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Monday, December 28, 2009

MBD, MBY, and Seraya


You've heard of Mashiah ben David.
You've heard of Mashiah ben Yosef.
But who's Seraya?

I was first introduced to the concept of Seraya a number of years ago by a Rav in town who mentioned him.

The Zohar (see p. 4641) mentions him as a warrior helper of MBY in his battles against our enemies.
He comes from the tribe of Dan. (Also mentioned in Kol Hator.)

On the verse לישועתך קויתי ה׳, the Midrash says:

לפי שהיה אבינו יעקב רואה אותו וסבור כי שהוא מלך המשיח כיון שראה אותו שמת אמר אף זה מת לישועתך קויתי ה׳

Yaakov Avinu saw him [Shimshon] and thought that he was the King Mashiah. Once he saw that he died, he said, "Even he died? I hope for your salvation, Hashem."

The נזר הקדש doesn't like the גירסא of "וסבור כי שהוא מלך המשיח" here, and instead changes it to match the following paragraph in the Midrash by using the words "וסובר בו שגאולה מגעת בימיו", so Yaakov Avinu didn't think that Shimshon was the Mashiah since Mashiah must come from Yehuda. Rather, he thought that Shimshon would be the mighty warrior from the tribe of Dan that would fight until the time of the Geula. However, Yaakov Avinu then saw that Shimshon would die, and therefore said לישועתך קויתי ה׳ - meaning, "I know that the Geula will come via someone from the tribe of Dan. If not from Shimshon, I hope for your salvation, Hashem, through Seraya, who will come from the tribe of Dan during the time of the Geula Sheleima."

There's also a gematria I found in ויספר משה:

ויפל רכבו אחור בגמיטריא וזהו יהיה שריה

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sign of Ikveta DeMeshiha in Latest Scandal

A commenter on VIN points out that a sign of Ikveta DeMeshiha has been brought to light throughout this whole EJF ordeal.

The Mishna/Beraita in Sotah 49B says that one of the signs is בית וועד יהיה לזנות.

This commenter also points out another sign of והאמת תהא נעדרת.

Although the חפץ חיים says that all these signs were fulfilled in his days already, they presumably would need to be fulfilled in our generation too in order to make it Ikveta DeMeshiha.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Who are Today's Yosef and Yehuda?

This week's haftara is on my mind. It's my second favorite that we read all year.

The verse says:

וְעָשִׂיתִי אֹתָם לְגוֹי אֶחָד בָּאָרֶץ, בְּהָרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וּמֶלֶךְ אֶחָד יִהְיֶה לְכֻלָּם, לְמֶלֶךְ; וְלֹא יהיה- (יִהְיוּ-) עוֹד לִשְׁנֵי גוֹיִם, וְלֹא יֵחָצוּ עוֹד לִשְׁתֵּי מַמְלָכוֹת עוֹד

So who are the 2 nations of Yosef and Yehuda nowadays?

Everybody and his brother has his theory about this. It could have something to do with the 10 lost tribes, but others have other theories that include current Jewish religious groups.

The Jewish End of Days blog recently posted a nice theory about this. He says that hareidim are Yehuda and religious zionists are Yosef.

Many years ago, I heard another theory based on the second-to-last verse in Ovadia:

וְגָלֻת הַחֵל-הַזֶּה לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר-כְּנַעֲנִים, עַד-צָרְפַת, וְגָלֻת יְרוּשָׁלִַם, אֲשֶׁר בִּסְפָרַד--יִרְשׁוּ, אֵת עָרֵי הַנֶּגֶב

which would imply that Ashkenazim, who lived in צרפת are "Bnei Yisrael" - i.e. Malchut Yisrael - i.e. Yosef, whereas the Sepharadim are from Yehuda since the Galut of Yerushalayim (in Yehuda) is in Sepharad.

Then again, I've heard the exact opposite theories of both of these.

Or, perhaps, the split is between E"Y Jews and diaspora Jews.

As long as we're all united in the end, it doesn't really matter to me who's who.

It's the Fifth of Tevet so don't forget your umbrella

It rained today.

See this post from 3 years ago.

Dybbuk Exorcism via Skype 2

I previously talked about Rav Batzri trying to exorcise a Dybbuk via Skype.

Yeshiva World News has an update that says that it was not succesful, and that the infected person is on his way from Brazil to Israel to have it removed by Rav Batzri in person.

Check out the interesting article at YWN.

Or in Hebrew at

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gilad Shalit

Mashiach's Wife [the blog - not the person] notes that Shirat Devorah [the song in Shofetim - not the blog] deals heavily with the Final Redemption, and that the name "Gilad" is mentioned in it. She says:
I think that we will soon see that Gilad's release from Hamas captivity is connected to the revelation of Mashiach Tzidkeinu.

More than 2 years ago, I talked about how the sons of Gilad ben Machir ben Menashe may be describing Gilad Shalit's situation.

However, there's another angle on this. The 2 names "Gilad" and "Shalit" both describe the 2 happiest moments in Yosef Hatzaddik's troubled life.

Let's start with the name "Shalit" first. The only time the Torah uses the word שליט is when it describes Yosef's ascendency to the second-in-command in Egypt and being in charge of the food supplies there:

וְיוֹסֵף, הוּא הַשַּׁלִּיט עַל-הָאָרֶץ

And Joseph was the governor over the land

The name "Gilad" also describes a happy moment in Yosef's life. The verse says:

וַיַּרְא יוֹסֵף לְאֶפְרַיִם, בְּנֵי שִׁלֵּשִׁים; גַּם, בְּנֵי מָכִיר בֶּן-מְנַשֶּׁה--יֻלְּדוּ, עַל-בִּרְכֵּי יוֹסֵף

And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation; the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were born upon Joseph's knees.

Who were the sons of Machir, the son of Menashe?

The Torah tells us in Parshat Pinhas that at least one was Gilad:

בְּנֵי מְנַשֶּׁה, לְמָכִיר מִשְׁפַּחַת הַמָּכִירִי, וּמָכִיר, הוֹלִיד אֶת-גִּלְעָד; לְגִלְעָד, מִשְׁפַּחַת הַגִּלְעָדִי.

So, just as these were happy moments in Yosef's life, Gilad Shalit's release will BE"H be happy moments in the life of the Jewish nation. Not just in terms of his freedom, but of all of ours.

How Long is This Galut?

If I knew the answer to that question, I certainly wouldn't tell you. However, let's take a look at a gematria I found. I know, I know, לבא לפומא לא גליא, but I still don't consider it an exercise in futility. You never know...

In Parshat Miketz, the verse says:

וַיֹּאמֶר--הִנֵּה שָׁמַעְתִּי, כִּי יֶשׁ-שֶׁבֶר בְּמִצְרָיִם; רְדוּ-שָׁמָּה וְשִׁבְרוּ-לָנוּ מִשָּׁם, וְנִחְיֶה וְלֹא נָמוּת

We know that the 210 years that the Israelites spent in Egypt are alluded to by the word רדו, with its gematria being 210.

OK, but let's take the gematria of the remainder of the verse:

שמה ושברו לנו משם ונחיה ולא נמות

שמה = 345
ושברו = 514
לנו = 86
משם = 380
ונחיה = 79
ולא = 37
נמות = 496
345 + 514 + 86 + 380 + 79 + 37 + 496 = 1937

Assuming the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash was in the year 68 CE, 1937 years later would have been the year 2005 CE or 5765.

Oh well, so much for that.

But wait! If we use the כוללים of these words, we can add 7, which would bring us to 2012 CE or 5772.

One may ask how we can use כוללים if we didn't use it for the gematria of רדו to make 211.

One answer that I can possibly give is that the Exodus was בחפזון - in haste - so Hashem couldn't wait for the כולל, whereas the future redemption will not be in haste, as it says: כִּי לֹא בְחִפָּזוֹן תֵּצֵאוּ "For ye shall not go out in haste". This would mean, according to this gematria, that any time between now and 5772 is the appointed time.

(Disclaimer: I certainly don't believe and nor should anyone believe that 5772 is a final deadline that one should give up if he doesn't come by then. חס ושלום! This is merely one scenario that I came up with. Many other scenarios could exist.)

May we merit Mashiah's arrival today!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Greatness of Boaz

Rut 3:8:

וַיְהִי בַּחֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה, וַיֶּחֱרַד הָאִישׁ וַיִּלָּפֵת; וְהִנֵּה אִשָּׁה, שֹׁכֶבֶת מַרְגְּלֹתָיו

Sanhedrin 19b:

תוקפו של יוסף ענוותנותו של בועז דכתיב (רות ג) ויהי בחצי הלילה ויחרד האיש וילפת מאי וילפת אמר רב שנעשה בשרו כראשי לפתות

Rashi on this gemara:

שנעשה בשרו. אבר: כראשי לפתות. נתקשה ואעפ"כ כבש יצרו ואף על פי שפנויה היתה ועמו במיטה אבל יוסף אשת איש היתה ואינה עמו במיטה

Obama Quotes Zecharia

President Obama quoted this verse in Zecharia:

לֹא בְחַיִל, וְלֹא בְכֹחַ--כִּי אִם-בְּרוּחִי, אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת

Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the LORD of hosts

I'm still waiting for him to quote this verse in Zecharia:

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.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Eisav shows up as Eisav in Moldova

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hanukka and Yehuda

It's not very often that Hanukka falls out on Parshat Veyeishev. It's almost always on Miketz alone (and even more rare is when it falls out on Vayigash).
A few websites mention the connection between Hanukka and Yosef.
However, you can also find a connection between Hanukka and Yehuda in this week's Perasha.
In this week's Perasha, we find Yehuda demoted from his position of power וירד יהודה מאת אחיו - and Rashi, quoting Midrash, says that his brothers demoted him since it was his suggestion that caused Yosef to be sold, and it caused great pain to their father, Yaakov. So Yehuda lost his position as the king of the brothers temporarily.
Similarly, we find that the Hashmona'im took over the leadership position of the Jewish people during the time of the Hanukka story. The Hashmona'im were Kohanim - not from the tribe of Yehuda, who should not have kept the power that they ascended to. It was for this reason that they were punished by their family being wiped out.
However, everything is for the best - through the Hashmona'im, the Beit Hamikdash was rededicated and the the Jewish people had self-rule for many years.
Similarly, Yehuda's descension was for the best. As the Midrash says, "והקב"ה היה עוסק בורא אורו של מלך המשיח ... קודם שלא נולד משעבד הראשון נולד גואל האחרון" Hashem was busy creating the first light of Mashiah (via Yehuda's story) ... before the first oppressor was born, the final redeemer was born (meaning Peretz, the son of Yehuda, was the first light of Mashiah, and he was born before the Par'oh of Sefer Shemot because Hashem creates the cure before the plague).

Monday, December 07, 2009

Does the Midrash Preclude FFBs From Becoming Mashiah?

Bamidbar Rabba 14:2:

דבר אחר
מי הקדימני ואשלם
מדבר באברהם, שמעצמו הכיר להקב"ה, כמה דכתיב (משלי יד): מדרכיו ישבע סוג לב וגו
מהו מדרכיו ישבע סוג לב
ר' אבא בר כהנא אומר: סוג לב וגו', שהוא מלא סיגים מדרכיו, עתיד להשתבע (משלי י"ד): ומעליו איש טוב זה היה אברהם שהכיר מעצמו להקב"ה, ולא היה אדם שלימד אותו היאך להכיר את המקום, אלא הוא מעצמו, וזהו אחד מד' בני אדם שמעצמם הכירו להקב"ה
איוב הכיר מעצמו להקב"ה
שכן הוא אומר (איוב כג): מחקי צפנתי אמרי פיו

חזקיהו מלך יהודה, אף הוא מעצמו הכיר להקב"ה
שכן כתיב עליו (ישעיה ז): חמאה ודבש יאכל לדעתו מאוס ברע ובחור בטוב

ומלך המשיח, מעצמו הכיר להקב"ה

The Midrash says that there were 4 individuals who came to the realization of their Creator on their own: Avraham Avinu, Iyov, King Hizkiya, and Mashiah.

The only commentary I found on the addition of Mashiah here was the מהרז"ו, who basically gives prooftexts to this even though none was given in the Midrash itself. The prooftexts he provides are הִנֵּה יַשְׂכִּיל, עַבְדִּי - that he gave himself the שכל of knowing his Creator and מֵעֲמַל נַפְשׁוֹ, יִרְאֶה יִשְׂבָּע--בְּדַעְתּוֹ יַצְדִּיק צַדִּיק עַבְדִּי, which implies his own Da'at.

So, is it true that FFBs could not become Mashiah?

To try to understand this, let's analyze the other 3 people mentioned. Avraham's father was an idol-worshipper, so he knew nothing of HKB"H, and at a certain age (some say 3), recognized his Creator on his own.
Iyov, according to most opinions, was not Jewish, so he too knew nothing of HKB"H, and he too came to the realization of HKB"H on his own.
Hizkiya is an interesting case. His father, Ahaz, was a Rasha. However, you would have to say that he must have known something about Judaism from living in the palace in Yerushalayim. Yet, the Midrash still considers him as having come to this realization on his own. How could this be?
The verse that is brought for Hizkiya is one that says that he will despise evil and choose good using his own knowledge, while coming from a home that chose evil. Hizkiya knew both paths, and decided to choose the good path on his own volition. Hizkiya, despite his father, would be considered an FFB and a BT at the same time.

And Mashiah? Do Mashiah's parents (or guardians) have to be Reshaim like Hizkiya's? Or do they have to be totally ignorant of HKB"H and His ways? Or, perhaps, he was born to a fine family, went off the derech, and will find his way back on his own?

This Midrash leaves a lot of questions unanswered. If anyone else has some insight on this Midrash, I'd love to hear it.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Bostoner Rebbe Zt"l

Baruch Dayan HaEmet. The Bostoner Rebbe of Har Nof has passed away at age 88.

One interesting story about him:

My father Shlit"a once went to his synagogue for Shaharit one Shabbat morning and was invited by the Rebbe to a Kiddush/tish following davening.

My father was intrigued by the many customs that the Bostoner shul had that were very similar to the Sephardic practice, and my father inquired the Rebbe about them.
For example, they did Hakamat Sefer Torah - aka Hagbaha - before the reading as opposed to after the reading, they did not say the beracha for Hallel on Rosh Hodesh, their siddur had Lamnatei'ah and Shir LaMa'alot for Minha and Arvit respectively, and a few other practices that were similar to the Sepharadim.

My father suggested to the Rebbe that perhaps it was because with the name Horowitz, he is descended from the Shela"h Hakadosh, whose name was Horowitz, and who made Aliya to Eretz Yisrael, and picked up some of the minhagim of Eretz Yisrael from the Gurei Ha'ari.

The Bostoner Rebbe replied that that was not the reason. Rather, the reason is because his anscestor way back (apparently, in the late 14th century) came to the town of Horowitz in Bohemia and bought it out, and was therefore called "Ish Horowitz". However, this ancestor was originally from Spain and named Benveniste. (This Wikipedia article in Hebrew and this site in English seem to corroborate much of this, and add that their ancestry is traced to the Ba'al Hama'or, who lived in Spain.)

A Hasidic Rebbe with Sephardic ancestry has gone to the next world.

יהי זכרו ברוך

Thursday, December 03, 2009

More on the Milkman

A long time ago, I posted about the Halban - the Milkman - who is a Kabbalist in Israel.

Over the years, there have been others who posted about him.

Now, VIN has a nice article that tells more about him.

Yaakov Avinu's Sukka and House

For my advanced readers, read the נזר הקדש on Bereishit Rabba 78:20 ד"ה סוכת. It's quite lengthy (it goes on for almost 2 pages), but very satisfying.

It's too long to post, but to summarize it very briefly, it explains how Yaakov Avinu's travels correspond to exile (גלות בבל), quasi-exile (the second Beit Hamikdash), and the Ultimate Redemption in מעשה אבות סימן לבנים fashion.
It would make a good Shiur.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Marwan Barghouti's Release - Predicted?

Will Marwan Barghouti, a murderer of Jews, get released from prison?

Arutz Sheva reports:
( The Arab newspaper al-Hayat has reported that the government of Israel had agreed to discuss the release of Fatah terrorist Marwan Barghouti as part of a deal with Hamas to free captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Israel’s willingness to release Barghouti was on condition he be deported from the Land of Israel.

But Barghouti refuses to be deported. We'll have to see how this turns out.

Well, it may have been predicted. No, I mean really predicted - in the Midrashim. Similar Midrashim called תפילת רבי שמעון בן יוחאי , and פרק ר' שמעון בן יוחאי(see PDF p.283, p. 555 in אוצר המדרשים here) and עתידות לעתיד mention the following statment (Background: the Midrash is listing the rulers of Yishma'el before the time of Mashiah):

ויעמידו מלך אחר ושמו מריאו (מרואן) ויקחוהו מאחורי הצאן והאתונות ויעלוהו למלוכה

And they will raise up a different king, and his name is Mario (Marwan), and they will take him from behind the sheep and she-donkeys, and they will bring him up for kingship.

Sheep is commonly used as a metaphor for Jews in Midrashim, as in ואנחנו עמך וצאן מרעיתך. Donkeys are commonly used as a metaphor for Yishmael as in עם משולים לחמור. Barghouti will be released from a Jewish prison from among his fellow Ishmaelite inmates.

Let's read on in the Midrash to see the fate of Marwan. It's unclear to me if this is the same Marwan mentioned earlier or not.

ויעמוד מלך אחר בגבורה ואיש מלחמה וקטטה בעולם
בימיו וזה לך האות כשאתה רואה שנפל נירון המערבי
שבמערב בהשתחויה של בני ישמעאל בדמשק נפלה
מלכותו ונכנסין ויוצאין במס. ואף מלכות ישמעאל
תיפול ועליהם הוא אומר שבר ה׳ מטה רשעים, ואיזה
זה מרואן השר. אצלו היו גבורי בני קדר קיימים
ותפשע עליו פינת מזרחית צפונית ויעלו עליו ויפלו
ממנו ג׳ חיילים גדולים בחדקל ובפרס והוא בורח
מפניהם ונלכד ונהרג ובניו יתלו על העץ

And another king stood up powerfully and [he is] a man of war, and there are fights going on in the world during his days. And this is the sign - when you see that Nero of the Far West will fall in prostration of the Ishmaelites in Damascus, his kingdom has fallen, and they will only enter and exit with taxes. And also the kingdom of Yishmael will fall, and it's said about them, "Hashem will break the staff of the wicked." And who is this? This is Marwan, the officer. He had the strongmen of the children of Keidar [associated with Yishmael] rising up and the northeast corner rebelling against him. And they will rise up against him, and 3 great armies will fall in the Tigris and Persia [perhaps it's פרת - not פרס - which would mean the Euphrates], and he will flee from them, and he will be captured and killed, and his sons will be hung on a tree.

Anyone catch the Obama reference?