19 August 2018

The Chagim: A Light in the Darkness

8 Elul 5778

From the Introduction to the book The Spirit of the Seasons, Insights into the Yomim Tovim by Jonathan Shooter...
The man stumbled through the forest in the pouring rain. Thick darkness enveloped him. He had a torch, but the rain had extinguished it long ago. The noise of the howling wolves petrified him. The crackling of the branches snapping underfoot frightened him. Soaking wet, he continued. Was he getting deeper in the forest, or was he on the way out of it? Would he even make it to daybreak, who knows what was lurking in the trees. Suddenly, through the puddles he noticed that he was on a pathway, which led to a crossroads. But which of the four directions was the right way to go? Then he stumbled upon a signpost pointing to all four directions, it would surely point him in the right way. The pitch black of the night however rendered the sign useless. He couldn't remain still for long, the driving rain was chilling him to the bone. He didn't want to carry on as he might get deeper and deeper into the thick forest. What was he to do? And then it happened. A bolt of lightning struck and lit up the night sky. He read the signpost and with renewed knowledge that he was on the right path, he continued on his way.

Throughout the year we are at a crossroads in the darkness looking for guidance as to the way to conduct our lives. A thick spiritual darkness covers the world preventing us from seeing clearly. Then we experience the festivals which show us the way. Their messages give us guidance and even when they have passed, we are spiritually uplifted and sure of the way to continue....
Shavua tov!

16 August 2018

"Time to Eradicate the Arrogance"

6 Elul 5778
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Shoftim

Rabbi Mordechai Sitorsky

Parashat Shoftim: Elul - Time to Eradicate the Arrogance

~ Shabbat Shalom ~

A Fight to the Death

5 Elul 5778

The Americans don't plan on giving up. What will Hashem have to do to them to stop their meddling?

The Three Wannabe Peacemakers receiving award from Master Missionary Mike Evans

WASHINGTON -- Senior Trump administration officials working on a proposal for Israeli-Palestinian peace issued a joint statement on their work on Wednesday, cautioning a world eagerly awaiting their plan that "no one will be fully pleased" with its contents.
The statement was issued amid intensive discussions within the administration over when to release the plan to the public.
"No one will be fully pleased with our proposal, but that's the way it must be if real peace is to be achieved. Peace can only succeed if it is based on realities," said the team, comprised of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser; Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations; David Friedman, his ambassador to Israel; and Nikki Haley, his envoy to the United Nations.

This initiative is doomed from the start. There will never be peace between the Jews and Arabs here because neither one can compromise on the issue of who has the rights to this Land. It is a fight to the death. It's either Us or Them. 

15 August 2018

Basic Concepts: "Life and Death"

4 Elul 5778

[How appropriate that we should arrive at this subject in the month of Elul.]

Or Hara'ayon, Chapter Eleven: "Life and Death," pp. 231 - 232...

Life was not meant for tranquility, rest or relaxation. Our sages said of Jacob (Bereishit Rabbah 84:3):

     When the righteous dwell in tranquility and seek to continue doing so here on earth, Satan comes and accuses them: "Is it not enough for them that their future reward is assured, but they seek tranquility here on earth as well?" Be aware that this really occurs. Because Jacob sought tranquility, he was punished with Joseph's disappearance. It says, "Jacob dwelled" (Gen. 37:1), and "I was not at ease, neither was I quiet, neither had I rest, but trouble came" (Job 3:26). "I was not at ease" because of Esau. "Neither was I quiet" because of Laban. "Neither had I rest" because of Dinah. "But trouble came": Joseph befell me.

Life was meant not for tranquility or for our own pleasure, but for difficult and even dangerous missions through which man can ascend spiritually and suppress his evil impulse and ego. He can accept upon himself the heavy yoke of G-d and mitzvot and emulate his Creator until he ascends just short of the angels, and in fact, surpasses them because he conquers his evil impulse. Life on this earth is short and limited. It is a narrow vestibule leading to a heavenly banquet hall. "The days of our years are seventy, or even by reason of strength, eighty, yet their pride is but trouble and wretchedness. It is soon cut off and we fly away" (Ps. 90:10).

A Jew's duty, during this short period, is to live, and there is no life but that of Torah. As we recite each evening in Ma'ariv, "[Torah] is our life and the length of our days."

The day of death is the end of life, the end of man's time to do mitzvot, serve G-d and praise Him. On that day, he ceases his role, and the opportunity to be spiritually elevated, to serve G-d and praise Him comes to an end....

14 August 2018

12 August 2018

Kinyan Eretz Yisrael - A Unique Opportunity

1 Elul 5778
Rosh Chodesh II

Guest post by Chaim...

The Land of Israel is now in your hands

Rabbi Akiva said: “Ma'aseros help one to become wealthy.” (Avos 3:17)

Have you ever thought about doing all Mitzvot related to the Land of Israel?

This idea seems very remote to many people, but nowadays it’s a much closer concept than you imagine. Why?

As it turns out, today you don’t need to be a farmer to perform these Mitzvot.

Kinyan Eretz Yisrael is a non-profit organization that does just that: it allows Jews to own plots of Land and acts as their shluchim (agents) in performing all their 28 Mitzvot.

Have you ever heard of such a possibility?

Created by a team of halachic experts, including the founder, HaRav Meir Leibowitz, and HaRav Shaul Reichenberg, Kinyan Eretz Israel has 12 years of field work with farmers, mediating sales of land. Each sale consists of 4-amot, in which all agricultural work is taken care of by the farmers, while the Mitzvot are done by the Rabbis. The entire transaction is 100% in compliance with halacha.

But this should come as no surprise, seeing that Kinyan Eretz Israel has received haskamot from Gedolei Israel, including HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv ZT"L, HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman ZT"L, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita, HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky Shlita, HaRav Yehuda Ades Shlita, the Admor of Belz Shlita and many others.

How to acquire your Mitzvot

Rav Avdimi the son of Rav Yosef said: “From here you learn that whoever properly gives to the poor leket, shikechah and pe'ah is considered as if he built the Holy Temple and brought sacrifices there (see Rashi, Vayikra 23:22).

Those who are interested in being a part of this holy project can go to Kinyan Eretz Israel’s website and choose between grapes (tirosh) or grain (dagan), whether for 1 year or 3 years. After the secure transaction is finalized, you will literally (and halachically) own a piece of the Land which will be identified with your name and a registry number.

This is an incredible opportunity for the Jewish People, as it opened the doors to no less than 28 Mitzvot related to the Land of Israel that were exclusive to farmers. Now, anyone can have a shaliach from Kinyan Eretz Israel do the Mitzvot on their behalf, from the comfort of their homes! 

Alternatively, they can also go to the farm and to the Mitzvot themselves with their own produce (provided they notify beforehand).

It’s worth noting that this initiative is not new. The Vilna Gaon himself seems to have thought of such an idea, as is evident from letters he exchanged with his disciples who settled in the Land of Israel. The last years of the life of the Gaon were dedicated almost solely to bringing the redemption and, in his great love for Eretz Israel, he ventured to travel there. Unfortunately, as we know, he was not granted permission min hashamayim. The time was not ripe.

Nevertheless, according to the Ramban on Bamidbar 33:53, settling and possessing the land is a Positive Commandment. We also find in Rambam’s Sefer Hamitzvot (Addendum to Positive Commandments 4) that:

“The fourth Mitzvah which was commanded to the Jewish people was to inherit the Land… and not to leave it in the hands of one of the other nations or desolate… and this commandment in one which applies at all times.”

Besides doing the Agricultural Mitzvot of the Land of Israel, it’s evident that, in purchasing even a small plot of Land one also fulfills the above commandment to possess it.

While inheriting our full portion of Eretz Israel might need to wait until the coming of Mashiach, may we all be zoche now to purchase our own plots of Land and be found tzaddikim in the eyes of Hashem.

“From here we learn that whoever purchases four amos in Eretz Yisroel is guaranteed a portion in the World to Come." (Midrash Zuta, Koheles 7)


11 August 2018

It's Time for Iran to "Put Up or Shut Up"

1 Elul 5778
Rosh Chodesh Bet
Shavua tov! Chodesh tov!

For the first time ever, the world is ripe for the fulfillment of this medrash...
...Rabbi Yitzchok said: The year that Melech HaMoshiach will be revealed, all the kings [leaders] of the nations will be struggling against each other. The leader of Persia [Iran] will contest with the leader of Arabia [Saudi], and the leader of Arabia will go to Rome [the leading modern-day Western superpower] to get counsel from them. The leader of Persia will respond and act to destroy the entire world. All the nations of the world will be trembling and shaking and falling on their faces. They will be seized by labor-like pains.
The Jewish people will be trembling and quaking and saying: “Where can we go? Where can we go?” And [Hashem] will say to them: My children do not fear! Everything I did, I did only for you! Why are you frightened? Don’t be afraid-— the days of your redemption has arrived!”     (Yalkut Shimoni, Yeshaya, 499)
Only now have the conditions been met to effect the fulfillment of this medrash.
  • Iran's back is up against the wall: 1) its citizenry is being incited to revolt against the Islamic ruling regime, and 2) renewed US sanctions are crashing its economy.

Facing the dual threat of an American economic war and public protests, the ruling elites in Tehran are at each other’s throats. This is hardly surprising considering all that’s at stake: the survival of President Hassan Rohani’s technocratic government in the short term and succession after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the longer term.    (Source)
  • It's "put up or shut up" time for Iran. If they lose their credibility, the regime is finished.
...Washington said the imposition of new sanctions is in part due to Iran's continued programme of manufacturing and testing ballistic missiles.
Sunday's actions by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was thought to be the first time in a year that Iran has test-fired a ballistic missile.
The US was concerned by the drills, which were said to simulate the closing of the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping channel for oil.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the straits to shipping due to the new US sanctions, something that would likely trigger a war with Washington and Tehran's Arab neighbours if this happened.     (Source)
When reading that medrash, did you ever wonder how Iran could possibly respond in a way which would "destroy the whole world"? Well, this is how and the global economic situation only became ripe for this kind of collapse now...

The West worships the Almighty Dollar. This idol must fall. How ironic if its demise should be brought about, not by another secular democratic power, but by the actions of an Islamic regime that rules by religious law.

10 August 2018

"Are We Obligated to Love Every Jew?"

29 Menachem Av
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Erev Rosh Chodesh Alef
Parashat Re'eh

This video came out yesterday and is very timely to coincide with yesterday's post...