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Monday, September 29, 2008

5769 - New Year For All

On Rosh Hashana, we wish everyone a good new year, even those who are not descendants of Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov, as it says in Mesechet Rosh Hashana 1:2 בראש השנה כל באי עולם עוברין לפניו כבני מרון (on Rosh Hashana, all who come to the world pass before Him like "בני מרון").

But, putting the needs of the other nations aside, we Jews have much to pray for this year as the world is a very scary place. What will happen this coming year? Will Iran get nukes? Will the US or Israel strike it first? If such an operation is not 100% successful, will that be an excuse for an attack ח"ו against Israel? Will such an attack start World War 3? Will Sderot be protected? Or will it continue to suffer numerous rocket attacks? Will Hizbolah try another stunt and start a war in the North? Will Hamas in Gaza start a war in the South? Will Gilad Shalit finally come home? Will Jonathan Pollard's sentence finally be commuted so he can come home? Will the truth finally be learned about all the other MIAs of Israel? Will Israel have enough rain this year to avert a major water crisis? Will we all be able to learn more Torah this year? Will we all be able to do more Hesed this year? Will we all be healthy this year? How much money will we make this year to serve Hashem better? Will the Cubs win the Series? (sorry, I had to throw that in there) Will we, as a people, minimize Hillul Hashem in the newspapers as much as possible? Will we show more Ahdut with each other, no matter what size, color, or material of Kippa the other guy wears, or lack thereof? Will we finally see a Beit Hamikdash with the Shechina resting therein? Will the Ge'ula Shelaima, for which we've been waiting throughout the existance of the Jewish People, finally arrive?

ובריות בו יפקדו להזכירם לחיים ולמוות

These are the unknowns of the year. Unknown to us, that is. And these are the reasons we pray on Rosh Hashana. May our prayers be answered.

תהא שנת סימן טוב
במוצאי שביעית בן דוד בא

Wishing all the readers of this blog a כתיבה וחתימה טובה - may we all be inscribed in the Book of Life, and may this year bring us health, prosperity, and the arrival of משיח צדקינו, Amen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hafetz Hayim's 75th Yahrtzeit Today

See's biography from Rav Nosson Scherman.

In addition to salvaging neglected mitzvos, the Chofetz Chaim assumed responsibility for reviving interest in a long neglected area of the Torah. For centuries, Kadoshim, the section of the Talmud dealing with the laws of the Sanctuary and sacrificial offerings, had been virtually excluded from the curricula of major Torah centers. Rare were the scholars who had more than a passing familiarity with its intricacies. Reb Yisrael Meir saw this as a far more serious matter than a lack of knowledge among Torah intelligentsia. With the deceptive simplicity that masked his penetrating insight, he would ask, "We believe that Mashiach can arrive today. If he does, are we ready to bring our offerings to the Bais Hamikdosh? Do the Kohanim know the laws of sacrifices? Do the scholars know enough to train the Kohanim?"

Obviously, the answer to all these questions was a shameful "No."

"Then are we not somewhat lacking in our prayers, hopes, and beliefs in the imminent coming of Mashiach?" The solution was simple: organize groups to study Kadashim. Thus was born a trend that continues to this day. Far from being neglected, the study of Kadashim is now a mark of prestige; the endeavor of the most advanced group in nearly all yeshivos.

Typically, the Chofetz Chaim showed the way by practical example as well as by exhortation. He published Toras Kohanim, a compilation of the Tannaitic interpretations of Chumash Vayikra, with an amended, completely accurate text; and an original commentary that ranks as a model of conciseness and clarity. He also composed Likutei Halachos modeled after the Alfasi, which is a compilation of halachic sections of the Talmud dealing with Kadashim topics; and included an elucidating original commentary.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

מקרה Rather, 'רק מה


Monday, September 22, 2008

23 Elul - September 11th's Other Date

Seven years ago today, a shemitta cycle ago, Yishmael attacked Edom, and gave it its most devastating blow to date. As with many of the battles of these warring peoples, Jews got killed in the attack, were mentioned as the reason for the attack, and were even blamed for the attack.

Let those who perished in the attack be remembered for a blessing.

As you know, however, that infamous day in history is not the end of the war. It's just the beginning.

As with the attack that happened 7 years ago, 23 Elul this year falls out on a Tuesday.
And just as an attack occurred on Elul 23, 5761, an attack occurred in Yerushalayim near Sha'ar Yafo on Elul 23, 5768.

בכל דור ודור עומדים עלינו לכלותינו והקדוש ברוך הוא מצילנו מידם

On Elul 23, 5768, the president of Iran, ימ"ש, will be addressing the U.N. Some opinions hold that the war of Gog Umagog will last 7 years, based on Yehezkel 39:9. Likely scenarios dictate that the end of the war will be with Iran (see Yalkut Shimoni - Remez 499 - and Yoma 10, for example). If this is true, and if the war started Elul 23, 5761, it ends Elul 23, 5768. Some say that it really started on Hoshana Rabba, 5762, when U.S.-led coalition forces attacked the Taliban - as that was the real start of the war. Either way, expect interesting things to happen soon.

See here and here for more.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Aliya - How Much Time Left?

Arutz Sheva:

Rabbi Says Window of Aliyah is Closing

by Ernie Singer

( Rabbi Pinchas Winston of says that now is a unique time in history for coming to live in Israel. Interviewed on Israel National Radio's The Aliyah Revolution, Rabbi Winston said there are two stages to the in bringing of the exiles.

The rabbi stated that the first stage happens in advance of the Messiah's arrival, quoting Jewish sources that it is "totally a function of free will. It's totally a function of a person's willingness to give up some measure of materialism for the sake of… being closer to G-d and being in the Holy Land, and walking in those footsteps our great ancestors." According to those sources, Jews coming in the first stage have benefits during Messianic times that Jews in the Diaspora won't have until the resurrection of the dead.

Rabbi Winston believes that in the 3,000 years of Jewish history, despite spiritual efforts in the Diaspora, "the exile… we have been living in usually has come to an abrupt end and not a peaceful one, in fact quite a painful one. Of course, we don't go too far back in history to see how painful that can actually be." The author of the book Geulah b'rachamim working to bring the redemption safely tied Israel to anticipation of redemption and said, "The litmus test of a person's yearning, and specifically for Eretz Yisrael, is that when the opportunity presents itself, and it will present itself for a person that yearns, they either take it or have a very, very good halachic [Jewish legal –ed.] reason to not fulfill it and if, for some reason, they're bound to stay in the Diaspora because of the halachic issue, it should pain them."

According to Rabbi Winston, the Oral Law and its interpreters say this yearning is "the key thing at this stage of history that will make all the difference in the world, whether Moshiach comes riding in a cloud, peacefully, or riding on the back of donkey, which…our commentators symbolize the Arab nations."

To listen or download the full interview, click here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mishkabobble of Thoughts in 1 Post

Sorry for the lack of posting in the last couple weeks. Here are some of the stories that I've been following:

  • The incredible Imrei Bina, attributed to Ra'avad I (1125-1180), has some interesting predictions about the years in which we are living in today having to do with Yovel counts since the time of Ezra. See Dreaming's post on it, and see Hakeitz Hameguleh for a whole series of posts on the matter, including typing the original text and a translation of the sefer into English.

  • Hurricane Ike's damage to Texas, and its aftermath's incredible amount of rain and flooding damage to the Chicago area and much of the Midwest is something that we need to show our awe of Hashem for. Soon we will be saying ובכן תן פחדך in the Rosh Hashana Amida. Of note is that we say that paragraph corresponding to Yitzhak Avinu (as the verse goes "ופחד יצחק" and for other Kabbalistic reasons). Ike is often short for Isaac - Yitzhak. See Dreaming for another interesting comparison. Also, see an interesting note from Tomer Devorah on this, comparing it to the hurricane in 1900.

  • The Cubs look like they're headed to the playoffs (beli ayin hara) after Zambrano's no-hitter yesterday. See this old post for context.

  • A 9-year-old was repeatedly stabbed by an Arab terrorist in Yitzhar. What saved him and the family whose house burned down was nothing short of Nissim Geluyim.

  • Wall Street is not in good shape right now, as the mortgage crisis is hitting financial institutions hard as well. Tomer Devorah and Mystical Paths links come to mind.

  • My wife's grandmother is very sick. She needs a Refu'a Sheleima Min Hashamayim. Her name is Blima bat Sarah Pesel. My wife made the trip to Toronto to visit her in the hospital. My wife's grandmother could barely talk while in the hospital, and when she does, it comes out hard to understand. However, she twice yesterday said the following statement very clearly in Yiddish: "Mashiah is coming this year." (My father-in-law can attest to this.)
    Unfortunate Update:She was niftera today.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

VP Anagrams

Seen this morning in the Sun Times:
Larry K. Johnson, a Laurel, Md., reader, writes:

"Could we call the endless debate about the governor of Alaska a palin-drone?"

As long as we are on the subject of palindromes, the anagrams for Sarah Palin include "a sharp nail."

Or maybe more to the point: "Ash Iran, pal."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Disengagement 2? Bar Minan!

From Arutz Sheva:
Olmert to Introduce Disengagement II at Cabinet Meeting Sunday

by Hana Levi Julian

( Prime Minister Ehud Olmert plans to introduce an embryonic strategy for the next Disengagement, this one from Judea and Samaria, at the Cabinet meeting on Sunday.

Olmert said in a statement issued by his office Wednesday night that he will present a plan "that has been coordinated by Vice Premier Chaim Ramon on the issue of voluntary relocation and compensation from Judea and Samaria."

According to the statement, "The issue will be discussed but not voted upon at this stage." Olmert said he "intends to hear comments on the initiative; continued treatment of this issue will proceed accordingly."

The exact same language was used prior to the expulsion of some 8,000 Jews from their homes in the Gush Katif region of Gaza and northern Samaria in the summer of 2005.


Time is Running Out for the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Olmert may have lost his race to put some form of final status agreement into place with the Palestinian Authority and create the groundwork for an expulsion from Judea and Samaria, however.

Channel 10 television reported Wednesday evening that the prime minister might be indicted for suspected criminal offenses as early as Sunday, possibly pre-empting the Cabinet's planned meeting on the nascent plan for Disengagement II.

Top police investigators are slated to meet Thursday to discuss whether to recommend indicting Olmert. According to the report, there is a general consensus among the investigators in favor of filing charges against the prime minister on at least three matters, known as the "cash-stuffed envelopes," Rishon Tours and the Center for Investment.

The police are expected to recommend to the Attorney General to file the charges against Prime Minister Olmert on Sunday. Olmert has said that he would resign if he is indicted.

Mishlei 26:11:

כְּכֶלֶב, שָׁב עַל-קֵאוֹ--כְּסִיל, שׁוֹנֶה בְאִוַּלְתּוֹ

Yehuda and Shomron are Jewish land. Period. He wants to stuff the envelopes of the settlers? The settlers are smarter than he was.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Post-Gustav Thoughts

  • Baruch Hashem the damage done by Gustav to the United States was relatively minor, compared to what was expected.

  • The אימה ופחד from the event of the hurricane itself primarily happened on Rosh Hodesh Ellul – the same month when World War 2 started and the same month when September 11th happened – showing us that this too is something we need introspection and Teshuva for. (New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said, “You need to be scared.”) This is exactly 1 month before we say ובכן תן פחדך וגו.

  • The mandatory evacuations from New Orleans happened during the last day of Av – the same month when the voluntary evacuations from Katrina took place and the same month when the Disengagement from Gush Katif took place.

  • Crazy me - I did a Torah search on the Gematria of קטרינה גוסטב (Katrina Gustav), where קטרינה = 374 and גוסטב = 80. Added together, 374 + 80 = 454. Some of the more interesting finds (Gematria of 454 in red):

    • Bereishit 2:13 ושם הנהר השני גיחון הוא הסובב את כל ארץ כוש

      • and Rashi says גיחון – שהיה הולך והומה והמייתו גדולה מאד, כמו וכי יגח שמנגח והולך והומה

      • a remez from the Ibn Ezra who says in פסוק יא about the גיחון that והוא בא מפאת מזרחית דרומית that it comes from the southeastern corner

    • Bereishit 6:17 ואני הנני מביא את המבול מים על הארץ

      • The only other place in Tanach where it has the words “מביא את” together (other than ירמיה לט – where the כתיב drops the “א”) is in Zecharia 3 הנני מביא את עבדי צמח

    • Devarim 32:30 איכה ירדף אחד אלף ושנים יניסו רבבה אם לא כי צורם מכרם וה' הסגירם

      • Both hurricanes chased many people away from their homes, but more people left their homes in Gustav than Katrina. The אחד (Katrina) chased away אלף, while both hurricanes together chased away many times more.

      • If Katrina uses the word רדף to denote chasing and Gustav uses the word נס to denote chasing, then another verse in Vayikra 26:36ונסו מנסת חרב ונפלו ואין רדף could refer to the fact that many left their homes for Gustav, but it was no Katrina, so they really didn't need to leave.