Thursday, September 24, 2020

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

5781: Heading for a Showdown

 by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

…and their lifeblood is dashed against My garments and I have stained all My raiment. For the day of vengeance is in My heart and the year of My redeemed has come.” [Isaiah 63:3-4]

These two verses in the portion of Prophets read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah always awaken our hopes: Perhaps this is the year that we have anticipated for so long? Perhaps this is the year of redemption?

“For the day of vengeance is in My heart.” God has a passion to take vengeance. The vengeance in this verse refers to Edom, but the essence of Edom is Israel’s age-old archenemy, Amalek. The numerical value of Amalek (עֲמָלֵק) is the same as doubt (סָפֵק), safek. Amalek represents doubt. These verses are particularly relevant this year.

The coming year is 5781 since the creation. It is customary to designate the year by discarding the thousands and thus this year is known as, תשפ”א, or 781, which is (among other important things) the numerical value of Israel-Amalek (יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲמָלֵק), together. This means that the coming year is a decisive one. We might go so far as to say that this year will see the final showdown between Israel and its archenemy, Amalek. God’s spirit will rest upon Israel “And the spirit of Havayah will rest upon him,” [the value of the words, “Israel” (יִשְׂרָאֵל) and “God’s spirit” (רוּחַ הוי’) together also equals 781] and Israel will defeat Amalek. Israel will defeat doubt.

Vengeance on Doubt

What is the doubt that we must defeat? After the Israelites in the desert asked, “Is God in our midst or not?”[1] the following verse says, “And Amalek came and made war with Israel.” Amalek attacks us with the most painful and destructive doubt of all: Is God here, present, and with us, or is He not? Amalek has the power to make us doubt the existence of that which is clearly here.

“For the day of vengeance is in My heart.” The commentators explain that “in My heart” means that the desire to take vengeance on Amalek has been in God’s heart for generations, as is written, “God’s war with Amalek from generation to generation.”[2] It is as if God has restrained Himself throughout the years, but now the time has come. The entire movie is nothing more than a backdrop for the showdown. The showdown, the climax of the movie, is upon us.

The heart is the seat of desire. “The day of vengeance in My heart” means that God has a desire for that day to arrive. If God has this desire, why does He restrain Himself? God fulfills the teaching in the holy Zohar and the holy Tanya: “The mind controls the heart.”[3] This means that the intellect controls one’s passions and desires. We generally think of passion or lust in negative terms, as the evil inclination or the animal soul. But there are also positive passions: “The cravings of the righteous are strictly good.”[4] God is the Tzaddik, the Righteous of the world, and certainly, His desires are all positive. But the mind also controls positive desires. It reins them in if the time has not yet come. The mind sees the possible outcome of the fulfillment of a particular desire and knows when the proper time has come. It controls the desire of the heart so that it will wait for the exact moment—for “the year of My redeemed has come.”

The Mind’s Inner Dimension is Pleasure

Sometimes, however, the desire is so strong that the person’s mind cannot overcome it. An example of this would be when Joseph could no longer hold himself back and revealed his identity to his brothers. It is then that the inner dimension of the heart enters the arena to control the mind. In spite of the power of the heart’s inner dimension wanting to reveal the year of redemption, the mind’s inner dimension can still exercise control over the heart’s inner dimension. So, the wait may continue until the mind’s inner dimension has decided that the time is right.

What is the difference between the mind’s inner dimension and the ‘regular’ mind that controls the heart? When we say that the mind controls the heart, we mean that the mind, which sees the potential repercussions or outcomes of a particular action, perceives that the time is not yet ripe—the mind judges that the world is not yet ready. The perfect, precise backdrop is needed for “the year of My redeemed has come.”

The inner dimension of the mind is about something entirely different. It represents the feeling of Divine pleasure—it senses the exact moment when revealing, “the year of My redeemed” will cause the most pleasure. In Kabbalistic terms, the mind’s inner dimension is described as “the inner dimension of partzuf Abba [the father principle]” and this is equated with, “the inner dimension of Atik” (פְּנִימִיּוֹת אַבָּא פְּנִימִיּוֹת עַתִּיק), which in Chassidic thought is called “pleasure.” Thus, though in His heart, God desires “a day of vengeance” upon Amalek, in the inner aspects of the mind, God’s essential pleasure dictates otherwise. The time has not yet come for the manifestation of this essential pleasure. And so, we wait… until now. The showdown is always the movie’s climax, the high point of the entire story. It is “the year of My redeemed has come.”

Amalek’s Conversion

There is an important debate between the sages as to whether it is permissible to accept converts from Amalek. Maimonides determines that it is permissible, but there are many others who say that it is forbidden and that Amalekites must literally be killed, as in the verse, “Erase the memory of Amalek from beneath the heavens, do not forget.”[5] Maimonides writes that before going to war with Amalek, we offer peace. If he is willing to fulfill the seven Noahide commandments and to be subservient to Israel, he is accepted as a ger toshav, a foreign resident who accepts the Torah’s authority and the seven Noahide laws. Some sages say that if an Amalekite is willing to accept the conditions for becoming a ger toshav, he can then proceed to full conversion.

We see from this that there is a rectification for Amalek. It is written that the descendants of Haman (the Amalekite) taught Torah in Bnai Brak.[6] If they were teaching Torah in Bnai Brak, somebody must have converted them. There are opinions that they were accepted without knowledge of their lineage, which only became known after they converted. Nonetheless, we see that something good can come of Amalek—he can even become a Jew! Interestingly, the numerical value of “an Amalekite convert (גֵּר עֲמָלֵקִי) is equal to that of “the King Mashiach” (מֶלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ)!

[1] Exodus 17:7.

[2] Exodus 17:16.

[3] Tanya A 12.

[4] Proverbs 11:23.

[5] Deuteronomy 25:19.

[6] Sanhedrin 96b.

Judge Yourself before Judging Others


There is a wellknown saying that if you go to Court, you should do so '''with clean hands''.  In other words, if you are guilty of a wrong-doing, and then you take another party to Court, you will not only be judged accordingly in this world, but you will also be judged in Heaven before the other party is judged.

As the Ben Ish Chai wrote:

"Woe to the victim who cries out, more than to the one who wronged him." [Bava Kamma 93a]

A victim calls upon G-d to punish the one who wronged him - and Heaven treats the victim more severely! Why? Let's say Reuven called on G-d to judge Shimon for doing him a grave injustice. Shimon will not be punished until the Heavenly Court judges him. But Reuven himself probably wronged others at some point in his life - and for him, judicial procedures can be dispensed with. He himself admitted that such sins warrant severe punishment!  [See: Judgments Above and Below]

And also as we see here:

 "You are guilty of the injustice done to me," said the childless Sarah to Avraham when she sensed that Hagar, the maidservant Sarah had given to him as a wife, stopped respecting her after Hagar became pregnant. Sarah was outraged that Avraham had remained silent as Hagar abused her, and she concluded her charge with the words "Let Hashem judge between us!" [Bereishet 16:5]

This summoning of Heavenly judgment, says Rabbi Chanan in our gemara, boomerangs against the initiator, who is punished by Heaven even before the accused is. The proof is that Sarah died before Avraham, who "came to eulogize Sarah and weep over her." [Bereishet 23:2]

The impropriety of summoning Heavenly judgment, qualifies the gemara, is only in a situation where there is an alternative of seeking justice in a court here on earth. What alternative existed for Sarah, who is cited as the classical example of such impropriety?

Tosefot explains that she had the alternative of bringing her complaint against Avraham before the court of Shem, the son of Noach. Rabbeinu Nissim [Rosh Hashanah 16b] offers another approach. Even if Sarah had no court to turn to, she was wrong in not first bringing her complaint to her husband before summoning Heavenly judgment against him.

Heavenly judgment improperly summoned by the wounded party is a two-edged sword. Hashem declared that if the victim cries out to Him the outcry will be heeded and there will be severe consequences [Shmot 22:22-23]. The implication is that both the accuser and the accused will be punished, but the first to suffer will be the accuser. Maharsha points out that in the case of Sarah, her husband was punished with the loss of his wife, for the greatest tragedy of a person's death is suffered by the bereaved spouse. But her punishment of death preceded his punishment, for his grief began only when he returned to Hebron and became aware of her passing.

An interesting historical footnote to this chapter is provided by Ramban in his commentary on Torah. Sarah's oppression of Hagar, and Avraham's consent to her action which eventually forced her to flee, was improper. As a result "Hashem heeded her pain and gave her a son [Yishmael] who would be a wild man oppressing the descendants of Avraham and Sarah in so many ways."

[Source: Bava Kama 93a]

Thursday, September 17, 2020

What's Ahead in the New Year? Part 2 from Rabbi Mendel Kaplan

Following on from yesterday's video, here is Part 2 which illuminates the many details of this previously cryptic footnote that suddenly resonates with unprecedented optimism —unmasking the wonders in the sacred vision of the Rebbe!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Have the Events of 5781 been Predicted 30 Years Ago ?

 An incredible note from the Lubavitcher Rebbe says so.  Rabbi Mendel Kaplan explains in the video below.

Thank you Chaya for sending this to me.  I'm listening to it now, but already want to share it...

I recommend this shiur because it is so full of wonders and miracles, it will give you all a lot of chizzuk, in preparation for the coming Year of Wonders which is going to be shown to us, iy''H.

First Ever Mincha on the White House Lawn


Click here to read and see more

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

5781 Predictions

Thanks to Nonee for sending this to me.  I haven't listened to this Rabbi before:  Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin with some ''predictions'' for the new year.

5781 - ''I will show you wonders'' - the Talmud says that any year that begins with poverty will end with tremendous wealth.  

This lecture is well worth a listen - many good things to hear and iy''H they will all happen.  

Monday, September 14, 2020

Secret Codes of Ha'azinu

Seder Hadoros relates that Ramban once confronted his former student, named Avner, and asked him why he had strayed from the path of observant Judaism.  Avner replied that Ramban had once taught that "everything is to be found in the Song of Haázinu" and Avner found the idea so utterly preposterous that it led him to lose faith.

When Ramban stated that he still held by his assertion, Avner challenged him, "If so, where is my name to be found in the song?"

Ramban turned to the wall praying to G-d, and it soon occurred to him that the third letter of each word in verse 26 spelled Avner's name:

 אָמַרְתִּי אַפְאֵיהֶם אַשְׁבִּיתָה מֵאֱנוֹשׁ זִכְרָם

On hearing his, Avner repented and mended his ways.

Even though Avner had strayed far from the path of observance, his name was nevertheless recorded in the Torah with his title, Reb Avner, referring to his status as a fully observant Jew, after he had returned - for this was indeed his true essence.

Based on Sichas Shabbos Parshas Haázinu 5742 Lubavitcher Rebbe

Sunday, September 13, 2020

24 Elul Chofetz Chaim


1838-1933 [5598-5693]

Rabbi Israel Meir HaCohen Kagan is commonly known as the "Chafetz Chaim," the name of his famous work on guarding one's tongue.

Born in Zhetel, Poland on February 6, 1838 [11 Shvat 5598], he was taught until age 10 by his parents and then moved to Vilna to further his Jewish studies. Refusing the pulpit rabbinate, the Chafetz Chaim settled in Radin Poland and subsisted on a small grocery store which his wife managed and he did the "bookkeeping"-watching every penny to make sure that no one was cheated. He spent his days learning Torah and disseminating his knowledge to the common people.

As his reputation grew, students from all over Europe flocked to him and by 1869 his house became known as the Radin Yeshiva. In addition to his Yeshiva, the Chafetz Chaim was very active in Jewish causes. He traveled extensively (even in his 90's) to encourage the observance of Mitzvos amongst Jews. One of the founders of Agudas Yisrael, the religious Jewish organization of Europe and later the world, the Chafetz Chaim was very involved in Jewish affairs and helped many yeshivos survive the financial problems of the interwar period.

Exemplifying the verses in Psalms 34:13-14, "Who is the man who desires life...? Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit," the Chafetz Chaim passed away in 1933 at the ripe age of 95.

The Chafetz Chaim's greatest legacy is the 21 sefarim [holy books] which he published. His first work, Sefer Chafetz Chaim [1873], is the first attempt to organize and clarify the laws regarding evil talk and gossip. He later wrote other works, including Shmirat HaLashon, which emphasized the importance of guarding one's tongue by quoting our Sages. The Mishnah Brurah [1894-1907], his commentary on the Daily Laws of a Jew [his first series in the Shulchan Aruch], is found in many Jewish homes and is accepted universally to decide Halacha.

Firmly believing that he was living right before the time of Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, the Chafetz Chaim wrote a work that stressed the learning of laws concerning sacrifices, the Holy Temple, and related topics. He also published seforim to strengthen certain aspects of Jewish life including kashrus, family purity, and Torah study.

More on the Chafetz Chaim click here

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Many Evils

Art Sarah Porter

It is written, “When many evils and distresses have befallen them” [Vayelech 31:21]

The Maggid of Dubno states that towards evening, as the peddler of goods stands in the marketplace with his baskets in hand, and most of his products are already sold, he wants to return home quickly. He therefore takes his remaining pears, prunes, and other products, and mixes them together in one basket and sells them at half price, for he wants to get rid of them as quickly as possible. 

Hence the Torah states, “When many evils and distresses have befallen them” – when you see a combination of various ills descending upon Israel, it signifies that all the “products” are almost gone, and that we have reached the remainder, the “footsteps of Mashiach,” meaning that he will soon arrive.

Source: Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

Monday, September 7, 2020

Trivial Pursuits

Photo Luis Beltran

by Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

"For I know its inclination" [Vayelech 31:21]

A man's yetzer hara schemes against him all the days of his life and tries to make him stray from the path of Torah. It is man's duty to use every strategy at his disposal in order to defeat him.

To what can this be compared? The Chofetz Chaim offered the following parable:

There were two countries that had been waging war for many years. One day, the king of one of the countries declared that whoever could resolve the dispute between the two countries and achieve peace would receive a very great reward - an opportunity to enter the king's vaults and take whatever he is able to amass in the duration of one hour.

A short while later, a certain wise man approached the king and proposed a solution to end the warfare. The king liked the plan very much and decided to use it. Eventually, peace was restored between the two countries and, as promised, the wise man was invited to the king's vaults to collect his reward.

However, when the day of reward drew near, the king became concerned: Perhaps the wise man would take the most precious treasures in his vault. The king turned to his advisers for suggestions on how to protect his treasures.

"Your highness" said one of the advisers, "I happened to discover that this man loves music. Why doesn't the king simply place the kingdom's finest orchestra inside the vault? When the man arrives, the musicians will start playing music that will enrapture him; he will be so mesmerized by the music that he will entirely forget about the king's treasures!"

The king was very pleased with the idea.

When the wise man arrived at the palace, he was immediately taken to the king's vaults. The heavy gates to the vaults were opened, and the wise man took a step inside. But as he made his way to the riches, he was frozen in his place. For emanating from inside the vault was the sweetest sounding music he had ever heard.

The wise man awoke from his trance and reminded himself why he had come. He took another step in the direction of the riches and tried looking through the treasures, but the beautiful music kept distracting him.

"I will only listen to these beautiful tunes for one more moment." said the wise man. But one moment quickly turned into two, then three and four...

Do not forget why you came here! he shouted at himself. But the music was simply too enchanting.

"The time is up!" announced a royal officer. The hour had passed.

"But I haven't taken anything yet." said the man.

"Nothing you say will make a difference now" replied the officer. "Your time has passed!" The man returned home sad and despondent over the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that he had squandered. Everything had been in his hands, but he let it all slip away.

So it is in our own lives, said the Chofetz Chaim. Man receives a very special gift from Hashem. Over the course of his life he is given the opportunity to amass innumerable mitzvos.

However, the "evil adviser" - the yetzer hara - offers his "advice" and seduces man with trivialities that draw him away from Torah and mitzvos.

But then, when man reaches the end of his days and is summoned before the Heavenly court, he is painfully reminded of how he wasted his precious time, choosing to indulge in listening to worthless "music". By then, however, it will be too late.

It is incumbent upon every individual to constantly remind himself why he has come to this world. Let him not allow the yetzer hara to distract him from his true task.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Spiritual Beings in Physical Bodies

"that you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you will bring from your land, which the Lord, your God, is giving you. And you shall put [them] into a basket" [Ki Tavo 26:2]

First fruits represent the Jewish souls, as the Midrash teaches that the Divine Thought to create Jewish souls "preceded everything" [Bereishis Rabah 1:4]. In this respect, Jewish souls are "first" and cherished in a way similar to first fruits.

When the soul is in Heaven, before it enters a body, it enjoys an intense, ecstatic relationship with G-d.  Nevertheless, the soul is sent down to earth in a body which conceals its relationship with G-d.  This is not without profit since, through this descent, the soul is able to carry out a mission in the physical world, which can eventually result in an even more intense relationship with G-d.  For G-d's innermost "desire" is for His mitzvot to be carried out specifically in the physical world.

This is the lesson from the requirement of first fruits being placed in a basket.  Although the fruits are the finest and first of the crop, they cannot achieve perfection without a basket.

Likewise, the Jewish soul, which is G-d's highest priority, cannot achieve perfection without coming down into a physical body, in a world of concealment and temptation, because it is precisely through that descent that an even greater ascent is achieved.

Source: Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe vol 29

Also see: Yerida L'tzorich Aliya: Descent for the Purpose of Ascent

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Is There a Death Sentence on America?

How does one connect the rioting, chaos and coronavirus in the USA to the bringing of the Moshiach?

On this show, Tamar Yonah speaks with Rabbi Mendel Kessin. He shares his views on the mystical meaning of today’s turmoil that we see happening on U.S. streets and in the halls of Washington.

This video is audio only.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Chabad in Dubai...

I'm not getting into the politics of the peace deal between Israel and the UAE, but you should know that Chabad has been operating out of Dubai for a while now...

I think I just like the listening to the soundtrack on this video.

America's Role in the Messianic Process

Rabbi Mendel Kessin