Thursday, 1 October 2015
New to the Mitzvah of keeping Shabbat?
Find out more by visiting www.theshabbatproject.org -
and make sure you are a part of keeping Shabbat -
together with every other Jew in the world...
Tuesday, 8 September 2015
Monday, 31 August 2015
There's no need to jump on the "it's coming to Rosh HaShanah" bandwagon to speak of the importance of Tzedakah - charity. The Chumash (Bible), Talmud, Codes of Jewish Law and just about every other major work in Jewish "folklore" and mysticism speak about this Mitzvah. From the wisest of all men (King Solomon), the message comes out clear and strong, "Charity saves from death" (Proverbs 11:4). In fact just typing the word צדקה (Tzedakah) in Hebrew into a search engine brings up the remainder of these words as its first choice for suggested pages צדקה תציל ממות!
This isn't a post about the benefits of Tzedakah. It's a post about debt. There's a synonym for it which simply does not appear in any thesaurus; it seems it can only be used in one direction for synonym purposes of course. It is "agony." The person in debt takes a look around the world in day to day events. He sees others embarking on extravagant holidays, purchasing new cars (regularly), purchasing dream homes (which are often not lived in save for once a year for just a week - as is so often the case in large amounts of apartments purchased in the most expensive areas in Israel.) I'm not talking about the person in debt due to his drug habit. Nor about the person in debt because of his gambling habit. I'm talking about those who struggle every month to make it through. I'm talking about those who - comes the day before their rent payment is due for their most modest apartment, wonder how they are going to get enough to pay that amount due in 24 hours.
The stress is agonizing! The will to continue living - overbearing. The image of the cruel landlord from years ago who would throw their tenants into prison for not paying rent is not just a past event. The renter of today - the one in debt - fears every day of the possibility of finding his treasured few personal possessions to be on the street come the next month. His dream of owning his own home is a fantasy that will never be realised.
The debtor - finding himself "sold" for five years or more to his bank - feels the additional pressures yet again of the possibility of taking out another five year loan - even before his first loan is paid back. What will be then?! Faced with a lack of Gemach organisations - Jewish organisations offering interest free loans - he can only turn to banks - often finding himself with additional questions related to loaning from and paying interest to a Jew - something forbidden by the Torah. But with no choice left in his life and nobody to turn to he must hope that at the very least, he will not transgress this prohibition in his life.
The Jewish holidays approach. Another Sukkah must be purchased because the wind may well have destroyed his old one a year before. New Schach must be purchased. A new Lulav and Etrog. How will he afford these things?! His Tallit is turning brown from use - even dry cleaning won't help. His Mezuzot need checking, his Tefillin need checking.
But with all this, he forgets - he will need to eat. There are still medical expenses - even for necessary check ups. There is clothing he may need - new shoes - just like we all do. Any monies he could possibly save for anything, must be paid to the loan sharks (most likely banks today,) with huge interest fees - and it just keeps adding up - just like the Torah teaches - charging interest is like the bite of a snake. At first one does not realise the bite has occurred. But little by little, the venom increases, the poison enters and before long, there is no way to stop the build up. There is just no way out!
The world goes around. Many with huge resources continue a life of luxury ignoring the tremendous lack of homeostasis those without must confront every day of their lives. When will it end for them(?) - is a wish they long for every single day.
The debt runs into the tens of thousands - and sometimes more. How will it ever be possible to get out of it? Being involved in Tzedakah, I have seen people come through in amounts that have overwhelmed me. When I grew up, I never believed that some people will help - I mean really help! But in the years I have worked in Chessed Ve'Emet, I have seen these things with my own eyes. I call these people "miracle makers." In nature, the poor man is stuck with poverty. He will remain in debt forever. But here - a man /woman - not necessarily "of means" comes through and turns everything around for the poor man. A sizable donation sets things right giving the poor man an opportunity at life again. Giving him the possibility to purchase equipment he may need to start his own life in earning a respectable livelihood again. It is like a miracle has occurred! The air can be breathed again. The miracle maker comes through and saves the day!
Miracle makers: People who identify with that debt, that feeling of hopelessness of the other, lost in a world that judges and moves about because of one thing only - money. These people take hold of the easily available tools of modern technology today - and with just a few clicks - from any part in the world - enter a magic number. A transformational number - which can turn the life of a person so totally lost of hope - into a person who can restart and readjust to getting their life back on track again - not because they ever did anything intentional and criminal to deserve it - but just because that is where they are at.
The years have passed on. The debt is just too big. It's not getting any better.
If it's a Jewish holiday that inspires you to give, the feeling that you've helped another, the assurance that charity will protect you in this world - and give blessing in the next, please consider giving generously by selecting an amount that you can afford and clicking the Buy Now button below. Do it now - and make a difference in the life of another - someone maybe quite desperate. Become a miracle maker - yourself.
For further information on the activities of our organisation Chessed Ve'Emet, see www.lovingkindness.co or contact Reb Eliyahu directly.
Tuesday, 28 July 2015
The Rebbe's answer is not surprising...
How to ensure our children are "good children"? A question of paramount importance, and one that each of us asks.Part 2 of a 10 day series on the Rebbe's advice on parenting.5 Av 5751 - 1991
Posted by Daily Video of the Rebbe on Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Monday, 27 July 2015
Very powerful teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe! If you're a parent (or soon to be - or even just considering becoming one with G-d's help) make certain you watch this, and subscribe to this special 10 day power teachings of The Rebbe's Advice on Parenting. You can get it on WhatsApp or you can simply just "Like" "Daily Video of the Rebbe" (on Facebook) and watch it every day from there.
And if you're not a parent - for any particular reason - the Rebbe's words are still powerful enough that they should make an impression on all of us regarding what a child really is and the HUGE responsibility of having one.
Tuesday, 21 July 2015
By ESO (http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1118a/)
[CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
[CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The story is told about a great artist who was confronted once by an atheist. He believed the world had no G-d. He believed the world - the universe and the galaxies and all the creatures therein, came about all by themselves. A big bang (by "nature") - maybe. An eternal existence that just existed for all eternity before. He approached the artist one day in discussion about his conclusions of life, highlighting that clearly - the world came into existence just-like-that - spontaneously! There was no real Creator. With this, the artist told the atheist to come back the next day - and he would have an answer to the atheist's assumptions and "findings."
The next day the atheist returned. He entered the artist's main art room to find a splendid painting on his desk. "Who painted this?!" the atheist asked in awe of the stunning image of perfection in front of his eyes. "Oh... it was an accident," the artist replied. "I had my paints on the table, and they opened up and spilled all by themselves onto the canvas! This beautiful image was created from the spill." The atheist laughed! "How can such a thing happen? Not only did the paint bottles open of their own accord and spill, but they even painted this exquisite image! Surely a great artist must have produced this intricate work?!"
The artist replied, "You have answered your own question. If a simple painting which was produced by an ordinary human being could not come have come about by itself - and yet you stand in awe of it, how can it be that an infinite world filled with planets, galaxies, creatures of all kinds, with a brilliance and perfection impossible to understand - come about on their own too?! Surely there must be a Creator?! A Master Artist!"
The story repeats itself in every generation. It's just the characters who change. Even the greatest of minds can see infinity - the exquisiteness of creation. Even they can conceive of infinite creations. Yet, unfortunately for them - there is no Artist. These things have come into existence - much like that beautiful spilled-paint painting - all by themselves.
G-d is so great - that He can even create the greatest of minds who can prove that He does not exist.
Tuesday, 23 June 2015
The question came up recently regarding the subject of Jewish meditation. The person asking it had wondered if perhaps the "pop-revival" of Jewish meditation had something to do with following in the ways of the other nations of the world. He presented that apparently Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan had been one of the first to start this revival, but wondered if - excluding him, there was actually any mention of meditation in the Torah literature other than this. Did Jews every practise meditation is years gone by?
Indeed, meditation and Transcendental Meditation are taken quite seriously by many today. Is that the Jewish approach and should we be following it? When various Jewish groups speak about meditation today - have they borrowed what they have seen from the nations of the world and made it their own? Is it acceptable to go in this path? Better yet - is meditation in Judaism something new - going back perhaps to when Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan wrote his various books about it?
It is clear, following in the ways of nations of the world in one's approach to Jewish meditation is completely and strictly forbidden (see accompanying video of the Lubavitcher Rebbe at the bottom of the post.) At all costs, this type of meditation is one not suited for the Jewish soul. For reasons far too lengthy to discuss in a blog post, such meditation should not enter the "4 Amos" of a Jew. The dangers involved in a variety of areas of one's life can be unfixable.
A Jew, however, also has the right to experience the Divine - to "touch infinity", to feel absorbed in the spiritual concept of G-dliness. The Mitzvot are of course the very practical ways in which one can do so. This post again - is not for that purpose. Instead, I wish to briefly highlight that in fact, meditation has been a huge part of Torah Judaism - since the time of Abraham himself. I provide a synopsis of some areas where Jewish meditation is mentioned and leave the post at that. For those to whom the subject is close to them and who wish to pursue it further, please feel welcome to contact me directly. Due to the sensitivity of this topic and the importance to keep to a strictly pure approach - only serious questions or discussions will be addressed.
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan was not the first person to write on the subject. His book "Meditation and Kabbalah" clearly shows the traditional, classic sources from where Jewish meditation originates. There was no reason the questioner had to ask his question regarding Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan - when all his books are filled with the original sources showing exactly where everything comes from. In fact, the first known source is brought in the Sefer Yetzira (which was also translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan) said to have been written by Abraham himself. This book shares some of the greatest secrets concerning meditation.
Rabbi Kaplan also wrote the book "Meditation and the Bible" giving the reader the opportunity to see just how frequently meditation occurs in the Tanach. He shares the very roots of where meditation and prophecy occurred - simply by understanding the vocabulary in the various texts. Rabbi Kaplan's other well known book "Jewish Meditation" is surely one of the best that shares again traditional sources with practical advice attached. Here he provides beautiful ways to experience the Divine without resorting to idolatrous ways. Clearly - there is no reference to any of the approaches taken by the nations of the world. A book short in quantity - but huge in quality!
To go back in time, the Arizal - Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (1534-1572), through his student Rabbi Chaim Vital - revealed the very roots of Jewish meditation in his book Shaar HaKavanot (the gate of meditations). This became the source for Rabbi Shalom Sharabi's Kavanot - still practised by select individuals devoted to the study and practice of the Arizal's teachings today. These are real meditations - powerful to those who follow them. They are implemented at the time of prayer with each prayer having its accompanying meditations. His work Shaar Ruach HaKodesh and Pri Eitz Chaim show the powerful practicality of these meditations - together with the Shaar HaKavanot.
The Zohar - written by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai at the time just after the destruction of the Second Temple contains a variety of teachings devoted to meditation. For those who go into its depth, the entire Zohar can turn into a complete meditation when one understands the workings of the Sefirot, the Partzufim and the Olamot. It is known that the Arizal would often meditate on one area of the Zohar for a week in order to plumb to its inner meaning.
Rabbi Abraham Abulafia (13th century) is the most well known of the truest of practical meditators sharing some of the most powerful (and often dangerous!) meditations available. His books were only just recently published in full again and anyone can have access to them. A warning is certainly in order that practising such techniques without a qualified teacher (extremely rare today) can be disastrous! The Kabbalah of Rabbi Abraham Abulafia is for a certain unique type of person. Anything less than total immersion in Torah and a Torah lifestyle 24 hours a day should be enough of a deterrent for attempting putting his techniques into practice.
All Mitzvot (save for charity perhaps - because of its immediacy and not wanting to wait around meditating while a poor man is in need of life!) really do require meditation - as one considers what one is doing before performing the act. Some meditations can be faster - others slower, and yet others to be performed only secluded, with the purest of intentions and mindset.
No doubt about it, Jewish meditation goes way back and has been practised by the greatest of the great - as well as to all those who wish to cleave to the Divine. It's not a pop thing - except to those who look for the pop only!
This is what the Rebbe had to say regarding meditation and Transcendental Meditation. Below that is a video of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan speaking about meditation as well as his books.
Here is Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan talking about his books and meditation in the Jewish religion:
Friday, 19 June 2015
By NASA, ESA [Public domain],
If you've heard the story before - listen to it again. If you've never heard it - listen well. It's a beautiful one. The world continues in its usual way with each one "knowing" what's right - and what will make things better. Each one thinking that it is they who are the strongest and who can achieve the most. It's not what life is really all about. The world on land is not like that in the sea - where the larger fish eats the smaller. We are not to learn from those ways of creation. Instead we should learn from those things closest to us here - that we see every day, that teach us the lessons in life we need to internalise every moment.
We look around, and the one thing we receive benefit from every day is the sun. Shining, and giving us light, it is allows those of us who have the privilege of being able to see to view the beauty of life. It's warmth allows us to enjoy living, to enjoy being outdoors. Yet, there are many other "powers" that stand about, each claiming that they are in charge, and it is to them who we must bow down.
The sun knows what's best. It is not an act of violence that repairs the world. It is not an act of power. It is just being there for something or someone, just opening up oneself and allowing the good which one has - that makes all the difference to all who we come into contact with. Kindness will always win. It will always make others happy. Happy with themselves, and happy with the one who has bestowed it upon one. When in doubt - be kind.
Here is that beautiful story of the North Wind and the Sun - by Aesop.
Thursday, 11 June 2015
By Anilocra at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In yesterday's post, we saw the bugs that can be found in couscous, and briefly touched upon what Rabbi Moshe Vaya had to say in his book "Bedikas HaMazon."
In today's post we look at another area that many are unaware of - checking fish for worms! It is fascinating that ultimately when one studies to become a rabbi today, the first and most important issue addressed is food! One has to learn the laws of Kashrut, of forbidden mixtures and the forbidden mixture of meat and milk etc. It is no wonder why this area is chosen as the most basic area to be competent in when becoming a rabbi - since it is the most frequent thing we come in touch with each day! It is vital that our entire diet is not just healthy in the general sense of things - but that we are extra special careful with every food product to make certain there are no bugs and insects in it.
It is true and clear that certain worms that are eaten can lead to great sickness - but this is of course only on the physical side of things. Just as they create problems physically, they create problems spiritually too. Though one may not understand how this happens, it is certainly true - as we clarified in yesterday's post.
Anisakis is one of the best known worms that inhabit certain fish. When one eats raw fish with the live worm - one stands a great chance of becoming severely sick! While the general world will cook fish and not have to worry about the dead worm posing as a problem in terms of sickness any longer - a Jew must be careful of even this. It makes no difference whether the worm is alive or dead - it will still create a problem for the person.
It is vital to check one's fish from the shop before cooking it. Even if it comes with a good Hechsher, it does not mean that is has been perfectly checked necessarily and it is not always the fault of the fish-store selling the fish - after all, it is the fish that has the worms and not the store that puts the worms onto it (or into it!) Nevertheless when one purchases a reliable Hechsher, one does expect that the fish has been cleaned well! As with all food products, no matter how good the cleaning process is - don't forget, it is your body! Be concerned about every food product and the possibility of eating any type of poison or of course bug!
Today we take a look at what these worms can look like. While they are tremendously small to the naked eye - just take a look at what they look like under a magnifying glass! The language of the video is Hebrew, but there's no need to understand everything being said. The video speaks for itself.
While various Batei Dinim around the world may make one feel complacent that they are taking everything into account so that the customer can feel safe - don't forget, these videos that we have available today (and lacked so many years ago) are here to point out to every one of us just how easily food is infested and how careful we should be to check all food - before we eat it!
דגים חייבים בדיקה! - מגעיל לצפייה מזהירים מראש!צילם: אנונימי הצלם מתבקש לאמר לנו את שמו | דרך אביחי מזרחי
Posted by סרטונים מעניינים on Monday, 1 June 2015
Wednesday, 10 June 2015
© Bugwood.org, via Wikimedia Commons
The Torah commands us not to eat the various insects and bugs that fly about and crawl around. Fruits and vegetables are often filled with these insects. It is imperative that one learn all the laws necessary regarding the various types of insects and bugs that infest fruits and vegetables and to know how to clean them effectively. Every fruit and vegetable (as well as grains and other food products) has a different way for cleaning and checking due to the abundance of insects and bugs around. While many use plain soap on everything, it is not always the answer. In fact, many insects have claws that dig into the fruits and vegetables. A general soak in soapy water may not suffice to pull the insect away from the fruit or vegetable and more effort may be needed.
Then there are the fruits such as oranges which contain a thick peel. Many think that simply removing the peel is sufficient without considering the (real) possibility of insects infesting the peel. If the insects and bugs are not removed, they often stick to the hands causing one to end up eating them when one begins to eat the fruit inside! Additionally when cutting the fruit the insect may slip off the peel and enter the fruit. They may be barely noticeable and one ends up eating these bugs. The Torah clearly prohibits this on a number of occasions, causing the one to eat from it to not only transgress a variety of transgressions, but to also end up bringing the bug into one's body. The Torah warns that this has an effect on the way we think, or to put things into perspective, the general saying "You are what you eat," is equally applicable.
The short video below gives an insight into the type of bugs you can find inside couscous. Indeed, while the couscous one eats may very well look clean, the bugs burrow themselves inside certain parts. These bugs are visible at the time one presses on the couscous (or bites into it!) and of course if one eats it, one will be eating not just a dead creature - but a living creature as well!
Rabbi Moshe Vaye - acknowledged world authority on the laws of cleaning food, says in his work "Bedikas HaMazon" that high quality couscous is presumed clean, but that anything less than that requires a good checking (which means literally sifting through every part of the couscous packet as one prepares to cook it.)
Enjoy the video - and may it assist in clarifying just one area in the necessity to check all one's fruits and vegetables - and in fact all the food one eats!
It is told that the reason G-d created the mouth underneath the eyes (and nose) is so that before one places food inside one's mouth, one has the opportunity to both see as well as smell the food. One can see it - in order to make sure there is no forbidden bug or insect (or anything forbidden) on it, and one can smell it to check that it is not off.
Here is a video of Rabbi Moshe Vaya (in Hebrew) sharing some important information about checking food for bugs.
Sunday, 31 May 2015
Just a few weeks ago, an Ethiopian solider in Israel was involved in an altercation with a police officer. The officer struck the soldier and the entire episode was recorded on video. There's no sound, and nobody really knows what's being said. From our point of view, it is clear that the police officer certainly struck the soldier.
People strike each other every day. Sometimes people do it when they shouldn't, but at other times, they do when it needs to be done. Clearly, one cannot condemn a man defending himself from another and punching him or doing anything necessary to save his life (if need be.) Yet, if a man simply strikes others when he feels like it, he will certainly be in violation of basic societal rules - let alone the abundant transgressions from a Torah point of view.
But what if we see a man striking another and we do not actually know if he did so rightfully or not? How are we to judge and what makes us consider the striker in the wrong without adequate proof? Shortly after this episode took place, the soldier received an apology from the prime minister of Israel. Everyone saw that video and it seemed quite welcome. The media did a terrific job of sharing good values by not judging another for any one particular reason (like the colour of his skin.) It gave the world some reassurance that we are doing things right and we must know the right thing to do...
Are we ready to hear the other side of the story - and could it be valid (or have we perhaps already made up our minds?) Yes, there's no sound, so nobody can tell what's being said. Nobody seems to see the before scene of this either, having no real knowledge why the officer has appeared on the scene and what he might actually have being saying.
But perhaps we have all already made our decision. The public media has already shown who was in the right. We all saw the punches being thrown. But do we know what was actually going on at the scene?
It's something to think about in our daily interaction with others too - especially when we see things from afar - knowing nothing about what has brought the situation to be as it is - and what may have made the other do as they did.
It's a hard lesson and probably takes a life time of work before we can really think straight.
You be the judge. What really did transpire - however? Please - no negative comments about either side. If you have something positive to say, please feel free to share your comments. This post is in no way meant to take sides. It is meant to highlight how we are quick to make judgments, when quite often - there is another side to consider.
Watch the video below. Then read the news article - yes, the other side of the story: Cop at center of racial row: I'd like to tell Netanyahu what really happened
Thursday, 28 May 2015
There is at least one other post on my blog regarding the dangers of texting while driving. It's almost as if one wonders if there's another video that actually needs to share just how much danger there is in doing this. It cannot be over emphasized how important it is for us to take a break from staring at a screen in order to communicate with another - and to live life responsibly.
Sadly, today, with more and more technology available to make our lives "easier" to communicate with each other, it seems that not only are relationships more strained, but people are finding it harder and harder to communicate with each other as human beings - like they did in the old days - face to face! One may find people resorting to asking for forgiveness for something they have done wrong to another - by simply sending out a mass Facebook message to everyone on their "Friends" list asking all who they might have harmed for forgiveness (even from people not connected on their list,) and expecting that the request will have achieved its goals! A far cry from the Torah's definition (or quite frankly any feeling person's definition) of what the process of forgiveness is all about.
With the cost of calls coming done drastically from years ago - people are finding it harder and harder to use their phones to talk to people - as people. A quickie SMS or text message of some kind should do the job just as well - they think. Little do they realise the pain they cause to the recipients - who may really so much want to just have that real human interaction.
Ironically, today with facilities like Skype, making calls totally free - including video(!), people are finding it harder and harder to use their tools, relying on SM's (short messages,) and TOA's (tons of abbreviations) because we have come to lose appreciation for talking properly due to perceived time constraints!
Yet with all this, people are taking things to the limit by feeling that it's not only impossible to talk to one person as a person - we must resort to speaking (i.e. texting) to many people at once - multitasking - and being heralded as heroes for being so amazing!
The Torah teaches that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Indeed one word can kill. Sometimes, we don't always know what the Torah means by this. We scoff at the "silliness" of such pithy sayings - relegating them to the sayings of men of the past who "knew nothing" of the modern world.
Take a look at the video below, because it's well worth grasping all these points. Yes, death and life are in the power of the tongue - whether on a computer screen, or a word spoken in the air! One word can kill - in so many ways. Could it be that we might have accidentally killed another with just one word - without even knowing it? (Listen carefully to one of the stories and you will understand what I mean.)
Don't forget the power you have in your tongue to bring healing to others - or harm (if of course that is what you really wish.) Remember, the same word that you choose to use to another - may be a word that can cause mortal harm to you too - whether on a screen - or spoken through the air.
It's time to put down the phone - from being a slave to typing on it's screen every five minutes and dealing with so much small talk - so often, filled with abbreviations one has to be a genius to understand. It's time to value life. It's time to value other people. It's time to value the blessings G-d has given us all - to be able to use a phone (for speech) and the spoken word at such little cost to ourselves - and to be able to communicate with each other - as real human beings should.
And if we're not yet there and don't value any of this, then let us at least make a firm promise to never endanger our lives - and certainly not the lives of another - for our own pleasure of a silly word that achieves very little - which simply must be read or written down, while driving a car at a tremendous speed!
Please see my other post about texting while driving too.
Thursday, 23 April 2015
The Torah speaks about the importance of not being cruel to animals. We are commanded to feed our animals before us, not to work two different animals together and to even unburden the donkey of one's enemy should one see it struggling. These are just a few of the important Mitzvot that apply to not being cruel to animal - and taking care of one suffering.
It's often a neglected Mitzvah. Children of today often find it difficult to relate to a animal. Many - sadly - will beat an animal for no reason. Children taking donkey rides in parks often find it "fun" to strike the donkey, thinking this is what one must do to make it go. Yet other children will find a lost kitten and immediately enclose it in a small cage to take into the park for all his friends to look at - as he smiles at being the new "owner" - to the envy of his friends. He is never able to think that this creature has a mother of his own - and who is need of her. Neither will he ever appreciate that after the animal has been taken away - the mother may very likely not find her baby, nor even want to take the baby back after having been handled by another, especially a human.
Some children delight in throwing water over a baby bird to see it shake itself - as if the creature is enjoying the "bath." Most kids delight in chasing birds that are wandering in a park - as they watch the animal take flight - not thinking that perhaps they were in need of food available right there.
While much stress is so often put in teaching children how to observe Shabbat, keep Kosher or shake a Lulav, there is much lacking from the curriculum in how to care for an animal correctly - and certainly in how to refrain from harming them in any way whatsoever.
Our latest book is now out!!! It's teaches all about the beautiful values of caring for an animal. King David teaches (Psalms 89:3), "The world is built on lovingkindness." He also teaches (Psalms 145:9) that, "His mercy is upon all His works." Hillel - the great Sage, taught (Ethics of the Fathers 1:12), "Be of the students of Aharon. Love peace and pursue peace. Love all creatures..." This is what this book is all about. Its best suited for kids between the ages of 5-7 though is wonderful reading - even for adults! For younger kids, the book can be read to them - and the attractive - REAL - photographs of the story unfolding - can be shown to the children at the time the story is read.
Purchase the book today by clicking here!
TUVIA FINDS HIS FREEDOM
BY ELIYAHU AND SHOSHANAH SHEAR
A newly married couple find an unusual guest outside their new apartment. A "tortoise" has found its way down four flights of stairs and is lost.
This adventure is based on a true story of how Tuvia the "tortoise" finds his freedom again.
Enjoy the beautiful photographs of the story as it unfolds. A delightful read for children (and adults) teaching them the importance of kindness to animals.
Tuvia teaches that animals have feelings too and deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. The attractive photos, which assist children in taking an active part in the story show that animals have emotions and intelligence.
The story shows the specialness of caring for animals.
So don't delay - get your copy TODAY - and teach your kids the beautiful values of caring for all of G-d's creatures.
For more on our activities and publications - visit Chessed Ve'Emet's site TODAY www.lovingkindness.co or be in touch!
Monday, 2 March 2015
On Purim - there is a Mitzvah to give financial charity to two POOR people. What is your definition of poor? Let me give you some examples - and you choose or add your own:
1. Someone wearing filthy garments, hasn't eaten all day (or for the past two days) looks in a shocking condition and is standing on the street corner begging for money? Is he poor and do you feel you'd give your charity to him on Purim?
2. Someone who wears clean garments, looks clean does not own a home of their own, but rents, who pays full taxes but has no money for food (practically speaking yes) cannot afford the enforced taxes and cannot afford his rent either. He will go years without buying much needed spectacles because he has no means to purchase them - and wouldn't tell anybody this either. Nobody would ever know except him. He does not own his own furniture or appliances. If a visit to his own shows that he does have old broken furniture - it may not even be his - but rather his landlord's!
However, he regularly loans from the banks (having huge interest to pay off) and continues this way until he eventually gives in to life whether through becoming bankrupt or kills himself (G-d forbid.) Pretend you didn't know the last few lines and just read the first few points only. Would you consider him poor (i.e. without knowing what was about to happen to him in the near future?) Would you feel comfortable giving to him realising he may need something - or do you regard him as taken care of?
3. Someone who owns their own home but owes over one million shekels on it (simply because - yes - housing is this expensive in Israel) battles to pay his regular enforced taxes, does without food when necessary because he cannot afford it. Apparently the government and other financial lords feel that owning the home is sufficient food for being able to live. Incidentally he looks clean on the outside, and seems to appear to be healthy. Pretend you didn't know that he cannot afford food, clothing and other necessary items - because all you can see is the expensive home that he owns. Would you consider him poor?
4. Someone who owns their own home in full but has no money in his bank account at all. He struggles to meet his food bills, medical bills, insurance bills, car payments etc. He really cannot pay his day to day bills even though he owns the house. Look - telling the fellow to sell his home so that at least he will have cash available won't help because he believes he is entitled to it. Just that he cannot afford his daily bills. Is he to be considered poor?
5. Someone who owns their own home, married, kids, pays for the basics, but cannot afford proper education. He doesn't waste on holiday expenses etc., but there are things he feels important - you know - like education - and he cannot afford that. Is he to be considered poor?
Add your own definition.
Consider this now: Who do you give your "charity gifts to the poor" to. It's something to think about on an individual level and is completely irrelevant to have the need to tell anyone.
If you would like to give your Tzedaka this Purim to truly needy Jews in Israel who may well fit one of the first two categories - please make a donation immediately by clicking the donate button below. For more information about the activities of Chessed Ve'Emet, please see our main website www.lovingkindness.co and join us in learning the beautiful values of Torah and assisting those who truly need assistance.
Make your difference today - and save a life - or two!
Monday, 23 February 2015
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (1838-1933) known as the Chofetz Chaim - after the book he wrote dealing with the laws of derogatory and defamatory speech, is one of the most well known giants of Torah from the previous generation. His Mishna Berurah is by far one of the most popular Halachic works studied by those adhering to Torah law. We are really privileged to have this rare video footage (below) taken in 1923 at the first Knessia Gedolah. You will see him coming in at about 57 seconds and the video continues with him until about 1:11. Enjoy!
מיי ומי ההולכים בצילום הנ"ל: הג"ר אברהם צבי פרלמוטר אב"ד ורשא ונציג אגו"י בסיים 0:27 האדמו"ר ר' ישראל פרידמן מצ'ורטקוב 0:47 רשכבה"ג נשיא הדורות החפץ חיים זי"ע 0:57 מלווה בבנו מצד אחד ומצד שני נכדו הגר"א קפלן הי"ד 0:57 האדמו"ר מסוקולוב ר' יצחק זליג מורגנשטרן הי"ד 1:47 הג"ר אשר מיכאל [דר. ארתור] כהן אב"ד באזל 1:57 הג"ר יהודא ליב צירלסון אב"ד קישנב הי"ד 2:05 הג"ר אלנן וסרמן הי"ד 2:22 ר' אשר מנדלסון מראשי אגו"י בפולין ונציג בסיים 2:28 הג"ר פנחס דר. קאהן אב"ד אנסבך 2:56 הג"ר טוביה הורויץ אב"ד סנוק 3:02 מורנו רבי יעקב רוזנהיים נשיא אגו"י 3:16 הג"ר אליהו [דר. ליאו] יונג רב ג'ואיש סנטר ניו יורק 3:55 הג"ר מאיר דר. הילדסהיימר מברלין 3:16 הרב שפיצר נציג אגו"י מהונגריה 3:58 הג"ר יחזקאל סרנא אח"כ ראש ישיבת חברון 4:13 רבי משה בלוי מירושלים 4:28 הג"ר טוביה דר. לוונשטיין אב"ד ציריך 4:34
Thursday, 8 January 2015
Rabbi Moshe Calphon HaKohein - known for the responsa he wrote entitled "Shoel VeNishal" an 8 volume collection of Halachic responsa of more than 3000 answers, was born on 12 Shevat 5634/1874 and departed this world on the 18 Tevet 5710/1950. He was the rabbi of the Island of Gerba and one of the giants in Torah of Tunisia in the previous generation. To date, some 44 books of his writings have been published, with many other works still in manuscript form.
Already from a young age his talents were recognised. He studied the laws of Shechita and Bedika (Shu"b) the laws for ritual slaughter and checking of the animal for signs indicating the animal may not be kosher - in the city of Zervis in Gerba, and received his ordination for Shechita from the rabbis in Gerba. At the tender age of 25, he was already asked to officiate on the Beit Din in Gebra - but he refused all offers - for reasons amongst others that he wanted to earn his Parnassah from the work of his own hands i.e. and not to receive his income from his Torah activities.
He was in the process of making Aliyah to come to live in the land of Israel when, during his activities to arrange for his papers, he died in Tunisia where he is buried. Later, in 2005 his bones were taken to be buried in the land of Israel - being buried on Har Hamenunchot next to Rabbi Masas, Rabbi of Jerusalem. He was eulogised by Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef who emphasized his particular strict observance and approach and direction in Halachic thinking in accordance with the laws as laid out by Rabbi Yosef Karo in his Shuchan Aruch.
Rabbi Salman Mutzafi (27 Shevat 5660/1900 - 17 Tevet 5734/1974) was one of the rare giants of Torah of the previous generation. He was of a true Kabbalist in the fullest sense of the word - but read on to understand what that really means.
He was born in Baghdad - home of the Ben Ish Chai - Rabbi Yosef Chaim and though he was only 9 years old when the Ben Ish Chai died - he was already enamored by him - never having had his thirst quenched from this giant of Torah. In those very young years of his life, he would do everything he could to push through the crowds of people listening to the Shiurim of the Ben Ish Chai - to catch a glimpse of this giant, to kiss his hands, to listen to some words of true holiness - and to receive his blessings for his own success in his life. It seems those blessings came to fruition too...
His family had come out from amongst the exile from Spain many years before - then known as the Musafiya family - but due to people not pronouncing his name correctly - it was eventually changed to Mutzafi. His father would take him to Shul at the tender age of 2 so that he would be surrounded by the images of the leading Tzaddikim of that time - and so that he would absorb only words of Kedusha (holiness) and Tahara (purity.) He began studying in "Midrash Talmud Torah" at the young age of 5 - and make no mistake - he become thoroughly absorbed in everything he studied - being unable to take himself away from the holy words of Torah... for his entire life. At the age of 6 he was already completely fluent in reciting the entire Torah with all it's musical cantilations and correct grammar off by heart!
At the age of 9, he left his home secretly in order to attend the funeral of the Ben Ish Chai - and accepted upon himself to devote his life to Torah study with an added measure of separation and holiness - as the casket of the Ben Ish Chai was lowered into the ground. He would tie a string to his finger and run it through to the door of his father's room and tie it gently on the handle - so that when his father would awaken at midnight to begin his recitation of Tikun Chatzos and study of Torah - he would wake up himself to join him.
When his father died, he sanctified all his time to Torah study and to live a life of great modesty away from the fanfare and matters of the community - and to immerse himself in the Kavanot (mystical intentions of prayer) of the Rashash (Rabbi Shalom Sharabi.)
By the tender age of 16 - he had already worked through the entire Tur (presumably with all the commentaries) - a monumental work and a tremendous effort to work through for even the average Torah scholar - years older than he was then. At the age of 18, he was certified as a Shochet (ritual slaughter) and a Mohel. He was also respected by the Muslim community. He joined his teacher - the great kabbalist Rabbi Yehuda Petaya in the year 5695/1935 in the Holy Land - a year after his teacher had already arrived.
For two years, he studied the Kavanot (mystical intentions) of the Rashash. He would take one hour to recite the Kriat Shema! He would take two hours to recite the morning blessings! He would spend his days and nights immersed in performing the holy Yichudim - unifications - in order to draw down abundant blessing to all the worlds and to hasten the redemption.
He was very careful with the Kashrut of food and during the Shemita year (as is this year), he would travel out on his own to the non-Jewish fields in order to obtain his fruits and vegetables.
In 5708/1948 - due to the danger of Jewish life at that precarious time in Jewish history, he moved his Yeshiva "Bnei Tzion" - which focused on the study of Zohar and Kabbalah, from Kever Rachel to the "Tevig" Shul in Rashbam Street Jerusalem. When the money he had brought with him from Iraq had run out, he took over the running of the "Ohel Rachel" Shul for the sake of providing Parnassah to him and his family - and refused to make use of his Torah knowledge as a means to obtain his Parnassah.
He immersed himself in the meditations and mystical intentions of the Rashash Siddur for a period of 40 years and never stopped discovering new novel insights into Torah. He was fluent in all four areas of Torah - Pardes - Peshat (simple meaning,) Remez (hint/allusion/gematria,) Drush (homiletic,) and Sod (secret / Kabbalah).
He was an expert in the secrets of calculating the calendar times and astronomy. Even though Rabbi Yehuda Petaya gave him Semicha so that he be known as "Chacham" (a wise man - in the language of the Sefardi lexicon, and surely the greatest of compliments to indicate his level of learning,) he was strict that nobody refer to him in that way.
Close to midnight on Tuesday evening in the year 5735, his life situation became severe. He asked for a glass of tea, made a blessing upon it, drank, lay on his right side, recited the Kriat Shema and returned his soul to it's Maker.
Friday, 2 January 2015
Ever wondered how a Torah is written? What exactly must a Sofer learn in order to be able to write a Sefer Torah? Have you ever wondered how long it takes to write a Sefer Torah? Do you ever consider the lengthy amount of time taken to write Mezuzot and Tefillin - when making your purchase - and why the price is what it is? Though this video doesn't answer all these questions - if you're new to understanding just how much goes into writing a Torah scroll, enjoy the video below. It's a great start to appreciating just how much work is involved.
Thursday, 1 January 2015
There was once this story... Someone was out on a life mission - you know, to get somewhere he needed to go. He found himself near a bridge he had to cross, and realised he just wouldn't make it, unless of course he crossed it. I think Rabbi Nachman of Breslov speaks about this bridge of life and never to be afraid of crossing it and all. Rabbi Nachman's story doesn't really tell us the conclusion. While out on his mission, this "someone" finds that as he crosses the bridge - there just so happens to be someone else in the world. Amazingly, he too is off on his mission too! If only Rabbi Nachman had told us that there would be others crossing the bridge too!
So meanwhile - while crossing his own bridge, he comes across the other fellow doing the same thing from the other side. As we know only too well, it's always "us" that's important, after all, would Rabbi Nachman have not told me about the importance of my mission and my bridge to cross if it were not important?! Go figure! The other fellow is a follower of Rabbi Nachman and his beautiful song too, so he seems to think he too has the right of way.
There's a collision. It seems to happen to the best of us. Yes, the entire world is a very narrow bridge, and we should not be afraid to cross it. But let us not forget that there may well also be other traffic - coming from the other side. Let us not forget, that if we're going to make it across with "flying colours," we're going to have to value the other fellow too! When we do, we'll probably both make it across that bridge - safely... and happily... Of course, if we're simply not prepared to value the other... well, we know well what the results will be...
It's a beautiful message - so just think of this animated movie every time you find yourself crossing that bridge - and finding another "in the way." There's always a way of doing things - and everyone stands to gain.