreams and their interpretation: "Dreams are fulfilled according to the interpretation" [Berachot 55b]. The interpreter has a key function in the realization of a dream. His analysis can determine how the dream will come to pass!

The Talmud substantiated this statement with the words of the chief wine-butler: "Just as he interpreted, so (my dream) came to be" [Gen. 41:13].

Do dreams foretell the future? Does the interpreter really have the power to determine the meaning of a dream, and alter the future accordingly?

The Purpose of Dreams
Clearly, not all of our dreams are prophetic. Originally, in humanity's pristine state, every dream was a true dream. But with the fall of Adam, mankind left the path of integrity. Our minds became filled with wanton desires and pointless thoughts, and our dreams became more chaff than truth.

Why did God give us the ability to dream? A true dream is a wake-up call, warning us to correct our life's direction. Our eyes are opened to a vivid vision of our future, should we not take heed to mend our ways.

To properly understand the function of dreams, we must first delve into the inner workings of Divine providence in the world. How are we punished or rewarded in accordance to our actions?

The Zohar [Bo 33a] gives the following explanation for the mechanics of providence: The soul has an inner quality that naturally brings about those situations and events that correspond to our spiritual and moral level. Should we change our ways, this inner quality will reflect that change, and will lead us towards to a different set of circumstances.

Dreams are part of this system of providence. They constitute one of the methods utilized by the soul's inner quality to bring about the appropriate outcome.

The Function of the Intepreter
But the true power of a dream is only realized once it has been interpreted. The interpretation intensifies the dream's impact. As the Sages taught, "A dream not interpreted is like a letter left unread" [Berachot 55b]. When a dream is explained, its images become more intense and vivid. The impact on the soul is stronger, and the dreamer is more primed for the consequential outcome.

Of course, the interpreter must be insightful and perceptive. He needs to penetrate the inner message of the dream, and detect the potential influences of the soul's inner qualities that are reflected in the dream.

Multiple Messages
All souls have imperfections. All souls contain a mixture of good and bad traits. A dream is the nascent development of the soul's hidden traits, as they are beginning to be realized. A single dream may contain multiple meanings, since it reflects contradictory qualities within the soul.

When the interpreter gives a positive interpretation to a dream, he helps develop and realize positive traits hidden in the soul of the dreamer. A negative interpretation, on the other hand, will promote negative traits. As the Zohar [Miketz 199b] admonishes:

"A good dream should be kept in mind and not forgotten, so that it will be fulfilled. ... Therefore Joseph mentioned his dream (to his family), so that it would come to pass. He would always anticipate its fulfillment."

It is even possible to interpret multiple aspects of a dream, all of which are potentially true. Even if they are contradictory, all may still be realized! Rabbi Bena'a related that, in his days, there were 24 dream-interpreters in Jerusalem. "Once I had a dream," he said, "and I went to all of them. No two interpretations were the same, but they all came to pass!" [Berachot 55b]

Dreams of the Nation
These concepts are also valid on the national level.

Deliverance of the Jewish people often takes place through the medium of dreams. Both Joseph and Daniel achieved power and influence through the dreams of gentile rulers. The Jewish people have a hidden inner potential for greatness and leadership. As long as this quality is unrealized, it naturally tries to bring about its own fulfillment — sometimes, by way of dreams.

When a person is brought before the Heavenly court, he is asked, "Did you yearn for redemption?" [Shabbat 31a] Why is this important? By anticipating and praying for the redemption, we help develop the inner quality of the nation's soul, thus furthering its advance and actualization.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Message of the Mud

HT: Creed of Noah

Regarding the mud-slides in California.... what is the message we can garner from all this?  Perhaps this chassidic story can give us some insights. 

There were two brothers, one a wealthy magnate, the other a pauper but a G‑d-fearing person. When the poor brother’s daughter was of marriageable age, he wended his way to his rich brother to ask him for assistance with the wedding expenses. The rich fellow was happy to see his brother again, and invited him to a lengthy tour of his palatial home.

After a while, though, the poor brother got tired of it, and asked his brother to cut it short.

The latter couldn’t understand: In the future we will be allowed to eat it“Don’t you enjoy the exquisite beauty of every corner of my house?”

“There is a creature,” replied the other, “that wallows in the mud all day. If you ask it what it wants, all it can think of is, ‘More mud!’

“You, too, are sunk in the ‘mud’ of material pleasures, and all you want is more ‘mud’ and more possessions, instead of focusing on the truly important things in life.”

Source: Pigs and Judaism

Baseless Hatred

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto 

We have learned of the paramount importance of loving one's fellow and how much we have to gain from it both spiritually and materially. Now, let us examine another facet: Let us see what we may lose if the love is replaced by hatred, and if unity is replaced with dispute.

In fact, just as we are commanded in the holy Torah to love our fellow by the mitzvah of "Love your fellow as yourself," we are likewise commanded [Vayikra 19:17], "You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your fellow, but you shall not bear a sin on his account." This implies that hating one's fellow does not only result in losing out on the mitzvah of loving one's fellow, but rather it is an outright prohibition of the Torah in itself.

When we hear of a certain person that got sick with a dangerous illness, G-d forbid, we shake our heads sympathetically: "Oh, how awful! How much bad news there is!" But oddly enough, regarding the dreaded illness of our hearts, we do not grieve over it and do not sense at all. We do not even notice it, and moreover, we do not realize how dangerous it is.

We are actually referring to the dreaded illness of baseless hatred. Yes! It is truly an illness, maybe even a widespread plague! But unlike most illnesses, this disease is an all-embracing disease that affects all 248 organs and 365 sinews of our body.

When one commits a sin, an impure spirit is drawn to that organ involved in the sin, as Chazal say [Ketubot 5b] "A man shall not let his ears hear idle things, because they are burnt first of [all] the organs." This implies that by hearing forbidden speech, a spirit of impurity is drawn upon the ear, and thus ultimately it is burnt first of all the organs. So too, every organ that is used to commit a sin, an impure spirit is drawn upon it, but this is not the place to expound on the topic.

While certain sins cast impurity upon organs that the neshamah is not dependent on, it is nonetheless a great impediment. How much more so is the danger when the spirit of impurity is cast upon an organ that the neshamah is dependent on, such as the heart, which the life of a person hinges. If the person, G-d forbid, lacks a heart, then he is considered dead! Thus, the severe sin of baseless hatred, which lies in the heart of a person, draws the impure spirit upon one's heart. Since it is the central organ of a person, consequently the spirit of impurity gets circulated throughout one's entire body! 

When a disease affects one organ, it can be really dangerous, but still there is a chance to save the patient. However, what happens when a tumor has spread to all the vital organs in the body, such as the heart, brain, and the like? Then the situation is so much worse, and the chance for surviving is almost non-existent.

The Chofetz Chaim elucidates that the same applies to illnesses of the soul. Every transgression affects a certain organ, with which the man sinned. When it comes to a less central organ, then even though the patient's condition is dangerous, there is still a chance to save him. The danger to his life is not immediate. However, when a person sins with an organ that his soul is dependent upon, like when a person harbors baseless hatred, then his condition is far more dangerous, and there is almost no chance of saving him.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

24 Teves - The Alter Rebbe

The founder of Chabad Chassidism, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi - "the Alter Rebbe" [1745-1812], passed away on the eve of the 24th of Tevet, at approximately 10:30 pm, shortly after reciting the Havdalah prayer marking the end of the Shabbat. The Rebbe was in the village of Peyena, fleeing Napoleon's armies, which had swept through the Rebbe's hometown of Liadi three months earlier in their advance towards Moscow. He was in his 68th year at the time of his passing, and was succeeded by his son, Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch.

The Alter Rebbe would often repeat in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that wealth can be Gan Eden (paradise) or it can be Gehenom (purgatory). The Alter Rebbe explained this saying as follows. If one uses his wealth for charitable purposes, then it is paradise. If one uses it for self-indulgence or holds it treasured away in order not to give charity, then it is purgatory.

The Mitteler Rebbe, when he was just 7 years old, asked his father "Why are wealthy people so haughty? Even those who are not born into wealth, yet when they become wealthy they change nature and become conceited."

The Alter Rebbe responded "God set up a system in which wealth inherently causes conceit. The chamber of wealth, in heaven, is found between Gan Eden and Gehenom. There are two doors to this chamber. One opens to Gan Eden and the other opens to Gehenom. Ze le'umas ze asa Elokim - God made one opposite the other.

Source: Chaim Dalfin: The Seven Chabad Lubavitch Rebbes

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Yesterday's Massive Storms

I love storms and yesterday's was incredible. 

Was it just a coincidence that yesterday was also the first legal same sex marriage in Australia?

More photos of the storms here.

Massive storm clouds over Bondi Beach - Photo: Jessica Hromas

The Jewish Way to Combat Terrrorism

Someone sent me this video of the Lubavitcher Rebbe speaking about the United Nations - in 1969 !

As you will see, some things just don't change.

The same UN, the same type of enemies, and the same Israel.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

''Amazing Events Worldwide''

HT Sherry

Rabbi Yuval Ovadia [in english] - includes current events and Nibiru [Kochav Yaakov] and the eclipse

Monday, January 8, 2018

Rabbi Kessin: The Iranian's Protests, Bannon's Comments & more

Hidden for a Reason

Art: Vladimir Kush

I started to write a long comment on an excellent post at Emunaroma: Two sides of the 'images of women in frum media' debate and then I realized that everything I wanted to say could be encompassed in one sentence from the Talmud: Blessing does not rest upon something that is out in the open, but rather on something that is hidden from the eye.

To expound on this: The negative force only has power over that which can actually be seen by the physical eye. This is one of the reasons that it can actually be a blessing to not be so noticeable in the public eye.  [See Remedy for an Evil Eye]

That is just one reason why I am an Anonymous blogger...

The Components of Creation

Rabbi Kessin elaborates on the different parts of creation as set forth by the Ramchal.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Donkey in the Pit

by Rabbi Yaakov Lieder 

Once, when one of my daughters was eleven years old, she complained about a pain in her knee. 

Seeing nothing wrong with her knee, I suggested that it was probably growing pains. My daughter didn't like the explanation. "Why can't we grow without pain?" she demanded. 

Unfortunately, in real life, growth is often associated with pain. As the famous saying goes, "No pain — no gain." While we may not have control over the "pain" part, especially when it’s caused by others, we do most definitely have control over the "gain" part. 

Most of our learning and growth in life comes not from the good times but rather from the difficult times. During the good period we are happy and therefore do not want anything to change. It is during the bad times, when we are unhappy with the status quo, that we learn how to change things — how to make our world better than it is. 

When life throws challenges at us, we have a choice. We can feel sorry for ourselves and cry and complain, "Why me?" Or we could stop and say to ourselves: "What can I do, given the new circumstances that have arisen?" 

I once asked an elderly wise person whom I used to approach for advice, "Where do you get such good judgement from?" He answered, "Good judgment comes from bad experience." He related to me the following story, which had a profound effect on me. 

One day, a donkey fell into a pit. The animal cried and whined for hours while his owner tried to figure out what to do. Finally, the farmer decided that since the animal was old, and the pit needed to be covered up anyway, he'd just bury the old donkey right there. He got a shovel and started filling in the pit. The donkey kept up its wailing, but then fell silent. After an hour of furious shovelling, the farmer paused to rest. To his amazement, he saw his old donkey jump out of the pit and trot away! 

At first, when the donkey realized what was happening, he cried even more piteously. But then the wise animal hit on a plan. As each spadeful of dirt hit his back, the donkey would shake it off and take a step up on the growing mound of earth. Eventually, the mound grew high enough for him to jump out of the pit. 

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the pit well is to shake it off and take a step up. We can get out of the deepest pits by not stopping and never giving up. Just shake it off and take a step up. 

Try it, it works! 

Source: Chabad