Due to Blogger Format Changes
28 February 2010
Purim on Ben Yehuda Mall
How Israelis Celebrate Purim
A Persian Purim
26 February 2010
Shabbat Shalom - Parshas Tetzaveh
After 334 years, the 2nd Holy Temple in Jerusalem was in disrepair. In the year 19 BCE, King Herod I floated the idea of rebuilding and renovating the Temple. Though many Jews were wary of Herod’s motives, the renovation was completed eight years later. The new structure was magnificent, causing the Talmud to state: "He who has not seen Herod's edifice has not seen a magnificent edifice!" (Chabad.org Library)
Second Temple Completed (349 BCE)
The joyous dedication of the second Holy Temple (Beit HaMikdash) on the site of the 1st Temple in Jerusalem, was celebrated on the 3rd of Adar of the year 3412 from creation (349 BCE), after four years of work.
The First Temple, built by King Solomon in 833 BCE, was destroyed by the Babylonians in 423 BCE. At that time, the prophet Jeremiah prophesied: "Thus says the L-rd: After seventy years for Babylon will I visit you... and return you to this place." In 371 the Persian emperor Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild the Temple, but the construction was halted the next year when the Samarians persuaded Cyrus to withdraw permission. Achashverosh II (of Purim fame) upheld the moratorium. Only in 353 -- exactly 70 years after the destruction -- did the building of the Temple resume under Darius II.
We Are Snowed In ...
Our Hebrew Gematria blogs have shown that processes which are connected in nature often have the same Hebrew Gematria. For instance, we saw that the Hebrew word for Pregnancy has the same Hebrew Gematria as the number of days in a normal pregnancy, and that the corresponding Hebrew Gematria for the Primary Colors of Light are proportional to their wavelengths.
Let's look at a related example of Hebrew Gematria. We all know that snow is white. White is made up equal amounts of the three Primary Colors of Light. All three Primary Colors must have equal amounts for white light to appear.
￼Snow (sheleg in Hebrew) consists of three Hebrew letters, representing the three Primary Colors of Light. The Hebrew Gematria is made up of the Hebrew letters Shin (Gematria 300), Lamed (Gematria 30) and Gimel (Gematria 3). Thus, the combined Hebrew Gematria of sheleg (snow) is 333. Astonishingly, not only does snow in Hebrew have three letters to represent the Primary Colors of Light, but its Gematria is 333, indicating that to get the white of snow, it needs equal proportions of each Primary Color – 3 of each (3, 3 and 3).
25 February 2010
Mordechai HaTzaddik & Esther HaMalka
Haman's Final Solution
Revenge of a Bird
A fascinating Midrash compares Haman to a foolish bird attempting to take revenge on an ocean which destroyed its nest. What this seemingly simple fable tells about the secret behind Anti-Semitism, the inner conflict within the Jewish psyche and the meaning of Jewish history. A journey into the heart of what it means to be a Jew.
The Bird and the Sea
There is a fascinating Midrash (1) describing the plot of Haman, the villain of the Purim story:
“What is an apt parable for Haman the Evil One? To what can he be compared? To a bird which made its nest on the shore of the sea, then the sea came and swept away the nest. The bird said: I will not budge from here until the sea becomes dry land, and the dry land becomes the sea. What did the bird do? It took some water from the sea in its mouth and dropped it on dry land, and took dirt from the land and dropped it into the sea. Its friend came and stood alongside. He said to the bird: You ill-fated, hapless one! How do you ever hope to succeed?
“Similarly, G-d said to Haman the Evil One: Fool of fools! I myself planned to destroy the Jewish people and was, as it were, unsuccessful, as it is written (2) ‘He intended to destroy them were it not that Moses, His chosen one, stood before Him in the breach to return His wrath from destroying,’ and you, Haman, think you will be able to decimate and annihilate them?! I swear by your life, that your head will be in place of their; they will be saved and you will be hanged.”
At first glance, the Midrash is saying that the annihilation of the Jews is as impossible and ludicrous as the draining of the ocean, beak-full by beak-full, by a bird. The bird is so blinded by its anger at the sea for destroying its nest, that it does not realize the absurdity of its quest.
Yet the Midrash is perplexing.
1) The role of a metaphor in Midrashic and Talmudic literature is to explain and clarify a difficult concept. What is the concept being clarified via this metaphor of a bird attempting to drain an ocean? What component of the Haman story begs for enlightenment to be understood only via this metaphor?
2) In the Midrashic fable, the sea first sweeps away the bird’s nest, arousing its quest for revenge. What is the paralleled meaning of this sequence of events? What did the Jewish people – compared to the sea – do to Haman – compared to the bird -- pre-empting his desire to destroy them? Is the Midrash suggesting that we, the Jews, were guilty for his ire and hatred (3)?
3) The bird was quite foolish in its strategy to dry an ocean drop by drop. It is a ludicrous proposition. Haman -- the viceroy of the greatest empire of the time, who had the full cooperation of the mightiest man in the world, King Achashveirosh – had a well-thought out plan, and it came dangerously close to fruition. Why then is he compared to the bird trying to drain the ocean, defined as the “fool of fools?”
4) The Midrash relates that “G-d said to Haman the Evil One: Fool of fools! I myself planned to destroy the Jewish people and was unsuccessful.” How can G-d be “unsuccessful?” Who can possibly stop G-d from executing His plans?
Why the Jews?
It is here that we discover, once again, the untold layers of depth contained in the tales of Torah literature. A simple fable in the Midrash captures the secret behind Anti-Semitism, the inner conflict within the Jewish psyche and the ultimate meaning of the long Jewish story. In this Midrashic metaphor, we are invited on a journey into the heart of what it means to be a Jew (4).
What was it that really perturbed Haman about the Jewish people? What was it about the Jews that struck such a deep cord in so many Hamans throughout the ages, until our very own times? “Why the Jews?” is one of the oldest mysteries of civilization. Are we really that different?
The Midrash, in its own inimitable way, gives us a perspective. Like that little desperate bird trying to take revenge for a nest which the sea swept away, Haman felt that as long as the Jews were alive, the nest he attempted to build would be washed away.
One millennium before Haman was born, at the foot of a lone mountain, the Jewish people received a gift which transformed their destiny and changed the landscape of human civilization. It was an experience which imbued Jewish life with the nobility of transcendence, the majesty of Divine ethics and the grandeur of holiness. The gift of Torah inculcated Jewish life with great moral and spiritual responsibility, but it simultaneously bestowed upon the Jewish heart, the Jewish home, the Jewish family and the Jewish community a piece of heaven, a glow of eternity.
But what is heaven for one person may spell hell for another; piano lessons for a 4-year-old Mozart is a paradise, while for another child they may be a living purgatory. Heaven for the Jews was hell for the Hamans of the world. If G-d exists, then the moral law prevails, and there must be limits to power, self-aggrandizement and barbarism. Haman felt that two diametrically opposing and mutually exclusive powers were competing for the heart of humanity. If his “nest” was to take root, the Jews must be obliterated (5).
2300 years later this notion was captured by a contemporary Haman, Adalf Hitler. He remarked that “The Jews have inflicted two wounds on the world: Circumcision for the body and conscience for the soul. I come to free mankind from their shackles."
But Haman, the avid student of history (6), knew that this was no simple task. He had seen many powerful and seemingly permanent “nests” washed away by the Jewish “sea.” He knew what had happened to Pharaoh, Sisera, Goliath, Sancheirav and Nevuchadnezzar; how they each attempted to “drain the sea,” to eradicate the Jew once and for all and how they each ended up eradicated and forgotten themselves. Like that poor frog which ends up emerging in a biology class, all of these cultures and civilizations today appear only in history classes…
This is an excerpt, and the full Midrashic tale can be found here
[...] The Anti-Semites of the world never loved secular, modern and assimilated Jews any more than religious and observant Jews. Because they have acutely felt that the Jewishness of the Jew is embedded into his or her very essence, no matter the amount of “nose jobs” or soul-jobs he or she undergoes.
And paradoxically, this very truth has become our very source of eternal life. Since the Jewish people can never sever their relationship from Torah, our sea can never dry, and our existence can never be obliterated.
This is what G-d is telling Haman: Even I have tried… When the Jews sinned, I planned to destroy them, but I could not, because My relationship with them proved deeper than all of our “issues” with each other. It is like the relationship between parents and children: Parents sometimes harbor deep resentment toward the behavior of children who make their lives miserable. Sometimes a parent is tempted to write off a child, to stop helping him, even to stop loving him. But they can’t… The inner bond proves far more powerful. “A kind is a kind,” a child is a child.
Haman’s strategy was brilliant, but he failed to understand “vos eiz a yid,” what is a Jew. He did not realize that Torah to the Jew is what the piano was to Mozart. The fish will never fully leave the water, and the Jews will never die.
(This essay is based on an address by the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Purim 5724 (1964))
1) Esther Rabbah 7:10. 2) Psalms 106:23.
3) The Yafah Anaf to midrash ibid. suggests that it was Haman’s revenge against the war of the Jews against his great-great-grand father Amalek. Yet this begs the question: Amalek, too, launched an unprovoked war against the Jewish people when they left Egypt.
4) For alternate explanations for this Midrash, on the Kabbalistic and Chassidic realm, see Or Hatorah Megilas Esther; Sefer Hamamarim 5629 p.87; Pelech HaRimon Shemos Megilas Esther pp. 370-379. In essence, this essay, based on Sichas Purim 5764, presents the Kabbalistic explanation in relevant language.
5) This is the depth behind the famous Talmudic metaphor about the “pit” and the “mound” (Megilah 14a), explained at length in Sichas Purim 5725, translated and discussed in a previous Purrim essay.
6) See Talmud Megilah 13b
24 February 2010
Monster Blizzard on the Way!
ANOTHER.. ONE.. ON THE WAY!
SNOW BLIZZARD 2010
Later this week, a storm of colossal proportions will come up the Eastern Seaboard wrecking havoc from Pennsylvania to Maine. From northern and eastern Pennsylvania northward through New York and perhaps extreme western New England there is going to be a heavy, wind-driven snowfall beginning Thursday and lasting into Friday. Roads will close through this region, and there will be downed trees and power lines.
The storm's effects will extend into the higher elevations of southwestern Pennsylvania and where there is still a lot of snow on the ground from previous storms. Travel over those ridges will be next to impossible from Thursday afternoon through Friday.
The thing that stands out about this storm is the shear power it will have, and how much wind damage it can cause. From Maine to Virginia, winds will average 30 to 40 mph during the height of the storm with gusts to 60 and even 70 mph along the coastline. Accuweather
Did I read somewhere that Obama has scheduled a special gathering for Thursday (ahem! Taanis Esther)!
Who's Land is it Anyway ... Don't tell me your lies!
Me: Now, the brazen marxist leftists are trying to steal and discredit the natural birthright of every Jew in the world, especially those in repressive dictatorial countries, whose only connection and ticket to freedom is their Jewish identity. These leftists have subversively switched truth with lie in a very open way.
“A small group of left-wing Americans, some of whom call themselves Zionists, have launched a “Breaking the Law of Return” campaign, branding as “racist” the Israeli law that guarantees citizenship to Jews. More than 1,000 American Jews have backed the movement….
[A] “...group of post-Zionist American Jews opposes even having the automatic right to become Israeli citizens by moving to Israel….
“The Law of Return creates an ethnically exclusive citizenship," Dr. Amy Kaplan, an English professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a co-founder of the 'Breaking the Law of Return' campaign, told The Media Line. "Anyone who can claim a Jewish grandparent has this automatic right to 'return' to this land while Palestinians who were dispossessed of that land, in 1948 and 1967 and most recently in East Jerusalem, can't have that same right. We see this as unjust and want to repudiate that right."
This is yet another siman (sign) that our time is running out in order to move to OUR HOMELAND Eretz Yisrael, Eretz HaKodesh.
So everyone who has been 'deliberating' and 'on the fence' about whether to leave the cushy lifestyle in America to return HOME, and welcome the newness, new language, and adjustments that are indicative of moving to a new society. But remember, it's a new society full of your cousins, uncles, aunts, grandchildren, and extended family. Arutz Sheva.
Tamar Yonah has much to say about her extended family still in the United States:
History Won't Wait For You -- Sell & Get Out Now
Four Secrets of the Megillah
The Four Secrets of the Megillah
- One Miracle After The Other
- Marching Unyieldingly Towards "Good"
- How to Measure? Israel!
- The Quadruple Secret
ONE MIRACLE AFTER THE OTHER
The Nation of Israel is an ancient people, well-experienced in miracles. In fact, its history is nothing more than one long chain of divine miracles - concealed and otherwise. Everything it has gone through, all of its ups and downs, its victories and its defeats, and even those that appear to have occurred via a natural course of events, cannot be taken at "face value." They cannot be analyzed using the normal scientific-historical methodology, nor can quantifiable considerations such as the balance of powers be solely employed for their understanding.
There are historians and researchers who attempt to socio-historically explain the divine phenomenon known as Israel. They endeavor to clarify how, despite the perpetual hatred against them and constant persecution by their neighbors, the Jewish People have managed to survive throughout the centuries as a nation. In trying to explain how this lone sheep can continue to survive and thrive amidst the 70 wolves surrounding it, they ignore the simple historical truth that is the bottom line of the universal bookkeeping - namely, that the Divine Good that is the purpose and destiny of all Creation is the final, determining force.
MARCHING UNYIELDINGLY TOWARDS "GOOD"
True, there are frequent and serious breaks in the historic timeline of mankind's progress towards the longed-for aspiration of Supreme Good. There are reversals and deviations from the path towards the goal, and these are manifest in the suffering of entire generations, in ethical decay, in social corruption. But all these cannot put a stop to the unceasing advance of the Divine Goodness, for always in the end, the final determination is towards the good. Goodness is the driving force behind the predestined progress of the universe.
HOW TO MEASURE? ISRAEL!
The worldwide standard for measuring good and bad, progress and retreat, the highs and lows of mankind - is the People of Israel. The way in which the nations of the world relate to us, on the one hand, and the ethical tensions within Am Yisrael itself, on the other, are the ways in which the world can measure whether it is progressing towards the ultimate goal, or whether it is in a stage of reversal.
This is the fundamental principle on which the teachings of the Prophets are founded. It is the basic truth on which is based the Torah's ideal of the End of Days for all of humanity.
A most enlightening historic lesson, one which reflects the struggle of the great powers of good and bad, of Amalek and Israel - a struggle that is manifest in a deep-rooted hatred of the nations of the world towards the Eternal People - is provided for us in the Book of Esther, which we read on Purim. Esther herself, the Talmud teaches, asked the Sages to accord "her" Book a distinctive stature among the Holy Scriptures, and for Purim to become a special holiday and be granted a special status in our Torah tradition. As the great Maimonides wrote:
"All the Books of the Prophets and the Writings will become null and void during the times of the Messiah - except for the Megillah [Scroll] of Esther, which will stand forever just like the Five Books of Moses and the laws of the Oral Torah that will never be nullified. And even though the memory of all our suffering will be forgotten..., the days of Purim will never be erased, as is written [Esther 9, 28], "These days of Purim will not fail from among the Jews, nor their memory perish from their seed."
THE QUADRUPLE SECRET
What is the secret of the eternity of this Megillah? What is the vision of the future that is hidden in it and in the days of Purim for the End of Days? The answer lies in four eternal fundamentals of Judaism that came to the fore in a concrete way for the Jewish people during the critical period in which the events of Purim occurred. It is in these four tenets that the holiness and supremacy of Megillat Esther are shown.
The frantic pace of events that occurred during the story of Purim reflected the excellent qualities of Israel. The Book of Esther was not written to teach us only about that specific period or about the kingdom of Persia - but rather about the future and about the entire world.
The complete and utter negation of the Exile.
The events of Purim teach us that the presence of Am Yisrael [the Nation of Israel] in Exile is not only a national and spiritual danger for Israel, but also a genuine physical and spiritual threat to each and every individual Jew, Heaven forbid. As far as the Jew is concerned, the nations of the world have no grasp of elementary social laws that will safely guarantee his individual and national existence. The Torah's decree, "You will not find calm amongst the nations," is well in force, and has almost always expressed the bitter and true reality of the relationship between the Jews and the nations.
Divine Providence over Israel.
The Megillah teaches us that it occurs in hidden ways, buried among the myriad details of events, each of which is a link in one long and involved chain. We see that the details of time, of place, of form, come together in a great maze of events and people that, in the end, prove to have been intricately woven in advance into one complex and uniform picture. The final picture is what we call a "miracle," even though when it is broken down into its individual pieces we do not see anything unusual.
Another aspect that is hidden among the events of Purim is the memory of the eternal war and hatred from Amalek towards Israel. In this case, it was manifest by Amalek's descendant Haman. The concept of Amalek, the source of all corruption and evil in the world, always appears in an individual or a group, weaving itself in wherever hatred and killing are being perpetrated against Israel. This war is the symbol of the contrast between light and darkness, and between good and bad, and it is for this reason that the Torah commanded us to remember what Amalek stands for and to increase our hatred for the root of the world's evil. "By the L-rd's throne, the L-rd will have war with Amalek throughout the generations." [Ex. 17,16]
Integrity and Purity in Warfare.
The Torah concept of "Your [army] camp shall be holy" is a constant reminder that the purpose of war in Israel is for the defense and personal and national security of Israel. The Megillah repeats three different times that the Jews "did not take from the booty." This is the true standard for the holiness of the army during battle and victory. For it was not the personal interest of the fighters that stood before them, but rather the salvation and honor of the entire nation, as is written, "The other Jews in the other nations of the King gathered to protect themselves, and had rest from their enemies - and did not lay their hands on the plunder."
These are the eternal basics of Am Yisrael, and within them hides the secret of the holiness and supremacy of Megillat Esther and Purim for Am Yisrael in general and for its army in particular.
23 February 2010
Entire Week of Prayer
These special prayers will go on for an entire week, starting Sunday 21 of Adar (March 7), which is the yartzeit of the Holy Rabbi Elimelech of Lizensk Zi"a.
Please spread the word about this unique opportunity amongst your friends and family and let them, too, join our special free service and be prayed for, at the tomb of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk.
Amongst our God fearing representatives will be righteous Torah scholars one of which is the direct descendant of the holy Ba'al Shem Tov and many other Tzadikim. You can register for this special week of prayer by visiting Kivrei Tzadikim.
Bees and Robots
Robots & Bees to beat the Taliban
The homemade IED is the extremists’ deadliest weapon and America is spending billions on trying to combat it. We are granted access to this secret, smart and bizarre world (so reads the headline).
“The opening eight minutes of the Oscar-nominated movie The Hurt Locker bring to light the terrifying work of bomb disposal units. The special effects may be Hollywood, but there is no exaggerating the horror of IEDs, the improvised explosive devices that are by far the biggest killers of British and American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
[...]“The operational word in IED is ‘improvised’. As they are constantly changing, we need to keep vigilant and maintain our technological expertise to stay ahead of the game,” he says. The main focus of his work is finding chemical signatures of bombs. A ground-penetrating laser known as a Huskie has been developed to try to detect them through mass spectroscopy. The task now is to miniaturise it and enable it to work from a distance.
The irony of amassing all this money and brainpower to defeat a bunch of largely illiterate Afghan farmers assembling bombs in their mud houses using fertiliser packed in kitchen jugs is not lost on him. “Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to defeat,” he says. “As Americans we like technology, we like complicated things. That’s what I’ve been trying to get my head round — how to think more simply.”
New Israeli Drone to beat the Persians
Eitan, Israel's new pilotless plane is our answer to the Persian Haman-Missile
The plane can fly spying missions over Iranian territory, a roundtrip journey of almost 2,000 miles. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear he is determined the Islamic Republic will not acquire nuclear weapons he and other Israeli leaders insist the military option remains on the table.
22 February 2010
They’re All Hypocrites
Deep Seated Hatred
Harbor in Their Hearts
There is A Power
Than All the Nations
He Reigns Supreme
21 February 2010
The Rights of Jewish Refugees
According to the international advocacy group, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC), some 850,000 Jews were displaced from Arab countries after the State of Israel was established. These include Jews from Syria, Trans-Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.
Rabbi Winston – Shlach Lecha and 2000th Issue
THIS IS OFFICIALLY the 2,000th edition of Perceptions , boruch Hashem , a personal milestone. It is hard to believe that I have done this 2,...