Friday, May 31, 2019

We're All in this Together

For those readers who don't understand the way Chabad chassidus operates, please watch this video and you will understand.  Let's all stop putting labels on different kinds of Jews, start accepting all Jews regardless of their lifestyles and religious choices.  Open your heart and open your mind.  We are all one, let's remember that.

A surreal story about the way Chabad looks at the world and how that saved someone's life.
Rabbi Moshe Bryski

Watch on TorahCafé.com!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

That's The Way It Is

I hope this short video inspires some of you to stop blaming yourself for your troubles.

From a series of videos: ''Coffee with Mrs Miryam Swerdlow''

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Origin of Jews and Non Jews [continued]

Rabbi Kessin, new shiur. This is listed as Part 2, but it's actually Part 3

To see the previous shiurim in this series, click on the KESSIN label below

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Self Reflections

"No man among you may mislead his fellowman, and you shall fear your G-d" [Behar 25:17]

According to the simple meaning of the verse, remarked R' Simchah Bunim of P'shischa, the Torah is only prohibiting an individual from deceiving his fellowman.  An individual of true piety, however, will go beyond the letter of the law and refrain from deceiving himself as well.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

What's So Kabbalistic about Bonfires?

by Rabbi Aron Moss

What's the idea of having big bonfires on Lag Ba'omer? I know it is the day of the passing of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the "father of Kabbalah." But even Moses doesn't get bonfires on the day of his passing...


Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai spent the last moments of his life doing what he always did: teaching. The mystical ideas that he shared with his devoted students that day were the deepest and most revolutionary teachings he had ever revealed.

But as he conveyed this parting message, there was tension in heaven. Rabbi Shimon's death was ordained to be that day before sundown. As the afternoon stretched on and evening approached, he had not yet finished sharing his final wisdom. The day would soon be over, but the lesson was not. Rabbi Shimon refused to return his soul until he had revealed all the secrets that it held. His life could only come to end when his mission came to an end. But time was running out.

And so the day didn't end. The setting sun slowed down, and daylight was extended to allow Rabbi Shimon to say all he needed to say. Only after he had completed his lesson did his holy soul depart and the sun finally set.

On the anniversary of that day each year, in honour of Rabbi Shimon and the light he brought to the world, we brighten the night with bonfires. There is a powerful symbolism in this. Rabbi Shimon's teachings are there to bring light when it would otherwise be dark.

You can be a good person without studying Kabbalah. But only the wisdom of Rabbi Shimon in the Zohar, and the great works of the mystics and Chassidic masters that came after him, have the power to transform the moral darkness of the world around us, and the darker recesses of our own inner world, into a fiery light.

So next time you get the feeling that the sun is coming down on you, the world seems dark and you feel confused, study some inner Torah, and let it light the bonfire within you.

Source: Zohar Haazinu 291a

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Origin of Jews and Non-Jews [Part 2]

Rabbi Kessin: continued from Part 1 which can be found here

No Shortage of Onions

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Mirror

The defects that you notice in someone else are the parts of yourself that still need fixing.

The world is a mirror ..... many people don't understand this.   Whenever you notice a particular character trait in another person..... that is the part of yourself that you need to work on.  If you think you have already fixed that trait in yourself, then why does it affect you so much when you see it in someone else?

The one who aggravates you the most, is most likely the one who possesses your own bad middot, but it's easier for us to criticize others than to work on ourselves.

If you can't see that trait in yourself, look harder. 

You can learn a great deal about someone by listening to what they say about others.  Most of what they say about someone else, applies to them !  They probably don't realize this.... and it's a good way of working out just who somebody really is.

The world is a mirror, you see your own reflection in other people.

The following is extracted from "Not Just Stories" by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski M.D.

Denial is a psychological term referring to a person's inability to see reality. Denial is a frequently occuring phenomenon, and is one of the many psychological defense mechanisms, whose function is to shield a person from an awareness that would cause him distress.

A very common form of denial is a person's inability to see his own character defects. The reason is obvious: awareness of the presence of this defect in oneself is too much for a person to bear. Yet unawareness of these defects will result in one's doing nothing to improve upon them. Even a dedicated soul-searching may fail to reveal one's own shortcomings, since denial obscures their existence from him.

The Baal Shem Tov said that G-d provided a way to circumvent this denial: "The world is a mirror" said the Baal Shem Tov. "The defects you see in others are really your own."

While denial prevents a person from seeing his own character defects, it does not prevent him from seeing defects in other people. Quite the contrary, we are experts at detecting faults in others. All we need to do, then, said the Baal Shem Tov, is to realise that these are but a reflection of our own shortcomings. We do not see defects in others that are non-existent in ourselves.

"Love covers all offenses" [Proverbs 10:12] has filtered down to the colloquial aphorism that "Love is blind". It is common knowledge that we may be oblivious to defects in someone we love, although they may be blatant to other observers. Just as we may not see that which we do not wish to see, so it is conversely true that we only see something which, for some reason, attracts our attention. The Baal Shem Tov states that when we see defects in others, the reason for this recognition is that, in one way or another, they represent our own defects.

This principle is a major dynamic in the effectiveness of group therapy. In treatment of some types of emotional disorders, group therapy may be far more effective than individual therapy. A therapist pointing out a particular character defect to a client may be rejected, with the patient's denial preventing the necessary insight. In a group session, the client is very likely to note this very defect in another group member, and the group may then help him realize that he too has this particular characteristic, and this is extremely effective in overcoming one's denial.

It is the persistence of denial that constitutes a major obstacle to therapy and corrective action.

Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch was receiving his chassidim, when he abruptly told his assistant to close the door and not allow anyone entry. Some of the chassidim, eager to understand the Rabbi's sudden desire for solitude, put their ears to the door and heard the Rabbi reciting Tehillim with heartrending tones.

The Rabbi later explained that whenever a chassid asks him for guidance to do teshuvah for a transgression; he immediately searches for that transgression within himself, according to the Baal Shem Tov's teaching that the world is a mirror, and had he not been guilty of the same thing, even in a much more diluted form, it would never have come to his attention. The discovery of an analogous defect within himself then allows him to make the necessary amends.

"When one chassid told me about something he had done wrong, I promptly began searching for a similar shortcoming in myself. However, I was unable to find it. This meant that I was deceiving myself, and that somewhere there was a dereliction of which I was unaware. Being oblivious of this would preclude my taking any corrective action, and I therefore had to pray intensely for Divine guidance to help me discover this defect in myself."

What a wonderful world it would be if every time we saw some defect in another person, we would do some soul-searching, and take corrective actions for self-improvement, rather than being critical of others and denoucing them.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Words That Hurt

Onaas Devarim – Words that Hurt

by Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern

It is unimaginable for any G-d fearing Jew to earn a living by cheating (onaas mamom). However in our daily lives, we may be transgressing a more severe prohibition than cheating – onaas devarim. Chazal say that onaas devarim is more severe than onaas mammon because a) a person feels more distressed when his feelings are hurt and b) money earned dishonestly can be returned whereas hurt feelings cannot be undone [Bava Metzia 58b].

When we speak about prohibited speech, the first thing that comes to our minds is lashon hara. Although many of us are aware of the severity of speaking lashon hara, there seems to be a lack of awareness of both the scope and severity of the prohibition of onaas devarim.

General Principles
The Torah commands us "Lo sonu ish es amiso," – do not aggrieve one another [Vayikra 25:17]. Rashi explains this to be a prohibition against causing pain or anguish to another with words, hence the term "onaas devarim." Nevertheless, this issur is not limited to words, hurting another’s feelings in writing or with a gesture is also included in this prohibition [Chafetz Chaim,Chovas Hashemira ; Shulchan Aruch Hagra"z, Hilchos Ona’a] There is a famous homiletic saying on the passuk, "Ki ve’apam hargu ish," [literally, "in their anger they killed a person", Bereishis 49:6] with a mere "twist of the nose (af)," one can kill a person.

One does not have to give another person "a devastating blow" to transgress the prohibition of onaas devarim. The Chazon Ish writes that onaas devarim applies even if the other’s feelings were only momentarily hurt [Letters, Vol. 1 #211]. For example, if a person was distracted immediately after being hurt and does not feel the discomfort or emotional pain anymore. This applies especially with children, who may be easily distracted and then forget their previous distress.

The prohibition applies even when no one else is present, and applies even in the privacy of your home between husband and wife or parents and children [Shaarei TeShuva 3:214, Chafetz Chaim, P’Sicha, Prohibition # 13].

Embarrassing another or hurting another’s feelings in the presence of two other people is a more severe aveira, as it also includes the prohibition of malbin pnei chaveiro be’rabim, shaming another person in public.

Continue at Daf Yomi Review

“One who is careful not to hurt other people, all the blessings mentioned in the Torah will befall him and he will enjoy a pleasurable life in This World and the Next.” [see Letter from Rav Shteinman ]

Monday, May 13, 2019

Anti-Semites in Congress, Bombings in Israel, Notre Dame and the Dying Satan

If you couldn't guess from the title of the blog post, this is a new shiur from Rabbi Kessin [thanks Sherry for reminding me!]

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Forbidden Marriage of the Cohen

"They may not marry....." [Emor 21:7]

Letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l

By the Grace of G-d
19th of Sivan 5717
Brooklyn N.Y.

Greeting and Blessing

This is in reply to your letter in which you write about the case of the Kohen who is contemplating marrying a divorcee. I am surprised that there should be any doubt on the part of any Jew about the strict prohibition of such a marriage, inasmuch as it is emphatically prohibited, both in the Written Law as well as in the Oral Law. So strict is the prohibition, that a kohen who violates this law desecrates his sacred calling, which is his heritage of countless generations.

The point I do wish to emphasize here is that in all matters of matrimony, the happiness of two partners is involved, and if there is any issue, the happiness of children and future generations is at stake. Obviously a marriage which has been prohibited by the Creator and Master of the Universe is one that cannot possibly be a happy one, and is certain to be harmful to both parties concerned.

In other words, if the said kohen has any feelings for the divorcee in question, he should realise that his marrying her would expose her to untold harm, not only in the afterlife and in a spiritual sense, but also in this life, and even in a physical and material sense. The fact that this may be beyond one's comprehension is immaterial, for it is certain that the Creator of the world knows best what is good for His creatures, and since He has so strictly prohibited such a marriage, there can be no doubt that it is harmful. Therefore, even on humanitarian grounds, the said kohen, if he has any feeling for the said divorcee, should give up the idea and avoid causing himself and her irreparable damage, physically and spiritually.

I trust that you will find the suitable words to explain the seriousness of the matter to the person in question, which no words can really overemphasize.

With blessing.....

Also see: Kohanim and Forbidden Marriages

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Rabbi Kessin New Shiurim

The meaning of the continued persecution of President Trump - ''we are looking at the Redemption''

The state of man before and after the sin of Adam

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Unity - Am Echad

The purpose of anti-semitism is to unite the Jewish people.

"Behold! the people, the Children of Israel, are more numerous and stronger than we" [Shemot 1:9]

The verse teaches us, said R'Yisrael of Rizhin, that when the Jews act as one people, free of discord and strife, then the nations of the world see them as ''more numerous and stronger'' than themselves and realize that they cannot dominate the Jews.

This can be compared to a father who invited all his children to his home.

When they arrived, they gathered around him.

The father held several thin twigs in his hand. He gave one to each of his children and then asked them to break them.

His children snapped the dry twigs with ease.

The father then passed around a bundle of several twigs.  "Now" said the father "please try breaking this bundle."  Each one tried to break the bundle but none succeeded.

"You see" said the father "as long as you remain united in the same way that these branches are united, nobody will ever be able to harm you! But if you act divisively and there is disharmony among you, then be aware that a lone individual is as feeble and easily broken as a thin twig."

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein