Monday, March 27, 2017

Communal Benefits

Art: Xinature

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

One of the questions often asked of the great poskim is how a person can atone for the sin of theft if he cannot remember the people from whom he has stolen!

In the book Tuvcha Yabiu, Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein Shlita advises one who wants to repent and atone for the sin of theft to donate some money for the needs of the community.

The Rav Shlita cites an amazing incident that occurred in Israel, an incident that he himself witnessed:

“Someone had placed some comfortable benches next to the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron. A few years ago, when I went to Meron, I saw a Jew who was lying down on one of these benches, and when he got up he said something like, ‘Oh, how it’s good to relax on these benches!’

“As it turned out, the man who was responsible for placing the benches there had sinned against the very same Jew relaxing on them. Since this Jew had benefited from these benches, it was considered as if the transgressor had atoned for his sin, thereby erasing it. The same applies to returning a stolen object: If we do something for the community by donating things that the public needs, and if we also pray to Hashem so that those against whom we have sinned will forgive us, we will attain atonement and forgiveness for our sin.”

Friday, March 24, 2017

Suffering and Debt


Dovid HaMelech in Sefer Tehillim [Psalms 25:18] makes the following request of Hashem: “Look at my affliction and toil and bear all my sins.”

The seventh bracha of the Amidah, “Re’ah [Na] V’anyenu” ["Look… at our afflictions"] closely parallels this passage in Tehillim, and it is, in fact, the only bracha in the Amidah where we ask Hashem to “look” at something for us.

It is said in the name of the Apter Rav that if a person is suffering, he should affirmatively acknowledge and state “may my pain and suffering be a kapara [atonement] for all of my sins”. In this way, a person acknowledges that the purpose of his suffering or affliction is not meaningless or some kind of torture, but to achieve redirection and/or atonement. With this affirmative acknowledgement, the kapara is achieved.

"Gam zu le'tova" : this too is for the best

"Zol zein a kapara" : it should be accepted as a recompense for punishment.


Rebbe Nachman said : "There are sins whose punishment is debt. One who is punished for such a sin is constantly in debt. All the merit in the world does not erase his punishment. He can do every possible good, still he must remain in debt.

These sins can even cause others to fall into debt. When such transgressions become common, there are many debtors in the world.

The remedy for this is to repent in general for all your sins. Even though you do not know what sin is causing these debts, repent in general and ask G-d to also save you from this particular sin.

If the Torah were written in order, we would know the precise reward and punishment for each commandment."

[Rebbe Nachman]

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Korea: Rabbi Nachmani's Prophetic Words


This is a re-blog, for the readers who have not ever seen it, inspired by the latest post from Dov Bar Leib.

Rabbi Levi Saadia Nachmani zt''l, speaking in 1994 [about a month before he passed away], warning us about Korea's nukes.




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Waiting for You


Artist Unknown

"For hundreds of years, perhaps since the beginning of Creation, a piece of the world has been waiting for your soul to purify and repair it.

And your soul, from the time it was first emanated and conceived, waited above to descend to this world and carry out that mission.

And your footsteps were guided to reach that place. And you are there now."

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

Monday, March 20, 2017

Real Love






Real love is reciprocated: "As in water, face reflects face, so is the heart of man to man" [Proverbs 27:19]. Reflections in water are an apt metaphor for the reciprocity of feelings.

The Hebrew word for "water" - mayim - is a reflection of itself: it is the same read forwards or backwards.

Love is reciprocated, though, only if it as strong as the love of father for son, brother for brother, or husband for wife. Weak love might not be returned.

"Love your neighbour like yourself" - love him so strongly that he will naturally reciprocate with love like you have for him.

from the writings of the Ben Ish Chai

Friday, March 17, 2017

The First Tablets -v- The Second Tablets



There are a number of key differences between the first and second tablets:

The Tablets themselves: The first tablets were ''the work of God'' [Ki Tisa 32:16], whereas the second tablets God told Moshe to ''carve for yourself'' [34:1]

The writing:  The Talmud states that only the first tablets possessed the quality of ''God's writing'', which would have caused the words to be forever engraved in Israel's heart and never forgotten [Eruvan 54a and Rashi ibid]

The spiritual level of Israel: By the first tablets, the Jewish people were tzadikim [saintly], whereas by the second tablets they were ba'alei teshuvah [penitents].

The spiritual level of Moshe:  Moshe was given ''one thousand lights'' as a present when the Torah was given, but with the sin of the golden calf they were taken away.

The second tablets had the advantage that (a) they were given with ''halachot, midrash and aggadot'' and (b) Moshe's face shone with light when they were given.

Source: Lubavitcher Rebbe Hayom Yom 17 Tamuz

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Why We Cling To Tzadikim

Art: SRG


This is a re-blog from 2012, as once again we have had commenters who are confused about why we pray at the graves of tzadikim.


The Lubavitcher Rebbe would often answer requests by saying that he would pray for the person at the grave of his father-in-law, the previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak.

The following is extracted from "Not Just Stories" by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski MD
Published by Shaar Press

Every person has a direct line with G-d, and we are not permitted to pray to intermediaries. Indeed, the propriety of prayers where we appear to be asking for blessings from angels or for their intervention on our behalf, is the subject of debate, and must be interpreted in such a way that does not violate our basic belief that we relate only to G-d as the One from Whom everything emanates.

Yes, there is also the concept of faith in a tzaddik, which is derived from the verse in Exodus [14:31] "They had faith in G-d and in Moses, His servant". The sages derived from this verse that believing in the leader of Israel is equivalent to believing in the Creator [Mechilta]. In addition, the Talmud states that if there is a sick person in one's household, let him go to a chacham [a wise man] to pray for his recovery [Bava Basra 116a]. Inasmuch as everyone has a direct contact with G-d and we do not work through intermediaries, why is the prayer of a tzaddik more potent that one's own prayer?

There are several ways in which we can understand the concept of faith in a tzaddik. First and foremost is that the opinion of a wise man, a tzaddik, as a Torah authority, must be accepted and followed even if we are in disagreement with it [Sifri, Deut 17:11].

There is also a concept of receiving a blessing from a tzaddik and this has its basis in a statement from G-d to Abraham "And you will be a blessing" [Gen 12:2] which the Midrash interprets to mean that G-d gave Abraham the power to bless people, and that gift has been given to other tzaddikim as well. Nevertheless, a person must understand that even though the tzaddik conveys the blessing, the origin of the blessing is G-d.

A woman once came to Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobel, pleading for a blessing to have a child. To the amazement of the bystanders, the Rabbi, who was exceptionally kind and benevolent, said brusquely to her "I'm sorry, I cannot help you". The woman left the room tearful and broken hearted.

Noting the bewilderment of his chassidim, Rabbi Mordechai said "Just wait a few moments, then go find the woman and bring her back here." The chassidim did as they were told and when the woman came back, the Rabbi asked her "What did you do when you left here?"

The woman replied "I turned my eyes to Heaven and I said "Dear G-d, the Rabbi refuses to help me. Now You are my only hope. Bless me that I have a child."

Rabbi Mordechai said to the chassidim "This woman believed that I had magical powers, and she was trusting in me rather than in G-d. When I refused her request, she placed her trust in G-d where it belongs. She will now be blessed with a child."

The primary function of a tzaddik is to assist people in the proper service of G-d, to help them recognize their character defects and show them how to do teshuvah.

The power of a tzaddik is in his strong belief in G-d, and anyone who has that strong a belief can bring about similar results. When the tzaddik prays for a sick person, for example, and says that G-d is the healer of the sick, his belief is so strong that it actually brings down the Divine healing upon the person. In fact, said Rabbi Mordechai, the prime reason for having a relationship with a tzaddik is to learn how to perfect one's belief in G-d.