Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Elevating the Final Sparks

by Rabbi David Pinto

A person who pays attention to his surroundings will ask why, in recent times, we have been using disposable plastic items, all made from petroleum products. The textile industry also uses a great deal of plastic. The reason is that in these last times preceding the Final Redemption, the Holy One, blessed be He, wants to draw all the sparks of holiness that have been dispersed throughout the world, even in the most distant places, including sparks of holiness hidden in oil wells. Hence G-d inspired the creation of these disposable items created from petroleum products, as well as all the other steps required in their production. 


Thus a Jew finds himself at home and recites the shehakol blessing over a plastic cup or utensil, be it for a Shabbat meal or any other meal, and he says the blessing with the proper concentration. Through such blessings, all these sparks of holiness are drawn out and elevated to their rightful place. Even sparks found in rocks and dispersed throughout the world are elevated when marble or similar material is imported from various countries and used in the construction of synagogues and houses of study. Hence even these sparks are elevated. It is precisely now, just prior to the Final Redemption, that the Holy One, blessed be He, is hastening to liberate these sparks. 

As a result, through the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot, we draw forth and redeem the sparks of holiness that are found among non Jews. Hence we must strengthen ourselves in Torah and mitzvot, and take upon ourselves the yoke of Torah with devotion and a sincere love for Hashem. With every mitzvah that we accomplish, we must make an effort to be focused and act solely for the sake of Heaven and the glory of Hashem.

HT:  Yaak

The Essence of Prayer

Monday, June 29, 2015

Greece Set to Default, Euro Stocks Slide

The euro fell almost 2 percent and share prices tumbled across Asia on Monday as Greece looked set to default on its debt repayment this week, forcing Athens to impose capital controls to halt bank runs. 
Euro, stocks slide on looming Greece default

 Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced on Sunday that the nation's banks and stock market would be closed on Monday amid fears of financial collapse. Greece is also set to impose capital controls that will limit the amount of funds that citizens can transfer or withdraw from its financial institutions.
Greece Will Close Banks Amid Fear Of Financial Collapse

Sparks


"A star will shoot forth from Jacob, and a staff will arise from Israel" [Balak 24:17]

Rambam understood the verse above as referring to King David and Moshiach.  The Jerusalem Talmud, however, uses the metaphor of a "star" in this verse to refer to even the ordinary Jew. 

At first glance, this appears to be a contradiction, for Moshiach represents the highest perfection possible in a human being, whereas the "ordinary" Jew includes every Jewish person, even the most simple.  However, the matter can be reconciled based on the Baal Shem Tov's teaching that every Jew contains within him a "spark" of the soul of Moshiach.  The verse therefore refers to both Moshiach himself and the "Moshiach" within us.

The presence of this "spark" of Moshiach has a twofold implication:

a) The verse states the star will "shoot forth" suggesting that one's personal spark of Moshiach should be revealed and "shoot out" into the world;

b) Every Jew is able to speed up and bring about the actual manifestation of Moshiach through revealing his own spark and adding in Torah and Mitzvot.

Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

PS:  Jupiter and Venus will merge into a dazzling “super-star” in the Western horizon by the end of June, NASA says. The conjunction of the two planets has been building during the month of June and will culminate in a spectacular display on June 30. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

London: ''Summer of Hate''

This was posted on a friend's Facebook page, and it's very disturbing.  The author requested that it be shared, so here we go:


An open letter and Request to all of my non Jewish Friends and Jewish friends outside of the UK.

July 4th, whilst essentially an American holiday, has long been associated with Independence, Freedom, celebrated in the USA by all regardless of religion, class, creed or race. However, 4th July 2015, here, in London, and indeed more specifically my neighborhood, just a 10 minute walk from my front door. We will play host to probably the most deeply distressing event in recent times to specifically target Jews living in the UK, and yes that includes me. As most of you know, I never play the minority card and rarely do talk about my specific religious beliefs, they are after all my own, and I respect everybody else’s choices. I’m truly humbled by how accommodating many of you have been when it has come to my odd dietary requirements or missed social events due to clashes with Jewish holidays. However, to say I’m troubled by what’s coming, is a huge understatement.

A far right group is planning a rally in the heartland of the London Jewish community against what it calls "Jewification of Britain", they will march through my neighborhood, and intend to burn copies of the Talmud (Jewish holy book) because of its anti-white teaching, ironic as Ashkenazi Jews like myself are white. Believe it or not despite 1000s of requests the Home Office and Metropolitan Police can do nothing to stop the 4 July protest from happening. The rally is not about free speech but a deliberate attempt to provoke tension and anti-Semitism. Indeed, July 4th is a Saturday, and it’s been specifically chosen as Saturday is the Jewish day of rest, when most Jews will be walking to synagogues in the very same area.

I kid you not this is the agenda for the rally in two weeks’ time:

1) The illegality of the Shomrim Police
2) What is Jewification?
3) International Jewry, the devils own hand
4) Why the holocaust didn’t happen
5) George Galloways 30 minute slot on Israel
6) A recorded audio speech by Joshua Bonehill

You can see the link on their website, outlining their intentions, and attached are couple of flyers for the event, to give you an idea of the seriousness of the situation.

http://joshuabonehill.net/2015/06/18/george-galloway-invited-to-speak-at-golders-green-demonstration/

This is not some random Facebook post or chain email, it’s a personal message from me. Can I please urge you to share the email / post with your friends and family to raise awareness of the dark situation that is developing on my doorstep. This isn’t Berlin 1938, its London 2015!! I end by quoting JFK, who was actually quoting Edmund Burke: for evil men to accomplish their purpose it is only necessary that good men should do nothing.

Love Aryeh Feingold 
24th June 2015, London, England

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Guarding The Eyes

Art: "Forgotten Sunglasses" by Vladimir Kush


Written by Yosef Peretz, Mirrer Yeshiva Kollel, Jerusalem

The Talmud (beginning of Tractate Berachos) compares a person's soul to G-d himself; just like G-d sees but is not seen, so too the soul of a person sees but is not seen and just like G-d fills the entire world, so too the soul of a person fills his entire body, etc.. What does this mean and from where does the soul "see"? The Kabbalah answers that the soul of a person "sees" through his eyes.

If you look into someone's eyes, you're not just looking at a biological camera. You are accessing the deepest recesses of the person.

"The candle of G-d is the soul of man".

"A mitzva is a candle and Torah is light".

The Talmud teaches, "sin extinguishes a mitzva but sin doesn't extinguish Torah".

The Zohar explains: sin extinguishes a mitzva and mitzva is a candle. So sin extinguishes a candle. But which candle? The candle of G-d - which is the soul of man. So, when a person sins, he extinguishes his own soul. He then walks through life in darkness (until he repents). Conversely a righteous person who has reached a high level of purity, has eyes that literally glow with a tangible spiritual light. I know from experience that looking into the eyes of such a person can have a life-long effect.

Having said that, a person should be very careful what he exposes his eyes to. Whatever you expose your eyes to, know that you are exposing your deepest essence - your soul. If you look at the wrong things, you literally extinguish some of the spiritual light in your eyes. Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler taught (Michtav m'Eliyahu) that if a person does not sense holiness inside himself, it's a sign that his soul has left him.

This is why, according to the Talmud, it is forbidden to look at the face of a wicked person. When you look at his (or her) face, your soul absorbs some of the ruach (spiritual energy) of this person. Your soul which is beyond the physical, senses all the deeds and all the twisted drives and views of this person through his eyes and you become a little bit like him.

This is why children inherit the character traits of their parents. By constantly looking into their eyes, they absorb all of their parents' deepest spiritual traits.

The Torah forbids accepting a convert from the nations of Moab and Amon for all generations. Why? Because these nations demonstrated a lack of hakaras hatov (gratitude) to the Jewish nation when they were about to enter Israel. But why are their descendants excluded for all time to convert? Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian z''l explains (beginning of Lev Eliyahu) since their parents did not have proper gratitude, they will transmit this evil trait to their offspring and their offspring to their offsprings, and so forth forever and ever. By constantly looking into their parents' eyes, the children will inherit completely all of their spiritual traits.

Conversely, looking in the eyes of a Tzaddik (righteous person) elevates you. A person who has reached a high spiritual level has eyes that shine forth with a spiritual light. This is why it is so important to learn Torah from a great Rebbi and not just from books. The Talmud says, if your Rebbi does not look like an Angel of G-d, do not learn Torah from him. Only if you sense "Sinai" in this person should you learn Torah from him. Such a person will transmit to you the non-verbal, "internal" part of the Torah and the proper character traits which can only be transmitted through eye contact. No amount of learning in books can help you here.

I heard from Rabbi Simcha Wasserman zt''l that "when you review your lesson, picture your Rebbi's face while he was giving over the lesson. This way, you will review not only the verbal part of the lesson but also the non-verbal messages in the lesson".

The Steipler wrote (beginning of Kareina D'Igarta) every interaction with a person leaves a spiritual mark on you. The Chafetz Chaim said, the first time he saw a Jew willfully transgressing the Shabbat, he cried for an hour. The second time it lasted only 20 minutes. Why the change? He had exposed his eyes and therefore his soul, and was now no longer on the same level of purity as before.

One who is constantly surrounded by people with no faith is in great danger of becoming like them. This is not because of sharing their ideas. No! During every interaction, your soul absorbs some of the "ruach" (spiritual essence) of the person. If you don't strengthen yourself continuously, you will slowly become more and more like him. This is why it is so important to live in an area with a strong Jewish community. The Rambam wrote, if you can't find a community of righteous people to live in, you should move to the desert.

On a deeper level, everything you come across contains the "ruach" (spiritual essence) of it's source. I heard from Rabbi Shmuel Nussbaum of Gateshead (who is now a Rosh Kollel in Israel) that every book you read, contains part of the soul of the author. If you read the book of a tzadik, you are not only receiving the information he wrote. The soul of the tzadik also has a hashpa (a spiritual influence) on you.

Conversely, when you read the news from CNN or some novel, you should know that you are not just reading innocent information. You are putting your mind into the mind of the author, absorbing the spiritual energy and the drives and mentality of this person and you will tend to become like him (or her). Watch out! They didn't tell you that in the fine print!

Rav Kook zt''l

The same is with the holy Torah. When a person learns, his soul is absorbing the spiritual energy of the Almighty himself! (Although in this case, the Almighty provided two conditions in order for the Torah to transmit the spiritual light (see Derech Hashem Vol.4:Ch.2). The first is proper Yira (reverence) and tikun hamaase at all times - striving to fulfill what you are learning. Without that, learning Torah is like reading a science book.)

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter says a person can learn the laws of an ox that gores a cow, and it will help him in controlling his mouth from saying lashon hara (slander). Why? The light in the Torah, elevates his soul and gives him the spiritual strength needed to fight off the evil inclination to slander.

Think before you look as it says by Avraham in the Akeida - "And Avraham lifted his eyes". Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm zt''l says that from here, we learn that even lifting your eyes should be a calculated and weighed decision. Watch your eyes. Be careful what you read and what you look at. Try to attach yourself to a righteous person and you will become like him. Look at the picture above and in the eyes of the holy Tzadik - Rav Kook zt''l and you will taste greatness.



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Has the Economic Collapse Started?

Big investors are dumping stocks like it's 2008

Big investors are fleeing stocks. In a note on Tuesday, Jill Carey Hall Bank of America Merril Lynch’s wrote that the clients’ net sales of US stocks amounted to $US4.1 billion last week, the largest since January 2008.

The strategists wrote that investors pulled the most money out of healthcare and financial stocks.

Last week, outflows from healthcare were the largest on record, they said.

Full article:  Business Insider

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Wake Up Call [video]

I know you've all seen and heard it all before, but here is a new video:

''A Wake-up Call For All Jews. God is calling us to wake up and prepare ourselves for the new
spiritual world to come...''

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Lost


Concerning this, those who speak in parables say "Come to Heshbon...." [Chukat 21:27]

In Maseches Bava Basra [78b], Chazal expound on this verse as follows: "Regarding this hamoshlim would say - This refers to those who rule [hamoshlim] over their yetzer hara.  'Come to Cheshbon' - Come and let us make a calculation [cheshbon] of world importance."  This teaches us that it is incumbent upon each individual to evaluate his deeds in order to determine whether or not he is acting properly.

R' Yitzchak Blaser, one of the primary figures in the Mussar movement, was approached by members of his community who requested that the Rav rouse them with words of inspiration in light of the upcoming High Holy days.

"Allow me to draw a parable" he began.  "A caravan lost its way in a forest. For a week the travelers wandered around aimlessly, unable to find their way out.  Suddenly, the men saw a lone figure walking in the distance. They quickly made their way toward him and asked him to show them the way out of the forest.

"My brothers and friends" replied the man, "you have been roaming this forest for only a week.  I, however, have already been lost for several weeks. Let us try to find the way out of here together, perhaps then we will be successful."

"But there is one area in which I can be of assistance" continued the man. "I will tell you the paths that I have already tried, and we will know not to mistakenly tread them again."

"This applies to our own situation as well" said R' Blaser with great humility. "I am just as lost as you are; only more so, for I am old and have already been lost for many years.  Yet my experience can be of benefit, as I will be able to enlighten you as to things that I have seen in my life which I have investigated and found to be trivial and meaningless!

"You can trust me on those matters that it would not be worth your while to try those things.

"Come, let us search together for the path that leads to complete repentance!"

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sydney's Double Rainbow

This  double rainbow could be seen all over the city:



More photos:  here

The Great Test at the End of Days


from the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Great disbelief will spread throughout the world.

Fortunate is the person who will strengthen himself with faith in those times.

This warning will not help.

There were others, such as Daniel, who foretold that before the coming of the Messiah, many will be tested and refined, that the evil will worsen while the wise will keep their understanding.

Many will have their faith tested. The person who will pass the test and retain his faith will be fortunate and will attain all the good that is destined to come (may it be soon and in our days) about which the prophets and wise men prophesied.

If so, everyone should take care to remain strong in his faith. Since this prediction is already common knowledge, there will be no test.

But it will still be a great test.

Many will do evil. "The wicked will act wickedly" [Daniel 12:10]

I am telling you this for the sake of those few good people who will be strong in their faith. They will have great internal  battles. But my words will console and strengthen them, for they will see that someone already predicted this. 

- Rabbi Nachman of Breslov