BS"D Got my matzah, G-d is in His heaven and all is right with the world. And I got it with ease this time, shalva. I get special matzah from Jerusalem, from Wechelstein matza bakery, the classic Yerushalmi matza bakery. And it has been difficult to get because the boxes are big and I cannot take them on the bus and I do not have a car. I once paid 600 shekels to take a taxi back to Tzfat from Jerusalem to bring the matzot. But for the past four years, Tzfat's only woman Rosh HaYeshiva, Judy Paikin, has picked up my matza and brought them back to Tzfat. She is a professional driver and a good one. But this year instead of my calling her, she called me and asked me if I wanted her to pick up my matzot. It turns out that she has come to look forward to going to that holy matza bakery to pick up the matzot as a pre-Passover ritual, and she loves it.Read More
BS"D About 15 years ago, the Balcover Rebbe, z”l, suggested to me that I should start wearing a shtreiml for Shabbat. The idea had never occurred to me, particularly since I had been a Lubavitcher for most of my frum existence, and Lubavitchers do not wear shtreimlach. Besides, who had $2000.00 to buy one? I mentioned it to my chavruta at the time, Rabbi Yehuda Dov-Cohen, a Karliner Chossid, and he said, “I have two and one I don’t like. I will let you have it cheap.” I asked him, “How cheap?” And he said, “Give me a hundred dollars every now and then when you can, and I will tell you when it is enough.” “Deal,” I said, and that is how I got a shtreiml, the one in the photo. For the record, over the course of a year, I gave him four hundred dollars and he said, “Enough.”
BS"D One of the things Facebook has taught me to understand is that when you call a person out by name and show him or her to be deficient, you must do it via messenger. If you do it as a public comment, then you are a damager, and it shows that you are traif and therefore your Torah is traif and the source of your Torah is traif. Which has nothing to do with the content of the Torah, merely who you are. That being said, there are times when someone should be held up to public scrutiny on Facebook if they are perceived as a danger to the community. Then it remains a question who has the shoulders to decide that? As far back as the times of the Shulchan Arukh, the rabbonon no longer held the power to put someone in cherem (excommunication).Read More
BS"D. You know, I look at the photo I took of one of the alleyways of my hometown Tzfat and I realize how Hashem has blessed me by placing me here where the makifim are stronger than any place on earth. At the end of the alleyway in the photo is the Abbu house, in which resides an old Tzfat family and a 600 year old Sefer Torah that leads the parade to Meron erev Lag B'Omer.Read More
This evening, something I read made me realize that our job here is not to solve the Ger/Ger Toshav puzzle. Our job here is to find Ger a heritage from the Torah. A heritage for one's family. What does my Ger Torah house smell like Friday afternoon? What was my mother’s Ger Shabbat challah like? That is what binds the generations to the Torah. It is not the Torah learning or the mitzvoth that keeps the children connected. It’s the customs and the rituals and the food — the heritage. It is the customs and the rituals and the food and the way of life that takes the Torah learning and mitzvoth into the future, short range, medium range, long range. This is what I have been calling infrastructure. And to build the infrastructure, we need tools and resources. And to know which are the right tools and resources, we need wisdom. And I quote a talmid of Elazar ben Arakh, who said, “When the halacha comes in, the Chochmah goes out.”
BS"D Over the years prior to my becoming Torah observant, and even after I became Torah observant, even the slightest infringement on the individual's spiritual freedom was and still is repugnant to me, meaning it stinks. Wherever you find forces trying to limit personal freedom, there you will find the forces of evil. The shepherd is a guide, not a master. There is only one Master, one Rav. He is Father and King and Master, in fact, Ribono shel Olam means Master of the world, or the universe. He is the One Master who can grant freedom and it is how He identifies Himself, above all else, as a Liberator, as it says (Ex. 20:2), I am the Lord thy G-d, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
BS”D How could you explain a frum Jew, who observes the Torah and does mitzvoth, advocating abortion as a woman’s right since it is her body? I will give you another one: How can you explain an intelligent, educated shomer Shabbat frum woman advocating the globalist-socialist position that the world is overcrowded and the population must be reduced from its current number of over seven billion (7,000,000,000) down to five hundred million (500,000,000). Abortion and genocide. I encountered both within a span of 48 hours last week. I will not go into any further details. CogitatingRead More
BS"D I have recently been engaged in a shakel v'tarya with my erstwhile chavrusa HaRav Simcha Gottlieb,sheyichyeh. And it sparked my realization of the essence of my problem with the Talmud, and therefore with Orthodox Judaism. Here it is in one sentence: "I believe it was a mistake to write down the Mishna." The attrition of collective forgetfulness is what allows man to persevere and achieve long term victory. We usually remember the best parts and forget the worst. We were made that way by the Aybishtur on purpose. So was the Oral Torah.
BS”D It appears to me that people of all races and nations and beliefs have an unconscious desire to enslave themselves and they use ritual and tradition to do it. It is not uncommon for a person, let us call him Ruben, to have a self-imposed need to do thing A before he does thing B, even though there is no reason for doing it in that order except that he did it before. He unconsciously got in the rut of doing it that way, so he continues doing it that way. And the ritualistic order does not stop with A and B, but go on to C, D, E, and so forth. This before that, and that before the other thing. But here is where it gets interesting. After doing the self-imposed unconscious ritual a few times, suddenly you impose it upon yourself. You unconsciously imagine that you are obligated to do the ritual and if you fail, you have lost something. The loss can be insignificant, but it leaves an emptiness within. At that point, Ruben is a slave to an imaginary master. And since the master is imaginary, he cannot free Ruben. Ruben will have to escape and be a heretic. That is how every religion in the world works, how it got started and how it continues. Be mitbonen in that.
The Rambam wrote in Mishna Torah that the dialogues of Rava and Abbaye (Talmud) are a small thing and Ma’aseh Merkava (Kabbalah) is a great thing. Why is this so and how is this so?
The reasons are manifold. The Ramak, zy”a, could have written a small book focused on only this question because that is how many reasons one can easily think of concerning the superiority of Kabbalah over Talmud.
BS”D Kabbalah is greater than Halacha, or is it the other way around? See, here is the deal, the skinny as we used to say on the near north side: If Kabbalah were greater than halacha, then halacha would remain important, but no longer be authoritative.
If, on the other hand, halacha were to be greater than Kabbalah, then halacha would remain authoritative (the Law), but it would be ignored and finally eliminated for lack of need. We are all one day going to be tzadikim gemurim, and perfect obedience to the Torah will be our teva, and our only occupation with be to strive in fear of the Lord, for then full knowledge of the Truth will be ours.Read More
BS"D The Hasidei Umot Haolam (the gentile Hasid) has a special connection to Kabbalah. He has a very high soul but it has been out in the cold and needs to be warmed up and only the Torah can do this. And of all aspects or branches or levels of Torah, Kabbalah warms the soul fastest and most completely. This is because Kabbalah is warm like Jerusalem, and like the soul. Because Kabbalah and Jerusalem and the soul are one thing. Even if you are learning Kabbalah in Husqvarna, Alabama or Kotchkeh, Tanzania, or even Chicago, Illinois, you are in Jerusalem. Learning Kabbalah changes the mazal to a mazal of Jerusalem. All G-d’s children come on and learn Kabbalah. It will do your soul good.Read More
BS"D When the Bet HaMikdash (Holy Temple) is built, yenna machlah (the dreaded disease) can”cer will be no more. How do I know? Because laughter can cure can”cer, and when the Bet HaMikdash is built all our mouths will be filled with laughter (Psalms 126:2). May Hashem Yitborach make it happen immediately, if not sooner. If we are not ready, make us ready mercifully.Read More
BS”D It is taught in the Zohar, Parshat Mishpatim 114 in the Sulam, that it is essential to have a good thought (kavana) on mikvah night at the moment of climax. Some Kabbalists meditate on Malchut of Atzilut. This will bring into the world children with great and holy souls and who, b’ezrat Hashem, will lead rich and full and peaceful lives and fulfill their mission from G-d, if they follow their father’s path. (The Chinese think they observe the commandment of honoring father and mother better than the Jews. I think it is debatable. At the highest end, they turn it into avodah zara, idolatry.Read More
BS"D There has been a friendly separating of the ways between Rabbis Chaim Clorfene and David Katz in our vision for the Noahide Torah world. I would not have the temerity to claim the right to explain or discuss the differences between Rabbi Katz and my hashkafa. Let me just state that they are basic and considerable. And I will reiterate that this is amicable. He is setting up his school and I am setting up mine. Hatzlacha rabba to both of us. I sincerely hope that this does not set up camps of people hostile to each other as exists now in the Noahide world. The reason for this is that B’nai Noah, mankind at large was and still is ruled by Shem Elokim.Read More
BS"D Next to Dave Barry's "the only Dave Barry travel guide you will ever need," I am just finishing the best bathroom book I have ever read, the diary of Eric Hoffer, 1958-59. I would rank Eric Hoffer's book, The True Believer, thoughts on mass movements as a book of genuine wisdom, not Torah but wisdom that can be applied to Torah. But his diary gives an insight into a truly extraordinary human being, a Russian longshoreman working the docks in San Francisco who never attended grammar school, but who thought and wrote. He lived alone, never married and spend all his free with a married woman and her son, and only occasionally the husband. Self educated, but profoundly well educated (he read everything) and knew something about everything and a great deal about a few things, about life, about society, about freedom, about change. He consider the intellectual to be the ultimate tyrant and enemy of freedom. The intellectual is corrupted by power more than any other person. And he is not satisfied with his rulership until he has you crawling on your hands and knees and begging for the very thing that you hate. I call anything that manipulates people without their knowledge, subliminally or through the use of ritual and tradition, a form a kishuf, witchcraft. All religion is steeped in witchcraft. And what is worse. All religion has some element of the truth held captive. And only now in this generation, do we have the power and knowledgle to remove the captive spark in all of them except one, kelipat Amalek. But soon ... its days are coming to an end, Baruch Hashem.Read More
BS”D You know what my problem with Chicago is? It does not have a Yiddishe tam, a Jewish flavor. New York has a Jewish flavor. Miami has a Jewish flavor. Los Angeles has a Jewish flavor. But take a stroll down Michigan Avenue, the heart of Chicago…no Yiddishe tam. I love the goyim. They are my brothers, blood brothers. But I cannot understand how a Yid could live in a place without a Yiddishe tam.Read More
BS”D For many years, I have viewed the term “Ger Toshav” with some animosity. Why? Because the term Ger Toshav does not exist in the Torah. And because there are other perfectly good terms that do exist in the Torah, namely Ger (without the Toshav) and Gercha asher b’Sha’arecha, the Ger in your gates. So why make up a new term when the old term will exist unto eternity because it is the Torah, whereas the new term will cease to exist one day because it is created by human agency and is therefore mortal. Being no stranger to conspiratorial thinking, I smelled a hulda. And not the prophetess, but the dreadful creature that our cat, Doofus, brought us as a present the other day. And I wondered and wondered…why Ger Toshav, other than to confuse the truth? Today, the light dawned. Even though Ger Toshav is a legal fiction, an entity that exists only by virtue of the man made rules of its existence (that is a good definition of halacha in general), those rules are the Ger Toshav’s value and greatness. It gives the person a structured identity. And this is essential becauseRead More
The Rambam calls the righteous Gentiles Hasidei Umot Ha-Olam, the non-Jewish Hasidim, the Hasidim of all mankind. Hassidim are known primarily by three traits
1. They value chesed over din (mercy over justice),
2. They do more than the law requires
3. Their path is the path of tefillah (prayer and meditation).
Chanina ben Dosa was one of the early Chassidim of the Mishnaic period. He meditated nine hours a day and prayed three hours a day, and he was on a much higher level than the great Talmidei Chachamim of his generation, who sat and learned day and night.