Thursday, 24 April 2008

How to Choose a Rabbi and a Mentor

One of the toughest challenges in our current generation is in being able to identify the right Rebbe (Torah teacher) for ourselves. There are many rabbis available to choose from, and we are confronted daily with the very real and difficult decision of knowing who to choose as our mentor.

We all need a mentor! Someone to advise us and suggest to us the correct paths to take - especially when we're simply lost! But we're very much an orphaned generation, apparently lacking true leadership. Who can we choose to help us through life, guiding us correctly so that we can actually merit to fulfill our duties and tasks in this world. Who do we turn to for help?!

There are a plethora of different "divisions" within Yiddishkeit. We know of varied groups, ranging from Reform and Conservative Judaism, to the more traditional Orthodox varieties. Within Orthodox, we find another multitude of divisions existing. We can find ourselves amongst the group of Jews from Lithuania - Litvish Jews or Jews from Spain and North Africa - Sefardi Jews. We may also feel comfortable following the ways of the Baal Shem Tov and becoming a Chassid. Then again there are another multitude of Chassidim, ranging from the more well known groups such as Lubavitch and Breslov to the lesser known groups (although certainly widely known in Eretz Yisrael) such as Rachmistrivka, Bobov, Boston, Kaliver, Sanz etc.

It can become rather confusing - especially when all we're really after is TRUTH! It seemed easier in the old days. There was simply Moses who lead the Jewish people out of Egypt and taught them right from wrong. Then came Joshua, faithful to his mentor's mission. Slowly the Judges came, then the Prophets, the Men of the Great Assembly, and before long there were truly leaders of 10's, of 100's and of 1000's. In our generation we see this clearly, and all we want is to find the right teacher who will guide us correctly. We need that special someone who can simply understand who we are! Torah is infinite! It can certainly be a daunting task even for the advanced student, let alone the novice, in deciding what parts to learn first and how to cope with the two sides of the person tugging away to obtain control of the body all at once. One moment we're in awe of the abundance of Torah we crave - be it Chumash (the Bible) or the Prophets and Writings. Whether it be a sudden inspiration to work through the entire Oral Law by completing the learning of the Talmud (a gigantic task!) It may be a desire to actually learn the roots of Halacha as discussed in the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch - works filled with THOUSANDS of chapters! Or it may be the sudden urge to want to delve into the mysteries of Torah - from the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the Chabad Rebbes - to the depths of the deepest secrets of Torah included in the writings of the Zohar (by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) and the writings of the holy Ari (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria.)

Then of course, within moments after all the excitement has warn off, our other side gets the better of us and we get carried away with a day of shopping for the latest fashions! Or it may be just enjoying a few days out, eating the finest foods. It may be our excitement at being successful in business and being able to purchase a beautiful and spacious home - or a brand new zippy car!

We get stuck and lost not knowing just what to do and when. It can become frightening. We need a teacher who can aid us and help us grow correctly so that we keep our feet on the ground and our heads in the heavens! We need to live in this physical world AND be constantly attached to G-d at the same time! So who do we rely upon for good advice?

In this video, the Lubavitcher Rebbe speaks about the various things to take into account in choosing the right mentor for one. It's a must for anyone serious enough to realise the importance of balancing one's physical life with one's holy spiritual life!

For more information see these truly meaningful and sincere articles (part 1 and part 2) written by Rabbi Shimon Jacobson from www.meaningfullife.com at:

Zohar Parshas Kedoshim - True Holiness Comes Through Unity



TRUE HOLINESS COMES THROUGH UNITY

UNITY OF TORAH DEPENDENT UPON UNITY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE

Page 84a

[The majority of Mitzvos are included in Parshas Kedoshim. The Parsha begins by instructing us to ‘Be Holy.’ Parshas Kedoshim includes commandments which directly parallel the 10 commandments. Although the actual 10 commandments are instructed in the singular grammatical form towards the Jewish people, Parshas Kedoshim says these same commandments in plural grammatical form. There is an important reason for this. The Zohar, in this Parsha, points out that the plural instruction relates to the Jewish people being separated from each other. It is only through uniting and removing baseless hatred that true holiness can result.]

It is stated in the Midrash (Vayikra Rabba 24:5), “Rabbi Chiya taught, this Parsha was said at “Hakhel” [every 7 years, following the Shemita year, the Torah was read publicly in the Temple by the king] – because the majority of the body of the Torah is dependent upon it. Rabbi Levi said because the 10 commandments are included in it…”

And this is what he said, that here the verse comes to warn Israel with the 10 Commandments like at first at the Giving of the Torah. For as it is written “I am the Lord your G-d” (Shemos 20) corresponds to what is written here, “I am the Lord your G-d.” And as it written here, “Do not turn towards foreign gods,” corresponds to what is written in the 10 Commandments, “You shall not recognize any other gods before my Presence.” And as it written here “And gods of molten you shall not make for yourselves,” corresponds to what is written, “You shall not make for yourselves a carved image.” And as is written here, “Every man, his mother and his father, you shall fear,” corresponds to what is written, “Honor your father and your mother.”

And as is written here, “And my Sabbaths you shall guard,” corresponds to, “Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it.” And as is written here, “Do not swear falsely in My Name,” corresponds to what is written, “Do not take the name of Hashem your G-d in vain.” And as is written here, “Do not steal,” corresponds to what is written, “Do not steal.” And as is written here, “And do not deny falsely and you shall not lie to one another,” corresponds to what is written, “Do not bear false witness against your fellow.” And as is written here, “The adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death,” corresponds to what is written, “Do not commit adultery.” And as is written here, “Do not stand by the blood of your fellow,” corresponds to what is written, “Do not murder.” (The matter of not coveting is not mentioned here,) [although it is mentioned in the Midrash Vayikra Rabbah 24:5 “You shall not covet” and as it is written here in our Parsha, “And you shall love your fellow man as yourself.”]

And already our Sages explained that the 10 commandments are hinted to here. And upon this our Sages said that the whole of the entire Torah is included in this Parsha, and this means the 10 Commandments which include all the Torah, since everything is hinted to in the 10 Commandments. But in this Parsha, not all the commandments are hinted to.

Rabbi Chiya said, in the beginning of the 10 commandments it is written, “I am the Lord your G-d – א-להיך. Remember זכור the Sabbath day. Do not take – לא תשא the [Name of G-d] in vain. Do not murder – לא תרצח. Do not commit adultery – לא תנאף. Do not steal – לא תגנוב. All these are written in the SINGULAR language. [The Hebrew language expresses itself differently when addressing a command to the individual to addressing a group. In the 10 commandments proper, all the commandments are written in a way that addresses the individual.]

And here is written, “I am the Lord your [plural] G-d – א-להיכם. Every man, his father and his mother you [plural] shall fear – תיראו. Guard [plural]תשמרו my Sabbaths. Do not turn [plural]תפנו towards foreign gods.” [All these are in] a language [addressed in a] plural [manner]. And the reason for this thing is: But rather come and see, from the day when Israel were to be found in the world, there was not to be found in front of the Holy One Blessed be He, with one heart and with one will like on that day that they were standing on Mount Sinai. For then, their impurity was removed. And through this, baseless hatred was removed from amongst them. And everybody was like one man with one heart. And therefore everything was said to them in the individual form [of Hebrew grammar,] that shows the unity of Israel [the Jewish people.] But afterwards when they had worshipped the [Golden] Calf everything is written in the plural form [of Hebrew grammar.] Since they [the Jewish people] weren’t to be found so much with one will as [they were] with the Giving of the Torah, for once again the Evil Inclination ruled over them, and its beginning was because of baseless hatred and division of hearts which is equivalent to all sins in the Torah. And therefore when the Holy One Blessed be He repeated the 10 Commandments in this Parsha, He said them in the plural language form, which shows the plurality of minds [and opinions] and the division of hearts.

This means to say that the Torah is planted in the hearts of the Children of Israel. And when they are unified, then the Torah is likewise in unity with them. For it is known that the entire Torah is the Name of the Holy One Blessed be He. And every Jew is required to unify and to connect the Name of the Blessed One, for every Jew owns one letter in the Torah. And when the Children of Israel are united in one unity with one heart, then the Torah and the Name of the Blessed One are joined and connected. But if they are separated, then they separate the letters of the Torah and cause separation in the Name of the Blessed One. And this is the reason of the strictness and the blemish of the sin of baseless hatred. And to this the Torah comes here in the plural language to teach regarding this blemish. (Ramak and commentaries.)

NOTES TO SIGNS USED IN FORMATTING:

Bold print: Original Zohar

Ordinary text: Matok Midvash

[Square brackets]: Eliyahu Ben Pinchas

(Round brackets): Either the source being quoted e.g. Proverbs etc., or alternatively used to quote the kabbalistic language as discussed in Matok Midvash. The Matok Midvash formats the Nigleh side of things in an ordinary print, and the Nistar terminology in Rashi script. I’ve therefore put the Rashi script – the Nistar terminology in round brackets.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Profile of Rav Eliyahu

Reb Eliyahu has completed a number of Semichot and is also a qualified Chatan teacher - giving Torah and Chatan classes in person and via the Internet. He has spent time leading a Minyan, being Gabbai and Leining. In his youth, he davened for a number of shuls in South Africa over the Yomim Tovim. 

Reb Eliyahu enjoys working with computers and is qualified as an A+ Hardware/Software Technician and a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. In his youth, he also built a fully mobile, sensory robot "Hero 1" – used for educational teaching purposes. He made use of both his Torah and computer knowledge in aiding a school to publish a variety of Torah publications including two Divrei Torah journals and five Gemara skills workbooks. In his youth Reb Eliyahu enjoyed gymnastics. He has spent much time enjoying photographing and developing (in the "old days") photos in the darkroom. 

Reb Eliyahu is married to Shoshanah - a qualified occupational therapist, healing facilitator, certified teacher of infant massage and qualified Kallah teacher. Together they have set up "Chessed Ve'Emet", an organisation devoted to the spreading of authentic Torah teachings and values, as well as providing numerous Mitzvah projects to help those in need. Reb Eliyahu's focus is on the practical side of Yiddishkeit and the importance of being a mentsch. Both he and his wife value the importance of a pure family life and run a Shidduch service to help those who are equally committed to being a part of such a home. Reb Eliyahu and his wife also manage a unique photographic business, which specializes in Jewish functions and provides the facility for covering the men's and women's sections independently. For samples of their photography, see their Photo Albums

For more info see their main site: Lovingkindness.co and main pages: 
Reb Eliyahu invites you to take part in one of our projects. Become a partner (or become a donor) with us. Learn with us and spread goodness and kindness to everyone you come into contact with - today! 

With blessings filled with kindness

Eliyahu

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Getting Advice When you Can't Ask the Rebbe

We seem to be confronted with a conflict. On the one hand, today is the birthday of the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe. Yet it seems like we have nobody to ask our questions to any longer. Is this really so - or do we still have someone to turn to? The Rebbe in the video below speaks of the very difficulties apparently encountered by his own Chassidim in being able to ask the previous Rebbe - the Rebbe's father-in-law - their own questions.While the Rebbe has already been Rebbe for decades, he addresses the Chassidim as if they are still interested in asking the previous Rebbe their difficult questions (as opposed to asking him directly.) He addresses the issues of how to ask someone who seems to be no longer present in this world - and how we receive our answers. Amazingly the Rebbe refers to the previous Rebbe (who "died" decades before) as being the leader of the generation and that one can still send one's requests through to him. If these things were said by this Rebbe concerning the previous Rebbe, we can surely have faith that the Rebbe would mean them today concerning himself.
Indeed there still is someone to turn to and ask for help - for blessing and assistance, even when all seems hopeless and that nobody cares. The Nasi - the leader - of the generation never stops his work, even when it appears to fleshy eyes as if things are not that way. But, it's not for me to say any of these things - watch the video and see, learn and understand clearly what the Rebbe himself says. If you can understand that there is still hope, and you are unable to travel to the Ohel (the Rebbe's resting place) directly, you can still send an email directly by writing to ohel@ohelchabad.org - or by going to www.ohel.org. Alternatively, as the Rebbe himself once answered a pregnant woman who visited him after going through much agony - if one is unable to do these things, one can even speak to the Rebbe in the corner of one's own room. This is the power of the Nasi of the generation - an all encompassing soul who is able to reach and be in touch with any other soul - no matter where it may be.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

11 Nissan - 106 years since the Birth of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Tonight and tomorrow - 11 Nissan 5768 marks 106 years since the birth of the 7th Rebbe of Chabad - Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

Of all the campaigns the Rebbe was involved in - bringing Moshiach encompassed and surround and enveloped all of them. Everything was to be done - and is to be done - solely to hasten the coming of Moshiach - to bring this world into a state of being whereby it truly becomes a dwelling place for the Shechinah - the InDwelling Presence of G-d - down below in this "lowly" world - a world of physical, material and corporeal grossness.

To commemorate the Rebbe's 106 birthday, a video is presented below in which the Rebbe speaks of the need for us to focus on this goal - to make it an actuality - right here and now!

Never mind the excuses the Yetzer HaRa (the evil inclination) can come up with. Perhaps you haven't yet finished learning Tanach - maybe not the entire Talmud - maybe you think there is still much work to be done - whether on yourself or on others.

NONE of these excuses is good enough for what the world is currently in need of - this very second - that the ultimate Redeemer of the world - Moshiach Tzidkeinu - should reveal himself immediately, taking us out of this bitter exile - an exile so deep that we hardly even appreciate just how far sunken we are. An exile so dark, that we no can no longer even fantasize about what light actually is!

Moshiach can come this very moment - and it is up to each one of us to do that one more thing necessary to bring him. An extra act of goodness and kindness. It is up to us to demand from G-d that Moshiach be revealed immediately. And while we may think we still need to learn all 63 tractates of the Talmud before he reveals himself - one thing we can rest assured of. When Moshiach DOES reveal himself, the secrets of Torah including all 63 tractates of the Talmud will be taught to each one of us on higher levels than any of us can even dream of right now.

No excuses. We need to demand - "UNTIL WHEN?!" And from this, we need to do ONE more act of goodness and kindness - right now - and in the merit of this, shaken up all the worlds - this material - and all the spiritual, to such a degree that the entire universe is shaking in it's demand towards the Creator of the world - to reveal the Moshiach - together with taking us into that era we long for - the building of the third and final Temple, the World to Come - the Resurrection of the Dead and a world filled with complete goodness, kindness and G-dliness.

May we merit this revelation of our Righteous Redemeer before the end of this auspicious day with the rebuilding of the Temple - and all the jews from every corner of the earth being brought to the land of Israel on the Holy Clouds of Glory - and we be witness to miracles greater than we ever experienced before. May we be taken out of this final Egypt (Mitzrayim) and experience this Passover as a complete reality!
Moshiach NOW!



Monday, 14 April 2008

Chassidus and Kabbalah - which to learn and why?

It is the natural desire of the soul to learn the secrets of Torah. We are taught that this is the area of Torah known as Kabbalah - stemming from the word and root letters "KBL" meaning "To receive". "Moses received the Torah from Sinai" (Ethics of the Fathers 1:1). Here the word used is "Kibel". Kabbalah is about reception - not about domination and importance. On the contrary, it is to the one who wishes to receives in a humble fashion, who will receive - far more than the one who simple wants for his own person ego.

We sometimes get caught up in not knowing what we need to focus on and what true "mysticism" really is. In the video below, the Lubavitcher Rebbe is talking to Rabbi Simcha Ashlag - the grandson of the Rabbi who wrote the commentary on the Zohar - HaSulam. In it, Rabbi Ashlag asks the Rebbe to give his approbation to the importance of learning Zohar. The Rebbe explains that while there is no problem with learning this way, it is in fact through the teachings of Chassidus Chabad - the Tanya and the various discourses by the Rebbes, that the true teachings of the mystical paths of Torah come through.

Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai (in approximately 100-150 C.E.) revealed the Zohar - the most basic text of Kabbalah. Rabbi Yitzchak Luria - the Arizal (1534-1572) revealed the most important teachings in understanding the necessary things in order to really understand the Zohar properly. The Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760) having been taught by Achiyah HaShiloni - a great Tzaddik who came out of Egypt with the Children of Israel, and who also received the full tradition of Torah from King David (*many* years later) and also the teacher of Elijah the Prophet - revealed how to properly understand the teachings of the Arizal in ways that could be grapsed even by the simple person.

The Maggid of Mezritch (Rabbi Dov Ber - d. 1772) continued to teach the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.The Lubavitcher Rebbes, starting from the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), continued these teachings, right up until the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe in the video below. The teachings thereby given here are most relevant to all of us - especially if, as in this case - we wish to pursue an accurate and true curriculum of learning the inner most depths of Torah wisdom.






We all Learn the Entire Torah while in the Womb...

A THOUGHT...

Be yourself. You too studied the entire Torah while in the womb. You are no different to anyone else - only that you express your greatness differently.

Zohar - Acharei Mos - A TZADDEKES PROTECTS AN ENTIRE GENERATION!



Page 64a

The beginning of the following matter is already discussed on page 59b. It once happened that the world was in need of rain. Rabbi Yissa, Rabbi Chizkiya and other friends came before Rabbi Shimon. They found him walking together with his son Elazar as they were going to Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair [Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s father-in-law.] Along the way they were innovating new Torah novallae. Also, in the home of Rabbi Pinchas at the meal, they were innovating many secrets of Torah. And so too afterwards along their way back from Rabbi Pinchas, until the events below came out.

And this, that he said, until they were going, they sat in a field and prayed, there came down one cloud of fire and enveloped them. Rabbi Shimon said to his friends, “Behold, I see that there is Divine favor over here,” since there is the dwelling of the Divine Presence. Therefore, let us sit here and study.” They sat and spoke words of Torah.

The explanation of the verse below, “[Like] cold waters upon a weary soul” is [as follows:] like cold waters that are made to restore a weary soul, “So is good news from a distance land,” so too is the soul restored when good news is reported [heard and comes] from a far away place. (Proverbs 25:25 and Rashi.)

Rabbi Shimon opened and said – explaining what is written – “‘[Like] cold waters upon a weary soul, so is good news from a distance land.’ (Proverbs 25:25). Behold, I contemplated the words of King Solomon, and I saw that all of them, he said with wisdom.”

(This means to say that since they are from CHaBaD of Nukva as will be described further, nevertheless, *all* of them were from the side of wisdom (Chochma.) As it is written ‘And the wisdom of Solomon increased,’ (I Kings 5:10). For the intention of the writing of the three books [i.e. Proverbs, Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes,] was in order to repair the Malchus [Kingship] which is the secret of Chochma Tata’a [Lower Wisdom.])

Come and see, King Solomon brought out three books of wisdom into the world, and all of them he did through Chochma Ila’a [Higher Wisdom.] This emanated from the attribute of Solomon’s wisdom. Nevertheless, they are three sections i.e. Song of Songs connected to the attribute of Chochma [Wisdom], Ecclesiastes connected to the attribute of Tevuna [Understanding], and Proverbs connected to the attribute of Da’as [Knowledge.] (This means to say they are the secret of CHaBaD of Nukva that stands opposite CHaGaT of Z”A [Zeir Anpin].)

Corresponding to these three attributes Chochma, Tevuna and Da’as, Solomon wrote three books. And it is explained that Song of Songs corresponds to Chochma, such is it, since it is filled with wisdom and secrets of the Torah, since all of his words are parables from the inner aspect of Chochma, and they are words of the love of the Holy One Blessed be He towards the Congregation of Israel [the Jewish people.] And love is from the side of Chochma which is the right side [as it appears on the tree of the Sefirot.] Ecclesiastes corresponds to Tevuna, such is it, since it is filled with words of reproof and provocation, and words of conquest to people that go after the acquisitions of the world, that he should contemplate in his understanding how from the side of intellect, a person needs to separate himself from the pleasures of the world, and to strengthen himself over the [evil] inclination. But that, that you say that Proverbs corresponds to Da’as, how can we see it – that it corresponds to Da’as?

And he answered, but all these verses of Proverbs are in two ways, since the majority of the verses of Proverbs are divided into two sections. Half speak about the Tzaddik [righteous person,] and half speak about the Rasha [wicked person] and the sinner, and in this way all his concerns. Half are insult and half are praise. Rather, the first half is praise, and the second, insult, and often the opposite, that means the beginning and the end of every verse look like two matters. (Half the verse teaches – corresponds to Chessed D’Da’as [the Kindness aspect of Knowledge], and half corresponds to HaGevurah D’Da’as [the Strength and restraining aspect of Knowledge.])

But, when one contemplates the verses, we see that the one is included in the other. This means to say the first half is included in the second half, and likewise the second half in the first. Since it is that the first half of the verse speaks about praise, and from the positive one can infer the negative, and likewise, the second half of the verse speaks of insult. From the consequence of the negative one can infer the positive, (and this is similar to the matter of the CHoG [Chessed and Gevurah] of Da’as [the aspect of Kindness and Strength of Knowledge] that are included one within the other.) Therefore the book of Proverbs corresponds to Da’as which includes both of them – from Kindness and Strength.

And Rabbi Shimon said, “But, this verse of ‘Cold waters upon a weary soul is like good news from a distant land’ – its beginning is not similar to its end, and its end to its beginning. It appears like two separate things. And when I contemplated upon it, I understood that everything is included in everything. Whether one explains it from its end to its beginning, or from its beginning to its end, since it is written ‘Good news from a distant land’ is similar to ‘Cold waters upon a weary soul.” Likewise, ‘Cold waters upon a weary soul’ are considered to a person like ‘Good news from a distant land,’ since both of them bring to a person a sense of Nachas Ruach [tremendous satisfaction, contentment, pleasure and relief.] Just as this one is Nachas Ruach, so too is this one Nachas Ruach.

While they, Rabbi Shimon and his friends, where sitting in the field, a person came and said to the group that the wife of Rabbi Shimon was healed from her sickness. And he also said that the group heard a Bas Kol [voice from heaven saying that] the Holy One Blessed be He forgave the sins of the generation, since the wife of Rabbi Shimon had protected the generation for punishments for their sins, through her sickness, and now that the Holy One Blessed be He forgave the generation, immediately she was healed from her sickness. Said Rabbi Shimon to his friends, “Behold there is fulfilled this verse ‘And good news from a distant land,’ so is good news Nachas Ruach, like ‘Cold waters upon a weary soul.’” He said to them, “Let us get up and go, because the Holy One Blessed be He is doing miracles for us!”

NOTES TO SIGNS USED IN FORMATTING:

Bold print: Original Zohar

Ordinary text: Matok Midvash

[Square brackets italics]: Eliyahu ben Pinchas

(Round brackets): Either the source being quoted e.g. Proverbs etc., or alternatively used to quote the kabbalistic language as discussed in Matok Midvash. The Matok Midvash formats the Nigleh side of things in an ordinary print, and the Nistar terminology in Rashi script. I’ve therefore put the Rashi script – the Nistar terminology in round brackets.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Mitzvot - Commandments - for the Jewish Women

Become a GIANT in Torah learning - just two chapters a day!

I once heard a famous story regarding a well known Posek - an authority in Jewish law. A young up-and-coming student of Halacha (Jewish law) approached the authority and asked him how he did it. How did he become so great in his Torah knowledge? Certainly he was already mature in age - but still there is just so much to get through - how is it actually possible to get through it all?

Perhaps one needs Elijah the prophet to reveal himself to one and quickly teach him the material - or perhaps through other various mystical ways it will happen.

The authority told him that he studied just two chapters of Jewish law (Shulchan Aruch and the like) a day! "Just two chapters a day?" the student asked. "Yes!" replied the authority!

In the book of Proverbs - Chapter 17 Verse 24, the verse reads:

"Wisdom is in front of one who has understanding; but the eyes of the fool are at the ends of the earth."

Rashi - the most famous of all commentators and the "brother" of Torah as Rabbi Nachman speaks about him - says regarding the fool's comment:

"Wisdom is not to be found readily available to me for it is far from me. How ever will I learn the order of Nezikin (Tractates dealing with laws of damages) which consists of 30 chapters, Tractate Keilim - 30 chapters, Tractate Shabbat - 30 chapters. But for the wise man this is something simple! Today he learns 2 chapters and tomorrow another 2, and he says 'so did those before me always do likewise!'"

IT CAN BE DONE... AND EVERYBODY CAN MEET WITH SUCCESS.

This famous story regarding one of the martyrs in the Merkaz HaRav attack a few weeks ago certainly shares the importance of regular learning and success!

http://lazerbrody.typepad.com/lazer_beams/2008/03/doron-story-of.html


Why not join in a "simple" program for a start. Study just 2 chapters of the Prophets and the Writings each day and complete the entire Torah Nevi'im and Ketuvim in just one year! It is the absolute foundation for ALL Torah learning. The keys to everything - from Talmud to Midrash to Kabbalah. Without it, one lacks the very foundation of Torah - with it, one has the ultimate springboard to "flying in the depths of the sea of Torah."

For more information and a suitable schedule click here:


ENTIRE BIBLE ONLINE IN ENGLISH WITH RASHI:


ENTIRE BIBLE ONLINE IN ENGLISH (ANOTHER SITE)



WHAT OUR SAGES SAY ABOUT COMPLETING THE TORAH IN IT'S ENTIRETY

"Attempt to go through all the sacred books in the course of your lifetime. You will then have visted every place in the Torah.

"The very rich constantly travel from land to land. They spend huge amounts just so that they should be able to boast that they have been to some faraway place. They consider it a sign of high status if, for example, they can boast that they have been to Warsaw. You should likewise travel everywhere in the Torah.

"In the Future Life you will then be able to boast that you have visited every place in our sacred literature. At that time, you will remember everything you have ever learned."

- Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom 28 (Sichos HaRan 28.)



Monday, 7 April 2008

A Message in how to Hasten Moshiach!

Zohar Parshas Metzora - The Tongue - A Weapon as Sharp as a Sword!

Daf 52b


[A person who had committed various sins, such as Lashon Hara – bad and negative speech, would be afflicted with a spiritual disease known as “Tzaraas” – translated as “leprosy”. As a result of the affliction, the person was sent outside the camp, to spend time alone from others. The Kohen would go outside the camp to the afflicted person to check on his progress of healing. When the “leprosy” had healed, the leprous person would be required to follow a procedure administered by the Kohen and thereafter once again be allowed into the camp.]

[In our passage, a verse concerning the reply (reaction) of Job towards the 3 friends who criticise him for his apparent and alleged evil ways, is quoted. The friends believe that Job is being punished appropriately for some bad behavior. Job, however, replies to them to be cautious with their words. If indeed it is true that ones bad behaviour could cause Hashem to effect such judgments against Job, surely they themselves should be cautious with their most hurtful words. They should surely be careful to realise that in fact their harmful speech towards him will awaken judgments against themselves!]


And G-d spoke to Moses saying. This will be the law of the leprous person on the day of his purification etc. and he shall be brought to the Kohen. In order to understand this verse, Rabbi Abba opened and proceeded to explain what is written “Fear for yourselves for the sword, for the anger of sin will bring the sword in order that you will know that there is judgment (שדון). The way the text is read is שדון with the letter “Vav”. The way the text is written is שדין, with the letter “Yud”. It’s explanation is that there is Supernal Judgment, which are the judgments of Malchus, that judges those that transgress the words of Torah (as we will learn later.)

And he preceded and said “How much should people guard their ways,” as in the way of “sanctify yourselves with what is permitted to you,” that it not be treated lightly. “And to fear the Holy One blessed be He” that one should not come from what is permitted to actually committing a sin, “not to turn away from the correct and upright path, and not to transgress the words of the Torah, and not to forget it.” Since it is as our rabbis say (Shabbat 105b) “Such is the way of the evil inclination. Today it says to him ‘do such and such.’ And tomorrow it says to him ‘do such and such.’ Until it says to him ‘go and serve idols,’ and he goes and serves!” Therefore a person needs to guard himself from [committing] small infractions in order that he does not come to [commit] great violations [of the Torah.]

Anybody who does not toil in the Torah, and put in effort in it, to study with intensity and put in effort to fulfil it, he is reprimanded from the Holy One blessed be He. He is distanced from Him, because the Shechina [InDwelling Presence of G-d] does not rest with him. And those angels of guarding [guardian angels] that go with a person, that it is said about them “For He will instruct His angels in your behalf to guard you in all your ways,” leave him. And not only this, but they announce before him and say “Go away from surrounding this person because he does not fear the honor of his Creator.” Woe to him! For the Supreme Ones above – the Holy One blessed be He and the Shechina, and the lower ones – the guardian angels, have left him. He has no portion in the path of life.

And when he strives in the service of his Master, and he toils in the Torah with intensity, how many guardian angels are ready opposite him to guard him. And the Shechina rests upon him. And everybody announces before him and says “Give honor to the image of the King. Give honor to the son of the King.” He is guarded in this world and in the world to come. Happy is his portion!

Come and see the Lashon Hara that the snake said to the woman about the Holy One blessed be He, as it says “And the snake said to the woman… for G-d knows that on the day you eat from it [the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and bad,] your eyes will be opened and you will be like G-d knowing good and bad. And Rashi explains that he said to her that G-d ate from the tree and created the world. He caused a decree of death to be issued against the woman, the man and the entire world. About Lashon Hara it is written, “And their tongue is a sharp sword,” (Tehillim 57:5) that it kills and damages like a sharp sword. Because of this it is written “Fear for yourselves for the sword,” meaning be afraid on account of Lashon Hara which is called the sword.

And as it is written “The anger of sin [brings] the sword,” he asks, “What does this mean ‘The anger of sin [brings] the sword’? Which sword is being spoken about? And it answers “This is the sword of G-d.” And this is what is taught, the Holy One blessed be He has a sword which is the secret of the judgments of Malchus which is also called a sword, that through it He judges the wicked. This is what is written “The sword of G-d is filled with blood.” (Yeshaya 34:6). The sword of G-d is filled with the blood of those killed. And it is also written “And my sword shall devour flesh,” that the sword of the Holy One blessed be He will kill and devour the flesh of the “enemies of Israel.” (Devarim 32:42). And because of this it is written, “Fear for yourselves because of the sword.” Be afraid because of the judgments of Malchus which punishes the sin of Lashon Hara which is called a sword. “For the anger of sins [brings] the sword.” This means that Malchus is filled with anger because of the Lashon Hara, in order that you will know that there is judgment – as is the written text "שדין" in the world. This is Malchus which is the master of law [judgment]. In order that you will know that such is the [case for] one who has a sword in his tongue judged i.e. someone who speaks Lashon Hara, that it prepares for him a sword that consumes everything. This is what is written “This shall be the law of the Metzora,” which means the Malchus which is called “This”, judges the one who speaks badly i.e. the one who speaks Lashon Hara, that there is brought to him plagues.

NOTES TO SIGNS USED IN FORMATTING:

Bold print: Original Zohar
Ordinary text: Matok Midvash
[Square brackets]: Eliyahu ben Pinchas

(Round brackets): Either the source being quoted e.g. Proverbs etc., or alternatively used to quote the kabbalistic language as discussed in Matok Midvash. The Matok Midvash formats the Nigleh side of things in an ordinary print, and the Nistar terminology in Rashi script. I’ve therefore put the Rashi script – the Nistar terminology in round brackets.

Illumination for the day: The highest mountain to climb?!



The highest mountain to climb
is the mountain of humility!

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Books to be Published by the Yeshiva



We currently have 4 books which are in the process of being published.

Three of these are in their final stages of editing and the other is still in its infancy.

We are looking for anyone interested in helping to cover publishing costs, which include the editing of the manuscripts as well as printing and distribution fees.

If you are able to help in any way and would like to do so in memory of a relative or friend - or would simply like to help in aiding us in these projects, please contact Reb Eliyahu rebeliyahu@gmail.com

An Ilummination for the day: What is a Mitzvah?


A Mitzvah - a commandment
from the Creator of the Universe,
is a physical aspect of infinity.

Do another good deed and act of kindness
and
Grab hold of a piece of physical infinity!

Friday, 4 April 2008

TRUTH *with* SENSITIVITY - Once a Jew - Always a Jew!

As known, the Lubavitcher Rebbe met with thousands of people around the world regarding 10 times as many questions each had. This he did as he handed each one a dollar note to be given to Tzeddakah (charity). Through these acts of goodness and kindness, the world becomes more prepared for the coming of our righteous redeemer - Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

It is truly amazing to witness the encounters the Rebbi had with so many different types of people - and the questions and discussions that were had in just mintues - and often much shorter times.

This particular video is one of my favorites. It showed me how the Rebbe was mostly concerned with truth (a given!) Yet, even when confronted by someone totally against the absolute values of Torah and Judaism (although a Jew himself) - values representing the absolute essence of the Rebbe himself - he still holds himself back, speaking in as gentle a way as possible in the hope of encouraging this person to follow the correct path in life. We can all truly learn much in the Mitzvah of reprimanding another, from watching this particular video again and again...


video

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

A DWELLING PLACE IN THE LOWER WORLDS - SOURCE IN MIDRASH TANCHUMA


MIDRASH TANCHUMA PARSHAS NASSO CHAPTER 24

And it was on the day Moses (completed building the Tabernacle): Rebbi says, every place that it says “And it was” this is something new. Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) says any place where it says “And it was” it is something that was, and then it was interrupted (stopped) for many days, and then it returned to be as it was before. This is what it says “I have come into my garden etc.” (Song of Songs 5:1).

At the time that the Holy One Blessed be He created the world, He desired that there would be a dwelling place for Him in the lower worlds, just as there is in the upper worlds.

He called the first man and commanded him and said to him “From every tree that is in the garden you may surely eat from, and from the tree of knowledge, of good and bad, you may not eat from (Genesis 2:16-17.) And he transgressed His commandment.

The Holy One Blessed be He said “This is what I desired, just as there is to Me a dwelling place in the upper worlds, so should there be for Me in the lower worlds. And I commanded you one thing, and you did not guard it.

Immediately the Holy One Blessed be He removed His Divine Presence into the firmament. How do we know this? Since it says “And they heard the voice of G-d walking in the garden towards the wind of the day (Genesis 3:8). (And since he transgressed His commandment, He removed His Divine Presence to the first firmament.)

Cain arose and killed Abel. Immediately His Divine Presence removed herself from the first firmament to the second firmament. The generation of Enosh arose and they served idolatry, as it says “Then men began to call in the name of G-d (Genesis 4:26.) and the Divine Presence removed herself from the second to the third. The generation of the flood arose, and it is written of them “And they said to G-d ‘Go away from us’ (Job 21:14). Immediately the Divine Presence removed herself from the third firmament to the fourth. The generation of the dispersal arose and said “Not anything of it, to choose for Himself the upper, and to give to us the lower”. What did they say? “Come, let us build for ourselves a city” (Genesis 11:4). And what did the Holy One Blessed be He do to them? “And G-d dispersed them from there” (Genesis 11:8). He stood and removed His divine presence from the fourth firmament to the fifth.

The people of S’dom arose. What is written about them? “And the men of S’dom were evil and sinners [to G-d exceedingly]” (Genesis 13:13). They were bad to each other and sinners through sexual immorality, to G-d through idolatry, very much with murder. Immediately He removed His Divine Presence from the fifth firmament to the sixth.

The Philistines arose and made G-d angry. Immediately He removed His Divine Presence from the sixth firmament to the seventh.

The Holy One Blessed be He said “I have created seven firmaments, and until now there have been wicked people standing.” What did G-d do? He folded all the wicked generations and established Abraham our father. Since Abraham our father was established and he did good deeds, immediately the Holy One Blessed be He descended from the seventh firmament to the sixth. Isaac stood and stretched his neck on the altar and He descended from the sixth firmament to the fifth. Jacob stood, and He descended from the fifth to the fourth. Levi stood, and his deeds were beautiful and He descended from the fourth to the third. Kehat stood, and He descended from the third to the second. Amram stood, and brought Him from the second to the first firmament.

Moshe stood and brought down the Divine Presence. When was this? When the Tabernacle was erected. Said the Holy One Blessed be He “I have come into My garden to the thing that I desired.” And this is what it means “And it was, on the day that Moses finished…” From here, Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai said, “And it was” means a thing that was, and then it was interrupted for many days, and then it returned to how it was before.

Zohar - Parshas Tazria 42b - Who Determines the Sex of the Child?


MATOK MIDVASH COMMENTARY

Translation: Eliyahu ben Pinchas

[Parshas Tazria begins with G-d telling Moses to tell the Jewish people that when a woman conceives and gives birth to a male child, she shall be impure for a period of 7 days, in the same way as her Niddah separation. The Zohar points to the exactness of the words of the verse, that it is the woman who conceives a male child – and not the man.]

When a woman conceives: In order to understand this verse it opens and says “We have learnt” in Tractate Niddah 31a, that for this purpose does the verse mention the matter of seed, to teach that if a woman emits seed first, she will give birth to a male child. [See Rashi, Parshas Bereishis 46:15]

Rabbi Acha said. He had a difficulty [in understanding a contradiction to the above verse] and said “But did we not learn,” in Midrash Tanchuma Parshas Pekudei 3, “that the Holy One Blessed be He decreed on that particular drop [of seed] if it will be male or if it will be female?” The Holy One Blessed be He decrees on that drop [of seed] that is released at the time of unification [between husband and wife], if it will be male or if it will be female. “And you say,” and how can you say “a woman who emits seed first gives birth to a male?” The implication is that [determination of the sex of the child] is dependent upon the seed of the man or the woman, and not the decree of the Holy One Blessed be He.

Rabbi Yosi said. He answered Rabbi Acha and said “Certainly, the Holy One Blessed be He distinguishes between the male drop and the female drop.” And the angel is not able to distinguish [this.] Therefore he [the angel] asks about this drop concerning what will be of it. “And since He distinguishes it,” and sees who emitted seed first, “He decrees upon it if it should be male or female.” Since only the Holy One Blessed be He knows how to distinguish who seeded first, and therefore afterwards He decrees if it will be a male or a female.

The intention of the answer is as written in Parshas Terumah 161b, that the soul stands in its image in a treasure-house. And when the time comes for it to come down into this world, then the Holy One Blessed be He commands the angel appointed over the soul “Go and bring Me the soul of so-and-so.” And as it is, the drops of seed of the male and female are joined together, and the angel does not have the strength [ability] to know who emitted seed first. Only the Holy One Blessed be He knows how to distinguish. Therefore He decrees and says “Go, bring Me this soul.” And everything is in accordance with the preparation of those below in this world.

[The angel lacks the ability to know the sex of the soul to be born. The sex is actually determined by our service below, but G-d Himself distinguishes between the seed to make the final decree. This decree is told to the angel who then continues its mission.]

NOTES TO FORMATTING:

BOLD PRINT - ORIGINAL ZOHAR
ORDINARY PRINT: MATOK MIDVASH
[ITALICS AND SQUARE BRACKETS] - ELIYAHU BEN PINCHAS
(ROUND BRACKETS): Either the source being quoted e.g. Proverbs etc., or alternatively used to quote the kabbalistic language as discussed in Matok Midvash. The Matok Midvash formats the Nigleh side of things in an ordinary print, and the Nistar terminology in Rashi script. I’ve therefore put the Rashi script – the Nistar terminology in round brackets.

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