23 September 2018

Drums of war...תופי מלחמה

14 Tishrei 5779 | י"ד תשרי ה"תשע"ט
Erev Succoth | ערב סוכות
English follows Hebrew | אנגלית מעקבת אחרי עברית



כדי לראות עוד מפיות כזאת, לחץ כאן
תופי מלחמה
לעילוי נשמתו של ארי בן רב יונה פולד, חי"ד | עוד על ארי פולד
    
כתבתי את ההודעה הזאת למקרה שמלחמה תתחיל ברצינות ממש בקרוב. ראש השנה והחגים הבאים נראה הזמן המעודף על האומות להתחיל מלחמות.

עם הקב"ה בצד שלנו, אנחנו יכולים לנצח אפילו אם אנחנו מוקפים מכל הצדדים. תצכרו את מלחמת ששת הימים. עם לא זוכרים, אז תחשבו עליו -- ותנו כבוד, הוד והדר לו שחייבים לו לרגל הנצחון הנסי של 28  באייר תשכ"ז \ יוני 1967.

 בשביל הבטחת הקב"ה לצידנו, הנה משהו שאנחנו יכולים לעשות. אם יש לנו חייל או יותר במאבק או לא, אנחנו יכולים להתפלל תפילות האדיר, התהילים של דוד, מלך ישראל. להלן, יש לי פירוט לפי מספר הפרק שאנחנו צריכים לומר על כמה היבטים של המלחמה.
 
לפני שירות האינטרנט שלך הולך לסירוגין בשל הפגזות רקטות וכדומה, להדפיס את הדף הזה, כך יהיה לך את הפרקים תהילים בהישג יד. אספתי אותם מתוך ספר התהילים האהוב עלי ומקורות אחרים.

תהילים למלחמה
ק, ז, יא, יח, כ, כה, כז, כט, לה, נה, נח, עב, עג, עד, פג, צא, קכ, קכא, קכב, קכג, קכד, קל, קמ, קמב, קמג

הגנה מפני פגיעה
ג, ה, ז, כ, כג, כז, לא, לה, מ, מח, נה, נט, סט, ע, צא, קט, קיט, קכא

לחיילים פצועים
קל, קלא, קמד, פג, צא

 מלבד התפללות בעצמך, קבוצות של אנשים יכולים לדקלם את כל ספר תהילים יחד - בדרך כלל נשים. (האם ניתן לכלול גברים, בין אם בנפרד או בנפרד? אנא שאל את הרב שלך כל שאלה הלכתית!). תוצאה מעניינת: בכל פעם שהקבוצה קוראת את הספר כולו, הוא מוכפל במספר המשתתפים ונרשם בגן עדן (שמים), למרות שכל אדם יכול לקרוא רק כמה פרקים.

 כמו גם להיות ספר אחד, תהילים מתפרסם גם כקופסה של חלקים נפרדים לקריאה קבוצתית; כל אדם לוקח כמו חלקים רבים ככל הנדרש כדי לסיים ספר אחד, בהתאם לגודל של הקבוצה.


ראיתי את זה רק בישראל, אבל אולי יש חנויות ספרים בקהילות יהודיות דתיות מחוץ לישראל.


To see more maps like this one, click here.

Drums of War

For the elevation of the soul of Ari ben Rav Yonah Fuld, hy"d | more about Ari Fuld

I wrote this post in case war starts in earnest really soon.* The Jewish New Year and following holiday period seems to be a favorite time for the nations to start wars.

With HQB"H on our side, we can win even if we are surrounded on all sides. Remember the 6-Day War. If you don't remember, then think about it -- and give haShem the credit that is due Him because of the miraculous victory of June 1967 (5727 on the Hebrew calendar).

For the assurance of G-d on our side, here is something the rest of us can do. Whether we have a soldier or more in the fight or we don't, we can pray the mighty prayers, Psalms,  tehillim, of David, King of Israel. Below, I have listed by chapter number the tehillim we should say for several aspects of war.

Before your internet service goes intermittent due to rocket shelling and the like, print out this page so that you'll have the Tehillim chapters at hand. I have compiled them from my own favorite Tehillim book and other sources.

Tehillim for War
100, 7,11,18, 20, 25, 27, 29, 35, 55, 58, 72, 73, 74, 83, 91, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 130, 140, 142, 143

Protection from Harm
3, 5, 7, 20, 23, 27, 31, 35, 40, 48, 55, 59, 69, 70, 91, 109, 119, 121

For Wounded Soldiers
130, 131, 144, 83, 91

Besides praying by yourself, groups of people can recite the whole Book of Tehillim together -- usually women. (Can men be included, whether together or separately? Please ask your rabbi any halachic questions!). An interesting result: Every time the group reads the whole Book, it is multiplied by the number of participants and recorded in Heaven (Shamayim) even though each person may read only a few chapters.

As well as being one Book, Tehillim is also published as a box of separate sections for group reading; each person takes as many sections as needed to finish one Book, depending on the size of the group.

I've only seen this in Israel, but perhaps bookstores in religious Jewish communities outside Israel have these.

Hat tip to Arlene from Israel.

Further impetus to prayer and further notes (English only, sorry. רק אנגלית, סליחה):

A few questions for our leaders about the next war - Vic Rosenthal, Abu Yehuda
Why Israelis Shy from Victory - Daniel Pipes, Middle East Forum
Former Jordanian Prime Minister Abdelsalem Al-Majali says "we will 'take Haifa by force'"
Hamas hints [read: threatens -CDG]: Another round of fighting may be coming - Dalit Halevi, Arutz 7


*I began drafting this post long before the hideous murder of Ari Fuld! I didn't know him personally, although I occasionally listened to his show, and was not looking for someone's soul to uplift. But it is the least I can do. It seems appropriate somehow, after the fact. Could this be the beginning of the war? Will the Aryeh Yehuda (Lion of Judah | אריה יהודה) finally rise up on both sides of the "Green Line"???

If official Israel had treated other defenders of Israel more appropriately - like, for example, El'Ohr Azaria | אלאור אזריה perhaps no enemy would dare approach a Jew to kill him, particularly in the cowardly manner in which Ari Fuld was - stabbed in the back. For even stronger statements, read Jack Engelhard's A million hands murdered Ari Fuld. The only thing I could add to it is that I feel these "million hands" stabbing all Jews in the back, may G-d save us from such a fate!

A silver lining of hope: a red heifer | פרה אדומה has been born here in Israel, and her development is being overseen by the Temple Institute; may she turn out to be kosher at the right time. Now all they may need is a kohen tahor | כהן טהור (עברית)...stay tuned.

In the meantime, may HQB"H be with us and protect us simply out of love for His people, and may He help us obey Him to the utmost!




18 September 2018

NEILA – Locked in with G-d

9 Tishrei 5779
Erev Yom haKippurim



By Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher


Jay and the Americans had a hit song in the 60’s called “Let’s Lock the Door.” Jay attended Yeshiva Torat Emet in Boro Park. Was he singing about the NEILA (lock the gate) Prayer on Yom Kippur?

The Hebrew word for the Satan is numerically equivalent (Gematria) to 364. The Midrash explains that during the 364 days of the year, the Satan has the power to prosecute the Jewish People. But on one day, Yom Kippur, he has no authority to prosecute us. Why not?

What would happen on Yom Kippur? The High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies, at which time he was all alone with G-d. No human being or even an angel was permitted to intrude upon the High Priest’s connection with G-d.

The Lubavicher Rebbe explains that each year this sequence is replayed in our own hearts on Yom Kippur. The essence of the Jewish soul is one with the essence of G-d. This bond is constant, it is not the product of our efforts. Therefore, neither our thoughts, our words, nor our deeds, can sever our connection to G-d.

This connection, explains the Rebbe, exists above time. But within time, this bond with G-d is revealed on Yom Kippur. On this Holy Day, every Jew enters the virtual “Holy of Holies,” and spends time all alone with his Creator.

This is the heart of NEILA, the final and most important prayer recited on Yom Kippur. NEILA means Locked In. This name is generally understood to mean that the Gates of Heaven are being locked and there are only a few moments left when our prayers can enter. According to Kabala, the meaning is that the doors are locked behind us. Each one of us is “locked in”, alone and united with G-d.

At this level of essential connection, there is no real existence outside G-d, and no possibility that the G-dly soul could be affected by sin. The revelation of this level of connection to G-d removes the stains and blemishes that sin causes.

This kind of purification and cleansing on Yom Kippur, is a natural process, for the revelation of our inner bond with G-d renews our connection and re-JEWvinates our connection with Him. This is the meaning of the Talmud in YUMA that the essence of the Yom Kippur Day atones. Because on Yom Kippur, our essential bond with G-d is revealed, and in the process, our spiritual potential is revitalized.

According to the ZOHAR, NEILA is the Yichud of G-d – “THE GROOM” with His bride – the Jewish People!

For those who remember and those who want to know...Let's Lock the Door! G'mar hatimah tovah!

09 September 2018

Yom Kippur – G-d’s Debate with Israel

29 Elul 5778
Erev Rosh haShana 5779

Update: You might want to read this Rosh haShana article first: Don't Forget about the King by Shmuel Sackett...then come right back!

Yom Kippur – G-d’s Debate with Israel
by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher | first published here
links by CDG


The Mishna in Yoma 8 states, "Sins that are between a person and his fellow Jew are NOT atoned for on Yom Kippur." One cannot offend and harm another person and ask for forgiveness from G-d. Forgiveness must be asked and can only come from the person that we hurt, and only he can pardon us.

Thus, on the morning of Yom Kippur we read the amazing words of the prophet, Yeshayahu, (Ch. 58) where he presents a debate that takes place between G-d and Israel. In this chapter, we see how Yom Kippur can lead us to change our evil ways and be just and compassionate to our fellow Jew.

Yeshayahu states that Israel claims before G-d, "Why have we fasted and You (G-d) did not pay attention; we have afflicted our soul, and You (G-d) do not know?" This question is asked after the Yom Kippur fast, when G-d's pardon is not apparent. The people cry out, "Why hasn't the Yom Kippur fast helped to obtain forgiveness?"

G-d's response is clear and unequivocal – "Will such be the fast that I will choose, a day of a person afflicting his soul? Is it to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast that is acceptable to G-d? Do you (human beings) think that I desire you to suffer? Do I get any benefit from the fact that you afflict yourselves?" (Yeshayahu Ch. 58).

G-d is telling us that the Yom Kippur fast is not only an end in itself but the means to reach a further goal. What is this yearned for goal? G-d responds to this question with the surprising answer, "Is this not the fast I will choose? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to bring the poor into your home, when you see a naked one, you shall clothe him and not hide from your fellow Jew."

Here G-d explains the goal that He wants our Yom Kippur fast to achieve. The purpose of the fast is not to suffer or to diet. The purpose is that we should remember the poor, those who do not have proper food, clothing or shelter. This is the true purpose of the Yom Kippur fast. Because when we are hungry and thirsty, we can more readily identify with others who are suffering.

Thus, Yeshayahu promises, "Then you shall call, and G-d shall answer; you shall cry out, and He shall say, 'Here I am'."

Therefore, on Yom Kippur we repeat over and over again the 13 Attributes of
G-d's Compassion, "G-d, G-d, Compassionate and Gracious, Slow to Anger and Abundant in Loving-kindness and Truth…, Forgiving iniquity, rebellion and sin." (Shemot 34).

Why do we keep repeating these verses over and over again on Yom Kippur? When we repeat this declaration again and again, we become convinced that the correct path between us and our fellow Jew is G-d's path of compassion, forgiveness and loving kindness. We turn to G-d in the merit of those very same qualities with which He identifies Himself, and thus we awaken those same traits in ourselves.

As the Talmud in Rosh Hashana states, "Whoever forgives his friend for sinning against him even when he doesn't have to, guarantees similar treatment from G-d on Yom Kippur."

If we make a habit of displaying undeserved grace to others, including those who have committed wrongs against us, then we are guaranteed to earn the same kind of undeserved grace from G-d, MIDAH K'NEGED MIDAH. G-d conducts Himself with us in the same way that we conduct ourselves with our fellow human beings.
***
 Related: How to Turn a SIN Into a WIN!

More on Yom Kippur: Neila: Locked In with G-d (I'm going to have to link to it once it's actually online. Sorry about that. - CDG)

NOTE: Just before posting, I realized that this is a retitled repost of Yom Kippur's Goal: Compassion for the Needy; only this time, I linked the references and included a video, as I have been doing lately. Shana Tova uMevorah!

04 September 2018

The Last of the 613 – Write G-d’s Love Song

24 Elul 5778

by R' Ephraim Sprecher | Links by CDG

The last of the 613 Mitzvot is, “And now, write for yourselves this song, teach it to the Children of Israel. Place it into their mouths”…(Devarim 31:19 | עברית).

According to Sanhedrin 21b | עברית this verse teaches that it is a Mitzva for every Jewish Person to write a Sefer Torah for himself. Why is the Torah referred to by the unusual term “song”? There is no other Mitzva in the Torah which is called a song.

The Aruch Hashulchan (עברית) deals with this question. He states, “Any dispute between Tanaim and Amoraim, or between the Poskim, whose genuine aim is to get to the truth of a Halachic issue, represents the words of the Living G-d and has valid Halachic status. Moreover, these Halachic disputes glorify our Holy and Pure Torah, which is called a SONG. The beauty of the SONG being that the voices are all different. This is why the Torah is so delightful. And whoever learns the Talmud will see different beauty in all the voices that are different from one another.” (Introduction to Aruch Hashulchan – Choshen Hamishpat) (specific link not found - CDG).

The Torah is G-d’s LOVE SONG to the Jewish People. The plurality of opinions, disputes, methods, and styles of understanding the Torah is NOT a fault. It is the incredible symphony of these different voices and opinions that combine to form a beautiful harmony that captures the hearts of all who study the Talmud.

This is the uniqueness and beauty of the Oral Torah. Talmud Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin, Chapter 4 (sorry, no English translation -CDG) makes an incredible statement. “If the Torah had been given clear, and as a finished product, it would NOT have continued to exist!

The Torah was purposely given in a way that allowed various Halachic conclusion to be drawn from it. This is NOT a fault in the Halachic system. G-d gave us the Torah THIS WAY so that it would continue to exist forever.

Therefore, The term SONG was used in reference to the Mitzva to write a Sefer Torah. The writing of the Sefer Torah symbolizes our powerful desire to sing G-d’s Holy Love Song!
***
 At the end of this video one of R' Sprecher's students plays and sings an original song in honor of the upcoming Rosh haShana 5779 ה"תשע"ט!



28 August 2018

Tell me again why the Batei haMiqdash were destroyed. I have a thought...

17 Elul 5778

Stones from the Western Wall thrown down by Roman soldiers in 70 CE - Wikipedia
 
Tell me again: Why were the Batei haMiqdash (Holy Temples) destroyed?

The rabbis tell us that the second one was burned down because of the hatred of one Jew for the next (sinath hinam - a very difficult phrase to translate properly). We all learn this; we are also taught that if we would love our fellow Jews unconditionally that it would solve the problem.

But we must not forget why the first one was destroyed: Idol worship, sesual immorality, and murder, known as the "three cardinal sins." We haven't stopped facing these issues, either. Why, at the beginning of August 2018 Jerusalem saw a "Pride Parade" that would have made the sinners of olden times green with envy - and with an air of righteousness to boot.

At least one person has written about it (I appreciate this so much, you don't know...). Because we're so focused on the fact that the second Temple was built so quickly, compared to our current situation where rebuilding is impossible, we think that the gratuitous hatred is so much worse than the three sins for which the sentence is capital punishment in the Torah!

Just a suggestion: we need to go one more step: It may not be a question of choosing which reasons are worse, but of combining them both. How do we know we're done dealing with the first set of sins? We still face them all the time, not always knowing what we are looking at, due to the changing "mores" around us. How many of us have understood that homosesuality comes under "sesual immorality"? So, I don't think the "three cardinal sins" are off the table just now.

The question really is: How can we act so that we nullify both sets of reasons simultaneously? Can we love every Jew AND acknowledge how the three cardinal sins relate to the need for teshuva on the part of Jewish violators, and their acceptance as human beings, at the same time so that the People as a whole is guilty on neither of these counts?

We all seem to be on one side or the other and we cannot address one half of the equation without addressing the other. I visualize them as a see-saw:

Sinath hinam-------------|-------------murder, idolatry and immorality

I believe this is an important question because the answer may lead us in a major way to the welcoming of Go'el Zedek Yisrael.


Here's an interesting article concerning the root of homosesuality (Hidabroot in English!).

Comments are welcome below. None of us can do this by ourselves!

Thank you in advance.


20 August 2018

T’SHUVA – Going BACK to the Future!

9 Elul 5778

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher
with very light editing and links by CDG | originally published here

There was a cute movie in 1985 with the Jewish actor Michael J. Fox called “Back to the Future”. This is exactly what the T’shuva process is all about. Through T’shuva we can reset the clock by actually changing our sinful past.

The Rambam states that T’shuva consists of a 4 step process where we have the awesome opportunity to erase our sins and wipe away the evil resulting from our past transgressions. This is done through the following procedure.

1)   Cease and desist from our sinful behavior.
2)   Feel deep regret, shame, and remorse over our particular sin.
3)   A verbal confession to G-d describing our sin.
4)   Honestly and truthfully resolve never to commit that particular sin again.

This T’shuva process has the incredible power to totally erase our sin and restore the sinner to his spiritual level prior to the sin. In fact the Talmud in Yoma 86[b] states that if one does T’shuva only because of his love of G-d and not for any ulterior motive then that sin actually and wondrously becomes a Mitzva!

The Talmud Pesachim 54[a] makes an astonishing statement that T’shuva’s creation pre-dates the creation of the universe! The ability to go back in time and rectify one’s sinful past is so outer worldly that its creation preceded the natural order of the universe’s design.

The Holy Ari gives us a Kabalistic understanding of this unusual Talmudic statement. He states the reason the Torah begins with the word “Bereshit” (in the beginning) is because G-d’s first creation was a beginning, the onset of time.

Once G-d created time, there was no way to rewind the clock. This would remove the ability to do T’shuva, by going back to the past to reverse past events.

Thus, Kabbala teaches that G-d had to create T’shuva BEFORE creating time, in order to enable us to go above and beyond the laws of nature and turn back the clock to rectify our pasts sins.

This is the wonderful gift of T’shuva that G-d gives us during these days of Elul. Let us appreciate this wondrous gift to go back in time and to start all over again with a clean slate!


Elul's Mandate: Keep Hope Alive!

05 August 2018

How Teshuva Re-JEW-vinates us...and more on the month of Elul

the light of 25 Menahem Av 5778

...and more teachings on the upcoming month of Elul by R' Ephraim Sprecher
originally posted here. UPDATE: See below for permanent links to the additional articles on Elul!

Wikipedia: Repentance in Judaism

According to my Great-Great-Grandfather, Bnei Yisocher, the month before ELUL is called AV, because AV is the acronym for ELUL BA, which means, ready or not, ELUL is coming! Therefore, in this month of AV we already must begin to focus on the Teshuvah Process. So here goes.

The Zohar explains that the word TESHUVA is a compound of the words, TASHUV HEI, "returning the HEI". The HEI that the Zohar is referring to is the HEI of G-d's Name, YUD – KEI – VAV – KEI, known as the SHEM HAVAYA, which has two letters HEI.

The Zohar infers from the two HEIs of G-d's Name that the process of TESHUVA, "of returning the HEI", actually has two levels. There is the higher level of TESHUVA, called "TESHUVA ILAA", which is the process of returning the first HEI of G-d's Name. Then there is the lower level of TESHUVA, called "TESHUVA TATAA", which is the process of returning the second HEI of G-d's Name.

What's in a Name? A Name serves as a means for someone to relate to others. A name is how one presents himself to others. The two HEIs in G-d's Name represent two different ways in which G-d relates to our physical world.

The second HEI of G-d's Name represents G-d as He lowers and extends Himself to be King of the Universe. This HEI follows the letter VAV, a letter that is a straight line, symbolizing the drawing down of G-d's light from its lofty source into our physical world.

On this level G-d is our King, and He desires a loving relationship with us. G-d expects us to build on this relationship by fulfilling His Will, which is done through studying Torah and doing Mitzvot.

When we are lacking in our Torah and Mitzvot observance, we are rebelling against G-d's Kingship. The Baal Hatanya explains that TESHUVA TATAA is the return of the second HEI of G-d's Name, by recommitting to G-d's Kingship by being meticulous in our observance of His Torah. In view of the Baal Hatanya's explanation, it should be remembered that over the course of the year, our commitment to Torah and Mitzvot sometimes weakens, and we find ourselves rebelling against G-d.

The first HEI of G-d's Name represents a level of the Shechinah that is transcendent, spiritually higher than us and of all the physical creation. This HEI of G-d's Name follows the letter YUD – a letter that is just a point and unlike the VAV in G-d's Name does not extend all the way down. This symbolizes G-d as He is for Himself, unaffected by the created world.

There is an amazing verse in the Torah that tells us something incredible about the Jewish People. The verse says, "KI CHELEK HASHEM AMO", "For G-d is a portion of His people" (Devarim 32:9). This means that the source of the Jewish Soul according to the Baal HaTanya is at the ACTUAL level of G-d Himself, removed from the rest of creation. TESHUVA ILAA is returning the upper HEI of G-d's Name, meaning returning our soul to its Source.

How do we reconnect with the G-dly Source of our souls? When we study Torah and perform Mitzvot for the sake of fulfilling G-d's Will, then we are reconnecting to our Source.

This is how we return the higher HEI to the Name of G-d – becoming reunited
with G-d. When we connect to G-d on this level, we have plugged our souls back into their Source, and we have re-JEW-venated ourselves to achieve TESHUVA TATAA by accepting G-d as our personal King.

May we all have the ability to achieve a true, loving, and eternal relationship with G-d!

 Six Rememberances: Why Include Miriam's Shame?
or
What about Miriam do we actually remember? It isn't what you think.

More on Elul:
To Know HIM is to Love HIM | It's NOW or Never!