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31 January 2022

It was the best of times . . .

 -"It was the best of times  and it was  the worst of times.."

Dickens's iconic words come to mind as I sit in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the independent  Jewish state.
Clearly, there have been no better times for the Jewish nation in the last two thousand years.
The magnitude of the blessings and miracles that showered upon the Jewish nation in our generation are well documented and obvious.

No people could be expected to have survived and then risen again from the unparalleled, hopeless last blow the Jewish nation received, after two millennia of cringing in fear of the next catastrophe.

Cringing is the proper word to describe Jewish existence for two millennia. This was the condition of Jews as individuals and as a nation. And it was foretold in the Torah.
No nation suffered as much, and none experienced such miraculous redemption.
This too was foretold.
There is only one Nation chosen by God along with its particular expectations and responsibilities.

And so, as prophesied, the God of the  Covenant brought us back "on the wings of eagles"  to our promised land that had since become synonymous with desert and ruin and turned it into a paradise.
We defeated enemies far greater than us, as prophesied.
These are the best of times! Praise God.

So what happened?
How is it that once we chased powerful enemies and saw the backs of their heads as the bible promised and today we hide behind walls and run from stones thrown by children?

It wasn't always like this.

How is it that instead of sacrificing for and loving every dunam redeemed in our beloved tiny land, we seek ways to give it away to our enemies?
It wasn't this way.

How is it that we fear traveling in increasing parts of our beloved land?
How is it that we fear to plant trees in parts of our promised land?
How is it that we invite the anti-Israel enemy to share power in the Jewish state?
How is it that a few brave young Jews determined to secure and guard our limited expanses against the enemy's land theft are the object of hate and hotly pursued by the Jewish government?
How did it happen that one of these wonderful youths was killed by the police and his blood calls out for justice?
How did it happen that Jews who dare mumble a prayer on the site of our holy temple are treated as public enemy number one and terrorized by both the enemy and the police?
How did it happen that Israeli police officers instruct Jewish policewomen to sexually entertain Arab terrorist murderers in jail?
How? When? Why?

As Rabbi Kook said, "to be a loyal Israeli one must first be a loyal Jew."
There are no alternative paths to a successful "Israeli " state.
An Israeli state that is not Jewish will be devoured by its cruel, vengeful, barbaric neighbors.
It is already happening.

We see how the vaunted  IDF or start-up nation can not halt the process.
Trying to appease the enemy or the world does not do it either. It just accelerates the process.

Only once we know who we are, where we are, and why we are here can the tide turn.
There are no alternative solutions to the question of identity. It can not be escaped.

Only then can these be truly the best of times as was intended.
According to the prophets, these times will indeed arrive and there will be a happy ending
The story is not over yet.

I delve into these issues in my book, "Jews, Israelis, and Arabs"
available on "Amazon"
and "Book Depository"(free shipping to Israel)



Our mailing address is:
Shalom Pollack Tours
Jerusalem 99386

The Woke Walder Train

 Episode 24 of the Root and Branch Medical War Crimes series with Brucha Weisberger is now available at https://rumble.com/vtcera-r-and-b-medical-war-crimes-24-brucha-weisberger.html.   Mrs. Weisberger has been doing heroic work to wake up the Jews in Brooklyn and beyond.

I believe the following article cuts to the core of so much that is going on.  Please share widely if you agree.

The Woke Walder Train

The media has decided that Chaim Walder was guilty of the most heinous crimes. Of course, they cover their derrieres with terms like “alleged”, “accused”, “suspected”, and references to a kangaroo court, but they make it quite clear where they expect everyone to stand on this matter, as they typically do. We must whitewash the crimes of certain people – they have narratives and we must be sensitive – but Chaim Walder was the epitome of evil. With him, anything goes.

I will state for the thousandth time that I have no idea what Walder did or didn't do, neither do you, and neither do the people issuing screeds against him. None of us support abusers, or covering up for them, or ignoring the plight of victims. Those who engage in such rhetoric to censure and censor voices of sobriety are themselves being abusive. 

There is nothing virtuous about people who do this. They are opportunistic phonies chasing the perceived moral high ground or they are pushing a deeper agenda. They couldn't care less about victims – really, what have they ever done for actual victims? – and will eagerly victimize whoever stands in the way of their agenda. We should not be intimidated by their emotionally manipulative behavior or allow them to hijack the conversation. 

Several so-called “leading rabbis” have been playing this game, contorting Torah sources to suit their agenda, ignoring the copious Torah sources that are inconvenient to them, and engaging in emotionally manipulative rhetoric. I've asked them to answer a simple question: What would be the Jewish law if someone were to spread anonymous rumors about you? Rabbis who are unwilling to answer straightforward questions are in the wrong line of work, but none of these victim-protecting talking heads has responded to this one. They just disappear.

Yes, we are allowed to ask hard questions about what is being reported, challenge the procedure that was followed, draw different conclusions than the ones they demand from us, and still be firmly against abuse. Not only do we support actual victims of abuse, we also support a sane, sober procedure that follows the Torah in all its details, and protects everyone from being railroaded. 

In fact, even those who are guilty of heinous crimes – not merely accused or strongly suspected, but undeniably guilty – must still be treated according to the parameters of Torah law. We cannot simply declare that someone is evil, therefore anything goes. In fact, although the Torah commands us to eradicate evil from our midst – and to be ruthless about it – the Torah also commands us to show compassion even for those who must be eradicated. Mankind has never and will never determine a more “moral” combination of ruthlessness and compassion than what the Torah outlines for us. 

Consider the following, about a heinous criminal who must be stoned to death. Before being cast down and stoned, the sinner is stripped of his clothing. This is so that even a thin fabric will not prolong the agony of his death by a single moment. According to Rabbi Yehuda, a man's genitalia are covered, but not his backside, whereas a woman is covered from the front and the back. According to the Rabbis, a man is stoned completely naked, not a woman. (The biblical sources and reasoning are discussed in Sanhedrin 45A-45B.)

A scoffer might ask what difference this makes, and why we should concern ourselves with such things. After all, we are dealing with a wicked person who is condemned to death. So what if he suffers a little longer? So what if he is shamed by his nakedness? Bring it on! He deserves it!

No, he doesn't deserve it. He deserves precisely what the Torah commands, and not a tiny drop more. Rabbi Yehuda and the Rabbis debate what God in His compassion wants us to protect a heinous sinner from more: gratuitous physical suffering or gratuitous emotional suffering.

The Gemara then asks why an adulterous woman, whose punishment is intended in part to deter such behavior in others (Yechezkel 23:48), is covered on both sides to protect her dignity. Why not stone her andhumiliate her as much as possible? That will deter others even more!

Rabbi Nachman answers in the name of Rabba bar Avuha: 

אמר קרא ואהבת לרעך כמוך ברור לו מיתה יפה 

The verse says, “Love your fellow like yourself”. Choose for him a nice death.

If we must execute someone, we must, but we have no right to increase their physical or emotional pain any more than necessary. This teaching appears repeatedly in the laws of capital punishments. We must treat even the worst of sinners as we would want to be treated. We cannot pardon them, of course – punishment must be administered according to Torah law – but we are forbidden to pile it on just because we are “right” and they are “bad”. 

Compare the Torah's exquisitely measured balance with the unrestrained reactions of the MeToo, cancel culture maniacs when they place someone in their crosshairs. Anything goes. The more the better. Each one tries to outdo the other in their orgy of mob justice. Anyone who displays the slightest hesitation or restraint is reflexively classified as “bad” and will receive the same unrestrained fury. The people he thought were his friends will turn against him and tear him apart without any compunction. Once they flip the switch, it's over.

This behavior is not only abominable according to the Torah, it is actually the way of idolatry. One who serves God carefully measures his every action, and learns from the Torah how to properly balance conflicting needs. Idolaters have no limits. Once they decide something is “good”, then more of it must be “more good”, with no end. 

This is why those who are at war with God are constantly pushing the envelope. Whether they are attacking the traditional family, promoting sexual perversity, corrupting children, race-baiting, or forcing masks and dangerous injections, there will always be one common thread: an absence of limits or boundaries. The definition of what is “good”, along with the definitions of so many other things, will constantly change as they advance their anti-God agenda. Whatever is virtuous today will be scorned tomorrow as “progress” marches on.

The fraudulent, hypocritical “rights activists” will never clearly define an end goal after which they will stop fighting, because they live for the fight itself. Like the false gods they serve, they will never be satisfied with the suffering they inflict on decent people. There must always be more blood.

We see the same pattern with those jumping on the bash Walder train. This train, like all the others, has no brakes. It careens forward and steamrolls everything in its path. It has no precise destination, after which it will come to a quiet and permanent rest, but an endless vendetta of destruction in the name of moral virtue. The more the better.

Those driving this train – idolatrous priests who set the agenda, and the media that broadcasts it on their behalf – do not want us to pause, to breathe, to think. They want us to react, overreact, and become hysterical. They want to desensitize us to limits, boundaries, and responsible, balanced behavior. They want to normalize atrocities, to turn decent people into savages who destroy each other – all for the benefit of the people on top.

Those who serve God behave with intelligence. Those who serve idolatry behave with impulse. 

The Walder situation is just another example of idolatrous priests manipulating people to act and react impulsively. We are not supposed to ask hard questions about what really happened, how a secret trial by a kangaroo court can be condoned, let alone trusted, or how justice and compassion should be balanced even if someone is guilty. We are supposed to become savages and normalize unrestrained malice against anyone who is classified as “bad”. And we are supposed to enjoy it. 

Their latest “novelty” is burning Walder's books by his grave. Normal people do not burn books in cemeteries, and virtuous people do not cheer them on. These are sick people, as sick as the abusers they claim to be opposing. Tomorrow they will classify other people as “bad”, and they will burn their books too. Maybe it will be you. Maybe it will be holy books.  Those who fail to proceed with caution when it's someone else in the crosshairs deserve it.

The Torah opposes everything about how the Walder situation has been handled. We are not cruel even to those who must be punished. We must be sensitive to the slightest unwarranted physical or emotional pain to someone about to be executed. We do not behave like idolatrous sadists even if someone is “bad” and we are “right”.

Those who do not protect the God-given rights even of the guilty trample on the God-given rights of the innocent.


For more Torah on the subject see the following:








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The Manufacturing of Coerced Consent - Part I

How Government Exploits Organizations to Turn on their Own Communities | What Exclusive Emails Obtained via FOIA’s Reveal

This is a realy important exposé on "Jewish" organizations that are taking massive amounts of money to destroy our people.

28 January 2022



“Mi shenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha … When Adar enters, we increase simcha ….”
What cause is there for simcha? 
The world is reeling in confusion. The plague does not appear to be diminishing. Chaos is everywhere. People are drowning in tzouris. Nations are girding swords against each other. What objective reason is there to be b’simcha?
I will give you a good reason, my friends.
Hashem is preparing the world for the imminent arrival of Moshiach ben Dovid. He is giving us an unmistakable sign of simcha.
It is raining in Israel.
The year started out in a worrisome way. There was a big storm right after Sukkos and then weeks of dry weather. It was just not raining. I spoke about it in this column. I think people started to daven for rain. Interestingly enough, the Tractate that was being learned in Daf Yomi during this period was Maseches Taanis, which discusses communal fasting as the result of lack of rain!
We learned Maseches Taanis and davened for rain, and then rain began to fall. Baruch Hashem, rain has been falling heavily over the past few weeks in Israel, and this is a tremendous sign of blessing from Heaven.
We have to try to understand what Hashem is telling us. We will not understand truth by reading the headlines. What we call the “news” is sheker: lies, distortions, twisting of reality. “News” emanates from the world of impurity that we should be avoiding with all our strength.
World culture is collapsing like the world of Mitzraim that we just learned about in the Chumash. People are obsessed with the news from this collapsing world, the world of Edom, the activities of people who do not know that Torah exists.
Our world is Torah, and to understand Torah, the only way is to open the Chumash, the Mishnah, the Gemora, halacha, mussar and the commentaries of the Godolim … so we may learn how Hashem operates the world and how Hashem wants us to live.
Hashem puts the natural world to sleep during the winter. During these days, Am Yisroel lights the world by studying Torah yomam v’layla, by day and night. We sustain the world – literally – through our Torah. At all times, day and night, there are Yidden learning Torah and that is why the world continues to exist. This is especially visible in the Yom Tov of Chanukah,which occurs during the darkest period of winter. The light of Chanukah is the Light of Torah. During this period, the seeds of renewal are lying buried in darkness beneath the earth.
In Chodesh Kislev we light the menorah.
In Chodesh Shevat the sap starts flowing – invisibly but inexorably – in the trees. Amazingly, it flows upward! Yes, it flows against gravity, against nature, which is precisely what we as Jews do in our daily life. Through our Torah we conquer nature and rise upward!
And in Chodesh Adar, we are filled with happiness, because we know that – within the trees of the forest and the roots of all plants – an invisible process is taking place through which the earth is preparing to explode in a sunburst of warmth, sunlight, flowers and green leaves, life-giving fruit and grain.
Hashem is planning our redemption behind the scenes and the rain is pouring down on Eretz Yisroel, watering the parched seeds buried beneath the earth. Oh yes, do not doubt that the Redemption is close! Mi shenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha … When Adar comes, simchaincreases. And this year we have even greater simcha, because we have two months of Adar! This coming Wednesday ushers in Adar Rishon!
“Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman opened [his discourse:] …. The Tribes [Yosef’s brothers] were preoccupied with the selling of Yosef; and Yosef was preoccupied with his sackcloth and his fasting; Reuven was preoccupied with his sackcloth and his fasting; and Yehudah was preoccupied with selecting a wife … and, at the same time, the Holy One, Blessed is He, was busy creating the Light of Moshiach!” (Midrash Rabbah Beraishis 85:1)
“Such concealment is the hallmark by which G-d prepares for the arrival of Moshiach. The Gemara states, ‘Three things come when one’s attention is diverted. These are they: Moshiach ….’ (Sanhedrin 97a) When the nation is beset by difficulty, when every hand is turned against us, when it seems that [there is] no hope, it is precisely then that the seeds of the Moshiach are sown and begin to sprout….” (Artscroll commentary quoting Sfas Emes and Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato)
“Mi shenichnas Adar Marbim b’simcha!” Watch the raindrops and thank Hashem! Chodesh Tov umevorach! The Month of Adar is coming, filled with blessings!

Rain in the Holy Land

Lessons From Melachim . . .The Tragic Fall of Yehoash and more

 Last night I was a guest along with Tamar Yonah on Dr. Zelenko's Root and Branch Medical Fellowship program.  The recording is available at https://rumble.com/vt9xhx-r-and-b-medical-fellowship-19-dr.-zelenko-with-chananya-weissman-and-tamar-.html.

Tonight at 7 PM Israel time will be episode #24 of my Medical War Crimes program.  Our guest tonight will be Brucha Weisberger, part of the activist movement to wake up the Orthodox Jews in America about what's really going on.

Contemporary Lessons from Melachim – Part Two

The Tragic Fall of Yehoash

Yehoash became the king in Jerusalem at the age of seven. Yehoyada, the Kohen Gadol, had led a successful coup against Athalya, the wicked queen who had murdered almost everyone in line to take over the kingdom. Only Yehoash survived, rescued as a baby by his aunt and hidden for six years. Now this child was being installed as the king in an attempt to restore order, sanity, and the Davidic dynasty. (See Melachim II Chapter 11.)

Not surprisingly, Yehoyada continued to be the main decision-maker before Yehoash came of age. He fulfilled this role with honor, guiding Yehoash in the ways of the Torah. Yehoash, in turn, faithfully followed the teachings of his righteous mentor. 

ויעש יהואש הישר בעיני הכל ימיו אשר הורהו יהוידע הכהן

And Yehoash did what was right in the eyes of Hashem all the days that Yehoyada the Kohen instructed him. (12:3) 

All the days of Yehoyada, but not after. Yehoyada died at the ripe old age of 130, and the situation deteriorated very quickly. The officers of the king deified him, and he went along with it. Idolatry once again became rampant in the kingdom. Hashem sent prophets to urge the people to repent, but the people ignored them. 

Hashem then sent Zecharya, the son of Yehoyada, to admonish the people for abandoning Hashem. In one of the most tragic events in history, the people conspired against Zecharya the prophet and stoned him to death inside the Beis Hamikdash. Yehoash repaid his debt to Yehoyada for overthrowing Athalya, protecting him as a baby, installing him as king, and mentoring him by murdering his son.

The following year Jerusalem was overrun and plundered by a tiny army from Aram, the king's officers were killed, and Yehoash himself was badly hurt. His own servants killed him on his bed in vengeance for his treachery against Yehoyada's children, and he was buried outside the royal cemetery. (See Divrei Hayamim II Chapter 24.)

The blood of Zecharya boiled where it had been spilled until the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed. It did not settle until approximately three million Jews were murdered by Nevuzaradan, the Babylonian general who conquered Jerusalem and helpfully sought to appease the blood. (See Gittin 57B.) 

(In a bizarre twist, Nevuzaradan then had a sobering realization. If so much tragedy had befallen the Jews for murdering one person, what would happen to him? He fled his army, sent a letter home, and converted.)

How did Yehoash turn so bad so quickly after the death of his mentor? He did not experience a slow deterioration, as one might have expected; he fell off a spiritual cliff after behaving with great righteousness all his days until that point.

The Malbim on Melachim II 12:3 offers a deep insight. The navi writes that Yehoash did what was right in Hashem's eyes all the days that Yehoyada instructed him. There is a difference between instruction (הוראהhora'ah, similar to Torah) and teaching (לימודlimud).

According to the Malbim, Yehoyada made a subtle but critical mistake, which is indicated by the wording of the pasuk. He instructed Yehoyada what to do, but he didn't teach him in the ways of learning, to be able to determine the proper path with his own mind. Once Yehoyada died, Yehoash lacked the tools to continue on the righteous path, and he was quickly led astray – to the very depths of idolatry and treachery.

Nowadays this same critical mistake has become the norm. Many people believe that the path of Torah is to outsource one's mind to a religious figure and then blindly follow instructions. The individual is conveniently free from having to engage in critical thinking and intellectual struggles, and absolved of responsibility for wrongdoing. The obligation to abide by the rulings of rabbinic authorities – which is real, but itself limited in Jewish law – has been corrupted into a supposedly Torah-sanctioned version of “just following orders”. 

Even if one is fortunate to outsource his mind to a pious scholar like Yehoyada, this is not the way to follow the Torah and serve Hashem. It is only a matter of time before things fall apart. Even pious scholars are not infallible, they are not always accessible, and they do not live forever. No matter what, a person cannot become close to Hashem if he mindlessly follows orders like a monkey, even if all the orders are proper.

Normalizing blind obedience to religious authorities also creates a situation that is ripe for corruption. The “elite class” can easily be overtaken by phonies who put on a show of piety while misleading their mindless followers, who dare not question them. Once that happens, the greatest acts of idolatry and treachery can be sold to the public as the ways of the Torah. 

It's really that easy.

A rabbi must not merely instruct the people, but teach them. He must help them develop the tools to learn correctly and determine the proper path with their own mind.

Unlike a cult leader, a rabbi gently weans his students off their dependence on him so they can function on their own. His continued mentorship should be a luxury, not a necessity. He nurtures as many people as possible to grow into his job when the time inevitably comes.

Is your rabbi teaching you, or just yelling out instructions and rhetoric?

Millions of Jews eventually lost their lives because Yehoash was spiritually helpless without Yehoyada holding his hand. Millions more are in peril today unless they stop mindlessly taking instructions, and start to truly learn.




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"Chaim Walder's books burned near disgraced author's grave"

Lockstep publication of government-sponsored propaganda ("reporting") about public book burning at a cemetery.   Yeah, that's normal.  Virtuous, even!  Notice how all the articles were published within mere minutes of one another, as if these "news services" weren't simply given press releases and instructions.  




I said it before, I'll say it again.  The Beis Din was a kangaroo court, they worked for their handlers in the government, and the government's target was eliminated.  Any rabbi who supports this is ignorant of halacha (or simply doesn't care about halacha) and is most likely an Erev Rav.

Normal people don't burn books in cemeteries, and virtuous people don't cheer them on.

27 January 2022

Holocaust memorial day  -  we get it

 -Today is the official UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

It was on this date that Auschwitz was overrun by the Red Army.

Jews do not need a particular date on the calendar to remember the humiliation, torture, and murder of our people by the Nazis and their many, many, many willing helpers.

The UN resolution representing the nations of the world is very little, very very late, and hypocritical.
The nations of the world would have done better to find their conscience and moral compass when the Jewish people needed it most. They would do well to finally find it today.
But they don't.

Only a tiny handful of saintly souls who chose the path of good did not loin the rest of the world who were either active or silent accomplices in the attempt to murder the Jewish nation a few years ago.

One should not be confused about the UN resolution that condemns the genocide of the Jewish people and then proceeds to place Israel in a "bad corner" designed and reserved only for the Jews. The UN created a special category for the pariah state that the Jewish survivors built and defends from annihilation.

The well-worn accusations and libels of the nations and the official world body don't surprise us anymore. We have heard the same for thousands of years.

The long list of truly monstrous, criminal countries that are warmly welcomed into the family of nations while the Jewish state is always maligned no longer surprises us.
We no longer seek logic or justice.

 Just a few years after the Holocaust nations again openly prepare to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth.
Individual Jews the world over, are increasingly attacked verbally and physically.  Nothing has changed.
Again, or still, there are Jews who will ask "what can we do to convince them that we are really good and be accepted. How can we correct ourselves? There must be a reason for their hate.
"Jewish guilt", as Jewish as chicken soup.

It's not about borders or "Palestinians”. It’s much older and much deeper than any political conflict.
It's about Jews, it’s called antisemitism.

The holocaust was the greatest Hillul Hashem (disgrace of G-d's name) in history because the forces of evil humiliated the chosen People of G-d the vehicle he chose for His message of good.
The Jewish people have always been that small annoying voice reminding the world that they are expected to choose good over evil.
Not everyone likes this reminder.

In their eyes, the Jews were the biggest threat to the rule of evil and had to be humiliated and killed to the very last Jewish baby.
They understood. There was logic to their obsession.

In this, it was also a Kiddush Hashem (Hallowing G-d's name). We are the ones that Evil has always identified as their enemy, today as well. What an honor!
That is a big statement.

How does one logically explain the constant attack on the Jewish state in the UN?
Why is Israel the only country slated for annihilation?
Why does Europe pay lip service to Holocaust conscience and memory and then enable those in the Muslim world who revel in Jew-hatred and actively try to destroy the country of the Holocaust survivors?

Why does Europe, and the rest of the world champion the manufactured "Palestinians" in their quest to wipe out and replace the Jews in their promised land?

Why the urgency, why the obsession? Are there no other problems in the world?
Is this what being "enlightened " looks like?

Dear enlightened world, we don't expect logical answers or justice.
We know the answer.
Now that we understand each other, shall we end the charade?

Listen well.
Am Yisroel Chai.


My book is available on Amazon,
"Jews, Israelis and Arabs"


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Rabbi Winston – Mishpatim

 One day a gentile came to Shammai and asked him how many Torahs the Jewish people have. He answered two, a written one and an oral one. He then asked to be taught only the written one, after which he would convert. He didn’t get the chance, because Shammai threw him out.

Undaunted, the gentile turned to Hillel who not only did not scold or throw him out, but he taught him. On the first day, Hillel showed him the letters of the Aleph-Bais and said to him: “Aleph, Bais, Gimmel, Dalet.” The next day he reversed the order of the letters and told him that an Aleph is a Tav and so on. The convert said to him: “But yesterday you did not tell me that.” Hillel told him: “You see that it is impossible to learn what is written without relying on an oral tradition. Didn’t you rely on me? Therefore, you should also rely on me with regard to the matter of the Oral Torah, and accept the interpretations that it contains.” 
And so the gentile did, and converted with flying colors.
There are a couple of more stories like this, with the conclusion being a bunch of grateful converts who praise Hillel for having the patience to work with them. And not just work with them, but to outsmart them. When they first applied for Jewish membership, they lacked the knowledge and experience to appreciate the truth about Torah and themselves. They didn’t know that they wanted what Shammai was selling and Hillel found a way to show it to them.
My Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Noach Weinberg, zt”l (Aish HaTorah) may have modeled himself after Hillel. He had been inspired to re-affiliate “lost” Jews, and spent his entire adult life devoted to that program. I don’t know if he started off with a Shammai approach, which is very natural to do as an Orthodox Jew, and failed. But by the time I came around, the Hillel approach was well in progress, and succeeding beyond expectation. 
One of his key selling points was that the world was made for pleasure. Rav Noach even developed a program called “The Five Levels of Pleasure,” something everyone should know, especially Orthodox Jews. God tells us in no uncertain terms that all of the horrible curses described in Parashas Ki Savo will happen if we do not serve God with joy. Too many Shomer Shabbos Jews look like they’re in pain most of the time. 
In any case it worked. Most of us bought into it, believing that this was a different brand of Judaism than most of us had experienced growing up Conservative or Reform. It was alive and vibrant, and most of us were certainly having a good time growing up religious at Aish HaTorah, a LOT of fun. (Some of my fondest memories are from those days.)
It’s also been a great time in history to become a ba’al teshuvahParnassah is easier, and often plentiful, thank GodKosher food is extremely available and of high quality. Chalav Yisroel is just about everywhere. And for better or worse, some of the gentile forms of entertainment have burrowed into the Torah world, in a “Jewish way” of course. It even became a fad for a short while to learn with an Orthodox rabbi during your business day.
By the time I got to the part in Derech Hashem that said this world is not the destined world of pleasure, but the World-to-Come instead, it did not matter anymore. I believed in God, knew that Torah had to be His, and didn’t mind making sacrifices for both. I had already come to understand, as Rav Noach knew we eventually would, that the greatest pleasure a person can have in this world is living according to truth, God’struth. 
We hadn’t been deceived, just outsmarted. We had been intellectually chaperoned by a brilliant and so very eloquent rabbi, until we were spiritually mature enough to know the truth and commit to it. 
In any case, it wasn’t that Rav Noach was wrong, God forbid. This world is clearly very pleasurable. It turns out that the difference is that when it comes to Eisav, that pleasure is the goal of life itself. But when it comes to the Jewish people, who are destined for the eternal and unlimited pleasure of Olam HaBa, it is only meant to be a wonderful by-product of doing the Torah thing.

Shabbos Day
IT’S KIND OF the same with these parshios. Last week’s parsha was drama, and even the Ten Commandments were given with style. This week’s parsha begins with the most technical of laws, the meat-and-potatoes of most in-depth yeshivah learning. In a sense, last week’s parsha was all Hillel. This week’s parsha starts out very Shammai-like before returning towards the end of it to a Hillel-like approach. 
But this itself makes the point. You can’t have only Hillel and you can’t have only Shammai. You need both of them, and the only reason why there is a Hillel is because there is a Shammai, and vice-versa. You can put bread on top and bread on the bottom. But it only becomes a sandwich once you put the “meat” between the two of them. 
When I was first becoming religious, I happened to be back at the Conservative shul where I prayed on the High Holidays and went to Cheder. The back-up rabbi wanted to talk to me about what I was in the process of doing, probably to convince me out of it. When we got to the discussion about Shabbos, he asked me (as if shocked), “Do you mean to say that you believe that God would rather a little old lady stay in her apartment by herself on Shabbos, than drive and be together with her friends in shul?”
I hadn’t known tons of halachah at that time, but I knew enough to answer, “Yes, that is what God wants.” Then he answered something to the effect of, “Well, that is not a god can worship,” and that was that.
Is that an option? Didn’t a lot of Jews think like that in Europe, or Russia, and ended up being persecuted together with the Orthodox Jews as well? Torah Jews may have suffered, but at least they did it while doing the meaningful thing, like Rebi Akiva in this story: 

Once the evil [Roman] government issued a decree forbidding Jews to study and practice the Torah. Pappus bar Yehudah found Rebi Akiva publicly teaching Torah. He asked him: “Akiva, aren’t you afraid of the government?” 
He replied: “I will explain to you with a parable. A fox was once walking alongside of a river, and he saw fish going in swarms from one place to another. He said to them: ‘From what are you fleeing?’ They replied: ‘From the nets cast for us by men.’ He said to them: ‘Would you like to come up on to the dry land so that you and I can live together in the way that my ancestors lived with your ancestors?’ They answered: ‘Are you the one they call the cleverest of animals? You are not clever but foolish. If we are afraid in the element in which we live, how much more in the element in which we would die!’ So it is with us. If such is our condition when we sit and study the Torah, of which it is written, ‘For that is your life and the length of your days,’ if we go and neglect it how much worse off we shall be!” 
It is related that soon afterwards Rebi Akiva was arrested and thrown into prison, and Pappus bar Yehudah was also arrested and imprisoned next to him. He said to him: “Pappus, who brought you here?” 
He replied: “Happy are you, Rebi Akiva, that you have been seized for busying yourself with the Torah! Too bad for Pappus who has been seized for busying himself with idle things!” (Brochos 61b)

Seudas Shlishis
I KNOW THAT was a Shammai-like story to tell. The point was not to intimidate anyone into obedience, just to make a point that has been a fact of Jewish history a lot more than ANY of us would care to admit. 
There is another point here as well. The story is backwards without a belief in the World-to-Come. If we’re not going anywhere after death, then Pappus could have argued just the opposite: “Too bad Rebi Akiva for you. At least I got arrested having a good time. You got arrested for doing some meaningless spiritual thing!”
But this was not a gloating Pappus. It was an envious Pappus. “We’re both going to die,” Pappus told Rebi Akiva. “But your reason for dying makes you a martyr, and it will elevate you close to God in the World-to-Come. My death is not even close in meaning and merit. And I’m not even going to have a second chance to correct that! You don’t even need one.”
Why not? How did Rebi Akiva, the quintessential ba’al teshuvah, get it right when he needed to the most? That was the answer he gave to his students who questioned his devotion at such a difficult moment. He told them, “I have prepared for this moment all of my religious life, like the Shema tells us.”
The truth is, Rebi Akiva actually died on the last intended day of his life. He was 120 years old, probably to the day or close to it. He didn’t die prematurely, he just didn’t die peacefully, as the angels complained. And we all know that the final moments of an experience can wipe away all the good that occurred before it if they are tragic.
Again, if this world is where it is at, that was a terrible way to go. But it is not, and therefore, it wasn’t. On the contrary, Rebi Akiva believed with all of his heart, his life, and his might, that this world really is only a corridor to the next one, and that his self-sacrifice for truth was the greatest rite of passage to it there was. He left this world knowing something so few of us ever know, that his ticket there was paid in full. What a Shammai-like way to leave this world!
So yes, we need the Hillel approach to save us from ourselves. It brings people in before they are able to bring themselves in, and that is essential. But at the end of the day, it is Shammai and mishpatim that get us to where we ultimately want to be…on our way to the World-to-Come.

Book Review: 
Fundamentals of Reincarnation

KABBALAH TRACES ITS origin back in time to Moshe Rabbeinu, and even earlier. According to many, Sefer Yetzirah, one of the greatest Kabbalistic works of all time, was authored by Avraham Avinu. Even Migdal Bavel, according to tradition, was built according to Kabbalistic specification.
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, of the Second Temple period, is considered to be the source of the Zohar, the main body of Kabbalah literature, even though it wasn’t officially published until the 1300s. The Rashbi had taught a select group of students the tradition he had received from his teachers, which included the great Rebi Akiva.
It wasn’t until the 16th century and Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, otherwise known as the Arizal, that Kabbalah became a lot more accessible. It was the notes of his premier student, Rabbi Chaim Vital, that became the basis of the “Kisvei Arizal,” the “Writings of the Arizal.” Sha’ar HaGilgulim, or the “Gate of Reincarnations,” is the last of these eight volumes, and the basis of this course. 
The goal of this work has been to make these ideas even more accessible. These 15 lessons can only be, however, the starting point for anyone who truly wants to better understand the concept of reincarnation and personal rectification

METAWORSE . . . A Fake World

Fake World

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

Every day, it becomes clearer to us that we live in a fake world. That doesn’t mean that we are fake, that our families and possessions are not real, and that everything that makes up the world is fake. It means that the underpinning of the world, the currency that keeps it going, is fake. 

The leaders of governments are fake. They are fictitious and hypocritical. They project a certain image, while, in reality, they are far removed from the picture they create of themselves. They promise one thing and deliver another. They pretend to be one political persuasion to get into power, and then, when they do, it becomes obvious that their beliefs are the diametric opposite of what they promised they were. 

They profess to be motivated by a pursuit of justice and fairness, but their actions prove that what they care about is amassing money and power. Innocent little guys stand no chance, as all the appointments and contracts go to those who pay their way in, and the corrupt. 

They adopt positions of strength that are dutifully promulgated by their spokespeople, but when they speak without their teleprompter, they are shown to be weak and ill informed. They mandate a course of action for the citizens, which they don’t follow in their own lives when they think nobody is watching. They create regular-Joe images of themselves, portraying themselves as regular hardworking people who can empathize and identify with the concerns of the citizenry, while, in truth, they have greatly enriched themselves and live lives far removed from those of the people they seek to govern.

We see elyonim lematah vetachtonim lemaalah. Unqualified people are promoted to high positions and we become disillusioned. We have a president who regularly demonstrates his lack of intelligence, ruining the country’s economy and bringing the nation close to war with Russia. 

In Eretz Yisroel, we see people in power who have set their goals on destroying the Jewish character of the Jewish state. The only other motivation for them is power; nothing else is important. All their so-called Zionist beliefs are shunted aside to appease their Arab enablers. We wonder how it can be that such a group of frauds, hypocrites and liars can be permitted to lead the country. 

It is not only politicians and leaders who are fake. Many people we encounter seem to be flippant with the truth. People create fictions about themselves and then try to lead their lives according to those fabrications. They project images of wealth, happiness and much else, while, in truth, they are broke and broken. Such is the way of the world. But that is about to be morphed to a new extreme. Today, we are told that society’s next frontier is the “metaverse.”

The way it was explained to me, thousands of developers and dozens of huge cutting-edge companies are busy at work creating the metaverse, a new world that exists on the internet and in people’s minds in which users live their lives through creating avatars, which are graphical images of themselves, or, as we would call them in pedestrian terms, mentchies

In the really fake realm that is currently being developed, people, living through personas that they have created, go to stores and buy homes and property in the metaverse world. They meet other people there. For example, instead of traveling to the city to meet a lawyer, your mentchie meets the lawyer’s mentchie in a Starbucks store in the metaverse. You have your conversation and then go back home, all while lying on your couch. 

You can be everything that you aren’t. Until now, people who couldn’t make it lived and succeeded through their sports heroes and teams, as well as through creating stories about themselves and living through them. That may no longer be necessary, as people will be able to create for themselves their own virtual life. 

While all this fiction sounds bizarre, it is essentially an extension of the sheker, the fiction, that is congruent with olam hazeh, this world in which we live. 

Is there truth in this world? As we reported last week, two weeks ago, a man left Britain and landed in Texas, whereupon he went to a synagogue in a town most people never heard of and took four Jews hostage. He ranted about Jews and Israel, and thought that he would be able to free “Mrs. Al Qaeda” from an American jail. The hostages managed to escape and the Islamic terrorist was killed. To us, it was an obvious anti-Semitic incident. But not to the world. The FBI special agent in charge said, “It was not specifically connected to the Jewish community, but we are continuing to work to find a motive.” This from the once universally respected FBI of J. Edgar Hoover. As ridiculous as the statement was, it was picked up and propagated around the world by serious news organizations. 

Imagine if that happened with any other group. The FBI and the media would be bending over backwards with the usual inane platitudes. But not when it comes to the Jews. And that is the way it has been since Har Sinai. It is a fact that ever since we became a nation, the world has hated us and wished to do away with us. Sometimes it is obvious, and other times it isn’t, and our time seems like it has a dangerous potential.

Eighty years ago, the Nazis held their Wannsee Conference and plotted to rid Europe of its Jewish population. Though they came awfully close, we have come back. We are stronger and there are more people learning Torah than ever before. For several years after the Holocaust, there was some overt sympathy for the Jewish people. By now, that has dissipated, and most nations of the world are lined up against Israel, as are the media. The incident in Texas was just one small example. 

This past weekend, a large group of rabbonim gedolimattending the Dirshu Siyum and Masa Tefillah in Vilna detoured to the historic Šnipiškės Snipichock Cemetery in that city. In the freezing cold, as snow fell, dozens sat at the site of the huge centuries-old Jewish burial site that was defiled by Lithuania. It was not enough that the Lithuanians worked with the Nazis to murder 95% of the country’s Jewish population, but they built a stadium in middle of the cemetery in 1971, and office and apartment buildings in 2005. After much lobbying by Jewish groups and members of the US Congress, they have promised not to disturb remains anymore, but many doubt their sincerity. By being there, they made a powerful statement that world Jewry is concerned about that site and will remain vigilant about protecting that which is there.

Last week, we lained Parshas Yisro and the parsha ofKabbolas HaTorah at Har Sinai. This week, we follow with Parshas Mishpotim, which deals with financial laws. Chazal (cited by Rashi, Shemos 21:1, “mah harishonim m’Sinai af eilu m’Sinai,”) explain that the connection between the two parshiyos is to demonstrate that even the laws that we think are rational and could have been devised by man were also handed to us at Sinai, and it is for that reason that we follow and are guided by them. 

Laws developed by man are dependent upon the zeitgeist, culture and values of the time, and are therefore subject to constant change. The laws that govern decency and honesty and inter-person business activities are as immutable as those that pertain to Shabbos

While previously that may have sounded far-fetched, witness the changes that have overtaken the criminal justice system in this country and you will realize that nothing can ever be taken for granted. There is no guarantee that simple common sense and notions of self-preservation and communal good will always guide the laws of even a cultured and educated land. 

But deeper than that is that in the almah d’shikrah, in the world of fiction in which we live, the only truth is Torah. Thus, when Chazal taught, “Mah harishonim m’Sinai af eilu m’Sinai,” they were saying that when truth was brought to this world when the Aseres Hadibros were given to the Jewish people on Har Sinai, it gave them the ability to also faithfully fulfill the laws given to them in Parshas Mishpotim.

This is the explanation of what Chazal say (Mechilta, cited by Rashi in Parshas Yisro 18:13), “Kol dayan shedon din l’amito… k’ilu naasah shutaf l’Hakadosh Boruch Hu b’maaseh bereishis - Whoever judges truthfully becomes a partner with Hashem in creation.” Because the world is an olam hasheker, someone who brings truth into the world has partnered with creation. This is accomplished with the koach haTorah.

Thus, Mishpotim comes after Yisro, because after emeswas given to the Yidden at Har Sinai, they were able to accept the dinim and are able to properly adjudicate disputes (Sefas Emes, Mishpotim 658).

This is also the reason why when Yisro advised Moshe to appoint sarim for the Jewish people to teach and administer justice, he set as two of the qualifications that they should be anshei emes, men of truth, who are sonei betza, they despise money. The position of power is only given to people who have demonstrated through their mastery of Torah that they can be depended on to be honest and truthful in all they do. A person whose value system is not based upon Torah cannot be trusted to judge fairly. It is not necessarily because we fear that he will be corrupted. It is because his thought process is suspect. 

In this world of sheker, we often find reason to become depressed. But knowing that although the world is addicted to things fictitious, and things are frequently not what they appear to be or what we think they should be, it is comforting to know that the Torah provides refuge for us.

If we study and dedicate ourselves to the chukim and mishpotim of this week’s parsha and the other parshiyos of the Torah, we can create an oasis for ourselves. Studying the holy seforim, such as Chovos HalevavosMesilas Yeshorim, and Sefas Emes, among so many others, restores our faith in ourselves and trains us to think and act like Torah Yidden. The anshei emes and sonei betza in our midst are examples for us to follow and people for us to learn from. 

This week, we bentch Rosh Chodesh Adar, the month that ushers in the special season of simchaChazal say, “Mishenichnas Adar marbin b’simcha - When Adarcomes, we increase our happiness.” A Jew must always be joyous, yet there is something about Adar that prompts us to be happier than usual. The month of Purim reminds us that all is transitory, the wicked ones do not rule forever, and, in the end, the good people win when they call out to Hashem.

Let us look towards the good, recognizing that light will soon replace the darkness and evil will be defeated by righteousness. If you have patience and faith, there is no reason for anguish, gloom or depression, and there is never cause for dejection and for giving up. 

It’s Adar! Cheer up!

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