Monday, September 26, 2016

Where is the Shechina Now?

Unknown Photographer

"Yeisei V'Lo Achminei" - let Moshiach come but do not let me be alive to see him [Sanhedrin 98b].

Rebbi Yochanan said that he'd give up the privilege of greeting Moshiach in order to avoid living through the terrible days of the Ikvisa D'Mishicha. With the Geula so close at hand why will they be worse than the rest of the Galus?

Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz says that since the Shechina is with us in the Galus we are protected. However at the end of the Galus when it is time for us to return to Eretz Yisroel, the Shechina will need to leave the galus and come to Eretz Yisroel to prepare and facilitate our return. During those waning days of the Galus, we will be left on our own without protection and endless tragedies will befall us. Only then will we realize how fortunate we were to have the Shechina with us.

How does Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz know that the Shechina will return to Eretz Yisroel before us?

The pasuk [Nitzavim 30:3] says, וְשָׁב וְקִבֶּצְךָ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים.  Chazal tell us that the word וְשָׁב, which means ''He will return'', proves that Hashem is with us in the Galus, or else it should say "V'Heishiv"- ''He will return us''. 

Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz says that we see from here that first וְשָׁב, Hashem will return to Eretz Yisroel.   Only after the groundwork is laid, וְקִבֶּצְךָ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים, will He bring us back from among the nations.

Source: Revach L'Neshama

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dreams and Mazal - What do they really mean?

Rabbi Alon Anava

In this lecture Rabbi Anava explains what Dreams and Mazal really mean and what is actually happening in the spiritual realms and how it relates to us on a physical level!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Nibiru: Tamar Yonah Interviews Rabbi Alon Anava

Yahrzeit: 21 Elul - Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeshutz

Source: Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

Even as a child, people could see that the gaon Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeshutz was destined to become a great figure in Israel. Originally from the Polish city of Krakow, the name “Eibeshutz” comes from the city where his father, Rabbi Nathan Neta, served as Rav. 

Rabbi Yehonatan had an extraordinary memory and an extremely sharp mind. Well-educated and possessing deep insight, these two attributes supported him during complex discussions in every field of Torah. Witnessing to this fact are his halachic works Kereti OuPeleti [on the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah] and Urim VeTummim [on the Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat]. In his thought-provoking works Ya’arot Devash, Ahavat Yehonatan, and Keshet Yehonatan, he reveals himself to be a commentator who “draws closer with his arm those who are far.” 

The gaon Rabbi Yechezkel Landau Zatzal, author of Noda B’Yehuda, said of him: “Who in his generation knows how to reprimand like him?” His reprimands addressed the weaknesses of the generation. He protested against Lashon Harah, coarse language, frivolity, praying without concentration, shaving the beard, and immorality.
Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeshutz

He combined gematriot and allusions in his sermons, and in his book Tiferet Yehonatan on the haphtarot, he reprimanded those who shaved. He wrote that the cry of the Prophet Isaiah, “Am zu [This people] which I have fashioned for Myself, yesaperu [they shall declare] My praise” [Isaiah 43:21] pertains to them. In other words: The people for whom I created zu [numerical value: 13] rows of hair in the beard, so that the beard may be My glory, it is what will declare [yesaperu, which also means “to shave”].

Nevertheless, despite these harsh reprimands, he expressed great admiration for the Jewish people, “Israel, in whom I glory” [Isaiah 49:3]. “The Children of Israel are above the wings of the Shechinah, and they shine in exile. In darkness we have seen a light. The idol-worshippers humiliate them, and this holy people accords no importance to their faith. He who is wise of heart, let him open his eyes to fully understand their unity, for the Children of Israel are alert, even in times of trouble, and therefore absolute unity is the truth.”

Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeshutz was a prolific writer. He left behind 98 works, most of which are still in manuscript form and can be found in various libraries around the world.

Besides his greatness in Torah, Rabbi Yehonatan was also versed in the sciences and respected by prominent non-Jews for his riddles, vast intelligence, and great insight.

The Jewish People Live Forever

Numerous communities had the chance of having him as their Rav. In each place that he served as Rav, Rabbi Yehonatan elevated the Torah and encouraged those who were faithful to Torah and mitzvot. Thus for example, it is said that a Bishop once enacted a decree expelling Jews from the city of Metz. When Rabbi Yehonatan learned of it, he went to find the Bishop and asked him to annul the decree. The Bishop read a phrase from a non-Jewish book to him, and said that he would not annul the decree unless the Rav gave him the correct answers to the following questions:

“How many words are in the phrase that I just read to you?”

“Seventeen words,” replied the Rav, “the same number of letters as in the saying: ‘The Jewish people live forever.’ ”

Stunned by this response, the Bishop continued:

“How many Jews live in this city?”

“Forty-five thousand, seven hundred, and sixty.”

The Bishop lowered his head and said, “You are known for your amazing amulets. Take some parchment paper, the size of that found in a mezuzah at the entrance of your homes. On it, write the expression that you just mentioned the same number of times as the Jews who live in this city. If you show me this parchment within the hour, I will annul the decree!”

Rabbi Yehonatan answered him with certitude: “The G-d of Israel can do anything! The number of letters in this expression is also 17!”

In fact Rabbi Yehonatan left, and within an hour he brought the Bishop a parchment the size of a mezuzah. On it was the expression, “The Jewish people live forever.”

For several minutes, the Bishop carefully thought about what was written, and then he rescinded his expulsion order. It is said that for an entire year, he described the number of ways to read “the Jewish people live forever” on the amulet, to the point that he believed that Rabbi Yehonatan was right!

Three Great Communities

After tremendous activity in the city of Metz for nine years, Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeshutz was appointed as the Av Beit Din of the three great communities of Altona, Wandsbek, and Hamburg. These three cities were considered as a single community, to the point that people applied the following verse to them: “For Hashem has chosen Zion; He desired [avah] it for His habitation” [Tehillim 132:13] – avah being formed by the initials of the three cities.

During the time that he served as the Rav of Prague, a prohibition was enacted against the printing of the Talmud. It also prohibited the importing of the Talmud from abroad. It once happened that a certain Jew was caught secretly bringing in eight Gemaras with the commentary of the Rif. The books were ordered burned, and the man was sentenced to clean the streets of the city for an entire year, all while in chains. Since the honor of Rabbi Yehonatan was dear to all the civil and religious leaders of Prague, he succeeded in obtaining permission to print the Talmud, something that wasn’t easy to do. In his wisdom, he dismissed the numerous arguments of the Bishops against the Talmud. The Bishops, however, placed a condition on the printing of the Talmud, namely that every teaching it contained which shamed their religious should be suppressed, and that the name “Talmud” should not appear in it. Thus tractate Berachot was printed under the name of “Hilchot Berachot” along with the Rosh, the Maharshal and the Maharsha, and the commentaries of the Rambam [Prague 5477]. These deletions were authorized by Beit Din of Prague, which was headed by Rabbi David Oppenheim.

Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeshutz lived until the age of 74, passing away on Elul 21.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Watch Your Mouth

Ever since I heard Rabbi Kessin's Power of Speech I have been on guard for things I may say that could be considered Lashon Hara.  It is quite astounding [to use Rabbi Kessin's word] how many times we inadvertently say things that fall into this category, and generally we don't realize it.  But.... once you start focussing on it, it becomes quite painful to hear yourself speaking!

I can't over-estimate the insights gained from that shiur.  And please don't think it's just another boring lecture about watching your words, because it is actually a mind-blowing lesson in how the judgments of the world are handed down.  If you haven't listened to it, do yourself a favour, it will change your life, in so many ways, and you and your family will reap the rewards.

On this topic, here are a couple of instances of what NOT to say:

Know as well that in regard to the prohibition against rechilut [talebearing], it makes no difference if we tell Reuven what So-and-so said about him, or if we tell Reuven’s wife or relatives what So-and-so said about him. In either case, they will certainly be upset, and they will resent So-and-so as a result. Hence even if we have warned them not to tell anyone, it is still considered rechilut.

If Levi tells Reuven something negative about Shimon, and Reuven then goes and tells it to Shimon (thus breaking the prohibition against Rechilut [talebearing]), Shimon is forbidden to ask Levi: “Why did you say that about me?” In doing so, Shimon would be speaking Rechilut about Reuven. Even if he does not say that he heard it from Reuven, if it is easy to deduce that fact, then it is forbidden.

Source: Chofetz Chaim

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How to Prepare for the New Year

Rabbi Alon Anava : In this lecture Rabbi Anava teaches us the step by step process on how to prepare for the awesome days of Elul leading into Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur so we can attain the utmost from this most auspicious time.

Chai Elul

Art Baruch Nachshon

"Chai Elul" -- the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Elul -- is a most significant date on the Chassidic calendar. The founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, was born on this date, in 1698. It is also the day, 36 years later, on which the Baal Shem Tov began to publicly disseminate his teachings, after many years as a member of the society of "hidden tzaddikim" during which he lived disguised as a simple innkeeper and clay-digger, his greatness known only to a very small circle of fellow mystics and disciples.

 Elul 18 is also the birthday -- in 1745 -- of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, who often referred to himself as the Baal Shem Tov's "spiritual grandson" [Rabbi Schneur Zalman was the disciple of Rabbi Israel's disciple, Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch]. After gaining fame as a child prodigy and young Talmudic genius, Rabbi Schneur Zalman journeyed to Mezeritch to study under the tutelage of the Baal Shem Tov's successor--as he later explained, "to study I knew somewhat, but I needed to learn how to pray"--and was soon accepted into the intimate circle of Rabbi DovBer's leading disciples. Rabbi Schneur Zalman established the "Chabad" branch of Chassidism, which emphasizes in-depth study and intense contemplation as the key to vitalizing the entire person, from sublime mind to practical deed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The True Power of Speech - Rabbi Mendel Kessin

"Cursed is he who secretly strikes his fellowman" [Ki Tavo 27:24] Rashi explains that this curse refers to one who speaks lashon hora - when someone speaks evil, he secretly "strikes" his fellowman.

Rabbi Mendel Kessin presents a two part video series on the power of speech.  I highly recommend listening to this shiur before Rosh Hashanah - you will be truly enlightened, about the way lashon hara works against you, causes you damages, and how it prevents Moshiach coming.  Listen to this, and you will understand....

Monday, September 19, 2016

True Tefillin

Art: Alex Levin

"And all the nations of the earth will see that Hashem's Name is displayed upon you, and they will revere you" [Ki Tavo 28:10]

In Maseches Berachos [6a], Chazal expound on the above verse: "From where do we know that tefillin are a source of might for Israel? - From the verse "And all the nations of the earth will see that Hashem's Name is displayed upon you, and they will revere you". And it was taught: R' Eliezer HaGadol said "these are the tefillin of the head [sheba' rosh]."

The Sha'agas Aryeh [R' Aryeh Leib from Metz] was once travelling. Throughout the trip he wore his tallis and tefillin and engaged in Torah study.

The wagon driver was also wearing his tallis and tefillin - he was praying while steering the horses.

Suddenly, a band of armed robbers jumped out from the forest and attacked the wagon; they demanded that the driver stop the wagon and hand over all of his money.

The driver was terribly frightened. "Rebbe" he screamed, "we're in danger!"

The Sha'agas Aryeh heard the screaming coming from up front, so he stuck his head out the window to see what was happening. But when the ordinarily bold thieves took one look at the Sha'agas Aryeh, they were overcome with fear and immediately fled.

"Rebbe" asked the driver, "I am both younger and stronger than you. Yet it was you whom the thieves were terrified of. Why did the robbers run away when they saw you?"

"The robbers did not run because of my strength" answered the Sha'agas Aryeh, "but because of the tefillin on my head!"

"But I am also wearing tefillin" responded the driver. "Why did the thieves not run away from me?"

The Sha'agas Aryeh explained: "The Torah says "and all the nations of the earth will see that Hashem's Name is displayed upon you, and they will revere you". The Gemara quotes R' Eliezer HaGadol who teaches that this verse is referring to the tefillin of the head [sheba'rosh]. If you read the words of Chazal carefully, you will notice that Chazal did not say "tefillin she'al ha'rosh" [tefillin that rest on one's head]; rather "tefillin sheba'rosh" [tefillin that are inside one's head]. The holiness of the tefillin must be absorbed into one's head, and then it instills fear into the nations of the world. But if the tefillin are simply lying on top of one's head, then the nations of the world do not fear us at all.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Spiritual Beings in Physical Bodies

"that you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you will bring from your land, which the Lord, your God, is giving you. And you shall put [them] into a basket" [Ki Tavo 26:2]

First fruits represent the Jewish souls, as the Midrash teaches that the Divine Thought to create Jewish souls "preceded everything" [Bereishis Rabah 1:4]. In this respect, Jewish souls are "first" and cherished in a way similar to first fruits.

When the soul is in Heaven, before it enters a body, it enjoys an intense, ecstatic relationship with G-d.  Nevertheless, the soul is sent down to earth in a body which conceals its relationship with G-d.  This is not without profit since, through this descent, the soul is able to carry out a mission in the physical world, which can eventually result in an even more intense relationship with G-d.  For G-d's innermost "desire" is for His mitzvot to be carried out specifically in the physical world.

This is the lesson from the requirement of first fruits being placed in a basket.  Although the fruits are the finest and first of the crop, they cannot achieve perfection without a basket.

Likewise, the Jewish soul, which is G-d's highest priority, cannot achieve perfection without coming down into a physical body, in a world of concealment and temptation, because it is precisely through that descent that an even greater ascent is achieved.

Source: Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe vol 29

Also see: Yerida L'tzorich Aliya: Descent for the Purpose of Ascent