Wednesday, July 31, 2019

How to Perform Miracles

“Lo Yachel Devaroi, K’Chol HaYotzai MiPicha Yaaseh”, do not profane your words; do as your mouth spoke. The Torah tells us that we must keep our word and not violate it. Rav Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev in the Kedushas Levi makes a play on the words to explain how mortal people can perform miracles.

He reads the words as follows. If “Lo Yachel Devaroi”, you do not profane your words, then they will be holy and meaningful. Therefore, “K’Chol HaYotzai MiPicha Yaaseh” whatever comes out of your mouth will happen. This is the concept of “Tzadik Gozer, VHaKadosh Boruch Hu Mikayem”, a tzaddik decrees and Hashem makes it happen.

He further explains that this why the Parsha is called Matos. Matos also means to turn (Netia). When a person watches his mouth, Hashem turns the Midas HaDin [judgment] into Midas HaRachamim [mercy].


Friday, July 26, 2019

Rabbi Shimon Kessin New Lecture

Rabbi Shimon Kessin
Ramchal's Yarzheit 5779
I believe he talks about Moshiach, but I haven't heard it yet

The Signature of the Torah

Last month I published a link to an amazing article - God in Nature.

Here are a couple more articles from Yosef Sebag which I'm sure you'll find fascinating.

The Midrash says G-d used the Torah to create the universe. Just as a builder first makes a blueprint and then constructs his building using it, so too G-d made the torah first and then He "looked" into the torah and created the universe [Bereishit Rabba 1:1]

Light is the least physical of all creations. A photon of light goes from zero to the speed of light instantly, without any acceleration time What is the secret of light's unique and amazing properties?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Rewards in This World and the Next

Art Michoel Muchnik

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"Pinchas…turned back My wrath from upon the Children of Israel…so I did not consume the Children of Israel…Therefore, say: Behold! I give him My covenant of peace" [Pinchas 25:11-12]

It appears that Pinchas received his reward only for turning back Hashem's wrath from the Bnei Yisrael and preventing their annihilation. This is hard to understand, for even had Pinchas' act not saved Klal Yisrael, was the actual deed that was performed with mesirat nefesh and brought about a Kiddush Hashem, not enough to merit a reward?

The 'Birkat Peretz' answers this difficulty by quoting the Gemarah [Kiddushin 40a] that for a deed that only brings benefit for Heaven and not for people, one does not receive reward in this world. Only in the Next World does a person receive his complete reward.

Had Pinchas' act not turned back Hashem's wrath, he would only have received reward in the Next World, but since it also brought about a benefit for Klal Yisrael, he merited receiving the covenant of peace in This World.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Jewish Astrology

One of the most popular pages on my site is the Jewish Astrology page.  Yes Astrology is kosher, when seen from the Jewish perspective, but the main thing to remember is that the Jews are able to change their destiny  or fate through their deeds.  Nothing is written in stone when it comes to the Jewish people.

Lorelei Kude is a well-known Jewish orthodox American Astrologer, and I am going to link to her article Time to rethink everything you’ve been told about Jews and Astrology because I enjoyed it, and also enjoy her other writings.

From the final paragraph of that article: A final note: Look, out Jews! December of 2020 could be “a big turning point in Jewish history” because of Saturn and Jupiter (very powerful energies!) in Aquarius, the sign of the Jewish people. “I don’t like to make predictions,” she said. “But….” 

Lorelei's site  is Astrolojew if you want to follow her.

Do We Have an Obligation to Make Aliyah?

This video came up on my FB feed, it's a few years old but I thought it was interesting,

Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi speaks on whether we have an obligation to make Aliyah.... or not....

Comments are disabled for this post.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Soul Attractions

For the Refuah Shleimah of Sarah bat Mina

Sometimes, when a person performs great acts of charity, he is not merely acting under the inspiration of the outstanding baalei tzedakah (masters of charity) of the past, but his act of charity may forge a spiritual link with those great baalei tzedakah.

R' Shmuel Uzida, author of Midrash Shmuel on Pirkei Avos, was a close disciple of the Holy Arizal. One time, he visited his master, and the Arizal showered extraordinary honour upon him. First he stood up before him. Then he sat R' Shmuel at his side in the position of highest distinction.

The Arizal's foremost disciple, R' Chaim Vital, was amazed by this most unusual conduct, and after R' Shmuel took his leave, he humbly asked his master for an explanation.

The Arizal replied: "You should know that it was not for my dear student R' Shmuel that I stood up! Rather, I stood up for the holy Tanna, R' Pinchas ben Yair, who entered the room together with him."

Upon hearing this, R' Chaim Vital ran after R'Shmuel and asked him "What special mitzvah did you perform today which might have earned you great merit?"

R' Shmuel reluctantly revealed what had transpired early that morning. "I was passing by a house and I heard heartrending crying and wailing coming from within. Upon inquiry, the members of the household told me that their home had been broken into that night, and the thieves had stripped the house bare of every last item. The thieves had even stolen the clothing off their backs. I didn't hesitate for a moment, and I gave them the clothing off my back in order to calm them down. I then ran home and put on my Shabbos clothing which, as you can see, I am wearing right now."

R' Chaim Vital went back to his master, the Arizal, and related this story to him. The Arizal observed: "Now you can understand why the spirit of R' Pinchas ben Yair accompanied R' Shmuel today. Because R' Pinchas excelled in acts of kindness, charity and ransoming captives, so his soul is attracted to those who follow his example."

[Shulchan Hatahor, Shaar Tzedakah, Chapter 2]

Monday, July 22, 2019

Pinchas and Eliyahu haNavi: The Same Soul

Art Vladimir Kush

There is a midrash that states that Pinchas and Elijah the Prophet are the same person. 

According to the Midrash, Pinchas and Elijah the Prophet are the same person. The simplest meaning is that the same soul descended to the world twice -- once in the body of Pinchas and once in the body of Elijah.

The same statement can be found in a number of places in Midrash. What is interesting is that "Pinchas is Elijah" and "Elijah is Pinchas" are written interchangeably. When Pinchas is being discussed, the Midrash says that Pinchas is Elijah. When Elijah is being discussed, the Midrash says that Elijah is Pinchas.

Since Elijah the Prophet lived hundreds of years after Pinchas, it would apparently make more sense to say that "Elijah is Pinchas", and not the reverse. After all, Pinchas lived before Elijah, and was Pinchas before he was Elijah.

According to an explanation in the Zohar, the soul of Elijah was actually created during the Six Days of Creation. He has existed ever since as an angel, but on occasion, he descends to the world in human form, born of a mother and father.

This is why the Midrash sometimes uses the phrase "Pinchas is Elijah", even though Pinchas was born first. The essence, the soul of Elijah existed before Pinchas was born.

Elijah and Pinchas led similar lives and their paths complement each other. Pinchas is a symbol of zealousness for G-d and His commandments. He displayed self-sacrifice to prevent G-d's name from being desecrated. Elijah the Prophet is a guest at every circumcision, to witness the Jewish People imprint their bond with G-d in their flesh.

Through our single-minded commitment to fulfilling G-d's will, as epitomized by the deeds of Pinchas and Elijah, we will merit the ultimate Redemption, which will be heralded by Elijah the Prophet, who is Pinchas.

[Bereishis 1:20. Yalkut Simoni, Pinchas. Zohar, 3:15,1; Igrot Kodesh, vol. III, p. 160. Likutei Sichot vol II, p. 343]

Source: Chabad World [original link no longer exists]

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Why Does the Strait of Hormuz Matter?

The Strait of Hormuz seems to be in the news daily, with good reason.  Today we begin the three weeks - not a great time for the Jewish people.  Everyone should take care not to do anything dangerous or risky.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Jewish State of the Mashiach

Art Michoel Muchnik

by Rabbi Nachman Kahana

Could this be the turning point at which Hashem will usher in a new era leading up to the long-awaited final redemption of our nation?

In 1948, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel published its official prayer for the State of Israel. To this day, it is said on Shabbat and holidays in synagogues the world over, by people who recognize the “hand” of Hashem in our return to Eretz Yisrael. However, there is a big story behind the prayer, as related to me by an individual who was privy to the events.

David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, turned to the Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog z”l to recommend a prayer for the Medina which would be accepted by the Israeli government as its official text.

Rav Herzog turned to Shmuel Yosef Agnon, who would eventually receive a Nobel prize for Hebrew literature, to submit a version of the prayer. After reviewing the proposal, the Chief Rabbi passed it on to the Prime Minister who rejected it off hand. The point of contention was the concluding line that Rav Herzog himself had added, which read - עד ביאת המשיח (until the advent of the Mashiach), intimating that the political, social and religious aspects of the present Medina - as enormous and miraculous as they were - were only a stage in the final redemption of the Jewish nation but not its final destiny.

The secular Ben Gurion denied the existence of any mashiach. He believed that the secular, socialist State was the culmination of the 2000-year aspirations and prayers of the Jewish people. Because the Chief Rabbi refused to omit the final sentence, there is still no official prayer passed by any government. For some strange reason, the official file of these events is stamped with the word Shamur (restricted).

This issue is relevant because, in my view, it lies at the heart of what is now transpiring in Israel's political system.

Despite the many discordant outlooks among the religious factions, we all agree on the basics including: Shabbat, the 613 mitzvot from Mount Sinai, and certainly on the eventual appearance of the Mashiach as stipulated by Rambam in his Thirteen Cardinal Principles of Faith and many other sources.

The eventual Jewish State of the Mashiach is vastly different than today’s liberal, democratic, progressive society whose fundamental tenet is equality among all its citizens and prohibiting discrimination based on religion, sexual orientation, color, race and political leanings.

Our political representatives are elected by popular vote, and the judges who sit on the Supreme Court are appointed by their peers and make their decisions based on their own personal views of morality and social justice.

Shabbat can be observed or desecrated in the public domain according to the majority vote in the Knesset where non-Jews participate. Same-sex marriages can be deemed legal or not based on the vote of the Knesset and without considering the 3000-year-old halachic ruling of the Jewish nation. The underpinnings of Israeli law are Ottoman and British based, while the underlying legal principles of the Torah's jurisprudence in civil matters are largely ignored.

There is no denying that today's Medina has progressed by giant steps. However, ethical and moral outlooks will have to change, and a new direction taken in order to prepare us for the final stage of our redemption.

In the classic Torah society, equality among different peoples is not priority. On the contrary, Jews are dominant in all segments of life. A non-Jew can live here only by fulfilling certain conditions and attaining the status of ger toshav (a resident alien) through a bet din (religious court). In times of military threat, yeshiva students are not eligible for deferment, and the Gemara becomes an essential piece of equipment when jumping out of a plane, and so much more.

Approximately two months remain before the second round of elections, the first having ended without being able to form a viable government. This second round could possibly end deadlocked, forcing another round of elections, ad nauseam.

Could this be the turning point at which Hashem will usher in a new era leading up to the long-awaited final redemption of our nation?

If the upcoming election is again inconclusive, could the resulting political chaos encourage our enemies to seize the moment of our weakness? A political vacuum cannot maintain itself for very long. As a consequence, is it reasonable to envision the army replacing a civilian government and all parameters of rule changing?

But changing into what?

The changes will not be initiated by rational decisions of learned ministers seeking resolutions to problems. They will be the inevitable outcome of new realities in our lives.

I see a militarization of our society caused by the necessity to cope with the violence and hatred of enemies within and without. Islam is fueling the religious fanaticism of our Arab population through the ongoing messages of hate being fed to them in schools and mosques and their media.

Military draft will be replaced with a law stipulating that every Jewish male citizen who has reached the age of 18 will automatically be a soldier in the IDF and serve according to the military’s needs. Those who refuse to fulfill the call to duty will be severely punished, including permanent expulsion from the country or imprisonment.

All Arab towns and neighborhoods will be under military rule.

All our educational institutions will be under the authority of the IDF with emphasis placed on pre-military training and patriotism. The Tanach will be the basis of the new-old patriotism.

Many people will choose to leave the country rather than commit to a more Jewish way of life. Aliya will increase dramatically as it becomes impossible for Jews to live in Europe and other places, and Arab towns will be expropriated for the purpose of housing the new olim.

In its first 70 years, the State of Israel strived to be Athens. The time will come for us to become Sparta.

Rambam (Hilchot Melachim) describes the actions that will determine who is the Mashiach.

He will be a Torah scholar but also knowledgeable in military strategy and tactics. He will lead the nation in miraculous military victories. He will be a charismatic individual who will return the Jews to the Torah and rebuild the Bet HaMikdash. Rambam is obviously describing a time when radical changes will occur in Eretz Yisrael.

And what will the world at large look like? What changes will humanity have to go through? What will happen to the Jewish communities in the galut?

These are all huge issues open to speculation. However, what interests me is the future of the Jewish people who have, with the help of Hashem, returned home, because only in Eretz Yisrael will the fate of the Jewish people - as well as the fate of all humanity - be decided.

In our parasha, the restrained and scholarly Pinchas saved the nation from unbridled heavenly punishment not by standing at a podium and expounding a learned drasha - which was in the realm of Moshe and Aharon - but by using a spear to end the desecration of Hashem's name. Our tradition states that Pinchas is Eliyahu the prophet who will pave the way for the Mashiach.

Is this the message for our generation that the geula (final redemption) will be in the spirit of Pinchas-Eliyahu? I believe so! Will it be soon? Yes! but not soon enough!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Balak and Nibiru - A Star Shoots Forth !

This post was inspired by Neshama's latest posting about the partial lunar eclipse today [also the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon!]  In Neshama's post, she shows us how a giant orb, suspected of being ''Nibiru'' can be seen.  Click here to see her post.

And guess what.... we are in the Parsha of Balak [in the diaspora that is].... so perfect timing on all accounts.

The following text is by ''Daniel'' - taken from a previous blog post of mine in 2016.  [Readers please do not start anticipating the date of 25th Elul, everything is speculative.... Moshiach can come today or tomorrow, or anytime, we need to remember that]

It was all forecast 3,300 years ago by Bilaam the gentile prophet in Parshas Balak. דרך כוכב מיעקוב -- "When the star of Yaakov is on its pathway towards the earth" -- is that exact prediction. When the star of Yaakov is en route...then קם שבט מישראל... Mashiach Ben Yoseph will rise up.

The Ramak, Rabbi Moshe Cordevero, classically and clearly explains the Zohar on this key pasuk [Balak 212b] in such detail that he even draws a picture of how the star will look. 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 of [Nibiru] connecting itself to each body surrounding the star. 

This display will be seen above the earth when he states that all will marvel at the following event: The rays of light will gradually [over 70 days] swallow each of the seven smaller bodies that will be absorbed into this Star [I believe this represents the seven continents]. 

The whole world will see this happen and will indeed panic but know this is from Hashem who is arranging this display because of us - Yaakov [Yisroel] since he had a family of 70 vs. the 70 nations of the world. 

I believe scientists and astrologers may attempt to explain it away as a "natural phenomena" saying it is either turning into a black hole or going supernova - but they will try to explain it away when it is anything but a "natural " occurrence. 

Immediately after this they will be overcome by Mashiach -- the True Star after the 70 days of viewing this heavenly display. 

The Ramak even gives the date: the 25th day of the six month כה׳ אלול  [Elul 25 -  since that was the date of creation, so HASHEM will begin this display just prior to a briah chadasha - new creation coming.''

*Update:  70 days from today's date 17 July.... brings us to 25 September which is 25 Elul - the date prophesied by the Ramak.

Who Can Bless Others?

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

 "For I know that whomever you bless is blessed" [Balak 22:6]

The Tzaddik Rabbi Meir Abuchatzera zya"a, told over that in his country of origin - Morocco, there was a simple person to whom people used to go to ask for blessings, and many times his blessings were indeed fulfilled.

Rabbi Meir's son, the Admor Rabbi Elazar zya"a asked his father to explain this phenomenon (brought in the sefer 'Pekudat Elazar').

Rabbi Meir replied that true the man was simple and his father too was known as a simple person, but his father was also well known for his charitable acts.

Among all the kind deeds that he performed, he also used his profession as a tailor to this end. He was accustomed to collecting old or torn clothes from people, which he would then take the time to repair so that they were once again fitting to be worn and distribute them to poor people. It was merit of his father's good deeds that gave his son the merit of his prayers to be accepted.

In the same vein, there is a story told about the Alter of Slabodka. When he was ill, he sent a message to various gedolim and tzaddikim, asking them to pray for him. He also asked the town's pharmacist to pray for him. He explained that since the pharmacist helps others by preparing medications which serve to heal them, he has great merits and therefore his blessings will bear fruit, just like the prayers of a tzaddik or holy person.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Dreams: Angelic or Demonic?

Source: Rabbi Shelomo Almoli - Dream Interpretation from Classical Jewish Sources

The essential characteristic of an angelic dream is that it is orderly, with no extraneous material mixed in.  Furthermore, the dreamer should not be panicked or frightened at the time of dreaming, and he must see himself as though truly awake in the dream.  If all these conditions are fulfilled, you may be certain that the dream is true, and that it comes through an angel and is a one-sixtieth part of prophecy. [Berakhot 57a]

However, a dream which comes by means of a demon is quite different.  The demon stands near the person as he dozes and whispers frightening words, a concoction of many things, into his ears.  This arouses frightening images in the dozer's mind; his heart beats wildly and he awakes in a panic.  [literally the great panic awakens him].  

The demons remain at his side, rejoicing and toying with his mind in order to frighten him, when he falls asleep they begin again.  After this happens several times [after he awakens from a doze and finally decides to go to sleep again for the night], he finally begins preparing for bed by reciting the Keri'at Shema prayer, or deals with them some other way.  He awakens and recites ''Unclean, unclean! Flee from here!'' three times.  At that, the demon will go on his way, and the sleeper will be able to rest, secure from such dreams.  

Below is a lecture on Dreams from Rabbi Alon Anava from 2018.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Does Eliyahu Precede Moshiach?

Following on from the comments on the Rabbi Kessin Moshiach video in the post below this one , this question was put forward.  Here is the response from the Lubavitcher Rebbe:  Source Sichos in English

There is a tradition that Eliyahu [Elijah the Prophet] will come before Moshiach, to inform the world of the advent of Moshiach. Is this showing of Eliyahu a mandatory pre-requisite for Moshiach?

The Talmud relates:1

Once, Rabbi Joshua met Moshiach and asked him: ‘When are you going to come?’ Moshiach replied: ‘Today!’

Rabbi Joshua then met Eliyahu, who asked him: ‘What did he [Moshiach] tell you?’ Said Rabbi Joshua: ‘He lied to me, for he told me that he is coming today, but he didn’t come!’

Said Eliyahu: ‘He didn’t lie, but this is what he really meant: He will come “Today, if you hearken to the voice of G‑d.”2

Maharsha explains that if Moshiach comes today, we assume that Eliyahu came yesterday to the Supreme Beth Din [in Tiberias].

Another explanation is that if we merit, and Moshiach comes sooner (before the appointed time), he may then come on his own before the revelation of Eliyahu. This is presented in Krayti U’playti [by Rabbi Yonason Eibschutz]:3

Rambam posits4 that it is not a certainty that Eliyahu must come before Moshiach. Although some Sages maintain that before the advent of Moshiach, Eliyahu will appear, yet, there is no definite basis for this.

This poses a difficulty, inasmuch as the Talmud states5 that Eliyahu will come first, and as is seen in Tanach,6 “Behold I send unto you Eliyahu the Prophet.” How do we reconcile these two statements re: the coming of Eliyahu?

The answer is seen in the timing of Moshiach, as the Talmud cites the verse:7 “In its time will I hasten it” — If Jews do not merit, Moshiach will come in his appointed time; but if they merit, then Moshiach will come sooner, in haste.

Rambam holds that there is an order to the coming of Moshiach, that Eliyahu comes first to foretell of his coming. This, however, is effective only when Moshiach comes in his appointed time. But when Jews merit and the redemption is hastened, as expressed in,8 “He is leaping over the mountains, skipping over the hills” — G‑d then changes the order, as a sign of His love for Jewish merits and good deeds. This is expressed in the Rambam’s concise words.

The Sages note that Eliyahu comes first, to convey the news of Moshiach; yet, this is not definite. For, perhaps G‑d will have mercy and bestow His holy spirit upon the Jews to serve Him with a full heart; then He will swiftly bring Moshiach without the need for Eliyahu’s message.9


1. Sanhedrin 98a, Rashi

2. Psalms 95:7

3. Yoreh Deah 110, Bais Hasafek/end

4. Hilchos Melachim 12:2

5. Eiruvin 43b

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Rabbi Kessin talks about Moshiach

A 12 minute video
''The Jews will change the world''

''even Moshiach doesn't know who He is until He is revealed''

This is a must listen, and as it's very short you don't have an excuse not to.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Stalin vs Schneersohn

The [6th] Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson (1880-1950)

by Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson

A Vain Battle

 If there was ever a battle fought in vain, this was it. Or at least, so it seemed at the time.

The year is 1924. Vladimir Lenin, the father of the communist revolution, is dead; over 900,000 people pass through the Hall of Columns during the four days and nights that Lenin's body lay exposed to the public.

Josef Stalin succeeds him as the new leader of the Soviet Union. During the following thirty years, he would murder 50 million of his own people. Jews and Judaism would be one of his primary targets. He sets up a special government organization, the Yevsektzye, to ensure that Russian Jewry in its millions embrace the new ethos of Communism, introducing a paradise constructed of bullets and gulags.

Stalin would rule with an iron fist till his death in March 1953, when four million people would gather in Red Square to bid farewell to the tyrant still revered and beloved by much of his nation and by many millions the world over.

At his home in Leningrad (today Petersburg), a 44-year-old rabbi, heir to some of the great Jewish thinkers and leaders of Russian Jewry, summons nine young disciples. He offers them an opportunity most would refuse: to take responsibility for the survival of Judaism in the communist Soviet Union; to ensure that Jewish life and faith would survive the hellish darkness of Stalin’s regime. He wants them to fight—in his words—“till the last drop of blood.”

They embrace the mission. He gives his hand to each of them as a sign that they are accepting an oath, one that would transform their destiny forever. "I will be the tenth, he says; together we have a minyan"...

An Underground Revolution

The nine men were dispatched throughout the country. With assistance from similar minded colleagues, they created an impressive underground network of Jewish activity, which included Jewish schools, synagogues, mikvaot (ritual baths used by Jewish woman for spiritual feminine reinvigoration), adult Torah education, Yeshivot (academies for Torah learning for students), Jewish text books, providing rabbis for communities, teachers for schools, etc. Over the 1920's and 1930's, these individuals built six hundred (!) Jewish underground schools throughout the U.S.S.R (1). Many of them last for only a few weeks or months. When the KGB (the secret Russian police) discovered a school, the children were expelled, the teacher arrested. A new one was opened elsewhere, usually in a cellar or on a roof.

One of the nine young men was sent to Georgia. There were dozens of mikvaot there, all shut down by the communists who buried them in sand and gravel. This young man decided to do something radical. He falsified a letter written supposedly by the KGB headquarters in Moscow, instructing the local offices in Georgia to open two mikvaot within 24 hours.

The local officials were deceived. Within a day, two mikvaot were open. Several months later, when they discovered the lie, they shut them down again.

And so it went. A mohel (the person performing the mitzvah of circumcision) was arrested, and another one was dispatched to serve the community; a yeshiva was closed, and another one opened elsewhere; a synagogue was destroyed and another one opened its portals in secrecy. It is a chapter in Jewish history unbeknownst to most.

But it sure seemed like a lost battle. Here was an individual rabbi, with a small group of pupils, staging an underground rebellion against a mighty empire that numbered in the hundreds of millions, and aspired to dominate the world. It was like an infant wrestling a giant, an ant attempting to defeat a military tank. The situation was hopeless.

Finally, in 1927—ninety two years ago—they lost their patience with this man. The rabbi behind the counter-revolutionary work was arrested and sentenced to death by a firing squad. Foreign pressure and nothing less than a miracle convinced the KGB to alter the sentence to ten years in exile. It was then converted to three years, and then—quite unbelievable in the Soviet Regime where clergy and laymen alike were murdered like flies—he was completely exonerated. The 12th and 13th of the Hebrew month of Tamuz (this year it is July 15-16), mark the 92nd anniversary since he was liberated from Stalin’s death sentence in 1927.

The individual behind the spiritual mutiny was the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950), who became the leader of Chabad in 1920, after the passing of his father. He selected nine of his young pupils to wage battle with him. The one sent to Georgia, falsifying the KGB document, was my grandfather, Simon Yakabashvili, my father’s father (1900-1953). He, together with hundreds of his colleagues, Chassidim throughout the Soviet Union, was arrested in 1938, tortured mercilessly and given a 25-year sentence in the Gulag. Most of his eight colleagues who accepted the oath never made it out of Stalin’s hell. They perished in the Soviet Union.

(My grandfather, Reb Simon, made it out of the USSR, but died several years later at the age of 53 in Toronto. He died on 2 Tamuz 5713, 1953, leaving behind there young sons, Gershon, Bezalel and Sholom. My father died in 2005, my uncle Bezalel died six years ago. Their mother, Freida, passed on in 1954, one year after her husband. She was 44. One child remains, may he enjoy many long and healthy years).

Investing in Eternity

More than nine decades have passed. This passage of time gives us the opportunity to answer the question: Who won? Stalin or Schneerson?

one century ago, Marx's socialism and Lenin’s communism heralded a new era for humanity. Its seemingly endless power and brutality seemed unbreakable.

Yet one individual stood up, a man who would not allow the awesome war machine of Mother Russia to blur his vision, to eclipse his clarity. In the depths of his soul he was aware that history had an undercurrent often invisible to most but discernible to students of the long and dramatic narrative of our people. He knew with full conviction that evil might thrive but it will die; yet goodness, holiness, G-dliness—embodied in Torah and Mitzvos—are eternal.

And he chose to invest in eternity.

He probably did not know how exactly it would work out in the end. I am not sure he believed he would survive. But he knew that his mission in life was to sow seeds, though the trees were being felled one by one.

Cynics scoffed at him; close friends told him he was making a tragic mistake. Even many of his religious colleagues were convinced that he was wasting his time and energy fighting an impossible war. They either fled the country or maintained a low profile. Some great rabbis at the time felt he was trying to do the impossible and it was futile.

But 90 years later, this giant and what he represented have emerged triumphant. Today, in 2019, in the republics of the former Soviet Union stand hundreds of synagogues, Jewish day schools, yeshivot, mikvaot, Jewish community centers. Since communism fell, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (the son in law of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe who was liberated in 1927) sent hundreds of ambassadors to create a Jewish renaissance. They span the entire length and breadth of the country, from Siberia to Tashkent; from Tbilisi till Krasnoyarsk. Over the last 30 years they have built more than one hundred (!) full-time Jewish day schools, in which more than 100,000 Jewish children received a Jewish Torah education. As this summer season began, dozens of Jewish day camps opened up throughout the former Soviet Union with tens of thousands of Jewish children who will enjoy a blissful summer coupled with the celebration of Jewish life.

I have a cousin, Rabbi Yerachmiel Garelick, who serves as the Chabad ambassador to Western Siberia. Jewish women had to travel for seven hours to visit a mikvah. He just completed building a magnificent mikvah in Tuman, Siberia!

And the Chabad couple in Birobidjhan, located on the Trans-Siberian Railway, near the China-Russia border, where Stalin wanted to exile millions of Russian Jews, opened a Glat kosher restaurant there.
Last Chanukah, a large menorah stood tall in the Kremlin, casting the glow of Chanukah on the grounds where Stalin walked with Berya and Yezhov. On Lag Baomer (a Jewish holiday), thousands of Jewish children with kippot on their heads marched the streets of Moscow with signs proclaiming, "Hear oh Israel... G-d is One." Jewish life is bustling in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Uzbekistan, etc.

Visiting Russia last summer, Russia’s chief Rabbi, Berel Lazar, pointed to a massive Jewish school he built in Moscow stretching over a full block. “Right across from here were some of the main offices of the KGB, where the orders to decimate Judaism came from,” he said.

Across the street was a massive Jewish museum, one of the nicest I have ever seen, attracting thousands of weekly visitors, telling the story of the Jewish people and its heritage. “How did you get the money for this?” I asked Rabbi Lazar. He smiled and said that the first million came from the private charity of Vladimir Putin. "The rest was easy."

I then entered, two streets over, the Marina Rashtze synagogue in Moscow, a massive and beautiful 8-story structure. Hundreds of Jews were praying and studying Torah.

Comrade Stalin is dead; communism has faded away as hopelessly irrelevant and destructive. The sun of the nations is today a clod of darkness. The ideology of the Soviet Empire which declared "Lenin has not died and Stalin will not die. He is eternal," is now a mockery. Stalin and Lenin are as dead as one can be. But the Mikvaot built by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1927, they are still here, from Siberia to Moscow, to Tashkent.

If you will visit Russia this coming Shabbos, I am not sure you will find anybody celebrating the life and vision of Stalin, or even Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Andropov. But you will find tens of thousands of Jews celebrating the liberation of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1927 and the narrative of one holy man’s triumph over one of the greatest mass-murderers in human history, sharing his vision, committing themselves to continue saturating the world with the light of Torah and Mitzvos.

So on this Shabbos, two days before the 12th of Tamuz, lift up your glasses and say L’chayim! L’chayim to a Rebbe who inspired such heroism in so many disciples, many of them who paid the ultimate price. L’chayim to the incredible Jews of Russia who maintained the embers burning for seven decades, and then—when opportunity came—fanned them into glowing flames. L’chayim to my dear Zeide, Reb Simon, whom I never met but whose life-story is engraved in the core of my heart.

Today, we have many battles to fight, and plenty of darkness to conquer. It is easy to become cynical or depressed, leading to emotional paralysis. But our greatest leaders always knew better. They never allowed the mask of evil to define the narrative of history; they ensured that another story would dominate our imaginations and actions.

So can we.

1) This figure was given to me by Rabbi Sholom Ber Levin, chief librarian of the Central Lubavitch Library in Brooklyn, NY.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Kapparah in the Death of a Tzaddik

by Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

Question: How can the death of a Tzaddik become a Kapparah [atonement]?

Answer: The Tzadik is not a personal individual that has an impact only on himself, he is a public figure who impacts on all those around him; the loss of a Tzadik is therefore a public loss, not an individual or family one. The Tzadikim are here not for themselves, rather for others - that is how they live their lives and that is how they also die; Just as the death serves as atonement to the deceased himself, so the departure of a Tzadik does to his community.

Death of a [Hidden] Tzaddik

Just last Friday, the day of the big earthquake in L.A., a young Chabad rabbi was suddenly taken from this world.  His name was Rabbi Tzemach Yehoshuah Cunin a''h.

The name Tzemach Yehoshuah literally means ''the Redeemer is flourishing''. 

When we look for hints for the coming of the Moshiach, these two events: the earthquake and the sudden unexpected passing of Tzemach Yehoshuah - can be taken as a huge sign.

Tzemach a''h was, by all accounts, a hidden Tzaddik.  His life was devoted to bringing Jews back to their roots, via his Chabad House in Century City Los Angeles.   He leaves behind a tzadekess wife and five children.

Tzemach's father, Rabbi  Baruch Shlomo  Cunin was appointed by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1965 , as a head shaliach to the west coast of America. Cunin built the very first of over 5000 Chabad houses, and is personally responsible for a network of over 200 Chabad Houses throughout California and Nevada.  If anyone can bring Moshiach, it is Rabbi Shlomo Cunin, as you can see for yourself in the videos below.

Running a Chabad House is no easy feat.  It requires constant input financially, and the Rabbis and their wives spend their lives raising money to support not just their own families, but those of all around them, helping whenever needed for whatever cause, being non-judgemental and available to others at all times of the day and night.

There are so many tragedies in the world today... we cannot help everyone.... but if you have a look at the thousands of people who have donated to help the wife and children of Rabbi Tzemach a''h, you will see just how big an impact one person can make in a short life on earth.

The fact that his name means ''the Redeemer is flourishing'' is a sign that we should ALL join and make a donation and rock the Heavens with an outpouring of Tzedaka, the greatest mitzvah of all.  Of course it is also a great mitzvah to support widows and children.

I am asking everyone to make a small donation, even if it is just one dollar, because one dollar multiplied by thousands of people makes a lot of dollars.  Let's all be a part of this and let's help the Redeemer to Flourish.  Click to here to see the Fundraising Page, with a link to donate at the bottom of that page.  Whatever kind of Jew, or nonJew you are, Breslover, Satmar, Ashkenazi, Sefardi... it makes no difference, we are all the same big family.  Non-Jews who align themselves with the Jewish people are Righteous Gentiles and will be part of the world of Moshiach.

Below are a couple of videos from the Levaya [funeral] of Rabbi Tzemach a''h.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Two Paths of Redemption - A shooting star of Jacob and a Scepter Rise from Israel

Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz

Parshat Chukat: The Mysterious Friday Fast

The Magen Avraham cites a 'practice of individuals' to fast on the Friday prior to the reading of Parshas Chukas (OC 580). In general, it is an anomaly to have a fast day scheduled for a Friday. Of even greater significance is the fact that most fast days are established on a specific calendar date, while this one is not. The Magen Avraham writes that no matter what day of the month the Friday prior to Parshas Chukas falls, that is the day when 'individuals' fast.

What is the significance of this fast day? It commemorates the burning of 20 - 24 wagonloads of the Talmud and other Sefarim in France. When the event happened, it occurred on the 9th day of Tammuz. However, various Rabbinic authorities of that day learned through dreams that the 'cause' of the incident was not related to the day on the calendar, but to the fact that it was the day before the Torah reading of Parshas Chukas.

The Magen Avraham explains that the Aramaic Targum of the opening words of the parsha [Bamidbar 19:2] "Zos Chukas HaTorah" [This is the law of the Torah] is "da Gezeiras Oraiysa" [this is the Torah's decree]. This was understood to be a Torah decree that such a tragic event would occur on the Friday before this Torah reading.

The Imrei Shammai supplies additional historical background to this incident. He says that in the exact place where the Talmud and other Sefarim were burnt, the Jews of that town had in previous years publicly burnt the Rambam's Sefer - Moreh Nevuchim.

The Moreh Nevuchim was a controversial work. In those days, the Rambam did not yet have the unquestioning allegiance that he gained in later generations. As surprising as it may seem to us, he had his detractors and there were authorities that were highly critical of the Moreh Nevuchim. In fact, there were even some places where his Sefer HaMadah - the first volume of his Major Work "The Yad HaChazakah" was not accepted.

As a Heavenly punishment for this earlier burning of the Rambam's works, 20 cartloads of Torah books were now publicly burnt. When the Jewish community saw this, they recognized their earlier misdeed and repented by establishing a fast day. They prayed for forgiveness and subsequently there was no more controversy about the Moreh Nevuchim.

In this way they were very fortunate. They had a clear Sign from Shomayim in terms of what they had done wrong. It did not take a genius to put two and two together and draw the appropriate conclusion. The connection was obvious. This is the historical background of the custom of 'individuals' to fast on the Erev Shabbos preceding Parshas Chukas.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Appreciating the Bad

''Everything will be okay in the end.... if it's not okay, it's not the end..''  [that quote has been attributed to several different people, but it was actually written by John Lennon and more recently made famous in a movie called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which I happened to watch on TV the other night.  

When you are taken down in any way, or are inflicted with some kind of terrible event, and you begin to lose faith and wonder why this is happening to you..... that's a very good quote to remember.  It's not the end.  We haven't got there yet.  Terrible things are happening everywhere and most of them are there to bring us back to Hashem.... the lower the descent, the higher the potential ascent.  In Hebrew this is ''Yerida l'tzorich Aliyah'' - descent for the purpose of ascent.

You can't rise to the highest highs unless you have experienced the lowest lows.  

And so it is with the world... the lower it sinks, the higher it will rise when Moshiach's time has come.  It is necessary that the world sinks to the lowest point possible, because the coming of Moshiach will cause it to rise to the highest point possible.

So appreciate your suffering for what it is.... a stepping stone to a higher level of existence.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Twice every Seven Years

And you shall inscribe them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates. [Va'etchanan 6:9]

Now that my shoulder is healing, I am able to do things that I should have done sooner, such as check my mezuzot !  They are supposed to be checked TWICE every Seven Years.

Most people are under the false impression that you are supposed to have them checked once every seven years. The fact is that the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) states that they need to be checked by a scribe twice in every seven year period. That means about every 3.5 years.

The benefits of having a kosher mezuzah on every door post in your home cannot be underestimated.  That means every doorpost, not just the front door [of course with the exception of any room that contains a toilet as such a room is tamei - impure].  And if you have a gate with a lintel over it, that needs a mezuzah as well.  A gate without a lintel doesn't require one.

Make sure the mezuzah is the right way up and the Shin/Daled/Yud is visible on the front.  An upside down mezuzah in its case is not going to work properly.

To learn more about the mitzvah of the mezuzah see here and here.

As it happens, all my mezuzot were kosher, but I decided to buy a bigger newer one for the front door anyway.  The bigger the better.  And it was the Lubavitcher Rebbe who campaigned for bigger mezuzot, as opposed to those tiny little scrolls that everyone used to have when they were trying to hide them from their anti-semitic neighbours.  If, however, you do happen to live in a place where you are worried about anti-semitism, place the mezuzah just inside the front door.  You might want to check with a Rabbi first about this though.

This is one mitzvah you should do, not only because it is commanded of us, but because it gives you incredible protection spiritually and physically.

The Greatness of Torah Part 3

Rabbi Mendel Kessin - to see Parts 1 and 2 click on the KESSIN label below

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Sound of the Earthquake: The Voice of the Earth

Everyone has heard about the massive earthquakes that hit Los Angeles on July 4 and subsequent even bigger aftershocks more recently.

The quakes came during the Parsha of Korach, where the ground opens up and swallows the evil ones.  Thankfully no-one died as a result of the quakes [or so I read, whether that is actually true or not I do not know], but the ground did open up in several places.


The Israeli city of Tzfat has suffered several devastating earthquakes. After one of them in the year 1839, the Chassidic Rabbi, Rebbe Avraham Dov of Avritch, said the following: "This catastrophe is a sign of the redemption. The Talmud in Sanhedrin alludes to the time when the Mashiach will redeem us. He will come when 'This gate shall collapse, be rebuilt, collapse, be rebuilt again and again, until there will not be enough time to rebuild it before the Mashiach comes.' The word gate in Hebrew is _sha'ar_. These same three (Hebrew) letters when reshuffled, spell the word _ra'ash_ (meaning earthquake)...May this be the last 'collapsing of the gate' mentioned in the Talmud, and may we soon see the final redemption in our time - Amen."  Source:  God and Earthquakes


"V'Chol Yisroel Asher Sevivoteihem Nasu L'Kolam" - all of Bnei Yisroel that were around them ran from the voice [Korach 16:34]. Which voices were they running from? The Mizrachi says it could not have been from the screaming of the people falling into the open earth or else all the people would run towards the voices to see this strange event, and not away from it. Instead he says it was from the booming noise of the earth opening up. 

The Tosfos Yom Tov says that the voice was that of the earth speaking and announcing that the sinners were swallowed alive and still living inside the bowels of the earth. He brings proof from the pasuk that says [Korach 16:30], "U'Phatzta HaAdama Et Piha" the earth opened its mouth. The word Phatzta implies that it opened its mouth to speak because the word that is used in this parsha to describe the opening of the ground is "VaTiftach HaAretz Et Piha". 

Maybe this would explain the mishna in Pirkei Avos [5:8] that says that one of the ten things created Erev Shabbos Bein HaShmashos was "Pi HaAretz" - the mouth of the earth that swallowed Korach. if it meant the crack in the earth then why would this be a special creation? The earth splitting was not a one time event and happens from time to time. Moreover, a crack is not a creation. Maybe it means the mouth of the earth that spoke, similar to another creation in this mishna, the mouth of the donkey of Bilam who spoke.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Gimel Tamuz and the World of Lies around Us

Art Robert Kremnizer

Seems I can't even leave the internet for a few days before someone posts something deliberately provocative designed to bring me back !   This is just a special blog post in honour of the yarzheit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe: Gimel Tamuz [3 Tamuz].  

I was spurred to post it due to something I just read on another blog which made me very upset.  

People who did not grow up with the Rebbe should really not make ridiculous statements about him.  I will not link to the ridiculousness, but I will post my own evidence to wipe out their nonsense.  

As it was the Lubavitcher Rebbe who gave me a bracha to blog, I cannot let lies and mistakes be published on the internet without standing up for the truth.

What did the Lubavitcher Rebbe say about Gog u Magog?

You can hear for yourself, in this video:

What did the Lubavitcher Rebbe say about the Holocaust?  Read it for yourself here at Chabad.

Did the Rebbe foresee another ''Moshiach'' 30 years ahead?  [hey it's not 30 years it's only 25 years but I am quoting the nonsense].....  No he did not,   I believe he WAS the Moshiach of that generation.  We did not merit to receive the Moshiach back then, and so here we all are today, 25 years on.   The Rebbe still appears in dreams - to give chizzuk to many people around the world, Jews and nonJews - just last week a close friend of mine whose mother passed away had a wonderful dream of the Rebbe.  

Whoever will be the Moshiach, will be as great a tzaddik as the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and may we see the revelation speedily in our days.

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Greatness of Torah Part 2

Rabbi Mendel Kesssin

To see Part 1 click on the KESSIN label below

Created at Twilight

"But if Hashem will create a phenomenon, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them" [Korach 16:30]

Rashi cites the Gemara in Maseches Sanhedrin [110a]: "If the mouth of the earth is a creation from the six days of Creation," said Moshe Rabbeinu, "then fine. But if not, may Hashem create one!"

Why, asked the Chasam Sofer [R' Moshe Sofer], did Moshe Rabbeinu have any doubt as to whether or not the mouth of the earth had been created during the six days of Creation?  For Chazal state [Avot 5:9] explicitly:

Ten things were created at twilight on the eve of the first Sabbath:
the mouth of the earth
the mouth of the well
the mouth of the ass
the rainbow;
the manna;
Aaron's staff;
the Shamir, writing;
the inscription on the tablets of the Ten Commandments;
and the tablets themselves. 

How then could Moshe have overlooked this Mishnah?
One of the ten things enumerated by Chazal, answered the Chasam Sofer, was "Moshe's grave".  This grave, whose location is unknown, was also created at twilight of that erev Shabbos.

Hashem therefore concealed all ten things from Moshe so that he would not hear of his own passing.  Thus, Moshe had to request "If the mouth of the earth is a creation from the six days of Creation, then fine. But if not, may Hashem create one!"

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein