Sunday, June 16, 2013

Facilitating Our Transition to Redemption

On the 3rd of Tammuz 3,285 years ago Joshua rendered the sun and moon immobile to give his Jewish soldiers more daylight time to defeat the enemy in war.

This raises a practical and obvious question: If Joshua could work miracles, why didn't he resort to a "finishing-blow" miracle that would have won the war right then and there? Instead, the war ensued and only many hours later the foe succumbed.

For example, large hailstones could have struck each of the opponents' heads delivering a mortal wound, or, as happened by Lot in Sodom, the other side could have been swept with blindness.

So why a miracle that did not quite accomplish the end goal on its own?

A similar miracle occurred when the staff of Aaron, Moses' brother, placed a day earlier in the sanctuary in the middle of a pack of staffs belonging to the leaders of the tribes, the following morning grew almonds. The entire Jewish people watched as his staff, and only his, first grew buds, then blossomed into the flower stage and finally grew the almond fruit.

The same question arises: If Aaron's staff was meant to show that God selected Aaron and his descendants for Priesthood, why not just grow the almonds immediately; Why unnecessarily perform 2 of 3 miracles that do not accomplish the final, intended result? Why the miracles of growing buds and then growing flowers?

The Rebbe asks these questions to enlighten us. In both cases we note that God did not want to completely abrogate the laws of Nature. By Joshua, the Jews still had to go through the motions of fighting and defeating the enemy in battle. With Aaron, the sequential stages of almond growth were given expression, on his wooden staff, to mimic the Natural process.

Why have Nature participate in the Miracle? Why must Natural expression be given space when a miracle itself can achieve the end result?

Because Nature requires that it be PRIMED FOR A BOOST. Nature is, so to speak, drawn in or sucked into where it gets a significant elevation to a state that later can accommodate a higher spirituality.

The first conqueror of the Holy Land, Joshua, had to raise the Natural status of the land and imbue it with more holiness, render it more of a miracle state, thereby priming its Nature to accept its much loftier status, now that the Jewish people took possession of it, and one primed for even higher states that will manifest during the Era of Redemption.

Similarly the holy Priesthood of Aaron and his descendants needed priming so that it be conditioned to accept or transform itself into an unquestioningly higher level of spirituality.

The 3rd of Tammuz is no coincidental date. It is the date by which Nature gains metaphysical sublimity to where it can experience a loftier state of being.

On that date the Previous Rebbe received a stay of execution by the powerful Soviet authority. On the 12 and 13th of that month, in Natural sequence of events, a complete pardon had been secured. The 3rd of Tammuz, therefore, is the beginning of a chain of events driven by an undercurrent of Supernatural force towards a miraculous and loftier outcome.

This same date also thrust this generation of Jews, by an event of Nature, into a process meant to metamorphose the world into its ultimate purpose. It is made to appear as a dead-end for the leader of this generation, the Moses of this generation, as if he were removed from the arena of daily living affairs. Appearances of Nature aside, we are riding a Supernatural current that will wrought a mighty, sublime change, for we've crossed the threshold of the Era of Redemption, which cannot but this way be finally achieved.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pre-Partum Food for Thought

Found this on an Israeli forum (translated here):

Two twin fetuses, one religious, one not, conversing inside the womb.

Secular: Brother, do you believe in life after birth?

Religious: Yes, of course. It's clear there's life after birth. We're here just to get stronger and gain strength for the real life waiting for us in the future. So they told us.

Secular: Nonsense; There's no life after birth. Once birth takes place - life ends. Can you imagine what life after birth might seem like?

Religious: I don't know all the details but I believe there will be more light, for one thing, that we'll walk around, where we want, on our feet, and we'll eat - by putting food into our mouths. There will be many differences.

Secular: What humbug! It's impossible we become independent and eat with the mouth. You make me laugh; You think we can live - or eat - without an umbilical cord?! Face the facts - we depend on an umbilical cord, and we stop living at about 9 months. Why live with illusions?

Religious: I'm sure we can live outside the womb too, except that life will be different from life in here. All we can do is imagine what it'll be like, but it will be. Many fetuses believe this. Surely there's reason to believe it.

Secular: No one ever came back into the womb to give us first-hand knowledge, did they? Most embryos do not believe it - and rightly so! It makes sense that life terminates at birth, and until then we live in darkness. You get what you have.

Religious: No,no! True I have no real idea what life will be like out there, but I do believe we will finally get to see our Mother, and that she'll take care of us.

Secular: Mother? You believe in "Mothers"? Then where is this Mother? Why don't we see her or feel her? Leave me alone with your fairy tales. You happen to be an earnest personality, so why speculate the absurd? Rely, as I do, strictly on facts.

Religious: I most certainly believe in a "Mother", that we live inside her, that she surrounds us and protects us. Thanks to her we move and live, and without her we could not exist for a moment.

Secular: What rubbish. I see no "Mother", and it goes without saying she does not exist.

Religious: I disagree with you. Do you not notice when everything is calm, when we concentrate and listen, we can hear her? You can actually sense she's thinking about us, cares for us and sometimes you can even feel she caresses us. Open your eyes; Start paying attention! I firmly believe 
we have a Mother and that after birth she will hug us, and - then we'll start to live our real lives.
Found source - here.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Rebbe's Input on a Children's Magazine

A Chabad magazine for children, The Moshiach Times, began publication many years ago. Before the 1st issue went to print, the Rebbe got a sketch of the cover, for his input. Then, in further issues, he provided more pictorial input. You'll be surprised just what advice the Rebbe offered. You can read about it on page 10, here.  (You may find other stories there of interest too.)

Sunday, June 09, 2013

A Rebbe Letter - On the Holocaust

By the Grace of G-d
Dr. _____
Cambridge, Mass.

Greetings and blessings

I duly received your letter of ___, in which you write that you feel a rage, etc. as a result of the holocaust.

There is a prevalent misconception about the holocaust in the belief that it was something new and unprecedented, and therefore requires an explanation which had never before been thought of. Yet, the only thing that is new about it is that it happened in the 20th century, in a country which was one of the foremost in philosophy and science, with the rest of the world looking on with complete indifference. It only points out the glaring bankruptcy of the world's so-called "civilization".

The fact is - and in view of your academic background (Ph.D.) you must surely know - that the Jewish people had suffered holocausts before, and, relatively speaking, even worse. There was the destruction of the Beth Hamikdosh at the hands of the Babylonians, and the second destruction by the Romans. In both cases more than 1/3 of our people, men, women and children, were brutally slain, and most of the remainder uprooted and exiled, or sold into slavery. This, in addition to the loss of the spiritual center in Jerusalem, loss of the country, and independence, etc. There were the Crusades in the Middle Ages, with the loss of countless Jewish communities and Jewish lives, and more. So why single out the recent, and let us hope, last holocaust?

Furthermore, from the viewpoint of the question "Shall the Judge of all the earth not do justice?" (a question, incidentally asked by our Patriarch Abraham), in other words, from the viewpoint of Divine Justice, which is clearly the basis of your rage, etc., as you state in your letter - surely there is no difference in principle between the holocaust and seeing a child afflicted with disease (as you also mention), for the child's suffering cannot be justified punishment.

Has it not occurred to you - to mention a further point - that throughout the ages there were faithful and G-d fearing Jews, among them profound thinkers, who deeply thought about these and other problems, dedicating a lifetime to study and research, whose works have become the Guide for the Perplexed (the actual title of the celebrated classic by Maimonides)? Do you think that all these great minds simply ignored such a problem as the holocaust?

Finally, and this is perhaps the most essential point, what would you say of a person, even a super human being, who declared that were it not for the holocaust he would walk humbly before G-d and obey all His commandments, yet because of the holocaust he is impelled to conclude that G-d is limited in His intellect, like me and you, and indeed more so, for you and I would not tolerate such a thing?

In summary, the question about the holocaust is as old as the age-old question, Why do the wicked prosper? It has been dealt with at great length and with great profundity by great minds and in great books throughout the ages. We have not only learned to live with it, but it has not shaken the belief of the believer, for the simple reason that the human mind, even the greatest, is woefully limited and inadequate to question the Divine Mind.

The main point I wish to bring out here is that those who say that they cannot obey and fulfil the Divine Mitzvos because of the holocaust, are only looking for an excuse, and it is a feeble attempt at self-justification in the face of a troubling conscience.

Moreover, to use the memory of the sacred martyrs who lost their lives in the holocaust for no other reason but that they were Jews, does not reflect, in my opinion, an honest concern for them, if their sacred memory is used as an excuse for shrinking commitment to our people and our sacred heritage.

I trust you will forgive me, if I feel impelled to add - because of what is at stake, that the last remark is an understatement.

I note that you wanted to see me personally in regard to the subject matter of your letter, but there is really no need for it, since there is surely no need to add more to what has been said above. Besides, the schedule of appointments is fully booked for a long time ahead. So why wait?

With blessing,

A Peril in Calling for Technical Support

My daughter's relatively new HP laptop encountered a "blue screen of death", that only a Microsoft's Windows operating system is endemic to. The HP runs Windows 7. (I'm exhilarated I abandoned anything made by Microsoft years ago.) Even my daughter, a crackerjack computer handler, was baffled.

She called HP tech support. They were extremely helpful, if we discount the Indian accent. First of all, they answered her call immediately; No waiting period. They took her from step through step, carefully telling her what to do. Very friendly. At one point, their phone became unclear so my daughter hung up. In a couple of minutes the technician called back, with a clean line. How's that for service!

Finally they got everything working after having her do a restart. The technician then told her to run some program and go to a website to enter a code. The program would allow for "screen sharing", where they could control her screen remotely. She asked what for and was told they would thereby make sure everything, in fact, was okay.

She was just about to hit "Enter" when it donned on her something amiss might be happening. She hung up. She Googled the site they asked her to go to, and Googled around ("Scam phone call after technical support"), and found this indeed was a scam.

Somehow these Indian experts intercepted her call that she made to HP technical support, making believe they were HP. Imagine all the personal stuff they could then steal off your computer, like passwords and bank data, or whatever.

It occurred to me this may have been wrought by a real HP employee, probably Indian, working now at HP, who passed on the call, and/or my daughter's number, to relatives in India.

Just thought you should know.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

A Catholic Father's Jewish Son's Bar-Mitzvah

This story was emailed me by my friend, an emissary of the Rebbe is Florida:

This story begins in the summer of 2009. Raizy, myself and the two little kids attended a Judaica art show at one of the local synagogues before the high holidays, which was more of a community meet and greet type of thing. We had a good time and met lots of new people.

At one point I saw a man dressed like a biker, clearly not Jewish, introduce himself to the rabbi of the synagogue who was hosting the event. He told the Rabbi his wife was a nurse at Morton Plant Hospital, she was Jewish and she passed away from cancer at the young age of 40 just 2 years earlier, and on her deathbed she made him vow that he would Bar Mitzvah their only son Adam, who, at the time of her passing, was 7 years old. He explained he was working three jobs to make ends meet and therefore needed the synagogue`s help to fulfill his deceased wife's wishes.

I overheard this entire conversation standing a few feet away. I knew the Rabbi would in fact not help this man Bar Mitzvah his Jewish son. As soon as they concluded their conversation I quietly approached the man, introduced myself, gave him my business card and told him I would help him in every way possible to Bar-Mitzvah his son at no cost. We spoke for a couple of minutes and I also got his info. His name was T_ K_, in his 50`s, a native Floridian, born and raised Catholic, a hardcore biker dude.

I called him several times and even invited him and his son to our annual community Passover Seder, but nothing materialized and over time I forgot about them.

A few of months ago, before Passover, I reminded myself of T_ and his son Adam, and I told myself I must call them. This Jewish kid never had a Bar Mitzvah and if I don’t Bar-Mitzvah him - no one will. The only little problem was, I had his number in one of my pocket calendars from year 2009, which I needed to find. We moved three times since then. I thought about T_ and his son a few times during Passover, and every time I would tell myself I'll look for that pocket calendar later, but that later never materialized, because of the busy Passover requirements ...

Anyhow, a few weeks after Passover I get a call from my good friend Ofer (who built our Torah Ark). He had me on speaker and he was speaking in broken English with a heavy Israeli accent. This was unusual since he's Israeli and whenever we talk, we talk in Hebrew. "Rabbi can you make a Bar-Mitzvah for a 13 year old boy who had problems with another synagogue"? The moment he mentioned "problems with the other synagogue" I knew right away it was money related. I answered "Of course. I will make his Bar-Mitzvah for free!" Ofer tells the guy, "You see, I told you my Rabbi would do it for free".

Ofer gave the guy my number, who called me up a few days later. Sure enough, it was none other than T_ K_, now four years later. We spoke for half an hour about how G-d brought us together the first time and how G-d amazingly brought us together again. We also caught up on old times.

He told me Adam ended up going to that synagogue for about 2 years, then 6 months before he turned thirteen they basically told him good bye. Due to a lack of membership fees, he never had a chance to have his Bar-Mitzvah. Adam turned 13 in January 2013. He is a star baseball player in one of the local leagues; he is in the Boy Scouts; He volunteers at a homeless shelter and has a very good chance of going far with his baseball talent. T_ said "The Jewish people need a good baseball payer! It would be great for the Jewish people and the Jewish religion to have a good baseball player. I don’t know why that synagogue wouldn't bar mitzvah my son!"

I invited T_ to come with his son Adam at his first convenience to Bar-Mitzvah Adam. However due to his many jobs and Adam`s busy schedule he can only come Wednesday afternoon at 6pm. I said sure, no problem; During summer months the sun sets late so we have enough time to wrap the Tefillin and Bar-Mitzvah Adam.

They came to our home Wednesday evening and I put on Tefillin with Adam for the very first time in his life. The kids and myself danced together with Adam and his dad, while (my son) Gershon Aharon took out his little broken guitar and started strumming and singing songs for them. We had some guests over since we have our weekly Challah baking every Wednesday night, so everybody congratulated Adam. It was very moving.

I showed them the interior of the Tefillin and explained to them the meaning of the Mitzvah of Tefillin and its great holiness, for which we wait until a child is 13 years old to don Tefillin and this is actually the reason we celebrate the Bar-Mitzvah altogether. From a spiritual standpoint, then, donning Tefillin is the Bar-Mitzvah itself.

I told Adam his mother is very proud of him and is smiling down at him from heaven for fulfilling her last wish before she passed away, and that he have a Bar-Mitzvah and be raised as a Jew. I explained to him that in Jewish tradition the soul never departs this world. Every time we do a good deed the soul is overjoyed because that is the only thing that has true meaning to the soul.

Every time I mentioned his mother's name Adam would get teary eyed, after all he was only seven years old when she passed away, and T_ as well swelled up a few times, so I made an effort to avoid mentioning her name. It was a very special moment for Adam, T_ and myself.

The final part of this miraculous story is that T_ and Adam came to our synagogue to hear the Ten Commandments on the holiday of Shavuot last Wednesday, and we called up Adam to the Torah for the first time in his life. He received the first Aliyah of the Torah reading and after the Aliyah we all danced together and congratulated him.

To think that this young boy fulfilled his mothers wish on perhaps the greatest day of the year, the day G-d descended on Mt. Sinai to give the Torah, is simply amazing. It shows us how G-d Almighty watches over each and every one of us, in greatest detail. Adam will surely grow up to be a proud Jew and inspire all those around him.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A Chabad Moshichist Firebrand

The son of an Admor and also grandson of 3 Admors speaks during a Chabad "farbrengen" of his own experience - as it relates to Moshiach. If you'd like more information about him, I'd be glad to oblige you.

Video is in Hebrew.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Maybe I'm Nuts - For My Firm Almost Absurd Belief

Russia stands to protect Syria from toppling over, callous to the threat this can have on Israel, by supplying Syria with S-300 missiles and MiG fighter planes (link). The American regime supported Islamic fundamentalism on the sly from day 1 and has sought to undermine pro-Israel activism all along, as uncovered recently, as the IRS scandal unfolds (link). Iran boasts it has so many ballistic missiles aimed at Israel it can overwhelm Israeli ballistic missile defense systems (link), let alone the threat of its near-complete acquisition of nuclear capability. America and Europe apply intense pressure because Israel decides to permit 300 more housing units to go up in Jerusalem.

The world, in short, cannot tolerate Israel as long as she continues to breathe. No matter what concessions she makes, Israel will always be considered, and she always was, like an annoying roach to be gotten rid of, to the world at large. The few decades of respite Jews enjoyed following WWII came only while the world itself could recover from their post-war deterioration, licking of their wounds. But now, especially because Israel thrives as a vibrant economic and social power, the 70 wolves are again sharpening their fangs, or, at best, remain apathetic to the prospects of her torment or destruction.

We Jews have God to thank, however, for as the nations plan, God laughs.

Some rabbis maintain we today witness the unfolding of the Era of the Final and Ultimate Redemption of the Jewish people (and the world's righteous Gentiles). Evil and righteousness are being delineated into two clear camps and sides are being taken, not by nations as much as by people therein.

The miracle that occurred to the Jewish people prior to the original Exodus from Egypt, namely, where Egyptians fought against Egyptians (for which we commemorate the Shabbat before Pesach as "Shabbat Hagadol"), is re-occurring now in the form of Muslim versus Muslim (enemy-of-Israel against enemy-of-Israel), in what started as the "Arab Spring". In another theater, but probably not the last we'll see, is Syrians against Syrians.

Turmoil at Israel's very doorstep, just next to her borders, might scare those attuned to only Nature's events. For example, the concern IDF generals must show, justifiably - for they must assess according to Natural situations, can only give reason to fret to those that mute out transcendental divine consideration at the same time.

But Jews and Israel are beyond Nature. They are of Supernatural essence. As of now, as per these rabbis, especially as per the Rebbe, we have nothing to fear because God now applies full focus, so to speak, to keep the people of the Holy Land safer than anywhere else in the world.

Yes, events at the border appear to be a menacing long-term problem but God wants to test our strength of belief and makes it appear as if threatening Natural events can one day materialize (God forbid). God does not want to hand us the Era of Redemption on a silver platter. He seems to want to coax us into belief in the Supernatural over the stretch of time.

Perhaps that's because Jews throughout the world should be given enough time to contemplate and resolve that Torah, God and the Jewish phenomenon are uniquely united. Meanwhile the world brews in turmoil, as the good element separates out from the bad element. It seems the Director of the worlds theaters is aiming at a final global solution that can be had at one crucial moment, a moment still beyond our perceptual senses to detect when that'll be.