Newsletter

“WHO CAN STAND BEFORE HIS COLD?”


Did we ever have a winter like this? Who can remember such cold? On the Shabbos of January 6, wind chills in the New York Metropolitan Area reached minus twenty degrees! 

view
SUDDEN REDEMPTION


Why did I not visit Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin in prison? Only after his release did I realize that he had been imprisoned in New York and not Iowa. I could so easily have gone there. I know what it means to visit a prisoner. Decades ago, when Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis was scheduled to speak to Jewish prisoners in Rikers Island Prison in New York City, an emergency arose and she asked me to fill in for her. 

view
THE PURPOSE OF THE U.N. IN HASHEM’S PLAN


“A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know of Joseph… and [the Egyptians] became disgusted because of the Children of Israel.” (Exodus 1:8-12)  This is amazing. How could Joseph have been forgotten? He saved Egypt! 

view
THE LAMPS ARE GOING OUT


"The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our life-time." 
  

view
A TEN-STRINGED INSTRUMENT AND A LYRE


As I have mentioned in the past, this week’s Torah Portion is to me the emotional high point of the entire Written Bible. Who can fail to be shaken by these words? 

view
LIGHT CARVED FROM UNDER THE THRONE OF GLORY


Chanukah is about light. 

view
DO YOU WANT YOUR NAME TO BE ERASED

“In the generation when [Moshiach] the son of Dovid will come, Torah scholars will decrease. And [as for] the rest [of the people], their eyes will become worn out through grief and anxiety. Numerous troubles and harsh decree will be appearing anew. Before the first [trouble] is over, a second one will … appear…. The meeting place will be [used] for licentiousness [and]… whoever turns away from evil will be [considered] foolish….” (Tractate Sanhedrin 97a) 

view
THE ROSES OF EDEN


There is a long and rather surprising end to this week’s Torah Portion, beginning with the words, “these are the offspring of Esau ….” (Genesis 36:9) I counted thirty-four verses, listing name after name of the descendants of possibly the most evil person in history! Why does the Torah want us to know the descendants of Esau? 

view
REAL PEOPLE CRY AND LAUGH


“Then Yaakov … raised his voice and wept.” (Genesis 29:11)  

view
THE FOUNTAINS OF THE GREAT DEEP


“There was a famine in the land, aside from the first famine that was in the days of Avraham, and Yitzchak went to Avimelech, king of the Pilishtim…” (Genesis 26:1) 

view
MY BRIDGE TO G-D

“Toras Hashem temima … The Torah of Hashem is perfect, restoring the soul. The testimony of Hashem is trustworthy, making the simple one wise. The orders of Hashem are upright, gladdening the heart. The command of Hashem is clear, enlightening the eyes….” (Psalm 19) 

view
INTENSE HEAT

Our Father Avraham was born in the year 1948, counting from Creation. The Prophet Malachi was born approximately 1400 years later. Jewish prophesy begins with Avraham and ends with Malachi. It is amazing to see how connected they are, and how we – some 2400 years after Malachi – are connected to them. 

view
THE POINT OF PROPHESY


“Know with certainty that your offspring shall be aliens in a land not their own, and they will serve them, and they will oppress them, four hundred years. But also the nation that they will serve I shall judge, and afterwards they will leave with great wealth … And the fourth generation shall return here ….” (Genesis 15:13-16) 

view
NOAH AND NORTH KOREA


I had the privilege during just before Yom Kippur of speaking at Yeshiva Zeev Hatorah in the Holy City of Yerushalayim. This is the holy Torah institution presided over by the illustrious Rabbi Shmuel Brazil shlita”h. One of the students there, a young man named Yoel Fingerer, asked a very interesting question. We were discussing the War of God and Magog and the contemporary conflict between the Children of Yishmael (the Moslem Nations) and the Children of Esav (the Western Nations). 

view
HOW DOES THE SUKKAH SAVE US?


“He will hide me in His Sukkah on the day of evil.” (Psalm27) 

view
WHY THE SHOFAR?


As we approach Rosh Hashanah, the entire world is aware of profound danger, a palpable threat emanating from a certain dictator who has access to the most powerful weapons as well as the means to deliver those weapons to distant lands. This uncontrollable dictator does not respond to the moral considerations which guide ethical, civilized people. 

view
NOTHING BELONGS TO US


“Rav Tachlifa, the brother of Ravnai Choza’ah, taught the following Baraisa: All of a person’s income is fixed from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur ….” (Beitzah 15b) 

view
KA’VE EL HASHEM … HOPE TO HASHEM


“But … if you do not hearken to the voice of Hashem, your G-d, to observe, to perform all His commandments and all His decrees that I command you today, then all these curses will come upon you and overtake you …. Hashem will scatter you among all the peoples, from the end of the earth to the end of the earth, and … among those nations you will not be tranquil, there will be no rest for the sole of your foot; there Hashem will give you a trembling heart, longing of eyes and suffering of soul….” (Deuteronomy 28:15ff) 

view
ECLIPSES AND WORLD EVENTS


“When you will go to war against your enemies….” (Deuteronomy 21:10) 

view
I KNEW SUCH A PERSON


“Tzedek, tzedek tirdof … righteousness, righteousness shall you pursue…” (Deuteronomy 16:20) 

view
COMFORT IN THE STORM


My wife and I got married in the “old days,” before we discovered Hashem. I had not wanted a rabbi to officiate at our wedding, but my wife’s grandfather insisted, so we searched for the most reform of the reform. This person provided us with a document that contained an echo of Torah, a piece of paper on which was written, “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li … I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.” This was his version of a marriage contact (a kesuba).


We are about to enter the Month of Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li,” (Song of Songs 6:3) is understood to refer to Elul because the first letters of each word spell out the name of the month. (Vayikra Rabbah) Of course, this corresponds perfectly with the spiritual work of Elul, which is all about reconciliation with Hashem.


“Majestic, Beautiful, Radiance of the universe, my soul pines for Your love. Please, O G-d, heal her now by showing her the pleasantness of Your radiance.” (Yedid Nefesh)


Our entire existence is based on a relationship of love with Hashem. Because of that love, our relationship with Him is eternal. We have only to come back; He is waiting for us.


Teshuva, spiritual repentance, is the most upbeat process in the world. It is completely “empowering,” because teshuva is based on the knowledge that all our ills originate from our own weaknesses, and we can fix them. When apparently bad things happen, that is a sign that we have to fix something.

 

It is within our power to correct everything. As the Prophet says, “Where is your mother’s divorce document with which I sent her away?” (Isaish 50:1) We have to know that we will succeed! We have to know that even one person can bring the Redemption. Moshe Rabbeinu brought the Geulah! Yosef Hatzaddik brought the Geulah!


My childhood was spiritual suffering, as I have often mentioned. Life without Torah was black as night and confusing as a maze. I could not breathe because of constant mental anguish. I had no idea what was wrong, which in itself was a terror. But I thank Hashem for all this, because, as a result, I knew that I needed Him. If I had not been in such pain, then I would have remained in that blackness for eternity, G-d forbid.

 

My wife and I own an apartment in Yerushalayim. Recently, we had a robbery; the entire place was ransacked. One’s first reaction is shock and anger. You feel violated. You feel helpless. You desire revenge. It’s our home! How can people be so evil?


However, you also want to say, “gam zu l’tova … it is all for the best.” (Taanis 21a) But how do you say it? What could be good about this? So I tried to think: how is this good?


I had a thought. We tend to feel that we own this world. When things go well, we want to say that it all came about through “my strength and the might of my hand….” (Deuteronomy 8:17) I have a house. It is mine. I am happy there. What more do I need? This is potentially dangerous. As we read recently, “When you beget children and grandchildren and will have been long in the Land, you will grow corrupt and anger [Hashem]….” (Deuteronomy 4:25)


Something can easily go wrong when we become comfortable. We tend to forget that this is Hashem’s world. It exists only as a result of His willing it to exist. What would happen if He changes the way the world looks? What will happen when Moshiach ben Dovid comes? Will the world look the same? Will we live the way we do now? Maybe I’m hanging onto the old world, the world of Exile, and impeding the advent of Moshiach.


Before the Children of Israel left for Mount Sinai, Biblical Egypt collapsed. In order for us to leave that world and meet Hashem, we had to sever our relationship with that powerful, enticing world of Egypt.


What will happen when Moshiach ben Dovid comes? Will the world we know today look the same? Maybe the world as we know it will collapse the way Ancient Egypt collapsed. Maybe we will have to be willing to give up our familiar world in order to enter a new world.


After the robbery, I thought: Hashem is training us for the world of Moshiach. Maybe He is telling us, “You have to know what it is like when your world is turned upside down. You have to learn that this apparent cataclysm is in fact ‘for the good.’ I am going to bring you into a world that is infinitely better than the world you think is normal today.”


I have to know that the pain and the anguish are a blessing. If I know they are a blessing, then perhaps I will be able to deal with the anguish. If we can look at the chaotic events of our times in this way, then perhaps we are going to be able to accept the future that Hashem is preparing for us, a future infinitely greater than what we have seen up to now.


It’s not easy. I’m giving a possible scenario. But because so many people are finding so much difficulty coming their way, we need to see a pathway to redemption.


“Oh, storm-tossed, unconsoled one, behold, I shall lay your floor stones upon pearls and make your foundation of sapphires…. All your children will be students of Hashem and abundant will be your children’s peace.” (This week’s Haftarah)

 

May we see that beautiful and perfect world soon in our days! 


 
view
WHY DON’T WE BELIEVE IT?


Now we are in the blessed days after Tisha B’Av. They are blessed simply because we have survived. I don’t mean only “survived” the Three Weeks, but we have survived all the events of the past thousands of years of Exile. That in itself is comforting. Hashem intends that we should live! 

view
WITH DAWN, A CRY OF JOY!


“Nachamu, nachamu ami …comfort, comfort, My people, says your G-d. Speak to the heart of Yerushalayim and proclaim to her that her time (of exile) has been fulfilled.” (Isaiah 40:1-2) 

view
THE MIGHTY ONES OF ISRAEL


I think it behooves us to appreciate the world situation on the eve of the Fast Day of Tisha B’Av, (which begins this coming Monday evening). 

view
ON THE PLAINS OF MOAV


View eastward toward the Plains of Moav from a vantage point slightly to the south of Jericho. In the foreground is the northern tip of the Dead Sea. 

view
THE “THIN, STILL SOUND”


Last week we discussed the words of Bilaam, which ring down through the ages: “Am levadad yishkon … Behold! It is a nation that will dwell in solitude and not be reckoned among the nations.” (Numbers 23:9) The reality is that we are completely alone among the nations. Yishmoel (the Moslem World) hates us and Esav (the Western World) hates us, and we should never yearn for their love. The only affection for which we as a Nation should yearn is the love of Hashem, as it says, “Your love is dearer to me than all earthly delights….” (Song of Songs 1:2) 

view
WORDS OF TRUTH FROM OUR ENEMIES


Some of the most basic truths emerge from the mouths of our enemies. They come to correct us; Hashem sends them only because we need them. As it says, “Beware lest your heart be seduced and you turn astray and serve gods of others and bow to them. Then the wrath of Hashem will blaze against you…” (Deuteronomy  16-17)  

view
THE ASHES OF LIFE


Recently, while attending a wedding, my wife and I met a security guard, a former Iraqi soldier. He described the frightening world of Iraqi society – even more chaotic since the death of Sadaam Hussein! – with open warfare in the streets and no semblance of civilized behavior. 

view
DO NOT COVET


“Lo sachmod … You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:14) This is the last of the Ten Commandments, positioned at the end of the series perhaps because these cosmic words would so clearly affect the future of the Children of Israel. 

view
TZITZIS … AND WORLD SECURITY


On May 22, a bombing attack occurred in Manchester, England. A few weeks later, there were violent attacks in London. President Trump and other Western leaders condemned these attacks. The Prime Minister of England stated, “Enough is enough.” But even powerful leaders seem helpless in the face of this growing threat.  

view

 

Recent Posts


Tags

flood Holiness Mount Zion redemption Galil holiday king bris milah Geula Earth bird Sodom tears Miraglim fear Abrahem Sabbath Israel Ammon Lot Ruth Matriarchs Faith commandment song David prayer book Parsha Bilaam Isaiah blessing Noah idol Benjamin media Second Temple Torah portion Torah scholars Pharaoh Tu b'Shvat Western World Jewish festival hubris prayers repent eternal rain missiles keys Joseph Midrash exile kosher Passover Rosh Hashanah Moses death God resurrection Moab messiah kiddush Rebbe Land of Israel Western Wall Hebrew Maimonides menorah sin compassion sanctity Macabees Ishmeal spiritual biblical Blame violence Jerusalem minyan Hagar Zion, Angel Aharon Adam miracles Raiders of the Lost Ark Judah trees kesuba stones synagogue danger Lunar eclipse Jewish People shmittah Hasmoneans liberation Miriam brotherhood Gog Banias Golden Calf Sefiras haOmer fires Isaac materialism Holy Ark chessed Temple Mount Shavuos Ishmael evolution prophets patriarchs King of the Universe leprosy creation evil eternity Genesis Ashkenazi survival Tzuk etan Pinchas Canaan gossip Terror Attack in Jerusalem locusts self-worship Rabbi Akiva Moshiach ethics Purim prophet Samuel Final redemption Chafetz Chaim Holocaust plague Ten Commandments Heavenly Mercy Rebecca Protective edge Laban Tallis Esau shofar meraglim ancestors angel Solomon Chanukah Jews evil inclination Chol haMoed King David Holy land barley Creator rabbi Sea of Galilee Children of Israel Malbim Hashem automobiles Babylonia G-d America Nation of Israel Dead Sea bible Jewish holidays seder Temple Samuel the Prophet Shushan heaven Esther war Ezekiel Elul angels secret King Solomon Zion Magog deluge idolatry Moshe tremors Jew alone terrorists Sukkah yeshiva three weeks United Nations Golan Holy Temple Jewish pray spirituality Mount Hermon tabernacle sun High Holy Days New Moon Balak Mordechai Shabbos Haman earthquake Zohar light Jeremiah Tisha b'Av Greeks End of Days Talmud Zechariah Judaism heavenly throne prophet spies Rachel Achashveirosh Tefillin murder Shechina fragrance Egypt Boaz 2020 Vision Matisyahu Red Sea judgement stars terrorism Eve Judgement Day Moshaich Sarah forefathers Baku lights incense siddur cries mikveh, Sabbath peace mitzvos Europe heavenly gates matzos Amalek soul Teshuva world to come Psalms Psalm Exodus Prophecy holy rosh chodesh slaves Yom Kippur mitzva patriarchs'matriarchs Garden of Eden Chanukkah Solar eclipse Passover Seder persecution Avraham miracle Leah purity Yaakov Rabbis Golus Bais Hamikdosh terror Tu b'Av Angel of Death kinneret Master of the Universe Song of Songs Torah water Samuel Sukkos Divine presence Amram fault Repentence pain sacrifices Red Heifer Jacob mikveh Yerushalayim Rashi tablets shield of Abraham Edom Ishamael Father in Heaven High Priest night cholent Beit Hamikdash slavery esrog Sages paradise Rome darkness culture salvation dreams Babylon Day of Judgement Mount Sinai Eglon priests India repentance moon Abraham prayer Day of Atonement chaos enemies terrorist logic yarmulke Rosh Hashana Maccabeans Sephardi Chofetz Chaim redeemer

Archive