16 Nissan 5781
Day 1 of the Omer
First Day Chol HaMoed Pesach
28 March 2021
26 March 2021
Erev Shabbat HaGadol - Parashat Tzav
Erev - Erev Pesach
(If you are in Israel, I hope you set your clock forward an hour last night.)
Shabbat Hagadol - Before Redemption - Rabbi Meir Kahane
25 March 2021
Erev Shabbat Hagadol
12 Nissan 5781
Erev-Erev Shabbat HaGadol
See shiur in full here: Pesach Halacha Q&A: What to Do When Erev Pesach Falls on Shabbat, and Other Topics
22 March 2021
10 Nissan 5781
For the children of Israel shall remain for many days, having neither king, nor prince, nor sacrifice, nor pillar, nor ephod nor teraphim. [i.e., during the 2,000-year Roman exile]
Afterwards shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God and David their king, and they shall come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness at the end of days. (Hoshea 3.4-5)
"If not now, when?"
On the 10th day of Nissan, 3333 years ago, the Children of Israel took the Egyptian lamb-god hostage in their homes and the Egyptians were powerless to stop them. Four days later on 14 Nissan, those lambs would be slaughtered, roasted whole and served for dinner that night [15 Nissan] at the first Pesach seder ever.
This was a big test for Klal Yisrael. Had they not passed it, there would have been no yetziat Mitzrayim.
I would like to see this farce called democratic elections go the same way as those lambs - ultimately, their end was as a pile of waste product.
~ ~ ~
Casting a vote in a rigged election is an act of futility. Nobody who can really make a difference is allowed to play in this game. From Rabbi Meir Kahane, to Moshe Feiglin, to Michael Ben Ari and Baruch Marzel, and Eli Yishai, one-by-one, they were picked off, labeled racist, or simply walled off and not allowed to advance, or their ballots were stolen, forged, delegitimized, or party banned outright. When it comes to politics, the only way to win is not to play the game.
After four elections in two years, expecting any different outcome might even be termed a sign of insanity. [Albert Einstein: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."]
Current projections are that this election will end in a stalemate and no one will be able to put together a coalition. Let's hope, and let's hope it is the clearest sign yet that this regime is over. Mashiach could be in the wings right now awaiting his cue to go onstage. Let's hope... and pray!!
"For You are my hope, O Lord God, my trust since my youth." (Tehillim 71.5)
~ ~ ~
Is Bill Gates the New/Old Pharaoh? Vaccines of Redemption or of Depopulation? Rav Yehudah Richter Part 2 [Part 1]
21 March 2021
8 Nissan 5781
Shavua Tov and Chag Sameach!
This blog will be taking a much-needed break for the next two weeks in order to enable its owner to properly prepare for and enjoy the upcoming Pesach holiday. Posts will be published only under exceptional circumstances, like with Part 2 of Rabbi Richter's latest shiur expected out this week, as well as a special Election Day edition that has already been written and scheduled to post on Tuesday.
Wishing us all a happy and kosher Pesach 5781!
18 March 2021
17 March 2021
The Jew’s safety raftThe Jew’s safety raft is supported by three points. The top point is the Holy One, may He be blessed, with whom we are joined by faith and properly observing the Shabbat. The second point is the holy Torah, by means of which we are connected to Hashem through loving and studying it. The third point is the People of Israel who act in accordance with Jewish law and unite to sanctify the Heavenly Name by separating themselves from the airev rav and the gentile culture.
“During the First World War many came to the Chafetz Chaim and asked him if this is the ‘End of Days’ and the war of Gog and Magog. The Chaftez Chaim answered: ‘After this war there will be a pause and then there will be another war and then another pause. Then, there will be another war and with that war the Mashiach will come…the last war will be the beginning of the redemption, and a Torah-true Jew who is completely separated from the non-Jews will not be subjugated, as we find that in Egypt when two people drank from the same cup, one (an Egyptian) drank blood and the other (an Israelite) drank water. This shows that in fact there is no rule whatsoever over a Jew who is separated entirely from the non-Jews” (Rabbi Aharon Kotler, in the name of the Chafetz Chaim, Leket Reshimot Channukah by Rabbi Noson Wachtofogel, p. 40).I have a tradition passed down from one to another in the name of Maran HaGaon Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin, z”l, that in the final war before the arrival of Mashiach all of the righteous Jews will be saved. Who are ‘righteous Jews’? Those who are separated from the non-Jews! It does not mean that they must be one of the 36 righteous individuals, rather they must be separated from the ways of the non-Jews and have no contact with their culture! Not with their newspapers, their music and books; to be entirely separated from them. Then Hashem will say: You are Mine and you are under a different authority so no one else will rule over you” (Ibid., p.41)
...The Jew who believes and trusts in G-d,...will arrive at truth and faith and tranquility, whereas he who trusts in man, in human strength, will arrive at falsehood and tragedy. This is because someone who trusts in G-d will attain the spiritual level of, "Israel shall thus dwell securely, alone" (Deut. 33:28); whereas someone who relies on his own arrogance or on the nations will arrive, G-d forbid, at, "How does the city sit alone" (Lam. 1:1).We must know and grasp this great principle, which is the key to speedy, magnificent redemption, without suffering or tragedy. A brilliant redemption, in which G-d's promise of "haste" (Isa. 60:22) is fulfilled, will come only when the Jewish People are alone, set apart, in isolation, and trusting fully in G-d to defeat our enemies.
4 Nissan 5781
Believe it or not, the Master of the Universe relates differently to Jews as to Gentiles and He relates differently to Eretz Yisrael as to the nations of the world. He also relates differently to Jews living in Eretz Yisrael as to Jews who live among the nations of the world. Among the Jews in Eretz Yisrael, HKB"H relates more favorably to those who do their best to fulfill His will by keeping His mitzvot than He does to those who are in outright rebellion against Him.
That is not to say that the Creator of the world does not care and provide for all His creations, but there is most definitely a hierarchy, which is why in our prayers, we appeal so many times in the name of the patriarchs whom HKB"H bore special love for as a result of their strivings in this world to come close to Him.
One of the drawbacks of growing up in a democracy is that everyone feels it is their "right" to be treated equally regardless of personal merit. That can make the idea of God "having favorites" very unpalatable. Think, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
If we try to understand this from the perspective of HKB"H as our Father, we see from our own human interactions that while a father loves all his children, he, by necessity, relates differently to the compliant, obedient child versus the rebellious child. The same holds from the perspective of HKB"H as our King. An earthly king has a different relationship to his loyal subjects than he does with the criminals who break his laws, and even more so with those who rise up in insurrection to overthrow him.
Western norms and values have corrupted the truth and caused most people to believe in another god - one who loves everyone no matter what they do and rewards everyone equally regardless of their merit. It is important to examine ourselves and judge where we stand with the Master of the Universe and decide on ways to improve our standing with Him, to more closely resemble Him and come closer in relationship to Him.
15 March 2021
3 Nissan 5781
There was some back-and-forth in the comments earlier about whether it would be advantageous for Israelis to appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the matter of governmental overreach, specifically a violation of the Nuremburg Laws with regard to compulsory administration of an experimental vaccine. Commenter "Stingray" had this to say about it...
בס"דI can understand the fear and frustration of those who have no desire to be coerced into taking these shots. I also think that publicizing the issues broadly is a good start. However, I am starting to hear calls from some Israeli's to file lawsuits with the notoriously anti-Israel, antisemitic, International Criminal Court. The ICC has recently announced that they have opened a criminal investigation against Israel.At this point they have absolutely zero jurisdiction, or even legitimacy to conduct such an investigation, much less rule on it. However, if Israelis aggrieved at the vaccination campaign here in Israel file claims with the ICC, then by default they have granted the ICC legitimacy, and possibly even jurisdiction to impose an internationally binding resolution on Israel, even if the "court" appears to rule in favor of the plaintiffs.We have a historical precedent from which to draw on when it comes to inviting our external enemies into our Land to settle our internal disputes. I think we all know well the outcome of having invited Pompeii in 63 BCE to resolve the disputes between Hyrcanus and Aristobolus. It resulted in the deaths of countless Jews, the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, and the exile and slavery of the survivors.If action must be taken to delay the vax agenda to hopefully wake up more of the fence sitters, then by all means clog up the domestic courts with discrimination lawsuits. Even if they are dismissed, they will generate publicity, and hopefully free a lot of people from the fear induced mental paralysis. But I would caution against involving any foreign entity to intervene directly in Israeli domestic affairs. We have way more than enough foreign influences as it is.
14 March 2021
1 Nissan 5781
The rampant spread of the coronavirus and the proven effectiveness of the vaccines have given rise to a serious controversy: Is it morally acceptable or even legal for the state to impose mandatory vaccination on its citizens?
As it turns out, the Public Health Ordinance, a regulation enacted during the British Mandate and still in effect today, includes a clause allowing the government to force the population to be vaccinated if the illness in question presents a serious danger to the public.
Wishing everyone a Chodesh Tov and praying the revelation of Mashiach and the geulah shleimah will start TODAY!!
12 March 2021
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Shabbat Mevorchim - Parashat HaChodesh
The Job of the Jews!
...At an ecumenical gathering of spiritual leaders from the across the globe, they were deciding in which way to unify their minds for some noble purpose. It was proposed that they take some meditative moments together to transcend this world and to reach beyond the mud of daily life and the constant tug of physical desire. In the final instant a new and surprising suggestion was offered by one of the clerics, “Instead of trying to get beyond worldliness, why don’t we raise the physical and create a space for G-dliness here on earth?!” The suggestion was immediately dismissed by the moderator of the exercise, “Nah!” he said, “That’s the job of Jews!” Observing the quantity of details and the quality of communal effort that went into creating the Tabernacle is an emphatic reminder of the importance our unique mission on this earth and the critical task we have of transforming our own little corner of creation. It remains, after all these years, “The Job of the Jews!”[See the full text of this D'var Torah by Rabbi Label Lam here.]
11 March 2021
Very often, I guess I just assume people see the same thing I do and no explanation is needed, but that is wrong. I should be explaining why I publish certain things or the message is incomplete.
The "Holocaust 2.0" video and the "Cry From Israel" video were published so the readers would take note of the fact that the world is watching and we either make a kiddush Hashem or a chillul Hashem.
It should be clear to anyone why "Holocaust 2.0" is a chillul Hashem, but even the "Cry From Israel" turned out to be a chillul Hashem as well. I'll explain why I think so.
At first, I thought, yes, finally, someone is making it known that not everyone has caved in and gladly joined the zombie horde. But then, the big message at the end is that we in Israel need the world to stand with us - Jews and Gentiles - and together we will win. No mention of Hashem - leaving Hashem out of the picture is chillul Hashem - a vacuum left where Hashem should be.
If we show that we fear anyone or anything other than HKB"H, or if we attribute anything that happens in the world to anyone or anything other than HKB"H, we are essentially saying that this someone or something has power to act independently of the Master of the Universe. And according to Rabbi Anava, that is heresy!
Someone left a comment with a link to an article that claims life is over for those in Israel who refuse the vaccine. It's interesting because this is the mantra of the governments - take the vaccine and "return to life."
I have to say that my life, personally, has not changed over the past year. I can't praise and thank HKB"H enough for positioning me and my family members in the best possible situation to weather this storm. Our lives never consisted of travel and restaurants and shopping malls, or cultural activities, gyms, stadiums and theaters. Throughout the past year, I followed my usual routine throughout, except for the mask. And the only time I ever wore a mask outside was when I traveled to Jerusalem. I still have the one I started with. I just keep washing it. I refuse to contribute towards the profits being made off these crimes against humanity.
We have to be careful though. Just when we think we've blocked all the entrances into our minds to the yetzer hara, he'll find a trapdoor we didn't even know existed. It's sad to see those who are very clued in to the plandemic and the vaccine issues, then turn to a political party and upcoming elections as a source of hope for real change. Elections come from a rotten root - democracy. And it won't bring us Ben David because it's opposed to monarchy.
The suffering we are experiencing is the "birthpangs of Mashiach" and it is as useless to "fight" it as it would be for a laboring woman to "fight" her own child's birth. Each step of this process is a test of emuna. Who are we going to trust? Who are we going to look to for our ultimate salvation? It goes straight back to the question we heard after leaving Mitzrayim - "Is Hashem among us or not????"
Whether I succeed or not, the intent behind every blog post here is to point out these facts and to pronounce in every possible circumstance that it is HKB"H and HKB"H alone whom we can trust to save us. And when all of us who are going to, have fully internalized this and demonstrated it through our actions, then Mashiach will be revealed and the redemption will arrive.
I hope and pray it will be this Nissan!!
10 March 2021
26 Adar 5781
The entire month of Adar has seen the heat for war in the Middle East slowing increasing under the rising flame of Iranian aggression. Were it not for discussion of Mask Mandates and Meghan Markle, more people would be aware of it.
US goodwill gestures and warning signals have clearly lost their punch for Iran – even when backed by the mighty US B-52 bombers flying over their heads. After dozens of attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels outdid themselves on Sunday, March 8 by sending 14 armed drones and 8 ballistic missiles flying toward the Saudi petrol tank farm at Ras Tanura, one of the largest oil shipping ports in the world, and the residential area of Dharan that houses foreign oil workers, including Americans. A gag order from Riyadh concealed the scale of injuries and damage. (See attached picture.)On the same day, two heavy nuclear-capable US B-52 Stratofortress bombers made a round trip to the Gulf and back to home base, escorted through the skies of the region by British, Israel, Saudi and Qatari warplanes. This was the heavy bomber’s seventh mission over the Gulf and the second since Joe Biden took office as president....Tehran has a proxy nearby, the Lebanese Hizballah, for carrying out its threat to hit Israel’s northern port of Haifa, its population and key strategic infrastructure. But to seriously damage Tel Aviv, Tehran would have to do its own work with ballistic missiles. This has not happened before, but the threat should be taken seriously, after Iran felt confident enough to destroy important Saudi oil infrastructure without fear of American reprisal.Another significant event on Sunday was confirmation that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are keeping up an uninterrupted campaign of terror against Israeli and Jewish targets worldwide. More than a month after a crude bomb exploded outside the Israel embassy in January, India’s counterterrorism agencies fingered the Iranian Al Qods force for the plot by means of a local Indian Shiite cell who activated it remotely.This ties in also with the Iranian attack on the Israeli cargo ship MV Helios Ray in the Gulf of Oman on Feb. 26.This escalating run of Iranian aggression has been ongoing for weeks without a comeback, whether from the US, Israel or Saudi Arabia. Even Israel’s systematic aerial campaign against Iran’s military presence in Syria is running out of effective steam.The Iranians seem to feel that although their enemies loudly threaten to prevent their acquisition of a nuclear bomb, they are not about to go into action.
For over a year I have been having a recurring dream.It is always Erev Shabbat and I am always rushing too late to prepare for Shabbat. In the first dream, it is late morning and I realize I have no food to cook for Shabbat so I have to rush to get somewhere to buy food and then I am cut very, very short for time to prepare it. I barely make it. (This is not my experience in reality. I usually begin preparing two days ahead.)In each dream, the circumstances are the same except that it gets later in the day each time. Each time, I note the time on the clock, 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm. In the first few dreams, while I have to rush, at least the stores are still open and I am able to get things, but it gets harder and harder. Maybe I get home with food, but it's too late to cook. Or the store is closing as I arrive, and I can't begin to explain the feeling of desperation I experience in the dream.The last dream I had like this happened maybe a month ago (Dec 2004). In the dream, it seemed like any day of the week, there was no indication that it was getting close to Shabbat, I was talking to someone without any care or worry and suddenly I hear this alarm (like the Shabbat warning) and I asked what it could be and the person I was talking to said, "It's Shabbat." I was in shock and devastated because I had no idea whatever that it was coming to Shabbat and I was not prepared. I had nothing ready. It shocked me that this time, I did not even realize what day of the week it was beforehand.I have never had a dream that recurred so many times in almost exactly the same way just with differing details.
I dreamed it again. Or rather more like a nightmare. Same dream and it was like it took up where the last one left off. In the dream, my kids and I were waking up, like from a nap, and discovered that it was ten minutes after five pm on Friday (candle-lighting time) and nothing was yet prepared for Shabbat. I tried to make spaghetti in the forty minutes until sundown so we would have something, but it became a huge mess and it just couldn't be done. When the time was up, not only was there no Shabbat for us, but I felt that in trying to get ready so late, I might have actually broken Shabbat and been worse off than ever.The dream was so distressing that I felt like I was fighting to regain consciousness just to bring it to an end and when I woke up I felt so hopeless like the message of the dream is that we're not ready and it's now too late. So if it's already too late, why have the dream, if it is supposed to be a warning or something? Then I realized that it's not Shabbat yet, we still have three days to get ready. It's not too late.The last dream I thought was telling me that it was going to be sooner than I thought it was and don't get caught unprepared. And here it is again....
I was just re-reading the last email I sent about this recurring dream I had been having and chills literally went up my spine. I had forgotten that the time on the clock in that dream was 5:10 and now nearly a year later, a year during which I had no such dreams, I had it again last night and the time on the clock was again 5:10 with the understanding that this was candle-lighting time in Jerusalem.I'm waking up on a Friday, thinking I have overslept late into the morning and I discover that it is already 5:10 pm with less than an hour before Shabbat. In this dream, I'm telling everyone that the recurring dream I've been having about not being ready for Shabbat has now come true. (In the dream, I don't think I'm dreaming but I remember the other dreams.)There is no food to cook and nothing has been prepared. I'm overwrought that it is so late and nothing prepared and all the stores surely closed and no time to cook even if I could buy something...My clear sense upon awakening from the dreams has always been that Shabbat represents the impending Geula coming closer and closer and closer. Even though I am aware of it, when it comes, it will still be totally unexpected and at this present time, I am still not ready for it.It was just about this same time last year that the dreams stopped and now here it is again and picking up exactly where it left off ... at 5:10 pm late on "Erev Shabbat" with less than an hour to go before "Shabbat" comes in.The clock stopped a year ago and the tragic events of last summer [the expulsion from Gush Katif] proceeded. Now, coming again into the season full of the promise of Redemption (Adar/Nissan), it has started up again and still I am not ready....
So, here we are, sixteen years later and - no surprise here - I'm still not ready. But, what brings this to mind now - sixteen years later - is that last Shabbat I woke from a nap with this image in my mind...
The Connection Between Purim And PesachWhy do we celebrate Purim in such close proximity to Pesach? Why must they always be linked in time?The Talmud (Megillah 6b) explains, in the name of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, that it is “preferable to connect [one] redemption to [the other] redemption.”In other words, the two redemptions – the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt and the salvation of the Jewish people from the genocidal designs of Haman in the Purim story – are naturally related and require commemoration within the same period of time.What do hamentaschen and matzahs have in common? What connection could there be between Pharaoh and Haman, Moses and Mordecai, Miriam and Esther?Actually, it is a pattern in the Jewish calendar that there should be a 30-day period of preparation before a major observance. The High Holidays have the month of Elul before them with preparations and soundings of the shofar. Pesach also has its preparatory season, with the Fast of Esther and Purim to set the tone for a spring of commemoration and celebration.But there is more. The main part of the story in Esther took place on Pesach. Haman cast the infamous lot to set a date for the destruction of the Jews on the 13th of Nisan (Esther 3:7, 12). The third day, when Esther went in to see the king, would have been 15 Nisan. Thus, the Jews of Shushan fasted through Pesach in that year!Both Pesach and Purim occurred outside the land of Israel, in Egypt and Persia. Both involved the near extermination of the people of Israel.
09 March 2021
26 Adar 5781Right now, the entire rest of the world sees Israel as the worst possible place to be outside of China. What a chillul Hashem!!
08 March 2021
25 Adar 5781
While acknowledging that this is a very sensitive subject, not normally suitable for mixed company, I think the consequences of not publicizing the following information overrules the requirements of modesty. This information has got to get out!!
It comes via the Nishmat website. Nishmat is a higher institution of learning for religious women in Jerusalem.
Nishmat was founded in 1990 by Rabbanit Chana Henkin to open the gates of higher Torah learning to women. Now situated in its beautiful campus in Jerusalem’s Pat neighborhood, south of Katamon, Nishmat has become a world center for women’s scholarship, leadership, and social responsibility, and a world leader in paving a new path for women in Jewish life. Ten years after its founding, Nishmat created the new religious role of Yoatzot Halacha, women halachic advisors, opening the way for women in religious leadership.
Following is an example of that exemplary education as expressed in the politically correct counsel given in reply to this question...
Q. I’m scheduled to get my first dose of Corona vaccine tomorrow. I’ve heard some rumors that women are having spotting after the shot. Do you know if there’s any basis to that? I’m nervous it might make me niddah.A. Congratulations on getting the vaccine!First, it’s important to emphasize that the FDA-approved Corona vaccines are considered safe, including for women of reproductive age.We have heard some anecdotal reports of spotting following vaccination. Since women experience spotting for many different reasons, we cannot know to what extent these cases are connected to the vaccine, and to what extent they are coincidence. At this point, no correlation between the vaccine and staining has been documented. In any case, an association between vaccination and spotting would not be indicative of any negative reproductive effects.The benefits of vaccination against Corona outweigh theoretical concerns of becoming niddah or delaying mikveh during one or two cycles....If you do experience spotting or any side effect, you can report it to your health care provider, local health authorities, and/or the company that manufactured the vaccine:Israel Ministry of HealthUS Department of Health and Human ServicesPfizerPlease get back to us with any further questions.We wish you continued good health!
There is so much wrong with this response, I don't even know where to begin. I think for most people, the problems should be self-evident. A major one is that according to their calculations, no adverse effect can ever be proved against the vaccine; therefore, they don't really exist. And another major one is this persistent misinformation that these injectables are "FDA approved"...
Listen HERE at 30 secs in.
The worst, however, is the line I highlighted in red: ...an association between vaccination and spotting would not be indicative of any negative reproductive effects. There is simply no scientific basis whatsoever for such a statement. No one could possibly know such a thing for a fact at this point in time. It can take up to two generations for some problems to appear, as in DES.
DES was discovered in 1938 and introduced for medical use in 1939. From about 1940 to 1971, the medication was given to pregnant women in the incorrect belief that it would reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and losses. In 1971, DES was shown to cause clear-cell carcinoma, a rare vaginal tumor, in girls and women who had been exposed to this medication in utero. The United States Food and Drug Administration subsequently withdrew approval of DES as a treatment for pregnant women. Follow-up studies have indicated that DES also has the potential to cause a variety of significant adverse medical complications during the lifetimes of those exposed.The United States National Cancer Institute recommends women born to mothers who took DES to undergo special medical exams on a regular basis to screen for complications as a result of the medication. Individuals who were exposed to DES during their mothers' pregnancies are commonly referred to as "DES daughters" and "DES sons". Since the discovery of the toxic effects of DES, it has largely been discontinued and is now mostly no longer marketed.
Meaning it is still in use. And note that this drug was FDA-approved, the approval being withdrawn after the damage had already been done.
The icing on this cake is the final insult - the reference to "theoretical" concerns. Once they admitted to knowing of cases as described, all possibility of "theoretical" concerns ceased to exist. It's very reminiscent of the old-style medical attitudes of doctors patronizing and condescending to their patients. Just who are you to question The Doctor? You can almost feel the pat on the head.
Higher education is no cure for stupidity. Never let your better judgment be overruled by an unhealthy respect for people with titles and letters after their names.
07 March 2021
24 Adar 5781
The point of no return is the point at which one is fully committed to going forward with an action because it is no longer possible to withdraw or go backward. I believe humanity has reached the point of no return in relation to the Master of the Universe.
Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, cruel with wrath and burning anger, to make the land desolate, and its sinners He shall destroy from it. For the stars of the heavens and its constellations shall not allow their light to illuminate, the sun has become dark in its going forth, and the moon shall not shine its light.
And I will visit evil upon the earth, and upon the wicked their iniquity; and I will cut off the pride of the presumptuous, and the arrogance of the tyrants I will humble. I will make mortal man dearer than fine gold, and man [dearer] than the collection of the gold of Ophir.
Therefore, I will make heaven quake, and the earth will quake out of its place, because of the anger of the Lord of Hosts, and on the day of His burning wrath. (Isaiah 13.9-13)
Swarm of 20,000 earthquakes could make Iceland's volcanoes erupt
More than 20,000 earthquakes have shaken southern Iceland this week, rattling the capital city of Reykjavik and keeping geologists on their toes as all signs point to a pending volcanic eruption, the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) reported on Thursday (March 4).
Kermadec and New Zealand Earthquakes
Three notable earthquakes struck in the southern Pacific Ocean near the Kermadec Islands and New Zealand today, March 4, 2021.
A magnitude 8.1 earthquake near the Kermadec Trench was the third and largest earthquake of the three. This event is near the magnitude 7.4 earthquake that occurred earlier this afternoon, some 600 miles (950 km) north of New Zealand. While large, these earthquakes are remote and the USGS PAGER report is Green for fatalities and economic losses. The M8.1 earthquake is about 11 times larger than the earlier M 7.4 and occurred at a shallower depth (early estimates about 12 miles, or 20 km). The larger size and shallower depth increase the tsunami potential, and NOAA have released tsunami warnings for many islands in the southwest Pacific. The National Emergency Management Agency of New Zealand have also released a tsunami warning.
Mount Etna's fiery eruptions seen from space
Mount Etna has been spewing lava across Sicily for weeks during a series of eruptions captured by a slew of Earth-orbiting satellites.
...These most recent eruptions "were among the most violent in the Southeast Crater's young history," Marco Neri, a volcanologist with Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, said in a NASA statement.
05 March 2021
21 Adar 5781
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Ki Tisa - Parah
Are there any spiritual implications involved in the masking of human beings? Our parshah does shed some light (pun intended) on this issue.
When Moses descended from Mount Sinai - with the two Tablets of the Testimony in the hand of Moses as he descended from the mountain - Moses did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant when He had spoken to him. Aaron and all the Children of Israel saw Moses, and behold! - the skin of his face had become radiant; and they feared to approach him. Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the assembly returned to him, and Moses would speak to them. After that, all the Children of Israel would approach; he would command them regarding everything that Hashem had spoken to him on Mount Sinai.
Moses finished speaking with them and placed a mask on his face. When Moses would come before Hashem to speak with Him, he would remove the mask until his departure; then he would leave and tell the Children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. When the Children of Israel saw Moses' face, that Moses' face had become radiant, Moses put the mask back on his face, until he came to speak with Him. (Shemot 34.29-35)
Commentary: And placed a mask on his face. Moses wore the mask to spare the people the embarrassment of seeing how they had so deprived themselves of closeness to God that they could not even look at his prophet (Be'er Moshe).
When Moses taught the word of God to the people, he did not wear the mask, so that nothing would interpose between God's teaching and the people of Israel. Then, he would put the mask back on and wear it until God spoke to him again. (Source: Stone Edition Chumash)
And clearly, Moshe did not wear the mask when speaking with HKB"H. If the mask was an actual barrier between the people and God's instructions, how much more so would it be a barrier during prayer when one enters the actual Presence of HKB"H.
From this, we can understand that it is permissible to wear a mask in order to spare the feelings of other people, for example, in the public domain among those who believe their own health is at risk from those who do not mask. On the other hand, it would seem to be impermissible to wear a mask while in prayer or when giving over words of Torah, even in the public domain.
I would go even further and say that anyone who has so little faith in HKB"H that they believe their health depends on a piece of paper covering the faces of his co-religionists, should be the ones to remain outside or at home during davening and let the unmasked hold sway in the synagogues and yeshivahs.
~ SHABBAT SHALOM ~
04 March 2021
20 Adar 5781
Lessons From the Golden Calf
This week we read about the original golden calf. Many have compared the cult-like worship of masks, medical products dubiously referred to as vaccines, and establishment "experts" to the golden calf. This comparison is more apt than people realize.
We tend to look down on ancient idolaters as primitive fools. They were nothing of the sort. Idolatry was deeply intertwined with the prevailing science and philosophy of the times, and its proponents were intellectually sophisticated. Those who believe that people today are intellectually advanced compared to the people of ancient times are sorely mistaken. We compare favorably to them only in the realm of technology, and only because we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Intellectually, religiously, and morally we have nothing to brag about.
The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim writes at length about ancient idolatry, based on their own books. The dominant belief at the time was that celestial bodies controlled the world, and Man's survival depended on worshiping nature. They believed that physical idols could draw power from these celestial bodies to influence world events or give people prophetic dreams. They built temples for their presumed life-preserving rituals, offered sacrifices, planted idolatrous trees to draw power from the stars, and committed immoral acts while planting fields.
Idolatrous practices were outlined in scientific books about nature and agriculture. Science and idolatry were one and the same. Challenging idolatry was synonymous with challenging established science; it was considered a threat to public health and safety, and dealt with accordingly.
The Rambam explains in great detail that a high percentage of mitzvos in the Torah were given specifically to counter this and other false ideologies. Anything that smacked of idolatry or nature-worship was strictly prohibited, and the Jews were given positive commandments to do the exact opposite of the prevailing "science".
They were also warned that engaging in these presumed life-preserving practices would only have the opposite effect. Idolatry would lead to plague, drought, famine, poverty, death, and destruction. Keeping the Torah – doing the polar opposite of the "science" of the time – would bring rain, prosperity, health, and protection.
This was demonstrated over and over again in real life as the nation vacillated between keeping the Torah and idolatry, but it never really clicked. Old habits die hard, especially when it means going against the majority. People will suffer almost anything to be accepted.
With this introduction in mind, let's examine the story of the golden calf.
Moshe ascended Har Sinai to receive the Torah, and was supposed to return after forty days. Due to a misunderstanding of when the clock started ticking, the Jews believed the forty days had passed and Moshe was gone. The Erev Rav declared that Moshe was dead, and the Jews needed an immediate replacement to lead them. This replacement needed to be an intermediary between the Jews and God, just as Moshe was.
This replacement needed to be an idol.
The commentators all grapple with how the Jewish people, who had experienced the highest degree of human revelation just forty days ago, could fashion a golden calf and declare "This is the God that took you out of Egypt." The very idea is ludicrous. How could anyone believe that an idol that was minutes old did anything for them in the past?
When we understand what idolatry really was, it's far more sensible. The Jews still believed in God and everything that had happened. The golden calf was intended not to replace God, but to draw His power down into the world. This was an entirely accepted belief, one they had grown up with and experienced all their lives. In a time of crisis, it was natural to fall back on these deeply ingrained ideas, which they had only recently been taught to oppose.
So the first important comparison between the present situation and the golden calf is that in a time of uncertainty or crisis, people will naturally follow the most familiar, comfortable path.
This brings us to the next parallel. In hindsight, it is obvious to us that worshiping the golden calf was incredibly foolish. How could it be that the dor de'ah, the most enlightened generation of Jews, could so quickly succumb to such folly?
The answer is fear. When people are afraid they do not think rationally, and they will take extreme actions to assuage their fears – often at the expense of everything else. A day earlier the notion of worshiping a golden calf would have been preposterous, but once the Jews were afraid they immediately panicked and rushed to do it.
Compare to the current situation. In hindsight, when sanity is restored to the human race, people will look back and wonder how so many people could have behaved so foolishly. We are not the most enlightened generation, but no generation has been more educated and had greater access to information. Yet so many intelligent people quickly turned into hysterical zombies, taking extreme actions at the expense of everything else – just to assuage their fears. The outcome will be no better than what the golden calf turned out to be.
The third parallel is directly linked to the fear and panic. The Jews could not wait an extra moment to create the golden calf. What would have been the big deal to sleep on it, organize a panel to debate the pros and cons of the idea, and have a committee investigate if they counted the forty days correctly?
No. They had to create the golden calf now. Why? Because it was a matter of life and death. If Moshe was dead, then creating a replacement was an urgent need. It was an emergency situation. Otherwise they might die of thirst and hunger, or from the elements, or from the snakes and scorpions in the desert, or from an attack by enemies. It was a choice between creating a golden calf or the extinction of the Jewish people.
If only they could have calmed down, deliberated, and waited a few more hours, we would have been spared thousands of years of suffering that continues to this day. If only they could have realized that being calm and deliberating was actually a third valid choice.
Today there is the same phenomenon. We are being relentlessly urged that if we don't take an experimental "vaccine" today we will die a horrible death from covid tomorrow and bring down the rest of humanity with us. There is no time to think or deliberate. No decent person who cares about human life would dare think and deliberate, we are told. This is an emergency! It's a war on covid! Either you are a friend or you are a foe!
This leads to several more parallels. We would imagine that the suggestion to create a golden calf was quite controversial at the time. There were many righteous Jews who opposed the idea, and quite likely a healthy majority that was seriously disturbed by the idea even if they were unsure. How did the idolaters succeed in pushing the idea through so quickly and without opposition?
First of all, they engaged in brutal censorship. No less than Hur, the son of Miriam, objected to the idea, and they murdered him. We might have expected the righteous Jews to immediately rise up and avenge his death, but just the opposite occurred. They acquiesced. They were intimidated. The good guys lacked strong leadership and were unsure of themselves, while the bad guys were organized and determined. This enabled the bad guys to easily prevail, even though they were an extreme minority pushing a radical agenda. They made an example of Hur, no one else dared confront them, and the idolaters conquered the masses just like that.
This describes the current situation to a tee.
Next the Erev Rav idolaters needed to convince the masses to join them. This was a big change. The fear was powerful, but so was the inner turmoil about worshiping a golden calf. The Jews needed reassurance that it was okay, that it was more than okay, that it was the greatest idea.
The idolaters knew exactly what to do. They approached Aharon, the Kohen Gadol, and made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Aharon played along, hoping to buy time until Moshe returned, but was unsuccessful. His participation provided critical legitimacy, a de facto rabbinic stamp of approval that no one would dare challenge.
The same propaganda tactic was vital to get religious Jews on board with the golden calf of today. Establishment rabbis have abused their positions and the public trust to become spokesmen for idolatrous behavior. One wonders what offers the purveyors of the golden calf made these rabbis, and if they were even slightly tempted to refuse. Considering the shallowness, deceit, and bullying that pervades the rabbinic pronouncements, it seems they needed little encouragement to jump on the bandwagon. At least Aharon tried to slow it down.
There was no classical Torah debate that covered the various sides of the issue in depth. These establishment rabbis have not been made to respond to serious questions. The public was simply bombarded with declarations from so-called "leading rabbis" (a propaganda term that has never been defined), and the social pressure took on a life of its own from there.
This brings us to the sixth parallel. It wasn't enough to just make the golden calf kosher, or even a religious obligation. They needed to eliminate any nagging reservations people might have harbored about worshiping it. After all, the Jews understood that if they got this wrong, they were going to be in very big trouble with God.
The Erev Rav needed to make it fun.
Party time! Music, dancing, an ecstatic celebration! The idolaters wore down people's moral reservations with fear, they nudged them forward with peer pressure, and they eliminated the last bit of hesitation by replacing the fear with ecstasy. How they manipulated people's emotions to drag them down from the greatest of heights to the lowest of depths!
In present times we have seen exactly the same methods of manipulation. How can it be that so many people would line up to get injected with an experimental drug and not display the slightest concern? Even if they were convinced by the "science", the "experts", and the "rabbis" that it was safe, there is still so much that is unknown and no recourse if something goes wrong. How could any reasonable person not be even a little nervous?
Not only are they not nervous, they are ecstatic. They are high. The Erev Rav have turned an experimental medical procedure with grave risks into a big fun party. After a relentless diet of fear, everyone wants to join a big fun party. The doctors are dancing. The libations are flowing. Everyone is celebrating. How can this golden calf not be a good thing? Who would want to spoil the fun by worrying?
As the Rambam explains in Moreh Nevuchim, ancient idolaters convinced parents to sacrifice their children to Molech in exactly the same way. The prevailing science of the time was that a child needed to be offered so that the other children would be protected. A mother's natural instinct is to fight like a tiger to protect her child. The idolaters used fear to wear down her natural instinct and actually corrupt it; destroying her child was the best way to protect her children. The idolatrous priests played loud music to replace the last vestiges of hesitation with celebration, while also drowning out the screams of the child being sacrificed. Instead of fighting like tigers, the mothers folded like paper tigers.
Today we see the same tactics being used to convince pregnant women to get injected with an experimental drug, no questions asked. A pregnant woman by nature constantly obsesses over doing whatever is best for her baby. She won't take the slightest chance. But scare her enough and turn up the music, and this primary survival instinct can be corrupted.
The seventh and final parallel somehow escapes even "very religious" Jews. Where is the connection to God in all this? The Jews in the desert were facing what they believed to be an existential crisis. Moshe was seemingly gone, and they had to decide whether or not to worship a golden calf. Why did they not break their hearts, examine their ways, and cry out to God for guidance? The Jews were blessed to have real prophets among them. They could have sought a message from God, but they did not.
In the span or a few hours they went from fear and confusion to utter certainty that God wanted them to make a golden calf. They imposed their will on God, then claimed it was exactly what God wanted them to do.
Nothing has changed today. We lack prophets, and rabbinic guidance has unfortunately become unreliable in our generation, but we see no effort on the part of the average Jew to seek guidance from God in this time of confusion. Instead, we see them imposing their will on God – or simply kowtowing to others who do this on their behalf – and then claim that this is God's will. God wants them to serve the golden calf, and this is the only way God will save them. God gave them the golden calf as a blessing just for this purpose, and will only save those who worship it. Everyone else is a heretic and a danger to society.
The following day Moshe descended, the party came to an abrupt end, and the entire nation faced annihilation. In the aftermath of the golden calf episode we can be confident that the people declared "Never again!" Never again would they behave so foolishly. Never again would they fall prey to sinister propaganda and diabolical schemes to erode their defenses.
Of course, their descendants created two more golden calves that were worshiped for generations, and idolatry filled the land of Israel until it was destroyed. Most people just refuse to learn from history, and they become outraged at those who observe the same warning signs repeating themselves. How dare we say it's happening again? That's disrespectful to the people who went through it. Of course, just the opposite is true. Dismissing the warning signs is the greatest slap in the face to those who lost everything just so we could be here and learn from them.
King Menashe was one of the greatest idolaters, before repenting in his later years. Many centuries later Rav Ashi, one of the editors of the Talmud, made a disrespectful remark about him to his students. That night Menashe appeared to him in a dream and demonstrated his vast superiority in Torah knowledge to Rav Ashi. Rav Ashi asked Menashe how someone so wise could have served idolatry. Menashe retorted: "Had you been there, you would have grabbed the edge of my garment and run after me." Rav Ashi was chastened and thenceforth spoke of Menashe with respect. (Sanhedrin 102B)
Who among us is greater than Rav Ashi? Who among us, for that matter, is greater than Menashe?
Chazal teach us that the temptation to serve idols has been destroyed (Sanhedrin 64A). Nevertheless, the temptation to find substitutes for God remains unaffected, and the psychology behind idolatry is as strong as ever.
It is easy to scoff at those who served idols, engaged in bizarre rituals, and even murdered their own children "for the greater good"...but are so many of us not doing much the same? We are not really more advanced and intellectually sophisticated than our predecessors; we pale to them in so many ways. The people worshiping needles, masks, experts, the media, the "leading rabbis", the hype, the fear, the propaganda, the peer pressure are serving a golden calf. Technically they are not worshiping idols, which is a capital crime, but they have succumbed to exactly the same spiritual and moral demons. In a desperate, panic-driven attempt to save themselves and others, they are actually destroying themselves and others.
As in ancient times, serving idols only brought the opposite of what people hoped to achieve. Every time it backfired, the people doubled down and hoped that this time it would bring salvation. Today people continue to get strung along the failed path of idolatrous behavior, moving the goalposts and intensifying the worship as the situation continues to deteriorate. It's time to get off the merry-go-round and really turn to God.
One final lesson. Chazal teach us that instead of punishing the Jews in one shot for serving the golden calf, which would have destroyed the nation, God let them pay back their debt on the installment plan. The worst violaters were killed immediately, and the rest of the nation gets a little extra added on to every punishment to slowly expiate the ancient sin.
While this was most generous to those who served the golden calf, it seems quite unfair to all those who came after them. Why should we have to get punished for other people's sins? Why should we have to pay back their debt?
The answer is also found in this week's parsha, when Hashem taught Moshe the 13 attributes. Hashem only holds children partially accountable for the sins of their ancestors when they follow the same evil ways. It follows that we can only continue to get punished for the original sin of the golden calf if we continue to follow the same idolatrous path.
Considering the numerous striking comparisons between the present situation and ancient times, it seems much of the nation is doing just that. Much of our nation, even those who are "religious", have allowed their minds to be corrupted by Erev Rav. They have seen Menashe running to serve idolatry, grabbed his garment, and begged him to take them along.
They have put all their hope and faith in evil, deceitful, godless people and their golden needles, and convinced themselves that this is exactly what God wants them to do. They have turned against their brothers and sisters who express hesitation, let alone opt out completely, and bared their teeth with murderous rage.
They have allowed their moral principles to become eroded, and what would have been unthinkable just a short time ago they now believe to be a mitzvah. The public good, as defined by godless people, has become the new god. The Torah has nothing further to say on the subject, except to follow along and follow orders. There is no room for doubt, or dissent, or how our sages taught us for thousands of years to respond to plagues and crises. Raise the music and drown out the screams. We're saving lives.
I'm far from perfect, and pale to my ancestors, but I've learned this lesson. I will not serve the golden calf or any facsimile thereof. I will protest like Hur and give my life if necessary. I will wait patiently for Moshe, or Moshiach, to come and put an abrupt stop to the party. When he calls out "Whoever is for God, come to me", I won't have to think about it, because I already have. I never stopped thinking, and I never will.
When this is all over, there will be a truly great party, the greatest party of all time, celebrating the final deliverance of the Jewish people and all mankind. It's worth waiting for, and it's worth fighting for. Those who cling to the golden calf are not invited.
I hope to see you there.
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