Friday, May 25, 2012

A little Parsha Bamidbar many stories

I tried to play with some colors here to give it life but everything is going wrong lately with my word copy and paste to AOL and the blogspot. I did a little to liven things up but only a little. Enjoy the stories.

As we start Sefer Bamidbar let me remind you that for those who get my posts direct, if the Drasha does not arrive close to Shabbos Israel time then check

Prayers for Men: Eliezer David HaCohain ben Naomi, Asher ben Malka, Avraham ben Devorah, Zvi Yechezkel ben Leah, Aharon ben Rishol, Chaim Zev ben Faige Tova, Naphtali Moshe ben Tziporah, Shalom Charles ben Gracia, Yoel ben Esther, Zev ben Rachel, Binum Benyamin Tuvia ben Chana Friedel, Shalom Yosef ben Chaya Moosha, Aaron ben Sara Chana, Chaim Yisrael ben Chana Tzirel, Yehonatan ben Malka

Women: Karen Neshama bas Esther Ruth, Chaya Melacha Rachel bas Baila Alta, Rachel bas Chana, Zvia Simcha bas Devora Yached, Hodaya Nirit bas Mazel,  Rivka bas Idit, Kayla Rus bas Chaya Rachel, Chiena Sora bas Chaya Gitel, Necha bas Chava,

In this week’s issue without touching on the Yom Tov coming up, I have a tremendous amount of material. I usually take one story from Living Torah this week I have two stories and two articles. In addition, my Chavrutha and I exchanged updates on the war of Gog and Magog. I will try to present a condensation of stories here in a paragraph or two condensed.

Parsha Bamidbar

Yermiyahu (Jer.) 31:1. So says the Lord: In the wilderness, the people who had escaped the sword found favor; He [therefore] went to give Israel their resting place.

After 210 years in Mitzrayim of which 80 years was in slavery; the people found grace and favor in the Sinai Desert. What happened? They had fire to light their nights, clouds of glory to shield the harsh Sinai Sun and their sandals and garments did not wear out for 40 years. They had Mann in the morning and their main job was just talking and learning Torah while their flocks and herds grazed. It was one big Torah Academy from Talmud Torah or Cheder until Kollel. Not everyone was happy learning and from time to time disputes broke out and the tribal judges had work to keep things in order as in any family unit. Every once in a while during the first and second year a rebellion by ambitious people would challenge Moshe’s authority. This book deals with the main happenings for close to 38 years in the desert. After the Korach rebellion, Moshe had undisputed rule and things are pretty quiet including the conquest of Arad. It is only Balak and Balaam that stir up trouble with them and that nation being destroyed.  That victory and conquest opens up the back route into Eretz Yisrael but not by a sweep from the Golan Heights but a route that HASHEM chose. One of the most revolutionary Halachos appear in this Sefer and that is that women can inherit and become property owners.
Since the crossing of the Sea, the people were basically in the desert. So what makes this Sefer more outstanding than the middle of Shemos or Vayikra? The truth of the matter is that in the former, the Nation was receiving the Torah, first set of Halachos, making garments for the Cohanim and building the Mishkan. In the later Sefer learning to do the Korbanos, dedicating the Mishkan and learning various laws of modesty and family relations. Finally the Sefer ends with the preparations for entering the land of Eretz Yisrael and the laws of Shmita and Yovel. The book ends with the conditions of having peace in Eretz Yisrael or heaven forbid a curse for violations of the commandments.
Bamidbar up until the rebellion of the spies was a continuation for entering the land. A census was taken and the tribes were to be organized into an army. The only mistake was the sending of the spies and not proceeding on faith alone straight forward into Eretz Yisrael.
This week I over-worked myself and did gather a lot of material here, I am taking a vacation I helped a lot of my readers and therefore turn this into an anthology. I only give internet sources of Shavuos too. You will not be disappointed by the stories and if you print them out some of you will have something to learn on either Shabbos or the night of Shavuos.

Perceptions Receivers of Torah Knowledge by Rabbi Pinchas Winston Shlita
God told Moshe in the Sinai desert, in the Appointed Tent, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after leaving Egypt . . . (Bamidbar 1:1)
Simplicity. A desert is so simple, and in its simplicity, there is beauty. But, it is a different type of beauty, different from the beauty of a well-tended garden or a wonderfully designed building. There is beauty in complexity, and there is beauty in simplicity, and apparently it is the latter that is the foundation for Torah knowledge, as the Talmud states: Torah will stay with someone who makes himself into a desert (Eruvin 54a).
The Talmud explains itself: Torah is compared to water which can only flow downward from Heaven to a humble person. However, like water, Torah can flow in any direction God wants it to. Therefore, the Talmud is saying that, just like water naturally flows from a higher level to a lower one, likewise does Torah naturally flow to a humble person. This is important to understand, especially since Shavuos this year is Motzei Shabbos, B”H. Staying up all night might be fun, and part of the Kabbalas HaTorah experience, but to actualize the opportunity of learning Torah every day of the year, one has to truly understand what “natural” means in this context, especially since the Talmud teaches elsewhere regarding childbirth:
A candle is lit on his head and he is able to see from one end of the world until the other end . . . There isn't a better period for a person than these days [in the womb] . . . They [the angels] teach him all of Torah . . . and as he enters the world, an angel hits him on his mouth and he forgets it. (Niddah 30b)
The educational experience always seems like we are taking in from outside of ourselves something new, something foreign. The teacher has knowledge of something that we as yet do not. The educational experience always seems like we are taking in from outside of ourselves something new, something foreign. The teacher has knowledge of something that we, as yet do not. His or her mission as a teacher is to impart that knowledge to students, to somehow get them to make the knowledge their own. Some have an easier time than others, but for most children this is an effective process, at least to some degree.
However, the Talmud is saying something revolutionary. It is redefining the process of education, and the role of the educator. According to the Talmud, the ideal student is a reality—he or she comes already educated from birth and way beyond their years. The angel taught them everything before they were born.
Of course, there is one fundamental problem. The angel not only teaches each child the entire Torah, but it also makes each child forget what they were taught. Matters are further complicated by the fact that a baby is born with the inability to share its knowledge with others, increasing the likelihood that what was once learned is quickly forgotten after birth as well.
Forgotten, but not lost. The knowledge is still there, just on lower levels of consciousness. The educational process is just to help children, and then adults, recover the forgotten knowledge, and bring it to the conscious mind. That is why, as we become conscious of the knowledge, there is not only a sense of knowing something new, but a sense of recognition of something old, though we do not recall where we might have learned it previously.
It’s somewhat like what happens to a witness to crime. Usually, the average witness does not pay enough attention at the moment of a crime to later recall perfectly what he saw. The surprise, the excitement, perhaps even fear is cause for a lot of distraction, so that even if the person was looking right as the perpetrator, part of him was not.
However, that does not mean that his mind didn’t take a snapshot. On some level of consciousness, he has a clear picture of what he saw, just not on the highest level. Therefore, to bring what he remembers to a conscious level, the police show him pictures of previous criminals, and if there is a match, the witness will call out, “That’s him!”An educator works the same way. His job is to present ideas and information in a way that can get past the barriers that develop as a result of living in this world, so that the knowledge on the outside can connect with the knowledge on the inside. When it does, the child will have a sense of recognition, a sense of joy, and a sense of growth. The knowledge will truly be his.
We can call it the “Sinai Experience.” Notice how God didn’t simply give the Torah to Moshe Rabbeinu and tell him to teach it to the Jewish people. God gave the Torah in a spectacular way, with sounds and lights, and all kinds of other experiences that were designed to have one effect: neutralize the yetzer hara. The entire experience was to make sure that everyone became focused to the point of being mesmerized, so that the Torah they heard on the outside touched the Torah they possessed on the inside, until they became one in the person, and with the person.
An adult will forget many things from his childhood, but not the time he was almost run over by a car. The shock of the experience brought all of his senses to bear on the events of the moment, and the education was indelibly imprinted on his mind, conscious and unconscious. For the rest of his life, he will look both ways before crossing the road, because as he approaches a curb, his brain will recall and use his emotions to make him conscious of where he is, what he is doing, and what can happen.
Ever watch the face of children watching a good magician? Ever notice how long they will pay attention to the magician, even the ones with attention issues? Ever notice how, after the show is over, the children will start imitating what they saw, and with great accuracy, right down to the hat and cape. Too bad magicians aren’t teaches, and teachers are magicians, because when the two come together, they make a great educator.
For, to be a great educator, you have to be a magician of sorts. Not the rabbit-from-the-hat type, mind you, but a magician nonetheless, because the proper education of children is nothing short of magical. It takes a special kind of magic to get a child’s attention, and to keep it long enough to make the connection between the outside and inside knowledge. What kind of magic are we talking about?
Ask children themselves.
“What did you think about that magician?”
“He was awesome. Simply awesome.”
There you have it, the number one tool for neutralizing the yetzer hara and getting through to a person’s inner knowledge: awe. Indeed, if you had asked an adult standing at Har Sinai and witnessing the giving of Torah, he would have used a similar term to describe the experience, and why he was pleasantly overwhelmed by it as well.
Recently, there was a large convention in New York of Orthodox leaders to discuss the perils of modern technology, and what to do about it. The reason for the concern is quite real, and you rarely get second chances at solutions to such issues. Too much leniency won’t solve the problem of Jews who are misusing technology to break the Torah, and too little leniency might push the ones they are trying to save even further away, beyond future reach.
It’s a very tough call, one that requires a lot of Divine intervention to come up with a solution that is even remotely correct, if such a solution exists prior to the arrival of Moshiach. After all, what are we talking about? We’re talking about two worlds colliding, the Torah world which depends upon individuals to find their own excitement in the learning and mitzvos, and one that is readily, well, for lack of better terms, awesome.
Abuse aside, is not today’s technology absolutely remarkable, and more than that, a lot of fun? Just watch people with their cell phones; they’re mesmerized. Thanks to modern technology, the world has become one huge toy shop, with all kinds of goodies to empower you to accomplish great things, or at least waste a lot of time and money trying to. At the very least, it is very entertaining.
Into that spiritual abyss falls a child (and lots of grown up children as well) raised to be an Orthodox Jew. If a Jew living in Meah Shearim in Israel is not free of the influence of such a world, since it is all around him, and even his parents probably use cellular phones, then how can one living in one of the great metropolitan centers of the gentile world withstand such influence, and not get pulled into it?
The answer is simple to say, but difficult to put into action: Torah is better.
It is clear now, after all of the millennia in which technology was not so impressive, since most of it was used for going to war, killing people, and destroying property, that the Har Sinai experience was as awesome as it was to tell all future generations that imbedded in Torah is such an experience, every time you learn. You just have to know how to re-create it.
The first thing to acknowledge is that technology, for all of its excitement, is cheating. All you have to be able to do is to afford the gadget, or at least be able to borrow enough money to purchase it. It does not require much personal effort to use, having been made user-friendly. That is why, for all of its fun, it is limited in how much pleasure it can really deliver on a long term basis. We are hardwired to accomplish, and to appreciate only that which we truly work for. The harder we work, the more we feel good about what we have achieved.
The second thing to acknowledge is that, as educators, and with the exception of few very talented teachers of Torah, we lack the necessary skills to give children, and ourselves, a proper Sinai experience. I don’t mean that we’re unduly incapable of creating lightning and thunder every time we learn, but that we lack the ability to do that which has a similar impact emotionally. Until we change that, the world of technology is going to be a stiff competitor for the Torah world, and it will, tragically, deplete the numbers of its ranks. It already has.
Personally, I stumbled into sort of a solution to the problem, at least for myself, thank God. I still love technology, and I am still in awe of what mankind has been able to accomplish. Nevertheless, I am more in awe of Torah, far more in awe of Torah. What I have found transforms me into a desert, because to be in awe of something is to be humbled by it, to be open to it, and it is the humbled person who is undistracted and ready to receive.
If it is technology that is creating the awe, then the person will receive whatever it is the technology is giving him. If it is Torah he is ready to receive, then he will receive what the Torah is giving him: direction in life and a path to self-perfection, the greatest pleasure known to mankind.
Recently, I heard an interview in which Professor Steven Hawkings was asked what he felt his greatest contribution as a physicist was. Sitting contorted in his wheel chair, and speaking through a computer, he answered, “How existence could come into being without a Creator.” It’s one thing to think that, but to state it so proudly? He might as well just say that he works for the Sitra Achra and is here to promote heresy. He may be a genius, but only in science. He may be in awe of technology, but he lacks awe of God, and of Creation. As a result, he receives from technology, but not from God; he’s not a mekubal—a receiver, and lacks any connection to his inner knowledge that would show him otherwise.
We were taken out of Egypt to become mekubalim, receivers of Torah knowledge. The Sinai Experience was designed to break through the barriers to connect up the exterior knowledge with the interior knowledge, to bring it to the conscious mind, so that it can be our own. It won’t just happen; Torah won’t do it on its own. We have to open ourselves up to the awesomeness of Torah, and though that may be more difficult than playing a computer game or using the latest cell phone technology, the reward for doing so is nothing short of, well, awesome.

1:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying: 2 'Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male, by their polls;

HASHEM loves to count his treasure and his treasure is the righteous:

Total Harmony by Rabbi Shraga Simmons
Parshat Bamidbar begins with a census of the Jewish people. We might think this "reduces everyone to a number." But actually the census teaches that every Jew is important. The Kabbalists point out that just as 600,000 Jewish souls stood at Mount Sinai, so too there are 600,000 letters in the Torah (including the white spaces between letters). And just as a Torah scroll is invalid if even a single letter is missing, so too the Jewish people need everyone working together.
Yet if every Jew is so important, why does this week's Parsha go on to describe the special role for the tribe of Levi? Isn't that discriminatory? Just by virtue of birth, is a Levite inherently "better" than a non-Levite?
In truth, everyone is equally important. Sure, some people are born smarter, and some with more talent in one area or another. But that doesn't make that person any "better."
The key to living in harmony is that everyone fulfills his/her own capability, and is accepting of others as equally valuable.
The story is told of the great sage of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. One evening he asked his congregation to wait to begin prayers until the street sweeper had arrived. Rabbi Auerbach explained: "This man is totally devoted to beautifying the streets of Jerusalem. I only wish that my own work would be performed with such pure intentions!"
So before we look down on another person, let's remember that every human being has an important contribution to make. And in life, the only thing we truly earn is our own good name.
3 from twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: ye shall number them by their hosts, even thou and Aaron. 4 And with you there shall be a man of every tribe, every one head of his fathers' house.
…3: 44 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 45 'Take the Levites instead of all the first-born among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be Mine, even the LORD'S.
The first born were Priests and the equivalent to Leviim up until this point but because some participated in the golden calf and the Leviim did not it was determined that the Leviim would take over this holiness instead of the first born.
46 And as for the redemption of the two hundred and three score and thirteen of the first-born of the children of Israel, that are over and above the number of the Levites, 47 thou shalt take five shekels apiece by the poll; after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them--the shekel is twenty gerahs. 48 And thou shalt give the money wherewith they that remain over of them are redeemed unto Aaron and to his sons.' 49 And Moses took the redemption-money from them that were over and above them that were redeemed by the Levites; 50 from the first-born of the children of Israel took he the money: a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary. 51 And Moses gave the redemption-money unto Aaron and to his sons, according to the word of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses.
In this week’s Torah portion, the tribe of Levi is chosen by G-d to perform the service in the Mishkan (Sanctuary) and later, in the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple). “Bring the tribe of Levi near,” G-d said to Moses. The Levites were chosen to represent the entire Jewish people, and it was through them that G-d’s blessing was brought down to the nation as a whole.
The reason for their selection may be better understood in light of the Baal Shem Tov’s explanation on the verse in Psalms, “The righteous shall flourish like the date palm; he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon”:
There are two categories of Tzaddikim (the righteous), one of which is likened to a palm tree, and the other to a cedar.
A cedar is an extremely tall and imposing tree. Its wood is fine and hard, but it does not produce fruit.
A date palm, by contrast, is not as physically impressive, but it has one advantage over the cedar: it bears fruit. A date palm “flourishes.” Its fruit is sweet and delicious, imparting strength and health to all who eat them.
The Tzaddik who is likened to a cedar learns Torah and performs mitzvoth, but he produces no “fruit.” His learning and good deeds are directed inward, benefitting only himself without having a positive influence over the people around him. Nonetheless, he is still considered “righteous,” and G-d rewards him for his actions – “he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” However, this is not the ultimate intention of his service.
G-d prefers that a righteous person be like the date palm, that his learning and good deeds lead to tangible results. G-d wants the Jew to learn Torah not only for his own betterment, but to improve his entire surroundings. A Jew must be willing to devote himself to others, giving freely of his time, energy and unique talents in order to have a positive effect on the world at large. No effort is too great in the quest to transform another Jew into a fine “fruit,” for it is only by involving oneself with others that a Jew merits the designation of “date palm” and can truly “flourish.”
This was the path of the Baal Shem Tov, who passed it on to his disciples, who in turn have kept the torch aloft throughout the generations.
This too, was the path of the tribe of Levi. The Levites could be counted on to perform their service for the entire Jewish people and not just themselves, which was why they were chosen for the holy task.

Adapted from the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Reprinted from  – LYO / NYC)

Der Mensch or No Choice for The Chosen People

Dateline Bet B’ Sivan in the Yediot Newspaper back pages: A former front line soldier for a choice unit was climbing Mt. Everest. He was only 150 meters from the top he stopped his climb to rescue a Turkish Climber who was near death and brought him to safety and there was a picture of the two shaking hands. His parents from Rehovot are proud of him. He achieved more with this act than the climbing of the summit!
Israeli Everest climber saves Turkish ‘brother’
Had he chosen to continue climbing, Ben-Yehuda would have been the youngest Israeli ever to make it to Everest’s summit. Nadav Ben-Yehuda was moving fast on the bitterly cold night of May 19, skillfully maneuvering through the final 1,000 meters from Mount Everest’s Camp IV to its summit – the highest in the world at an altitude of 8,848 meters.
He had trained for two years prior, climbing all over the world since he finished his army service, and he chose to do the final stretch of Everest – the summit climb – a day after the rest of his group to avoid pedestrian traffic jams, despite a less than desirable weather forecast and a dangerous extra day spent in Camp IV without a sleeping bag.
“When we started the climb I was supposed to be fully exhausted but I climbed really fast,” Ben-Yehuda, 24, told The Jerusalem Post, over the phone from Kathmandu, Nepal, on Tuesday afternoon. He continued trudging, with his Sherpa guide trailing behind him, until he suddenly came to a stop some 250 m. away from the summit. Shocked, he saw the body of his friend from the base camp, Aydin Irmak, 46, sprawled lifelessly on the icy ridges. “When we saw my friend Aydin there was no question,” Ben-Yehuda said, noting that on his way to Irmak he had already passed two dead bodies clipped to the climbing rope.
Knowing that they were going to die, these men had purposely fastened their bodies to the ropes affixed to the snow covered ridges, freezing into a permanent slumber. In the end, four people died on that icy Everest night – but Ben-Yehuda and Irmak were not going to be among the departed
“Spring 2012 will be remembered as the deadliest season of Everest ever,” Ben-Yehuda said.
Grayson Schaffer, an editor at Outside Magazine who is stationed at base camp, wrote on his magazine’s website that the mood at the camp since the weekend “has been overridingly gloomy since the news of the mishaps first began trickling down the mountain,” when four additional climbers died on Saturday.
Had he chosen to continue climbing, Ben-Yehuda would have been the youngest Israeli ever to make it to Everest’s summit.
 “It really changed my plans,” he said.
Lifting Irmak over his shoulders, Ben-Yehuda carried his Turkish-New Yorker friend alongside his Sherpa guide for about eight hours back down to Camp IV – without gloves, as they made the rescue process too challenging – and without oxygen, as his mask had already broken. “You don’t feel it straight away,” he said of climbing without oxygen, a sentiment that quickly changed. “You are about to faint all the time.”
During the breathless march downward, the group passed by a Malaysian climber, also prostrate and semi-conscious. Unable to carry a second person, Ben-Yehuda said he luckily soon crossed paths with a British climbing team, who were able to bring the Malaysian man oxygen and revitalize him.
The negative 40-degree Celsius temperatures left both men with severe burns all over their faces, and Ben-Yehuda’s ungloved hand is blackened to a crisp, some of which may need to be amputated, he explained. But eventually, the men made it back to Camp IV, where a helicopter came to their rescue – allowing both of them to live.
To Ben-Yehuda, the choice to forgo his summit climb and save his new friend was simple, a no-brainer. “Aydin was climbing the day before me – I found him on the way down. I decided not to go up,” he told the Post. “This was the idea and it worked, because we just ate dinner together.”
Ben-Yehuda was speaking on the phone from a dinner hosted by the Israeli ambassador to Nepal, Hanan Goder-Goldberger, at a new Kathmandu blind restaurant called Dining in the Dark, which is a partnership between the Israeli embassy and the Nepal Association of the Blind.
Calling Ben-Yehuda a “hero,” Goder-Goldberger said he was proud that despite all the physical training that the young man had performed to make it to the summit, he made the noble decision and turned around, to save a life.
Ben-Yehuda handed over the phone to Irmak, also at the dinner, who described to the Post his full-body exhaustion and the pain he was feeling waiting for his fingers to heal. Irmak, too, had lost his gloves in the 200-km. per hour winds.
The first problem for Irmak occurred when his Sherpa guide showed up late, causing him to trail two hours behind the rest of the group that had left on the evening of May 18.
“Unfortunately, also the mask of my oxygen broke,” he said. At the recommendation of the Sherpa guide, Irmak took his mask as well as three or four oxygen tanks of about 5 kg. Each and successfully completed the 11-hour walk to the summit. By the time he arrived there, members of his group that had departed earlier were already leaving the summit to return to Camp IV. “I was the only one, myself,” Irmak said. “On the way [to the summit] I also waited almost half an hour so that the strong wind would stop. You have to find a place to hide and wait.”
Once he found his window of opportunity to actually stand on the summit, Irmak stayed there for about five or six minutes and then began his treacherous descent. “I started walking and walking and walking,” he said. “I don’t know how long I walked.
And it of course was dark and I was out of oxygen. Then I needed to stop. I don’t remember.
The only think I remember is Nadav’s voice – ‘Aydin, Aydin, are you there brother? Can you move your legs?’” “When I woke up there were four dead bodies around me,” he continued.
The entire trip slumped over Ben-Yehuda’s back was a semiconscious journey for Irmak, but one from which he “remembers everything.”
“I kept saying, ‘You go, let me go.’ You know how hard it is to be carried,” Irmak said. “If you don’t let them go they’re going to die too. They had no oxygen and we only had one light.
“I believe I almost died,” he continued. “Nadav saved my life.”
In an effort to express his gratitude, Irmak tried to give his Everest summit certification to Ben-Yehuda, but the authorities would not allow such a transfer, he explained. Since they met at base camp, the two men “had a brother relationship,” according to Irmak.
“We were in a group of people from all over the world, but Nadav and I had a really good relationship,” he said. “Sometimes you see someone and you become automatic family, you make jokes.” The two brothers could not be bothered with the growing tensions between Israel and Turkey, and instead, continue to think of each other as family and friends. “I don’t know what the hell is going on between the two countries. I don’t care about that. I talked to his family today and I told them you have another family in Turkey and America,” Irmak said.
While Ben-Yehuda said he plans to return to Israel in another week or so, where his hand will be treated, Irmak said he must remain in Nepal until he can get his bicycle out of house arrest. After biking for two years around the world through 19 countries, beginning in Amsterdam, Irmak had a desire to literally “take this bicycle from New York City to the top of the world.” From Kathmandu to base camp, he carried the bicycle “Sherpa style on [his] head.”
While the authorities initially granted him a permit to take the bike up to 7,900 m., once he arrived at base camp they changed their minds and “arrested” his bike. This was around the time he met Ben- Yehuda, who was the first person to arrive at the base camp after the Turkish cyclist. Irmak is not only determined to climb a mountain again, but he is determined to do it with Ben-Yehuda. “If the opportunity comes I will go again. I am not scared of anything. I will climb one more time with Nadav.”
Ben-Yehuda too, who actually won a stair-climbing competition in Ramat Aviv two months ago, is determined to continue with his climbing. While he would like to return to Mount Everest at some point, he said that this mountain was never specifically his lifelong dream, like it is to many other climbers. “It’s not like a dream or something,” he said. “It’s a really interesting mountain and it’s the highest altitude. You have much more beautiful mountains in the Alps, but this is the highest altitude.”
For now, he will keep visiting the hospital in Nepal every morning for check-ups on his hand until he returns home, where he said he will definitely stay in touch with Irmak. “If you get me a passport to Pakistan I would go to K2,” he added, laughing.  “I believe I almost died,” he continued. “Nadav saved my life.”

The Holy Rabbi Chaim of Sanz

Rabbi Chaim of Sanz never turned away anyone in need, but when Shmuel needed to marry off his daughter, the tzadik just looked at him and refused to give him a penny. “I will give you some advice,” said the Rebbe, “and I will provide you with a letter of introduction to a person in Vienna named Nachum ben Yosef. You must get from him 500 gold rubles. Just remember one thing: Don’t take even one penny less than that amount.”
“But Vienna is a great city; how will I be able to find this person?” asked a stunned Shmuel.
“Don’t worry. Just go into one of the shuls. There you will meet a man who will take you to him for five silver coins,” replied the Rebbe.
The poor man soon found himself outside of the Rebbe’s room, perplexed at his situation. The way to Vienna was very far; his pathetic old horse would never make it. He sat down on a bench and thought for a while. He decided to sell the horse and proceeded on the journey. When Shmuel finally arrived in Vienna there were many shuls. He entered the first one and went up to the caretaker.
“Perhaps you know a person named Nachum ben Yosef?” Shmuel was afraid the man would laugh at him, but instead, he replied, “Yes, I know him and I’ll lead you to him for five silver coins.”
The traveler was thrilled with his good fortune. He gave the man the silver coins and a short time later they were standing in front of Nachum’s house. Shmuel knocked on the door and a distinguished-looking gentleman invited him inside. Shmuel handed him the letter from the Rebbe. “I don’t understand why the Rebbe thinks I should give you such a tremendous sum of money. I will be happy to give you one or two rubles, but 500 is out of the question.”
“No,” protested Shmuel, “The Rebbe told
me that I am not to accept even a penny less than the entire sum, and I am following his instructions!”
“All right, I’ll give you 50 rubles, but that’s it.”
“You don’t understand. The Rebbe told me I have to get the entire 500, and I must do exactly as he told me!” This continued for another half hour or so, with the gentleman offering a bit more, and Shmuel flatly refusing to budge. Finally, the Viennese gentleman was so frustrated he didn’t know what to do. He wanted to honor the Rebbe’s request, but 500 rubles was a fortune! He decided to ask his wife’s opinion on the matter.
After reading the letter from the Rebbe the woman said, “Please give him all the money he requests, and I will explain everything to you. Do you remember our trip to Budapest? When we were there, the Rebbe was also visiting. A wedding was about to take place, but none of the rabbis would agree to officiate because no one knew the groom. The bridal party was in a tizzy, not knowing what to do, when word was brought to them that the Rebbe himself would come. Finally the Rebbe arrived. He stood to the side, deep in thought, and suddenly asked that the bride’s parents be brought to him. ‘Tell me,’ he asked, ‘Did you ever have other children?’
“‘We had a little boy who drowned many years ago,’ replied the father.
“‘Would you tell me how it happened?’ asked the Rebbe.
“‘One day, we went on an outing to the countryside. The children went bathing in the river, and our son disappeared under the water. We ran, but by the time we came, there was no trace of him.’
“‘Do you remember if he had any particular distinguishing mark on his body?’ asked the Rebbe.
“‘Yes,’ answered the mother, ‘He had a deep scar on his knee where he had once fallen on a tree trunk.’ ”The Rebbe called over the bridegroom and asked him to roll up his trousers. Sure enough, there was the exact mark the mother had described. The parents fell on their son’s neck with tears pouring down their cheeks. With the power of his holy vision, the Rebbe saved the brother and sister from a terrible transgression. Word of this miracle spread from town to town, and people flocked to see this tzadik with their own eyes.
“I was present at the time, and I also went to the tzadik. I offered to give him a large sum of money to distribute to the needy. At the time, I didn’t understand his reply, for he refused to accept any money from me. He said that one day, one of his Chasidim would come and I could ‘pay him back’ then. Now I am asking you to give this man the entire sum of money that the tzadik requests from you.” The gentleman took the sum of money from a drawer and presented it to the Chasid. When the Chasid left, the woman turned to her husband and said, “There is one more thing I didn’t tell you. The bridegroom in the story is none other than our own son-in-law, the husband of our daughter!” Reprinted from – LYO / NYC

The Beard in Kabbalistic Teachings

Chasidim cherished their beards for two primary reasons. First, according to the Kabbalah, the Beard of a Jew represents great G-dly energy. In the terminology of the Zohar, “These thirteen Tikunim (connections) are found in the beard, and when a person has a complete beard he is called a loyal person, and all those who see his beard, place their Emuna (faith) in it.” The concept of the thirteen Tikunim is explained by the holy Ari Zal. Some of his explanation includes: the attribute Rachum, mercy (there are thirteen attributes of Divine mercy, the second of the thirteen being, “Rachum”) is manifested spiritually, in the hair that grows above the mouth…. He goes on to show the correlation between the different areas on and around the face in which the hair grows from, and the Divine thirteen attributes. In the language of the Zohar, “there are thirteen places from which the hair on and around the face grow from, and they are called the thirteen ornaments of the beard.”
This concept, found throughout Kabbalistic literature, simply means that the thirteen parts of the beard are the vessels and receptacles for the blessing from Above. It is the beard that is the vessel in which one causes the thirteen attributes of Mercy to be directed towards the person, bringing him sustenance and all other good things. Rabbi Chaim Vital, the most prominent student of the Holy Ari Zal says, “based on the words of the Zohar, one should reflect and realize how great a demerit it is to cut off any amount of hair from the beard, because all the hair of the beard is holy.”
... Wearing of a Beard

Here are some statements in the name of the Chazon Ish supporting the wearing of a beard for all adults and yeshiva students:
1. Rabbi Moshe Sternbruch, the author of Moadim and Zemanim wrote a letter to Rabbi Moshe Wiener, stating what he heard from his teacher about the Chazon Ish, Rabbi Yehoshu Karlitz, a major halachic decisor of the non Chasidic community. His teacher told him that when a Jew with a shaven beard would come to see him, The Chazon Ish almost regurgitated!
2. Rabbi Dov Yaffa, in his book Pe’er Hador, says that the Chazon Ish was very upset about the fact that Yeshiva students had justified the shaving of their beards. In fact, Rabbi Yaffa writes, “the Chazon Ish said that wearing a beard isn’t a Chasidic custom, rather it is a paramount principle of Torah. A Chasidic custom is required of Chasidim only, but growing a beard is universal, because it is an ‘ikar’, a fundamental aspect of Torah”.
Excerpted from To Be Chassidic, A Contemporary Guide, by Rabbi Chaim Dalfin – 0526-014-157, (347) 298-0046,,

Not your ordinary Shlichut by Miriam Metzinger,

Montana is known for its striking natural wonders, historical sites depicting the travels of Lewis and Clark and quaint glimpses into a version of America that is well-loved but quickly fading. Although there was a significant Jewish population in the past, particularly in the 19th century when Jewish pioneers flocked to the region, in recent decades, many of Montana’s Jews are leaving for larger cities and more vibrant Jewish populations.
It is no wonder then, that the sight of a rabbi dressed in chassidic garb caught the attention of non-Jewish officer John Fosket who was guarding the State Capital in Helena, Montana. The Chassidic Jew was Rabbi Chaim Bruk, Chabad shliach, who was making his way to the State Capitol for a menorah lighting. Fosket motioned the rabbi over and introduced him to his German Shepherd, affectionately named “Miky.” Fosket proceeded to tell Miky’s story.
Because of tightened security in all government buildings, Helena’s police forces were looking for the best bomb-sniffing dogn they could find. They were prepared to spare no expense, and yet they were looking for bargains, since dogs trained to detect bombs are not cheap or easy to find. When the Israeli Defense Forces offered the Helena Police Department a free bomb-sniffing dog for the price of a flight (such specialty dogs often fetch $20,000), they jumped at the chance. However, there was one problem: Miky had been trained in Hebrew. Although Fosket had scoured the bookstores and libraries in search of materials to help him learn enough Hebrew to speak to Miky, the dog didn’t seem to respond to his commands. He said Hi sha’er (stay!), Ch’pess (search!), and Kelev tov (good doggy), but the dog remained indifferent. When Fosket repeated the Hebrew phrases he learned, Rabbi Bruk informed him that the root of the problem was in the officer’s faulty pronunciation, and offered to give the officer private lessons on how to improve his communication with his dog.
A Chabad shliach is often faced with demanding tasks, from answering challenging questions late into the night, hosting dozens if not hundreds of people for meals and bringing the warmth of Yiddishkeit to faraway places. But after meeting Miky and his owner, Rabbi Bruk confesses that he has received something in return; after spending years searching in vain for someone in Montana to speak Hebrew with, he now can communicate with Miky the dog.

Ask Dr. Yosef:

I came to Israel about 9 months ago and after being in Israel for about one month I decided to try out a yeshiva. You should know, however, that my family growing up was completely non-observant so I had practically no knowledge of Judaism when joining the yeshiva, other than the fact that I am a Jew. I have now been in the yeshiva for about eight months and feel that this is my path. I feel like I have finally found the answers and meaning I was looking for. My problem is that I feel very torn between my new way of life and my old way. I miss my friends back home in the states and all the fun we had together. However, many of my friends are not Jewish and the “fun” we had wasn’t always all that kosher. Thus, I feel my desire for the “old life” is holding me back from really blossoming with my new spiritual path. Is there any way to rid myself of the desires for the old way?
Dr. Yosef replies:
This letter can be viewed as a follow-up to a previous letter, regarding the baal teshuva who was concerned about inviting his non-frum friends to his home. His fear was they might have a negative effect on his children. I commented that, sometimes, efforts to be “mikarev” people have indeed backfired and children have been influenced in the wrong direction. A key issue in whether to invite the friends had to do, in my opinion, with how complete the teshuva process was and whether the baal teshuva still yearned for the “good old days” and had nostalgic feelings about them. If he did, he was probably taking some unnecessary risks. Otherwise, he could potentially do a lot of good. ● Now, as for you, after nine months in Israel, you are like a newborn. You have made incredible progress, from completely non-observant with no knowledge of Judaism to being a full time yeshiva bochur. This is a truly impressive accomplishment. None the less, you are still a “baby” as far as Yiddishkeit is concerned. You need a lot more time to become comfortable with the changes and let them become part of you. There is so much to learn – both in shiurim in the yeshiva, and as a member of a frum community, which will, hopefully, surround you with a supportive environment and new friends. You also need to establish a close relationship with a mashpia/mentor who will be able to help you over the rough times and embarrassing moments so many Baalei Teshuva experience.
For now, I think you need to maintain a distance from your old friends. Let your desire for the old way cool off as you walk your “new spiritual path.” The more you immerse your self in the new way, the less appeal the old will have for you. There is no magic wand to wave, only to let the truth of Torah wash over you. Have faith and pray for it and it will happen.
Dr. Yosef Halbfinger – Personal, Marriage (Sholom Bayis) & Family Issues–English, Hebrew, Yiddish– Halachic Advisor:

There are two dangers involved here. The person can return to his old ways. Diane (not her name) was a girl in my 6th grade class. Her parents were worried about the religious high school in the city where I had taught. Upon graduating, Diane went to a school in Bnei Berak. Diane came back to the city looking very Frum and she visited a neighborhood Rebbitzen and said to me. “Hello Mr. Pauli”. Then came the summer vacation. My wife and I took a walk about a kilometer from our house to the Mercas Shikun. Again “Hello Mr. Pauli” it was Diane but with short-shorts, belly button showing and a low cut blouse. I asked Diane what is the meaning of this? She replied that Bnei Berak was too much for her. So I asked why the other extreme and not just a modern girl? That is the first danger of going back to old friends.
The second danger is going back and looking like a crazy fanatic and not being able to explain with enough knowledge what a Yeshiva is all about. After being established over the course of a number of years and things are not so new that one goes around wide-eyed and coming on too strong a mellow approach attracts outsiders better than fanaticism or half-baked ideas.

My Neighbor's Faith: The Rabbi And The Christian Cab Driver

I flew into Syracuse, N.Y., on a windy evening in October of 2000. After we landed, I hailed a cab. This not being New York City, where I am from, there was no cab line, no wait and no time to look at the car I was jumping into.

As soon as I was in the cab however, I noticed that pretty much every surface of the car's interior was covered with a JESUS LOVES YOU sticker, that there was a crucifix mounted on the dashboard and there were even little green pocket bibles hanging on strings at the point where the windshield meets the frame of the car. This wasn't just a cab, it was a rolling cathedral!

Part of me thought I should just jump out of the car, but we were already pulling away from the curb and I didn't want to cause any trouble or cost the driver his fare.

As he pulled out of the airport, the cabdriver, a middle-aged man with a scraggly beard, long greasy blond hair and wearing a red checkered shirt, cut off at the sleeves, was checking me out in the rearview mirror. He was actually using his rearview mirror to see if what he thought he saw on the back of my head (a kippah/yarmulke/skullcap) was really there.

Having decided that it was really back there, which it was, he finally asked in the raspy voice of a heavy smoker, "So, what do you do?"

I hesitated. Every fiber of my being said, Lie. In fact, I actually recall thinking of the other careers I had explored, and telling him about one of those. You see, I travel 100 nights a year for the work I do teaching, speaking and consulting, and although I love and miss my wife and kids, most of the time I relish the adventure of connecting with all the different types of people I meet on the road. At that moment, however, I did not want to connect with the cabbie.

All I wanted to do was sit quietly, get to my hotel, brush my teeth, put on a tie, and go give my lecture.

"I'm a rabbi," I said. I couldn't lie. Not because I'm so pious, but somehow, at that moment, it did not feel like the right thing to do.

"A rabbi!" he replied. "There are so many things I want to ask a rabbi."

"I bet there are," I responded, looking once more at my surroundings.

"So", he said, "Can I ask?"

"We are going 65 miles an hour down the highway, where am I going?" I said. "Ask away!"

He studied me. "You believe in the Bible, right?"

"Yes," I said, figuring this was not the time to bring up Old Testament, New Testament ... those distinctions didn't seem relevant.

"What do you think of Jesus?" he asked.

"Oh, an easy question" I deadpanned. "If you are asking me if I believe that Jesus is God's only son and the only way we can find salvation, no, that's not what I believe about Jesus. If you're asking if I believe that Jesus is one of humanity's great teachers from whom we all can learn, then yes, I believe in that Jesus."

A long silence followed my response to his question, followed only by a very loud "huh" from the front seat of the cab. I didn't know whether he was impressed or offended. Perhaps he felt I was mocking Christianity.

"But if you think Jesus is so great, shouldn't he be your path to salvation? Why if you believe the first thing, don't you believe the second, and why if you don't believe the second thing, do you believe the first?"

"I can believe that Jesus is a great teacher without believing that he is God's son and the only path to salvation. One truth doesn't negate the other. I can love Jesus in my way. And you can love Jesus in yours. There is room for both of our understandings of Jesus. I don't believe that you have to be wrong for me to be right."

"Whoooah" he said. "A rabbi who loves Jesus!" He was watching me so intently in his rearview mirror that he drifted off the road. Chunks of gravel flew up from under the wheels as we veered onto the shoulder and then back onto the highway. Was the price of my honesty going to be death by car wreck? I actually thought about all those times I had commented on God having a wicked sense of humor, and that this might be one of those times.

Eventually both the cabbie's breathing and his driving returned to normal. We were back on the road and staying in one lane, mostly. With that, my own breathing returned to normal, apparently enough for my driver to notice and continue our conversation.

"Rabbi" he exclaimed, "That whole you-don't-have-to-be-wrong-for-me-to-be-right thing, I've never heard anything like that before! Now there are so many more things I gotta ask you."

I didn't explain that I had never said it quite that way before -- I didn't see how that would help. I was struck however by the fact that in many ways, much of my life and work had been leading up to that formulation for most of my life. It was, it turns out, a momentous occasion for both us.

Even as I clutched the armrest and prepared myself for whatever was coming next, I empathized with the cabbie. I suspected that he lived a life in which his way was the only way, and it was incomprehensible and not just a little bit maddening that everyone didn't share his particular point of view.

I had been there. In the early 1980s, when I was a teenager, I had been a religious fanatic. I had left my family's upscale North Shore Suburban Chicago neighborhood to join a group of settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron. I felt absolutely sure of myself, absolutely sure of the meaning and purpose of my life, absolutely sure that my way was the only way to live.

I led tours for Jews through Hebron, with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other, pointing out every building with a niche for a mezuzah, the handwritten scroll that marks the door of a Jewish home. I showed them that regardless of contemporary maps, this land was ours. The Bible was our deed, because, according to the Book of Genesis, Hebron was the place where Abraham, the first Jew, had bought land for the tomb of Sarah, his wife. It is the place where Genesis says Abraham, Sarah and their children are buried.

Then something happened that shook me to the core. A group of Jewish settlers was attacked. In running down one of the assailants, three of the settlers fired into a school and killed two Palestinian students.

I was stunned by their deaths. When I sought the advice of one of the settlement movements leaders, he said, "Yes, this is a problem, but it is not a 'fundamental problem.'" That was when I knew something horrible had happened. Staying in Hebron was destroying the very things that had brought us there: the desire to take back power and walk the land our ancestors had. These are good things. But even the best things have limits. A lesson that I learned in Hebron was that the best things can become the most seductive and deadly -- great dreams become absolutist dogmas and people suffer on all sides.

The deaths of those students cracked me open. I realized that perhaps I didn't have all the answers, and the beliefs that had been driving my life were deeply flawed, or at least the entire program of their implementation was. I found myself suddenly outside the fold of the settlers' movement, and I felt desolate and not just a little bit lonely.

I tried to stay in Israel after the incident, but it wasn't working for me. The feelings of disillusionment and alienation persisted. So I came home. America, even with all of its materialism (much of which I happen to like) and consumerism, its culture of Coca-Cola and McDonald's, felt more spiritually healthy to me than the Holy Land. Because with all of its problems, this is basically a pluralist, inclusive culture; or at least more of its members aspire to that ideal than do the members of any other society I've experienced. I enrolled in the University of Chicago to study religion while remaining a traditionally observant Jew; I wanted a wider perspective on the forces and beliefs that had run my life. I wanted to explore the forest and not just hug one particular tree.

The University of Chicago provided that for me. I was influenced by Jonathan Z. Smith, who gave all religions a hard time but respected them as well. He moved with ease from Cargo Cults to ancient Israel to medieval Islam to the letters of Paul. I was also influenced by Jon Levenson, a warm engaging man with a wicked, and sometimes cutting, sense of humor. I decided to continue on with my studies, and I enrolled in the doctoral program at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan. I wanted to go into academia. I had no interest in becoming a rabbi.

I felt that rabbis just persuaded other people to imitate the rabbi; that they scored points by getting you to join their institution, and measured success based on how many people they signed up. While that was different from what was going on in Hebron, it seemed so to me only in degree, not in consciousness. I now know that many rabbis aren't like that, but I still feel that too often success for religious leaders of any faith is about getting their students to look, act and think more as they do. I aspire to use what I know to help people look more like the person they want to be; to find, to use an overused term, "their best self." I try to offer my teachings as a way to do that, not as an instrument of affiliation.

When I gave the cabbie my take on Jesus that night in Syracuse, I was speaking to him through the prism of my Hebron experience and how it had changed me. I was trying to help him see that my way was not the only way, and that although each of us was deeply committed to a particular tradition, we could remain open to the wisdom found in other traditions. I wanted him to appreciate that I could love and learn from his tradition, and that we did not need to agree in order to share that love.

I assumed the cabbie's strong reaction had to do with the fact that, as he said, he had found a rabbi who loved Jesus. But it was more than that.

"Rabbi" the cabbie said "Can I ask you another question -- it's about my wife."

Although I didn't say it, what I thought was, can I just have another Jesus question, please. But what I said in response was simply, "Sure."

The cabbie said that for years and years he had been a drug addict and an alcoholic. He had been in and out of detox programs. He had suffered relapses and broken countless promises to himself and others. He had been unable to hold a job and was often in trouble with the law. He had lived his life that way for as long as he could remember. And then he had been introduced to his church and his pastor, had found Christ, and had become clean and sober. Jesus had saved him.

I've talked to many addicts over the years, and I know what a difference Jesus can make in their lives. In Jesus they find a source of unconditional love-an affirmation of human dignity and infinite worth, no matter what transgressions they have committed -- an image of someone who suffered more than they have, no matter how much they have suffered. And in Jesus they find someone who literally came back from the dead, who was reborn.

Jesus had showed the cabbie how he could start over, and evangelical Christianity had been his salvation. But, he told me, he had a problem: his wife of 20 years wanted nothing to do with his religion, church or pastor. "She doesn't go to church with me, and she doesn't want to go to church with me," he said. "She doesn't believe what I believe. But she never gave up on me, through all the dark times. She stuck with me. And now..." His voice broke and he couldn't get out the words. "Plus," he finally added, "My pastor says that if she doesn't get the Message, then maybe I should get a new wife."

I could feel how torn he was. His most important teacher had told him that he had a choice to make. He felt pulled in different directions by the two things that mattered most in his life: his wife and his faith. Nobody had told him that his wife could be completely with him on his journey even if they were never going to be in complete agreement. My teacher in Hebron, for whom any difference was an excuse for disconnection, expressed the same mind-set. Either the cause was perfect and for everybody, or it was flawed and therefore for nobody.

"Look" I said to him, "I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you this -- you are a very lucky man. You are doubly blessed; first you were saved by your wife and then you were saved by your faith. I can't imagine why you would give up on either one of them. You can make room for both of them and for each other."

"Whoaaaaaa!" He shouted, and again we were swerving sharply to the right and heading off the road. I couldn't believe it -- I thought I was handling things so well, and for the second time in one day, I was about to die in the back of this guy's cab! Bu it turned out that while he was very excited about my response to his question, and was moving very fast, we were turning into the driveway of my hotel.

"Can I still pray for her?" he asked.

"For her to see the light? To believe what you believe? I guess so," I replied. "You probably wouldn't be you if you didn't pray for her. But if your praying starts to make you appreciate her less or any less able to sustain your relationship, then you are praying too much. Your wife doesn't have to be wrong for you to be right, and when it comes to Jesus, you don't have to wrong for me to be right either."

Having arrived at the hotel, I thought that we were done. I was wrong. As he screeched to a halt, he jumped out of the car and was coming around to open my door. He was moving with such speed and determination, that I thought this time I really had offended him. He threw open my door and was literally reaching in for me!

As I got out of the cab, I realized he wasn't upset at all, but he was shaking. He literally fell into my arms and put his head on my shoulder. It was only moments before I felt my collar wet with his tears.

So there we were, two middle aged men standing in the parking lot of a Syracuse hotel, hugging each other. We must have made quite a picture. After what seemed like a very long time but was probably only a couple of minutes, the cabbie pulled himself together, stood facing me as he sniffled a bit and wiped his eyes. He straightened himself, brushed his hair of his face, tucking it behind his ears, and stared at me hard in the eyes.

"Rabbi," he said "You'd make a good pastor!"

I felt honored -- it was his highest form of praise. I gave him one last hug and we were each on our way.

I have no idea what became of the driver, but I carry the lessons of our ride with me each and every day, and now you can too.

This column is an excerpt from 'My Neighbor's Faith: Stories of Interreligious Encounter, Growth, and Transformation.'
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The war of Gog and Magog or Armageddon

For some time I had nothing new to report on the subject only the Inyanay Diyoma. Recently there was a story of a man who underwent clinical so much that his family in France put him in a casket and it was close to being sealed. Not going into all the details about his life as a non-religious Jew and what he considered fun and enjoyment the only reason he made it back was that he used to help elderly people partially because it made him feel good when they smiled at his attention. He had a grandfather who was a great Rabbi and Dayan in Tunisia called the Chai Tayib. The Grandfather explained to him that he had to change his ways. He was not allowed to get into Gan Eden and the souls in the other world could only peek in to see the Tzaddikim there but it gave them hope. He was explained various forms of punishment or purging for the soul.

One of the things in the article and subsequent movie he produced on the subject (the movie I did not see) was that the war of Gog and Magog will include hundreds upon hundreds of planes from NATO Countries bombing Iran. In two other incidents recently the head of Ezer Mi Tzion and a Rosh Yeshiva came to Rav Chaim Kanyefski Shlita regarding their inability to obtain funds for the institutions. The Rav said hold on a bit longer as the Moshiach is coming in a number of “minutes” but since a “day” can be a thousand years the fact that minutes one should wait could be months or so. Everywhere I turn in Eretz Yisrael there is a feeling of soon the war will be upon us perhaps not tomorrow or the day after but very soon.  He also mentioned so many dead people from the war. Coming soon to your local military theater or a series of terrorist attacks in the western countries. and having options on the Table,7340,L-4233751,00.html


Bitterly disappointed: One person whom I thought had become Shomer Shabbos from a face to face meeting, posted on-line on Shabbos after years of reading all the writings and love of Shabbos for over twelve years made my jaws drop! People come to me for prays for healing, that their children will not marry a non-Jew, that their child will leave the drug addict or alcoholic spouse, and wonder why the prays don’t get answered. The answer is simple: Shabbos is Makor aka the source of the Bracha so what good is my Bracha or Prays if one plugs up the source of the Bracha.

Finally a number of links to Shavuos and Jewish Israeli News and a Shavuos Story

A Shavuot to Remember

A group of Chasidim of the Shpoler Zeide from a rural area had been suffering for years under the heavy yoke of their cruel landlord, a high-ranking member of Poland’s nobility, who owned all the land in that area. He was constantly raising the rents on their homes and the leases for their businesses.  What hurt most, though, were his vicious anti-Semitic twists. He had tried to force them to open their businesses on Shabbat. But his most recent depravity was the worst: he had issued a decree that in all buildings on his extensive properties, a depiction of the Christian god had to be displayed. The Shpoler Zeide’s Chasidim travelled to their Rebbe to tell him this latest tale of woe.

“I’ve waited a long time for that wicked man to change his evil ways,” said the Rebbe furiously. “He must be taught a lesson. It is time for him to hear the Ten Commandments. This is what you must do: Gather for the Shavuot holiday at the home of the Chasid with the largest property. But first, invite the landlord and all of his noble friends to come hear the festival morning prayers. As for you, prepare yourselves for the holy occasion of Receiving the Torah. I will come to join you. So, go in peace and don’t worry.”

The Chasidim were eager to carry out the Rebbe’s instructions. The villagers who went to invite the poritz were received pleasantly, much to their surprise. He promised that he and his associates would attend. He immediately launched preparations for a huge party for all the noblemen in the region, the highlight of which would be the spectacle of the Jewish prayer to which they were all invited.

The Shpoler Zeide arrived in the village on the eve of Shavuot. They quickly realized there would not be enough room on the largest farm for so many people. The Rebbe told them to go to the nearby hill, and raise up a large tent there.

On Shavuot morning, the grassy lands around the hill were crowded with hundreds of Jews, waiting in nervous anticipation. A significant number of non-Jewish landowners and nobility in the region also waited eagerly, looking forward to the wonderful spectacle their host had promised them.

The Rebbe approached the platform to lead the prayers himself. The Jews began to pray with enthusiasm. The gentiles – seeing an old man with a long beard, covered with an oversized white shawl, chanting loudly the words of the prayers – all laughed heartily. But when the Rebbe called out powerfully, “Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad,” their laughter ceased. It was as if a lion had roared. They were gripped by terror. How could a puny, absurd Jew make them afraid? But they couldn’t shake the mood. It was as if the Rebbe’s voice continued to reverberate off the hillside. A few minutes later, the praying Jews stood silently, reciting the Amida prayer, after which followed the joyous singing of Hallel and chanting of the Akdamot. The festival joy was palpable. The Rebbe signaled for the Torah scroll to be brought out.

The Shpoler Zeide then summoned a very tall, distinguished man to be the Torah reader. The reader’s voice was both musical and powerful. When they reached the section of the Ten Commandments, the atmosphere altered radically. It had been a beautiful, clear, spring morning. Suddenly, the heavens darkened, and tremendous peals of thunder boomed out. Fright took hold of everyone.  The reader’s voice rose in volume and intensity. “I am G-d who brought you out ofEgypt.” Though he did not know even a word of Hebrew, amazingly, the landlord understood everything that was being read. “You shall not have other gods before Me.  Do not make any statue or image…” The landlord trembled as he thought of how he had demanded the Jews put up graven images.  When he heard “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy,” his knees buckled. Why had he tried to force the Jews to open their businesses on the Sabbath?  His friends were similarly affected. They too felt they understood the commandments directly. Each one thought about his sins and was seized with fear. Their faces were deathly white. Many of them fainted. After a few moments which seemed like an eternity, the reading drew to a close and the noblemen recovered somewhat. Deeply embarrassed, they slipped away one by one.

After the prayers were concluded, the Jews sat down to the traditional dairy meal. The Shpoler Zeide related: “I assure you that the poritz and his friends will remember today for the rest of their lives and they will never afflict you again. To accomplish this I was forced to trouble Moses himself to come and read the Torah. You have a great merit, my friends, to have been here today.

The Rebbe continued, “Know that your landlord has in him a spark of Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law and the priest of Midian, who came to the Jews in the desert and acknowledged the existence of G-d…and thatIsraelis His chosen people.”

After the holiday ended, the duke requested that the Rebbe come to see him. The two men spent hours together alone and the next morning the Shpoler Zeide returned home.

From that day on, the landlord’s attitude towards his Jewish tenants changed dramatically. They were able to live in peace, without any unfair pressure from the landlord. Not only that, but with his own money he paid for the construction of a synagogue for the Jews on his estates, insisting, though, that it be built on the hill where the holy rabbi had come to pray.

Translated and adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles.  Yerachmiel Tilles is the director of the and websites. This story was first posted on the Ascent website. Ascent is a seminar-retreat center and hostel in Tzefat—call 972-4 692-1364 or from anywhere in Israel 1-800 30-40-70.  Reprinted from  – LYO / NYC Posted in BaMidbar #347, tell your children

Video with Rebbitzen Lori Platnik:

The truth is that there are too many IDF Charedi Reserve Soldiers:

Thanks to Chaiya Eitan

Customs of Chag HaShavuos:

Sites for Chag HaShavuos: also and

Shavuos from Aish HaTorah:

The brakes gave out and a whole family dies except for a miracle child:,7340,L-4232435,00.html

New Museum:

US Military Jewish Heroes: and

Major Scientific Breakthrough at Technion:

From Fran: This lady lives not so far from Fran or myself,  she fights in the Israeli Courts and between her and her husband they won a judgement against Syria a week ago the English Subtitles are on this film.

A Parable that Sheldon sent me: Holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, 'Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.' The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in.
In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful. But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering.
The Lord said, 'You have seen Hell. They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water.
The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and   plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, 'I don't understand. 'It is simple,' said the Lord. 'It requires but one skill...
You see, they have learned to feed each other. The greedy think only of themselves.'

Inyanay Diyoma

The Republicans are vetting Obama this year:

Rabbi Runs for the US Senate in CA: and he doesn’t like the Republican Establishment either:

The Palestinian People what nice people?!

Ed-op on the illegal immigrants into Israel at the rate of 1,700 a month plus white slavery and drugs which hopefully the new border fence with Egypt will stop it:,7340,L-4230916,00.html

Double-dealing with Israel by not putting sanctions on Iran :

I agree with Michael Savage that Romney is going to throw the election away:

From Sheldon: And Eliyahu and Elisha raised the dead and brought them back to Life:

A monkey wrench from Russia:

Wake up regarding Iran,7340,L-4233584,00.html

Work if you are able bodied:

Ominous Déjà vu by Moshe Feiglin

Unease. Déjà vu from Sharon's great Expulsion. It began with an article by Hagai Segal, who depicted the insistence of the residents of Migron not to move from their current location as a sort of childish stubbornness; as if they were picking a fight instead of accepting a solution. After all, Kedumim was founded after it was moved from its original location and ultimately it grew into an anchor settlement with satellite settlements around it. So how dare those 'children' of Migron, who never heard of settler leader Zambish, think otherwise?

After reading that article, I already began to feel that we lost: Migron, Ulpana Hill, it doesn't really matter what exactly will happen on the ground. Just like in Gush Katif, the on the ground struggle is really just make-believe. The real decisions on the fate of the settlements are being made in an entirely different place where the principle has already been determined – or to be more specific – preserved. Now it is just a question of price. The deal is really being closed between the settler leaders with the same old Sebastia/Kfar Maimon mentality and the Prime Minister's advisors.

I spent this week running to meetings with the Likud ministers, trying to convince them to vote in favor of the "Ulpana Law". They are all truly in favor of settlement. They genuinely do not want to see it destroyed. They want to help any way they can. But somehow, I left each meeting with a sinking feeling. Now as then, the real battlefield is above our heads, in a completely different place.

In a lively two-hour conversation, one of the ministers analyzed the entire scheme of considerations and pressures with which the government is dealing. He left no stone unturned as he explained the facts in detail and analyzed them once again. But he gave me no answer.

When we got up to leave, I said to him, "You know, there is a certain moment in which all the right answers are no longer relevant. The political outcome is really not important. The interests of A and the apprehensions of B make no difference; how C will react and what will transpire this way or that are irrelevant. There is a certain space that you enter, without even realizing that you are there. But if you continue from that space to make all of these logical calculations, you lose everything."

"That is true," said the minister (a truly brilliant man) "but we are not in that space."

And then I understood the problem. The problem is that "we are not in that space." And we are not there because of the same mentality that plagued us in Gush Katif. The destruction of Migron and the Ulpana Hill don't move us into that space: They are still being represented by the same Yesha Council, whose very existence will always ensure that we do not reach the space in which the settlers and their tens of thousands of supporters will embark on a genuine struggle to save their Land.

We all had a role to play in Gush Katif. We thought that we were going to Kfar Maimon to battle the Expulsion. But in truth, we were all actors in a make-believe struggle. Everything was already decided before we started out. Our role was to play a bit with the army. The army's role was to be sensitive and determined. Afterwards, we cried. It was everything but a struggle. The role of the Yesha Council was to ensure that we would never get to that space – to the genuine struggle.

The entire settler establishment is dependent on government funding. Even more, it is mentally dependent on the government. It is dependent on its ability to provide the goods; to ensure that the minister will always answer, "We are not there yet."

They refuse to understand that Judea and Samaria are "out;" that the reality has changed since the good old days of Sebastia and Menachem Begin. Today, an underground tunnel is being dug for a train between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The most logical and direct route for the tunnel is along highway 443. But that highway is in "Palestinian" territory and thus the tunnel will tortuously wind through the hills ascending to Jerusalem.

Judea and Samaria no longer exist in Israel's long-term plans. All they are is a huge white blotch in the middle of the map of Israel. This is the reality in which we have allowed the Left to corner us. They built a political border fence in the name of security; they created a new reality on the ground without asking anybody. All that is left now is to slowly gnaw away at the settlements until the opportunity for the final blow presents itself. The only new settlement currently being built by Israel is Ruabi – for the Arabs.

True, in the midst of this strategic process, Zambish can still get authorization for a public building here and to finish construction that had already been approved there. But the strategic picture is the negative of the gleeful days of Sebastia. The enticement to remain on good terms with the establishment, the source of the Yesha Council's power, blinds them to the necessity to fight it.

Currently, the settlement leadership is legitimizing the establishment that strives to destroy it. This situation requires us to fight against even the smallest blow to the settlements; to relate to the demand to move one caravan one centimeter as if it was the destruction of Ma'aleh Adumim. The settlers are being led to their destruction by leadership that is incapable of understanding reality. They will always agree to all types of arrangements; they will always buy short term relief in exchange for long term existence; they will always hasten the end instead of distancing it; they will twist and turn with Begin in Migron and will bring the bulldozers closer to the Ulpana Hill.

When Migron will G-d forbid be destroyed, or when the homes on Ulpana Hill will be sealed or even worse (or whatever "creative solution" they will reach there) the Yesha Council will decry the destruction. Nobody expects otherwise. Their role is to ensure that there will be no genuine struggle; that there will be no public atmosphere of doing everything possible for the cause. They will ensure that we will once again be dragged from our homes like harmless sacks of potatoes, while the country will continue with business as usual. Our rightist journalists will write terrible things about Netanyahu. Our Likud members will run from one minister to the next. The hilltop youth will continue to hate the state; our wonderful children will sneak into Migron in the middle of the night and wage a heroic and boring battle: Everyone will play his role in the grand drama whose finale has already been written.

What can you do? Circumvent Zambish. If you need funding for your settlement, turn directly to the relevant minister. Stop paying taxes to Amanah (the settlement organization). Do not vote for a local candidate who does not commit himself to stop funding Amanah. Understand that what made the Expulsion possible then, is making it possible today

Now for M. Wolfberg’s Good Shabbos Story two parts in one

Good Shabbos Everyone. The Sages have taught us that the time of Sefiras HaOmer is a time of special spiritual importance. Specifically, the Sages tell us that this is a time to work on our character. This is hinted to in the gematria - numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word "Omer" which is 49, which is also the numerical value of "midah" - character.
Historically, a great calamity befell the Jewish people during this period. Namely, 24,000 students of Rebbi Akiva died during Sefiras HaOmer because they did not treat each other with respect. (See, Yevamos 72b) Therefore, this is a special time of the year to work on ourselves. Rav Boruch Yadler has worked for several years for the organization "Yad L'Achim," an organization which works tirelessly to help bring Jews closer. Unfortunately, Rav Boruch was not well for many years of his life, and he therefore was forced to spend much time in hospitals. During one of his hospital stays, Rav Boruch noticed that there was a man in the bed next to him "Yechiel Kruger (not his real name)," whose children regularly visited.
Rav noticed that the man's children were seemed to be very fine, respectful, attentive to his needs, as well as being religiously observant. One evening, when the room was quiet and the last of the day's visitors had gone, Rav Boruch remarked to Mr. Kruger, "I've been working with children of all ages for years, and I can tell that your children are very special. How did you raise them that way?"
Mr. Kruger was surprised and pleased at the sudden compliment, although it was not the first time he'd been so complimented. He smiled sheepishly. "I've been very fortunate. Hashem has been very good to me. Years ago I wouldn't have imagined that my children would grow up this way."
"Oh, really?" said v sensing a story. "Yes," said Mr. Kruger. "I've noticed that you like stories, so you might find this one interesting." Yechiel Kruger then told his amazing story: He had been living in an anti-religious, atheistic kibbutz, sponsored by Shomer Hatzair, in northern Israel. Shabbos had no sanctity on the kibbutz, except as a day off from work.
One Shabbos afternoon Yechiel, or Chiki as he was called, took a leisurely drive to see the sights in Jerusalem. The ride was uneventful until he got into the heart of Jerusalem's Geulah neighborhood. Suddenly his jeep was pelted with stones, and youngsters were yelling, "Shabbos! Shabbos!" Chiki had no idea what they were yelling about. When another stone hit his car, he jumped out to chase the boy who had thrown that last rock.
But as he got out of his jeep, a well-dressed man came over to him and calmly took him aside. "I see you're not from around here, so perhaps you don't understand what these people want from you," he said. "Leave your car here - they won't harm it - and come with me." The man was very gentle and courteous and he put his arm around the young driver as they walked. The man, Rav Shapira, the rav of a local shul, invited Chiki into his home.
After the initial pleasantries of introduction, Rav Shapira began explaining some of the laws of Shabbos. Without justifying their actions, he tried as best he could to explain how strongly the rock throwers felt about violations of Shabbos in their midst. And then the rav added, "It's almost nightfall, stay with us until after Shabbos." Chiki agreed and in the course of the evening, the two became friends and exchanged addresses. Rav Shapira assured Chiki that he would stay in contact with him.
Within six weeks, Rav Shapira (the one who befriended Chiki when he mistakenly drove into the religious neighborhood on Shabbos) made his first visit to the kibbutz. Rav Shapira looked up Chiki Kruger and his family. Chiki was surprised that the rav had made such a long trip just to see him and invited him to stay for a meal. Rav Shapira explained that because of kashrus laws he could not eat there, although he agreed to have a cup of tea. Chiki and his wife and the rav chatted amiably for a while.
Mrs. Kruger was interested in continuing the conversation, for she was more religiously inclined than her husband. Although totally non-observant, she had an interest in Yiddishkeit (Judaism) and asked many questions about halachah (Jewish law) and customs that she had not been taught in her irreligious upbringing. Rav Shapira realized that the woman was searching to bring meaning into her life. The more he spoke to Mrs. Kruger, the more he became convinced that there was a spark of 'Yiddishkeit that was waiting to be fanned into a fire of faith. Rav Shapira only question was whether he could kindle it. When Rav Shapira was about to leave and was invited to return, he knew that the spark of Judaism would eventually ignite.
Within three weeks, Rav Shapira came back. Once again he and the young couple spoke about the purpose of life, the basic tenets of Judaism, and the possibility of leaving this particular kibbutz for a religious one. "If you are a socialist," said Rav Shapira, "be a religious socialist."
The Krugers couldn't see themselves moving from their comfortable surroundings, especially since they lacked the funds for such a move. However, just a day or two after one of Rav Shapira's visits, Mrs. Kruger received a letter stating that her request for restitution from Germany would be granted. The Wiedergutmachung Agency had helped her file a claim for damage to her family's property and for valuables lost during the Holocaust years. Now that her claim had been processed she would be getting a stipend every month. With their new-found fortune, the Krugers, who were becoming increasingly disenchanted with the emptiness of their life on the non-religious kibbutz, decided that indeed the time had come for a change.
With the help of Rav Shapira they resettled on a religious kibbutz. On the first Shabbos there, one of the Kruger children put on the light and caused an uproar, but they soon became accustomed to the religious rules and regulations and to their new and friendly surroundings. They began to enjoy a happy and fulfilling life.
Chiki, now sitting up in his hospital bed, ended by saying, "It was the pleasantness and diligence of Rav Shapira that persuaded us in the end. Right from the first day we met in Jerusalem, Rav Shapira never talked down to me. He understood my background and never held it against me. Instead, his warmth and genuine concern led our family back to the ways of our ancestors. Eventually we left kibbutz life and settled in Jerusalem, where my children attended wonderful schools."
Rav Boruch Yadler who was now also sitting up in his bed shook his head to and fro. "It's a beautiful story," he said, "with a very nice ending. Rav Shapira was exceptionally nice to you. But, in my experience, I have come to realize that not every non-religious person gets the opportunity to become religious and then go on to have such wonderful children. I get the feeling that there was something more, something unique that made you deserve this exceptional gift from Hashem."
Chiki knew that Rav Yadler was right. At first, he had not planned to mention the other part of the story because it was a personal matter. But everyone seemed to tell Rav Yadler everything, so he decided to tell him the rest. Rav Yadler would probably find a way to make good use of the story. Chiki smiled and told another story from an even earlier period in his life.
"Well, maybe Hashem was watching us for another reason, too. You see, I was one of the 'Yaldei Teheran,' the refugee children gathered from the concentration camp survivors who were transported through the Balkans and Turkey on the way to Teheran…" To be continued…  Continued from last week "…Well, maybe Hashem was watching us for another reason, too. You see, I was one of the Yaldei Teheran, the refugee children gathered from the concentration camp survivors who were transported through the Balkans and Turkey on the way to Teheran, from where they were eventually brought to Eretz Yisroel. I was placed in a kibbutz and there I spent my days and nights, thinking that I would be there forever. I met a girl who had come from Germany and I asked her to marry me. It was then that she told me she had a secret of great importance to tell me.
         She told me of her last emotional moments with her mother. The Germans had burst into her home and the Jews knew they were going to be carted away. Rumors abounded about parents being separated from their children, never to be reunited again. The desperate mother took her seven-year-old daughter, held her tightly, and said to her, "My dear child, they will soon take us away and who knows if we will ever be together again. I want you to promise me one thing. There is something called a Kosher Jewish home. You're too young to understand what it is, and there is no way that I can explain it to you today. When you get older go to a Rav and he will explain what it means. Promise me that you will abide by those laws."
         The little girl was bewildered but saw the seriousness in her mother's face and promised to obey her wishes. Mother and daughter were torn apart and never saw each other again. But she remembered. Years later, after being freed from the torture of imprisonment in the valley of horror and death, she went to a Rav and learned the significance of her promise.  Although she was not an observant Jew, she resolved to keep "a Kosher Jewish home."        
         "As we walked in the field," continued Mr. Kruger, "she told me that she could only consent to marry me if I would agree to her commitment. The fact that we would be living on a kibbutz where no one else observed these laws would make matters very difficult. But the young woman was determined to uphold these laws. I told her I would need time to think about it and asked for three days.
         After much thought I told her that I would agree to her condition. All the years that we lived on the kibbutz, we had to make extra efforts, usually in secret, and often go to the nearby town. Nevertheless, we were very serious about the promise, and until we met Rabbi Shapira, that was the one mitzvah that we observed.
          Now R' Boruch Yadler smiled broadly. "I knew your children were special. Indeed, they are truly holy children." And then he repeated it again softly. "Pure and holy children. It's no wonder Hashem gave you both the opportunity to become observant Jews." (From, The Maggid Speaks, R. Paysach Krohn, p.106)
         This week's Torah portion is Bamidbar, which literally means "in the wilderness" or "in the desert." The verse refers to the desert where the Jewish nation received the Torah. As we approach the Yom Tov of Shavuos, which celebrates the receiving of the Torah at Har Sinai, let us delve into the Midrash's interpretation as to why the Torah was given in a desert.
          Among other reasons, the Midrash explains that Hashem gave the Torah in a desert to show that in order for a Jew to acquire Torah knowledge, he must make himself barren and desolate from all foreign ideas. Just as a desert is void of settlement, so too must a Jew's mind be clear of spiritual pollution such as popular "culture," (sic(k)), before he can begin to acquire Torah knowledge.
          Commentators have added another allegorical reason why Hashem chose the desert as the place to give the Torah. Hashem wanted to teach the generations a lesson about how important it is to keep the Torah, even in the most remote places in the world. Just as the Jews received and upheld the Torah in the barren desert, so too must every Jew uphold the Torah even when he finds himself in a place with little or no Torah institutions.  Good Shabbos Everyone.
M. Wolfberg is sponsored by: In memory of R' Yaakov ben Naftoly, of blessed memory Refuah Shleima to Reb Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah

A good Shabbos and a blessed Torah filled Yom Tov,
Rachamim Pauli