Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Independence Day


I wrote this before reading Lazer Brody's The Imminent Geula: Mister "V" and some of the information below is also contained there.  I guess as we approach The End, we're all thinking along the same lines.......Nevertheless, here it is:

The U.S. was founded on the Fast Day of  17 Tammuz 1776. This year America's Independence Day 4th of July again falls out on 17 Tammuz [Shabbat this year] , the beginning of the period known as the ''three weeks'' when the Jewish people remember the destruction of the holy Temples.

It will be the 239th Independence Day, meaning that America will be entering into its 240th year of Independence.  240 is, by the way, the gematria of Amalek [the perpetual enemy of the Jewish people] and the gematria of Dollar.

Since the founding of America on July 4 1776  the two dates have coincided 10 times, in these years: 1776, 1795, 1833, 1844, 1852, 1863, 1882, 1901, 1939 and 1996.  This year 2015 marks the 11th time the dates coincide.

With Confederate flags down and Rainbow flags up, America is slowly morphing into something new altogether.  

Heightened threats of terror attacks all over the world and a Summer of Hate demonstration planned for Golders Green in London, all coming in the middle of Ramadan [June 18 - July 17 this year].  Certainly the ISIS terror attacks of the past week in other parts of the world have shown us that these warnings are not just speculation.

The Parsha for the week - Balak - relates the curses that were turned into blessings - a sign for us, no doubt, that all the terrible things we are living through now will ultimately be turned into good, may it happen speedily in our days !

Elevating the Final Sparks

by Rabbi David Pinto

A person who pays attention to his surroundings will ask why, in recent times, we have been using disposable plastic items, all made from petroleum products. The textile industry also uses a great deal of plastic. The reason is that in these last times preceding the Final Redemption, the Holy One, blessed be He, wants to draw all the sparks of holiness that have been dispersed throughout the world, even in the most distant places, including sparks of holiness hidden in oil wells. Hence G-d inspired the creation of these disposable items created from petroleum products, as well as all the other steps required in their production. 


Thus a Jew finds himself at home and recites the shehakol blessing over a plastic cup or utensil, be it for a Shabbat meal or any other meal, and he says the blessing with the proper concentration. Through such blessings, all these sparks of holiness are drawn out and elevated to their rightful place. Even sparks found in rocks and dispersed throughout the world are elevated when marble or similar material is imported from various countries and used in the construction of synagogues and houses of study. Hence even these sparks are elevated. It is precisely now, just prior to the Final Redemption, that the Holy One, blessed be He, is hastening to liberate these sparks. 

As a result, through the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot, we draw forth and redeem the sparks of holiness that are found among non Jews. Hence we must strengthen ourselves in Torah and mitzvot, and take upon ourselves the yoke of Torah with devotion and a sincere love for Hashem. With every mitzvah that we accomplish, we must make an effort to be focused and act solely for the sake of Heaven and the glory of Hashem.

HT:  Yaak

The Essence of Prayer

Monday, June 29, 2015

Greece Set to Default, Euro Stocks Slide

The euro fell almost 2 percent and share prices tumbled across Asia on Monday as Greece looked set to default on its debt repayment this week, forcing Athens to impose capital controls to halt bank runs. 
Euro, stocks slide on looming Greece default

 Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced on Sunday that the nation's banks and stock market would be closed on Monday amid fears of financial collapse. Greece is also set to impose capital controls that will limit the amount of funds that citizens can transfer or withdraw from its financial institutions.
Greece Will Close Banks Amid Fear Of Financial Collapse

Sparks


"A star will shoot forth from Jacob, and a staff will arise from Israel" [Balak 24:17]

Rambam understood the verse above as referring to King David and Moshiach.  The Jerusalem Talmud, however, uses the metaphor of a "star" in this verse to refer to even the ordinary Jew. 

At first glance, this appears to be a contradiction, for Moshiach represents the highest perfection possible in a human being, whereas the "ordinary" Jew includes every Jewish person, even the most simple.  However, the matter can be reconciled based on the Baal Shem Tov's teaching that every Jew contains within him a "spark" of the soul of Moshiach.  The verse therefore refers to both Moshiach himself and the "Moshiach" within us.

The presence of this "spark" of Moshiach has a twofold implication:

a) The verse states the star will "shoot forth" suggesting that one's personal spark of Moshiach should be revealed and "shoot out" into the world;

b) Every Jew is able to speed up and bring about the actual manifestation of Moshiach through revealing his own spark and adding in Torah and Mitzvot.

Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

PS:  Jupiter and Venus will merge into a dazzling “super-star” in the Western horizon by the end of June, NASA says. The conjunction of the two planets has been building during the month of June and will culminate in a spectacular display on June 30. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

London: ''Summer of Hate''

This was posted on a friend's Facebook page, and it's very disturbing.  The author requested that it be shared, so here we go:


An open letter and Request to all of my non Jewish Friends and Jewish friends outside of the UK.

July 4th, whilst essentially an American holiday, has long been associated with Independence, Freedom, celebrated in the USA by all regardless of religion, class, creed or race. However, 4th July 2015, here, in London, and indeed more specifically my neighborhood, just a 10 minute walk from my front door. We will play host to probably the most deeply distressing event in recent times to specifically target Jews living in the UK, and yes that includes me. As most of you know, I never play the minority card and rarely do talk about my specific religious beliefs, they are after all my own, and I respect everybody else’s choices. I’m truly humbled by how accommodating many of you have been when it has come to my odd dietary requirements or missed social events due to clashes with Jewish holidays. However, to say I’m troubled by what’s coming, is a huge understatement.

A far right group is planning a rally in the heartland of the London Jewish community against what it calls "Jewification of Britain", they will march through my neighborhood, and intend to burn copies of the Talmud (Jewish holy book) because of its anti-white teaching, ironic as Ashkenazi Jews like myself are white. Believe it or not despite 1000s of requests the Home Office and Metropolitan Police can do nothing to stop the 4 July protest from happening. The rally is not about free speech but a deliberate attempt to provoke tension and anti-Semitism. Indeed, July 4th is a Saturday, and it’s been specifically chosen as Saturday is the Jewish day of rest, when most Jews will be walking to synagogues in the very same area.

I kid you not this is the agenda for the rally in two weeks’ time:

1) The illegality of the Shomrim Police
2) What is Jewification?
3) International Jewry, the devils own hand
4) Why the holocaust didn’t happen
5) George Galloways 30 minute slot on Israel
6) A recorded audio speech by Joshua Bonehill

You can see the link on their website, outlining their intentions, and attached are couple of flyers for the event, to give you an idea of the seriousness of the situation.

http://joshuabonehill.net/2015/06/18/george-galloway-invited-to-speak-at-golders-green-demonstration/

This is not some random Facebook post or chain email, it’s a personal message from me. Can I please urge you to share the email / post with your friends and family to raise awareness of the dark situation that is developing on my doorstep. This isn’t Berlin 1938, its London 2015!! I end by quoting JFK, who was actually quoting Edmund Burke: for evil men to accomplish their purpose it is only necessary that good men should do nothing.

Love Aryeh Feingold 
24th June 2015, London, England

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Guarding The Eyes

Art: "Forgotten Sunglasses" by Vladimir Kush


Written by Yosef Peretz, Mirrer Yeshiva Kollel, Jerusalem

The Talmud (beginning of Tractate Berachos) compares a person's soul to G-d himself; just like G-d sees but is not seen, so too the soul of a person sees but is not seen and just like G-d fills the entire world, so too the soul of a person fills his entire body, etc.. What does this mean and from where does the soul "see"? The Kabbalah answers that the soul of a person "sees" through his eyes.

If you look into someone's eyes, you're not just looking at a biological camera. You are accessing the deepest recesses of the person.

"The candle of G-d is the soul of man".

"A mitzva is a candle and Torah is light".

The Talmud teaches, "sin extinguishes a mitzva but sin doesn't extinguish Torah".

The Zohar explains: sin extinguishes a mitzva and mitzva is a candle. So sin extinguishes a candle. But which candle? The candle of G-d - which is the soul of man. So, when a person sins, he extinguishes his own soul. He then walks through life in darkness (until he repents). Conversely a righteous person who has reached a high level of purity, has eyes that literally glow with a tangible spiritual light. I know from experience that looking into the eyes of such a person can have a life-long effect.

Having said that, a person should be very careful what he exposes his eyes to. Whatever you expose your eyes to, know that you are exposing your deepest essence - your soul. If you look at the wrong things, you literally extinguish some of the spiritual light in your eyes. Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler taught (Michtav m'Eliyahu) that if a person does not sense holiness inside himself, it's a sign that his soul has left him.

This is why, according to the Talmud, it is forbidden to look at the face of a wicked person. When you look at his (or her) face, your soul absorbs some of the ruach (spiritual energy) of this person. Your soul which is beyond the physical, senses all the deeds and all the twisted drives and views of this person through his eyes and you become a little bit like him.

This is why children inherit the character traits of their parents. By constantly looking into their eyes, they absorb all of their parents' deepest spiritual traits.

The Torah forbids accepting a convert from the nations of Moab and Amon for all generations. Why? Because these nations demonstrated a lack of hakaras hatov (gratitude) to the Jewish nation when they were about to enter Israel. But why are their descendants excluded for all time to convert? Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian z''l explains (beginning of Lev Eliyahu) since their parents did not have proper gratitude, they will transmit this evil trait to their offspring and their offspring to their offsprings, and so forth forever and ever. By constantly looking into their parents' eyes, the children will inherit completely all of their spiritual traits.

Conversely, looking in the eyes of a Tzaddik (righteous person) elevates you. A person who has reached a high spiritual level has eyes that shine forth with a spiritual light. This is why it is so important to learn Torah from a great Rebbi and not just from books. The Talmud says, if your Rebbi does not look like an Angel of G-d, do not learn Torah from him. Only if you sense "Sinai" in this person should you learn Torah from him. Such a person will transmit to you the non-verbal, "internal" part of the Torah and the proper character traits which can only be transmitted through eye contact. No amount of learning in books can help you here.

I heard from Rabbi Simcha Wasserman zt''l that "when you review your lesson, picture your Rebbi's face while he was giving over the lesson. This way, you will review not only the verbal part of the lesson but also the non-verbal messages in the lesson".

The Steipler wrote (beginning of Kareina D'Igarta) every interaction with a person leaves a spiritual mark on you. The Chafetz Chaim said, the first time he saw a Jew willfully transgressing the Shabbat, he cried for an hour. The second time it lasted only 20 minutes. Why the change? He had exposed his eyes and therefore his soul, and was now no longer on the same level of purity as before.

One who is constantly surrounded by people with no faith is in great danger of becoming like them. This is not because of sharing their ideas. No! During every interaction, your soul absorbs some of the "ruach" (spiritual essence) of the person. If you don't strengthen yourself continuously, you will slowly become more and more like him. This is why it is so important to live in an area with a strong Jewish community. The Rambam wrote, if you can't find a community of righteous people to live in, you should move to the desert.

On a deeper level, everything you come across contains the "ruach" (spiritual essence) of it's source. I heard from Rabbi Shmuel Nussbaum of Gateshead (who is now a Rosh Kollel in Israel) that every book you read, contains part of the soul of the author. If you read the book of a tzadik, you are not only receiving the information he wrote. The soul of the tzadik also has a hashpa (a spiritual influence) on you.

Conversely, when you read the news from CNN or some novel, you should know that you are not just reading innocent information. You are putting your mind into the mind of the author, absorbing the spiritual energy and the drives and mentality of this person and you will tend to become like him (or her). Watch out! They didn't tell you that in the fine print!

Rav Kook zt''l

The same is with the holy Torah. When a person learns, his soul is absorbing the spiritual energy of the Almighty himself! (Although in this case, the Almighty provided two conditions in order for the Torah to transmit the spiritual light (see Derech Hashem Vol.4:Ch.2). The first is proper Yira (reverence) and tikun hamaase at all times - striving to fulfill what you are learning. Without that, learning Torah is like reading a science book.)

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter says a person can learn the laws of an ox that gores a cow, and it will help him in controlling his mouth from saying lashon hara (slander). Why? The light in the Torah, elevates his soul and gives him the spiritual strength needed to fight off the evil inclination to slander.

Think before you look as it says by Avraham in the Akeida - "And Avraham lifted his eyes". Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm zt''l says that from here, we learn that even lifting your eyes should be a calculated and weighed decision. Watch your eyes. Be careful what you read and what you look at. Try to attach yourself to a righteous person and you will become like him. Look at the picture above and in the eyes of the holy Tzadik - Rav Kook zt''l and you will taste greatness.



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Has the Economic Collapse Started?

Big investors are dumping stocks like it's 2008

Big investors are fleeing stocks. In a note on Tuesday, Jill Carey Hall Bank of America Merril Lynch’s wrote that the clients’ net sales of US stocks amounted to $US4.1 billion last week, the largest since January 2008.

The strategists wrote that investors pulled the most money out of healthcare and financial stocks.

Last week, outflows from healthcare were the largest on record, they said.

Full article:  Business Insider

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Wake Up Call [video]

I know you've all seen and heard it all before, but here is a new video:

''A Wake-up Call For All Jews. God is calling us to wake up and prepare ourselves for the new
spiritual world to come...''

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Lost


Concerning this, those who speak in parables say "Come to Heshbon...." [Chukat 21:27]

In Maseches Bava Basra [78b], Chazal expound on this verse as follows: "Regarding this hamoshlim would say - This refers to those who rule [hamoshlim] over their yetzer hara.  'Come to Cheshbon' - Come and let us make a calculation [cheshbon] of world importance."  This teaches us that it is incumbent upon each individual to evaluate his deeds in order to determine whether or not he is acting properly.

R' Yitzchak Blaser, one of the primary figures in the Mussar movement, was approached by members of his community who requested that the Rav rouse them with words of inspiration in light of the upcoming High Holy days.

"Allow me to draw a parable" he began.  "A caravan lost its way in a forest. For a week the travelers wandered around aimlessly, unable to find their way out.  Suddenly, the men saw a lone figure walking in the distance. They quickly made their way toward him and asked him to show them the way out of the forest.

"My brothers and friends" replied the man, "you have been roaming this forest for only a week.  I, however, have already been lost for several weeks. Let us try to find the way out of here together, perhaps then we will be successful."

"But there is one area in which I can be of assistance" continued the man. "I will tell you the paths that I have already tried, and we will know not to mistakenly tread them again."

"This applies to our own situation as well" said R' Blaser with great humility. "I am just as lost as you are; only more so, for I am old and have already been lost for many years.  Yet my experience can be of benefit, as I will be able to enlighten you as to things that I have seen in my life which I have investigated and found to be trivial and meaningless!

"You can trust me on those matters that it would not be worth your while to try those things.

"Come, let us search together for the path that leads to complete repentance!"

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sydney's Double Rainbow

This  double rainbow could be seen all over the city:



More photos:  here

The Great Test at the End of Days


from the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Great disbelief will spread throughout the world.

Fortunate is the person who will strengthen himself with faith in those times.

This warning will not help.

There were others, such as Daniel, who foretold that before the coming of the Messiah, many will be tested and refined, that the evil will worsen while the wise will keep their understanding.

Many will have their faith tested. The person who will pass the test and retain his faith will be fortunate and will attain all the good that is destined to come (may it be soon and in our days) about which the prophets and wise men prophesied.

If so, everyone should take care to remain strong in his faith. Since this prediction is already common knowledge, there will be no test.

But it will still be a great test.

Many will do evil. "The wicked will act wickedly" [Daniel 12:10]

I am telling you this for the sake of those few good people who will be strong in their faith. They will have great internal  battles. But my words will console and strengthen them, for they will see that someone already predicted this. 

- Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Korach's Mistake

According to Chasidic thought, Korach's rebellion occurred at this point in time since it was prompted by the sin of the spies.  The inner reason why the spies did not want to enter the Land of Israel was because they preferred the exclusively spiritual life of the desert to a life of serving G-d and physical concerns, such as the need to earn a living.  The downfall of the spies thus sent a powerful message that Judaism prioritizes physical action over spiritual and intellectual pursuits.

Upon hearing this, Korach protested to Moshe "Why have you made yourselves elite over G-d's assembly?" [Korach 16:3]  "I can appreciate" argued Korach, "that you are a more spiritual and holy person than us, but since we now see that Judaism makes physical action the priority, how are you better than anybody else? Aren't your actions the same as ours?"

Korach's mistake was that the Torah does not demand lifeless action, but rather deeds that shine with inspiration and spiritual enlightenment.  Thus, the two mistakes of the spies and Korach teach us that a healthy equilibrium is required: One must not shy away from physical life, like the spies.  But on the other hand, Judaism's emphasis on action must never lead to a life of meaningless ritual and spiritual bankruptcy.  Every mitzvah should be carried out with the highest levels of spiritual consciousness.

Our struggle to harmonize physical action with spiritual contemplation is fought on three fronts:

a) the need to ensure that one's intentions do not remain in the realm of wishful thinking and that concrete action takes place;
b) that one's actions should always be dictated by the Torah's value system;
c) that action should never be overglorified, and that one should always aspire to be more spiritual.

Our Sages taught that the world was made with the letter ה.  This is because its shape represents the equilibrium between the more spiritual dimensions of thought and speech, versus physical deed.  Korach's name - קרח - is spelled by letters that are all distortions of the left side of the letter hei, indicating how he wished to upset this equilibrium in the area of deeds.

In the ches ח the gap between deed and thought/speech is closed, suggesting that the physical no longer looks up to or aspires to the spiritual - which is why Korach rebelled against the spiritual leadership of Moshe and Aharon.

In the kuf ק deed has extended below and is no longer dictated by the thought and speech of Torah.
And in the raish ר, deed is missing altogether.

In short, it is relatively easy to be entirely spiritual and aloof, or entirely physical and mundane.  Our challenge is to harmonize both these qualities in our daily life, thus making a home for G-d below.

Based on Likutei Sichos, Lubavitcher Rebbe

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Sound of the Earthquake - the Voice of the Earth


"V'Chol Yisroel Asher Sevivoteihem Nasu L'Kolam" - all of Bnei Yisroel that were around them ran from the voice [Korach 16:34]. Which voices were they running from? The Mizrachi says it could not have been from the screaming of the people falling into the open earth or else all the people would run towards the voices to see this strange event, and not away from it. Instead he says it was from the booming noise of the earth opening up. 

The Tosfos Yom Tov says that the voice was that of the earth speaking and announcing that the sinners were swallowed alive and still living inside the bowels of the earth. He brings proof from the pasuk that says [Korach 16:30], "U'Phatzta HaAdama Et Piha" the earth opened its mouth. The word Phatzta implies that it opened its mouth to speak because the word that is used in this parsha to describe the opening of the ground is "VaTiftach HaAretz Et Piha". 

Maybe this would explain the mishna in Pirkei Avos [5:8] that says that one of the ten things created Erev Shabbos Bein HaShmashos was "Pi HaAretz" - the mouth of the earth that swallowed Korach. if it meant the crack in the earth then why would this be a special creation? The earth splitting was not a one time event and happens from time to time. Moreover, a crack is not a creation. Maybe it means the mouth of the earth that spoke, similar to another creation in this mishna, the mouth of the donkey of Bilam who spoke.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Seven Key Events That Are Going To Happen By The End Of September

Is something really big about to happen? For months, people have been pointing to the second half of this year for various reasons. For some, the major concern is Jade Helm and the unprecedented movement of military vehicles and equipment that we have been witnessing all over the nation. For others, the upcoming fourth blood moon and the end of the Shemitah cycle are extremely significant events. Yet others are most concerned about political developments in Washington D.C. and at the United Nations.

To me, it does seem rather remarkable that we are seeing such a confluence of economic, political and spiritual events coming together during the second half of 2015. So is all of this leading up to something? Is our world about to change in a fundamental way? Only time will tell. The following are 7 key events that are going to happen by the end of September…

Late June/Early July – It is expected that this is when the U.S. Supreme Court will reveal their gay marriage decision. Most believe that the court will rule that gay marriage is a constitutional right in all 50 states. There are some that believe that this will be a major turning point for our nation.

July 15th to September 15th – A “realistic military training exercise” known as “Jade Helm” will be conducted by the U.S. Army. More than 1,000 members of the U.S. military will take part in this exercise. The list of states slated to be involved in these drills includes Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, California, Mississippi and Florida.

July 28th – On May 28th, Reuters reported that countries in the European Union were being given a two month deadline to enact “bail-in” legislation. Any nation that does not have “bail-in” legislation in place by that time will face legal action from the European Commission. So why is the European Union in such a rush to get this done? Are the top dogs in the EU anticipating that another great financial crisis is about to erupt?

September 13th – This is Elul 29 on the Biblical calendar – the last day of the Shemitah year. Many are concerned about this date because we have seen giant stock market crashes on the last day of the previous two Shemitah cycles.

On September 17th, 2001 (which was Elul 29 on the Biblical calendar), we witnessed the greatest one day stock market crash in U.S. history up until that time. The Dow plummeted 684 points, and it was a record that held for exactly seven years until the end of the next Shemitah cycle.

On September 29th, 2008 (which was also Elul 29 on the Biblical calendar), the Dow fell by an astonishing 777 points, which still today remains the greatest one day stock market crash of all time.
Now we are approaching the end of another Shemitah year. So will the stock market crash on September 13th, 2015? Well, no, because that day is a Sunday. So I guarantee that the stock market will not crash on that particular day. But as Jonathan Cahn has pointed out in his book on the Shemitah, sometimes stock market crashes happen just before the end of the Shemitah year and sometimes they happen within just a few weeks after the end of the Shemitah. So we are not just looking at one particular date.

Continue reading: Zero Hedge

Moshiach on a Donkey

Art: Elhanan Ben-Avraham

Moshe complains about the accusations hurled against him and says, "Lo Chamor Echad Meihem Nasasi", I didn't even take a single donkey from them [Korach 16:15]. Rashi says this refers to when he came down to Mitzrayim to redeem them on a donkey, and he paid for it from his own money. Rav Shimon Schwab asks, why would Moshe think that he should have taken the money from Bnei Yisroel.

Rav Schwab answers that the gemara in Sanhedrin [98a] says that when the geula comes, if we are zocheh [deserving] Moshiach will arrive on clouds, if not then Moshiach will come come as a pauper on a donkey. Why? The whole world needs to know that Hashem is bringing the geula and Moshiach has no power by himself. If Bnei Yisroel are Maaminim and Ovdei Hashem then Moshiach can come in grand fashion and we will all place thanks in Hashem and not Moshiach. But if we do not recognize Hashem's hand, then Hashem will need to send a Moshiach who is powerless and destitute to show that it is not his charisma, brains, or money that will release us from the galus.

Moshe was the Goel in Mitzrayim. Bnei Yisroel was not zocheh and Moshe came riding into town on a donkey lacking any pomp or grandeur. He came with the stick in his hand and the shirt on his back. To show his poverty he should have asked Bnei Yisroel to pay for his donkey. Even then he did not, since he did not want to take anything from any member of Klal Yisroel.

Source: Revach.net

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Shlach: Rejecting the Land of Israel

Art: Jerusalem Landscape by Michoel Muchnik

"And [the spies] began to speak badly about the land that they had explored." [Num. 13:32] 

A dispirited discussion took place at Beit HaRav, Rav Kook's house in Jerusalem, not long after the end of World War II. The Chief Rabbi had passed away ten years earlier; now it was his son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook, who sat at the head of the table.

One participant at the Sabbath table had brought up a disturbing topic: the phenomenon of visitors touring Eretz Yisrael and then criticizing the country after returning to their homes. These visitors complain about everything: the heat, the poverty, the backwardness, the political situation - and discourage other Jews from moving here, he lamented.

Rav Tzvi Yehudah responded by telling over the following parable, one he had heard in the name of Rabbi Samuel Mohilever, the rabbi of Bialystok.

The Failed Match
There was once a wealthy man who sought the hand of a certain young lady. She was the most beautiful girl in town, and was blessed with many talents and a truly refined character. Her family was not well-off, so they were eager about a possible match with the prosperous fellow.

The young woman, however, was not interested in the match. Rich or not, the prospective suitor was known to be coarse and ill-mannered. She refused to meet with him.

The father asked her to at least meet with the young man in their home, so as not to embarrass him. After all, one meeting doesn't obligate you to marry him! To please her father, the young woman agreed.

The following Sabbath afternoon, the fellow arrived at the house as arranged, and was warmly received by the father. Shortly afterwards, his daughter made her entrance. But her hair was uncombed, and she wore a faded, crumpled dress and shabby house slippers. Appalled at her disheveled appearance, it did not take long before the young man excused himself and made a hurried exit.

What everyone says about this girl - it's not true, exclaimed the astonished young man to his friends. She's hideous!

Rav Tzvi Yehudah stopped briefly, surveying the guests seated around the table. Superficially, it would appear that the brash young fellow had rejected the young woman. But in fact, it was she who had rejected him.

The same is true regarding the Land of Israel, the rabbi explained. Eretz Yisrael is a special land, only ready to accept those who are receptive to its unique spiritual qualities. The Land does not reveal its inner beauty to all who visit. Not everyone is worthy to perceive its special holiness.

It may appear as if the dissatisfied visitors are the ones who reject the Land of Israel, he concluded. But in fact, it is the Land that rejects them!

A thoughtful silence pervaded the room. Those present were stunned by the parable and the rabbi's impassioned delivery. Then one of the guests observed, Reb Tzvi Yehudah, your words are suitable for a son of your eminent father, may his memory be a blessing!

Seeing the Goodness of Jerusalem
Rav Tzvi Yehudah's response was indeed appropriate for Rav Kook's son. When visitors from outside the country would approach the Chief Rabbi for a blessing, Rav Kook would quote from the Book of Psalms, "May God bless you from Zion" [128:5].

Then he would ask: What exactly is this blessing from Zion? In fact, the content of the blessing is described in the continuation of the verse: "May you see the goodness of Jerusalem."

The rabbi would explain: The verse does not say that one should merit seeing Jerusalem; but that one should merit seeing 'the goodness of Jerusalem.' Many people visit Jerusalem. But how many of them merit seeing the inner goodness hidden in the holy city?

And that, he concluded, is God's special blessing from Zion.

[ Source: Stories from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Malachim Kivnei Adam]

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Sins of the Father

Art: Marianne Caroselli

"He reckons the fathers' transgression to the sons' account, up to the third and fourth generations" [Shelach 14:18]

In explaining how children can be punished for the sins of their parents, R' Berechiah HaNakdan recounts the following parable:

A hungry wolf met a fox and desired to devour it.

"Why would you want to devour me?" asked the sly fox.  "I am thin and have few bones... go and devour a fat-fleshed human, and you will enjoy the feast."

"I cannot devour a human" replied the wolf, "as the verse states "Of every beast I will demand it" [Bereishis 9:5] - [this verse warns beasts against killing people - see Rashi there]

The fox cackled and said "You have nothing to fear, for it is not you who will receive the punishment, but your children, as the verse says "He reckons the fathers' transgression to the sons' account."

The wolf was persuaded by the fox, and it began to search for a human.  On the way, it fell into a trap laid by hunters.  The wolf began yelling for help.  When the fox heard the calls of the wolf, it carefully approached the wolf.

"You liar!" screamed the wolf.  "Did you not say that only my children would get punished for my sins?"

"Fool that you are" replied the fox, "You are also not getting punished on account of your own sins, but for the sins of your fathers."

"How could that be?" screamed the wolf....."Why would I suffer for what others have done?"

"And why did you set out to devour humans?" queried the fox.  "Was it not because you were counting on the fact that it would be your children who would suffer for your sins? Since you felt it was fair that your children bear your sins, it is only fitting that you bear your fathers' sins!"

A child, concluded R' Berechiah, is only punished for his father's sins if he is guilty of the same sins.  This is because an individual's punishment is meted out measure for measure. When someone emulates the sinful ways of his father, without concern that his children will receive punishment on account of his sins, he too gets punished for the sins of his fathers.

If this is true of the negative, how much more so is it true of the positive: when a righteous son follows in the ways of a righteous father, he will certainly be rewarded for the good deeds of his father!

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Global Boycotting of Israel

Gog U'Magog - the nations rising up against Israel.

Most recently: Orange says it plans to terminate contract with brand partner in Israel

The global boycott of Israel is growing silently 

European banks are cutting ties with Israeli counterparts, while supermarkets across the world are appeasing violent protesters who attack their Israeli produce.

In April 2012, the Co-operative, Britain’s fifth-largest food retailer, declared it would no longer be importing agricultural produce from the territories or any Israeli supplier linked to produce from there. Five years earlier, retail giant Marks & Spencer announced that it was boycotting products from the West Bank, while the Tesco supermarket chain stopped marketing dates from the Jordan Valley.

full article at:  Ynet News

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Schadenfreude and Jealousy

Schadenfreude is pleasure at someone else's misfortune. This week's question comes from a viewer who is unemployed and jealous of people who have jobs. Rabbi Simon Jacobson addresses the underlying issues -- schadenfreude. Learn how to cope if you are experiencing bitterness as a result of jealousy.

 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Moshiach: Exodus 2.0

"Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice…"

by HaRav Adin Even-Israel [Steinsaltz]
Only the Final Redemption will overshadow the Exodus in its significance.  

The Exodus from Egypt was apocalyptic, not only because of the supernatural events that took place during its unfolding, but also because it sparked an extremely significant change within a relatively short amount of time – and without any warning or preparation. It is true that the events recounted in the Book of Exodus did occur over the course of a few months, but when we think about the amazing transformation that the People of Israel underwent as a result – from a loosely related ethnic group of slaves to a new nation – the redemption from Egypt does indeed seem very sudden and surprising.

While Passover is the festival of redemption, the Exodus from Egypt is commemorated on each of the Biblical festivals and all through the year. Even events in Jewish history as important as the re-establishment of sovereignty in Israel during the Second Temple era are not considered to be equal to the Exodus. Our Sages teach that only the Final Redemption will be able to overshadow its significance.

The Exodus has also become a prototype of redemption for all nations of the world, a model against which other redemptions are measured and assessed. The coming of the Messiah is a momentous event – not only for the Jewish people, but for the entire world. It is not simply a matter of national deliverance, nor even of a Jewish renaissance, but of an intrinsic change in world history. In a certain way, the Final Redemption, as its name implies, marks the "end of history," or, at least, the end of history as it has been for the last several millennia.

We know from Biblical prophecies and from the Talmud that there are two possible scenarios for the Final Redemption. The difference between them lies in a fundamental question: will it be a revolutionary event, or an evolutionary one? The first redemption, the Exodus from Egypt, was a whirlwind of supernatural events, a total revolution. Indeed, many descriptions of the Final Redemption – in Jewish and non-Jewish sources alike – depict the final redemption in a similar way. For example, this approach, "the great and terrible day of the Lord," [1] is a universal earthquake which begins with "darkness, not light" [2] and involves colossal wars between "the children of light and the children of darkness." Like the Exodus, the Final Redemption is, so to speak, a Divine tour de force vis-à-vis the world. When God wills it, all of reality will be torn to shreds, and the new day will shine, as was the case in the Exodus from Egypt – out of "blood and fire and pillars of smoke." [3]

The alternative scenario of redemption is an evolutionary one and is based on human progress – whether slow or fast – toward a higher state of existence: "For you shall not go out in haste, neither shall you go by flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will follow you behind" [4]; or, in other words, "in sitting still and rest will you be saved." [5] While the Exodus from Egypt contained an element of flight, this redemption will be a slow, smooth process and, despite the enormous differences between the present and the future, it will still be possible to discern the steps that paved the way for the redemption. Even the Biblical metaphor that likens redemption to birth – a dramatic event with a clearly defined "before" and "after" – presupposes the long pregnancy that came before it.

Will the future redemption be a revolutionary event, or an evolutionary one?The difference between these two diametrically opposed scenarios can be explained by the somewhat enigmatic Talmudic saying: "The son of David [the Messiah; in other words, the final redemption] will come only in a generation that is either altogether righteous or altogether wicked." [6] Redemption for an "altogether righteous" generation is preceded by years of preparation in which people work to better themselves. This kind of redemption is just the finale of an evolutionary process. On the other hand, the redemption of an "altogether wicked" generation cannot possibly be an extended, slow process, because such people, by their very nature, make no preparations for it. Therefore it must entail a revolutionary outburst, which, in this case, is not a grass-roots effort but a Divine one. As such, it must shatter the old patterns of existence – a painful, even tragic event.

The future redemption is, in many ways, the continuation and completion of the Exodus. We know from the Book of Exodus[7] that the redemption from Egypt occurred at midnight; the end of the Passover Haggadah includes references to the future redemption as the second half of this night of deliverance. This is not only solace and encouragement in the face of our present trials and tribulations; it is also a logical sequence. The Exodus, then, is a comma in the manuscript of world history, whereas the final redemption is a full stop. But what shape the final redemption will assume depends, to a great extent, on us as human beings. Through the totality of our actions, we will determine whether we are an "altogether wicked" or "altogether righteous" generation and, consequently, if we can expect "blood and fire and pillars of smoke" or salvation through "sitting still and rest." 

 FOOTNOTES 
1. Malachi 3:23. 
2. Amos 5:18. 
3. Joel 3:3. 
4. Isaiah 52:12 
5. Ibid., 30:15. 
6. Tractate Sanhedrin 98a. 
7. 12:29.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Beha'alotecha: Why Was The Menorah So Difficult for Moshe?

The pasuk says that Moshe made the Menorah as Hashem showed him. Rashi points out that the Menorah was one of the three things that Moshe could not understand. Why was this particular Keili so difficult for Moshe? 

There are 50 levels of understanding [Chamishim Shaarei Bina], of which Moshe only reached the 49th level. The Menora is the keili that represents wisdom. 

The Vilna Gaon says this is hinted in the makeup of the menorah. It was decorated with 7 lamps, 11 buttons, 9 flowers, and 22 goblets for a grand total of 49.  [See here for more]

The number 50 represents the actual Menorah itself. Since Moshe did not reach the 50th gate of understanding, he could not understand the Menora and Hashem needed to show it to him. 

The passuk says in Tehilim, "Pesach Devarecha Yair:" the beginning of your words light up. This is a remez to the Menora which lights up the first pasuk in each Chumash [Pesach Devarecha]. The first pasuk in Bereishis has 7 words like the lamps; in Shmos 11 like the buttons; in Vayikra 9 like the flowers; in Bamidbar 18, the height of the Menorah in Tefachim; in Devarim 22 like the goblets. 

Source: Revach.net