''...for the Lord, your God, is testing you...'' [Re'eh 13:4]
One of the basic teachings of the Torah is that God does not expect of a human being anything which is beyond the human capacity to carry out. This is quite understandable, for even a human being, who is very far from absolute perfection, would not expect of a tool that he has fashioned any more than he has put into it.
Certainly God, the Creator of man, knows man's capacities. From this, it immediately follows that when a person faces any kind of a test of faith, it is certain that he has been given the capacity to overcome it. And the more difficult the test, the greater are the individual's capacities.
The reason that an individual is tested is not because God wants to know how he will acquit himself, but in order that this person be afforded the opportunity to realize his potential, even that which is unknown to him.
And when one's potential capacities are released and activated, they become part and parcel of his or her arsenal, to be used for personal as well as communal benefit.
Source: Excerpt from a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Every commandment that I command you this day you shall keep to do, that you may live and multiply, and come and possess the land that the Lord swore to your forefathers. [Eikev 8:1]
The lesson that one who completes a mitzvah is credited with it [see Rashi] is particularly apt for our generation.
For according to all the signs which were given by our Sages, we are presently in the last generation of exile, which will become the first generation of redemption.
Thus, it is greatly encouraging to know that despite the fact that the Torah study and observance of mitzvot in previous generations greatly surpassed that of our more humble efforts, nevertheless one who completes a mitzvah is credited with it.
Mashiach will come in the merit of our mitzvot, which are performed in the last moments of exile.
Based on Likutei Sichos vol 9 pp 104-5 Lubavitcher Rebbe
'People trapped under rubble' following 6.0 magnitude tremor.
A magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck central Italy early on Wednesday, with reports of damaged buildings and blackouts near the epicentre Rieti and residents fleeing their homes and running into the streets.
The shallow quake, estimated to have struck after 3:30am at a depth of 4km, was felt across a broad section of central Italy, including the capital Rome where people in homes in the historic centre felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks.
The mayor of Amatrice, which so far appears to be one of the centres worst affected by the quake, said that half of the town is gone.
Aftershocks are still being felt across the whole of central Italy all the way to Naples and Foggia and with people reportedly in the streets in Florence.
Very sad to hear about the passing of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, whose articles I have blogged from time to time, and who was one of the greats in Kiruv work. Click on the JUNGREIS label below to see past blogs.
The levayah will take place on Wednesday morning, at 11 o’clock, at Agudath Israel of Long Island, located at 1121 Sage Street in Far Rockaway, NY.
For many of the people unfamiliar with the political scene in Eretz Yisrael, it can seem quite incredible that the Israeli government would invest so much time, money and effort in persecuting an elderly Rav, and chasing him all over the world from country to country, if there wasn’t some real justification.
The sad truth is that to the secular leaders in Israel, religious Jews, and particularly haredi Jews, are increasingly being viewed as ‘Public Enemy Number One’. As more and more Jews in Israel re-discover their Jewish roots and return to Yiddishkeit, the secular elites are seeing their electoral power-base erode. They are increasingly concerned that if Israel becomes a country where the majority of the residents are religiously-observant, that will curtail their own desires to live an essentially non-Jewish, or even ‘anti’-Jewish life within Israel.
Rav Berland at the Kotel
Over the last four years, this ‘war’ the secular elites have been fighting against the Torah world in Israel has only intensified. Today, many of the leading rabbis in Israel are scared to speak out too vocally, for fear of being targeted, persecuted, and falsely slandered by the ‘anti-Torah’ people who are pulling many of the strings behind Israel’s institutions, media and governance.
With that background, now you can hopefully better understand the following comments that Rav Berland made himself, after the Israeli government’s second unsuccessful attempt to extradite him from Holland. After the first attempt, the Dutch judge presiding over the hearing rebuked the Israeli representatives, stated ‘there was nothing here’, and publicly questioned why the Israeli government was persecuting Rav Berland in such a flagrant manner.
After the second hearing to extradite him from Holland to Israel in September 2014, while Israel was still waiting to see if the cease-fire that had ended ‘Operation Protective Edge’ would hold, the Rav made the following comments:
“The terrorists in Gaza are getting help from the Israeli government. The next prime minister of Israel will already be from the Hamas, maybe [Ismael] Haniya himself, it’s impossible to know exactly who. Because today, all the wars they make [referring to the Israeli government] are only against Rabbinic scholars, and against people like Rav Berland. Instead of waging war against the Hamas, they’re just waging war against Rav Berland. It’s a sign that in the next election, Haniya himself will be the next prime minister of Israel, or maybe it’ll be Arafat’s nephew?
“The only focus of the [Israeli] government seems to be to unite with the Arabs, and to persecute rabbis, so there’ll be less Jewish continuity. So that’s why they’re fighting their ‘war’ [against the Torah world], and all the world is laughing at this, and saying: “We have no idea what’s going on here, or why [the Israeli government is chasing after this Rabbi] so very much!” They have no idea what’s going on, after six million Jews got killed, and yet they still see the Israeli government supporting the Arabs [financially], and even still giving them more weapons.
“Recently, one of the officers in the IDF brought out a book where he described how he witnessed the Israeli government selling weapons to the Hamas, and the government wanted to stop him from publicizing this information.
“I explained in the court how the only ‘gangsters’ the Israeli government is interested in these days are Rabbis and Rosh Yeshivas, and that’s why the Israeli police is going out of its mind, asking themselves: ‘How are we going to blacken his name?’ [In Johannesburg], they sent 50 armed men after me…I officiated at four weddings in Johannesburg, and at the last one the police arrived with their patrol cars and sent armed commandos after me.
“We’re really seeing God face-to-face in all of this, and everything is going to be transformed into beautiful things. Every second, we’re seeing miracles and wonders. Now, this is really a big sanctification of God’s name (Kiddush Hashem), and everyone is going to make Teshuva, because they’re all seeing on the television how [the Israeli government] is chasing after the Rav day and night. It’s simply showing everyone that this is just a war against Shuvu Banim, and a war against Rav Berland, because we’re bringing people back in Teshuva.
“Today, there’s nearly a million baalei Teshuva [in Israel], and they just can’t stand the idea that people who were once ‘gangsters’ are today rabbis with side-curls and beards.''
And sadly, the war is continuing. At Rav Berland’s last hearing in Israel, the presiding judge announced that because the Rav believes more in the Torah’s laws than in the laws of the State of Israel, and because he has thousands of followers, he is therefore considered to be a ‘dangerous person’ and a threat to Israeli society.
The Israeli police force is keeping Rav Berland behind bars indefinitely, despite the complete lack of any evidence against him, solely because he keeps Torah and has inspired many thousands of people to return to their Jewish roots, and come back to Hashem.
Many of the Torah leaders in Israel are scared that if they speak out too vocally about the corrupt and cruel treatment of Rav Berland, they will be the next people targeted for character assassination and arrest.
"And you say in your heart: "My strength and the power of my hand amassed this wealth for me" [Eikev 8:17]
A wealthy wood merchant approached R' Chaim of Volozhin and told him that he was in danger of losing his entire fortune.
"Why is your fortune at risk?" asked R'Chaim.
The merchant related his story. "I sent a large ship carrying wood to Prussia" he explained. "The Prussian authorities, however, are not allowing my merchandise into their country. They have warned me that should the ship not turn around, they will sink the ship and all of my precious cargo along with it!"
"Do not worry!" responded R' Chaim. "You will see, Hashem's salvation comes in the blink of an eye!"
That same day, the price of wood increased significantly and, to the merchant's good fortune, the Prussian authorities also allowed his ship to enter their country.
The overjoyed merchant ran over to R' Chaim. "Rebbe" he said, "today I have witnessed the hand of Divine Providence! I now realize that the government's unwillingness to allow my ship to enter their country was all for the best. For had it been permitted to enter any earlier, I would have received a lower price for my wood. Hashem saw to it, however, than my ship would not enter Prussia any earlier so that I would reap far greater profits!"
"You now see the difference between a rich man and a poor man" sighed R' Chaim. "A poor man sees Hashem's guiding Hand each and every day. But a rich man, who is certain that his wealth stems from his own abilities and strengths, only notices Hashem's Providence once every few years."
''From there, they journeyed to Gudgodah, and from Gudgodah to Yotvath..'' [Eikev 10:7]
Rashi: And at Moserah, you made a great mourning for the death of Aaron, which was the cause of this [your retreat], and it seemed to you as though he had died there. Moses juxtaposed this reproof with the breaking of the tablets to indicate that the death of the righteous is as grievous to the Holy One, blessed is He, as the day the tablets were broken...
Why is a tzadik [Aaron] compared to the tablets?
The writing on the tablets represented the ''soul'' of the tablets, and the tablets themselves, their ''body''. The fact that the Ten Commandments were engraved into the tablets, and not merely written onto them, means that the words and the tablets [''soul'' and ''body''] became one single, indivisible entity.
Likewise in the case of a tzadik, it is not merely that his soul interacts with his body, but that the tzadik's physical life is totally at peace with his soul such that ''the life of the tzadik is not a physical life, but a spiritual life''.
Based on Likutei Sichos vol 14 pp 32-34 Lubavitcher Rebbe
The 15th of Av is undoubtedly a most mysterious day. A search of the Shulchan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law] reveals no observances or customs for this date, except for the instruction that the tachanun [confession of sins] and similar portions should be omitted from the daily prayers [as is the case with all festive dates], and that one should increase one’s study of Torah, since the nights are begining to grow longer, and “the night was created for study.” And the Talmud tells us that many years ago the “daughters of Jerusalem would go dance in the vineyards” on the 15th of Av, and “whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride.
And the Talmud considers this the greatest festival of the year, with Yom Kippur (!) a close second!
Indeed, the 15th of Av cannot but be a mystery. As the “full moon” of the tragic month of Av, it is the festival of the future redemption, and thus a day whose essence, by definition, is unknowable to our unredeemed selves.
Yet the unknowable is also ours to seek and explore.
Art Baruch Nachshon ' 'From there, they journeyed to Gudgodah, and from Gudgodah to Yotvath..'' [ Eikev 10:7 ] Ra...
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"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." "How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."