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?
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!

02 August 2018

We Protest!

21 Menahem Av 5778


We, the undersigned Jewish bloggers, hereby protest – in the strongest terms possible – the parading and glorification of an “alternative lifestyle”, one that is classified in the Holy Torah as an abomination, especially through the streets of the holy city of Jerusalem. 

The Torah demands that we live by a certain code of sexual morality, and as such, we are forbidden from certain relationships that a moral society cannot tolerate.  These include incest, adultery, bestiality, and homosexuality.  All these are considered grave sins in Judaism and incur the punishment of Karet, or excision from the Jewish people.  An act performed with witnesses during the time of the Sanhedrin would incur an even worse consequence – namely, capital punishment. 

And this is only on an individual level.  When the sin is committed on a societal level, it is much worse.  The Torah and our sages record how these acts were catalysts for both the Great Flood during Noah’s lifetime and the destruction of the Five Cities of the Plain.

As such, we consider any attempt to glorify acts that the Torah vehemently forbids by parading any such lifestyle through the streets with horror and utter disdain.  Such parades in New York and San Francisco would be bad enough, but through the streets of the Holy Land of Israel is a thousand-fold worse.  The Torah specifically warns us not to act in sexually abominable ways lest we be vomited out of the land.  One can only imagine how it is viewed in Heaven when people brazenly display to G-d how abominable one can be.  And if the Land of Israel cannot tolerate such acts of utter gall, all the more so in the holy city of Jerusalem, a city that is overwhelmingly religious. 

We in no way wish to minimize the struggles in temptation some may have in this area and view with positivity those who have such inclinations and bravely overcome them.  But those are not the people irreverently parading through the streets with rainbow flags, who show utter contempt for the Holy Torah and all we hold dear.

We therefore vehemently protest the “Pride” Parade in Jerusalem and everywhere else in the world where they may occur.  We hope and pray that those who take part in such parades do a complete Teshuva for their actions, and may we see a rebuilt Jerusalem, speedily in our days, Amen.

(in alphabetical order)

CDG from Hava HaAharona

Cosmic X from Cosmic X in Jerusalem

Dassie from Myrtle Rising

Devash from Tomer Devorah

Dov Bar Leib from End of Days

Goldie ZP from Geula613

Rabbi Lazer Brody from Lazer Beams

Yaak from Yeranen Yaakov

Yechezkel Hirshman from Achas L'Maala V'Sheva L'Matta

Many thanks to all the bloggers who joined us later: Jerusalem CatsYehudi Yerushalmi, Orna Nitzevet, Emunaroma, y muchas gracias a Realidad Tora.

If I missed you, please leave a comment below and I'll add you up here. We are seriously raising consciousness (as the Left used to say) of the real issues, folks!