Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Secret Behind the Vision

Chevlei Moshiach - the birthpangs of Moshiach - from the Holocaust until now.

The vision of the Lubavitcher Rebbe ;  the secrets behind his global mission to bring the Redemption, and why it is taking so long; our obligation to teach the nations.; the millions of ''Noahides'' in the world now.

Rabbi Alon Anava

The Living Waters of Miriam

"The congregation had no water, so they ganged up against Moshe and Aharon..." [Chukat 20:2]

Water assists the digestive system to break down food, and the water within the bloodstream carries those nutrients to all parts of the body.  This represents the mission of all Jewish women: to bring the well of living water - Torah - to nourish all segments of the Jewish people, even those who totally lack knowledge of it.  Thus we find that, while still in Egypt, Miriam devoted herself to small children, and her heroic efforts led to the annulment of Pharoah's decree against children.  Consequently, it was in her merit that the well water came, since water represents the universal dissemination of Torah.

Thus, when a mother, sister or teacher educates a child, we witness the modern-day "living waters of Miriam" sustaining the Jewish people in exile, making it possible to go peacefully throughout our current "sojourn" in the "desert" of exile.

In addition to providing water to drink, Miriam's well also made it possible for the mitzvah of taharas hamishpachah [family purity] to be fulfilled.  There was no other source of water in the desert, so Miriam's well served as a mikvah, enabling children to be born throughout the forty years.

The custom of drawing water on Motzei Shabbat [to draw from the well of Miriam] is cited in the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch.  This appears to suggest that it is applicable today; however, this was not a custom practiced in the House of the Chabad Rebbeim.  In any case, it certainly applies to all of us spiritually: studying this law about Miriam's well influences the whole week, that it may be a healthy week in both spiritual and physical terms.

Source: Gutnick Chumash: Based on various Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Chukat: The Death of a Tzadik

Art Laurence Amelie

Source: Rav Kook Torah

As the Israelites neared the end of their forty-year trek in the wilderness, they lost two great leaders, Miriam and Aaron. While a tremendous loss for the nation, their passing had a hidden spiritual benefit.

The Torah informs us of Miriam's death immediately after enumerating the laws of the Parah Adumah, the red heifer whose ashes were used for purification. The Talmudic sages already wondered what connection there might be between Miriam's death and the Parah Adumah :

"Why is the death of Miriam juxtaposed to the laws of the Parah Adumah? This teaches that just as the Parah Adumah brings atonement, so too, the death of the righteous brings atonement." [Mo'ed Katan 28a]

While this connection between Miriam and the Parah Adumah is well-known, the continuation of the same Talmudic statement, concerning the death of Aaron, is less so.

"And why is the death of Aaron juxtaposed to [the mention of] the priestly clothes? This teaches that just as the priestly clothes bring atonement, so too, the death of the righteous brings atonement."

In what way does the death of tzaddikim atone for the people? And why does the Talmud infer this lesson from both the Parah Adumah and the priestly clothes?

Larger Than Life
The principal benefit that comes from the death of tzaddikim is the spiritual and moral awakening that takes place after they pass away. When a tzaddik is alive, his acts of kindness and generosity are not always public knowledge. True tzaddikim do not promote themselves. On the contrary, they often take great pains to conceal their virtues and charitable deeds. It is not uncommon that we become aware of their true greatness and nobility of spirit only after they are no longer with us. Only then do we hear reports of their selfless deeds and extraordinary sensitivity, and we are inspired to emulate their ways. In this way, the positive impact of the righteous as inspiring role models increases after their death.

While stories of their fine traits and good deeds stir us to follow in their path, certain aspects of great tzaddikim — extraordinary erudition and scholarship, for example — are beyond the capabilities of most people to emulate. In such matters, the best we can do is to take upon ourselves to promote these qualities in our spiritual leadership, such as supporting the Torah study of young, promising scholars.

Two Forms of Emulation
In short, the death of tzaddikim inspires us to imitate their personal conduct — if possible, in our own actions, and if not, by ensuring that there will be others who will fill this spiritual void.

These two methods of emulation parallel the different forms of atonement through the Parah Adumah and the priestly clothes. Ritual purification using Parah Adumah ashes was only effective when they were sprinkled on the body of the impure person; no one else could be purified in his place. This is comparable to those aspects of the tzaddik that are accessible to, and incumbent upon, all to emulate.

The priestly garments, on the other hand, were only worn by the kohanim. It was through the service of these holy emissaries that the entire nation was forgiven. This is like those extraordinary traits of the tzaddik that are beyond the capabilities of most people. These qualities can be carried on only by a select few, with the support of the entire nation.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Gimmel Tammuz

Art: Robert Kremnizer

The 3rd of Tammuz this year begins tonight [Monday] and on the day of Tuesday 27 June. Throughout Chabad this date is simply known as ''Gimmel Tammuz'' - the day of the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe  in 5754 [June 12 1994].

Chabad has a mass of information on the Rebbe and Gimmel Tammuz which can be found here.

Vision of Geula has an interesting post about Gimmel Tammuz and the date of Moshiach.  Click here to read.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Understanding Moshiach

Rabbi Tovia Singer on the signs of the Moshiach, and the mystery of the 12th Principle of the Jewish Faith: Ani Ma'amin 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Way of Strife

"Why do you elevate yourselves over Hashem's congregation?" [Korach 16:3]

Such is the nature of a dispute that is not for the sake of Heaven, noted R' Simchah Bunim of P'shischa. It blinds the eyes and closes the hearts of the quarrelers, so that they lose their common sense.

For the Torah testifies about Moshe Rabbeinu: "Now the man Moshe was exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth." How could anyone possibly accuse him of possessing the contemptible trait of arrogance? Yet this is exactly what Korach and his assembly did, as the verse states: "Why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of Hashem?"

Rather, this is the way of strife, the power of impurity that accompanies it totally corrupts an individual's intellect.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Sunday, June 18, 2017

For the Sake of Heaven

Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi took [himself to one side] along with Dathan and Abiram..... [Korach 16:1]

Chazal state in Pirkei Avos [5:20] : ''Any dispute that is for the sake of Heaven will have a constructive outcome, but one that is not for the sake of Heaven will not have a constructive outcome.''

What sort of dispute was for the sake of Heaven? - the dispute between Hillel and Shammai. And which was not for the sake of Heaven? - the dispute between Korach and his entire company.

Why, asked R'Yonason Eybeschutz, does the Mishnah state: ''The dispute between Korach and his entire company''?  Wasn't the dispute between Korach and Moshe?

From here we learn, said R'Eybeschutz, that the dispute was not between Korach and Moshe at all; rather, it was really between Korach and his assembly, as each one of them was vying for leadership and power!  Moshe Rabbeinu, however, did not take up their quarrel; on the contrary, he tried his utmost to appease them so as not to carry on a dispute that would eventually lead to disastrous results.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Thursday, June 15, 2017


"It was the season when the first grapes ripen..." [Shelach 13:20 ]

Moses did not command the spies to bring back grapes in particular, but just "fruit", and we find that they brought back various fruits - grapes, pomegranates and figs [v.23]

So why does the Torah stress that "It was the season when the first grapes ripen" and not simply, the time when fruit was ripening?

The process of spying out the Land to conquer it represents our daily mission of evaluating how to advance the "conquering" of this physical world for G-d, through the most effective use of time and resources for Torah.  Verse 20 concludes that the goal of this process is represented by grapes: grapes are unique in that their seeds are visible through their skins, and this teaches us that the goal of our observance is to make the physical "skin" of this world transparent to its higher, spiritual purpose.

Source: Based on Sicha of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Shabbos Parshas Shelach 5750

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Seven Keys to Shamayim

Written by HaRav Moshe Wolfson shlita [Rav of Beis Medrash Emunas Yisroel and Mashgiach of Yeshivah Torah Vodaas]

Adapted from a shiur that was delivered under the auspices of Irgun Shiurai Torah and prepared for publication by Rabbi Yochonon Donn

Wordless Power
There are two types of song: one has words (this category would include the art of poetry) in which words are joined together to create a rhythmic pattern and a sense of uniformity. In this type, the feeling of enjoyment and relaxation that comes from hearing music results from the whole song including the words.

In the second type of song, the reason for the enjoyment it gives us is more obscure: it comes when notes are put together to create a wordless song. It is not logical that notes thrown together should elicit a sense of enjoyment in people, that wordless tunes can be enjoyed is a gift from Hashem.

Sefer Pe'as Hashulchan by Harav Yisrael of Shklov zt'l, cites the Vilna Gaon in saying that most of the secrets of Torah are hidden in the art of music and that without understanding music it is impossible to comprehend the Torah. This knowledge of music was given over to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai along with the rest of the Torah.

The Zohar even says that there is a heichal - an entranceway - in Shamayim that can be opened only with neginah (song). The Zohar relates that Dovid HaMelech approached that entrance only with the neginah of his Sefer Tehillim.

Keys to the Heichal
The seven major musical notes are called keys. Each of the seven keys opens a different door in Shamayim, and it is only through music that these entryways can be opened. Musicologists do not know why the term "key" is used, but it is quite possible that it is a tradition handed down from Yuval, whom the Torah identifies as the father of music.

When the Baal Ha'Tanya came to Shklov, the residents bombarded him with questions. Chabad sources say that he responded with only a niggun, which answered all their questions. As the Vilna Gaon explained, music opens the doors of Torah in Shamayim.

A Gemara in Arachin says that the kinor (stringed instrument) in the Beis Hamikdash had seven strings, but in the times of Moshiach it will have eight strings. There are seven major notes on a musical scale, and the seventh note corresponds to Shabbos, for Shabbos completes the kinor, so that even today one can sing. The seven days of the week are actually the seven tunes of Creation. When Shabbos - the seventh tune - arrives, the harp is complete. This is the reason why we usher in the Shabbos with kapitel 29 of Tehillim, which describes the seven kolos - since then we can proceed with song.

This is the reason for the minhag among Klal Yisrael of singing zemiros on Shabbos. HaRav Mordechai of Lechovich zt"l reportedly said that he would be able to believe that all the seven seas had dried up, but not that a Jew does not sing zemiros on Shabbos.

The reason people so enjoy songs is that the tones that form them have been combined ever since the six days of Creation. Some songs, however, only confuse a person, such as some modern-day songs that are based on, for example, the pounding of a drum, or on words that have no correlation to each other, such as many non-Jewish songs. While they have a tune, it is different than the accepted process of music.

This latter type of song leads to immorality, just as the tones of these songs have no relation to each other but are merely thrown together, immorality involves the relations of two people who are not meant for each other. Neither these songs nor illicit unions were predestined from Creation.

Seven Keys of Chesed
There is a fundamental difference between the seven ushpizin (the holy guests on Succot) and the twelve shvatim - the 12 tribes of Israel. Every Jew has a direct connection with the Ushpizin, whereas each shevet is a separate and unique entity, the shvatim are thus a symbol of disunity.

For every seven white keys, representing the major notes on the piano, there are five black keys, representing the minor notes, each of which is a half-tone higher or lower than the white key next to it. The black keys complement and harmonize with the white keys.

In general, someone who would play using just the white keys on the piano would be able to play only a lively song, while playing just the black keys would result in a sorrowful song of sadness.

It is likely then that another tradition handed down from Yuval is for the keys that play major notes to be white, for happy songs, while the black keys, which play the minor notes, are black, for mournful music.

White is a source of chessed (kindness) for Klal Yisrael (this may be one reason doctors wear white), on the Yamim Nora'im we wear white kittels. Black, on the other hand, represents the trait of gevurah (severity) and is a source and an expression of melancholy.

A song that is played using a combination of black and white keys mixes chessed and gevurah. Together the seven white keys and five black keys of an octave equal twelve, the number of tribes of Israel, which as mentoned above, can symbolize disunity. Such a song is appropriate only for galus. When Moshiach arrives, however, everything will be white, for there will be no atzvus (sadness).

Chazal tell us that when Moshiach comes, an eighth key will be added to music; this key will be a 'roundup' of the previous seven (similar to the all-inclusive kollel used in gematriyos).

In Sefer Tehillim (68:7) when Dovid HaMelech relates the events of our redemption from Mitzrayim, he says motzi asirim bakosharos - "(Hashem) releases those who are bound in chains". The Gemara explains that the word "bakosharos" is a combination of bechi and shiros - simultaneous crying and laughter. This is a song played with both the white and black keys. When Moshiach comes, however, there will only be shirah - a joyous song played with the white keys.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Beha'alotecha: Great Dreams

Written by Chanan Morrison - Rav Kook Torah

In contrast to the unique level and clarity of Moses' prophecy, ordinary prophecy is bestowed through the medium of visions and dreams:

"If someone among you experiences divine prophecy, I will make Myself known to him in a vision; I will speak to him in a dream." [Num. 12:6]

Why Dreams?
Dreams, Rav Kook wrote, serve an important function in the world. Great dreams are the very foundation of the universe. Dreams exist on many levels. There are the prescient dreams of prophets, and the conscious dreaming of poets. There are the idealistic dreams of great visionaries for a better world; and there are our national dreams of redemption — "When God will return the captivity of Zion, we will be like dreamers" [Psalms 126:1].

Of course, not every dream falls under the category of a great dream. Some dreams are inconsequential, as it says, "Dreams speak falsely" [Zechariah 10:2]. What determines whether a dream is prophetic or meaningless?

True and False Dreams
True servants of God concentrate their aspirations and efforts on rectifying the entire world. When one's thoughts and actions are devoted exclusively to perfecting all of creation, then one's imagination will only be stimulated by matters that relate to the universal reality. The dreams of such individuals will naturally be of great significance. Their dreams are tied to the inner truth of reality, to its past, present, and future.

But for those people who are preoccupied with private concerns, their imaginative faculties will be limited — like their waking thoughts and actions — to personal issues. What truth could be revealed in imaginings that never succeeded in rising above the thoughts and wishes of a self-centered individual?

The Sages expressed this idea with the following allegorical imagery: prophetic dreams are brought by angels, while false dreams are brought by demons [Berachot 55b]. What does this mean? Angels are constant forces in the universe, pre-arranged to perfect the world. True dreams relate to these underlying positive forces. Demons, on the other hand, are non-holy forces based on specific objectives which are inconsistent with the overall universal order. False dreams are the resultant fantasies of such private desires.

The True Reality of Dreams
What would the world be like without dreams? Life immersed solely in its material aspects is coarse and bleak. It lacks the inspiring splendor of wide horizons; like a bird with clipped wings, it is unable to transcend the bitter harshness of the current reality. The ability to free ourselves from these shackles is only through the power of dreams.

Some foolishly take pride in being 'realists.' They insist on only considering the material world in its present state — a partial and fragmented view of reality. In fact, it is our dreams that liberate us from the limitations of the current reality. It is our dreams that accurately reveal the inner truth of the universe.

As that future reality is steadily revealed, we merit an increasing clarity of vision. Our perception approaches the aspaklaria me'irah of Moses, with whom God spoke "face to face, in a vision not containing allegory, so that he could see a true picture of God" [Num. 12:8].

[Adapted from Orot HaKodesh vol. I, p. 226; Ein Eyah vol. II, p. 279]


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Tamar Yonah with Rabbi Mendel Kessin

Tamar's latest show recorded yesterday, with our favourite Rabbi Mendel Kessin.

What is Donald Trump’s role in the Messianic era? Is he speeding the process along in a good way, or a harmful way? Why is he so hated by so many people? What will be with the North Korean threat, will there be a nuclear war? And what role do Jared Kushner and Ivanka play in the White House?

Click here to listen.


from the writings of the Ben Ish Hai

"Hashem safeguards the faithful, and repays the one who goes beyond to make arrogance" [Psalms 31:24]

It is bad enough to give in to negative traits that are part of our nature. Much worse is to arouse or cultivate negative traits, as did the Erev Rav in the desert.
Ben Ish Chai
They "desired a desire" - they desired to have desire - and they said "Would that we were given meat to eat!" [Numbers 11:4]

Another example is a poor man who is haughty. Wealth naturally pushes people toward arrogance, but if a poor man is haughty, he has brought it on himself.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who overcome their nature to serve G-d faithfully. An example is sharp Torah scholars who could find grounds to permit the forbidden but do not [see Eruvin 13b].

G-d punishes or protects most people through angels. But He "repays the one who goes beyond to make arrogance" - G-d personally punishes anyone who goes beyond his nature to make himself arrogant. And "Hashem safeguards the faithful" - He personally protects those who go beyond their nature to serve Him faithfully.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

All Coming to an End

There has been no new Rabbi Kessin shiur uploaded so far this week.... I am still hopeful there will be one but until then, here is a short video summing up the ''Messianic Process - Coming to an End'' - where he talks about the time-line that bloggers call the ''cosmic clock''.   Personally, I need to hear Rabbi Kessin at least once a week, as he gives me hope, in a world where there is seemingly not much hope to be found.

Mysticism: Manna For All

But the multitude among them began to have strong cravings. Then even the children of Israel once again began to cry, and they said, "Who will feed us meat?  [Beha'alotecha 11:4]

Ordinary bread [''bread from the earth''] which is the product of hard physical labor, is a metaphor for the ''revealed'' interpretations of the Torah [nigleh] found in the Talmud, which require arduous analysis, questioning etc.

On the other hand, manna [''bread from Heaven''] represents the mystical teachings of the Torah, which are of such a ''heavenly'' nature that there is no disagreement or argument.

Logically speaking, a person might think that it is necessary to have a firm grounding in classic texts, and achieve a certain degree of spiritual greatness before one can progress to the study of mysticism.  However, the Torah teaches here that even the wicked individuals who complained to Moshe ate manna.

From this we can learn that it is appropriate for people from all walks of life to study the mystical teachings of the Torah - particularly as they are formulated clearly and methodically in the teachings of Chassidus.

Based on Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Full Force of the Noahide

For all my non-Jewish readers, and I know there are a lot of you, Rabbi Tovia Singer has some very interesting things to say about Noahides, and those who believe they are really Jewish but can't prove it, and the role of Elijah before Moshiach.  The first 10 minutes of this video is taken up with ''thank yous'' so if you're in a hurry, fast forward.