Friday, April 30, 2010

Emor - live!

Baruch Hashem, I have begun to say over the Parsha Podcast on Friday mornings to a live audience in the shul Ahavas Shalom here in Ramat Bet Shemesh, and there is a different energy when I say it over to 'real people' as opposed to recording the Podcast in my studio. I would therefore like to offer the recording of this morning's shiur for download. If you have any feedback for me as to which one you like better, I would love to hear. If you listen to both, you will see that most of the shiur is the same, but there are some important interesting points that made it only in to one or the other. When I give the shiur, I have spent a lot of time working on the ideas, and many times I leave out some material to keep the shiur length at under twenty minutes.

Here is Emor live!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Emor - Conduit of Blessings

What is the concept of the Lechem Hapanim? Why are there specifically two rows of six loaves of bread? What is the function of the frankincense that is part of the offering? Why was it saved from week to week, only eaten a week after the Shabbos it had originally been placed there? What is the connection between the lechem hapanim and the story of the mekalel? What is the connection between his claim to live with the tribe of Dan and his attack on the concept of the lechem hapanim? What is the significance of the fact that his father was the Egyptian taskmaster that Moshe had killed many years before? What is the significance of the fact that we base a person's tribe on the father's side, and a person's Judaism on the mother's side? How are we to understand the concept of someone who curses Hashem's name, heaven forbid?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rosh Hashana 5771

Over the past seven years, I have led the davening on the Yomim Noraim in the Seattle area in the Shevet Achim shul on Mercer Island. It was a wonderful experience, leading a shul whose members are truly growing in their Judaism. The rav their, Rav Yechezkel Kornfeld is a really strong leader, loved by everyone in the community, and it was always great being there for the Aseres Yemei Teshuva. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, the shul could not afford to have me back this year, and thus, I ask of you who read my blog, if you are aware of a shul (preferably closer to my home in Israel) that is looking for a Chazzan for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. I have done Ma'ariv, Mussaf and Ne'ilah, and baruch Hashem, the members of the shul on Mercer Island were uplifted from the davening. I try to take an emotional approach to the davening, which, with Hashem's help, really crescendo's at Ne'ilah. If you have any thoughts or leads, please contact me at If you know of anyone who might be interested, please direct them here or have them email me.

Thanks so much.

Hineni (introduction to Mussaf)
Musaf - first bracha

Here is a quote from a member of Shevet Achim, Dr. Lloyd Tucker:

"Ari Goldwag is not only an intensely spiritual man with palpable kavanah, but also has a rich, highly trained voice that fills the shul with a ruach kodesh. Ari tremendously adds to the holiness and beauty of the experience and helps to elevate the congregation any time he is davening."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Acharei-Kedoshim - Understanding true holiness

What is the connection between the Avodah of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur and the forbidden sexual relationships? What is the significance of the fact that the Torah prefaces the topics in our parsha with the concept of the metzora? What is the significance of the punishments for sexual perversion - being thrown out of Israel, and kares - spiritual excision? What is the deeper meaning of holiness, and why is it only obtained by refraining from forbidden sexual relationships? What does it mean that we are to be holy because Hashem is Holy? What is the understanding of the anomaly that the word kadosh means holiness, and the word kedesha means prostitute? What is the connection between the concept of kedusha here and the concept of kiddush which we find by Shabbos and Yom Tov, as well as the concept of kiddush levanah (sanctifying the new moon)?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rabbi Perr on Parshas Kedoshim

I am again happy to present another shiur from Rav Perr. This one is connected to Parshas Kedoshim through the concept of Kedusha. Rabbi Perr gives us a beautiful in-depth lesson about the concept of the kedusha that the angels say. He contrasts it with the kedusha that the Jewish people themselves say, as well. In the course of the lesson, he teaches an incredible depth in the concept of Galus and Geulah - exile and redemption, and how the main tikkun, or rectification, of the Jewish people is only to be accomplished in darkness of exile. When I listened to this, I was deeply moved by his depth of understanding of the concept of the Jewish people's purpose in exile, and how great is the accomplishment of the Jewish people there, not despite, but because of the spiritual darkness that they find themselves in. I greatly encourage you to listen to this wonderful shiur.

Here is the shiur, Rabbi Perr on Parshas Kedoshim.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A few thoughts

I would like to share some thoughts with you that have been running through my mind recently. My purpose here is not to give mussar, nor to boast in any way. It is only to give you some food for thought, and perhaps some inspiration. I know that if you are reading this, you probably care about your relationship with Hashem, and you look forward to the times of Moshiach, when the barriers between ourselves and Hashem will fall down, and we will be able to have the most wonderful relationship with Him. But we don't satisfy ourselves with only looking toward the future, rather, we try our best to strengthen our relationship with Hashem even now, despite the great difficulties and spiritual darkness that encompasses us. In each thing that we do, we need to ask ourselves how it is helping us in our Avodas Hashem, our service of Hashem.

At the beginning of this year, starting from Rosh Hashana of 5770, I decided that I would not look at any news sources on the internet. I felt that I was endlessly (and needlessly) looking at every news source, searching for some bit of information that would be exciting and had to do with Moshiach. Really, the motivation behind this could almost have been described as pure. I was so driven to know and see how the events leading up to Moshiach are unfolding that I needed to constantly have input on what is going on in the world. I am proud to say that I have not looked at any news source on the internet since the beginning of this year. This is not to say that I am not aware of what is going on in the world. I will look at a newspaper if it comes my way (I don't buy papers). I have seen much from following the Moshiach blogs. But I have felt so freed of the burden of having to constantly be stimulated by every news site (whether frum or not), constantly searching for something that would pique my interest.

Nevertheless, I have still found it difficult to free myself from looking at all the blogs. There is still a buzz around them, and it is harder to convince myself to hold myself back there, especially considering that these sites share my enthusiasm for Moshiach and my desire to see his advent in current events. But on further contemplation, I wonder, What is this really adding to my life? How does this help me in my service of Hashem? If I am always looking for what new way Obama is trying to subdue the Jewish people, or how Britain is getting its due for making a disparaging comment about the Kotel being part of Israel, how does this make me a better person? If I am in the middle of learning and I find myself drifting into these types of thoughts that have such a powerful pull, is this really where I should be focusing my energy?

I can't say that I have a definitive answer to these questions, and I am sure many will say, "Isn't it better to be thinking about Moshiach than thinking about some other meshugas?" But I would still like to share something with you that I came across today, in the Sefer Sifsei Chaim (Moadim Alef). At the beginning of the book, which contains the teachings of R' Chaim Friedlander, there is a section called "Derech shel Aliyah" - path of spiritual growth. This section speaks about the general approach of R' Chaim Friedlander himself in his service of Hashem, and quotes from his personal diaries from the numerous 'kabalos' - things that he accepted upon himself in order to advance in his connection to Hashem. I think it is extremely important to hear this, even if it is beyond our level, so that we can see the ideal of someone who was totally involved in service of Hashem.

He wrote the following in 1948, just three weeks after Ben Gurion announced the beginning of the state of Israel.

Sunday, Parshas Bamidbar, I accept upon myself (without a vow) until Thursday:
1. To minimize, as much as possible, any wasteful matters.
2. To hold back, as much as possible, from stating my opinion and predictions on current events.

It is my duty to remember that the main issue that I need to think about is not how it is possible to see the signs of salvation, because Hashem's salvation will come as quick as the blink of an eye if it is the time and we are worthy. Rather, the main issue for me is only how I can fulfill the purpose of this great time, how I can do teshuva (repentance) and steer away from the [negative] paths I have taken until now, and become, literally, a new being.

I think that R' Friedlander here encapsulates the proper Torah hashkafa on how we are to determine our approach to the issues I have raised. And, I want to make clear, I am not writing this to give anyone else mussar, rather to clarify the ideas for myself, and to put them out for others to hear and perhaps find inspiration in, as well. The approach is straightforward - my job is to make sure that I am becoming the best person that I can become. What I need to do is to make sure that the things that I do are aiding me in my service of Hashem. If they are detracting from that service, they should be avoided. The events that surround us certainly are momentous and cause for us to pause and take notice, but only to the extent that they aid us in becoming better people, and only to the extent that we realize we are in a time that demands a greater standard of excellence from ourselves.

In my mind, this means that if we take a look around us at the state of the Jewish people, it is easy to lay blame and say that Moshiach is not coming because of this group and that group. But I believe that Hashem does not want us to say this. I believe that Hashem wants us - those who are aware of what is really going on beneath the surface - to recognize what is going on, recognize that which is problematic with our people, and He wants us to overcompensate for the lacks elsewhere. If we are in a shul where people speak during davening, He does not want us to think negatively of everyone there, but rather, to compensate by being extra careful ourselves about not speaking during davening, perhaps even during the times that would be permitted - to overcompensate. If we know that many people are using the internet for purposes which are completely profane, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard in this regard - to be extremely careful to only use it for absolute holiness, or perhaps even to completely remove it from our homes. If we are aware that others are profaning the Shabbos, we must redouble our efforts to learn the halachos of Shabbos, to overcompensate for that which is lacking in our people.

This is what he says, "The main issue for me is only how I can fulfill the purpose of this great time." This means that I need to recognize the greatness of the time I am living in, and thereby draw myself up to a higher ideal in my service of Hashem. I need to become "literally, a new being," by raising myself to a higher standard of excellence. If my standards have become lowered as a result of my interest in that which is going on around me, I need to back off and view it in the proper perspective.

It also bears mentioning that when R' Friedlander accepted these things upon himself, he did it for a very limited amount of time, for only five days. He would then reevaluate if the idea was indeed productive, and in which way he could improve on it. This is instructive for us, because if we see that we are going in a way that is not productive for ourselves, we should not try to take upon ourselves something that is unrealistic. At the same time, we do want to effect some real change within ourselves, and this requires great self-awareness and honest reflection in order to truly be effective.

May Hashem help us to use all the tools He has given us in the right way, to only grow in our connection to Him, and truly merit to see Moshiach in our time. Amen.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Acharei Mos - Rabbi Perr

I am very excited and proud to present the first of hopefully many audio files of my Rosh Yeshiva's wonderful and inspiring shiurim. I was זוכה to attend Yeshiva of Far Rockaway for close to six years, and I heard vaadim from my Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yechiel Perr, for close to three of those years. The wisdom he imparted then has had a tremendous impact on my life, to this very day. As I mentioned a while ago, I recently got a hold of a set of DVD's of his Shiurim, and I have been listening to the vaadim. I have been meaning to try to put up some of the shiurim here and elsewhere, but hadn't gotten to it until now. I would like to share this shiur that my Rosh Yeshiva gave on parshas Acharei Mos. The main topic of the shiur is the advantage of living in a state of hester panim - difficulty discerning the hand of Hashem. I believe that you will find this shiur to be extremely interesting and relevant. I want to personally thank my Rosh Yeshiva for giving me permission to put the shiurim out for the public to hear. I would also like to mention that the shiur was given in Yeshiva, and thus it requires a certain level of vocabulary of the yeshivishe lingo. The English is interspersed with Yiddish, Hebrew and Aramaic, so please be forewarned!

Here is the link to Rabbi Perr's shiur on Acharei Mos.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tazria-Metzorah - The Metzorah/Niddah connection

Why do we mainly find this unusual sickness in regards to the concept of lashon hara - forbidden speech? Why does this sickness cover the skin? Why do we find that this sickness can also be found on one's house and clothing? Why is the Kohen the one who is in charge of this evaluation? Why is the metzora sequestered for seven days? What does it mean in the medrash when it says that tzara'as is a result of a mother who was not careful in the laws of family purity? Why does the niddah count seven clean days? What is the connection to the counting of the seven weeks of the Omer? Why was the punishment of Chava that she would have a period where blood flows out of her - how does this rectify the sin?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Two things

First, I would like to introduce you to a new Torah blog by a good friend of mine Yehuda David. Yehuda is a fellow musician that has put out two albums, "Rockiah." I also featured his song here a few months ago, entitled, "The Call." He is a person who constantly works on his level of Emunah and Bitachon, and his divrei Torah reflect that. I encouraged him to put his inspiring words up onto a blog, and he has now done so. I am sure you will also be inspired at his blog,, which I have also added to my blog roll.

The second thing is that I would like to share another book by R' Daniel Krentzman. I was recently זוכה to be at his siyum on תרי עשר, where he gave out this kuntres on trei asar. There are a lot of good ideas here, mostly culled from the Malbim, and most of which have to do with Moshiach. I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shemini - True leadership

What was the sin of Nadav and Avihu? What was their motivation to bring this fire into the holy of holies? Didn't they know this place was only for the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur? Why is their death the introduction for the order of the Yom Kippur service? Why was it such a grave sin that they didn't consult with one another before bringing this fire? What is the connection to R' Akiva's students and their deaths?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

אמונת חכמים - trusting our sages

I think that we all face a certain difficulty when it comes to the concept of אמונת חכמים - trusting the sages of our generation. I think it is important to read a beautiful piece from the Chazon Ish in order to get the proper perspective on this matter.

Chazon Ish (Emunah and Bitachon 3:30)

There is another evil sickness that the Evil Inclination uses as a disguise, in order to prevent a person from trusting the sages, and it is giving false weight to the concept of bias. It is necessary for a student to have faith that there is no bias in the world that has the power to weigh the heart of the wise to bend from the proper judgment. This is because the desire of the wise is to give merit to his soul, and to relieve himself of the guilt that causes his soul more pain than any physical wound. How could it be that he would strike his soul by being swayed in judgment in exchange for the benefit of money or to prevent others from scorning him? Additionally, the characteristic of Truth is fundamental to the makeup of the wise person, the root of his existence, and any semblance of falsehood is antithetical to him. This is the understanding of the many who attach themselves to the wise.

However, the Evil Inclination has dug a ditch to undermine this fundamental faith, to entrap the souls of those who believe themselves to be wise. He brings them a complete lesson from our teachings that a bias can affect all people, from the smallest to the greatest. Even the most wise can bend toward their bias, even the most righteous and saintly can fall prey to this mistaken judgment. They are also convinced that this is not even something negative - it is the nature of all people. They do not realize that because of this assumption, they are killing an entire generation. As a result of this mistake, there can be no judge, and the courts have become nullified; because even if one will acknowledge the great wisdom of the wise, it will not be obligatory to listen to them, since every judgment they pass will be easily associated with some bias. This will be the automatic thought process of anyone who is dissatisfied with the wise man's decision. Through this mistake, a generation rises that is constantly involved in judgment of its own judges. This results in a state of being where each man does just as he pleases. In any important event, those who think themselves wise are busy whispering with each other about what bias affected the judgment that was passed, and they will even sometimes apply this to the greatest of the generation, saying that he came to a mistaken conclusion. Thus, the atmosphere of the city, and sometimes the atmosphere of the entire country, is filled with flagrant speech, fights and battles, with ever-increasing lack of trust in the wise.

The root of this opinion is found in the Gemara in Sanhedrin (18B), where we see that a king and a high priest can not be part of the court that is deciding on whether to add a month to the lunar year. The king may not be on the court, because he has a bias - he would like the year to be longer because he pays his army by the year, and would like another month of work for the same price. The high priest may not be on the court, because he has a bias - he would like a month less so that when he performs the service on Yom Kippur it is earlier in the season, and he will be saved from the cold. This law is stated in regards to any king, even one who is the most righteous that is possible, and in regards to any high priest, even one as great as Shimon Hatzadik. We also find a similar proof from the Gemara in Kesuvos (105B), that two great sages did not want to judge a case which involved even a hint of bribery.

However, the concept of the bribe of a judge is a unique idea. This is because the receiving of a bribe is something the Torah explicitly states is disgusting, and it has the spiritual power to cause the eyes of the wise to be blinded, and to skew his judgment. Since we find that Hashem looked into the Torah and created the world, therefore the bribe is invested with the unholy spiritual power to blind and skew, and there must be an exhortation to distance oneself from it. This means that besides for the natural inclination of a person to be swayed by his bias, there is an additional impure spiritual power that is contained within the concept of bribery to stop up the heart and to bring down the intuition, to make it more palatable to the judge to find the merit on the side of the one who gave him the bribe. Once the Torah has taken away his permission to judge the case between the one who bribed him and the other litigant, he has lost his normal level of wisdom - that ordinarily protects him from stumbling in sin and guilt - if he has transgressed that which the Torah exhorts and indeed sits in judgment against the command of the Torah.

This concept of the bribe is therefore not a mitzvah which is understandable by the human intellect, rather it is a חק - a law that is beyond our comprehension. This is supported by the fact that we find that the Torah does not forbid a person from giving a halachic ruling for himself - a person is said to be able to see that his own animal is a Treifah (non-Kosher), and even if he is poor and his very life depends on this animal. A person can give a ruling on his own Chametz that passed through Pesach, even though he stands to lose a tremendous amount of money. If he rules that it is permitted and someone will look on and think that he ruled this way because of a monetary bias, this person is like someone who mistakenly thinks negative thoughts about his teacher. We trust our sages that they are removed from this type of pettiness, and the only ones who will suspect them are small minded people, lacking intuition, that do not know or understand the soul of the wise.

And even in a judgment between one man and his fellow, the Torah only disqualifies the bribe at the time of judgment, but the Torah does not forbid judging someone who is his good friend or his enemy; only someone who is so beloved that he escorted him to his wedding and someone who he hates so much that he hasn't spoken to him for three days, according to an alternate opinion (Choshen Mishpat Siman 7:67 in the Hagah). This is true despite the fact that a person naturally wants to do good for someone he loves, and to cause ill to someone he despises. Nevertheless, the impure spiritual power of bribery is not present, and the Torah completely trusts the wise judge to see straight, and not allow his heart to be turned toward his natural inclination, but rather it has become second nature for the wise to have the Truth as a candle for his steps and a light for his path, and his righteousness will bring about the proper judgment.

Not only this, but we also find that a person can judge for himself in a circumstance that involves significant loss, and we do not suspect that he will make a biased decision. We find that a judge who was found guilty of having money that was not rightfully his is stripped of his status as a judge - [only here does he lose his trustworthiness, when he shows his lust for money] and we do not find a merit for him as a result of his bias.

In the case where we saw that the sages invalidated a judge who is biased in regards to adding a month to the year, this is because it is called a judgment as the gemara says in Rosh Hashana (25B), and we therefore give it the status of a case of judgment, and all of this is included in the חק of bribery, some of which constitutes an enactment of the sages, some of which is a stringency for the righteous. That which we found in regards to two sages (Kesuvos 105B) that they did not want to judge a case because they felt a bias in the case [as a result of a near bribe], this is referring to a natural bias. In greater people, this natural inclination is stronger, corresponding to their stronger intellect, in order to maintain the balance necessary for free choice, so that there is significance when they choose the good, which is the entire purpose of the creation (בריאה) of man. It could be that this aspect of the stringency for the righteous is also found in the secret of creation (יצירה), and when the bribery exerts its spiritual power to blind, power is also given to the bribe to blind, even at this level of the stringency. [I think he means that these great sages were on a very high level, and their spiritual battle was very fine. This resulted in a precarious position, that as long as there was no semblance of a bribe, they would not succumb to their natural bias. However, precisely because they were so great, if they were judging a case that involved even a small semblance of a bribe, the impure spiritual power inherent therein could poison their purity and prevent them from judging the case properly. This was why they felt it was necessary to back off from judging the case.]

But how great is the destruction and darkness when one permits himself to suspect the innocent in a place that the Torah has sanctioned them to judge and give halachic ruling. Included in all this is the way people generally behave in matters that occur every day. We find that the the teachings of Mussar are extremely stringent in regards to destructive character flaws, and they exhort us in a fiery manner not to allow ourselves to place guilt on others, even in thought, and certainly not in speech. This is so, even if the matter is true, and certainly if the matter is false. And if the one who is ridiculed is a Torah scholar, then such an act is included in the concept of embarrassing a Torah scholar, and he is considered a heretic. This whole matter revolves around a mistaken understanding of a halachic ruling, since it is an open halachic ruling that even the most wise are not free from bias. Therefore the person says to himself, "What have I done wrong if I say that he came out with an incorrect judgment as a result of his bias? It's a law of nature, and my statement does not in any way detract from the wise person's honor!" This type of warped logic is akin to someone who has a barrel of wine, and throws away the wine in order to preserve the barrel!

Let us take an example of this in order to get a clear picture in our minds, of the type of quarrel that is involved in choosing a Rabbi as a communal leader. Each person finds some fault with the candidates chosen by anyone else. It would be appropriate for them to listen to the decision of the Gedolim (great sages) of the generation. And if the decision of the wise one will not be accepted because of the stubbornness of the ignorant, it could be said that their 'intentional sin is as if it was done unintentionally.' In truth, they recognize their sin, yet they are not used to making their desires subservient to their intellect. In any event, the result is tremendously destructive. They believe they have chosen the correct path, and that their Good Inclination is guiding their judgment. They are convinced that their very judgment is the epitome of wisdom and intellect, as if they had judged the matter in a measured way, with great seriousness. They have produced a clever ruling with no need to ask the great sage of the generation for his input, for certainly our sage is no greater than the sages in the Gemara in Kesuvos who did not trust themselves to judge. They believe that the great sage would certainly be biased in this matter; he prefers Rav so and so because... Here we have one joke pushing away a thousand rebukes, and they serve idolatry in good conscience, and call their falsehood the will of the Torah.

All this is because they did not base their Mussar (ethical teachings) in Halacha. Those versed in Halacha notice a question. The gemara in Kesuvos notes that the two sages chose the judges who would preside over the case in their stead. If indeed they had a significant bias, they should not have been the ones to choose the new judge, because it is quite common that the litigants can not agree on who the judge should be. Choosing this judge could therefore be to one person's advantage and to the other's detriment. Someone who is biased should therefore completely distance himself from choosing the judge! From the fact that this is not so, we learn that a bias does not disqualify one from choosing judges, as the Rama says (ibid siman 7:67). Certainly, the wisest in the generation is not disqualified from choosing a Rabbi or communal leader as a result of his bias, and this is included in the concept of a ruling [which we said previously that the Torah gives sanction to the scholar despite his bias]. The result is that people are involved in the bitter sin of saying, "I have not sinned," and they destroy the foundations of the Torah. The natural result is that they fabricate biases that never crossed the mind of the wise person. This mistake in understanding is akin to an intentional transgression.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pesach and Moshiach ben Dovid Q & A


I recently listened to your podcast on Pesach and Moshiach ben Dovid. I enjoyed it very much and I love the way you teach. Very clear and concise! Could you point me to the source or book where it talks about the transgression of Adam in Gan Eden taking place on Pesach? Thanks in advance for any help.



Thanks for your kind words and your good question. Most of what I say is firmly grounded in sources, but there are some points that I make that I have either deduced, or have a strong sense of their being true. I usually note those types of points by distinguishing them in some way, usually prefacing them with "it could be" or other such language. This was one of those points! I do not have a source that it occurred on Pesach, but it definitely occurred in Nissan, as per the Tosfos that I quoted. There is also a reference in the Gemara in Rosh Hashana to Pesach being the "Rosh Hashana" that occurs in Nissan, so it was partly from that Gemara that I deduced it. (I must point out that the same Gemara also refers to the first of Nissan as a Rosh Hashana as well!) It is also interesting to note that there is an opinion in the Gemara that the forbidden 'fruit' that Adam ate from was actually wheat, which required no processing at that time, and could be eaten straight after being picked. This was part of the reason (according to this opinion) that he was cursed to 'eat his bread by the sweat of his brow.' This was directly connected to the sin he committed with the wheat, which he would now have to process in order to have access to. This might also support my theory, because Pesach is the time that we rectify the wheat, as it were, through eating it in a much simpler, less processed state, which we call Matzah. Another possible support for Adam's sin being on the first day of Pesach, is that we find that after his sin, the moon was diminished. This represents the fallen state of man, where we do not completely reflect spirituality, and even when we do, it is cyclic, such that we have ups and downs in spirituality. It might be said that this 'diminishing,' which we now see occurring every month with cycles of the moon, did not occur instantly, with a diminuation from the full moon to a new moon (which would have had to happen at the beginning of the month), but rather, the moon started diminishing the very next day, as it was the middle of the month! There is a possible support for this theory in a Gemara that describes how Adam and Eve saw the sun go down on the first day they were created, after their sin, and they thought that it was their fault! They cried and prayed all night long, asking God to forgive them. In the morning, the sun rose, and they realized that this was the way of the world. It is interesting that the Gemara does not describe a similar thought crossing their minds when they looked up and saw the moon was missing from the sky! Perhaps this would indicate that it was still there - it would take a few days for it to get smaller and for them to realize that it was diminished on their behalf. (This is not the strongest proof, because it could very well be that the moon was not there at all, and it was the first of the month, but they did not know that moon was supposed to be there!)

In any event, I would say that I do not have conclusive evidence to support my theory, but these are some of the thoughts that could lend it credence.

All the best,
Ari Goldwag

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New A Capella music

I am proud to present the following two tracks available for purchase. The first is a song from my first solo album (Lishuascha Kivinu), and it is the song Aleinu. Here, my son Moshe Dov is featured singing the song, and I perform the harmonies and background vocals. The second song is an A Capella version of the hit "Ogil" which was featured on the album Sheves Achim. Here, Shimon and Moshe Bell sing it once again, but with a musical backdrop that is only vocal.

I hope you will enjoy.

If you wish to purchase, please click on the little icon with the price ".99"

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Esav, the pope, and the president

Just a quick thought, which is based on a similar idea that the Rabbis Kessin have said.

Esav is the fallen Moshiach ben Yosef, who is jealous of Yakov and Yosef who have replaced him in his job. Moshiach ben Yosef's job is connection - tikkun habris - rectifying the place of connection between the male and female forces of creation. The three cardinal sins that Esav transgressed on the day that Yakov bought the first-born rights all represent the destruction of points of connection. Idolatry - destroys the connection between man and God. Adultery - destroys the connection between man and wife. Murder - destroys the connection between man and his soul. Through these transgressions, Esav showed that he could not fulfill his mission, and thus, Yakov bought it from him.

Whenever Esav is weakened, one can see it in the area of the bris. As we discussed previously, the bris of the world is Jerusalem, which connects Heaven and Earth. Thus, it is extremely painful for Esav to see the Jewish people building in Jerusalem. But not only does the West and its president seek to control what occurs there, the Vatican also attempts to purchase as much of Jerusalem as it can, through the aid of the Erev Rav. But at the very moment that the West's great president stands up to protest the Jewish people's building in Jerusalem, a great blemish is found in the bris of the church. The scandal rises up to the very top of Esav, to the pope himself. The fact that these two events are coinciding is not happenstance. It represents a further weakening of Esav and the West, and it is a sign that Yisrael is rising up in its spiritual power. This is an important point, because on the surface it would seem that the Jewish people are weak, and the world at large views us as if we are the perpetrators of evil atrocities in our relationship with the Arabs who occupy our Holy land. Is there any greater emotional pain for the Jewish people, whose moral caliber is the highest of any nation in the world, than to be accused of being as bad as the nation of Amalek who destroyed six million of our people only seventy years ago? This very pain and righteous indignation that every Jew senses is itself a certain type of יסורין (infliction of pain) that serves to lift the sparks of holiness out of the side of Evil. Thus, the very attempt of Esav to hurt us, to embarrass us, and to humiliate us by accusing us of being the side at fault in the Arab-Israeli conflict, actually serves to usurp their power from them, to raise the sparks out of their dominion. This results in a weakening of their power, which only feeds off the side of Holiness, and is reflected in the scandal that is plaguing the church. It is a sign that the Jewish people's suffering is effecting a great rectification. As we get closer to the final redemption, the Jewish people will look more and more like the offenders, like the evil ones, but this itself sets the scene for the Geulah to take place, for all the sparks to be brought back to the side of Holiness, and for arrival of the day when all the world will see the true status and honor of the Jewish people.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pesach and Moshiach ben Dovid

Why does Pesach consist of seven days, as opposed to Succos which is eight? What is the significance of the fact that we consistently bring the same korbanos every day of Pesach? Why are the mitzvos of Succos all external, whereas the mitzvos of Pesach are all internal? Why is refraining from eating leavened items, which is the main mitzvah of Pesach, specifically a passive mitzvah? Why is there an active mitzvah to eat matzah on the first day? Why are there such great stringencies the Jewish people have taken upon themselves for Pesach? What is the significance of the Avos being born around Pesach time? What is the connection to Moshiach ben Dovid?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.