Monday, February 28, 2022


 מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדֻת "The Dwelling of the Testimony" [Pekudei 38:21]

Why, asked the Malbim {R' Meir Leibush Malbim} is the Mishkan referred to as the "Dwelling of Testimony?"

In the pesukim that follow, answered the Malbim, the Torah gives us an accounting of the vast amounts of gold, silver and other materials that were used in the construction of the Mishkan.  It records how much was donated toward the Mishkan's construction and how much was put to use.

The Mishkan itself was the best evidence that there was absolutely no dishonesty in relation to the Mishkan's construction, and that every last donation was accounted for and put to use.  For it is inconceivable that the Divine Presence would ever dwell in a place that was tainted with corruption.  If any of the donations had been misappropriated, the Divine Presence would never have rested there.

[Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein]

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Expect the Unexpected

Something to bear in mind as we watch current events:

The months of Adar are considered to have the power of “venahafoch hu”, turn things around.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Please Support Emergency Food Supplies Ukraine


Please join the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine to deliver over 30,000 packages of emergency food supplies and essential needs across 180 Communities in Ukraine.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Let Moshiach Come


Let [Moshiach] come, but let me not see him. [Sanhedrin 98b] 

The Sages knew that before the arrival of Moshiach, the world would be in a state which they did not want to be part of.  We are the generation who have chosen to be here, to live through the terrible times and greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu.  We all chose to be here, and here we are, as we sit and watch the terrible invasion of the Ukraine by the evil Putin.

But.... Putin is only doing Hashem's Will, as the hearts of the leaders of the world are in the Hands of Hashem.

Our hearts go out to the people of the Ukraine at this time.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Putin and the Jews, and Moshiach

HT: Sherry

This short video below is Rabbi Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia, speaking about Moshiach. "Through the Eyes of Moshiach: Who Needs The Ideal World?"

You may also be interested to see this video: The Enigma of Putin and the Jews, where Rabbi Lazar is interviewed on the topic.  [sound is quite low, so if your computer volume is not loud enough -  like mine - try watching it on another device.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

How Hashem Activates the Redemption

 Latest shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin


A Hint in the Numbers?

It's already Tuesday here in Australia.  Today's date is 22.02.2022 [21 Adar A]

We are in the 3,333rd year from Yetzias Mitzrayim.

All these recurring numbers, and each set adds up to 12. 

Twelve represents totality, wholeness, and the completion of God’s purpose. There are 12 tribes of Israel, 12 months in the year, and 12 houses of the zodiac [Genesis 27:20, 25:16; Exodus 24:4, 25:27; Ezekiel 43:16;Yoma 75b, 77b; Taanit 25a; Hullin 95].  [Source]

Our generation has all the signs of the generation before Moshiach.  The war of Gog u Magog appears to be starting.  Maybe these numbers are a hint that this year will see the completion of God's purpose.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and insights.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Chevlei Moshiach and the Double Adar

As we all know, we have a double Adar this year.  We are being told that Russia is set to invade Ukraine on Wednesday [15th of Adar I].  In regular years, the 15th of Adar is Shushan Purim, the festival that celebrates -- in Jerusalem and other ancient walled cities -- the salvation of the Jewish people from Haman's evil decree in the year 3405 from creation (356 BCE). In a leap year -- which has two Adars -- Shushan Purim is observed in Adar II, and the 15th of Adar I is designated as Shushan Purim Kattan, the "Minor Shushan Purim." [Source: Chabad]

Normally, the Jewish calendar year has 12 lunar months and every few years (7 in each cycle of 19 years) we have a “pregnant/intercalated year” (שָׁנָה מְעֻבֶּרֶת) with 13 months. In these years, the first Adar is the intercalated month (חֹדֶשׁ הָעִבּוּר)—the month of ibbur—the 13th month that is added to the year, while the Second Adar is the original Adar that we have every year, which is why Purim waits patiently until we celebrate it during the Second Adar. [Source Inner]

How appropriate that we have the chevlei Moshiach [birthpangs of Moshiach] during a pregnant year !

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Vilna Gaon: "Arrival of Moshiach is Close"

"When the ships of the kingdom of Russia cross the Dardanelles you [Israel] should dress in Shabbat clothes because this means the arrival of the Moshiach is close." - Vilna Gaon - This quote is said over  in the name of Rav Chaim of Volozhin who received it from the Vilna Gaon.

Link to Daf Ditty Shabbes 118 for more on this.

The first part of a Russian Navy amphibious landing ship force, which can carry troops, tanks and supplies, has entered the Dardanelles, connecting the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. This is significant, representing a point of no return in their controversial voyage towards the Black Sea and Ukraine.

Source: Naval News

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Esther Pollard's Revelation about the Final Redemption

 Thank you Hadassa for sending this.

Esther's Last Words


HT: Mashiach is Coming

[Jonathan] Pollard said that Esther’s last words had “completely changed my life.” He said that “she was dying and her eyes were closed. She opened her eyes and I was holding her hand and…I don’t know where she was, she was just looking up. She said in a very small voice that ‘My neshama volunteered to come back for two missions. One of them was to bring you home and the other one was to bring you home as a Jew and not as a goy.’ She said the first mission was the easiest one of all….I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She added that the hardest mission was to make sure you returned home as a Jew. She said that ‘now I have accomplished my missions I can go home’- and then she died.”

Source: VIN

Friday, February 4, 2022

The Signature of G-d


Rabbi Yaron Reuven and the BeEzrat HaShem Inc. Team have been working closely with Yosef Sebag, the Physicist, Electrical Engineer, Talmid Chacham and Founder of DafYomiReview to put this film together in a simple-to-understand format.  I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

How to Deal with Obnoxious People

This is one of the best articles ever written [my opinion]. Everyone really needs to read, or re-read this... it may even change your life.  

by Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson

Seeing the Other as Your Mirror

The Bite
“Can I ask you a question?" the first snake says.
"You and your dumb questions!” replies the second. “What is it this time?"
"Do you know whether or not we are venomous?" asked the first snake.
"What difference should that make to us?!" said the second.
"It makes all the difference in the world to me," said the first snake. "I just bit my lip!"

The Cloak
This week's Torah portion, Noach, presents the tale of Noah, a man who watches an entire world consumed in a devastating flood. Only a handful of people survive the disaster. What is the first thing Noah does as he emerges into an empty and desolate world, charged with the mission to rebuild civilization?

"Noah, the man of the earth," relates the Torah (1), "embarked on a new project: He planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and uncovered himself in his tent.

“Ham [one of Noah’s sons], the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside.

“Shem and Japheth [the other two sons of Noah) took a cloak, laid it upon both their shoulders, and they walked backward, and covered their father’s nakedness; their faces were turned backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.”

The Questions
This is an intriguing tale. But let us focus in on two aspects of this episode, among many others discussed in biblical commentary.

First, the Torah is not merely a book of historical tales and episodes. By identifying itself by the name Torah, which means “teaching,” the Torah defines its own genre and aim: It will inform us what happened in the past only when events that occurred then have a bearing on what we need to know today; when they can teach us how we ought to live our lives (2). What can we learn from this episode about Noah and his sons?

Second, anybody even slightly familiar with the Torah is aware of its unique conciseness. Complete sagas -- rich, complex and profound -- are often depicted in a few short verses. Each word in the Bible literally contains a myriad of interpretations in the realm of law, history, psychology, philosophy and mysticism.

For sages and rabbis over the past 3,300 years, it was clear that there is nary a superfluous word or letter in the Bible, and large sections of the Talmud are based on this premise. If a verse is lyrically repetitive, if two words are used where one would suffice or a longer word is used when a shorter word would suffice, there is a message here—a new concept, another law (3).

Yet this story about the behavior of Noah’s sons is replete with redundancy. Let us re-read the story: “Shem and Japheth took a cloak, laid it upon both their shoulders, and they walked backward, and covered their father’s nakedness; their faces were turned backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.” Now, once the Bible states that “they walked backward,” why does it repeat in the same sentence that “their faces were turned backward”? If you walk backward, obviously your face is turned backward.

The next question: Once the Torah tells us that they walked backward, and that their faces were turned backward, why does the Bible feel the need to conclude with the obvious: “They saw not their father’s nakedness”? Certainly, if you are walking backward and your face is turned backward, you cannot see that which lies behind you!

The great 11th century French biblical commentator, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, known as Rashi, addresses the first question (4). His answer is simple: Though the two sons entered Noah’s tent backward, ultimately, when they approached their naked father, they needed to turn their bodies around to cover him. So at that point their bodies were facing Noah, but they still turned their faces backward so as not to view Noah’s nakedness.

Yet the second question still irks us: Why does the Torah feel compelled to conclude with the obvious statement that “they saw not their father’s nakedness”? Wouldn't that be totally clear without this addition?

The Contrast
One could comfortably suggest that the Torah is employing here a symmetrical style. First it states that “Ham saw his father’s nakedness.” Then it concludes that “Sham and Japheth… saw not their father’s nakedness.”

Stylistically, this makes sense: Ham saw. Shem and Japheth saw not. Yet it is still superfluous. By stating that they walked backward and their faces were turned backward, it is clear that they did not see their father’s nakedness.

Upon deeper reflection, however, we come to realize that this clearly stated contrast between the brothers – Ham saw; Shem and Japheth saw not – captures the essence of the story. The difference between the brothers, the Torah is attempting to indicate, was not merely behavioral in the sense that Ham saw Noah’s nakedness and went to tell others about it, while his brothers went to cover Noah without gazing at his nudity. Rather, their behavioral differences stemmed from deeper psychological and emotional patterns: Ham saw; Shem and Japheth saw not. Their emotional perceptions of their father’s intoxication and exposure differed profoundly.

“A reading of Genesis suggests how it was that psychoanalysis began as a predominantly Jewish discipline. Long before Freud, the authors of ancient Israel had already begun to explore the uncharted realm of the human mind and heart; they saw this struggle with the emotions as the theater of the religious quest.” (5) This story with Noah and his children can serve as one more example of the psychoanalytical constructs that pervade all of Genesis.

The Mirror
To understand all of this, let us analyze an intriguing observation made in the 1700s by one of the greatest masters of Jewish spirituality and psychology: Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), founder of the Chassidic movement.

Said the Baal Shem Tov (6):

"Your fellow human being is your mirror. If your own face is clean, the image you perceive will also be flawless. But should you look at your fellow human being and see a blemish, it is your own imperfection that you are encountering; you are being shown what it is that you must correct within yourself. Therefore it follows, that a complete tzaddik (righteous person) does not see any evil in any person.”

Now, this is a difficult concept to grasp and it sounds impractical. Say, for example, I invest money with you, and you turn around and betray my innocence. You lie to my face, deny our original business deal and cause me tremendous financial loss. Is the Baal Shem Tov suggesting that if I were truly virtuous, I would not perceive you as a liar and a thief? Why not? Can't an innocent person call a spade a spade, and a thief a thief?

What if I see somebody abusing his or her children? If I see him for who he really is – a criminal abuser – and I call him such, does that mean that I, too, am guilty of this abominable crime? That is ludicrous. And how about if I observe somebody engaging in an immoral disgusting act; does it mean that I have committed the same sin? Is the Baal Shem Tov suggesting that righteousness must go hand-in-hand with naiveté and denial of reality?

His observation, in fact, seems to stand against a fundamental principle of Judaism: that each of us has the duty to confront immoral behavior and to stand up to evil acts. In the words of the Bible (7), “You shall reprove and admonish your fellow man [when you encounter him or her behaving wrongfully].” But according to the Baal Shem Tov, when you encounter negativity in another person, you should actually see yourself as the source of the problem, because if you were pure and flawless, you surely would not have seen the dirt in this person. So instead of rebuking him, you should actually rebuke yourself?

On a personal note, I must share with you that I was privileged for many years to see and hear a great tzaddik, a true man of G-d, a passionate lover of humanity and an individual who cherished and internalized every teaching of the Baal Shem Tov. Yet I personally heard him numerous times admonishing wrong behavior. He reproached different individuals -- if it were in public, never with a name -- when he encountered them lying, gossiping, spreading hate, employing immoral violence, etc. Why did this tzaddik, a faithful disciple of the Baal Shem Tov, not say to himself that the negative behavior he was encountering in others was essentially a mirror of his own? If he were clean, he would not see it. So why rebuke them for his personal problem?

And how about the Baal Shem Tov himself? Many Chassidic tales relate how the Baal Shem Tov confronted various people for moral shortcomings and negative traits. How did the Baal Shem Tov, a tzaddik of extraordinary proportions, see all of this evil in others?

Two Ways of Seeing Negativity

Clearly, the Baal Shem Tov’s words must be understood in a subtler fashion. He was not attempting to poison us with the modern day, sophisticated, open-mindedness pontificated in our universities and magazines that butchering human beings is not evil. This great Jewish thinker would not reform the fundamental Jewish teaching to see evil and obliterate it. As with all of his Chassidic teachings, he was merely exposing the inner soul behind the biblical instruction, “You shall reprove and admonish your fellow man.”

What the Baal Shem Tov meant was this. There are two ways in which you can observe negativity in another person: 1) as a descriptive quality defining that individual; and 2) as a reality that calls for a particular response from you.

An illustration:

David and Sol both catch Sam saying a blatant lie, or cheating. Yet, emotionally, their response is different.

David’s emotional response:

This Sam is a miserable liar, a lowly piece of dirt, an obnoxious creep. I used to think Sam was a decent fellow. Now I discovered the truth: He is the scum of the earth.

For the next few days, David is obsessed with the thought of what a low-life Sam really is. He may keep it to himself or, more likely, verbalize it to others, yet his heart is deeply infatuated with hate, vengeance and evil descriptions of Sam.

Sol’s emotional response:

What Sam did was really not good; it was wrong, unfair. It upsets me strongly. Now, what should I do about it? Should I confront him directly and speak to him about it? What would be the best way of going about that? Should I instead avoid confrontation but use far more caution in dealing with him? Is it my responsibility to warn other people about the risks of dealing with him?

Both people, David and Sol, observed the same behavior in Sam. None of them was naive about what transpired. Yet David is consumed with how horrible Sam is, while Sol focuses on how Sam’s behavior should effect his own. Why the difference?

A Tale of Two Husbands

Here is another illustration.

Two husbands, Chaim and Moshe, both love having guests over for dinner. They are social animals (or so they claim), and enjoy schmoozing and hanging out with people. Both of their wives, whom we shall give the same name of Sarah, loathe having guests in their homes. Once, during a conversation about this, they share with their husbands how deeply insecure they feel in the presence of guests. They are worried that the house is not clean enough, that there is not enough food, that they won't be able to “perform perfectly” and will come across as failures. They are too self-conscious when guests come.

Both husbands hear the same story coming from their wives, but they respond emotionally in two very different ways.

Chaim's response (internally):

Why is Sarah such an insecure person? Why can't she ever get her life together? She must be really messed up and require endless therapy. Couldn't I have married a woman who is emotionally stable? Why did I have to end up with such an insecure kvetch who is frightened by a few stupid guests who have their own set of psychological problems?

Moshe’s response (internally):

Sarah's struggle with insecurity is painful, and, truthfully speaking, it makes my life harder. Now, what can I do to help her and myself? Perhaps I can help her get to the bottom of her fears? Maybe I can get her somebody good to speak to? Maybe I should complement her more often on her achievements? Maybe I need to hire extra help in the home? Maybe she is just extra irritable now because she lost her job, and things might get better soon?

Here again, Chaim and Moshe both observed an identical situation, or flaw. None of them denied the reality of the condition, yet their emotional responses differed drastically. While Chaim became obsessed with his wife's weaknesses and failures, Moshe focused on how her issues affected him and what he could do to remedy the situation. Why the difference?

Chaim, just like his wife, also suffers from insecurity. He, too, is trying to impress his guests and is fearful of how they will view him. It is just that his way of dealing with his insecurity is by inviting guests, rather than by avoiding them. Both he and his wife are incapable of dealing with visitors in a natural, healthy fashion. He responds in one direction; she responds in the opposite direction. Both are uncomfortable with themselves.

So when Chaim encounters Sarah's fear it brings to the fore his own awkwardness with guests. Instead of confronting his own fears, he resorts to “wife bashing” in order to deflect his own shortcomings. What Chaim is really upset about is not Sarah's insecurity, but his own.

Moshe, on the other hand, is confident with himself, so his wife's fears do not consume him. When he observes his wife's insecurity, he does not become entangled in her emotional web and need not resort to mentally writing a critical biography of her. Her struggles are not his, so he instinctively focuses on how to help resolve the situation.

The same is true concerning David and Sol. David is so obsessed with telling and retelling himself and others how low Sam is because something in Sam reminded him of himself. His hate toward Sam is a form of hate toward a part of himself that he never confronted and resolved.

Sol, on the other hand, never lies and never cheats, and he is completely secure and content with his honest lifestyle. He loves it and cherishes it. So when he encounters Sam’s misdeeds, he focuses on what he can and ought to do about it. He feels no need to tell himself over and over again how bad Sam is. Why would he be emotionally obsessed with describing another person's nature? Why would another person's negative profile occupy his own mind unless it was lodging there all along?

Depends What You See

This, more or less, is what the Baal Shem Tov meant when he stated that your fellow human being is your mirror. If your own face is clean, the image you perceive will also be flawless. But should you look at your fellow human being and see a blemish, it is your own imperfection that you are encountering; you are being shown what you must correct within yourself.

In other words, if you observe a blemish in another human being and find yourself caught up in that person's problems rather than in your own appropriate response to them, you might be struggling with a similar blemish. It is time to take a good look in the mirror and confront your own issues.

However, if you encounter a negative quality or negative behavior in another person, and you do not “see” his negativity per se and don’t find yourself enwrapped in defining how horrible and evil he is, but rather, you see in his negativity a call to take appropriate action to stop the behavior or to defend yourself and others from it, then you are pure. That person's problem is really not your problem.

How to Rebuke?

This, incidentally, is the reason for the redundant terms in the above mentioned biblical mitzvah: “You shall reprove and admonish your fellow man.” Why the redundant terms “reprove and admonish”?

The Chassidic masters explain it thus: Before you admonish your fellow human being, you must first reprove yourself. You must first make sure that you are not rebuking him or her because you yourself suffer from a similar flaw. If you are admonishing them as a way of repressing or deflecting from your own shortcomings, the rebuke will usually be counter-productive. They will sense that you are not trying to help them but attempting to protect yourself.

Only after you reprove yourself, dealing with your own similar flaws, should you proceed to speak to your fellow human beings and help them confront their own shortcomings.

Pointing the Finger

Now we can understand the dramatic difference between Noah’s son Ham, and the other two sons, Shem and Japheth. Their respective actions stemmed from differing emotional responses. And it is this difference that the Torah is attempting to capture when it states that “Ham saw his father nakedness,” while Shem and Japheth “saw not their father’s nakedness.”

Ham himself struggled with immodest passions and shameful trends. So when he observed his father in a shameful, degenerate condition – he actually “saw” his father’s nakedness. He saw his father as drunk and naked. Noah was a mirror for Ham.

Shem and Japheth, on the other hand, were more refined inside. It was not only that they walked backward so as to avoid the physical sight of their nude father. Rather, in their own mental experience, "they saw not their father’s nakedness." When they heard from their brother about what had transpired with their father, they did not “see” in the message a description of how lowly their father fell. Rather, what they saw in the experience was their own responsibility to maintain the ethos of moral modesty: to go and cover Noah with a cloak. Shem and Japheth did not get entangled in their father’s problem, because they were liberated from it. They focused instead on their duty to their father and to G-d at this painful moment.

So here is the timeless lesson of this Torah episode: When you point a finger at someone else, you must remember that simultaneously you are pointing three fingers at yourself (8).

Ask a question or comment at Rabbi Jacobson's site: click here
or leave a comment below

1) Genesis 9:20-23.

2) See Zohar vol. 3 53b. Radak and Gur Aryeh in the opening of Genesis.

3) The Chumash ("Five Books of Moses") contains 79,976 words and 304,805 letters. The Talmud states that Rabbi Akiva would derive "mounds upon mounds of laws from the serif of a letter" in Torah (Menachos 29b).

4) Rashi to Genesis 9:23. See Toras Moshe of the Alshich who addresses the second question as well.

5) Karen Armstrong, “In the Beginning, A New Interpretation of Genesis” (New York, 1996) p. 8. Unfortunately, the author reduces the Bible to the limitations of her imagination, thus stripping Genesis from the infinite divine depth flowing through its pages. Yet the author makes many great points in her analysis of Genesis tales.

6) Quoted by his great disciple and one of the great Chassidic masters, Rabbi Nachum of Tcheranbil (d. in 1810), in his Chassidic work Maor Einayim Parshas Chukas. Cf. Toldos Yaakov Yosef (by the oldest and greatest student of the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Pulnah), end of Parshas Trumah. See also Sefer Hasichos Summer 5740 (by the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yizchak Schneerson) p. 83.

7) Leviticus 19:17.

8) This essay is based on an address delivered by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Shabbas Parshas Noach 5726, October 30, 1965. Published in Likkutei Sichos vol. 10 pp. 24-29. My thanks to Rabbi Yohel Kahn who clarified some elements of the above address. My thanks also to Shmuel Levin for his editorial assistance.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Secret of Anti Semitism and Its Remedy

New shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin 

EXCERPT: "We now realize how important it is, how much history is determined, by what we say and how we feel about Jews. Now, especially, in the month of Adar, the month of the mazal---fortune of Yosef, really Mashiach ben Yosef. One of the sins he did was to have spoken loshon ha’ra against his brothers. Therefore, he was punished. By condemning his brothers, he was condemned. This is an auspicious time, therefore, to focus on shmiras ha’loshon.

"I want to mention one last thing: the Torah is not a document, a book, about historical events. If you understand that, you can absorb the essential message the Torah lays down. Even though it describes historic events, it lays down the principles that move history, what that movement is based on. Look how much is based on just three words, 'rav ya’aved tzair,' or its alternate pronunciation and meaning, 'rav ya’avod tzair'! Torah is the guidebook to the profound dynamics of history."