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Friday, July 31, 2009

Blog Bein Hazemanim

This blog will be on Bein Hazemanim break for a couple weeks.
Barring something really interesting, I don't plan to update the blog for a couple of weeks.
Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom, a joyous Tu Be'Av, and may we merit to take Tamuz and Av away from Eisav speedily in our days, Amen.

Rabbi Isaac Dwek's Heart-Wrenching Speech

Hat-tip בחדרי חרדים

הרב יצחק דוואק, אביו של שלמה דוואק, מדבר from bhol on Vimeo.

If it's Tish'a Be'av, it's Gotta Be CCHF

As I've done almost every year since its inception, I viewed the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation's Tish'a Be'av video. As always, it was very inspiring. I had viewed the preview earlier here.

I viewed Program A. In the presentation, Rabbi Shapiro talked about the new Machsom L'fi campaign - for everyone to be Mekabel on themselves to stop speaking Leshon Hara for 1 hour a day from 9AM-10AM with Haskamot from Gedolim. Rav Yissocher Frand gave a guess as to the spiritual reason why we have our current financial meltdown - i.e., we're not using our money properly.

May we learn the lessons of the Hafetz Hayim, and improve both our Bein Adam Lahaveiro and proper use of our money so that next Tish'a Be'av, we'll see a video of how the third Beit Hamikdash was built.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pele Yo'etz on Mesira

The Pele Yo'etz's entry on Mesira:
The statement of Haza"l is known about one who gives over judgement to Hashem (see Rosh Hashana 16b) about his friend, that his heavenly notepad is checked and he is punished first. And this is something that is common in the mouths of even the uneducated masses and the lowly ones, who would say, "Hashem should punish the evildoer according to his evil." And if they were wise, they would be wise to the fact that Hashem told him to curse. And When a man's ways please the LORD, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Mishlei 16:7) Wherefore doth a living man complain, a strong man because of his sins? (Eicha 3:39) And what does he gain by cursing his friend and giving over judgement? Such a person causes evil to himself more than what his friend did! Therefore, Let him sit alone and keep silence, because He hath laid it upon him. (Eicha 3:28) And Hashem will seek out [to help] the victim without [humans] giving over judgement to Hashem.

And there is another type of Mesira that Haza"l were very stringent about so much so that they allowed killing the informer and saving yourself with his soul (see Bava Kamma 117a in the ארי עלה מבבל gemara). This is referring to a case of one who gives over the body or money of his friend to the Aku"m [government] without permission from a Beit Din. And a Jewish man should tremble and fear from doing this and should not commit [spiritual] suicide, Has Veshalom. And it is worthy for all city leaders to open their eyes about this, and to break the straying of this evildoer (?) with all their power and all their might. And there should not be like this or anything similar to this in Israel for the sake of the holiness of Israel. And about this and anything similar to this, it is worthy for Jewish men to give over their souls for the sake of sanctifying Hashem, as is said about the early sages, to whom a miracle occurred for them because they gave over their souls to sanctify Hashem. The zeal of the LORD of hosts doth perform this (Yeshaya 9:6) just as Pinehas, the zealot, the son of the zealot, has done. And he called it "Hashem Shalom". (Shofetim 6:24)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rav Ovadia Tells Off Obama et al, and re: Arabs on Har Habayit - Mashiah Will Chase Them Away

Ladaat reports:

הראשל"צ הגר"ע יוסף שליט"א תוקף את נשיא ארה"ב ברק אובאמה, וכן את שאר מנהיגי העולם המכתיבים לישראל את דרכה המדינית.
כזכור לפני שבוע בדיוק, התפוצצה לה פרשה בין ישראל וארה"ב לאחר שנודע כי שגריר ישראל נקרא למחלקת המדינה בוושינגטון, שם נדרש להעביר מסר לירושלים להפסיק את הבנייה בירושלים.
על רקע דרישה זו ודרישת ארה"ב שלא לבנות ביו"ש, וכן על רקע עובדת היותנו בימי בין המצרים, אמר הערב (מוצש"ק) בשיעורו השבועי מרן הגר"ע יוסף שליט"א, כי עבדים מושלים בנו. "אומרים לנו לא תבנה פה, לא תבנה שם, כאילו אנחנו עבדים שלהם. עבדים מושלים בנו. משיח צדקנו יבוא ויעיף אותם".
בהמשך אמר כי במקום המקדש שלנו, יש ערבים. המשיח יעיף את כל הרשעים האלה. הוא מחכה לנו יותר ממה שאנו מחכים לו. הוא מחכה לימות המשיח" רק לימוד התורה יביא ויקרב את המשיח, שום דבר לא שווה זה, לא בגרות ולא ספרות", אמר הגר"ע יוסף.

YWN has a translation:
Maran Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlita in his motzei shabbos drasha came out against US President Barak Hussein Obama and other world leaders who feel they can dictate policy in Eretz Yisrael.

The Rav stated “they tell us not to build here and not to build there….as if we are their slaves”. The Rav concluded that Moshiach will come and they will all be gone.

Rav Ovadia added that in the place of the Beis HaMikdosh today there are Arabs and all these wicked people will be ousted when Moshiach arrives. He is waiting for us more than we await his arrival explained the Gadol HaDor. “Only learning Torah will expedite his arrival. Nothing else will help, not bagrut (matriculation) or safrut (literature)”.

(Yechiel Spira - YWN Israel)

He also said about the Beit Hamikdash the famous prayer "גרש את האמה הזאת ואת בנה".

You can see the video here.
(Minute 44:00 until 46:15)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Reasons to Cry

The two psalms specially read on Tish'a Be'av and in Tikkun Rahel are Psalm 137 and Psalm 79.

When reading Psalm 137 (על נהרות בבל), we are to cry over Yerushalayim.
When reading Psalm 79 (באו גוים בנחלתך), we are to cry over the killing of Tzadikim.

This year, crying over these things does not require learning about events that took place thousands of years ago. In fact, there is much to cry about for events that are taking place right now.

President Obama and his administration want a construction freeze for Jews only in the eastern part of Yerushalayim. When thinking about what East Jerusalem is, I think of Har Hazeitim, Har Hatzofim, French Hill, the Old City, and of course, the Mekom Hamikdash, plus everything in between. This is our heritage, and no one - not even someone as powerful as President Obama - can tell us not to live there. (The same is true with Yesha, too, but let's stick with the Yerusalayim theme for now.) But even according to the president's own set of values, his policy on Yerushalayim is inconsistent with them. Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe said it best:
Think about that for a moment. Six months after Barack Obama became the first black man to move into the previously all-white residential facility at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, he is fighting to prevent integration in Jerusalem.
Psalm 137 states, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy." How some Jewish groups can support President Obama's Jerusalem policy is beyond me. This alone is truly a reason to cry.

As far as the killing of Tzadikim, I consider the news that occurred yesterday in NY/NJ to be a so-to-speak "killing" of Tzadikim. ממה נפשך (either way you look at it), as they say: whether they are proven innocent or not, their reputations have been killed. And our hearts have gone with them.

Psalm 79 says, "We are become a taunt to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us." I personally witnessed non-Jewish coworkers asking Jewish coworkers about the incident that occurred yesterday. That alone is a reason to cry.

The psalm continues: "How long, O LORD, wilt Thou be angry for ever? How long will Thy jealousy burn like fire?" Yes, we ask "How long?" How much longer to this Galut we are in? Hopefully, not long. The Gemara in Sanhedrin 98a says,

אמר רבי יוחנן אם ראית דור שצרות רבות באות עליו כנהר חכה לו

R' Yohanan says "If you see a generation that many troubles come upon it like a river, wait for him [Mashiah]"
May this be that generation - nay, may this be the moment.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

על אלה חשכו עינינו

From the Kinot:

וְאֵיכָה חָשְׁכָה אוֹר הַהֲלָכָה

וְהַתַּלְמוּד כְּמוֹ גַלְמוּד מִי יְבוֹנֵן

וְסוֹד תּוֹרָה הֲיֵשׁ מוֹצִיא לְאוֹרָה

וּמִי הוּא זֶה עֲלֵי הַדּוֹר יְגוֹנֵן

In this Hodesh Av, Hashem needs to turn it מיגון לשמחה fast - I cannot bear these חילולי השם any longer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On Settling the Land

אטיאס: גרים מאחורי הקו הירוק בהוראת רבותינו

Et tu Harry?

Parshat Mas'ei:

נ וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, בְּעַרְבֹת מוֹאָב, עַל-יַרְדֵּן יְרֵחוֹ, לֵאמֹר.
50 And the LORD spoke unto Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying:
נא דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם: כִּי אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים אֶת-הַיַּרְדֵּן, אֶל-אֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן.
51 'Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When ye pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan,
נב וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּם אֶת-כָּל-יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ, מִפְּנֵיכֶם, וְאִבַּדְתֶּם, אֵת כָּל-מַשְׂכִּיֹּתָם; וְאֵת כָּל-צַלְמֵי מַסֵּכֹתָם תְּאַבֵּדוּ, וְאֵת כָּל-בָּמוֹתָם תַּשְׁמִידוּ.
52 then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places.
נג וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּם אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, וִישַׁבְתֶּם-בָּהּ: כִּי לָכֶם נָתַתִּי אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, לָרֶשֶׁת אֹתָהּ.
53 And ye shall drive out the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein; for unto you have I given the land to possess it.
נד וְהִתְנַחַלְתֶּם אֶת-הָאָרֶץ בְּגוֹרָל לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתֵיכֶם, לָרַב תַּרְבּוּ אֶת-נַחֲלָתוֹ וְלַמְעַט תַּמְעִיט אֶת-נַחֲלָתוֹ--אֶל אֲשֶׁר-יֵצֵא לוֹ שָׁמָּה הַגּוֹרָל, לוֹ יִהְיֶה: לְמַטּוֹת אֲבֹתֵיכֶם, תִּתְנֶחָלוּ.
54 And ye shall inherit the land by lot according to your families--to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer thou shalt give the less inheritance; wheresoever the lot falleth to any man, that shall be his; according to the tribes of your fathers shall ye inherit.
נה וְאִם-לֹא תוֹרִישׁוּ אֶת-יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ, מִפְּנֵיכֶם--וְהָיָה אֲשֶׁר תּוֹתִירוּ מֵהֶם, לְשִׂכִּים בְּעֵינֵיכֶם וְלִצְנִינִם בְּצִדֵּיכֶם; וְצָרְרוּ אֶתְכֶם--עַל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם יֹשְׁבִים בָּהּ.
55 But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then shall those that ye let remain of them be as thorns in your eyes, and as pricks in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land wherein ye dwell.
נו וְהָיָה, כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּמִּיתִי לַעֲשׂוֹת לָהֶם--אֶעֱשֶׂה לָכֶם.
56 And it shall come to pass, that as I thought to do unto them, so will I do unto you. {P}

Related: El Al to Introduce Low-cost Economy Class

גליא רזא and 5770

A recent post from Shirat Devorah called "Obama and the Geula", which I helped her translate, mentions the book גליא רזא, which states that:
From 5760 until 5770, the souls of the heel will conclude - in other words, from 5770 on, according to the book גליא רזא which comes from the students of the Ari Hakadosh, the "זהירא עילאה" souls will start to fall....

I was searching through the גליא רזא for this statement, but could not locate it. If anyone knows what page it's on, please let me know.
I did, however, find the concept of the importance of the year 5760, and its connection to the number of eggs required for the minimum shiur in a mikveh.

Related: Visions of Geula talks about the year 5770, and tells you you have no need for calendars after that year.

Meanwhile, I haven't given up hope yet on 5769...



Russia, France up pressure to halt e. J'lem construction

One day after the United States demanded that Israel stop building projects in east Jerusalem, Russia joined the call, urging the Jewish state to immediately halt construction in the area, and saying that a failure to do so would be a violation of the road map peace agreement.

"The settlement should be stopped immediately in line with the road map," AFP quoted Russian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko as saying, in reference to a plan to build 20 housing units in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem, near Mount Scopus and the National Police headquarters.

France also summoned the Israeli ambassador in Paris to demand a halt to the building in east Jerusalem, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was quoted by the news agency as saying on Tuesday.

Hmm...Let's see, we got the U.S., Russia, and France all going against Israel regarding Jerusalem.

Zecharia 12:9
וְהָיָה, בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא; אֲבַקֵּשׁ, לְהַשְׁמִיד אֶת-כָּל-הַגּוֹיִם, הַבָּאִים, עַל-יְרוּשָׁלִָם
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

Related post from R' Nati today.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rav Shmueli's Shiur

The last 10 minutes of Rav Shmueli's Shiur were especially interesting, starting at about 52:30.

First, he tells of how Yishma'el keeps progressing in the world and how the Jews keep going backwards spiritually חס ושלום. In the end, all will turn out good, but he suggests doing at least one thing extra to show progress toward Teshuva.

Then, he tells of a story of a family who lost the mother of the family and the whole family decided to be more careful in Berachot that they shouldn't say any Beracha without someone answering Amen. A 10-year-old girl of the family was very thirsty one night, and really wanted a drink, but knew that no one was awake to answer Amen, and she overcame her Yetzer and didn't have the drink. When she went to sleep, her mother came to her in a dream saying that with her actions, she saved a classmate of hers from a disease. She asked her classmate about it the next day, and the family was stunned that she even knew about the disease, but they later confirmed that the disease had literally disappeared overnight.

Finally, someone showed him a picture of Obama and Par'oh next to each other and he said that perhaps, he is really Par'oh, and this is based on a Zohar (Beshalah p.58 - p.89 in the pdf)

רבי אבא אמר משמיה דרב ייסא סבא, והכי אמר רבי שמעון, זמין קודשא בריך הוא לאחייא לכל אינון מלכין דעקו לישראל ולירושלם, לאנדריאנוס ללופינוס ונבוכדנצר ולסנחריב, ולכל שאר מלכי עמין דחריבו ביתיה, ולשלטאה לון כקדמיתא, ויתכנשון עמהון שאר עמין, וזמין קודשא בריך הוא לאתפרעא מנייהו באתגלייא סחרני ירושלם, הדא הוא דכתיב וזאת תהיה המגפה אשר יגף ה' את כל העמים אשר צבאו על ירושלם, אשר יצבאו לא כתיב, אלא אשר צבאו, כדין כתיב וברב גאונך תהרוס קמיך, ודא לזמנא דאתא משיחא כתיב, ושירתא דא שירתא דעלמין היא .

Friday, July 17, 2009

Why Fast Days Will Become Happy Days

ימי הצומות יהפכו לימי ששון ושמחה
בדברי הנביא זכריה 1 נאמר, שארבעת הצומות שבעה עשר בתמוז, תשעה באב, שלושה בתשרי ועשרה בטבת עתידים להתבטל בימות המשיח ולהפוך לימי "ששון ושמחה ולמועדים טובים". וכך מובא ברמב"ם 2 : "כל הצומות האלו עתידין ליבטל לימות המשיח, ולא עוד אלא שהם עתידים להיות יום טוב וימי ששון ושמחה".

נשאלת השאלה: אפשר אמנם להבין כי כאשר יבוא המשיח ותתבטל הגלות לא יהיה עוד צורך לזכור את החורבן ולהתאבל עליו, וממילא יתבטלו גם הצומות הללו, אבל מדוע יהפכו הם לימי ששון ושמחה ולמועדים טובים?

התשובה על כך היא: היות וחזון הגאולה פעם בחוזקה בלב עם ישראל בצומות אלו יותר מבשאר ימות השנה, והיות והגאולה מותנית בכך שעם ישראל יצפה ויכסוף לה, כפי שאמרו חז"ל 3 : "דור שהוא מצפה למלכותו, מיד הם נגאלים, שנאמר: ויש תקוה לאחריתך ושבו בנים לגבולם" 4 , נמצא שימי הצומות הללו היו אמצעים לגאולה, שכן הצפיה בימים אלו לגאולה היא זו שקירבה את הגאולה, ובדין הוא שנשיש ונשמח בימים השותפים לגאולה.


ח, יט.

פרק יט מהלכות תענית הלכה יט.

ילקוט שמעוני, איכה.

וכן מובא בילקוט תהלים רמז תשל"ו: "אפילו אין ביד ישראל אלא הקיווי התקוה והצפיה לגאולה, כדאי הם לגאולה בשכר הקיווי".

ועל פי זה ביאר החיד"א בספר מדבר קדמות, ערך קיווי, את הנאמר בתפילת שמונה עשרה: "את צמח דוד... כי לישועתך קוינו כל היום". כלומר: מבקשים אנו מאת הבורא "את צמח דוד עבדך...". ואם תאמר שאין לנו זכות, מכל מקום "תצמיח". מדוע? "כי לישועתך קוינו", יש לנו קיווי וצפיה, ובשכר הקיווי והצפיה כדאי שתגאלנו.

וכן מובא בספר הכוזרי מאמר ה, פרק כז: "אתה תקום תרחם ציון כי עת לחננה כי בא מועד, כי רצו עבדיך את אבניה ואת עפרה יחוננו. רוצה לומר, כי ירושלים אמנם תיבנה - כשיכספו לה ישראל בתכלית הכוסף עד שיחוננו אבניה ועפרה".

My translation:

The Days of Fasting will Turn into Joy and Happiness
In the words of the prophet Zecharia1, it's said that the 4 fasts - the 17th of Tammuz, Tish'a Be'av, the 3rd of Tishri and the 10th of Tevet - are destined to be cancelled out during the days of Mashiah and will be transformed into days of "joy and happiness and festivals". And similarly, it's brought in the Rambam:2 "All these fasts are destined to be cancelled in the days of Mashiah and not only that, but they are destined to become days of festivals and days of joy and happiness."

The question is asked: It's possible to understand that when Mashiah will come and the exile will be cancelled, there will no longer be a need to remember the destruction and to mourn over it, and by default, these fasts will also be cancelled out, but why will they transform into days of joy, happiness, and festivals?

The answer for this is the following: Since the vision of Ge'ula beats strongly in the hearts of the Nation of Israel during these fasts more than the other days of the year, and since the Ge'ula is conditional on the fact that the Nation of Israel will expect and long for it - just as Haza"l say3: A generation that expects His kingdom will immediately be redeemed, as it says4 "And there is hope for thy future, saith the LORD; and thy children shall return to their own border" - it comes out that the days of these fasts are a means toward Ge'ula, since the expectation during these days for Ge'ula is itself the thing that will bring the Ge'ula, and it is only right that we should be joyous and happy during days that are partners with Ge'ula.

1. 8:19

2. Hilchot Ta'anit 19:19

3. Yalkut Shimoni, Eicha

4. And similarly, it's brought in the Yalkut Tehilim - Remez 736: "Even if all Israel had [in terms of merits] was the hope and expectation for the Ge'ula, they are worthy of the Ge'ula for the reward of their hope."

And based on this, the Hid"a explained in his book "Midbar Kedeimot" - in the entry "Kivui" - that which is said in the Shemoneh Esrei prayer: "את צמח דוד... כי לישועתך קוינו כל היום". This means to say: We are requesting from the Creator "את צמח דוד עבדך..." And if you will say that we don't have the merit, nevertheless, תצמיח (make it sprout) anyways. Why? "כי לישועתך קוינו" (for we hope for Your salvation) - we have hope and expectations, and in the reward of our hope and expectation, it's worth it for You to redeem us.

And it's also brought in the Sefer Kuzari, Ma'amar 5: Chapter 27: "אתה תקום תרחם ציון כי עת לחננה כי בא מועד, כי רצו עבדיך את אבניה ואת עפרה יחוננו. (Thou wilt arise, and have compassion upon Zion; for it is time to be gracious unto her, for the appointed time is come. For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and love her dust.) It means to say that Yerushalayim will indeed be built when the Jewish people will long for it with the epitome of longing until they will cherish her stones and dust."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shir Hama'alot - 15 Steps to the Beit Hamikdash

There are 15 Shir Hama'alot that correspond to the 15 steps in the Beit Hamikdash.

I also noticed that if you do a search for "Knesset Jerusalem" in Google Maps and then zoom in all the way, and then click the on-screen "right" button 15 times, you get to Har Habayit.

There's an old joke that I did not make up:
Everyone knows the story of the 2 farmer brothers; one had a big family, the other childless, there was a hill between their properties and they used to secretly take bundle of wheat over to the other one. One night they met on the hill and realized that each had been taking to the other; they embraced, and that was where the Beis Hamikdash was built.
There's a parallel story: same 2 brothers, same families. The childless one thought "My brother has so many children to help him, I'm going to sneak over and steal some produce from him." The other thought "I have so many mouths to feed; my brother has so much more than me." So they each crept over the hill and stole some produce from the other. One fateful night, the two met at the top of the hill, and realized what was going on. They beat each other up, and never spoke to one another for the rest of their lives. On that spot was later built... the Knesset.

Update: It only works if your browser window is a certain size - but it's kind of cool still.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How Low We Were 200 Years Ago

The Hatam Sofer said almost exactly 200 years ago (ח' תמוז תקס"ט) on the verse in Tehillim מָגִנֵּנוּ רְאֵה אֱלֹהִים וְהַבֵּט פְּנֵי מְשִׁיחֶךָ that when Hashem sees how low the shield (i.e., the leader of the Jewish people) is, that the leader that everyone looks up to is on such a low level (the Hatam Sofer, in his great humility, referred to himself here) that it cannot get any lower, then והבט פני משיחך - Hashem will see that we have no other choice and He will have to send Mashiah.

The Satmar Rebbe notes (p. 187) that if this is how the Hatam Sofer viewed the situation then, how much more so in his day (he was speaking about 1967) that the generation is כולו חייב, and we have no other choice but Mashiah to come. (I'm not endorsing the Satmar Rebbe's entire approach to the Six Day War - I'm just paraphrasing his words here.)

And if such was true in 1967, what can we say about the leaders of today? As great as some of our leaders are, they do not compare to the leaders of the past. Hashem, how much lower can we get? I hope we've finally reached bottom.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rav Amnon Yitzhak Doesn't Care Much for BHO

to say the least.

R' P. Winston on TNL

I especially like his analogy with the magician pulling out the sticks.

"Try Before You Buy" Fails

Living Together First Can Spoil Marriage, Study Finds

Monday, July 13, 2009

42 Masa'ot

The אמת עכשיו blog recently posted on how the 42 Masa'ot of Parshat Mas'ei correspond to years after 5751.
Subsequently, a spreadsheet was made showing this.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Torah Trivia for Pinehas

What is Levi's wife's name?

Hint: it's Mefurash in the Torah (Parshat Pinehas) according to מדרש אגדה.

Update No one ventured a guess at this so I'll tell you the answer - Levi's wife's name is Otah (אותה), as the verse states:

וְשֵׁם אֵשֶׁת עַמְרָם, יוֹכֶבֶד בַּת-לֵוִי, אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה אֹתָהּ לְלֵוִי, בְּמִצְרָיִם; וַתֵּלֶד לְעַמְרָם, אֶת-אַהֲרֹן וְאֶת-מֹשֶׁה, וְאֵת, מִרְיָם אֲחֹתָם.

which can be translated as:

And the name of the wife of Amram was Yocheved, the daughter of Levi, to whom Otah gave birth for Levi in Egypt; and she [Yocheved] gave birth for Amram to Aharon, Moshe, and their sister, Miriam.

(The Midrash Aggada was apparently bothered by the seemingly extra word "אתה" and by the fact that the word ילדה is not vocalized as the passive "Yuleda".

Rashi was apparently bothered with the same question, but kept with Peshat and added the word אשתו, which would mean אתה is referring to Yocheved.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Doreshin Semuchin in Google Reader?

The juxtaposition of 2 articles fed into Google Reader begged the question: what conclusions can we learn from this?

Perhaps, it means that if you are ugly, you should have no problems with parnassa.

Obama's Hatikva

Altered from this image.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Scary World War 3/Geula Prediction

We've heard it before, but predictions such as these always get me scared. When the fear is used in the Teshuva process, it's not such a bad thing.

TorahNews has another take on the famous Yalkut Shimoni (remez 499) that begins with אמר רבי יצחק (it's even starred and underlined in!!)

Here's the poster in Hebrew that is even more extensive if you speak Hebrew.

(Hat tip: Tomer Devorah)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Aliya Impetus

The convergence of several things lately including A7 news items are prompting me to once again consider Aliya.

From the pure Yir'a side:

US to Take in 1,350 Palestinian Refugees

( The U.S. agreed Tuesday to accept 1,350 Palestinian refugees from Iraq and resettle them in southern California, according to the Christian Science Monitor. The refugees, who Saddam Hussein took in and used to attack Israeli policies, have been treated miserably by Iraqis since Hussein’s fall in 2003.

“This is politically a real hot potato,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington. “America has become a dumping ground for the State Departmnet’s problems – they’re tossing their problems over their head into Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or Omaha, Nebraska.

From a mixture of Yir'a and Ahava:
Israeli Economy a Draw for North American Immigrants
by Rachel Abrams

The ideological bottom line may remain the same, but those looking to Aliyah may finally have large financial incentives to cross the ocean.

"For the first time in history, the Israeli economy is looking better than the American economy", says Danny Oberman, executive vice president of operations at Nefesh B'Nefesh. A leading organization which finds and assists Jews wishing to make Aliyah [immigration to Israel], the group has reported an average of 25 new inquiries each day from people looking to begin the application process. "We are seeing an unprecedented level of interest from North America," says Oberman, "and it's not just people who have lost their jobs but people who don't see a serious upside in the near future."

Click here to hear interview with Oberman.

For young singles and couples, the advantages afforded by Israel's current economic edge are especially appealing. The job market is wider for recent university graduates, and families with young children can find more affordable Jewish or college education in Israel than back in the U.S. and Canada. Israeli health insurance, free for between the first six to 12 months for new arrivals and amounting to $50 to $100 a month after that, is also a cheaper option than many health insurance plans in the U.S.

Immigrants also are given a discount on car purchases and are eligible for free education if they are under the age of 27. For those generating income from overseas, no taxes are taken for the first 10 years of residence. These lower costs, combined with an overly burdened and strained American economy, are enticing more North American Jews than ever to emigrate.

In 2008, Nefesh B'Nefesh reported that 3,000 immigrants to Israel were from North America. This year, the organization is expecting upwards of 4,000.

"What we're seeing is…people who had considered Aliyah, people who had visited Israel in the past, people who had a connection, but who stayed in North America because they were doing well; they were comfortable," says Oberman. Now, however, with Israel faring considerably better in the global economic crisis, families are in a better position than before to line up their ideological and fiduciary concerns.

"Anybody who has visited here has seen that the opportunities here, and the ways kids are brought up and the social environment is different than North America. It's a healthy environment… For anyone who's looking for a different set of values, Israel's definitely an option."

From the pure Ahava side:
Flight of 230 North American Immigrants Arrives in Israel
( The first chartered Aliyah flight of 2009 arrived at Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. Two hundred and thirty-two olim (new immigrants) from the United States and Canada were aboard the flight.

The immigrants are the first of 3,000 olim from North America and the United Kingdom to arrive this summer, on the first of 15 chartered Aliyah flights sponsored by the Nefesh B'Nefesh organization and the Jewish Agency.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver were present to greet the new Israelis.

Flight to Include Gilad Shalit's Namesake
One of the new arrivals was three-year-old Gilad Zuller, who was traveling with parents Yehuda and Aviva and his three older siblings. Gilad was named for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped one week before his birth.

After Gilad Zuller was given his name, Yehuda wrote to Noam Shalit and expressed hope that their two sons would meet in the near future. During Yehuda's next trip to Israel, in which he distributed donations during the Second Lebanon War, Noam Shalit drove to Kiryat Shemona to meet him.

The Zuller family has met with Shalit's parents Noam and Aviva several times since then, in both Israel and New York. The Shalit family planned to greet the Zullers on their arrival in Israel.

The Zuller family will settle in Maaleh Adumim, near Jerusalem.

Olim Include Children, Soldiers, One Cat
Forty percent of the new arrivals are children, the youngest a mere seven weeks old. Tuesday's flight also included 60 singles.

Twenty-two of the new arrivals plan to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces. Others will begin jobs in fields ranging from advertising to photography to medicine.

Seven dogs and one cat were on board the Nefesh B'Nefesh flight, heading for their new home in Israel.

Among the 232 arrivals are those hailing from 19 American states and the Canadian city of Quebec. The immigrants are heading for new homes throughout Israel, from the village of Chispin in the Golan Heights to kibbutzim (cooperative communities) in the south.

See the videos there too. I happened to watch the video live, and I felt like I want to be one of those people too! Persuading people like me was obviously the purpose of publicizing the videos and I'm admittedly one of those who got persuaded, despite the ceremony being 95% secular. (And no, NBN did not pay me to say this.)

Of course, it should happen at the right time. I'm not sure when the right time is - there are some personal obstacles that need to be cleared first.

An additional impetus of Ahava is the upcoming Aliya of my parents BE"H. But more on that in a future post BL"N.

(Other reasons not discussed in this post are Mitzvat Yishuv Ha'aretz and how world events seem to be soon culminating into our Ge'ula, BB"A.)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Linx of Interest

  • R' Lazer Brody explains the ups and downs of Hevlei Mashiah in Game over, or new beginning?
  • Yeshiva World News tells of Egged's preparations for the Ohr Hahayim Hakadosh's Yahrtzeit. When I was in Israel last year, I traveled by bus to the Kotel one night, and on the way there, I looked out the window and saw a giant crowd at Har Hazeitim. Not knowing what was going on, I had asked someone on the bus what had happened (thinking someone important had recently passed away), but this person told me that it was the Ohr Hahayim Hakadosh's Yahrtzeit. The Kotel itself had a very big crowd too that night.
  • Penina Taylor explains What countermissionaries believe
  • Gilui warns of "darkness that will plague Am Yisrael in the lands of Galut" which "will reach its peak in the first half of 5773", but gets better in 5776.
  • Elder of Ziyon has a translated link to an Arabic site which shows how the Neturei Karta suggest to Palestinians how to destroy Israel. Ironic how they're similar to Bil'am in this manner.

Crying for The Shechina in Galut

Rav Shmueli's weekly shiur was about the Shechina in Galut, and how various rabbis in previous generations were moved to tears over the exile of the Shechina, and how we should cry over it too.

In the future, he says, 17 Tammuz will be Yom Tov, Tish'a Be'av will be Yom Tov, and the 3 weeks will be Hol Hamo'ed.

Watch his very Geula-oriented Shiur (in Hebrew) here.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

(Used to be) Big in Japan

Fascinating article on the life of a Japanese Ger, who is being sent back to Japan to help with the Yeshiva boys there.