Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Chumash Puzzle Resolved

In every chumash, (any of the 5 holy books), every parsha (weekly portion) of Torah (Pentateuch), has at the end of it:

1) The number of verses (פסוקים) contained therein, and
2) A verbal mnemonic (סימן), as a Hebrew word or words, whose gematria value equals that count.

All portions of the Torah, that is - except one: The parsha Pikudei. It only has the number of verses stated, 92, but no mnemonic appears next to it.

The Rebbe suggests a reason for this omission. It may well be the original chumashim from which others thereafter were copied and redacted, says the Rebbe, had the mnemonic "בלי כל", which means "without any". That is, it read "בלי כל סימן". The original publishers probably mistakened this mnemonic (which equals 92) as a directive and thereby omitted the sign (instead of realizing that "without any" was the sign).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Birth of Christianity - From a Jewish Perspective

From the Seed of Resentment

God gave Jews the gift of Torah. This provoked hate among Gentiles against Jews who were thus singled out and made special by God.

People also begrudged God's other gift to the Jews - the Holy Land of Israel, given at the expense of its previous inhabitants.

Some Jews, feeling sorry for their detractors, seek to remedy relations by sympathizing with the other side. This Jewish fringe might sometimes succumb to the tug of Gentile temptations and desert their sacred Torah.

In order that Judaic ideology appear vincible, for the sake of granting free choice to man, God gave counterweight distractions to appeal to human sentiment. For some, therefore, all does not appear to glitter on the Jewish side of the fence. Always there is a small circle of malcontents.

Thirteen centuries after receiving the Torah, a splinter group of resentful Jews broke away from traditional Judaism and, along with Gentiles, concocted their own religion. How did they manage this feat? Unlike mainstream Jews at the time, who had the capability to perform miracles - but wouldn't, knowing implementation of such secret Torah powers would clash with nature that God created and cherished, the renegade Jews spurned God's wishes and performed unnecessary miracles - in order to draw Gentiles into their mix. Gentiles, unaccustomed and therefore fascinated by miracles, couldn't resist.

Was this new religion's launch based on resentment? We get a clear sense that it was, based on the restored Talmudic text released from centuries of censorship. The very fact censorship happened in the first place indicates the truth had upset Christian authorities.

A good lie cannot be launched unless it contains some truth. These Jews could not take that which commanded enormous respect in the entire world and simply sideline Torah or denigrate it, for everyone knew the history of the Jews that traced back to the Sinai event. They could only lose credibility trying that. Instead, they took Torah and piggybacked their new religion upon it.

These Jewish organizers, seeking self-aggrandizement, which traditional Judaism frowns upon, rationalized away the yoke of Torah and the values it imbues, by imputing to it inferior status, to give their own artificial code the boost it needed. They used miracles to impress their Gentile counterparts. And they gathered to them some ignorant Jews who simply knew no better. To be sure, not one of the thousands of sages living at the time sanctioned this affair. Nor, to be sure, was any one of them approached for consultation for what certainly would appear as idiotic; Like a thief asking a bank manager permission to rob the bank.

Thus began the new religion that regarded the basis of the former religion as "old" and the new writings, which promoted a "fresh" view, as the "new" one. The rationale was that the previous code was divine, of course, only that now divinity took a new course, and those following the "old" course were missing out and not "getting it".

Did the ruse work? Most certainly; Many indeed were mesmerized. And until today, that which a fringe Jewish element began in rebellion, transformed into a leviathan walking on its own.

The Essence of Torah

Of course, there’s nothing “old” about the original testament. Calling it "old" denigrates its author, the creator of the universe, for the implication of obsolescence also implies a rejection of God's omnipotence and omnipresence, as if God could not produce perfection from the start, or could not foresee future conditions. In fact, by making this claim - they unwittingly admit God could make yet another such "mistake" that would require a 3rd testament once the prior two, which includes theirs, become obsolete.

A more fitting name for the original testament would be “The Living Testament”. Even more fitting is the translation of its Hebrew name, Torah -– “The Manual [of Life]”. God, Who creates the world continuously, had given the world, through His representative people, His eternal testament and will, through which He can guide His creation and whereby they, in turn, can remain faithful to Him in their daily interactions.

Torah serves as the framework from which mankind must draw its behavioral guidelines – forever. This book is absolutely perfect. It never underwent revision and never will. The work of an infinite God needs no revision (Eccl. 3:14). The words in Torah today are the same words God dictated to Moses over the course of 40 years, in the desert South of Israel, between the years 2448 - 2488 [since creation].

Jewish people today, e.g., Yemenite Jews, who until recently had been separated by millennia and by continents from their brethren in Europe, possess the exact same Torah, down to the last letter.

All of Jewish literature, which was produced in the whole world over the millennia, stands as a vast, upside-down pyramid standing on its tip. The tip holds it all up. That tip is the one, single premise - that Torah is infallible and eternal. Find one mistake in it, and the entire logical structure would come crashing down.

All Jewish books on code of law, all writings of the sages, former and latter, all customs and all oral tradition in everyday life in every corner of the world, the prayer books of every synagogue, every book in schools of Torah learning - all these mountains of Hebrew/Judaic literature (for Jews are prolific thinkers and writers) - stand on the one essential premise: That every Hebrew word in Torah, every letter therein, every punctuation, cantillation and mathematical attribute, the shape of every letter, including the "serifs" of each letter - depend on one unalterable, solitary absolute truth - that Torah and its oral tradition are perfect.

All of Jewish (orthodox) literature would fold like a house of cards were merely one fact in Torah proven to be false. There would be no point in upholding Torah, for perfection cannot embrace even a slight error. For example, if one day a species is found with split hooves but does not chew its cud, other than the swine, Torah would be deemed worthless. For Torah specifies that only the pig, of all species in the entire universe, has these two features. By the same token, were they ever to discover a fish with scales but no fins (Niddah 51b), or, for that matter, an animal with horns without split hooves, then too you may as well reject the entire Torah, for our sages assert this fact based on Torah, and if they were found wanting, all of Talmud and Torah should be discredited. Torah informed us of these facts millennia before taxonomists came upon the investigative scene, and, as far as the ocean is concerned, we haven't explored even 5% of its vast domain. But Jewish thought will not wait nor be hindered for lack of factual evidence meantime because, as said before, Torah facts are taken as true, with or without the evidence.

For those faithful to God, this colossal, ongoing, worldwide, Jewish confidence in God is merely a sign of God's omnipresence. For how could it be otherwise; Were God not to have this universal mandate, how would that look for Him?

There will always be detractors of Torah but this too derives from the benevolence of God. For were it absolutely universally accepted, then what free choice would remain for men to find reason to reject it? God wants man to think for himself and make choices, unlike the dog who given two opposite choices, would always choose the predictable one.

What does Torah tell us about the formation of new religions? It forewarns anyone who gets the bright idea to modify any of it. God warns us in Torah, "Do not to add to it nor subtract from it" (Deut. 4:2, 13:1) That command is an eternal obligation. Implying Torah has built-in obsolescence not only subtracts from it, but a replacement for it subtracts all of Torah, let alone that it belittles the greatness of The Creator and shuns His commands!

There is more than just audacity that hides behind the drive to antiquate Torah. It maneuvers to undermine the unity, perfection and goodness of G-d, as well as His Jewish nation and Judaism. Christian worshippers in our current era may not sense this because they no longer get offended by Judaism or Jews, as they used too centuries before, but surely the upper echelons of the church have to sense this. They claim that they are the beneficent and God in Torah is less so; They have the answers and God in Torah no longer does.

Torah naysayers have no shame to defy G-d, defy His eternity, His perfection and oneness; They defy His people, defy His plan for Israel as the ultimate Jewish homeland, defy the status of Jerusalem, defy the eventual rebuilding of the Temple and defy the Jewish Messiah. Their own agenda supersedes the God of Torah’s agenda.

What would be the right lesson for Gentiles to learn from Torah? I discuss this here.

Just as a producer of complicated machinery offers a user’s manual on how best to use his product, so too G-d gave guidelines to mankind -– all of mankind –- how best to have a good world and a good life. That manual is the Torah. It speaks for Jews and Gentiles alike.

Noah and his family, the progenitors of humanity, after “The Great Flood” in 1657, received 7 laws to live by –- the “Seven Noahide Laws”. On the other hand, Jews received 613 laws from the Torah.

Jews are special in G-d’s eyes because of a mission He gave them. They are meant to be His nation of Priests. They have the obligation to enlighten a world caught up in spiritual darkness. Jews are G-d’s lamplighters, teachers of Torah, an eternal people/nation vested with the responsibility to convey the 7 Noahide laws to the other peoples of the world. To be sure, it was not a glorious task during anti-semitic times. But today, when persecution of Jews has much abated, it becomes a less onerous task to undertake.

Yes, Torah is old; In fact, it’s now 3,324 years old; But it’s as relevant for everyone today as the day it was first given. It is a blueprint for contemporary living.

North Israel - Winter 2012

The beautiful waterfalls of Northern Israel this winter, and its rivers.

(2 min.)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Story - A Jewess and an Arab

A Story of a Jewish Girl Married to an Arab Man

"Mommy is always crying," 6- year old Suha thought to herself as she came into the house and put her school bag away. Her older brother Machmud pushed her out of his way, threw his back pack on the floor and entered the kitchen. "I'm hungry!" he declared.

Mommy was crying, but he didn't even glance at her. She served him his lunch and he gobbled it up, demanding more before Suha even finished half of hers.

"How was school?" Mommy asked, her red and swollen eyes caressing her beloved children. Machmud didn't bother to answer. Suha ducked her head as she remembered the incident on the playground; she would wait until her brother wasn't in the vicinity before she told her mother about it.

Frightened wails from the children's bedroom told them eighteen month old Maryam had woken from her nap. Mommy went to tend to her youngest child and Machmud helped himself to shvarma from Suha's plate. She had learned long ago not to protest her brother's outrages, and she wasn't very hungry anyway.

Only after Machmud left the table and ran outside to play with his friends did Suha clear and carry their dishes to the sink. She climbed on a low stool and washed and dried them and put them away.

Mommy came in with the baby and smiled at her daughter's initiative. "How was school today, Suha?" she asked.

Suha hesitated, lowering her eyes.

Hannah noticed. "Did something happen?"

Suha nodded and looked at the floor.

"Did you get in trouble for something?" her mother asked in surprise, because Suha was a very good little girl. The child shook her head slightly to indicate the answer was negative.

"You didn't know the answer in class?"

That made Suha laugh. She was the smartest girl in the first grade, and the darling of her teachers; but when she remembered the incident today her expression sobered.

"What happened, dolly?" Dolly was her mother's pet name for her, and Suha loved to hear it.

"There was a fight during recess," she admitted.

"A fight? Who was fighting?"

"Machmud and some others."

"How many others?"
"Four or five. Maybe more."

"What was the fight about?" Hannah didn't really care about boys' fights, but she was worried Suha seemed so upset just because her brother had it out with some of his classmates. Machmud was a strong child and she was confident he could take care of himself.

"I don't know." Her denial was not convincing.

"So why is it bothering you so much?"

Suha smiled for a second, loving her mother for understanding what she had not yet said, and then she took a deep breath and said the word she had heard, "Mommy, what's a Yahud?"

Hannah was stunned. "Who said it?"

"Everybody. The boys chanted it and Machmud wanted to kill them. Their sisters in my class were all saying it too. Mommy, what's a Yahud?" Her voice betrayed desperation.

Hannah put Maryam down to play on the floor and held her arms out to her big girl. Suha burst into tears, and Hannah sobbed with her. How could she explain to her little daughter she and her children were Jewish, even though she had abandoned her birthright to marry their father?

After a few minutes Suha calmed. It felt good to be held in her mother's loving arms, to feel the smoothness of her dress against her cheek, and to hear Mommy's steady heartbeat against her ear. "I don't want to go back to school anymore," she whispered. "I hate them."

Hannah sighed and hugged her closer. She wished she could protect her children, and felt guilty it was her doing their lives were destined for misery.

Maryam was playing contentedly at her mother's feet, and Suha's even breathing told her the child had drifted into sleep. Hannah looked out the window at the brilliant blue sky of Palestine and remembered.

She remembered herself as a teenager, self centered, rebellious and totally lacking in self confidence. Hannah had gone with her friends to the mall. It wasn't something she especially wanted to do, but she didn't have the courage to stay away when her whole gang were so enthusiastic. Their loud talks interrupted frequently by raucous laughter, the group of girls had wandered in and out of shops, touching everything like toddlers, and trying on clothes they had no money to buy. Hannah had allowed herself to be swept along impetuously from one empty activity to the next.

At one point the group was sprawled over a café table, and they decided to order cokes which was all they could afford. A waiter came over to take their order. He looked like a movie star, tall and athletic with a golden tan and jet black curls that framed his face emphasizing his dark lashed brown eyes. Somehow her gaze met his and she quickly looked away. Suddenly Hannah was embarrassed at her girlfriends' giggles and gum popping, but they didn't notice her discomfort. The waiter smiled and made jokes with all of them. When he returned with their drinks on a tray he handed out the paper cups and on the one he gave to her was a note. She peeked inside and it said "Meet me here at eight o'clock".

She shouldn't have, and she didn't really mean to, but when she got home her parents were fighting and they yelled at her and she couldn't stand it so she left the house.

Her feet brought her back to the mall, and somehow she wound up back at the café exactly at eight. The waiter greeted her with a broad smile that warmed her heart. It felt so good someone was relating to her as a person. Hannah fell into his plans like a ripe fruit.

Ali didn't tell her at first he was an Arab. He let her think he was a Jewish boy from a Sephardic home. Over the next few weeks he spent a lot of money on the shy Jewish girl, taking her places to eat and buying her jewelry and magazines. Hannah believed him when he told her he thought she was beautiful and intelligent and special. The emotional abuse at home and her feelings of inferiority at school receded into the distance when she was with Ali.

By the time he revealed his ethnic origins, it didn't seem especially important any more.

It's hard to keep secrets. Word got to her parents about the Arab she was seeing and they confronted her. With newfound confidence she retaliated verbally and told them what miserable people they were and how she hated them. Their response was to throw her out of their house and tell her they never wanted to see or hear from her again.

The satisfaction she felt from finally speaking her mind was short lived. She had nowhere to go except back to Ali, and he welcomed her with open arms.

They were married in his village after she went through a ceremony that officially converted her to Islam. Ali knew how to assuage her conscience with sweet words and presents, and she was happy at first.

A few months later things changed. Arab women are expected to live very restricted lives. They may never step out of their homes unchaperoned, they must fill their husband's desires without argument, and when in public they had to wear head coverings to hide their faces. Now that compliments and gifts were no longer necessary, Ali helped Hannah adjust to her new role with his fists.

In her parent's home she had been unhappy, but nothing compared to the misery she now endured. She found herself missing her mother and father, brothers and sisters, even the exams at school—but she could not imagine returning to them. Staying with Ali was better than shamefully admitting her failure.

Hannah learned to adjust. "I can't bear the sound of a woman crying," her husband threatened, and so she obediently stifled her tears when he was around. From the early morning until the night she was occupied cleaning and cooking, washing laundry, hanging it up and bringing it in. There was no electricity in the house, and they had to use kerosene lamps for light. There was no telephone to contact the outside world.

When Ali came home from work he never noticed the floors were washed and the house was clean and orderly. He hardly even acknowledged her existence until she had poured water over his hands, given him a towel to dry them, and put his dinner plate on the table in front of him. In the beginning Hannah had been afraid he would be disappointed.

"Is everything all right?" she would ask timidly. "Perhaps it needs more salt?"

Ali had regarded her sternly and answered, "If I eat it, it is good. If it is not good you will know it soon enough." She understood his intentions and every meal became an endurance test. Ali never complained, but he beat her whenever he was not satisfied.

Occasionally women from her husband's family came to visit. They sat in her living room and drank black coffee while they gossiped. From their high pitched chatter it seemed to Hannah all of them had married men who mistreated them, as if it were self understood. Their complaints went around and around in circles in a kind of plaintive ritual punctuated by shrill laughter.
Read the rest here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fool from Pennsylvania Ave.

Here's something the American media wouldn't dare show you, and why the disgraceful pawn holding highest office sorely needs a teleprompter, to read someone else's words.

The dummy learned a new slogan and can now only think of that slogan as his "speech" to heads of state.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Toulouse Murders in Perspective

A handul of people around the world, very wealthy and powerful, powerful with money but not with brains (because the God they ignore will have the last say), want to corner the world's wealth at the expense of the populations at large. They decided to ride the coattails of Islamic Jihad to achieve their goals. This includes the destruction of Israel and that of America, of Israel as a nation, and of America as an economic and political power.

Their interim goal is to support the Muslim "Jihad" and when that succeeds to a significant extent, they plan to take over the reins and corner the entire wealth of nations, including that of the Muslims, who they now use temporarily as pawns.

The leftist media, owned by these people, are carefully following orders. Therefore, upon seeing the Jihad unfold, they will downplay it and hide it from people as best they can, to let Jihad go forth and strike unsuspectingly, but painting the incident in different colors to disguise it for what it really is. This will allow for tumult to happen in unforeseen ways. For if they expose it for what it is, Jihad will fall flat on its face, because of clear, public awareness. So they hide it whereever possible and espouse political correctness to further this goal.

Take, for example, the horrific murders in Toulouse. The gunman came face to face with his victims, so close that the fire from the gun burnt their faces. Only Muslims, brainwashed Jihadists, can do such dastardly acts of terror, as they did to the Fogels and celebrated it.

How did the media behave when Toulouse happened? They first claimed it must have been the work "neo-Nazis" (WHITE supremacists, as opposed to the minority kind). Never would they initially suggest the obvious - Muslim terror.

Then, when that proved false, they said "It was a RANDOM act of violence". All of them, the entire gamut of mainstream media, from New York to London, said so, using the keyword "random". The media, you see, if you don't yet know, are a cohesive group, even though they spread out over the entire Western world. And know this: Before they come out with their headlines, there is a conference call wherein they receive their "talking points" for the day, or for a given event. Scan the headlines of what was said by the media regarding Toulouse, across all of them, and you'll see all of them using their own sentences but always, without failure, they include, and key in on, the important, talking-points - their "marching orders" for the day. In Toulouse the keyword was "random", so you got reports of a "random act" or a "random shooting".

Media today no longer is what it used to be. It used to be, each one on his own; Today, the one on his own, will, if they cannot shut him up, or buy him out, one way or the other.

This isn't just bias against Jews that is going on, although Jews are likely to remain at the forefront of victimization because of Muslim hatred of the Jew, but rather it is a new world order that is trying to position itself by piggybacking on the Jihad war that aims to create world chaos, and then forcibly supplanting Muslim headway with their own scheme, to finally render the ultimate takeover of world resources. The two major obstacles for this takeover require, however, to first destruct the democracies of Israel and America. Europe, now on the brink, is almost as good as gone.

Even if they catch the murderer, a new spin will be made up. Or, more probably, under-report it, like the New York Times used to do during the Holocaust, placing a "small item" near the back pages.

Don't underestimate the greed and bad nature of these people. Probably they derive from the "Council of Foreign Affairs". They are the ones pulling the strings. Out of sight but closely supervising by remote control. An example of this control: Notice that the Muslim who killed 13 soldiers in a U.S. army base hasn't yet been brought to trial; Reason; It will hurt Obuma's chances to win in 2012. They are no less evil than the Muslim in Toulouse who pulled the trigger, shooting his gun into the heads of the Jewish children.

UPDATE: The Islamic scum who made his mother proud.

From a news report: He "... arrived on a motorcycle, shooting his victims as they arrived at the school, then calmly entered the premises, grabbed an eight year old girl by the hair, Miriam Monsonego, and shot her in the head before escaping."

Why did he take the trouble of strapping a video camera to his neck and filming himself chasing eight-year-old Miriam Monsonego through the school courtyard and shooting her 3 times in the head? See <here>.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Brigitte Gabriel - Trying to Wake Up America

Learn why:
- We must become energy-independent
- No less than 75 Americans, in 2 years, became home-grown terrorists

(13 minutes)

Reform Judaism's "Tradition"

Here's a comment I left at a Reform Judaism website, in reaction to what the rabbi said.

Dear Rabbi ___,

You say the Reform movement takes a "... thousands-year-old tradition to renew it everyday."

May I remind you there is NO tradition of the Reform movement, but rather the tradition of the Orthodox movement - simply because Reform Judaism has no tradition beyond that which remains after two or three generations, which by that time is practically nil. Reform Jews of today are not the descendants of Reform Jewry of the past. Within only 2 or 3 generations, Reformism goes extinct! Starting with a group of Reform Jews, the number of them who remain hugging Torah after 3 generations is insignificant.

If you take this as an accusation, you miss my point. This is not an attack. It is an empirical finding that the chances for assimilation into the Gentile culture and intermarriage is a simple matter of fact. (Researched chart data can be seen here.) The only "tradition", therefore, that you adopt as your own happens to be that which Torah-observant Jews have propagated for over 3 millennia!

Torah at its core is truth, in God's language, אמת.

(This is suggested by the 1st 3 words of Torah, where their last letters spells "truth". The order of these letters is not in order, because, at first sight, Torah truth does not SEEM apparent. But the further you delve into Torah, as its words 2, 3 and 4 represent, the more its truth becomes evident, which is why the last letters of THESE words DO spell "truth" -- in the right order!)

(Another thing about אמת : It comprises the 1st letter of the alphabet, the last one and the middle one -- to signify that Torah-truth remains unchanged ("unreformed") from beginning of time to the end of time.)

I say this only to correct a slight error in your reasoning -- that Reform Judaism has "its own" tradition. It does not. It merely adopts another's tradition, calling it its own, and then reforms it -- or
, hollows it out, as its geneology will prove in 4 generations at most. As with any slight error in aim, its downrange trajectory misses the target by a wide margin.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Ruling by the "Moses of Our Generation"

God assured Moses at Sinai that, "And also in you the Jews will have faith in, for always".
(וגם בך יאמינו לעולם) [Ex.19:9]

Why the word "also"?
Rashi explains, "Not only will Jews believe in Moses the prophet, but they will also believe in all the prophets who will appear in generations thereafter."

Chabad got lucky because their Rebbeim happened to be the leaders of the last 7 generations. The Rebbeim, besides being leaders of a generation (נשיאי הדור), were also, like Moses, blessed with נבואה, prophetic power. But our entire generation - that of the 7th Rebbe - really got lucky; Because the Moses of our generation also happens to be the Moshiach, who very soon will usher us into the Era of Ultimate Redemption!

Literally scores of times our Rebbe spoke of himself in strong hints as the Messiah. One such indication we find in the Ma'amer, Ve'Ato Tetzave, he delivered in 5741 (10 Adar A), and handed out, after footnoting it, in 5752. This was the last publication he handed out before the 3rd of Tammuz. Here's what he said:

"... And we can conclude that, since the Previous Rebbe made reference to the Midrash, where it states 'Mordechai in his generation was the equivalent of Moses in his generation', the Previous Rebbe thereby ruled this ruling upon himself, namely, that he [too] was the 'faithful shepherd' of the entire generation (in a revealed way!)."

To drive home this point, the Rebbe adds an analogy as a footnote. It says in Pirkei Avot that a person eventually "is destined for a judgement and an accounting" when he finally appears before the heavenly court. But what sense does that make; Don't you first need an accounting before a judgement can be made; So why do the sages reverse the order of these terms? The Rebbe answers (elsewhere) - that the way the person himself had judged others in similar situations on earth will be the very same way the heavenly court will judge him, and then the accounting will proceed accordingly. I.e., the way he had judged people will in turn decide how he himself will be judged for similar situations. Thus "judgement" proceeds "accounting".

Similarly, just as the Previous Rebbe asserted that Mordechai was the Moses of his generation, "in a revealed way", in effect thereby ruled himself to be the Moses of his generation (in a revealed way) , this very same ruling applies to the Rebbe's own evocation of it as well. Just as he explained how the Previous Rebbe broadcast his status as Moses of the generation, the Rebbe too broadcast his own status in the same way!

Like I said, there are literally dozens of such invocations, or strong hints. (As to why it had to come by way of hints, I postulate here.)

All these indications, taken together, give the chossid, a soldier of the Rebbe, the impetus to take his words public, to let people know, that he is both prophet (let that be for another post) and Moshiach, i.e., the leader of this generation bound to take us into the Era of the Ultimate Redemption.

The Previous Rebbe's Peiyos

Overheard this from an elder Lubavitch chassid who was sitting shiva.

The Previous Rebbe went with peiyos under his hat (or yarmulke). He did this because his father, the Rebbe Rashab, had lost the hair on his head, which included the loss of his peiyos. In order to spare his father shame when standing next to his son, who would provide stark contrast with his peiyos worn visibly, the Previous Rebbe tucked his peiyos under his hat.

Someone asked him about the Rebbe's peiyos. He immediately told the story of someone coming to the Rebbe and "asking" the Rebbe why he wore his tefillin so low on his forehead. The Rebbe answered him, "How do you know where my hairline used to be?"

(The Rebbe too apparently lost some hair on his head although to what degree we don't know. But, aside from that, we don't ask such questions on the Rebbe.)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Chassidic Axiom - The Moses of the Generation

Jews pray daily, including these words from Torah:
"ויאמינו בד‫'‬ ובמשה עבדו"
"And they believed in God and in Moses his servant,"

But why not just say,
"ויאמינו בד‫'‬";
Is this phrase in itself not enough? Why is there, in addition to the belief in God, also the addition of the phrase "ובמשה עבדו", invoking belief in Moses too?

The answer is a simple axiom of Chassidus: Because there can be no connection directly to God without the mediation of the "Moses of the generation"! As sure as every body needs a head to function, God casts a Moses for every generation to be its leader (Tikunei Zohar 469). No generation can exist without its "Moses" (Beraishit Rabba 56:7).
"אתפשטותא דמשה בכל דרא ודרא"......, "אין דור שאין בו כמשה"

Failure to believe in this Tzaddik, the leader of the generation, causes forfeiture of the belief in God - because the Moses of the generation is the perfect conduit through whom belief in God can be actualized.

One might ask, "Who needs Moses (or the present leader of the generation)? I can believe or connect to God directly - without need of a "conduit" (ממוצא המחבר)!

That's like saying, "I'll pray to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to help me out"; But who says they will accept you? But, if your request is carried to them by the "Prince of the Generation" (נשיא הדור), now suddenly your request is deemed worthy for acceptance.

That's just what Torah insinuates. There is a formal channel of communication to God. You might have the right "number" to dial, but without the right "area code", you cannot get through.

(How failure of faith in God manifests is a different story.)

So it is not for nothing "ובמשה עבדו" follows "ויאמינו בד‫'‬"! One requires the other!

This truth might hurt those who do not practice "ויאמינו במשה עבדו", in which case "ויאמינו בד‫'‬" therefore fails, but this is Torah truth, and nothing but Torah truth!

As R' Yossi taught, "Woe to those who see, but know not what they see, who stand, but know not upon what they stand; Upon what does the earth stand? ... 'And the righteous one is the foundation of the whole world' (Proverbs 10)." (Chagigah 12b)

Here's an indication of the same concept. It says "And when you wish to raise the heads of the Jewish people ..." (Ex.30:12), you do it by counting them, because counting attributes equal importance to every Jew. You count them by counting the coins they each provide, the Half-Shekel (מחצית השקל) coins. The word מחצית, says the Tzemach-Tzedek, shows that those who connect to the Tzaddik, represented by the middle letter of this word - are "alive", as suggested by this letter's two adjoining letters, חי; Whereas those remote from the Tzaddik, as suggested by the two letters furthest from the Tzaddik, מת, suffer a metaphoric death. To be uplifted, then, a connection to the Tzaddik of the generation is warranted.
(See also "The Chassid-Misnagid Barrier is Melting", here.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Religions of the World - How Many?

Judaism does not promote missionary activity; It holds no allure in accumulating converts. In fact Jewish law encourages the rabbi to "chase away" a Gentile seeking to convert. If the person persists after 3 rejections, the rabbi can begin to take this person seriously.

One good reason for this law or attitude is simple: God created the Jew and He created the Gentile. Why would He have done so were the goal for all people to follow one path of worship?

A law in the Jewish Code of Law states that 
Jews must convey to their Gentile peers the requisite for fulfilling the "7 Noahide Laws". (Maimonides: The Strong Hand, Division:Judges, Sect. Kings; Chpt. 8; Rule 10). Then why haven't Jews been promoting these laws for centuries? Because until the last century or so it was outright dangerous for a Jew to obey this law. Which is why Jews ignored it for nearly two millennia.

For a Gentile with no faith in God, feeling free to behave as he wishes, especially in a free country, with hardly any plans for devout activities from when he gets up, the 7 Noahide Laws may come as a rude awakening. 

A religious Gentile, on the other hand, may find it less traumatic to learn of the yoke he must bear to the Almighty, but he too will probably resist this religious commitment that he never knew about.

As for the Jew who must impart this information to his Gentile peer, this responsibility is extremely distasteful. The Jews, as one family, never had in their tradition to proselytize; It's not in his blood to talk religion with a Gentile.

The Jew who lacks faith in God, would probably scorn this task as being ridiculous. This degrading chore, to convince others of seemingly fairy-tale machinations, he wouldn't wish even on his enemy.

The religious Jew too, after centuries under Gentile rule, is not accustomed nor does he relish this now-feasible calling. He'd rather be shackled or stay home than actively proselytize. For him to promote the Noahide laws to Gentile peers is tantamount to being perceived as some sleazy salesman.

So we end up with Jews who shirk their responsibility to enlighten, and with Gentiles who may well rebuff new religious liabilities.

horse and buggy metaphor is here apt. No matter if the passenger is smart or stupid, king or pauper, the horse does not care as it trots along.

Similarly, for a person with obligations who would reject or dismiss the Noahide laws - the fact of the matter 
will not change. The world trots along its temporal course from one day to the next. One of these days divine reckoning shall ask each of us if we fulfilled our duty on earth. We won't be able to feign ignorance or cast judgement aside. We were created in God's image, which means we have the ability to think and reason, unlike other species. We'll be held accountable.

Here's why the 7 Noahide laws are an imperative:

Suppose you host a guest in your home. Wouldn't you expect him to show appropriate manners? Wouldn't it annoy you were he to sit on your dinner table, or carelessly break a crystal, or muddy the carpet? And wouldn't it offend you if he were mindless of your presence?

This anecdote symbolizes our lifetime on earth. We are guests in this world, given an incredible opportunity to live a life, thanks to God our host. Should we disrespect the master of this domain and be ungrateful?

You might ask, "But what constitutes 'appropriate behavior'? How is one to distinguish between what's really right from wrong?"

It stands to reason the creator of a complicated gadget would leave a set of instructions how to correctly operate his machination. The same is true of the created universe. 

We too have been given a manual of instructions. Hint: It's the most widely read book in the world and the most popular in human history, to this very day. Hardly a home exists in the whole world without one, or at least without the ability to get one immediately!

The book God gave the Jewish people is called "Torah", which means "a book of instruction". That name is deliberate. The Torah, as it was gifted to the Jewish people 3,327 years ago, in its original Hebrew language, provides all the answers. Torah is your source for truth! 

But take care. For, as long as you allow non-observant Jews to teach you what Torah says, or, as long as you find reason to follow those who shun the opinion of these Jews, you will never know the truth!

Not one letter has ever been added or removed from Torah since its inception in 1312 BC. It suffered no revisions or modifications, and never will because divine perfection gets it right the first time. It is eternally perfect. No translation can do justice to its original language. Unlike every other language that is artificial, Hebrew is God's language.

As to what constitutes appropriate behavior, only observant rabbis profoundly intimate with Torah and Talmud (oral Torah tradition) can provide answers. Only the orthodox rabbi can be relied on because he embodies Torah's Oral Tradition of 3 millennia.

The Torah prescribes two modes of appropriate behavior in God's domain. One prescription is for the Jew, and the other for the Gentile. The Jew has 613 commandments (plus ramifications thereof) he must follow. The Gentile has 7 (with its own ramifications); These are the so-called Seven Noahide Laws.

So, what constitutes proper conduct in God Almighty's abode? What behavior befits the King's palace? There are two, depending on who you are. One protocol applies for Jewish people, and one for Gentile people. Each group has its own role in the world. The Jew is the Torah's beacon. The Gentile is the world's colonizer. Each has his own relevant set of commandments. Anything other than these requirements lacks divine sanction!

So, how many religions exist in the world? Who knows; There ought to be none! Torah endorses only two modes of proper conduct, one for Jew and one for Gentile, no more, no less. You can't beat this elegant simplicity, nor its inherent synergy.

As for the payoff - righteous Gentiles in this world earn their future ticket into the world of truth.

Monday, March 12, 2012

An Ode to the Forlorn Chabadnik

Chabad has a mission today unlike any other. A mission the Rebbe handed his emissaries in 1992. Of all previous campaigns he dispatched them with, the most difficult mission he saved for last, more difficult, in fact, than all previous campaigns combined!

What makes this task so difficult? Why is there so much resistance?

Because it is easier to remove the Jew from exile, than to remove the exile mentality from the Jew. The Jew got used to his Western lifestyle, and now the Rebbe comes along and tells them, "Start thinking Moshiach", "A Jewish Messiah has come onto the scene", "Think of accepting him as your king!"

Huh? Say what? There's a Messiah who wants to dislodge me from my comfort zone? Who is this man? Did you say "king"? Do you want me to start thinking fantasies? Keep moving. Stop bugging me with antiquated, bizarre concepts. I got enough on my hands as it is, let alone annoying spiritual demands. Judaism is nice, but go easy on the mystical.

Jews have it good in the U.S. and other countries they're in. They are profitably employed or loaded with amenities. They have good business connections. Many Jews have slipped out of strict orthodoxy. Most were already born into a secular, worldly, luxury-seeking lifestyle. Shabbos is a favorite weekday - a time for frolic. The kosher diet need not be so stringently enforced. And as for family purity, why the shower is just as good as a dip in the mikveh.

The unrestrained attitude has been adopted by the religious element as well. They may not desecrate the Shabbos, or eat meat that wasn't properly slaughtered, but to have them confide new faith to some outsider's sect who "claims" their rabbi is Moshiach - well that kind of Moshiach I just won't accept. After all, who says he's the right rabbi for the mission? I know a better one, so there!

These religious Jews also have prominent positions and profitable investments, and cannot be bothered with self-sacrifice like yearning for Moshiach just now. Yes, they pray for redemption everyday, but as long as it remains in the context of formal prayer, let it stay there and not effect outside life that's running rather smoothly as it is, thank you.

Jewish hearts have become burdened with lard. They are too heavy to nimbly shift into Messianic mode. They wax in morality but cannot now prostrate themselves to a call from a divine prophecy.

Poor Chabadnik. He must go out to these Jews, religious and non-religious, and try to cloak his wild ideas (for they are wild and absurd - because at the same time they straddle the supernatural and the unnatural), in calm, rational explanation. Not only does he have to say Moshiach is the Rebbe, even though people can swear the Rebbe was buried, but he also has to explain that even if Moshiach can arise from the dead, the Rebbe, whose stark gravestone stands in a Queens N.Y. graveyard, is alive and well - despite facade appearances. Poor Chabadnik! He has to convince Jews they are supernatural beings and the Rebbe even more so, and despite what the world thinks, or what nature determines, the Rebbe is alive and well - and waiting for Jews to crown him as King Messiah!

Talk about a bitter pill to swallow. Woe to him who has to convince in rational terms that which clearly rests completely in the realm of the irrational. Yet here he is, the Chabad emissary, having to obey his Rebbe, who commanded him, "Take the absurd, wrap it up in careful, rational language; Make it palatable. Cook the wild food in an acceptable pot before you offer it, so the person listening can take the vessel's content and then digest it - no matter where his state of mind happens to be." "אורות דתהו בכלים דתיקון"

Many Chabadniks shrug off their orders, lower their heads between their shoulders and quickly slink away, as if they never heard the orders. When they are reminded of what the Rebbe said at the International Conference of Chabad Emissaries in ש''ק חיי שרה , 1992, they just sigh, "Oy vey"!

(The "Moshichists", on the other hand, put faith in what the Rebbe said, "Go ahead, the world is ready!", and quietly watch the world transforming into its loftier metamorphosis as they ply the Rebbe's final campaign unabashedly.)

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Why the Rebbe Wouldn't Say "I am Moshiach!"

Two postings ago we spoke of Chabad's Last Mission. Then we spoke of How Moshiach Will Arrive.

Now let's address - why didn't the Rebbe just come out with it and say bluntly, "I am Moshiach!"?

Because - for the Rebbe there is no "I".

In all writings attributed to the Rebbe, easily over 100 volumes, hardly twice can you find the word "I" used.

Just as Moses was the most humble of all men on the face of the earth (Num.12:3), the Rebbe too would not come out and speak of himself this way. He is the perfect conduit between God and man, in that he does not regard himself existent for any other purpose. Any attention drawn to himself in any other capacity would conflict with his essence.

We note a precedence in Tanach, where a leader of the generation speaks of himself in this blunt way - and its consequences.

When Saul went searching for his father's lost donkeys (Sam.A:9), he decided days later, as a final resort, to ask Shmuel the prophet for help. On his way into the city of Rama, he bumped into the prophet. "Do you happen to know where the seer lives", asked Saul. "I am the seer!" (אנכי הרואה), answered Shmuel.

This haughty response cost Shmuel, for it was unbecoming of him. Hashem later punished him for this. When Shmuel was sent to the home of Yishai in Beit Lechem to anoint one of Yishai's sons to replace King Saul as sovereign (Sam.A:17), Hashem struck Shmuel with several episodes of "blindness". Since he had said "I am the seer", Hashem showed him he saw nothing. As each of Yishai's sons in turn Shmuel considered as king, Hashem told Shmuel, "No, it's not him", thereby showing the "seer" he was seeing incorrectly.Then when David was fetched from the fields and stepped into the room, Shmuel figured David's features appeared inappropriate for a king. But now God shocked Shmuel into a new reality and spoke into his brain, "Shmuel, get up! Give royalty its due honor!"

This entire string of "blind" encounters Hashem used to chastise Shmuel for having referred to himself inappropriately as "I am", instead of using a modest answer (See Radak).

The Rebbe, therefore, would never just come out and say, "I am Moshiach!". He is much too humble to so proclaim.

On the other hand, he wants to be crowned by the people so he can do his job and take the Jews out of exile and into the Era of Redemption. Which is why every single talk he gave or writing he distributed in the years 5750-5752 strongly hinted at his newly-knighted rank of Moshiach.

Perhaps another compelling reason he held back from stating unambiguously "I am Moshiach" regards tripping up a large segment of Jews. For, as long as it's up to Jews to decide for themselves, they cannot be held liable according to Jewish law. If the Rebbe were to get up and proclaim "I am a prophet", or "Hashem sent me", or "I am Moshiach", then all Jews who find out suddenly become responsible to obey the prophet or king, to the point of being held liable for whatever penalty is due were they to neglect their duties. The Rebbe would not want thereby to hoist transgression upon so many Jews who may well rebuff or rationalize away their obligations to listen to him.

If you have more knowledge on these halachot (laws) regarding obeying a prophet or king that bears on this topic, please let me know.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

How Will Moshiach Come?

My previous post dealt with Chabad's last mission as a prelude to the Era of Redemption (link). To sum it up in one sentence: We soldiers of the Rebbe have an assignment, often uneasy because we have to be well-versed in what the Rebbe prepared us with, to convey to Jews the world over the identity of Moshiach, despite the ignorant resistance, if we are to be faithful to our commander-in-chief.

Issues that trigger resistance or doubts must be explained. There's the issue of his apparent death, and the issue of why he never just came out to bluntly assert, "I am Moshiach". The issue I now try to explain, in my own way, is - How will Moshiach arrive?

Will he descend in a blaze of fire from the heavens and make a soft landing; Will he use a parachute that, like the burning bush, won't disintegrate? And where will he land to maximize exposure and attention?

Will he storm his way into a television studio while they're broadcasting, grab the microphone and announce himself; Like CNN, Fox, or maybe an Israeli leftist channel? Will he time his entry during a soccer match or a kids' show?

Or will everybody's screen one day suddenly provide a beeping alert, followed by an urgent news bulletin that introduces Moshiach to everyone?

Or will he suddenly appear in a white tank during some war and fire perfect kills at the enemy, then stand on its hull, raise his hands and shout, "I am Moshiach!"?

Even if these were viable entry protocols, we'd have to first test his sanity, then test if in fact he was Moshiach. And where do we find those criteria? In Maimonides - and only in Maimonides - in his "Kings" 11:4.

How will Moshiach come? The Rambam (11:1, 3) says that
"he will get up" (עתיד לעמד‫,‬ ואם יעמוד)
and "getting up" implies - he's been around awhile already, only no one took much notice.

As for his bursting onto the scene in some miraculous fashion, I hate to disappoint those who expect such a debut. In fact, his arrival will come in a most natural way!
"World events will proceed as usual" (12:1) עולם כמנהגו נוהג
A "natural way" means his arrival will respect the rules of nature.

But surely he could do for us even a little miracle, to make it easy for us to pinpoint him? Banish such thought, says the Rambam:
"And don't even consider that Moshiach has to perform miracles or wonders ... It isn't so!" (11:3)
ואל יעלה על דעתך שהמלך המשיח
צריך לעשות אותות ומופתים ... אין הדבר כך

Well then, maybe the environment or social landscape will change significantly and this will give us an indication of changing times to help us identify a man who at the time suddenly claims he's Moshiach? Again Maimonides says - banish the thought;
"Don't let it don on your mind that in Moshiach's time some natural aspect of the world will be nullified ...."
אל יעלה על הלב שבימות המשיח יבטל דבר ממנהגו

One of Moshiach's identifying criteria is, he must learn and delve in Torah. So when he does "get up" to become Moshiach, we'd have to know he has indulged and fathomed the depths of Torah (11:4), so, again, he'd have been around enough for us to judge his grasp of the written and oral Torahs.

Sounds to me like he'd be a prominent rabbi first; A rabbi preoccupied with doing mitzvot - all mitzvot, both those decreed by the sages as well as those of Torah.

It's like a general who becomes chief-of-staff; He will have had to prove himself as a capable general before being honored with the highest rank available.

Another identifying criterion of the rank of Moshiach is a history of swaying all of Jewry to follow the ways of Torah, or of strengthening such behavior. It would have to be a rabbi in the world with the very best credentials for reaching out to world Jewry. And what better way to have this impact than to have already long ago begun sending into all remote corners of the world emissaries faithful to his goal, to set up shop in these far-flung, often inhospitable regions, with wife and children, where there isn't yet kosher food, Jewish schools or synagogues, when the emmissaries don't even speak the local language, and begin their lives there anew, for the sake of Jewry, under conditions of self-sacrifice. "Beit Chabads" can today be found almost anywhere around the globe where Jewish feet may tread!

This Moshiach rabbi, of course, would certainly have to be recognized for having such influence on Jewry all over the world, and a rich history of it at that.

Somewhere along the way, this learned and influential rabbi, from the lineage of David, will have been knighted by God with the new rank of King Moshiach. Overnight he will have gone - from rabbi to king.

So how will he "get up"?

Will he notify the world all at once, as we said, storm into some world-broadcast session, or does it make more sense he will first notify his own circle of followers to reach out to their brethren? It cannot be the former because informing every Jew at once involves, simply, a miracle. The latter way is, unfortunately, the longer, but natural, way.

It is imperative to remember what it is Maimonides laid down as Jewish law: The world will go on as it naturally goes on, on a daily basis, even once Moshiach has become Moshiach! That is to say, Moshiach will take the world over - normally, in an ordinary due course.

In fact, it seems clear, this king will now use the same messengers he had used until now to influence world Jewry. He would make use of his thousands of emissaries already in place, and still growing in large numbers everywhere in the world.

Only this time his emissaries must carry a new message ("Chabad's Last Mission"). Not really a new message, for Torah is eternal, and Judaism and Moshiach are intimately linked, but rather with a new angle to the old messages - an important, all-encompassing update!

Think of it as a general who becomes chief-of-staff. First he tells his own brigade, and then asks them to tell their soldier friends and all the people they meet. Well, perhaps in the army it doesn't quite work that way, but for the Jewish peapole, a nation spread out the world over, and for this rabbi who already has his soldiers in practically all these universal locations, it obviously is the most natural way to proceed.

It becomes their job to explain Moshiach and Moshiach times, because they must create a nation of acceptors, for without his nation to accept him, the king simply cannot assume the mantle of kingship. He cannot force himself upon his flock. It is up to Jews to recognize and nominate him, and thereby crown him.

As the Rebbe told his messengers, "Whereas recently a novelty has accrued to your mission ... every emissary must prepare himself and to prepare all Jews in his place, in his city, etc. to accept Moshiach for who he is, whereby he explains the concept of Moshiach ... in an acceptable way to every Jew, as per their intellect and understanding ... that will take us into the True and Final Redemption." (Sefer Hasichos, 5752, Chayei Sarah)

(Read also: Why the Rebbe Wouldn't Say "I am Moshiach!", here.)