Thursday, August 24, 2017

3 Elul - Yahrzeit Rav Kook


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

"Which big books?" asked the teacher.

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

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

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

"To Israel, to Eretz Yisrael..."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on Rav Kook at Rav Kook Torah

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Steps of Man


Art Lowell Herrero

Ilui Nishmas Malka Tcharna bas Yitchak Izac

A person who believes in Divine Providence knows that ''the steps of a man are made firm by G-d''. [Tehillim 37:23]

A person goes to a particular place because his soul must refine and perfect something there.  

For hundreds of years, or even from the very beginning of creation, the object that must be refined or rectified waits for that soul to come and do that task.

Similarly, this soul itself, from the moment of its emanation and creation, awaits the time that it will descend [to the physical world] to refine and perfect that which has been assigned to it.

Source: HaYom Yom - Lubavitcher Rebbe

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Every Day of the Year, You Are Your Own Judge



Unknown Artist


by Rav Ephraim Kenig shlit'a

He [Rabbi Akiva] used to say "Everything is given on pledge and a net is spread out over all the living. The shop is open, the merchant extends credit, the ledger is open and the hand records therein. All who wish to borrow may come and borrow. But the collectors make their regular daily rounds, and take payment from a person with or without their knowledge...." [Pirkei Avot 3:20]

A person usually goes about their daily life thinking that whatever they do is basically okay.  Even if this is not the case, they figure if no one knows, then it's not the end of the world; they'll just fix it afterwards.  They may even realize that G-d knows about their indiscretions, but since the person considers them to be only temporary, everything will somehow straighten out in the end.  These are the type of thoughts that Rabbi Akiva is addressing in his statement in Pirkei Avot.  He reminds us that whatever we take from this world must be left behind when we leave; nothing can be taken with us when we die.

Paying Back What You Eat
One way to understand this is found in the book ''Chesed L'Avraham'' written by the grandfather of the Chida, Rabbi Chaim David Azulai a"h.  He writes that when a person dies, the chevra kadisha comes to attend to the body before the levaya [funeral].  They cover the body in the place where it was when the soul departed, and everyone returns home.  The deceased remains alone with himself. When the body is put into the grave, if the person enjoyed a lot from this world, the first thing that happens is that the worms come to demand their portion.  In other words, they must now return whatever they took from this world, whatever they ate simply to fill their stomach.  Yet if they ate only in holiness and purity, i.e. only kosher food and only in quantities necessary to sustain a healthy and strong body to serve G-d, then there is nothing to take back.  This is one understanding of  "they take payment''.

With or Without His Knowledge
Since there are specific times during the year conducive to repentance and forgiveness, a person may think that everything automatically works out.  For example, there is the month of Elul - the Hebrew month set aside for teshuvah, intensive introspection and repentance - which is followed by Rosh Hashanah and the atonement of Yom Kippur.  But the reality is that G-d is not obligated to wait until these specific times and can send messengers to collect what is due at any point.  Sometimes, one may even be aware of their situation and upon a little soul searching, may even realize they might need to go through something unpleasant.  But usually, this level of self-awareness is rare and one has no realization that anything is amiss or in need of change.  But G-d operates in His ways. It is here the idea "with or without his knowledge" comes into play.

You Are Your Own Judge
Rebbe Nachman transmits the following idea in the name of the holy Baal Shem Tov.  Before any decree is issued in the world, G-d forbid, the entire world is assembled to give their agreement.  In this instance, the 'entire world' encompasses the inanimate, plant, animal, and human levels.  They are all notified and asked if there is any opposition to the decree.  This even includes the person who has the negative decree hanging over them.  When everyone reaches agreement, the judgment is passed.

Who in the world would agree to a negative decree against oneself?  Obviously, if you were to ask the person directly, they would defend themselves and oppose the judgment.  For this reason, a similar situation is presented to them, and their opinion is asked without realizing it has anything to do with their own case.  Someone will ask them: "What do you think about what so-and-so did?"  They respond. "Whoo whoo, they deserve this or that..."   In heaven they say: "Is that right?" You just passed judgment on yourself..."  The case is closed and the person doesn't comprehend what just transpired.  According to Rebbe Nachman, this is an example of "taking payment with or without his knowledge".

The whole concept of how a person is asked each time about their own judgment is profoundly deep.  Each word of every story we hear has lofty and exalted significance.   For example, we may hear a story about two people involved in an argument that has nothing to do with us.  In the rare case it does, we need to be even more careful.  But most of the time, it is simply a seemingly random story where everyone takes the liberty of jumping into the fray, taking a stand on who is right or wrong, and who deserves what.  The very words a person utters are then taken and applied to his own case and he will be compelled to bring his own words to fruition.  This is why Rebbe Nachman advises us to be very careful about what we say.  Don't let an inadvertent word slip out in the wrong way or pass judgment on another's behavior.  If you do, you are agreeing to your own verdict, since no judgment can materialize without your agreement.


Controlling Your Thoughts
King David says Zamoti bal yalavar pi - "My thoughts dare not pass through my mouth." [Psalms 17:3]  There are two important ways to understand this verse.  Firstly, the word zamoti is related to the Hebrew word for "muzzle" - z'mam.  King David alludes to this as if to say "G-d! Since I don't weigh my words seriously enough, put a muzzle on my mouth to prevent me from saying anything irresponsible or improper."

The second explanation of how to understand this verse concerns controlling our thoughts.  Sometimes a person blurts out an empty phrase, without even knowing why they said it.  But the reality is that there are custodial forces appointed over a person from heaven; sometimes they are good and sometimes not. They seize upon these same words and turn them around on the one who uttered them.  These ramifications ought to give each of us serious pause for thought.

It is not necessary to express every thought that comes to mind.  Thus King David refers here to the need for an even deeper level of restraint.  He would like G-d to place a muzzle on his mouth to stop him from verbalizing anything that enters his head.  Since according to Rebbe Nachman, it is through these very words that they "take the payment from a person with or without his knowledge".

We witness how people suffer from a bundle of woes that they carry, whether external problems or personal health issues G-d forbid. Yet the reality is that they agreed and signed off on everything.  Without their agreement, these difficulties could not have materialized.  One may say "I never agreed to such a thing!"  The recording is then played back for them and they are asked "You don't remember what you said in such and such year when someone told you a certain story? Was it any of your business to comment? You gave your commentary anyway and here are the consequences."  G-d should guard us.

This spiritual dynamic accompanies us every single day, hour by hour.  It is written "Whoever sits in the refuge of the Most High.." [Psalms 91].  The Talmud calls this particular chapter of Psalms "a song against evil forces" since it is recited by those who want to be saved from misfortune and accidents.

For instance, when mourners attend a funeral they recite these verses since they possess tremendous protective power against negative spiritual forces seeking to harm a person.  It is further written: "His angels he will charge for you, to protect you on all your paths."  This refers to the fact that there are angels who constantly accompany a person to safeguard him from harm.  According to our sages, these protective angels are more accurately called the yetzer tov and the yetzer hara - the good inclination and the evil inclination.  In contrast to what most people think, they are both responsible for protecting a person from disaster, since the fundamental role of the yetzer hara is to serve a person.  However, if one comes too close and is drawn after him, the yetzer hara is no longer obligated to fulfill his protective duty.  One then becomes enslaved to him, and the yetzer hara does whatever he wants with the person.


Forces Created From Our Own Actions
Along with the yetzer tov and yetzer hara, come all sorts of other forces, G-d forbid, which are created when a person stumbles, for example, in eating non-kosher food or is involved with any kind of negative thoughts, speech, or actions.  In this case, damaging forces are created in the world that are bound to the person who created them.  These forces are called mezekei alma - "destroyers of the world".  Their whole purpose is to cause damage and they don't even realize this is their role.

To illustrate, it is like a child who plays with matches because he thinks it is fun.  An adult comes along and admonishes him, but when he sees that the child doesn't understand, he takes the matches away by force.  This is because the adult understands very well that the child is doing something dangerous.  The child though, doesn't comprehend this fact.  He screams and cries "Why did you take them away from me?"  Likewise, these "destroyers of the world" don't even understand they are destructive. Their actions are not intentional, but since they were created from damage, this is their fundamental essence.

It is these forces that accompany us wherever we go. They catch our every word in an attempt to interpret it according to their crooked way of thinking, because after all, they are a creation based on crookedness and damage.  Since they are an undesirable creation, everything about them is undesirable. They even have the ability to compel a person to undergo judgments from the upper worlds. They facilitate a person's undoing to such an extent that life is endangered, and the individual has no idea what is actually going on.

We don't know.  We don't actually see these forces or perceive them with our senses, but what do we know? We know that there are tzaddikim on the highest of spiritual levels, who know about these matters with such clarity that they simply advise us to have compassion on ourselves and acknowledge we don't know what goes on around us on a spiritual plane.  For this reason, they caution us to guard ourselves from undesirable speech, thoughts, or deeds since they bring detrimental consequences.

One may take note of the many criminals at large in the world, who say and do terrible things, but seem to have it good without any suffering.  So where do these ideas fit in?  The answer is that something much worse is actually going on for them.  The criminal doesn't pay for his actions in this world. It simply waits for him in the next world, where everything comes back to him in a much more penetrating way.  This is what the Talmud refers to when it states "Afflictions atone for a person".  Whatever difficulties one goes through in this world serve as a huge atonement for him.  It is preferable and worthwhile to undergo it here, since in the next world, one contends with not only afflictions, but humiliation along with much more unpleasantness.

The only advice is to say to oneself "Stop".  Just as we need to be careful about what we put into our mouth, i.e. kosher and healthy food, likewise we must be careful about what comes out of it by guarding our speech.  The same caution applies to our actions. We should do nothing that the Torah, or our sages, forbid.  Similarly with thought; we shouldn't think that just because our thoughts are only between us and G-d they can be easily fixed.  It doesn't exactly work like this, since many holy books describe the power of thought as greater than the power of deed.  It is possible to do teshuvah or repair an action, but it is much more difficult to do the same with a thought.  You can nullify or gain control over an action, but once you think it, a thought is out of our control and possession.

Thus Rebbe Nachman's advice to everyone is to weigh our deeds in a way that will be truly positive in this world and the next, and to live good and thoughtful lives, with proper consideration for our every thought, word, and action.  Since there will be no-one to pass a bad judgment, every negative decree will be opposed.

Remember that you are never asked directly about your own situation, rather only about someone else's story.  Thus don't rush to pass judgment either verbally or even in your thoughts as to who is right or wrong.  Unless it concerns you directly and practically, just leave it without comment. You will feel profoundly satisfied, and it will be so very beneficial not only to you but to the entire Jewish people.

May G-d enlighten us with higher levels of self-awareness to improve our lives, as well as the entire world, every day and every moment.

Rabbi Ephraim Kenig shlit'a, is CEO and Rosh Yeshiva of the Nachal Novea Mekor Chochma institutions as well as the head administrator at Talmud Torah Magen Avot, in the Old City of Tsfat.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Effects of a Solar Eclipse



HT Avrohom Alter


Rabbi Avigdor Miller on solar eclipses: 

The gemara says that a solar eclipse is a sign of ill fortune for the gentiles. [A lunar eclipse is a sign of ill fortune for Jews]

So this gentleman asks, rightly, how can it be a sign of ill fortune if it happens according to mathematical precision? And the answer is as follows. 

Any change in the fortunes of the world is foreseen by Hashem. Nothing happens by itself. Hashem ordains when some good fortune should happen to the world, or chalila when some misfortune should happen, and He makes it turn out on certain auspicious dates. 

When He plans a misfortune for the umos haolam [nations of the world], He makes it happen at the time of a solar eclipse. 

A solar eclipse is to let you know that this is planned by Hashem and it’s not an accident. Let’s say at the time of a solar eclipse something happens in a far off country like Tibet where there are no Jews. You shouldn’t say that one thing has nothing to do with the other. The reason that it happened then was to bring your attention to it and make you aware that Hashem is in charge of the world. He made it turn out at the time of the solar eclipse... 

Therefore, it’s not that the solar eclipse is made to happen at a time of some misfortune to the gentiles, the misfortune to the gentiles is made to happen at the time of the solar eclipse. Why? In order to label it, to let us know that it’s the yad [hand of] Hashem. – 

Abraham and Lot [#046]

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Blessings in Disguise


Art Mike Worrall

"See! I am giving to you today a blessing and a curse" [Re'eh 11:26]

Hashem did not want the soul to eat "bread of shame" [i.e. sustenance given gratuitously, without having been earned by the recipient]; He therefore made it possible for man to serve Him in a meaningful way with toil of body and soul. Through our endeavors in avodah [service of G-d] we are Divinely enabled to earn all manner of goodness.

The difficulties, trials, and tests of life are themselves the means by which we are to attain our ultimate objective - that the soul achieve the lofty spiritual level it once possessed before it descended into the body: "The soul that you have given me is pure."  The purpose of life is for the soul to regain that level of original "purity" and even transcend it - for one hour of teshuvah [repentance] and good deeds in this world is worth more than all the lifetime of the spiritual World to Come [Olam HaBa].

So you see that life's trials, tragedies, and difficulties actually bring us closer to our goal, our raison d'etre; they are part of the Divine system of toil and endeavour enabling us, finite mortals, to reach the highest levels of rewards and goodness - which can only be earned by meaningful "labor" and effort.  It follows that one must not allow the difficulties of life's trials [or even one's failure from time to time] to overcome the double joy of being G-d's children and of having received His promise "Your people are all righteous".

Source: Excerpt from a letter written by the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Hashem Will Bless You






Text by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

It is written, “Because of this thing, Hashem your G-d will bless you” [Re'eh 15:10].

The term hazeh (“this”) has a numerical value of 17.

The Sages say, “He who gives a small coin to a poor man obtains six blessings, and he who speaks comforting words to him obtains eleven blessings” [Bava Batra 9b]. 

Hence the verse states, “Because of hazeh [this] thing, Hashem your G-d will bless you.”

Source – Kol Eliyahu

Friday, August 11, 2017

Eikev


Written by Yehuda Katz

וְהָיָה | עֵקֶב תִּשְׁמְעוּן אֵת הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים הָאֵלֶּה 
And it will be, because [eikev] you will heed these ordinances...
[Eikev 7:12]

Rashi comments that when the Torah uses the word "Eikev" [Hebrew], it teaches us that this is referring to the Mitzvoth that man usually neglects. Eikev in Hebrew can also mean the heel of feet, meaning the commandments that a person might "step" on because he considers them to be minor.

We find in Genesis 25:26 that Yaakov was named his name because he held onto Esav's heel when he emerged from his mother's womb. Yaakov comes from the Hebrew root "eikev" meaning heel. 

A question can be asked, What's the connection between "Yaakov's" name and "Eikev" found in our verse?   I would like to propose the following original answer as follows, Bezrat Hashem: When Yaakov held on to Esav's heel, he was telling the world that the very things Esav tramples on are in fact "held" in high esteem by Yaakov. These are the very attributes that Yaakov considers important, namely modesty, humility, honesty, etc. Yaakov knew their value, and held on to them. Esav on the other hand "stepped" on them with his heel.....

This is precisely where Yaakov has the greatest power over Esav and the manner in which he conducts his life. Israel will always be able to defeat Esav as long as they are capable of upholding the attributes Esav tramples on. 

In Kabbalistic thought Esav represents the evil inclination. We are all constantly seeking out methods to conquer that which ails us spiritually, yet here lies the key to our victory. Let us all grasp the very attributes that the Evil inclination abhors, and hold them in high esteem as our forefather Yaakov had done at the time of his birth. Let us all be more humble, modest and gracious to our fellow man.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

How To Survive The End Of Days PLUS Korea video


Rabbi Yehoshua Zitron Mashiach Part 9 : Survival Kit- How To Survive The End Of Days: The Most Important Shiur I Gave On Mashiach




And  here is the famous video of Rabbi Levi Saadia Nachmani zt''l, speaking in 1994 [about a month before he passed away], warning us about Korea's nukes.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

15 Av - Rabbi Nachum Ish Gam Zu




Nachum of Gimzo, a teacher of Rabbi Akiva, was a Tanna of the 2nd generation [1st century]. In the Talmud he is called "ish gam zu" [the man of "gam zu"], and this name is explained as referring to Nachum's motto. It is said that on every occasion, no matter how unpleasant the circumstance, he exclaimed "Gam zu le-ṭovah" [This, too, will be for the best].

Due to the miraculous events which continually punctuated the life of Nachum Ish Gamzu, he was nominated to present the Emperor with a gift. This journey to Rome posed many hazards, and the man who would undertake it would need to be accustomed to miracles which would be necessary on this dangerous mission. At one of the inns where he stayed, the innkeeper decided to investigate the contents of the Rabbi Ish Gam Zu's box, and when he discovered the jewels and precious stones inside, he stole them and replaced the contents with earth from his garden.

So Rabbi Ish Gam Zu arrived at the Emperor's palace with a box of earth. When the Emperor found the box to contain nothing but earth, he had Nachum Ish Gamzu thrown into jail. Nachum accepted this with his usual 'Gam Zu le'Tovah' - and a miracle occurred, in the form of a visit from Eliyahu ha'Navi, who suggested to the Emperor that this might be special earth from Avraham the father of the Jews, who, during the battle against the four kings, threw earth at them which turned into swords (and straw which turned into arrows).

The Emperor tried it out on an enemy whom he had hitherto found invincible. When the Emperor was victorious, he set Nachum Ish Gamzu free, filled the box with jewels and precious stones and sent him home with great honor. When the innkeeper realized what had happened - he demolished his house and brought the dust to the Emperor as a gift (thinking that all the earth on their property was special 'miracle earth'). But of course, nothing happened with the earth that they brought, and the Emperor had them killed for mocking him.

Everything that happens in life is for the best, even if we don't perceive it that way until much later. Later we can look back and realise that it really was "gam zu l'tova".

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Secret to a Smoother Life



This is an excellent shiur from Rabbi Alon Anava: if you are having problems in your life, he has some expert advice for you, from the Torah, on how to fix things.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Continued Attacks on President Trump



Rabbi Mendel Kessin: latest shiur




and the latest from the Derech Hashem series: Realities of Creation Part 1: The Realm of God

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How to Fix Sinat Chinam [Baseless Hatred]



Complete English subtitles: Rabbi Ofer Erez

Amazing teachings of Rebbe Nachman about seeing the good points in yourself and others, and making the world a better place.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Moshiach: A Discussion


For those who thought Rabbi Zitron spoke too fast... here's a nice laid-back shiur, questions and answers on the topic of Moshiach from Rav Dror.


Monday, July 17, 2017

What is the source of good and evil?


Rabbi Mendel Kessin: Enlightenment vs Concealment and the Major Classes of Creation
Latest shiur


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Seeing The Good




God can’t judge a person favorably until some human being down here on the planet has done it first. And as soon as God starts to judge someone favorably, that opens the door for them to make real teshuva.  Emunaroma

.....Hashem waits to hear words of defence and merit on behalf of Jews, especially by other Jews. 


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Who Will Be The Players In The Final War- An Introduction To Gog Umagog




Rabbi Yehoshua Zitron - Part 7 in his Moshiach  series

Fooling Yourself

"Seekers of the Truth" - Mike Worrall

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Two Tzaddiks

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Nibiru Sighting


Just imagine being outside one afternoon and seeing this in the sky.  A farmer has captured what appears to be Nibiru.



Monday, July 10, 2017

Why are there Ashkenazic and Sefardic Jews?



Rabbi Mendel Kessin, latest shiur


What's In A Name



The Hebrew word for soul is "Neshama" - נשׁמה
The middle letters of נשׁמה spell "shem" - which means "name".

This shows us the importance of your name - it is the centre of the soul.

Your Hebrew name functions as a conduit, channeling spiritual energy from G-d into your soul and your body.

This is why, say the Chassidic masters, an unconscious person will often respond and be revived when his or her name is called. To wake someone up, all you need to do is whisper their Hebrew name into their ear.

Your Hebrew name is your spiritual call sign, embodying your unique character traits and G-d-given gifts. Ideally, you should use it 24 hours a day, not just when you're called to the Torah or when prayers are offered on your behalf.

According to Jewish custom, a critically ill person is sometimes given an additional Hebrew name -- somewhat like a spiritual bypass operation to funnel fresh spirituality around their existing name and into their bodies; with the influx of spirituality, the body is given renewed vigor to heal itself.

The book of Genesis teaches that G-d created the world with "speech" ("And G-d said, 'Let there be light!', and there was light" ).

In the Kabbalah it is explained that the 22 sacred letters of the Hebrew alef-bet are the spiritual "building blocks" of all created reality, and that the name of a thing in the Holy Tongue represents the combination of sacred letters that reflects its distinct characteristics and the purpose and role towards which it was created.

If you are not using your Hebrew name, you are not tapping into your G-d given powers. If you're feeling tired and rundown, this could be the solution to your inertia.

Usually, your Hebrew name is given to you soon after birth. Jewish boys are named at their brit (circumcision), and girls at a Torah reading shortly after their birth. Your name is selected by your parents who usually name you after a dear departed loved one, most often an ancestor. Or, if they don’t have anyone to memorialize, you just might end up with a Hebrew name of their own preference. Either way, however, our sages have declared that your parents' choice of a name constitutes a "minor prophecy", since the name they choose conforms with the inborn nature of your soul.

If your parents didn't give you a brit or didn't name you at a Torah reading -- or if you're a non-Jew who's converting to Judaism -- you can select any Hebrew name that resonates with you.

[Chabad]
There are people who complete the mission associated with their name in the middle of their lifetime.

They are then given a new mission, and hence, a new name. This concept contains many deep and awesome secrets.

It is customary to give a new name to a dangerously sick person. The sick person has already fulfilled his destiny according to his original name, and is therefore ready to die. We then give him a new name, thereby also giving him a new mission. The sick person can now continue to live and complete the mission associated with his new name.

Our Rabbis teach us that Moses had many names. Moses had many missions in life; he therefore required a different name for each one of his great tasks.

Source: Rebbe Nachman's Wisdom

Naming A Baby After Someone Who Recently Died
by Rav Menashe Klein

Rav Menashe Klein (Mishneh Halachos 4:152) was asked if it is permissible to name a baby after someone who died but was not yet buried. Although reluctant to answer a question not found in Shas or Poskim, he said that people are noheg to do so.

However he did see in the Zohar that it may not be effective. The Zohar says that until a person is buried, his Neshama cannot enter another a person in the form of a Gilgul. Since one of the reasons we name after a niftar is to enable the neshama to enter the child as a gilgul, it would be pointless until after the burial. This is also the opinion of the Shu"t Tshuras Shai and the Recanti.

What if the child was born while the person was still alive but the name will be given after the burial? In this case he says that even though the child already received a neshama at birth, nevertheless the neshama of the gilgul can enter at the time the name is given. We see this from Pinchas who received the neshamos of Nadav and Avihu even though he was alive at the time of their death.

This is the same logic as giving a sick person a new name. The hope is that the neshama of a person with the same name will enter into him and extend his life. For this reason changing the name of a Choleh should be handled only by someone who is well versed in these matters.

Source: Revach L'Neshama

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Limitations of Black Magic


By: Rabbi Eliyahu Haim Aboud

There was a time in history when the powers of sorcery were brought to the test and their inherent limitations were exposed, much to the humiliation of its arrogant practitioners.

The Torah relates that when Moshe and Aharon first approached Pharaoh to demand the release of the Israelite slaves, Aharon threw his wooden staff to the ground and it was miraculously transformed into a live serpent. Pharaoh then ordered his magicians to mimic the feat, and they, too, threw their staffs and turned them into serpents. Much to their surprise, however, Aharon's staff-serpent promptly devoured all the magicians’ serpents. The commentaries explain [1] that this incident was intended to prove that Moshe’s demonstration was not derived by the powers of sorcery, as Pharaoh suspected. The Egyptian magicians were not able to create real living creatures; but rather only snake-like forms which could never attack and devour other snakes. Aharon’s snake, however, which was created using the forces of kedusha (holiness), rather than the forces of impurity, was a real-live serpent which had the power to attack the others.

This distinction was reinforced during the plague of blood. When Aharon struck the waters of the Nile River with his staff, the entire river miraculously turned into real blood, such that all the fish in the river died as a result of consuming the blood. But when the Egyptian sorcerers attempted to turn water into blood, they could only make the water appear like blood, but not turn it into actual blood[2]. Likewise, during the plague of frogs, Aharon created actual frogs which rapidly reproduced and begot many others, while the magicians could only create frog-like creatures which were incapable of reproducing. During the third plague, the plague of lice, the magicians failed in their attempts to replicate Aharon’s feat of transforming dust into vermin, and were thus forced to confess that the plague was brought about by “the finger of G-d [3].” During the subsequent plagues, the magicians did not even attempt to duplicate Moshe and Aharon’s miracles.

The commentaries explain [4] that Hashem did not give the forces of impurity limitless creative capabilities because they would then be able to create entire new worlds to advance their evil agenda. Therefore, their powers are generally limited to acts of illusion and the use of demons and spirits.

Probably the greatest sorcerer of all time was the evil prophet Bilaam, who, as the Torah relates, attempted to place a curse on the Jewish people and have them annihilated. The commentaries explain [5] that Bilaam’s extraordinary powers stemmed from his mastery of sorcery and black magic, and not from his abilities as a prophet. In fact, he was not worthy of prophecy at all, and was given prophetic capabilities only for a very brief period. This is why in the Prophets he is referred to as “Bilaam Hakosem–Bilaam the Sorcerer,” with no mention of his prophetic status. According to the Midrash [6] Bilaam and his two sons were originally the most prestigious advisors and sorcerers of Pharaoh during the period of Bene Yisrael’s enslavement. And many other stories abound of ancient nations who enlisted Bilaam to reveal to them the outcome of their battles and to help them win through his extraordinary mystical powers.[7]

Bilaam acquired his great powers of sorcery directly from the evil angels Aza and Azael. Bilaam visited these two angels every day until he learned all the mystical secrets they knew. [8]

Some sources identify Bilaam with Lavan, Yaakov’s crooked father-in-law, who sought to destroy Yaakov and prevent the emergence of the Jewish people. According to this tradition, Bilaam lived well over 300 years. [9]

Bilaam was killed by Bene Yisrael during the battle of Midyan prior to their entering the land of Israel. [10]  The Midrash relates [11] that when the Jews captured Bilaam, he used sorcery to raise himself and the five kings of Midyan high in the air and disappear from sight. (Though the powers of impurity can only be summoned while standing on the ground, once the sorcery is initiated, the subject could use the powers to levitate off the ground for a period of time.) Pinhas, the grandson of Aharon, flew after him by uttering the divine name or, according to others, by directing the name of Hashem written on the tzitz (frontlet) of the kohen gadol towards the airborne Midyanites counteracting Bilaam’s powers of magic. Bilaam and the kings immediately fell to the ground and were then easily killed by Bene Yisrael. Bilaam’s decaying body and tarnished soul transformed into evil spirits, snakes and scorpions, the result of the impurity with which they had been saturated during his lifetime. [12]


Limited Time Span
The commentaries add [13] that objects created by the powers of sorcery cannot remain in existence permanently. These creations can exist for only limited periods of time, after which the laws of nature take hold and return them to their original state. This is why the frogs that descended upon Egypt during the second plague remained in the Nile River after the plague, and did not just disappear. Gd demonstrated to Pharaoh and the Egyptians that His creations can exist indefinitely, as opposed to the creations of magic, which are only temporary.

Sorcery is also subject to limited accessibility. The Zohar writes that the forces of impurity are unable to perform magic from hassot (midnight) at night [14] until midday, whereas Hashem, of course, can overturn the natural order he created anytime He wishes.

Additionally, someone born during the month of Adar II, on a leap year, cannot be affected by magic. This is because he is born in a month which doesn’t have a specific mazal and “doesn’t really exist”. Therefore the magicians have no way of dealing with him. In this vein, when Yehoshua gathered an army to fight Amalek, who came to fight Beneh Yisrael using witchcraft, he purposely chose people who were born in Adar II, to whom these forces take no affect.

Not Underground

The Midrash teaches[15]that after Pharaoh’s edict ordering the drowning of all newborn Jewish males in the Nile River, expectant Jewish mothers would go out to the fields to give birth, and would leave their infants there. Hashem sent angels to care for the newborns, and when the Egyptian patrolmen would arrive in search of the infants, Hashem would make the ground open and bring the children underground. The Egyptians, attributing this phenomenon to black magic, persisted in their efforts to capture and kill the Hebrew infants. Knowing that magic cannot be implemented deeper than one handbreadth underground, they brought plows to dig deep into the earth and expose the children. But the babies were not found no matter how deep the plows dug, demonstrating to the Egyptian sorcerers that Hashem’s supernatural powers are not bound by the limitations that apply to magic.

Only When Standing on the Ground

The Mishna tells[16]of the great sage Shimon Ben Shetah who used his knowledge of sorcery's limitations to successfully capture 80 witches who had been hiding in a cave in the town of Ashkelon. He brought 80 young men with him to the mouth of the cave, and announced to the witches that he had used magic to bring them 80 young men for their entertainment and pleasure. The witches expressed interest, and the rabbi instructed his men to quickly enter the cave and “embrace” the witches, each man lifting one witch off the ground. Since the powers of sorcery can only be summoned only while standing on the ground, the witches were rendered powerless. The young men quickly carried them to Bet Din where they were all charged with practicing forbidden acts of sorcery.

The commentaries add [17] that this was one of the reasons why the magicians of Egypt could not duplicate the plague of lice. The ground throughout Egypt had turned to lice, and thus the sorcerers were not standing directly on the ground. This rendered them powerless and unable to practice their magic.

Overturned by Fresh Water

The Talmud relates [18] that one of the sages once visited the Egyptian city of Alexandria where he purchased a donkey. When he brought the animal to a stream of water to drink, the donkey drank and immediately turned into a plank of wood. The rabbi returned to the dealer and demanded that he return the money, as he had been defrauded.

“Since you are a rabbi,” the man said, “I will give you your money back. Ordinarily, however, I would never refund a customer in such a case, because here in Egypt, everyone knows to check their merchandise by pouring fresh water on it to discern if it is merely a creation of magic, which dissolves when touched by fresh water.”

No Power of Resurrection

The Talmud tells [19] of a sage who once watched an Arab merchant slice a camel into many pieces, and then shook his bell. The camel stood up in one piece, alive and well, and the merchant thus claimed to possess the power of resurrection. The sage relayed this story to his colleagues, and they inquired as to whether he saw any remnants of blood or innards after the camel stood up. He answered in the negative, and the other rabbis saw this as proof that what he had seen was just an illusion, as the camel had never really died. The forces of impurity do not have the power of resurrection, and it was therefore impossible that the camel had died and was then returned to life.

By contrast, the prophet and great sages who were endowed with the powers of kedusha had the ability to resurrect the dead. The Navi, in Sefer Melachim, describes how the prophet Eliyahu and his student Elisha performed tehiyat hametim (resurrection) on various occasions. And a well-known tradition teaches that any sage mentioned by name in the Talmud was on the spiritual level to perform tehiyat hametim.

These powers were accessible to certain rabbis of later generations, as well. Once, in the 16thcentury, a young Arab boy was found murdered, and, as often happened, the Jews were accused of murdering the child and faced severe punitive measures. But a great rabbi named Rabbi Klonimous from Safed saved them by writing certain words on a piece of parchment which he then placed on the dead boy’s forehead. Suddenly, in full view of the large audience that had gathered, the boy rose to his feet and told the entire story of the real murder and where it took place. He then fell again to the ground, lifeless[20].

The Overpowering Forces of Kedusha

Even though the forces of impurity were given the power to perform supernatural acts, these powers pale in comparison to those of the forces of kedusha, in which Hashem invested far more strength. As the aforementioned stories from the Tanach and Talmud clearly demonstrate, the powers of kedusha can be used to subdue and triumph over the forces of sorcery. Thus, for example, Pinhas succeeded in defeating Bilaam, and many sages were able to remove magical spells through the use of the forces of sanctity[21].

[1]See commentary of Seforno Parashat Va’era chapter 7:23

[2]Ibid

[3]Parashat Va’era 8:15

[4]Maharsha in Sanhedrin 67b

[5]Ramban in Parashat Balak chapter 22:31

[6]Yalkut Shimoni Parashat Shemot, chapter 168

[7]Ibid, Sefer Hayasher Parashat Shemot

[8]Sefer Kav Hayashar chapter 28

[9]Yalkut Shimoni Parashat Shemot chapter 168

[10]Parashat Matot chapter 31:8

[11]Ibid (see Rashi and Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel)

[12]Sefer Kav Hayashar chapter 28

[13]Seforno Parashat Va’era 8:5

[14]Malbim Perashat Va’era 8:8

[15]Tractate Sota 11b and see Maharsha.

[16]Tractate Sanhedrin 45b (see Talmud Yerushalmi)

[17]Meam Loez: Parashat Va’era 8:4

[18]Tractate Sanhedrin 67b

[19]Tractate Sanhedrin 67b

[20]Sefer Simhat Haregel by The Hida, (on his commentary of Nishmat).

[21]Sefer Nefesh Hahayim chapter 3:11

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Erev Rav - The Evil And Corrupt Of The Holy Nation



Rabbi Yehoshua Zitron - this is Part 6 in his Moshiach series
Previous lectures can be found at Torah Anytime

-Who is the erev rav
-The history of erev rav  [the magicians from Egypt]
-The corrupt people
-The people who cause others to sin

''Before the arrival of the Moshiach there are going to be many rabbis who are from the Erev Rav'' [Divrei Chaim]

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Listen To Your Body - It Has A Message For You

Art Jeremy Dyer


The Talking Donkey by Rabbi Simon Jacobson

A mysterious event in this week’s Torah portion reveals a phenomenon new to modern psychology—that we must listen to our body’s voice, which carries messages, memories and potent power.

One of the strangest episodes in history takes place in this week’s Torah portion. The gentile prophet Balaam is commissioned by Moabite King Balak to curse the Jewish people. Balak felt threatened by the Jews. He wanted to defeat them in battle and drive them away.

Initially G-d does not allow Balaam to go. But after Balak’s emissaries beseech him G-d permits him to go, saying “But only do exactly as I instruct you.”

Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his female donkey and went on his way. G-d plants His angel in the road to oppose him.

When the donkey saw G-d’s angel standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, the donkey went aside from the road into the field. Balaam beat the donkey to get it back on the road. G-d’s angel then stood in a narrow path through the vineyard, where there was a fence on either side.

When the donkey saw G-d’s angel, it edged over to the side, crushing Balaam’s foot against the wall. [Balaam] beat it even more. G-d’s angel continued ahead, and he stood in a narrow place, where there was no room to turn right or left. When the donkey saw G-d’s angel, it lay down [refusing to budge] for Balaam. Balaam lost his temper and beat the donkey with a stick.

G-d then opened the donkey’s mouth and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you beat me these three times?” “You have embarrassed me [or: been playing games with me],” shouted Balaam at the donkey. “If I had a sword in my hand just now, I would have killed you!”

The donkey replied to Balaam, “Am I not your [faithful] donkey, upon which you have been riding from back when until this day. Have I ever been unmindful to you?” “No,” replied Balaam. G-d then opened Balaam’s eyes and he perceived the angel standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. [Balaam] kneeled and prostrated himself on his face.

G-d’s angel said to him, “Why did you beat your donkey these three times? I have come out to oppose you, because your errand is obnoxious to me. When the donkey saw me, it turned aside these three times. If it had not turned aside before me, as it did now, I would have killed you and spared [the donkey].”

Balaam said to G-d’s angel: “I have sinned! I did not know that you were standing on the road before me. If you consider it wrong [for me to go], I will return home.” G-d’s angel said to Balaam, “Go with the men. But do not say anything other than the exact words that I declare to you.

The narrative continues with G-d compelling Balaam to bless the Jews instead of cursing them, to the chagrin of Balak and his cronies.

This story with the talking donkey is puzzling from beginning to end. If G-d didn’t want Balaam to go to Balak, why didn’t he just stop him from going? If for whatever reason G-d wanted to block his way with an angel, why did he hide the fact from Balaam and allowed the donkey to see the angel – after all Balaam not the donkey was the prophet?!

A Torah axiom states that G-d does not perform miracles in vain. Why then was this miracle of miracles necessary, to have the donkey see the angel, resist moving on, until the donkey ends up speaking?! This miracle would have been totally unnecessary if Balaam had seen the angel himself. Why the need to open the donkey’s mouth?!

The plot thickens: the Mishne states [in the Ethics of our Fathers] that the “donkey’s mouth” was one of the ten unique things created at dusk on the sixth day of creation! In other words, G-d planted this episode from the beginning of time by creating the “donkey’s mouth” for the day when the donkey would speak to Balaam!

Why is the “donkey’s mouth” so significant?

Briefly:

Torah speaks in the language of man. Beneath the literal meaning in the Torah narrative are layers upon layers of deeper dimensions. Within the “body” of the story lies it’s soul – profound spiritual and psychological insights that illuminate the nature of our psyches and provide direction on how to deal with the challenges of life. Every character in Torah, every episode of its narrative, parallels a facet of our personalities.

The story of Balaam and his donkey is the story of our own lives, with a multitude of lessons.

The Hebrew word for donkey is “chamor.” [A female donkey (jennet) is called “osson.” “Pered” is the Hebrew name for a mule (or a hinny), a hybrid borne of a horse and a donkey. But the general name for donkey, male or female, is “chamor”].

The Baal Shem Tov explains that “chamor” also means matter. In Exodus the verse states: “When you see the donkey of your enemy being overburdened by its burdens, don’t ignore it. It’s incumbent upon you to help relieve its burden.” Interprets the Baal Shem Tov: You observe “chamor” – your physical body and the coarse materialism of life – and you see that it is your enemy, opposing all things spiritual, and feeling overburdened by the sublime responsibilities of the soul. You may then consider ignoring the body so that it does not distract you from fulfilling your calling. You may even want to punish your body through asceticism and self-affliction.

Says the Torah: No! You are responsible to support, refine and elevate the “chamor,” even if it is ostensibly your enemy.

Balaam the prophet represents the paradox of a spiritual man locked in a decadent lifestyle. Each of us has two dimensions: A sacred side and a profane one. A person may be deeply spiritual, yet also profoundly corrupt. Indeed, the Talmud says “the greater the person, the greater his evil inclination.”

An extraordinarily gifted person always has equally powerful unique challenges. Left without discipline these gifts can be abused. And when they are, it is very difficult to get through to the person. Because the smarter he is, the better are his excuses and his ability to cover his tracks. He can mask his subjectivity with brilliant smokescreens.

At it’s extreme, you have Balaam: A prophet willing and delighted to use his Divine power to curse an entire nation.

Spiritual corruption or distortion is worse than other forms of corruption, because it uses a very positive force for negative ends. In other instances of corruption, you can always hope that a person’s conscience and spirit can be aroused. But once the spirit has been corrupted, and the soul has been taken hostage by destructive forces, what recourse is left?

The same holds true for any abuse perpetrated by a person who is supposed to love you: A parent, a sibling, a spouse. With strangers we have our guard up. If a stranger is abusive, s/he cannot hurt you that much because you don’t necessarily expect much from a stranger. But abuse coming from a loved one hurts us in the deepest place: the place of love. A parent, for instance, is supposed to love you, and as a child you are vulnerable before your parent. Thus, when the parent is abusive, it touches the very core of our beings: our souls. The worst abuse is the one that scars our most vulnerable places. Nothing is worse then love itself – and the source of love – being (ab)used in a cruel way.

So what is the antidote to this epitome of distortion? If the gifted person, or the one who is supposed to be providing love, has become corrupt to the point that he cannot even listen, how then do you get through to him?

The dilemma is also from the perspective of the abusee (the survivor): Once someone has been hurt in a deep part of his spirit, he doesn’t allow anyone in. So how can he be reached?

Yet, G-d in His infinite wisdom precedes the cure before the illness. Even when the soul may be unable to hear the message, the body has its own voice that speaks to us.

In modern psychology there is a phenomenon, which we shall call “psychological hypothermia.” When a child suffers severe abuse from a loved one (especially if its ongoing), the child will go “out of body” to separate himself from the experience. One of the reasons for this is presumably because the child cannot tolerate the possibility of a loved one hurting him. He therefore disassociates from the experience, as if it didn’t happen to him.

Hypothermia is “a decrease in the core body temperature to a level at which normal muscular and cerebral functions are impaired.” When a child, for instance, falls into ice-cold water, and his temperature drops to dangerous levels, the child will go into a state of shock, which shuts down the primary life functions to the point that the child may appear dead, in order to preserve the bare minimum energy for the vital organs. In other words, in order to survive the conscious faculties have to temporarily stop functioning.

The same is true psychologically. For survival purpose, sometimes we have to detach from an experience, to the point that we may be unaware of it in our conscious minds.

Yet – and this is the big yet – even as our conscious spirits may be unaware of the experience, our bodies remember them. Every experience in our lives is etched into the memory of our bodies. That is why we talk about experiencing “knots” and “tightness” in our bodies. Psychological feelings do not remain in the mental domain; they seep into the body, causing all sorts of physical reactions (“knots in the stomach” is one mild example). Anxiety oozes toxins into your body. Strong traumatic experiences tie up your body in knots.

In severe cases, the personality shift that happens at the time of abuse remains long after the experience. A child may grow into an adult that has actually shifted his personality, and is living, in some ways, like another person, often having “out of body” experiences. So severe was the initial abuse.

But, even when the soul, for whatever reason, is unable to consciously acknowledge an experience, the body has stored it away, for the day when it will be safe to emerge.

And therein lies the true power of therapy and growth: To help an individual find safety and security, so that he or she can then work on “untying the knots,” and allowing himself to access the soul that he had to hide away so long ago.

By no means is this a simple process. It can even be torturous at times. Yet, in a strange way this phenomenon is a testimony to one of the greatest resiliencies of the human being: G-d allows a child to survive even the worst experiences, and then gives him the strength to reconnect with himself when the times is right and the situation safe.

Even when the soul is not conscious of the memory, because the abuse came from a soul connection – a loving person – the body is endowed with a wisdom that does remember. And it holds the secret till the day when the soul will be able to hear the message.

This is the inside story of Balaam and his donkey. G-d could not get through to Balaam on a fundamental level. He saw that Balaam was intent on going to Balak and helping him implement his malevolent plan. But even when the soul cannot be reached, the body can. So it is the “chamor” – the body – that sees the “angel,” and it is the body that cries out to the person prodding him to open his eyes.

What is most fascinating about this concept is that usually we associate awareness with the soul. Yet, Jewish mysticism teaches that the body too was created by G-d. It therefore contains unique Divine energy of its own. Indeed, the body carries enormous power stemming from the Essence of G-d, which in some ways is superior even to the energy of the soul!

But often when our bodies speak to us, beckoning us to act, we may ignore the voice. Or worse: We may “beat” the body, as Balaam beat his donkey, because it is becoming a nuisance and distracting us from our misguided plans.

So, we have many voices available to us. In healthy situations, and in many instances, it is the voice of our souls that we should be heeding. Yet, at times our bodies carry important messages for us.

The question is: Are we listening?




....If you want to listen some more, click here to go to Rabbi Y. Y. Jacobson's lecture Moshiach's Donkey: A Drama in Four Acts