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.


13 December 2017

Gluten-Free, Low-Carb Sufganiyot - and Life-Saving Tools for Hanukkah

25 Kislev 5778
First Candle of Hanukkah


Dough-not hole-style. OK, so they don't look as pretty as Israeli sufganiyot - but they taste better!
Hanukkah Sameah!


Low-Carb, Gluten-Free Sufganiyot 

I finally got this recipe down to where it is truly doable and my husband likes loves the results. I adapted it from a regular recipe I found a few years ago because we have diabetes. I'm controlling mine mainly through a low-carb (LCHF) diet, and a small dose of medicine as needed. This one is pareve. I have been deliberately vague on things like exact sugar replacements because people have their favorites.

MACROS: I don't know what the macro-nutrients are for this, but I'd probably rate this as low-carb but not quite ketogenic because of the coconut flour. If someone who can actually calculate from this recipe would do so, I'd be happy to post it.

Ingredients:
5 T. / 75 g. equivalent of sugar replacer of your choice, or to taste*
1/3 c. / 80 ml. coconut cream (the thick part)
3 large eggs
1c. / 250 ml. coconut flour*
1/8 t. / .75 ml. baking soda
1 t. / 5 ml. baking powder
Spices: Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger etc. to taste
1/2 t. / 2.5 ml. vanilla extract
1/8 t. / .75 ml. salt
Oil for deep-frying**

Combine dry ingredients separately from the wet ingredients (except oil) and mix each one well. Sifting the dry ingredients together works even better. Then combine wet and dry, mixing well. Electronic devices (mixer, food processor, whatever) are optional. I haven't used any.

Heat oil to 375 degrees F / 190 C. Shape sufganiyot to your preference (I made doughnut holes) from the dough and drop into oil, frying until golden brown, turning often. Drain excess oil when done.

Wait a few minutes, until the sufganiyot won't burn your mouth, but are still warm, before topping/coating (your choice) and eating. 😉 Remember that it's the oil that makes Hanukkah, not the flour.

*Coconut flour without extra sweetening is sweet on its own, so you may not have to use as much sugar replacer. Some people may not need any! Great for you if you're one of them!

**The exact oil to use for frying is somewhat of a compromise - I used a mixture of canola and a small amount of coconut oil - approximately 2T. / 30 g. of it — enough to cover the sufganiyot. Depending on who/what you read, canola oil is controversial in the low-carb world. 

I don't have a deep fryer, so I use a small saucepan. Thus, I didn't specify "how much canola oil" to use. It depends on the pan you're using to hold the sufganiyot while they fry.

 ***

Chanukah Life-Saving Tools (a lovely Vimeo production) comes from the Chaya Malka Burn Foundation. Our lives come first — that's what Hanukkah is all about!!!






10 December 2017

Which votes were behind the Trump declaration? And some pushback...

22 Kislev 5778


A security guard was stabbed by an Arab Palestinian this afternoon. Now, will this end US President Trump's experiment on "Palestinian" good will? (INN, from Magen David Adom)

What constituency was US President Donald Trump supporting when he declared Jerusalem Israel's capital, aside from the obvious: Was it the Jews, whether in Israel or America? the Arabs, similarly? or the evangelical Christians? From whom does he get his votes?

An even better question: Why did it fall to him to do what should have been done a very long time ago? He does realize, as he stated, that it is entirely illogical for things to remain as they were — unlike others who promised but didn't deliver.

Here's an article where Julie Ingersoll, Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Florida, on The Conversation, seems to get to the answer. Why Trump's supporters welcome his move on Jerusalem

As we know, none of the Arab/Middle Eastern countries supported it at all. I think the jury in Saudi Arabia is still out on that one. (Just kidding. I'm under the impression that neither SA, nor any other Muslim country, has juries.)

Others, like Dan Shapiro, former US ambassador to Israel, says we're all over-reacting to the news, while Chris Matthews, MSNBC host, says the evangelicals have crazy ideas about Israel. (The whole Xian mentality around this IS crazy, but maybe not for the reasons Matthews brings forth. G-d willing, more on that later.)

Jack Engelhard (Indecent Proposal, The Bathsheba Deadline and more) asks, Why are the nations in an uproar? as they try to undo what has been done in the finest hour between the US and Israel.


Women in Green (Women for Israel's Tomorrow), by email sent 7 December, tells us (emphasis mine):

The Sovereignty Movement welcomes the focal point of the speech by U.S. President Donald Trump – the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish People, and views this speech as another step towards the national and international recognition of the Jewish People’s sovereignty over its land.
Indeed, President Trump’s words still do not negate the idea of two states, but there is an understanding that a political solution cannot be imposed on Israel, and that the repeated attempts in the past by American presidents to do so have always resulted in failure, therefore these matters require re-examination.

President Trump also includes the principle that it is important to recognize reality, and just as the American president now openly gives recognition to the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, so will he and others also recognize this reality of thousands of years, the reality of the connection of the People of Israel to all parts of its Land and its rights to its Land.

As an aside, the Sovereignty Movement, founded by Women in Green, warns and asserts that it is incumbent upon the Israeli leadership to see [to] its interests even when confronted with the American embrace. The gift that President Trump has bestowed on Israel in the 70th year of its founding should not require any “political payment” in the future.
NOTE: [there is also a campaign to further WIG's immediate-future work; see here (English) and here (Hebrew). -CDG]

 Tzvi Fishman, novelist, says, "...there are still a lot of Gentiles who resent the rise of Israel in the world." Which is why this recognition hasn't occurred until now.

In the end, amidst a lot of possibilities, it doesn't matter.  I'm not saying I know the answer. I  know that HaShem's plans will succeed, no matter what it takes. If not now, when — and through whom?

***

BREAKING: My husband called me in the middle of writing this: He had passed by the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, in front of which a security guard was stabbed before his bus arrived there. You can see the report here:

 
 Mr. Trump, neither you nor Mr. Netanyahu or anyone else, can tell Israel to WAIT UNTIL SOMEONE DIES, as everyone else has told us ad nauseam. If you meant what you said, in any way, you must leave us to do what we must. We have NO ONE to talk to on the other side. Period. The test is over as far as I'm concerned!

And in case you didn't get the message, here's the stabbing.



07 December 2017

Did US President Trump Acknowledge Jerusalem, DC?

20 Kislev 5778

(US President Donald Trump: Getty Images)

 I'm not feeling so euphoric about the whole thing. And I'm not the only one.

While it is difficult to describe how good it is to hear the president of the United States recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, I also heard him say: "Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the stations of the cross, and where Muslims worship at al-Aksa mosque."

I took a few minutes to transcribe this bolded bit word for word because I feel it is the heart of the speech. I fervently wish the bubble didn't have to be burst...but there you have it, from Donald Trump's mouth. I wonder how that sounded in Heaven's ear.


My husband thought the speech important enough to download and put on our family Web site's home page so that it won't disappear, G-d forbid. We don't want to forget exactly what was said...and what was not said.

Thanks and appreciation are due for the acknowledgment, but not "to the skies."


Do you see anything missing here?

Here's what I see, as of now: Not only did HaKadosh Baruch Hu give us the site of Har haBayit, the Temple Mount, but DAVID HAMELEKH bought the site with gold - not with the currency of today which, by comparison, means nothing. Not for himself, but for the entire Jewish nation: he, through whom Mashiah comes. Am I crazy, or did I hear US President Trump aid and abet the theft of the heart of our holy city, the threshing floor bought and paid for in the transaction with Arauna in Shmuel Bet 24:24-25, by the enemy that wants to do away with us, while recognizing the rest as ours? And "must remain" means that this must not be the way to geula. I don't know about you, dear reader, but I feel that a vicious sting came with the honey. A wrong turn has been taken and we are backed into a corner.

Nevertheless, I'm sure geula will be advanced, not only because of President Trump's words, wherever they came from, but possibly in spite of some of them as well. 

I have to believe that HQB"H has our best at heart and in mind. This moment is indeed an opportunity for us Jews, whether in Israel or in Diaspora, to assert ourselves as He would desire, even though some Jews just don't seem to be willing.

It may be, and I hope it is, enough for now that at least one great nation from afar acknowledged Jerusalem, David's Capital (thanks, Tamar Yonah!) as Israel's capital, incomplete though it may be. Be'ezrath haShem, im yirtzeh haShem.


May He bless His people with redemption, peace and our inheritance from Him. I believe and hope that going forward, being on the side of His (and our) enemies will not be tolerated any longer.

Please, Abba she'ba'Shamayim, now would be a good time to show Yourself...
***

I also promised that I'd post R' Sprecher's videos in the merit of Reb Menachem ben Rivka, may he enjoy a swift recovery...a new one, Current Events on Parashath Yeshev, came out today. Of course, words about President Trump's speech were included; and the Rav is responsible for his own words.




05 December 2017

Rav Sprecher Video Festival...and Interesting Geula News

18 Kislev 5778

I am filling in a part of Reb Menachem ben Rivka's spiritual work over at The Absolute Truth while he's recovering. You are invited to enjoy all the Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher videos that haven't been posted there since Reb Menachem went to the hospital, from approximately 23 Heshvan / 12 November (which was the date of Mrs. Robinson's first post letting us know what happened) to date. BE"H I will also post each one as it comes, as long as need be.

May Reb Menachem ben Rivka have a speedy and complete recovery in the merit of this post and those that follow. Also see the translations of Reb Nir ben Artzi over at Going Home...To Yerushalayim.

Also, it should be noted that today we read the news that the US is going to move its embassy to Yerushalayim, and not just recognize her as Israel's capital. Mazal tov, America. It's about time...or, as we say over here,  higiya ha'zman הגיע הזמן

May HQB"H help us all. Looks like there's going to be war over it. But He could surprise us, so we should be in serious communication with Him!

HELP!!!!!!!!











03 December 2017

Leah's Children

16 Kislev 5778

Rahel and Leah, source


Over the High Holidays of 5778 (Yamim Nora'im), I gained an insight into something most of us don't think about: Do you realize that most of us Jews are the children of Leah Imenu (our mother)?

I was hoping to get this posted in time for Parashath Vayetze'; but, obviously, I didn't make it in time. But thinking about Leah's impact on us is as timeless as that of all the other Imahoth. If not more, at least in one aspect, due to sheer numerical superiority.

We can learn much from studying her. She is not mentioned often, and of course we are also children of her sister Rahel, since she is the "aqeret habayit" (the head of the household among the women). But since we inherit the traits of those we are descended from, most of us (six tribes' worth; also, Rahel's son Yosef's two tribes of Ephraim and Menashe, whom we learn from commentary are descended from Leah's daughter Dina through her daughter Asenath/Osnat) are descended from her.

I am not here to present hiddushim (new insights); it's just something hiding in plain sight, that's all.


The main thing is that the majority of Jews have absorbed Leah's rejection by her husband Ya'aqov Avinu (our father), whether self-perceived or objectively viewed, as well as her hope that things will turn out well in the end, if only we will hold out for it.

It explains (to me, at least) why our first reaction after arriving at home after nearly 2,000 years of exile was not exactly to head straight for the finish line (although I think our ancestors were thinking, hoping, and praying just exactly that.). After all. we've been crying our eyes out for nearly two millennia, and our (in)sight is not exactly what it used to be. However, our hope that Mashiah will be revealed once, for all, and forever has not dimmed in the least, even though there have been fakers and liars along the way. And let's not forget that except for Mashiah ben Yosef, the redeemed government leadership is mostly made up of Leah's descendants!

I say "mostly" because the head of the Sanhedrin of 70 could be a ben Binyamin, Naftali or Dan (who were not descended from Leah), Asher or Gad (who were Leah's legally but not physically). But the Mashiah and the Kohen Gadol are both from Leah.

We need some rest after all we've been through. Doing teshuva (returning to our Jewish life and relationship with HQB"H) ensures that we can see that and much, much more!

I have had other thoughts too, but I haven't been able to get them to come down here when I approach my notebook or the keyboard...!

See more background here (Thanks to Geula613!).


Also see Rahel and Leah: Two Destinies, Two Worlds (Chana Weisberg, Chabad) 
 and The Women in Jacob's Life (Bible Study Connection).


Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher takes over from here, with his recent video from Parashath VaYetze'.


Meanwhile, the footsteps are growing louder, louder and louder...

12 November 2017

"I Reserve Judgment..."

23 Heshvan 5778


Part of the message from the hozeh Nir ben Artzi, as posted on the front page of his Web site, Ta'ir Neri. I don't know how long it will remain there.

 We heard from The Absolute Truth by way of English translation that the hozeh Nir ben Artzi said last week that HQB"H is ready to reveal who Mashiah is. The question is when.

UPDATE from Shirat Devorah: Rav Menachem [Robinson, who blogs The Absolute Truth,] has had a stroke in his cerebellum. Pray and say tehillim for Menachem Berel ben Rivka.

Note: There seems to be a controversy in Shirat Devorah's comment section over whether to include Berel in R' Menachem's name. Having read it, I'd say that both ways are OK. But you can figure it out for yourself there (link above). FURTHER NOTE: Mrs. Robinson posted on her husband's blog a little while ago and says it's Menachem Ben Rifka.

Many thanks to Shirat Devorah for being our conduit of information in this matter, and to Mrs. Robinson for straightening us out!

***

I replied to an anonymous commenter on Reb Dov Bear bar Leib's blog, End of Days, who said the following:

The message of Nir Ben Artzi on how Moshiach will be revealed just doesn't sound right.
H', when HE deems it's time, He will see to it that we will know and the world will know. How, where, what and when is something only HKB'H knows! 

Reb ben Artzi haHozeh doesn't sit down and calculate. He sees visions; that's what Hozeh means. All he's telling is what he saw.


[Maybe I should have said it more like this: "A Hozeh, such as Reb ben Artzi, doesn't sit down and calculate..." I don't actually know what he does or how he does it. This note is not in the original message. -CDG]

I would reserve judgment for now if I were you or anyone else who questions right now, for positive or negative. We as a people have been through so much, for so long, it's hard to tell what's going on.

Reserving judgment means saying neither yes nor no. To give a negative example, HQB"H told Lavan haRasha, who was about to approach his son-in-law Yaaqov Avinu after the latter had left to return to his father's house, in Bereshith 31:24:

כד  וַיָּבֹ֧א אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֶל־לָבָ֥ן הָֽאֲרַמִּ֖י בַּֽחֲלֹ֣ם הַלָּ֑יְלָה וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֗וֹ הִשָּׁ֧מֶר לְךָ֛ פֶּן־תְּדַבֵּ֥ר עִם־יַֽעֲקֹ֖ב מִטּ֥וֹב עַד־רָֽע

24 And God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night, and He said to him, "Beware lest you speak with Jacob either good or evil." (Chabad translation)

Meaning, say nothing at all. L'havdil, perhaps this word from Reb ben Artzi is a test for us all. We must never doubt that haShem will redeem us. The questions, as always, are when and through whom.

Speaking of "through whom," I have always wondered how HaShem is going to get around the spiritual leaders of the nation to bring us Redemption, and with it our Righteous King Mashiah, Sanhedrin and Levitical Priesthood.

Remember that the 10 Spies who opposed Moshe Rabbenu were also the leaders of the nation, and they spoiled it for everyone, necessitating a 40-year-long wait until we could enter the Land.

I cannot, nay must not, leave it there. I don't want to accuse all rabbis of keeping geula from us, or us from geula. But, too many are: too fast, too slow, going in the wrong direction, making divisions among Jews where there were none before, and so on. It has been said many times, even here on this blog, that most rabbis at the end of days will be Erev Rav.

The rest is history...until, possibly, now, be"H.

Could it be that HQB"H is now offering a perfect solution: Putting the revelation of Mashiah's identity into the hands and mouths of the very ones who would keep us from attaining redemption? And threatening pressure on them if they choose not to?

We will have to keep our eyes open and watch carefully. Reb ben Artzi has put his entire life on the line here, putting this message right on the home page of his Web site! If he's wrong, all 7734 (turn upside down to see what the word is) will break loose and he may not survive it. I shudder to think what would happen to his family, too.

I hope he's right, but I dare not say "yes!" yet. Reserving judgment gives me a way out without doing harm to him or to our people. And it leaves the door open for geula, if he is right, rather than slamming the door in its face, so to speak, and automatically making him wrong even if he would have been right.

I wait with 'bated breath for the results.

How about you?

***

I repeat, please pray for Menachem (or Menachem Berel) ben Rivka. Thank you.

UPDATE: I knew there was something I forgot! See R' Lazer Brody's take on current events leading to geula shlemah on video here.

UPDATE: Devorah from Shirat Devorah, quoting Reb Menachem Robinson's daughter's FB page 15/11/17:
He’s still in the ICU. He’s on a respirator and can’t move. His condition has not improved. Please keep praying for him. Menachem ben Rivka



25 October 2017

Come, Children, Sing Shema' Yisrael!

6 Heshvan 5778


Credit: Ruth Lebowich, Teaching Jewish Art

NOTE: Some links are updated below, for those who have already read this post.

Many thanks to R' Yeranen Yaakov for the inspiration...and to R' Yeshuah Toledano, zz"l for teaching us the Moroccan way to sing the Shema'. May they both be blessed on earth and in Shamayim.

As written in R' Yaakov's account, R' Ovadia Yosef, zz"l, dreamed in 2001 that he had a conversation with Mashiah. The part we're dealing with today is this (R' Yaakov's translation, my emphasis in bold):

"I asked him, the Mashiah: 'Why don't you reveal yourself already? Look, we are suffering, and we're all in pain.' The King Mashiah answered me in these words: 'Because there are a million Jewish children who do not say the Shema Yisrael every day - because of this, I have not come. Go tell all single Yeshiva students and Avrechim to go out and bring people closer to Avodat Hashem.' " 
So, I have come with a tool to teach the Shema'.

Usually, when we say the Shema', we sing it; and, as I understand it, we're supposed to use the ta'amei haTorah (Hebrew), or Torah trope (Yiddish), which is the melody used to sing the passages when reading the Torah. I have been to both Ashkenazi and Sephardi batei-knessiot, but have never heard either one do it this way, until I came to a Moroccan synagogue. Actually, it was the above R' Toledano's living room, back in 1993. Both Sephardim and Ashkenazim went there on Shabbath; we all enjoyed the tefilloth, the great melodies, the divrei Torah, and kiddush afterwards. It was unique for the area we lived in. Hey, it was almost unique for America. Most people know it as an Ashkenazic country even though the first synagogues were Sephardic.

We stayed there for 10 years, when the Rav retired. Two years after we made aliyah, we learned that the Rav had passed away (here's more about him). His kashruth agency, Mekor Baruch Orthodox Kosher Supervision in Philadelphia, still lives on under his son, Binyamin Toledano, shlit"a.

Now, to the point. I'm not an avrech, but I feel the need to apply R' Yosef's words from Mashiah: Teach the children to say the Shema' Yisrael! So, here's a video with the way the Moroccans sing the Shema'. It's pretty close to R' Toledano's way. I'm back in a Moroccan beit-knesset once again, here in Yerushalayim, and everyone who leads the Shema' sings some version of the way I learned it almost 30 years ago.

I'm not Moroccan, by the way; I'm Syrian on my mother's side. But I have to give it to the Moroccans: they sing the most beautiful, flowing melodies that match up with the words. You have to be there, or try some of the other videos on YouTube, such as this one of Yedid Nefesh ("soul friend") or Shir haShirim (unfortunately, incomplete. If you have an account with OneDrive, you can hear the complete version linked to below the YouTube video.).

(Warning: Ashkenazic Jews and others who are not used to Middle Eastern music might have to retune their ears for this style, as well as those from other Mizrahi Jewish music sources...)

So, c'mon kids! באו בנים ובנות! Sing with R' David Kadoch, may he live and be well לשיר אם ר" דוד קדוש שליט"א (I believe he sings slowly here in order to make it easier to learn). He's the Hazzan from Abir Ya'aqob in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Listen up, Israel: Our G-d is ONE!

As we say in Israel, have a healthy winter - Horef bar'i. May we see Mashiah speedily and in our days, amen!


12 September 2017

If You Build It, Will They Come? - by Shmuel Sackett

21 Elul 5777
BS"D

This post marks our 10th anniversary in Eretz Yisrael, B"H! UPDATE BELOW.

***
from http://www.zehutinternational.com/single-post/2017/08/23/If-You-Build-It-Will-They-Come



One of my favorite movies is “Field of Dreams”, a 1989 classic starring Kevin Costner. In this movie, Costner plays an Iowa corn farmer named Ray Kinsella. Costner’s character is a huge baseball fan who keeps having dreams, with the line “If you build it, they will come”. He interprets this to mean that if he turns his corn farm into a baseball field, the ghosts of the 1919 Chicago White Sox (who were accused of cheating) would play one more game.

As unbelievable as it sounds, he does exactly that! He cuts down his corn, uproots everything that had been planted and plows his field into a real, major-league baseball field. The entire time, with everyone against him, his sole motivation is that one simple line; “If you build it, they will come.” This guides him, motivates him and is at the core of everything he does.

Since the movie is almost 30 years old, I won’t mind ruining the surprise for you. Yes, they come. Ray Kinsella may no longer have a corn field, but he did manage to bring his dream to fruition. Against all odds, he built it and – just like they said – they all came and played that final game.

I think of this movie every year at this time, in the weeks following Tisha B’av. We currently find ourselves in the period called “The 7 Weeks of Comfort” when our Rabbis chose very special sections to read for our weekly Haftorah, which focus on comfort and consolation, after the horrific destruction of the Temples. These are also the days when we celebrated one of the most festive days of the year, known as Tu B’av (the 15th of Av). Many wonderful things happened on that day, which made it so joyful, but I want to focus on just one of those things… because it has a deep connection to Kevin Costner’s movie.

We are all familiar with King David and the successor to his throne, his son, King Shlomo. What very few people understand is what happened next. When King Shlomo died, his kingdom was tragically divided. The tribes of Yehuda and Binyamin were led by Shlomo’s son – and the rightful ruler – Rechav’am. It was known as the Kingdom of Yehuda and was based in Jerusalem. The remaining ten tribes were led by Yeravam ben Nevat and was known as the Kingdom of Yisrael. Yeravam made the center of his kingdom in northern Israel. This happened in the year 2964 (over 2,800 years ago).
For the first three years (2964-2967) the Jews from all over the country continued to make pilgrimages to the Bet Ha’Mikdash in Jersusalem. This angered Yeravam very much as he felt it strengthened Rechav’am.

Finally, he did something very drastic. In the year 2967 Yeravam set up border guards to physically prevent the Jews from going to the Bet Ha’Mikdash. As unbelievable as it sounds, this horrific policy continued for 220 years!! Imagine that; Jewish kings preventing fellow Jews from bringing the Korban Pesach, from witnessing the awesome service of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, from bringing personal sacrifices, from dancing on Sukkot in the Temple courtyard... incredible!

This lasted for 220 years until the 15 of Av 3187 when the northern king, Hoshea ben Elah, removed the guards and became the first king of Yisrael to allow the ten tribes to go to the Bet Ha’Mikdash! (See Talmud Gittin 88a and also Ta’anit 30b-31a) What a happy day that was… Tu B’av!!

That’s the good news. Fast forward 9 years and you will see that during the reign of this same king Hoshea ben Elah, all ten tribes of Yisrael were exiled! To this day we do not know where they are and they are known as “The Lost Tribes”. How tragic was that?? 10 of Am Yisrael’s 12 tribes lost. How many Jews would there be in the world today if we had all 12 tribes? While many studies have been conducted over the years, and various scholars claim to have discovered some of these lost Jews – such as the B’nei Menashe (from the tribe of Menashe) – these are just a handful when compared to hundreds of millions of lost Jews. That’s the bad news.

Rabbi Nachman Kahana, Talmudic scholar and author of the “Mey Menuchot” commentary of Tosafot, asks a very serious question; Why did the exile of the 10 tribes happen during the days of Hoshea ben Elah? After all, he did a good thing!! As stated above, the Talmud says that his actions – of removing the border guards – resulted in Jews being able to come to the Bet Ha’Mikdash! We dance to this very day on the 15th of Av to celebrate that great event… and yet, during his reign the 10 tribes were expelled, exiled and disappeared?? How can that be??

“If you build it, they will come”, said the voice in Kevin Costner’s dream in the movie. So he built it… and they came.
“If you remove the security guards, they will come (to the Bet Ha’Mikdash)”, said the voice in Hoshea ben Elah’s dream but tragically… they never came.

Rabbi Kahana explains that for 220 years the Jews in northern Israel were not punished because they physically could not come to the Bet Ha’Mikdash! There were guards, walls, fences and the gate was shut. There was literally no way of going from northern Israel to Jerusalem. It was simply impossible. But when Hoshea ben Elah removed those guards and opened the gates, the excuses were gone. Jews could travel freely to Jerusalem yet… they didn’t come. As their leader, Hoshea ben Elah was punished. Yes, he did a wonderful thing by removing the guards but by not making sure that the people actually went to the Bet Ha’Mikdash – even though they could at any moment – both he and the people were punished and sent into oblivion. They disappeared… maybe forever.

The message for our day is crystal clear. For hundreds of years Jews could not travel to Israel. The roads were dangerous, there were horrible diseases in the land and there was little chance of making a living. We all dreamed of the land and said to Hashem; “If You build it, we will come”. We begged, cried and pleaded with Hashem to rebuild the land and make it possible for us to come.

Well, Hashem listened. Thanks to His holy helpers - tens of thousands of hard-working pioneers and brave soldiers - the land has been built. Nothing is lacking. You can fly to Israel in comfort while watching movies and eating glatt kosher food. There are amazing places to live in Israel, incredible educational opportunities, good jobs for men and women and the chance to do what has not been done in close to 2,000 years!

Our job now is to learn from Hoshea ben Elah. Everything is ready and the guards have been removed. We need only one thing: The Jews to come home.

If you build it, they will come… Attention fellow Jews: It has been built. Time to come home.

***
Amen! It is a key to complete redemption. Even though you "may not make it" just by coming and living here, it is an important first step.

Don't underestimate it.

Shanah tovah!

UPDATE: If you need help and you aren't getting enough from Nefesh b'Nefesh or the Jewish Agency, you might want to try Keep Olim.

08 September 2017

Dhimmitude, Sovereignty, or HaShem's Kingdom?

17 Elul 5777


Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90


What happened at Har haBayit back on the 20th of Tammuz/14 July and its unfortunate reversal (temporarily, please G-d!) highlights an underlying dynamic in Israeli society: the lack of understanding of how Muslims treated Jews when we were subject to them, didn't have possession of our own homeland, or could not get here after we did; how they greeted the news when we finally came home; and how they are cooperating with other nations to make sure we don't keep the Land of Israel to pass on to our children and other descendants.

A hint, if you go to that last link: "pro-jihadi" means anti-Israel – and anti-everyone else the Muslims hate as well.

The Ashkenazic leadership never lived with Muslims ruling over them, as they did the Christians. Kindly note that there has never been a prime minister in Israel who is (even appears or acts as if he is) aware of this history. I hope they don't wait until the last living survivor of dhimmitude passes away (my own maternal grandparents were survivors, but left this world long ago. I was two years old at the time and never got to meet them.). We all need the feedback from those who remain, to hear their story; just as we encouraged Holocaust survivors and their children to speak out, it is vitally important to encourage those who came out of dhimmitude and their descendants to express themselves as well!

Back to the Ashkenazim: They think that Islam treated the Jews better than Christianity did. Of course, the Muslims would like the entire world to believe that. Don't confuse them with the facts! Unfortunately, their lack of knowledge informs their attitudes concerning our most confrontative enemies and makes world Jewry all the more vulnerable. While this is especially applicable in Israel, Jews elsewhere should not think themselves safe from Islamic plans and depredations.

The Muslims expected our subservient behavior because in their mind we are inferior to them (but then, isn't everyone supposed to be submissive to them?). I have long suspected that they don't even want us as dhimmis because the State of Israel — let alone the Kingdom of Israel to come, with the help of G-d, speedily within our lifetime! — is an unforgivable affront to them. Why do you think, dear reader, that they went straight to the war cry of "Slaughter the Jew!"? The Three Noes of Khartoum back after the Six-Day War meant essentially the same thing:

Every. Jew. Dead.

Most Israelis know better by now that giving in doesn't work. But we must also accept our destiny. Can we? Do we want to survive or not, as the Jewish People?

Do we care enough to pick up our heads and look around to see what's happening? Or are we so busy hating fellow Jews that we feel that they — and therefore we — are unworthy of better?

Then there's the issue of sovereignty under the present system. While I think that the drive for Jewish sovereignty is admirable, it does not seem certain whether the goal is possible to achieve while the current government system is in place, even when supported by religious Jews.The powers-that-be here seem to want to have it both ways: The fact that it took the 10 years following the destruction of Gush Katif for them to realize that it was a bad decision should tell us something; but, too late now. Are they going to go ahead with the abandonment of Yehuda and the Shomron anyway? Do they really think it might be a better choice to abandon Jews to the tender mercies of the Esav-supported Yishmaelim? Or, are they going to stick by the progress, recently made, of upgrading vital places within that portion of Eretz Yisrael (i.e., Hevron)? Official Israel cannot say "the land is ours" and "we're willing to give it up" at the same time, whether for "peace" or for some other excuse. I hope the matter becomes clear which side they've decided to be on, soon. They must not be stuck on this issue while something much bigger is breathing down our neck, anxious to make the "bone in our throat" choke us and thus achieve their goal of "Let us destroy them from being a nation, and the name of Israel will no longer be remembered" — may it never be, h"v.

One suggestion: Instead of assuming that we know what it takes to survive (this would be those who don't take G-d into account) or what G-d expects of the Jewish people (those who take Him into account), maybe all of us need to study. It will take learning basic Hebrew and then examining more closely the words we do not know — instead of relying on translations to languages we are comfortable with and, therefore, think we know what the Tana"kh (not to mention the Talmud, Torah's "other half") is saying.

(I am speaking as much to myself as to my gentle readers on this point. Not being a native Hebrew-speaker, reader or writer makes elucidation of the issues difficult, for me as much as for my readers. My only advantage now is my 10 years here (this very month, yay!), going to beit-knesset — synagogue — regularly and forcing myself to be engaged with Hebrew-speakers as much as possible.)

In addition, we might be better enabled to make informed decisions as to whether we should remain under the dhimmitude of the nations, spearheaded by the Muslims (the spiritual, if not the physical, descendants of Yishma'el) around us, supported by.the Europeans (including Russia -"we can't help you when your worst enemy is 10km from you") and Americans, the spiritual, if not the physical, descendants of Esav.

If our government is incapable of throwing off these shackles, maybe we would actually be better off without a government at all, crazy as this sounds, whether Mashiah steps in or not (best, of course, if he does; may it be so!)! Either way, though, we must act with faith, relying on HQB"H to come through for us.

May we make full use of the Hebrew month of Elul to make full teshuvah, before the Yamim Nora'im.

Rosh HaShana - Strict Judgement, or Let's Make a Deal? - R' Ephraim Sprecher

As followup to a topic I posted recently, I also note that the Xians at One for Israel Ministry have revealed that Theodor Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl had a Christian mentor (rather like "behind every great man there is a woman..."). Normally, I don't read these articles, but I had to go there this time and find out who he was, only because I have never read any of Herzl's works: William Hechler, born in Germany and raised in the UK.

Apparently the information came out of Herzl's writings; but, as noted above, I cannot confirm it. If this revelation has been passed along among Israelis, I cannot wonder that many Jews in Israel have been, and are now, enamored with "Christian Zionists." Particularly if my fellow Jews already knew this information, but I didn't until now. If you decide to go there and read it, it might become evident how the Xians claim to have victory because of it.

Our obsessive need to give thanks to everyone who seems to do us a favor, even if it is meant to be against us, their end being to rob us of our hold on the land — not to mention our confidence in what we know G-d wants of us — has us by the throat. It seems to me that it is a very fine line that separates our true friends from those who wish to trap us through appearing to be true. Do we really need a prophet or ruach hakodesh to tell us which is which? Or do we have any real friends at all?

On a personal level, I want to apologize now for having possibly offended or hurt readers who have not deserved my wrath, insult or opprobrium. It is the behavior, not so much who the people are, that incurs harsh commentary on my part at times. At least we can all repent of the behavior that hinders our progress, and head towards our ultimate goal with that stiff-necked determination we're so famous for. Yes, even I. 😉

I'll leave you with a look at a Talmud prophecy fulfilled (in part at least) concerning the generation when Mashiah will come...It's part of Sanhedrin 97a:4 in the Bavli (Babylonian) version. The bold text on the linked English page is translated from the original Hebrew/Aramaic text, both within the grey highlighting. Hamevin yavin.

May we all find our Father, our King in the field during the remainder of Elul.





18 July 2017

Har haBayit Boycotted by the Arabs. Now What?

24 Tammuz 5777
BS"D

Will we accept HaShem's precious gift this time? Where I got this from | Original Source

UPDATE BELOW.

For the first time since 1967, the Temple Mount has been abandoned by the Arabs who have dominated the site since General Moshe Dayan "gave the keys" to them after the Six-Day War. This is due to the murder of two Druze police officers, whom Arabs killed there last Friday, and our response — which was to place metal detectors on the site shortly thereafter.

Riots have been taking place over our security measures, and as of yesterday, the Arabs have been boycotting their "third most holy site."

Best yet, Jews have been allowed to ascend freely. If you (a Jew or Jewess) wish to do so, here are some instructions from Reb Dov Bear bar Leib in a comment:

Ascend the Mountain of the L-rd, but do not turn toward the Center of the Complex up there that is do NOT turn toward the Golden Dome. There is only kares [spiritual death or excision - CDG] if you cross over the Chiel separating the Southern Ct. of the Gentiles from the East West line which contains within its borders the Ezrat Kohanim, the Ezrat Yisrael, and the Ezrat HaNashim. In order to stay on the Southern Court of the Gentiles when entering through the Mughrabi Gate, either walk straight ahead or turn right toward the Al Aksa Mosque. Go up with a Guide to make sure that you do not err. Also separate from your spouse for three days prior, and go to a mikveh, kosher for the removal of niddah tumah, the night before ascending. 

Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher also adds: Even men must clean themselves thoroughly first before immersing in the mikvah, just as a woman does before she immerses and is permitted to her husband (this is from a class I attended approximately two years ago). Consult your mikvah-going wife if you have questions. 😉

We don't have the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer) yet, so heed carefully the warnings above.


"Thou shalt not murder" is the 6th of the 10 Commandments. Thank G-d that the clamping down was swift this time; and may the status quo be changed irrevocably.


Who knew it would be that easy to empty Har haBayit of those who defile it and would keep the Jewish People from its destiny! May Mashiah be revealed, even before the 9th of Av!

The big questions are: When HaShem clears the way this time, will we reject, or accept, His gift of Har haBayit and know what to do with it? Will Mashiah be able to enter the area and reign there when he is revealed and crowned (may it be now)?

UPDATE: I have been remiss in not thanking G-d immediately, directly, for the miracle written about here. THANK YOU, HQB"H AVINU MALKEINU, FOR THE CONTINUING MIRACLE OF THE CONTINUED ABSENCE OF NON-JEWS ON HAR HABAYIT as of 4 Av 5777 / 27 July 2017. May it continue! WE WANT YOUR PRESENCE AMONG US!

More reading:
Har Habayit: Hashem Working in Mysterious Ways | One of the Most Serious Sins to Repent and Correct | Moshiach: A Discussion | [VIDEO] Did a Rabbi's Humility Destroy the Temple? |