Saturday, December 31, 2022

Do You Have Free Will

 Rabbi Efraim Palvanov

Ani Yosef

"I am Yosef!" [Vayigash 45:3]

The Chofetz Chaim offered the following explanation of this verse: 

When the brothers had initially arrived in Egypt, they were treated harshly by Yosef, who accused them of being spies.  The brothers were startled by what was happening to them, and they asked one another: "Why is this happening to us?  Who among us is guilty of a sin that would have brought this upon us?"

On the brothers' second trip to Egypt, they once again asked one another: "What is this that Hashem has done to us?"

However, continued the Chofetz Chaim, when the brothers heard but two words: "Ani Yosef" - I am Yosef - all of their questions were answered.  Suddenly, everything was clear - all of their misfortune had occurred as a result of having sold Yosef.

Today, as well, concluded the Chofetz Chaim, there are many people who question the way that Hashem runs His world.  "Why do the righteous suffer?" they ask.  "Why can the wicked prosper?"

However, at the End of Days, when the entire world hears Hashem utter but two words: "Ani Hashem" - I am Hashem - all of the questions will vanish.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Chanukah's Electrifying Secret

 Rabbi Efraim Palvanov

Instant Salvation

"And they rushed him out of the dungeon" [Mikeitz 41:14]

In the Chofetz Chaim's later years, the Communist Revolution raged in Russia.  One of the aims of the wicked Communists was to stamp out any trace of Judaism from the hearts of the Jewish people. They spared no effort at trying to achieve this goal. They mercilessly leveled harsh decrees against the Jews, and only thanks to the mercy of Heaven were Jews able to remain firm in their faith.

"Look at what the Torah states in Parshas Mikeitz", said the Chofetz Chaim to one of his students.  "The verse says that 'Pharoah sent [messengers] and called Yosef, and they rushed him out of the dungeon.'  For twelve years Yosef languished in prison and no one paid any attention to him.

'But when the moment that Hashem had designated for Yosef's salvation finally arrived, he was immediately rushed out of the dungeon.'

''We are in a similar situation. Our predicament appears to be hopeless: the Communist regime, in their cruelty, will stop at nothing to sever our ties with the holy Torah. Yet when Moshiach comes and our moment of redemption arrives there will be no delays and we, too, will be rushed to our Land.''

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Who is Mashiach?

[published motzei Shabbat]

Rabbi Efraim Palvanov 

What is the true role of the Messiah, and how can we properly identify this person? What are the 5 key qualities that Mashiach must possess? And who were the 5 major figures in Jewish history that had a messianic movement associated with them? 

Find out in this class, where we also explore Jacob’s transformation into Israel, the spiritual power of music, the greatness of King David, and the timeline of events in the forthcoming Messianic Age.

 *Background image of the Third Temple under construction courtesy of The Temple Institute.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Mystery of the Animals Walking in Circles

 Rabbi Yosef Biton talking about the recent news of animals walking in circles.  It is in Hebrew but below is a rough translation/summary by Rahel. Thank you so much Rahel, those who can't understand all the Hebrew really appreciate it.


Title Translation: *Mystery Animals Have Been Walking in Circles for 14 Days in a Row." 

This shiur is about the Kabbalah on the animals circling around for many days. There is a phenomenon that many animals, all different species have been going round in circles; Sheep in CHINA, have made the headlines, but many other species are involved. 

The Ari Hakadosh says in his book Gilgul HaRuchot that after the destruction of the 2nd Beit Hamikdash the holiness went into the klipot and prophecy ceased. 

Animals and SHOTIM i.e. simple people, e.g. autistics, and young children can obtain prophecy.
The animals are controlled by ministering angels who can pass messages to them. All the animals are capable. The fact that animals can sense earthquakes before they happen is not only a natural phenomenon. 

Kabbalah describes that there is the world of circles (Igulim) and the world of straightness (Yosher) This is described in Etz Hachayyim from the Arizal via Rabbi Chaim Vital. 

We are in the ikvota D’Mashiach, the foot steps of the Mashiach, approaching the year 6000 - this is Yosher (straight); this continues up to the day when Mashiach will come and we will go into Shabbat, Rabbi Nachman says in Torah 7 this is Egla (circular), Shabbat is circular; this will occur when the Jewish people will return from exile and sing at Har Amana in Israel, which is the mountain of faith – L.M. Torah 7. 

Circles are completion, unity, everyone is equal, men and women, there is no yatzer hara as we will go into Shabbat. There is no free will in this circular state. 

This circular concept is similar to “all of AM Yisrael with all Humanity” serving Hashem shoulder to Shoulder the prophecy in Zephania which Rabainu mentions in Likutei Moharan (L.M.). 

Rabbi Biton reads Rabbi Nachman’s message the meaning of : “Ad shetichleh Prutha ma Hakis,” until there are no coins in the pocket – in the Talmud. This means the klipa that makes everyone define miracles as part of nature will no longer define them as part of nature – THE KLIPA will be broken/destroyed. We will see there is no nature – only Hashem — Ayn Od Milvado. 

This Shiur of Rabbi Yosef Biton has the approval of Rabbi Shalom Arush who says he is full of joy by this omen we are nearing the Geulah. 

Please bear in mind my translation is a very rough, brief summary, and cannot do this magnificent Shiur which encompasses information from the Shaar Haruchot and Etz Chaim from the Ari Hakadosh, Rabbi Tzaddok of Lublin and Rabbanu, true Justice!!

Monday, November 28, 2022

Receiving Prophecy in a Dream


by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"He encountered the place and spent the night there because the sun had sent" [Vayeitze 28:11]

The Midrash says that the words "because the sun had set", teach us that Hashem made the sun set before its time, so as to speak with Ya'akov privately. 

The Midrash explains this using the mashal of the king's beloved friend who came to visit him on occasion. When he arrived, the king said, "Turn off the lights, extinguish the lamps, for I wish to speak with my beloved friend privately". So too, Hashem made the sun set before its time so as to speak to Ya'akov intimately. 

Rabbi Shmuel Florentin of Salonica, in his sefer 'Minchat Shmuel', points out the following difficulty. On the verse, "And G-d came to Avimelech in a dream by night", the Midrash says that Hashem especially reveals Himself to the nations by night, as it says, "G-d came to Bilaam at night". We also find with Lavan that Hashem came to him in a dream at night, but Hashem reveals Himself to the Jewish prophets by day, as it says, "Hashem appeared to him in the plains of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of the tent in the heat of the day", as well as other examples. So why does the above Midrash say that Hashem made the sun set to speak to Ya'akov intimately, implying at night? 

He answers according to the Moharash Yaffe, who says that prophecy by day comes only to a prophet who is accustomed to Hashem speaking to him, while to a prophet who is unaccustomed to prophecy, Hashem only reveals Himself at night. This explanation fits in with the precise wording of the Midrash, "it can be compared to the king's beloved friend who comes to visit him on occasion".

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Monday, November 21, 2022

Blessings You Don't Say but Really Should!

Rabbi Efraim Palvanov

What is the blessing on an elephant? How about an albino? Find out in this class where we explore the power and meaning of the ancient berachot instituted by our Sages. 

Also discussed is the mystical purpose of every Jew’s life, the divine Light of Creation, and an explanation of the 36 perfect tzadikim that exist in every generation.

For a free, printable PDF companion guide with full text and transliteration of all the blessings, click here

For a written summary of this class, click here

Monday, November 14, 2022

Who Was Og the Giant? And Other Big Questions in Genesis


Rabbi Efraim Palvanov Addressing some big mysteries in Sefer Beresheet, the Book of Genesis, and beyond: 

 - Who was Og and how did he survive the Great Flood?

 - What exactly were the Ten Trials of Abraham? 

- Why is Eliyahu spelled without a vav in the Tanakh 5 times?

 - What is the difference between Chokhmah, Binah, and Da’at (“Chabad”)?

 - Which of the “Cosmic Shemittot” are we in? 

 - Who was the Nachash (the Primordial Serpent) in Eden? 

- Does God create evil? 

- Is the Torah written in ancient Hebrew script or in Assyrian/Ashuri script? 

- How will all of history be revealed in the Messianic Age?

 - Is there a rational way to understand the Great Flood? 

- Where was the Garden of Eden located? 

More on the incredible story of Og (with archaeological evidence): click here

More useful links at You Tube source: click here

Connecting to the Source

Art ''Holy Land'' Michoel Muchnik

by Rabbi David Pinto Shlita

It is written: “Sarah died in Kiryat-Arba, which is Hebron” [Chayei Sarah 23:2]

Rabbeinu Bechaye explained why the text mentions two names for the same place [Kiryat-Arba and Hebron].

Kiryat-Arba is called Hebron because the soul of anyone buried there unites [mithaberet] on high in the city of G-d with the four [arba] camps of the Shechinah.

This is why the Patriarchs sought to be buried in this place, namely that from there, souls merit to be reunited [leit’haber] with their source, which is the Throne of Glory.

Hence the meaning of “Kiryat-Arba, which is Hebron.”

Friday, November 11, 2022

Guests of Honour

"They (pretended) to eat"  [Vayeira 18:8]

The Torah states that the angels ate the food which Avraham served them, on which Rashi comments: "they pretended to eat".

It appears, therefore, that Avraham did not perform a mitzvah by feeding his guests, for ultimately they were angels who did not need to eat.  Thus: a) Avraham interrupted his audience with the Divine Presence unnecessarily, and b) How can we learn the principle that "welcoming guests is greater than welcoming the Divine Presence" [Shabbos 127a] from an incident where there were no real guests present?

Generally speaking, with acts of kindness, the primary focus is on the results of the mitzvah, i.e. the benefits given to the guests - food and drink etc.

The unique quality of the mitzvah of welcoming guests is that the primary focus is not on the benefits received by the guests, but rather on the good will demonstrated by the host.  In this light, it turns out that Avraham did fulfill the mitzvah of welcoming guests, in the most exemplary manner.

Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Gutnick Chumash

Monday, November 7, 2022

The Descent of a Lofty Soul: Moshiach

Art by Andreas

And they gave their father wine to drink on that night, and the elder came and lay with her father, and he did not know of her lying down or of her rising up -  וּבְקוּמָֽהּ

According to the Zohar, the dot in the הּ in the word וּבְקוּמָֽהּ [Vayera 19:33] alludes to the fact that G-d was secretly assisting this event, because Moshiach was to materialize from it [since Ruth, King David's great grand-mother, was a convert from the Moabites].  The latter event, between Lot and his younger daughter [19:35] is written without the letter vav - וּבְקֻמָֽהּ - to indicate that the union did not produce such great offspring.   Rabbi Shimon said "When the verse states that Lot ''wasn't aware'', it means he wasn't aware that Moshiach was destined to come from this union" [Zohar I 110b]

Why should the beginnings of Moshiach occur in such an undignified manner?  Ramak explains that when a very lofty soul is about to descend into the world, the forces of kelipah [“peel” or “shell”—words used by Kabbalah to describe layers of impurity] oppose the soul's descent vehemently. Sometimes, however, kelipah will consent to the soul's descent if it occurs amidst a particularly sinful act.  Thus, we find that from this undesirable act, the ancestor of Moshiach was born.

Source: Lubavitcher Rebbe

Friday, November 4, 2022

11 Cheshvan: Yarzheit Rochel Imeinu

Jewish Mother's Day The 11th of Cheshvan 
by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

One of the most important days in the month of Cheshvan is the 11th, which commemorates the day of passing of our matriarch Rachel. Rachel was Jacob's most beloved wife and was the principal of his household and thus the principal of the entire house of Israel. From the first day of the year, the 1st day of Tishrei, the 11th day of Cheshvan is the 41st day. 41 is the numerical value of the Hebrew word "eim," which means "mother," thus the 11th of Cheshvan is truly the Jewish Mother's Day.

"Rachel cries for her children, she will not be comforted…"

Rachel constantly mourns over the exile of her children, the Jewish people, and the Almighty comforts her with the words: "Withhold your voice from crying and your eyes from tearing, for there is a reward for your actions… and the children will return to their border." Literally, "return to their border" refers to the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. But, more deeply, it refers to the return of our people to our natural spiritual environs: Judaism and our ancestral Jewish nature. These are the borders that truly circumscribe the uniqueness of our people. Amazingly, numerically, the value of the Hebrew word for "border" (g'vul / גבול) is exactly the same as the value of the word for "mother" (eim / אם); both equal 41.

In Hebrew, Cheshvan is written with the four letters: חשון. The borders (the first and last letters) of Cheshvan are chet - ח and nun - ן, which together spell the word chein - חן, meaning "beauty." The word chein - חן, "beauty" equals 58. The 58th day of the year is the 28th day of Cheshvan.

Rachel is described as the most beautiful woman in the Torah. The numerical value of the two middle letters, shin and vov, שו, is equal to isha -אשה , meaning "woman." Thus, the name of the month itself hints at the special and unique grace endowed to women.

King Solomon says that external beauty by itself is deceitful. If external beauty is all that a woman seeks then the name of the month becomes Marcheshvan, which means Bitter-Cheshvan. It is of such a woman King Solomon says: "And I find the woman to be more bitter than death." But, of true beauty, the beauty of a Jewish woman that emanates from within, he says: "The woman of beauty shall support honor." This true beauty is given to us, the Jewish people, by G‑d through the Torah, for "there is no truth but Torah" and "there is no honor but Torah."

It was Rachel, who was first endowed with this real beauty. Rachel is described as the most beautiful woman in the Torah, "She had a beautiful face and a beautiful figure." Thus, Rachel was the embodiment of the verse: "A woman who fears G‑d, she shall be praised," praised both for her grace and true beauty.

The beauty of the Jewish woman is not just a passive agent of spirituality. The sages teach that the offspring of Esau and his grandson Amalek can be defeated only by the children of Rachel.

Who embodies the spirit of Amalek in our day and age? In Hebrew, the words "Amalek" (עמלק) and "doubt" (safek / ספק) have the same numerical value. Thus, the spirit of Amalek that continues to plague each and every Jew is doubt; doubt in our faith, doubt in our Torah, and doubt in ourselves and the moral justification of our path.

But, sometimes the spirit of Amalek becomes bolder and captures a Jew (whether he be a private individual or a political figure) to the point of driving him or her to unconscious or even conscious self-hatred. This can result in a Jew's cooperation with the enemies of our people.

Finally there are the direct spiritual offspring of Amalek: those enemies who threaten the lives of Jews and our return to the Land of Israel.

The sages say that beauty is a woman's weapon. With everything that we have said about Rachel, her role as our matriarch, as the progenitor of Jewish nature, and of her beauty, it should now be clear that our weapon for defeating Amalek is the special beauty and grace of the Jewish mother. Joseph the tzaddik (righteous one) inherited his mother Rachel's beauty and he too is described as having a beautiful face and a beautiful figure. That is why the prophet says about him that "the house of Jacob will be fire and the house of Joseph its flame and the house of Esau straw, and together they will ignite him and consume him; and there will be no remnant for the house of Esau."

True Jewish beauty and grace destroy the enemy indirectly but, beauty is no regular weapon. True grace and beauty work by attracting the sparks of holiness that are bound within the enemy. These sparks are G‑d's will that the enemy still exist. Yet, when they are redeemed by their attraction to true beauty, they escape the enemy's grasp, leaving him void of any Divine source and causing his demise. True Jewish beauty and grace destroy the enemy indirectly by leaving him void of any beauty or grace himself, making him irrelevant and powerless.

The battle against Amalek in our generation must be conducted primarily with our ability to communicate to all around us the true nature of Jewish beauty and grace. It is to this beauty of Jewish nature and character that we return during the month of Cheshvan by reconnecting with our matriarch Rachel, with our own Jewish nature, and with ourselves.

Also visit: Rachel's Tomb

Yiddishe Mama

Rachel lost her own spiritual luxury - the privilege of being buried in the Cave of Machpeilah - in order to help her children. This represents the unparalleled quality of the "Jewish mother" who is always willing to sacifice her own needs, spiritual or physical, for the sake of helping her children.

And this is the inner reason why Jewish identity follows the maternal and not the paternal route. For even though the father possesses a greater degree of spirituality - since he has the privilege of observing more mitzvos than a woman - the quality of a Jewish mother is nevertheless greater, that she is willing to forego much of that spirituality in order to enable her to raise a family with tender loving care. And since this quality is even more quintessentially Jewish than the spirituality of the man, it is the mother that actually makes her children Jewish.

Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Parshas Vayechi

Mama Rochel understood that tending to a broken heart comes above even Kavod Hashem....

When Rochel, out of frustration, complained to Yaakov about not having children, Yaakov got angry with her. The mefarshim say, based on a medrash, that Yaakov was punished for getting angry at Rochel and telling her that she needs to daven to Hashem and not complain to him.

Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro points out that Yaakov was defending Kavod Shamayim (the honor of Heaven) and was correct that Rochel's complaints were unjustified. His mistake was that he addressed the words that she spoke and not the pain in her heart. Had he pierced the veil of her soul, he would have known that because of her anguish, the words escaped her mouth and she was not accountable for them. He should have been slower to defend Kavod Shamayim and faster to understand human suffering.

This he explains was the greatness of Rochel. After the destruction of the first Temple, when Bnei Yisroel went into Galus, all the Avos and Imahos came before Hashem with all their great zechusim but were turned away empty handed. All the heroism of the Akeida, Yaakov's Torah, and lives of pure mesiras nefesh to build Klal Yisroel, did not impress Hashem in that dark moment of history.

The only one who merited Hashem's attention was Rochel Imeinu. What was her great act that warranted this special treatment? That she gave the simanim to her sister and helped fool Yaakov. With this bravery, in her mind, she was sabotaging the history of the Jewish nation since she understood that it was her and Yaakov that were destined to build the nation. Nevertheless she chose to cast aside her own destiny and Hashem's grand plan in order to save her sister from a single embarrassing moment.

Only Rochel, who had such a deep understanding of another person's pain and how it carries more weight than the entire Jewish experience, can be Hashem's emissary to bring his children's pain before Him. Only tears from Mama Rochel can bring the Geula.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Are We Witnessing the Prophecy?

Current News 

The United States is concerned about threats from Iran against Saudi Arabia and will not hesitate to respond if necessary, a White House spokesperson said on Tuesday.

"We are concerned about the threat picture, and we remain in constant contact through military and intelligence channels with the Saudis," said the spokesperson from the National Security Council. 
"We will not hesitate to act in the defense of our interests and partners in the region."

The official spoke after the Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia has shared intelligence with the United States warning of an imminent attack from Iran on targets in the kingdom.


In its section on the biblical Book of Isaiah and the prophecies contained therein, a rabbi cited by the Yalkut Shimoni states:

 “In the year Moshiach comes all the nations of the world will provoke each other and threaten with war.   The king of Persia (Iran) will provoke the King of Arabia (Saudi Arabia) with war.  The King of Arabia goes to Edom (The Western Countries, headed by USA) for advice. 

The prophecy continues:

Then the King of Persia destroys the world (and since that cannot be done with conventional weapons it must mean nuclear which can destroy most of the world). And all the nations of the world begin to panic and are afraid, and Israel too is afraid as to how to defend from this. G-d then says to them “Do not fear for everything that I have done is for your benefit, to destroy the evil kingdom of Edom and eradicate evil from this world so that the Messiah can come, your time of redemption is now.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Noah's Ark and the Tower of Babel: Not What You Think!

Rabbi Efraim Palvanov

Where did all the water for the Great Flood come from, and is it scientifically possible? Was Noah’s Ark a simple wooden vessel, or something far more complex and of another dimension? What did the post-Flood generations really find in Shinar, and was their Tower of Babel some kind of space ship? 

Find out in this class where we also discuss the secrets of the Holy Tongue, the “Watchers” and Nephilim, ancient technology, and why it is that most cultures from around the world have similar myths and ancient legends. 

This class is based on the essay "Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel: Not What You Think!" in 'Garments of Light, Volume One', available by clicking here.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Father of Many Nations

Source: Chanan Morrison from the writings of Rav Kook

Notarikon in the Torah    -      [Notarikon is a method of deriving a word, by using each of its initial
(ראשי תיבות) or final letters (סופי תיבות) to stand for another, to form a sentence or idea out of the words]

Abbreviations and acronyms are common in rabbinic writings, but they are rare in the text of the Torah itself. Nonetheless, the Sages observed that a few acronyms - notarikon in Aramaic - may be found in the Torah. The first and clearest example is the new name that God gave to Abraham:

“No longer shall you be called ‘Abram.’ Your name will be ‘Abraham,’ for I have made you the father of many nations.” [Lech Lecha 17:5]

God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, explaining that this new name indicates his new identity and mission. The name Avraham is short for “av hamon goyim,” ‘the father of many nations.’

The Talmud [Shabbat 105a], however, was not satisfied with this interpretation of the name. While the Torah explains “Avraham” to be a syllabic abbreviation of the words av hamon, the Sages converted it into a full-blown acronym. They wrote that each of the six Hebrew letters of av hamon (אב המון) indicates a different aspect of Abraham’s standing and influence in the world.

Aleph - I have made you a father [Av] to the nations;

Bet - I have made you chosen [Bachur] among the nations;

Hei - I have made you beloved [Haviv] among the nations;

Mem - I have you a king [Melech] for the nations;

Vav - I have made you exemplary [Vatik] among the nations;

Nun - I have made you faithful (Ne'eman) among the nations.

Of all the names in the Torah, why is Abraham’s name an abbreviation? Why did the Sages further expand this abbreviation, letter by letter?

Abraham’s Dual Influence

It would be a mistake to consider a notarikon as merely a homiletic or mnemonic device. Rather, it reveals deeper levels of meaning in the text. In addition to a literal understanding of the words, there is a wealth of profound ideas contained within the written text. This is similar to the workings of an acronym, where from each letter we extrapolate an entire word.

Of particular interest is the example that the Sages chose for a notarikon in the Torah - the name ‘Abraham.’ Why is this significant?

Abraham’s life-mission was to found the Jewish people. All three patriarchs, the Sages taught, are called ‘Israel’ (Breishit Rabbah 63:3). This is because their primary goal was to establish the people of Israel, a unique people who would serve as a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6).

But Abraham also had a powerful impact on all nations. His teachings of monotheism transformed a world of paganism and idolatry.

The Sages analyzed Abraham’s influence, noting that it incorporated six qualities - corresponding to the six letters of אב המון. Thus, like a notarikon, Abraham’s influence was on two levels. His explicit life-goal was to found the Jewish people. But Abraham had an additional level of influence, as he disseminated his ideals of monotheism and morality among all peoples.

Six Aspects of Universal Influence

By examining each letter of the phrase av hamon, we uncover a different aspect of Abraham’s influence. He was an Av - a spiritual father and mentor to many nations, the source for true knowledge of God throughout the world.

His teachings were Bachur - select and distinct from the jumble of confused beliefs and superstitions held by the pagan nations. His faith in one God was pure, free of erroneous influences. Furthermore, his Torah enjoyed a charismatic attraction. Recognizing its inner truth and beauty, many were drawn to it and inspired by it. It was beloved and Haviv.

Due to his sterling character traits and beliefs, Abraham was highly respected. He was regarded as a Melech, a king. The people looked upon him as a “prince of God” [Gen. 23:6]. Like a king in battle, he led the fight for truth in a world shrouded in darkness and ignorance, victorious by virtue of the truth of his vision.

Furthermore, Abraham’s Torah was not just some theoretical philosophy. He was Vatik among the nations - respected for his personal integrity and piety. Abraham sought to refine deeds and character traits through the holiness of his beliefs, and promoted a life of morality and justice.

The final quality of Abraham’s influence was Ne'eman - as a man of steadfast faith. As the Torah testifies, “He believed in God, and God counted it as righteousness” [Lech Lecha 15:6].

Abraham and his radical ideas kindled a nascent spark of faith among the nations. This flame of faith continues to illuminate the paths of many nations - a flame that will be elevated in the future into a pure and refined faith in God.

[Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. IV, p. 264]

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Hakhel Year: 8 things to Ponder

 Rabbi Aaron L Raskin  [28 min video]

After being isolated for two years from the pandemic, COVID-19, the year of Hakhel is like a breath of fresh air. Hakhel is the perfect Mitzvah to bring people back to society; The ancient mitzvah of Hakhel means to “gather” people together. At the time of the holy Temple the Jewish King would gather— once every Seven years —all men women and children in order to inspire them with the awe of A-mighty God. This Hakhel gathering would inspire them to increase in their observance of Torah study and performance of mitzvot. The after effect would last for many, many years to come. 

This year 5783 is a Hakhel year. We now have the privilege, to once again reenact this mitzvah of Hakhel, by uniting our brothers and sisters, and inspiring them with words of faith in God, Torah and to encourage them to increase in random acts of goodness and kindness.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Post-Flood Era

Chassidic thought teaches that before the Flood, G-d sustained the world despite its low spiritual standing, due to His attribute of kindness.  There was a limit, however, to how long G-d was willing to sustain a world without merit - hence the Flood.

The waters of the flood were not merely a punishment.  They purified the world, making physicality in general more refined, and spiritually attuned. [see The Great Flood]

Consequently, in the post flood era, people were more predisposed to repentance.  This ensured that G-d would always sustain the world - not despite of, but - because of its spiritual standing.  For, even if man would become corrupt, people would inevitably repent, ensuring that the world itself would have sufficient merits for its continued existence.

With this in mind, we can explain the following details:

  • Noach was unaware of the above, so he was scared to repopulate the world, fearing it would be destroyed again.  Therefore, G-d had to re-command him to ''be fruitful and multiply''. [Noach 9:1]
  • The inner reason why Noach's generation failed to repent was because, before the Flood, the world was spiritually insensitive.
  • Meat is an extremely coarse food that can lead a person to excessive physicality.  Thus, it was only permitted to the spiritually-attuned post-Flood generation. [Noach 9:3]
  • Before the Flood, people had extremely long lifespans because the world was sustained by G-d's kindness which was bestowed disproportionately to people's merits.
  • Before the Flood, physicality was more coarse.  This was true in a literal sense, to the extent that the clouds were too thick to refract light, so a rainbow never appeared.  After the Flood, physicality become more refined, so the clouds began to refract light.  Thus, the rainbow was not only a ''sign of G-d's promise not to destroy the world, it was also a physical consequence of the refinement of the world that ensured its permanent existence.

Source: Based on Sefer Hasichos 5751, Likutei Sichos vol. 15 - Lubavitcher Rebbe

Rainbow at Bondi Beach Sydney 31.10.2016 - Photo: Glick Photography

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Purpose of Falsehood

Text by Rabbi Daniel Travis

Two by two the animals came into the Ark to Noach. [Noah 7:9]

The concepts in this verse are illustrated by the following allegory:

Sheker (lies/deceit) approached Noach and requested entry into the Ark. Noach refused sheker on the grounds that it did not have a “mate.” When sheker left Noach, it met pachsa (financial loss and destruction) and proposed that they form a partnership, so that together they could gain entry into the Ark. Pachsa agreed, stipulating that any profit which would be earned through sheker would be handed over to pachsa to be destroyed.

There are many questions to be asked about this allegory. Why did our Sages see fit to single out sheker from all the possible negative character traits? Furthermore, why was it necessary for sheker to find a mate? Surely it would have been better to deny sheker entrance to the ark altogether. On the other hand, if sheker belonged in the world, should it not have been allowed to enter the ark without having to fulfill any conditions?

The decree of the flood was sealed on account of the dishonesty of that generation. Sheker was rampant, and there was no way to stop it short of wiping out the entire world. In the process of reconstructing the world, God wanted to make sure that the sins which had caused it's demise would not be repeated. Therefore sheker could not be allowed to perpetuate in its present form. However, it was important that sheker continue to exist in order for the iniquities of the previous generation to be rectified. This could only come about through recognition of the utter futility of any involvement with sheker.

When pachsa joined forces with sheker, causing the loss of all profits earned through sheker, it made it glaringly evident that any association with sheker is totally counterproductive. The lesson that would be learned from the alliance between sheker and pachsa allowed sheker to continue to exist.

After leaving the ark, sheker came to pachsa and requested all of the profits that it had acquired through under-handed methods. Pachsa reminded sheker of their agreement, and sheker was unable to respond. Although under normal circumstances sheker would have denied ever making such a promise, this case was different. Denying the truth would be tantamount to self destruction, for without its partnership with pachsa, sheker would not be allowed to exist.

At the time of the flood sheker joined with pachsa to teach the following generations the futility of trying to acquire wealth dishonestly. Although this type of destruction is certainly a punishment for one’s crooked behavior, there is a flip side to this relationship. Since pachsa “wed” itself to sheker, it can not affect any money earned one hundred percent honestly.

This concept was vividly demonstrated to the Jewish people after their Exodus from Egypt. For forty years they were sustained every day with manna, a miraculous food that descended from the heavens. Each individual was instructed to take an omer each day – not more, not less. If someone tried to “steal” a little bit more than he was allotted, the extra manna would disappear. The futility of taking more than was Divinely allotted was quite clear. Although we are not privileged to see this principle in action in such a striking fashion, it is still in effect even in our times.

Someone once came to Rav Mordechai Schwab and told him that one of his investments had gone sour, causing him a loss of seventy thousand dollars. Rav Schwab asked him if the money had been earned honestly to which the man replied in the affirmative. Rav Shwab assured him that he would recover the money, for wealth acquired honestly does not get lost. Within a few months the investment turned a profit.

Similarly, when Rav Chaim of Volozhin was hosting a meal in his home, one of his guests inadvertently knocked over the table. All the delicate porcelain on the table came crashing to the floor. The guests were all stunned into silence, in anguish over the tremendous loss which they were certain had occurred. Only Rav Chaim remained calm. He explained to his guests that property loss can occur only if the money used to purchase that property had been acquired corruptly. Since he knew that every penny used to buy the dishes that now lay on the floor had been earned honestly, he was sure that none of the porcelain had broken, so there was nothing to worry about. When they picked up the dishes, they found that not a single one was broken or damaged.

From the above incidents we see that the partnership that sheker established with pachsa still remains in force. As such, we can be sure that any funds acquired without a tinge of corruption are not subject to pachsa, and will be spared from damage.

(c) Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and

Monday, October 24, 2022

The Yanuka


"A soul like his does not descend in every generation, it descends once in many generations" 

Rav Shlomo Yehudah Be'eri, known as "The Yanuka", born in 1988 - knows the entire Torah, Talmud, Zohar by heart.   You can read a lot more about him here.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

What Brings the Mashiach?

 New shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin

Garments of Leather

by Rabbi David Pinto Shlita

It is written “Hashem made for Adam and his wife garments of skin, and He clothed them” [Bereishit 3:21]

Why did G-d choose garments of skin [leather] to clothe Adam and his wife?

The author of Tzafnat Pa’aneach offers us a subtle explanation: When Adam discovered that he was naked and needed to be clothed, he was in a situation that required him to recite the Shecheyanu blessing, for he would be wearing a new garment. However the Halachah forbids a person from reciting a blessing if he is naked.

Adam was therefore faced with a dilemma: Should he recite a blessing for his first garment, and if so, how should he say it?

Hence the verse states, “Hashem G-d made for Adam and his wife garments of skin, and He clothed them.” It specifically mentions garments of skin because Shecheyanu is not recited over leather garments, since “His mercy extends to all His creatures” [Tehillim 145:9]. By fashioning garments of skin for Adam while he was still naked, Hashem exempted him from having to recite Shecheyanu.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Angelic Healing

Image: Dusteramaranth

Every aspect of creation is governed by an angel. Even trees and plants (especially those with healing properties) have angels supervising their growth. As the Sages said [Bereishit Rabbah 10:6] "There is nothing below, not even a common herb, which does not have an angel on high that strikes it and tells it to grow". Each of these angels receives its life force from the particular Utterance which is the source of its creation. It then transmits a measured amount of this life force to its particular charge.

This power of the angels to receive and transmit life force is referred to as the power of the "hands". (The Hebrew word for power is ko'ach, numerically equal to 28, the number of bones contained in the fingers of both hands). With its "right hand" an angel receives life force. With its "left hand", it dispenses the exact amount needed to its charge below. This is the meaning of the Sages' statement: "he strikes it and tells it to grow". "Striking" is done with the angel's left hand (for the left side represents Gevurah, judgment).

The Torah tells us [Proverbs 4:20-22] "My son attend to my words, incline your ear to my utterances.... For they are life to those who find them and healing to all their flesh." We learn from this that all healing flows from G-d, through His Torah. The Torah is the source of the [healing] power of the angels, who in turn transmit it to all the various herbs in their charge. This power is manifest when one accepts the Torah and has faith in the Sages who reveal it, for the Torah was given over to the Sages, and one who deviates from their teachings is called "he who causes a breach in the wall [of faith].

This is the meaning of the injunction [Deut 17:11] "Do not deviate, neither to the right nor to the left, from what they teach you". If you deviate to the right (tending towards unnecessary zealousness), your angel's "right hand" (ability to receive from its corresponding archangel and Utterance) will be hindered. If you deviate to the left (by transgressing the Torah), the angel's "left hand" (ability to transmit) will be hindered.

Of course, the removal of your angel's hands means that you cannot receive your healing, for without an angel to bestow the life force upon it, the herb upon which your healing depends loses its power to heal. Thus, the degree to which a person is attached to Torah determines the degree to which he is able to be healed.

Source: "Anatomy of the Soul" - Chaim Kramer
from the teachings of Rebbe Nachman

Friday, October 14, 2022

Third Rome #2: Russia, Iran, and Gog u'Magog

[If you did not see Part 1 click here to watch]

What will happen in the final war of "Gog and Magog" at the End of Days? Who are "Gog" and "Magog" and do they have any connection to Russia and Iran? Did the ancient prophets predict a nuclear war? And what does it all have to do with the holiday of Sukkot? 

In this class, we explore the events of Gog u'Magog from the perspective of three prophets: Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Bilaam (in the Zohar), together with the surprisingly accurate predictions of the Vilna Gaon. Also discussed are the angelic "Heavenly princes" of the nations, the little-known intertwined histories of Russia and Iran, and the possible connection to 9/11. 

Rabbi Efraim Palvanov

Thursday, October 13, 2022

A Deeper Understanding of Sukkot

 New shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin

18 Tishrei: Yarzheit Rebbe Nachman

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov's histalkus [ascent from the body] took place in Uman, a Ukrainian town in Kiev oblast, on the 18th of Tishrei, which is the second day of Chol HaMo'ed Succos, 5571 [Oct. 16, 1810]. According to his express wish, Rebbe Nachman was buried in the old Jewish cemetery, together with more than 20,000 martyrs of the Haidamack massacres of 5528 [1768]. His surviving family members included his second wife, who built over his grave the original Ohel [a wooden structure to accommodate those who wished to pray nearby]; his daughters Adel, Sarah, Miriam, and Chaya; and several grandchildren. According to one tradition, the Rebbe's father, Rabbi Simcha, survived him, as well. 

It is customary for Breslover Chasidim to gather together on "Chai Tishrei" in order to commemorate the Rebbe's Yahrzeit. As is commonly the case in the Breslov community, there are no special minhagim [customs] associated with this event, other than lighting a Yahrzeit candle, giving Tzedakah [charity] in Rebbe Nachman's memory, and engaging in the study of Rebbe Nachman's writings.

To learn more click here

Sunday, October 9, 2022

The Tikkun of David

David rectified the soul of Adam through the Torah of Moshe

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

  “Torah tziva lanu Moshe morashah kehillat Yakov – The Torah that Moses commanded us is a legacy for the congregation of Jacob” [Devarim 33:4]

The entire Torah is attributed to Moshe Rabbeinu, as it is stated [Malachi 3:22] “Zichru Torat Moshe avdi – Keep in remembrance the teaching of Moses.” Chazal Add that the parashah of “Vezot Haberachah” is specifically named after Moshe Rabbeinu, a”h, because of the pasuk written in it, “Torah tziva lanu Moshe – The Torah that Moshe commanded us.”

Parashat “Vezot Haberachah,” which is named after Moshe, is read on Simchat Torah, right after Hoshana Rabba, which is attributed to King David.

What is the connection between King David and Moshe Rabbeinu that the festival attributed to King David is followed by the reading of the parashah attributed to Moshe?

We may explain that King David loved the holy Torah immensely, as it is stated in Tehillim [119:97] “How I love Your Torah! All day it is my conversation,” and Moshe Rabbeinu symbolizes the Torah, since he risked his life in order to bring it down from heaven and give it to Bnei Yisrael.

One who delves into the matter will notice that the initials of David and Moshe have the same gematria as “Adam,” (together with the kollel – adding one for the name itself). As we know, Adam HaRishon granted King David 70 years of his 1000 year life-span, after seeing that David was destined to die on the day he was born. Since he took pity on the lofty neshamah, he decided to grant it 70 of his years. It thus follows that King David, who completed Adam’s years, thereby corrected the soul of Adam, who had sinned in the Tree of Knowledge.

How did David succeed in correcting the soul of Adam? By learning the Torah, which is attributed to Moshe Rabbeinu.

We find, therefore, that Moshe Rabbeinu also had a part in correcting the soul of Adam, since without the Torah, which is called by his name, King David would not have been able to correct the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. This, then, is the connection between King David and Moshe Rabbeinu, and in the merit of both of them, the soul of Adam HaRishon received its tikkun and was cured.

It is truly amazing! The seventh day of Sukkot [Hoshana Rabba] is attributed to King David, and on the following day of Simchat Torah, we finish reading the Torah, discussing the death of Moshe Rabbeinu. Then we immediately begin reading Bereishit, in which we read about the creation of the world and about Adam HaRishon. Thus, we see a clear connection between King David, Adam and Moshe.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Who Do You See?

Art: Gustave Caillebotte

''But Yeshurun grew fat and kicked'' [Ha'azinu 32:15]

The maggid R' Yechiel Michel of Zlochev had a chassid who at one time was very poor.  But then he tried his hand at business, and he quickly became a very wealthy man.  However, the more his wealth and standing grew, the further he drifted from Torah and mitzvot.

One day, the maggid paid a visit to his disciple and requested that he make a charitable donation to an important cause.  The chassid, however, evaded the request with several excuses.

The maggid walked over to the window and asked the chassid to join him.  As they gazed out into the streets, the maggid asked him, ''What do you see?''

''I see people walking through the streets'' responded the wealthy chassid.

The maggid then led the chassid to a mirror: ''Now what do you see?'' asked the maggid.

''Now'' answered the chassid, ''I see myself.''

''Do you know what the difference is between a window and a mirror?'' asked the maggid.  ''A window is clear and transparent and therefore, when you look at it, you see others.  A mirror, however, is coated with silver. Therefore, when you look at it, you see only yourself.''

[Written by Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein]

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Hurricane Ian and the Revelation of God from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur

 An exciting new shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin

The Kabbalah of Yom Kippur

 Rabbi Efraim Palvanov 

What is the deeper meaning behind the five afflictions of Yom Kippur? How do they serve to purify the five aspects of the soul? 

Also discussed is whether the sons of Jacob actually sold their brother Joseph or not, the Ten Martyrs that are mourned on Yom Kippur, miracles of the Yom Kippur War, and the role of air and water in Creation. 

For a written summary of the class, see here

Monday, October 3, 2022

Complete Teshuva

Art: Maurycy Gottllieb

The focus of the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is teshuvah - return or repentance. We recite the Avinu Malkeinu prayer during this period, requesting: “Our Father our King! Return us in complete teshuvah before You.”

When is teshuvah full and complete?

Healing the Source

We can understand this phrase better in light of the request that immediately follows:

“Our Father our King! Send complete healing to the sick of Your people.”

What is “complete healing”? Often we are only able to alleviate the patient’s external symptoms. The true source of the illness, however, remains unknown or is untreatable. Such a treatment is only a partial healing. When we plead for complete healing, we are praying that we may succeed in discovering the source of the illness and completely cure the patient. Such a comprehensive treatment will result in full restoration of the patient’s health.

The same concept holds true for teshuvah. If we address a particular fault, we are really dealing with a symptom of a much larger problem. Correcting a specific sin is only partial teshuvah. When we ask for God’s help in attaining complete teshuvah, we seek a comprehensive teshuvah that corrects the root source of our various sins and character flaws. Such a complete teshuvah will restore our spiritual wholeness.

Elevated Perception

How does one attain complete teshuvah? In his book Orot HaTeshuvah, Rav Kook explained that this teshuvah is based on an elevated outlook on life and the world:

“The higher level of teshuvah is based on holy enlightenment and a penetrating perception of the beauty of Divine providence. This [elevated teshuvah] is the source and foundation for the lower teshuvah that corrects deeds and refines traits. The basis for elevated teshuvah is none other than the foundation of Torah, in all of its roots and branches.” [15:6]

“Teshuvah that is truly complete requires a lofty perception, an ascent to the rarified world that is replete with truth and holiness. This is only possible by delving into the depths of Torah and Divine wisdom, to the mystical secrets of the universe.... Only the higher [i.e., mystical] Torah can break down the iron barriers that divide the individual and society as a whole from their heavenly Father.” [10:1]

Source: Rav Kook: Silver from the Land of Israel, pp. 72-73. Adapted from Mo'adei HaRe’iyah, p. 66]

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Filling the Waters

We've all heard about the Nordstream pipeline sabotage - if you don't know what I'm talking about click here

I don't want to talk about who is responsible, but I do want to mention that apparently a gas pipeline to Crimea in the Kherson [Ukraine] has now been destroyed and is burning.  This pipeline sabotage is gaining popularity and it's taking us one step closer to Geula.

Gemarah: "Moshiach will not come until that day, when the waters will be filled with oil, and no fish will be found to feed the ill - as it's stated: "then I will fill their waters will oil".

Rashi comments: When the waters will be congealed and fish cannot swim in such waters.

Note that it says "oil" and "congealed" - it doesn't say "gas". 

But it seems we are just getting started with this particular type of sabotage and I'm thinking that perhaps it won't be long before it is oil as well as gas being targeted.

Bad for the fish, but good for Geulah.  Is it time to stock up on canned tuna again? 

Talmud Sanhedrin 98a

Above is the relevant page of the Talmud: translation - "Mashiach ben Dovid will not arrive until someone seeks a fish for a sick person and cannot find one."

Return to Source

Hebrew with English subtitles.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Fundamental Processes of Human History: The Two Moshiachs

Rabbi Shimon Kessin, new shiur

Why are we focussed on the two Moshiachs.  This is a fascinating shiur, highly recommended.

Monday, September 19, 2022

24 Elul Yarzheit 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

Sunday, September 18, 2022

This Thing is Very Near to You

Rather, [this] thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.''  [Nitzavim 30:14]

At first glance, the statement that ''this thing is very close to you... in your heart'' appears to be contrary to our experience [and yet the Torah is eternally relevant], that it is simply not a ''very near thing'' to transform one's heart's desires from wanting worldly pleasures to a sincere love of God.

However, the words ''so that you can fulfill it'' at the end of the verse, qualify what is written at the beginning of the verse - that we are speaking here merely of a love which is sufficient to bring about the practical observance of the commandments....even if it is not palpable in his heart, like a burning fire.

And this is indeed ''very near'' and easy for any person who has a brain inside his skull, since a person's mind is under his control, and he is free to think about whatever he pleases, on any subject. So when he will use it to think about the greatness of God, he will inevitably generate - in his mind, at least - a love of God [sufficient to make a person want] to cleave to Him though the performance of His commandments and the study of His Torah.

Source: Gutnick Chumash: Excerpt from Tanya Chapter 17

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Motzei Shevi''it

I have had a version of this blog post sitting in my drafts for over 10 years.  In 5772 [secular  year 2012] we all expected Moshiach. Even the Mayan Calendar ended in December 2012.  

Vilna Gaon

It is a tradition from the Gra [Vilna Gaon], although he did not put it in writing, that the Geula will begin 5772.  It is thought that Hashem may have delayed the Geula by ten years, bringing us to now: 5782.

The Vilna Gaon quotes the Gemara Sanhedrin 97A  that Moshiach will come Motzei Shevi'it - which means "after the seventh".

The Zohar, in its description of this year, refers to it as being motzei shevi'is [after the seventh] - the shmittah and the Yovel -  [Zohar Chadash Beis, Parshas Balak]

But 5772, the Gra's first choice for Redemption, was not "motzei shevi'it".  So perhaps the Gra also knew that the Geula would be delayed by ten years. [I don't know I'm just speculating]

There is a principle that Hashem loves all sheviís [the seventh] - all sevens are special.

We see from Tikkunei Zohar 28b that HKB"H will destroy the Erev Rav between the 6th and 7th hour, which is the time that they sinned with the golden calf - because that is when the Redemption process begins. And that began at the time of 6.5 hours of the day, during Minha Gedola.  Source: Yeranen Yaakov

We are currently in the 7th hour of the sixth day 12pm-1pm: 12.46pm actually, if you look at the Cosmic Clock in my left column.

The Zohar even states that it is not God’s will to reveal the arrival date of the Moshiach, but when the date draws near, even children will be able to make the calculation [Bereishis 118a]. According to the Vilna Gaon, there seems to be little problem making the calculation from his commentary, but one who does must promise not to reveal his finding to another: “And from here [what I have just written] you can calculate the time of the Final Redemption if, God forbid, we do not merit [to bring it earlier]; however, I have imposed an oath, in the name of the God of Israel, on the reader of this that he should not reveal it.” [Biur HaGra, Sifra D’Tzniuta, Chapter Five]
Source: Rav Shalom Yehuda Gross