Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The End of Time is Now

 New shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin

Surfside Names of Yidden Still Missing


Here is the most recently updated list for prayers and Tehillim for those still missing: [names received via Rabbi Yankie Denburg]

Chaim ben Sara
Malka bas Sara Rochel
Yisroel Tzvi Yosef ben Toiba
Tzvi Doniel ben Yehudis (Tzvi Ainsworth)
Ita bat Miriam (Itty Ainsworth)
Brad Cohen
Gary Cohen
Moshe Ben Toba 
Moshe Ben Shoshana
Arie Leib ben Ita
Ilan ben Kalman
Leib ben Shoshana
Sarah bat Ida
Naftulem bat Yafa (Nancy Kress Levin)
Efraim Ben Naftulem (Frankie Kleinman)
Jay ben Naftulem (Jay Kleinman)
Deborah bat Chaia (Deborah Berezdivin) 
Yehuda Arie ben Feiga Rivka
Nicole bat Andrea
Esther bat Linda
Lein ben Ilana
Leibl ben Feigue Rivka
Ruth bat Sarah
Devorah bat Clara
Myriam and Arnie Notkin
Miriam bat Sara 
Yaakov Reuvein Hacohen Ben Devorah
Mikael ben Hans
Gabriela bat Sara
Linda bas Clara (Linda March)
Ilan ben Ronit (Ilan Naybryf)
Chaya Gila bas Yehudis
Lois Marcus
Estelle Hedaya
Chaya Gila bas Yehudis 
Esther bat Leah 
Linda Ana Guara
Marcus Guara
Lucia Guara
Emma Guara 
Andreas Levine

Monday, June 28, 2021

Pinchas: The Lonely Road

Art Jeannette Woitzik

The two Parshiot before Pinchas - Chukat and Balak - are often read together [in Eretz Yisroel only]. The two parshiot afterwards - Matot and Maasei - are almost always read together. 

Pinchas, which is between these parshiot is always alone. Why?

This teaches us that when you are Kana'i [zealous] you should be prepared to spend your life alone. People do not have the courage to fight for what is right and even if they start out behind you, by the time you turn around they will be gone.

Source: Revach.net

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Our Hearts are Breaking

The family of Tzvi and Itty Ainsworth, who were renting an apartment in the Miami building that collapsed, are praying for a miracle after over 48 hours without any sign of the couple.  Formerly living in Australia, Tzvi and Itty moved back to Florida four years ago.

159 people are still unaccounted for, many of them orthodox Jews.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Chatam Sofer Foresees 5781

Rabbi Glazerson translates from a Sefer written 190 years ago by the Chatam Sofer that this year 5781 is the Year of Moshiach. 

Here Comes Delta


“That's the thing about unhappiness. All it takes is for something worse to come along and you realize it was actually happiness after all.” [Queen Elizabeth in ''The Crown'']

So here we go again, this time with the Delta strain of Covid.  Just in time for the Three Weeks, the new improved version of Covid is causing havoc in places who naively thought they were done and dusted with it.

I don't know exactly what is going on elsewhere but here in Sydney we are fast approaching another possible Lockdown.  We've been Locked In right now... locked in to Sydney that is.  No-one can leave the city because we're all suspects for the disease.  Even though the actual confirmed cases are very very low, the number is way too high for comfort in a city who thought our Covid days were over.

The Delta strain is much more infectious, you can pick it up just by being in the vicinity of a carrier.  It spreads like wild-fire.  So everyone is very nervous..... and a lot of us have decided to self isolate again. 

And this is where I have to thank Rabbi Kessin for his shiur The Current Darkness and the Mabul which I listened to yesterday, and as always he  makes me feel better about what is happening, and I carry on with a much lighter load of panic. There is light at the end of this tunnel. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Current Darkness and The Mabul

 New shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin

"We are really in the time before the Moshiach"

Thursday, June 17, 2021

How to Understand the Incomprehensible

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto 

We sometimes find that a person on a mitzvah mission passes away. For example, he may be killed in a road accident. This occurs despite our being told by the Gemara [Pesachim 8b], "Mitzvah messengers are not harmed." There are also people who demonstrate self-sacrifice in honoring their parents, yet they die at a young age despite the Torah promising [Shemot 20:12], "Honor your father and your mother, so that your days will be lengthened." 

Many years ago, the holy Rabbi Rafael Pinto zt"l was murdered in Morocco by Arab rioters. His tragic death left everyone in shock since he was famous for his exceptional righteousness and profundity in Torah, remaining secluded in his home without leaving for any reason. In addition, Rabbi Rafael was known as someone who had connections amongst the Arabs and often treated them charitably, supporting them when necessary. 

Similarly, the entire history of the Jewish people is replete with difficult circumstances where great, lofty tzadikim suffered through terrible hardships. During the empire of the wicked Greeks, Chana's seven sons, from oldest to youngest, were killed in front of her eyes, following which she threw herself from the roof. The Gemara also tells us that all Rabbi Yochanan's sons died during his lifetime (Berachot 5b, Rashi). Over the course of time, during the terrible Holocaust, European communities suffered indescribable atrocities. The wife and children of the Admor of Satmar were killed, among millions of others. 

This harsh reality can undermine our faith and, G-d forbid, even lead to denying Hashem's existence. In order for Am Yisrael to remain faithful to Hashem despite all the challenges and troubles the human mind cannot grasp, Hashem commanded man to observe chukim – decrees – which we have no permission to ponder. By accustoming ourselves to fulfilling also the mitzvot which are beyond our comprehension, one attains absolute faith in Hashem, despite the many questions that may crop up from time to time as a result of various difficult events. 

This week's Parshah cites the verse [Chukat 19:14], "… a man who would die in a tent." What is the connection between the opening verse of the Parshah, "This is the decree of the Torah" to the later verse, "… a man who would die in a tent"? Man must know that he receives the strength to cope with all the hardships that befall his 'tent' – his home – even in the most difficult of circumstances, when death and bereavement enter his personal abode, by observing the chukim. When a person educates himself not to ask questions and fulfils chukim that he does not comprehend, only because it is Hashem's will, from this he draws the strength to cope with his troubles without casting doubt on the justice of Hashem's providence. 

Parshat Beha'alotcha tells us [10:35], "When the Ark would journey, Moshe said, 'Arise, Hashem, and let Your foes be scattered, let those who hate You flee from before You'." Rashi explains, "Since the Ark would travel ahead a distance of three days' journey, Moshe would say, 'Stand in place and wait for us and do not go further'." The Ark went ahead of them to show Bnei Yisrael the way. Let us try to picture this awesome sight! Bnei Yisrael walked in the Wilderness with the pillar of cloud going ahead to straighten the path, while at night the pillar of fire went ahead of them to light up the darkness. Furthermore, Am Yisrael were nourished by the manna and quenched their thirst from Miriam's well which accompanied them on their journey in the Wilderness. 

The Ark went before Am Yisrael and in this manner showed them the way, but Moshe Rabbeinu called to it, "Arise, Hashem, and let Your foes be scattered..." Moshe was asking the Ark to wait for Am Yisrael and not advance more than a distance of three days' travel so that Bnei Yisrael would feel safe and protected by the Ark's presence. Were it to go any further ahead, Bnei Yisrael would no longer feel its presence and may feel vulnerable. 

Furthermore, the Ark was the symbol of Torah since it contained the Luchot. Similarly, every Jewish person possesses a spark from Moshe Rabbeinu's soul, therefore he calls out to Hashem saying, "Do not distance Yourself from me too much. I need to feel Your closeness." Hashem, on His part, turns to man and says, "I remain in My place. If you feel lost and distant, it means you are the one who has distanced himself." 

How can man feel constant closeness to Hashem? Through cleaving to the Torah and mitzvot, even in matters that are considered a chok, incomprehensible to our human minds. When a person fulfills all the mitzvot without leaving anything out, he merits feeling constant closeness to Hashem even if, G-d forbid, death visits his home. If man accustoms himself to fulfil Hashem's word indisputably, sudden, unexplainable death will not make him lose his composure since he feels Hashem's love and closeness.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Prayers to the Tzaddik: Gimel Tamuz 5781

                                                              Art Robert Kremnizer

Article written by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski obm

Every person has a direct line with G-d, and we are not permitted to pray to intermediaries. Indeed, the propriety of prayers where we appear to be asking for blessings from angels or for their intervention on our behalf, is the subject of debate, and must be interpreted in such a way that does not violate our basic belief that we relate only to G-d as the One from Whom everything emanates.

Yes, there is also the concept of faith in a tzaddik, which is derived from the verse in Exodus [14:31] "They had faith in G-d and in Moses, His servant". The sages derived from this verse that believing in the leader of Israel is equivalent to believing in the Creator [Mechilta]. In addition, the Talmud states that if there is a sick person in one's household, let him go to a chacham [a wise man] to pray for his recovery [Bava Basra 116a]. Inasmuch as everyone has a direct contact with G-d and we do not work through intermediaries, why is the prayer of a tzaddik more potent that one's own prayer?

There are several ways in which we can understand the concept of faith in a tzaddik. First and foremost is that the opinion of a wise man, a tzaddik, as a Torah authority, must be accepted and followed even if we are in disagreement with it [Sifri, Deut 17:11].

There is also a concept of receiving a blessing from a tzaddik and this has its basis in a statement from G-d to Abraham "And you will be a blessing" [Gen 12:2] which the Midrash interprets to mean that G-d gave Abraham the power to bless people, and that gift has been given to other tzaddikim as well. Nevertheless, a person must understand that even though the tzaddik conveys the blessing, the origin of the blessing is G-d.

A woman once came to Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobel, pleading for a blessing to have a child. To the amazement of the bystanders, the Rabbi, who was exceptionally kind and benevolent, said brusquely to her "I'm sorry, I cannot help you". The woman left the room tearful and broken hearted.

Noting the bewilderment of his chassidim, Rabbi Mordechai said "Just wait a few moments, then go find the woman and bring her back here." The chassidim did as they were told and when the woman came back, the Rabbi asked her "What did you do when you left here?"

The woman replied "I turned my eyes to Heaven and I said "Dear G-d, the Rabbi refuses to help me. Now You are my only hope. Bless me that I have a child."

Rabbi Mordechai said to the chassidim "This woman believed that I had magical powers, and she was trusting in me rather than in G-d. When I refused her request, she placed her trust in G-d where it belongs. She will now be blessed with a child."

The primary function of a tzaddik is to assist people in the proper service of G-d, to help them recognize their character defects and show them how to do teshuvah.

The power of a tzaddik is in his strong belief in G-d, and anyone who has that strong a belief can bring about similar results. When the tzaddik prays for a sick person, for example, and says that G-d is the healer of the sick, his belief is so strong that it actually brings down the Divine healing upon the person. In fact, said Rabbi Mordechai, the prime reason for having a relationship with a tzaddik is to learn how to perfect one's belief in G-d.

Extracted from "Not Just Stories" by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski MD
Published by Shaar Press

The Lubavitcher Rebbe would often answer requests by saying that he would pray for the person at the grave of his father-in-law, the previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Understanding the Success of the Israeli Leftist Party

 New shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin

A Lesson in Fund-raising

Rabbi Zusya of Hanipoli once came to a city to raise funds for charity. Two local young men were very eager to share in this great mitzvah by doing the legwork of going from door to door. There was a wealthy man in town who always gave a very generous donation to every good cause. They decided to approach him last, because his large donation was guaranteed.

After a long hard day of knocking on doors, the two volunteers succeeded in raising nearly 50 rubles, a very respectable sum. Bone tired but very optimistic, they approached their final, affluent prospect, expecting him to match the entire amount they had amassed. How chagrined and shocked they were when he gave them only the few rubles necessary to round out the full 50 rubles. All of their pleas for a more generous contribution fell on deaf ears. They could not believe it! Why had this philanthropist's heart suddenly turned to stone?

The two collectors returned to Reb Zusya and complained bitterly about their acute disappointment. The Rebbe silenced them saying "My dear sons, there is no reason to be upset. At the very moment a supplicant arrives in a city, a Heavenly decree pronounces how much money he will raise. Once the decree is issued, it cannot be changed. The poor man will not take from this city a penny more or a penny less."

Reb Zusya continued: "The moment I set foot in this city I heard a celestial voice crying out that I would raise exactly 50 rubles for charity. Had you approached the rich man first, he would certainly have given you a lavish donation. However, since you saved him for last, he could not give you more than the few pennies you were shy of 50 rubles."

From this story, the Stretiner Rebbe derived an essential lesson in fund-raising. Often people discourage a fund-raiser, saying that a certain person or group of people have been solicited time and again and they are probably sick and tired of giving, or have exhausted their charity account. This is absolutely false. For every new cause a new Heavenly decree determines how much will be raised. It makes no difference how many times these people were approached. As long as there are people willing to collect, the preordained sum will be raised.

In this vein the Ponevezher Rav would say "Ess felt nit kein tzedakah gelt in der velt, ess felt nemers!" - "There is no shortage of charity funds in the world; there is only a shortage of collectors!"

Nor should someone be upset when a donor gives a disappointing gift. It is very possible that it was decreed that no more money could be donated to this cause.

Source: Maamarei Tzedakah by Rabbi Aaron Roth

Monday, June 7, 2021

When Will Eliyahu Ha Navi Show Up ?

No-one gives a shiur like Rabbi Jacobson.   

When will Eliyahu Ha Navi show up indeed.... and what will he do?

For Source sheets click here

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Korach's Mistake

According to Chasidic thought, Korach's rebellion occurred at this point in time since it was prompted by the sin of the spies.  The inner reason why the spies did not want to enter the Land of Israel was because they preferred the exclusively spiritual life of the desert to a life of serving G-d and physical concerns, such as the need to earn a living.  The downfall of the spies thus sent a powerful message that Judaism prioritizes physical action over spiritual and intellectual pursuits.

Upon hearing this, Korach protested to Moshe "Why have you made yourselves elite over G-d's assembly?" [Korach 16:3]  "I can appreciate" argued Korach, "that you are a more spiritual and holy person than us, but since we now see that Judaism makes physical action the priority, how are you better than anybody else? Aren't your actions the same as ours?"

Korach's mistake was that the Torah does not demand lifeless action, but rather deeds that shine with inspiration and spiritual enlightenment.  Thus, the two mistakes of the spies and Korach teach us that a healthy equilibrium is required: One must not shy away from physical life, like the spies.  But on the other hand, Judaism's emphasis on action must never lead to a life of meaningless ritual and spiritual bankruptcy.  Every mitzvah should be carried out with the highest levels of spiritual consciousness.

Our struggle to harmonize physical action with spiritual contemplation is fought on three fronts:

a) the need to ensure that one's intentions do not remain in the realm of wishful thinking and that concrete action takes place;
b) that one's actions should always be dictated by the Torah's value system;
c) that action should never be overglorified, and that one should always aspire to be more spiritual.

Our Sages taught that the world was made with the letter ה.  This is because its shape represents the equilibrium between the more spiritual dimensions of thought and speech, versus physical deed.  Korach's name - קרח - is spelled by letters that are all distortions of the left side of the letter Hei, indicating how he wished to upset this equilibrium in the area of deeds.

In the ches ח the gap between deed and thought/speech is closed, suggesting that the physical no longer looks up to or aspires to the spiritual - which is why Korach rebelled against the spiritual leadership of Moshe and Aharon.

In the kuf ק deed has extended below and is no longer dictated by the thought and speech of Torah.
And in the raish ר, deed is missing altogether.

In short, it is relatively easy to be entirely spiritual and aloof, or entirely physical and mundane.  Our challenge is to harmonize both these qualities in our daily life, thus making a home for G-d below.

Based on Likutei Sichos, Lubavitcher Rebbe

Friday, June 4, 2021

Praying by the Graves of the Righteous


by Rabbi Benjy Simons

As an individual is taking leave of the cemetery after visiting his dearly departed mother, his attention is diverted to another man in the distance. The man seems to be praying with profound intensity and keeps repeating, “Why did you have to die? Why did you have to die?” 
The first man approaches him and says, “Sir, I do not wish to interfere with your private grief, but this demonstration of pain is more than I’ve ever seen before. Who are you mourning? A child? A parent?”

The mourner takes a moment to collect himself, then replies, “My wife’s first husband.” 

In this week’s Parsha the incident of the spies is told over in great length, and we have the first historical record of the concept of praying by a grave site. Rashi mentions that Calev who was the representative of the Tribe of Yehuda goes to Chevron to pray by the graves of the Patriarchs, which later became included in the tribal portion of Yehuda. He was concerned that he may be enticed by his colleagues who wished to disparage the Land of Israel, and unlike Yehoshua who received a name change and specific prayers from Moshe, Calev needed to draw down his own blessings for strength and fortitude (see Sotah 34b). 

While the Halachic commentators debate what exactly is permissible when interceding with those who have passed on, the Gemara (Ta’anis 16a) records the custom to go out on fast days to (Jewish) cemeteries and have those who have passed on to pray on our behalf. The Midrash (Sefer HaYashar Vayeishev Ch. 8) also records that Yosef prayed by his mother Rachel’s tomb when being brought down to Egypt in chains and that Ya’akov himself buried Rachel on the road to Bethlehem to enable her to pray on behalf of her children who would go into exile after the destruction of the First Temple (see Rashi to Bereishis 48:7). The Arizal writes that there exists a special energy at the grave of a Tzaddik and the Chasam Sofer equates the sanctity of a Kever with that of a Shule. 

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (128:13) writes in the context of the custom of visiting a cemetery on Erev Rosh Hashanah, that it is important that we not direct our prayers to the deceased, but rather may it be in their merit that we receive blessings and success. He writes that were one to pray to the deceased directly, one may be in violation of the prohibition of ‘inquiring of the dead’, and perhaps connected to why we do not know were Moshe is buried today, due to the concern that it would become a shrine and potentially likened to necromancy. 

The Zohar (Vayikra 70b) writes that when the world needs mercy and we are dwelling in pain, we go and notify those sleeping in Chevron and Hashem will do their desire and have mercy on the world. May we merit that all our prayers are answered and those who have passed on intercede on our behalf.

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Thursday, June 3, 2021

23 Sivan: A Special Day for Salvation

Special prayer for the 23rd of Sivan [Thursday 3 June]

On the 23rd of the month of Sivan (כג׳ סיון) the decree of Haman (At the time of Mordechai and Esther) to annihilate the Jewish nation was nullified. 

The holy books teach us that this day is a very powerful day for prayers to nullify decrees and anything bad, evil and horrible against us. In the same way that from that day the situation of the Jewish nation changed and became good, and “Mordecai left the king’s presence with royal raiment” (Esther 8/15) … “and the city of Shushan shouted and rejoiced” … and as a result the Megila says… “The Jews had light and joy, and gladness and honor” – The holy books teach us that this day (Sivan 23) is a powerful day to revoke and nullify any decree against you (Sickness, death, poverty, infertile, etc.) 

Therefore on this powerful day there are a few things you want to do: 

Light two (2) candles for Esther and Mordechai 
  • Give three (3) coins to charity. The coins should be held with both hands at the same time when placing in the charity box 
  • Read chapters 22, 83, 130, 142 of Tehilim – Find text at link below 
  • Read chapter 8 from the Megila of Esther – Find text at link below 
  • Read Avinu Malkeinu (Without a blessing, just the text)- Find text at link below 
  • Pray from your heart with your words anything you want and need – Ask from Hashem 
  • Recite the short prayer – Find text at link below 
  • Take upon yourself a good decision to add a Mitzvah to your daily schedule 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure all the above is done and read on the 23rd of Sivan during the day from dawn till sundown!

**All text available at Rabbi Anava's site: click here


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Current Events [Moshiach] and the Existence of God

 New shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin

He also responds to the controversial comment at the end of his last shiur regarding Gerim. [you can hear this within the first 10 minutes of the lecture] - and for those who tried to comment on that on this blog, I did not publish those comments as I thought it was just extending the lashonhara even further.