Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Blue Moon and the Festival of the Future Redemption

Photo: Priya Kumar, Oman, August 2012

This year on July 31 - which is also Tu Be'Av [15 Av] -  we will have a blue moon.... the second of two full moons in a calendar month is called a Blue Moon -  the moon was full on July 2, and it will be full again on July 31. An older definition of Blue Moon is that it’s the third of four full moons in a single season. 

A Moon that actually looks blue, however, is a very rare sight and depends on atmospheric particles from a dust storm or erupting volcano.


The 15th of Av is undoubtedly the most mysterious day of the Jewish calendar.

A search of the Shulchan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law] reveals no observances or customs for this date, except for the instruction that the tachanun [confession of sins] and similar portions should be omitted from the daily prayers [as is the case with all festive dates], and that beginning on the 15th of Av one should increase one’s study of Torah, since at this time of the year the nights begin to grow longer, and “the night was created for study.” And the Talmud tells us that many years ago the “daughters of Jerusalem would go dance in the vineyards” on the 15th of Av, and “whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride.

And this is the day which the Talmud considers the greatest festival of the year, with Yom Kippur (!) a close second!

Indeed, the 15th of Av cannot but be a mystery. As the “full moon” of the tragic month of Av, it is the festival of the future redemption, and thus a day whose essence, by definition, is unknowable to our un-redeemed selves.

Click here to read more essays on Tu B''Av

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Pollard: Key to Redemption.....

Jonathan Pollard's release is another indicator of Geula:

''Your release is tied up with the Moshiach Ben David's return to the Land." - quote from Esther Pollard's letter to Jonathan Pollard: Aug 1, 2010 

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''Over time, the Rav shared with us and with a few others who were very close to him that Jonathan’s release is the key to the redemption of all of Am Yisrael.

He taught us how Jonathan’s release is also the key to the release of all of Israel’s captives and MIAs. Once Jonathan is out, all the captives are all out!

Once they are all out, we are all in Geula! Perhaps most significant of all, the Rav always referred to Jonathan as the “Yosef HaTzadik shel doreinu” (The Yosef Hatzadik of our generation.)''

Source: Yeranen Yaakov

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Releasing Mashiach Ben Ephraim

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[video] Rabbi Glazerson's Torah Codes: Jonathan Pollard - Moshiach ben Yosef


Artist Unknown

by Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

''I implored Hashem'' [Va'etchanan 3:23]

The Midrash states that Moshe offered 515 prayers to Hashem in order to be allowed to enter the Land of Israel.  This is alluded to in the word ''Va'etchanan'' whose numerical value is 515.

Not only does the word ''Va'etchanan'' equal 515, noted the Chasam Sofer [R' Moshe Sofer], but so does the word ''tefillah'' [prayer].

Furthermore, if we add 26 - the numerical value of the ineffable Name of Hashem [yud, hei, vav, hei] to the number 515, we will get 541 - the numerical value of the word Yisrael.

Also see: What Happens to Unanswered Prayers

Monday, July 27, 2015

In Sickness and In Health

"Watch yourselves very carefully...." [Va'Etchanan 4:15]

So much of physical health depends on spiritual health. If in olden days emphasis was placed on "mens sana in corpore sano" [a sound mind in a healthy body], in our days it is a matter of general conviction that even a small defect spiritually, causes a grievous defect physically; and the healthier the spirit and the greater its preponderance over the physical body - the greater its ability to correct or overcome physical shortcomings; so much so, that in many cases even physical treatments, prescriptions and drugs are considerably more effective if they are accompanied by the patient's strong will and determination to cooperate.

Note that Rambam stresses how "having a totally healthy body is among the paths of (serving) God", a point emphasized further by the Mezritcher Maggid.

Since physical health depends on spiritual health, if a person becomes ill, G-d forbid, he should search his past deeds to try to identify what shortcoming may have caused the illness. However, this approach should be taken only regarding one's own lack of physical health. When one sees that another person is sick, one should not think that this was caused by a spiritual shortcoming, since we are told "Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place" [Avos 2:4, see Tanya Ch 30]. One's first reaction to a sick person should be, to the contrary, that his sickness may well have been caused by spiritual health, as he may have weakened his body through fasting, in the process of doing teshuvah [see the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch].

The statement of the Zohar that "the weakness of the body is the strength of the soul" does not mean to say that a weakening of the body itself brings about spiritual growth. Rather, the intent of the Zohar is that the desire for physicality, for its own sake, is counter-productive to a person's spiritual growth.

Source: Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

As a youth, R' Yechezkel Abramsky was sent to Siberia. The cold was unbearable, and temperatures dropped to as low as 40 degrees below zero.

Wearing only light clothing, young Yechezkel stood in line along with the other Jews who had been exiled to that forsaken part of the world. They were all trembling from the cold.

"Listen Jews!" shouted the commanding officer. "Every morning you are to remove your shoes and run barefoot in the snow for the duration of an hour. Anyone who dares violate this order will be severly punished!"

R' Abramsky, who was a weak and frail youth, was frightened by this cruel order. Back at his warm home, his loving mother had always tended to him, dressing him in warm clothing and scarves, but now he would have to run barefoot in the snow!

He lifted his eyes to Heaven and pleaded with Hashem: "Master of the World" he said, "you have exhorted us in Your holy Torah to "watch yourselves very carefully". In truth, man is usually able to take care of his health by wearing warm clothing, but here in this Siberian labor camp, we are unable to do so. We therefore cannot be held responsible for our health. I therefore beg of You, Master of the World, watch over and us and protect us!"

Amazingly, throughout his entire stay in Siberia, R' Abramsky did not get sick even once.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ayatollah Tweets Picture of Obama Suicide

Iran’s supreme religious leader Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted a picture Saturday of President Obama committing suicide.

Mr. Khamenei tweeted “US president has said he could knock out Iran’s military. We welcome no war, nor do we initiate any war, but…”

Source: Washington Times

Friday, July 24, 2015

Share This: Mr Obama it's a damned stupid thing that you just did !

One of the best I've seen!  Must watch until the end.

 Col. Allen West speaking at a Times Square rally in protest of the appalling sellout of a "deal" made by the Obama administration for the Islamic State of Iran - which, incidentally, vows OUR destruction. Col. West knocks it out of the park.

Rewards from Unanswered Prayers

Photo: Luis Beltran

In his last address to the young people of Bnei Yisrael who were about to enter Eretz Yisrael, Moshe Rabbeinu retold the story of their parents' mistakes in the Midbar. 

When retelling the sin of the spies, Moshe says that they were punished and routed by the Emori in their effort to go to Eretz Yisrael without permission. After this defeat they came back to the Machaneh and began to cry. The pasuk says [1:45] "V'Lo Shama Hashem B'Kolchem" - Hashem did not listen to them. The next pasuk says that they stayed in Kadeish many years. Rashi says that they stayed there for 19 years without wandering around.

The Netziv says that we see from here that even when Hashem does not listen to our prayers and does not grant our request, the tefila still helps. While their prayers did not repeal the gezeira [decree] of staying in the Midbar for 40 years, it helped that they settled in one place and did not need to wander for 19 years. We can't always get what we want but we always get something!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Rabbi Lazer Brody on The End of Days [new video]

Rabbi Lazer presents an Emuna Picture of what we're to expect in the End of Days, which is the period of history which we're in today. This shiur was given in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Alef, Israel to a crowd of mainly English Speaking Olim! With his skillful artists brush, Rabbi Brody explains what we need to know and do until HaMelech HaMashiach arrives, soon and in our days, AMEN!


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Emunah: A Lightness of Being

from the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

"Eicha Esa Livadi Tarchachem U'Masachem V'Rivchem" - "How can I carry you alone, your bother, your load, and your quarrels" [Devarim 1:12]

Rashi says that Tarchachem means that they were nudnicks, and Masachem means they were apikursim [heretics] - Tarchachem clearly means tircha [bothersome], but how does masachem or heavy load come to apikursis?

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov answers that while intellectuals may consider people with emunah [faith] simple and naive, in a sense they are right.  With emunah  life becomes easier, as not everything must be explained and rationalized.  Emunah is a great tool to lift the weight from you.
However, an Apikores is constantly plagued by doubt and questions that nag him endlessly, leaving him no peace.  This constant state of turmoil eats at him and becomes a huge burden on his own shoulders.  This explains why Rashi says that masachem means apikursis, as there is no greater burden around. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

5 Av Yarzheit - The Arizal

Arizal Synagogue, Safed - Photo Steven Pinker

The Arizal [1534-1572] - Rabbi Isaac Luria was the most famous Kabbalist in the city of Safed, Israel who became known as the "Arizal" or ARI, an acronym for “The G-dly Rabbi Isaac of Blessed Memory.”

The Arizal passed away at the age of 38, and it was only during the last two years of his life that he met his foremost disciple, Rabbi Chaim Vital. The Arizal himself never wrote any books, however all his words were faithfully recorded by Rabbi Chaim Vital in what is known as Kitvei Ari, the “writings of the Arizal.” The Kitvei Ari is the key to the secrets of the Zohar, and it was the Arizal who formulated the Kabbalah into a comprehensive system. Rabbi Chaim Vital writes in the name of the Arizal that, “It is a Mitzvah to reveal this wisdom.” Until the time of the Arizal, knowledge of Kabbalah was not known outside of the tightly knit circle of the tzaddikim.

More about the Arizal at Ascent of Safed or click on the label "ARIZAL" below to read more of his teachings.

Judgments: Above and Below

"When there is no judgment below, there is judgment above". [Devarim Rabbah 5:4]

"You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your fellow man. And do not bear (lo tisa) sin on his account."  [Leviticus 19:17]

Reuven scoffed and cursed a Torah scholar.  The following day the scholar went to the rabbinic court to sue.  Reuven's friends asked the scholar to forgive Reuven, but he refused.

The peacemakers said: "You have already renounced your claim against him three times."

"When did I renounce my claim?" asked the scholar, "and before whom?"

"Before Hashem" said the peacemakers.  "In the prayers of Mincha, Arvit and Shacharit, which you prayed since yesterday's unfortunate incident.  At the end of the Amidah you said "To those who curse me, my soul will be silent".  After such a declaration how can you speak in court against someone who cursed you?"

"You have spoken well" said the scholar, "but allow me to explain the true meaning of this prayer.

"There are two ways to lodge a complaint. Either the soul can speak in the Heavenly Court when it ascends each night, or the body can speak in the earthly court.

"The prayer says "To those who curse me, my soul will be silent".  I am still entitled to lodge a complaint in the earthly court.

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

A victim calls upon G-d to punish the one who wronged him - and Heaven treats the victim more severely!  Why?

Let's say Reuven called on G-d to judge Shimon for doing him a grave injustice. Shimon will not be punished until the Heavenly Court judges him.  But Reuven himself probably wronged others at some point in his life - and for him, judicial procedures can be dispensed with.  He himself admitted that such sins warrant severe punishment!
Source: from the writings of the Ben Ish Chai