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!