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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Come Close to the Wall

June 1967:
Nasser, Egypt's President, declared his intention to lead the Jihad to destroy Israel and push the Jews into the sea. Militarily, the IDF was outnumbered by a ratio of 20:1, proportionally even a larger enemy than we faced in days of the Hasmonean revolt and the battle of Chanuka. The Chevra Kadisha (burial society) in Jerusalem prepared 10,000 body bags for the expected mass civilian casualties, and contingency plans were made for Jerusalem's parks to be turned into cemeteries. Animals in the city's zoo were put to sleep for fear that they might be set free and create chaos in the streets. The Knesset archives and artifacts in the Israel Museum as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls were secured underground, preserved in shelters.

Rabbonim instructed the Tnuva factory to remain open on Shabbos to make sure that they would produce enough milk to feed the population during war time. Thousands volunteered to fill sandbags; talmidim of the Mirrer Yeshiva were instructed by Rav Chaim Shmulevitz to leave the Beis Medrash to assist in the effort. Israel was in a state of emergency, understanding that the dire situation threatened the very existence of the State.

"Yeshuas Hashem k'heref ayin": What took Yehoshua Bin Nun months to accomplish, took only six days; Israel's size tripled, as the IDF miraculously and heroically recaptured Yehudah, Shomron, the Golan, Aza, the holy cities of Chevron, Beit Lechem, Beit El and Shchem, and reunified Jerusalem.

In the wake of the awesome victory, the Jewish world was euphoric, sensing clear Divine intervention and incredible Yad Hashem.

In Shir Hashirim, Shlomo Hamelech describes how Hakadosh Baruch Hu will deal with our enemies who dare attack us at a time of favor (2:7-8): “You will become as defenseless as gazelles or rams in the field…behold it came suddenly to redeem me as if leaping over mountains, skipping over hills. In His swiftness to redeem me… I thought I would be forever alone , but behold He was standing behind our wall, observing through the windows, peering through the cracks of the latticework.”

Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, the Kedushas Levi uses these two descriptions of the way Hashem watches over us to explain the different ways we perceive Hashem's presence in our lives. First, there are times when Hakadosh Baruch Hu observes us "through the windows": moments of clarity where we can "see" Hashem openly, as if on the other side of a glass window.

The awesome victory of the Six Day War 42 years ago was one of those times of clarity. Following the war, Southern front Paratroop Commander Rafael ("Raful") Eitan remarked that, "...Apparently someone in Heaven was watching over us... every unintended action they took and every unintended action we took, always turned to our advantage." There was no mistaking that victory was God-sent, that we were witnessing open miracles.

There are however, other times, where it is more difficult to sense the Ribbono Shel Olam. Nonetheless, explains the Kedushas Levi, it is upon us to remember that Hashem also “watches us through the cracks of the latticework”: we can not "see" beyond the wall, but are assured that Hashem is always there. In those times of hiddenness, when Hash em is "peering through the latticework" we remain under the constant watchful "eye"- we can't "see" Him; but Hakadosh Baruch Hu is always watching us.

It is easy to see someone though a window; one can even gaze from afar. But in order to see a person watching you through a "crack in the latticework", one must come up very close to the wall and look carefully into the crack. Only then, when we peer deeply into that space, can we see that there was someone on the other side of the wall, watching us the entire time...

Yom Yerushalayim is a day of celebration and thanks where we reflect on the miraculous salvation and open Hand of God. We are also able to strengthen our awareness of Hashem's presence in our lives, so that in times when we face difficulties- personally or on a National scale - we will remember and encouraged that we are under the constant Hashgachas Hashem. As the complicated and sometimes painful process of Redemption continues to unfold in stages, we must draw strength from the knowledge that Hashem is always with us, watching over us and directing the course of our lives, even within the confusion and concealment.

The Six Day War is not a distant historical event for us to 'remember' or 'commemorate'; it is a defining moment in each of our personal lives, where a major step toward the ultimate restoration of the heart and soul of our land and Nation took place.

On Yom Yerushalayim, when I stand at the Holy Wall after a long day of celebration, I rest my head in its cracks, and am able to see clearly that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is right there, "peering through the latticework." I feel blessed to have been born into the final generation of exile and the first generation of Redemption, and pray, that with Hashem's ever-present Hashgacha, we will merit the next stage of Mashiach, with the complete rebuilding of Yerushalayim speedily in our days.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not By Chance

From Haaretz (!?)

"It's no coincidence that men with knitted skullcaps - two of them soldiers - were involved in killing the terrorists who carried out the last three terror attacks..."

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yom Yerushalayim- Come Join Us!!

You and your friends are cordially invited:
Yom Yerushalayim Celebration @ Beit HaRav Kook (next to Ticho House) in Jerusalem! Join the Kumah chevrah, yeshiva students and new olim for a song-filled Tefillah Chagigit & Musical Hallel led by R' Shlomo Katz this Monday at 8:30am. Divrei Torah, great music, & free breakfast too! Marking 41 years since the open miracles of the Six Day War!

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Searching for Chometz

Some ideas on how to "enhance the search" (Audio)
Chag Sameach!

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Saturday, March 15, 2008


I returned home following Thursday night's Selichot and Hespeidim at Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav completely exhausted. After days and days of Nichum Aveilim, crying, shock and hurt- who wasn't completely drained? But along with all the confusion, pain, questions, sadness, anger and despair, I am filled with respect, pride, awe and hope. Over the past week, we have been privileged to see renewed Achdut and Kavod HaTorah. Heartbreaking and inspiring expressions of Emunah, strength and Kidush Hashem. Clarity of vision, resolve and Mesirut Nefesh. Every shiva visit, interview, interaction with the mourning families, Rabbanim and Talmidim, revealed deep faith and love for Torah and Eretz Yisael.

In the days following the massacre, my shiur and I had the privilege of davening together with Rav Yerachmiel Weiss - the heroic Rosh Yeshiva and the Talmidim at Yeshiva L'Tzeirim of Merkaz HaRav. On Tuesday morning following Tefillah, Rav Weiss addressed the Beit Midrash ("I want to say a few words before the press descends on us again"), and expressed his pride in his talmidim; and while choking back tears, thanked them, praising them for their strength and resilience... he spoke movingly about the need for Achdut and the importance of continuing to be standard bearers and role models for Am Yisrael. "Our way- the way of Torah and truth- is one of love, sweetness, and patience with other Jews- especially those we disagree with... we are all struggling together; and have the zechut of being the vehicle through which Am Yisrael are united."

After davening and the sicha, I approached Rav Weiss to thank him; through tears and an unforgettable embrace, he said, "Thank YOU for davening with us..."

Throughout the week I was zocheh to cross paths with Rav Weiss a number of times; at the Yeshiva, shiva homes etc. In each brief interaction, he expressed his thanks and appreciation for everyone's support.

(BTW- in case somehow you missed it: Arutz Sheva's R' Hillel Fendel translated parts of Rav Weiss' moving interview with Ilana Dayan in his article Faith Through Tears; the interview (in hebrew) is a must see, and gives us a glimpse into the worldview of a true leader: a modest Torah scholar who speaks from the heart and addresses the most difficult questions with clarity and wisdom).

This Erev Shabbat I called Rav Weiss- just to say "Thank you".... As always, he was gracious and friendly, and refused to accept any praise, saying over and over again how "we are all in this together".
Thank you Rav Weiss. Thank you Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Shapira. Than you to all the Rabbeim and Talmidim, families and chevra- for strengthening us and giving us hope in the future of Klal Yisrael. May we be blessed with Yeshuos V'Nechamos

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Sunday, February 17, 2008


Why are so many Gush Katif refugees still living in squalor and uninhabitable karavillot?
Why the passivity in the face of thousands of rockets falling in Sderot?
Where are our MIA's?
Why is Yerushalayim- or any part of Eretz Yisrael- on the "chopping block"?
Why are these guys still in power?


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Monday, January 21, 2008

Tu B'Shvat in Beit Shemesh

Seder Tu B' Shvat & "Peirot Tish" w/ Rav Simcha Hochbaum (of Chevron) & Judah Mischel; Live Music, Divrei Torah, The 7 Species and over 60 Fruits & Nuts from Eretz Yisrael
@ Yeshivat Reishit, 21 Rechov Rashi, Beit Shemesh, 7:30pm (Men Only Please)

ברוכים הבאים

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Jew & His Homeland

"For a Jew, the land of Israel is more than a place, it is a body for the soul of a people...a place to find where you began, where you belong and what you truly are; A Jew does not travel to Israel, s/he returns there..."

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Modern Day Maccabees?

Erev Chanukah in Jpost:
OC Chaplaincy Brig.-Gen. Rav Avichai Ronzki: "We are supposed to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. We are here to be a light unto the nations, in all ways - morally, socially, spiritually and value-wise; a nation that is engaged in all aspects of running a sovereign state economically, militarily and politically."

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Return Again

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Music for the (Spiritual) Revolution

Shuli Rand struggles and searches for God (From Hebrew Maariv Online)
Worth a listen & some thought!

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Red Bull & Vodka vs. Exit & Shlivovitz

"It’s a drink the ultra-Orthodox lack...They make a lot of babies, they study the Torah and they dance. They need a lot of energy, and something to strengthen them."

New Mehadrin Energy Drink!

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Forget About Baseball...

Introducing: "Religious Zionist Rabbi Cards"!

...although a pretty narrow definition of "Religious Zionist"!

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Music for Parshat Noach

Out of the Ark: Aharon Razel
The Flood: Avraham Rosenblum
Mabool: Orphaned Land (pretty intense bunch of Jews from Petach Tikva)

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Isru Chag Prayer for Sukkot

The brothers Razel capture all the hopes and emotions of this last day of the Chag...


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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Cartoons for the Soul

Just in time for the High Holidays!!

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti a"h

"You are Jews and I am Catholic, but we both put the soul of man first, and that is the truth"

Pavaratti visited and sang in Israel a number of times, never cancelling concerts because of terror or politics. Here is a classic clip of the tenor joined by one of our generation's great Rebbes, Barry White shlit"a, singing one of the theme songs of the High Holidays: "My First. My Last, My Everything" ("Emet Atah Hu Rishon..."). Note the very excellent frock & "Bekeshe" the dynamic duo are sporting.

Thanks to proud Jewess Debbie Schlussel for the 'mekor'.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Elul Niggun: Father in the Forest

A Father Calls out to His Children

"...This soulful melody is a dialogue between the Almighty Father and His children, the people of Israel. The Father looks for His children in the Diaspora, Galut, and implores them to return Home to the Holy Land..."

"Where have you been that you have forsaken Me?" He inquires of His children, "Dear children, please return Home, I feel forlorn without you."

The children's answer is "But, Father, how can we return when there is a guard blocking the door?"

*Matisyahu's more recent version of the niggun HERE

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Two Years Have Passed... Part II

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Two Years Have Passed...

Wednesday, 8 Elul 5767 / August 22 marks two years since the completion of the destruction of Gush Katif. Rabbanim have called for a day of fasting, Teshuva and prayer, to remember the uprooted communities and families, and mourn the destruction of the shuls and Batei Midrash destroyed on this day.

Please continue reading for more details:

Wednesday will be marked by a special Mincha service at the Kotel, w/ Selichot & reading of "VaYichal Moshe" @ 6pm. Those joining the fast (which is considered a "Ta'anit Yachid") should indicate their intended participation during Tuesday's mincha (at the end of the Amidah).

For more details, please see: or call 02-9974424

Never Forget!
A list of videos, articles and media resources about Gush Katif HERE

Ynet: 8 Days in August

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Heroes Among Us!

Check out Part 11 of The Jewish Press' "MODERN ROLE MODELS" series, featuring our very "own" Ari Abramowitz shlit"a- featured by Nefesh B'Nefesh!

Also cited HERE , by another great Southern Jew.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Total Immersion

Today, Rosh Chodesh Elul, begins an intensive 40 day period of Teshuva- Return, spiritual cleansing and transformation...

Historically, following the episode of the Golden Calf and breaking of the Luchot, Moshe Rabbeinu ascended Mount Sinai for the second time, and after 40 days of intensive prayer, D'veikut and Teshuva, returned to Am Yisrael with the Luchot Sheniot (second Tablets)- a symbol of Tikun and Hashem's forgiveness.

Since then, these 40 days on the Jewish calendar have been tagged as "Yemei Rachamim v'Ratzon"- days where Hashem's mercy is manifest, an opportune time for Teshuva and Divine yearning, of purity and spiritual transformation: a Mikvah in Time.

According to Halachik standards, a Kosher mikvah must contain 40 Se'ah (about 200 gallons) of flowing or gathered rain water, and each Se'ah is made up of 24 "Lugg" of water...

The Taharah/purity, spiritual rejuvination and fresh start that we can attain in the 40 se'ah of a Mikvah, is represented in time by the 40 days stretching from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kipur (10th of Tishrei).

The Mikvah's 960 Lug correspond to the 960 hours of the time period we are now beginning(40 days x 24 hrs.); every moment is an opportunity for us to immerse ourselves in the Teshuvah process, to Return to our Source and be purified...

The Mikvah is a fundamental and culminating step in the conversion ("transformation")process, and the key to monthly marital rejuvination.

The idea that 40 represents a measurement symbolzing transformation and spiritual development toward a new status is a theme that runs throughout Jewish life and history:

>LIFE: 40 days from conception to the point where a fetus is considered by Jewish Law to be a life; transformed from potential to actual existence...
>THE FLOOD: The world and all of creation needed to be transformed and "fixed" during the 40 day/night Mikvah-Mabul
>MT. SINAI: Millions of individuals are transformed into a Nation while Moshe ascends the Mountain for 40 days/ nights
>MIDBAR: It took 40 years of desert transformation until we merited to enter Eretz Yisrael
>SHABBAT: The Laws of Shabbos are based on 39 categories of work performed in the building of the mishkan- the Gemarah categorizes the list of melachot as "One less than 40" (Same goes for the 40-1 Malkot/ Rabbinically administered lashes, that transform a person who is guilty into a new man with a clean slate...)

Kabbalistically, even the form of the letter "Mem" (40 in numerology/ gematriah) represents this theme: at the beginning or in the middle of a word, the "Mem" is broken, open and incomplete; at the end of a word its appearance is transformed to being a "whole" letter, closed and complete.

May Hashem help us and strengthen us, so that we may make the most of this great opportunity- to be transformed and purified- and blessed with a Chodesh Tov & Shanah Tovah.

(For more, please see Rav Aryeh Kaplan ztl's Waters of Eden)

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Music for Parshat Eikev

A "New Tune" for Birkat Hamazon, text from this week's Parsha...Enjoy!


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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sins of Omission

""One long year has passed since IDF soldiers Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser, and Eldad Regev were kidnapped by Hamas and Hezbollah. Show the world we have not forgotten and will not forget them. Join us in demanding their immediate and unconditional release...""

Unfortunately though, it seems that the organizers of next week's rally for the MIA's at the UN have "forgotten" the rest of our missing soldiers...

In addition to praying daily for Gilad ben Aviva, Ehud ben Malka & Eldad ben Tova,
we won't stop davening for:
Yekutiel Yehuda Nachman ben Sarah (Katz)
Zecharia Shlomo ben Miriam (Baumel)
Zvi ben Penina (Feldman)
Ron ben Batya (Arad)
Guy ben Rina (Hever)

Their families and all of Am Yisrael who await their return will not forget them (even if the Conference of Presidents has)

Rally @ The UN
Monday, July 16th, 2007
12:00 noon / Rain or Shine
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (1st Ave. and 47th St.)

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Great Find!

Warning: It is impossible to sit stationary while watching/ listening to the music of Groyse Metsieh!


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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sweet Cherries

Yishai & Malka recently compared life in The Land to a bowl of cherries. According to the holy Zohar, had the Meraglim tasted the fruits of Eretz Yisrael, they never could have spoken badly... Here are some pics of our humble effort to fix the sin of the spies:

P.S. I'm well aware that not everyone in the world is interested in seeing pic from our cherry-picking tiyul in Gush Etzion, but at least our family will enjoy!

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Friday, June 08, 2007

How to See the Beauty of The Land

Sin of the Spies Continues

Just in time for Parshat Shelach (Part II):

Newsflash: Eretz Yisrael Rejects Avraham Burg!

Shortly after the end of World War II, at a Shabbat table in Jerusalem, the discussion turned to the regrettable phenomenon of visitors who tour the Land of Israel, and then return home badmouthing the country. "These tourists complain about the heat, the poverty, the backwardness, the government - and discourage other Jews from moving here," lamented one of those present. The room became quiet. Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook, son of Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, the first chief rabbi, responded by relating the following parable.
"There was once a wealthy man who desired to marry a certain young lady. She was the most beautiful girl in town, and was blessed with many talents and a truly refined character. Since her family was not well-off, they were eager about the possible match with the wealthy man.

The young woman, however, was not interested in the match. Rich or not, the young man was coarse and ill-mannered. She refused to meet with him.

The father, anxious that his daughter should get married, pressured her to meet with the young man. 'After all, one meeting doesn't obligate you to marry him!' To please her father, the young woman agreed.

The following Shabbat, the fellow arrived at the house as arranged. A few minutes later, the girl made her entrance: her hair uncombed, wearing a crumpled, worn dress and shabby house slippers. Appalled at her disheveled appearance, it didn't take long before the young man excused himself and made a hurried exit.

"What everyone says about this girl - it's not true," exclaimed the astonished young man to his friends. "She's a hideous old hag!"

Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah then explained his parable. Superficially, it would appear that the young fellow had rejected the young woman. But in truth, she had rejected him. So too, the Land of Israel does not display her beauty to all who visit. Not everyone is worthy enough to merit seeing the special qualities of Eretz Yisrael. It appears as if the dissatisfied visitors are the ones who reject the land - but in reality, it is the land that rejects them.

[Rav Chanan Morrison- Adapted from "Malachim Kivnei Adam" by Rabbi Simcha Raz, pp. 227-278, 230

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

What the Rebbe Said (and Didn't Say) About the Holocaust

From today's

Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer on The Lubavitcher Rebbe's approach to understanding /dealing with The Holocaust.
Bauer claims that: "The (Lubavitcher) Rebbe's stance is clear: The Holocaust was a good thing because it lopped off a disease-ravaged limb of the Jewish people..."

What the Rebbe ACTUALLY Said (and Didn't Say) about the Holocaust

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fire on the Mountain

Music for Shavuot HERE (Track 5), HERE, HERE & HERE

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Two Great Audios For You

Justice Jew asks why do we need a Winograd commission, and who should we really blame. (3 min 45 sec)

Rabbi Judah expounds on the magic of Lag BeOmer, Meron, and Rabbi Shimon (9 min 42 sec)

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

"Post" or "Anti" Zionism?

State Sponsored Anti-Zionism
(Too bad we don't we have a Label for "Jewish Self-Hatred")

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Living Holocaust Memorial

Jewish Heroism (Re)Defined

There is much to say about the unfortunate fact that "Yom HaShoah V'HaGevurah" was established by the Knesset against the will of Israel's central Rabbinate. Nissan is a month of rejoicing, where eulogies are not delivered, public fast days are not allowed to be established, and "Tachanun" is not recited. A more appropriate time to reflect and mourn the Shoah is on Tisha B'Av or the Tenth of Tevet (established as "Yom HaKadish Haklali"); nonetheless, we do not separate from the "tzibur" and respect the observance of the general public.

Among the hundreds of thousands murdered in the Warsaw Ghetto, was the great Gaon and Tzadik, Rebbe Menachem Zemba zt'l Hy'd, murdered during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, Pesach 1943:

"Of necessity, we must resist the enemy on all fronts... We shall no longer heed his instructions... Sanctification of the Divine Name manifests itself in varied ways... (now) when we are faced by an arch foe whose unparalleled ruthlessness and program of total anihilation know no bounds, Halacha demands that we fight and resist to the very end with unequaled determination and valor for the sake of Kiddush HaShem."

Rav Zemba spoke of Jews who "wish to see very soon the establishment of Jewish sovereignty, out of their great desire to sanctify the name of Heaven in the eyes of the nations, to show them that after thousands of years of Israel wandering about the earth, the pain of their national destruction has not yet passed, and they shall live again..."

To learn more about the great Tzadik and Jewish Hero, please click HERE and HERE

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Never Forget!

Today marks 60 years since the murder of Dov Gruner, Yehiel Dresner, Eliezer Kashani & Mordechai Alkahi HY"D by the British, at the Acco gallows.

"For you should know this: there is no power in the world which can sever the tie between the Jewish people and their one and only land. Whosoever tries to sever it - his hand will be cut off and the curse of God will rest on him for ever...In blood and fire Judea fell, in blood and fire Judea will rise again..."

The full story on the official ETZEL website

In honor of the yahrtzeit, check out A Simple Jew's Photo Essay

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Life-Altering Experience

Friday marks the 3rd Yahrtzeit of our beloved Jay Litvin zt"l - a very wise, sensitive and brave Jew, who shared his deepest thoughts, fears, struggles and hopes in dozens of beautiful essays on so many areas of life: spirituality, death, parenting, children, faith, doubt, joy , Israel & "indispensability"...

Jay Litvin zt'l made Aliyah in 1993 to serve as medical liaison for Chabad's Children of Chernobyl program...

and took a leading role in airlifting children from the areas contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster; he also founded and directed Chabad's Terror Victims program in Israel (see: "The Hidden Angel"). Jay passed away in April of 2004 after a valiant four-year battle with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Reading Jay's articles is inspiring and powerful - and can (should!!) be a life altering experience.

Zechuto Yagein Aleinu

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Preparing for Pesach with Matisyahu in Jerusalem

There is not much that could get my wife to leave the house just two nights before Pesach...

I was hoping Matisyahu would sing my favorite niggun: "Kol BaYaar/ Father in the Forest": a powerful dialogue between Hashem the Almighty Father and His children, the people of Israel. The Father looks for His children in the Diaspora, Galut, and implores them to return home to the Holy Land. "Where have you been that you have forsaken Me?" He inquires of His children, "Dear children, please Return Home, I feel forlorn without you." The children's answer is "But, Father, how can we return when there is a guard blocking the door?"

Matisyahu did not disapoint: half way through he sang an extended version of the niggun. Listen to the Original, classic song HERE (from & Matisyahu's studio version HERE

What a night! So many Jews, from all walks of life: celebrating, dancing, praying and enjoying a powerful and inspiring(!) concert/ tefillah & performance. Great music, fun crowd; lots of joy and Jewish Pride.

Last Motzai Shabbat- while on a Heritage trip to Poland-I made Havdala with a group of students in Auschwitz, mourning the past; one week later we were surrounded by hundreds of Jews- alive in Eretz Yisrael- and look forward to a bright future.

Jerusalem VIDEO CLIP

"Indestructable"- Live Clip (from NYC) HERE

Fear nobody but His Majesty,
My spirit, you retrieved,
For You I wait silently,
It seems that you believe in me

Just a tool in the hands of the builder
Fill them with the strength to go further
Diggin deep for eternal treasure
Stay away from quicksand and false pleasure

Release me from their schemes
My distress you will relieve
Shield me on the path that's dark and slippery
They seek deception and futility

I stand with integrity
Sneak to the roof of that building
Don't want nobody here to see me
To say that I'm living in a fantasy
But I believe in find and keep

And I plead in sincerity
Wont you utterly remove the cloud hangin over me
Wont you wave that decree in the shade of your wings
Shelter me from the wicked who have plundered me
From my mortal enemies wont you shield me

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Searching for Chometz??

Open your eyes and look within:
Are we satisfied with the life we're living?
We know where were going...We know where were from.
We're leaving...We're going to our father land.
Wipe away transgression...Set the captives free...

Classic Pesach Cleaning Tunes:
Passover Theme Song (sung by Klal Yisrael as they crossed the Sea of Reeds)

Rebbe Shlomo: Kriyat Yam Suf (Track 9)

An Oldie but a "goodie"

Some beautiful teachings for the Seder night, from Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach zy"a HERE

Chag Sameach!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Street Justice in Lizhensk

Neturei Karta Beatdown!!

At the annual Hilulah / Yahrtzeit honoring Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk in Poland, Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, (chairman of ZAKA) hit Moshe Aryeh Freedman, the Neturei Karta rep. who kissed Iranian President Ahmadinejad...

Details from "The Yeshiva World" and Jerusalem Post on the beatdown HERE

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Unfinished Business

Haman and his sons were hanged, their estate taken over by Mordechai. Even though we read Parshat Zachor last week, the evil of Amalek still lurks.

Check out a great article on the continuous Purim Struggle (in Hebrew) HERE

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

"Go and Gather All the Jews..."

Ta'anit Esther is above all, a day of Teshuva, fasting and prayer when our primary concern must be to follow Queen Esther's powerful directive: to strengthen Jewish Unity.

All too often we focus on what divides us, as opposed to what we share in common...
In 1933, Rav Avraham Yitzchok HaKohen Kook zy''a wrote:

" is incumbent upon us to draw near to the path of teshuvah which brings redemption and healing to the world.The Jewish people have become divided into two camps, through the categorization of Jews as Charedi and Chofshi.

These are new terms, which were not used in the past. Of course, not everyone is identical, especially in spiritual matters; but there was never a specific term to describe each faction and group...Emphasizing this categorization obstructs the way towards improvement for both camps. One who feels that he belongs to the Charedi camp looks down upon the secular camp. If he thinks about teshuvah and improvement, he immediately casts his eyes in the direction of the Chofshi camp, devoid of Torah and mitzvot. He is confident that full repentance is required by the irreligious, not by him.The secular Jew, on the other hand, is convinced that any notion of penitence is a Charedi concept, completely irrelevant to him.

It would be better if each person would concentrate on discerning his own defects, and judge others generously. It could very well be that others have treasure-troves of merits, hidden from sight. We must recognize that there exists in all of the camps a latent force leading towards goodness. Each camp has much to improve upon, and is capable of learning much from the light and goodness of the other camp.Let us be known to each other by one name: "Klal Yisrael"{Adapted from Moadei HaRe'iyah, by Rav Chanan Morrison of Mitzpeh Yericho}

This Taanit Esther, let's try to respect and care for each other - at least as much as Haman (and Hitler, Arafat, Ahmadinejad etc.) desire(d) to destroy us!

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Purim: "Reigniting Our Passion for Religious Nationalism"

Rav Chaim Jachter on Purim as an opportunity for Religious Zionist Renaissance (link)

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Music for the Revolution

Stuck in Chutz L'Aretz?

Feeling far away from Home?

Want to re-connect with Yerushalayim?

Need a boost before Purim?

Shlomo Katz Live in Teaneck
This Sunday Evening, 8 Adar /February 25

@ 7:00pm / 339 Maitland Avenue (Corner of Rugby Road) /$15
For Info.: 201-837-0723

Check out a Shlomo Katz clip HERE

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Audio: Road Rage, Newark, and Chaim Dovid

On this week's audio selection:

On a recent drive in the Land of Israel I picked up a hitchhiker who told me that Ariel Sharon committed the worst sin that a Jew can commit - that is, ripping Jews from their burial place in the Land of Israel. In return, continued the old man, the Land has rejected the body of Ariel Sharon, and that is why he is in state of limbo. This revelation led me to think about the return of the Galut Jew, and the fight and witch hunt against bravery and brave Jews like Shai Dromi. This monologue is 23 minutes long:

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Rabbi Judah Mischel is stuck at Newark Liberty Airport, with security incessantly having its way with him. And while in LA, he yearns for Israel, while LA Jews yearn for NY. While in Exile he comments on why the foreign nations just don't fit in Israel.

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Ben Bresky, music show host on INR, recently had some face to face time with famous musician Chaim Dovid. (Ezra wrote an article about this) Now, if you want to hear a real yiddishe soul, with yiddishe soul music, this interview is for you.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Overheard in Los Angeles...

"When people here say: Libi BaMizrach ('My Heart is in the East'), they are really yearning to be in New York..."

Having spent two days in L.A. this week, (including Grammy Sunday) , yearning for Home...

...I couldn't stop thinking of Rebbe Yehuda HaLevy's stirring & poetic prayer (even after eating at Prime Grill on Rodeo Drive):

My heart is in the East, and I am in the furthermost west--
How can I enjoy food? Can it be sweet to me?

How shall I make vows and honor bonds, while yet
Zion is held by Edom, and I by Arab chains?

Shouldn't it be easy for me to leave all the good things of Spain --
Seeing how precious it is to behold the dust of the desolate sanctuary.

I can't wait to get back home to Eretz Yisrael... where the real movie stars hang out.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Sound Familiar? Yitro's Reasons for Not Making Aliyah

"...and Yitro went to his land" (Ex. 18:27)

Later, while in the Desert, Moshe tries to convince his father-in-law Yitro to enter The Land of Israel together with the Jewish People, yet he continuously refuses: "I shall not go! Only to My Land and my family shall I go!" (Bamidbar 10:30).

What happened?!?

After his great proclomation of faith - he is the first person to say "Baruch Hashem!" (Ex. 18:10), and after all that he has contributed to Am Yisrael: a complete overhaul of the Judicial system, his daughter Tziporah etc.- Yitro opts out of going to Eretz Yisrael.

Some opinions & perspectives of the classic commentaries as to WHY:

* Rashi: Yitro went to convert his family...("We have kiruv work to do, chinuch, saving American Jewry!")

* Rav Ovadia Sforno: Yitro felt too old to move; leaving would be too difficult because of the change in climate, food and language adjustment ("too hot in Israel! We want American meat and Tropicana!")

* The Sifri: Yitro didn't want to leave his family, possesions and familiar surroundings- so much so that Moshe offers him property in Jericho ("we have such a nice house, two cars; we like the comfortable standard of living; we love our neighborhood- we are so used to it here!")

* Rav Yosef Bechor Shor (talmid of Rabbeinu Tam): Yitro didn't want to deal with (feared?) the Milchemet Kivush/ War that would have to be fought to conquer the Land ("its dangerous there! we won't be safe in Israel! we'll have to serve in the army!)

Sound Familiar?!

It has been a while since we experienced awesome, open miracles and an ingathering of the exiles...or has it been?

Historical Patterns (and excuses!) repeat themselves... Justifications & rationalizations- legitimate or otherwise- do too.

B'Yamim Haheim BaZman HaZeh!!

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bitter Waters: Kriyat Yam Suf & Post-Zionism

Having experiencing the open miracles at the Exodus from Egypt and the Splitting of the Sea:
"They came to Marah, but could not drink the waters of Marah because they were bitter..." (Ex. 15:23)

Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (Yahrtzeit is this Shabbat) explained that the waters only tasted bitter because "they"- the Jews themselves- were bitter. As a result of their lack of faith in God, and the fact that they were still stuck in their slave ("Galus") mentality, the Jews themselves became filled with doubt, negativity and pessimism.

If Jews were able to make such a mistake then, it should come as no surprise to us now-- not sixty years since the Return of Jewish Sovereignty to Eretz Yisrael, and less than four decades since the Open Miracles and Divine Revelation of The Six Day War-- that so many of our People are filled with such sadness and negativity, pessimism, bitterness and confusion regarding The State of Israel.
As a tzibur- we have fallen out of touch with the basic fact that the Land of Israel is our physical and spiritual Home, and that our right to its entirety is existential and unalienable.

The bitter poison of Post-Zionism has blinded so many of our brethren: "they have eyes but do not see" the open miracles and blessings that Am Yisrael have merited in this generation.

At Marah, after complaining to Moshe and crying out to God, Hashem provided us with a tree that sweetened the bitter waters, so that the Jews could survive.

Let us learn a lesson from this week's Parsha, and the episode at Marah: The only way to sweeten the bitter attitude and perspective of Post Zionism is to strengthen our Jewish Identity through a return to our Roots; a Neo-Zionist Revolution built on the solid foundation of Biblical Imperative, Jewish history, and respect for Jewish tradition and symbols.

"Its ways are ways of Pleasantness and all its paths are Peace; It is a Tree of Life for all those who grasp onto it..." (Prov.3:17-18)

Many are already tuned in; worldwide, more Jews are studying Torah than ever before. But learning Torah is not enough! What is needed are new and creative ways to infuse Torah and authentic Jewish Values into the social, educational, political and cultural life of The Jewish State: David Hazony envisions developing "a new concept...of Jewish Humanities" for Israeli University students, whose curriculum would combine "the riches of Western civilization...with those of the Jewish tradition". A great idea, and one we can only hope will be actualized.

If only there were a way to start earlier, to save the next generation of Jews from bitterness and visual impairment...

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Friday, February 02, 2007

The Rising

"Planted in the House of Hashem, in the courtyard of our God they will blossom" (Ps. 92)

Rebbe Yisrael, the Maggid of Koznitz explained that while the physical body of The Holy Temple has been destroyed, the essence of the Beit Hamikdash, the heart of the Jewish Nation, remains vibrant and intact.
Although no longer manifest physically as a tangible structure, the spiritual reality and influence of The Temple continues pump and direct Divine Life Force to the collective body of the revealed world.

"Man is as the tree of the field": Regardless of how brittle and weak we may appear externally, to the extent that we are connected to our Roots, the tree will continue to live, be rejuvenated and thrive. On Tu B'Shvat, when the sap begins to Rise within the fruit bearing trees, the process of rebirth begins (continues?) for Am Yisrael and all of creation. After a long and difficult winter- a long and difficult Exile- we are blossoming, and signs of renewed strength, life and growth begin to appear...

Tu B'Shvat is a time for a renewed commitment and strengthening of our National Mission, and a Return to our "Roots". At the core of our identity is the Heart of Am Yisrael: The Beit Hamikdash.

While we sing, enjoy and celebrate the fruits of The Land this Tu B'Shvat / Shabbat Shira, let's renew our "Temple consciousness" and remember the focal point of our spiritual and daily lives.

This Shabbat, when the Sea is splitting once again, let us pray that we merit the fulfillment of the Divine Promise described in the Shirat HaYam, and the Ultimate Goal and Purpose of our Nation:

"You will bring them and plant them on the Mount of Your Heritage, the Foundation of Your dwelling place that You Hashem have made..."

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