Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Completely Different Lens on Anti Semitism

I've been following this guy on FB [The Nation of Israel] and he is making a lot of sense.

Please listen - 17 mins

Monday, December 30, 2019

Newborn Stars

I think this is so beautiful.... NASA's photo of newborn stars in space

Rabbi Jacobson on Anti Semitism in America

''It starts with the Jews, but doesn't end with the Jews. We must keep Torah values among ourselves and the rest of the World.''

Friday, December 27, 2019

A Time of Favour

The Be'er Hachaim [Chanukah, p 125] writes:  ''The Zohar [206a] teaches that whenever the Aron HaKodesh is opened it is an Eis Ratzon [a time of favour].  We have a direct kabbalah from the Tzemach Tzedek, who heard from his grandfather the Ba'al HaTanya, who heard from . his Rebbe, the Maggid of Mezeritch, who heard from his own Rebbe, the Ba'al Shem Tov, that all prayers and supplications that are uttered when the Aron is open will be fulfilled in part or in full.

Many students of the Ba'al Shem Tov testify that at that moment the gates of compassion are opened and great things can be accomplished.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Hidden Inner LIght

If one would look deeply enough into the dark, one will see a light. It is the inner light, the soul of man.

"The candle of the Lord is the soul of man, exploring all of the inner chambers" [Mishlei 20:27]

This is not meant as fanciful poetry or empty words. Those who have experienced the inner glow know that its radiance is very real, very meaningful... it comes in flashes of truth and self-knowledge. And it is, indeed, a very splendid thing.

Our codifiers also recognise the validity of flashes in the dark. The Rambam teaches [Hilchos Talmud Torah] that although one is obligated to study the Torah at all times, the major portion of a person's wisdom is acquired in the still of the night. Torah study is, among other things, an exercise in self-discovery and improvement, and it should be studied in undisturbed nocturnal atmosphere. This inner light is very sensitive and must be carefully preserved: "A hasty step reduces the light of a person's eyes... This light may be regained at the Kiddush" [Shabbos 113a]

The man who is engrossed in the frantic pursuit of all that he sees around him is doomed to lose sight of the candle that burns within him. Only the serene sanctity of the Shabbos, its tranquil cessation of activity and hot pursuit, can restore to man his awareness of the precious inner light of his vision and his soul.

No Jewish holiday so lends itself to the challenges of the Age of Illumination as does the holiday of Chanukah, the festival of lights. If in doubt as to which lights are being celebrated, the outer or the inner - one need only to consult our sacred literature and find that these eight days are dedicated specifically to these latter lights, the internal illumination that brightens the soul.

The Rokeach, Rabbi Eliezer of Worms, a noted medieval scholar and authority, pointed out that a total of 36 candles are lit during the eight days of Chanukah. This corresponds to the first 36 hours of creation when a special unearthly radiance lit the universe. This spiritual light was quite different from any light we know now. But its potency was too intense to serve man's everyday, earthly needs and G-d hid it from view. Yet that light still exists - in the Torah - and it is for this reason that the Aramaic term for Torah is Oraisa - source of light.

One may wonder - if it was destined for concealment why did G-d ever create this advanced form of light? The answer to this is classically Jewish - better a hidden light than no light at all. For even though it was hidden, the light does exist and can be revealed to anyone who sincerely strives to find it. Those few who have succeeded in perceiving this light are the legendary lamed-vav 'niks - the 36 righteous men concealed from recognition in every generation.

Actually, one need not be a lamed-vavnik to uncover at least a portion of this hidden light, for anyone who studies Torah with sincerity may discover its splendour.

Source: "Seasons of the Soul" edited by Rabbi Nisson Wolpin

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Preparing For Redemption: Perspective On Current Events

Making sense of life is not always easy to do. There are times that we know G-d is talking to us on an individual or collective level through events or patterns that replay themselves. The question that is hard to answer: What is G-d’s message to us? How am I supposed to understand what G-d is trying to tell me? 

Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a luminary and scholar of Torah wisdom gives us The Equation Of Life through which we can gain new clarity and perspective on understanding our lives and the events therein. To gain more wisdom from Rabbi Winston and learn about his many books check out his website thirtysix.org

Monday, December 23, 2019

Life is but a Dream

Art: UKTara

"At the end of two years, it happened that Pharoah was dreaming....." [Miketz 41:1]

Pharoah's dream is the very beginning of the story of Egyptian exile.  The dream predicted a famine which eventually caused Yaakov and his family to settle in Egypt where, a generation later, they were enslaved.

In the times of exile, the Jewish people are forced to withstand the fluctuation between two contradictory modes of life: love of G-d at the time of prayer, and then total immersion into the physical world during one's business and private affairs the rest of the day. 

Chassidic teachings compare this situation to a dream, because in a dream two opposite, contradictory phenomena can co-exist simultaneously.

In order to hint to this idea, the precursor of the Egyptian exile - our current story - was recorded in the Torah as a dream.

Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe vol 15 p.346

Friday, December 20, 2019

Why Bother

R' Yechiel Meir Lifshitz of Gostynin once rebuked a store owner for exploiting the poor and unfortunate people that resided in his town. Instead of showing them mercy, he cruelly charged exorbitant prices for his goods.

R' Lifshitz said to him: "What you are doing is hinted to in a verse. The Torah states: "What gain [betza] will there be if we kill our brother?" [Vayeishev 37:26].

"The acronym of the word "betza" is boker [morning], tzaharayim [afternoon] and erev [evening] - the three periods of the day when a Jew is required to pray to Hashem.

"Now tell me" concluded R' Lifshitz, "mah betza" - why bother [praying three times a day] - "if we kill our brother" - if at the same time we are busy cruelly exploiting our poor and needy brethren."

Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Vayeishev - Expression, blinders and the future

Text by R. Yosef Serebryanski

 *** May these brief words be enough to open you up to the truth of what is deep in your heart. *** May you develop the strength to overcome the course of disruptions and/or disturbances that happen along your journey…

Colors are an amazing part of our lives. In school we are taught basic colors. As we progress through life we learn of their many variations. Yet how often do we sit to contemplate either the depth or the brevity that they reflect? In reflection we find that we are affected in different ways by fluctuations in color.

Color affects people’s states of mind. Feelings or expressions of jealousy, anger, happiness and moodiness are all reflected by color. These are external manifestations. White and black are reflections of the internal. Sometimes color is used as part of the healing process in order to generate or change moods; i.e. to “open” or “close” people as is called for by the situation.

We are often blinded by love, anger and/or jealousy. Since all of us are imperfect, we must retain this awareness in order to be able to accept our limitations and blind spots. When we get beyond the need to see ourselves as perfect, we will no longer have to define ourselves as being imperfect. Then we can all truly be whoever we are.

Through the medium of light, white is a combination of all color and black is the lack of all color. Through the medium of pigments, white is the lack of all color and black is a mixture of all colors. Either way white or black reflect a higher or deeper state of consciousness. Colors are used to reflect spiritual expressions, yet the spiritual realm itself does not have colors.

Jacob made a multi-color coat for Joseph. His brothers saw that the father loved him more than all the brothers and they hated him, and they could not speak about or with him in a peaceful manner [Genesis 37:4]. They looked for a way to rid themselves of him. This was a reflection of their personal issues.

In our society whenever a person is different, they are shunned and judged poorly. When the differences between that individual and society are too dissimilar, a person may be drugged in an attempt to “normalize” his/her behavior. These actions safely identify and separate a person from normal society. In the most extreme cases, individuals are institutionalized — some in order to protect themselves and others, and some simply because their differences provoke uncomfortable guilt to others. History is full of stories about political and spiritual people who were jailed or institutionalized in order to prevent them from spreading their so-called illness to others.

Some of the people who are perceived as being abnormal may carry within them messages that the rest of us would do well to heed. When a person has deep insight, it is an overwhelming and awe-struck experience that might well detach him/her from others. It simply reminds us that enhanced forms of knowledge do not simply emerge without cost to the users. The prophecies and dreams that most people have about the future are generally things that will not happen. By and large they often are perspectives that have been created or “joggled” by events in the past.

People who do not want to deal with their shortcomings often resort to artificial comforts in order to hide from those things that they dislike in themselves. Utilizing any method to run away from truth results in a form of slavery, whether it is to a pact made with enemy protection, drugs or alcohol usage. For the short term life becomes a honeymoon of sorts, with the individual actually believing that life has improved. However, in the long run, when the friendly advances of the enemy, be it a person or a substance, have “hooked” the individual, the party is over. No longer is there any reason to play a game. The kindness disappears, the good feelings are replaced by addiction, and the misery of running away from the truth settles in for what it truly is. There are no paths around the truth that lead to the truth. Whatever you send out into the world and universe eventually comes back to you. This applies to both good and to evil. People orchestrate things in an attempt to make themselves look good or feel powerful. This is the kind of short-term vision that is typical of the leadership that exists in the world today. They operate on a system that gives them instant gratification without considering the consequences for future generations.

These are the kind of people to whom society assigns power. Then they do not understand when the results they hope for are never achieved. People have become so comfortable with living their lives in a form of “imprisonment” that they have lost the ability to discern enemy from friend, right from wrong, and goals that benefit the greater good from those based upon greed. They willingly accept the abuse that is a byproduct of hate, rather than love, by those who were entrusted to protect them.

Meanwhile much change is happening. The sensitivities within people’s hearts and bodies are beginning to stir simultaneously. A Temple is coming together on a higher spiritual plane. The lower spiritual levels are a confusion of movements, but the higher plane is simple and clear.

When this Temple becomes complete it will manifest itself into this realm, causing an instantaneous change of reality. Then the only thing people will be able to do is to completely open the doors of their hearts and minds.

This manifestation will remove all fear, doubt, impurity and purity, bad and good, right and wrong, etc. In the resulting open space, each individual will understand exactly what to do with each thought and feeling. There will no issues of personal ownership, no jealousy or fighting. Everyone will see and understand that we are all one.

It will not be a spiritual or physical world. Rather it will be an integrated existence. The inner oneness will shine and the outer oneness will do the same. People ask what will the future be like. Yet to describe it is far beyond their comprehension.

Until the proper time arrives, please do your best to join others in love and oneness while the world moves on its journey. Get ready for that instantaneous transformation that awaits all of us.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Judging Others

 וַיְהִי אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה  - And it came about, after these words....  [Vayeishev 40:1]

The "words" that are referred to here are those of Potifar's wife, who bad-mouthed Yosef throughout Egypt.

From the actions of Potifar's wife, we can learn a powerful lesson about judging other people:

At first glance, Potifar's wife's actions appear to have been utterly evil.  Not only did she cause Yosef to be sent to prison, but furthermore, she spoke badly of him so that his name was blackened throughout Egypt.

Rashi however enlightens us to the truth, that even these actions were intended for the sake of Heaven! Despite the fact that she was brought up in the corrupt, idolatrous atmosphere of Egypt her intentions were pure, to the extent that our sages compared her to Tamar, the mother of "strong ones and righteous ones" [Rashi]. 

From this we can learn the importance of not judging other people by their first appearances.

Source: Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Art: Abraham Leon Kroll

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Acquiring Purity

''Since he was a son of his old age'' [Vayeishev 37:3]

The acronym of the word ''zekunim'' - זְקֻנִים - [old age] says the Baál HaTurim, alludes to the five orders of mishnayos that Yaakov taught Yosef:  Zera'im, Kodshim, Nashim, Yeshu'os [Nezikin] and Mo'ed.

On this comment by the Ba'al HaTurim, the Imrei Emes [R' Avraham Mordechai Alter of Gur] asked the obvious question: There is one more order of mishnayos that the Ba'al HaTurim ignores - Taharos [purity]. Why did Yaakov not teach Yosef Taharos?

Seder Taharos, answered the Rebbe, cannot be taught.  Purity can only be acquired after an individual strives and exerts himself to achieve it on his own.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Essence of Chanukah

Rabbi Kessin from 2017

Financial Advice from Yaakov Avinu

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"So he divided the people with him, and the flocks, cattle, and camels, into two camps" [Vayishlach 32:8

Ya'akov Avinu a"h prepares himself for a meeting with Esav with a three-pronged strategy - gifts, prayer and battle.

In preparation for the battle that awaits him, he divides his wives and children, livestock and all his possessions, into two camps. In this way, if Esav smites one camp, then the remaining camp will survive.

The sefer 'Eved Hamelech' points out an important foundation: The Torah uses this incident to teach us a strategy for life. A person should not invest all his money in one place. From whom do we learn this? From Ya'akov Avinu as it says, "So he divided the people with him".

This guidance on protecting one's assets also appears in Chazal [Baba Metzia 42a]: "A person should always divide his money into three, a third in property, a third in business and a third he should keep in his possession."

Ya'akov Avinu's approach imparts a practical lesson on how to protect one's possessions. If one divides one's belongings, with each part being guarded in a different way and different place, then if he loses one half, or it disappears or is stolen, he will still be left with the remaining half.

In connection to this idea, Harav Munk shlita, in his sefer 'Darkei Noam', quotes a wonderful story that is brought in Chazal, about the shrewdness and wisdom employed by one who was exploited, in order to retrieve his money:

A certain merchant traveled to a distant place and took with him a considerable amount of money. He debated what to do with this sum. On one hand, he was afraid to walk around with such a large amount, but on the other hand, he was afraid to entrust in the hands of someone he hardly knew.

In the end, he decided to dig a pit in the ground and he hid his money in that pit. But what he didn't realize was that a pair of envious eyes was watching his every move from the house next door…

As soon as he left, the neighbor discreetly dug up the money.

Sometime later, the merchant returned to the place where he had hidden his money yet to his dismay – the money was no longer there!

He looked all around and noticed that there was a hole in the wall of the neighboring house, from which one could observe the entire area, including this part of the ground where he had hidden his money… He hurried over to the house and poured out his 'predicament' to the owner:

"My dear acquaintance, I recently came to stay in this area and I am still not familiar with the local people. I possess two wallets, one contains five hundred zehuvim and the second one contains one thousand zehuvim. I hid the first wallet in a secret place, and now I am debating what to do with the other wallet. Is it worth hiding it in the same place as the first wallet, or is it better that I give it over to one of the locals for safekeeping?

"The best thing to do," advised the owner, who was already picturing one thousand zehuvim falling into his hands, "is to hide it in the same place as the first wallet."

As soon as the merchant left his house, the neighbor realized that his advice would not serve him at all. In just another moment, the merchant will uncover the hole and discover that all his money has disappeared! Then he will certainly not hide his second wallet in the same place!

He came up with a grand idea…

He took out the wallet which was still full of money and quickly replaced it in its original hiding place. The merchant, who was waiting for this to happen, then approached the pit, took the wallet that had been returned and hurried home…

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Trump Signs Order Targeting Anti-Semitism

President Donald Trump signed an executive order to interpret Judaism as a nationality, not just a religion, that allows the Education Department to withhold federal funding from colleges and universities if they fail to combat anti-Semitism. He made the remarks at a White House Hannukah reception, flanked by first lady Melania Trump.

An Eighth of an Eighth

"I have become unworthy through all the acts of kindness" [Vayishlach 32:11]

The Vilna Gaon was once asked to explain Chazal's statement [Sotah 5a]  "Said R'Chiya bar Ashi in the name of Rav: A Talmid chacham must have one-eighth of an eighth [of haughtiness]".  

Rashi explains that it is essential for a talmid chacham to possess this minute amount of pride in order to prevent those who are ignorant in Torah learning from making light of him and his words.  Why did Chazal choose specifically the measure of one-eighth of an eighth?

The term "one eighth of an eighth" answered the Gaon, is not a reference to a particular measure. Rather it is hinting at the eighth verse of the eighth parsha of the Torah.  The eighth portion in the Torah is Parshas Vayishlach, and the eighth verse of the parsha [32:11] begins with the word "katonti" - "I am very small".

While a talmid chacham must possess a certain amount of arrogance, it must be a "very small" amount.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Prayer for Rain

Prayer: via Rabbi C. Ingram
Video: HT Dudi


Heavenly Father, Creator of Heaven and earth:
You form the clouds and gather them one by one.
Please, in Your mercy, send rain of blessing and goodwill to speedily moisten and revive the parched earth of rural Australia.
May the fields of our fair island again be adorned with healthy crops and green vegetation.
May those who work the soil not become destitute for lack of produce.
Satisfy us all with Your goodness!
May all the inhabitants of this blessed land know that You are G-D who sends relief to the ailing. May the earth be filled with the knowledge and the glory of G-D as the waters cover the sea bed! Amein

Imposter Sydrome

Disgraced Prince Andrew's daughter, Princess Beatrice, has spoken about her  'imposter syndrome'  which apparently is a psychological disorder defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.  ''Imposters'' suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.  I must admit I had never heard of this particular syndrome before now, but it rang a few bells for me.

I often think I'm an imposter, and I shouldn't be on the internet at all.  To remedy this, I immediately put up another blog post.  Of course, I believe it is the yetzer hara trying to prevent me blogging about Moshiach.   Now I have another name for it.... 'imposter syndrome'..... I guess there's a term for everything these days.

You need a thick skin to be a blogger with a wide audience, and I don't have a thick skin, I am extremely sensitive.  I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to delete my blog, or just turn it off and keep it for myself only, use it as a filing system [which is actually how it began - it was my virtual filing cabinet where I would post any article that I wanted to refer to later, which had a relevance to my life].

There are some very disturbed people out there, some just leave nasty comments and others have their own blogs where they attack from the safe comfort of their own site.  I  generally don't read these blogs, but occasionally when I have some waiting time and I check them out, I never fail to be amazed that they are still ranting about the same stuff over and over again, attacking others and getting facts wrong.... deliberately mis-reading and or mis-quoting and sticking a knife into their rival bloggers' latest post.

I used to publish every comment I received, with the exception of the obvious scammers or Xtian links, but over the past six months I've been deleting quite a few because they are cruel.  I guess some of these people have issues with themselves and are venting at the nearest outlet that touches a nerve.... hopefully they will get the point and move on, as their bitterness is not welcome here.

Disagree with me all you like, that's fine, but please do it kindly and I'll publish you. I'm not really sure what I write that needs disagreements anyway, I steer clear of controversy for that reason.  

Imposter syndrome.... a new term for the yetzer hara or, as I choose to think of it, a new term for hateful bloggers and commenters... they are im-posters.

Messianic Headlines We See Today

Rabbi Lazer Brody on the Tamar Yonah Show.

It’s human nature to believe that we control the world. However, as hard as we may try, the Creator of the universe reminds us that He controls all. As Israel faces a possible third election, possibly even held on the Purim Holiday, it looks like G-d will have the last laugh! So what’s really going on in the news that’s happening and affecting us all? What lessons do we need to learn, and what do we have to do in order to bring about a pleasant arrival of the Messiah? Rabbi Lazer Brody joins Tamar and tells us what we all need to do, and what we might see in the future!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Small in his own Eyes

"[My merits] have become small" [Vayishlach 32:11]

When G-d shows His kindness to a person, it brings that person closer to G-d, causing his feeling of self-importance to diminish, since "everything is like nothing before G-d".

Therefore, it was precisely due to the fact that G-d had been so kind to Yaakov that he became small in his own eyes - for the kindness brought him closer to G-d, and so he felt that he was not worthy of G-d's promise to be saved.

Source: based on Tanya Igeres Hakodesh ch.2

How could Yaakov the patriarch fear that "perhaps... I have become soiled with sin" [Rashi v. 12] when surely he was aware that he had not sinned?

A tzadik is not static - he constantly grows spiritually from one level to the next.  After reaching a higher level, his previous actions are spiritually deficient compared to his current standing. They are thus considered as "sins", metaphorically speaking. [The Hebrew word for sin - chet - can also mean ''deficiency'' [see Kings 11:21]  Thus Yaakov was worried that perhaps due to such ''sins'' he was not worthy to be saved.

Source: based on Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Were You Ever Despised or Treated as Inferior?

I've linked to this post in the comments of another blog post, but it actually deserves it's own blog post as I know some people don't see the comments.

This amazing post at Myrtle Rising is like a gift.  Please go there and read it.

Were You Ever Despised or Treated as Inferior? Then You Need to Read Rav Avigdor Miller's Dvar Torah for Parshat Vayetzei

Eliyahu Ha Navi and the Death of the Satan

The title sounds like a Rabbi Kessin shiur, but it's actually Rabbi Yehuoshua Zitron.  Part 20 in his Moshiach video series.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Leftover Sparks

".... Lavan was informed that Yaakov had fled. He took his relatives with him and pursued him" [Vayeitze 31:22,23]

The Maggid of Mezritch taught: "Yaakov had left behind letters from the Torah which he had not yet extracted from Lavan. This is why Lavan pursued him - to give him the letters which remained with him.  An entire chapter was added to the Torah by these letters."  [Ohr Hame'ir, beg. Parshas Vayeitzei, see Ohr HaTorah vol 5, p.869a]

The "letters of the Torah" which Yaakov left behind were "sparks" of holiness.  In fact, Yaakov had spent twenty years in Lavan's house extracting whatever sparks of holiness he could find there, and when the process was complete, he left. At least he thought it was complete....

In truth, however, Yaakov had left some sparks behind, so Lavan chased Yaakov to give them to him.

Why did Yaakov leave sparks behind?

Chassidic teachings explain that, while most of a person's achievements in life come through his own conscious efforts, there are some "super-conscious" achievements that are so lofty they cannot occur intentionally.  So, while we are usually the ones that choose our own paths in life - to find the sparks which we are destined to elevate - sometimes our "sparks" pursue us, because they are too sublime to be "extracted" solely by our own endeavors.

Source: Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Gutnick Chumash

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Sydney's Orange Moon

I wish I had a photo.... but there aren't any on the internet right now and I don't have a good enough camera, but tonight's moon here in Sydney is bright orange, due to all the bushfires and smoke in the air turning everything orange.

This is what the sun and the sky looked like today.

Camden, near Sydney

Fires are burning all around Sydney, fortunately not where I live.

Air quality is pretty bad here right now.  We're all praying for rain.

And this stunning photo of the red sun over grape vines

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Purest

A number of young children in a particular community died under tragic circumstances.  Their parents feared that this was punishment for bad deeds they had committed.  They went to the Lubavitcher Rebbe seeking a Tikkun, a spiritual  rectification.

''A Tikkun?'' the Rebbe replied.....  "You must know that you've done nothing wrong.''

The Rebbe continued:  "It is the way of our world that when a slap is given, it is given to the face. Not because the face committed a greater wrong, but because it is the purest representation of the whole individual. The ones who take the hit are the purest.''

Source: Living Torah

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Rabbi Anava's Miraculous Recovery [video]

Rabbi Anava is sharing what he went through and the message behind it. Rabbi Anava had a series of issues that started with a severe infection in his leg that developed to cellulitis and as a result was hospitalized so he could be treated with antibiotics straight into his blood. But very soon after it developed to sepsis and from there developed to a blood clot that traveled to his lungs and caused Pulmonary Embolism with a massive blood clot in the main artery of the lungs that nearly killed him.