Saturday, July 31, 2010

A bit about Chof Av:

This day marks the yahrzeit, in 5704 (1944) of Rav Levi Yitschak Schneerson of blessed memory, father of the Rebbe of righteous memory . "He was imprisoned and exiled for his work in strengthening Judaism, and he passed away in exile, on the twentieth day of the month Menachem Av..." (Wording on the headstone at the resting-place of Rebbetzin Chana of blessed memory).

Rabbi Gurary relates:

For a long time the Soviet government had been carefully scrutinizing the actions of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, the Chief Rabbi of the city of Yeketerinaslav (and the father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe). A network of spies, sent to infiltrate his synagogue, observed his every step. Indeed, a thick dossier of his "crimes" had already been gathered.

The truth is that it wasn't all that difficult to substantiate evidence of the Rav's defiance. Nonetheless, by dint of his courage and ingenuity, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak had so far succeeded in avoiding their traps.

Take, for example, the time the government decided to conduct a census in which all Soviet citizens were asked if they believed in G-d. Because of the great danger involved in responding truthfully, many Jews, even the observant, had planned on answering in the negative.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, however, would not hear of such a thing. He ran from one synagogue to the next, begging people not to deny the G-d of their fathers. As a result of his campaign he was summoned to appear before the authorities.

"What is there to find fault with?" Rabbi Levi Yitzchak answered innocently. "When I learned that some Jews were intending to lie, I merely did my job as a Soviet citizen and urged them to tell the truth."

The day came when Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was invited to appear in court on charges of conducting Jewish activities in his home. As this was strictly illegal, if he would be severely punished if found guilty.

The Rav's apprehension only grew when he saw the two main witnesses for the prosecution. The first was the director of the housing unit in which he lived, a young Jew who was a sworn Communist appointed by the authorities to keep track of the residents' comings and goings. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak knew that he was the housing director's primary focus. The other witness was his next-door neighbor, a woman whose husband was the regional head of the Communist Party in charge of transportation.

In truth, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak had much to fear from these two witnesses. And recent events had given him even more cause for worry.

Not long ago a young Jewish couple, both high-ranking government employees, had suddenly appeared on his doorstep in the middle of the night and asked that he marry them "according to the laws of Moses and Israel." It was a highly dangerous proposition: Not only did the Rav not know them personally, but in order to conduct a Jewish ceremony under a chupa, ten Jewish men would have to be found.

Within a short time, nine Jews were hastily assembled in Rabbi Levi Yitzchak's home. But where to locate a tenth? With no other option the Rav had taken the bold step of asking the director of the housing project to participate.

"Me?" The man had jumped as if bitten by a snake.

"Yes, you," Rabbi Levi Yitzchak had answered in earnest.

Surprisingly, the director had agreed, and the clandestine wedding was held. But who knew if this would now be counted against him?

The second witness had also recently been involved in an activity that could possibly implicate him. One day a secret messenger had come to the Rav's house and informed him that the following day, the woman's husband, the high-ranking Communist, would be away on business from morning till night. The real reason for his absence, however, was to allow the Rav to perform a brit mila on their newborn son.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak did not know if he was walking into a trap. But the next day, the tiny infant was entered into the Covenant of Abraham.

That evening, the baby's father returned home and made a big commotion about the "terrible" deed that was done without his knowledge. Thus, it was difficult to predict how the neighbor woman would now testify in court.

The tension was great as the trial opened. The director of the housing project was the first to testify: "As you all know," he began, "I am well aware of everyone who enters and exits Rabbi Schneerson's apartment. But the only unusual visitors I've noticed are two old relatives who drop by from time to time."

Now it was the turn of the second witness to speak. "As a neighbor of Rabbi Schneerson," the woman testified, "I always expected that as a spiritual leader, he would try to establish contact with members of his faith. I therefore find it surprising that I have never noticed any illegal activities in all the time he has lived next door to me."

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson thus emerged unscathed from this particular incident. But the evidence against him continued to mount until, in 1940, he was declared an "enemy of the people" and exiled to Central Asia. After much suffering he returned his holy soul to its Maker, on 20 Av 5704 (1944). May his saintly memory protect us all.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

How's Things?

update on the situation : Dry Bones cartoon.

1. Sometimes it helps to step back and take a look at the big picture.
2. Sometimes it's fun to just do a silly cartoon for a laugh.
3. Sometimes we get so involved with our cause that we spout our assessment of the situation to anyone who'll listen.

Today's cartoon is an attempt to deal with all three ideas.

Have a great weekend!

-Dry Bones- Israel's Political Comic Strip Since 1973

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Inexistence of the Universe

A Dvar Torah on this week's Parsha

Groping for a transcendent word in a vocabulary generated by our physical lives, we seize upon "light." Light is our metaphor for the incorporeal, the spiritual, the Divine. We speak of an era of "enlightenment" dispelling dark ages of ignorance and ignominy, of a "ray" of hope penetrating the blackness of despair, of the Divine "light" that bathes the virtuous soul.

Light straddles the defining line that runs between the physical and the spiritual. Sans weight, sans mass, sans just about any of matter's properties, light is the most ethereal of physical "things." Perceptibly real, yet free of the qualities we ascribe to the objects of our perceptible universe, light serves as a bridge of allegory between a mind grounded in a material environment and the metaphysical abstractions it contemplates.

None Else

In his Tanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi employs the metaphor of light to explain what is perhaps the most radical truth expressed by theTorah: the inexistence of the universe.

Twice in the 4th chapter of Deuteronomy (verses 35 and 39 respectively), the Torah makes this amazing statement:

You were shown to know that the L-rd is G-d,1 there is none else beside Him.

Know today, and take unto your heart, that the L-rd is G-d, in the heavens above and the earth below, there is none else.

The ever-sensible mind, confronted with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, may perhaps interpret these verses to mean that there are nogods other than He. I, the mind will insist, the body I occupy, the table it is sitting at, and the computer screen it is looking at, certainly exist. These verses, then, are only affirming the basic tenet of Judaism -- that there is but a single, singular creator and ruler of the universe.

Not so, say the Kabbalists and the Chassidic masters: "there is none else" means that there is none else. Indeed, they explain, to maintain that there are existences other than G-d is ultimately the same as maintaining that there are other "gods" beside Him. What real difference is there between saying that the universe is governed by thousands of gods, or by a god of good and an equally potent god of evil, or by a very powerful god who (almost) always triumphs over a much weaker Satan, or by a great and mighty god who pervades every iota of existence save for a single cubic centimeter of space? Ultimately, one is saying that there is more than one independently potent force in existence. To say that there is a god with the power to create and destroy universes, punish the wicked and reward the righteous, cause galaxies to spin and crops to grow, but that there also exists a single pebble with a power independent of His -- be it only the power to exist -- is to deny His exclusive divinity and power.

So when the Jew daily declares, "Hear O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is one," this is more than an affirmation that there is but one deity. It is a statement on the inexistence of all else save His one being.

Real in Relation

Yes, we perceive our own existence and the existence of the myriads of objects and forces we call "the universe." But this is our finite and subjective perception of reality. If we could observe reality from the all-transcendent perspective of the Creator, we would see a "world" devoid of selfhood and being. In the words of the Tanya: "If the eye were allowed to see the life and spiritual content flowing from the utterance of G-d's mouth into every creation, we would not see the materiality, grossness, and tangibility of the creation, for it would be utterly nullified in relation to this divine life-force..."

Modern physics demonstrates the relativity of apparent absolutes such as time and space. An object or event cannot be said to possess an intrinsic size or duration: these are always a matter of perspective. The same object may be an inch in length, as observed from point A, and a hundred miles long, as observed from point B; the same event can be said to transpire over the course of a second or a thousand years, again depending on the position and velocity of the observer. The mind may have to bend over backwards to assimilate a vision of reality so radically different from its first-hand experience of its environment, but every high-school science student has read of the experiments and seen the diagrams that demonstrate this truth.

But the Torah has a more demanding task for the mind: to comprehend the relativity of existence itself. To understand that the very it-ness of creation, even the very "I" that is the making the observations, is also a matter of perspective. That while the created reality perceives itself as real, there is a higher perspective from which reality is the truth that "there is none else beside Him."

Where, in our experience of the universe, is there an example of this sense-defying truth, an analog that may aid us in achieving this tremendous leap of mind? What model have we for the relativity of a thing's very existence? Light.

Light exists. We regard light as an entity distinct from its emitter, distinguishing between a luminous body and its luminescent expression. An observer on earth, for example, perceives both the sun and the light that extends from it, and hence our dictionary includes both the terms "sun" and "sunlight." But what would be the perspective of an observerwithin the sun? Would he, too, perceive "sunlight" as an existence distinct from the sun? Obviously not. Light, by definition, has a source and a destination, an emitter and an observer; light is information -- a communication from one thing to another. Light, then, exists only in relation to that which is outside of its source, but not in relation to the source itself. If sunlight is defined as "the sun's luminescent expression," then it cannot be said to "exist" within the sun, where the very notion of "expression" is superfluous and meaningless.

Does this mean that the entity we call light "begins" outside of the sun? Again, the answer is obviously No. The sun itself is not dark; the luminescence that extends from it certainly pervades it. It is just that the concept of "light" has validity and meaning only to an observer outside of the light's source. Lacking substance of its own, light exists only insofar as it serves its function: to carry information and effect from its emitter to that which lies outside its emitter. Where it has no function (i.e. within its emitter), it does not exist -- not because it is any less "there," but because it lacks the context that defines its existence.

Light, then, both exists and does not exist at the same time, depending on the context in which it is viewed. It goes from non-existence to existence not by undergoing any intrinsic change but simply by being observed from a different vantage point -- a point in relation to which its function has significance.

So light, explains the Tanya, is the metaphor through which we can try to understand the relative existence of the universe. Our world is "light" emitted by G-d: an expression of His omnipotence, a revelation of His majesty.2 As "light," the created reality has no substance of its own, no intrinsic being; its "existence" is defined solely by its function -- to express and reveal its Emitter. So the world exists only as observed from withoutits Creator and Source. As seen from G-d's perspective, it does not merit the term "existence" -- again, not because it is any less "there" (G-d, after all, tells us in His Torah that He created a world), but because in relation to the Divine "sun" the defining function of the sunlight of creation is utterly insignificant.

[Rabbi Schneur Zalman takes this a step further, pointing out an important difference between the sun/sunlight analogue and the Creator/creation relationship it illustrates. With the sun, we identify two distinct areas in whose context the "existence" of sunlight is considered: outside the sun, and within the sun. Outside the sun, sunlight exists; within the sun, it is non-existent. Regarding the Almighty, however, the existence of this "second perspective" is itself only a matter of perspective. In truth, there is no "area" that is outside of G-d's infinite reality; the "vacuum"3 into which G-d emanates His light is a vacuum of perception, real only from our mortal perspective. In other words, G-d did not create a reality outside of Himself, only the perception of a reality outside of Himself. So the "light" of creation is, in truth, "sunlight within the sun" -- that is, non-existent light. To us, the world exists only because we perceive ourselves as being "outside of the sun" -- a perceived vantage point from which "sunlight" is perceived as an "existence."]

The View from Sinai

As cited above, the Torah twice reiterates the exclusivity of G-d's existence, twice in the same chapter proclaiming that "there is none else" other than He. For there are two paths by which man may come to appreciate the nature of his reality vis-a-vis the Divine: from the top down, and from the bottom up.

The first verse (verse 35) is referring to the day that "G-d descended on Mount Sinai" in a unilateral revelation of His all-pervading truth. On that day, Moses reminds the assembled community of Israel forty years later, "you were shown to know that the L-rd is G-d, there is none else beside Him." On that day you were raised above the arc of your subjective vision of self and existence, and accorded a glimpse of reality from Hisperspective.

The revelation at Sinai was a brief "foretaste" of a future world -- a world in which all masks and superimposed "perceptions" will fall away. A world in which "your master shall no longer shroud Himself; your eyes shall behold your Master"; a world in which "the world shall be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 30:20 and 11:9). The world of Moshiach, when, as the Zohar puts it, "G-d will take the sun out of its sheath" and obliterate the concealment that effects the perception of a reality outside of His.

Bracketed between the revelation at Sinai and the revelation of Moshiach, we live in a world in which our Master does shroud Himself -- a world in which the sun remains sheathed and we are not "shown to know." It is regarding this world that the Torah enjoins us, in the second verse cited above, to "know today, and take unto your heart" that "in the heavens above and the earth below, there is none else." The knowledge is there, embodied in the heavens above and the earth below: in every blade of grass, in every sunset, in the depths of our minds, and in the sublimity of our hearts. In this world the onus is upon us to unearth this truth, comprehend it, and incorporate it into our hearts and lives.

This explains the difference between these two verses. When we areshown the Divine truth, there are no details, no mention of "the heavens above and the earth below." As viewed from the supernal perspective, the particulars of creation fade to insignificance. One does not even see the distinction between the spiritual ("the heavens above") and the material ("the earth below") -- only the singular truth that "there is none else beside Him." But when our quest begins from the bottom up, it is precisely these details and distinctions that build our knowledge and appreciation of the Divine truth. The more we delve into creation's components, the more we recognize them as rays of Divine luminescence. We recognize that creation is "light": an existence defined not in term of self-being but as the bearer of a higher truth.4

1.In the original Hebrew, HaVaYeH is Elokim. G-d is first referred to in the verse asHaVaYeH (the "Tetragrammaton"), the Divine name that connotes G-d's timelessness and His transcendence of the created reality, and then as Elokim -- the Divine name that connotes G-d's infinite power as expressed in the countless particulars and fathomless intricacies of His creation. As the source of the plurality and diversity in creation, Elokim is also the "screen" that conceals the oneness of G-d, allowing for our world's sense of self and distinctiveness of being. By comprehending that HaVaYeHand Elokim are, in essence, one and the same, we come to appreciate that our existence is nothing but an expression of His all-transcendent, all-pervading reality. (See the discourse V'Yadaata 5657 by Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch.)
2.Thus, light is the first creation, and the exclusive creation of the First Day, for light is existence in its most basic form.
3.The Kabbalistic works of the "Ari" (Rabbi Isaac Luria, 1534-1572) speak of a tzimtzum("self-constriction") of the Divine reality that created a chalal ("vacuum") and makkom panui ("empty place"), into which G-d emanated the Divine "light" that is the essence of the created reality. Chassidic teaching, citing the verse "I, G-d, did not change" (Malachi 3:6), and the Zoharic axiom "There is no place devoid of Him," explains that thetzimtzum was not the creation of a literal void in the Divine reality (G-d forbid), only the creation of the perception of such a void -- a perception that allows the created reality, even as it is wholly absorbed by the Divine reality "as the sunlight within the sun," to perceive itself as a distinct existence.
4.Based on the talks of the Rebbe, Shavuot 5745 (1985) and on other occasions.

Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe More articles... | RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author
Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson; adapted by Yanki Tauber
Originally published in "Week in Review"
Republished with the permission of If you wish to republish this article in a periodical, book, or website, please

LS 29 PJ

What crisp cool evening air can accomplish, the Angel Michoel can probably also.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Inexplicable Justice

Iyar 27, 5770 · May 11, 2010

By Tzvi Freeman

Not all suffering can be explained. There is pain, sometimes, that is not punishment and not repair.

True, we were given Torah, a G-dly wisdom containing the secrets of all things. But concerning these things even Moses asked and was told to be quiet, to cease to ask. Because there are some things that even G-dly wisdom does not explain. Because they cannot be explained.

We can only know that whatever happens is from G-d, that G-d is just, and that He does not desire suffering.

But until the end of days, we will have to suffer the 'why'.

The great thing about being immature (as I am) is that there is always so many areas to grow in. Always something to work on, to change. And it's just so thrilling when you conquer it. Tis a feeling money can't buy.

Like the 60 pound check today.
And the 800 dollars of the past 3 weeks.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Tisha b'Av Prank

The Holy Ruzhiner (Chassidic master Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin, 1797-1851) rejected all feelings of sadness, even of bitterness. So his chassidim would engage in all sorts of practical jokes on the Ninth ofAv (in order to mitigate the sadness of the day). They would throw burrs at each other. Then they conceived of the following prank: they opened a skylight in the roof of the study hall and dropped a snare; when someone walked into the study hall, they would yank on the rope so that the snare fastened itself around him, and pull him up to the roof.

It happened that the Ruzhiner himself walked in to the study hall. Those who were up on the roof could not see clearly who was coming in, so they pulled him up. To their dismay, they saw that they had pulled up theirrebbe! As soon as they recognized who it was, they let him down.

Cried out the Ruzhiner: "Master of the Universe! If Your children are not properly observing Your 'festival,' take it away from them!"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Negative Commandment 356

Aren't we glad now that this mitzvah from the past coupla days applies only to marriage and not to dating....

The 8th Note

Written by Benny

"It's perspective m'boy. Perspective"


I remember way, way back in the day, when I was a Bochur (about four short years ago), I used to visit a certain Chabad house every so often and spend Shabbos with them. It was a marvelous experience every time. I loved the atmosphere. Loved the warmth and the genuine feeling of being welcomed and accepted that the Shliach and his family gave.
However there was one thing which annoyed me to no end.
This particular Chabad family was known to have beautiful voices and a real knack for pleasant singing. So naturally, every Shabbos that I came, I would excitedly look forward to sitting in Shul and enjoying the beautiful melodious harmonies that the Rabbi and his kids would perform during the services. They would have been beautiful, had Hashem not intentionally inserted one particular congregant in their Shul. Let us call him Steve.
You see, I find that with Chabad houses, Hashem always seems to pinch each one where it will hurt them the most. I think it's sort of the Rebbe's way of reminding his Shluchim that they are only Chassidim and not Rebbe's themselves.
So anyways, you know the way a chocolate chip doesn't taste all that bad, but if you put it in your egg sandwich, it kind of clashes... Well, this Chabad house had a similar problem.
This Steve has an exeptionally off tune voice. By the word exeptionally, I am being merciful in my description. His voice was waaayy of tone.
I don't have a problem with people who can't sing. I don't mind their personalities and I have many a friend who can't keep a tune for the life of theirs.
However when I would visit this particular Chabad House, I would take issue with the nausiating notes that would be bellowed from Steve, simply because had Steve not been there, the singing would be absolutely stunning.
I would sit in Shul on Friday night and the Shliach/Rabbi/Chazzan/Gabai would begin the Friday night service... Lechu Neranena etc...
Finally the highlight of the night - The Lecha Dodi song.

The Chazzan and his children would begin their charming rendition of the prayer, with a joyous Chassidic melody accompanying the poetic words of ancient times, welcoming the Shabbos queen. All of a sudden from the back of the room, Steve is mysteriously and for reasons unknown to man, encouraged to join in and holler away with his barritone 'noises'. The Rabbi and his family became immune to the cacaphony of Steve and they would calmly continue singing. I however seemed to take this noise much more seriously. I would sit in the back and fume. The beautiful singing was drowned out by Steve and I would never forgive him.
He always seemed to ruin my desired Shabbos enjoyment and never was I able to sit back and appreciate the singing of this family. What's more, is that Steve was one of the guy's who ALWAYS showed up. No matter the weather or season, he was their most devoted congregant. Maybe he loved singing with them.
I suffered lots from it.
Now, I am a Shliach of my own and just this past week I had an amazing experience that I would like to share.

... They say that when Moshiach comes, a new musical note, an eighth note will be introduced to the world. It's all part of the number eight, which will be quite popular when Moshiach comes.
While seven is a complete number (7 days to the week, 7 notes on the scale etc...), Moshiach's arrival will bring another dimension into play and we will go beyond our natural order of things; Thus, the number eight.
I've always wondered what this means. How can nature be broken and how does it make any sense, adding another note into music?
Well, now I'm a bit older and thank G-d I've been blessed to go on Shlichus too, with my own little Chabad house to run.
This past Friday night we didn't have a Minyan, but had several people who came to join us for services. We prayed. I began the prayers and everything flowed nicely.
When we got to the Lecha Dodi, I began singing it.
This week however, one of our regulars came to the proud decision that he finally knows the lecha Dodi tune and would love to join in the harmonies. Obviously, he was a very clear reminder of Steve from my traumatizing past. I was hanging on for dear life, trying to concentrate on my own singing, as the guy in Shul was making me dizzy. He was making so much noise, and so loudly at that, that I was thinking of actually skipping Lecha Dodi on account of hazzardous exposure or something.
And then, right in the middle of my agony, I thought of this Moshiach note. When our world is redeemed from our closed mindedness and we are opened to a dimension beyond our mental limitations of what's nice and ugly and good and bad, then we have reached the number eight. It is then that we are able to look at all the things which we always translated to be negative, and we see that they are tolerable and even 'gasp' contructive and part of the beauty of life.
And so I embraced the annoying voice singing in the back. Perhaps I went off key myself. But I changed my perspective to a more positive one. Here was a simple man, who comes to Shul on a Friday night, because he known he's Jewish and he knows that this night is one where G-d wants him to be in Shul connecting with him. So he leaves his job and his world and shows up to Shul with nothing more than the will to connect. And connect he does!! He joins in the praying and when it comes time to sing with everyone, he happily sings. Perhaps to the self-centered Rabbi standing up front, he may be off tune. But he is still joyfully expressing his soul to his creator in the best way that he can... And finally I see how it is beautiful.
Harmony doesn't need to be defined by the musical giants of our world. Harmony needs to be defined by each and every individual person. When we can look beyond our boxed kepeh'le's and see the music for what it really is, the expression of the soul, then we have opened our ears and hearts to the magical eighth note.
This past Friday night, I had the most beautiful Lecha Dodi of my life. I sang, some congregants happily hummed, other joined in the singing and our own little Steve roared. Yet all together, we sounded absolutely beatiful.
And so, "it's all perspective m'boy. All perspective!"

Thursday, July 15, 2010


My Handicapped Bathroom

Considering my nauseous-odor, creepy-atmosphere, handicapped bathroom, it's probably a chiyuv [obligation] for me to shower daily in the Nine Days.

Not whining, simply musing.

WOW - $340,000.00!

I see this post worked :)

Thanks to everyone's help, 14 Friendship Circle branches across the US along with IVolunteer, Maimonidies School in Albany and Chai preschool in S. Mateo, CA have all been voted to the top 200 in the Chase Community Giving contest and will all be receiving $20,000 to further their great work.

In total, Chase will be donating $340,000.00 to the 17 Lubavitcher Mosdos.

Most Friendship Circles secured spots in the top 100 range, led by Friendship Circle of South Bay, CA which made it to 10th place with 8,172 votes!

The Direct Approach [a story]

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch told:

The 'Enlightenment Movement', in their war on traditional Jewish life, were once again plotting to enlist the aid of the czarist government to further their aims. Heading the effort was a certain Mr. Karpos whom the authorities had installed as a rabbi in Odessa. He had prepared a voluminous thesis 'proving' that religion is the number one enemy of civilization and had concluded with the recommendation that the study of kabbalaand other fundamentals of Judaism be outlawed. He had then headed to Petersburg to present his 'findings' to the government.

My father received word of these developments and dispatched me to Petersburg to deal with the matter. The purpose of the trip was kept secret: I travelled with my wife, Rebbetzin Nechama Dina, and we made it known that we had gone for a medical consultation.

After several days in Petersburg I had made no headway whatsoever; all my connections and exertions were to no avail. I notified father by telegram that all my efforts to stop Karpos had failed. Father replied that I was to keep on trying.

When several more futile days had passed, I took the train home to personally inform father of the hopelessness of the situation. When I entered father's room he was preparing for the morning prayers; his tallislay folded on his shoulder and he was examining its tzitzis. I reported the events and failed efforts of the last few days, and concluded that, as I sew it, there was absolutely nothing to be done about the situation.

Said father: "Once Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi sent his son, Rabbi DovBer, on a certain mission. Rabbi DovBer returned empty-handed. When he arrived, he found his father with his tallisfolded on his shoulder, checking its tzitzisin preparation for the morning prayers.

"Said Rabbi Schneur Zalman: 'Do you see? This is a tallis. The tallisexpresses the level of the Transcendent Light, and the Transcendent Light blinds all forces of evil.' Upon hearing this, Rabbi DovBer kissed his fathers tzitzisand went back. This time he succeeded."

Without another word, I took hold of father's tzitzis, kissed them, and caught the next train back to Petersburg. Again, I started racking my brains and making my rounds. Then, I had an idea. I went to Karpos' hotel and asked to see him.

Karpos received me warmly - it seems that he had heard of me or of my father. We sat and talked, and I brought up the subject of his dissertation. He spoke readily of his plans. "Soon we will see who will prevail" he challenged. "Soon, we of the Enlightenment will rid the Jewish people of your archaic notions and practices.

"I have already prepared all the material," he continued to boast, "now I have only to make a few finishing touches and it will be ready for submitting. Our czar's ministerial commission on culture and religions has scheduled to review the matter in a few days. Once and for all we shall make our case!"

"May I see what you wrote?" I asked.

"But of course. I have nothing to hide - in a matter of days, all will be decided" said the preening slanderer, handing me his manuscript.

Without a word I proceeded to tear the dissertation to shreds.

Karpos exploded in rage and frenzy. "What are you doing?! My lectures! My notes! Do you know how many months of research and writing are invested in these papers?!" I continued to tear the manuscript into tiny bits of paper. All the while he continued to bellow in rage, to curse and deride me. In his fury, he dealt me a resounding blow across the face.

When I finished with his papers, I ran from the hotel and returned to Lubavitch.

I talk to days.

I just noticed that I talk to days.
For real.
Like, I really talk to them.
Furthermore, I occasionally hear their responses.

Something tells me this is not common.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How to Look Busy

The קדושה of ארץ ישראל (A Story)

(Source: #12)

Once a חסיד from the סלונים family traveled from his home in א"י to the רבי מהר"ש in Lubavitch. While speaking to the Rebbe, the חסיד said, "I don't understand what is written in ספרים that there are yidden in א"י who have high נשמות . I know the Yidden in א"י , and I haven't seen among them higher נשמות than yidden of חוץ לארץ ."

The Rebbe replied, "Do you understand who has a high נשמה ?! Let me tell you a story that I heard from my father the צמח צדק , and you'll understand to what extent the כח of a simple ארץ ישראל'דיקער yid can reach."

"In a town near ירושלים , lived a simple yid who didn't know how to learn, nor did he understand the meaning of the words in davening. Furthermore, he didn't even know the סדר of davening, what one is supposed to daven on a regular weekday and what is to be omitted. For פרנסה , every week, he would travel to ירושלים to sell fruits and vegetables in the market. Then he would go to one of the רבנים in ירושלים to mark down the תפלות for the coming week. He had to have the davening written individually for each day, because a general outline would be too confusing for him."

"Once, during the month of חשון , he asked the רב to write for him the תפלות for the coming few weeks, because the roads would be muddy and he would not be able to come to ירושלים . The next week he unexpectedly had to travel to ירושלים , and upon his arrival, was surprised to see all the shops closed. He thought to himself in shock, 'Perhaps I have made a miscalculation and today is שבת .' He waited with his donkey until he saw a yid walking with טלית and תפילין . He felt relieved that it was not שבת , yet still wondered why that day was different. He approached the yid
and was told that the day was a תענית ציבור . The simple yid was surprised that the רב had not marked down the fast for him, and his heart filled with pain for having been נכשל in eating on a fast day and not davening the תפלה of a public fast day."

"He immediately left his donkey and wagon in the street and ran to the רב 's house, where he was told that the רב was in shul. He rushed to shul and ran directly to the רב crying, 'Rebbe! What did you do to me!' The רב calmed him, explaining that this was not a regular תענית , rather a fast decreed in ירושלים due to lack of rain, but the yid still did not understand the purpose of the fast. The רב explained that they were fasting and davening to Hashem that He send rain and prevent a hunger ח"ו . The simple yid responded, 'For this you don't need a fast! When I don't have
rain on my fields, I go outside and tell Hashem that I need rain, and right away, it starts raining.'

Hearing this, the רב said, 'Go ahead! Do that here!' Immediately, the yid went out to the shul courtyard, and began crying, ' טאטע , how could it be that your children in ירושלים should die חלילה from hunger? Don't you see they need rain?!' Right away גשמי ברכה began pouring down."

When the רבי מהר"ש concluded his story, he said to the חסיד from א"י , "Nu, now do you realize that you have no idea who has a lofty נשמה in א"י?! "

May we all go to א"י with the גאולה שלימה through משיח צדקנו right now!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Friday, July 09, 2010

Police search for missing Lubavitcher

A Chabad Bochur from Maale Adumim has been filed as missing since he was last seen five days ago.
By Tzemach Brown, Chabad Info
26 Tamuz 5770 (08.07.2010)

Israel Police Force has requested the public's assistance in locatingYonatan Segev. The Lubavitcher Bochur from Maale Adumim was last seen on 3 July as he left his house at approximately 10:30pm.

He is described as a 25 year old male, 170cm tall. He has black hair, full body and sports a beard. He is clearly religious.
On the night of his disappearance he was wearing a white shirt, black pants and a black yarmulke.

Police sources ask that any sighting of the young man be reported immediately to their offices.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Thanks, Poet.

"Why did you call him a poet?"
she nudged him.
"His lines didn't rhyme and his words were so plain."

A faint smile.
"His soul."

"Oh? So not a REAL poet."

"The only real poet. His soul moved me without gloves, gazed at me without shades and heard me in my silence. He is a poet that gives for others, not a poet that gives for himself."

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Wisdom Teeth

They are generally thought to be called wisdom teeth because they appear so late – much later than the other teeth, at an age where people are presumably "wiser" than as a child, when the other teeth erupt.

Different terms in other languages

Some languages use a different term for the same teeth, for example:

  • Turkish refers directly to the age at which wisdom teeth appear and calls it 20 yaş dişi (20th year tooth).
  • In Korean, its name is Sa-rang-nee (사랑니, love teeth) referring to the young age and the pain of the first love.
  • In Japanese, its name is Oyashirazu (親知らず), literally meaning "unknown to the parents," from the idea that they erupt after a child has moved away.
  • The Indonesian term gigi bungsu for the last teeth a person cuts refers to bungsu, meaning "youngest child", because the teeth erupt so much later than the others, implying that the teeth are "younger" than the rest.
  • In Thailand, the wisdom tooth is described fan-khut (ฟันคุด) "huddling tooth" due to its shortage of space.
  • In the Netherlands, the wisdom tooth is known as the verstandskies or "far standing tooth" referring to its remote location in the mouth. A second meaning for verstand is also "wisdom".

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Ben Gurion/United Kingdom/Russia

Check out the latest on my Twitter-like list (a post of the past).
Reentering the UK this week felt just like last time-as if I was escaping Russia.
The relief at crossing the border, wow.
No, not Israel. Just England.
'Member this??

Typical Conglomeration of Tabs

Some people had the honor of spending hours with the Rebbe in private audience. Yet thousands who merited a mere short moment felt transformed. The Rebbe sees everything, and those who found themselves at the receiving end of the Rebbe’s blessing or dollar changed not only their life but their entire perspective. The Avner Institute would like to present a wry and fascinating encounter Dr.Yaakov Brawer, Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology at McGill University Faculty of Medicine, shared with the Rebbe in the winter of 1990. With special thanks to the TAV Seminary of Montreal, Canada.....

dime cómo te llamas y quien eres...

Rami Levy, owner of the Israeli discount supermarket chain that bears his name, has announced the chain will no longer stock items imported from Turkey. The decision is Levy's response to Turkish hostility toward Israel and the country's part in engineering the Gaza flotilla clash...

Please pray for the speedy recovery of 19 year old Chaya Luba the daughter of Rut...

G-d did not give you light that you may hold it up in the middle of the day.

When you are given light it is in order to accomplish something, to do something difficult and novel.

Go take your light and transform the darkness that it may also shine!....

ennui (noun) feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom:

The endless lecture produced an unbearable ennui.....

Be aware when interpreting the UV index and recommendations that:

  1. The intensity of UV radiation reaching the surface of the earth varies greatly depending on how high the angle of the sun is in the sky. The sun reaches its highest angle at solar noon, which rarely corresponds to 12:00 on clocks. This is because of the differences between solar time and local time in a given time zone.
  2. The recommendations given are for adults with pale to lightly tan skin. Children and particularly fair-skinned people or those who have sun sensitivity for medical reasons need to take extra precautions.
  3. Damage from sun exposure is cumulative over one's lifetime. Cumulative exposure to the sun imparts damage to the epidermis (the outer layer) and the dermis, (the deeper layer where the skin's framework exists). Damage to the dermal layer changes the structural components, causing Elastin fibers to thicken and become more numerous. Collagen is damaged and degraded and 'reticulin' fibers appear throughout the dermis rather than outlining the specific dermal-epidermal junction.....

Dutch police may employ undercover agents disguised as religious Jews to expose and arrest violent anti-Semites, a police spokesperson said last week....

"A poetic blend of scholarship and philosophy unprecedented and often breathtaking in its boldness, Open Secret negotiates the vast range of Lubavitcher literature by and about Menahem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. From an authoritatively learned but nonsectarian perspective, Open Secretreads the Rebbe's messianism seriously. Elliot R. Wolfson confronts the Rebbe as a major figure in the Jewish esoteric tradition. The Lubavitcher Rebbe's Messiah presents a challenge that is inescapable for anyone who seeks to understand a twenty-first-century globalized Judaism, and Wolfson compellingly engages that challenge."....


Give your baggage a new look by designing your own, unique tag. You can use a photo of your family, your favorite destination, or one of the images pre-selected by KLM.
Two tags will be made with your design to ensure you can easily recognize your bags among thousands of others. Or, you can give the tags to someone else as a gift.....

Free translation of the prayer composed and recited daily by Rabbi Eliyahu before entering the rabbinical courtroom: “Master of the Universe, it is revealed and known before You that it was not my idea to stand and serve Your holy nation, to judge and teach. I well know my small worth. I did not seek to do what is beyond me, but my rabbis instructed me to take this path, and this is how You arranged matters… Your wisdom has decreed that I serve the holy nation, teaching and judging… But trembling has overtaken me, fear and shaking have come over me, regarding the terrible danger that faces me and the vast abyss that is open before me

A Jewish dance group was attacked in Germany last Saturday while performing during a street festival in Hanover. The incident led to discussion this week of the phenomenon of anti-Semitism among immigrant youth...

11 (eleven) (pronounced /iːˈlɛvɛn/ ( listen)) is the natural number following 10 and preceding 12. It is the first number which cannot be represented by a human counting their fingers additively.

11 (eleven) is also the number of Friendship Circles running in the Chase Community Giving campaign. Yes, Chase Giving is back, and so is our chance to make a difference for children with special needs in 11 different communities!

Every Facebook user has 20 votes. We're only asking for 11 of them :-).

Click Here to vote for the 11 Friendship Circles today.

Spanish Prime Minister: We Must Remember Israel is Free Nations Best Ally in Middle East.... José María Aznar -, June 17th, 2010

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger: No Fast for Gush Katif

While not minimizing the tragic proportions of the expulsion, Rabbi Metzger gives several reasons why it should not be commemorated by an official day of fasting. For one thing, the rabbis are empowered to make new rulings such as national fast days only in cases where the public, or most of it, can be expected to observe them – which is not the case here.

In addition, he writes, “The subject of the uprooting from Gush Katif was a matter of sharp and painful public debate within the nation, such that a ruling of this sort as a day of mourning is liable to deepen and increase the split in the nation.”....

The perfume opens beautifully and smells like an early Los Angeles rooftop breakfast at the Peninsula: the scent of jasmine in fresh Pacific air plus the perfume of the guava mango fruit plate the waiter brings, with a bit of the swimming pool water and a hint of the exhaust from the Ferraris being valet-parked in front. The drydown is ever so slightly harsh. This isn’t necessarily a negative. It’s an effect nature uses in freesia, for example, and while in a perfume it can come from not giving the perfumer enough money for the best raw materials, let’s assume that here, it’s intentional. The slight coarseness makes it pure Versace. The white flowers and fresh green fade into a murmur after about 20 minutes. And there you have it.

Like the brand, the perfume should be taken with a pinch of irony. (The press material lists “Jasmine/Angel wing” as an ingredient. Why the hell are they killing angels and distilling their wings to make perfume? Doesn’t the EPA regulate this? Isn’t there some kind of celestial wildlife law?) But for those who love Versace — and the house has made an indelible mark on fashion — this is an extraordinarily faithful distillation of its essence....

This is where you come in. Chances are, you are probably already on facebook or Twitter. From now until July 16, a generous sponsor --- Begal Enterprises --- will donate $1 to Gift of Life for each new friend who joins our facebook page, up to 5,000 people! That's the equivalent of almost 100 cheek swab tests that could be a match for any patient in need, and all you have to do is click "like" on the Gift of Life facebook page to help us meet the challenge!....

Israeli-American psychologist Dr. Edna Foa, honored by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people in 2010, is healing traumatized war veterans in the US and Israel......


An Israeli animation company for pre-schoolers is attracting networks in the US, Canada, Europe and even Qatar with content that is aimed to expand creativity, knowledge and fun....

David Yosef ben Faigie Perel was also in a car accident and needs our prayers.