Monday, May 29, 2017

The Mysterious Aura Around Rav Berland

This is a video of Rav Eliezer Berland praying.  At around the 17:20 minute mark, you can see someone's finger in front of the camera and the light suddenly changing.  Rav Berland is now bathed in pure white light from the waist upwards, the floor and other areas of the room remain unchanged. Don't know what to think about this.  Any tech experts out there who would like to comment? These days .... everything is so confusing lately.

Original article can be seen here.

President Trump and the Beginning of the Messianic Process

With a title like that, it can only be the latest Rabbi Kessin video.  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Shavuot Departure of the Baal Shem Tov

[Shavuot is the Yarzheit of the Baal Shem Tov]

Biographical note: Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer [18 Elul 1698-6 Sivan 1760] - the Baal Shem Tov ["master of the good Name"] - a unique and seminal figure in Jewish history, revealed the Chassidic movement and his own identity as an exceptionally holy person, on his 36th birthday, 18 Elul 1734. He wrote no books, although many claim to contain his teachings. One available in English is the excellent annotated translation of Tzava'at Harivash, published by Kehot.

* * *

Following the revelation of Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov, on 18 Elul 1734, as a great Jewish leader and mystic, many of the Jewish community, especially in Poland, became followers of the Chassidic path of Judaism. Twenty-six years later, the time arrived all too soon for the Baal Shem Tov to pass on to the next world.

For Passover 1760, Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz, came to visit his Master, the Baal Shem Tov. On the afternoon preceding the festival, Seventh Day of Passover, Rabbi Pinchas was feeling weak and decided not to go to the mikveh, as was his custom.

The next day during his morning prayers, he had a premonition that the Baal Shem Tov would soon pass away. Rabbi Pinchas began to pray more intensely, begging that the Heavenly decree against the Baal Shem Tov be lifted. But he felt that he was unable to affect the decree and started to deeply regret that he had not gone to the mikveh before the holiday.

Interestingly, after morning prayers, the Baal Shem Tov asked Rabbi Pinchas if he had gone to the mikveh on the previous afternoon. When he answered he had not, the Baal Shem Tov replied, "It's too late to correct that now."

* * *

After Passover, the Baal Shem Tov fell ill. However, he did not tell his followers and continued to pray before the ark. Whoever among his close followers might have been able to effect changes with their prayers, he sent on missions to other communities. Rabbi Pinchas, knowing of the Heavenly decree against the Baal Shem Tov, did not return to his home but stayed on in Medzibuz.

Previously, on the eve of Shabbat Hagadol, the Sabbath preceding Passover, the Baal Shem Tov had sat down to write a last will and testament addressed to his disciples. He concluded it with the words, "I write this today because last night my [heavenly] master and teacher [Ahiya of Shilo-a biblical prophet,] revealed to me that this is my last eve of Shabbat Hagadol…."

Seven and one half weeks later, on the eve of Shavuot, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov called his personal scribe, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh, and dictated to him some final revisions and amendments to an earlier, detailed will, ordering among other things that all his books and manuscripts be given unto "my disciple and peer, the Prince of Torah, Rabbi Dov Ber [the Magid of Mezritch,] son of Rabbi Abraham, except for all the books in Yiddish which belong to my G-d fearing daughter Adele."

He reaffirmed article 18 of his original will to the effect that his copies of "the commentaries of Gersonides on the bible, and the book Neveh Shalom [a 15th century philosophical-homiletical work, with Kabbalistic overtones composed by Rabbi Abraham Shalom] both with my marginal notes and annotations, are to be given unto my disciple, dear to me like a son, the Pillar of fire, Rabbi Jacob Joseph Hacohen [of Polnoy]."

* * *

On Tuesday evening, the [first] night of Shavuot, all of the followers of the Baal Shem Tov gathered with him to spend the night in Torah study, as is the custom. The Baal Shem Tov expounded on the Torah portion of the week and the meaning of Shavuot.

In the morning, he sent for his closest followers to gather in his room. He told Rabbi Leib Kessler and several others to arrange for his burial. Because they were members of the Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society) and were knowledgeable in signs of illness, he showed them the signs on his body and explained how the soul emanates from each part. Then, he told them to gather a minyan to pray with him. Before they began, he said, "Soon I shall be with the Holy One, blessed be He."

After the prayers, Rabbi Nachman of Horodenka went to the Study Hall to pray for his Master. Later, the Baal Shem Tov said, "He petitions in vain. Maybe if he could have entered in the Heavenly gate where I was accustomed to enter, his prayers would have helped."

When the shammesh (attendant) of the Baal Shem Tov entered his master's room, he heard the Baal Shem Tov saying, "I grant you these two hours. Do not torture me."

The asked, "Rebbe, who are you talking to?"

The Baal Shem Tov answered, "Don't you see the Angel of Death? Before, he always ran from me. Now that he has been given control over me, he stands straighter and laughs at me."

Later, during the festival day meal, he asked his attendant to put mead in a large glass. Instead, the shammesh put it in a small glass. The Baal Shem Tov remarked wryly, "'Man has no power on the day of death,' even my attendant does not obey me."

After the meal, many of the town's people, who did not know of the Baal Shem Tov's condition, came to see him. As always, he delivered a discourse of Torah to them.

All of his close disciples were sitting in the room of the Baal Shem Tov while he lay in his bed. He gave them a sign. "My friends, when I leave this world, both clocks in this room will stop."

He asked for a large cup of water and a basin to be brought to him. While he was washing his hands, His followers saw the hands of the big clock stop. They stood in front of it so that the Baal Shem wouldn't see that it had stopped.

He said to them, "My friends, I am not concerned for myself because l know that when I leave through the door of this world, I'll immediately enter into the door of the next world."

The Baal Shem Tov then sat up in his bed and told them to gather around him. He spoke words of Torah, explaining about the column upon which one ascends from Lower Paradise to Upper Paradise, and how this was so in each of the Four Worlds. Then he described the World of Souls, and expounded the order of worship. He instructed them to say with him, "Let the pleasantness of the L-rd our G-d be upon us" [Psalms 90:17].

He lay down and sat up several times. Meanwhile he concentrated on mystical kavanot (intentions) until they could not distinguish the syllables of his speech.

Finally he lay down and told them to cover him with a sheet. Then he began to tremble as when he said the nineteen blessings of the Amida prayer. Slowly he became quiet.

They saw that the small clock had stopped. They waited for a long time but he didn't move. Then they put a feather under his nose to detect his breathing, whereupon they finally had to accept that he had passed away.

A Rabbi Jacob of Medzibuz, reported that Rabbi Leib Kessler of the Burial Society saw the departure of his soul as a blue flame rising.


Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition of Tzvi Meir HaCohane (Howard M. Cohn. Patent Attorney) on //, and supplemented from other written and oral sources, mainly "The Great Maggid" by J. I. Schochet (Kehot).  Ascent of Safed

Friday, May 26, 2017

Eliyahu's Gift: Forgiveness

The Presence of Eliyahu Ha'navi at a Brit Mila by Rabbi Eli Mansour

Tradition teaches that Eliyahu Ha'navi is present – in one form or another – at every Brit Mila, and for this reason a chair must be designated for him. One should expressly designate the chair by saying, "Zeh Kisei Shel Eliyahu Ha'navi Zachur Latov" - ["This is the chair of Eliyahu Ha'navi"]

Why does Eliyahu attend every Brit? The Gemara tells that Eliyahu, who lived during the reign of the idolatrous king Achav when many Jews abandoned the Torah, came to God and complained that Bnei Yisrael were not observing the Mitzva of circumcision. God reprimanded Eliyahu, saying that He does not need a prophet to prosecute against His people, to accuse them of disloyalty. The prophet's job is to pray on their behalf and show them compassion even if they sin. God therefore decreed upon Eliyahu that for all time he must attend every circumcision ritual performed by Bnei Yisrael, and then return to God and report that the Jewish people faithfully observe this Mitzva.

It is further told that Eliyahu then told God that he would be unable to tolerate attending a Brit Mila if the child's father is a sinner. After all, Eliyahu was a zealot, who could not tolerate any sin or infringement upon the Almighty's honor. [The Sages teach that Eliyahu was Pinchas, who, as we know from the Torah, was a zealot when it came to God's honor.]  God replied that He will forgive all the father's sins. Eliyahu then noted that the Mohel, or perhaps one of the guests, might have a sinful record, and God again responded that He will forgive the sins committed by the Mohel and all the attendees. [See Taamei HaMinhagim]

For this reason, attending a Brit Mila is considered an effective means of achieving atonement. It should be noted that according to the Bnei Yissaschar [work by the Chassidic sage Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, 1783-1841], attending a Brit earns one atonement only if he stands near Eliyahu's seat. Given Eliyahu's zealotry, those near him at the Brit Mila require atonement lest he react angrily to their sins. One should therefore endeavor to stand near Eliyahu's chair at a Brit Mila.

Additionally, some Rabbis write that one earns atonement at a Brit Mila only if he performs Teshuva. Attending a Brit does not obviate the need for repentance, but rather allows a person to repent and earn atonement more easily. It is therefore appropriate when attending a Brit Mila to contemplate sincere thoughts of remorse and repentance.

Eliyahu Hanavi appears at a baby naming for a girl just as he appears at a bris [Rabbi Sholom of Belz]. This is hinted in the verse [Bereishis 2:19] vchol asher yikro lo haadam - the acrostic forming the word Eliyahu. [Divrei Naftali Berishis ibid]. in the name of the Yismach Moshe, it is reported that he also attends a pidyon haben, as alluded to in the words which follow the injunction of pidyon haben [Bo 13:2] "lee hu". These words can be rearranged to read Eliyahu [ibid].

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The 50th Gate

The Kabbalah speaks of "50 gates of spiritual understanding", 49 of which can be achieved by a person as a result of his own initiative.  The final 50th gate is then granted by G-d from Above.

When Avraham had circumcised himself, he had reached the greatest degree of spiritual perfection that he could possibly achieve as a human being - the 49th gate - and he became "sick" yearning for the 50th gate.  This is alluded to by the fact that choleh חולה [the Hebrew term for "sick person"] has the numerical value [gematria] of 49.  Then "God appeared to him", revealing to him the 50th gate of spiritual understanding, which cured his spiritual sickness.

And, being that his physical sickness was a reflection of his spiritual dissatisfaction, the Divine revelation healed him physically too.

Based on Sichat Shabbos Parshas Vayeira 5750 - Lubavitcher Rebbe

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why Learning Torah Is So Great - The Pnimiyus of Torah

Rabbi Mendel Kessin - Ramchal's Yahrtzeit 5777/2017

Don't know where to start with all the wonders of this shiur..... you really need to just listen to it. Some incredibly fascinating insights into angels and white magic [!] aka practical kabbalah.  Rabbi Kessin has a unique way of explaining everything and you need to hear this one.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Souls and Names

Art by Sharon Tomlinson

The Talmud [Berachot 7b] teaches that a Hebrew name has an influence on its bearer. Therefore, it is extremely important to name children after individuals with positive character traits who led fortunate lives and helped bring goodness to the world.

The Arizal writes that the nature and behavior of a person, whether good or bad, can be discovered by analyzing his or her name. For example, a child named Yehudah could possibly be destined for leadership, for Yehudah, the fourth son of Jacob, symbolized monarchy and most Jewish kings descended from the tribe of Yehudah.

It is said that parents are actually blessed with prophesy when naming their newborn babies.

According to the Arizal, even the numerical value of the Hebrew letters in one's name can be indicative of an individual's character. For example the gematria of the name Elisheva is equivalent to the numerical value of the Hebrew words yemei simcha, meaning "days of happiness," perhaps portending a joyous life for a baby girl named Elisheva.

It is precisely because the fortunes and misfortunes of mankind are concealed in the secrets of the letters, vowels and meanings of Hebrew names that a seriously ill person is given an additional name like Chaim, meaning "life," or Rafael, meaning "God heals," in order to influence his destiny. We hope and pray that the new name will herald a new mazel, or fortune, for the stricken individual.

Rabbi Elimelech of Lyzhansk, writes in his classic work on Torah "Noam Elimelech" [Bamidbar] that there is a profound connection between the soul of an infant and the soul of the person for whom he or she is named.

When a child is named after the deceased, the latter's soul is elevated to a higher realm in heaven and a spiritual affinity is created between the soul of the departed and the soul of the newborn child. That deep spiritual bond between these two souls can have a profound impact on the child.

Zocher HaBris 24:4, who also quotes Noam Elimelech on Bamidbar: “If they give him the name of a tzaddik who has already lived in this world, this will cause him also to become a tzaddik, because it has aroused the soul of the departed tzaddik in the Supernal World.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Good Advice

“In material things, look to those who have less than you and thank G-d for His kindness to you. In spiritual matters, look at those above you and ask G-d to give you the wisdom to learn from them.” 

 - Hayom Yom