Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Technology as a Reflection of the Past

We're told of the miracle the night of the 10th plague (Rashi, Ex. 12:37), where the Jews managed, as a collective body, to abandon Egypt in haste - so hasty, in fact, that they traveled from Raamses to Sokkos, a journey of 3 full days, in the time it takes to cover the distance by an eagle; In practically "no time!"

Of course the very fact all Jews departed from one solitary city - that in itself was part of the miracle. After all, they had been spread out in the province of Goshen.

In Torah-like vernacular, the Jews experienced the miracle as a "leap across the way" - "קפיצת הדרך".

The very best proof that this miraculous phenomenon was a sign of the times, something that actually happened to our forefathers - in their times - is the fact that today too, in our own times, we too witness the miracle of swift transport across great distances at a time.

Because we live in a latter century, the miracle manifests under different conditions, but the miracle of modern-day transportation definitely has us experiencing this miracle daily, as a matter of fact.

Similarly, the best proof we have of former-day prophetic powers to "know" what is happening in distal quarters, referred to in Torah-like jargon as "רוח הקודש", is our own miracle of knowing what happens in far-off places, as we experience the technological marvels of TV, radio and internet streaming.

We may not be privy to to these "miracles" as such, in which case we suffer spiritual myopia. (אין בעל הנס מכיר בנסו)

Truth is, we're into the Era of Redemption and it is all crystalizing before our senses. It's just that it's about time for the "real thing" and, as they say, "enough with the signs!"

Monday, December 30, 2013

Some See "Half-Empty"; But Others See "Half-Full"

Let it not pass unnoticed that Haman, the Amalekite, our notorious hero in the holy Scroll of Esther - lived in Persia.

The Midrash (Isaiah chpt. 60, Yalkut Shimoni) prophecied that a "The King of Persia" (link) will fight the King of Arabia ..."

That Midrash, invoked by the Rebbe, signaled that that Midrash referred to our current time - our current Moshiach times! Accordingly, we have our current day Haman, and, curiously enough, sporting the same name, albeit somewhat differently pronounced, "Homeini" - instead of Haman.

The "King of Arabia" most likely refers to the king of Saudi Arabia, who will then seek help from "Aram" - which sure sounds like "America" or "Euro-America". The Yalkut does not present a pretty picture of events that will unfold - except for one, solitary exception; And that is, whatever is happening is happening for THE GOOD OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE!

Truth is, it looks like things are rolling along quite ordinarily, and as if some future disaster upon the world can bring furious havoc to all. While that may be true, that it does seem ordinary and expected, given the free reins offered to Iran to build the atomic weapon, given the upheaval Arabs are causing the world over, given the severe deterioration of morality in America, given the foolishness of Israeli-governmental policy, given the rise in world anti-Semitism, etc., things are not what they seem! Things are turning in favor of world Jewry - much as outrageous as that sounds while the world slides downwards.

But that's just it. It's all mirrors, all distractive fluff, all effects that SEEM like things will be getting worse. But that illusion merely fronts for the undercurrent activity that is accelerating Moshiach's arrival for all the world to very soon be witness to.

The sooner the better. Moshaich now!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Rabbi Avigdor Miller's Latest Book

The recently published book "A Divine Madness", by Rabbi Avigdor Miller, tells about how Jewish reformist elements across Europe tore at the flesh of Orthodox Judaism, effectively bringing the traditional love and sanctity of Judaic lifestyle to the brink of extinction. Then came the terrible holocaust that, paradoxically, left mostly orthodoxy in its wake.

Rabbi Miller's words pack with emotion and plenty of detail as he describes European Jewry gutting that which had been so dear to Jewish people for millennia, and the subsequent horrific abuse and slaughter of the Jewish people.

He never quite says so, but the implication you are left with is - that the holocaust came as a result of the abandonment of religion.

Truth is, correlation does not prove causation. Every fact Rabbi Miller writes about is true, but nowhere, in fact, does the good Rabbi explicitly state that the former state of affairs caused the latter catastrophe.

I say this because the Rebbe had said that nobody can claim knowledge of why so great a horror was wrought upon the Jewish people. Just as sure as Abraham was surprised to learn his offspring will suffer for 400 years, with no reason offered, so too the holocaust came about as a decree of God - one that nobody can understand. The ways of God remain a mystery to Man and the holocaust, he said, was just such a decree. Nobody, said the Rebbe, can say this supreme tragedy came as the result of punishment.

It is important to note, therefore, that - in fact - Rabbi Miller possessed this manuscript for many years, as per the book's prologue, but never finished it and never published it. It's present publication was initiated by some of his students and admirers (of which I myself count as one) posthumously. Perhaps it was because, in fact, Rabbi Miller shared the Rebbe's view and therefore could not bring himself to establish with certainty real cause and effect.

Having said that, I really enjoyed every word in the book, including its great running commentary. The Rabbi, as in all his books, knows so much and delivers his diatribe against those who would dilute Judaism with brilliance and impact.

The book's subtitle, "Rabbi Avigdor Miller's Defense of Hashem in the Matter of the Holocaust", may well have been Rabbi Miller's reason for his writing the manuscript. "Defending Hashem" for the holocaust may just mean it worked out that Hashem's plan had full import, but this could be said of anything and everything Hashem does. However, the actual and many reasons for the holocaust will never and can never be known in this world.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What Difference Moshiach's Identity?

Overheard this dialogue:

What difference does it make who Moshiach is? Do I care if it's Daniel, who comes from the dead, or someone else, who comes from among us today - what difference does it make?! Whoever he is - we'll accept him! Period! So why push someone's identity if it makes no difference?

Your question might seem like a solid question, but then ask yourself why, if his identity is unimportant, why does Maimonides, in one of his final chapters, which deals with Moshiach, why is it he enumerated the qualifications for Moshiach's identity? The Rambam did not, in his amazing compendium of laws, use words cheaply. Every word, you and I feel sure of, is important. How much more so an entire set of qualifications on how to identify Moshiach!

OK, so why, in fact, does it make a difference?

Not sure.

Personally, I can only conjecture. Perhaps because by knowing his identity you can then educate yourself further in what he, that particular tzaddik, taught. After all, such a personality is not merely a name but a personal and Torah-laden dynamo. Just see what great powers he must have to qualify.

Perhaps it's to get you to become more interested, because if it's some unknown long-ago figure who you know little about personally, maybe you'd not change yourself one iota for the better, because, after all, no one compels you to do so - for his sake! In other words, it may be important enough to strike these qualifications into the stone of law because you thereby will have to judge for yourself and determine whether or not to believe it in the first place, or not, else why the laws?

Perhaps by knowing you also now have to behave accordingly; As long as the figure is a far-fetched, nebulous personality, you will bide your time for however much longer you want to remain disattached; But a Jew and the Jewish people are given reasons for upward mobility and this issue may be important enough for each individual so as to move the entire mass of the Jewish body to accept something they yet know nothing about - as long as this figure remains some vague vision. Then you can contemplate and introspect all you want - but it will cost you nothing in "anticipating Moshiach"!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Conversation Overheard

Do you believe the Rebbe is Moshiach?

You mean - as of now?


I do.

And the event of Gimmel Tammuz, how does that square with your belief?

It doesn't touch it. I believe he was Moshiach before that date, and what happened Gimmel Tammuz merely strains the belief when given over to doubts in the words of the Rebbe. Some of us, however, never doubted the Rebbe and think he well knew the challenge we stand to face with "Nature bickerers". In fact, his words hold much greater sway than any pessimism some would like to instil.

Nevertheless, if he's Moshiach - is he alive now?

Yes, but don't ask me again how that and Nature see eye-to-eye. Gimmel Tammuz is a TEST, and nothing but the last test, before supernatural lenses will reveal the truth to us - that God is all about, and that God is, redeeming the Jewish people NOW, before our very eyes. To see this, to have it revealed, all it takes is rejecting man-made logic, and, instead, accepting simple, complete reliance on the words of the Rebbe, from back in 1991 when he said, for the umpteenth time, "We are in the Era of Redemption...." Do you doubt these words he spoke?

Yes. He did not speak to our sense of things.

This is where you and I differ. I take his words at face value. Fully believed, every one of his utterances. Some points I may well not understand, like how he can be alive and yet remain invisible to us, but that technicality I'll figure out when the time comes.

What about news items like Iran gaining nuclear capability, anti-Semitism the world over, the isolation of Israel, the apathy or hate countries have for Israel?

If anything, these very aspects of the "usual" all seem to point to things coming quickly to their end game. How much longer do you think God will let Iran threaten and, forget it, open with the nuclear option? We're at the brink already, if you see the entire scope of worldly affairs, as things "naturally" fall into play. What we do NOT see but WILL see very soon is how all the evil will be upstaged at the end - by God Almighty's intervention for salvation.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Beautiful Eyes of Moshiach = 770

Targum Yonatan translates Genesis 49:12
(where Yaakov blesses Yehudah)
"His eyes sparkle more than wine ..."
חכלילי עינים מיין
as follows:

מה יאין הינון דמלכא משיחא
"How beautiful those eyes of King Moshiach ..."

The 4th Lubavitcher Rebbe (the Maharash), in discussing this Targum (Torat Shmuel 1872, p.142), curiously, "misquotes" the Targum by dropping one word and changing the spelling of the next word, to read,
מה יאין עיינין דמלכא משיחא

Slight as the change is, for the meaning rendered remains the same, no such change occurs for nothing, most especially by a Rebbe of Chabad - who is always meticulously precise! So a Lubavitcher chassid (heard from S.B. Zuta) took pencil to paper to doodle with the numbers. Amazingly, the modified version of the verse from Targum - as quoted by the Maharash - in Gematria - yields 770! It's as if the Maharash already back then had seen into the eyes of Moshiach and could not help himself from changing the words slightly, to offer an impulsive albeit cloaked prophecy, thereby implicating 770 as the future House of Moshiach (בית משיח = 770).

Some will of course say it's a coincidence. But there are no coincidences in the universe - especially for a Rebbe, the Moses of his generation!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Reform "Judaism" - The Bane of Jewish Traditon

The supplemental invocation we include in our daily prayers, as well as in the blessing after a meal, during Chanukah, elaborates miracles that occurred some 2,150 years ago during the Hasmonean uprising of Israel's Jews against the Greek/Syrian empire, which attempted to stifle the Jewish people's spiritual affiliation with God.

Part of that prayer, ostensibly, makes no sense. Of the list of 5 miracles that occurred during that 3-year war, the first two make good sense, namely:
"You delivered
1) "the strong into hands of the weak;
2) "the many into hands of the few".

But the latter 3 seem to make no sense at all, namely:
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."

Why should "defiled" people necessarily be stronger than those with "hands of the pure", so much so that this qualified as a "miracle"? Besides, what two sectors of people are being referred to by "defiled" and "pure"?

Similarly, why assume "transgressors" and "reformists" are necessarily stronger than "righteous" or "Torah-true" Jews?

A little fact of history answers this question. Would you believe it - the Gentile army enjoyed as their ally a large segment from amidst the Jewish people themselves! These Jews sought to reform Torah in order to assimilate with the Greek culture. Once the righteous Hasmoneans began their fight, these assimilated "Hellenists" actually took up arms and fought against their Hasmonean brethren - in concert with the Gentiles whom they so admired.

(We can get a sense of this history by looking no further than the likes of movements such as "Peace Now", or the likes of those Reform women at the Kotel who antagonize religious culture.)

In other words, this Hellenist component more severely tilted the military odds against the Torah-true Jews.

Nevertheless, Torah-true Jews won the war.

So, while the first 2 miracles refer to the Gentile component of the adversary, the last 3 miracles refer to their Jewish sympathizers, who were also soundly shellacked.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The 7 Calves of Abraham

Abraham offered Avimelech, king of Egyptians, how to resolve the dispute of their shepherds; Each group said, "The well is ours!"

Someone suggested, "His herd for whom the waters rise shall be its owner! Let that be the deciding factor!" None could deny such a phenomenon, so they agreed.

Then they saw the well's water rising to "greet" the approaching herd of Abraham.

Avimelech was convinced and assigned the well over to Abraham, during a swear-in ceremony to forego harm to descendants. Abraham gave Avimelech a special token to remember their oaths - a gift of 7 calves - for whom the well waters rose; (Beraishis 21:30) A gift that provided living testimony as to who, really, dug this well, the well at Be'er Sheva. It had been wellsprings dug up by Abraham.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Promoting Delinquency in Sodom

What key feature of society reflects its future prognosis? The education received by its children.

Before Yaakov took his family to sojourn in Egypt, before he even took his 1st step on foreign soil, he made sure to dispatch Yehuda his son to set up at the destination Yeshivos (cheders) before their children's arrival. (Rashi Beraishis 46:28)

For this community, Torah is the real home they wanted to settle into.

Here's an example of the contrary, when contrary policy governs a child's education, happens today in Gentile-occupied territory of Israel, where from kindergarten hatred is already well ingrained in the child's psyche.

Such was the educational system in Sodom. Sodom taught their children to shun human rights. In fact, children who dared demonstrate their precocious hateful initiative came away rewarded and followed!

Where does Torah tell us this? In the story of Lot's rescue. When his guest Angels struck the mob with blindness, the blindness struck "from the small" [and only thereafter] "to the old" (Beraishis 19:11).

Says Rashi, "Because the kids started the confrontation, they were the first to absorb punishment".

We know the kids started it, from here: Berashis 19:4.
טרם ישכבו ואנשי העיר אנשי סדם נסבו על הבית מנער ועד זקן כל העם  מקצה

Even though Lot and family gladly hosted THEIR guests, in their own private residence, Lot had to plead with the mob to understand the freedom principle, by logic, "They came into the shade of my beam!" (19:8)

Children decided to usurp this man's private rights of a homesteader, trivialize perceived visions of terror, just to start some personal "fun". The children foresaw an orgy of fun. That God watches their good behavior from "above" they never learned.

The Sodom government promoted terror upon strangers. They sacrificed children to be used as pawns for their perverted desires. Whether it's for greed or lust that drives a society to savage strangers, or whether for the sake of "alla" it's honorable to blow themselves up to kill innocent people, it all starts with the integrity of a child's education.

Monday, October 14, 2013

One of the Earliest "Honor Killings"

Sodom had a wall fencing in the city. It was the "Gate of Sodom". The wall surrounded the entire sprawling city. It must have looked like an aqueduct, with many semicircular passageways underneath it. After all, Sodom had to accommodate, or screen out, a large volume of human traffic.

The city wall served as a platform from which guards can spy on their own citizenry to see if any "crime" or mischief was been committed. In this way, Sodom wished to rule its own destiny against conservative, logical foreigners whose customs and mores Sodomites wished to distance themselves from. These guards were euphemistically called "Judges", each given legislative or executive authority to persecute the "offenders". Each night another team of Judges got appointed to the job, each guard assigned to Judge/Spy from the city wall, the Gate of Sodom.

For example, the night Lot persuaded passers-by into his house to lavish a feast upon them, he feigned anger as he spoke to them for fear the Judges would detect the truth. The wall's guards would see him angry with passers-by, and would think, he figured, he chased them off. It was a long wall around the big metropolis and many interactions with passers-by were common. To make it look as if he is shooing away from Sodom the passers-by, Lot feigned anger as he spoke to them.

A young girl in Sodom (?Lot's daughter?) underestimated the resolve of these Sodomite Judges that guarded the wall, and also underestimated or forgot to consider the consequences of her actions. She was seen by the Judges of the Wall to have taken food from her water pitcher to feed poor people. To make it look like she was retrieving water from the public wells, the girl figured no one would notice the food she hid in her water pitcher for the stealthy, unlawful purpose of feeding the poor.

So they laid in waiting and caught her one night "red-handed". Then they spread her with honey, fastened her atop the Gate of Sodom, and wasps came and consumed her. (Sanhedrin 109:b)

This incident locked in the final fate of Sodom's existence. It was this girl's cries that shut down Sodom for good. God would overturn Sodom and its neighboring sister-cities, and burn them in the process.

You see the same behaviors that follow perverse logic among Muslim communities today, where they perform "honor killings" against women, and cruel and unusual punishment meted out against "sinful" men and children. You easily sense among these people the worthlessness with which they characterize all of humanity. They often treat their own kind as if humans can be literally trashed at any time; And always the reasoning is either absent or perverse.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lot's Self-Sacrifice

Lot liked his uncle Abraham. He was a chassid of Abraham. There were other family members and nephews, but only he, Lot, went along with Abraham's views wholeheartedly. (Which is why he never squealed to the Egyptians on Abraham's real relationship with Sarah).

Like his uncle, Lot appreciated the opportunity to lavish upon guests; Most especially if they were indeed hungry.

Still, Lot preferred distancing himself physically from uncle Abraham. He wasn't as "religious" as his uncle; But he did indulge, as did his uncle, in congenial outreach to needy souls.

Once, having lived in Sodom for a while, Lot found a voyager out on the street, hungry for food. He instructed his daughter to secretly feed the homeless man at night, without rousing notice of the act of goodwill. Sodomites loathed and would kill perpetrators of goodness and charity.

In fact, the Sodomites caught Lot's daughter red-handed. They took her to a roof, stripped her, smeared her entire body with honey, and bees ate her up or killed her. It was this girl's cries that God refers to: "I will go down now to verify that she so cries." (Gen. 18:21)

Lot thus lost a daughter.

When the angels arrive to Sodom, dressed as passers-by, Lot now risks his OWN life to grant favor to strangers. He suggests they enter his house - only do so by taking a detoured side entrance.

The Sodomites had a great detection system in place to catch perpetrators of goodwill. Lot too was caught in the act.

This urge to do good, at the risk of self-sacrifice, even after losing a daughter to the cause, earned Lot an unusual prize. God rewarded Lot by providing that it be his seed that shall share in the Messianic dynasty's lineage.

(Heard this this Shabbos Lech-Lecha from the chassid Rabbi D.S. Pape, who remembers the Rebbe saying this in a farbrengen in 770 where he occupied a permanent "box seat", that -- on account of this self-sacrifice --  Lot merited the privilege of hosting two seeds of the Messianic genetic pool.)

Friday, October 11, 2013

In Preparation of Redemption - Psalm 23

Dovid, probably after making a dash to save his life, suddenly found himself in a dry desert forest. He was glad to have escaped King Saul's furious jaws of death. Now he just walked onward.

He walked on and on and nowhere was there water or fruit. He fasted for so long it would have been enough for a weak soul to depart this world, but he, strong and steadfast, walked along, certain God will occasion for him a favor. What was he now yearning for? He yearned most for another opportunity to experience a prophetic divine uplift.

It was just near to a fainting spell when God decided to provide just that miracle. God infused Dovid's environment with the perfume of Gan Eden and a sweet taste of Ruach Hakodesh. He drew Dovid to ecstasy!

What had Dovid been doing, as he walked briskly in the desert? Did he twiddle with his thumbs? Did he pray, meditate, sing, ... what? All the above, but mostly Dovid played his flute! Seems he always had a flute strapped to him, no matter where circumstances might whisk him away.

He earned that Ruach Hakodesh God now donned on him because no matter the severe ordeal, being days without food or water, he played that flute lovingly. And what were the topics of his songs? Nothing but his profound love of, and faith in, God. The elation he yearned for suddenly became manifest. It transformed his walk into a beautiful "trip to Gan Eden" - which he now used to compose Psalm 23.

The first verse captures the essence, Dovid's complete faith in God. In his new-found sensation of euphoria, he recalls back to when he traversed the desert feeling he lacked nothing! Imagine walking days without food and drink and feeling you lack nothing!

In his psalm he recalls, just before he was infused with that spiritual uplift, the delight he felt being reliant on God. The lack of food or water did not torment him as would have a breach of faith in God. He had total confidence in God!

"A song of Dovid. Because God shepherds me, I will lack nothing!"

This genuine faith felt by Dovid, as he tells in his 1st refrain, launched God's miraculous rescue action.

This is how we greet the Shabbos! We lay away our weekly by-products, to sing of Hashem and to rest with Him.

Dovid teaches us, in Golus (as he traversed the desert), how to live the life of Moshiach times.

This must be why, therefore, we say this psalm twice as we incorporate the Shabbos. Shabbos is a facsimile of life-to-come, where the entire "day" assumes a Shabbos mode. We say it once after Friday night's Ma'ariv, and then once just before Kiddush on the wine.

Shabbos represents the life-hereafter, Moshiach's times. There is the joy of God's presence! One's family of Jews! in His Creation! in His aleph (א) to tov (ת), in His Immensity and in His Modesty. It is the bliss of the Era of Redemption.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lot's Legacy Shines

The most fearsome and ferocious General of the army was leading the charge, with 3 other mighty Generals alongside. These were 4 armies about to do battle with 5 opposing armies. What went on was nothing less than a World War, 9 kingdoms taking sides.

The clashes went on far from where Abraham and Lot occupied vast adjacent property, but local enough for Lot to pick up and visit Sodom when he liked. Oh, he really did like Sodom!

Wouldn't you know it, Lot happened to be "cruising" Sodom one day, just when the mightiest of all generals, Nimrod ("Amraphel"), swept him up, throwing him in with his other booty gained for the day. Lot was in the wrong place the wrong time.

Lot never figured Uncle Abraham would enter his comfortable domain or niche. Abraham was "religious", and he wasn't, which was why they lived in separate domains. Of course he believed in God, Lot did, but he also enjoyed other fascinating facets of life that Abraham would not want to get near to.

A second heart-wrenching shock shook Lot that dreadful day. He went full swing, from a bitter fright of losing his life, to where he achieved freedom's ecstasy as his chains fell away. He experienced Abraham's sudden, daring rescue effort. At the end of the day he had good reason to acknowledge stronger affinity to his Uncle Abraham.

How do we know to read Lot's mind? Torah tells us with 3 "by-the-way" words. "And they grabbed up Lot and all his assets, Lot who was the nephew of Abraham, and he was sitting in Sodom." (Gen.14:12)

Now we know: He was sitting in a bar in Sodom, maybe sipping his favorite drink. Suddenly - an invasion of privacy! Suddenly heavy swords come clashing down! Suddenly, Lot has no prayer to exist to the next moment. What Lot didn't know, and what saved him, was he was the genetic carrier of a unique light.

A most brilliant light lies in wait, to indulge the righteous; A light that had been stored for this purpose since the universe's Day One. This brilliant Messianic light that first coursed through Abraham spiritually now was to pass itself on physically via Lot's genetic distribution. Abraham's Light would thus wend its way into the sovereign Messianic lineage. Lot's seeds of Moav and Amon would incorporate into this chain; Moav- via Rut (and Boaz); Amon - via Naamah (and King Shlomo).

Lot, therefore, couldn't have been all that bad!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Power to Bless - Its Lineage

Humanity derived from 3 Human beings - the 3 sons of Noah.

Until today, that fact remains the bedrock of belief among many.

Shem, Yafet and Cham sprung the nations of the world, after they survived the "Great Flood". Shem's progeny led to Abraham.

It was Abraham who received a special privilege, granted by God, that no man who ever lived before him ever got! Whereas before Abraham got this rank of Blesser, only God had power to provide blessings; Afterwards, it was now up to Abraham to determine who will get blessed, and how.

This conduit of blessing from infinite source God removed from His own repertoire and charged it over to the responsibility of Abraham.

God blessed Adam; God blessed Noah;  From Abraham's time onward, Abraham or his inherited lineage receive that power.

It was as if God had said, "Abraham, you have one wish!" and Abraham said, "My wish is to have the capability of making wishes!", to which God said, "I grant you your wish!"

We note Bilaam, the Gentile prophet, too was said to have enormous powers of blessing or, as to which he had the option, one no righteous being would ever consider, the enormous power to curse.

Bilaam too was a Semite - deriving from Shem - following the lineage of Haran, Abraham's brother, but arrived on the scene many years later, when Jews were trekking the desert.

The difference between Bilaam and Abraham was, Bilaam was a token or temporary possessor of powers, whereas Abraham passed his powers to succeeding generations where certain righteous generational leaders similarly, until today, possess those divine powers of blessing.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Impending Jewish/World Redemption

By a guest writer

The Lubavitcher Rebbe used to say that all the news we need is contained in the current weekly Torah portion! Indeed, some clues found in the later sections of this week’s parshah of Noah dealing with the offspring of Shem, Ham and Japheth and the ill-fated Tower of Babel may help throw some light on U.S. President Obama’s declared hopes of reaching a peaceful accommodation with Iran over its nuclear programs (i.e. diplomatically allowing Iran to build bombs, which it will most certainly brandish against Israel).


The U.S. President is in some ways reminiscent of Nimrod, who was the first-born of Ham’s son Kush. Nimrod is described as a “mighty hunter” (Genesis 10:9), i.e. “he ensnared people’s minds with his mouth and deceived them into rebelling against the Almighty” (see Rashi there). Likewise, Obama attained the presidency through compelling, honey-sweet rhetoric that won the hearts of millions. He has subsequently proved himself a true revolutionary, rapidly turning America, one-time bastion of liberty, into what increasingly resembles a communist tyranny.

Obama has succeeded in demoting America from its mission as the world’s policeman of freedom, abandoning and even sabotaging some of her most loyal and democratic allies in favor of repressive regimes that have traditionally been foes of the USA. Obama’s goal appears to be more than merely to diminish America. It may be that this ego-maniac’s dream is to go down in history as the ultimate Nobel-laureate world peace-maker, who will “solve” not only the Iranian crisis but also the seemingly most intractable problem of all: the Arab-Israeli conflict. Facilitating the State of Israel’s demise would apparently pave the way for an impregnable New World Order, which is precisely what Nimrod sought to build, a world from which all recognition of the God of Israel and the right of His people to practice the Torah in their land is erased.

“Many are the thoughts in the heart of a man, but the counsel of God will prevail” (Proverbs 19:21).

Official Opposition, Tacit Support

My late father, of blessed memory (1912-98), who grew up in the post World War I era and witnessed the ascent of Nazi Germany, had a very clear view of political realities, acquired among the impoverished Polish-Jewish immigrant tailors in London with whom he grew up. In numerous discussions I had with him about the history of his times, my father never ceased emphasizing that in the period before World War II, Britain, France and the other western powers officially opposed Hitler and his ambitions but in fact tacitly facilitated and encouraged his ascent in the hope that he would destroy communist Russia. But in the end the dog broke free from its leash and turned against its masters, leading to the devastation of World War II.

Likewise, since the 1980’s Iran-Contra (“Irangate”) affair, it has been evident that despite official western declarations of intent to contain Iran, the actual effects of European-American-Russian-Chinese connivance in bypassing sanctions and continuing trading with Iran, while endlessly procrastinating in seriously confronting her nuclear build-up, have been to greatly strengthen her to the point where Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are now laughing because they know the way is wide open for them to start production of nuclear weapons.

The irony is that if Obama (arguably an Ishmaelite), is current leader over Edom (just as a number of Roman emperors were black), his underhand connivance in the build-up of Iran will ultimately prove Edom’s undoing as soon as Iran really does start brandishing its nuclear bombs.

Persia, Nemesis of Edom

An important clue to Persia’s leading role as the nemesis of Edom is contained in our present parshah of Noah. Commenting on Genesis 10:2 listing the sons of Noah’s first-born Japheth, Rashi states about the last-mentioned, Tiras, that “This is Persia” (Rashi on Gen. 10:2).

The identity of Japheth’s youngest son is significant because in Jeremiah’s prophecy about the downfall of Edom, we learn that this will come about through “the young of the flock”.

“Hear the counsel of HaShem, that He has taken against Edom… surely the youngest of the flock shall drag them away, surely their habitation shall be appalled at them” (Jeremiah 49:20).

In the words of Rashi in his commentary on the above verse, the “youngest of the flock” is “the most despicable of the nations, and our rabbis explained that this is Persia, who is the youngest of the children of Japheth”. The despicability of Persia is seen in the fact that even though the Persian king Cyrus authorized the building of the Second Temple, the Divine Presence did not dwell there as it did in King Solomon’s Temple (see Rashi on Genesis 9:26 and Yoma 10a).

It will be highly ironic if Obama’s complicity in the build-up of Iran – which seems to be part of his overall strategy to force Israel into a suicidal “peace agreement” with the Arabs – will eventually result in the unleashing of Iran at the forefront of the world stage as the final nemesis of America, leading to an orgy of mutual destruction.

This indeed was foreseen by the rabbis thousands of years ago. That Edom and Persia were always destined to be the leading players on the world stage at the end of days is explicit in the Babylonian Talmud in Tractate Avodah Zarah 2b, which states that “their empires will continue until Mashiach comes”. The Tosafot on that page (in the comment beginning with the word mashchah) state that “Persia will fall at the hand of Rome just before Mashiach arrives”. However, the above-quoted prophecy in Jeremiah 49:20 suggests that this will only happen after Persia has totally devastated Edom.

Waiting for Superman?

Understandably, many Jews and lovers of Israel are highly perturbed at the specter of a nuclear Iran, and are still hoping against hope that some brave superman (Netanyahu and the IDF?) will knock out their installations. Others would like to trust Nimrod-Obama’s soothing promises that if diplomacy fails to dissuade Iran from her nuclear aspirations, the option of military intervention is still “on the table”.

To my mind these promises are as reliable as British Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain’s promise of “Peace in Our Time” following his infamous Munich meeting with Hitler just 75 years ago. In fact it took less than one year after that for Nazi Germany to attack Poland, thereby starting World War II.

To save Israel from the menace of Iran, we should ultimately rely neither on President Obama nor on Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli army nor anyone except God Almighty, because no human will be able to swerve the floodwaters of world history from their divinely ordained course.

I believe that all Jews and lovers of Israel need to internalize the moral of a famous rabbinic end-of-days teaching that foresees the very scenario we actually witness developing around us today. (The first time I heard this Midrash was during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war, when it was quoted several times by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. At that time few could have imagined that war-beaten Iran would ever take the center of the world stage, but now we are seeing it with our own eyes.)

“In the year in which king Mashiach is revealed, all the rulers of the world will be fighting one another. The king of Persia will fight the king of Arabia, and the king of Arabia will go to Aram to seek advice from them. [In recent years we have seen Saudi Arabia’s consternation in face of Iran’s build-up and repeated lobbying of the US/Europe=Aram for stronger action. ABY.] The king of Persia will then destroy the whole world and all the nations of the world will be raging in turmoil and will fall on their faces. Pangs will take hold of them like a woman’s birth pangs. Israel will be in tumult and turmoil, asking, “Where shall we go Where shall we go?” [This is exactly what many Israelis are asking today.] And the Holy One blessed-be-He will say to them, “Do not be afraid. Everything I have done, I have done only for your sake. Why are you afraid? Do not fear, for the time of your redemption has arrived, and the last redemption will not be like the first redemption. For after the first redemption, you suffered pain and were still subjected to the nations, but after the last redemption, you will suffer no further pain or subjection to the nations” (Midrash Yalkut Shimoni on Isaiah chapter 60).

Torah and Prayer

While Israel and Jews generally need to take proactive measures in the material world to seek to protect ourselves against those seeking to destroy us, we must at the same time keep in mind that the only two sure avenues to salvation at the End of Days and on God’s Great Day of Judgment are Torah and Prayer. This we learn from Isaiah chapter 26 verse 20: “Go My people, come into your inner chambers, close your doors behind you, hide for just a moment until the anger will pass.”

In the words of the classic Bible commentator Rabbi David Kimché (“RaDaK” 1160-1235): “This verse is speaking of the war of Gog and Magog, which will be a time of trouble for Israel for a short time. The prophet says figuratively, ‘Come into your inner chambers and close your doors behind you’: i.e. hide yourselves in good deeds and complete repentance, for the anger will only be for a short while and then it will pass, and the good people will be saved”. Rashi tells us that these “inner chambers” are the synagogues (prayer) and study halls (Torah learning).

Shabbat Shalom! Chodesh Tov UMevorach! Have a peaceful Shabbat and a Good and Blessed Month!

Avraham ben Yaakov

Of Celibacy in Torah

The Lonely Corridor
Permission from TA Productions
Torah clearly tells us, "It's no good for man to live alone!" (Gen. 2:18)

Of course, therefore, Jews are only too happy to oblige by Torah's requirements to propagate the species.

Celibacy is the right course of action - or rather, inaction - when the entire world is steeped in grief, as when Noah and his family, and his "arkmates" from the animal kingdom, were forbidden from cohabitation for the entire year they were on board Noah's Ark. (Rashi 8:17)

But once Noah and family and the animals on board were ordered out, they again got official divine sanction to proceed with reproductive activity.

How do we know this? Because when they went into the Ark, they proceeded in segregated formation (7:7). When ordered to exit, they were told to proceed in marital formation (8:16).

Rather than exit in marital formation, Noah and family exited in segregated formation (8:18), contrary to God's demand. Thus we learn that Noah remained worried and still feared a future disaster might strike again, which gave him cause to decline procreation.

For this reason God provided him now with a sign to back up a divine oath, the sign of the rainbow. Instead of worldly disaster in times of impending retribution, God will hold back, create a cloudy darkness, and merely display the rainbow.

In fact Torah resents celibacy, by comparing it - to murder! We learn this from the juxtaposition in Scripture of the penalty for murder next to the demand to reproduce (9:6-7, Rashi)!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Mountains of "Kardu" and Noah's Ark

The Aramaic Targum Onkelos translates Mount Ararat, where Noah's Ark landed, as Mountains of "Kardu" (Gen. 8:4).

Kardu suggests "Kurdistan", today an area that spans Northeast Syria, Southeast Turkey, Northwest Iran and Northern Iraq. And right there, next to today's Armenia, inside Turkey, is where we find Mount Ararat. Mount Ararat is most probably the highest mountain in this region because flood-water calculations based on scriptural text reckon the depth of the ark's hull in water from this peak (למדת שהייתה משוקעת אחת עשרה אמה במים שעל ראשי ההרים [Rashi ad loc]).

The Ba'al Haturim says (ad loc), referencing our sages, "Sancheirev cut out a piece of Noah's Ark to serve as his idol because the ark had saved Noah from the flood." It stands to reason, therefore, many more idolators cut away pieces of the Ark for their own pagan worship!

Besides that Gentiles use poor sources for their Tanach-based research, we certainly can shrug off their "sightings" of so-called remnants of the Ark. The Ark was probably all hacked away by heathen carvers long ago. If a Gentile king lopped off pieces, as did Sancheirev, he provided a strong example for his citizenry to follow suit. Which respectable citizen of that time wouldn't want a piece of that "god"?

(Another example of poor Gentile "research" that occasionally appears on their religious sites is the location where the actual, original Exodus took place. They always point to the northeastern tongue of the Reed Sea.  That's where they say the Jews originally crossed. Besides contradicting Torah scholars, they err too in that Jews never "crossed" the sea in the first place. Jews made a U-turn inside the sea, coming out on the same seashore they went in from! But it happened in the northwestern tongue of the Reed Sea! [see red arrow])

Anyhow, Kardu, or Kurdistan, seems to point to the perfect place where an archeological dig would prove to be a great waste of time because undoubtedly there's nothing there to be found!

If any more confirmation is needed to believe the Ark remnants have disappeared, I happened upon Yalkut Shimoni Esther (End of Chpt. 5). Haman used a beam of length 50 amma taken from Noah's Ark to erect it as a gallows upon which to hang Mordechai the Jew (Esther 7:9). Haman's son acquired it for him. Now get this -- Haman's son, says the Midrash, ruled a country called Kardonia (in the Mountains of Ararat)So here we have yet another monarch involved in ransacking remnants of Noah's Ark!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ruminations on the Geulah

The Rebbe often told us we need only "open our eyes" to see the Geulah in process.

He meant the same "opening of the eyes" as did Adam and Eve when they ate from the forbidden fruit. "The eyes of both were opened and they realized they were naked." (Gen. 3:7) It did not say, "... they SAW they were naked", but rather " they REALIZED" they were naked. Through their minds' eye they knew they were stripped naked of their virtues. They had one simple commandment to heed and failed the test.

We too must not fail to heed the Rebbe's message - that we have entered the Era of Redemption. Why, you ask, what difference would it make; It'll come when it comes?

That's like asking, "What difference does it make WHO is Moshiach? If it's the Rebbe, fine, but maybe it's someone else; What difference does it make?"

This questioner may as well ask, why does the Rambam bother to give signs and qualifications by which to identify Moshiach? After all, what difference does it make?

The answer is because if we do know who Moshiach is, and if we also know we've crossed the threshold into the Era of Redemption, we are changed human beings. We then feel the urge to anticipate the inevitable greatness about to transpire. We then take to heart all that we do, discuss or think, accordingly, living with Moshiach in the present. It's not just a fact we store away like we'd store away the fact that we ate pizza the other day. No, it would definitely drive us in ways we'd not behave otherwise.

Chassidus came to the world to wake Jews up from their slumber. A new awakening needed to spur them forward. And now we are well on the way. The Torah tells us Moshiach is the ultimate purpose for which the world was created. See Ba'al Haturim (Gen. 1:2) on the words "... God's spirit moved on the water's surface". The beginning of creation had its ultimate purpose in its cross hairs.

We're now 10 generations away from the Ba'al Shem Tov, on the eve of the Earth's new Sabbath millennium. Look around; Feel the momentum. The Jewish people are reawakening. The enemies of Israel are gestating for a downfall.

By knowing who and when, we shift into a new, current perspective.

For example, the scholars among us would jump at the chance of learning Moshiach's Torah. Others would become more positive, enthused to do as Moshiach would want us to do, as Hashem would want us to do - now. Some would bring this awareness to those still in deep slumber.

That, in fact, is the whole idea of Moshiach; The main thing left for Jews to do is - accept Moshiach, because Moshiach, as King, will not impose his reign upon us. He wants us to accept him, under our own volition. This king will not reign unless he has a willing populace. Only then will he lead us collectively and thereby connect us to Hashem by a new order of magnitude, by which the whole world will then be uplifted to a Garden of Eden spirituality and physicality.

One day, when we see a piece of cake on the table, we'll see the real truth of that item - we'll see the actual divine life-force that gives that item its existence.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Who were the Erev Rav? (part 4 of 4)

A few among the Erev Rav, those who stand at the tip of every outcast Jewish movement, most probably have non-Jewish roots! These have been bastardized in foreign nations via some former mixed-marriages, or via sin, by mistake or purposely. But the rest of the Erev Rav are kosher Jewish children. The Jews are being misled through their ignorance. They do not conceive that their misleaders make them lose both worlds.

Both worlds indeed! This very expression is important to remember; Not only the world-to-come are the mislead made to lose, but actually this physical world as well, because, undeniably, when an accumulation of misled Jews reaches a critical mass within the Jewish nation, a new inquisition appears on the scene, a new Haman, where the Jewish nation loses blood. At such times all Jews suffer, including the non-misled, because the latter are also guilty for not having fought the Erev Rav with full vigor and earnestness.

In the outcome, however, genuine Torah-true Jews survive, while the Erev Rav factions entirely perish. Of all sorts of Hellenists in Jewish history, no traces remain. Only those Jews remain who keep tugging the Jewish fiber.

In our days [1942], everyone knows very well that again a horrifying "ביעור חמץ", "burning of the leaven" is transpiring today to exterminate the spiritual contamination amid the Jewish nation, and therefore confronts the present-day Erev Rav with the logical call to consider what they are doing. The punishment that Jews suffer therefrom the Erev Rav cannot avert because the Hitlers and Coughlins offer no noble status for Jews who broke away from Judaism. The anti-Semites even pursue and send to ghettos and concentration camps children and children's children of converts.

So to what sin must the Erev Rav/political provocateurs hold on to, in their skirmish against Judaism, to set themselves up for extinction; When, in fact, with an about-face back to their own Jewish people and to Torah and faith, these provocateurs can be rescued from downfall?

We ask them, do they not yet see that Egypt has forsaken them, or that they can no longer persist with their foul play? We remind them they have only one choice - to remain faithful Jews and live in Jewish communities - or fall in the desert!

We regret their ripping themselves away for a downfall when so easily they can avoid it. Finally we remind them the Erev Rav emerged from Egypt together with the Jews - and did not suffer a downfall! Those Erev Rav who left Egypt changed their minds before the Plague of Darkness, during which time the real evil ones, the leaders, perished. Those that left Egypt shook off their resistance sooner and committed themselves to drop their leadership, to go with the Jews and become elevated with the entire Jewish nation. So why present-day mislead ones fall deeper instead of fetching for themselves an opportunity?

These sound assertions every Jew can learn from. It must become clear that today too we have an Erev Rav - and that they are all kosher sons and daughters, except that they are misled by a few obstructionists to adopt every viewpoint that no Jews share, by actual Gentiles who have no Jewish soul, by "Nefilim", as the Zohar calls them, fallen into our midst from Gentile derivation - and therefore these leaders are so strongly drawn to Gentileness, so strongly wanting to prevent anything that smacks of Jewishness. These misleaders are the true evil ones among the Jews and every Jew must run away from them lest they get dragged away by them to their deaths and to Hell. These very evil people are to be found everywhere; They are among the rabbis, among union workers, among journalists, among the most intimate movements, even among the synagogue leaders and other leaderships. As our sages tell us, on the eve of the Era of Moshiach, the Erev Rav will occupy the best Jewish leadership positions, which is why that generation's face will be the face of a dog.

Jews, sons of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yakov, use your built-in, congenital sense and smell out these "canine personalities" and - flee from them.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Who were the Erev Rav? (part 3 of 4)

God told Avrohom, "Through Yitzchok will pass your descendants". Yitzchok locked out Esav and passed on Avrohom's blessings to Yakov. Yakov, proud of all his righteous children, received the inheritance derived from Avrohom's blessings. During his lifetime, Moshe counted each tribe a few times and precisely recorded every paternal family's numbers. Before his passing, Moshe blessed each tribe separately. It was he whom God sent to the Jewish people. He spoke to the Jewish people. The prophets punished the Jewish people. King David in his Psalms speaks of the forefathers and refers to the Jewish people as "The Children of Israel", "The Tribes of Yeshurun", "The Tribes of Israel". Nowhere in Torah is even one word spoken of an alleged Gentile presence among the Erev Rav, whom some venture to say constituted more than half the Jewish population!

Among those who left Egypt, the Torah speaks of one solitary son of a Jewish mother and Egyptian father. Torah mentions both his lineage and his bitter end, because the man cursed Hashem. Torah says "And he was the son of an Egyptian among the Children of Israel"; One son of an Egyptian among all the Jewish people! How could Torah have said this had there been among the Jews, in fact, millions of Egyptians?

According to Torah, the Prophets, the Holy Books and the sages, the Erev Rav were a Jewish lot! This is why Moshe took them along - and suffered from them. This is also why they were able to raise trouble among other Jews, even to persuade the making of a Golden Calf; Because back in Egypt this bunch happened to be among the famous, assimilated and influential politicians.

Even though the Erev Rav were unworthy, many of their children became much better Jews, just as Korach had good children who remained alive and became important members of the Jewish nation.

Neither Yishmael's progeny nor that of Esav wanted to accept the Torah, even though they too descended from Shem and from our forefathers. Only the Jews proclaimed "We shall do and we shall understand!" (נעשה ונשמע). For this reason they became God's chosen people and merited all sorts of praise by the prophets and sages.

No reason in the world exists to think that particularly the children of Cham - Egyptians - took Torah upon themselves together with the children of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yakov - and even in greater numbers! The Prophets warned Jews of Egyptians; They described Egyptians as "flesh as the flesh of donkeys and their ejaculate quantity as that of horses!" Had Egyptians constituted the Erev Rav, why were Jews so proud of their forefathers if Cham's children outdid the Jews quantitatively for recognizing Hashem's unity and adopting the Torah of Moshe?!

"Erev Rav" means an excessive mixture, Jews who excessively mixed with the other nations, and excessively differed from each other. They were idealists, but with nothing that bonded them to the Jewish people. Not only did we have such a mishmash group in Egypt, but we have an exact copy of them here today in America! Take together all those various sorts of Jewish isms, all those who tore away from Judaism for one reason or another, from the wealthy assimilationist to the poor Yevsektsian, and you have no other name by which to call this bunch besides "Erev Rav" - a large mixture; Because they stand for hundreds of ideals as if they belonged to hundreds of different nations.

The kind of Erev Rav as we have today, we certainly had in Egypt, an age that preceded the giving of the Torah. They distance themselves from the authentic Jewish people - but Jewish they are! They join in with non-Jewish churches - but born as Gentiles they never were!

For some reasons, this segment of the Jewish nation finds itself with no sense for which most Jews had suffered for much of their lives, for which most Jews would sooner be burned alive than submit. This portion, in whom the core affiliation with Judaism is absent, is strongly assimilated, confused and mixes with many foreign ideologies and mannerisms, actually willing to sacrifice their own lives for the foreign ideologies and even for foreign nations. These are Jewish children who betray their own nation in the interests of modern Egypts! A few, like the wealthy assimilationists, think only for the benefit of the nations wherein they find themselves, while others, like the impoverished Communists, become obsessed with the like of a foreign "Red Russia". Only for their own Jewish people they possess no spark of love or consideration. Unfortunately, this Erev Rav in fact seeks a Jewish holocaust and would happily squander away the Jewish nation's existence!

These facts everybody knows. To understand such people for a few is near impossible. But we here will not touch the explanatory rationale of this bizarre phenomenon. We only want to mention the essential fact - that we presently also have such Judaism-hating elements today that tear from our flesh, spit us in the face, either from a religious or political perspective, or from a national one. This is our Erev Rav, who drag our children to all sorts of isms, to Godless grade schools, to all sorts of conversions, to spread enmity to Jewish Torah and its faith.

(Part 4 of 4: Here)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Who were the Erev Rav? (part 2 of 4)

The former questions, and innumerably more one can ask - really are not questions at all - because the Erev Rav actually constituted a mixture of assimilated and foreign-minded Jews! Only an insignificant number of actual converts were scattered in their midst, and of these the Torah tells us nothing.

This mass of Jewry that accompanied the Jews who left Egypt the Torah calls Erev Rav. They were a mixture of foreign-minded Jews who, at the time of exodus, stood distant from devoted Jews. They were truly from the lineage of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yakov, but grossly assimilated. They were a riffraff of arbitrary and whimsical thinkers.

Even today we have such a bunch, and when Moshiach will come to redeem the Jewish majority he will surely apply the same name, Erev Rav, to those Jews torn away by Communistic doctrine, anarchist rationale, socialistic beliefs, or break-away mindsets, whom today Hitler is chasing back into their ranks! Among these we can include the Reform movement or other torn-away heretics. If after the birth pangs of Moshiach such Jews remain, they will probably want to follow all the Jews. They will certainly be called Erev Rav, and Moshiach will certainly have to let them tag along, just as Moshe had no heart to stop them from tagging along.

This is how we must understand it, and are permitted to understand it, because nowhere does Torah say among those who left Egypt more than half were Gentiles. Had, in fact, a large mass of Gentiles actually accompanied the Jews, our sages would probably have created a separate tractate and called "Masechet Erev Rav".

The fact is, our sages do not call this group attached to the Jews as "Gentiles"; They use the specific term Erev Rav!

Everything Torah tells us about the generation in the desert simply does not dovetail with an exodus that comprised a majority of Gentiles.

Regarding several rabble-rousers or malcontents, Torah conveys to us their stories, telling us they were Jewish. The spies were Jewish. Korach and his company were Jewish. Datan and Aviram - Jewish. According to those who would cast several million Gentile bastards among 600,000 Jews, would mean that only Jews were the bad ones and trouble-makers, whereas the Gentiles happened to be Moshe's most loyal adherents; After all, Torah never reports (except the single incident of the Ish Mitzri) how any convert made so much as a peep against Moshe! How odd that Torah deems so worthy to tell about all those "sinful" Jews, as their misdeeds are repeatedly told and recounted, yet never does Torah see fit to breathe one word about the millions of "righteous" Gentile converts!

Certainly Moshe felt grief from his Erev Rav. A third of Jews, at most, were faithful Jews, believers in the ways of their forefathers; Two-thirds, on the other hand, were Egyptian assimilationists and foreign ism worshippers. The latter called themselves "Moshe's Erev Rav" because faithful Jews would gladly have left them behind. Perhaps it's also true God Himself did not want to expressly say these people should be taken along and left it up to Moshe, but definitely these were a Jewish flock.

The Torah speaks nothing of Gentiles among Jews who left Egypt. It makes sense and we can understand that Moshe had no good reason to take along more than 3 million Gentiles together with the 600,000 Jews. But he certainly did have a good reason to take along all Jews without exception, as well as a small number of Kosher Egyptians who submitted to servitude to the Jews. The Holy Zohar states this expressly: It tells us the converts stayed next to the sheep outside the encampments, and these were sustained by their Jewish masters.
(‫'‬דיהבין לון ישראל כמאן דיהיב לעבדיה‫'‬    כי תשא דף קצא‫:‬ב)

We can therefore conclude the Erev Rav were Jewish and among these a small number of converts came along who probably, still in Egypt, befriended some assimilated Jews.

Those who account for converts among those who left Egypt are correct - but they surely do not speak about the entire Erev Rav! R' Yishmael, R' Akiva and R' Yonanssan speak of the Erev Rav and their large numbers without mentioning one word about converts! They meant to say faithful Jews, faithful as their forefathers, numbered no more than 600,000, whereas the majority who left Egypt had assimilated and were distant from the faith. Other commentators who speak of converts furnish no numbers; They speak generally, as did the Rashbi, saying converts lived outside the camps, and for whom Manna did not fall, and that these were sustained by leftovers of the Manna that fell for Jews. From this alone it's understandable their numbers were small - because nearly 4 million converts could not possibly be sustained from leftovers of 600,000 Jews!

(Part 3 of 4: Here)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Who were the Erev Rav? (part 1 of 4)

The following article (translated roughly from Yiddish), written in 1942 (May, p.326-9, הקריאה והקדושה), under the auspices of the Previous Rebbe, appeared at a time when Europe was convulsing in the throes of WWII as Jews were being murdered by the millions.

The Rebbe here explains the term "Erev Rav" - a term many Jews, until today, still get wrong. I break it into a few parts, after the last of which you'll understand the connection between the Erev Rav and the Holocaust.

In only five simple words Torah neatly dispenses with the entire issue of the Erev Rav:
וגם ערב רב עלה אתם
A big mix joined them.

How many were they? R' Yishmael reckons there were 1,200,000 of them. R' Akiva says there were 2,400,000; And R' Yonanssan sets their count to 3,600,000! The Mechilta says "twice as many as made the exodus", which could mean twice 600,000 - or much more if women, children and elderly were included!

And what were their demographics? Here too opinions vary. Holy Rashi believes "they were converts from variegate nations". The Midrash, in a few places, says they were "Kosher Egyptians". The Zohar (191:1) says they were "Egyptian Magicians".

During processions through the desert, or when camped, where did they hang out? Rashbi says "the Clouds of Glory did not embrace them [i.e., they dwelt outside the camp proper], and in procession they followed after the livestock." "The Manna", he says, "did not descend for them; They would get their food from leftovers Jews gave them."

Besides the above inconclusive data, many questions remain on all the above standpoints. It makes no sense Egypt had in their midst that many "Kosher" Egyptians; Or that many "Magicians". And why does Torah remain silent about them; Like, did they or did they not circumcise themselves? Or, how did they fit into familial accounting after the Sinai event, or where there place was in the Jewish encampment's configuration? Did they marry, have children? Did they enter Eretz Yisroel in disregard of the law that Egyptians must not merge with the Jewish community until the 3rd generation? For if they did enter, this could mean the genuine Jews became diluted with 5 or 10 times 600,000 converts - a fact that's hardly credible.

After the Golden Calf affair, when Moshe prayed for the Jewish people, his main argument based itself on Jewish lineage with their forefathers. He said they were descendants of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yakov. He said not one word about converts that led astray the Jewish people. When Moshe ordered the Levite tribe to kill those who worshipped the Golden Calf, he said to kill "a man his brother", a man his friend and a man his relative". Later, when he praised these Levites, he spoke of killing "a man his own son and a man his own brother". This means those who died were Jews! Nothing was said of converts who died. What our sages did tell us was the Erev Rav bore responsibility for persuading the Jews to stray, and that Moshe brought them out of Egypt on his own accord.

When prophets, later in history, punished the Jews, they reminded the nation of their illustrious forefathers:
‪.‬"הביטו אל צור חצבתם ... אל אברהם ... ואל שרה"
Certainly the prophets could not have said this had the Jewish nation absorbed 3 million Egyptians, converts or other nationalities. That the Holy Books make refer to the Jewish nation with terms such as
"שבטי ישורון" , "בית יעקב" or "שבטי ישראל",
proves their familial lineage stems from Jewish forefathers. Had the Jewish people been a minority among those who left Egypt, then a few generations later it would have been impossible to lay claim to the pure pedigree of the Jewish forefathers that ran in their blood.

Otherwise, the Jewish people would not have been a nation but some mass of people clinging to a Moses-given religion, tugging about after him in the desert. What purpose could it have served the true children of Yakov to submit to persecution when foreign converts got the same privileges with no hardships to endure and no sorrow to taste? Why did God never once mention anything to Moshe about taking converts out of Egypt - when all God ever spoke about were the children of Israel and His promise to the forefathers?

Can anyone really believe the Erev Rav who dragged the Jews into all the quarrels in the desert were actually real Gentiles; Or that Jews would allow themselves to be so influenced by Gentiles? Or, that Moshe would refuse to send them away (but rather took upon himself they should come along)? Or that Korach and his cohorts, his family and the many Jewish leaders he influenced, God allowed be swallowed by the earth, but Gentile converts God wouldn't touch? Or, had Gentiles actually wanted to convert, that they would then have the audacity to oppose Moshe?

Many more questions remain on the Erev Rav topic had their real origin been from conversion. But the main question would involve the bond God made with the forefathers, as when God told them their descendants will be "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." If 5 or 10 times that many converts shared the paternal privileges accorded Jews, then the entire covenant made with Avrohom, and the promise "for your children shall be strangers in a land not theirs" (כי גר יהיה זרעך בארץ לא להם ...)‬ would amount to nil!

This is what Christians say in their teachings - that one need not be from Avrohom's lineage in order to be "The Chosen People". It's enough, they say, to be spiritual children of Avrohom. They make this claim so they can thereby take over the special status of being "The Chosen People".

(Part 2 of 4: Here)

Sunday, September 08, 2013

This is Torah and This is Its Reward? The Rebbe's Explanation

One bold chassid had a problem with a story related in Yom Kippur's service, so he asked the Rebbe for an explanation.

It's the story of 10 topmost sages brutally murdered by a Roman ruler. He schemed as follows. He knew Torah's punishment for selling a kidnapped victim. He collected sages and asked them what Torah's punishment was for stealing a human and then selling him. They responded, as he wished, implicating the death sentence. Then he reminded them that Joseph had been stolen by his 10 brothers and sold for a pair of sandals, yet the brothers received no death punishment. Accordingly, he was going to make judicious use of that law and kill 10 sages for that still-unpunished crime.

Rabbi Yishmael, one of the sages, said, "You read the Bible's verdict correctly, but allow me 3 days to determine if deeper insight into this edict exists." The Roman agreed. During those 3 days, Rabbi Yishmael ascended the upper world and inquired of the angels. The angels said, "We hear from behind the curtain that your verdict is - to die." [They heard a divine voice - because Angels cannot see God]

Rabbi Yishmael accepted this decree. He descended and told this to his peers, then conveyed his submission to the Roman. The latter proceeded to brutally torture and kill the sages.

During one such horrific atrocity, an angel on high complained to God, "This is Torah, and this is its reward!? [For sages who most purely reflect Torah, by following, studying and immersing themselves in it - this is their recompense!?"]

Said God, "Don't ask me again lest I turn the world into water, into emptiness and darkness."

Said the chassid to the Rebbe, "Finally some angel who could no longer countenance this evil and savagery stepped up to complain, and to this God responds saying "I'll destroy the world"? Why did this dauntless angel, who was fully justified, get knocked down by God? Why the strange answer by God?"

The Rebbe said, "I'll answer your question with a tale".

A King once commissioned his ministers to find an impeccable tailor to sew for him an exquisite robe. They were given a most expensive and beautiful piece of fabric for the job - one made of gold threads. No tailor felt confident he could do the job, except for one experienced Jewish tailor who volunteered. So they gave him the job.

Because they hated Jews, the ministers warned the King to ask the Jew to return all remnants of cut fabric lest the tailor pocket them for himself and thereby become rich.

When the job was done, the tailor brought the robe to the king, who tried it on. It was a perfect fit and the king was thrilled. Then the king asked him for the remnants of gold fabric. The tailor said, "There were no remnants".

The king filled with fury and demanded the tailor be killed. But, as was the custom, the victim could have one last wish. "What's your last wish?", asked the king. "My last wish is to undo all the seams of your robe that I tailored for you", said the Jew. The king found this hard, but for his honor to respect the custom of the state, he conceded.

The tailor then proceeded to undo his masterpiece and when he was done he held up the entire fabric, and, to everyone's amazement, it was the very same whole piece of fabric he was given for the job in the first place. Then they understood the great skill of this tailor, who laboriously managed to fold and stitch the fabric ingeniously in such a way as to preserve it entirely without having to cut any of it away.

The king realized the tailor hadn't lied but was left now without his new robe.

Similarly, said the Rebbe, God did not shut up the angel who stepped forward with the complaint. Nor did God issue a threat. Instead, God explained that for the Angels to understand the reasoning behind the cruel decree He would have to take the world back to its original state as it was before creation, namely to water, emptiness and darkness, for only then would they understand the reasoning.

Monday, September 02, 2013

The Triumvirate Generation of Moshiach

For long now they made no sense to me - the words of the Rebbe - that we were "the last generation of Exile and the first generation of the Era of Redemption".

After all, how long is this generation's duration? The Rebbe first spoke these words back in 1951, in his very first Ma'amar, yet here we are 62 years later and not much looks different today from what seemed to be the situation back then. Had a generation passed?

The Rebbe strongly intimated all along, and especially since 1991, that his generation is the generation of Moshiach, King Moshiach, who will usher in the long-awaited Era of Redemption, yet Moshiach and his actions have yet to be seen and felt by all Jews.

Then I came across these words in Yalkut Shimoni, in section 942 (תתקמ"ב), in explanation of       זכר ימות עולם
in the Torah-portion Ha'azinu:

בינו שנות דור ודור - זה דורו של משיח שיש בו ג' דורות שנאמר "ייראוך עם שמש ולפני ירח דור דורים"י
This generation of Moshiach stretches across or comprises three generations!   Puzzle solved.

UPDATE Dec. 15, 2013:
Had I been well-learned in Gemora, I would have also noted that this phenomenon of Moshiach is expressly mentioned in Sanhedrin 99a:
ימות המשיח ,,, רבי אומר שלשה דורות
and see Rashi (on spot) who refers to the above reference in Psalms (72:5) to explain this Gemora.

As it says in Pirkei Avos 5:21, "Explore it and explore it for all is therein contained." "הפך בה והפך בה דכלא בה"

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Feel the Pulse of Redemption

You might write off current Muslim events as "lucky" because Israelis find respite from direct armed conflict, which moments ago seemed certain when America's honcho said he'll lob a few Cruise Missiles into Syria to punish it for using chemical warfare (as if another means of killing is tolerable), but instead the White House freeloader turned tail and ran to play golf, as Muslims fight Muslims in the Middle East.

Based upon the Rebbe's prophecy of 1991, I think it has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with the Era of Ultimate Redemption that's kicking into higher gear, if we just "open our eyes" to see.

Viewed strictly through Nature's eyes - it appears Israel has good reason for alarm because terror threatens her from proximate borders. But unless you view these events from a Redemption perspective, you're losing the bigger, all-encompassing picture, as we witness how evil forces, collectively the world-over, are headed towards implosion.

Hezbollah produced a lot of anxiety because it amassed formidable strength in the North. So what happened when it attained peak strength? It became embroiled in Syria's quagmire.

The Syrian civil strife draws into its net factors far and wide. Kuwait, for example, began a mass expulsion of its Lebanese Shiite residents over Hezbollah’s role in Syria, positioning itself at loggerheads with Iran and Syria. Saudis no doubt are pumping millions into the hands of Al Queida in its attempt to topple Syria. Russians, meanwhile, prop up Syria with heavy armaments. Not to be left out of its empathetic, Muslim agenda, America's regime is sending armored vehicles to Hezbollah (a terrorist organization, let alone an enemy of Israel).

Tensions along Israel's Southern border also got a reprieve as Egyptians fight Egyptians. Hamas, who supports Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, redirected its venom at Egyptian Army troops. Egypt, in retaliation, sealed up most smuggling tunnels between Sinai and Gaza. A bitter war is underway, and escalating, between Sinai Arab elements and the Egyptian army. To support the Muslim Brotherhood side, America canceled delivery of 4 F-16′s promised to Egypt. The Saudis and another Arab country were then quick to pledge billions to help finance the Egyptian army.

Turkey had sought dominion by aligning with Egypt. Even after foolish Israelis obsequiously offered millions of dollars to mollify an "angry" Turkey, suddenly Egypt and Turkey have become bitter enemies. Turkey badly wants its friend Morsi back in power.

Just when threats against Israel become red hot, God directs Russia to send in a few warships into the Mediterranean. Then God directs America to send in its warships too. Suddenly a strong shift of winds upsets the Syrian agenda against Israel because now a more significant development usurps the original "petty" agenda. Suddenly Syria is thrust into the limelight, with such important, superpower visitors at her doorstep. Syria must now greet its guests' heavy concerns. Syria thus tosses aside, "for now", the petty consideration of toying with little Israel, who does not warrant "major" concern.

Even as foolish leaders, such as Peres and Netanyahu, still wish to suck up to the Arab enemy, God no longer hides enemy motives and reveals their evil intentions for most Israelis to clearly see. As "peace talks" are in progress, Israelis saw how the PA President hosted with honor the terrorists responsible for many atrocities against Israeli civilians.

To the dread of liberal leftist Israelis, the world will soon appear to gang up against Israel. Such Israelis, shamed of their religion, cannot bear feeling different from their Gentile peers. Anyhow, Hashem will extricate the Jews in miraculous fashion. To prepare for that "painful" transition, God gives wise Jews an opportunity to hear the bark rather than feel the bite, as Jews are conditioned by incessant anti-Semitic indictments of the "world body", the United Nations.

We are reminded of the divine instruction Jews received prior to crossing the Red Sea. As Pharoah and Egyptians raced headlong with their swords drawn, on their best steeds and iron chariots, against the defenseless Jews, Moses told the Jews, "God will fight for you; You just remain still!" (Ex.14:14)

By wallowing in politics, rather than indulging in Torah, Jewish people do themselves a disservice. Secular preoccupation, Chassidus explains, in and of itself augments the secular sector's importance as a factor on the world stage. It fuels their momentum. In and of itself, this preoccupation cheats the fuel's original intention by redirecting energies away from Torah consumption into foreign streams, incrementing the life-force of non-Torah elements. (I tried explaining this concept best I understand it here) But it does pay to view secular events from a tangential, casual perspective, because I suppose that's what the Rebbe meant when he told us to "open our eyes" to unfolding events as they reflect the Era of Redemption.

Sounds of War or Sounds of Redemption?

Drums are beating ominously for Israel, again. What people don't hear is the harmony in the background of God's orchestration.

Israelis frantically comb their stores and clog their phone lines in search of gasmasks. They already forgot the miracles of the Persian Gulf War when too they scrambled for gas masks - for naught.

Chemical warfare had just lay waste 1,000 people across Israel's border, including many children. So we Jews across the continent from brethren in Israel have more reason to sit more calmly. In Israel, to be sure, the threat and fear are far more palpable. But this scenario that plays out is a show for the Jews of the world, primarily, and a show to watch for the other nations of the world, secondarily. So what is in the offing?

Who would have thought that after 9/11 America would install a Muslim sympathizer into highest office, who would collect his administering staff from the worst anti-Semitic elements to govern the world's most powerful country? And who would have thought that this administration secretly supports the most radical of Muslim elements, at that?

The picture can be painted all black but its purpose only serves to highlight the one spot of light that shines from its middle, and that white spot will grow wider and brighter as Jews, and the world, can't help but focus in on. It is God's painting; God wants Jews to turn to Him - and NOT turn to America for succor! What better way to do it than by showing Jews they do not need America, and should not want America, but rather should beseech God and only God for assistance.

Jews can and will be extricated from this dreadful screenplay. Watch and see! Keep your arms folded and your prayer books open. We have the promise of the Rebbe on this, and ample evidence until now that he was 100% right, namely, that we have embarked upon the Era of the Final and Ultimate Redemption. This is more his, Moshiach's, fight than it is ours; On that too we have his promise. He also injected us with the right painkiller; He told us, over and over again, "think good - and all will be good!"

Jews in Unity Make for a Happy 5774

On the Jewish New Year we all stand in front of Hashem as One People, ranging from the "heads" among us to the "toes" among us, all parts of the same one body, all parts needing each other to function properly in unity and therefore without seeing others any less valuable. This unity is what gives Jews the power to self-sustain and prevail as we make our way out of the diaspora. You may disapprove of your fellow Jew's position, but only insofar as the position goes - but not his value as a person. Each of us was created for a vital purpose. If we stand firm in our unity, we stand in God's good grace, because that is what God wants of us. This is the whole point of Rosh Hashannah - the day of judgement. God wants us to crown Him, as God of the world of course, but particularly the God of the Jewish people who represent Him and have an intimate bond with Him, so our representation must be a collective effort in concert. This assures the Jewish people of a forthcoming bright, good and sweet New Year.

My fellow Jews - have a great and happy 5774, and may this year bring to full bloom the Era of Redemption we are now into, only not yet plainly seen because of our fleshy eyes. We see it with our spiritual mind's eye, and we trust the Rebbe's prophecy that he invoked in 1991. But we yearn for the revelation from a physical perspective as well, and may that happen very soon in our days ahead!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Isaiah 19's Prophecy

Prophecies in the 24 holy books were not transcribed unless they also pertained to the future. Thus, although a prophecy came to pass on Egypt, for example, had it also not held its content to be applied for a future date, that prophecy would not have been inscribed.

Isaiah 19 begins by prophesying on Egypt's "Burden", one that, when it comes, will swiftly makes its way. A three-pronged onslaught is depicted. The first attack will come from infiltrators from foreign soil (Rashi 19:1). The second will result when, as God says, "I will provoke Egyptians against Egyptians" (19:2). In other words, the infiltration of foreigners will bring about the second phase of God's offensive, by causing an Egyptian civil war. The third phase will come when the Nile River shall no longer serve as the vital resource it always was.

This last attack would be especially disastrous because Egypt always depended on this river for its sustenance. Perhaps because of some association with the relatively newly-built Aswan Dam, or because of a natural disaster that will lower river's level, the river's ability to vitalize the economy will sharply decline. This last attack becomes all the more significant because 98% of the population lives on 3% of Egyptian territory - along the Nile River.

When the Jews first made their original exodus from Egypt, it happened on the 7th day that the Jews found themselves stuck between an Egyptian military onrush on one side and the sea on the other. The Jews split along 4 factions of thought as to what to do and how to react. That's when God had His plans to execute; He told Moses to tell the Jewish people that none of their opinions count. God told him to tell the Jews, "God will fight for you - and you - just stay still" (Ex.14:14).

So far, we see the same events unfolding in Egypt today. Just as back then, prior to the Jewish deliverance, Egyptians attacked their brethren (Psalms 136:10), we see the same phenomenon playing itself out in Egypt (and in Syria, in Tunisia and elsewhere in Arab sectors).

The fighting may well have started because infiltrators from foreign territory, such as Al-Queida from Afghanistan or Moslem Brotherhood terrorists from wherever, began to impose upon local policy.

The 3rd phase I suppose has yet to happen for us to recognize it.

The chapter ends with solace for the Egyptian people. It will be a time when they will finally realize the Redemption of the Jewish people is in full swing and they will then acknowledge God and acquiesce, by accepting the yoke of the 7 Noahide Laws, and peace will make its triumphant finale as the Era of Ultimate Redemption materializes in full bloom.