Friday, September 30, 2016

Rosh Hashanah 5777

I would like to wish all my readers a Shana Tova - may you all be written in the Book of Life for good things, and may we all merit to see the coming of Moshiach .

If I have offended anyone by anything I have published or written, please treat this as a personal apology.

IY''H I'll be back after YomTov.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Lekach is a sweet cake, traditionally made with honey.  It is customary to ask for and receive "lekach" from someone [usually one's mentor or parent] on the day before Yom Kippur.   One of the reasons given for this custom is that if it had been decreed, G‑d forbid, that during the year we should need to resort to a handout from others, the decree should be satisfied with this asking for food.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe used to hand out Lekach each year on erev Yom Kippur, or for those who did not receive it then, on Hoshannah Rabbah.

To read more about the reasons for this custom, click here.

Below is my recipe for a Rosh Hashanah chocolate honey cake, which is incredibly easy to make, you just place all the ingredients in a bowl, mix, and bake.  If possible, buy Organic Honey as some of the big brand honeys are allegedly mixed with toxic honey from China.  [There is currently a court action against this allegation, which has been denied by the company involved, but I already threw out my possibly toxic honey and replaced it with organic.]

These quantities make a very large cake, or two smaller cakes.

One Bowl Chocolate Honey Cake

500g honey
3 eggs
One and a half cups sugar [I use raw caster sugar]
3/4 cup oil [I use lite olive oil]
1 teaspoon vanilla essence            
3 cups self-raising flour*
One and a half cups water
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder

Place all ingredients into electric mixing bowl, beat until well combined. The mixture appears to be too liquid, but don't worry, that is how it's meant to be.  Pour into large foil tray [or two smaller cake tins] and bake for approx 70 mins [large size] or 50 mins [smaller cakes] at 350°F - 180°C.  Cooking times may vary depending on your oven.

*If you are using general purpose flour, you will need to add a teaspoon each of baking powder and bicarb soda.  I prefer the convenience of self-raising flour.

Also see The Healing Powers of Apples and Honey

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Judge Yourself before Judging Others

There is a wellknown saying that if you go to Court, you should do so '''with clean hands''.  In other words, if you are guilty of a wrong-doing, and then you take another party to Court, you will not only be judged accordingly in this world, but you will also be judged in Heaven before the other party is judged.

As the Ben Ish Chai wrote:

"Woe to the victim who cries out, more than to the one who wronged him." [Bava Kamma 93a]

A victim calls upon G-d to punish the one who wronged him - and Heaven treats the victim more severely! Why? Let's say Reuven called on G-d to judge Shimon for doing him a grave injustice. Shimon will not be punished until the Heavenly Court judges him. But Reuven himself probably wronged others at some point in his life - and for him, judicial procedures can be dispensed with. He himself admitted that such sins warrant severe punishment!  [See: Judgments Above and Below]

And also as we see here:

 "You are guilty of the injustice done to me," said the childless Sarah to Avraham when she sensed that Hagar, the maidservant Sarah had given to him as a wife, stopped respecting her after Hagar became pregnant. Sarah was outraged that Avraham had remained silent as Hagar abused her, and she concluded her charge with the words "Let Hashem judge between us!" [Bereishet 16:5]

This summoning of Heavenly judgment, says Rabbi Chanan in our gemara, boomerangs against the initiator, who is punished by Heaven even before the accused is. The proof is that Sarah died before Avraham, who "came to eulogize Sarah and weep over her." [Bereishet 23:2]

The impropriety of summoning Heavenly judgment, qualifies the gemara, is only in a situation where there is an alternative of seeking justice in a court here on earth. What alternative existed for Sarah, who is cited as the classical example of such impropriety?

Tosefot explains that she had the alternative of bringing her complaint against Avraham before the court of Shem, the son of Noach. Rabbeinu Nissim [Rosh Hashanah 16b] offers another approach. Even if Sarah had no court to turn to, she was wrong in not first bringing her complaint to her husband before summoning Heavenly judgment against him.

Heavenly judgment improperly summoned by the wounded party is a two-edged sword. Hashem declared that if the victim cries out to Him the outcry will be heeded and there will be severe consequences [Shmot 22:22-23]. The implication is that both the accuser and the accused will be punished, but the first to suffer will be the accuser. Maharsha points out that in the case of Sarah, her husband was punished with the loss of his wife, for the greatest tragedy of a person's death is suffered by the bereaved spouse. But her punishment of death preceded his punishment, for his grief began only when he returned to Hebron and became aware of her passing.

An interesting historical footnote to this chapter is provided by Ramban in his commentary on Torah. Sarah's oppression of Hagar, and Avraham's consent to her action which eventually forced her to flee, was improper. As a result "Hashem heeded her pain and gave her a son [Yishmael] who would be a wild man oppressing the descendants of Avraham and Sarah in so many ways."

[Source: Bava Kama 93a]

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

24 Elul - Yarzheit Chafetz 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

Why Tishrei ?

What is the reason that it was decided to judge the world in the month of Tishrei?

This is because the conduct of Hashem is not like the conduct of people; It is the trait of people to judge their friends when they are in a favorable mood, and their enemies when they are annoyed. However, Hashem judges the entire world in a favorable time, in the month of Tishrei, which has many holidays and mitzvot. [Rabbi David Hanania Pinto]

Monday, September 26, 2016

Where is the Shechina Now?

Unknown Photographer

"Yeisei V'Lo Achminei" - let Moshiach come but do not let me be alive to see him [Sanhedrin 98b].

Rebbi Yochanan said that he'd give up the privilege of greeting Moshiach in order to avoid living through the terrible days of the Ikvisa D'Mishicha. With the Geula so close at hand why will they be worse than the rest of the Galus?

Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz says that since the Shechina is with us in the Galus we are protected. However at the end of the Galus when it is time for us to return to Eretz Yisroel, the Shechina will need to leave the galus and come to Eretz Yisroel to prepare and facilitate our return. During those waning days of the Galus, we will be left on our own without protection and endless tragedies will befall us. Only then will we realize how fortunate we were to have the Shechina with us.

How does Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz know that the Shechina will return to Eretz Yisroel before us?

The pasuk [Nitzavim 30:3] says, וְשָׁב וְקִבֶּצְךָ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים.  Chazal tell us that the word וְשָׁב, which means ''He will return'', proves that Hashem is with us in the Galus, or else it should say "V'Heishiv"- ''He will return us''. 

Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz says that we see from here that first וְשָׁב, Hashem will return to Eretz Yisroel.   Only after the groundwork is laid, וְקִבֶּצְךָ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים, will He bring us back from among the nations.

Source: Revach L'Neshama

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dreams and Mazal - What do they really mean?

Rabbi Alon Anava

In this lecture Rabbi Anava explains what Dreams and Mazal really mean and what is actually happening in the spiritual realms and how it relates to us on a physical level!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Nibiru: Tamar Yonah Interviews Rabbi Alon Anava

Yahrzeit: 21 Elul - Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeshutz

Source: Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

Even as a child, people could see that the gaon Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeshutz was destined to become a great figure in Israel. Originally from the Polish city of Krakow, the name “Eibeshutz” comes from the city where his father, Rabbi Nathan Neta, served as Rav. 

Rabbi Yehonatan had an extraordinary memory and an extremely sharp mind. Well-educated and possessing deep insight, these two attributes supported him during complex discussions in every field of Torah. Witnessing to this fact are his halachic works Kereti OuPeleti [on the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah] and Urim VeTummim [on the Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat]. In his thought-provoking works Ya’arot Devash, Ahavat Yehonatan, and Keshet Yehonatan, he reveals himself to be a commentator who “draws closer with his arm those who are far.” 

The gaon Rabbi Yechezkel Landau Zatzal, author of Noda B’Yehuda, said of him: “Who in his generation knows how to reprimand like him?” His reprimands addressed the weaknesses of the generation. He protested against Lashon Harah, coarse language, frivolity, praying without concentration, shaving the beard, and immorality.
Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeshutz

He combined gematriot and allusions in his sermons, and in his book Tiferet Yehonatan on the haphtarot, he reprimanded those who shaved. He wrote that the cry of the Prophet Isaiah, “Am zu [This people] which I have fashioned for Myself, yesaperu [they shall declare] My praise” [Isaiah 43:21] pertains to them. In other words: The people for whom I created zu [numerical value: 13] rows of hair in the beard, so that the beard may be My glory, it is what will declare [yesaperu, which also means “to shave”].

Nevertheless, despite these harsh reprimands, he expressed great admiration for the Jewish people, “Israel, in whom I glory” [Isaiah 49:3]. “The Children of Israel are above the wings of the Shechinah, and they shine in exile. In darkness we have seen a light. The idol-worshippers humiliate them, and this holy people accords no importance to their faith. He who is wise of heart, let him open his eyes to fully understand their unity, for the Children of Israel are alert, even in times of trouble, and therefore absolute unity is the truth.”

Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeshutz was a prolific writer. He left behind 98 works, most of which are still in manuscript form and can be found in various libraries around the world.

Besides his greatness in Torah, Rabbi Yehonatan was also versed in the sciences and respected by prominent non-Jews for his riddles, vast intelligence, and great insight.

The Jewish People Live Forever

Numerous communities had the chance of having him as their Rav. In each place that he served as Rav, Rabbi Yehonatan elevated the Torah and encouraged those who were faithful to Torah and mitzvot. Thus for example, it is said that a Bishop once enacted a decree expelling Jews from the city of Metz. When Rabbi Yehonatan learned of it, he went to find the Bishop and asked him to annul the decree. The Bishop read a phrase from a non-Jewish book to him, and said that he would not annul the decree unless the Rav gave him the correct answers to the following questions:

“How many words are in the phrase that I just read to you?”

“Seventeen words,” replied the Rav, “the same number of letters as in the saying: ‘The Jewish people live forever.’ ”

Stunned by this response, the Bishop continued:

“How many Jews live in this city?”

“Forty-five thousand, seven hundred, and sixty.”

The Bishop lowered his head and said, “You are known for your amazing amulets. Take some parchment paper, the size of that found in a mezuzah at the entrance of your homes. On it, write the expression that you just mentioned the same number of times as the Jews who live in this city. If you show me this parchment within the hour, I will annul the decree!”

Rabbi Yehonatan answered him with certitude: “The G-d of Israel can do anything! The number of letters in this expression is also 17!”

In fact Rabbi Yehonatan left, and within an hour he brought the Bishop a parchment the size of a mezuzah. On it was the expression, “The Jewish people live forever.”

For several minutes, the Bishop carefully thought about what was written, and then he rescinded his expulsion order. It is said that for an entire year, he described the number of ways to read “the Jewish people live forever” on the amulet, to the point that he believed that Rabbi Yehonatan was right!

Three Great Communities

After tremendous activity in the city of Metz for nine years, Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeshutz was appointed as the Av Beit Din of the three great communities of Altona, Wandsbek, and Hamburg. These three cities were considered as a single community, to the point that people applied the following verse to them: “For Hashem has chosen Zion; He desired [avah] it for His habitation” [Tehillim 132:13] – avah being formed by the initials of the three cities.

During the time that he served as the Rav of Prague, a prohibition was enacted against the printing of the Talmud. It also prohibited the importing of the Talmud from abroad. It once happened that a certain Jew was caught secretly bringing in eight Gemaras with the commentary of the Rif. The books were ordered burned, and the man was sentenced to clean the streets of the city for an entire year, all while in chains. Since the honor of Rabbi Yehonatan was dear to all the civil and religious leaders of Prague, he succeeded in obtaining permission to print the Talmud, something that wasn’t easy to do. In his wisdom, he dismissed the numerous arguments of the Bishops against the Talmud. The Bishops, however, placed a condition on the printing of the Talmud, namely that every teaching it contained which shamed their religious should be suppressed, and that the name “Talmud” should not appear in it. Thus tractate Berachot was printed under the name of “Hilchot Berachot” along with the Rosh, the Maharshal and the Maharsha, and the commentaries of the Rambam [Prague 5477]. These deletions were authorized by Beit Din of Prague, which was headed by Rabbi David Oppenheim.

Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeshutz lived until the age of 74, passing away on Elul 21.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Watch Your Mouth

Ever since I heard Rabbi Kessin's Power of Speech I have been on guard for things I may say that could be considered Lashon Hara.  It is quite astounding [to use Rabbi Kessin's word] how many times we inadvertently say things that fall into this category, and generally we don't realize it.  But.... once you start focussing on it, it becomes quite painful to hear yourself speaking!

I can't over-estimate the insights gained from that shiur.  And please don't think it's just another boring lecture about watching your words, because it is actually a mind-blowing lesson in how the judgments of the world are handed down.  If you haven't listened to it, do yourself a favour, it will change your life, in so many ways, and you and your family will reap the rewards.

On this topic, here are a couple of instances of what NOT to say:

Know as well that in regard to the prohibition against rechilut [talebearing], it makes no difference if we tell Reuven what So-and-so said about him, or if we tell Reuven’s wife or relatives what So-and-so said about him. In either case, they will certainly be upset, and they will resent So-and-so as a result. Hence even if we have warned them not to tell anyone, it is still considered rechilut.

If Levi tells Reuven something negative about Shimon, and Reuven then goes and tells it to Shimon (thus breaking the prohibition against Rechilut [talebearing]), Shimon is forbidden to ask Levi: “Why did you say that about me?” In doing so, Shimon would be speaking Rechilut about Reuven. Even if he does not say that he heard it from Reuven, if it is easy to deduce that fact, then it is forbidden.

Source: Chofetz Chaim