Friday, September 23, 2022

 


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Torah Orthodox vs British Royalty

 New shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin


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

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Signs? Coincidences?

All of this is speculation. 

This photo was taken over Wembley in London and people think it shows the Queen riding on her horse .... or maybe it's showing a man riding a donkey... The prophet Zechariah describes Moshiach as "a pauper, riding on a donkey."  




This is a beam of light over the Queen's coffin.... but look to the left and you'll see a shopfront awning that says "The World's End".  If you're on a phone you can easily enlarge the photo to see it.


מצוה 
This is the Hebrew word "mitzvah"
The middle two letters צו have a gematria of 96 - the age of the Queen
the outer letters מה have the gematria of 45 - Geula

A Deeper Insight Into the Death of Queen Elizabeth

 Rabbi Mendel Kessin

"Before Moshiach there will be a double rainbow"  [see The Queen's Rainbows]


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The Debt Jubilee

Thank you to EnricoAriel for sending this to me - 

What The Bible Says About 50 Years of Fiat Money, Debt Jubilee


Monday, September 12, 2022

A Blessing in Reverse

Art: Debi Payne


by Rabbi David Pinto Shlita

It is written, “Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will not eat from it. Your donkey will be robbed from before you, but it will not return to you. Your flocks will be given to your enemies, but you will have none to save you” [Ki Tavo 28:31].

As our teachers have said in the holy Zohar, all the curses conceal blessings.

In his book Nachal Kedumim, the Chida writes that this verse, read in the reverse sense, becomes a blessing:  “You will be saved, and your enemies will have nothing. Your flocks will be returned, and your donkey will not be robbed from you. You will eat the meat of your ox, and it will not be slaughtered before your eyes.”

Friday, September 9, 2022

The Queen's Rainbows

                                                          Rainbow over Windsor Castle

                                Double rainbow outside Buckingham Palace


Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II has passed, and Hashem has given the world rainbows.
One incredible rainbow over Windsor Castle for a few minutes, and then it was gone.
Then a double rainbow over Buckingham Palace as mourners came to pay tribute.

What are the rainbows telling us?  It's a sign from Hashem, hopefully that Moshiach is close. Click the Rainbow label below this post for more on rainbows.

For more on the Queen and the rainbows see:
https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/tradition/a41123522/rainbow-windsor-castle-queen-elizabeth-death-photos/

Evil's Place in This World

 Rabbi Mendel Kessin


Thursday, September 8, 2022

13 Elul - Yarzheit Ben Ish Chai

The Ben Ish Chai
Chacham Yosef Chaim of Baghdad

To read some of his teachings and connect with his soul on his yarzheit, click on the BEN ISH CHAI label below this post.



by Chana Lewis

Chacham Yosef Chaim (1832-1909), known as the Ben Ish Chai, was a highly-revered Torah scholar and master of Kabbalah. Based in Baghdad, Iraq, he was recognized by the Sephardic community both locally and abroad as an eminent Halachic authority.

Youth

Yosef Chaim was born on the 27th of Av, 1832, into a long chain of rabbinic figures renowned for their spiritual influence on the Baghdad Jewish community over the centuries. His father, Chacham Eliyahu Chaim, the son of Chacham Moshe Chaim, was the head rabbi and leader of Baghdad's Jewish community.

At the age of seven, Yosef Chaim fell into a deep pit in the courtyard of his home while playing with his sister. He was eventually saved by a miracle, and in gratitude to G‑d he decided to devote his life to the study of Torah. As a young boy, he spent many hours absorbing Torah from the books in his father's extensive library. He went on to attend Beit Zilka, the Jewish seminary of Baghdad, headed by Rabbi Abdallah Someich.

When Yosef Chaim was fourteen years old, a question arrived for his father from Rabbi Chaim Palag'i, the chief rabbi of Turkey. His father was very busy and unable to answer for several days, so the young Yosef Chaim answered the question in his father's stead. The Turkish rabbi was so impressed with the boy's response that he predicted he would be a great sage. In a letter to Yosef Chaim's father, he enthused: "Your son, dear to your soul, has already preceded you and decided this case. May his father rejoice in him…"

In a special room secluded for study, Yosef Chaim continued to strive toward spiritual perfection, studying all of the Torah day and night. At midnight he would rise to recite the Tikkun Chatzot, lamenting the destruction of the Holy Temple, and at sunrise he would recite the morning prayers. For six consecutive years, he fasted by day and ate only at night, to weaken physical drives that could interfere with his Divine service. He built a mikvah, a ritual bath, in his home, so he could purify himself at any time.

At the age of eighteen, he married Rachel, the daughter of Rabbi Yehudah Someich, a relative of his teacher. Together, they had one daughter and a son. Yosef Chaim was known for the attention he showered upon his children, teaching them Torah and conversing with them, despite his demanding schedule. He often composed little riddles and puzzles to entertain them, some of which are recorded in his book Imrei Binah.

Leader of the Baghdad Community

When Yosef Chaim was twenty-five years old, his father passed away, and he became the unofficial leader of the Baghdad community. The title chacham – "wise one," the traditional Sephardic title bestowed upon rabbis – was appended to his name. Despite his young age, he was highly respected, and one of his disciples, Rabbi Dovid Chai Hacohen, testified that if Rabbi Yosef Chaim had lived during the time of the Temple, it would never have been destroyed. For unlike then, when the Jews disregarded the admonitions of the prophets, the entire Baghdad community lovingly obeyed every word uttered by Rabbi Yosef Chaim. During his lifetime, per his influence, all the Jews of Baghdad observed Shabbat and Torah law. Chacham Yosef Chaim refused a salary for his public service. Instead, he supported his family by partnering in his brother's business. He personally funded the publishing of his books, refusing sponsorship or charity, and any income from these books would be distributed to the poor. He was also known to donate his books for free to Torah scholars.

He attempted to bridge the gap between the Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities, who often followed widely differing practices, by referencing his contemporaries abroad, and reflecting on their approaches in his own writings. He felt strongly that Torah scholars needed to show mutual recognition for one another, even when they disagreed, lest their names be forgotten with the passage of time.

Though his legal decisions carried weight primarily amongst Sephardi populaces, his Ashkenazi counterparts recognized his genius, held him in high esteem, and often quoted his rulings.

For fifty years, from his appointment until his death, he lectured for one hour daily on Torah law and aggadah (historical and anecdotal material) in the Tsallat L'ziri, "the small synagogue." Four times a year, he lectured at the Great Synagogue of Baghdad, built with dirt from the land of Israel.

Chacham Yosef Chaim understood that cut-and-dry Torah law would not appeal to many, so the bulk of his discourses were coupled with Kabbalah and Aggadah. He helped his followers make associations between Biblical lore and the law, so their hearts would be drawn to the wisdom of Torah, and they would remember it.

His seminal work, the Ben Ish Chai, is based on the three-hour classes he presented each Shabbat. He'd begin each lecture with a Kabbalistic interpretation, in simple language, of the Torah portion of the week, and then present a selection of related practical laws. Two important figures guided his work: Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar, and Rabbi Isaac Luria, the Arizal.

His approach was based on preservation of local traditions, even in Halachic rulings. He would not recommend a change in local tradition unless there was compelling reason to do so. His rulings testify to his innovative approach which gave credence to local tradition, and to Ashkenazi and Sephardi rulings alike.

The Ben Ish Chai became the standard reference book for Torah law among Sephardim. It appealed to a wide audience, scholars and commoners alike, including women, who were usually not provided a religious education. Due to its widespread popularity, Chacham Yosef Chaim came to be called by the name of his book.

Many stories testify to his greatness. On one occasion, a scholar from Baghdad visited a great rabbi in Jerusalem, Rabbi Yaakov Shaul Elishar, to request his blessings. The elderly sage responded, "Why have you come to me? You have Chacham Yosef Chaim in Baghdad. There is no one like him in the world."

Chacham Yosef Chaim deeply loved the Land of Israel. He supported the Jewish settlement by printing all his books there, and throughout his life, gave money to the messengers from Israel who came to collect for the poor. In 1869, he journeyed to Israel where he visited the gravesites of numerous holy figures in Jerusalem and Hebron, and met with eminent Kabbalists. Though offered a rabbinical post there, he decided to return to Iraq. He brought back with him a large stone to be placed at the entrance to the synagogue where he lectured.

Days before his death, on the 8th of Elul, Chacham Yosef Chaim went on a pilgrimage to the grave of the prophet Ezekiel, and he became sick shortly after. On the 13th of Elul, 1909, he died and was buried that same night. He was deeply mourned, his funeral attended by over ten thousand people—Jews and non-Jews alike. Years after his death, Jews still made it practice to visit his gravesite every Friday.

Legacy

Despite his passing over 100 years ago, his legacy is very much alive in the hearts of those who continue to live by his seminal work, the Ben Ish Chai. Many of his disciples became great Jewish scholars who continued to disperse his teachings.

The extensive work of Chacham Yosef Chaim encompasses all aspects of Judaism: Torah law, Kabbalah, Q and A's, sermons, parables, proverbs, and prayers, liturgics and poetry for Shabbat and holidays. His work reflects simultaneously broad knowledge of the sciences, medicine, astronomy, physics and economics. His approach to Torah, though stringent, is imbued with love for its practice, and his followers, whose numbers continue to grow even today, revere his commitment to Torah law and the inspiration he brought to it.

Many schools, particularly in Israel, have been built in his name. Thousands continue to glean from the wisdom of Chacham Yosef Chaim, studying his books, but more importantly, living by them.

Source: Chabad

Video below: Rabbi Alon Anava: Parshat Ki Teitzei: Ben Ish Chai: How To Win Your Battles

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The Most Difficult

 



"When you go out to war against your enemies" [Ki Teitzei 21:10]

"The most difficult war of all" remarked the Chofetz Chaim, "is man's war against his yetzer hara."

In his youth, R' Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky [the Steipler Gaon] was conscripted into the Russian army.

It was not easy serving in the Russian army. He was surrounded by numerous anti-Semites and he often had to stand guard in sub zero temperatures. 

Despite the difficult circumstances, the Steipler used great cunning and devised various strategies that enabled him to observe the Sabbath.

It was so cold outdoors that whoever was on guard duty was given a special, thick coat to wear during his shift. But there was only one such coat, so the soldiers took turns wearing it.

One Shabbos eve, when the Steipler came to do his guard duty, the soldier who was wearing the coat took it off and, instead of handing it to the Steipler, hung it on a tree.

The Steipler now stood trembling in the freezing cold, and he was unsure as to what he should do. It was already Shabbos, and removing an item from a tree on the Sabbath is forbidden. On the other hand, without his coat he would freeze.

Five minutes, he thought. Let me see if I can bear not wearing the coat for just five minutes. If, after five minutes, I feel as if I simply cannot stand the cold, then I will retrieve the coat; after all, this is a life-threatening predicament.

Five minutes passed, as the Steipler stood shivering in the bitter cold. Another five minutes, he thought. I'll wait five more minutes and then I'll get the coat.

Another five minutes passed, then another, and yet another, until the night had passed and the guard on the next shift came to relieve him.

The Steipler had not moved from his place the entire night, nor had he transgressed any of the holy day's sanctified commandments.

The war against one's yetzer hara is a most difficult one. The way to emerge victorious is by devising clever strategies. Yet one should not attempt to overcome his yetzer hara all at once, for that will prove to be too difficult. Rather, he should progress gradually, taking a step-by-step approach, as the verse states: "Thoughts conceived in counsel will be firm; wage war with strategies" [Mishlei 20:18]

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein 

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Praying for Rain

Many countries worldwide are suffering from a severe lack of rain.  That is definitely not the case in Australia where for once we have it in abundance, and Pakistan is drowning in it.

Photo Kaycee Kennedy


"You shall have complete and accurate stone weights"
[Ki Teitzei 25:15]

Throughout the generations, gedolei Yisrael scrupulously kept the mitzvah of maintaining accurate weights and measures.

In a certain city, the sages decreed that a fast day be held on account of the lack of rain. The entire city fasted as the sages had ordained, but rain still did not fall.

That night, the Rav of the city had a dream. In it, he was told that if a particular storeowner would lead the community in a prayer for rain then rain would, indeed, fall.

The next day, the Rav gathered the entire community to pray together for rain. To everyone's surprise, he asked the storeowner to lead the services.

The storeowner declined, claiming that he was but a simple man and unfit to lead the prayers. The Rav, however, did not relent, and he explained that it was specifically the storeowner who could come to their aid and no-one else.

The storeowner left the shul and returned holding a pair of scales that he used to weigh his merchandise.

He approached the bimah and cried out "Master of the Universe! The two pans of these scales parallel the two heis of Your Great Name! The bar parallels the vav, and the handle parallels the yud.

"Master of the Universe! If I have used these scales dishonestly and thereby desecrated Your Holy Name, I hereby accept upon myself whatever punishment I deserve! But if I have acted in an upright manner, then I pray that You send us rain of blessing!"

As soon as the storeowner finished his words, the sky filled with clouds, and it began to rain.

Source: Rabbi Yisroel Bronstein

Friday, September 2, 2022

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Identifying a False Witness


"And they shall judge the people with righteous judgment" [Shoftim 16:18]

A group of wicked individuals in the city of Vilna libeled one of the city's distinguished citizens. To ruin the man's reputation, they even hired false witnesses to substantiate their claim.

When word of the scandal reached the Vilna Gaon, he immediately suspected that the witnesses were hired to slander the man. He therefore requested to personally examine the "witnesses".

The witnesses appeared before the Gaon and related their testimony. The Gaon kept his eyes closed throughout their testimony and waited for them to finish. When they concluded, the Gaon rose to his feet and declared "They are false witnesses!"

The imposters, terrified by the Gaon's declaration, quickly admitted their guilt and revealed that they had been hired to deliver a false testimony.

The judges of the Beth Din were amazed. "How did Rebbeinu know that they were false witnesses?" they asked the Gaon.

"The answer lies in a Mishnah in Maseches Sanhedrin [5:4]" he replied.

"The Mishnah states that the judges first listen to the testimony of one witness. When the witness has concluded, the judges invite the second witness to testify. The Mishnah then states "If the words were found to correspond" then they are believed.

What does "if the words were found to correspond" mean? Either the testimonies match up or they do not; what need is there for the judges to figure out if the testimonies correspond?

"The reason" explained the Gaon, "is as follows: Every individual has his own style and approach when it comes to relating that which he has seen. Therefore, when judges hear two testimonies that differ slightly from one another, if they can find a way to reconcile them, the testimonies will be accepted by the Beth Din. For although the two witnesses expressed themselves in different manners, the two testimonies are one and the same. In fact, it is a sign that the witnesses are honest.

"However, when these witnesses testified before me" concluded the Gaon, "there were no discrepancies between their testimonies. If two people recount the same story, using the exact same words, it is a clear indication that they are false witnesses!"

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Monday, August 29, 2022

3 Elul - Yarzheit Rav Kook


"Before the world of truth can come, the world of lies must disappear" - Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

"Which big books?" asked the teacher.

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

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

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

"To Israel, to Eretz Yisrael..."

*************************************

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******************************

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*********************************

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

*********************************

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on Rav Kook at Rav Kook Torah

Overcoming Obstacles



Elul - L'Dovid Hashem Ori - When You Carry Valuable Merchandise

The Ohr HaMeir says that in life there are certain people who have it easy. Everything goes smooth for them and no obstacles stand in their way. They think that they have reached perfection, they are on top of the world. On the other hand some people cannot catch a break. Every time they make a move something goes wrong. Are they traveling on the wrong road?

The Ohr HaMeir explains with a Mashal. If someone is traveling on the road carrying a sack of wheat husks, his trip is easy. He can travel wherever he wants, for as long as he wants, feeling secure and knowing no one will rob him of his goods. However, if he is carrying a satchel of precious stones he sweats every step, knowing that he is a hunted man.

Dovid HaMelech says in L'Dovid Hashem Ori [Tehilim 27:3] "Im Takum Alai Milchama B'Zos Ani Botei'ach" - if the enemy is constantly attacking me, in this I find confidence. Why? If my path in life was devoid of any value I would not encounter constant resistance from the Yetzer Hara. The fact that there is an obstacle in my path at every turn is a sign that I, my actions, goals, and ambitions are very valuable. So valuable that the Yetzer Hara is throwing all his resources at me to stop from accomplishing my dreams.

As we start Elul and head quickly towards Rosh Hashana and a new year, contemplate the past year. Did you have it easy? Did you get anything worthwhile accomplished? The Ohr HaMeir would venture to guess that the answer to the first question is not the answer to the second!

Source: Revach L'Neshama

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Our Relationship with the Growth of Evil and the Mar-A-Lago Raid

[Posted Motzei Shabbat]

Rabbi Mendel Kessin, new shiur


Friday, August 26, 2022

The Birth of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

 Rabbi Efraim Palvanov - a 3 minute video.


Individual Tests



''...for the Lord, your God, is testing you...'' [Re'eh 13:4]

One of the basic teachings of the Torah is that God does not expect of a human being anything which is beyond the human capacity to carry out.  This is quite understandable, for even a human being, who is very far from absolute perfection, would not expect of a tool that he has fashioned any more than he has put into it.

Certainly God, the Creator of man, knows man's capacities.  From this, it immediately follows that when a person faces any kind of a test of faith, it is certain that he has been given the capacity to overcome it.  And the more difficult the test, the greater are the individual's capacities.

The reason that an individual is tested is not because God wants to know how he will acquit himself, but in order that this person be afforded the opportunity to realize his potential, even that which is unknown to him.

And when one's potential capacities are released and activated, they become part and parcel of his or her arsenal, to be used for personal as well as communal benefit.

Source: Excerpt from a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

One Mezuzah Can Save an Entire City

Text by Rabbi Berach Steinfeld

The Torah in Devarim 13:17 tells us that in the event there is a whole city that serves avoda zora [idol worship], all its belongings will be gathered in the middle of the city and get totally burned. 

The Gemara in Sanhedrin 71a tells us that Reb Eliezer says that if a city that served avoda zora has even just one house with a mezuzah in it, the city will be saved. This will not render the city an Ir Hanidachas. 

We see from here how great is the mitzvah of mezuzah. 

Advanced readers click here for more on this [see page 5]

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

His Needs, Which He Is Lacking




It is written, “You shall lend him sufficient for his needs, which he is lacking” [Re'eh 15:8]

Rashi points out: “Even a horse to ride on and a servant to run before him.” 

In his book Ayelet HaShachar, the gaon Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman Shlita notes that this passage deals with honor, not financial need.

This means that the mitzvah also consists of demonstrating honor to someone if honor is what he lacks.

A person once paid a visit to the home of the Chazon Ish. Upon leaving, the Chazon Ish accompanied him all the way outside, despite the fact that the person in question did not merit such honor. The Chazon Ish explained that it was precisely honor that he was lacking.

Source: Rabbi David Pinto

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Who Controls the Rain ?

 

China is so desperate for rain, they are firing cloud-seeding rockets into the sky.





"Engrave on it with signet-ring [type] engraving: "Holy to Hashem"
  פִּתּוּחֵי חֹתָם קֹדֶשׁ לַי־הֹוָ־ה 
[Tetzaveh 28:36]



In Maseches Ta'anis (2a) R' Yochanan states that there are three maftechos, three keys, in Hashem's possession that He never entrusts to others:
  • the key to childbirth
  • the key to rain
  • and the key to resuscitating the dead

The Gemara derived this from three verses:

Hashem does not entrust the key to childbirth to a messenger, as the verse states: "G-d remembered Rachel; G-d hearkened to her and He opened (vayiftach) her womb" [Bereishis 30:22]

Hashem does not entrust the key of rain to a messenger, as the verse states: "Hashem shall open for you His storehouse of goodness, the heavens, to provide rain for your Land in its time" [Devarim 28:12]

And Hashem does not entrust the key of resuscitating the dead to a messenger, as the verse states: "Then you will know that I am Hashem, when I open your graves" [Yechezkel 37:13]

These three keys, remarked the Vilna Gaon, are alluded to in the verse: "Pituchei chosam kodesh laHashem" - פִּתּוּחֵי חֹתָם קֹדֶשׁ לַי־הֹוָ־ה -

The acronym of the word  חֹתָם [Ches, taf, mem] which means "seal" hints to the following words:

Ches - Chayah [a woman who has recently given birth]
Taf - Techiyas HaMeisim [the resuscitation of the dead]
Mem - Matar [rain]

The verse can therefore be read as follows:  "The keys of [pituchei] childbirth, resuscitation of the dead, and rain - ChoTaM - are designated for Hashem's use only ["kodesh laHashem"].

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

The Myth of Moses Mendelssohn

 

Rabbi Efraim Palvanov

Was Moses Mendelssohn really out to destroy traditional Judaism? Did he launch Reform Judaism? Find out who Mendelssohn really was and why he became such a notorious figure in the Orthodox Jewish world. Also discussed is a brief explanation of the three major Kabbalistic movements that arose in the 18th century.


Monday, August 15, 2022

The Difference Beween a Rich Man and a Poor Man

Art: Vladimir Kush

"And you say in your heart: "My strength and the power of my hand amassed this wealth for me" [Eikev 8:17]

A wealthy wood merchant approached R' Chaim of Volozhin and told him that he was in danger of losing his entire fortune.

"Why is your fortune at risk?" asked R'Chaim.

The merchant related his story. "I sent a large ship carrying wood to Prussia" he explained. "The Prussian authorities, however, are not allowing my merchandise into their country. They have warned me that should the ship not turn around, they will sink the ship and all of my precious cargo along with it!"

"Do not worry!" responded R' Chaim. "You will see, Hashem's salvation comes in the blink of an eye!"

That same day, the price of wood increased significantly and, to the merchant's good fortune, the Prussian authorities also allowed his ship to enter their country.

The overjoyed merchant ran over to R' Chaim. "Rebbe" he said, "today I have witnessed the hand of Divine Providence! I now realize that the government's unwillingness to allow my ship to enter their country was all for the best. For had it been permitted to enter any earlier, I would have received a lower price for my wood. Hashem saw to it, however, than my ship would not enter Prussia any earlier so that I would reap far greater profits!"

"You now see the difference between a rich man and a poor man" sighed R' Chaim. "A poor man sees Hashem's guiding Hand each and every day. But a rich man, who is certain that his wealth stems from his own abilities and strengths, only notices Hashem's Providence once every few years."

Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein

Friday, August 12, 2022

Tu b'Av

L'illui nishmat Mordechai ben Menachem a"h


The Jewish mini-holiday of Tu B’Av

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

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

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

Yet the unknowable is also ours to seek and explore.

Source and more  click here

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Predictions for New Year 5783 - תשפ״ג

Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin

This coming year 5783 is a year of hakhel, when the Temple stood, the year after shmita the king would gather every man women and child and read the Torah before them. What is the connection to this year 5783?  Furthermore 5783 is a year of abundant wealth, unity and redemption. Watch and learn how all of this is embedded in the Hebrew letters of Pei and Gimel. 


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Shabbat Nachamu: How Hashem Will Console Us

 New shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin


Monday, August 8, 2022

In Sickness and In Health



"Watch yourselves very carefully...." [Va'Etchanan 4:15]

So much of physical health depends on spiritual health. If in olden days emphasis was placed on "mens sana in corpore sano" [a sound mind in a healthy body], in our days it is a matter of general conviction that even a small defect spiritually, causes a grievous defect physically; and the healthier the spirit and the greater its preponderance over the physical body - the greater its ability to correct or overcome physical shortcomings; so much so, that in many cases even physical treatments, prescriptions and drugs are considerably more effective if they are accompanied by the patient's strong will and determination to cooperate.

Note that Rambam stresses how "having a totally healthy body is among the paths of (serving) God", a point emphasized further by the Mezritcher Maggid.

Since physical health depends on spiritual health, if a person becomes ill, G-d forbid, he should search his past deeds to try to identify what shortcoming may have caused the illness. However, this approach should be taken only regarding one's own lack of physical health. When one sees that another person is sick, one should not think that this was caused by a spiritual shortcoming, since we are told "Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place" [Avos 2:4, see Tanya Ch 30]. One's first reaction to a sick person should be, to the contrary, that his sickness may well have been caused by spiritual health, as he may have weakened his body through fasting, in the process of doing teshuvah [see the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch].

The statement of the Zohar that "the weakness of the body is the strength of the soul" does not mean to say that a weakening of the body itself brings about spiritual growth. Rather, the intent of the Zohar is that the desire for physicality, for its own sake, is counter-productive to a person's spiritual growth.

Source: Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe


As a youth, R' Yechezkel Abramsky was sent to Siberia. The cold was unbearable, and temperatures dropped to as low as 40 degrees below zero.

Wearing only light clothing, young Yechezkel stood in line along with the other Jews who had been exiled to that forsaken part of the world. They were all trembling from the cold.

"Listen Jews!" shouted the commanding officer. "Every morning you are to remove your shoes and run barefoot in the snow for the duration of an hour. Anyone who dares violate this order will be severly punished!"

R' Abramsky, who was a weak and frail youth, was frightened by this cruel order. Back at his warm home, his loving mother had always tended to him, dressing him in warm clothing and scarves, but now he would have to run barefoot in the snow!

He lifted his eyes to Heaven and pleaded with Hashem: "Master of the World" he said, "you have exhorted us in Your holy Torah to "watch yourselves very carefully". In truth, man is usually able to take care of his health by wearing warm clothing, but here in this Siberian labor camp, we are unable to do so. We therefore cannot be held responsible for our health. I therefore beg of You, Master of the World, watch over and us and protect us!"

Amazingly, throughout his entire stay in Siberia, R' Abramsky did not get sick even once.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Friday, August 5, 2022

Trauma is Emotional Murder

Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson, a 5 minute video that everyone should watch. Those who already understand will appreciate his explanation to those who do not yet really understand the meaning of "trauma".



Thursday, August 4, 2022

How Does G-d Assure Everyone A Place in The World To Come?

New shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin


Major Tikkun for Moshiach

 

The author wishes to remain anonymous - it's such a long blog post that I had to make it a whole page.  Please click here to read.  Time sensitive information.

Blessing Your Medication

 

HT: Rivkah Lambert Adler



Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Worst Tisha B'Av in Recent Times

 New shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin


5 Av - Yarzheit Arizal

Arizal Synagogue, Safed - Photo Steven Pinker

The Arizal [1534-1572] - Rabbi Isaac Luria was the most famous Kabbalist in the city of Safed, Israel who became known as the "Arizal" or ARI, an acronym for “The G-dly Rabbi Isaac of Blessed Memory.”

The Arizal passed away at the age of 38, and it was only during the last two years of his life that he met his foremost disciple, Rabbi Chaim Vital. The Arizal himself never wrote any books, however all his words were faithfully recorded by Rabbi Chaim Vital in what is known as Kitvei Ari, the “writings of the Arizal.” The Kitvei Ari is the key to the secrets of the Zohar, and it was the Arizal who formulated the Kabbalah into a comprehensive system. Rabbi Chaim Vital writes in the name of the Arizal that, “It is a Mitzvah to reveal this wisdom.” Until the time of the Arizal, knowledge of Kabbalah was not known outside of the tightly knit circle of the tzaddikim.

More about the Arizal at Ascent of Safed or click on the label "ARIZAL" below to read more of his teachings.


Friday, July 29, 2022

In-Depth Look at the Divine Plan of Creation

This lecture given in Jerusalem on July 27th 2022 by the internationally-known speaker and scholar, Rabbi Mendel Kessin, offers an in-depth understanding of the Divine Plan of Creation from the first recorded conversation of loshon ha'ra between the nachash - primordial snake - and Chava until today and beyond. This outstanding lecture weaves together all the strands--both spiritual and physical--into a magnificent tapestry which explains the march of history to this present day and well into the messianic future and Olam Ha'Ba. If you cannot answer the question: "What is the purpose of Creation?" then this lecture is for you.


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Our Loss and the Goyim's Gain

 New shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin


Monday, July 25, 2022

How to Perform Miracles



Parshat Matot: Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev

Lo Yachel Devaroi, K’Chol HaYotzai MiPicha Yaaseh” - do not profane your words; do as your mouth spoke.

The Torah tells us that we must keep our word and not violate it. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev in the Kedushas Levi makes a play on the words to explain how mortal people can perform miracles. He reads the words as follows.

If “Lo Yachel Devaroi” - you do not profane your words - then they will be holy and meaningful. Therefore, “K’Chol HaYotzai MiPicha Yaaseh” whatever comes out of your mouth will happen.

This is the concept of “Tzadik Gozer, VHaKadosh Boruch Hu Mikayem”, a tzaddik decrees and Hashem makes it happen. He further explains that this is why the Parsha is called Matot. Matot also means to turn. When a person watches his mouth, Hashem turns the Midas HaDin [judgment] into Midas HaRachamim [mercy].

Friday, July 22, 2022

Fooling Yourself

Art: "Seekers of the Truth" - Mike Worrall


It is told that R' Pinchus of Koretz used to warn his disciples: ‘Never fool yourselves! Above all a Jew must be thoroughly honest with himself!’

Once one of his students challenged him. ‘But Rebbe,’ he said, ‘one who fools himself actually thinks he is being honest with himself. So how are we ever to know if we are being honest, or just fooling ourselves?’

‘You have asked wisely, my son,’ the Rebbe said. ‘The answer, however, is simple. It is written in Tanna d-Bei Eliyahu [an ancient Midrashic source] that anyone who is careful to speak words of truth will be sent a malach [an angel] who shows him the truth. One who speaks words of sheker [falsehood] will be sent a malach who fools and deceives him.

So, if you will be careful to always tell the truth, you will never “fool yourself.” If not, well …’ This is a very telling incident. One can live his⁄her entire life in deception, of others and of himself, and not have even the faintest notion he is doing so. R' Pinchus also used to tell his disciples: ‘It is better to choke, than to utter a lie.’”

R' Raphael said: “The Sages teach that the greatest labor of man should be to avoid self-deceit. But how can a man do so when he is deceived and believes his action to be right? By obeying the counsel of his friend, since his friend cannot profit by permitting the deceit to continue. We are also taught that he who labors for truth creates for himself an Angel of Truth who acts as a monitor to warn him of falsehood.”

R' Pinchas said: “He who is filled with self-importance lies to himself and he fools others to believe his importance."

Source: Two Tzaddiks

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Great Reset Part 2 - [updated]

I have now replaced the video with the new one.

Rabbi Mendel Kessin

 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Hashem's Interaction with YOU



One of the most interesting things that Rabbi Kessin mentioned in his shiur last week "Hopelessness and Despair before Moshiach" is this:

G-D is a “shadow” in that He “follows” the actions of man. If you believe in G-D, then G-D will interact with you. If you don’t believe in G-D, believe, rather, in yourself and that you are the ultimate cause of events, he will not interact with you.

In other words, Hashem reacts to you in the same way that you react to Him.  If you believe 100%, then you will get 100% results from your interactions.  If you don't believe, then you won't get much assistance at all.  

For example.... I believe 100% that my mezuzot protect my house. Whilst I still take necessary precautions, I don't worry about things that other people worry about.  I live a carefree life because I believe with all my heart that Hashem protects me, and if there is a problem then that problem is also brought by Hashem and I deal with it.  Life is so simple when you have faith.

It's not a fairy tale, it's the truth.  Work on your Emunah [belief] and ask Hashem for assistance in everything.  You will get it, just trust in the ability of Hashem to help you.  Work on it as though you are in a gym working on your fitness.  It will change your life.