Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Judging Others

Art Abraham Leon Kroll

 וַיְהִי אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה  - And it came about, after these words....  [Vayeishev 40:1]

The "words" that are referred to here are those of Potifar's wife, who bad-mouthed Yosef throughout Egypt.

From the actions of Potifar's wife, we can learn a powerful lesson about judging other people:

At first glance, Potifar's wife's actions appear to have been utterly evil.  Not only did she cause Yosef to be sent to prison, but furthermore, she spoke badly of him so that his name was blackened throughout Egypt.

Rashi however enlightens us to the truth, that even these actions were intended for the sake of Heaven! Despite the fact that she was brought up in the corrupt, idolatrous atmosphere of Egypt her intentions were pure, to the extent that our sages compared her to Tamar, the mother of "strong ones and righteous ones" [Rashi]. 

From this we can learn the importance of not judging other people by their first appearances.

Source: Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Clock of Creation Explained in a Video

HT: Dov Bar Leib

This video explains the Vilna Gaon's concept of dividing up the 6000 years from Adam into six days/ 24 hour segments, and where we are right now ahead of the Geula.

King David's Segulah of Protection

There is a tradition brought down by the Chida that King David put the image of Tehillim 67 למנצח “For the Conductor” in the form of a menorah on his shield and all his enemies would fall before him. But what is the secret of the power of this prayer that it gave King David such power and protection?

Image: המנורה כתובה by Ba'al haKokhav, converted to vector art by Andrew Meit (CC0)

The Torah teaches us that all the peoples of the world are blessed through Avraham and his offspring the children of Israel. However, this blessing depends upon the children of Avraham doing the will of Hashem.

The kabbalistic tradition explains that when Jewish people allow the soul to rule over the body and the physical world is used to serve the higher will of Hashem and His Torah, then this blessing flows properly to the nations of the world and the desire of the masses of people for a peaceful life is fulfilled; then the evil desires of the powerful few are held in check.

However, when Jewish people do not follow Torah and the bodily desires rule the soul, then the power is given to the evil ruling few who desire war over peace.

Torah and Tefillah
Torah is the source of our power, tefilah brings this power into manifestation. When we are involved in Torah and tefillah we give power of soul to rule body and therefore to live like the tzaddik.

Click here to read

Yud Tes Kislev: The Rosh Hashanah of Chassidus

The Alter Rebbe - Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi author of The Tanya
The 18th of Kislev [today] marks the completion of the annual cycle of daily readings from the Tanya. The 19th and 20th of Kislev are the "Rosh HaShanah of Chassidus".

On Yud-Tes Kislev we re-commence the annual cycle of daily readings in Tanya, as divided by the Rebbe Rayatz.

It is the anniversary of the release of the Alter Rebbe - Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi [Hebrew: שניאור זלמן מליאדי], the first Rebbe of Chabad, who was informed upon by misnagdim in Russia and arrested on trumped-up charges of supporting the Ottoman Empire.

His informers pointed to the fact that he would urge his followers to send money to the Land of Israel as "evidence" of his alleged insurrectionist aspirations [in fact, the money was sent to support poor Jews]. At the time, the Land of Israel was a part of the Ottoman Empire, which was at war with Russia.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman was charged with treason, and released in the secular year 1798 on the Jewish date of Tuesday, 19 Kislev.

The 53 days of Rabbi Shneur Zalman's imprisonment are said to correspond to the 53 chapters of the first section of the Tanya.

19 Kislev is also considered to mark the day upon which Rabbi Shneur Zalman was conceived, for he was born exactly nine months later, on 18 Elul. [Shemu'os Vesippurim, Refoel Kahn, vol. 1, p. 39]

Rebbetzin Menuchah Rachel born [1798]

On the very day that Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi was liberated from prison, a granddaughter was born to him -- the daugher of his son Rabbi Dovber and his wife Rebbetzin Sheina. The girl was named Menuchah Rachel -- "Menuchah", meaning "tranquility" [Rachel was the name of a daughter of Rabbi Schneur Zalman who died in her youth].

In 1845, Rebbetzin Menuchah Rachel realized her lifelong desire to live in the Holy Land when she and her husband, Rabbi Yaakov Culi Slonim [d. 1857], led a contingent of Chassidim who settled in Hebron. Famed for her wisdom, piety and erudition, she served as the matriarch of the Chassidic community in Hebron until her passing in her 90th year in 1888.
The 19th of Kislev is also the yahrzeit of R. DovBer, the Maggid of Mezritch, who [as successor to the Baal Shem Tov] was the mentor of the second generation of the chassidic movement - from 5521 [1761] until his passing on the third day of the week of Parshas Vayeishev, Yud-Tes Kislev, 5533 [1772]. His resting place is in Anipoli.

Rabbi Dov Ber was born in Volhynia in 1710, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, though other sources say his year of birth is unknown. Little is known about him before he became a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov. A Hasidic legend states that, when he was five years old, his family home burst into flames. On hearing his mother weeping, he asked: "Mother, do we have to be so unhappy because we have lost a house?" She replied that she was mourning the family tree, which was destroyed, and had begun with Rabbi Yohanan, the sandal-maker and master in the Talmud. The boy replied: "And what does that matter! I shall get you a new family tree which begins with me!"

How aptly those words described the role he was later to play; for the boy was destined to become the successor to the Baal Shem Tov.

Source: Chabad

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Russia, Turkey, Gog U Magog and the Prophecies of Geula

I copied this video from my favourite blog Yeranen Yaakov, who also has a Hebrew version.

To learn more about the Alter Rebbe's prediction of the year 5775 as mentioned in the video, click here.


Paving the Way for Moshiach

Art; Dena Ackerman

Rashi explains the simple reason why the Torah begins to speak of Yehudah in the middle of the story of Yosef.  ''To teach us that [Yehudah's] brothers demoted him from his high position.''

However, Rashi does not explain why the entire account of Yehudah and Tamar was recorded here, leading up to the birth of Peretz and Zarach.

However, according to the explanation of the Midrash, we can understand that the account of Yehudah and Tamar was included here to explain the reason why Yosef was sold : because G-d was paving the way for Moshiach.

Thus, before we read of Yosef's enslavement, and the ensuing Egyptian exile, the Torah prefaces ''the cure before the disease'' informing us of G-d's inner intent.

Based on Sichos Shabbos Parshat Vayeishev 5751 Lubavitcher Rebbe

Friday, November 27, 2015

Three Rabbis Speak [video]

Signs that show ''We are in Moshiach's time'' / Gog U Magog / Don't blame the secular Jews

Rabbi Asher Vaknin [English]; Rabbi Mizrachi [English]; Rabbi Amrami [Hebrew]


An Orphan's Wedding in Jerusalem : Despair and Hope

Bride Sarah Litman and groom Ariel Beigel sing during the wedding ceremony at the Jerusalem International Convention Center on November 26, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

An Orphan's Wedding in Jerusalem 
Hours before a Wedding, a Conversation on Despair and Hope

By: Rabbi YY Jacobson

The Litman-Beigel Wedding
As these words are being written, I am watching a live webcast of the wedding of Techiya Litman with Ariel Beigel taking place tonight in Jerusalem. Like many in the audience, I shed a tear when the crowd under the chupah sung the melody “If I forget you Jerusalem…”

Their wedding was postponed after Palestinian terrorists murdered the bride’s father and brother less than two weeks ago. The bride’s father, Rabbi Yaakov Litman, and 18-year-old brother Netanel were shot dead in a November 13 terrorist attack while driving to a celebration in southern Israel to mark the imminent marriage. (Other family members in the car — the mother, a 16-year-old boy and three young girls aged 11, 9 and 5 — were lightly wounded, suffering mostly from bruises and shrapnel injuries.)

Sarah Techiya and Ariel were due to be married on November 16, just four days after the attack, but the celebration was postponed as the Litman family sat shiva (Jewish mourning period) for Ya’akov and Netanel. Now, the bride invited the “entire world” to her wedding. The public wedding invitation, which the couple posted on social media, begins with the biblical quote: “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy, for I have fallen but I have gotten up” [Micah 7:8].

And as I watched the wedding, I could not help but remember a story about another wedding, that took place some two millennia ago, in the same land.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gog U'Magog and Geula

A Message from Rebbitzen Orit Riter      [HT: Yehudis]

November 25, 2015


Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Chaya Leah Bat Baila and Baila Rachel Bat Chaya Leah, a mother and baby - both are experiencing serious complications after giving birth a few days ago. May Hashem send them a complete healing among all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’mheira, b’rachamim, Amen.

In Parshat Toldot [25:28] the Torah describes Eisav: “… Eisav, for game was in his mouth.” The Torah teaches that one dominant character trait of Eisav’s was his deception. Though he shows one thing on the outside, he felt something else on the inside. 

The United Nations corresponds to the modern day Eisav, as they predominantly emanate from his lineage. Although the UN voted and passed a right for the Jewish People to establish the State of Israel, it nevertheless continues to side with the Palestinian right to establish a state on the same ground. By funding Israel’s enemies and painting Israel as evil wrongdoers, the UN are contradicting their original pledge and acting with deception.

The Divine master plan is unraveling, leading the world to the Final Redemption. B’H. The war of Gog and Magog is the final stage which will bring the Redemption to completion. There are five main reasons for the war:

All evil must be removed from the world in order for redemption to occur.

The entire world must openly come to know and serve Hashem and proclaim, Ata Hu HaMelech.

Hashem must avenge the suffering and blood of the Jewish people.

The Jewish people must receive their riches back, just as they did in Yetziat Mitzraim.

The war will spiritually refine those souls who merit witnessing the Geulah.

According to Masechet Brachot, this war of Gog and Magog will be different from all previous wars. The wonders and miracles will be indescribable and incomparable to any of those in the past. But we need to act now. We need to prepare now. We need to wipe away the falsehood now. And we need to daven for all the lost souls so that they too can merit experiencing the Geula.

Be proactive. Talk Geula. Think Geula. Prepare for Geula. 
Orit Riter

Small in His Own Eyes

"[My merits] have become small" [Vayishlach 32:11]

When G-d shows His kindness to a person, it brings that person closer to G-d, causing his feeling of self-importance to diminish, since "everything is like nothing before G-d".

Therefore, it was precisely due to the fact that G-d had been so kind to Yaakov that he became small in his own eyes - for the kindness brought him closer to G-d, and so he felt that he was not worthy of G-d's promise to be saved.

Source: based on Tanya Igeres Hakodesh ch.2

How could Yaakov the patriarch fear that "perhaps... I have become soiled with sin" [Rashi v. 12] when surely he was aware that he had not sinned?

A tzadik is not static - he constantly grows spiritually from one level to the next.  After reaching a higher level, his previous actions are spiritually deficient compared to his current standing. They are thus considered as "sins", metaphorically speaking. [The Hebrew word for sin - chet - can also mean ''deficiency'' [see Kings 11:21]  Thus Yaakov was worried that perhaps due to such ''sins'' he was not worthy to be saved.

Source: based on Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Right on Schedule

As the news breaks of the Russian plane being shot down by Turkey, and we count the days from the ''death of the five tzadikim and destruction of a synagogue in the south'', we end up right here.  

Quoting Rav Fish on Yaak's blog: If you count 32 days from 11 Heshvan, you get to 13 Kislev 5776. This is a date to look out for for wars to begin.

And of course Gog /Obama has decided to side with Turkey, pouring some gasolene on the fire.  

I couldn't resist this photo:

An Eighth of an Eighth

"I have become unworthy through all the acts of kindness" [Vayishlach 32:11]

The Vilna Gaon was once asked to explain Chazal's statement [Sotah 5a]  "Said R'Chiya bar Ashi in the name of Rav: A Talmid chacham must have one-eighth of an eighth [of haughtiness]".  

Rashi explains that it is essential for a talmid chacham to possess this minute amount of pride in order to prevent those who are ignorant in Torah learning from making light of him and his words.  Why did Chazal choose specifically the measure of one-eighth of an eighth?

The term "one eighth of an eighth" answered the Gaon, is not a reference to a particular measure. Rather it is hinting at the eighth verse of the eighth parsha of the Torah.  The eighth portion in the Torah is Parshas Vayishlach, and the eighth verse of the parsha [32:11] begins with the word "katonti" - "I am very small".

While a talmid chacham must possess a certain amount of arrogance, it must be a "very small" amount.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Moshiach: What's going to happen ?

A video from Rabbi Alon Anava on events before and after Moshiach.  ''It's coming very soon''. 
Also contains vital information regarding prayer for pulling loved ones out of kelipah.


Reuven: The First Ba'al Teshuvah

Art: Xetobyte
''Reuven moved the bed of Yaakov....'' [Vayishlach 35:22]

The midrash refers to Reuven as "the first one to repent'' for his sin [of moving his father's bed].  G-d said to him ''No man has ever sinned before me and repented. You have opened the path of teshuvah.'' [Bereishis Rabah 82:11, 84:19]

Even though we find that Adam and Kayin repented before Reuven, nevertheless they did so out of fear of Divine retribution.  Reuven however was the first one to truly return to God, because he realized that his sin was wrong.

For this reason, Yaakov is said to have a ''perfect complement'' of children, for not only did he have sons who were tzadikim [perfectly righteous], he also had a son who was a genuine baál teshuva.

Based on Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe, Sefer Hasichos 5750]

Monday, November 23, 2015

Domestic Abuse : Torah Advice from Rabbi Mizrachi

If you are a Jewish woman in a physically abusive marriage, if you are searching online for Torah guidelines on Jewish domestic abuse, if you have been given bad advice by someone and told to keep quiet about it for the sake of ''Shalom Bayit'', if you are in any way doubtful of whether you should go to the police or not, then please watch this very short video from Rabbi Mizrach. The Torah does not condone violence by a husband.
And to anyone who wants to comment that in this day and age people should know this..... I'm here to tell you that they don't.  Thank you Rabbi Mizrachi for speaking up.

Mamash Angels

We've been told that the way to avoid the chevlei Moshiach [birthpangs of Moshiach] is by learning Torah and doing good deeds. The other advantage of both these things is that when you do them, you create [good] angels for yourself, as Yaakov does in this week's Parsha.

"And Yaakov sent angels ahead of him to Eisav" [Vayishlach 32:4]

Rashi comments: "And Yaakov sent angels -  literally [mamash] angels".

R'Meir of Premishlan explained Rashi's words with the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos [4:13] : "He who fulfills one mitzvah gains one advocate for himself". When an individual performs a mitzvah, he creates an angel that speaks favorably on his behalf in Heaven.

The verse tells us that Yaakov sent angels as messengers to Eisav. Which angels did Yaakov send? Those angels that had been created through the mitzvos that he had performed.

This is what Rashi is alluding to when he says: "mamash angels".  For "mamash" is the acronym of the words "malachim me'mitzvos sheásah" ["angels from the mitzvos he performed"].

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein