Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Wake Up Call

A large family of my favourite bird - the kookaburra - have taken up residence in a tree very close to my home.  Every morning and evening I am treated to their laughing sounds. It's said that when you hear the kookaburras during the day, rain is on the way.

If you have never heard a kookaburra - native to Australia and New Guinea only - here is just one kookaburra laughing.... now multiply that sound by six....

And for Leah.... here is Joe's photo of a junior kookaburra eating mince meat.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Parshas HaMon

Art: Heidi Malott

Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Riminov [1745-1815], a disciple of the Holy Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk, instructed everyone to read "Parshat HaMann" specifically on the Yom Shlishi [Tuesday] of Parshat Beshalach in the "Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum" format, i.e. reading the Hebrew verses twice and the Aramaic translation of Onkelos once.   This year it will occur today Tuesday 23 January.

Not to be confused with the evil villain of the Purim story, Parshat haMann [The Chapter of the Manna] is found in the 16th Chapter of the Book of Exodus: verses 4-36. This Chapter details the episode of the miraculous "Manna" [bread from heaven] that sustained the Children of Israel during their 40-year journey in the desert.

Rav Yosef Caaro, the "mechaber" [compiler] of the monumental Halachic text, the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 1:5, instructs us to recite it daily. Other giants of Halacha also point to the importance of reciting it daily: The Tur 1; Aruch Hashulchan 1:22; Shulchan Aruch HaRav 1:9.

By so doing, every Jew acknowledges that his/her livelihood comes from only from Hashem. Reciting the Parshat HaMann daily strengthens one's Emuna and Bitachon [belief and trust] in HASHEM, and is a "Segula for Parnassa" [auspicious for having a healthy income].

To read Parshat haMann in Hebrew [with the Aramaic translation of Onkelos], please visit: Tefillos.com

English version here: Ou.org

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Olam Ha-Bo in An Instant

Unknown Artist

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

Commenting on the verse that states, “the Children of Israel walked on the dry land amid the sea” [Beshalach 15:19], the author of Noam Elimelech writes, “Just as the Children of Israel did at the Red Sea, the great Tzaddikim managed to perceive the unlimited greatness of the Eternal, even as if they found themselves on dry land in the middle of the Red Sea.”

One may ask a few questions on this passage:

1. How can one imagine that, on the one hand, the Children of Israel had reached such a spiritual level that they saw the Divine Presence, could even point out G-d, and had Divine inspiration enough to sing the Shirah with Moses, yet on the other hand were forced to purify themselves of the forty-nine levels of impurity once they left the sea [Zohar, Yitro 39a]?

2. Why did they have the merit to see the Celestial Chariot when they passed through the Red Sea, while at the same time they were still stuck in their impurity and continued to worship idols? The Children of Israel should have normally purified and sanctified themselves first, having the privilege to see the Shechinah only after receiving the Torah.

It is because our Sages teach that one can merit the world to come in an instant [Avodah Zarah 10b, 17a]. Incidentally, one can also lose it in an instant. They could therefore not linger for a second longer, and well before reaching the threshold of the fiftieth gate of impurity, they reached elevated spiritual levels. “For they were driven from Egypt for they could not delay, וגם [and also] provisions they could not make for themselves” [Bo 12:39]. The word וגם has the same numerical value (49) as מט (forty-nine levels of impurity). Yet in their impurity, they nevertheless did offer the Passover sacrifice, and did circumcise themselves, mixing in this way (as we have seen) the blood of the Brit with that of the Passover sacrifice.

Even though they knew that they were not meritorious, they believed in G-d Who promised to strike all the firstborn of Egypt in the middle of the night [Bo 12:29]. If they sprinkled blood on the lintel of their doors, He would pass above them and spare them [v.13].

The behavior of the Children of Israel is thus unique in the annals of history. What other people managed to believe in G-d and offer Him sacrifices while wandering in the desert, in an uncultivated land, far from G-d and devoid of the Torah to guide them?

It was the survivors of the plague of darkness that repented and merited the world to come in a few moments. When the Eternal saw that they devoted themselves completely to Him, even thought they were still impure, He blessed them with shefa (abundance), with light and holiness, and enabled them to reach great spiritual heights in allowing them to witness the miracle at the Red Sea. It was because He looked into their hearts and knew that they aimed only to obey Him.

The Children of Israel nevertheless had to rectify all their sins in the desert. Imbued with holiness when then passed through the Red Sea, they knew exactly how to get rid of their impurity, and how to get closer to the Holy One, blessed be He.

But those who didn’t improve their behavior showed that, in fact, they refused to get closer to G-d and to leave Egypt. Therefore they died in the plague of darkness because they wanted to “help” the forces of evil that function in the night [Zohar II:164b]. It was thus the darkness that punished them [cf. Shabbat 105b]. The Eternal also revealed Himself as much to those that didn’t believe in Him, as to those that recognized Him without even having received the Torah or witnessed the miracle at the Red Sea. They could therefore rectify all their bad traits and merit the world to come in an instant.

Friday, January 19, 2018

4 Shevat Yarzheit Baba Sali

Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzeirah - The Baba Sali
Born: Tafillalt, Morocco,1890
Died: 4 Shevat, Israel, 1984

Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzeirah was of a well-known rabbinical dynasty. His grandfather was the famous tzaddik, Rabbi Yaakov Abuchatzeirah. He had great skill in Talmudic interpretation and many of his halachic decisions were accepted and took root among his followers. He was regarded as someone who possessed the Ruach Hakodesh or "Divine Spirit".

Although still very young, people flocked to R' Yisrael for blessings for their parnassa (income), family, and health. Consequently he became known as "Baba Sali," (our praying father) because of the prayers that he would invoke on behalf of those who sought out his guidance.

One day, young Yisrael's father told him, "My child, you have a great power to bless people which you cannot measure. Your words can bring great help to men. From now on, you must use this power to say good things about others and to bless them."

Young Yisrael gave his word. Soon it became known that the blessings of this young child brought miraculous results. He became famous as Baba Sali. A master of the Kabbalah and a great Torah Sage, he took over his father's position as head of the yeshiva and Rabbi of the community. Although he regularly gave many lectures in Torah and kabbalah, he did not permit his students to write them down because he wanted his scholarship to remain unknown. Nevertheless, his fame as a holy man and a righteous Tzaddik continued to draw Jews to him from all over. Even Arabs came to receive his blessings and the coins he gave for charity.

At 19 he was inducted as the Rosh Hayeshiva, after his father's death. After an extended one year trip to Eretz Yisrael he returned, and was compelled to take the position of Rav of the community after the murder of his brother by an Arab. He gave daily lectures, served as a judge in the beit din (rabbinical court), and set the tone for the kehilla. The community appreciated that nothing escaped his holy, penetrating eyes. From throughout Morocco, people converged on his home for his blessings, his counsel, and his encouragement.

In 1964 when Baba Sali noted that much of Moroccan Jewry had emigrated to Eretz Yisrael, he followed them to fulfill his dream of settling there. Baba Sali chose Yavne as his home because many of his followers had settled there.

In 1970 he moved to Netivot where he was steadily visited by Chassidim, Ashkenazim and Sephardim who sought his unique counsel. He stressed emunah (faith), humility, ahavat Yisrael (love of fellow Jews) and kiyum hamitzvot (fulfillment of mitzvot). His phenomenal memory allowed him to access information at will, whether it dealt with law, Talmud, Kabbalah,etc.

He was very humble and did not want to attract attention, however, his prophetic powers and his miraculous prayers soon became renowned. Thousands of Jews from all over the world would come to seek his advice and blessings for children, health, and livelihood. Baba Sali was very close to other great Torah scholars, especially the Lubavitcher Rebbe, whom he referred to as "the Great Eagle in the Heavens." He strongly encouraged the Rebbe's Mitzvah campaigns, especially urging young girls to light candles for Shabbat and Yom Tov.


Young and old, men and women, observant and secular, Sephardim and Ashkenazim of every stripe, all streamed to the door of the great kabbalist and tsaddik, Baba Sali, in Netivot, seeking his blessing and help. Everyone, without exception, held him in the highest esteem.

Once a man from Holon, Eliyahu, was scheduled to have his legs amputated. His spinal cord had been damaged by a bullet in the Yom Kippur War. He had already spent much time in the hospital, and so was reconciled to his fate. The procedure was to take place on Friday.

That Thursday, an elderly woman acquaintance suggested that he receive a blessing from Baba Sali before the operation. She said that she knew of someone who had been paralyzed, yet was healed through Baba Sali's blessing. Although Eli was not at all observant, he decided to try it anyway, in desperation. Maybe, maybe....

It would have been impossible to get permission to leave the hospital the day before the operation, so Eli snuck out. He didn't even disclose his intention to see Baba Sali to his concerned family.

Eli sat on a chair in the waiting room near the entrance to the tsaddik's room. After many hours, finally his turn came. The custom was, before anything, to approach Baba Sali on his couch and kiss his hand, but because of the advanced thrombosis of his legs and the crippling pain that accompanied it, Eli was unable even to rise to enter the room.

Following Baba Sali's instruction, Rabbanit Simi, his wife, approached Eli and asked, "Do you put on tefillin?" Do you keep Shabbat? Do you say blessings?

"No," admitted Eli, and burst into sobs.

Baba Sali seemed to be moved by Eli's suffering and his sincerity. He said to him, "If you do my will and observe the Shabbat and repent completely, then G-d, too, will listen to my will."

With great emotion, Eli promptly cried out, "I accept upon myself the obligation to observe the Shabbat in all its details. I also promise to do full tshuvah, to 'return' in repentance all the way."

At Baba Sali's directive, Eli was served tea. After he drank it, the Rabbanit suggested that being that the Rav had blessed him, he should try to get up, in order to go and and kiss the Rav's hand.

After much effort and pain, Eli managed to rise. He couldn't believe it-his legs were obeying him! Shakily, he walked over to Baba Sali and kissed his hand! By then nearly delirious with shock and joy, he began to thank Baba Sali profusely. The Rav interrupted him, saying with a smile, "Don't thank me. Just say: 'Blessed are those who sanctify His name publicly!'"

As if in a dream, Eli stumbled out the door and descended the stairs. He experimented, walking this way and that. He had to know: Was he really awake? Could this truly be happening? With each step, his legs felt better.

On his "new" legs, he went over to Yeshiva HaNegev, not too far from the home of Baba Sali. When the students realized they were seeing the results of a miracle that had just occurred, they surrounded Eli with happy dancing and singing, and words of praise and gratitude to G-d.

Rejoicing in his new-found ability to walk, Eli returned to the home of Baba Sali to say goodbye properly and to thank him again. He also expressed his fear that his legs would relapse to their previous weakness and disease. Baba Sali calmed him, saying cheerfully, "Don't worry. In the merit of your oath to 'return' and repent, and especially that you promised to observe Shabbat according to its laws, which is equal to all the commandments, G-d has done this miracle and nullified the decree against you. Now it is up to you to fulfill your words."

Leaving Baba Sali's house again, Eli telephoned his mother. "I'm all better!" he shouted, without explanation. She figured that fear of the surgery had caused him to loose touch with reality. "Are you coming home?" she asked with concern. "Or will you go straight to the hospital?"

Eli then told her what he had promised Baba Sali, the blessing that he had received from the tsaddik, and the miraculous improvement that had already occurred. As soon as he hung up, he called his doctor at Achilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and informed him of his cure. The doctor told Eli to be back at the hospital the following day, and to "stop acting crazy!"

Eli did go to the hospital the next day. The doctor was barely able to accept the evidence of his eyes. After a few days and many tests, Eli was released. The first thing he did was to return to Netivot, to thank Baba Sali again. The Rav requested of his household that a seudat hoda'ah, a meal of thanksgiving to G-d in honor of the miracle, be prepared and served. At the end of the meal, Baba Sali blessed a bottle of water and told Eli to deliver it to the hospital so that his doctor could drink l'chaim from it. "And tell him," added Baba Sali, "not to be so hasty to cut off legs."

Baba Sali's gabbai (attendant) during most of his years in Netivot, Rabbi Eliyahu Alfasi [who witnessed much of the story and heard the rest of the details from Eli of Holon], reports that he once asked Baba Sali how he performed this great miracle. The tzaddik answered him innocently, "Believe me, Eliyahu, all I did was tell him 'Stand up!'"

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Truth About The End

Don't believe all the negative prophecies on the internet.

It is easy to prophesy disaster. If the prophecy comes true, then you have spoken the truth. If it does not, then you can say: G‑d relented and forgave. 

A negative prophecy cannot be refuted – but a positive one can. 

If the good foreseen comes to pass, then the prophecy is true. 

If it does not, then you cannot say, ‘G‑d changed His mind’ because G‑d does not retract from a promise He has made of good, or peace, or return. [Yirmiyahu] 

It is therefore only when the prophet offers a positive vision that he can be tested. 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

In the redemption from Egypt, our Sages explain, only one Jew out of five left. Four-fifths of the people died in the plague of darkness.

In the Future Redemption, by contrast, no Jew will be left behind. Every member of our people will share in Mashiach's coming.

Why the difference? Because at the time of Mashiach's coming, the truth of G-dliness will be revealed. At the core of every Jew lies a soul that is "an actual part of G-d," a spark of His being. When the truth of G-dliness will be revealed, every Jew will realize that G-dliness is the truth of his own being.

By anticipating the Redemption and applying its truths to our own lives now, we can bring it closer. Realizing and focusing on the G-dly spark within ourselves serves as a catalyst for the revelation of G-dliness throughout existence.  [Lubavitcher Rebbe]

See No Jew Will Be Left Behind

@ 2:24:20 in this video

Question to Rabbi Kessin:  If one-fifth [of the Jews] went out with Moshe, does that have to be repeated in this Redemption?

Answer from Rabbi Kessin: No.  Because with Moshe Rabbeinu they went out with zchus - they merited to go out because they suffered for 210 years.

Today it's not zchus, it's b'ito [in it's time].  It's the End, and when it's the end everybody goes out.
That's a big difference.
It's the End Time.

At that time they earned the right to be redeemed.  

We must be redeemed because G-d swore he will bring the Redeemer for his Great Name.

And that's why Yaakov wanted to reveal to his kids the acharis yaamim...  that is b'ito.... that is the End.

The Serpent's Lie

''Garden of Eden'' Unknown Artist

The Rebbe Reb Zisha once asked his brother "My beloved brother, in the holy writings it is written that all the souls were once included and contained in Adam, the first man. If so, we must also have been there at the moment he sinned and ate from the tree of knowledge. Why didn't we prevent him from doing so?"

The Rebbe Reb Elimelech answered him thus: "Brother, we were obliged to let him eat the fruit. If he had not, the serpent's lie would still stand and would never have been proven false. The serpent said to him "Your eyes will open and you will be as G-d, knowing good and evil and able to create worlds." This is why Adam had to eat the fruit - once he did so, he saw that even though he had eaten of the fruit, he was still just a human being and no more."

Source: Mipeninei Noam Elimelech - translated by Tal Moshe Zwecker

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Moshiach's Password ''5778''

In his latest shiur, Rabbi Kessin tells us of the special code words given by Moshe Rabbeinu that identified him as their saviour sent by Hashem to take the Jews out of Mitzrayim.  Those words are פָּקֹ֤ד פָּקַ֨דְתִּי֙ - [pokod pokadeti] I have surely remembered you

Shemot 3:16 ''Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and say to them, 'The Lord God of your forefathers has appeared to me, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, "I have surely remembered you and what is being done to you in Egypt."

You can read more about these words by clicking here.

These are the words used by the Redeemers: Moshe  and Moshiach.

Now Rabbi Kessin gives us some extra information.

The gematria of  פָּקֹ֤ד פָּקַ֨דְתִּי֙ is 778.  This may represent the year 778.....  but how do we know that this could actually be the year 5778?  Because there is a Vav missing from the word פָּקֹ֤ד , and Vav is the number 6, representing the sixth millenium - 5778.  So those words are quite possibly hinting to the fact that when the Moshiach arrives with these special code words, it could very well be this year 5778.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Interpreting Dreams

Art: Sharon Tomlinson

written by Chanan Morrison

The Sages made a remarkable claim regarding dreams and their interpretation: "Dreams are fulfilled according to the interpretation" [Berachot 55b]. The interpreter has a key function in the realization of a dream. His analysis can determine how the dream will come to pass!

The Talmud substantiated this statement with the words of the chief wine-butler: "Just as he interpreted, so (my dream) came to be" [Gen. 41:13].

Do dreams foretell the future? Does the interpreter really have the power to determine the meaning of a dream, and alter the future accordingly?

The Purpose of Dreams
Clearly, not all of our dreams are prophetic. Originally, in humanity's pristine state, every dream was a true dream. But with the fall of Adam, mankind left the path of integrity. Our minds became filled with wanton desires and pointless thoughts, and our dreams became more chaff than truth.

Why did God give us the ability to dream? A true dream is a wake-up call, warning us to correct our life's direction. Our eyes are opened to a vivid vision of our future, should we not take heed to mend our ways.

To properly understand the function of dreams, we must first delve into the inner workings of Divine providence in the world. How are we punished or rewarded in accordance to our actions?

The Zohar [Bo 33a] gives the following explanation for the mechanics of providence: The soul has an inner quality that naturally brings about those situations and events that correspond to our spiritual and moral level. Should we change our ways, this inner quality will reflect that change, and will lead us towards to a different set of circumstances.

Dreams are part of this system of providence. They constitute one of the methods utilized by the soul's inner quality to bring about the appropriate outcome.

The Function of the Intepreter
But the true power of a dream is only realized once it has been interpreted. The interpretation intensifies the dream's impact. As the Sages taught, "A dream not interpreted is like a letter left unread" [Berachot 55b]. When a dream is explained, its images become more intense and vivid. The impact on the soul is stronger, and the dreamer is more primed for the consequential outcome.

Of course, the interpreter must be insightful and perceptive. He needs to penetrate the inner message of the dream, and detect the potential influences of the soul's inner qualities that are reflected in the dream.

Multiple Messages
All souls have imperfections. All souls contain a mixture of good and bad traits. A dream is the nascent development of the soul's hidden traits, as they are beginning to be realized. A single dream may contain multiple meanings, since it reflects contradictory qualities within the soul.

When the interpreter gives a positive interpretation to a dream, he helps develop and realize positive traits hidden in the soul of the dreamer. A negative interpretation, on the other hand, will promote negative traits. As the Zohar [Miketz 199b] admonishes:

"A good dream should be kept in mind and not forgotten, so that it will be fulfilled. ... Therefore Joseph mentioned his dream (to his family), so that it would come to pass. He would always anticipate its fulfillment."

It is even possible to interpret multiple aspects of a dream, all of which are potentially true. Even if they are contradictory, all may still be realized! Rabbi Bena'a related that, in his days, there were 24 dream-interpreters in Jerusalem. "Once I had a dream," he said, "and I went to all of them. No two interpretations were the same, but they all came to pass!" [Berachot 55b]

Dreams of the Nation
These concepts are also valid on the national level.

Deliverance of the Jewish people often takes place through the medium of dreams. Both Joseph and Daniel achieved power and influence through the dreams of gentile rulers. The Jewish people have a hidden inner potential for greatness and leadership. As long as this quality is unrealized, it naturally tries to bring about its own fulfillment — sometimes, by way of dreams.

When a person is brought before the Heavenly court, he is asked, "Did you yearn for redemption?" [Shabbat 31a] Why is this important? By anticipating and praying for the redemption, we help develop the inner quality of the nation's soul, thus furthering its advance and actualization.