31 December 2009

The Geulah is ... Fast Approaching

Yes, it appears that the Geulah is fast approaching.


Akiva at Mystical Paths adjures us in

"...We are so close to the Geulah that there is no time to work through long solutions to breeches in the foundations of Torah and Yiddishkeit. We must protect Am Yisroel and ourselves from the chevlei Moshiach (the birthpangs of Moshiach) by directly infusing the most potent kedusah immediately."


Looking at the nonsense taking hold in the world at this time, it leaves no doubt that 2010 will continue this trend with intensification.
The new year on the calendar could be viewed as 01.01.2010
Gematrios anyone?

Am Yisrael is approaching mid-year on our calendar, and we are waiting, davening, and doing more chessed and mitzvos in anticipation.

In Contrast of Yerekot

Mystical Paths shared with us some pictures of a local Israeli neighborhood shuk (probably on an erev Shabbos outing):



Tonite I came across the following pictures on Pamela's site, highlighting the poor, starving citizens in Gaza, at one of their shuks in preparation for an upcoming holiday. No one looks starving to me! And there seems to be plenty of goodies even for the kiddies ....

When abundant becomes redundant...



A bunch more pictures to feast your eyes on here.
Well, what do you have to say?
There certainly seems to be no shortages, life looks as one would find it in any Middle Eastern country .....

So

Why

the

Farce

of

Starvation?

29 December 2009

The Warrior From the Tribe of Dan

Abir Aluf Grand Master Yehoshua Sofer with Rabbi Lazer Brody 11/2006


"Seraiah Son of Dan"


I read a wonderful post on Yerenen Yaakov that got me thinking, and B"H I found my post from May 31, 2005 that (may) shed some light on Seraiah, Son of Dan:


"The Abir tradition: this secret was preserved in the *Sofer family whose documented lineage goes back 100 generations to the FIRST HOLY TEMPLE.


Abir, the traditional Israelite combat art that goes back to our forefather Abraham. The Aluf knows a variety of techniques, and the source of each technique in the Torah, i.e. Naftali tribal combat style, the combat style of the Tribe of Asher based on its tribal symbol the olive tree, combat style of the Tribe of Dan, and for each of the 12 tribes.

On his clothing he wears the The Starflower: an amazing vision that the Aluf had during Hitbodedut (meditation, personal prayer). Notice the motif, a resemblance of the Star of David that Rav Kaduri zt"l referenced in his descriptions of Moshiach's clothing. Visit here to learn more about the Abir and the
Starflower."

* The Habanis of north Yemen preserved an unbroken chain of Abir since the destruction of the second Temple nearly 2000 years ago. Fiercely loyal to their faith, the Habani Jews never assimilated. Of all the Habani clans, the Sofer family was the most proficient and well known both in Torah scholarship - especially the esoteric - and in Abir warrior arts. Don't be surprised - Hebrew warrior arts go hand-in-hand with holiness and Kabbala; you can't be a true Abir warrior unless you keep yourself on a lofty plane of personal holiness and Torah scholarship.

Further:
Abir Aluf meets Melitzer Rebbe. Plus a fascinating photo from 1922 of King Abdulla Ibn Hussein of Transjordan with his Jewish bodyguards

You can also search YouTube for videos that show the Abir Warrior Art form (www.youtube.com/watch?v=npIkHTLt83Y)



Ancient Egyptian bas relief from the period of the Hebrew enslavement (at the Necropolis bani Ghassan near Karnak). We identify these as Hebrew warriors practicing the origins of Abir. They can be identified by their Semitic skin coloring; their beards (Egyptians could not grow natural beards); their wearing the ‘ephod-bad’ a traditional dress maintained by Hebrew warriors in Hadramaut. The center warriors appear to be performing the ‘dum-tak’, an ancient war dance in Abir to this day. (Fascinating find from Biblical history revealed by archaeology

Why?

Another "Nice Declaration"

"The United States opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved by the parties through negotiations and supported by the international community."

"The United States recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, and for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. We believe that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem, and safeguards its status for people around the world.” YWN article

Please explain

Why?

Why?


28 December 2009

We're taking this slowly ...

Phasing back into the 'real' world is difficult at first

The rest of the story part II



Part II
U.S. AIR FORCE GETS “PERSONAL” REVENGE IN YEMEN*

One of the Islamic clerics that provoked Major Nidal Hasan to turn terrorist against his fellow American servicemen was a radical Islamic imam named Anwar al Awkali. Imam Awkali is now dead, courtesy of the U.S. Air Force. US drones wipe out top al Qaeda leaders in Yemen.

There's an old saying, what's good for the goose is good for the gander!




first seen at * Steven Collins and at Debka

27 December 2009

The rest of the story...

The news went like this:

Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai, 40, zs'kl, of Shavei Shomron, was murdered Thursday afternoon when terrorists fired at the car he was traveling in, between the Jewish communities of Shavei Shomron and Einav in Samaria, west of Shechem.

But there's a story (Nava explains the rest of the story) behind the news:

The Heavenly Contract: 12 years earlier, Rav Meir Chai was involved in a deadly car accident and after many hours of effort, the doctors were able to resuscitate him twice but he remained in critical condition for many weeks, unable to breathe on his own. After long weeks of recuperation, he was finally able to breath on his own. When he 'woke up', he told his family and the doctors that he was in the world of truth and begged the heavenly court to allow him to return to his body. He told the heavenly court that he wants to be around his newborn son and didn't want to leave his wife a widow and his newborn son an orphan. The court decided that he'll be given exactly 12 years to raise his newborn son.

His family said that as the end of the 12 years was approaching, he was very apprehensive. That fatal thursday, the son that was born 12 years earlier celebrated his 12th birthday.

So it was, at the end of those 12 years that his heavenly contract was over.


Chutzpa
Meanwhile on the other side of the great-divide
America called on Israel to “explain” the elimination of three terrorists responsible for last week’s shooting death of Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai HY”D in Shomron.

Well, we are surely relieved that
"US Officials in Jerusalem point out that America did not “officially” protest or complain."

Dr. Arad should explain to Big Brother ...
the rest of the story!

Forced into a

horizontal state of life ...

... refuah shleima wishes gratefully accepted



22 December 2009

Afghan - Pashtuns

I found some interesting information that sheds more light on my (ahem) 'research': continuing from Why is America in Afghanistan?

About Yahya Khan

General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan was born at Chakwal in February 1917. His father, Saadat Ali Khan, was actually from Peshawar.
After finishing his studies at the Punjab University, Yahya Khan joined the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun. He was commissioned in the Indian Army in 1938. His early postings were in the North-West Frontier Province. During World War II, he performed his duties in North Africa, Iraq and Italy. After independence, Yahya Khan played a major role in setting up Pakistan Staff College at Quetta. During the war of 1965, he commanded an infantry division. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army in 1966 with the rank of General.

In 1969, when the situation went out of Ayub Khan’s control due countrywide agitation, the President decided to hand over power to the Army Chief, General Yahya Khan. Yahya Khan immediately after getting powers declared Martial Law in the country on March 25 1969 and assumed the title of Chief Martial Law Administrator. He terminated the constitution and dissolved National and Provincial Assemblies and Governments. On March 31, he also became President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Unlike other military rulers who ruled Pakistan, Yahya Khan was not interested in prolonging his rule. Immediately after taking the charge of the country, Yahya Khan started looking for the options through which he could hand over power to the elected representatives. On March 29 1970, through an Ordinance, he presented an interim constitution: The Legal Framework Order. The Legal Framework Order was actually a formula according to which the forthcoming elections were to be organised. It goes to the credit of Yahya Khan that the first General Elections in the history of Pakistan were held during his regime.

Afghan Origin (written by Yahya Khan)

Descendants of the tribes of AFGHANA. Pakhtun, Pashtun, Pathan, Pukhtoon etc are some other names for Afghan. Their language is Pashto. They are descendants of Hazrat Ibrahim (ABRAHAM).

When I was a teenager I used to go to Mahabat khan jumat in Peshawar. After prayers we would sit with tablighi jumat. I still remember when I asked a spingeray from tablighis: was there any prophet among pashtuns, the old man answered yes of course: Khalil khan (Abraham), Isaac khan (Isac), Israel khan (Jacob),Yousaf khan (Joseph), Musa khan (Moses), they were all Pashtuns (Hebrews).

I thought "Baba jore da churso suta walae da, Zaka gaday waday wai". I could not believe he was telling me something very important. I thought all prophets were Arabs, at least that’s the Arab propaganda to get respect and call themselves sayyid and exploit Pashtuns. In fact the real children of prophets are Pashtuns. All these prophets spoke Hebrew not Arabic and they were not Arabs at all.

In Hebrew Abraham sounds Afroim , Avram , Afram etc.( In Pashto we use words zar-ghan etc (which can be explained as goldlike or from gold, etc).

Afr-ghan (meaning from Abraham) gave origin to Afghan. (Also Hebrew is ibrani -ibran-afghan and ibrani-ifghani (Pashto).

The holy book of David (Hazrat Daud) was Zabur (the Psalms), and hence Pashtuns use words Zaba-language or tongue or promise (the message or promise of God to Abraham and his descendants, zabardast- fantastic, Zabul-a region in Afghanistan. (Many words are used in Pashto -spinzar, srazar, sanzarkhel, zartasha, zamina, zarina, zarghon shah, zarghona, zahra, zanana, etc)

Today some tribes use word jaba instead of zaba.

The name of Abraham’s grandfather was TERAH and father was AZAR. Abraham lived in Babul and the king at that time was Nimrod.

When Hebrews settled down in Afghanistan they named different regions to represent their history eg.

NB! (At that time this region was called khurasan meaning kha urasan-meaning we got here safely).

TERAH (Grandfather of hazrat Ibrahim) and JAMROD, NIMROZ (nimrod),

AZAR (father of Hazrat Ibrahim). Srazar, spinzar, zarghona, zarghonshah, zarmina, zartasha, azara - another word for Afghans. Afgans living in district hazara in NWFP. Word Hazara is mistakenly used for Mongols in Afghanistan. When real azara migrated to Hazara, abbotabad, Gilgit and Kashmir areas, the areas they came from were taken by Chengez army and those mongols came to be known as Hazaras in Afghanistan. While real azaras are living in pashtunkhwa, most of them speak hindko but they are real Afghans. Also Gilgit are Gilzai. Kashmiris are also Afghans (kasi is a Pashtun tribe, mir is a Pashto word e.g mirali; it’s actually kasimiris-kashmir. You will be astonished to know that Butt living in punjab and kashmirs are actually buttkhel Afghans (buttagram, buttkhela etc). No matter what language they have adopted during process of assimilation they were and are Afghans.

Yasrab (Yathrub) was a big Israelite city later named Madina in Arabic. The present 10 or 20 million Jews are only a small tiny portion of a huge Hebrew family.

The Talibans

Twelve million people divided into 60 tribes and sub-tribes. A book by the late President Ben Zvi and the research of Rabbi Avichail shed interesting light on this subject.

Many use the name Israel. Some of the tribes call themselves Efraim (Ha’afridi), Reuven (Rabani), Asher (Ashri), etc. They grow sidelocks (in Kedusha) – have a talit with fringe they use for prayer, Brit Mila on the eighth day – Mikve for women of Nida, "Yibum", Chuppa, Shabbat is called AL HAFTA = Holy Day. They light candles on Friday evening, drink wine (forbidden by Islam), on Shabbat they don’t work or cook..........They have Yovel (50 years). They say "we were Jews – when Moshiach comes we shall return to the Holy Land and be Jews."

20 December 2009

A Retrospective






Mothers and Babies the World Over Want to Live
They Want to Live in Peace
The Men of the World are Causing Wars
The Subversives are Corrupting Life on Earth




And That Includes The Wonderful Brave
and Courageous of G-d's Chosen
People and Land
So, Therefore


18 December 2009

Shabbat Shalom - Parshas Miketz

Shabbos Kodesh
Parshas Mikeitz

Yaakov's Vision*

All the visions of the prophets are the result of it (the light of sight itself). "For the prophet of today was formerly called 'the seer' " (1 Shmuel 9:9)

"And I saw visions of G-d" (Yechezkel 1:1).

In any case, it is the ability of the light of seeing that emanates from the brain until the edge of the eyes.

With it they were able to see spiritual visions as well. Regarding it (Sefer Tikunei Zohar Chadash), when it is covered it is revealed, and when it is revealed, it is covered, with the closing of the eyes they saw it.

* HaRav Pinchas Winston, the Leshem on the Parshah at THIRTYSIX, where you will find shiurim, books, CDs, Audio, and amazing Torah.

17 December 2009

The Offspring of the Greeks


Through the Light of Chanukah


In the blessings on the Chanukah candles, we say:

"for the miracles that you performed for our fathers, in those days - at this time."

The message of celebrating Chanukah today is that what was true then is still true (and perhaps even more so) today. Though the success of the Macabbees led to the formation of an independent Jewish state in the Land of Israel, a state that remained intellectually and ritually unique in a sea of Hellenism and Greek philosophy, ultimately, from a secular perspective, it was the message of Greek culture that was triumphant on the global scale.

Still, the miracle of finding a cruse of pure, uncontaminated oil calls upon us today to search for the ancient Jewish wisdom that can shed Divine light and rectify the seemingly endless volumes of philosophy and science whose source lies in the ancient Greek tradition. This mysterious and pure flask of Jewish wisdom has the ability to reconnect humanity's intellect with its faith. When utilized correctly it sheds new light on every topic.

To fully appreciate the importance of typing the two together we have to take a closer look at the downside of Western thought. What is so problematic about the mind space developed out of Greek philosophy that an entire festival of light is dedicated to the struggle against it?

Indeed, we can strengthen this aquestion by adding that modern science, perhaps the most important offspring of the ancient Greek tradition, has produced most beautiful fruit: from the enhancement of knowledge to the increase in life expectancy, science has affeted our lives profoundly. But science is much more than its products; purely scientific thought has most negative side effects, and it is because of these that we have been in constant struggle with it ever since the time of the Maccabees.

The main problem with scientific rationalism is that it dulls man's spiritual senses - senses that by their very nature function beyond the rational mind.

As a general rule, science is able to provide engaging answers to questions about how things work, but questions of purpose, i.e., for what purpose does something work in the first place; what is the reason for existence - these questions do not fall within the scientific framework.

The crux of the challenge that classical Western culture presents us with does not lie in science itself. To this day, the rational mind continues to be Western culture's unquestioned authority, and scientists have become the priests of a new religion. The result is scorn and disdain at any attempt to offer new and daring ways of thought that climb out of the box of rational thought to heights science cannot even dream of. For this reason, victory over the wisdom of Greece does not mean the end of science. On the contrary, it means placing science in its proper place as a tool of the intellect....

Continue reading Rabbi Ginsburg's Chanukah insights, and explore more about the wisdom in Torah and Science.

16 December 2009

Rabbi Lazer Brody Shlit"a

"The Ministers of the European Union want to split Jerusalem, G-d forbid. All types of little birds tell me that the top White House advisors are in on this too. I guess they don't know the meaning of Chanuka... the Hellenist Israeli Government has declared war on the Maccabees of this generation and will fall, all our enemies abroad will fall, and the light of Torah and emuna will continue to burn bright from Jerusalem"

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed

“Unfortunately I have become a focus of public interest and of an act of malevolence by the Defense Minister,” he said. “They attack us and say that a soldier must have a commander and that the commander cannot be his rabbi. The Defense Minister accuses us of destabilizing the foundations of democracy and inciting the students to refusal, and of damaging the spirit of the IDF.”

"There are deep disagreements in Israeli society but this is a libel against us and against our Torah, whose words are good and true," he continued. "The public is being incited to believe that the rabbis are endangering the existence of the army. But this is not true. A defense establishment which makes it possible to drag the army into political disputes is the one endangering the army, because there is no conflict between the commander and the rabbi on security matters. The Halacha [Jewish Law] says that a soldier must obey his commander in both training and battle.”

"“I wrote in my weekly column Revivim that it is still a mitzvah [commandment] to go out to battle because, as bad as things are in the IDF, our situation would be infinitely worse if we did not have the IDF,” he said. “And women called me and asked for rabbinical permission to exempt their husbands from service. And I told them that according to Halacha, their husbands should go and fight. And so they were able to sleep more soundly, but I was not able to sleep soundly."

For the full article and video (in Hebrew), visit Israel National News

Rabbi Eliezer Waldman: "We Are All Har Bracha"

"Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, head of the Nir Yeshiva in Kiryat Arba, told Arutz Sheva on Monday that the Defense Minister's removal of the Har Bracha Yeshiva from the Hesder program has essentially united all factions among religious-Zionist rabbis.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak's behavior towards the Har Bracha Yeshiva and its dean, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, is "extremely grave," in Rabbi Waldman's words. "It was an action taken in opposition to all the agreements and relations between Hesder yeshiva heads and the Defense Ministry," he added." Full article

14 December 2009

Tamar Yonah from the City of David

Tamar Yonah is a brave and intellectually challenging Israeli political commentator, but more than that she jars complacency and stimulates life challenging thoughts and ideas with her penetrating topics that she bares under the light of her questioning, and the controversial and enlightening guests she interviews on a myriad of relevant issues.

The Shock Factor - Undressing Evil is one such enlightening piece to read. She says, "Sometimes it takes 'the shock factor' to do what 'rationalization' smothers. Please visit her blog on Israel National News.


and while you're there, read also:

NEVER MAKE CONCESSIONS TO RADICALS
A former terrorist speaks out! (Dec 10)

JUDEA AND SAMARIA: THE LAND OF G-D
What the Enemy is Saying (Dec 8)



13 December 2009

Home Again, Home Again ...

The Jews of Yemen ... an Update



The 70-odd Jews of Sana'a Josh Berer befriended are themselves refugees from persecution in Raida, in the north. As the remainder of the Jews flee for the US and Israel, those in Sana'a, sustained by government handouts, are likely to be the last Jews to remain in the country.

"In Yemen we spent the vast majority of our time with the last community of Yemenite Jews. I was working on a project of recording folklore, the stories of the last Jews of the oldest diaspora in the world. Over the coming months I will be translating those stories and slowly putting them online. However, I could not post anything on this blog about our experiences and the friendships we made, because the government keeps a very close watch on those who have contacts with the Jews, and we promised and swore that we were not journalists. Things could have been bad had I posted pictures and stories before we had actually left the country."


Read more at Jewish Refugees: Precious record of Yemen Jews' vanishing lifestyle.

You can read more about one of ancient Israel's tribes and see other pictures at Josh's blog (link above) : nomad out of time: A journal of Islamic art, Yemen, linguistics, and a life of wandering






We need Josh or someone like him and Rachael to do a photo essay of the Jews lost in Afghanistan among the Pathans and Pashtuns.

Public Announcement

JOIN THE PROTEST
AGAINST ISRAEL’S CONSTRUCTION
FREEZE

Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009, from 11AM-12 noon,
in front of the Israeli Consulate,
42nd Street and Second Avenue, NYC

People of conscience will gather to protest against the immoral, illegal, unconscionable construction freeze ordered by PM Bibi Netanyahu. It’s purpose seems to be to appease the Arab enemy, which has already announced that the freeze is insufficient to meet its demands.

In violation of the right-wing Likud mandate to preserve the Land of Israel for the Jewish people, a draconian order has been issued to stop work on all construction in the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria for a period of ten months while Arab construction continues unabated.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak is implementing
this order
with the use of the IDF and Yassamnakim,
a special forces unit, dressed in black,
reminiscent of the Nazi SS

Just as in the expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif, no thought has been given to the emotional, economic, and physical hardships inflicted upon the 300,000 residents of Judea and Samaria, as well as all those involved in the construction industry.

We urge all those who care about the preservation of the Land of Israel to be present on the second day of Chanukah, Sunday, Dec. 13, to rally to the cry of
Judah Maccabee,
“All those who are faithful, follow me!!”

Although this rally will be taking place in NYC, we urge people throughout the country to follow suit and organize demonstrations in their own communities.

Contact the AFSI office, 212-828-2424;
1-800-235-3658;
afsi@rcn.com for additional information

Happy Chanukah!

11 December 2009

Shabbat Shalom - Parshas Vayeishev


Shabbos Vayeishev
Shabbos Chanukah - First Candle

Miracle of Miracles

Some interesting thoughts on Chanukah

The Secret of Chanuka as Revealed by
the Prophecies of Chaggai and Zekharia
By Rav Yoel Bin-Nun

“I was drawn to explore these prophecies in greater depth when I once happened to notice that it was on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (Kislev) in the second year of the reign of Darius, that Chaggai began uttering his prophecy concerning the laying of the foundation of God’s Sanctuary. In other words, many generations before the Hasmonean’s rededication of the Temple, the 24th (or rather, the 25th, as we shall see) of Kislev was the day of laying the foundation of the God’s Sanctuary! Is there some connection here? How could there not be? Is it possible that no one, throughout all the centuries since then, was aware of Chaggai’s prophecy? And if it was noted, why was it never mentioned in relation to Chanuka?”

24th of Kislev – “Now ask instruction of the kohanim, saying”
On the 24th day of the ninth month (Kislev), Chaggai returns to the problem he addressed earlier – the lack of desire to arise and build God’s House, owing to the fact that everyone is busy with his own affairs. This is the reason why God has brought the drought: in order to awaken them and draw them out of their self-absorbed focus on their private prosperity.

Thank You Obama!


He surely deserves the Nobel for his Behind the Scenes Innovations in Diplomacy
Look what Obama has wrought.

In response to Defense Minister Barak withholding 22 million NIS from Hesder yeshivot, MK Elkin will keep 3 billion NIS from the defense ministry. Elkin sits on the Knesset Finance Committee.

“If someone in the defense ministry thinks he can blackmail the Hesder yeshivot, he must understand that he will have a fight on his hands.”






News from Arutz Sheva



A MUST HEAR!
Tamar Yonah Radio Show:
AND
The Tovia Singer Show: Obama Administration



Guardians of the Sick

and wounded, lost, and not yet enjoying
the Splendor of Shabbos

Let me introduce the following with these words:
Thank G-d we have Haredi Internet Reporting of News in our Community, in Eretz HaKodesh, and around the World.
Why should we live in the dark and wait for disasters to come upon us.
Forearmed = forewarned = Action
We live in the world of Action

Our Children Need Your Support

a 7 minute video of a fascinating glimpse into real stories from their Family Crises Intervention Program and how Bikur Cholim turned things around—and makes a real difference in the lives of children.




The Jewish Communities around the world owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish Haredi internet websites for their coverage of issues vital to our fellow Jews. Permit me to say, "how many more lives could have been saved from the world turning its back on Jews during WWII, if we had the news coverage that we have today!?" Of course we know that everything comes from Hashem, but our collective responsibility to each and every Jew, regardless of their religious involvement (they are really G-d's 'orphans') is a priority. Our international achdus is of utmost importance; all Jews need to know that we care for our brothers and sisters.

Thank you to the following News conveyors:
Vos Iz Neias
Yeshiva World News
COLLive
Shturem
and
the many others.
Sorry if i've left out your names.

Baruch Hashem!

EREV SHABBOS FLASH

Rav Grossman: Protests are Not Necessary for Shmiras Shabbos in Yerushalayim

In an interview with the weekly Kehillah Newspaper affiliated with Belz Chassidus, the rav states that progress can be made through advancing the cause peacefully, without violence and protests, confident the situation in Yerushalayim is no different.

May Hashem continue to Bless you
Rav Yitzchak Dovid Grossman Shlit"a


As reported: Yeshiva World
What would we do without Haredi news!!??

Chanukah: The Dreidel's Hidden Meanings



Some may try to dim the lights of the world, they try to control the birth, death, and life of the Jews, they enact multitudinous laws and 'non-laws', even the air you breathe. However, we believe in the Miracle of Light, the Light of Chanukah, and soon it will shine throughout the world, for all to see the Glory of Hashem. Presented below are excerpts of a special Chanukah Shiur given by Rav Ginsburgh. If you like this, it is available as an eBook, very reasonably priced, the proceeds of which enable the Galeinai Publication Society to bring us truly great spiritual enlightenment. There is also a beautiful Meditative Melodies CD which is a collection of authentic melodies sung in various Chassidic courts while lighting the Menorah (adding a deep spiritual experience to the glow of the Chanukah licht).


Chanukah and the Dreidel:
Uniting the Supernatural and Natural*

We light Chanukah candles to publicize the miraculous power of God who intervened on behalf of the Maccabbees. The eight days of Chanukah commemorate the miraculous lighting of the seven-branched Menorah in the Holy Temple for eight days, thus connecting the numbers 7 and 8 together. In Jewish tradition, the number 7 represents a state of natural perfection (for example, Shabbat, is the seventh day of the week), but the number 8 represents a state of supernatural perfection (for example, circumcision is done on the child’s eighth day). Thus, Chanukah unites the natural with the supernatural, the finite with the infinite.

The Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement, possessed a special love and affinity for Chanukah more than all the other holidays of the year. This is because the Chanukah candles represent the innate gift of the Jewish soul for spreading light and illuminating the whole world (even the non-Jewish world). The Ba’al Shem Tov’s message spread by the Jewish soul stresses both that God creates nature anew at every moment and at the same time permeates it with supernatural power. Because of its ability to unite the natural with the supernatural, the light of the Chanukah candles will eventually bring about the true and complete redemption.


The Dreidel

A very popular Jewish custom is to play dreidel on Chanukah. Adults together with children gather around the lights of the menorah, spinning to discover which letter falls on top. What is the deeper significance of this act, and what meaningful thoughts can we have in mind while playing dreidel this Chanukah? As we will see, by spinning the dreidel in front of the Chanukah lights, we are bridging the gap between the finite realm and the infinite.

The Dreidel’s Four Letters

By tradition, the dreidel has four faces. The
first thing one notices about the dreidel is that each of the dreidel’s four faces has one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet inscribed on it. The four letters are nun (נ ), gimel (ג ), hei (ה ), and shin (ש ), the initials of the phrase, “A great miracle occurred there” (נֵס גָדוֹל הָיָה שָׁם ).

The first thing to note is that the numerical value of these four letters together, נגהש , is 358, also the numerical value of Mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ )! The recurring motif found in the dreidel’s hidden meanings is that of the Mashiach and redemption—changing the world and making it a worthy dwelling place for the Almighty. [....]

When a Square Becomes a Circle

The dreidel is shaped like a top, with a pointed bottom edge on which it can be spun. Spinning the dreidel causes its square contours to fade-out, making it seem like a round top.

Conceptually, the dreidel’s square faces and features represent the mathematical and syllogistic logic of the ancient Greeks, over whom the Maccabbee’s were victorious, both materially and spiritually. The Maccabbee’s, true to our faith in one God, believed and indeed practiced their belief that a view of nature and life that is based on human rationalism alone is lacking, for it is the infinite God, who has no bounds that brings all of reality into being. Thus, the round contours revealed by the dreidel when it spins represent the realm of the Divine, which manifests as miracles —events that cannot be understood, and sometimes even perceived—by the rational human mind. [....] By meditating on the act of spinning our own physical dreidel, we connect and identify with the Divine and show our willingness to see beyond the square and logical face of nature and believe and tap into the infinite, circular realm of God’s infinite space. In effect, meditating on the dreidel’s spin has the power to open our eyes to miracles.

What’s in a Name?

To gain a deeper appreciation of this charming little toy, let us continue by analyzing its name. As is well known, the name of an object (particularly in Hebrew) reveals its essence. The dreidel has three names that we are going to look at it. First, in Hebrew it is called a sevivon (סְבִיבוֹן ); obviously, this is the most sacred name of the three. In Yiddish, it is called a dreidel, the name that it is most commonly known by around the Jewish world. Finally, in English, we would call it a “top.”

Rules of the Game

The most common game played with the dreidel is with nuts or almonds. Each of the players is provided with an equal quantity of nuts and play commences by placing one nut each in the pot. Each child spins the dreidel on turn. The traditional rules are that if the dreidel lands with the letter shin revealed the player who spun the dreidel has to add another nut to the pot (in Yiddish, the shin stands for “shtel,” meaning “put in“). If the result is a hei (halb, “half,” in Yiddish), the child receives half the pot (with the additional nut when there are an odd number of nuts in the pot). If the result is the gimel (gantz, meaning “all“), he wins the entire pot (and subsequently a new pot is made). And, if the result is the nun (nisht, meaning “nothing“), he does nothing and the dreidel is passed on to the next player. And so the game revolves and revolves until one of the players has won all of the nuts.

Equipped with our understanding of the dreidel’s four faces we can delve deeper into the symbolism hidden in these rules.

Shin: Possessions and Ego

The shin requires the player to lose a nut.
To understand why this is so, we need to translate the loss into the psychological realm. The shin as we saw corresponds to kingdom about which the Zohar says, “She has nothing of her own.” We all possess a faculty of kingdom, which is usually characterized as our ability to relate with our surroundings. When in its rectified state, our faculty of kingdom knows that all that we have been given comes from Above (in the case of sefirot, per se, “above” refers to the sefirot above kingdom). An individual with a rectified faculty of kingdom experiences a sense of lowliness in the psyche. [....]
Nun: Beating Entropy

The nun represents a neutral state in which nothing is gained, yet nothing is lost and the game continues with the next player. The experience associated with the nun is that things progress naturally. [....]


Yud and Hei: A Whole and a Half

Both the yud and the hei yield a profit for the player. Since these two letters correspond to wisdom and understanding, the intellectual sefirot, the lesson is that when one is able to attain a state of mindfulness, there is real profit to be made. The difference is only in the amount.

Mindfulness indicates a state in which a person is wholly connected and guided by awareness of the Creator and His will as manifest through the Torah. When a person can sustain such a state, many good things come to him so that he may utilize them as part of his Divine service. [....]

Dreidel Entropy

To explain the rule that spinning a nun results in nothing, we used the physical concept of entropy. As it turns out we can extend this analogy further to explain the rules pertaining to all 4 letters.

We noted that the nun inspires us to look at the miraculous aspect of nature. The greatest miracle in nature is its continual recreation ex nihilo, something form nothing (nisht, beginning with the letter nun, as above). In fact, our ability to recognize the origin of nature’s being in the Divine nothing and to then manifest this power of transforming the nothing into something is what allows us to truly and permanently overcome entropy. Translating this into the less philosophical realm of playing dreidel, to make a profit you first have to recognize nature’s miraculous origin in the Divine. So, the two letters gimel and hei make the player a profit because they represent an inspired outlook on nature. [....]


Notes:
1. Zachariah 6:12.
2. Since God creates nature anew at every moment, in effect even what we deem natural is actually an ongoing miracle, clothed in the guise of natural laws. As explained in length by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the highest form of miracle is actually the type that can alter the course of nature while appearing to follow its laws.
3. אוֹר הַסוֹבֵב כָּל עַלְמִין
4. אוֹר הַמְמַלֵא כָּל עַלְמִין
5. As stressed by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, to connect with God’s infinite aspect one should perform mitzvot from a place of infinite devotion. The more scholarly an individual is in the teachings of the Torah, the more inclined he or she is to act out of knowledge and understanding. But, dedication to the Almighty’s will has to set these aside and act out of a pure aspiration to do nothing but perform His will. This is called acting out of self-sacrifice (מְסִירוּת נֶפֶשׁ ) and above reason (לְמַעֲלָה מְטַעַם וְדָעַת ), the two great virtues of the Maccabbees.
6. Zohar II, 215a.
7. Pesachim 68b.

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