Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rav Shmueli on Yishmael and Geula

From Rav Shmueli's newsletter on Parshat Toledot, p. מד with my translation:

It says:
וְאֵלֶּה תֹּלְדֹת יִשְׁמָעֵאל, בֶּן-אַבְרָהָם: אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה הָגָר הַמִּצְרִית...עַל-פְּנֵי כָל-אֶחָיו, נָפָל
Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian...over against all his brethren he did (settle) [fall].
The key to understanding this foundational idea is found in the words of the Baal Haturim (Bereishit 25:18) which refer back to the last verse of Parshat Hayei Sarah, and these are his words:
"against all his brethren he did fall" and juxtaposed to it is "And these are the generations of Isaac" to tell you that when Yishmael falls in the End of Days, then [Mashiah] Ben David, who comes from Yitzhak, will sprout.
The name "Yitzhak" hints at the era where we are promised אז ימלא שחוק פינו - the Torah reveals to us in Parshat Hayei Sarah that the link that will transfer us from the era of subjugation to Yishmael to the era that is hoped for which is in the aspect of Yitzhak - is called "Yishmael:  over against all his brethern he did fall."  One cannot go from era to era as long as this verse is not being fulfilled.

Holy Haza"l revealed to us the root of Yishmael.
Bil'am said: HKB"H created 70 languages in his world and He only placed His name on one of them - Israel. Once, however, HKB"H equated the name of Yishmael with the name of Yisrael, woe to whoever lives in his days, as it says, (Bemidbar 24:23) "אוֹי, מִי יִחְיֶה מִשֻּׂמוֹ אֵל" (Pirkei DeRibbi Eliezer, end of chapter 30)

And:
Why was his name called Yishmael? This is because in the future, HKB"H will hear the sound of the cries of the [Jewish] people from what the children of Yishmael are destined to do in the End of Days. Therefore, his name is called "Yishmael", as it says ישמע א-ל ויענם (Pirkei DeRibbi Eliezer, chapter 32; compare also to Rabbeinu Bahye, Devarim 37)
We see that Haza"l have revealed to us that the fact that HKB"H's name is woven in the name Yishmael points to the fact that in the future, the children of Yishmael will bring great troubles upon Israel, and those troubles, Lo Aleinu, will bring Israel to cries and wails of אוי.

We will bring down the words of Rav Hayim Vital, who wrote impassioned words about the final exile - the exile of Yishmael - how difficult it is and how much we need to do Teshuva.

[It says:] שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת, לְדָוִד: לוּלֵי יְהוָה, שֶׁהָיָה לָנוּ, etc. You already know that there are only 4 exiles, but at the End of Days, Israel will still be in the Exile of Yishmael. And the Zohar at the end of Parshat Lech Lecha says that Yishmael, being Avraham's son and circumcised, is called "a wild-beast of a man" and not a complete man because he did circumcision without Peri'ah. However, there is a 5th exile which is the final one that is harsher than all of them, which is the Exile of Yishmael who is called "a wild-beast of a man" as we mentioned. And he is not compared to the wild animals [in Daniel]. And then, the Jews will say,'If it had not been the LORD who was for us, when men rose up against us,' as he is a man, being that he is the son of Avraham, so he has Zechut Avot. And he also has the merit of circumcision, and this is another reason he is called a man. Therefore, his exile will be more powerful than the other 4 kingdoms, as Raza"l said that he is called Yishmael since Israel is destined to call out great cries during his exile and then, Hashem will hear them and answer them. And because the other [4] nations always had rulership over other nations, which is not the case by Yishmael, as the Arabs were always tent-dwellers in the deserts, who did not deal with others, but rather, they were compared to thieves who go out and take from people and return to their tents. And afterwards, they are destined to rule over the world and Israel. [The verse continues:] "Rose up against us" as the Zohar explains [the verse] "Now there arose a new king" - he was the lowliest of nations and now rose up as king. [The verse continues:] "Then they had swallowed us up alive" - in other words: then, at this time, this fifth exile is different than everything in the past, as they [Yishmael] wants to swallow us alive for Has Veshalom "when their wrath was kindled against us", they want to wipe away the name of Israel from under the heavens similar to something that is swallowed, whose existence is not known at all, as if it never existed. (Etz Hada'at Tov)

And in Mesechet Bechorot (8b) is related the story of the dispute between Ribbi Yehoshua Ben Hananya and the sages of Athens, where Ribbi Yehoshua told Caesar that a snake's gestation period is 7 years, and the Caesar told him that the sages of Athens say that a snake's gestation period is 3 years, etc. In this dispute, there is a hint to what will happen during the time of Mashiah Tzidkenu.

The Gr"a explains that the snake is a hint to Mashiah, who is a descendant of Yishai (King David's father), who is called a "snake" (see Shemuel Bet 17 and Shabbat 55b). Similarly, as is known, נחש is the same gematria as משיח (both are 358 - see Adir Bamarom by the Ramha"l, p. 339). The gestation period of a snake symbolizes the period of numerous and terrible troubles which are said to come before Mashiah, and which are named by Haza"l "The birthpangs of Mashiah", since the verse allegorizes it to birth pangs that precede the birth of a child (Yeshaya 26:18, Yirmiya 30:6; see Sanhedrin 95b and Ketubot 111a).

The designated period, at whose end will come the future Final Redemption, will last 7 years. The first 4 years will be full of increasingly strong troubles, only in the fifth year will the situation start to improve, and in the eighth year, Mashiah will come (Sanhedrin 97a, see there specifically what happens in each year). The sages of Athens hold that the Redemption will not start until the fifth year, which is the year where things start to get better. It comes out that the gestation of Mashiah lasts only 3 years - 5th, 6th, and 7th. However, the Jewish sages know that even though the Redemption will start with troubles, it's still possible that Hashem will make the yoke of exile heavy so that we will reach the threshold of troubles that were decreed against us quicker, which would thereby allow us to reach the period of fortune quicker. Such is exactly what occurred in the Exodus from Egypt where the servitude was made harsher closer to the end. (See Shemot 5:6-17, the expression "קושי השעבוד השלים" is brought down in Aharonim quoting Midrashim, and see what the Tzela"h writes on Pesahim 116b.) Therefore, all 7 years - including the 4 of increasing troubles - are included in the gestation period of Mashiah.

When will Mashiah come?

When will Mashiah come? Why does he delay? This question keeps everyone busy, and the holy Alshi"ch ZT"L answers it in Parshat Hayei Sarah!

The holy Alshi"ch asks why all the previous exiles have a set period set from the beginning, [like] "and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years" in Egypt and 70 years for the Babylonian exile, whereas our exile, which is called "The exile of Edom" has no preset amount of time!

He answers that all the exiles are dependant on the ministering angel of that nation, and when a number of years pass, it loses its power to subjugate Israel, and they are redeemed from his hands. However, the ministering angel of Edom draws its power from a certain source, and it increasingly gets stronger as long as power is added to it. Who is this ministering angel and what is the source of its power?

The Midrash says that S"M is the ministering angel of Esav, and as it's known, S"M draws its power from sins and iniquities! If we want to bring an end to the exile, we need to cut off the power source of the ministering angel of Esav. This is done by adding Mitzvot and doing Teshuva for sins. Haza"l already said, "All end times have passed, and the matter is only dependant upon repentance"!

Do not say, "The nation is far away from Teshuva and is therefore far away from Redemption." Not at all! Everyone should look at himself or herself and improve his ways, perhaps with one Mitzva, he will merit to start a revolution. Haza"l said, "If one does one Mitzva, he can tip the scale for himself and the whole world toward the status of merit"! One should do Teshuva - maybe he will start a revolution, as Haza"l say, "An individual who repents causes forgiveness for himself and for the whole world"! All the more so, if a group improves its ways, whereby it is written that if one group will repent, in their merit, the Redemption will come!

Remember! Every Mitzva weakens the power of "the ministering angel of exile" and brings the Redemption closer!!!

The holy Torah

The main path to Redemption, writes the holy Or Hahayim, depends on Torah learning, because [the Redemption] is in the merit of Moshe Rabbeinu, and this is why the exile continues since Moshe Rabbeinu does not want to redeem those who waste time.

This is why it says "The voice is the voice of Jacob", who needs to strengthen the voice of Torah, upon which the Redemption is dependant, and then, the hands will not be the hands of Esav.

And on this, the Or Hahayim writes on the verse "he washeth his garments in wine" that wine is Torah learning (especially learning Zohar, as is known). Then, a person is purified and fit for Redemption, but if not, Has Veshalom, "and his vesture in the blood of grapes".

If so, everything is through Yaakov, which is Am Yisrael, whose voice is chirping in the synagogues. And with this is dependant the fulfilment of this blessing in this generation. And everything is dependant on the letter vav of the word קול because the letter vav makes the difference if the voice of Yaakov is קל (light) or קול (a real voice). And it's known that the letter vav is a hint to Yaakov and to Torah. And also, גאולה with a vav = 45, which explains the expression "גאולה שלמה של מ"ה" (since the שם מ"ה corresponds to the vav in Hashem's name, as is known).

And the Rav "Birkat Eliyahu" brings down in the name of the books of Rabbeinu Ephraim on "Vayehi" why this Torah portion is closed. And he writes that it is connected to the previous Perasha where it says that the children of Israel were in the land of Goshen "and they got them possessions therein, and were fruitful, and multiplied exceedingly (מאד). And Jacob lived..." The word מאד has a gematria of 45 because there are 45 days between MBY and MBD and after these 45 days (which equals מאד), MBY will be killed, and then, "And Jacob lived" - MBD will come and will revive him and all that were killed with him.

And this is what Habakkuk (2:3) writes, "אִם-יִתְמַהְמָהּ, חַכֵּה-לוֹ though it tarry, wait for it" - if it tarries, wait מ"ה - i.e. 45 - more days. And the following day, which is day 46, MBD and his people will come to assist him.

Kings of Edom as Empires and Chiefs as Presidents?

Here's an idea that crossed through my head.  I don't know how accurate it is or if it's totally baseless, but you can be the judge.

Parshat Vayishlah concludes with the 8 kings and 11 chiefs of Edom:

וְאֵלֶּה, הַמְּלָכִים, אֲשֶׁר מָלְכוּ, בְּאֶרֶץ אֱדוֹם--לִפְנֵי מְלָךְ-מֶלֶךְ, לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.
And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.

Perhaps, these kings refer to world empires who ruled over the traditional "Land of Edom", which was to the south of Eretz Yisrael and not necessarily Edomite kings.  These were basically the same empires that ruled over Eretz Yisrael, starting after the Hashmonaim.

The first (#1) is:
 וַיִּמְלֹךְ בֶּאֱדוֹם, בֶּלַע בֶּן-בְּעוֹר; וְשֵׁם עִירוֹ, דִּנְהָבָה.
And Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom; and the name of his city was Dinhabah.

This refers to the Romans themselves.  This is the only king for whom it is mentioned that he ruled "in Edom" as Rome is the headquarters of "Edom" (which is different than the "Land of Edom").  He is called Bela since Rome swallowed up all other nations.

For #2, we have יוֹבָב בֶּן-זֶרַח מִבָּצְרָה who represents Byzantium.

For #3, we have חֻשָׁם מֵאֶרֶץ הַתֵּימָנִי, representing the Persian Sassanids for the short period that they had control (חשם is a bit similar to Khosrau, who also fought in Yemen).

For #4, we have הֲדַד בֶּן-בְּדַד, representing successive Muslim caliphates; namely, the Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, and Fatimid Caliphates.

For #5, we have שַׂמְלָה מִמַּשְׂרֵקָה, representing the Crusaders.

For #6, we have שָׁאוּל מֵרְחֹבוֹת הַנָּהָר, representing the Ayyubids, Mamluks and briefly, the Mongols.

For #7, we have בַּעַל חָנָן בֶּן-עַכְבּוֹר, representing the Ottoman Empire.  (Note the death of the last Ottoman princess earlier this year.)

For #8, we have הֲדַר, representing the British Empire, whose current monarch is still living since that time, just as the Torah does not record the death of Hadar (unlike the other kings).

Regarding the chiefs mentioned immediately after the kings, we can possibly say that starting at the birth of the State of Israel, the great empires of the world are no longer, and the great powers of the world have shifted to nations that are ruled by presidents - not kings. First and foremost among them is the United States of America.

When the British Mandate left Eretz Yisrael in 1948, Harry Truman was President. However, since his presidency did not start in that year, we will begin the chiefs starting from his successor, as follows:

Chief of EdomCommander in Chief
תִּמְנָע
Eisenhower
עַלְוָה
Kennedy
יְתֵת
Johnson
אָהֳלִיבָמָה
Nixon
אֵלָה
Ford
פִּינֹן
Carter
קְנַז
Reagan
תֵּימָן
Bush I
מִבְצָר
Clinton
מַגְדִּיאֵל
Bush II
עִירָם
Obama

As I once mentioned long ago, the Midrash says that Iram will empty his treasuries to give treasures to the Mashiah.

And immediately following listing the chiefs, it says:

וַיֵּשֶׁב יַעֲקֹב, בְּאֶרֶץ מְגוּרֵי אָבִיו--בְּאֶרֶץ, כְּנָעַן
And Jacob dwelt in the land of his father's sojournings, in the land of Canaan.

May that day come very soon.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Great Miracles from Pillar of Cloud

Ladaat has a regular piece by Rav Avishai Ifargon that is always interesting.  This week, he notes the numerous miracles that HKB"H performed during this 8-day war and that it is no coincidence that it occurred in the same month as Hanukka.

Some of his main points:
  • It was not uncommon to hear "Nes Gadol", "Baruch Hashem", "Nissim Geluyim", among other phrases on secular radio.
  • There are many miracle stories, like the unexploded rocket on the roof, the busdriver who got everyone off the bus seconds before the bus was heavily damaged by a rocket that landed nearby, the fact that no one was killed from the bus bombing in Tel Aviv, the heavily-damaged building in Rishon Letzion where injuries were minor and few, and many more. 
  • Less than 4% of the rockets hit populated areas.
  • Iron Dome is also a miracle, but one that is dressed in "nature".
  • The fact that Iron Dome was successful almost 90% of the time surprised many when they originally thought that it would only work 10% of the time.
  • We need to show gratitude to Hashem for the miracles He does.  King Hizkiya was denied becoming the Mashiah for not sing praises to Hashem as King David did (Sanhedrin 94a).  Therefore, when we thank Hashem for His kindnesses, we can hasten the Geula.

Weird Israeli Politics Day

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

War and Hudna Links

War and what links?

Rav Shmuel Eliyahu on the war

Breitbart quotes Jameel on the post-ceasefire rockets and a poll saying that 70% oppose a ceasefire

Batya's interesting take on the ceasefire, which I agree with

Rav Moshe Shternbuch's Red Alert to Klal Yisroel

Rav Lazer Brody: Ceasefire, Hamas Style

Ladaat has Rav Glazerson's war Torah code

Rav Amar Encourages the Soldiers

Source: Kikar

Kikar reports that Rav Amar went to bless, pray with, and encourage the soldiers.  He met with the army's chief rabbi - Rav Rafi Peretz and with Golani soldiers.

He said: "Just as the Pillar of Cloud separated between the Israelites and the Egyptians, so too you will protect Am Yisrael from the murderers, as it says: and the pillar of cloud removed from before them, and stood behind them; and it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel.

"Am Yisrael did not wander in the desert as long as the Pillar of Cloud was in the camp, hovering over the Mishkan.  The same with today - Am Yisrael feels secure in the merit of your being here, and will not wander and will not flee as long as you are guarding over the people who dwell in Zion.

He added: "You are a sample of the people - our heroes.  We stand behind you. [And it says:] Ye draw nigh this day unto battle against your enemies; let not your heart faint; fear not, nor be alarmed, neither be ye affrighted at them; for the LORD your God is He that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Yosef Fartuk HY"D

Last week, 3 people from Chabad, and now a Breslover soldier - Yosef Fartuk HY"D - were killed by rockets shot from Gaza. 

May Hashem avenge their blood.

War Hints

Someone put out this pamphlet with a whole bunch of interesting Remazim (hints) about the current war.

It includes writings from Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Shmuel Baruch Ganot, Rav Ron Abuhatzeira, Rav Avraham Yitzchak Weinberg, Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz, Rav Mordechai Almakias, Rav Ben Tzion Mutzafi, and Rav Yekutiel Fish.

For the Hebrew speakers among my readers, check it out.

One sample from Rav Fish:

The Milui of עמוד ענן, which is עין מם ואו דלת עין נון נון, is the gematria of 999, and when you add the Kollel, is equal to משיח בן יוסף משיח בן דויד.  [YY - And if I'm not mistaken, 999 is a very important number in Kol Hator.]

Update: Indeed, in Kol Hator, it refers to the 999 footsteps of Mashiah.  Also, in chapter 2 of Kol Hator, 999 is the gematria of ועת צרה היא ליעקב and of the Milui of one of Hashem's holy names:

א-ל ש-ד-י 

which is referenced in Kol Hator from Bereishit 28:3 from the end of last week's Perasha.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Interesting Pillar of Cloud Links - Vayetze 5773

The Muqata and YWN are live-blogging the war

Mystical Paths is "life-blogging" the war, and I especially liked his entry from Sunday

Hezbos and Mashiach's Wife both use Yeshaya 11:14 to apply it to the war

Some interesting war links from CosmicX

Life in Israel has What Really Protects Israel

Dog saves owner in Ashkelon

Unexploded rocket found on a roof in Ashdod by a Gerrer Hasid

Rav Ovadia's granddaughter's Hatan got a Tzav Shemona at the Eirusin

Agudath Israel of America's message

Shirat Devorah tells us about the Shmira Project

RCA, OU, and Young Israel call for an increase of Torah study along with Tefilla and Tzedaka

Israel takes over Hamas TV programming and they're using it to broadcast warnings  (I personally think that they should use it to replay over and over an unedited version of the video of Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlit"a singing "Yom Adir LeYisrael, Yom Arur LeYishmael", but that's just my opinion)

Friday, November 16, 2012

War Prayers and War Halachot

Arutz Sheva:
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has called on Jews to seek divine protection as well as taking safety measures. He declared Friday that worshipers should say Psalm 83 for the safety of Israeli civilians and soldiers after opening the Aron Kodesh, both on the Sabbath and during the week, for the duration of the military operation.

In addition, he called to recite the Avinu Malkenu prayer, not said on the Sabbath, at the end of weekday morning services (Shacharit). The prayer beseeches G-d as “Our Father, our King” to show mercy and grant divine protection.
Also, at Arutz Sheva:
Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Former chief rabbi Ovadia Yoeph decided, Thursday evening, to hold a massive gathering of prayer for spiritual awakening and on behalf of the soldiers, Sunday afternoon at 4:00 at the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The chief rabbi said, "The people of Israel lives, and its success depends on its unity and faith." He sent out a prayer of recovery for the wounded and condolences to the families of those who were killed, concluding, "It's our duty, at this hour, to strengthen the residents of the south and our heroic soldiers in prayer."
Also there:
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Tzfat, spoke to Arutz Sheva on Friday about the relevant halacha (Jewish law) for observing the Sabbath during the ongoing rocket assault from Gaza.

He noted that during a time of war, Jews say the prayer, “Give thanks to G-d because his kindness is forever,” omitting the words “because it is good” that are usually said. “Why not say ‘because it is good’? Because it isn’t good.”

“We do our task because we have no choice, but it’s important to know that we do not love war,” he explained. “We want peace. But now, when we need to fight against villains like those in the Gaza strip, it is a positive commandment to fight them.”

Reservists who think they may be called to service should prepare a bag with the things they need before the Sabbath, including items not used on the Sabbath such as a mobile phone, Rabbi Eliyahu said.

Soldiers who have been called to service should do whatever they are asked to do in order to prepare. “Checking ammunition, [shooting on the] firing range – everything is allowed, even though he is not certain that his unit will go into Gaza,” the rabbi said.

“During the battle itself one must fight bravely with no mercy for the cruel, because those who are merciful to the cruel are ultimately cruel to the merciful,” he added.

Civilians living in southern and central Israel should set their radio to the quiet channel before the Sabbath begins, he said. Those in the north should not turn on the radio, even to the quiet channel.

“In general, one should continue life as usual – go to synagogue, etc,” Rabbi Eliyahu said. “If there is a rocket alarm one must take cover, even during the Amidah prayer. But in that case, stop praying, but silently, no talking. When the incident ends, return to the same place and continue from where you stopped.”

Everything needed in case of rocket alarms should be prepared in advance, he noted. If a family forgot to prepare a light for the reinforced room and must take shelter during the Sabbath, and children are crying because they are afraid in the dark, a child may turn the light on, he said.

Rabbi Eliyahu concluded with good wishes for the nation. “May G-d watch over and protect and save and take mercy on all of his sons and daughters, on the people of Israel, on all the soldiers. May He give wisdom and knowledge to the commanders to make the right decisions, courage to our leaders to protect the people of Israel without fearing the nations of the world at all,” he said.

הֲכִי קָרָא שְׁמוֹ יַעֲקֹב, וַיַּעְקְבֵנִי זֶה פַעֲמַיִם

The title comes from this week's Perasha.

Ma'an News explains how Hamas leaders were fooled by Israel into thinking that there was a truce.

As it says in Tehilim 18:27 and Shemuel Bet 22:27, we must act crookedly with those who are crooked.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

WND on Rav Yehuda HeHasid's Mashiah Predictions

12th-century rabbi predicted Israel's future

JERUSALEM – Judah Ben Samuel was a legendary and prolific German rabbi of the 12th century who made some astonishing and specific predictions about the future of Jerusalem and Israel that came true.

Judah Ben Samuel, also known as Judah he-Hasid (Judah the Pious), lived and worked from the end of the 12th century until the beginning of the 13th century in Regensburg, authoring a number of books in the German language.

Ludwig Schneider of Israel Today magazine has translated some of his work into English over the last few years, including “The Book of the Pious – Sefer Hasidim” and the “Book of Calculations – Sefer Gematriyot.”

Following the Christian crusades to the Holy Land, between 1096-1270, a regular correspondence developed between the Jews in the Holy Land and the Christian West. Thus, for example, the rabbis in Worms and Regensburg in Germany knew that Saladin’s Ayyubids had been ruling in the Holy Land since 1187.

At this time, Judah Ben Samuel published the results of his biblical calculations (Gematria) and astrological observations and summarized as follows: “When the Ottomans (Turks) – who were already a power to be reckoned with on the Bosporus in the time of Judah Ben Samuel – conquer Jerusalem they will rule over Jerusalem for eight jubilees. Afterwards Jerusalem will become no-man’s land for one jubilee, and then in the ninth [tenth] jubilee it will once again come back into the possession of the Jewish nation – which would signify the beginning of the Messianic end time.”

...
(I believe that there is a misprint in the WND article and when it said "ninth", it meant "tenth".  And later in the article, this is clarified.)

Read the whole article to see how his calculations materialized until now.

I have not found the text of his Sefer Gematriyot online.  If anyone knows of one, please let me know.

According to Rav Yehuda HeHasid, 5727 (Six Day War) was a Yovel and the next Yovel is 5777. 

This would be very close to another theory on when Yovel is - 5776, which I attempt to fit with the Zohar Hadash in Balak.

May we merit Mashiah's arrival much earlier than Yovel, as it says:  
וְאִם-מְעַט נִשְׁאַר בַּשָּׁנִים, עַד-שְׁנַת הַיֹּבֵל--וְחִשַּׁב-לוֹ; כְּפִי שָׁנָיו, יָשִׁיב אֶת-גְּאֻלָּתוֹ

Another Chabad of India Sheliha Murdered on Holtzbergs' Yahrtzeit

3 people were murdered by terrorists' rockets in Kiryat Malachi:

Aharon Smadga, HY"D
Itzik Amsalem, HY"D
Mira Scharf, HY"D

Mira was visiting from New Delhi where she was the Chabad Sheliha to that city.

Today, Rosh Hodesh Kislev, is the Yahrtzeit of the 6 people killed in Mumbai, including the Holtzbergs - the Shelihim of that city - 4 years ago.  (See more at Kikar about this.)

See photos of the aftermath of the latest attacks here.

May Hashem avenge their blood.

Update: Algemeiner reports that she was in Israel specifically to commemorate the Holtzbergs' Yahrtzeit.

6 Million Jews

Rafi, among others, had recently noted that we are at - or almost at - the point of 6 million Jews living in Israel.  (I also noted this with a link a few months ago too.)

Rav Fish, in his latest, notes a few things about this, the first of which he said previously:
  • The previous Belzer Rebbe, after the Holocaust, told the Kloisenberger Rebbe that Mashiah will come when we fill what we had lost.
  • Targum Yonatan on Shemot 12:37-38 (and see the Peirush Yonatan there) tells us that there were 3,600,000 Jews who left Egypt, plus 2,400,000 Erav Rav who left Egypt.  Altogether, there were 6 million.
  • The book צִיּוּנִים בְּדֶרֶךְ הַחַיִּים (written by a Rav in Milwaukee) says that during the reign of King David, there was a population of 6 million, based on Shemuel Bet 24:9, which tells us that there were 1,300,000 men from the ages 30-50.

Rav Ovadia Was Updated Before and After the Strike

Kikar reports that Minister of Interior Eli Yishai, who is part of the cabinet of 9, had updated Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlit"a on the situation 24 hours prior to the assassination of Ahmed Jabari Ym"s.  Rav Ovadia guided Eli Yishai on how to proceed.  Yesterday, Minister Yishai went again to Rav Ovadia and updated him on all that happened with the strike.  Rav Ovadia was very happy and said that we must thank Hashem, and requested that we pray for the IDF and for those who live in Southern Israel.

He also updated Rav Ovadia on the fact that the Egyptian ambassador left and that more ambassadors may leave in the coming days.  He told Rav Ovadia that the operation may take longer than a few days and that ground troops may be necessary.  In Eli Yishai's words, "The rav told me in his name to call out to the community to pray for those who live in the South and for the IDF."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More on Operation Pillar of Cloud

It is interesting that the war started on Wednesday of Parshat Toledot.  Today corresponds to the Torah reading of Revi'i, where Avimelech, the King of the Pelishtim (etymologically, geographically, and symbolically similar to the Palestinians) in Gerar (Gaza area), along with Pichol, the army general, and either some of his friends or a friend named Ahuzat - came to Yitzhak Avinu and said to him:
אִם-תַּעֲשֵׂה עִמָּנוּ רָעָה, כַּאֲשֶׁר לֹא נְגַעֲנוּךָ, וְכַאֲשֶׁר עָשִׂינוּ עִמְּךָ רַק-טוֹב, וַנְּשַׁלֵּחֲךָ בְּשָׁלוֹם; אַתָּה עַתָּה, בְּרוּךְ יְהוָה
that thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace; thou art now the blessed of the LORD.'
This peace treaty implies that if the Pelishtim/Palestinians do touch you, the treaty is null and void and we have the right and obligation to destroy them.  No coincidence that this started today.

Other things I noticed (via GezaGeza):
  • According to Wikipedia, Ahmed Jabari's full name is אחמד סעיד ח'ליל אל-ג'עברי, which has the same gematria as נבוזראדן רב טבחים.
  • It is also the same gematria as כי עזה כמות אהבה which, with a play-on-words with the word עזה, can be very relevant.
  • It is also the same gematria as the first 2 words of כִּימֵי צֵאתְךָ, מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם, אַרְאֶנּוּ, נִפְלָאוֹת
  • It is also the same gematria as בֵּית-אֱלָהָא דְנָה לִבְּנֵא
May Hashem protect the soldiers, the citizens of Southern Israel, Northern Israel, and all of Am Yisrael.

Pillar of Cloud Has Begun

Hamas declared war on Israel - again.  This occurred after Israel assassinated Hamas' military commander Ahmed Jaabari in Gaza.

I like the name chosen for the latest IDF operation in Gaza - "Amud He'anan" or "Pillar of Cloud".  Of course, this refers to the daytime pillar that miraculously led the Israelites out of Egypt and through the desert.  I like it because it is a glaring reminder that our strength comes not from how many tanks, planes, and guns we have, but rather from Hashem's mighty hand.  It shows that our protection comes not from Iron Dome, Patriots, or Arrows, but rather from Hashem's force-field.

We know that the Pillar of Cloud along with the Pillar of Fire actually fought the battles against the Egyptians:

וַיִּסַּע מַלְאַךְ הָאֱלֹהִים, הַהֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵי מַחֲנֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל, וַיֵּלֶךְ, מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶם; וַיִּסַּע עַמּוּד הֶעָנָן, מִפְּנֵיהֶם, וַיַּעֲמֹד, מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶם
And the angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud removed from before them, and stood behind them;
וַיָּבֹא בֵּין מַחֲנֵה מִצְרַיִם, וּבֵין מַחֲנֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל, וַיְהִי הֶעָנָן וְהַחֹשֶׁךְ, וַיָּאֶר אֶת-הַלָּיְלָה; וְלֹא-קָרַב זֶה אֶל-זֶה, כָּל-הַלָּיְלָה
and it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud and the darkness here, yet gave it light by night there; and the one came not near the other all the night.
And Haza"l say that the cloud protected against the אבני בליסטראות (ballistic stones) that the Egyptians were throwing.  Also, it darkened the Egyptians way as they were going.

And here:
 וַיְהִי, בְּאַשְׁמֹרֶת הַבֹּקֶר, וַיַּשְׁקֵף יְהוָה אֶל-מַחֲנֵה מִצְרַיִם, בְּעַמּוּד אֵשׁ וְעָנָן; וַיָּהָם, אֵת מַחֲנֵה מִצְרָיִם.
And it came to pass in the morning watch, that the LORD looked forth upon the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of cloud, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians.
As Rashi says there, the Pillar of Cloud descended and made the ground wet like mud, while the Pillar of Fire boiled the ground, causing the hooves of the Egyptian horses to slip off.

See the Muqata's live-blogging today's events.

May Hashem protect our soldiers as they fight Hashem's battle against all the enemies of the Jewish people.  May Hashem protect all of Am Yisrael wherever they may be.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rav Sorotzkin, Rav Olshin, and Rav Feinstein on Sandy

According to Kikar:

Rav Yitzchak Sorotzkin Shlit"a from Telz Cleveland said that the hurricane was due to Yeshiva boys who are lacking in Shibud Hatorah and Ameilut Batorah, who go home for Shabbat every other week and miss Sedarim because of a wedding here and a Bar Mitzvah here.  This is understood by the fact that the hurricane hit the Torah world, and specifically Lakewood, causing a huge amount of Bitul Torah.

On the other hand, Rav Yerucham Olshin Shlit"a from Lakewood said that the hurricane was due to the attitude of some people who degrade the whole concept of Kollels and consider those who learn in Kollels babied by their parents who support them and lazy from doing work.  We see this from the fact that during the power outage caused by the hurricane, people learned Torah in the dark and in the cold, showing that Bnei Torah will continue to learn even with hardships.

Rav Reuven Feinstein Shlit"a said that HKB"H wants to awaken us and let us know that life cannot be as it was before as if nothing had happened.  He added that we should strengthen ourselves with Torah learning of a practical nature - ללמוד לשמור לעשות ולקיים - not just learning for the sake of learning.  He also added that in order to raise Talmidei Hachamim, we need to be stronger in learning Beki'ut.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Hevron and Me'arat Hamachpela Stories

Rav Benayahu Shmueli Shlit"a has some nice information about Hevron and the Me'arat Hamachpela in this week's newsletter.

Chicago Election Results - Broken Down

In case anyone is interested:

Chicago Presidential election results: broken down by ward (some wards were >99% for Obama)
50th Ward election results: broken down by precinct  (precinct map)

Those in Skokie and Lincolnwood can see how their precinct voted here (select Niles Township - precinct map).

Rabbi Pruzansky: America's Got 10-15 Good Years Left

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, a prominent scholar, rabbi, and on the board of the Beth Din of America, has penned a piece where he bemoans the American election results and concludes the following:

Two bright sides: Notwithstanding the election results, I arose the morning, went to shul, davened and learned Torah afterwards. That is our reality, and that trumps all other events. Our relationship with G-d matters more than our relationship with any politician, R or D. And, notwithstanding the problems in Israel, it is time for Jews to go home, to Israel. We have about a decade, perhaps 15 years, to leave with dignity and without stress. Thinking that it will always be because it always was has been a repetitive and deadly Jewish mistake. America was always the land from which “positive” aliya came – Jews leaving on their own, and not fleeing a dire situation. But that can also change. The increased aliya in the last few years is partly attributable to young people the high cost of Jewish living in America. Those costs will only increase in the coming years. We should draw the appropriate conclusions.

If this election proves one thing, it is that the Old America is gone. And, sad for the world, it is not coming back.
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Rav Ovadia's Grandson On Hilchot Internet

Question: Is there a halachic prohibition (not a stringency, I wish to know only the letter of the law) to connect to the internet via a regular (unfiltered) connection for any reason?
Answer: See here.

Dear President Obama

I'm deciding which one to send.  
Can you help me out?
Vote in the comments.

Version A

Dear President Obama,

Congratulations on your winning a second term in office.  Now that you have promised to bring the country together and to move forward in uniting this nation of ours, I can only hope that you live up to those promises.

Years ago, you were a state senator in Illinois, and my rabbi went down to the capital building in Springfield on a rabbinical mission.  At the time, he was pleasantly surprised when you went across the room to seek the rabbis out unsolicited. He doesn't have the same positive views about you since then, but we all agree that you have been courteous to the American Jewish population. Underscoring this is the fact that your chief of staff is an observant Jew and that you have conducted Seders every year of your presidency.

I do have some concerns about some of your policies, including your liberal social agenda, your Middle East policy, and ObamaCare, to name a few, but I am hopeful that you will move toward the middle of the political spectrum, conforming with your pledge to unite the nation.

I will pray to G-d that He will give you the wisdom to do the right things for the sake of this nation and the world.

Sincerely,

Yeranen Yaakov
Version B

Dear President Obama,

Congratulations on your winning a second term in office. Now that your campaign's dirty politics, mudslinging, and blatant lies against your opponent have come to an end, I want to point out a few wrong decisions that you have made in your first term - and earlier - that make myself and people like me shudder in fear.

First and foremost, you have rivaled your predecessor Jimmy Carter in being the most anti-Israel president in history. You implemented a useless freeze on settlements, your Vice-President and State Department have berated Israel for building in Jerusalem, Israel's capital, and your spokesmen have refused to actually name Jerusalem Israel's capital.  You deemed Jerusalem "undivided" only to backtrack on that the next day.  Your policy on Iran leaves me feeling less secure than four years ago, and your support of the Arab Spring leaves us wondering if a Muslim Caliphate is on its way.  Your first foreign speech in Cairo left all freedom-loving people trembling in fear.  Meanwhile, an ill Jonathan Pollard is languishing in prison, and you couldn't care less.  And to top it off, your arrogant, condescending treatment of Prime Minister Netanyahu is a perfect example of how anti-Israel you are.  Yes, you have to deal with him every day, as you whined to former PM Sarkozy.  You have rivaled Jimmy Carter indeed.

Your social agenda makes me wonder whether I'm in the same country in which I grew up.  Your support for same-gender marriage is abhorrent, especially for a president.  Your anti-life policies are just as bad, and I can't for the life of me understand how you can force religious constituents to defy their beliefs to follow your liberal agenda.

With regard to your fiscal policies, your "fair share" speeches leave me feeling that your sense of fairness is heavily skewed.  It may work nicely in the Sherwood Forest, but in reality, the only word I can use for it is "redistribution".  Unemployment lingers around 8% and isn't getting much better.  ObamaCare has a few good points, but the fact that it basically levies a giant tax - as the Supreme Court deemed it - on the tax-paying part of the nation - and in the middle of a national economic struggle - is simply baffling.

Your past isn't reassuring to me either.  Your learning in a midrassa in Indonesia makes me wonder who and what shaped the views of your youth.  Your ties to Bill Ayers, Frank Marshall Davis, Reverend Wright, and Rashid Khalidi should have marginalized you long ago, and yet you endure.

In short, I'm pretty much against everything you are for.  That said, I have come to terms that you will be the President of the United States for the next four years, and will have to live with it.  Nevertheless, you should not be surprised if people like me move out of the country during the next four years.  We love our country, but not the direction we see it moving.

I will pray to G-d that He will give you the wisdom to do the right things for the sake of this nation and the world.

Sincerely,

Yeranen Yaakov

Monday, November 05, 2012

Interesting Recent Links - Hayei Sarah 5773

Friday, November 02, 2012

Helping Sandy Victims

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Romney 85% - Obama 14% Among Israeli Absentees

This doesn't surprise me.

Geula Update from Rav Fish - Vayera 5773

Update - see below.

From Rav Fish's latest:
  • He quotes an amazing statement from the Munkacher Rebbe, who basically says that there is only what to gain and nothing to lose by making Geula predictions.  The Munkacher Rebbe quotes the Sefer Hakaneh 9b, who says the same thing.  We do not need to worry about what will happen if ח"ו he doesn't come at a certain time.  Just the opposite - not keeping Mashiah in people's consciousness causes them to lose hope for Geula, he says.
  • [YY - Back on Parshat Shelah a few months ago, Rav Fish had an item talking about a Mars approach on the 14th of Heshvan, 5773 with the sky turning red.  I was incredulous, chalking it up to a hoax email.  However, at least the date of something big occurring was correct.]  Indeed, we saw on the 14th of Heshvan, 5773, there was a big storm in the U.S. and also in Jewish areas.  And I heard in the name of one of the Mekubalim Shlit"a that hurricanes (הוריקן) come due to the sins of Keri (קרי) and [improper use of?] wealth (הון).  The rectification of this is to learn the inner portions of the Torah, as is known, and as it is written (Mishlei 24:4) וּבְדַעַת, חֲדָרִים יִמָּלְאוּ-- כָּל-הוֹן יָקָר וְנָעִים [And by knowledge are the chambers filled with all precious and pleasant riches.]  And we also earlier brought down from the Mekubal Rav Moshe Aharon Hakohen Shlit"a who was very concerned about a flood in many countries of the world.  As it says (Daniel 9:26) וְקִצּוֹ בַשֶּׁטֶף [but his end shall be with a flood] and it says (Yehezkel 13:13) וְגֶשֶׁם שֹׁטֵף בְּאַפִּי יִהְיֶה, וְאַבְנֵי אֶלְגָּבִישׁ [and there shall be an overflowing shower in Mine anger, and great hailstones].
  • Rav Glazerson has a Torah codes table which has "Hurricane", "Sandy", "In the USA", "5773", "Repentance". A minimal skip of סנדי [Sandy] is found in the following verses (only the first one of these appears on the table below) from Sefer Devarim, which symbolizes the 6th millennium:
    • Devarim 32:35-36:
      לִי נָקָם וְשִׁלֵּם, לְעֵת תָּמוּט רַגְלָם: כִּי קָרוֹב יוֹם אֵידָם, וְחָשׁ עֲתִדֹת לָמוֹ.
      כִּי-יָדִין יְהוָה עַמּוֹ, וְעַל-עֲבָדָיו יִתְנֶחָם: כִּי יִרְאֶה כִּי-אָזְלַת יָד, וְאֶפֶס עָצוּר וְעָזוּב.
    • Devarim 11:4:
      וַאֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְחֵיל מִצְרַיִם לְסוּסָיו וּלְרִכְבּוֹ, אֲשֶׁר הֵצִיף אֶת-מֵי יַם-סוּף עַל-פְּנֵיהֶם, בְּרָדְפָם, אַחֲרֵיכֶם; וַיְאַבְּדֵם יְהוָה, עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה.
  • Rav Glazerson adds that especially interesting is that the gematria of ההוריקן סנדי [the Hurricane Sandy] is the same gematria (500) as ברק חוסיין אובמה [Barak Hussein Obama].
  • [Rav Fish adds:] And it appears that we can add that it says (Mishlei 25:14) נְשִׂיאִים וְרוּחַ, וְגֶשֶׁם [a play-on-words that can mean "Presidents and wind and rain"].  And this number [when the Kollel is added to make 501] is also the number of the ministering angel תק"א who is appointed over all the destructive angels, as is brought down in the Erev Pesah prayer of Rav Shimshon of Ostrepoli ZT"L, and it is the number of the Rashei Teivot of the 10 plagues: דצ"ך עד"ש באח"ב.  And of the Milui of the name ש-ד-י. [YY - I didn't merit to understand.  My calculation gives me 814.  I now understand this.]  And of the verse (Bereishit 49:1אֲשֶׁר-יִקְרָא אֶתְכֶם, בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים [that which shall befall you in the end of days]. And of the verse . אַתָּה פוֹרַרְתָּ בְעָזְּךָ יָם; שִׁבַּרְתָּ רָאשֵׁי תַנִּינִים, עַל-הַמָּיִם. אַתָּה רִצַּצְתָּ, רָאשֵׁי לִוְיָתָן [Thou didst break the sea in pieces by Thy strength; Thou didst shatter the heads of the sea-monsters in the waters. Thou didst crush the heads of leviathan].  And also ארור המן and ברוך מרדכי - all of them have the gematria of ברק חוסיין אובמה or ההוריקן סנדי [with the Kollel].
  • Rav D. Lev adds that תשע"ג or 773 is the gematria of  יהיה רוח חזקה מאוד באמריקה [there will be a very strong wind in America].
Update:  Rav Fish published another document about Hurricane Sandy with much of the same information, but added a few interesting things wherein he advocates making Aliya.  I don't plan on translating it.