Thursday, March 26, 2015

Coming to a Close - Interesting Dreams

To anyone who enjoys reading here I apologize I haven't written anything in a really long time. I've been trying to restructure my learning schedule and also had an opportunity to switch jobs for the first time in half a decade so while I've been investing a lot in updating my professional life and (I hope) my spiritual life, I haven't been investing any time or energy in my writing.

One of the goals I have with this blog is to focus my posts on threshing out ideas based either on Torah or at least logical reasoning. I don't like to spend too much time on "feelings" that aren't backed up by some sort of evidence/logic as everyone has their own feelings and whose to say mine are any more relevant than yours that you should be spending time contemplating mine instead of your own?

I especially never intended to speak about my dreams as Chazal says that there is no dream without at least some element of nonsense, and mine in particular never seem to have any significant meaning worth speaking about. However, I have had several dreams over the last several months which I view as significant in that while I'm not some mekubal that can interpret them or even confirm they do have some sort of message, they had quite a significant emotional affect on me both during the dream and after I woke up (including a really striking one the night before the Har Nof shul massacre).

I'd like to share my most recent one as it greatly ties into how I've been feeling lately. I was living in some sort of real-life post apocalyptic tv shows or movies. I'm not sure if the reason had been war or zombies or who knows what, but civilization had collapsed and I was in a group of survivors scavenging for food and supplies. I started telling one of my comrades that G-d was bringing the world to an end and he said something to the effect of, "He already did, look around you." I replied that I didn't mean civilization collapsing, but something even more than that. That even for the survivors - Hashem was bringing their world to an end and that human history was about to come to it's complete end even for those of us still around. As I was telling him this I started crying my eyes out and I said something to the effect of, "It's all going to be finished." Just as I completed that sentence I woke up from the dream!

I don't currently have the head-space to comment on the amazing rate of deterioration (or should I say revelation of the true nature) of Israel's relationship with America, nor the expansion of conflicts in the middle east. I'll leave that to bloggers like Rabbi Brody and Devash. And although Nissan/Pesach as well as shmita is an auspicious time for Am Yisrael, and I'm sure many geula bloggers will make connections to this, I also won't get into that right now. I guess I just need to take a step back for a moment, look at the bigger picture and get off my chest that while I and a lot of people I know have spoken over the last decade or so about how history seems to be speeding up, I feel like in the last year and the last few months even that heightened rate of acceleration is drastically picking up the pace.

Like I said I'm not going to use this post to try and make any ramazim through current events or the like. I just want to say that regardless of any particular instances, I just have this general feeling in my gut of "Whoah, what is going on here?" and I guess I'm just curious if anyone else is feeling that as well? If so please feel free to share.

Shabbat Hagadol Shalom and Chag Kasher v'sameach. May we only hear good things for Am and Eretz Yisrael.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ki Teitzei

In this week’s parsha we have the prohibition of not wearing clothes of the opposite gender. Rashi explains the reason as to prevent comingling for the purposes of licentiousness. Reb Noson however in his Likeutei Halachot is m’dayek on the passuk to bring a deeper idea. The passuk states “there shall not be a man’s garment to a women and a man shall not dress in a woman’s garment…” Reb Noson explains that spiritually speaking, “garments” refer to a person’s seichel which clothes and surrounds his neshama. Specifically the seichel corresponds to whatever level of understanding Hashem that person has reached via their Torah learning and avodah. A person who has reached a certain level of comprehension of heaven can obviously understand the levels below his current one as well. However if he tries to reach too high above his current level he may find he taps into a revelation that is too much for his personal kelim to handle which can have a very damaging affect. Therefore a person has to constantly be working on themselves via davening, mitzvot and learning so as to always be building stronger kelim to eventually take on the next higher level of divine light.

Kabbalistically speaking, when talking about any two different levels of spirituality, the upper level is referred to as the “male” while the lower is referred to as the “female.” Reb Noson says the passuk is actually speaking in code, referring to two different levels of spirituality. Someone who is on a lower level is in the aspect of “female” and the Torah is warning them not to shoot too high for a level above their reach, i.e. “male seichel” before they are ready for it. Therefore it specifically says “there shall not be a male’s garment (higher seichel) to a women (lower seichel)” because this person is not yet ready to attain it. However when describing the second case the language is changed to “ a man (upper seichel) shall not dress in a woman’s garment (lower seichel).” Reb Noson says that the Torah doesn’t need to warn one who has achieved a higher level not to reach for a lower level as it’s obvious that such a level is already within their grasp. However it says not to dress oneself in it – i.e. not to involve oneself in a lower level because even though one is able to do so we should always be working to achieve new heights in our spirituality – not go lower.

May we merit to constantly elevate ourselves in our relationship with Hashem in a safe and measured way.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Is Ferguson mida k'neged mida?

While it's always been quite a debate if America is truly a friend of Israel's or just claims to be, I don't think anyone would disagree this current administration is one of if not the most openly anti-Israel. In the past 10 years that I can remember paying attention to such things I don't remember such unabashed hostility (again I'm not talking about what the government thinks or does behind the scenes which may be just as bad - I'm talking what they say right out in the open to the news cameras). I was quite surprised by two condemnations of Israel by Obama during this current conflict. By surprised I don't mean that I found it shocking or completely unexpected, but rather that the level of chutzpah shown was so above even what numbed out news-following senses have been accustomed to that it actually exhibited an emotional response rather than just a customary "what else is new?"

The first incident was when after barely mentioning the unjust kidnap and ultimately heinous murder of the Jewish boys (one of which was an American citizen) after 3 weeks, Obama immediately jumped up to speak out against the murder of an arab boy who was most definitely not an American and so soon that not even enough time had passed to know whether it was even Jews or not. Additionally the administration protested the physicality of the Israel police when arresting the boy's cousin (who at the very least was an American) when he had picked the fight with them in the first place and according to most if not all reports had a knife on him at the time. Can you tell me of a single police force in the entire world that when confronted by somebody with a knife in the middle of violent riots would put an arm around his shoulder and say, "Come young man, let's have a nice civilized chat about your behavior."? Certainly not the DC police operating a few hundred yards outside Obama's residence at the White House who slaughtered an unarmed mother for driving suspiciously and not obeying traffic instructions.

The second incident was when the administration spoke out against Israel's measures to defend itself against Gaza including the State Department stating how appalled it was by Israel's disgraceful shelling of a UN school in Gaza. Mind you this was after the UN itself had admitted to finding rockets stored several of it's schools in Gaza! (Never mind the fact that they also openly admitted to handing them back over to Hamas).

It seems quite fitting that for meddling in Israel's affairs America is now suffering an ongoing Black Intifada in Missouri. It has even gotten to the point where the NAACP has resorted to reaching out to the UN over America's supposed mistreating of blacks in the current situation. Perhaps the American government should be more careful what they say and do as in Shemayim the halacha is what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Jabel Mukaber - What a Wonderful Neighborhood

Looks like Tisha B'Av started a little early this year. One pedestrian has been declared dead HY"D as well as the terrorist driver yemach shemo v'zichro who is reported to be a resident of Jabel Mukaber. That name rings a bell well for me - I remember attending a protest there to demolish the home of the terrorist who shot up Yeshivat Merkaz haRav several years ago. From what I remember his family setup a mourning tent for visitors outside their home with Hamas flags proudly flying. A quick glance at the Wikipedia page on the neighborhood shows that there are quite a few other proud murders hailing from there as well. It's tragically amusing that the section of the article is entitled "Arab Israeli Conflict" however the only incidents cited under it are those of Arabs randomly killing innocent Jews. While "Murder Factory" would be a more apt sub-article title I suppose that wouldn't pass Wikipedia's editing standards.

Below is a clip supplied by Ynet of police officers unloading what sounds like a dozen or two rounds into the driver before his machine comes to a halt - looks to have been taken on a cell phone. Everyone stay safe and have an easy fast.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

We are at war with every single arab

There are a lot of people with very harsh words to say about the Jews who allegedly killed the arab boy recently. Some of them are prominent Torah authorities, while others are just talk backers who are enjoying shooting their mouths off.

I'm trying my best not to get into this one as I'm sure there are loads of misinformation being put out there on it, and additionally in my heart of hearts my mind is already made up as to how I feel. If Rov haPoskim come out and say a certain act is assur, then we have to follow the halacha "even if they say left is right and right is left," right? However if that ends up being the case it would be easier to move a mountain then change the way I feel. No matter how many declarations are made and condemnations spread, I just can't bring myself to remove pity from these poor boys whose futures will be tarnished for the rest of their lives and instead place that pity on some arab who probably hated us anyway and for all we know would have grown up to do such things to Jews himself G-d forbid.

Let me just pose things like this: Is what these boys allegedly did any worse than what the Hamasnikim did to our 3 young kodshim? Yet the police found the time and ability to nab the Jewish perps while the arab murderers are still at large, and if they indeed ever are found they will most likely be let out in another cockamamie prisoner release far sooner that these boys will set free.

I don't know how many remember this off the top of their heads, but I thought I would bring up this little blast from the past. Shortly after the massacre at Merkaz Harav several years ago, Rav Kanievsky came out saying that it was assur to hire arab employees as, "After all we are at war with them."

See here:
Top Hareidi Rabbi Bans Arab Labor Following Merkaz HaRav Attack

and here:
Prominent rabbi to yeshiva heads: Don't hire Arabs

In light of this from Rav Kanievsky we need to remember that we are in a constant state of war and that as a nation the arabs are all our enemies. I won't go so far as to extrapolate that the Rav meant it extends to being allowed to kill any random arab you wish, however there is an inyan that each and every one has a status of potential enemy combatant. No matter what the final psak din is with the current parsha we're going through, I think we need to keep this in mind when trying to frame things in the appropriate context.

And no matter who is halachikly eligible for a target of Jewish blood and Hashem's name being avenged, may He sanctify His name by doing it for us Himself in an open way which is undeniable to all the world so that justice may be wrought uncontested.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Rainbow Connection?

In this emotionally charged time I would like to say that I'm not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, and not anyone who is connected to Hashem enough to lay any claim to knowing the reasons behind why He does certain things. In writing this I'm just a simple person who is sharing an observation as a possibility - a possibility which I don't believe goes against Daat Torah so what the heck.

Our boys were kidnapped on the night of June 12th. The very next day, June 13th, was the 16th annual Tel Aviv Gay Parade. While these were two separate dates in the Gregorian calendar, it was the same date on the Hebrew one. Additionally if I'm not mistaken it was at the close to a full week of such disgusting celebrations.

This week the day after the funeral, the charred body of an arab teen shows up in the forest, and immediately arabs start rioting and indeed the entire world comes out in condemnation of us as the perpetrators, even though there isn't any public evidence as to who committed the killing. However rumor has it that the main police lead right now is that the kid was gay and his own family murdered him as an honor killing. This could just be speculation, but if you've seen the picture of him Ynet posted, let's just say he's not the most macho looking kind of guy.

If indeed he was killed by his own people, maybe even his own family, for being gay yet we are still being wrested with the blame a thought popped into my head of the possibility of this being consequences for the continued support of "gay rights" being pushed in our name. It's been observed by others before how ironic it is that the gay movement has chosen the rainbow as it's icon when this is the very symbol G-d chose to remind humanity of the flood. Indeed Chazal says seeing a rainbow is an omen that the world is returning to a level of degeneration low enough to merit a second flood had G-d not promised never again to bring another one (of water at least). It could be that with every extra rainbow flag that is waved, it's actually a hint from Shemayim that we are getting deeper and deeper in the shmutz. Additionally Chazal tell us that though the sins of the generation were great, Hashem didn't actually decree the flood until it reached the point where gay marriage became legal and common. It's interesting to note that recently Education Minister Shai Piron got himself into a bit of hot water for an interview in which he didn't even speak out against homosexuality per se, but rather said from a religious point of view a gay couple can not constitute a family. It's no surprise for left wing secular Israelis to espouse pro-gay views... ain chadash tachat hashemesh. However when it reaches the point that people are suddenly shocked that a self-proclaimed "Orthodox Rabbi" says from a Torah perspective that gays aren't a real family, that's something that raises an eyebrow. The fact anyone would reasonably expect something different from the mouth of a man with a kippah on his head is indicative of what a low level we've reached. I'm personally surprised he keeps the kippah on his head when he apparently boasts in the same interview that he's supported every pro-gay piece of legislation that has been offered up during his time in the knesset.

Chazal teach us that the original flood reached everywhere in the world except for the land of Israel. Indeed, lately we have, for the most part, seemed to enjoy being an island of tranquility in the middle of an ever increasingly violent and self-destructive Middle East and entire world for that matter. Like I said, I have no clue why Hashem is making things play out the way they currently are, however it's interesting to ponder the "rainbow connection."

I'd like to write further on the murder of our boys, some of the reactions across Israeli society and what I hope is the big picture of it all, however that will have to wait for a later post. In the meantime let's just pray that we merit to see all "abominations" cleansed from our land - up to and including the wanton slaughtering of our children, may Hashem avenge their blood.... and may He do so in the most brutal and painful way possible.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Parshat Chukat - Emunat Chachamim

This week’s parsha is jam packed with many subjects, most of which are seemingly unrelated. However a closer examination shows a common theme threaded throughout – the power of the tzaddikim and attachment to them.

The first topic is the para aduma. Rashi brings that part of the reason that davka a para is needed is to fix the sin of the egel hazahav – the mashal that a maid’s son messed up the kings palace, they said let the child’s mother come and clean up his mess. The egel itself was tied into the concept of the tzaddik as Rashi brings that the justification for making it was that Am Yisrael mistakenly believed Moshe had died and they wished to have a replacement to access the conduit to Hashem he served as for them. Thus, at its root, fixing the sin of the egel (via the para aduma) is tied to fixing our relationship with the tzaddik. Additionally Reb Noson brings in his Lekutei Halachot that the concept of the para aduma is further tied to Moshe Rabbeinu as Chazal says that all ashes of future para adumas had to have mixed in some of the ashes of Moshe’s original para aduma from the midbar.

The next event in our parsha is the death of Miriam. Rashi there cites the Gemara in Moed Katan that Miriam’s passing is mentioned right after the sugya of the Para to teach that just as korbanot (such as the para aduma) atone, so too is atonement granted through the death of tzaddikim. He additionally mentions that the water of the be’er ran out when Miriam passed away to show that Am Yisrael’s entire time in the midbar, the be’er gave water in the zchut of Miriam. This is similar to Rebbi Chanina ben Dosa, who Hashem attested lived off a few servings of carobs for the whole week, yet his merit granted sustenance for the entire rest of the world during his generation.

Next Moshe sends emissaries to the king of Edom asking to pass through his land. Later in our parsha the passuk states that Israel sent emissaries to Sichon. Rashi there cites Yiftach’s retelling of these events in sefer Shoftim where he said that Moshe sent the emissaries to show that in both cases it was actually Moshe who sent them. Why in one case is the entire nation of Israel mentioned as having sent them if Moshe did in both instances? Rashi says it is to show us “Sh’nasi hador hu k’kol hador, ki hanasi hu hakol.” Not only is the entire generation tied into the tzaddik of that generation but everything in the world is. This is as Shlomo haMelech stated, “Tzaddik Yesod Olam” (the tzaddik is the foundation of the world).

Following this Aharon haKohen passes away. Immediately afterwards the clouds of glory depart and Amalek attack. This teaches that the clouds only appeared the entire time in the midbar in the zchut of Aharon, and additionally that the zchut of the tzaddikim protects am Yisrael, however when their zchut isn’t protecting us G-d forbid we become vulnerable. There is a story that once people rushed into the beit midrash of Rav Moshe Feinstein saying that a little Jewish boy had been hit by a car right around the corner. Rav Moshe calmly told them that it wasn’t true. The exclaimed that they had seen the boy laying in the street with his kippah right next to him in the road. Rav Moshe repeated that it couldn’t possibly be as it appeared to them. Later they found out that the boy was indeed not Jewish, but had stolen the kippah of a Jewish boy who was chasing him to get it back. As he was trying to run away from the Jewish boy he ran into the street without looking and straight into the path of the car. The witnesses asked Rav Moshe if he was a navi. He replied, I’m not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, however I simply knew that in the zchut of my learning something like this couldn’t possibly happen in my vicinity. Additionally the location of Aharon’s passing on Hor haHar is significant. The Zohar hakadosh says that Miriam, Aharon, and Moshe Rabbeinu were specifically buried in the spots they were so that the three of them could be semi-surrounding the land of Israel and therefore provide a constant protective spiritual shield to it through their zchut.

Next is the story of the Be’er testifying to Am Yisrael of the miracle that Hashem had killed enemies they didn’t even know were waiting to kill them. Rashi brings of the Be’er that each nasi from the 12 tribes would take his staff and carve a line in the ground from the rock until it reached the camp of their particular tribe. The water would then flow following their line until it reached their tribe so that each tribe would have its own direct water source. Reb Noson says in his Lekutei Halachot that this is representative of the tzaddikim drawing forth the water of the “Be’er Maim Chaim” i.e. the wellsprings of Torah to draw bracha and sustenance to those attached to them.

Finally the parsha concludes with the war against Og. The passuk states that Hashem told Moshe, “Al tira oto,” (don’t fear him), regarding Og. However previously when battling his equally enormous brother Sichon (both brothers were roughly the height of the World Trade Center) there is no indication that Moshe was fearful. If Moshe didn’t need worry about defeating Sichon, why would he need to be afraid of confronting Og? However Rashi states that as Og had once unintentionally helped Avraham Aveinu, he was worried his zchut might protect Og and therefore he required Hashem’s reassurance that it would not. The Zohar examines the matter a little deeper and interprets the words “Al tira oto” as “Al tira ot shelo,” i.e. don’t fear his “ot”. The word “ot” is often used to refer to the brit milah. The Zohar states that as Og was a member of Avraham’s household (some opinions hold he is none other than Eliezer) he was included in those circumcised by him. Unlike Sichon, Og had received a brit milah from Avraham and Moshe was worried that such a spiritual protection might be enough to even give him victory over Am Yisrael. However the Zohar says that as Og didn’t keep the laws of sexual purity and defiled his milah, he no longer had a zchut from it and therefore Moshe had nothing to fear. This could be hinted at by the fact the word “oto” is spelled in the passuk missing a vav. In the language of the kabbalah the letter vav represents the sixth sefira of Yesod, which in turn is anthropomorphized by brit milah and Yosef haTzaddik who was the epitome of upholding the laws associated with this. Additionally his very title “tzaddik” suggests that the concept of the tzaddik is tied in with the sefirah of Yesod, and as we mentioned before “tzaddik yesod olam.” Because Og defiled his milah, he lost his connection to the sefira of yesod, and therefore his connection to the concept of the tzaddik and this removed any protection that may have prevented his being defeated.

On this parshat Chukat, may we all be blessed to have faith in and connection to the tzaddikim – true emunat chachamim - and may their merit protect us and all of Am Yisrael.