Sunday, November 28, 2021

Mikeitz: At the End of Days


Text Source: Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Gutnick Chumash

The word Mikeitz means "At the end" as in the saying "the end of days" [Daniel 12:13]

In Aramaic the word "days" is almost identical to its Hebrew equivalent, but the last letter switches from a mem to a nun    ימים = ימין

The Zohar notes that this Aramaic word  ימין is identical to the Hebrew word  ימין , meaning "right" and on this basis, the Zohar concludes: There are two 'ends', one on the spiritual 'right' and one on the spiritual 'left'.

In Jewish mysticism, "left" represents the side of evil.  So, the 'end of the spiritual left' refers to the day when evil will cease to exist, with the end of exile, i.e. "the end of days" (קץ הימים).

"Right", on the other hand, represents goodness and holiness.  Thus we refer to the "end of the right" to indicate that there is no dilution of values in the realms of holiness, so the end is as good as the beginning.  The term קץ הימים ("end of the spiritual right") is thus an allusion to the final redemption, when good will triumph over evil, and we will see how good is found consistently throughout the entire world.

We are thus left with the question: Which "end" does the word Mikeitz refer to - the "end of the left" or the "end of the right"?

In fact, both could be argued:

a) At the beginning of our Parsha, Yosef is released from jail.  This was the end of Yosef's exile, i.e. the "end of the left".

b) On the other hand, we then read how Yosef suddenly rose to power and became ruler over Egypt - his redemption, represented by "the end of the right".

How could the two opposite concepts of exile and redemption be alluded to by the same expression?

Chassidic thought explains that the inner purpose of exile is that the Jews should be scattered around the world in order to "rescue" sparks of holiness which had been lost in physicality.  Thus, redemption is not the elimination of exile, but rather, it is the goal of exile.  And therefore, both concepts are hinted to by the same word.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

L'Shem Shamayim [In the Name of Heaven]


                                        Art "The Merchant" Michoel Muchnik

Tehilim Perek 49: Beis Yisroel of Ger - Even Some Mitzvos Won't Go With You 

Dovid HaMelech tells us in Tehilim (49:18) כִּי לֹא בְמוֹתוֹ יִקַּח הַכֹּל, when you die you won't take everything with you. The Gerrer Rebbe the Beis Yisroel asks, the word "everything" implies that some things you will take with you after death. But not everything. 

This being the case, the pasuk cannot be referring to material objects, since you can't take "any" of your material items with you. Therefore he deduces that Dovid HaMelech is telling us we can't even take all our mitzvos with us. This seems strange. Why can't we take all of our mitzvos with us to Olam Haba? Why are they left behind in the material world? 

The Gerrer Rebbe says the next few words of the pasuk reveal the answer. לֹא יֵרֵד אַחֲרָיו כְּבוֹדוֹ, his honor will not follow him to the world of truth, the eternal world. Any mitzva that was done for the sake of Kavod has no place in Shamayim, and will not go with you. These mitzvos will be left behind in the world that reveres Kavod. A world suited for them. You did it for the sake of benefiting in the material world, and in the material world they will remain forever.

Source: Revach

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Transcription: Rabbi Anava's lecture

I began typing up an edited version with the main points of Rabbi Anava's latest shiur 'What is Waiting for us before the coming of Moshiach', and here is what I have done so far.  Any numbers in [..] refer to the time on the video if anyone wants to check to see what he actually said.   The things that Rabbi Anava is saying here are the same things Geula Bloggers have been writing about for the past 15 years, but now we are much closer to the Geula, everything has become far more obvious.

When I have some extra time I will hopefully manage to complete the transcribing.

Transcription follows.

Right now, Hashem has given control of the world to the Satan.  [Known as the ''Samech Mem" which is an abbreviation for s-a-m-a-e-l, a name we don't say.] That doesn't mean Hashem is not ultimately in control, but right now evil is ruling the world, but there are conditions... and one of the conditions is that the evil regime must announce what they are doing.  So you just need to listen to what they are saying. They are telling us Hashem's agenda, Hashem has a Plan and He's telling us His plan thru his world government.  It is clear as daylight that we are in the days before Moshiach.

We are controlled by an evil regime who think they run the world, and for now Hashem is allowing them to. They are like the axe in the hand of the woodchopper. Everything that is happening has the stamp of approval of the Master of the Universe.

Talmud Sanhedrin 97a

In the generation in which Moshiach will come Torah scholars will decrease, and the rest of the people their eyes fill with sorrow and grief. And troubles increase, and the harsh decrees will be introduced, before the first passes the second quickly comes.  In the week Moshiach comes [week refers to the Sabbatical cycle, 7 year cycle]:

In the first year I will cause it to rain upon one city, and not rain upon another city.

In the second year, arrows of famine will be shot.

In the third year, huge famine. Many people will die, women, men, children. The pious men and men of action [those who study Torah] will die and Torah is forgotten.

In the fourth year, there will be plenty, but not plenty.  [there will be a lot, but we'll get nothing from it... deception again]

During the fifth year there will be great plenty and everyone will eat and rejoice and the Torah will return to those who study it.

In the sixth year, Heavenly voices will be heard, trumpets, announcements of Moshiach.

In the seventh year there will be a big war [Gog u Magog] and motzei shevi'it [after the seventh] ben David [the son of David] will come.  [42.00]

Rabbi Yehuda says something different.  He says: In the generation that Moshiach comes the Hall of Assembly of the Sages will be designated for prostitution.  The Rabbinical establishments will become corrupted. There will be no rabbinical control over the Torah. The corruption that you can find today in the Batei Dinim is beyond imagination, in any subject.... conversions, divorce, kashrut.... all corrupted. [45.00]  Many appear to be pious and great men, but soon we will see the corruption for ourselves.  Hashem is going to expose all the junk.   Rabbis will sell the Torah for power, control, status... just as  prostitutes sell their bodies.  

The Galilee will be destroyed.  [The Galil used to be the centre of great Torah, now those Sages are buried in the kevarim around Tsfat, and everybody is fighting with each other today]  and Gavlan will be desolated. 

When a Rabbi disagrees with a part of Torah because he doesn't agree, he will lose everything. Rabbis cannot pick and choose.

The internet is full of rabbis talking nonsense, you need to be careful who you are listening to.  There are many fake rabbis out there. They are speaking things that have nothing to do with the Torah, and they have thousands of followers.  So we can see that the Torah became merchandise.... like prostitution.  They will give you 90% truth and 10% lies.  The amount of followers they have doesn't mean anything.  Simple people don't know where to go... that's why it says they'll be running to and fro.

Kabbalah has become a factory for money.  Most of these people don't know what they are talking about.  Be careful who you learn ''kabbalah" from.   

The residents of the border who flee the neighboring gentiles will search from city to city and receive no sympathy.  

It's almost impossible to make Aliyah now.

The wisdom of the scholars will diminish.  Sin fearing people will be despised.  In Israel the secular despise the orthodox.  And now we have another problem: vaccinated or non-vaccinated.   A person can be a Torah genius but if he's not vaccinated, no-one wants to listen to him. [1:11:00]

The face of the generation will be like the face of a dog.  [the masks]

They won't be embarrassed by anything. We can see that clearly now.  

When you walk with a dog it appears that the dog is leading you, but the reality is that you are leading the dog.  Reality is that our leaders are not leading us at all.

The Chofetz Chaim says when you hit a dog with a stick, the dog doesn't bite you, he bites the stick because he thinks the stick is hitting him.  Right now we are all getting hit by the stick which is from Hashem, but we think it is from the government, or an employer, or someone else.  All the slaps we are getting are coming from Hashem. 

The truth will not be found.  The Talmud says that in the generation that will look like the face of a dog, truth will be lacking and he who will turn away from evil will be considered mad. [1:17:38]

People who seek truth will have to find refuge in the desert.

Anyone who deviates from evil is deemed insane by the people, the world will call him a fool.

People need to check themselves whether they are truly honest or not.  Hashem hates deception. If you want to be close to Hashem for all eternity, do not tell lies. It's all about the Truth. The world above us is called 'The World of Truth'.  If you lie, your prayers will never be heard, you will bring upon yourself all the worst things in the world.  Just tell the truth. Start working on your truthfulness. 

[1:28:00] Another Sage says, in the generation that ben David will come, youth will humiliate elders, and the elders will stand in deference before the youth.  A daughter will rebel against her mother, and a bride against her mother-in-law, and a son will not be ashamed before his father.  

Another Sage says: arrogance will proliferate and the cost of living will corrupt people so they will engage in deceit. The cost of living will be very high. Distinguished people will be crooks and will deceive. And the vine will produce it's fruit but the wine will be expensive.  [we can see the prices of food today are increasing even though there is an abundance.... farmers are throwing their produce into the garbage to keep the prices high]

And the entire monarchy will be converted to heresy.  Monarchy = regime/government.  We can see governments are not religious at all.  There will be no inclination among the people to accept rebuke.  ben David will not come until the entire Kingdom will be converted to heresy. [example: same sex marriage is heresy]

[1:36:00] Devarim 32:36 When the Lord will judge His people, and will reconsider His servants, when He sees that the power is increasing, and none is controlled or strengthened. The explanation says instead of following the Torah, they come out with new traditions. And in Israel the deception is the worst. It is all one big deception and slowly they go against the Torah.

The son of David will not come until the traitors will overcome.  People will start to inform on others. Here we can see with the vaccines, people may start informing on others. 

ben David will not come until the students will diminish.  How many people today are sincerely making people do teshuva?   The ones who are genuinely rebuking will diminish.  We can see this now. Rabbis no longer tell people not to drive to the shul on Shabbat etc.

The son of David will not come until there is not a penny in the pocket. It will be very hard financially.  We are also working towards a cashless society, digital currency, we won't have money anymore and it will all be digital.

ben David will not come until they despair for the Redemption. People lose their faith and will give up on Moshiach coming.

Eliyahu haNavi is talking to R. Yehuda and Eliyahu says there needs to be a certain amount of Jubilee [Yovel] cycles before Moshiach comes, and only at the end of a Jubilee year Moshiach will come.  Eliyahu did not know whether it would be at the beginning or the end of the Yovel year. He says there needs to be a minimum of 85 Jubilee cycles in the world.  We are way past that.  But he says that Moshiach will come in a Jubilee year - "during the last Jubilee year Moshiach will come".  2029 on the Gregorian calendar will be a Jubilee year. [Ed note.... some say this year is the Jubilee, but we have lost count] [1:48:16]

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Transforming Enemies

from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

At the beginning of the portion Vayishlach, the Torah relates how Ya'akov sent emissaries to his brother Esav. He instructed them that, when speaking to Esav, they should refer to Ya'akov as "Esav's servant" and to Esav as "Ya'akov's lord." Later on in the portion, we find Ya'akov bowing down seven times before Esav, calling him many times "my lord" and referring to himself as "your servant."

Ya'akov's extreme obsequiousness seems hard to fathom. In fact, the Midrash states that Ya'akov was punished for sending emissaries to Esav and for calling him "my lord" - his profuse obeisance was considered sinful.

Especially so since G-d had already told Rivkah that "the older one will serve the younger" and moreover, in Yitzchak's blessing to Ya'akov, he specifically stated "you shall be a lord over your brother."

What was the reason for Ya'akov's servility?

Since the Patriarchs were wholly dedicated to G-d's will, evil could not have been part of their makeup, and thus, for them to commit gross sins was an impossibility; those actions that appear to be "sins" cannot be construed as such in the simple sense, Heaven forbid.

The proof that this is indeed so can be derived from this very incident. Although Ya'akov was punished for his actions, we nevertheless learn from his behavior that "it is permissible to flatter the wicked ... for the sake of peace." Were Ya'akov's conduct to have been considered a true sin rather than a mere failing, we would never have derived a lesson from it. What then was the purpose of Ya'akov's behavior?

Chassidus explains that Esav's spiritual source was loftier than Ya'akov's; by elevating Esav, Ya'akov was able to draw down an additional measure of spirituality from his brother's spiritual origin. Ya'akov's bowing before Esav, calling him "my lord," etc., was thus primarily directed at Esav's lofty source rather than at Esav himself.

But the fact remains that Ya'akov was totally subservient before his brother, and was punished for it. How was this befitting Ya'akov's spiritual quest?

There are two methods by which evil can be vanquished and refined: One is to draw down a great measure of sanctity upon the object one wishes to refine. This has the effect of pushing aside the evil within the object and elevating the rest to holiness.

The second approach involves the descent of the individual, bringing about the purification to the level at which the unrefined object exists. By thus coming into intimate contact with the object, he is able to transform it from evil to good.

Each of these methods has unique advantages. With regard to the person doing the purification, there is obvious merit to drawing down an infusion of holiness, inasmuch as the person himself does not have to undergo a personal descent in order to purify and elevate an object.

For the object involved, however, it is better if the person bringing about its purification actually descends into the object's realm, for then, rather than having the evil within it simply shunted aside, the object actually becomes holy, and ceases to act as an entity that conceals G-dliness.

The prime goal of Torah service is to bring peace within the world and true peace comes only when one's enemy is transformed into a friend. To bring peace "within the world" thus means that one is ready to get "down and dirty," as it were, clothing oneself in worldly garments in order to transform the material world into a holy entity.

In order for Ya'akov to truly transform his sibling, it was necessary to descend to the level of Esav as he found him. By doing so, he was able to transform Esav so that Esav said: "Let what is yours remain yours" thereby admitting that Ya'akov was entitled to Yitzchak's blessings, including the blessing of "You shall be a lord over your brother."

Thursday, November 11, 2021

It's All Good

Dovid HaMelech in Sefer Tehillim [Psalms 25:18] makes the following request of Hashem: “Look at my affliction and toil and bear all my sins.”

The seventh bracha of the Amidah, “Re’ah [Na] V’anyenu” ["Look… at our afflictions"] closely parallels this passage in Tehillim, and it is, in fact, the only bracha in the Amidah where we ask Hashem to “look” at something for us.

It is said in the name of the Apter Rav that if a person is suffering, he should affirmatively acknowledge and state “may my pain and suffering be a kapara [atonement] for all of my sins”. In this way, a person acknowledges that the purpose of his suffering or affliction is not meaningless or some kind of torture, but to achieve redirection and/or atonement. With this affirmative acknowledgement, the kapara is achieved.

"Gam zu le'tova" : this too is for the best

"Zol zein a kapara" : it should be accepted as a recompense for punishment.

Rebbe Nachman said : "There are sins whose punishment is debt. One who is punished for such a sin is constantly in debt. All the merit in the world does not erase his punishment. He can do every possible good, still he must remain in debt.

These sins can even cause others to fall into debt. When such transgressions become common, there are many debtors in the world.

The remedy for this is to repent in general for all your sins. Even though you do not know what sin is causing these debts, repent in general and ask G-d to also save you from this particular sin.

If the Torah were written in order, we would know the precise reward and punishment for each commandment."

[Rebbe Nachman]

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Taking Yaakov out of Be'ersheva

Art: Evelyn Taylor

Yaakov left Be'er Sheva and headed toward Charan [Vayeitzei 28:10]

Rashi comments that the verse could have just read "And Yaakov went to Charan" - why does it mention his departure? It is teaching us that the departure of a righteous person from a place makes an impression. For at the time that a righteous person is in a city, he is its magnificence, he is its splendor, and he is its grandeur. Once he has departed from there, its magnificence [hodah] has gone away [panah], its splendor [zeevah] has gone away, and its grandeur [hadarah] has gone away.

Rashi's words are alluded to in the verse by way of gematria: If we take "Yaakov out of Be'er Sheva" - that is, if we subtract the numerical value of the word Yaakov [182] from Be'er Sheva [575], we are left with the number 393 - the exact numerical value of the words: panah hodah zeevah u'hadarah - "its magnificence, splendor, and grandeur have gone away."

Written by Rabbi Y. Bronstein

Monday, November 8, 2021

If You Lose, I Also Lose

Concept by Mordechai Becher    Illustration by Rafi Mollot

The Battle of the Stones:  If You Lose, I Also Lose

By: Rabbi YY Jacobson

The Shouters
The Yeshiva decided to field a rowing team. Unfortunately, they lost race after race. They practiced for hours every day but never managed to come in any better than dead last.

The Rosh Yeshiva [the Yeshiva head] finally decided to send Yankel to spy on the Harvard team. So Yankel schlepped off to Cambridge and hid in the bullrushes of the Charles River, from where he carefully watched the Harvard team as they practiced.

Yankel returned to Yeshiva, and announced: "I have figured out their secret."

"What? Tell us," they all wanted to know.

"We should have eight guys rowing and only one guy shouting."

The Quarrel
The rabbis in the Talmud focus on an apparent grammatical inconsistency in the portion of Vayeitzei.

When Jacob journeys from Beer Sheba to Haran, stopping on the way to rest for the night, the Torah tells us, “He took from the stones of the place, arranged them around his head, and lay down to rest.”

But in the morning when he awakes, we read a slightly different story: “Jacob arose early in the morning, and took the stone he placed around his head and set it up as a pillar.”

First we read of “stones,” in the plural; then we read of “the stone,” in the singular. Which one was it? Did Jacob use a single stone or did he employ many stones?

A lovely Talmudic tradition, laden with profound symbolism, answers the question thus: Jacob indeed took several stones. The stones began quarreling, each one saying, “Upon me shall this righteous person rest his head.” So G-d combined them all into one stone, and the quarreling ceased. Hence, when Jacob awoke, we read, he “took the stone” in the singular, since all the stones became one.

What is the symbolism behind this imagery? What is the meaning of stones quarreling with each other and then reaching a state of peace by congealing into one?

One more obvious question: How did the merging of diverse stones into a single entity satisfy their complaint, “Upon me shall this righteous person rest his head?” Even after the stones congealed into a single large stone, the head of Jacob still lies only on one part of the stone. (Your mattress is made of one piece, yet your head can only lie on one particular space on your mattress). So why didn’t the other parts of the stone [Jacob’s “mattress”] still lament that Jacob’s head is not lying on them?

We Are One
The Lubavitcher Rebbe once explained it with moving simplicity and eloquence:

The fighting between the stones was not caused because each one wanted the tzaddik's [the righteous man's] head; it was because they were separate stones. When the stones become one, the fighting ceases, because when you feel one with the other, you don’t mind if the head of the righteous one rests upon him. His victory is your victory; his loss is your loss. because you are one.

The episode with the stones, then, reflects a profound spiritual truth about human relationships. Much conflict — in families, communities, synagogues, organizations, corporations, and movements — stem from everyone’s fear that someone else will end up with the “head,” and you will be “thrown under the bus.”

But we can view each other in two distinct ways: as “diverse stones” and as a “single stone.” Both are valid perspectives, fair interpretations of reality. The first is superficial; the second demands profounder reflection and sensitivity. Superficially, we are indeed separate. You are you; I am I. We are strangers. I want the head; you want the head. So we quarrel.

On a deeper level, though, we are one. The universe, humanity, the Jewish people — constitute a single organism. On this level, we are truly part of one essence. Then, I do not mind if you get the head, because you and I are one.

It is hard for many people to create room for another, and let them shine brightly. We are scared that they might “get the head” and we will end up with the leg. Some of us spend years to ensure that others don't succeed. They feel that their success necessitates the failure of others.

What is needed is a broadening of consciousness; a cleansing of perception, a gaze into the mystical interrelatedness of all of us. Then I will not only allow, but will celebrate, your emergence in full splendor. Your success will not hinder mine, because we are one. Instead of thinking how can I cut you down I ought to think: How can I help you reach your ultimate success? Different “stones” may need to have different positions, yet here is no room for abuse, manipulation, back-stabbing, mistreatment and exploitation, because we are one.

Jacob, the father of all Israel, who encompassed within himself the souls of all of his children, inspired this unity within the “stones” around him. Initially, the stones operated on a superficial level of consciousness, thus quarreling who will get to lie under Jacob’s head. But Jacob inspired in them a deeper consciousness, allowing them for that night to see themselves as a single stone, even while they were in different positions.

In our night of nights, we need Jacobs who know how to inspire the stones around them with this state of consciousness. For me to win, I need you also to win. If you lose, I truly also lost.

A Tale of Three Matzahs
A story [related to me by my friend Dr. Yisroel Suskind]:

Rabbi Eliezer Zusha Portugal [1896-1982], the Skulener Rebbe, was a Chassidic master from a small town, Sculeni, in northeastern Romania. Toward the end of the Second World War, in March of 1945, he found himself along with other holocaust survivors and displaced persons, in the Russian-governed town of Czernovitz, Bukovina. [The Russian army liberated Bukovina in April 1944 and completed the expulsion of the Nazi’s from most of Eastern Europe by January 1945, at which time the Russians entered Budapest, Hungary.]

Passover, beginning that year on March 29th, would soon be upon them. Some Passover foodstuffs might well be provided by charitable organizations. Nonetheless, the Skulener Rebbe sought to obtain wheat that he could bake into properly-guarded and traditionally baked matzah. Despite the oppressive economic situation of the Jews, he was able to bake a limited number of these matzahs. He sent word to other Chassidic leaders in the area who would conduct larger Passover seders, offering each of them no more than three matzahs.

One week before Passover, Rabbi Moshe Hager, the son of the Seret-Vizhnitzer Rebbe, came for the matzahs that had been offered to his father, Rabbi Boruch Hager. After being handed the allotted 3 matzahs, he said to the Skulener Rebbe: “I know that you sent word that you could give only three matzahs, but nonetheless my father, the Seret-Vizhnitzer Rebbe, told me to tell you that he must have six matzahs”. The Skulener Rebbe was unhappy to part with this precious food that was so scarce and was in high demand by so many other Jews. But he felt that he had no choice but to honor the request, albeit reluctantly.

On the day before Passover, Rabbi Moshe Hager returned to the Skulener Rebbe. “What can I do for you?” asked the Skulener Rebbe. Rabbi Moshe answered, “I want to return three of the matzah’s to you”.

“I don’t understand”, replied the Skulener, ”I thought your father absolutely had to have six matzahs?”

“My father said to ask whether you had saved any of the matzah for yourself?”

Embarrassed, the Skulener Rebbe replied, “How could I, when so many others needed matza for Passover?”

“My father assumed that this would happen”, explained Rabbi Moshe. “That is why he requested an extra three matzahs to hold them for you.”

This is how you behave when you are “one stone.” This is what we call living a life of dignity, where you are really able to be there for another human being.

To post a comment on this article, or to view the footnotes, please click here.