Thursday, August 28, 2008


In the parsha this week, the passuk says the famous line:

והיית אך שמח

Interestingly, the gematria of the consecutive letters in bold is תשס"ט corresponding to the year 5769 that begins on the 30th day of September.

Someone commented on the last gematria post that אליהו התשבי is also תשס"ט

I also had mentioned in a previous post that the passuk in Zecharia 12:3 says:

והיה ביום ההוא אשים את ירושלים אבן מעמסה לכל העמים

the gematria of the words in bold is תשס"ט

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Parshas Re'eh

The concept of Simcha - Joy - is mentioned six times in this week's parsha, always in connection with family and the Beis Hamikdash.

This week's parsha podcast explores why.

running time is approximately 16 minutes.

Join over 400 people listening weekly be'H.

Sack and Ashes?

I don't know if everyone is aware of how the current sack and ashes movement began.

A few months ago, I came out of the Beis Medrash of my kollel, and as usual, there were a number of different books for sale. One book caught my eye. It was Daniel's book. Daniel is an autistic man who lives here in Israel, and had some current and frankly shocking things to say. I had read some other messages in a book I already owned called Galia, and I was interested in what the autistic kids were saying now, especially since they had been pretty quiet for a few years.

The book lead me to Daniel's website, which I devoured with intense interest.

After following his posts for a few months, he introduced his father (and all of us) to the concept of sack and ashes. He proposed that Klal Yisrael is in tremendous danger, and we must do teshuva, lowering our pride with this symbol of sack and ashes that was employed so many years ago by our ancestors in the Purim story.

I was intrigued. I was ready to be there at the kotel for the first gathering.

I went first to my rav for advice. I am very fortunate to have found a wonderful and empathic rav who is tremendously insightful in general, and especially intuitive and in tune with the individual needs (and quirks) of each of his congregants. The shul in which I daven consists of an eclectic group of people, aptly called Ahavas Shalom (or Ahavat Shalom), ranging from Dati Leumi and modern orthodox to its American and Israeli Charedi constituents. He somehow knows what to say and how to deal with everyone.

I have asked him numerous questions in the past, and he knows my spiritual leanings, and has surprised me a number of times with his responses. In any event, I gave him some background and asked him if he would recommend going to this gathering. His almost immediate answer was that I should not. He said that as long as our gedolim have not encouraged this course of action, and until the time that they do, it would be best to avoid it.

I was disappointed, but I have trusted him in the past to guide me to do Hashem's will, and boruch Hashem have seen success with his advice. I trusted him here as well.

But it bothered me. Why were the gedolim not endorsing this? Didn't they see how desperate the situation here is? Didn't they see how our 'friendly' Arab neighbors were amassing arms in order to completely destroy us? Didn't they hear Ahmadinejad's comments about wiping Israel off the face of the Earth? Even if they trusted in Hashem, wasn't it time already for some drastic steps and for national teshuva?

The truth is that these questions were not new questions I was asking, because I had voiced similar questions to some of my rebbeim on visits to the States a few years ago. And the response I received then was interesting. My Rosh Yeshiva asked me, "Well what do your friends say? Do they feel it is dangerous to live in Israel?"

I didn't know the answer, but when I got back here, I started asking people what they felt, and there was this unanimous feeling that we are living in the safest place in the world.

I debated in my mind if this was naivete, or if it was real bona fide trust in Hashem. The sack and ashes gathering coupled with Daniel's and Ben Golden's rather disturbing messages just added to my insecurity.

The question remained for me. Why were the gedolim not encouraging national teshuva nor endorsing this sack and ashes movement?

At some point, I was searching on the internet and came across some message thread quoting a statement of Ben Golden's. The person who quoted him was very firm in their feeling that it was imperative that we heed Ben's message. Rav Ahron Leib Shteinman was quoted as having endorsed the words of the autistic children, giving them credence, and thus it was imperative that we not avoid their direction.

This enthusiastic statement led me to return back to Galia's book, which quoted the approbations of some leading rabbonim. I decided to take a closer look at what the Gedolim had said about these messages of the mentally incompetent.

There, indeed Rav Shteinman was quoted as saying in regards to the messages that he "sees in this phenomenon the great mercy of Heaven to wake up the sleeping who forget the truth... It is also a source of moral inspiration for the Torah community, who are also in need of strengthening." It also said that Rav Shteinman "personally attended communication sessions with the mentally incompetent and was very impressed by the answers that they gave to his questions. In Rav Shteinman's opinion, it is very important to contemplate these messages and search one's soul. One should not disregard the messages."

There were other similar statements from Rav Nosson Wachtfogel and Rav Gavriel Krausz among others.

The nagging question remained, why was there no endorsement from these rabbonim for the sack and ashes gathering?

This question was especially exacerbated by the fact that all of those who endorsed the autistic messages ended their approbations with words of warning.

Rav Shteinman said, "One should not use the statements of the mentally incompetent for any specific purpose or halachic ruling, and one must not ask them about the future."

Rav Wachtfogel said, "A person should not act upon what they say without referring to a Rabbi. For as is known, only Torah sages may guide our nation."

Rav Krausz siad, "One should not ask them questions which can lead to making decisions, for example in matters of halacha and medical affairs, since they do not serve as a substitute for sages, rabbis and doctors."

Recently I realized that if one looks at the people who indeed wore the sack and ashes in their efforts to do teshuva, there is a striking and obvious prelude to this practice. Most notably, we find it used by Mordechai and the Jewish people in the story of Purim, as well as by the people of Ninveh in the story of Yonah. In both of these stories, the entire nation of Israel or Ninveh was faced with an immediate and imminent threat of national decimation that shook them to the core. Their shock was so complete that they naturally turned to immediate repentance. This repentance was enhanced by their donning sackcloth to signify their humility and sincere teshuva.

It became clear to me that although we are living during tumultous and trying times, nevertheless we do not feel the type of imminent threat that warrants national teshuva. I can attest to the fact (as I'm sure many of you can) that the type of teshuva that we can do now is at worst forced, and at best inadequately sincere. Not to say that we can not do teshuva. We must do teshuva - all the time! But the type of natural teshuva that Klal Yisrael can do in times of need requires a certain prelude. I firmly believe that we will do complete and national teshuva. All of us. Rebbe Nachman teaches that every single Jew will be redeemed in the final Geulah, unlike Egypt. (More on that in another post.) We will merit unbelievable miracles and perhaps we will all don sackcloth at the right time to inspire us further.

My purpose with this post is not to heaven forbid discourage teshuva in any way shape or form. My purpose is to give a little reality check on what our goal in life is. Our goal is to serve Hashem and to do His will. Hashem Himself told us how - follow the ruling of the Gedolim of your generation. They are the eyes of the people.

The Gemara in Rosh Hashana (25B) brings down the verse (Devarim 17):
"ובאת אל הכהנים הלוים ואל השופט אשר יהיה בימים ההם"
"You shall come to the Kohen, the Levite and the judge that will be in that time."

The Gemara asks, "Would it enter our minds that someone would go to a judge that is not in his time? One can only go to the judge in his times! [To this the Gemara brings the verse in Koheles 7,] 'Do not say, oh what was! The earlier days were much better than these!'"

Hashem gives each generation precisely the Gedolim and leaders it needs. We must trust them to guide us. Hashem Himself gives them special Divine assistance. If we can not depend on them, who can we depend on?

The bottom line is that we need to look to Daas Torah for advice. We need to know that Hashem does not leave us with no where to turn, but rather we must trust that the advice He gives us through our personal rabbonim is especially meant for us. When facing decisions like whether one should don sack and ashes, or more drastic decisions like whether one should make an immediate move to Israel, we must turn to the place Hashem has designated for us. We must daven for guidance and know that Hashem will lead us on the proper path if we really want it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Iranian "Threat"

Should we be scared of a nuclear Iran?

I present for you a beautiful piece from the Yalkut Shimoni (Yishaya 60):

אמר ר' שמעון בן פזי באותה שעה מגביה הקב"ה למשיח עד שמי השמים ופורש עליו מזיו כבודו מפני אומות העולם מפני פרסים הרשעים. אומרים לו אפרים משיח צדקנו הוי דיין על אלו ועשה בהם מה שנפשך חפצה שאלמלי רחמי שגברו עליך ביותר כבר אבדוך מן העולם ברגע אחד

Rebbe Shimon ben Pazi said; At that time, the Holy One, blessed is He raises Moshiach until the very heavens and spreads upon him from the shine of His Honor because of the nations of the world, because of the evil Persians. They say to him, Efraim, our righteous anointed one, give your judgment upon these, and do with them as you desire; for if not for my mercy that was strengthened upon you greatly, they would have destroyed you from the world in a moment.

We see a number of things from this. First of all, it is clear that the Persians (as well as the other nations of the world) will have (or almost have) the ability to bring destruction ח"ו in a moment. Second, Hashem's tremendous mercy mixed with judgment (רחמי שגברו) which is reflected in the character of Moshiach ben Yosef will save us from their evil schemes. (For an insight into this contrast between Rachamim and Gevurah, refer to Efraim who was on the left side of Yakov - his side of Gevurah, but Yakov's right hand - his Rachamim - was placed on Efraim's head. ע"פ קול התור). Thirdly, Hashem will allow Moshiach ben Yosef to judge the nations that attempted to destroy us. Fourthly, it seems that Moshiach ben Yosef survives the war of Gog Umagog, which is the shita of the Gr"a ("עוד יוסף חי"), unless we are talking about some kind of spiritual ascent that happens after death ח"ו.

Bottom line is that if we place our trust in Hashem and His mercy and kindness, we have nothing to fear.

Monday, August 25, 2008

This Year

As I was saying the Kinos on Tisha B'av day, I was struck by something very interesting in the eighth Kinah.

It goes like this:
אילותי לעזרתי תרתי חזות, אימתי בכל שנה אומרת היא השנה הזאת, אידע לכל כי מודעת זאת, אם לא כי יד ה' עשתה זאת

The Artscroll translates:
I seek to witness [the fulfillment of my plea], 'O my Strength [God], come to my assistance!' My awe-inspiring nation proclaims every year, 'This is the year [of redemption]!' [When that time comes] I shall announce to everyone, so that it will be universally known, that [it could not have happened] had the hand of God not wrought all this!

It is Tisha B'av that is the basis of our redemption - represented by the concept that Moshiach is born on Tisha B'av. Tisha B'av sows the seeds in our hearts to constantly yearn for the Shechinah's return from exile. This is being expressed here by the poet in his (and our!) constant desire to believe and hope that this is the year!

The Gematria of שנה הזאת (this year) is תשס"ח - corresponding to the year we are in now - 5768.

Loving those who hate

I'm going to tell you a secret that will change your life.

It was the 16th of Adar - Purim in Jerusalem, 5768. I had played a long dance set with my friend Yehuda David on the guitar, and myself on the keyboard and vocals for a small American Yeshiva in the neighborhood of Ezras Torah. We finished the job and went to the nearby shteiblach to daven Mariv. In the spirit of everyone around us, we decided to act jolly, despite the fact that we had finished our Purim two days previous. (Purim for Ramat Bet Shemesh was on Friday the 14th, Purim in Jerusalem was pushed from Shabbos the 15th to Sunday the 16th.)

We sang in the street as we walked toward shul, walking with a bit of a limp, smiling and showing love towards the multi-colored Jews of all stripes who passed by.

As we came into the shtieblach, I was singing a drop too loud. A young bochur, probably around 17, saw me, and in his slightly drunken state yelled at me to quiet down (note the irony). I did lower the volume, but did not stop singing. He evidently was unable to discern between the decible levels, and kept yelling at me to stop singing.

In my jolly (non-alcoholic!) mood, I decided at that moment that I would balance this drunken kid's anger with love. My love did not stop him from kicking me in my rear end, but it did stop me from getting upset at all, boruch Hashem. I tried to hug him after his 'gift' to me, but he wasn't interested.

I proceeded to daven Mariv with a full heart.

What I realized from this interaction was that someone can literally hate me because I don't fit into his version of reality, and I contradict some tenet that he knows to be the basis of morality. But it doesn't mean I have to hate him. It also doesn't mean that I have to take offense.

I can love another Jew completely, no matter who he is, and no matter what he feels about me. I can recognize that the negative feelings he has for me come from a place that is no different than someone who has become intoxicated - namely irrationality. Because someone who knows the truth knows that Hashem wants diversity, and does not want a nation of carbon copy cookie cutter robots. He therefore also realizes that he need not be threatened by someone else's lack of conformity to his standards.

This also frees me, because even though I can have love for all Jews no matter who they are and what their background, they do not have to conform to my standard of love in order to receive my love. They do not have to be a cookie cutter version of me - otherwise I am holding them to a higher standard than I want them to hold me!

The secret is to love every Jew, and even the Jew who hates me. Even the Jew that sees me as a lower class individual - it is irrelevant. Hashem loves every single human being - even the most evil people who rebel against him. I can also love any person - even those who 'rebel' against my validity and would say I am perhaps not a good enough Jew.

The secret is to know that I can not be offended until I allow myself to be offended.

Once I learn to love everyone unconditionally, I can pray with a full heart.

Thanks to Daniel for the inspiration for this post.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lesson from the ants

Today I went with my family to a little park we call the "Shady Park," which is a five minute drive from our home. We spent some nice time together, and then I went off for a few minutes of alone time. As I was walking along, I came across a group of ants, busily working on bringing in goods to their abode.

I was struck by two ants who struggled valiantly to move a large seed that was clearly more than they could handle. Even as help came in and a third ant came to help, they were still unsuccessful. They would not be deterred. For all I know, they are still struggling to bring the seed home.

Rebbe Nachman teaches that we must never give up hope. We have to know that even when all seems hopeless, and there is no way we can accomplish our spiritual task, nevertheless Hashem is our loving Father who looks at our effort. We need never be discouraged, even when we seem to fail, for Hashem loves the fact that we are trying.

The ants seem to intuitively know that somehow they can succeed, despite the impossible odds. We too can succeed, and our success can be just the fact that we put in our full efforts.

Aviva Malka bas Leah

I told the story in a previous post about the young girl who came out of the coma saying, "Did I miss the weddings, and did I miss Moshiach coming?"

I spoke to her father on Friday. They just returned from a trip to Boston for two weeks with their daughter that was necessary for her health. The family is in good spirits, despite the fact that things are difficult. Aviva has lost vision in one eye R'l. Her father said that she remains amazingly resilient.

Please keep up your tefilos for Aviva Malka bas Leah.

Facing Troubled Times

I recently learned the following concept in the Chofetz Chaim's book Ahavas Chessed, section 2 chapter 5. I quote verbatim in translation. You can hear this as an audio file here.

"How can we bring Hashem's kindness into the world, especially when we face difficulties from every direction that seem to overwhelm us? The answer is that by attaching ourselves to kindness, we draw down Hashem's kindness onto the world.

"The power of this is revealed in a beautiful piece from the Tana D'bei Eliyahu Rabba at the end of chapter 23. There he states that when the Jewish people were in Egypt, they all gathered and lived together because they had made a single group. And they made a covenant together that they would all do kindness for each other, and keep the covenant of circumcision, serve only their Father in heaven, and not leave the language of their father Yaakov, rejecting the Egyptian language.

"What was the reason why they made this pact to do kindness to one another? The idea is as follows. When they saw that there was nothing they could do to be saved from the decrees of Pharoah, and the servitude was getting more difficult every day, what did they do? They gathered together and brainstormed about what could be done. They agreed to only go in the path of Hashem, not changing their names or language. They also areed to do kindness to one another in order that through this the kindness of Hashem would be aroused from above upon them. The evil decrees of Pharoah would thereby be nullified in the end.

"In truth, it was indeed so in the end, because this matter was the root cause of the redemption, as the verse states, 'נחית בחסדך עם זו גאלת, נהלת בעזך וגומר' - 'In your kindness you made them rest, this nation that you redeemed, you led with your strength etc...'

"נחית בחסדך - In your kindness you made them rest - this refers to the kindness [of the people of Israel]. You led with your strength - this refers to the Torah, for in truth they also had Torah in Egypt as it states in Yoma (28B) that even when the Jews were in Egypt they did not stop learning."

We see from here the path to Geulah and redemption from our difficulties is by strengthening חסד - kindness between ourselves and our fellow man, and by strengthening our connection to Torah. See the explanation of the dream with Moshiach's rings.

Who is Gog?

I was inspired today by something new that Ben Golden wrote. He wrote that the war of Gog Umagog is an internal war that each of us is fighting with our yetzer hara, and depending on every individuals' fight will be the fate of the world. (That's how I understood it.)

That being said, the following vort I once heard (I forget where and when) becomes especially potent.

Who is גוג? He doesn't have to only be a particular person, because he is someone that is inside of us all.

We can understand who גוג is by noticing that Moshiach has a similar name. What, you say? Moshiach has a similar name? Yes, his name is בן דוד. Both names have a single letter repeated and joined by a Vav. גוג is gimel vav gimel. דוד is daled vav daled.

Let us start backwards (or really forwards) with דוד. The main letter in his name is Daled. This letter represents Dalus (or Dalut if you prefer) which means poverty. The poverty we speak of in regards to Dovid is his lack of ego. Dovid represents the level of Malchus or kingship. But unlike the kingship that we think of, Malchus really means complete lack of self, which is the ultimate container for the Divine. Dovid was the prophet who combined all of the seven lower sefiros into himself and brought down the Kingship of Hashem into the world. Hashem only rests his divine presence in places that lack ego (e.g. Am Yisrael - smallest of the nations; Har Sinai, smallest of the mountains). This is דוד, who is pure humility, Dalus connected to Dalus (daled vav daled).

Who is the ultimate enemy of דוד? It can only be גוג who is the exact opposite of דוד. Where as Dovid's letter is Daled, which is Dalus, ie humility, Gog's letter is Gimmel, which is Ga'avah - pure, unadulterated pride. His essence bespeaks the fact that he owns the world. He has the audacity to claim that there is no power other than his, and he pushes away, in the ultimate way possible, the Divine presence. He is Gayvah connected to Gayvah (Gimel vav Gimel).

Each one of us contains a little of both of these aspects. We have the ability to connect to humility; to give others the benefit of the doubt; to be more concerned with others' needs than our own; to be focused on kindness and charity - focused outwards.

We also have the ability to focus only on ourselves; on our own needs and wants; on what everyone else owes us; on the mistakes, insensitivites and injustices others perform to us; on the negative side of life.

It is our choice whether we will associate with גוג or with דוד. It is our choice to attach ourselves to the ultimate good or the ultimate evil.

Knowing of Moshiach's arrival

Can we know that Moshiach is coming? Can we definitively say that he's coming now and that the rumors are true?

I present you with the following information, and allow you to conclude what you will.

The yalkut Shimoni (ישעיה ס) states as follows:
שנו רבותינו בשעה שמלך המשיח בא עומד על גג בית המקדש והוא משמיע להם לישראל ואומר ענוים הגיע זמן גאולתכם ואם אין אתם מאמינים ראו באורי שזרח עליכם.
Our Rabbis taught; When the king Moshiach comes, he stands on the roof of the Beis Hamikdash (Temple) and he makes heard to the people of Israel and says, "Humble ones, the time for your redemption has arrived. And if you do not believe, see my light that shines upon you."

Can we imagine this? Moshiach has come, and he is standing on the rebuilt third Temple. He cries out to the people of Israel that the time for redemption has arrived. And he ends off his statement by saying, that if you do not believe, then see my spiritual light that is shining.

I don't know about you, but if I was standing there I would have to be nuts not to believe! Moshiach himself is standing on the Beis Hamikdash announcing the geulah!!! What is the meaning of this medrash?

I lead you to another piece a little farther on in the yalkut (ישעיה ס"ג) that I saw and was astounded by.

רבי שמואל מתני בשם רבי ירמיה אם יאמר לך אדם מתי קץ הגאולה אל תאמן שנאמר כי יום נקם בלבי - לבא לפומא לא גלי פומא למאן גלי
Rebbe Shmuel taught in the name of Rebbe Yirmiyah; if someone tells you when the final redemption will be, do not believe them as the verse says, "The day of retribution is in my heart." The heart did not reveal to the mouth, so to whom can the mouth reveal?
רבי ברכיה ורבי סימון בשם רבי יהושע בן לוי שלש סימנין סמנתי לך בקברו של משה שנאמר ויקבור אתו בגיא וגו' וסוף לא ידע איש את קבורתו, על הקץ שנאמר סתום וחתום הדברים על אחת כמה וכמה
Rebbe Berechyah and Rebbe Simon said in the name of Rebbe Yehoshua ben Levi; Three signs were given for the location of the grave of Moshe as the verse says, "He buried him in the glen etc..." and in the end, the verse says that no one knows where he is buried; In regards to the final redemption [there are no signs, but rather] the verse says, "Close and seal the matter," certainly [one can not know when it will be].

At first glance, this is very discouraging, as it clearly indicates that we can give up trying to figure out when Moshiach will come. But when I saw this for the first time a few weeks ago, I had recently learned a very important Gemara in Sotah (דף י"ג-י"ד) which is a continuation of this yalkut, and I think it sheds light on the whole matter.

אמר ר' ברכיה סימן בתוך סימן ואפילו הכי ולא ידע איש את קבורתו. וכבר שלחה מלכות הרשעה אצל גסטרא של בית פעור הראנו היכן משה קבור. עמדו למעלה נדמה להם למטה. למטה, נדמה להם למעלה. נחלקו לשתי כיתות, אותן שעומדים למעלה נדמה להם למטה, למטה נדמה להם למעלה, לקיים מה שנאמר ולא ידע איש את קבורתו
Rebbe Berechyah said, a sign inside of a sign [was given for the grave of Moshe] and nevertheless "No man knows where he is buried." And the evil kingdom already sent to the leader of the area of Beis Peor asking to reveal where where Moshe was buried. They stood at an elevation [where Moshe was supposed to have been buried]. It seemed that the burial site was below. They went below and it seemed that the site was above. They split into two camps. Those that stood above, it seemed to be below. Those that stood below, to them it seemed the site was above. This fulfills the verse, "And no man knows of his burial."

The first piece of information that we need to understand this is that the word דעת - knowledge - is different from חכמה and בינה. Whereas both חכמה and בינה represent abstract knowledge, דעת represents intimate, experiential knowledge. Translated simply, you can explain the concept of color to a blind person to the point that he will perhaps understand (with חכמה and בינה) what you are talking about. But until he can see, he will not truly have the דעת - experiential and intimate knowledge. It will just remain theory.

The messengers of the evil kingdom could have a theoretical knowledge of where the burial plot of Moshe was, but for some supernatural reason, it would be impossible for them to experience the place. Hence the verse, "ולא ידע איש את קבורתו" - "And no man knows of his burial."

Now let us take this information back to the second piece of the Yalkut. There, we are told that one can not know of the time of redemption, just as one can not know where Moshe is buried. The connection is astounding! We can theorize with our חכמה and בינה as to when Moshiach will come, but we can actually be there and not know it! It is something the heart (לב = בינה) knows, but has not communicated to the mouth (mouth is the expression of דעת)! We can be in one temporal place (תשס"ח) and believe that we have reached the time, yet every time we try to experience it with our דעת it will seem to be some other time (perhaps תשס"ט?). Or just when we think we "know" who the final story is about (George is גוג? America is מגוג?) things take a sudden turn and we realize we may not know. (Maybe Putin is גוג? Maybe Russia is מגוג?)

This all brings us back to the first yalkut. Moshiach is standing on the Beis Hamikdash telling us he has come and the Geulah is here, and we don't believe?! We don't know? Not until the light of Hashem shines on us and enlightens us with the transcendental knowledge of Moshiach's true arrival and Hashem's Ultimate Good, will we truly have this knowledge. May it be speedily in our days.

The last point that comes out of the whole discussion is that when we try to bring our knowledge from חכמה and בינה (theoretical) to the level of דעת (defined), we have confined all the possibilities and chosen one. But since we are dealing with something that is by definition unknowable, it always seems to be somewhere else. That's why when they were below, Moshe's grave seemed to be above and vice versa. They tried to bring out their חכמה to דעת but this was impossible. The same thing happens when we try to put our finger on Moshiach. Since it is by definition unknowable, as soon as we define it, it is lost and appears to be elsewhere.

This is why Chazal tell us אין בן-דוד בא אלא בהיסח-הדעת - Moshiach can't come until we have a hesech hada'as - a break from our דעת, our efforts at defining. We can't stop thinking about Moshiach, because we need the אתערותא דלתתא the awakening from below to bring it about from Above. Nevertheless, as long as we think about it, we limit our options and lose the real option - it always looks like it's somewhere else. That's why we need the היסח הדעת - the break in defining thought.

Said in a different way, כתר, which is the highest sefirah, represents transcendence - reaching above our thinking into the higher world. This is what we are aiming for, this is the time of Moshiach. Keser can not exist at the same time as Da'as. Keser represents indeterminacy and entering the domain of the unknown. Da'as represents choosing and defining and knowing. In order to enter the domain of Keser we need to be released from da'as. This is why Moshiach can only come with a היסח הדעת - a break from trying to define.

This is also why the gemara gives us three separate events in three separate years.

Sixth year - קולות - rumors of Moshiach
Seventh year - מלחמות - wars
Eighth year - בן דוד בא - Moshiach comes

The rumors can not coincide with Moshiach's arrival. Something will happen that will cause us to 'space out.' Only then will he come. May it be soon.

Dream of the rings explained

This was my explanation on Nava's husband's dream which you can find here.

This post is important, as I will reference it in a later post be'H.

Gold, silver and copper each represent the three sefirot of חג"ת - חסד גבורה תפארת. Chesed is represented by silver, Gevurah (din) is represented by gold, and Tiferet (the balance between the two) is represented by copper. The egg shaped stones represents different aspects of Moshiach, because he is the one who is bringing about the birth of the era of Moshiach. The egg represents all the potential for the new reality he is bringing in. The ring is a circle, and we find that the circle always represents the concept that we are focusing on the center of what the circle stands for. An example of this is on Succos when we circle the bimah where the sefer Torah is held thus representing the centrality of Torah, or the circling of the mizbeach that was done in the Beis Hamikdash on Succos representing the centrality of service to Hashem.

Another important point is that in our world, the way we express Hashem's middah of Chesed is by doing kindness. The way we express Gevurah and din, is by doing Tzedakah - charity, and by displaying moral strength and dedication. The way Tiferet is expressed is by being fierce adherents to Torah and Truth - emes. (תתן אמת ליעקב - Yakov represents Tiferet, Truth and Torah study.)

There is also a concept that when we do acts of kindness and charity, we are bringing down Hashem's kindness into the world and bringing the world toward its ultimate completion. This also mirrors the idea that we can give power to Moshiach by helping him fulfill his role, which is to bring Hashem's ultimate Kindness, Righteousness, and Truth to the world. We do this when we act with kindness, righteousness, Truth and Torah study.

One last important point to make before we come back to the dream is something I read recently in the introduction of R' Chaim Vital to the sefer Sha'arei Kedusha. There he brings a story where he asked the Arizal an important question. R' Chaim asks the Arizal, "How can you tell me that I am greater than those of the previous generations, even greater than the Righteous ones of the times of the Gemara and Mishna?" The Arizal's response was that in that time, it was much easier to be great, because the powers of evil were much weaker. As the generations passed and the powers of the Other Side have strengthened, it is much more difficult to be righteous. Thus, if one is righteous despite that, he would have certainly been many more times as great in the times of the Gemara and Mishna, even greater than those that lived then, for the powers of evil had less of a hold then.

Taking that idea to its end, the times we live in now are the ultimate 'darkness before the dawn.' When we act with goodness and righteousness despite the immense power of evil that is evident throughout the world - we have done what seems to be a small act, but in truth it is unbelievably large. These acts that WE are doing are the engine that powers Moshiach's arrival!

After that introduction, I think we can make some sense of the rings. The golden ring represents the power we can give to Moshiach - the power of charity and righteousness. These deeds are necessary in order to help the 'egg' of redemption hatch. The more we involve ourselves in charity and righteousness, despite the powers of evil, the greater is our ability to give this power to Moshiach to be revealed. The silver ring represents chessed. The more we are involved in kindess the more we awaken Hashem's Infinite Kindness, thereby causing the 'egg' of Moshiach to hatch with kindness. The copper ring represents Tiferet - Emes. The more we are slaves to the truth, the closer we bring the world to the revelation of Ultimate Truth.

These three powers that are within our reach to donate toward the Redemption process are what the Yetzer Hara is trying with all his greatest efforts to prevent. He knows that if we are dedicated to Goodness and Truth it will be his ultimate downfall. He will try to steal the purse with the three rings at any opportunity. And if we can rid ourselves of him for a moment, he will come back within no time to try again to take away our dedication.

We must realize that the individual efforts of every single Jew in this area are crucial. There are only a select few who are even aware of what is going on in the world at all. If we have been chosen to be part of this, then we must acknowledge our responsibility in these areas and try our best to strengthen our dedication to them.

Chessed - Kindness, Gevurah - Tzedakah and moral strength, Tiferet - Truth and Torah study.

May we all merit to see Moshiach with mercy, speedily in our days.

Rav Zohn's dream

Two stories about Moshiach

I recently verified this story from the grandson of the couple involved.

My friend's elderly grandmother, Miriam, remarried a number of years ago to R' Shalom Shachne Zohn. They live in Jerusalem. R' Shalom is now in his mid nineties and in his youth he studied in yeshiva in Mir in Poland and had the opportunity to spend four days at the home of the Chofetz Chaim (R' Yisroel Meir Hacohen Kagan). A few weeks ago, in the middle of the night he woke and told his wife that the Chofetz Chaim had appeared to him in a dream and simply said that Moshiach will be here soon. The Chofetz Chaim said that it is time to get ready and to spread the message. My friend's father (Miriam's son) asked his rav, Rav Asher Weiss if this is something to take seriously. His response was that we are clearly standing right before Moshiach, and it certainly should be taken seriously and we should undertake to do Teshuva.

The second story I heard directly from the people involved.

There is a young girl about eight years old who needs a refuah (אביבא מלכה בת לאה) - she is currently in the hospital with loss of vision. Please pray for her. She has been in and out of the hospital for chemotherapy, and she has had multiple complications. A few months ago she had been in a coma for an extended period of time. When she finally came out of the coma, one of the first things she said was, "Did I miss the weddings? Did I miss Moshiach coming?" Her two older sisters were not engaged yet (I don't even know if Aviva knew they were going out), but they both became engaged and were married over the following few months. I was at the sheva brachos. Refuah Shelema - may Hashem heal her along with all the sick of Israel with the coming of Moshiach, Amen.

5768 & 5769 in gematria

The first few posts here are posts that originally appeared on Dreaming of Moshiach.

In the Haggada, there's a song at the very end, and I dont know who wrote it, but it seems he may have known something.

it says:
קרב יום אשר הוא לא יום ולא לילה

the gematria of the bold is תשס"ח

recently, I was looking at the pesukim in zechariah perek 12 passuk 3. There it says:

והיה ביום ההוא אשים את ירושלים אבן מעמסה לכל העמים וכו...

the gematria of the bold words is תשס"ט and the end of the three words is אמת (I just noticed that now).

I recently heard from a very reliable source that Rav Elya Svei, Rosh Yeshiva in America said that in תרצ"ט, 1939, Rav Elchanan Wasserman said that Moshiach would come in 70 years. After I heard that story, I "happened" upon another story that Rav Elya Lopian said over from Rav Elchanan Wasserman that he was with the Chofetz Chaim in the beginning of World War I (circa 1914) and the Chofetz Chaim said that WWI was the first of three Gog Umagog wars. The next would be in 25 years. That story ends there, but clearly Rav Elchanan Wasserman was someone in the know.

Another interesting point is as follows:

the gemara in Rosh Hashana lists off the ten exiles of the Sanhedrin which correspond to the ten exiles of the Shechina.
it went from Lischat hagazit to a chanut, to Yerushalayim, to Yavneh, to Usha, back to Yavneh, back to Usha, to Shfar'am, to bet She'arim, to Tzipori, and ended in Teveriah. The Gemara ends off with a statement of R' Yochanan.
ומשם עתידין ליגאל שנאמר, התנערי מעפר קומי שבי ירושלים
from there (Teveria) will they be redeemed in the future.