Sunday, December 30, 2012

Why the Qualifications to Verify Moshiach?

Moses, the first Redeemer, had to submit verification he was Redeemer of the Jews. Otherwise, he would not be believed. His passwords were "פקד פקדתי", the alert sign Jacob and Joseph handed their offspring a few generations earlier (Rashi Ex.3:18). Moses still felt it inadequate and so God put 3 tricks up his sleeve to prove, with these miracles, he was the authentic Redeemer.

Moshiach, the final Redeemer, also has to pass muster with a screening test. What are his SIGNS? Maimonides lists them specifically (Kings 11:4). And because no other codifier ever took issue with them, Maimonides' laws remain absolute.

"And when a king rises from the House of David, immersed in Torah and heeds the commandments as David his forefather, as per the written Torah and as per the Oral Torah, and will coax Jews to conform to these ways or and enhance their commitment, and he'll fight for Hashem's sake, this person thereby is sanctioned as Moshiach. If so he did and succeeds, and builds the Temple in its place and gathers in the Jews from exile, he thereby is Moshich with certitude."

He gives two sets of identification signs; One set must precede the other. The first set confirms the candidate as "sanctioned as Moshiach"; The second set removes all doubt.

But who needs these signs, you might ask? Why bother expressing them? What difference does it make if someone passes the test Maimonides calls "sanctioned as Moshiach" ("בחזקת משיח")? Suppose things happen or work out differently?

But this is exactly the point! Precisely these signs, and no others, will determine the identity of Moshiach, and precisely in this two-step identification process! These laws are not there as an "in case" scenario - "in case" he requires a further background check. No. This is Jewish law and precisely according to these particulates the process will unfold!

THE PEOPLE - MUST ACCEPT HIM ACCORDING TO THESE SPECIFIC Maimonideic CRITERIA. People must determine and accept a personage, first as a Moshiach in assumption, and finally as being that person in certitude.

The first set of identity factors transpire under normal, natural - as opposed to supernatural - signs. Only thereafter will wonders and miracles supercede the natural order.

These laws are for the Jewish people. It is incumbent upon Jewish people to crown their potential king of certitude before he ever attains that final rank. The Jewish people must accept the personality who is "sanctioned as Moshiach".

Moses was determined one way, and none took issue with that way; Moshiach needs to fulfill another protocol, and none take issue with it either. Moses was elected because according to tradition he had to fulfil the passwords "פקד פקדתי". Similarly, Maimonides lists those laws he derived from Jewish tradition. These the Jewish people must conform with to elect Moshiach.

The mindset that figures Moshiach will appear in some miraculous fashion, whereby he will be immediately noticeable to the entire Jewish population - does NOT accord with Jewish law as a necessary condition!

(See also - Extraordinarily Ordinary.)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu's Last Wish

A sefer just came out by Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Elitov, entitled
משנתו של הרבי מליובאוויטש
He had been in close communion with Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, ע‫''‬ה, for the latter's last 10 years. It's a sefer on the Rebbe's outlook on Torah, etc, where every portion of the sefer deals with a unique feature.

One such fascinating segment of the sefer analyzes the 4th and final meeting Rav Eliyahu had with the Rebbe, in 5752.

He said this of Rav Eliyahu: When he wanted to give mussar to someone, he would never do it one-on-one; He would always do so indirectly during delivery of a dvar Torah to the congregation at-large, and then the individual targeted for the mussar would "get it" in this public forum - without being in any way hurt by the "personal" address to him.

Similarly, he shows how Rav Eliyahu and the Rebbe spoke "above the heads" of those who were present at the meeting, a good many participants who stood and listened. It would not be apparent to those in the room exactly what was going on except for various words of Torah back and forth. But, in fact, both rabbis were talking to each other on a very particular issue, from beginning until end.

And - what was this most unusual yechidus all about? It was a diyun for a special PSAK DIN regarding KLAL YISROEL; Specifically - whether or not the Yidden are ready for the Geulah right now! The Rav took the role of Prosecutor, looking for every source and angle in Torah to disqualify the Yidden. The Rebbe took the role of advocate, promoting such a psak, showing why this psak is currently proper and fitting.

It is an elegant analysis we are now privileged to learn about from Rabbi Elitov. Only one element of the exchange he did not understand, but all the rest, several pages of divrei Torah, he did decipher and presents in his sefer.

The Rebbe was in the end victorious. Rabbi Elitov says the Rav asked that the PSAK DIN - which he in fact then mediated and issued in a Jewish court, REMAIN IN HIS HANDS AT THE TIME OF HIS BURIAL! In fact, that's exactly what happened. That psak din was placed in the RAV's hand at his burial.

A copy of the psak is in the sefer, and shown here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Is it Time to Turn On the Pressure?

There needs to be some "trigger" for the Redemption to take place that will finally get all Jews aboard the bandwagon wishing to see that era materialize. Because as of now, plenty of Jews are just fine with WHERE they are and with WHAT they are doing and with HOW things are going rather smoothly for them. These Jews cannot be bothered with a quaint mystical concept heavy on the spirituality but light on physicality. They cannot deal with a prospect that trivializes secularity and holds the same prognosis for money as it does for dust. The magnificence of that utopia attracts them much as would a doomsday.

We can learn something about that "trigger" if we reflect upon the 10th of Tevet, when the Babylonians set a siege around Jerusalem - which then led to the breach of its walls, the burning of Jerusalem, the 1st exile of the Jews, the Second Temple's lesser status and the final, longest exile ever, which exists until today.

The Rebbe explains how Hashem brought the cure of the plague even before He brought the plague. The cure was the siege itself of that day. The siege should have served to promote unity among Jews. Furthermore, it could have provided an atmosphere imbued with holiness.

Being surrounded should have spawned unity and free love among fellow Jews, and the fear of heaven could have supplemented their unity with sacred worship.

The plague was the breach into Jerusalem and the awful sequel of events, that propagated until our present day. Had they behaved in a desirable way, the exiles could have well been eliminated.

In other words, because they were surrounded and had no place to go but stay within the city's walls, and because the atmosphere in Jerusalem gave tangible expression of God's presence, the situation was actually quite ripe and amenable to express to another Jew your brotherly love. And because the first Beit Hamikdash stood in all its glory, in a city that reverberated with fear of God, that brotherly love could have been enhanced with religious activity.

Like when Hashem first just made it rain, hoping the people would abandon their evil ways, before turning on the faucets full blast to bring the Great Flood. The siege should have been enough of a signal and incentive to turn away from transgression, but alas here we are today yearning for another chance to commune with Jews and God in a holy union.

Perhaps then, because many Jews are outside the circle of this yearning state, and that includes many of us who express that yearning more from the lips outward than from within, God will create a situation that will force us to rethink our desire to stick it out in exile.

Just how that will manifest I have no idea, but a situation may well come about to strongly hint to us that we must abandon the exile mentality and be ready to pack our bags. Instead of just a hint, Hashem may even begin twisting our arms.

However Hashem creates this trigger, the sooner the better.

By the way, the Previous Rebbe speaks of this "turning up the pressure" phenomenon as the logistics involved in bringing about the Era of Ultimate Redemption - here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Faith in the Rebbe

We "Chabadniks" who believe the Rebbe to be Moshiach believe so based on faith in this Tzaddik.

Even had we figured out for ourselves the Rebbe was Moshiach and thereby arrived at this conclusion, the conclusion would be a lie because its foundation is a lie. Who are we to determine faith for ourselves - based on our own intellect?

No. We arrived at that conclusion strictly on faith. Thereafter, if things make sense and things could then be made sense of, so much the better. But the basis for believing the Rebbe is Moshiach is strictly from that which he disseminated.

Building a faith based on rationale is bound to become a disaster, even if it reached the right conclusion, because the process is a fabrication of an imperfect human mind. Only total submission to the Tzaddik's words, most especially those of the Tzaddik and Nassi of the generation, the Moses of the generation, can and always will align itself with the pure truth.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Israel Puts Jewish Lives in Danger Based on Gentile Promises

Another missile tolerated by Israel
Back in 1976, the Rebbe painfully spoke against "agreements" made with the enemy.

"They say they made an agreement. What they got was a piece of paper on which it says they'll pursue peace, and for a given period of time there will be no militancy! These promises hold no value, and the proof is - written on the wall of the United Nations building it says, 'One nation will not bear a sword against another', but inside of that wall they continue scheming to destroy us ....

"... Gentile promises cannot be relied on; Certainly they will not be kept; They have no integrity. If Jews cannot keep promises [as when the media reported that not one case of improper conversion took place, and then, when by divine providence a list of hundreds of such non-kosher conversions of Gentiles was found - they responded by calling for an investigation on who leaked that list!], then how much more so it is impossible to rely on Gentile promises, for as Torah informs us, 'by law it is known Esau hates Jacob'.

"And especially because this is not a personal matter - this matter puts Jews in danger! For now they have missiles in place whose range includes where Jews live, whereas before they never did.

"They put the lives of scores of Jews in danger, and they rely on the promises of Gentiles - whom we've already seen how they keep their word, where within 24 hours the promise is already broken."

Nothing has changed. We still have small people in charge of what could easily be the greatest country in the world, if only we could be rid of the mindless twirps who cannot think outside of the "Please love us" box.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

On Yehuda's Narrative

Two "vertalach" from Vayigash
by Eliezer Zalmanov

1) Yehuda's narrative to free Binyomin from risk of bondage focuses on his father Yaakov, who would be grief-stricken and die were he to see 'כי אין הנער', that the boy is missing.

Why didn't Yehuda argue for the sake of Binyomin, whose name he did not even mention? Binyomin had 10 sons. Why was that issue entirely skirted; When these children would realize their father goes missing, would they be immunized from misery?

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk explained: The pain felt by children for a father's anguish is much less than the pain felt by the father for his children's anguish.

Yehuda invoked the potential death of his father to impact on Yosef more seriously than would the somewhat less pain suffered by Binyomin's children.

(Similarly, in our relationship with Hashem; We do not feel nearly the pain for being relegated to a life in exile as much as Hashem, Our Father, feels, so to speak, for us being therein.)

2) At the end of Yehuda's narrative, Yosef cannot restrain himself and breaks out weeping (Gen. 45:1). But why? All Yehuda said was mostly a repeat of that which had been told earlier and which Yosef knows about already. Weeks before when Yosef first laid eyes on Binyomin whom he hadn't seen for 22 years, he could not hold himself back. But now - what was it Yehuda said that suddenly spurred him to tears?

Yehuda mentioned something Yosef knew nothing about until then - the story of how his brothers hid the facts from their father concerning Yosef's disappearance. Until now Yosef reckoned his father had been told the truth, namely, the brothers sold Yosef as a slave. He never knew they dipped his shirt in blood and his father was under the impression that "One has already left me, and I assume he was torn to pieces by wild animals" (44:28).

This is the first time he hears of the trauma that shook his father's composure. Yosef just now realized his father had thought him dead for 22 years. This news broke him.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Jewish "Christianity Complex"

The one and only eternal Torah
Christian Gentiles have been so proficient in stealing our ideas (and perverting them, of course) that often when the issue of Moshiach comes up, many Jews still associate it with "idol worship" - when nothing can be further from the truth! In fact, it is a veritable and most significant Jewish issue; "Most significant" because it is, in fact, the very purpose for the creation of the world in the first place. The first 6 millennia were meant to lead up to the 7th, Sabbatical millennium, otherwise known as the Era of Ultimate Redemption.

By the way, we have crossed that Era's threshold, because we now look forward to introduction of Shabbath early in the "Friday millennium", it currently being past "noon" of Year 5773.

Another such issue is the "New Torah" that will accompany that era. Here too the Gentile version of this concept is irrelevant (and perverted). Moshiach's "New Torah" is not a new one in the sense of new literature, G-d forbid, but rather, it will be a much deeper insight into that which we were already given. After all, Torah is infinite.

Said our sages, "that which we learned of it in this world (during the 6 millennia) is practically nil compared to what Moshiach will teach us from it." (Koheles Rabba 11:8)
תורה שאדם למד בעולם הזה הבל היא לפני תורתו של משיח

This is why Lubavitch Rebbeim, when quoting Isaiah (51:4),
"... for Torah from Me shall emerge"
כי תורה מאתי תצא
have always inserted the word "new" into the phrase - to stress the exciting forthcoming revelations of Moshiach - which was the sole purpose for the "Chabad Rebbe" phenomenon in the first place.
כי תורה חדשה מאתי תצא

That's because in the Era of Redemption the world will assume further revelatory dimensions that heretofore could not be experienced or perceived; Then the world will be spiritually elevated for us to appreciate that which until then Nature had obscured. Nature will shed its veil and much more of Godliness will become visible to the refined flesh.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Extraordinarily Ordinary

The blogoshpere runs rife with speculation about Moshiach; Scholars even dig into the nitty-gritty of his forerunners, such as Moshiach ben Yosef.

It's as if they live on another planet. Moshiach was here, said so, said his name is Menachem, said he is a prophet, interpreted a Midrash to support his cause, said our generation is the generation of Moshiach, said "770" is the house of Moshiach, spoke about his predecessor, who by Nature's rules passed away, as "being alive and nothing changed" implying the same for himself,
... but - no matter what he said or wrote, people keep digging bottomless pits in search of another Moshiach! They'll look everywhere but where it counts.

That the Rebbe can be Moshiach is a farce for them; A fiction that some insane "followers" dreamed up or misinterpreted. They can't be bothered with so simplistic and naive notion. They expect drama to unfold when Moshiach arrives, not this boring, childish Rebbe stuff.

The answer to this age-old puzzle is right in front of their noses, but they choose to shut their eyes and ponder that which must be yonder. God forbid the Rebbe should be Moshiach! How heretical! Just because he was a great man doesn't make him Moshiach! This is idol worship!

"But he said he was a 100 different times!"

"Stop hallucinating. You didn't hear right. You didn't know what he meant!"

Moshiach will come in a way where everybody will recognize at once that he is Moshiach, right? When he makes his dramatic debut into the world, everyone will instantly know he is Moshiach, right?

Wrong! Moshiach will come under the most ordinary circumstances, says the Rambam.

Will he dazzle all Jews with miracles so everyone will see that, wow, this guy must be Moshiach? Will he turn a staff into a serpent, or water into blood, or his skin to lepromatous, to get people's attention?

No! He won't perform even one miracle to prove he's Moshiach because the Rambam says he doesn't need to.

So how in the world will he convince the Satmerers, the Litvaks, the Shassniks, the Bnei Akiva, the Young Israelites, the Bobovers, Gerers, Breslovers, Viszniters, Spinkerers, Kloisenbergers, Stoliners, Skolenners, et al?

Will he land his drone during a football or baseball game in midfield and jump out with a portable microphone in his hand? Will he break into a radio studio during an Israeli broadcast and yell, "I'm here!"? Will he parachute from a plane onto Jerusalem's Kotel wall in a Moshiach suit and deliver a fine speech?

Does the reader really believe Moshiach will turn everyone on to him in the blink of an eye?

Don't you see, dear friends, he's been here, and now disappeared for a while, because he wants to be acknowledged for what he's been talking about for over 40 years! We must withstand a final challenge, as did the Jews before they got the Torah at Mount Sinai, before we get our Redemption.

We're not talking about a normal person here! We're talking about someone who at the age of two and a half years old concerned himself with how the Jewish people will be emancipated by Moshiach (see letter). He knew Isaiah  (12:1) and wondered how the thanks we'll offer God for having made us suffer all these years in exile - will manifest. At two years old he didn't feel the pain of a missing toy; He felt the pain of the collective Jewish people still stuck in exile!

Who among us adults preoccupy ourselves with such thoughts? Did we know what a Jew meant at 2 or 3 years old? Never mind contemplating Isaiah or appreciating the hurt for our collective people.

This man lived and breathed the Rambam, the only codifier of Jewish Messianic law, and acts accordingly.

He came already as Moshiach and said so. He came under the most ordinary circumstances!

What ordinary circumstances did he come in? He told us to look at the gemora where Yeshiva boys in several Yeshivot claimed their Rosh Yeshiva was Moshiach (Sanhedrin 98b). The Rebbe pointed out that these students took their cue for their conclusion from their own Rosh Yeshiva! That is, after the Rosh Yeshiva so indicated, the students followed through to proclaim their discovery (Rashi, ibid). In other words, it was not on their initiative that such identity was first made.

Get it? That's exactly what happened down here on earth, in Brooklyn NY, inside the Chabad community!

"But maybe they won't believe me?", said Moses, when promoted to the role of emancipator.

Well this time, said God, you get no magic tricks to convince them with. Tough it out. They must now withstand their last test. A nicer job couldn't have fallen to a better guy.

So what do pundits who won't read the Rebbe's words, or take the word of his chassidim, do? They'll keep investigating words from everywhere else - that's what.

They'll cook up their messianic cholent and spin a tale, while they go in circles chasing their tails, round and round. But there, right in their midst, right before their eyes, they could find Moshiach anxiously waiting for them to stop spinning - and just look.

Jews are no stooges. Some are awfully bright. They hear the hearsay and say,
"So what he said that; You don't get it, that's all!
"So what we're 7th generation, big deal!
"So what we're 1st generation Redemption; Does this look like Redemption?
"So what he said the gematria of 770 equals House of Moshiach; Lucky finding!
"So what he encouraged singing "Yechi" for years; He was stroke-ridden!
"So what his prophesies never failed; The Messianic one sure did; What good would it do reading his stuff today?
"So what he said burial of Moshiach was irrelevant.
"So what he wanted us to accept him as King. There will be another candidate - that's all!"

Personally, I don't mind antagonism to the fact the Rebbe is Moshiach. But, that those Jews reject reading the works of the Rebbe - that is what I take issue with. If they claim to be anticipating Moshiach, and rumor has it a great man claims he's Moshiach, it behooves that Jew to look into that man's words for himself. Then, and only then, can this Jew be taken seriously. If he does not scrutinize the Rebbe's own words, this clearly shows his disdain for Moshiach, let alone his anticipation for him!

These pseudo-Messianic pundits should pardon me, but they are like ostriches digging their heads deep into the sands of Talmud and Midrash, only to see nothing, and to expose their rear ends. They can claim from here to Kingdom-Come they yearn for Moshiach but how convinced are you if they never open a sefer written by someone great who says he's Moshiach; No matter who reported this fact to them, should they not at least "check it out"?!

Interestingly, the Rebbe spoke of how the gemora alludes to Moshiach - calling him "Caesar" (Sanhedrin 98b). The Rebbe explains that this means Moshiach's arrival will be a "Caesarian birth", in an unexpected, "off the wall" manner (Caeserian in Hebrew means "יוצא דופן"). After all, he comes from his ancestor Peretz, which means "bursts through".

Well, how can you have Moshiach come in an ordinary way and, at the same time, in an extraordinary way?

Simple. He came - ordinarily. He'll reveal himself again - extraordinarily.

And, by the way, the next time the Rebbe shows up in 770 in an "ordinary way", the world will appreciate just how extraordinary that really is.

And it could happen in the time it took to yank Yosef out of a miserable dungeon and turn him into the surrogate king of the world's superpower.
The end of a 1956 letter to Yitzchak ben Tzvi (Prime Minister of Israel);
The Rebbe apologizes for not calling him "נשיא".  Igrot Kodesh 12:412

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Enemy From Within

The על הניסים we include in our prayers and in the blessing after a meal during Chanukah details the miracles that occurred during the Hasmonean uprising about 2,150 years ago.

The prayer lists the 5 miracles during the war:

"You delivered -
1) "the strong into hands of the weak;
2) "the many into hands of the few;
3) "the defiled into hands of the pure;
4) "the transgressors into hands of the righteous; and
5) "the reformists into hands of the Torah-true."

The first two miracles make sense. The Greeks/Syrians presented a formidable and massive enemy, and still the Jews triumphed. But what sense does it make to expect the "pure" be weaker than the "defiled"? Similarly, why should "righteous" people be any weaker than "transgressors"?

The answer is simple. The Gentile army enjoyed as their ally the Jews who sought to reform Torah in order to assimilate with the Greek culture. These "Hellenists" actually took up arms and fought against their Hasmonean brethren in concert with the Gentiles they so admired. (Reminds you of the "Peace Now" movement in Israel, does it not?)

The last 3 miracles mentioned takes this Hellenist component into consideration, which even more severely tilted the odds against the Torah-true Jews. And, in spite of these excessive odds, the Gentiles and their Jewish sympathizers were soundly shellacked.

Zerach's Ribbon

We note the midwife tied a ribbon around the hand of Zerach (Gen.38:28). This demonstrates rather assuredly there was the expectation of twins. You don't always need sonograms to tell you've got twins. Otherwise, why tie a ribbon on the hand? Obviously it was to mark the one first to emerge.

But if a hand comes out, that is quite problematic. The doctor would probably seek to push back the hand otherwise the baby would be unable to emerge. The newborn's head has the largest circumference of any body part and emerging head-first ensures the rest of the body can slip out rather easily. But a hand-first scenario raises horrible prospects.

Perhaps they tied the ribbon on the hand and figured they can push back the hand into the womb and, while they are at it, put the doctor's or midwife's hand inside as well, maneuver the body around and hope the head comes out first this time.

In this case, however, Zerach himself retracted his hand. Peretz saw an opportunity and burst forward.

Making some sign to know which baby emerged first has ramifications in Jewish law, which can differ depending on who comes out first or who comes out when. So identification is important, especially with identical twins. For example, one twin can emerge on one day, and another twin, who emerges two minutes later, may well have been born the "next day". Another example, the first-born male twin might inherit from his father more than might the other children.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Musing on Yishmael

It's utterly astonishing, almost unbelievable, to what depths of depravity Muslim culture infects its people. If I didn't see it for myself I'd never believe it. There are Muslim mothers who would rather strap their child with a suicide belt, to go kill and get killed, than buy the child a toy to play with. She gets more thrill in the child's death than in the child's life. Is this not a freak of nature?

If this were an exception, it could count as an aberrant statistic. But when schools, filled to capacity, teach to dispatch kids to kill themselves and sow terror, this monstrous behavior becomes for these children no more aberrant than drinking coffee.

How much love, kisses and hugs can you offer for political fodder?

Would God create such congenital mutations to start with? I seriously wonder the answer is "Yes". God, after all, created the Amalekite geneology which we have to eventually eliminate. This genome seeds a willingness to suffer self-sacrifice to gain the satisfaction of inflicting death to his innate enemy, which is the Jew and God.

The Yishmaelite, therefore, may well share a similar congential idiosyncratic lunacy - only in his case he can turn easily on his own kin, whereas the Amalekite seeks to target only the Jew and his God.

Here's an "anthem" song played on the official Palestinian Authority radio station for 2 days, after the PA was granted observer status at the UN. It included these words:
"We are bombs... the enemies were beheaded... Grieve not, Mother, shed no tears over my torn flesh... heroic men who mock death... We praised the Lord, and set out for Martyrdom. We strapped ourselves with explosives, and trusted in Allah... Onward men, on the roads to glory."

How sick is that?! Perhaps this is God's way to fix the definition of evil, and all who tether themselves to it, or align with it, or pivot their agenda about it, are - by definition - evil. If evil must be erased from the face of the earth, there must be clear-cut criteria people can use to make clear distinctions.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Shape of the Chanuka Dreidel

Nothing in the world is random, and how much more so anything related to Judaism. Take the shape of the Chanuka "dreidel" as a metaphor. It spins as an inverted pyramid, on its tip. Similarly, the Chanuka miracle represents a vast majority's reliance on a minority that sustains it by tenaciously sticking to the original, authentic Jewish spirituality, the base upon which the world turns and depends on.

The floor symbolizes the Torah upon which the Torah-true minority adheres to, the dreidel's tip represents the Torah-true minority, and the rest of the dreidel's mass represents the rest of the universe.

Somewhere in the greater mass we'll find our modern-day Jewish Hellenists. The reformist movement (be it "Reform", "Conservative" or "Reconstructionist") prides itself in its extensive presence, its numerous organizations and large membership; As if the larger the number, the more impressive and, therefore, the more credible their position. (That's the most common "selling point" of their websites.) Perhaps this is why they feel compelled to assimilate with their Gentile peers; After all, there are some 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world.

But God happened to create the world with an opposite algorithm! God does not want Jews to water down their Judaism!

The quantity of inert matter far exceeds the quantity of plant life that it sustains. The quantity of plant life far exceeds the quantity of animal life, for the same reason. The quantity in the animal kingdom far exceeds that of the human species, which benefit from the former. The quantity of Gentiles far exceeds the quantity of Jews, a core of whom is necessary to sustain the world, otherwise it would not exist. The quantity of unreligious Jews far exceeds the quantity of religious Jews, who must try to influence their unreligious peers. And the quantity of religious Jews far surpasses the single Moses of the generation, the head on the body, without which the Jewish body - or generation - cannot exist.

Just as the dreidel's function relies on its tip to support its entire mass, the Jewish people who hold firmly to Torah provide the world with its raison-d'etre. The Jewish people are the tip that supports the entire spinning mass! (That the Gentile world does not yet realize this dependency is irrelevant but this knowledge will anyhow become an eventuality.)

If this concept sounds strange to you, you're unfamiliar with the meaning of the Bible's very first word, which means, as Rashi explains, "For the sake of two entities called "ראשית"; The first verse reads, "For the sake of ... the entire world was created."; For the sake of the Jewish people and for the sake of Torah, and, significantly - in that order!

The only way Jewish people can connect directly to Hashem is via the Moses of their generation, the "head of the generation". Without the head there is no body and without the body - there is no world. The head of the generation is the perfect conduit, the perfect mediator whose selfish interest in this mediation is absolutely nil.

Says the Rebbe, the head of our generation, "The state of the world is dependent on the state of the Jew in his Judaism".

So invoking numbers to prove an advantage is delusional. Should we be impressed because the Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or Sikhs outnumber us? Since when is truth resident with majorities because they are majorities? The first Jew was Abraham. He alone stood strong with monotheism against an entire world practicing polytheism.

The great sage Hillel said, "Be of the disciples of Aaron; Love peace and pursue peace, love your fellow creatures and bring them close to Torah". Note that he did not say, "... bring Torah close to them". (Pirkei Avot 1:12)

The reformist's attitude to Torah is upside-down. Instead of bringing people to Torah, they bring Torah to the people. To make Torah more "palatable", more "rational", less "fanatic", more "modern", they dilute Torah for their own convenience. But Torah is Hashem's Torah. It's infinite. It's absolute. It's not something we humans may modify or compromise on. When the Chassid reaches out to other Jews to warm them up to Torah, they do so by drawing Jews to Torah, and not by drawing Torah down to suit the Jew.

The 4 letters on the Dreidel add up in gematria to "Moshiach". The sooner reformists abandon their perspective to reform that which God Almighty provided as the source of absolute truth, which is the point of the Chanukah holiday in the first place, the faster Moshiach will arrive.

Betraying Just Another Jew

יהונתן בן מלכה
You know why Jonathan Pollard, may he live, be well and set free soon, hasn't yet been freed? I'd bet it's because the Israeli higher echelon does not want him out, and therefore they do not petition for his freedom. Why? Because they fear for their political careers. Once he's let out, he will come to Israel and instantly become a celebrity, sure to win big in any election.

Look at all the fanfare that went into freeing Gilad Shalit. Compare that with the deathly silence vis-a-vis Jonathan Pollard. They simply fear for their political careers. Their careers mean more to them than the life of that Jew whom the Americans, for their part, are only too happy to oblige by keeping the Jew incarcerated for life. And if any moves have been made, they feint these moves to deceive the public but never seriously negotiate for his release.

Shame on Bibi and everyone else who can - but won't - lift a finger to gain this poor Jew's freedom. Just like they won't destroy the Hamas enemy, and will wait until Jewish blood is shed before they react, rather than proactively attack and avoid the spillage of blood (and for those liberal-minded who support inaction by claiming that entry into Gaza will, in and of itself, bring bloodshed, I reply they can do it by aerial attacks), and they care more about their political image among the "nations" than about Jewish blood that might spill - similarly they are ready to betray Jonathan Pollard whose blood they shed daily as he sits in confinement day after day, month after month, year after year and decade after decade!

It is not for nothing securing freedom of a Jewish prisoner is the highest form of Jewish charity!

Jerusalem vs Damascus

During the war of 1973, that began on Yom Kippur, where Syria and Egypt sought to destroy the Jewish nation, the Rebbe spoke out and urged the Israeli administration to conquer Syria's capital city, Damascus. Why then did the Rebbe not, by the same token, urge it to conquer Cairo?

Because apparently Damascus must fall before Jerusalem can rise to full stature. That's the gist of what the Rebbe spoke to a liason of the Israeli government, that can be viewed on video here.

We spoke about the miracle now unfolding in Syria, first here and then here.

Because Damascus serves as the counterbalance for Jerusalem's rise to all its full glory, and Cairo's significance in this respect is nil, it stands to reason why the Rebbe insisted only on the defeat of Damascus. May that city fall soon, as Israel watches from the sidelines, and may all of Israel's enemies also be drawn into the conflict and be vanquished, once and for all, so that the Era of Redemption radiate for all to see and appreciate - during this Chanuka!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Prophecy of Redemption and its Precursor Stage

Put bluntly, no good news the Rebbe ever forecast ever failed to materialize, unless it has yet to materialize. The Rebbe, like his predecessors, was a prophet too. The Rebbe said quite clearly, in fact, he was endowed with prophecy (Shoftim 1991). For those of us who care to count, the list of his prophecies is long.

It's not for us simple earthlings to take prophetic verses from our holy books and interpret them with certainty. But when the Rebbe invokes such verses and says they apply to a particular interval in Jewish history, we can be sure of its veracity.

In 1990, in his 40th year of leadership of the "7th generation", the Rebbe made an unusual proclamation around when the Persian Gulf war broke out, one that went against the grain of public thought. The Rebbe requested it be publicized that "this year the world has seen which the words of our sages in Yalkut Shimoni (Isaiah 60:499) refer to." (Vayetzei, 1990). From the Midrash he quoted, "The year that King Moshiach is revealed is when all the kings of the nations antagonize each other, the Persian king ... the Arabian king ... and God tells the Jews, my sons, fear not, for everything I did I did only for your sake ... the time for your redemption has arrived!"

In fact, the Rebbe then spoke words concerning Israel meant to infuse tranquility, that there was nothing to fear (despite what the war "pundits" had figured out). (There were rabbis and non-Chabad chassidim who questioned the Rebbe's assertion. Perhaps they forgot similar proclamations before the wars of 1967 and 1973.)

Once the Rebbe invoked that Midrash, the expectation for Moshiach and the Era of Redemption jumped into higher gear.

(On a personal note, this was the time when I had just emerged from a stint in Yeshiva and returned to work my career. I was a fresh Chabadnik. In those days I held my transistor radio glued to my ear because we all knew the day the Persian Gulf War will break out. Sure enough, it began on time. The first Scud missile from Iraq that fired into a U.S. Army base in Saudi Arabia killed 27 Americans. Many Scud missiles then followed; But they fired, not into Iraqi's opponents, but rather - into Israel! This took me by complete surprise. What did Israel have to do with this war? They were innocent bystanders.

I remember feeling terrible, so deeply embarrassed for the Rebbe, for he had reinforced many times the notion not to be concerned; He discouraged the use of gas masks; People waited in line for hours to ask if they should recall their relatives from Israel, or go there for some scheduled occasion, and he encouraged them to be oblivious of any threats! Yet now, oh my goodness, Scud missiles, each packing tremendously destructive potential, each the size of a bus, were raining down on little Israel. I was afraid of what I might hear on the radio. But days went by, then a week and 2 weeks went by, and "What, nobody was killed?! Nobody?!" Sure enough, after 39 missiles fell in densely populated areas, not one Israeli died from these projectiles. The war ended on Purim. Nothing but property damage. Each missile entailed many miraculous stories. I began to regain my confidence in the Rebbe - of course. But this freshman chassid's faith was tested, to be sure.)

The Rebbe, referring to that Midrash, said, "As the Rambam says, 'and those days there will be no hunger, no war' ... and similarly, such will be the case during the last moments of exile - even when 'kingdoms antagonize etc', 'and the Persian king antagonizes the Arabian king ... and all the nations are in tumult and panic', the Jewish people find themselves in a condition and status of tranquility and peace, because God tells them "my sons do not worry, everything that I did I did for your sake ... the time of your redemption has arrived" and "King Moshiach" - the redeemer of Jewry - "stands on the roof of the Temple ... and says, 'modest ones, your time of redemption has arrived."

The point I want to bring out is this: The Rebbe is telling us we are in the last moments of exile and we are actually having a foretaste of the Era of Redemption. This, in effect tells us we will no longer have any so-called real Gog and Magog crisis to contend with, despite this notion's prevalence - at least among Jewish bloggers or Midrash interpreters.

By the way, elsewhere (See his famous 1992 "קונטרוס בית רבינו שבבל") the Rebbe explains the Midrashic significance of "standing on the roof of the Temple", as opposed to inside the Temple. It means the news will be announced from outside of Israel! Why? Because the temple's roof is akin to being outside of Israel, in that the territory beyond the Holy Land, like the roof of the Temple, even though it is physically part of the Temple, carries no sanctity! This is but one more of the Rebbe's strong hints Moshiach will make his grandiose reappearance from outside of Eretz Yisrael!

The Rebbe's Advice to the Air Force

When the Lubavitcher Rebbe worked as an engineer for America's military establishment in the early 40's, he was approached for advice concerning a problem Americans were facing during WWII. Menacing German submarines lurking near U.S. coastlines could evade being bombed by the Air Force because the enemy's radar detected the approaching aircraft early enough to dive into the sea for cover.

The Rebbe then advised them to attach many strong illuminary sources to the bottom of the planes. This would give the planes a few extra seconds before the submarine radar controllers would detect them, because they were looking for "dark spots" that identified the planes.

This strategy succeeded to eliminate the presence of the German submarines near American shores.

A person in the know related to us Chassidim this story during a Shabbat "get-together" in 770, well over 15 years ago. He said the project's name was "Project Yehudi" - in honor of the Rebbe.

Here are links to support the above:
1) From "Popular Science" magazine - link
2) From "Wired" magazine - link

Interpretation of the Butlers' Dreams

The Dream’s Message
by Eliezer Zalmanov
[My additions are in brackets]

We all [Chabadniks] have the responsibility to publicize the Rebbe MH”M’s prophecy that  
"הנה זה בא" [Moshiach]
and the primary shlichus [mission] of “קבלת פני משיח”. There are those who hide behind the Rebbe's directive [by claiming] that it [must] be 
באפן המתקבל” [and exclude themselves with this excuse].

They may be embarrassed from scoffers and refrain from positive action. However, the Rebbe’s advice that it be “באפן המתקבל” means just the opposite! We must develop our own strong unwavering belief - until [and in order that] we can deliver the message in a way that it will be accepted and understood to the outside.

We find this concept [that we need internalize that which we wish to project] hinted at in our Parsha, in the story of the [ministers'] dreams and their interpretations by Yosef Hatzadik.

The question that immediately arises is: Why did he interpret the dream for the butler [minister of beverages] for the good and a similar dream of the baker [minister of pastry] for the opposite?

The Maharam of Lublin asked this question and answered it with a parable. An art display included a strikingly beautiful painting of a farmer carrying a basket full of delicious fruit. The painting was so life-like and the fruit [especially] looked so real that birds would attemp to pick the fruit off of the painting.

The spectators were amazed. However, there was one person among them who just shrugged his shoulders and said, “The fruits indeed look real, but the farmer who is carrying the fruit isn’t alive – for were he alive, the birds wouldn’t dare approach to pick at the fruit.” [See Gen. 9:2, Rashi]

Such was the case in the dream of Pharoah’s baker and Yosef Hatzadik’s interpretation [of it]. When Yosef Hatzadik heard that, in the dream, the birds were picking from the basket that was on the baker’s head, he [necessarily] concluded the baker was missing life.

The same is true with publicizing the news of the Redemption. When a chassid publicizes the words of the Rebbe MH”M, he is, of course, explaining true and accurate concepts. However, in order that it be “באפן המתקבל” to the outside person, the chassid must be totally involved in it – he should be alive himself!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Escorted by Generals

The Brooklyn Navy Yard, where the Lubavitcher Rebbe had worked upon arriving to America in the early 40's, housed a large auditorium where many individuals worked openly at their own desks, as well as offices, closed from view, for higher-ranked individuals. Someone sitting in the auditorium could see those who would enter or leave the building.

At one such desk sat a man who saw something daily that intrigued him. Every morning a pair of generals would walk to the door and escort a bearded Jew to his office, and every afternoon when this Jew would leave his office, two generals would escort him to the auditorium's door.

He wanted to know who this Jew was. One afternoon, when his curiosity finally compelled him to act, after the generals turned back, he followed the Jew from behind, then stopped, when he realized the Jew sat down at the bus stop. At a bit of a distance, he waited. Once the bus arrived, he hurried to get onto the bus before it closed its doors, to continue his tracking.

When the Jew alighted, he too got off. It was at Eastern Parkway, in Crown Heights. There he saw the Jew enter 770. He asked chassidim there who this Jew was and they told him he was the revered son-in-law of the (Previous) Rebbe.

This story, the man himself who tracked the Rebbe, also a Jew, told us one Shabbos, many many years laters. He was our Shabbos guest whom we hosted that Shabbos in 770, some 18 to 20 years ago, to "farbreng" with us.

The other thing I remember from this story, although its recollection is quite faded, and therefore on this next point I'm not entirely certain any more, is that the work at the Navy Yard entailed secrecy because it concerned the "Manhattan Project".

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Merkavah Tank - How it Got its Name

Many years ago (perhaps 18-20 years ago), I sat in 770 with a group of Jews surrounding an older Jew who told us this story. It was during a Shabbos farbrengen, in the "Moshiach corner", where every Shabbos we'd host an elder chassid or Jewish guest to speak to us. I've retold this story a score of times but never, until now, put it in writing. I have no reason to doubt its veracity.

It was well known the Rebbe was a superb engineer. That, I think, was his title when he worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, from the moment he came to the U.S. in 1941, either on a battleship project or, as I think told, the "Manhattan Project". But that is another story I have to write about as well, one I heard from Rabbi Dr. Naftali Berg, who was an ordinary-looking Chabad chassid with full beard and tzitzis, but held the extraordinary position of being the very highest ranked scientist at the Pentagon, before he passed away about one month after the 3rd of Tammuz.

For example, on another occasion, in 770, roughly in that same period, another chassid told us the Rebbe had been consulted by a team of bridge engineers from some state where they were having problems with a bridge whose struts or posts kept coming loose; No matter how often they tightened them, movements caused by the wind eventually always loosened them. The Rebbe solved their problem by instructing them to reverse the threading of the posts, in which case the wind could only tighten them.

Back to the story: The military engineers in the IDF, who drafted plans for a new tank, came to show the Rebbe their blueprints.

The Rebbe looked them over and said, "It's all very fine. But there is one problem. Were it to receive a direct hit in the rear, the door in the rear would fail to open and the soldiers would be trapped inside."

The team then asked the Rebbe for advice how to correct the problem, which the Rebbe proceeded to do.

When the team finished their final draft they again showed up to the Rebbe and said, "Since you advised us how to correct our tank, we'd like for you to give the tank its name." The Rebbe chose the name "Merkavah" (in Hebrew, a chariot, a very frequent term used in Chassidus to indicate total submission to God's wishes, just as a chariot has no brain of its own and "submits" entirely to the wishes of its driver).

Sunday, December 02, 2012

How the Chabad "Tank" Got its Name

A Chabad "tank" in India
On one of the summer nights before the festive 12th of Tammuz, the Rebbe left 770 at about midnight on his way home. Walking towards the car in the driveway, he turned to the street to look at 3 pickups rented from Hertz that the boys would be taking into Manahattan the next day, from which to invite Jews to don tefillin. It was evident the Rebbe drew much pleasure from the view. As his secretary-chauffeur, Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, came to open the door for the Rebbe, the Rebbe said, in Yiddish, "These are tanks to fight assimilation!"

The next day Rabbi Krinsky came to 770 and told the boys the Rebbe called their vehicles "tanks". This news spread quickly and from then on these vehicles became known as "tanks".

... in Manhattan
(Thanks to these "tanks", very many Jews were saved from intermarriage and assimilation by breaking their ties to the foreign Gentile lifestyle.)

A few days later, the Rebbe held a "farbrengen" (chassidic get-together) in 770 in honor of the 12th of Tammuz, and mentioned the "tanks".

He said, that before tanks existed, they only had vehicles on wheels. As such, these vehicles could not traverse terrain that was hilly, ploughed, strewn with rocks or crevices. A tank, however, can handle these landscapes. So, if anyone felt he could not reach some Jews or influence them because of apparent barriers, the "tank" now lets him reach Jews to successfully influence them with sanctity.

He added, that the letters for Tank, in Hebrew, טנק, stand for 3 books by the Rambam, טהרה, נזיקין, קנין
which implies that 1) the boys must be of pure thought, and not think they can gain something from their reachout campaigns, like money, career, honor or "connections" of some kind; and 2) by doing their tasks solely for the sake of the Jew, all "harmful" or negative aspects of that Jew will more easily be eliminated, 3) which will allow the Jew to "buy" or "earn" all things involved with sanctity and Torah.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Daniel's Prophecy on the Era of Redemption

There won't be any 'gray' areas ...
The Jewish people survived several exiles since the destruction of the Second Temple 1,945 years ago. The present exile, quickly coming to a close, will be their last one, to be followed by a utopia.

The closer we get to this "Era of Ultimate Redemption", after which Jews will never again suffer exile, the clearer becomes the distinction between good and evil. The reason for this separation is simple. Evil will be wiped off the face of the earth and people must make their choices which of these two sides to align with, so they can be held accountable.

Before the sin of Adam, good and evil were clearly distinguishable. The sin of eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil obfuscated this distinction, making what was "good" much less discernible. The sin burdened mankind with an intellectual challenge to determine right from wrong. With this obfuscation man could rationalize away his misdeeds.

But now, as we stand at the threshold of the 7th millennium, the nature of the world is coming full circle. In the utopia that preceded Adam’s sin, good and evil were blatantly incongruous. But the ultimate purpose of this descent served a purpose. It was a descent is for the purpose of a subsequent ascent.  The world will be taken to a level of experience even higher than that which prevailed in the Garden of Eden. A most wondrous and ultimate utopia is, therefore, about to dawn.

Evil cannot inherit the future. It will be swept away forever, as a pre-requisite for a more sacred, lofty experience. We will experience a so-called visualization of divinity; Even the flesh will "see", and we'll comprehend G-d's omnipresence.

To pave the way for this imminent era, arbitrary, politically-correct boundaries are falling asunder. Distinction between what is right and what is wrong is becoming all-too evident. Man, with his power of reasoning, will not be permitted to straddle the fence. With the choices people make from now on, they sign their fates.

For example, we see now how the United Nations constituents begin to line up for or against Israel. But in the final analysis, individuals, not countries, will be responsible for their own destiny. (Unless the country is almost bereft of righteous people to save it, as was Sodom.)

In the Book of Daniel (written about 2,400 years ago), reference is made to the interval preceding the Era of Redemption using the metaphor of a “refinery” - a time of demarcation and separation. For evil to be vanquished, it must be separated out and identified. Once Moshiach ushers in The Era of Redemption, the evil camp will be fought and eradicated.

The last chapter in Daniel (verse 10) describes this precursor stage of the “end of days”: “Much will become clarified, purified and refined; [But] the wicked will continue in their evil ways, and none of the wicked will understand, but the wise ones will understand.”

Daniel says the distinctiveness of "good" versus "bad" is strictly for the sake of the wise, for whom the process is unfolding. The world-to-come will accommodate Jews and Gentiles - but only righteous Gentiles.

Will good people who passed away prior to the utopia lose out; Will those who behaved righteously merit this glorious eternity? The final verse in the final chapter provides the answer, “And you continue on your [righteous] path [towards the] end-of-days, and were you to rest, you will get up to your fate in the end of days.”

G-d grants every human being an intellect and ability to decide for himself his own fate regarding his portion in the world to come.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jacob's Humility

As heard from Eiezer Zalmanov
To qualify as a platform from which God would present the Jews the Torah, Mount Sinai was chosen because it stood high, but not too high. The symbolism is clear: A Jew must know his worth and be proud, but must carefully refrain from being haughty. Humility is practically ingrained in the Jewish soul, for we have had it since our forefathers and since Moses, who was the most humble of all.

A hint to this trait we find in the verse, where Yaakov worries he is in overdraft on his account of goodnesses God has dispatched his way (Gen.32:11).
קטנתי מכל החסדים
I have become smaller from all the goodnesses ...

The gemora (Sotah 5a) reminds us a Torah scholar must have only an eighth of an eight of haughtiness (= 1/64)! Otherwise he is arrogant!

By divine providence, the above verse falls out to be the 8th in the 8th parsha. Yaakov's "smallness" of 1 in 8 by 8 is quite fitting therefore. Were he to become even one notch haughtier, that would yield 1/63, which would already be too much, as suggested by the gematria of haughtiness ( גס = 63). 

A pertinent anecdote:
As a single man, after having attended Chabad yeshiva after becoming observant, a Skolener Chassid hosted me at their house for a weekend in Borough Park, Brooklyn.

That Shabbos the host said to me, "I'll take you to a lecture given by one of the brightest rabbis in the community." I was delighted. He escorted me to a shul, then continued on his way. I walked in and the place was packed. I stood in the back.

After listening some 15 minutes I found myself fidgety. The rabbi speaker kept saying things like, "When I discovered this ...", "Yesterday when I told you ...", and "I think that ...".

I was glad to be standing at the back of the shul because I quickly made my way out the door.

When my host discovered my premature exit, he asked "Why?". I told him "I could not tolerate all his 'I this' and 'I that'". He laughed and said, "Now you've learned a key feature of Chassidus!"

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Trial at Sea - and of Matrimony

Seeing the Egyptian army quickly gaining on them, the Jews, who hastily made their famous exodus from slavery 7 days earlier, were frightened. They faced the sea and felt trapped as the Egyptian chariots were closing fast. In those apprehensive moments, Torah tells us the Jews divided into 4 opinions as how to react. One group wanted to fight; The other to pray; Another to surrender; and the other, to commit suicide.

You'd think one of them would get it right, but not one did. Said Hashem to Moshe, "Tell them to go forward!" Which is exactly what Moshe did; He said, "Keep going!" (Ex.14:15)

By the way, here you have a clear indication the Moses of every generation knows that which Jews, otherwise, would never know were it not for their leader with whom God communicates.

The Jews were afraid; People started saying, "Oh no, I'm not going first." Just then, the leader of the tribe of Yehuda took the initiative and said, "I'll go first!". Only after the waters reached his nostrils did God split the sea and provide the Jews with a dry path to advance into. (Mechilta Beshalach 5; Sotah 27a)

You can imagine the tribulation Jews suffered with a mighty army closing in behind them and a dreadful sea they were ordered to enter in front of them.

To what do our sages compare these moments of tribulation?

To finding a marriage mate!

Finding the right person requires much of what the leader of the tribe of Yehuda, Nachshon ben Aminadav, had and did. You have to be committed to following Hashem's directives, to the extent that not everything needs to be discovered from the start. Things will work out for the best if the attitude to obey God's command to marry (for it is indeed a mitzvah) is paramount. If you would just take the plunge - without too many calculations, you'd discover that that which appears as an awesome sea before you, will split, and a smooth road will lay ahead. Do your part, and trust in God, and God then chimes in to help you on the road you want to follow.

Shlomo Katz and Harry Angus - DYNAMITE!

Here you get a front-row seat to a masterful, most wonderful bunch of musicians.
מעין עולם הבא (A taste of the world-to-come!)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"... Miracles in Those Days - in Our Time"

He who chooses a military operation's name in the IDF, such as "Operation Cast Lead", I have no idea, but surely no one asks a rabbi. Be that as it may, the last operation's name, "Pillar of Cloud", should raise your antennae if you are among those attuned to events that disguise the unfolding Era of Redemption, appearing as if they were simply part of "Nature".

Chassidus, generally speaking, recognizes two categories of miracle; One that breaks Nature's rules, such as the splitting of the Reed Sea, which is the least miraculous; And one, like that of Purim, that weaves through the fabric of Natural life, which perhaps with hindsight one might recognize as miraculous, which is of a higher sort. (Nature itself, Chassidus recognizes, is miraculous, in fact the greatest of miracles, for this involves continuous creation, continuous input of divine derivation to achieve something from nothing, but besides this highest level of miracle, there are those lesser two mentioned above.)

Operation "Pillar of Cloud" obviously recalls the events of the great Jewish exodus from Egypt, 3,325 years ago. That miraculous exodus will never go forgotten. As the opening event of the Jewish nation's history, it must forever be remembered even into the Era of Redemption.

After the Jews had already left Egypt, Pharoah regretted his decision to free the Jews. His hate for them compelled him to draft his army and give chase to capture his former slaves. On the 7th day he caught up with them at the sea shore. Pharoah now felt elated and confident, with 600 of his armed chariots and best soldiers right behind him.

Suddenly something strange happened. A thick cloud lowered itself right in the path of the fast-approaching army. Despite poor visibilty, Pharoah gave the order for a massive volley of arrows and missiles. Miraculously, however, that "Pillar of Cloud" blocked the projectiles.

Now thousands of years later we see the same miraculous phenomenon - in the "Natural" guise of Israel's "Iron Dome". Amazingly, in its inaugural performance, it scored better that an 80% hit-rate. The truth is, even before this contraption's use, we saw how years and years Hashem's protective hand saved Jews from bombs raining down upon them. Surely everybody has heard individual stories of miracles.

Do you recall the Persian Gulf war? No less that 39 Scud missiles landed in Israel and not one Jew died as a result of these bombs - each one the size of a bus. (See below what just ONE missile did that landed in Saudi Arabia!)

One such story happened to my mother-in-law (ע''ה) whose house was one block away from one of those Scud missiles that landed in Tel-Aviv. It smashed right into earth where beneath was a school's underground shelter. It just so happened the children on that day were taken to Eilat for a day's excursion. The missile, which never exploded, nevertheless shook the ground and all windows of her apartment shattered.

The next time Israel invades Gaza, for anyone with eyes in his head knows this has to happen, may Hashem guard every Jewish soul from harm and, if the Era of Redemption hasn't yet become blatantly manifest, may Israel wipe out its enemies entirely - this time by taking the offensive with a "Pillar of Fire" to lead them.

ברוך אתה ה' ... שעשה נסים ... בימים ההם בזמן הזה

Friday, November 23, 2012

Who Developed the "Iron Dome" ?

The ABC's of the Iron Dome
By Llan Gattegno

Over the eight days of Operation Pillar of Defense, the Iron Dome system intercepted more than 420 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. The system is the result of tireless work over many years, and the results speak for themselves.

The core team that led the Iron Dome development was comprised entirely of graduates of the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa. In an interview published on the Technion website, some of Iron Dome's developers spoke about their work.

"Credit for the system’s success is shared by the hundreds of engineers, technicians, and managers who took part in its development; but the people sitting here with me are definitely the key players,” said a team member identified only as H., a 1975 Technion graduate. “The development of Iron Dome transformed our lives, dictating a hectic work week and some weekends," H. said. "I never got home before 11 p.m., and of course I didn’t take a single day off for three whole years. But I ...

Read the rest here.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Advantage of a Minyan

As told by
Eliezer Zalmanov
re: following verse (Gen. 28:16)

וייקץ יעקוב משנתו ויאמר אכן יש ה' במקום הזה
 ואנוכי לא ידעתי

After Yakov had laid down to sleep at Har Hamoriah, the verse reads:
"וייקץ יעקוב משנתו ויאמר"
- the last letters of which spell

So we can understand the verse to mean this:
"That if a person prays in a minyan (צבור), then he can be certain that - as the verse continues:
"יש ה׳ במקום הזה"
and his prayers are accepted.

However, should he pray by himself - as the verse continues:

then the acceptance of his prayers are now more in doubt - as the verse continues:
"לא ידעתי"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

For the Sake of the Jewish People

As told by 
Eliezer Zalmanov, 
who heard it from 
Reb Chaim Klein

The Righteousness of Leah

The Torah tells us how Lavan fooled Yaakov and brought Leah to the canopy instead of Rochel. At that point, we read this verse:
ויהי בבקר והנא היא לאה
"And it was morning, and, behold, she is Leah."

However, the spelling for the word “היא” in the Torah scroll is actually the spelling for the masculine pronoun “הוא”  (meaning "he", not "she"). If we are talking about a female, Leah, why is the word written in the masculine form?

I heard a wonderful answer. When Yaakov awoke in the morning and saw Leah in his tent instead of Rochel, he raised his voice and said, “Liar, daughter of a liar, how can you do something like this?! You knew I specifically wanted to marry Rochel!”

Leah answered Yaakov, “Are you a like a tallis that is full of techeiles? (i.e., Are you perfect yourself?) You also told an untruth. When you came to get the blessings from Yitzchok, your father, he asked you, ‘Who are you?’ and you answered you were Eisav!”

Leah continued, “However, you did this because you wanted to merit the blessings of your father on behalf of the Jewish People and that was the only way to do it. You were ready for self-sacrifice on their behalf.

“So too myself. I wanted to connect myself to the Tzaddik who will and merit to build the Jewish Nation [that therefore will carry his namesake]. I had no other choice but to go on this path to achieve this merit.”

Then Yaakov realized he was just like Leah –
“והנא הוא לאה”
"and, behold, he is [as] Leah."
They both had self-sacrifice for the Jewish People.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Amalek Be Perished

The following is a translation of a short, Hebrew article by Rabbi Avraham Kahane (link):

Amalek On Your Way To Eretz Yisrael

Our sages learned from the verse in Psalm 111:8
"סמוכים לעד לעולם"
"Forever they are in proximity"
to relegate significance of proximity in Torah verses or chapters, especially in Deuteronomy (Brachot 21b), as when they asked: "Why is the chapter on 'The beautiful prisoner' juxtaposed to the chapter of the 'renegade son'"? (Sanhedrin 107a)

In light of this, we can ask: The end of Parsha "Ki Teitzei" finishes with the commandment to recall the attack on Jews by Amalek, "Remember that which Amalek wrought upon you on your way [to Mount Sinai] after you left Egypt"; The next Parsha starts with "When you come into the land"; Why this proximity?

One Depends On The Other

We can answer that this proxomity teaches us an aspect related to the conquering and settling of the Holy Land, which includes destruction of the Amalekite seed, to afford viability to the kingdom and the temple. Thus it says, "Eradicate Amalek", then it says, "And when you enter the land", ... "And you shall come to the priest who will serve in those days". That is to say, eradication of Amalek serves as a prerequisite in settling the land as preparation for the kingdom and the temple.

We can further say, the Torah is describing for us a state of affairs: On our journey to sanctification, we shall encounter various impediments, as Amalek symbolizes for us the obstacle in our path to acquire holiness, which is why we were commanded to destruct them. As we saw in jewish history, when Jews journeyed to Eretz Yisrael or to the Tmple, Amalek suddenly appeared in an attempt to forestall our holy acquisition.

To Defeat Amalek

After the Jewish exodus from Egypt, while Jews sang to God, they expressed the ultimate purpose for having left Egypt: "Take us into and plant us in the land of our inheritance ... the Temple of God that You wrought ..." and then it says, "And Amalek arrived and fought with the Jewish nation at Refidim."

And so it was during the Second Temple, when the Babylonian exiles wanted to return to Israel rebuild the temple, a hateful decree emerged from the family of Haman, which demanded cancellation of the building the temple (Seder Olam Rabbah 29).

Similarly in our present era, in our return to our land and in preparation for the imminent sanctification, we find obstacles that rise from Amalek's seed. May God find merit with us so we can remove all barriers so we can whole-heartedly worship Him.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Israel's Political Carousel

The escalation of Hamas terror from the South, more than it actually creates a greater worry, spotlights the pathetic failure of the Israeli adminstration, especially those in the upper echelon, as we witness their meek policy that never terminated the terror threat to Israel's citizens since well before 2005, when they ceded territory and uprooted Jewish families - just to appease the enemy who had been firing rockets into Israel.

This escalation is no mere coincidence. It reflects a terror stratagem that ratchets itself up in carefully measured strides, with a fixed plan and scenario. The first step is always a provocative, violent incident, like what happened recently along the Gaza border when Palestinians struck an IDF jeep with a missile.

Israel then retaliates feebly, which then serves the enemy as the excuse for it to take step three - the "serious" firing of missiles and mortar shells. This time they fired some 200 rockets. Only with Hashem's providence do we avoid much bloodshed.

Then they heat things up a little more, so about a million of Jews must scramble under the "red alert" terror umbrella, forcing that population to seek haven in large sewer pipes. Meanwhile the enemy can learn about Israeli retaliatory tactics - and then, after an interval, wait for signals of submission or concessions from Israel, like, for example, Israel asking for a "cease-fire".

The enemy knows the Israeli government desperately seeks to mitigate foreign anger directed at them, especially from Europe or America, or maybe even from the international court at the Hague. The enemy knows this and also knows how vain Israeli politicians are in thinking such political considerations further chances of survival of their own political careers.

Sure enough, Israel turns to Egypt to seek her help for a cease-fire. Were Israel to achieve this step, they deem it a "victory" and now can buy more time before the next round of this merry-go-round.

Then the terrorists can once again start filling up their arsenal with more and better weaponry, as Israel's politicians lick their wounds and think they accomplished something.

The last time they went into Gaza to sweep away the dirt, they left the mess. The Rebbe cried out many times against this pathetic, idiotic state of affairs and often called out for Israel to abide by the law in Shulchan Aruch (329) to go out and destroy the enemy, even on Shabbat. He had always been aggressive in his stance against the enemy, as when he urged Israel to conquer Damascus in 1973, or destroy Egypt's 3rd army in the 6-day war, or to destroy the PLO in the war in Lebanon; And surely the same applies to the riffraff that constitutes Hamas and the PLO.

UPDATE (Nov. 21):
Timidity magnified! Now, of course, the world will love us, right? Now, of course, we'll have full-fledged peace, right? More like LUNACY! This "Liberal" mindset is a mental disorder! We are our worst enemy!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The "Light Festival" Team

The Chabad "Light Festival" team erected its own tent among those of 1,500 participants who attended the "Spritual Festival" that took place two weekends ago in Metzoke Dragot, Israel, which overlooks the Dead Sea.

On Friday they arrived, set up their two tents, handed out literature, donned tefillin on men and distributed Shabbat candles to women - all before evening. They worked throughout the weekend, continually accommodating participants with Chassidut lectures, Shabbat meals, small get-togethers, prayers and Torah readings.

"What's surprising is," says Rabbi Michael Kedlborg, "that many of the Israelis actually observe Shabbat and mitzvot." This energetic young man organizes the Light Festival participation in all of Israel's so-called Festivals. I get his emails. He also wrote, "the thirst among Israelis is great for a return to authentic Jewish tradition."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Taking it to Our Enemy

We all "fly" to Tanach sources to find how events today have been prophesied in our holy books of prophecy. Have you seen the Rashi of this verse in Isaiah (11:14)?

ועפו בקתף פלשתים ימה, יחדו יבזו את בני קדם

They will fly together, against Plishtim on the West, together they will then loot those of the East

Says Rashi, "The Jews will fly and run together [aerial and ground forces?] against the Plishtim ["Palestinians"?] who are in the West of Israel [where Gaza is] and they will conquer their land [reclaim our land] ... as Targum Yonatan renders, 'They will join together to wipe out the Plishtim of the West.'"

Radak and Metsudas Dovid, on "They will fly" - Move swiftly.

Perhaps it speaks to our times for we have recently crossed the threshold into the Era of Redemption, and, as per the Malbim, such is the time Isaiah speaks of.

Isaiah (11:10): "And it will be on that day when the ancestor of Yishai will stand ...."
Says the Malbim: "At the start of Moshiach's revelation, countries will seek to close ranks against Israel in the war of Gog and Magog...."

But here I interject to say that the Rebbe said that no holocaust will again be hoisted upon the Jews.

Wishing you all a splendid Kislev!