Thursday, April 30, 2009


There are many parallels between the concepts of Niddah and the moon - both of them 'reflect' the idea of malchus. Find out more in this week's parsha podcast.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

156 aspects of MBY

Rav Daniel Krentzman recently finished a new sefer which he graciously gave me permission to publish here.

Author’s Introduction 

The concept of Mashiach ben Yosef appears once in the entire Gemara, in an obscure aggadah in (Sukkah 52a) that expounds upon a verse in Zechariah. At the end of a prophetic portrayal of the war of Gog and Magog, it relates: The land will eulogize, each family by itself, the family of David by itself and their wives by themselves (12:12). One opinion amongst the Tannaim identifies this as the eulogy of Mashiach descended from the tribe of Yosef, who will have been killed in the war. The Maharsha explains that Mashiach ben Yosef will precede the coming of Mashiach ben David, saving the Jewish People, but dying in the process. After this, Mashiach ben David will be able to bring about the complete and total redemption. 

Although little mention is given to Mashiach ben Yosef in the gemara, the Vilna Gaon teaches in Kol HaTor  (1:2):  It is incumbent upon each of us to learn and understand all the aspects and spiritual qualities of Mashiach ben Yosef, that they be a candle to light the way of our steps and accessible to us like a set table, to guide us in the way of action and the particular tasks that are upon us in order to assist the redemption of Yisrael, and bring it speedily. 

The concept of Mashiach ben Yosef is discussed at great length in the Zohar and the writings of the AriZaL. It is also discussed in later Kabbalistic works by the RamChaL, the Vilna Gaon, and others. Upon deeper analysis of verses in Tanach and Midrashei ChaZaL, numerous references and teachings about Mashiach ben Yosef become apparent. 

I was motivated by the above injunction of the Vilna Gaon to develop some of these ideas and to commit them to writing in English, in order to present an introduction to the concept of Mashiach ben Yosef, for the English speaking public and to encourage the dissemination of the teachings of the Vilna Gaon which illuminate and clarify the Redemption process, which we are witnessing the unfolding of, each day. My ideas are based on the teachings of the Vilna Gaon, which appear in “Kol HaTor”, of Rav Hillel of Shkolov; the Vilna Gaon’s primary student.  

This work came about through the influence of many Rabbeim whom I’ve had the merit of learning from. I would like to thank, in particular, Rav Pinchas Winston for opening me up to and helping me gain a basis in, this area of Torah. I must also extend my deepest heartfelt thanks to Rav Yehoshua Gerzi for playing such a large role in my development in this area of Torah and other areas of my spiritual development, and for encouraging me to take on this project. Last but not least, I offer thanks to my wonderful wife Malka. Without her constant love and encouragement, none of this would have been possible. 

About this Work 

This work, entitled: " מאורעות ציון ", “The Events of Tzion”, is based on the second chapter of the book “Kol HaTor”, written by R’ Hillel of Shkolov, the main student of the Vilna Gaon. There, R’ Hillel records the teachings of the Vilna Gaon regarding Mashiach ben Yosef and his relationship to the Redemption process of the Jewish people. 

This work is not a direct translation. My goal in writing this work was to provide an English version of the “156 Aspects of Mashiach ben Yosef”, discussed thoroughly in the second chapter of “Kol HaTor”, which could be studied by those lacking the proficiency in Hebrew, and the conceptual background necessary to successfully grasp the content contained in the original work.

Wherever possible, I have tried to remain as close to the actual wording and order in which the concepts appear. However, because of the concise and holistic style in which these concepts were written, where R’ Hillel assumes the reader’s strong background in all the traditional Torah sources, as well as a firm understanding of Kabbalah and the sefiros; I felt the need to fill in the gaps by giving background, expanding on certain concepts, and being more explicit in pointing out the conceptual connections and flow from one idea to the next. At times, I also may have presented the ideas in a different manner in order to add clarity and fluidity to the content being given over.

To this end, at times I may also have subtracted or de-emphasized certain points which were not essential to understanding the main concept being given over. At times I may also have added points for clarification and added explanation which were not included in the original text.  

Titles and verses, related to each concept, are presented in both Hebrew and English, while sources for reference remain primarily in Hebrew. 

The ideas are arranged according to the same mode of organization used in the original work. Each of the 156 aspects is presented individually and is ordered, roughly, according to the Hebrew alphabet, with each concept beginning with a conceptual title or verse that the ideas are based on.  

Because many of the concepts discussed are either based totally or partially on Kabbalistic understandings of the sefiros and interrelations between them, I have attempted to give brief explanations of the sefiros, on site, according to the need in understanding a particular section. With this aid, I feel that even one with little background in Kabbalah will be able to comprehend the main thrust of the ideas presented in such sections. However, for one to really appreciate many of the teachings of this work, in depth, I suggest that the reader familiarize themselves with at least a basic understanding of the sefiros and their interrelationships.  

The reader is also encouraged to look up the sources presented inside and gain greater appreciation and scope of understanding from seeing the ideas expressed in context.  

Lastly, I encourage the reader to eventually study the original work, “Kol HaTor” in its original Hebrew and style, with this work hopefully having laid a stronger foundation in the concepts therein.

The 156 Allusions to the Various Aspects of Mashiach ben Yosef and his Mission in Bringing about the Final Redemption  

The Vilna Gaon revealed 156 aspects of Mashiach ben Yosef in which all the qualities of Mashiach ben Yosef are alluded to, throughout Tanach and other areas of Torah; all of which are components of the Redemption process. The significance of the number “156” is that the gematria of “Yosef”, as well as “Tzion”; the focal point of the Redemption process, is “156”. 

(1) "אפרים": The name Efrayim refers to Mashiach ben Yosef who is descended from the tribe of Efrayim; specifically in the context of Yirmiyahu’s prophecy found in ( ירמיה לא ) where the name “Efrayim” appears as:

(a) " אפרים בכורי ", “Efrayim, My firstborn”;

(b)" הר אפרים ", “the Mountain of Efrayim”;

(c) " אפרים מתנודד ", “Efrayim wanders”; and

(d) " הבן יקיר לי אפרים ", “Efrayim My precious son”. Each usage of Efrayim represents a different aspect of Mashiach ben Yosef’s mission.

He is called “Efrayim, my firstborn” because he is the first Mashiach, who precedes Mashiach ben David, and who gathers the Jewish people together in Eretz Yisrael, from exile.

He is called “the Mountain of Efrayim” because he gathers the Jewish people to Tzion, as the verse says: " אל הנצרים קראו מהר אפרים קומו ונעלה ציון א-לקינו ' - “the watchmen will call out on the Mountain of Efrayim, ‘Arise, let us ascend to Tzion, to Hashem our G-d”.

Mashiach ben Yosef is referred to as “Efrayim wanders” because he has no rest, constantly wandering from north to south and south to north, in fulfillment of his mission; for about him the verse in Shir HaShirim (ד' טז) says: "עורי צפון ובואי תימן", “Awake from the north and come from the south”. The first letters of each word in that phrase is, all together עצו''ת , , equal to the gematria of “Mashiach ben Yosef”(566). 

“Efrayim, My precious son” represents how Mashiach ben Yosef is spiritually rooted in the sefirah of Gevurah which receives from the sefirah of Chesed, meaning Gevurah whose purpose is ultimately motivated and governed by Chesed. “Efrayim” represents Gevurah, for Yosef placed him to Yaakov’s left when Yaakov was to bless Menashe and Efrayim ( בראשית מח' יג ); the left representing Gevurah. Yaakov moved his right hand onto Efrayim to manifest that even though Efrayim was essentially rooted in Gevurah, he would be governed by Chesed, represented by the right. Thus, the love expressed for Efrayim, "הבן יקיר לי", “My precious son” represents that Efrayim has the love, of his Father; that is, Mashiach ben Yosef, who stems from Gevurah, receives and channels Chesed, from Hashem (also see (142) below). It is also a mitzvah to speak about Mashiach ben Yosef constantly, as the verse continues: " כי מדי דברי בו זכור אזכרנו עוד ", “Whenever I speak of him, I remember him more and more”; and Hashem pledges: “I will surely take pity on him”.(לא' יט) 

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Moshiach, now?

The following comment was posted on the previous post:

Please, Ari, please don't fall into the trap of predicting a scary downfall of America. Just three months ago, I asked R. Chaim Kanievsky if I should move my family to E"Y. I was all excited about it.

He replied that I cannot come without parnassah. I asked him if I should just "cash out" and come. He said, "Then you spend it and go back. What's the point?"

Parnassah is in the hands of HaShem. Thus, for us, so is moving to E'Y. In the meantime, we must have faith that HaShem is going to orchestrate the kibbutz galius we just read about in the Pesach haftorah.

Please don't be insensitive to those who b'emes long to come to E"Y, but don't have the financial capabilities (yet!) to do so.

I would just like to clarify my general approach with this blog. I really try not to make any predictions, and it was not my intent to predict the fall of the US. I was merely sharing a story with you that I thought would be interesting. I personally firmly believe that every single person must ask a shailah in regards to how they should proceed with life, and rest assured that if they follow da'as Torah, Hashem will not steer them wrong. I encourage everyone to do so, and it is interesting to me that when you asked R' Chaim he responded that way, as someone else recently told me in a conversation that they asked an American Gadol (who is very serious about the idea of living in Eretz Yisrael) the same question and received the same exact answer - one can not come here without a realistic plan for parnassah.

One thought I would like to mention that hits me as I am writing this, is that even if a particular Gadol, say, R' Kanievsky, told one person that this is the proper approach, he may not tell the next person the same thing. Our Gedolim are gifted with Ruach Hakodesh and receive constant guidance as they help out the Klal as well as the many individuals who seek their guidance. I almost laugh as I think about the obviousness of it, but I think we've learned that what a Gadol says for one person will not necessarily apply to another. Just because you read in this blog that R' Chaim told 'anonymous' not to come here doesn't mean you shouldn't ask your rav if it might be the right thing for you.

Our lives must center around serving Hashem, and while צפית לישועה is of course an important thing, it mustn't take over our lives. I realized how compulsively I was checking the news, and I realized that it began when I got very into the whole Moshiach kick. I was never into politics, not here in Israel, and not in the US. It is all a waste of time, and all it does is steer us away from our avodas Hashem. I have really been conscious of not looking at the news, and I am proud to say that I was surprised that I didn't know that 'Durban II' was happening until someone told me about it.

I think it is important to talk and be excited and hopeful about Moshiach's advent, and I do believe he will be here soon. I am happy to say that I don't know how soon, but I do wait for him every day, so I think I'm headed in a good direction. Do I think that the US will fall? I don't know, and I don't wish it upon anyone, certainly not our wonderful brothers and sisters who live there (and might even want to be here in Israel much more than being there). One thing I am sure of is that no matter where we are, Hashem will be taking care of us, and if we have indeed reached the final stages of Geulah, or are nearing them, there will be a tremendous amount of rachamim for us, not destruction ח"ו.

The final redemption will defy logic, and if one takes a look around, the entire world, and the entire state of affairs for the Jewish people as a whole defies all logic. When everything defies logic, it is Hashem's fingerprints, his voice whispering, "I'm here with you." When the winter goes by and it is one of the driest winters in years, and the weather experts are exclaiming that the chances of such a winter are zero - when the chances are zero, this is Hashem speaking. It's no coincidence that this horrible winter in Israel was the worst time for the entire world since the Great Depression. Israel is the conduit for Hashem's goodness. Whatever happens here is a sign of what is happening everywhere else.

Bottom line is that we need to love Hashem, commit to coming close to Him, chuck all the distractions, and focus in on what really counts. We don't need to know what will happen in the future. The more we try to figure it out, the more futile it will be. We can want Moshiach without needing to know when he will be here, and without trying to figure out precisely what will happen and how it will unfold.

In any event, my bet is that it will be interesting, as there's no better 'storyteller' than Hashem. We can sit back and enjoy the show without trying to figure out the ending. We can also get 'into' the story and watch as it progresses without getting carried away and losing sight of what's really important in our lives. We can be excited when we hear that the gematria of ברק אובאמה is the same as the נחש which is also the same as משיח because they are all forces that come into play in the final story. And we can also say that maybe that's not significant and maybe the story will end in a different way. If a great author can give you a surprising and shocking ending, do we think that we can figure out the ending to this story written by Hashem? No matter what it will be interesting, and no matter what it will be the Ultimate Good. Let's try to do this with balance.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fall of the US

Yeah, that title got your attention!

It's so funny, because the last place I would have expected to hear that the US is falling is in the misrad haklitah - the office for absorption.

See, my wife and I officially made aliyah a little less than three years ago after living here for over five years, and we basically lost all of our aliyah rights for waiting too long to make Aliyah. But because my parents kind of made aliyah in 1980 (long story), and I was with them, even though we went right back to the US then, I was able to get limited mortgage rights.

Anyway, on my 'teudat oleh' - the document I use to get the rights, it says I made aliyah in 1980. So when I go to transfer my American license to an Israeli one, which can only easily be done within three years of making aliyah, they tell me that it's a no-can-do - I made aliyah in 1980. It's been a lot more than three years. (Anyone following this?)

To make a long story short, I went to the office of absorption yesterday to see if we could get some document to make it clear that I've only been Israeli for less than three years, so I can just transfer my American license to an Israeli one (rather than taking 28 driving lessons). It becomes painfully clear that just about anything that makes sense logically is the opposite of what the law, and as you know, rules are rules.

In any event, talking to the woman there at the misrad haklitah, kind of laughing at our situation, she mentions that everyone is running away from America. I asked her what she meant. She said that the misrad haklitah is subsidizing many El Al flights for American Jews who are coming here in increasing numbers, getting away from the financial situation. She continued to tell me how there is no 'mussar' in the US, just people trying to make money, and now the 'egel hazahav' is falling. It sounded like she was talking straight out of an autistic website!

She asks me if I've seen the translation of the book of Daniel. She continues to tell me about the statue whose head is gold, body is bronze, and feet are dirt. "This is Obama!" she exclaims. "He is Christian, Muslim, and pagan!" I could barely contain my smile.

Either she's reading all the Moshiach sites too, or word is spreading fast.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Moshiach ben Yosef & Yehoshua VI

We continue with the last section of Rav Daniel Krentzman's sefer.

Kiddush Hashem

Another one of the aspects of Mashiach ben Yosef is “Kiddush Hashem,” “Sanctifying G-d’s Name" (Kol HaTor chapter 4, 1,) bringing all nations and peoples of the world to recognition of the one G-d Who communicates His will to man through the Torah and prophecy, and Who chose the Jewish People as His emissaries to bring the world to the intended purpose of knowing G-d and drawing near to Him in fulfilling His will. If one causes genuine recognition of any of these concepts among the nations, he achieves a level of Kiddush Hashem, and greatly illuminates the spiritual darkness that befell the world as a result of the first sin.

Yosef, throughout all the events regarding his descent to Egypt and rise to power there, achieved great Kiddush Hashem by constantly causing recognition of G-d, among all who met him and even among the most influential and notable figures in Egypt. Potifar, the minister of Pharaoh, recognized G-d through Yosef, as it says: “Vayar adonav ki Hashem ito v’kol asher hu oseh Hashem matzliach biyadoh” “And his master perceived that Hashem was with him, and whatever he did Hashem made succeed in his hand” (Bereishit 39:3.) The Midrash Tanchuma (8) there states that the reason that his master perceived that Hashem was with him was because “Shem shamayim shagur bi’fiv,” “The Name of Heaven was fluent in his mouth,” i.e. he would regularly refer to G-d in conversation.

While Yosef was in prison and the two ministers of wine and baking required interpretation of their dreams, before offering his wisdom, Yosef tells them: “… Haloh L’Elokim pitronim, sapru na li” “Do not interpretations belong to G-d? Relate to me, if you please” (Bereishit 40:8,) utilizing another opportunity to perform a Kiddush Hashem.

When Pharaoh himself asks Yosef to interpret his dream, Yosef says: “Biladai, Elokim ya’aneh et shlom Paroh,” “That is beyond me, it is G-d Who will respond with Pharaoh’s welfare” (Bereishit 41:16.) Later on, Pharaoh and his servants express greater recognition of G-d through Yosef, as it says: “Vayomer Paroh el avadav, hanimtzah kazeh ish asher ruach Elokim boh” “Pharaoh said to his servants, Could we find another like him-a man in whom is the spirit of G-d?” (Ibid. 38) and “Vayomer Paroh el Yosef, achrei hodiah Elokim otchah et kol zot, ein navone v’chacham kamochah” “And Pharaoh said to Yosef, since G-d has informed you of all this, there can be no one so discerning and wise as you” (Ibid. 39.)

Yehoshua, acting as Mashiach ben Yosef, also achieved great Kiddush Hashem in his lifetime. G-d had commanded the Jewish people to conquer Eretz Yisrael and wipe out the seven Canaanite nations who dwelled there. The Giveonim, who were among these nations, feared destruction and pretended to be a different foreign nation who had journeyed to Eretz Yisrael in order convert to Judaism. Before Yehoshua had a chance to judge the situation, the plea of the Giveonim already reached the Nesiim (leaders of the tribes). TheY made a covenant of peace with the Giveonim, swearing by G-d’s name that they would not kill them. By the time Yehoshua was made aware of the situation and the true identity of the Giveonim, the oath had been made and a covenant of peace established. The Torah clearly forbade such an act, as it says: “Lo tichrot lahem v’leilo’eihem brit” “You shall not seal a covenant with them or their gods” (Shemot 23:37).

Now, although later on in the Torah it says: “Rak mey’arey ha’amim ha’eileh asher Hashem Elokecha noten lecha nachalah, loh tichayeh kol nishamah” “But from these cities of these peoples that Hashem your G-d, gives you as an inheritance, you shall not allow any person to live” (Devarim 20:16.) Rashi (pasuk 11) points out that if they accept upon themselves taxation and servitude, even peoples of the seven nations may be allowed to live. The Rambam (Hilchot Melachim 6) expands on this, citing that in addition to accepting taxation and servitude, they must become “gerei toshav” meaning they must accept upon themselves the seven Noahite laws, causing them to lose their status as one of the seven nations, who must be killed, and become regular Noahite gentiles, who may live in Eretz Yisrael alongside the Jewish people.

Yehoshua was now faced with a problem; although the Giveonim had accepted to keep the mitzvot incumbent upon them, they had not yet accepted taxation and servitude, and the Jewish people were still required to kill them. In fact, the nation at large, were about to actually kill them, claiming that the oath of the Nesiim to let the Giveonim live only bound the Nesiim and not the entire nation. On the other hand, if Yehoshua allowed the Giveonim to be killed, in spite of the oath of the Nesiim, and in spite of their acceptance of the mitzvoth and belief in one G-d, there would be a great “Chillul Hashem” (desecration of G-d’s name). Therefore, in order to prevent Chillul Hashem and ensure a Kiddush Hashem in the eyes of the Giveonim and all who would later learn of what happened, Yehoshua made them woodcutters and water-carriers for the Mikdash, for now and for future generations. This compromise was a combination of taxation and servitude, allowing them to fulfill all three criteria and be allowed to live (see Malbim to Yehoshua 9, at length.)

Interestingly, the story doesn’t end there. The Emorim, another of the seven nations, attacks the Giveonim for allying themselves with an enemy nation, and the Giveonim send word to Yehoshua requesting aid. Yehoshua, in a great act of loyalty to the Giveonim, leads the people to their aid and wins the battle. In pursuit of the fleeing Emorim, G-d performs a tremendous miracle by causing the sun to stop its course in the heavens, and allows enough time for Yehoshua to defeat the remaining Emorim (see Yehoshua 10). As a result of this great miracle, performed in Yehoshua’s merit, all the nations of the world recognized the greatness of G-d and His People and Kiddush Hashem was achieved. This is what Yaakov hinted at when he gave the blessing to Efraim in (Bereishit 48:19): “…Vizaroh yihiyeh miloh hagoyim” “And his offspring (i.e. his offspring’s fame) will fill the nations”, that is, the Kiddush Hashem when the nations hear of Yehoshua’s stopping the sun in the heavens (see Bereishit Rabbah 97:6.)

Yehoshua’s Burial

A final hint to Yehoshua’s manifestation of the mission of Mashiach ben Yosef in his lifetime is the juxtaposition of Yehoshua’s burial to the burial of Yosef. Sefer Yehoshua (24:29-30) recounts Yehoshua’s death and burial. Yehoshua, like Yosef, died at the age of one-hundred and ten (Bereishis 50:22, Yehoshua 24:29.) The following pasukim relate that Am Yisrael served Hashem throughout Yehoshua’s lifetime and throughout the generation of the Zikenim (Elders) that lived afterward. Then (in pasuk 32) Yosef’s burial in Shechem is recounted, clearly pointing out the strong connection between Yosef and Yehoshua. Yehoshua, being the continuation of the spiritual legacy and mission of Yosef HaTzaddik, who fully encompassed the role of Tikkun Olam, setting the precedent for all future Mashichei ben Yosef to follow. Until the final stage of the process is fulfilled and we merit the coming of Mashiach ben David, may he come speedily in our days, Amen.

I offer Thanks and Praise to Hashem for granting me the merit and ability to complete this work.

Thanks to Rav Daniel Krentzman for giving his permission to publish the sefer on this blog.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Who will build the third Beis Hamikdash?

Rabbenu Bachai says a most interesting thing on the parsha, in talking about the חזיר - the pig. The pig only has one sign, which is that it has split hooves, but it does not chew its cud. The exile that we are currently in, Galus Edom (Western culture), is represented by the pig. (For a deeper understanding of that, please listen to my parsha podcast.)

Rabbenu Bachai brings a medrash that explains why the pig is called a חזיר, which comes from the root חזר - to return. The first pshat in the medrash is that Hashem will be מחזיר - i.e. bring upon them (Edom) - the attribute of Divine justice.

The second pshat is most interesting. The wording is that in the future they will be מחזיר (return) the crown to its former glory. He explains that this means that whereas the first and second Batei Mikdash were made by Jews, the final one will be made by the people of Edom! Thus, they will return the crown (i.e. the Beis Hamikdash), which they had destroyed, to its former glory.

The third pshat is that they will return in a different way. Whereas until that final stage of history, the people of Edom will oppress and torment the Jewish people for sticking to their spiritual path, when Moshiach finally arrives, they will encourage the Jewish people as they endeavor to come close to Hashem.


In this week's Parsha podcast, we discuss the depths of the lessons that one can discern within the two requirements of a Kosher animal - chewing its cud and having split hooves.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Moshiach ben Yosef & Yehoshua V

We continue with the second to last installment of Rav Daniel Krentzman's sefer.

Aseh V’Hatzliach – Success through Doing Actively

Another essential factor in the mission of Mashiach ben Yosef is that the goals and efforts towards Tikkun Olam be achieved through “Asiyah,” that is, physical human effort and involvement in the physical world. Since Tikkun Olam is about rectifying the spiritual damage that occurred to the physical world, man’s once ideal environment for self-perfection and drawing near to G-d, the initial part of man’s mission is to engage the physical world, extract and utilize the holiness therein and remove the strength of impurity that has taken hold as a result of Adam’s sin and diminished G-d’s light. In doing so, man rectifies and cleanses the world of the evil counter-force to G-d’s revelation, enabling the world to once again be used as the perfect environment for spiritual self-perfection and knowing G-d. This was Adam’s principle occupation before the sin, with the physical world no longer serving as a barrier or hindrance, but as a means of elevation. Because of this, Mashiach ben Yosef builds the physical infrastructure, working within the realm of Asiyah. This will serve as the vessel for the spiritual revelation of G-d, through guiding humanity toward spiritual perfection and knowing G-d, which Mashiach ben David is ultimately responsible for.

This aspect of Yosef is hinted at in the Torah where it relates: “Vayar adonav ki Hashem ito v’kol asher hu oseh Hashem matzliach biyadoh” “And his master perceived that Hashem was with him, and whatever he did (oseh-Asiyah) Hashem made succeed in his hand (Matzliach biyado)” (Bereishit 39:3) (see Kol HaTor chapter 2:7.)

In the desert, Moshe is the main spiritual leader of the Jewish people. In many ways Moshe resembles an angel more than a man: He ascends Har Sinai, amidst fire and smoke, unharmed; remains there for 40 days and nights without food or water; receives the entire Torah from G-d; envisions G-d’s Glory with the greatest clarity of any man; and his face even shines like the brilliance of the sun to the point that people can’t look directly at his face; the power of his prayer and ability to be answered immediately from G-d are unsurpassed; and he spends all his time in constant state of spiritual readiness to receive the direct word of G-d. If anyone could be considered a transcendent and spiritual being, it would be Moshe. On the other hand, there is Yehoshua, who, although spiritually great in his own right, is less associated with the spiritual, transcendent, characteristics of Moshe and more with the quality of “Asiyah”, doing actively and physically, for the Am.

When we look at the episode of the battle with Amalek (Shemot 17) this distinction becomes apparent. Moshe tells Yehoshua to go out and lead the physical battle with Amalek, while he remains on a hilltop over-looking the battle and prays fervently for the success of the nation. Moshe is engaging in the spiritual battle with Amalek above as Yehoshua engages in the physical one below, weakening Amalek with his prayer, while Yehoshua weakens them with his sword.

The mann, a spiritual-like food, which fed the nation in the desert, fell from heaven in the merit of Moshe (Taanit 9a.) Upon Yehoshua leading the people into Eretz Yisrael, the mann ceased and the nation entered the more physical, active and natural state of receiving their sustenance from the land, no longer from the heavens (see Yehoshua 5:12)

This distinction becomes particularly apparent in the episode of the initial failed battle of Ai (Yehoshua 7): After Yehoshua dedicates all the spoils of the conquered city of Yericho to the Mikdash and service of Hashem, Achan ben Karmi misappropriates some of the spoil and takes it for himself. As a result of this, G-d’s anger is kindled against the nation and when the Jews attack the city of Ai, they fail in their assault and suffer casualties. When Yehoshua hears about what has happened, it says (ibid. 6): “Vaykra Yehoshua et simlotuv vayipol al panav artzah lifney aron Hashem …” “And Yehoshua tore his garment and he fell on his face on the ground before the aron of Hashem…” Yehoshua then supplicates in prayer to Hashem over the loss and defeat of the nation. However, Hashem responds sharply (ibid. 10): “Vayomer Hashem el Yehoshua Kume Lach lamah zeh atah nofel al panecha, chatah Yisrael vigam avru et briti asher tzivity otum vigam lakchu min hecherem…” “And Hashem said to Yehoshua: Get yourself up, why do you fall on your face!? Yisrael has transgressed my covenant that I have commanded them and they have also taken from the consecrated spoil…” G-d goes on to instruct Yehoshua to gather the people and conduct a ceremony by which G-d will indicate who the perpetrator is and single him out from the rest of the people and to have him killed and his belongings destroyed. Upon taking a more active, actionable role in dealing with the problem at hand, G-d’s anger is abated. In this exchange, G-d rejects Yehoshua’s utilization of prayer and supplication in the situation at hand and instead strongly encourages him to be active in bringing the offender to justice, through “Asiyah.”

To be continued...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Moshiach ben Yosef & Yehoshua IV

We continue with Rav Daniel Krentzman's sefer on Moshiach ben Yosef and Yehoshua.

Giluy Sod –Revealing the Hidden Inner Dimension of the Torah

Another important aspect of Mashiach ben Yosef is “Sod,” the possession and development of the hidden inner dimension of the Torah, and at times, its revelation to the world. Sod can also be defined as the deeper, underlying, spiritual perspective behind everything that exists in the physical world and all the events that occur in history. Mashiach ben Yosef, as the active mover and developer of the world through physical, human effort, must have this inner spiritual perspective, in order that his efforts align with the guiding force of G-d’s will, in bringing creation to its intended purpose. Also, through teaching this perspective to the world at large and making people conscious of G-d’s inner guiding will, Mashiach ben Yosef shows each person how to contribute to this effort according to his or her own level of capability in this world.

The Torah relates: “V’Yisrael ahav et Yosef mikol banav ki ven zikunim hu loh,” “And Yisrael (Yaakov) loved Yosef more than all his sons because he (Yosef) was a ‘ven zikunim’ to him”(Bereishis, 37:3.) Targum Onkelos translates “ben zikunim” as “bar chakim, “he possessed wisdom” significantly more than the other brothers. Because of this, Yaakov transmitted the secrets of the Torah to Yosef alone (see Baal HaTurim and Midrash Rabbah, 84:5.) Later on (Bereishis 41:45) Pharaoh, recognizing Yosef’s unique talent in this area, gives him the name “Tzafnat Panayach” which Onkelos translates as “Gavra D’Mitarman Galya Ley,” “The Man to whom the Hidden is Revealed” (see also Kol HaTor chapter 2,122.)

The Vilna Gaon (Kol HaTor chapter 2,98) mentions this aspect of Sod as being connected with the mission of Mashiach ben Yosef, but also places it specifically in the context of Yehoshua, where it states“…Sim B’Oznei Yehoshua…” “…Place (or recite) in the ears of Yehoshua…”(Shemot 17:10.) The Vilna Gaon points out that this is hinting at Yehoshua’s mission as the Mashiach ben Yosef in possession of the aspect of “Sod” because “B’Oznei” has the same gematria as “Sod” and “Sod” spelled out in miluy form is the same gematria as “Mashiach ben Yosef”.

This may also be hinted at through the words of Chazal (Megillah 3a): which says: “…Vayelech Yehoshua balailah hahu b’toch HaEmek” “And Yehoshua went that night into the midst of the valley (Emek);” on that night Yehoshua delved into the “Omkoh Shel Halacha” the “Depths of the Halacha,” that is, the Hidden (sod) dimension of the Torah, the knowledge of which he primarily possessed.

Kibbutz Galiot – The Goals Connected with Eretz Yisrael

Kibbutz Galuyot, the conquest and development of Eretz Yisrael by the Jewish People is one of the main responsibilities of Mashiach ben Yosef. This is because Eretz Yisrael serves as the catalyst for Tikkun Olam. The Vilna Gaon in Kol Hator (chapter 2:6) elaborates on the goals of Kibbutz Galuyot. This includes the conquest of the land and the Jewish People’s established presence there; the removal of the “ruach hatumah” “spirit of impurity” from the land; and the fulfillment of the mitvot dependant on the land.

Yosef’s unique essential connection to Eretz Yisrael is expressed in many ways in various places throughout the Torah and Midrashei Chazal. Most famously, is Yosef’s declaration: “..Gunov gunavty mei’eretz ha’ivrim…” “I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews”(Bereishis 40:16) in contrast to Moshe’s lack of association with E”Y when he doesn’t protest Yitro’s daughters’ description of him as an “Ish Mitzri” “Egyptian Man”(see Midrash.) Also, Yosef compels the brothers to have his bones brought to Eretz Yisrael and to be buried there in Shchem (Midrash HaGadol 50:24). “Tzion”, the focal point of Eretz Yisrael, shares the same gematria (156) as “Yosef”.

In Egypt Yosef gave the land of Goshen to the other Tribes where they settled and established themselves. Because the Jews lived in Goshen, their physical and spiritual center throughout the Egyptian exile, Goshen became their property and domain; and in some aspects left the realm of Egyptian land and took on a degree of holiness, demonstrated by the fact that none of the plagues decreed over Egypt took effect in Goshen. Interestingly, Chazal say that it is this same Goshen of Egypt that later becomes part of Eretz Yisrael when Yehoshua inherits the territory of the land, as it states: “And Yehoshua took this entire land: the mountain and the entire South and the entire land of Goshen…”(Yehoshua 11:17.) Thus, when Yosef gathered the 12 tribes into Goshen and established them there, he was conquering the land and affecting Kibbutz Galiot in a way that would later be completed through Yehoshua, as Mashiach ben Yosef.

When Yosef was in power in Egypt as Pharaoh’s viceroy and the famine struck, the Egyptians came to him for food. Since he was in charge of all the granaries, Yosef was the most powerful person in Egypt and the entire world, at the time. He subjugated the Egyptians through their need to gain sustenance from him; acquired all their property and possessions; made them administer the Brit Milah to themselves (Yalkut Shimoni 1:148, Midrash HaGadol 41:55) and converted many of them to the Hebrew faith (see Sha’arei Pesukim of R’ Chayim Vital, Shemot.) This was a manifestation of Yosef’s aspect of control and subjugation of the “ruach hatumah” “spirit of impurity” of Egypt and in the world and therefore a manifestation of his ability to remove the tumah and let the strength of holiness pervade the world. Similarly, Yehoshua, as Mashiach ben Yosef, drew spiritual strength from this aspect of Yosef, removing the “ruach hatumah” from the land. This was achieved by conquering and subjugating the Canaanite kings and nations, removing their power and influence to the extent that he could (see Yehoshua 12.)

Once the “ruach hatumah” has been removed and/or subjugated, the next stage in the mission of Mashiach ben Yosef is the fulfillment of the mitzvot of Eretz Yisrael; thus developing the innate holiness of the land and allowing it to spill forth, spiritually elevating and refining the Jewish nation dwelling there. In this area, Yehoshua comes to play a particularly strong role. In (Yehoshua 20:1-3) it relates: “Vayidaber Hashem el Yehoshua leimor: Dabair el B’nai Yisrael leimor: T’nu lachem arei hamiklat asher dibarty aleichem b’yad Moshe, lanouss shamah rotzeach makey nefesh bishgagah bibli daat …” “And Hashem said to Yehoshua saying: Speak to the Children of Yisrael, saying: Prepare for yourselves cities of refuge about which I spoke to you through Moshe, where a killer may flee-one who kills a person through carelessness, unintentionally…” The Malbim points out that after Moshe, no other prophet is addressed through the phrase “Vayidaber Hashem el…leimor” because this phrase is used to refer to reception of Torah She’bichtav or Torah She’baal peh (the Written or Oral Torah) which was given through Moshe alone and no one else afterward. However, the one exception to this rule was here, where Yehoshua is spoken to using this phrase and he is actually given over halachot (laws) concerning the mitzvah of Cities of Refuge, a mitzvah unique to Eretz Yisrael, that do not appear any where else in the Torah, such as appears in the next pasuk: (ibid, 4): “He shall flee to one of these cities, stand at the entrance to the city gate, speak his words into the ears of the elders of that city…” from where the gemara (Makkot 10b) teaches that a city completely inhabited by murderers can’t function as a city of refuge, and so on. This episode demonstrates one example of Yehoshua’s unique role in implementing the mitvot of the land, acting as Mashiach ben Yosef.

To be continued...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Moshiach ben Yosef & Yehoshua III

We again continue with Rav Daniel Krentzman's sefer on Moshiach ben Yosef and Yehoshua.

Yeshoshua’s Reception of the Aspect of Mashiach ben Yosef

At the very beginning of sefer Yehoshua the pasuk states: “And it was after the death of Moshe, servant of Hashem, that Hashem said to Yehoshua son of Nun, (Misharet Moshe) attendant of Moshe, saying: “My servant Moshe has died, Now arise, cross this Jordan, you and this entire people, to the land that I give to them, the Children of Israel.” The Vilna Gaon comments on this pasuk, as Chazal say elsewhere: “Gadol Shimushehah shel Torah m’limudehah,” “Greater are those who serve the Torah than those who learn it.” This means that it is greater, in some aspect, to serve Talmidei Chachamim, who embody the Torah itself, than to merely learn it. Through close proximity to Talmidei Chachamim on a day-to-day basis, and intimate involvement with them throughout their life, one can truly take upon themselves the Chacham’s qualities and incorporate within themselves the very essence of the person they shadow and serve. Through this the attendant may achieve great spiritual heights as well; similar to those of the person he attended to. The Vilna Gaon elaborates: Everything that Yehoshua merited to achieve in his life was as a result of his having served and attended to Moshe on this intimate level. Not only did he receive the tradition of the Torah but he also received the spiritual training necessary to be capable of miraculously leading the Jewish people in the conquest of Eretz Yisrael.

This is seen clearly, earlier in Yehoshua’s life in Parshas Shemosh: “V’Deeber Hashem el Moshe Panim el Panim k’asher yidaber ish lire’eihu, v’shav el hamachaneh Umishartoh Yehoshua bin Nun, naar, loh yamish mitoch ha’ohel,” “Hashem would speak to Moshe face to face, as a man would speak with his fellow; then he would return to the camp and his attendant (mishartoh), Yehoshua bin Nun, a lad, would not depart from within the Tent” (Shemot 33:11.) As a result of this,when Moshe does not merit to enter Eretz Yisrael and must pass on the leadership, the Torah recounts: “Vayomer Hashem el Moshe, Kach Lecha et Yehoshua bin Nun, ish asher ruach boh, v’samachta et yadecha alov…v’natatah mei’hodchah alav…,” “And Hashem said to Moshe, Take to yourself Yehoshua son of Nun, a man in whom there is spirit, and lean your hand upon him…You shall place some of your majesty upon him…” (Bamidbar 27:18-20.) Moshe imparted to Yehoshua as much of his spiritual influence as he could. Yehoshua merited this as a result of binding himself to Moshe on every level, with his entire being. This is similar to the relationship between Elisha and Eliyahu HaNavi (in Melachim 1, 19:21), where it says regarding Elisha: “Vayelech acharei Eliyahu vayisharteihu,” And he (Elishah) went after Eliyahu and attended unto him.” Later on in (Melachim 2, 2:15) it says: “…Nochah Ruach Eliyahu al Elisha…” “The spirit of Eliyahu has rested upon Elisha…”

One of the main parts of Moshe’s imparting to Yehoshua was the transmission of the spiritual aspect and mission of Mashiach ben Yosef, which Moshe had contained within himself and achieved during yetziat mitzrayim. Yehoshua, who served in many ways as an extension and continuation of Moshe, received the mission of Mashiach ben Yosef and acted in that role. Beginning from the time he lead the battle against Amalek, throughout the conquest of Eretz Yisrael (see Kol HaTor chapter 2:44,141.)

Yehoshua as Mashiach ben Yosef - War with Amalek

One of the main aspects of Mashiach ben Yosef’s mission is the war with Amalek (see Kol HaTor, chapter 2.) Amalek is the seed of Eisav and the main continuation of his negative spiritual legacy; primarily, the denial of the belief in G-d and of the eternity of the soul. Eisav denied Olam Habah and Techiat HaMaitim (Bava Batra 16) in contrast to Yosef who remained firm in his belief in Olam Habah and Techiat HaMaitim (see Bereishit 50:24.) Another hint to Yosef HaTzaddik’s personification of emunah (faith) is the pasuk in Chabakuk (2:4): “Tzaddik B’Emunato Yichyeh” “A Tzaddik will live in his faith,” the central characteristic of the Tzaddik, Yosef, is faith. For every negative spiritual force that G-d brings into the world, there is a counter force from the side of holiness, with the potential to overcome it. In the Midrash Tanchuma, when Lavan confronts Yaakov about his unannounced departure and asks why he left after Yosef’s birth, as opposed to any of the other brothers, Yaakov replies: “I know that Yosef possesses the power to overcome Eisav, therefore I am now able to return and face my brother.” Therefore, Amalek, the extension of Eisav, is confronted and fought by Mashiach ben Yosef, the extension of Yosef HaTzaddik. This is also expressed in the words of the prophet Ovadiah (1:18) comparing Eisav to straw and the house of Yosef to a flame that consumes the straw.

When Amalek first appears during yetzias mitzrayim, Yehoshua, acting in his role as Mashiach ben Yosef, leads the battle against them. “Vayavo Amalek vayilachem im Yisrael bi’Rifidim. Vayomer Moshe el Yehoshua, bachar lunou anashim v’tzeih hilachem b’Amalek…Vayass Yehoshua k’asher amar loh Moshe l’hilachem b’Amalek…”(Shemot 17:8-10.) “Vayachalosh Yehoshua et Amalek v’et amoh l’fee hacharev. Vayomer Hashem el Moshe, ktav zot zikaron b’sefer v’sam b’oznei Yehoshua, ki machoh emcheh et zecher Amalek mitachat hashamayim”(ibid, 13-14.) “And Amalek came and battled Yisrael in Rephidim. Moshe said to Yehoshua, Choose men and go out to battle with Amalek…Yehoshua did as Moshe said to him, to do battle with Amalek…And Yehoshua weakened Amalek and its people with the sword’s blade. And Hashem said to Moshe, Write as a remembrance in the Book and recite in the ears of Yehoshua, that I shall surely erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens."

To be continued...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pesach Podcast

The Pesach podcast is entitled 'Blossoming Redemption,' and discussed are the following questions.

Why do we have the seder at night if the actual redemption happened during the day?

Why is it important that Pesach is referred to as 'Chag ha'aviv?'

Why does Pesach seem to be a climax of redemption, yet we see it also seems to be the beginning stage of counting toward Shavuos?

Moshiach ben Yosef & Yehoshua II

We continue with the introduction of Daniel Krentzman's sefer on Moshiach ben Yosef and Yehoshua.

An Introduction to the Aspect of Mashiach ben Yosef

Before Adam HaRishon sinned, by eating from the Etz HaDaat, his personal avodah was primarily to perfect himself spiritually. He was placed in Gan Eden in an environment that would allow him to achieve the spiritual goal of self-perfection and knowing G-d. His relationship to the physical world centered on its use as a means toward his perfection. After the sin, Adam’s previously high spiritual standing was greatly reduced and a great amount of spiritual imperfection became included in his being. Not only that, but he also caused tremendous spiritual damage to the physical world, unraveling the once ordered and harmonious web that bound the physical and spiritual in unity allowing for G-d’s light to be revealed in the world in the proper way. As a result, death, tumah (impurity) and imperfection all became incorporated into Adam’s body and the physical world as a whole. Now, the world itself would require great tikun (rectification) and fixing in order to restore it to the harmony and unity that once existed and allow for the correct environment for man’s spiritual growth and self-perfection to enable him to bind himself to G-d properly (see Derech Hashem, chapter 3).

As a result of the world's need for rectification, post-sin, a new concept was added into Adam’s avodah in this world. His pre-sin avodah was of self-perfection and drawing closer to G-d. Now, his avodah also included the rectification of the physical world through the retrieval of the sparks of holiness that had descended into impurity. This could only be done through direct and rigorous involvement in the physical world. In doing so, he would remove the power and influence of tumah and evil, which had increased in the world, and re-establish the total good and unity that existed in creation pre-sin. Then the world would serve as the ideal environment for man to choose the good and perfection of doing the will of G-d and to partake of the infinite good that G-d intended for him.

This mission of man is referred to as Tikun Olam (World-Rectification). It exists one step below and feeds into man’s original purpose, Tikun Adam (Self or Soul-Rectification). This dichotomy makes up the complete picture of all of man’s challenges and experiences in this world: Man’s relationship to the world around him, his outer world; and his relationship to his inner world, within himself.

Throughout the generations that proceeded from Adam, people began to take on these two rectifications in their lives, some succeeding but many failing, causing more damage to creation and creating a greater need for continued rectification. The Avot and other great personalities in Tanach, at different points in their lives, became the main movers in the world in one of these two areas of rectification; at some points manifesting the Tikun Adam aspect and at others the Tikun Olam aspect. For example, Avraham primarily began to express the spiritual mission of Tikun Olam upon arriving to Eretz Yisrael; Yitzchak from after the Akeidah; Yaakov from the time of his wrestling with the angel; Yosef from the time of his first dream; Moshe Rabbeinu from Yetzias Mitzrayim before the giving of the Torah; and Yehoshua from the beginning of the war with Amalek (see Kol HaTor, chapter 1:23.) However, these two missions of rectification are said to have reached a point of fruition and maturity while climaxing within two separate personalities in Jewish History: The aspect of Tikun Adam within David HaMelech and the aspect of Tikun Olam within Yosef HaTzadik. From this, the concept of Mashiach ben David and Mashiach ben Yosef becomes introduced. In their lives the qualities associated with Tikun Adam and Tikun Olam became perfected to such an extent that anyone who would later express and develop any such qualities would be referred to as manifesting an aspect of Mashiach ben David or Mashiach ben Yosef. Ultimately, two people will usher in the final redemption, through each focusing on one of these two rectifications as their life mission. They will respectively be called Mashiach ben David and Mashiach ben Yosef proper.

Until the shoes of the final two Mashichim are filled and the redemption arrives fully, in every generation there is one person who manifests and predominates the aspect of Mashiach ben David and another of Mashiach ben Yosef; two people who may potentially fulfill the ultimate mission of the final respective Mashiach who heralds in the redemption. In a more micro-level perspective of the situation, every Jew manifests one of these two aspects predominantly in their lives at one point or another, as a ben Yosef or a ben David. His manifestation of one of the two aspects depends on the circumstances and challenges of his life as well as his place in bringing about the rectification of the entire world.

The mission of Mashiach ben Yosef, spiritually and physically, is Tikun Olam (World Rectification); in preparation and in initiation of the coming of the final Mashiach, ben David, who completes the final stage of man’s perfection and life’s purpose. This mission of Tikun Olam is multi-faceted, encompassing many aspects, and spanning many levels, both physical and spiritual. The Vilna Gaon, in Kol HaTor, deals at length with each of these concepts. In this work, my goal is to focus on Yehoshua bin Nun and to demonstrate his manifestation of Mashiach ben Yosef, pointing out and expanding upon those aspects of Mashiach ben Yosef that pertain to his life and the events described in Tanach regarding his particular role as Mashiach ben Yosef. Therefore, I will mainly address those concepts connected to the events surrounding Yehoshua bin Nun.

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Moshiach ben Yosef & Yehoshua

A number of months ago, I sang at a wedding where the chosson had written a little sefer about Moshiach ben Yosef and Yehoshua. I recently came across the copy I had gotten, and called him up to ask for permission to reprint it in the blog. He graciously acquiesced, so here I will present, in segments, some of the interesting contents of this sefer, written by Rav Daniel Krentzman.

The concept of Mashiach ben Yosef appears once in Shas, in an obscure aggadah in (Succah 52a) that expounds a pasuk in Zecharyah. At the end of a prophetic portrayal of the war of Gog and Magog, it relates: The land will eulogize, each family by itself, the family of David by itself and their wives by themselves (12:12). One opinion amongst the Tannaim identifies this as the eulogy of Mashiach descended from the tribe of Yosef, who will have been killed in the war. The Maharsha explains that Mashiach ben Yosef will precede the coming of Mashiach ben David, saving the Jewish People, but dying in the process. After this, Mashiach ben David will be able to bring about the complete and total redemption.

Although little mention is given to Mashiach ben Yosef in the gemara, the Vilna Gaon teaches in Kol HaTor (1:2): It is incumbent upon each of us to learn and understand all the aspects and spiritual qualities of Mashiach ben Yosef, that they be a candle to light the way of our steps and accessible to us like a set table, to guide us in the way of action and the particular tasks that are upon us in order to assist the redemption of Yisrael, and bring it speedily.

The concept of Mashiach ben Yosef is discussed at great length in the Zohar and the writings of the Ari’’Zal. It is also discussed in later Kabbalistic works by the RamChaL, the Vilna Gaon, and others. Upon deeper analysis of Pasukim in Tanach and Midrashei Chazal, numerous references and teachings about Mashiach ben Yosef become apparent.

I was motivated by the above injunction of the Vilna Gaon to develop these ideas and to commit them to writing in English, in order to present an introduction to the concept of Mashiach ben Yosef, for the English speaking public. My ideas are based on the teachings of the Vilna Gaon in Kol HaTor but include ideas created from discussion with present influential Rabbeim in my life. I would like to thank in particular Rav Pinchas Winston and Rav Avraham Sutton for opening me up to and helping me gain a basis in this area of Torah. I must also extend deepest heartfelt thanks to Rav Yehoshua Gerzi for playing such a large role in my development in this area of Torah and for encouraging me to take on this project, as well as in other areas of my spiritual development

The topic of Mashiach is vast and deep. Therefore this work should be considered only a small introduction to taste of but a few drops of the Torah knowledge surrounding the topic. Yosef HaTzaddik established the spiritual foundation and prototypical form that the concept of Mashiach ben Yosef has taken throughout history. Yehoshua bin Nun was the first to fully manifest and develop this spiritual mission and take it further. I therefore am focusing on the two of them, which is the approach set before me by the Vilna Gaon in Kol HaTor, in order to give over the concept of Mashiach ben Yosef with the best clarity and familiarity.

To be continued...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Rav Elya Svei's hesped and more

A reader of this blog was at Rav Elya's levaya, and shared with me that Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Philadelphia, in his eulogy of Rav Svei, said that Rav Svei had said ten years ago that Moshiach would come in 2009.

A comment on the previous post gave the following link to a video of Rav Elya himself quoting Reb Elchonon Wasserman's statement in 1939 at 36 minutes and 20 seconds.

Another comment from 'גילוי' (keitz meguleh) stated that the seventy years spoken of are not consecutive, and in fact some of that time occurred before 5699 and some will occur after 5769 as well.

Another point worthy of mention was something my wife read in the Mishpacha magazine, which quoted Rav Kaduri (who the author of the article personally heard it from) as saying that on the day of Birkas Hachama (this Wednesday) there will be a sign of מתיקות הדינים - sweetening of judgments.

I found this last point to be very significant, as my הרגש tells me (for what it's worth) that we are in for some hefty רחמים from Hashem, and if we are indeed standing at the threshold of Moshiach, then the incredible miracles that await us will require the type of actions that are above the logic dictating what we deserve, getting us into the realm of Kesser.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Seventy years

In the previous posts we saw that there is a significant period of seventy years that constitutes the 'pregnancy' of the redemption. It is characterized by a 'conception' which is especially difficult, and a 'birth' which is difficult as well.

In light of this, the story that I mentioned a while ago becomes ever-so-interesting. Here I will repeat it.

I recently heard from a very reliable source that Rav Elya Svei z'l said that in 1939, Rav Elchanan Wasserman said that Moshiach would come in seventy years. After I heard that story, I "happened" upon another story that Rav Elya Lopian said over (in his sefer Lev Eliyahu) 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 twenty five years. That story ends there, but clearly Rav Elchanan Wasserman was someone in the know.

Someone showed me a similar story in a sefer that quoted Rav Nosson Wachtfogel z'l, who said that at the beginning of World War I, people were coming to the Chofetz Chaim asking him if that was to be the war of Gog Umagog, and his response was that it was the first of three, as he told Reb Elchanan.

When Rav Wachtfogel was asked how we would survive a possible nuclear war, his response was that in Egypt, the Jew and Egyptian drank from the same cup of water, but the Egyptian drank blood, and the Jew drank water.

What's also interesting is that World War II actually began on the first of September in 1939, which was still 5699, seventy years ago, and Kristallnacht, which many consider the beginning of Hitler's final solution occurred the previous year ('38) in November, which was also 5699.

I have a friend who is related to Rav Svei z'l, and he told me that Rav Svei has been consistently saying for the last twenty years that Moshiach is coming in 5769. אמן כן יהי רצון

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Parshas Tzav

This week's parsha podcast speaks about the two dimensions of Mitzvah observance - action and intent. If you have one without the other, it's like a horse without a carriage.

Understanding the Geulah process III

We continue with the first chapter of Acharis Ke'raishis:

Here we have 'two prophets saying a similar prophecy.' The order of the redemption is split into two stages. One is the redemption itself, and the other is the beginning of the redemption, referred to as the "פקידה." [This language of פקידה is found in the Gemara (Rosh Hashana 10b), where it says that on Rosh Hashana, Sarah was "נפקדה" - remembered. Rashi explains that this means that their memory came for good (before Hashem) and a pregnancy was decreed for them. It is clear that before the birth, which is the completion of the redemption, and as we will see its process is compared to birth, the process starts with a פקידה remembrance, where Hashem remembers (פוקד) his people, and remembers (זוכר) them for good in order to begin their redemption. See Beraishis (21:1) on the verse, "And Hashem remembered (פקד) Sarah as He spoke, and did to Sarah as He said." There Rashi explains, based on the midrash, that the words 'as He spoke' refer to conception, and the words 'as He said' refer to birth. These are precisely the two stages we are speaking about.]

Similarly we see [from both the Ramchal and the Gra] that the order of the beginning of the [final] redemption will be as it was with the Second Temple in the days of Koresh (Cyrus), and it will also be similar to the order of the redemption from Egypt, that at first their labor was intensified, nevertheless, they had already reached the beginning of redemption. Only afterwards was there a movement from the Right side [the side of Kindness].

These ideas are also mentioned in the words of the Gra explicitly in his explanation of the Zohar on Parshas Mishpatim קכ ע"א "The פקידה (first stage) will be in Tishrei, but [the redemption] will be pushed off until Nissan, because Tishrei is the Left arm - Rosh Hashana - as is known." See there. Also explained there (קיט ע"ב) is that the beginning of the redemption which we mentioned is referred to as the "חבלי משיח" - the birth pangs of Moshiach. These are his words:

The night is compared to exile, and the morning [is compared] to redemption, like the verse says (Rus 3), "Sleep until morning." And before the redemption, the exile will become more severe than the entire exile, as it says (Berachos 6b), "אגרא דכלה דוחקא" - the reward of the 'bride' [i.e. the Shechina and Klal Yisrael] is made greater by difficulty. This is the darkness (שחרות) of the morning (שחר), that before the day breaks, it is the darkest part of the night, and therefore it is called שחר [which connotes both morning and darkness]. And the seventy קלין (voices or cries) are seventy years which are referred to as the birth pangs of Moshiach, because the entire exile is like a pregnant woman whose due date is getting closer every day, and the redemption is compared to a birth, as we find in the verse (Yeshaya 66), "Would a nation be born... Zion has birthed her children..." When the time comes for birth, the pain is greater than all of the time she was pregnant, as we find in the verse (Bereshis 3), "I will make your difficulty great, and your pregnancy will be painful" - pregnancy is the exile. The birth pangs of Moshiach correspond to a woman about to give birth.

He writes further in ביאור אגדות סבי דבי אתונא "נחש בכמה מיעבר":

All the preparations that Hakadosh Baruch Hu prepares for the good of the world are done in a hidden place near Him. When the preparation is completed, the action is done, and this is its birth... However, during the preparation, that good is not revealed at all, and the original state of destruction seems to continue. For in order for the rectification of that state of destruction to take place, the Supernal Thought is continuously activating its plans; but it is not a complete destruction [even while the plans are not completely activated], and when Hakadosh Baruch Hu takes [that plan], there is an immediate effect to rectify the matter so the world will not be destroyed. Nevertheless, the destruction of the order [of the world on the surface] remains as long as the preparation is made in the Transcendental realm without being revealed below. From this, we can also understand that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is only doing good, and even in a time of hiddenness, it is not that He is disgusted with His world, rather that He is preparing the rectification for its damage. Nevertheless, this preparation is done in a hidden place, and either way, the world undergoes many evils and difficulty.

To be continued...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Understanding the Geulah process II

One quick note, by way of introduction to the following piece. The concept of Shechina - the divine presence - always corresponds to the lowest level of the dimensions of reality, as does the concept of עפר - dust, as well as the Jewish people themselves, who are the vehicle for the Shechina, that is, Hashem's revelation in the physical world.

We continue with the first chapter of Acharis Keraishis:

The Ramchal further writes:

There are many actions involved in the פקידה ('conceptual remembering' - first stage) and they are hinted to in the verses of the wise one [King Shlomo] in the Song of Songs, as I will explain subsequently, with Hashem's help. The first action is explained by the verses brought previously, and that is the קימה - rising - of the Shechina (divine presence) from the dust. Therefore it says, "When I fell, I rose (קמתי)," and it also says, "Move from the dust, rise up (קומי) O captives of Jerusalem." I will tell you what this rising (קימה) is. The people of Israel only experienced darkness, and there was none to console them from their great difficulties that constantly worsened with each passing day. Their souls therefore sank into the dust, that is, the 'husks' (i.e. the forces of evil). When this time (פקידה) comes, someone to console them is found, and the Shechina rises (קמה) from this dust, and it is strengthened, despite it being amongst these forces of evil - for it has not yet escaped them - nevertheless it is not as before, [where the Shechina was] depressed and consumed by grief, as it were; For now, the light of Kingship has been taken [by the Shechina], and that is missing is for it to be revealed, so all the nations and leaders can see its reign, which will be revealed at the time of זכירה ('revealed remembering' - the second stage), speedily in our days.

When this first connection (i.e. the Kingship to the Shechina) is completed, there will not be anything similar until the time of the זכירה (stage two). This is why the verse says, "When I sit in darkness," [which represents the time between the stages]. From then and onward, "Hashem is my light" - after the intense anger.

I would like you to further understand this whole idea well. We find this first stage in Egypt when the verse says that "Hashem saw the people of Israel, and He knew." About the פקידה (first stage), the verse says, "פקוד פקדתי אתכם" - I have remembered you, [in the past tense,] as opposed to saying 'I am remembering you' [in the present tense]. This is because the פקידה (first stage) had already occurred. Moshe also realized that the time for the second stage had not yet arrived, and this was the reason why he did not want to take on his mission. This was why he said, "They will not believe me." Then Hashem gave him a sign, that if not for the fact that things were prepared already, he would not be sent. This is in consonance with the concept that we are 'not to arouse the love until it is desired.'

In the Tikunei Zohar Hachadash (כז ע"א) we find:

In the future [redemption], as regards Israel, only one from a city and two from a family will survive. This is from the side of [the sefirah of] Gevurah, which is strict judgment, and the world will be returned to utter desolation (תוהו ובוהו). And when Moshe begs for mercy on their behalf, [and that which] the Left pushed away and [made it seem that] Israel would not survive, the Right brings back, which is the concept that the Right leans toward Chessed - Kindness.

The Gr"a there explains:

"The Right side brings back," like the verse says, "With great Mercy I will gather you." This means that the Right side will bring them back [from exile], but first they will be aroused by the Left - "His left hand is under my head." This [first arousal] is the פקידה (first stage), just as we find in the second Temple in the days of Koresh when they did not leave [the exile yet], and afterwards the Right side was aroused...

He writes there further:

The redemption begins with difficulties, as we find "אגרא דכלה דוחקא" - the reward of the 'bride' [i.e. the Shechina and Klal Yisrael] is made greater by difficulty, as we find in Egypt [when Moshe first came to redeem the Jewish people, the passuk says,] "Let the work be made more difficult..." But the redemption itself is with the Right hand [that is, the side of Mercy]. Similarly, the redemption begins at night, but the main redemption occurs in the daytime, as we find, "Hashem revealed His holy arm." First the left arm (judgment) is aroused, just as on Rosh Hashana...

To be continued...