14 January 2018

The Exodus and Moshe's Donkey - R' Ephraim Sprecher - Plus Videos!

27 Tevet 5778

Moses' and Mashiah's Donkey? Source

 This article will be found in the next OU Center Torah Tidbits (Parashath Bo). Watch for it!


The Exodus and Moshe’s Donkey
by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher

When G-d sent Moshe to Egypt to free Israel, the Torah states, “And Moshe took his wife and sons and mounted them on the donkey” (Shmot 4:20). Rashi makes a strange comment on this verse, “the Donkey that Moshiach will utilize to usher in the Final Redemption”. How do we understand this odd comment of Rashi’s? Can a donkey live for thousands of years? And why will Moshiach not drive a Lexus or a Volvo? What’s up with the Moshiach and the Donkey?

The explanation is that Rashi is speaking metaphorically. Rashi means that when G-d appointed Moshe to be the Redeemer of Israel, He set those cosmic forces in motion that will culminate and climax with the coming of Moshiach.

Also, the pattern of the Exodus and the Final Redemption is the way a donkey walks, two steps forward and one step back. The road to Redemption in the Exodus and Moshiach’s Coming is not straight forward. There will be setbacks as it was in Egypt. But the Redemption Process is moving forward and CANNOT BE STOPPED.

As the prophet Michah states (7:16), “As in the days of your leaving Egypt,  I (G-d) shall show them marvelous wonders.” The prophet’s words imply that the Exodus from Egypt is the precedent for the Final Redemption.

The Midrash Tanchuma states, “Just as in Egypt, I (G-d) shall redeem you in the Messianic future and shall perform miracles for you.”

Indeed, gradual, phased redemption is already found in Egypt, as in the 4 redemption expressions with which G-d addresses Moshe, “Therefore tell Israel that I am G-d.
1. and I will remove you from the suffering of Egypt,
2. and I will save you from your enslavement.
3. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.
4. and I will take you to Me as a people … I will be for you G-d.” (Shemot 6:6,7).

These verses refer to the 4 stages of redemption. The 1st stage constituted a lightening of Israel’s physical hardship, although they continued to be Pharaoh’s slaves.

The 2nd stage constituted the total cessation of their enslavement. Even so, Israel was not yet free but still under the control of the Egyptian King.

With the final plague of the killing of the firstborn came the 3rd stage, in which Israel was redeemed totally with great miracles and great judgements.

Yet Israel was still mired in the 49 levels of impurity. Finally, came the 4th stage, in which we were taken to be G-d’s Chosen People.

At the time of the redemption Israel was not worthy of it, and yet G-d still redeemed us. This is stated in the Midrash Shemot Rabba, “G-d said, ‘If I consider Israel’s deeds, they will never be redeemed. Whom shall I then consider? The merit of and the promise to their righteous and holy Avot.’ ”

It is Israel’s lack of merit which delays redemption. Therefore, before introducing the 4 expressions of redemption, G-d says, “Therefore tell Israel that I am G-d.” On this verse the Midrash Hagadol comments, “I(G-d) know that Israel will constantly rebel against Me and anger Me. Even so, I (G-d) shall redeem them for the sake of My Holy Name. “

The redemption comes when Israel recognizes Hashem as our G-d, as occurred during Stage 4 of the redemption process which was at the Sinai Revelation.

Yet the Torah goes on and brings a 5th expression of redemption: “And I will bring you to the land which I swore that I will give to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. I will give it to you as an inheritance, for I am G-d.” (Shemot:6:8).

From the redemption from Egypt we learn that complete redemption consists of the freedom of Israel (“I will redeem you.”) and living in Eretz Yisrael, (“I will bring you to the land.”) and belief in G-d and fulfillment of His Mitzvot (“I will be for you G-d”) (Shemot:6:8)

The Final Redemption will reach completion by a gradual process, like the Exodus from Egypt. Thus, the Zohar states that the Exodus from Egypt is the Road Map and the Long and Winding Road to the Final Redemption.


Videos from the last two (2) parashioth...



 Shavua tov v'hodesh tov!

07 January 2018

Pirsum haNes : Asher ElMaliah...and R' Eliezer Berland

21 Tevet 5778

UPDATE: B"H Mr. ElMaliah has been released from the hospital!!!

Asher ElMaliah (אשר אלמליח) before the attack. (WhatsApp/Facebook. Found at Times of Israel.)
TRIGGER WARNING for my male readers: A video in this post (in Hebrew, towards the end) has women in it. If you need to turn away, you may just listen to the audio. There is no singing. The same audio is also present at Shuvu Banim's site here and turns on automatically as you enter the page (the link is also elsewhere in the post).

Pirsum haNes (פרשום הנס) is advertising/spreading news about a miracle. It’s why Jews light Hanukkah candles every year in Kislev, which was not so long ago. But, the miracle I’m writing about is here and now, among us “moderns” and “post-moderns” whether religious or not. A skeptical generation, among whom professional skeptics can be found trying to shut down any notion that there can be a reality beyond the material world; and if not that, then the notion that this supernatural reality can manifest itself here in real time and real place.

I have written concerning R’ Eliezer Berland before; and now, Rivka Levy (Emunaroma) just put more ammunition into my hand, whether she knows it or not. 

If you understand spoken Hebrew, and read it, you can see and hear for yourself. Here’s what is translated into English: A timely pidyon-nefesh payment to R’ Berland literally saved Asher ElMaliah’s life; unbeknownst to the family, it was given to them before the incident and they were able to give it quickly.

You may recall that Mr. ElMaliah is the security guard who was stabbed by an Arab directly into his heart a couple of weeks ago. As if it could be any worse already – he had in fact passed away, according to his brother, R’ Shlomo ElMaliah, on Kan Channel 11*.). But he was restored to life, and I heard a woman say in the Hebrew interview that he was in a situation of death twice. When I finally found the video, below, I saw that the woman was his sister Shulamit.

R' Shlomo ElMaliah, Asher's brother, center. From Kan, found at Shuvu Banim. Video below (Hebrew).

There are 2 other audio files, 3 files all together, on the Shuvu Banim page. They are labeled ElMaliah 1 and ElMaliah 2. (אלמליח 1 & 2) and they appear to be transcribed in part in Hebrew there. I wish I had time to translate them (and, I'm sorry to say that I'm not especially good or fast at it)! I do know that R’ Berland’s name is mentioned.

I am looking forward to reading about what he experienced Upstairs…if haShem will let him tell the tale. Times of Israel has the latest article I could find on him.

Now, to you skeptics. How do you justify accusing Rav Berland of wrongdoing? If HaQadosh Baruch Hu does not accuse him, and even makes miracles for him, why do you continue to oppose him and persecute him? 

Are you out of your minds? HQB”H does NOT do these things for evil people who have not made teshuva (returned to HIM). You have to decide for yourselves whether the Rav sinned and made teshuva, or whether your accusations are false; and don’t forget, this is a matter of FACT, not opinion. But, any way you want to look at it, you will have to give them up.

Never mind emuna, for the moment. The thinking and observational skills you rely on are sorely lacking and have failed you. Now, what will you do?

Below is the clip I couldn't find on Kan's YouTube channel; nevertheless, it is still on YouTube all by itself. 

TRIGGER WARNING: Women are present: medical personnel and relatives. The only immodest things I can find here are perhaps the lack of hair covering (I say, perhaps, because I don't know who is married and who is not.) and uniform style (we can't do anything about that, for now.). I cannot prohibit the presence of women who took part in the saving of Asher Maliah, or who belong to his family. Those who need to turn away can always just listen to the audio. There is no singing.

Just as important, this video also includes the part about R' Eliezer Berland and the pidyon nefesh, as does the audio on the Shuvu Banim site.

 *Kan כאן Channel 11 is the replacement of the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA). It means "here."

Here is someone who still needs a pidyon nefesh — Chaya Shaina Chana bat Itcha suffers greatly every minute — share in her healing and take a share in the mitzvah!

And finally...a R' Ephraim Sprecher video: Shifra & Puah - the REAL Wonder Women!

May Asher ben Sa'ada (or ben Tamar - whichever works...whichever is his mother's Hebrew name; both have been reported) come back fully to life, family and good deeds; and may he merit to see Mashiah Zidkenu with all 'Am Yisrael!

31 December 2017

R' Ephraim Sprecher: Does Halacha Ever Permit Euthanasia?

13 Tevet 5778

This class, which took place this past Ta'anit Asarah b'Tevet (Fast of the 10th of Tevet) at the OU Center in Yerushalayim, examines the question of whether euthanasia (mercy killing) is permitted by Jewish Law (Halacha) under any circumstances. It also includes information about the fast day itself.

Please continue to pray for:

May these be healed among all Am Yisrael. And, may Mashiah be revealed quickly!!!

26 December 2017

Rav Sprecher Tripleheader...and an Interesting Hiddush on the Geula

8 Tevet 5778

In honor of the possible passage of the 2,300 years of darkness according to a certain interesting hiddush on a series of psukim in Daniel chapter 8 (דניאל פרק ח) about the Greek exile, the one we celebrate victory over during Hanukkah. I can't wait for the calculations to be finished/confirmed because today is the possible date that, figuratively speaking, the sun peeks over the horizon. No predictions here, and I won't get upset if no "sign" appears by day's end. Things are picking up speed as it is, even without this.

It could be next year as well, or even later. The timing depends on when the precipitating event actually occurred in the mists of history. With the help of H'...

See the commentary here on the End of Days blog, and keep watching for further developments! And don't forget to watch the videos. They take place at the OU Center in Yerushalayim unless otherwise noted.

Towards the healing of Menachem ben Rivka...

This one took place in Ashkelon...

24 December 2017

An Angel's Advocate's Take on Sholom Rubashkin's Release

7 Tevet 5778

Sholom Rubashkin with three of his 10 children after his release. Source: his family; posted in The Algemeiner.

Last Thursday morning, Jerusalem time, we got the breaking news that Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin had been freed from prison by a declaration of commutation from US President Donald J. Trump. Here is a Google search on this event, for full coverage.

I had started writing this article last week, but life got in the way again. I have had a call for prayer for Mr. Rubashkin in the right top corner of this blog for quite some time, along with the other prisoners of Zion. This prayer has not been totally answered, due to the fact of the conditions imposed upon him, including that he must pay back whatever debt is claimed against him. Regular readers of this blog have seen headlines on the sidebar come and go regarding the case, and they will continue to see them, be"H, until Geula Shlema or until the outstanding problems are resolved, whichever comes first.

In case you are thinking how full I am of myself and think I'm an angel, please be assured that I don't. I just don't like the term "devil's advocate" and anticipate that some will think it particularly appropriate in this case. I don't. Especially when a large group of people who ought to know — judges, lawyers, serving Congresspeople and Senators, Jews and non-Jews, on both sides of the aisle — agree that anti-Semitism played such a large, obvious part in what occurred here. It isn't my (or our) imagination.

From Reuters:  "...Trump’s latest action leaves Rubashkin’s conviction intact, as well as terms of his supervised release from federal prison and his obligation to make restitution."

As the White House made clear: This does not clear his name or come even close to correcting the miscarriage of justice that has been going on for years. We all know that he did wrong; but the severity of the sentence and conditions have just been too much, compared to those of non-Jews who committed similar offenses and even greater ones.

Neither does it take into account that his business, Agriprocessors, was reduced in value to the point that it was sold for pennies on the dollar according to its true value, due to the "no-Rubashkin rule" the government imposed on it, specifically prohibiting any Rubashkin family member from, not only advising the new owners how to run it, but much more as well. Think how it would be if Mr. Trump had to sell his real estate business for whatever reason, and the prospective buyer would have to make do without his, or any of his family's, near-infinitely valuable experience! The kosher meat market is highly specialized (and no, it isn't like halal, veganism or any other food system, but their practitioners certainly make use of certain aspects of Jewish methodology, such as symbols on packaging), and the Rubashkin family, especially Reb Sholom's father Aaron, who originally owned the company, has a great deal of wisdom to share — but none of that for them. If you ask me: Because Jews. Better yet, read what Prof. Alan Dershowitz has observed on the case, having worked on it pro bono.

Some of my friends have said that Donald Trump released Mr. Rubashkin because of whatever money is left. Yes, Mr. Rubashkin was pretty much the Donald Trump of the kosher meat business, lehavdil (to differentiate; the comparison is far from apt.). According to Fortune magazine, "Rubashkin, 57, ran what was America’s largest kosher meat-processing company..." As we all know, the world hates successful Jews; and this time, it succeeded for a while in making one of them suffer for far more than his crimes warranted. And, as this CNBC article notes, they don't have much money anymore. Thanks, US Government.

Worse yet, the world hates happy, smiling, rejoicing Jews. Victorious Jews. So when they're freed from prison, there seems too often to be some set of conditions (see Jonathan Pollard's latest news...) that makes it impossible to celebrate a completely executed act of justice restored (and in Pollard's case, practically impossible to live a normal life...but I digress.). Even when they were framed and prevented from paying debts, as Mr. Rubashkin's defense team says he was.

Web sites everywhere (see the links at the end) are keeping many Jewish commenters ferociously debating this issue, among others. That's right: Let 'em fight each other. Sheesh. Over a crumb that was thrown our way. Let's have some dignity, please, and behave ourselves; we don't have to take out all our suffering on each other. We're not pit bulls; we are a nation anticipating redemption from the only One who counts.

By the way, in the article above, Atty. Dershowitz says we haven't heard the last from Sholom Rubashkin. Let's keep our eyes open, keep praying, and keep in mind that a Jew truly and appropriately freed is a sign of Geula Shlema -- Complete Redemption!

May the rest be appropriately freed as well.

More relevant reading below. I have linked to opposing opinions as well as those in agreement. However, I do not take responsibility for anyone else's words or of those who comment.

From 2010: NYTimes: 27-Year Sentence for Plant Manager | CNBC: Is President Donald Trump making a play for the Jewish vote? [-or not?] | The Slate: Why did the judge come down so hard on Sholom Rubashkin? | The Times of Israel: How Sholom Rubashkin's supporters got Trump to commute his sentence | The Forward : How Sholom Rubashkin Can Redeem Himself | Tablet magazine: To Understand the Reaction to Rubashkin's Release, Look to Chabad's History | Family and supporters celebrate Rubashkin's release |

17 December 2017

The Dreidel – Symbol of Creation by R' Ephraim Sprecher

30 Kislev 5778
6th Candle of Hanukkah

NASA - Hybrid Galaxy - doesn't it look like a spinning top?

The Dreidel – Symbol of Creation
by R' Ephraim Sprecher
Originally published in Torah Tidbits #1255 
Parashath MiQetz, Dec. 15-16, 2017 / 28 Kislev 5778

Chanuka commemorates our victory over the Syrian-Greeks and the Hellenists – Jews who betrayed their own people in order to curry favor with the Gentiles.

Not much has changed in this respect in almost 2200 years. The battle continues. We cleaned up and purified the Beit Hamikdash, but were we truly liberated? The Greeks were ousted from our land, but were they removed from our minds? What light did the Menorah provide that proved that the battlefield victories warranted an annual celebration for the remainder of Jewish history, despite the Holy Temple's destruction two hundred years later?

The Midrash makes a strange statement about the Greeks. It states that Greece, a nation noted for its scholars, wisdom, and academics is the symbol of darkness (Bereishit Rabbah 2:4). We are a people with great appreciation for the intellectual, thus we find this statement baffling. The Bal Shem Tov explains that this concept is as simple as a Chanuka dreidel.

The earth is constantly spinning, like a Dreidel. In fact, all of creation is a rotating wheel, a dreidel. Things constantly change, revolve and become transformed. The earth is one huge Spinning Wheel. This is because all things, no matter what they are made of, have one root. Before they manifest themselves as they are, they pass through an interface known as "HYLE" (Ramban on Bereshit 1:1). A person's roles also change over time, providing and dominating one day, receiving and following the next. Nations, too, rise and fall.

Why do we play with a dreidel on Chanuka? Because, like Chanuka, the dreidel parallels the concept of the Beit HaMikdash, which spun things around in a number of ways. It manifested the concept of the revolving wheel by being the home of the Shekhina while its design was simultaneously engraved on High (Tanchuma, Pikudey 1; Zohar 1:80b).

Additionally, The Temple somehow limited the Divine Presence of a transcendental G-d to a physical space. As Shlomo Hamelekh put it, "Behold the Heavens, and the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain You, how much less this Temple?!" (Melachim I 8:27).

Furthermore, it is impossible to rationally explain how human beings can influence spiritual realms and how a sacrificial animal can produce "a sweet savor" (Bereshit 8:21, Shmot 29:18) to G-d. Yet, G-d did constrict His presence to the Beit HaMikdash and did accept sacrifices as "a sweet savor." By doing so, G-d debunked the Greek model of rational philosophy, with the Beit HaMikdash – as we do with the dreidel.

The Greeks are "darkness" because the rational mind (or rather, the insistence to be rational always), limits one's possibilities. One becomes stuck, "engraved on the horn of an ox," and one can no longer think out of the box.

As Jews, we must always bear in mind that G-d has reasons that our reason cannot know. As G-d says "For MY thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not My ways." (Isaiah 55:8). This is why we dare not despair, even in the longest darkest, tragic periods of personal and national life. This is what enabled the Maccabees to undertake the struggle to fight the spiritual darkness against all odds.

The essential quality of the Final Redemption, which we await, is that of the Beit HaMikdash, the revolving Dreidel, when we will see and know that, in fact, all is one; that G-d is One and G-d's Name is One (Zechariah 14:9).

May we soon see the arrival of the Mashiach, the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, בב"א.