19 December 2018


the light of 12 Tevet 5779

From R' Lazer Brody's article of 17 December 2018

Shira Ish-Ran's recent statement is what I would seek to emulate following the utterly untimely death of her baby, Ami-Ad Yisrael, HY"D, due to being forced by a vile enemy bent on murder to be born far too soon — if, like her, I could be of childbearing age and ability (again. Hey, it has happened before. 😉). 

According to the Times of Israel, she was quoted by Hebrew-language media as saying, in her first remarks since the attack: 

“I will prove to them, I will show them. I will bring many more babies into this world. Am Yisrael chai.”

May it be for her and her husband as she has spoken. I'm also borrowing the picture from R' Brody's article - I love it! -CDG


Dr. Harry, who guest-posted on R' Lazer Brody's Lazer Beams, wrote the following (with light editing):

Every Jewish woman of child bearing [age and ability] around the world should have at least one more baby than planned and name the boy Ami Yisrael, and a girl Bat-Ami Yisraella in memory of her baby. Let these savages who kill Jews in the womb be answered with millions of new Jewish babies, all of who [are] standing for "My nation forever, Israel."


Read the rest of Dr. Harry's article here. I would only add: May these Jewish women and their entire families from all over the world merit to make the rest of their lives in Israel. It is our land and our future. Dr. Harry is a new oleh to Israel, and I wish to join R' Brody and his readers in welcoming him!

As we know from Sefer Yirmiyahu (the book of Jeremiah), the Jewish population will grow by leaps and bounds in the end of days. I wrote a series on it: part 1 | part 2 | part 3.

AND last but not least: Please pray for the healing of Netanel Ilan ben Sheina Tzipporah נתנאל אילן בן שיינא ציפורה. He was shot in the head in Givat Assaf a few days ago and is still in the hospital. May he merit a long life ahead of him and everything that goes with it, and that he should lack nothing.

16 December 2018

What is the best reason for aliyah?

8 Tevet 5779 | ח" טבת ה"תשעט

This is the destiny of Israel according to the HOLY BIBLE (Bamidbar/Numbers 34:1-15). The map is in our indigenous language! See here for the English as well, and picture sources.

We are told many times in the book of Bereshith בראשית and other books of the Torah about the land where we are supposed to keep all the laws of haShem; and, deep down, most Jews know that at some point we are all supposed to be living here.

The problem is that, unless we have no other choice, people tend to follow one of Newton's Laws of Motion: a body at rest tends to stay at rest, called inertia. Its corollary, a body in motion tends to stay in motion? Not so much.

Jews especially. We (not all of us, but a great many) tend to dig deep roots wherever we end up living and want to stay there even though we have been "known" as wanderers. I must confess that despite having experienced anti-Semitism a great deal during my childhood,  it took me more than five (5) decades to get here even though I really wanted to come! Two main reasons stand out: 1) no connection to a Jewish community for the most part, and 2) no connection to Eretz Yisrael, except the fact that my maternal grandmother was born here. Yes, my mother's mother, not some relative from the Roman Empire!

Enough about me for now. I think, though, that I have found the best reason to make aliyah. You don't have to want to be here for the sake of the State or its structure to want to include yourself among us in our Holy Land.

It isn't because Israel is the safest place for a Jew to live, or that we've found the holy grail when it comes to antisemitism, as Theodor (Binyamin) Herzl had hoped we would. It certainly isn't because the laws here favor Jews, or that we feel we've got a grip on the land we live on, or that our leadership is the greatest. Oh, no. We are challenged on all these things every moment! As my second ulpan teacher said to us, "Every morning when we wake up and Israel still exists is a miracle" in Hebrew that even back then I could understand. It's also not for the benefits we receive on arrival although they do help somewhat during the most difficult part, the transition.

Here is the thought I had recently as to why it is imperative for every Jew to at least make the effort to think of this place as home and to endeavor to live here:

Israel is the only place in the world where the Jewish People as a whole has the obligation to take responsibility for itself, whether in how we think of ourselves, in how we rule ourselves or in how we conduct our relationships, both good and bad, with the rest of the world. It is the greatest opportunity for us to relearn how to be a nation without us being dictated to — if we have confidence in haShem and are proactive enough.

After 2,000 years, give or take, we have to figure out how to do everything without saying, "Yes, master. Anything you say, master..." to other human leaders. Yes, even after 70 years we still have a lot to learn. We have been taking bad advice from most of the nations around and we are still suffering greatly from following it. Especially when we live or have lived in a nation that has treated us relatively decently compared to the others, as the US has. Manfred Gerstenfeld, who usually writes for Israel National News, has this piece of advice for Jews from the United States, post-Pittsburgh, at The Algemeiner:

American Jews should reach the obvious conclusion: Jews in the world, including in the US and Israel, are a community whose fate is one and the same. They are subject to similar threats, which may differ only in the way and the time frame in which they occur.

Not only American Jews, but every Jew who still lives outside of Israel and who thinks he or she is safer there.

It takes more than physical strength to do the job, especially for the Jewish People: We need to be on G-d's side first and foremost. It's more important than to be worried about how the rest of the world thinks of us.

The non-Jews who look over our shoulder constantly because we took orders from the international community to allow them to stay among us are, to say the least, quite bothersome. Privacy is the one thing we need and don't seem to be able to attain mainly because we dare not say YOU CANNOT LIVE HERE. Even though our country — the portion of the Promised Land we have been able to cobble together until now — is pitifully small. But, the Jewish People is the responsible party for how things are done, or not, here in Eretz Israel.

Wasn't it the gentile prophet Bil'am (usually spelled Baalam in English) who said: "...it is a nation that will dwell alone, and will not be reckoned among the nations"? So why do the gentiles today insist that we not do so?

And why should we care? Here's a video that explains the war against the Jews and explains how to "get out of the dock" we've been in for the last 2,000 years. I've listened to it more than once, which is more than I can say for most videos. I intend to listen to it and others like it, more. I don't care that Ruth Wisse is a professor and not a rabbi (not that I don't respect rabbis. I suspect she does too, actually. Else, why is this video on Torah Café, of all places?). Perhaps this is one of the messages we've sorely needed to hear all along.

Could it also be that a site called The Rainbow Swastika, which deals with "New Age" people (a misnomer — they have been around since the days of Shabtai Zvi, at least) and their camouflaged and open antisemitism, explains it better than anyone else today? Read and judge for yourself.

Another objection is that a basic misunderstanding between American and Israeli Jews has been under the spotlight for some time. Evelyn Gordon has a great discussion on that topic; I'd only like to add that, among the "Jews of no religion," there were (and possibly still are) those whose families didn't have the wherewithall to afford membership at a synagogue, summer camp and Hebrew day school for their children. These things all cost major money, and it wasn't so long ago when Jewish communities didn't consider that some of their potential constituents might be poor. I was one of them once upon a time.

Need I remind you that in Israel, Hebrew is the native language, and every school for Jewish children is a Hebrew-speaking school? And who needs a special summer camp when everything else is at least relatively Jew-friendly to begin with? So, we can all see how the societal context of where one lives has great impact on how a Jew in a foreign land perceives his/her need for special Jewish movements to help retain Jewish identity — even despite the cost — even if religious practices hold no relevance for him or her.

I think our biggest problem, however, is that we haven't broken the habit we acquired after the destruction of the First Temple of relying on patron nations to help us stay afloat when we had our own country. Even though most of the greatest devices and conventions in the modern world were invented and developed by Jews, especially Israelis, we still mainly rely on the nations as we have since that long-ago period: Between our two temples our patron, particularly after the end of that period, was Koresh (Cyrus) of Persia. After the times of Hanukkah our patron was Rome...until we were banished from our Holy Land, sent to the four corners of the earth, and left to fend for ourselves.

Today, it is the United States. But America "dances at two weddings" as the saying goes. She also supports the "Palestinian" Arabs. She may have withdrawn money from them recently, but I imagine that people are taking bets on whether the "Deal of the Century" President Trump and Jared Kushner have been working on will actually restore a large part of that financial support to them. I think it more than likely will. It's part of a pattern: As usual, what has been given to us in the past was largely symbolic; and what has been given to our enemies has been material. Unless we stop relying on nations as patrons, no matter how friendly they seem, that will not change. For example, why does US President Trump still sign waivers for the US Embassy here in Yerushalayim?

Our only real, true and faithful patron is the Holy One, blessed be He, who established us on this earth through our forefathers and the Twelve Tribes — Ha Qadosh Barukh Hu.

As for the "when" — now is always the best time to further whatever plans you have...until it isn't. Serendipitously, another article, by R' Y.Y. Jacobson, explains plainly why the children of Jacob (Ya'acov) must keep the spirit imparted by the study hall (beit hamidrash) while wearing the garb of Esau (Esav) - laws guaranteeing the life of the Jewish People in its own land, the military backing it up with firm, consistent enforcement. Tehillim are especially important now, even when things are relatively quiet — if they ever get that way again.

The best reasons to make aliyah to Israel are still: Israel is the best place to grow up, get over our free-floating hatred for our fellow Jews, and let the Holy One, blessed be He, take SOVEREIGNTY over us at long last!

Recommended reading: The imperative response to terror: Sovereignty! | Hebrew עברית

May the Go'el Yisrael be revealed speedily!

14 December 2018

How to Deal with the Terror Tunnels

6 Tevet 5779 | ו" טבת ה"תשע"ט

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher | first published here

A first look at Hamas' terror tunnels in Gaza from 2014. Too soon to reveal pics of tunnels in the North? Source

King David tells us in Tehillim 100, “to serve G-d with joy”. The Mishna in Avot 1 tells us that we should “greet and welcome everyone with a joyful countenance”. Avot D’Rabbi Natan 13 states that a happy and pleasant facial expression is considered equal to giving a person the most treasured gift in the world.

I just returned from a mini Chanukah vacation in Sholomi and Rosh Hanikra which is right next to the Lebanese border. The people there told us that for a long time they have been hearing the sounds of drilling and tunneling underneath their homes. And then next to the Gaza border there are also terror tunnels being dug constantly by Hamas. And this week there was another vicious terror attack next to the Ofra Junction that injured many people and caused the death of a premature infant.

So how is it possible to be in a joyful mood when we are surrounded by brutal Arab terrorists and savage murderers? The answer to this dilemma is found in the Book of Yirmiyahu. While most of the Book of Yirmiyahu contains prophecies of doom and destruction, we see some prophecies in which he speaks words of encouragement and comfort. In these prophecies how is Yirmiyahu’s message of consolation reinforced? How does he prove that G-d will bestow good on the Jewish People? Yirmiyahu states, “Just as I (G-d) brought evil, I also will bring eventual good”.

We see this concept of Yirmiyahu’s consolation at the end of Tractate Makot. Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues were walking on the Temple Mount, and they saw foxes come out of the place of the Holy of Holies. All the Rabbis began to cry, and Rabbi Akiva laughed. They asked him, “How can you laugh when you see foxes (terrorists) prowling on the Temple Mount and the Holy of Holies?” His colleagues said to him that this is the worst tragedy imaginable, “So how can you laugh?”

Rabbi Akiva answered, “Exactly for the reason that you Rabbis are crying, I am laughing. For I see how the words of Micha are being literally fulfilled when he says, “Foxes (terrorists) will prowl the Temple Mount”. Rabbi Akiva continued to console his colleagues, “Just like I see the tragic prophecies come true, so I also know that the wonderful prophecies of Zecharia will also be fulfilled“. “Old men and women and playful children shall yet dwell in the streets of Jerusalem” without the fear of being attacked by murderous Arab terrorists.

In other words, when we see our tragic current situation, it strengthens our faith in the coming of the Moshiach. These prophecies demonstrate that the same G-d who warned us that if we do evil, then evil will befall us, also promised us that He would redeem us and usher in a glorious future for Israel.

What about our current situation? How do we get rid of our fears of being attacked by vicious Arab terrorists? The Rambam in the Guide to the Perplexed addresses this problem. He writes, “Worrying about the past, has no benefit, and someone who frets over some trouble that has already passed, is senseless and foolish. It’s bad enough that such a person once had a tragedy, but he makes things worse by worrying about it after it has passed and gone.”

As for worrying about future troubles, that too, Rambam says is nonsense. It is possible that the trouble will come, and it is possible that the trouble will never come. G-d is all good, and whatever He sends a person is only for his ultimate good, even though we don’t always understand why or how.

05 December 2018

Chanukah – 8 Days a Week! + WATCH: Is Yehudit the Esther of Chanukah?

27 Kislev 5779  | כ"ז כסלו ה"תשע"ט
4th Candle of Hanukkah | נר רביעית חנוכה

Chanukah – 8 Days a Week! | by R' Ephraim Sprecher | first published here

The Beatles had a number 1 hit song called 8 Days a Week. Were they singing about Chanukah?

2,182 years ago the Greeks had outlawed Torah observance among the Jewish People in Israel. They made it a capital punishment to observe the three Mitzvot of Shabbat, Milah and Nidah, which happens to be an acronym of SHEMEN (oil) (שמן). Parshat Vayeishev always falls out around Chanukah time. Thus the Sefer HaPardes points out that there are 112 verses in Parshat Vayeishev, 104 of which begin with the letter VAV, which is a conjunction. These 8 independent verses, represent the 8 days leading up to Brit Milah and the 8 days of Chanukah.

What is the connection between Parshat Vayeishev and Chanukah? All of the incidences in Vayeishev are one large continuum connected by the VAV conjunctions. Everything is cause and effect. But the life of a Jew, symbolized by the 8 days of Brit Milah, is not affected by this continuum. There are no VAV’s or conjunctions in the verses that represent Israel, because there is no ordinary cause and effect when it comes to the Jewish People.

The life of a Jew is above and beyond the control of nature. The Jewish people are identified with the number 8, which symbolizes the supernatural, 7 being the symbol of nature as in the 7 days of the week, and 8 symbolizing the supernatural.

The 8 days of Chanukah which fall around Parshat Vayeishev, also fit neatly into this pattern. The 8 days symbolize and signify the supernatural, which is a perfect description for the Miracle of Chanukah.

Why is Chanukah 8 days? The Talmud tells us that there was enough oil to light the Menorah for 1 day, but miraculously the 1 day supply of oil burned for 8 days. So the miracle of the oil was ONLY 7 days. Why do we have an 8-day festival for a 7-day miracle? It can’t be to give us an extra day to eat donuts and latkas!

The answer is that the 8 days of Chanukah, like the eight days of Brit Milah, symbolize that Israel will exist eternally above and beyond the laws of nature. As John Lennon sang in his number 1 hit song, without the Beatles, “WE ALL SHINE ON!” This is Israel’s eternal destiny!
I was sick during the first few days of Hanukkah, so didn't post until now! Sorry about that. This post deserved the whole week! -CDG

16 November 2018

Let us be grateful for the miracles HaShem has wrought!

8 Heshvan 5779
Erev Shabbat Vayetze'

Four hundred and seventy (470) rockets were fired into Israel in just over 24 hours this last round — a record — and only one person was killed! Amazing! Only HQB"H!!!

I commented on another blog:

 Let's appeal to HQB"H through tehillim for mercy on our nation! And then let us thank Him after it's all over, and give Him the credit He deserves.

 And so, I'm following up now. We all need to take some time to be thankful for the good as well as seeing the bad.

Hanukkah is nigh and we need to prepare! Study what you can about Hanukkah חנוכה now, my brothers and sisters!


DISCLAIMER: Some of the items in the links about Hanukkah are not exactly in its spirit. For instance, I'd never heard "Light One Candle" before today, even though I liked Peter, Paul and Mary when I was young (yes, I am in 'that age' range!). It resembles "Kumbaya" more than it does the story of the Maccabees, who would never recognize themselves in it.

Also, the videos have women singing, just in case you might want to avoid that. If you have better suggestions, please comment!

Lastly for today, we need to be extra vigilant since our government apparently has chosen dishonor and humiliation over victory and deterrence. Next post (be"H - I'm not sure when it will be), I'll present the best reason to make aliyah. I don't think you will have heard it quite this way before.

UPDATE 2018/12/05: still preparing that post...meanwhile, it's Hanukkah.

The video below has no women singing; it's R' Ephraim Sprecher explaining why revival of the dead is essential to Judaism.

Shabbat shalom umevorah!

12 November 2018

If you can't fight, pray tehillim!

the light of 5 Kislev 5779

Tehilim Yahad is a website people from all over the world can gather to pray tehilim (psalms) together for whatever purpose is given. Here is the specific page to pray for the success and protection for Am Yisrael and the security forces, in case you want to pray with us here in Israel (it's in Hebrew, but you can change the language to any of the major languages, including English). UPDATE: instructions are in the comments below.

I grouped sets of Tehilim here for different aspects of war, especially for the Jewish soldiers who are physically involved, doing the great mitzvah of defending the Jewish country (regardless of how one individually feels about it).

Tizku l' mitzvoth! May haShem save us and all Israel, all over the world in your merit, joined with ours.

 And below is some motivation to pray! More links can be added in the comments below.

200 Hamas rockets strike Israel

Some of the story behind what's happening here - BBC - read with caution. As usual they blame us, whether openly or subtly. It's the badly-played opera again.

Arutz 7- IDF given green light in GazaIDF strikes Gaza terror targets

Rocket attacks are up to 400 - R' Lazer Brody

Something else we can bring to HQB"H: While Hamas engages us in war, "Under the guise of 'agricultural assistance,' the Palestinian Authority is taking over Area C, with the help of massive European financial support and in violation of the law." Read and/or download this Regavim PDF for more. Regavim holds our government accountable for enforcing laws regarding our land. But now we are besieged on both sides.

Here we go... of course we must pray for the complete redemption!!!

UPDATE 14/11/2018: Last night R' Lazer summed up what I'd like to call Lessons Learned After the Ceasefire (it's really called Iron Dome, Ceasefire: There's no one but Hashem):

Despite everything, Hashem still did tremendous miracles. 450 missiles fell, there was all kinds of chaos and property damage, yet only one person was killed - not even an Israeli - but a worker from the PA village of Halhoul illegally sleeping over in Ashkelon. There were no Jewish Israeli fatalities!

Hashem is giving us another chance to learn emuna and do teshuva. Once we do, we're home free. But, if people simply use the respite to go back to their sidewalk cafes, then the next round of hostilities will be even worse. What's more, if Iron Dome's success against Gaza was a mere 27% (flunking Fall Semester midterms against Gaza, 2018), what will it be against Hizbollah, whose firepower is twenty times that of Gaza?
"Rabbi Rambo" should know.

Disclaimer: I'm not a Breslever myself, and don't plan to become one. They don't own emuna and teshuva; they just promote these Jewish concepts with everything they have!

09 November 2018

Yakov’s Weird Wedding! + WATCH: Parashath Tol'doth

1 Kislev 5779
Rosh Hodesh Bet
Hodesh Tov uMevorah!

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher
first published here

The father of the first Jewish family, Yakov, was the victim of a last minute switch on his wedding night. His father-in-law, Lavan, substituted Leah, the older of his two daughters, for Rachel, the one whom Yakov loved and worked for. Yakov discovered the deception only after he had consummated the marriage with Leah. Yakov, choosing to accept his Mazal (fate), remained with Leah and later also married Rachel, the bride of his choice.

Why did the first Jewish wedding have to take place through deceit and deception?

Why did the first Jewish family have to come into existence in such an enigmatic and strange manner?

Leah represents Yakov's Mazal (fate). She is the woman whom Yakov was destined to marry. Rachel represents choice. She is the woman whom Yakov loved and chose to marry. Why does the Torah have to record this strange story of Yakov’s wedding deception? The narrative portions of the Torah contain much more than simple stories.

The entire Torah is G-d's Personal, Authorized living manual for today's world. Every word in the Torah is G-d’s GPS (G-d's Personal System) for life.

There is a profound message being taught here. When one gets married, although he thinks that he is marrying a Rachel, the one that he chose, there are bound to be unforeseen surprises.

One may discover, after the wedding night, that he has also married a Leah, who represents the unanticipated nature of one's spouse. This unforeseen nature, however, is exactly what one needs in a spouse. As the Rolling Stones number one song goes, "You can't always get what you want, but get what you need". Married life is full of surprises.

That is why the groom veils his bride. Because through this veil, he is stating in effect, I will love, cherish and respect not only the 'you' which is revealed to me, but also those aspects of your personality that are hidden from me. As I am bonding with you in marriage, I am creating a space within me for the totality of your entire being, including what remains veiled.

Under the Chuppah the groom says to the bride, "You are sanctified to me with this ring …" What he means is that I can't attain my full potential of sanctity without you. However, the bride remains silent. Why does she not verbally acknowledge her groom's words and his gift?

The Baal Shem Tov explains that under the Chuppah the bride has reached such an exalted and unprecedented level of Kedushah that the world is not ready yet to hear her holy speech.

When the Moshiach comes, then the world will have reached its spiritual zenith, and only then the bride will speak under the Chuppah. It will be as the Prophet Yirmiyahu says, "There will be heard in the cities of Yehudah and in the streets of Yerushalayim, the sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the BRIDE!" 


Current Events in Parashath Tol'doth 5779

04 November 2018

Prayer: A Daily Conversation With G-d

the light of 27 Heshvan 5779

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher

The Talmud (Berachot 26b) says, "Tefilot Avot Tiknum" – "Prayer was established by the Avot". The Talmud then uses the following verse (Bereshit 19:27) to prove how Avraham established Prayer: "And Avraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before G-d".

The connection here is in the word "AMAD" – "Stood" and its association with the Amida Prayer. Strangely though, the Torah relates, just one chapter later (Bereshis 20:17), "Vayitpalel Avraham el Ha'Elohim" – "And Avraham prayed to G-d". The word "VAYITPALEL" is directly related to "TEFILA" - "Prayer".

When proving that Avraham established Prayer, why didn't the Talmud use this verse? Furthermore, in the case of Avraham's Tefilah, G-d answered his prayer and miraculously healed Avimelech, the King of the Plishtim, and his entire household. Why isn't this clear, explicit and successful Prayer our foundational model?

The Talmud's first proof text for Prayer offers us a powerful lesson. Let's take a deeper look at our original proof text: "And Avraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before G-d". What's so special about this place? This place was of deep significance to Avraham. It was the place where Avraham stood, argued, bargained, and confronted G-d before the destruction of Sodom and A'mora.

This is the place where Avraham, alone, face to face with the Master and Creator of the Universe, mustered all his incredible courage to demand (Bereshis 18:23), "Hashofet kol haaretz lo yaaseh mishpat?" – "Shall the Judge of the entire earth not do justice?" "Choliloh Lecho l'hamit tzaddik im rasha?" "How dare You kill the righteous together with the wicked?"

By using this verse as a foundation for Jewish Prayer, the Talmud teaches us that the place of Jewish Prayer is not centered on miracles or good fortune. Rather, Prayer is the place where we confront G-d for what seems to us to be unfair and unjust. Prayer is the place where we struggle and argue with G-d Who loves righteousness and justice, but allows suffering, pain, and death of innocent children.

Prayer's place is where we, like Avraham, stand and see the distance between the world as it is and the world as it could be. This is where our Prayer begins. This is where hope begins, and where redemption begins. We have a lot of work to do. Let's get started by having a daily conversation with G-d and telling Him our troubles. It's the best therapy there is, and the best part is, it's free!

Through Prayer, we become G-d's partners to demonstrate how to handle life's difficult tests. We show our family and friends how to have Emunah and Bitachon (Faith and Trust in G-d), despite our pain and suffering.

Emunah – Faith means to believe that whatever happens to us, good or even tragedies, it ALL comes from G-d. Bitachon - Trust, is a higher level than Emunah alone, for even in the tragic events in life, I trust G-d that somehow these happenings are also part of G-d's Plan for the Ultimate Good.

One of the things we pray for daily at this time of year is RAIN!

28 October 2018

Will Jews be attacked in America?

19 Heshvan 5779

...can it?

UPDATE: Sam ben Nazira u'Moshe (סאם בן נזירה ומשה) passed on yesterday morning, 20 Heshvan, according to my cousin, who is his daughter, who was with him at the time. His 94th Hebrew birthday was the 24th of October (Heshvan 15); his secular birthday would have been the 2nd of November. Thank you for your prayers.


Will Jews soon be attacked in the United States of America en masse, all over the country, Kristallnacht style and worse? I do not know the answer to this question, and I hope it will never happen, or have to happen. However, I read a very sobering and disturbing op-ed written by a former field mental health officer in the IDF during the haggim about how progressive-leaning American Jews have cut themselves off from the rest of the Jewish People by keeping company with their own worst enemies, whom they think are their best friends. I highly recommend it because I believe a person like this has a well-informed opinion - and at least one doesn't have to take this as news, whether true or false.

I suspect the problem is much wider. I so hate to be the bearer of bad news...and thus I'm sorry that I waited so long to post!

It might be wise to take advantage of the ability to take notice of events in advance. In fact, it may be starting now, with the shooting inside a Pittsburgh, PA "traditional, progressive and egalitarian" synagogue in Squirrel Hill (as I understand it, the Jewish neighborhood there), where eleven were killed on Shabbat Vayera.

While researching for this article, I found out that Kristallnacht itself occured davka on Shabbat Vayera! Not from a rabbi, mind you. From an Arutz 7 comment on this article (also linked at the end).

Don't laugh. It might just be time to take this question seriously. You have the right to refuse to read this article and links, and even to refuse to look at this issue as though it may never happen to you and yours. But, if you choose that route, don't ask why you weren't warned. Plenty of us have tried over the years. You've needed to be listening and watching.

We've all heard of the saying, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer", but in this context it has another meaning...if only because some Jews don't know enemy from friend. Even when so-called friends reveal themselves as enemies.

The op-ed: The end of the Jewish World as we know it, by Ron Jager

His words (translated to English on INN) include the following:

This historical connection between Jews has come to an abrupt end. It can no longer be ignored or denied. American Jews from the Democratic, progressive side of the political map have not only transformed themselves into a vanguard dedicated to publicly criticize Israel, but act as if Israel is a flawed democracy unworthy of their support.

This monumental shake-up and self-inflicted division of the Jewish world has been building up in recent years changing the very foundation of the Jewish World that we have been accustomed to for the past 150 years. Not since the period of European enlightenment leading to the establishment of the Reform movement and secular Judaism, and not even during the darkest days of the Holocaust, has the Jewish world undergone such a widespread and fundamental rethinking of what it means to be Jewish...We see it everywhere today; led by self-hating Jews, appearing on mainstream and social media adopting an anti-Israel narrative that not only rejects Israel’s basic national right of self-defense but simultaneously demands that Israel forfeit her right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

It bothers me when I see statements that assert as fact that the whole Jewish world has undergone a change when only one part of it has, and an increasingly shrinking one at that. In this context, the part that has rethought what it means to be Jewish, now known as "progressive," generally comprises Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Jews and the non-Jews who accompany them. I am perturbed by the aggrandizement of their importance these words imply because, in fact, these "progressives" do not define what Judaism is, how it is lived, and especially where it is lived. Even the left wing agrees with this - did you see where Ron Jager wrote about how suspicious our government already is of people who hold "progressive" views?

But it seems that one branch -- the High Court of (in)Justice -- disagrees and hamstrings the rest of the government in the process. Here is an article from CBS News (!) on our detention of a young former president of a chapter of Student for Justice in Palestine (I'm not going there; you can find it if you want) who wants to study at Hebrew University. More updates on her, here (Google search).

Those among the more observant of what the Torah teaches, the support the Prophets and Writings give to the Torah, and how one lives the Torah as directed by the writings of the Sages, known as Talmud, also need to pay attention. They largely (with at least two exceptions that I'm aware of - not that I'm any authority on this; may they increase anyway!) reject the practical application in the Land of Israel as mentioned in the Sh'ma and exempt themselves from responsibility to contribute to the development of a properly functioning Israeli society because at present Israel is not as they wish it to be. I believe they also need to take the warning I offer here.

For your information, as the Jewish population in Israel has been growing, that of the Jews in the rest of the world has been doing the opposite largely through assimilation, via intermarriage and the resulting deprivation of future generations of their heritage - or even the lack of future generations, considering that the larger progressive community promotes the zero-population-growth agenda — especially for Jews.

If you are one of them, you need to pay special attention. Do not be fooled by our apparent propensity to give in to the political correctness fad of the moment; it has lessened with time, and it will continue to do so with G-d's help. Do you really think that anyone has the right to tell the Jews to stop propagating and not to have our own place in the world, after what has happened to us over the last couple of millennia?

In my mind, Mr. Jager (I don't know his last rank or religious position, so I apologize for the relevant omissions here) writes like a secular counterpart to R' Lazer Brody, also formerly in the IDF. I'm going by a theory I've long held, that — whether known or unknown by the parties involved — when religious and secular Jewish colleagues agree on something, or they discuss the same matter, major events are about to happen.

Rav Brody has been concerned about the Jews in the USA for a very long time. He received words from the late R' Yehuda Zev Leibowitz, zz"l before he passed in 2010 concerning the matter under discussion here. R' Brody gave Howard Morton permission in 2015 to reveal what that was, and he himself revealed more in June 2018.

The thing I'm most concerned about at this point — no, scared out of my wits about, since it seems imminent — is the possibility, suggested by the op-ed by Mr. Jager, that the terrible event R' Leibowitz predicted might occur after Israel has cut ties with the so-called progressive Jews. Which won't be long now, if things keep going the way they have until now. Maybe by the time the November mid-term election results are in, no matter who wins?

As for the non-progressive Jews (who are mostly religious, but include some non-religious as well), you are reminded that even the righteous among the population weren't passed over for the fate of the rest during the Holocaust; so why would it be different now? One false move by President Trump could change everything. You could well be treated as one with your non-religious brethren. Unity, one way or the other.

If you are witnessing the separation of Jews from other Americans for whatever reason (besides self-motivation) in other parts of the country, you may be too late to plan your escape. In this case you may be one of the ones who may be arriving in Israel in their pajamas and carrying only a toothbrush. That also depends on whether Israel will let you in.

I do not speak for the Israeli government. I do not know their innermost thoughts or what drives them (but I have a pretty good idea that a lot depends on the orientation of the POTUS and his relationship with the ruling party). I suspect that at some point our government, whether that of Mashiah or under our present system, will have a stronger backbone than in the past because it will be necessary in order to survive. Therefore, I advise: Don't count on being admitted here in your hour of trouble if you have been foolish enough to have favored Israel's dissolution as a nation without considering the consequences.

Now would be a good time to rethink your position and "walk it back" as much as need be. As publicly as you have opposed Israel's policies and actions regarding those who have actively waged war against us for the past 100 years or so, be for them. Be on our side, as your parents were, and even more so. Have empathy for your brothers and sisters over here, won't you?

And, concentrate your efforts on thinking about where you'd like to be when you die, while it's still not too late, and try to be there. This can be done even while the "inevitable" seems far away in time.

While you're thinking, you might want to read, "It happened in America" by R' Tzvi Fishman.

Over to you...

11 October 2018

Doing a Mitzvah at the Zoo + VIDEO on Parashath Noach

Light of 3 Heshvan 5779

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher

When I study Parshat Noach, I try to imagine all of the exotic creatures that G-d created. Therefore, some of my students and I visited the wonderful and exotic Ramat Gan Safari Zoo. Can one do a Mitzvah at the zoo? A visit to the zoo is a chance to experience the wonders of G-d's creation and acknowledge that opportunity with the appropriate blessing.
The Mishnah in Avot 2 states, "Let all of your deeds be for the sake of G-d." Every act, however mundane and secular, can and should be elevated to the service of G-d. When we encounter special, exciting and fascinating sights, our Sages determined to recite a blessing upon seeing them, thereby connecting them to their Divine creation.
Thus, the Talmud in Brachot 58b states that one who sees particularly beautiful or strong animals, or especially beautiful trees, or an exceptionally good looking person recites the blessing, "Boruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam Shekacha Lo BÓlamo" (Blessed are You, Our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has such beautiful creations in His universe).
By reciting this blessing, a great Tikkun (rectification) is made, for people are amazed and marvel at exceptionally beautiful and large creatures. It is extremely important to connect these feelings of awe and amazement to their source and give praise to the Creator Who has such beautiful creations in His universe.
A visitor to the zoo should recite the blessing "Shekacha Lo BÓlamo" over the first beautiful creature he sees and have intention to exempt and include all the other beautiful animals with this blessing. The Talmud in Brachot 58b rules that a person who sees a monkey or an elephant recites the blessing, "Boruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam Meshaneh Habriyot" (Blessed are you, Our G-d, King of the Universe, who makes strange and unusual creatures).
The Meiri explains that our Sages determined to recite this blessing specifically on monkeys and elephants, because they more than any other creature arouse particular astonishment, for although they are animals, they possess a certain resemblance and intelligence, similar to humans.
When we were at the Safari Zoo, we saw a chimpanzee hugging and kissing her baby just like a human mother would. We also saw the huge and marvelous gorillas roaming in their natural habitat. One of the gorillas looked at me and I was astonished when this huge gorilla began clapping its hands and beating its chest!
These blessings praising G-d for His wonderful creations are recited once in thirty days.
The last Mishnah in Avot states, "Whatever G-d created in the universe, He created only for His Glory." 
Everything in creation, even a gorilla who claps his hands, is a tool to enhance G-d's Glory. We just have to open our eyes and appreciate G-d's incredible, wondrous, and beautiful creations.
 Parashath Noah

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

כעת באפשרותך להדפיס דף זה כראוי. לחץ כאן ולהפוך אותו נכון 
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.

UPDATE: Now you can make this page a PDF file and print a proper copy! Click here
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!