Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Rabbi Dudel of Lelov: Childbirth and Cholent

Rabbi Dudel of Lelov: Yarzheit 5 Elul  -[text from]

Dovid Shlomo Tzvi Biderman of Lelov (Lelów) also known as Rebbe Dudel, was the fourth Rebbe of the Lelov dynasty. He was born to his father Rabbi Elazar Mendel Biderman and his mother, Matel Faigeh, who was the granddaughter of the Seer of Lublin. From his father’s side, he was also a grandson of The Holy Yid.

He made aliyah to Israel at the age of 6. He married Miriam, who was the great-granddaughter of Rebbe Pinchas Halevi Horowitz, author of the Sefer Hafla’ah.

Influenced by the Karlin chassidim in Jerusalem, Rebbe Dudel journeyed to the “Beis Aharon” of Karlin. When he returned to Israel, he opened a synagogue for Karlin chassidim.

After his father’s passing, Rebbe Dudel refused to become a Rebbe, and it was only after his uncle also passed away that he agreed to lead the chassidim.

Rebbe Dudel was responsible for the money distributed by the Kollel Poland for the Jews living in the land of Israel, and was even jailed because of the Kollel’s debt. He was the head of the yeshivah Chayei Olam in Jerusalem and was admired by all the residents of the city – both Jews and non-Jews.

He passed away on the fifth of Elul, 1918 and was laid to rest on the Mount of Olives. His son, Rebbe Shimon Nosson Nuta, succeeded him.

The Ana Beko’ach Spiritual Remedy 

Once a chassid whose wife was having a difficult childbirth (first birth) came to Rebbe Dudel of Lelov to ask for a blessing for a successful birth. Rebbe Dudel told him that he should say the “Ana Beko’ach” prayer seven times – not too fast and not too slow. The chassid entered the room where his wife was giving birth and did exactly as the holy rabbi had instructed him. When he reached the last two words of the prayer, “He Who knows concealed things” (יוֹדֵעַ תַּעֲלוּמוֹת), he already heard the cries of his new baby daughter.


The initials of the Ana Beko’ach prayer spell a Kabbalistic holy Name, known as the Name of 42 Letters. 42 is the value of the word “mother” (אִמָּא). It is a segulah (a spiritual remedy) for bringing about a state of, “the mother of children is joyous.”[1]

When the Israelites encircled Jericho seven times in order to conquer it, they blew the shofars and recited the Ana Beko’ach prayer. (Until this very day, chassidim and devout people have a custom to encircle places that need to be “conquered” while reciting the Ana Beko’ach prayer – particularly with a melody that repeats each word of the prayer seven times).

Just as the Name of 42 Letters has the power to open Jericho, which is considered the lock of the Land of Israel, so it has the power to open the womb (the womb is described in the Song of Songs as, “a locked garden… a locked spring, a sealed fountain”[2]) when the time has come for the baby to be born.

Rebbe Dudel instructed his chassid not to recite the prayer too quickly or too slowly. This is the middle road, which is accepted and finds favor in the eyes of God and man. (The Alter Rebbe of Chabad also instructed his followers to do the same when leading communal prayers—not too quickly, not too slowly). This was also the prayer of Channah, when she asked for, “offspring of men.”[3] The sages explain that she meant that they should be neither too tall nor too short; neither too small nor too fat; neither too white nor too red; neither too smart nor too stupid.[4]

Honoring Shabbat Food

Once Rebbe Dudel spent Shabbat with his chassidim in Meron. A pot of cholent was brought in. The Rebbe said to bring it to him and he ate the entire pot by himself. Afterward he explained that the fire had gone out from under the pot and the contents of the pot had spoiled. “When they opened the pot, everybody held their nose,” he said, “and I could not stand to see how they were shaming the Shabbat food. So I ate it.”


Shabbat is the day that Divinity dwells openly even in the physical world and is present in the food prepared for the holy day. Rebbe Dudel’s sensitivity toward the Shabbat food is the attribute of the Academy of Hillel, who were careful to honor brides. In a discussion in the Talmud, the Academy of Hillel maintains that even if the bride is crippled or blind, she should still be praised as being, “attractive and righteous.” Rebbe Dudel was willing to go to great lengths (and if the reader has ever smelled a pot of spoiled cholent, he understands what resolve it takes to eat a pot of it) to maintain the honor of the bride, the holy Shabbat.

[1] Psalms 113:9. 
[2] Song of Songs 4;13. 
[3] 1 Samuel 1:11. 
[4] Berachot 31b.

Source: Inner

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Rav Arush Predicts

Someone sent me a link to the article where Rav Arush predicts the ''last Rosh Hashanah in Uman before Moshiach''  - I guess he means not just Uman, but the entire world.... his point is that it's the
Breslovers last chance to daven by Rebbe Nachman's Kever in Uman before Moshiach comes.
He also says that Moshiach could even come on Rosh Hashanah itself.

I didn't pay too much attention to the article at the time, but later I found the video of Rav Arush speaking [in Hebrew] with another Rabbi translating into English, and I found it quite compelling, so here it is:

Monday, August 24, 2020

Joe Biden's Stolen Speech

by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for

Joe Biden’s speech on Thursday night seems to have hit a homerun among voters. But to people in Canada that were listening – there was something vaguely familiar, according to reports.

Biden ended his speech with the words, “For love is more powerful than hate. Hope is more powerful than fear. Light is more powerful than dark.”

Jack Layton was the leader of Canada’s left-wing New Democratic Party and died exactly nine years ago – to the day.

As he lay dying in 2011, he wrote the following words to his followers and friends:

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair.”

There seems to be a prevalent notion out there that plagiarism and cheating isn’t really wrong. It is wrong, and if a person is brazen enough to do it during a speech in which the whole country is listening – well, it does not bode well. It is also halacha, by the way. Melania Trump’s speech was also not original at the RNC in 2016. It took much of the content from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech.

King Solomon

Let’s start with Shlomo HaMelech: In Mishlei 22:22 he writes: “Rob not from a poor person – for he is poor.” Chazal tell us (Yalkut Shimoni Mishlei 560; Midrash Tanchuma BaMidbar 27) that Shlomo HaMelech is referring to plagiarism – to reciting a statement without attributing it to its source.

Just as a poor person has no protector – no guardian to right wrongs and injustices, the same is true with intellectual property. An earlier thinker came up with an idea. Just as the poor person has no protector, so too does the thinker have no protector. Shlomo HaMelech is appealing to our conscience – do not steal from a poor person – for he is poor – he has no protector. Do not cheat or plagiarize for they too have no protector.

Queen Esther

We move forward down the timeline to Queen Esther (Megilas Esther 2:22). Two guards – Bigson and Seresh had plotted a coup d’etat. Mordechai, proficient in seventy languages, overheard and told the Queen. Queen Esther didn’t take credit for the information. She told the King that she got the information from Mordechai.

Esther was amply rewarded. It is for this action that she merited to be the conduit of the salvation of the Jewish people. Because of Esther it is said, “Whoever says something in the name of its originator – brings salvation to the world.”

Wouldn't She Have Been Justified?

What was really going on here? Esther certainly was a righteous woman. Can’t we assume that if she thought it better for the king to have assumed that the information came from her, then surely she would have been fully justified?

It would seem not.

It would seem that even though, it may have been in the Jewish interest that Esther gain the king’s favor, there is something inherently wrong in not attributing the information to the true source. She knew this. Esther could not stoop to do something that is inherently wrong. It was for this realization – that we are but mere foot soldiers in a campaign and our primary responsibility is to follow Hashem’s bidding in what is right and wrong – she was so amply rewarded.

Ethics of the Fathers

We now move on to Pirkei Avos 6:5. Naming the original source of the information. Avoiding plagiarism. It is in a list of one of the 48 ways in which Torah is acquired.

The Yalkut Yoseph (Kivud Av V’Aim chapter 9) cites a few more sources. The Shla in Meseches Shvuos says that it is an enormous sin – and should be looked at as if one has kidnapped human life.

He further cites the Sefer Chasidim (224): Whoever says something in the name of a deceased Tzaddik earns his favor and is prayed for by that Tzaddik.

Conversely, the Chida writes (Bris Olam) that if one writes a book from Torah that was stolen from others – they curse him, and he dies halfway through life.

Not the First Time

This incident was not the first time that candidate Joe Biden has plagiarized. In September of 1987, newspaper stories reported that he had plagiarized a speech by British politician Neil Kinnock and had not attributed it. A few months earlier, on March 15th 1987, given to a Welsh Labour Party Conference, Kinnock had said the following words:

“Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? [Kinnock pointed to his wife, sitting in the audience:] Why is Glenys the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Was it because all our predecessors were thick?”

According to an article in the New York Times on September 12th, 1987, written by Maureen Down, Biden’s speech given earlier that week, essentially plagiarized Kinnock’s speech. Biden also made reference to himself and his wife Jill in the same manner as Kinnock did and included the lines:

“I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? [Pointing to his wife sitting in the audience:] Why is it that my wife who is sitting out there in the audience is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? Is it because I’m the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree that I was smarter than the rest?”

In 1987, Biden also duplicated other parts of Kinnock’s speech. According to Wikipedia it included their forebears’ ability to read and write poetry, their strength in working for hours underground in a mine only to come up and play football afterward, and their being limited by lack of a “platform” upon which to stand.

Here, however, Joe Biden also made up different facts and attributed it to his own family so that he could say these words.

Recently, it was revealed by Joe Biden’s wife’s first husband that Mr. Biden and his wife were carrying on together while he, a former volunteer on Biden’s campaign, was still married to his wife Jill.

As my friend Rabbi Avi Shafran has said in a recent article:

“Shameless dissembling and personal indecency acted out in public before the entire country are, in the end, no less morally corrosive than the embrace of abortion-on-demand..”

No candidate is perfect. However, in this particular candidate, unfortunately, we have all three elements.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

3 Elul: Rav Kook Yahrzeit

It was the first of Elul, 5695 [1935], when Rabbi David Cohen [known as ‘the Rav HaNazir’] arrived at the guest house where Rav Kook was staying in Kiryat Moshe.

Exactly twenty years had passed since their first transformative encounter in Switzerland. This time he held in his hands a special document to show his dying master.

For twelve years, the Rav HaNazir had labored to organize Rav Kook’s writings into a systematic, comprehensive work. As his revered master lay on his death bed, he showed him the beginning fruits of his labor - the title page of the first volume of Orot HaKodesh. Rav Kook rejoiced; and he shed tears.

On the day of his death, Rav Kook motioned to his son, Rav Tzvi Yehudah, to come close. “Please pay off any outstanding debts. I do not want to owe anyone, not even the smallest amount.” He then made a second request: “Please prepare my writings for publication. But take care that the only title given to me is ‘rabbi.'”

With great effort, Rav Kook turned his face towards the scholars in the room. When it became clear that his soul would soon depart, the people cried out, “Shema Yisrael!” Rav Kook whispered after them, “Shema Yisrael,” breathing his final breath with the word echad - one. “The Eternal is one.”

The Rav HaNazir wrote:
“When the Rav passed away, We heard a heavenly voice. The voice called out, “Haim, ad olam!” ‘Life, forever!’ Even after completing life in this world, the soul continues, and it grows even stronger, with blessing, in eternal life.”

[Stories from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Malachim Kivnei Adam, p. 420; preface to Orot HaKodesh, pp. 24, 30.]

Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook was born on the 16th Elul 5625 (September 1864). On the day of his bris, he received a kippah as a gift. From that day on, his parents always kept a kippah on his head. Even while he was sleeping, Avraham Yitzchak's parents did not take the kippah off his head so that he should not be bareheaded - not even for a minute. The little boy would not fall asleep without his kippah. When he turned over and it fell off, he immediately woke up.

Avraham Yitzchak was four years old when he was brought to the cheder (school) in his home town of Geriva, to learn to read. The teacher offered him a siddur and turned to the page with the alef-bet. The child stubbornly refused to learn.

"Why won't you study?" asked the teacher.

"I want to learn from the big books" replied Avraham Yitzchak shyly.

"Which big books?" asked the teacher.

Avraham Yitzchak did not know how to answer. Instead he ran home and brought back a Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, and another large heavy book. The teacher smiled and said to the child: "If you want to be able to learn from the big books, you must first study from the small books." Avraham Yitzchak understood and began to read the alef-bet from the siddur.

In the same cheder, there was a class of older children who were studying Torah. Every Friday, these children were tested on the material they learned all week. One Friday, an interesting thing happened. One of the older children did not know the answer. There was silence. Sudddenly, the voice of a small boy from the youngest reading table was heard. It was the answer, spoken clearly and correctly. Avraham Yitzchak had been listening to the lessons of the older children and had understood them.

Little Avraham Yitzchak invented an unusual game to play with his friends in cheder. He arranged the children in rows. Each child had a knapsack on his back, as if they were getting ready for a long journey. Avraham Yitzchak was their guide. The small soldiers asked: "Where are we going?"

"To Israel, to Eretz Yisrael..."


After many years of diligent study, Rav Kook was appointed as the rabbi of Zoimel, one of the small villages in Lithuania. After serving as rabbi of the town of Zoimel, Rav Kook was appointed the rabbi of a large city, Boisk. In Boisk, the Rav could sit and learn Torah for many hours each day. There was a time when he would learn 50 or 60 pages of Talmud in one day.

Many years passed before the Rav went to live in Eretz Yisrael. When the possibility of becoming the Rav of Jaffa arose, he refused all other appealing offers which came from European Yeshivot which asked him to be their Rosh Yeshivah or from great cities abroad, whose congregants wanted him to be their rabbi.

In addition, the congregation of Boisk refused to allow their rabbi to leave, until the Jews of Jaffa wrote to them explaining that the mitzvah of yishuv Eretz Yisrael, settling the land of Israel, takes precedence over everything else.

On Friday 28th Iyar 5664 (10 May 1904) Rav Kook went to live in Eretz Yisrael. He was received at the port of Jaffa with great honours and began his term as Rabbi of Jaffa. At that time, Israel was under Turkish rule and Jewish settlements were first being established. Jaffa was one of the main centers of Jewish settlement.

Hundreds of people from Jerusalem, Rishon LeZion, Rehovot and Petach Tikvah came to welcome the Rav and to form their own impressions of this unique figure, and his wife the Rabbanit Raiza Rivka.

The first World War broke out. The Rav had gone to Europe on shlichut, as an emissary for Eretz Yisrael, and could not return to his home in Jaffa because of the war. He stayed in London and served as a rabbi of the city. But he was constantly worried about the fate of his community in Jaffa and the hardships facing Jews in Israel which was then in a state of siege and famine.

After the war ended, the Rav returned to Eretz Yisrael. The Jews of Jaffa wanted him to continue as their rabbi. At the same time, the community of Jerusalem asked him to become their rabbi. The Rav debated this dilemma for quite some time. He knew that a small part of the Jewish community of Jerusalem did not want him as Rabbi. He did not want to be the cause of fights and arguments in the Holy City. On the 3rd Elul 5679 (29 August 1919), the Rav came to Jerusalem and only after a while did he bend to the will of the community, and become the rabbi of Jerusalem.

Here he established the centre of the world-renowned Yeshiva Merkaz HaRav, the "Centre of the Rav". Later, along with Rav Yaakov Meir Charlop, he instituted the Chief Rabbinate of Eretz Yisrael, with both rabbis acting as Chief Rabbi. All his time and effort was dedicated to the Rabbinate, the affairs of the community, and to the learning of Torah.


The author, Tikvah Sarig, tells the following story about Rav Kook:

On the first Yom Kippur eve, after my father passed away, I was not yet five years old. Every morning since his death, my mother would wake me before dawn and wipe the sleep from my eyes with the same words: "Get up, my daughter, my neshama, my soul, to pray for the memory of your righteous father, the tzaddik".

What a tzaddik was, I did not know, but I imagined he looked like this: a kippah on his head, his beard long, his eyes warm and good, the palms of his hands soft, and his voice, melodic. Just like my father who was taken from me.

It was erev Yom Kippur. After the pre-fast meal, my mother took me to the house of Rav Kook. The sun was about to set. We marched quickly to the Rav's house. The streets were filled with worshippers, clad in white, hurrying to the synagogue to hear Kol Nidre, the opening Yom Kippur prayer.

Opening the door, we were welcomed by the fragrance and warmth of burning candles. Rebbetzin Kook and her daughter opened their arms to us and began to cry. My mother patted my head.

"Soon you will go into the Rav's study to receive his blessing" said the Rebbetzin.

With her words, my fear grew. I sighed loudly. Just then, the great door opened and from within, a righteous man, a tzaddik, came out. He was all dressed in white, his gartel was embroidered with gold. On his head he wore a white kippah; his beard was long. His eyes, warm and good, were looking at me with pity and kindness.

"Aba! Daddy!" I cried and clung closely to my mother, hiding my face in her dress, my limbs trembling. I heard my mother's voice through my tears: "Go my child. Receive a blessing from the honoured Rav!"

She led me a few steps towards him. The Rav took my small hands into his warm, soft ones.

"Do not cry, my child" he said, placing his hands on my head. "Do not be afraid of me. I was a friend of your father. Come here and I will bless you on this holy day."

The Rav's hands were soft and warm - just like my father's. His voice was melodic - just like my father's. I felt as if a river of kindness and warmth washed all over me - from my head to my toes - just like when I used to sit on my father's lap.


Rav Kook was so righteous that he always forgave his enemies and even loved and blessed them.


In his last days, the Rav became very sick. He suffered in terrible pain. It was difficult for him to learn, and it was difficult for him to hide his anguish from his students and relatives.

On the morning of the 3rd Elul, his condition became worse. Even though speaking was very hard for him, he strained himself and demanded of his family and students not to add any titles to his name on the cover pages of his books, not to eulogize him, telling them (do not call me) "Rabbeinu, our Rabbi, and not the "Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael" - "Simply HaRav - the Rav".

A large crowd stood outside the house, where the Rav lay on his deathbed. He raised his eyes to the window in his room. Everyone in Eretz Yisrael knew that a great leader, a teacher, a man of wisdom, was about to leave the land he loved so much.

The Rav grew weaker by the hour. His family, relatives, and a number of his students gathered around his bedside. In his last hours, the Rav's face was turned towards the wall. His students knew that it was written in the Talmud: "If a man passes away with his face towards the wall - it is a bad sign, and if his face is turned toward the people, it is a good sign". With his remaining strength, the Rav struggled and turned himself to face the people. At the last moment, all those who were standing around the Rav broke out saying "Shema Yisrael".

At sunset, on the third day of Elul 5695 (Sept 1st, 1935) the Rav passed away. The news flashed through the Jewish nation with the speed of lightning. The backbone of the Jewish nation was broken. The Rav of the generation was gone, the Rav of the era, the Rav of Eretz Yisrael at the time of her rebirth.

Exactly 16 years (3rd Elul) after Rav Kook ascended to Jerusalem, he ascended to Heaven.

Source: Reprinted from "Stories from the Life of Rav Kook" edited and translated by Masha Fridman

More on Rav Kook at Rav Kook Torah

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The 13 Attributes of Mercy

Understanding the Yud Gimel Midot Harachamim

by Dovie Schochet

After the grave sin of the golden calf, Moses ascended Mt. Sinai and pleaded with G‑d to forgive the Jewish people. After his supplications were accepted, Moses felt it was an auspicious moment to ask G‑d to give the Jewish people a way to obtain mercy should they fall again in the future.Moses pleaded with G‑d to forgive the Jewish people.

G‑d agreed with Moses, and told him to wait on a mountain where G‑d would show him His glory. Then G‑d passed before Moses and proclaimed the verses that are known as the 13 Attributes of Mercy (Middot Harachamim):

The L‑rd passed before him and proclaimed: “L‑rd, L‑rd, benevolent G‑d, Who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, preserving lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity, rebellion and sin, and He pardons.

The 13 Attributes of Mercy have been known to bring salvation and forgiveness to the Jewish people throughout the generations. In the Talmud, Rabbi Yehudah states that “a covenant was established regarding the 13 Attributes of Mercy that they will never be returned empty-handed.”

Their importance is underscored by the role they play in our prayer services. Every day when many Jews recite “Tachanun” (a confessional prayer), they say the 13 Attributes of Mercy, invoking G‑d’s mercy in the face our transgressions. Every fast day, which is an opportune time to repent, this prayer is recited. Most telling of all is how often we say it during the Ne’ilah service on Yom Kippur—the holiest moment of the year.

Who Knows 13?

Let us now explore the power and significance of the number 13.

Any person can show mercy to another, yet there are always restraints and calculations as to how much mercy will be shown. For example, most people walking past a beggar on the street will have a sense of rachmanut (mercy) for the unfortunate person. However, before someone reaches into a pocket to give, he or she will think about the children’s tuition, the mortgage, medical bills, etc. And so, only a small sum will be given to the beggar.

The number 13 signifies the infinite. The number 12 signifies constraint and order: e.g., the 12 zodiac signs and the 12 months in a year. Above order and control, 13 connotes boundlessness and immeasurability. The fact that there are 13 Attributes of Mercy teaches us that when G‑d shows mercy, He does so without limit. No matter how low we fall, He will come to our aid and forgive us.

This is further demonstrated in the word echad (one), which has the numerical value of 13 (ד=4 / ח=8 / א=1). This signifies G‑d’s oneness in the world, how He is beyond any measure and limitation.

Does G‑d Care?

So how can G‑d have mercy? Does G‑d have emotions and feelings? Furthermore, the rabbis of the Talmud refer to G‑d’s actions as “middot,” “attributes” or “character traits,” descriptions that refer to human qualities?

Maimonides explains that G‑d Himself does not have any emotions, as G‑d is infinite and not restricted to feelings. Rather these “middot” are used in reference to G‑d’s actions and not His qualities. Moreover, the term “middot” is used only as a “borrowed term,” and not to be taken literally. We use this term for G‑d because He performs actions in a way that is similar to human actions, which stem from our emotions.

Chassidic thought further expounds on this idea, explaining that G‑d Himself is beyond emotions and not tied down to them. On the one hand, there is G‑d in actuality, in His essence and glory. On the other hand, there is how G‑d portrays Himself and relates to us in this finite world. When G‑d appears to be angry or merciful it is because that is how we perceive His G‑dly light as it shines in this world.

A Dispute of Numbers

The kabbalists take the following approach to the words that are counted as an attribute.

The 13 Attributes of Mercy according to Kabbalah:

א-ל / G‑d — mighty in compassion to give all creatures according to their need; 
רַחוּם / rachum — merciful, that humankind may not be distressed; 
וְחַנּוּן / ve’chanun — and gracious if humankind is already in distress; 
אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם / erech apayim — slow to anger; (once, to the righteous) 
אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם / erech apayim — slow to anger; (repeated again for the wicked) 
וְרַב-חֶסֶד / ve’rav chesed — and plenteous in kindness; 
וֶאֱמֶת / ve’emet — and truth; 
נֹצֵר חֶסֶד / notzer chesed — keeping kindness 
לָאֲלָפִים / laalafim — unto thousands; 
נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן / noseh avon — forgiving iniquity; 
וָפֶשַׁע / vafeshah — and transgression; 
וְחַטָּאָה / vechata'ah — and sin; 
וְנַקֵּה / venakeh — and pardoning.

However, others argue and offer a different approach to the words that count as an attribute. For example, they believe that the first two names of G‑d are attributes themselves. In contrast, the Kabbalistic approach did not include the first two names of G‑d, instead, it regards them as introductory notes - as the source for the thirteen attributes of mercy.

י-ה-ו-ה / Hashem — compassion before a person sins; 
י-ה-ו-ה / Hashem — compassion after a person has sinned; 
א-ל / G‑d — mighty in compassion, to give all creatures according to their need; 
רַחוּם / rachum — merciful, that humankind may not be distressed; 
וְחַנּוּן / ve’chanun — and gracious if humankind is already in distress; 
אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם / erech apayim — slow to anger; 
וְרַב-חֶסֶד / ve’rav chesed — and plenteous in kindness; 
וֶאֱמֶת / ve’emet — and truth; 
נֹצֵר חֶסֶד לָאֲלָפִים / notzer chesed laalafim — keeping kindness unto thousands; 
נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן / noseh avon — forgiving iniquity; 
וָפֶשַׁע / vafeshah — and transgression; 
וְחַטָּאָה / VeChata'ah — and sin; 
וְנַקֵּה / VeNakeh — and pardoning.

The consensus amongst the Rabbinic authorities leans towards the kabbalistic approach. One of the reasons given for this is because in halachik analysis, when Torah is discussing a matter which has strong ties to Kabbalah, then the kabbalistic approach is the accepted opinion.

Monday, August 17, 2020

No Fear

Art: ''Havdalah with the Klausenberger Rebbe'' - Raphael Nouril

When you go out to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots, and a people more numerous than you, you must not be afraid of them, for Hashem, your G-d, is with you. [Shoftim 20:1]

Several fortunate students witnessed the fulfillment of this verse in the home of the tzaddik, R' Yosef Yozel Horowitz [the Alter of Novaradok].

During the Alter's later years, a brutal war had broken out in Russia. The battle had taken to the streets, as Russian citizens fought against the marauding bolsheviks.

One motza'ei Shabbos, the Alter stood with a cup of wine in hand, ready to recite Havdalah.

Suddenly, sounds of gunfire and shouting filled the air, as rioters entered the small town of Novaradok. The townspeople were in a panic, and screams of terror could be heard emanating from the houses. The sounds of gunfire and explosions were also clearly heard in the Alter's courtyard.

Yet to everyone's amazement, the apparent danger seemed to have no effect on the Alter. With a calm and pleasant voice, the Alter began reciting Havdalah, displaying a heart full of trust in Hashem.

The students who were present in the Alter's home that motza'ei Shabbos later remarked that in those incredible few moments, they had learned what it means to truly trust in Hashem.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Friday, August 14, 2020

Living in a World of Lies

May Gibbs drawing from a 1919 public health campaign reminding people to wear their mask during the Spanish flu pandemic.

Yesterday I had to actually go out and run some errands, something I rarely do these days.  I started off very early and had to wait outside the first stop until they opened.  As I sat in my car, I watched the people going to work, and I felt so sorry for them all.  They were mostly young, some with small children and babies, some wearing masks, all looking miserable as they bought their cappuccinos and began their daily grind.   It made me realize how lucky I am that I am able to work from home and rarely face the outside world, which is a miserable place these days, everyone paranoid about germs and impending lockdowns if Covid starts a second wave.

But I guess those are the lucky people, they still have jobs!  What of all the others who've lost their jobs, have no money and no prospects on the horizon?  Little wonder the suicide rate is far higher than the Covid death rate these days.  

What do people rely on if they don't believe in God?  They have nothing to fall back on, no reason to stay alive, no hope, just despair.   And these days believing in God is a revolutionary act, much like telling the truth.  

I feel so sorry for the world.... people are lost and despairing,  when all they really need is to learn the Truth, and they will be okay.  The trouble is, no-one is telling them the truth.  Truth has left the building.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Rely only on Hashem

And the wisdom of scribes will putrefy, and people who fear sin will be held in disgust, and the truth will be absent. The youth will shame the face of elders, elders will stand before minors. Normal family relations will be ruined: A son will disgrace a father; a daughter will rise up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be the members of his household. The face of the generation will be like the face of a dog; a son will no longer be ashamed before his father. And upon what is there for us to rely? Only upon our Father in heaven.
[Sotah 49b] Source

Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Secrets of the Torah are Revealed to Him

From the Teachings of the Gaon and Tzaddik Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

It is written, “See, I set before you today a blessing and a curse” [Re'eh 11:26]. It would appear that the term “see” is redundant here, for can one see a blessing or a curse?

However the term re’eh [“see”] has the same numerical value, including the word itself, as raz [“secret”]. This means that whoever wants to search for and discover the Torah’s secrets will find them, and its mysteries will be revealed to him, as King David said: “Unveil my eyes, that I may perceive wonders from Your Torah” [Tehillim 119:18]. 

However one who does not want to discover the Torah’s secrets and puts no effort into it, even if he studies the same passage with his friend, will not discover what his friend does. 

King Solomon said, “If you seek her like silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of Hashem and discover the knowledge of G-d” [Tehillim 2:4-5]. 

To what can this be compared? It is like someone who loses something and becomes distraught over ever finding it again. When does he stand a chance of finding it? Only when he looks everywhere for it. However if he stays home and whines about it, without looking, the lost object will not reappear on its own.

The same applies in regards to Torah. A man cannot understand it and will not find the treasures it contains if he does put an effort into looking for them. The Mishnah teaches, “If a man says to you, ‘I have labored and not found,’ do not believe him. If he says, ‘I have not labored but I still have found,’ do not believe him. If he says, ‘I have labored and found,’ you may believe him. This is true in regards to words of Torah” [Megillah 6b]. 

This teaches us that nobody can understand the Torah unless he puts an effort into it. As the Sages say, “Whoever occupies himself with the Torah merits many things. … The secrets of the Torah are revealed to him” [Pirkei Avoth 6:1].

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Solutions While You Sleep

this is a re-post from June 2012.  I wrote this, but I don't remember writing it.... so much has happened since 2012, I'm honestly not surprised I don't remember things!

I had a personal salvation this week, after several months of wondering why I was going through so much suffering - which was actually worse than anything I'd ever experienced before - and on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz I was given the answer via a dream - even though I didn't remember the dream, I woke up with the answer, just as I had prayed for it before I went to sleep.  Once I'd acknowledged it and dealt with it, the judgment on me seemed to disappear, and I felt so much better.

If something of great importance is transmitted to you while you sleep, you will wake up with it on your mind, and it is vital that you realize it for what it is, and act on it.  The part of our soul that ascends while we sleep can answer our deepest questions, so pray hard before you sleep for the answer, and if the time is right, you will receive it.

We have been taught that all suffering has a time limit, and if you are someone who is suffering through some kind of agonizing problem, know that it will end, and you will be given the solution to it eventually - the remedy is in your own hands, and Hashem will supply you with the answer if you genuinely want to rectify it.

This is known as a tikkun - a rectification - and the bigger the problem, the more likely it is that it is part of your life's mission to get through it and come out the other end, a better and stronger person.

Often the people we are drawn to are the ones who can help us fix ourselves, and sometimes we can also be the ones to fix them as well.  That is how tikkunim are achieved - some people have to meet simply for that reason, and therefore they are drawn to each other on some level, as their soul knows they have to work something out.  Soul attractions are real, not accidental.  We are magnetically drawn to those people who can help us find our way.  

This following piece of advice is from Shlomo's blog - A Perfect World Now

As the Vilna Gaon writes [Commentary on Jonah]:

“The main thing [to keep in mind, is that the purpose of reincarnation], is to affect the repair of a [negative] influence, originating in a previous lifetime...

[One way] to discern exactly what that negative influence is, is to reflect upon the type of wrong your soul yearns after the most, in this lifetime. That which you yearn after most, is likely something you became habituated to in a previous life.

And therefore pay attention to your vices. [They tell you exactly what you have to work on in this lifetime.] ...The main thing is, to repair that which one stumbled in in a previous [life] ...

That’s why some people are drawn after one type of sin, more than another. And that’s also why our Sages say, that one must continually judge himself, and weigh his actions..."

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Happiest Man on Earth

Eddie Jaku OAM was born Abraham Jakubowicz in Germany in 1920. His family considered themselves German, first, Jewish second. 

On 9 November 1938, the night immortalised as Kristallnacht, Eddie returned home from boarding school to an empty house. At dawn Nazi soldiers burst in, Eddie was beaten and taken to Buchenwald.

Eddie's book ''The Happiest Man on Earth'' has just been published to co-incide with his 100th birthday.  

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Tu B'Av

L'illui nishmat Mordechai ben Menachem a"h

The Jewish mini-holiday of Tu B’Av

The 15th of Av is undoubtedly a most mysterious day. A search of the Shulchan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law] reveals no observances or customs for this date, except for the instruction that the tachanun [confession of sins] and similar portions should be omitted from the daily prayers [as is the case with all festive dates], and that one should increase one’s study of Torah, since the nights are begining to grow longer, and “the night was created for study.” And the Talmud tells us that many years ago the “daughters of Jerusalem would go dance in the vineyards” on the 15th of Av, and “whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride.

And the Talmud considers this the greatest festival of the year, with Yom Kippur (!) a close second!

Indeed, the 15th of Av cannot but be a mystery. As the “full moon” of the tragic month of Av, it is the festival of the future redemption, and thus a day whose essence, by definition, is unknowable to our unredeemed selves.

Yet the unknowable is also ours to seek and explore.

Source and more  click here

Monday, August 3, 2020

Soul Sharing: A Peek into Past Lives and Possession

Audio: Rabbi Aron Moss
click here to listen

Can one soul inhabit two bodies? Can one body contain two souls? One is called reincarnation, the other is called possession. Both are spoken of in the Kabbalah. But not often do you get to meet someone who has experienced being possessed, or has caught a glimpse of their past life. Evelyn and Robyn did. Hear their jaw dropping stories first hand.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Final Credits

Artist Unknown

Every commandment that I command you this day you shall keep to do, that you may live and multiply, and come and possess the land that the Lord swore to your forefathers. [Eikev 8:1]

The lesson that one who completes a mitzvah is credited with it [see Rashi] is particularly apt for our generation.

For according to all the signs which were given by our Sages, we are presently in the last generation of exile, which will become the first generation of redemption.

Thus, it is greatly encouraging to know that despite the fact that the Torah study and observance of mitzvot in previous generations greatly surpassed that of our more humble efforts, nevertheless one who completes a mitzvah is credited with it.  

Mashiach will come in the merit of our mitzvot, which are performed in the last moments of exile.

Based on Likutei Sichos vol 9 pp 104-5 Lubavitcher Rebbe