Monday, January 27, 2014

To Know Moshiach is to Know the Man!

The Rebbe, with nightvision
There exists a misinformed segment among religious Jewry who clamors for Redemption with lip service, without motivational attachment. In effect it amounts to hypocritical talk on Geulah.

Many "Geulah sites", if not most religious Jews, have heard the news - that the Rebbe's emissaries tout their Rebbe as Moshiach. Many "Geulah Jews", however, ignore the input value of this Chabad claim instead of jumping on it.

These Jews, who reject the Redeemer but maintain the Era of Redemption is at hand, fail to grasp one key issue of the Era of Redemption (I opine), and that is, because they believe Moshiach will appear much like Hashem came to Jews at Mount Sinai - in some spectacular exhibition!

They think Moshiach must pop in onto today's world scene in a fantastic, eye-grabbing explosion. Under ordinary and rather humdrum circumstances Moshiach cannot be expected to arise. They believe in fireworks as a prelude. They are expecting lots of noise and fanfare, everyone bubbling with sudden excitement.

That Chabad rabbi some of his followers rage about couldn't be "him"! Smart as he is, he's still just a rabbi, with some radical followers misinterpreting what he told them. No matter the rabbi has so many Chassidim, much influence and respect, and several thousand representatives universally placed, that hardly vouches for him as Moshiach. They'd sooner read about the Yankees or the lottery winner, than bother with some eccentric, old Jew.

Back in the good old days, when we still had our Second Temple, rabbis radiated divine light. Respect for their words resonated with appreciation and endearment to God. Back then, when a rabbi suggested he'd qualify as Moshiach, people listened and waited with baited breath. Back then, when Jews singled out a rabbi as a prophet, people knew enough to believe.

The intervening millennia of years blunted and stunted the grasp of the divine. Today for Moshiach to draw attention he needs to do somersaults on television. Mere word of mouth from Jew to Jew just won't cut it in an age of modern technology. Either he perform a special miracle to identify himself to everyone, to be on air where everyone can watch, or he may as well burn his credentials.

"Yearning for Moshiach" may as well be the diagnosis of a neurotic. With jets capable of Mach 7, telescopes that see billions of light-years away, in the days of the Internet and rocket science, Moshiach either must show up as a world-renowned phenomenon that drowns out any controversy before his world debut, or he will be relegated to the dust bins of useless logs.

Over 300 rabbis signed a "legal decree" that the Rebbe fits the Rambam's guidelines as "Supposedly Moshiach"! That, however, cannot satisfy the "Geulah philosophers". They want Moshiach on a silver platter.

Do these Geulah-talking folk think that knowing the identity of Moshiach entails no work on their part? Do they need to do nothing at all to realize the great personage of Moshiach; No study, no history-taking? Do not these Geulah-talking folk anticipate Moshiach's coming in a miraculous way (much like the goyim probably do), where the whole world will instantly recognize him for who he is and they themselves will just happen to be one of these passive observers? ... like sitting in the baseball bleachers thinking a pop-fly will land right into your hand.

Moshiach's presence is not and will not be an all-or-nothing, one-time debut phenomenon! There will be no fireworks to introduce him! Moshiach means a process! To know Moshiach means - to know the man!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

CORRECTION: The Number of Mentions of Moses in תנ''ך

This is embarrassing! I erred in my counting of משה in Torah (here). I now count 647 times.

I found two "false positives", in Devarim 15:2 and in Shmot 12:4, where "משה" in these verses is not the name.

I base these findings on my own program (written in javascript) and Torah data I copied/pasted and "massaged" to create my database (כתיב).
(UPDATE: You too can now do the search at toraware.com)

As for my Nach results, I got them from here (daat.ac.il).

According to this source, the number of times Moshe is mentioned in Nach is 121.

Together with my own Torah search results, the total number of times Tanach mentions Moshe is 768 times - not 770.

NOTE:  The Concordance of אברהם אבן שושן shows 770 iterations of משה, but I stand by my count nevertheless; More likely the Concordance made the mistake. (Not because of my genius in counting but because the Concordance counts its results in a complicated way that might have slipped in this case.)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jewish Naysayers of Moshiach

Naysayers of the present, unfolding Era of Redemption can come in an unusual form; They can be FOR Redemption, but AGAINST the Redeemer. Yes, they'll say, we're into or very near to the Era of Redemption, but Chabad, who thinks "their" Rebbe is Moshiach, is way off base!

These want to choose their own Moshiach.

By not knowing WHO Moshiach is, they get off the hook. They need not probe a particular person's expressional history, nor do they need commit themselves to follow him.

That they accept the period we find ourselves in as uniquely Redemptive - is on target, to be sure. But the last step, the one that requires commitment, here they'd rather go by their "instincts" - rather than follow the Rambam.

The Rambam specifically lays out a list of requirements to identify Moshiach. He did this apparently because these qualifiers serve a halachic purpose. Ah, but he gave them to Jews with the smarts to weave their own conclusions, despite the good efforts of the Rambam.

I speak not of those who argue a point or two FROM the Rambam. Most naysayers avert this Rambam or any notion that interferes with their own choice for the exalted position of Moshiach.

Most probably this is what the Rambam meant when he characterized the opening of the Era of Redemption as one wherein things will go on "as usual" (עולם כמנהגו נוהג). Is it not "usual" for Jews to pick and choose for themselves, even in halachic matters, where the slightest doubt can obscure the truth that would bind commitment?

Naysaying Jews therefore will concur we are into the Era of Redemption - but NOT because THE REBBE SAID SO! Not because the Rebbe in 1991 invoked the Midrash of Yalkut Shimoni as referencing our very own era! Chabad literature be damned. They have their own "talmudic" sources. They - themselves - want to pin the tail on the donkey.

While they too will come around, these people, meanwhile, suppress the Era of Redemption from accelerating forward. Why? For the same reason a "somewhat Jewish" Jew waxes problematic more than an "ultra" religious Jew. The former thinks he's fully genuine and "kosher", giving him the ability to "dance at two weddings at the same time"; When asked if he keeps to halachah, he can say "Yes". This person fools himself, which makes his decontamination all the more resistant.

Recall when Eliyahu the Prophet chastised the Jews at the improvised alter. He cried out - not against those who served the Ba'al! No! He singled out those who worshipped the Ba'al AND ALSO served God. Against these partial believers he excoriated! (See also "Eliyahu Tears into Reform Judaism")

They seek convenience. On the one hand they see something real evolving, but, consistent with their myopia, with their blinders, they also believe in UFOs.

The same silliness we find when two ladies find themselves, somewhere, in the very same dress, and one gets angry with the other. Hey, you can't be waving YOUR Moshiach in my face, when MY Moshiach is someone else!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Can You Feel the Redemption?

We've recently heard of anti-Semitic events in the world. Bearded Jew gets shot in the Ukraine; Jewish children murdered in Toulouse; Triple murder of Jews in Waltham by the Boston Marathon bomber; Pressure on Jews in Malmo, Sweden not to wear Kippahs; Swastikas painted on Jewish property; And countless other such isolated incidents.

Hatred of Jews has accompanied us for every generation since the Second Temple's destruction - since Jews were forced into exile.

Our sages established that, "As law, Esau hates Jacob!" That is to say, the Jew had better know, as indelibly as engraved in stone, God has wrought into Nature that many a Gentile will have pure, unprovoked hatred towards the Jew (Rashi Gen.23:4). And, as we read every Passover in the Hagaddah, "In every generation oppressors rise seeking to eliminate Jews."

All along Jewish history we suffered from this attitude sometimes more and sometimes less. Even in "charitable" times, the Jew felt the generous period merely as a respite from the usual horror that was his lot. Generous periods were an exception to the rule. The rule was oppression, murder, harassment and misery.

Nonetheless, in the post-holocaust era, a tangible change has been felt by Jews the world over. Something significant had transpired to suddenly, from a historical perspective, make the Jew feel a burden had been removed from his psyche.

A huge boost to removing the awful stigma of the hated Jew came when the Soviet Union's "Iron Curtain" simply evaporated.

A new, more refreshing era has been born. Jews in most places of the world can now practice their religion without fear of backlash. Anti-Semitic acts are being condemned publicly by democratic nations. More and more nations seek to better their relations with Israel. The latest such show of friendship came from last week's visit to Israel by the Prime Minister of Canada.

So, do some alarming anti-Semitic incidents mean we've crossed over a "charitable" period, again heading for the usual, established persecution?

We have good reason to believe these individual incidents do not change the essence of the era we live in. The Rebbe told us we live in the new Era of Redemption. In the first part of this Era, says the Rambam, "things shall proceed as NORMAL". In other words, no radical changes will be apparent.

Nevertheless, this is the Era we live in. And the sooner we all Jews recognize this new, transcendent destiny, the sooner all will recognize and accept the Lubavitcher Rebbe as Moshiach, whose name is Menachem!

Then, of course, the world will launch into a new and even higher level of spiritual experience. Then, the easing on the collective Jewish psyche will apply, of course, also to every individual Jew, and, finally, all Jews will have - not only full relief from Gentile people, but the latter will even become minions to help every Jew prosper spiritually and physically.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Another Glimpse into our Era of Redemption

The Rebbe had said we are into the Era of Redemption. Its threshold we traversed. Now, said, he, we "have to open our eyes" to see it.

To "open eyes" means to open your mind's eye. I spoke earlier of the internecine Arab conflicts as one such indication (eg, here). But since some people still regard these cataclysmic events as "really serious", which can yet "spill over" to harm Israel, God forbid, then they do not yet see the Redemption unfolding. They need more convincing. They need more and more points of light that - taken together - provide a clearer picture of the panoramic Redemptive mosaic.

So, here's another indication where the Rebbe is wielding his power.

Here's a news item from YWN - Israel Desk, Jerusalem (1/6/14):

Chabad Shlichus will be Recognized as National Service


"The Shaked Committee finalizing the state’s new chareidi draft law on Monday 5 Shevat 5774 approved a motion from MK (The Movement) Elazar Stern to recognize Chabad shlichus around the world as an accredited state-approved national service.

"Yesh Atid committee member Ofir Shelach opposed the initiative but it was approved nonetheless."

By the way, my view is probably similar to your views, namely, that those boys NOT learning as they should, no matter what their affiliation, should serve in the army just as sure as other young men must go to serve.

Anyhow, the Israeli Parliament decided that Hareidi Yeshiva boys in Israel all had to go to the army, but Chabad Yeshiva students are exempt. In effect then, the Rebbe's army, or, in Chabad jargon, Moshiach's army, serves to the benefit of the Jewish people all over the world. The bill passed by a majority and became law.

The only ones who voted against it were the Religious parties, which perhaps shows how deeply they remain rooted spiritually in exile; Instead of being happy for Chabad Yeshiva boys, it was hard for them to agree that "other" students should be exempt while the students from their Yeshivos will be drafted.

Maybe I can understand the grievance of those who opposed the move, but the Chabad victory is a victory anyway you cut it, and therein lies the point.

Chabad remains at the forefront of bringing spectacular light to bear in simple vessels of outreach and explanation. We are marching forward to herald the Era of Redemption we ARE RIGHT NOW INTO. See the light, folks. Connect the dots. It's for your good just as much as it is for any other Jew.

The Rebbetzin - Moshiach's Queen

The Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka  ע''ה
Now, for the 1st time, we can see who was the wife of the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach! At least for me it's a first. I only had seen a few still photos of her, and, as a relative latecomer to Chabad, never was part of the community in her days.

I bring you here a link to the 1st part of a 3-part video, where she testifies in court. (Succeeding parts you can find in a right-sided panel, scrolling down if necessary.)

The Rebbetzin is giving testimony in a case wherein the Rebbe sued a family member to get back into possession for the Lubavitch Library those seforim that had been pilfered for their resale.

The Rebbe felt extreme concern during this court trial. When it was over and Lubavitch won, dancing and jubilation ensued for a full week; In fact, the day became a holiday in commemoration of this great victory. That day in Chabad is called "Didan Notzach" (דידן נצח) - the 5th of Tevet.

It is believed the Rebbetzin's testimony, when she said the library belonged to the Rebbe and that the Rebbe belonged to the Chassidim, is what finalized the case in favor of Lubavitch. (You can hear that one-minute audio clip here.)

If you know some Yiddish, have clear headphones or speakers to listen to carefully, you will be privy to some comments she makes that will simply amaze you. For example, when she laughs and calls lawyers jockeying for control "like children"; When she refers to diamond jewelry pieces as "shmatehs" ("rags"); As she instinctively laughs when a lawyer suggests she cares for "furs".

What an amazing personality; Everything exudes from a pinnacle of humility! This is the daughter of the Previous Rebbe and wife of the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Moses and 770!

Did some counting to determine how many times the name Moses (משה) occurs in Tanach.

Torah mentions it 650 times.
Nach mentions it 120 times.

I leave it up to my shrewd readers to calculate the total sum.

Coincidence? Ain't no such thing; Most especially so when it concerns none other than the Leader of the Generation (נשיא הדור)!

UPDATE: BIG MISTAKE! See correction here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Rebbe Confides in a Little Girl

Rabbi S. Jacobson tells of a letter he received from a lady in Pennsylvania who many years earlier had been raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Here's what she said:

In the year 5706 [1946] she attended the public school on Schenectady and Eastern Parkway, where her grandfather used to pick her up. Once, the Rebbe was walking down the street and the grandfather, pointing out the Rebbe, said to her, "This is a great rabbi; He's the son-in-law of the [Previous] Rebbe; You should go over to him and receive his blessing."

It happened at a later date, when she saw this dignified-looking rabbi, that she mustered courage and approached the Rebbe. The Rebbe opened the conversation. "What are you studying?" the Rebbe asked. "Asimov", she said. The Rebbe then said, "You know that Asimov, when writing science-fiction for children, wrote a series based on the concept of 'Foundation', where in the future planets will be civilized by being connected to their source on Earth."

"I have a similar vision," continued the Rebbe, "where one day there will be Jewish outposts all over the globe, all connected to one source."

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Final "My Garden" of a Jew

Many a Jew thinks the final "resting place", the very end address of his life and of his fellow Jews is - Gan Eden.

Nope! Gan-Eden is merely a "station break". The final and greatest place Jews will transcend into is - this world and none other!

Yes Gan Eden may well be as sweet as it can be but it is nowhere near the ultimate goodie that awaits every Jew - and that place is right here on this lowly earth, decked out in full materialistic garb.

In fact, this earth was the "personal" "Garden of God". It retained that stature until Adam and Eve sinned. That sin, and those from forthcoming generations (e.g. Kayin's murder, Enosh's idolatry, the Flood generation, the Tower of Babel generation) brought the world into progressively more "darkness", where the Presence of God became progressively harder to discern.

Not only will this nethermost of worlds achieve the original eminence in initially held, but the pristine clarity of God's Presence will shine forth even more than it did when the world was, back then, first created.

When that ultimate era shall finally dawn, all Jewish souls residing temporarily in Gan Eden will be reinstated in bodies and "transported" to this world where God will make for Himself "His Living Quarters" (דירה בתחתונים).

This is one of the meanings inherent in the verse, "I have come to my garden, my sister bride" (Song of Songs 5:1)

So the next time you're out taking a drive, or next to a sefer, or in prayer, or wherever - know you're in the very place where God will one day turn "On" the switch and you will suddenly experience a sensory transformation where all layers of physicality will project mosaics of divinity in ways you can today not even begin to imagine. How happy we must be, for how happy will be our lot.

Adventure in Animal Kingdom

Wonders of Hashem

"What's for lunch", you ask?
That's probably what the alligator was thinking.
You might be surprised ...

When the Jew Must Fight

Just before Jews made their way into the ocean, with Pharaoh and his army of chariots in hot pursuit, God told Moshe to tell the Jews there was no need doing battle with the Egyptians because God will do the fighting for them. (Ex.14:14)

Four weeks later, when Amalek pounced on the Jews, Moshe tells his people "Go out and fight Amalek!" (Ex.17:9)

Why should Jews sometimes let God do the fighting for them, while other times Jews must put up a fight?

Depends on the enemy's agenda. Egyptians wanted to take the Jews back to slavery. Amalek, on the other hand, sought to prevent Jews from their association with Torah.

Whenever a Jew confronts that which would prevent him from learning Torah, he must fight off this enemy!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Expression of Jewish Instinct

A week after their flight to safety, Jews fleeing Egypt felt a sudden fright. Suddenly they saw a mighty, rumbling army in fearsome array, rapidly advancing in pursuit after them.

Torah testifies (Ex.14:10):
 "וייראו מאד ויצעקו בני ישראל אל יהוה"

The Jews were trapped in a beach enclave with no flank to escape to, caught between the desert and the sea. These were dreadful moments. King Pharoah himself, in armored chariot, led the charge. The mighty empire's army, a juggernaut excited for victory, kicked up dust as they charged forward.

Jews acted on instinct; They turned to God. Out of fright, their prayers issued forth as screams from the pit of their hearts.

The unique context of their present situation gave these prayers its vocal character. Jews always prayed to God, but any other time of day or day of the week, they would have evoked a different sort of prayer. This special situation they found themselves in is what now cast their form of invocation.

(Only after they saw their prayers go unanswered they turned on Moses to complain.)

Prayer to G-d comes natural for the Jew. Abraham, Isaac and Yaakov worked hard on this form of worship, so much so that this inculcation projected and bequeathed a congenital instinct to their children. They prayed - not because they elected for something in particular this one time, but rather because prayer of the Jew connects him to God! Prayer is the vehicle by which the Jew bonds to G-d. He prays every day, year in year out.

It's not so much a Jew wants something for himself when he prays. Rather, the Jew wants to bond with Hashem. Yes, the Jew asks for personal and selfish concerns too, but all the while he rates his personal desires less than primary. Worship of Hashem is what is paramount in a Jew's life.

The Torah is quite specific; "They were frightful, so they screamed." Any other moment of the day their prayers would have manifest differently, but pray - they always would.

But why pray now - with the Egyptian army ready to steamroll them; If they trusted God will spare them, again, there was no need for prayer now; And if they held doubts about God's salvation, then what good would prayers do?

Rashi explains (Ex.14:10): Because Jews always first prayed to God - for anything - because they worshipped God and always wanted to cleave to Him. Any other day, it could have been in quiet earnestness, but at this point in time - they cried out.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Dad's Dad - One of 6 Million

  אהרן מאיר אייכענשטיין  הי''ד
This father of 10 lived in Czechoslovakia during Germany's WWII occupation. He had left Poland, where his surname was פרידלנדר, and adopted his wife’s surname as a precaution against Poles who might pursue him to draft him into their army.

All his children lived in Europe except for one daughter who lived with her husband in America.

This was during a troubled era for European Jewry. Much of his offspring gravitated to the lure of a bankrupt, secular "Zionism", but several held tightly and mightily to live the Torah life.

He went to the Germans to ask what they required for documentation in order for him to leave for America. They provided him with a list of requirements. His daughter in America sent him all that he needed. When he showed up again at the German office with his documentation in hand, they said, “You have, in fact, everything required – except for one thing: You need to shave off your beard!”

Because he refused they shipped him off to Auschwitz-Birkenau where they burned him.

The above was probably his passport picture.

About 10 years ago, at a simchah in Boro Park, an elderly gentleman approached me and asked if my name is אייכנשטיין. I said Yes. He said he knew my grandfather because he had been “shipped” to Auschwitz in the very same cattle-car as was my grandfather. My grandfather, he said, told everybody inside that cattle-car they should know that this “trip” they were on – will be the last trip of their lives. He said, when they were unloaded onto the platform at Auschwitz, my grandfather actually started dancing!

I bring this anecdote to your attention because Jews in the Holocaust offered their lives in self-sacrifice to Hashem for being Jewish, and proud of it.

I'd venture to say that very deep down every Jew who gave his life, in the face of then European "humanity", had to have harbored even a slight touch of happiness.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Rebbe's Letter re: Jewish Survival


By the Grace of G-d
25 Sivan, 5740 [1980]
Brooklyn N.Y.

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a copy of your letter to Mr. S. Peres, together with the "Fields" publications.

As you no doubt expect some comment, let me say that your creative ideas are impressive in their sweep and ingenuity. However, I must add at once, as I have observed in previous correspondence, that we have to concern ourselves with utilizing our resources to meet the emergencies of the present, rather than with solutions that, at best, lie only in the future. I say "at best" because the ultimate solutions are not always in our hands, whereas there is much we can, and must, do to cope with pressing emergencies.

In light of the above, while I wholeheartedly agree with you that the potential of our Jewish people is limitless, our immediate concern must be to ensure the survival of our people. Surely, when a person who has an inordinate capacity to save the world is seriously ill, the first thing to do is to help him recover his health, so that he will indeed be able to realize his potential later on.

I am referring particularly to the state of our young Jewish generation, whose potential certainly is to move mountains, but at the moment is, by and large, overwhelmed by forces of assimilation and alienation and in danger of being lost to us.

As you know, only a small percentage of Jewish children in this day and age grow up with a Jewish education strong enough to preserve their Jewish identity in the face of the pressures of assimilation. The remainder are heading for the precipice. There is a vast field of action that has to be tackled in order to save thousands of Jewish young men and women from the cults and from intermarriage. It is an emergency situation that calls for an all-out effort in terms of well organized, planned, and amply funded programs. Many have to be taught starting literally from the Alep-Beth of Judaism; Others must be given the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and experience of what it means to be truly Jewish.

To be sure, the human resource manpower to meet these challenges fully is at present inadequate. Moreover, it suffers from attrition in that many dedicated young men engaged in Jewish Education in its broader sense - including teaching, administrative jobs, reach-out programs, etc. - come to a point in their family life, where their meager salaries can no longer support their growing families, and they must find Parnosso elsewhere. Yet all these problems could not only be coped with, but also turned around - if the financial resources were available.

Having always been candid with you - on the basis of our mutual relationship, and being confident that you will not take my remarks amiss, I must say regretfully, that I have not noted in your correspondence, as yet, anything that would encourage me to think that you are using your capacities and influence in the direction indicated above, at any rate to the fullest extent.

Since, as mentioned, the basic problem is financial, there are surely many Jewish philanthropists, Endowment Funds and Foundations - to mention some of the more obvious sources - that could be tapped for the vital cause of Jewish survival. On the other hand, there are such national organizations as, e.g., Anti-Shemad, Committee For Furtherance of Jewish Education, Torah uMesorah, and others, which are eminently qualified and deserving of the utmost financial support, not only to keep them afloat, but to enable them to expand dramatically in keeping with the drastic situation.

I trust you will not think for a moment that this letter is intended as a direct or indirect appeal for Lubavitch institutions, and will not embarrass me by responding with a check. To quote a familiar phrase in the Torah, "Give me the persons and keep the goods" - it is your personal involvement in the cause of Jewish Education that I am after. However involved you may be with promulgating a global or holistic perception and perspective, etc., I am certain that there is ample room in your heart and mind to take a soulful interest in the cause of Jewish Education, not only to become personally involved, but also inspire others within the sphere of your influence to follow your example.

Please forgive me if any of the foregoing expressions have embarrassed you in any way; far be it from me.

Through mutual friends I occasionally receive regards from you and your son. My prayerful wishes are always with you both and yours for good health and Hatzlocho in all your affairs, materially and spiritually.

With esteem and blessing,

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