14 September 2021

Yom Kippur – An Out of Body Experience! (Rabbi Sprecher)

 the light of Erev Yom haKippurim 5781 | אור ערב יום הכיפורים ה"תשפ"ב

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Yom Kippur – An Out of Body Experience!

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher
The last Mishna in Taanit states, “There is no more joyous festival for Israel than Yom Kippur.” Yet, Yom Kippur is also the most solemn day of the Jewish year; and it is also the strangest day because it seems to negate all that makes us human. For that one day we step out of ourselves and have an Out of Body Experience. We are no longer part of this world as we know it. Denying our bodies the physical pleasure of food and drink, marital relations, bathing, anointing, and wearing leather shoes, we act as if the normal impulses that make us human no longer exist. It is as if we have slipped out of physical life into immortality. On Yom Kippur we become virtual angels.

This is what the Rabbis were telling us by explaining why Yom Kippur is the only time when we recite aloud, “Boruch Shem Kevod Malchuto L'Olam Vaed” in the recitation of the Shema. Where did “Boruch Shem Kevod Malchuto…” originate?

When Moshe went up to Heaven to receive the Torah, he overheard the angels praising G-d with these words. When he returned to earth, he instructed the Jews concerning all the Mitzvot that he had received, and he also taught them this sentence of praise. But Moshe said to the Jews, “All the Torah and Mitzvot I have given you, I received openly and directly from G-d; but this verse is something that I overheard the angels say when they praise G-d. I stole it from the angels; therefore, say it in a whisper.”

The Midrash in Devarim Rabba continues, “It may be likened to someone who stole a diamond and gave it to his daughter. The thief tells his daughter, ‘All that I have given you, you may wear in public except this stolen diamond. Wear it only indoors.’” The Midrash then continues, “Why is Boruch Shem Kevod said aloud on Yom Kippur? Because then we are like angels, and we have nothing to hide on that day.”

The rest of the year we are not angels — far from it. We have human needs and desires. We have impulses that lead us to sin and transgression as well as the ability to channel these impulses through Torah and Mitzvot. We all sin in word, thought and deed. We are indeed human. The beauty of Judaism is that it recognizes our physical and material needs and our impulses and desires. Judaism does not seek to deny them, but rather to regulate, channel and control them.

Judaism is not about self-denial. The denial of the body is not praised or required. The pleasure of eating and drinking is a Mitzvah - for example Shabbat and Yom Tov feasts and the Seudat Mitzvah which is obligatory for a Bris, Bar Mitzvah, Wedding or Siyum of a Tractate. The act of eating and drinking is also controlled and regulated by the Halachot of Kashrut. Physical desires are considered normal and positive; but they, too, are controlled and regulated by the Halachot of marriage and family purity laws.

So too is the desire for wealth. We are not commanded to live lives of poverty; but we must share what we have with the poor and needy through the acts of Tzedakah and to acquire our wealth honestly. We know that we are not without sin, and for this reason G-d gave us this most precious gift of Teshuva on Yom Kippur.

On Yom Kippur, we are given a taste of eternity, an experience of something other-worldly. We are like the angels, or as close to it as human beings can get. When all of our physical needs and desires are denied, we have a day when we can concentrate solely on spiritual matters. Yom Kippur is the day of the soul.

The Torah states in Vayikra 23, “On Yom Kippur V'INITEM ET NAFSHOTECHEM.” This is usually translated as, “You shall afflict your souls.” However, RAMCHAL points out that on Yom Kippur our souls are not afflicted, only our bodies are afflicted. Therefore the word, V'INITEM, is related to the word in Devarim 26 concerning the Mitzvah of Bikurim (the first fruits) ‘V'ANITA…’ when you bring the first fruits to the Holy Temple. Abarbanel states that the word, V'ANITA, in that verse means that the farmer has to sing to G-d when he brings his Bikurim.

Thus, in the context of Yom Kippur, the phrase ‘V'INITEM ET NAFSHOTECHEM’ can also mean, “You shall allow your souls to sing.” You shall free your soul of all its bodily needs and desires and dedicate Yom Kippur to your soul and to G-d.

Within the comforting, loving embrace of G-d Who forgives us on Yom Kippur, our bodily needs become superfluous, as our souls take over our bodies, singing to G-d. Yom Kippur is a unique opportunity for every Jew to receive a new beginning in life, a second chance. That's why the Talmud in Taanit tells us that G-d gave us the Second Luchot (Tablets) on Yom Kippur, symbolizing that G-d always gives us a second chance.

On Yom Kippur the day belongs to the soul as our physical needs are eliminated. The soul, freed of its physical bonds, can now soar, ascending to the highest level of Kedusha, where it can express its deepest feeling and emotion. On Yom Kippur we become like angels, devoting ourselves exclusively to singing the praises of G-d.

At the closing of Yom Kippur, we experience an incredible inner joy when we move beyond consciousness of hunger into a feeling of relief and renewed strength. Yom Kippur ends with that magnificent Shofar blast — the Shofar that once proclaimed liberty for all the Hebrew slaves on the Yom Kippur of the Yovel year.

That Shofar blast now also proclaims liberty from sin for all of us and freedom from all that enslaves the mind and the body. This Shofar blast symbolizes the ability of a Jew to rise above material and physical desires, freeing the soul to unite and bond with G-d.
 
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May you have a good signing, with all the people of Israel | במר חתימה טובה, בתוך שאר כל עם ישראל

03 September 2021

How do we know when Mashiah is here?

 26 Elul 5781 | כ"ו אלול ה"תשפ"א

Shabbat shalom u'shana tovah ! שבת שלום ושנה טובה | Ketivah weh'hatimah tovah ! כתיבה וחתימה טובה

UPDATE BELOW***

Myrtle Rising has a recent post about the Unknowable Beginning...which might explain, or somehow otherwise blend in with, a concept in R' Mendel Kessin's video below. 

Scientists are Documenting the Keter d'Reisha d'Lo Ityada—Only They Don't Know It

Enjoy them both!

כתר דרישא דלא אתידע


(h/t SG for the videos)


***



May our government do teshuva or be replaced by one that will do G-d's will!

22 August 2021

Waw...fascinating! (Strengthening Ourselves in Preparation for Redemption by R' Eli J. Mansour)

 light of 15 Elul 5781


Waw...the letter Israelis now pronounce "vav"...a key to redemption...fascinating! - HDG

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Parashat Ki Teseh 5781

Strengthening Ourselves in Preparation for Redemption

by Rabbi Eli J. Mansour (original article here)

In the prophecy read as the Haftara for Parashat Ki-Teseh, the prophet Yeshayahu foresees the return of the Jewish People to its homeland. He turns to the Land of Israel and cries, "Expand the space of your tent, and the curtains of your residences shall be moved… Extend your ropes, and strengthen your pegs" (54:2). Whereas the land lay empty throughout the years of exile, the prophet promises that the time will come when the land will need to expand to accommodate the influx of Jews who will return.

The Ben Ish Hai (Rav Yosef Haim of Baghdad, 1833-1909) offers a deeper explanation of the words, "Vi’ytedotayich Hazeki" ("strengthen your pegs"). The plain meaning, of course, is that this refers to the pegs used to bind the ropes of the tent to the ground. As the tent expands, the pegs need to be strengthened to hold down the extended ropes. The Ben Ish Hai, however, adds that a peg is shaped like the letter "Vav," and the prophet here exhorts us to strengthen our commitment to the quality represented by this letter. He explains that if the letter "Vav" is removed from the word "Kadosh" ("sacred"), the result is the word "Kadesh" – referring to a harlot, the diametric opposite of holiness. The letter "Vav," then, signifies the difference between decadence and sanctity, our maintaining proper standards of purity and morality so we attain Kedusha, rather than becoming the opposite, Heaven forbid. For this reason, the Ben Ish Hai notes, Yosef was dressed with "Bigdeh Shesh" (flax garments) when he was appointed vizier over Egypt (Bereshit 41:42). The word "Shesh" (flax) also means "six," alluding to the letter "Vav," which in Gematria equals 6. Yosef embodied the quality of "Yesod," of resisting temptation to maintain purity, and thus he is described as being clothed with "Shesh," the letter "Vav," the attainment of Kedusha.

The Ben Ish Hai explains that this is the meaning of the prophet’s charge, "Vi’ytedotayich Hazeki." He is telling us that in order to earn our final redemption, we must strengthen our "peg" – the letter "Vav," our commitment to maintaining our standards of Kedusha. This is a struggle that must be waged as we prepare for our final redemption.

It is no coincidence that in our times, as we inch closer to the arrival of Mashiah, we face unprecedented challenges particularly in this area, the area of purity and Kedusha. Already the prophet Yeshayahu informed us that as our nation returns to its homeland in preparation for the final redemption, we will need to work very hard to strengthen our "peg," our commitment to the Torah’s standards of purity. This challenge is an especially difficult one, but it is one which we must wage, with devotion and determination, confident that this struggle will bring us closer to our final redemption, may it arrive speedily and in our time, Amen.

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06 August 2021

The Power of Free Choice (Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher)

 28 Menahem Av 5781



 
 
 
The Power of 
Free Choice

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher
The Torah states in Parshat Re’eh, “You are a holy nation to Hashem, your G-d; G-d has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be His own treasured, special nation” (Devarim 14). Rashi explains that your holiness comes to you from your forefathers; but also, G-d has chosen you. In other words, not only did G-d choose our ancestors, but each and every one of us as well, as we say in the Bracha before the Shema, “G-d chooses His People Israel with love.”
 
All of us, the entire Jewish People, according to our various streams, down through the generations past, present and future, belong to this unique holiness. We were born that way.
 
However, it is not just a matter of our having been born Jews and our having been chosen by G-d. Each and every one of us has a duty to choose the path by which we will be able to elevate the goodness of the soul from the level of potential to actual.
 
This idea is alluded to by the juxtaposition of the verses that we are “a holy nation” (Devarim 14) and the Mitzvah, “Do not eat any detestable thing.”
 
What is the connection between these verses? The Baal Haturim explains that by the act of eating, we demonstrate our free choice in being able to put into our mouth whatever we want. This is a tangible expression of how we exercise our free choice. Not just food to nourish the body is an option for us, but also spiritual foods, which are the Mitzvot which nourish the G-dly soul.
 
We must be proud of the fact that we are the Chosen People. G-d chose us lovingly from among all of the nations to be for Him a special people. We have to recognize our own special worth to be, in the words of Isaiah, “a light unto all the nations.”
 
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02 August 2021

Some sobering reality from an Israeli rabbinical expert on medical ethics.

 light of 25 Menahem Av 5781

UPDATE BELOW


https://rumble.com/vkdcgl-rabbi-uri-sofer.html 

***

 I feel this is a huge derekh eretz issue, regardless of what any leadership thinks, ours or theirs, with regard to the crown 'demic and the vacuous scenes. 

The video is in Hebrew with English subtitles; feel free to pass along to Hebrew-speaking friends and relatives. It says a lot of the things I have been wanting to say about current events in Hebrew, and more.

אני מרגישה שזה עניין דרך ארץ ענק. יש הרבה כאן שרציתי לומר בעברית, ועוד, ועוד

H/T to Rivka  - HDG

 

UPDATE: 

In the middle of the video R' Sofer mentions some prominent names of people who are supported by Pfizer, and therefore have conflict of interest. Among these is someone I covered previously, Dr. Prof. Gilly Regev, CEO of SaNOtize, for her product Enovid, back in April 2021.

Since then, I have not seen any Enovid anywhere in Yerushalayim. And maybe that's OK. I'm still on my version of the Zelenko protocol, and I have been fine, b"H.

It so happens that I finally got an answer from Rivka, who also covered someone with a similar name around that time, as to whether they were the same person. You can find my question, along with her answer, here


30 July 2021

Does the Shema Command Us to Speak Hebrew?  by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher

 21 Menahem Av 5781


 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Does the Shema 
Command Us to
Speak Hebrew?

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher
“And you shall teach them to your children, TO SPEAK IN THEM” when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Devarim 11:19, Parashat Eikev)
 
Rashi on the words "TO SPEAK IN THEM" quotes the Sifrei that when a child first begins to talk, his parents should speak to him in Hebrew and teach him Torah, and this will guarantee the child a long life. This same idea is found in the Tosefta in Chagigah which states that when a child knows how to talk, his parents should teach him Hebrew.
 
The clearest source which identifies learning Hebrew as a Mitzva is found in the Rambam's commentary on the Mishna in Pirkei Avot, chapter 2. The Mishna states that one must be as careful regarding a minor Mitzva as one is with a major Mitzva. As an example of a minor Mitzvah, the Rambam cites studying and speaking Hebrew. The Rambam here clearly considers learning and speaking Hebrew to be a Mitzva, even though people think it is a minor Mitzva.
 
The difficulty is that although the Rambam's view is clear in his Mishna Commentary, he does not codify this Mitzva of learning or speaking Hebrew in his Mishneh Torah, nor does such a Mitzva appear in the Shulchan Aruch. The Torah Temimah in Parshas Eikev wonders why the Poskim omitted any reference to the requirement to learn and speak Hebrew. However, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein in Iggros Moshe, Even Ha’ezer, chapter 35, actually states clearly that there is a Mitzva to speak Hebrew. Although he states there is no prohibition to speak in any other language.
 
The Ramban in Parshas Ki Sissa writes that Hebrew is called Loshon Hakodesh precisely because it is the language used by the Holy Torah. The Yerushalmi in Shabbos states that one who speaks Loshon Hakodesh is guaranteed to be in Olam Haba. The Korban Ha’eidah explains this Talmudic passage that speaking Hebrew leads to Spiritual Purity.
 
It is interesting to note that the Shulchan Aruch in O. C. (Chapter 307) rules that whereas it is not appropriate to read certain types of literature on Shabbos, but if they are written in Hebrew, they may be read on Shabbos. The Magen Avrohom explains that this is because the Hebrew language itself has Kedushah, and one can learn how to learn Torah simply by reading books and even letters written in Hebrew.
 
The Midrash in Vayikra Rabba states that even though the Jews were at the 49th level of impurity in Egypt, they were still worthy of Redemption because they continued to speak Hebrew. The Midrash brings other reasons why we merited Redemption, but we see that speaking Hebrew is your identity card as being a member of the Jewish People.
 
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 OK, so it's ironic that we don't have this in Hebrew. I get it, but it will take me too long to translate it! - HDG

16 July 2021

Why does Yirmiyahu refer to Tisha B’Av as a Festival? (Rabbi Sprecher)

 7 Menachem Av 5781



 
 
 
 
 Why does Yirmiyahu refer to
Tisha B’Av as a Festival?

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher
On Tisha B'Av we mourn for the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples. The Talmud in Trachtate Taanit (p. 30) states that all Mitzvot that apply to a mourner during the Shiva also apply to the entire Jewish people on Tisha B'Av.
 
In other words, according to Halacha we are all sitting Shiva on Tisha B'Av. But, how can this be? For the Halacha states that if a close relative has died and we did not know about it until after 30 days, there will be no formal Shiva. We would sit Shiva symbolically for only an hour, and then get up and go about our regular routine. How then, can we sit Shiva on Tisha B'Av for tragic events that occurred thousands of years ago?
 
Rav Soloveitchik answers this question with a statement in Talmud Yerushalmi which states," Every generation in which the Holy Temple has not been rebuilt is like the generation in which it was destroyed again." Thus, we are not mourning on Tisha B'Av only for tragic events that happened thousands of years ago, but we are also mourning for the ongoing tragedy of not having the Temple rebuilt in our time.
 
Why is the Holy Temple so important to us as Jews? The Chofets Chaim explains that more than half of the 613 Mitzvot depend solely on the Temple. This means that for close to 2000 years we have been unable to fulfill the majority of Mitsvot. Therefore, we need the Holy Temple in order to become spiritually healed and whole again.
The Mitzvah to mourn on Tisha B' Av is only temporary, until it becomes a permanent day of joy in the Messianic Era as stated in Zachariah 8:19. Thus, Tisha B'Av is destined to be part of our Halachic tradition, but not as a day of eternal mourning. In the Scroll of Eicha, which is read on Tisha B’Av, Yirmiyahu (Eicha 1:15 and 2:22) refers to Tisha B’Av as “Moed” (a Festival). That is why we don’t say Tachanun and Selichot on Tisha B’Av (Shulchan Aruch 559:4).
 
What are the signs of the approaching Messianic Era? And how can we hasten Mashiach's coming? The Talmud states that the Jews returning from exile and the greening of the land of Israel is the key sign for the beginning of the Redemption. "There is no clearer sign then when the Land of Israel gives its produce abundantly, then the end of the exile is near, (Sanhedrin 98B, Rashi).
 
The Vilna Gaon told his disciples that Mashiach will come after the majority of the Jews in the Diaspora come to Israel. Thus, every Jew who makes Aliya hastens the Mashiach’s coming, thereby transforming the Fast of Tisha B’Av into a Feast.

For close to 2,000 years, our land rejected all would-be conquerors and remained desolate and barren. The Sifra explains that the Torah's curse of the land during our long exile, "I will make the land desolate," (Parshat Bechukotai) is actually a blessing in disguise because we didn't have to worry when we went into exile that our enemies would settle our land. Therefore, the greening of Israel is a clear signal that G-d's decree of "desolation" for the land is over and the Redemption is near. The Land of Israel had to go into "hibernation” waiting for us, her children, to return from exile.
 
The prophet Yirmiyahu saw the coming Redemption of the Messianic Era and its celebration as being an even greater event than the Exodus from Egypt. As the Prophet says in Yirmiyahu 16: 14, 15 – "Days are coming, says Hashem, when it will no longer be said, 'As Hashem lives Who took out Israel from Egypt,' but rather 'As Hashem lives, Who took out Israel from all the lands where Hashem dispersed them.' And Hashem will return them to their own land, which I gave to their forefathers."
 
According to HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu, זצ"ל and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, we are presently in the dawn of the Messianic Era. If Mashiach should arrive before Tish'a B'Av, then we will be feasting and celebrating on that day, instead of mourning and fasting.
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With haShem's help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'בעזרת ה 

and

Happy Birthday, Yehonatan ben Malka! (Erev 9 Av)