Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Top Ten Posts

According to the Google Stats, these are the top ten most viewed Shirat Devorah blogposts .... for anyone who may be interested......  although all of those posts are vastly eclipsed by the number of views for  Jewish Astrology Sep 21, 2010

Oct 8, 2010, 1 comment

Jan 9, 2011, 15 comments


Mar 2, 2011, 9 comments


Feb 10, 2012, 14 comments

Feb 2, 2011, 1 comment


Nov 11, 2013, 26 comments




Dec 24, 2010, 18 comments

Netanyahu's Speech to Congress [Full Video]

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Purim Codes





[adapted from Keeping Posted with NCSY, Fall 1999 edition and also from Torah.org article by Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld]


There is a famous "code" in Megillat Esther :- towards the end of the story, King Ahashveirosh allows the Jews to avenge themselves of their enemies on the 13th day of Adar. In Shushan, the capital, the Jews kill 500 men and hang Haman's ten sons on a gallows. Queen Esther then approaches the King with an additional request: "...allow the Jews who are in Shushan to do tomorrow as they did today, and let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows" [Esther 9:13]. It's curious that she would request the hanging of Haman's already slain sons. Nevertheless, the King complies.

The Hebrew word for "tomorrow" ["machar"] occasionally refers to the distant future. Further, the Sages tell us that whenever the word "king" appears in the Megillah it alludes to the King of kings as well. Thus, the verse could be understood as a request by Esther to G-d to again hang the ten sons of Haman at some point in the distant future. Now, when the Megillah lists the ten sons of Haman during their hanging [Esther 9:7-9] there are a number of unusually-sized letters. [There is a tradition to write certain letters in the Torah larger or smaller than the standard size.]

According to the most accepted tradition, there is a large 'vav' [numerical value = 6] and a small 'tav' [400], 'shin' [300] and 'zayin' [7]. The following suggestion has been made: The large vav refers to the sixth millennium [of the Hebrew calendar]; the small letters refer to year 707 of that millennium. The meaning, then, is that G-d agreed to hang Haman's ten sons again in the year 5707 = 1946-7.

When listing the ten sons of Haman who were hanged [Esther 9:6-10], three letters, namely Taf, Shin, and Zayin, are written smaller than the rest [most printed texts reflect this; if yours doesn’t, look in another]. The commentaries offer no explanation for this other than that it is a prophecy. The letters "Taf-Shin-Zayin" represent the Hebrew year 5707, corresponding to the secular year 1946-47.

On October 16, 1946 (21 Tishrei, 5707) ten convicted Nazi war criminals were hanged in Nuremberg. (An eleventh, Hermann Goering, a transvestite, committed suicide in his cell. The Midrash tells us that Haman also had a daughter who committed suicide.) As if the parallel were not obvious enough without further corroboration, Nazi Julius Streicher’s last words were: "PURIM FEST 1946!". [In case you question the accuracy of Streicher’s last words, they are are well-documented; they appeared in Newsweek, October 28, 1946]


It is fairly safe to assume that (a) Streicher did not know about the three small letters in the Megilla, (b) he did not know that these letters corresponded to the year in which he was being hanged, and (c) even had he known, he would have had no motivation to reinforce the validity of Jewish texts, traditions, or prophecies. One could not ask for a more independent confirmation of the all encompassing knowledge to be found in the Sifrei Tanach.

Rabbi Weissmandl - a great Hungararian scholar and holocaust survivor - made a number of findings concerning Megillat Esther using skip distances of 12,111 letters - the exact number of letters in Megillat Esther. If one starts with the first regular mem [as opposed to the "final mem"] in Bereishis 4:14, where the name Esther [vocalized differently] appears for the only time in the Torah, and count at intervals of 12,111 letters, one finds spelled out the phrase "Megillat Esther." Coincidence? I think not.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Three Keys

Art: "Key" by Nikoletta Bati
"Engrave on it with signet-ring [type] engraving: "Holy to Hashem" פִּתּוּחֵי חֹתָם קֹדֶשׁ לַי־הֹוָ־ה 
[Tetzaveh 28:36]



In Maseches Ta'anis (2a) R' Yochanan states that there are three maftechos, three keys, in Hashem's possession that He never entrusts to others:

*the key to childbirth
*the key to rain
*and the key to resuscitating the dead.

The Gemara derived this from three verses:

*Hashem does not entrust the key to childbirth to a messenger, as the verse states: "G-d remembered Rachel; G-d hearkened to her and He opened (vayiftach) her womb" [Bereishis 30:22]

*Hashem does not entrust the key of rain to a messenger, as the verse states: "Hashem shall open for you His storehouse of goodness, the heavens, to provide rain for your Land in its time" [Devarim 28:12]

*And Hashem does not entrust the key of resuscitating the dead to a messenger, as the verse states: "Then you will know that I am Hashem, when I open your graves" [Yechezkel 37:13]

These three keys, remarked the Vilna Gaon, are alluded to in the verse: "Pituchei chosam kodesh laHashem" - פִּתּוּחֵי חֹתָם קֹדֶשׁ לַי־הֹוָ־ה -

The acronym of the word  חֹתָם [Ches, taf, mem] which means "seal" hints to the following words:

Ches - Chayah [a woman who has recently given birth]
Taf - Techiyas HaMeisim [the resuscitation of the dead]
Mem - Matar [rain]

The verse can therefore be read as follows:  "The keys of [pituchei] childbirth, resuscitation of the dead, and rain - ChoTaM - are designated for Hashem's use only ["kodesh laHashem"].

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ta'anis Esther 5775

Something to think about 

Once there was a King in Shushan, the most powerful ruler in the world, who had a strong disdain, dislike or perhaps even hatred of Jews. 

Today there is a President in Washington, the most powerful ruler in the world, who has a strong disdain, dislike or perhaps even hatred of Jews. 

Once there was a Persian who wanted to kill all the Jews, but needed the King's authorization to proceed with his plan. 

Today there are Persians who want to kill all the Jews, but need the President's authorization to proceed with their plan. 

The King didn't really care, as long as there was something in it for him - lots of money. 

The President doesn't really care, as long as there is something in it for him - a deal with the Persians.  

The Jewish Queen wanted to tell the King what was really happening, but going in to talk to the King was dangerous. 

The Jewish Prime Minister wants to tell the President and his Congress what is really happening, but going to talk to them is dangerous. 

Some people thought she shouldn't go, it would just anger the King and make things worse. 

Some people think he shouldn't go, it will just anger the President and make things worse. 

She asked the Jews to fast and pray for the success of her mission. They did so, the King accepted her words and the plot to destroy them was thwarted. 

Will we fast and pray for the success of his mission? Will the President and Congress accept his words? Will the plot to destroy us be thwarted? 

We commemorate the fasting prior to the Queen's plea to the King on Taanis Ester. 

The Prime Minister of Israel has been invited to address the United States Congress on March 3. 
This year Taanis Ester begins on March 3.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Meat and Milk: Gevurah and Chesed

With prayers for a Refuah Shelaimah for Shammai ben Sarah.
Please add his name to your tefillos.

"You shall not cook a kid in its mother's milk." [Mishpatim 23:19]

Ramban writes that it is prohibited to eat meat cooked in milk, since it is an act of moral insensitivity.  Rashi points out that not only are we forbidden to eat milk and meat together, but even cooking the mixture is forbidden.  This renders the prohibition of milk and meat unique in that even the preparation of the prohibited mixture is also prohibited by the Torah.

From this we can learn how far we must take care to refrain from being morally insensitive.

According to the Kabbalah, milk and meat may not be mixed as this would cause the negative interaction of opposing spiritual forces.  Meat is a physical manifestation of the Divine power of Gevurah (severity), as suggested by the red color of meat.  Milk has its spiritual roots in the Divine power of Chesed (kindness), indicated by its white color. Being that these two powers have an opposite effect, they must not be mixed.

Bachaye writes that in the Messianic Era, it will become permissible to eat meat that was cooked with milk. This is because, in the spiritual realms, the mixing of Chesed and Gevurah is not counterproductive.  Each Divine power works in harmony with the other, since both powers respect the fact that they emanate from the One God.

In the physical world, this harmony does not persevere, since physical things feel their own existence as paramount, and will not coalesce to a higher purpose.  Therefore, the mixing of meat and milk in the physical world is forbidden for it will result in a "corruption" of the spiritual forces that they embody.

However, in the Messianic Era, we are promised that G-d will be felt tangibly within the physical world.  Therefore, it will become possible to mix Chesed and Gevurah - through cooking milk and meat - even in the physical world.

Source: Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Gutnick Chumash

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Reincarnation and the Afterlife [video]

Rabbi DovBer Pinson

Can we remember past lives? What happens after we die? A glimpse into the journey of the soul on the other side of life's curtain, including insights into near-death experiences, Heaven and Hell, and the Afterlife journey. 

The Bride's Debt


It once happened in Safed, that a disciple of the Holy Ari had to go on a long journey. Before departing, he came to his teacher for a letter of recommendation. The Ari wrote it for him, then blessed him and said "May G-d be with you, and may you go in peace".

The disciple then asked "Master, can you tell me anything about what will happen when I get there?"

"You will marry a beautiful woman" the Ari replied. "And she is your destined soulmate for this life. But after you have been happily married for only six months, she will suddenly die. And here is the reason: In another incarnation, this woman was a man, and you were also a man then. He was your dearest friend, but he also caused you some legal trouble for six months. Finally, he brought a lawsuit against you in the civil courts, which caused you to lose 600 gold coins, even though you were innocent of his charges.

"Now" continued the Ari, "this friend from another life is once again reincarnated - as the woman you will marry on your journey. His soul has come to make atonement for his sins against you. For the six months of trouble that he caused in that life, you will have six months of happiness in this life. The inheritance you will receive when she dies is to repay you for the 600 gold pieces you lost in the past life. But even though you know this, you should be kind and patient to this woman, and grant her forgiveness for the trouble she caused you in the previous life."

And everything happened exactly as the Holy Ari said it would.

[Shivchei Ha-Ari, 16th century]

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Time Has Come



R' Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev lifted his pure eyes to Heaven and said: "Master of the World! You have exhorted us in Your Torah, "You shall not cause any pain to any widow or orphan. [Mishpatim 22:21]

We, Your nation Israel, are orphans, as the Navi laments: "We have become [like] orphans, and there is no father." [Eichah 5:3]

"I turn to You today, O Father in Heaven, and I beseech You to have mercy upon Your nation of orphans who are languishing in a bitter exile.  The time has come for You to take us from darkness into light!"

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein