Friday, April 29, 2011

Kedoshim - Holiness and Lishma

What is the concept of Holiness? Why are we enjoined to be holy because 'Hashem is Holy?' What is the idea that everything in reality is an expression of Hashem? How does one emulate Hashem's pure altruism?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Last week of Nissan

As we hit the last week of Nissan, we get to the end of the ten month tikkun that began with Rosh Chodesh Av of last year. It is not a coincidence that the PA has reconciled with Hamas and it was in the news last night. It is the Nesirah process moving forward, as the "Palestinian state" seems to be how Hashem is planning to get us to the final scenario described in Yechezkel.

Take heart, as Hashem says in the Yalkut Shimoni after the description of the destruction wrought by Paras in the end of days, "Don't worry my children. All that is happening is only for your sake. Why are you scared? Do not fear, the time for your redemption has come. This final redemption will not be like the earlier redemption. The first redemption was followed by pain and enslavement to the nations. This final redemption, however, will not be followed by pain and enslavement to the nations."

It also seems pretty clear that the whole Kever Yosef business going on right now is connected.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thoughts on Pesach

Here is a special edition of the Parsha Podcast, thoughts on Pesach.

Running time: 15:39

Friday, April 15, 2011

Acharei - Seducing the Satan

Why do we seem to offer a sacrifice to the Other Side on Yom Kippur? Why does the atonement occur then? Why do we offer the exact same type of animal to Hashem as to the Other Side? Is Yakov sincere in his gift to Esav and his admission that Esav should have the blessings? What does it mean that Esav will 'return' in the end? Why does the Satan lack power on Yom Kippur?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 13:39

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


If we follow the line of thought of the previous post, we find that the month of Nissan, centering around Pesach is a very great tikkun - the completion or bringing out of the nine month tikkun from Av until Adar Beis. What is interesting is that if we go back to the story of Purim, we find that Esther's test with entering into Achashverosh's private quarters was also centered around Pesach. Rashi there says that the three days of fasting were the 14th, 15th (first day of Pesach), and 16th. This was where the salvation of Purim actually occurred. It is also worth noting that Esther mentions that she had not been called in to the king in thirty days. This means that the difficulty she had been going through had been 'on pause' since Purim (or what would later be Purim), the center of the month of Adar, when the tikkun of Moshiach ben Yosef peaks in this cycle. Again, it would seem possible that there will be some kind of interesting events centering around the beginning of Pesach, just as it was in the time of the Exodus, as well as the time of Purim.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Metzora - Unconditional love

In light of the destructive effect of Lashon Hara, we discuss the healing power of unconditional love, in this week's parsha podcast.

Running time: 16:48

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ולכפרת פשע - Sins atoned

There is an interesting anomaly in the Mussaf prayer of Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the month. During a leap year, we say an addition in the text of the middle blessing, where we request that the coming month be renewed for good and blessings, for Sasson-joy and Simcha-joy, for salvation and consolation, for livelihood and sustenance, for life and peace, for Mechila-forgiveness of Chet-sin and Selicha-forgiveness for Avon-sin. On Rosh Chodesh during a leap year, we add in a request for Kaparah-forgiveness of Pesha-sin. The interesting thing is that it is only added until Rosh Chodesh of the second Adar. I always wondered why.

It could be that according to our understanding of the Maharsha in Sanhedrin 12, one could say a very deep pshat in this anomaly. The basic idea of the maharsha, as we understood it, is that there is a tikkun-rectification that is accomplished by Moshiach ben Yosef that begins in Av of the year prior to the leap year. This tikkun is in a completely hidden form until, and including, Tishrei of the ensuing year. (This would correspond to the mochin-brains of Chochmah, Bina and Da'as, which are hidden in the skull. There is no Rosh Chodesh benching of Rosh Chodesh Tishrei, which is Rosh Hashana!)

As the new year, the leap year, begins, the tikkun he is doing starts to be revealed in a more open way (at least, perhaps, to himself), but in a way of deep difficulty and suffering for Moshiach ben Yosef, for he accomplishes the tikkun through suffering. (The middle three are Cheshvon-Kislev-Teves where the tikkun is beginning. These correspond to Chesed-Gevurah-Tiferes, which are the arms and torso, and represent the mode of giving, withholding or balanced giving - but only in theory, without the receiver there yet.)

As the year progresses, it could be said that his difficulties deepen until they peak over Tu B'shvat, Purim Katan, and finally Purim. The center of the month is especially significant, as it is then that the moon is full, and there is full reflection. (These three correspond to the next three sefiros of Netsach-Hod-Yesod, where the interactive aspect of the sefiros comes into play.) Here the tikkun is being completed, through the difficulties themselves, based on the passuk "עת צרה היא ליעקב וממנו יוושע" - "It is a time of difficulty for Jacob, and through it, he is saved." The salvation comes about through the actual difficulty itself, meaning, the difficulty produces the merit necessary for the salvation to occur. It is remarkable to note (as we observed in the end of that previous post), that we saw a lot of movement in the world centering around Purim Katan, from Tunisia to Egypt. As we got into Adar Beis, we saw some serious movement around Purim Gadol, with the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, as well as the Libyan invasion and the beginnings of what might, Heaven forbid, be a third intifada.

In my theory which I want to share with you (and of course, is totally up for grabs whether it is true), it could be that as the month of Adar Beis comes to a close, Moshiach ben Yosef (both the individual and those who share his aspect, as well as the process itself) come to a climax of tikkun - it is the end of the month of Yesod, which is the aspect of Yosef Hatzadik (as in the passuk צדיק יסוד עולם) - and the suffering is finally redeemed as the month comes to a close.

It is essential to understand that the Pesha-sin (פשע) of the Jewish people is borne by Moshiach ben Yosef (see Yeshaya 53, as per the deeper sources), and this is what produces his suffering. His job is to convert the Pesha-sin (פשע) into Shefa (שפע) - Divine influx - which has the exact same letters. This is accomplished through his suffering, and by withstanding difficulties and tests in the area of sexual desire, as did Yosef with Potifar's wife and his experience in Jail. At the end of this nine month period the sins (themselves!) have been converted into Divine influx, and Moshiach ben Yosef (the man himself, those who share his aspect, and the process) experiences a new reality of tikkun and expanded awareness.

If one looks at what is going on in current events, one can see an indication of this, with Goldstone's admission about his report. A smaller indication, perhaps, was what a cabbie mentioned to me was in the news, which was the murder of a famous actor in Israel whose mother was Jewish and father was Arab, who lived in Jenin and always supported the Arab side. These are not conclusive in any way, but they are definitely interesting points to notice.

This aspect of MBY's is also apparent in the word כפרה - Kaparah-atonement. Firstly, the word Kaparah is the same as the word כופר - Kofer, which can mean a replacement (כופר נפשו) or payment. This indicates the fact that Moshiach ben Yosef's suffering comes to atone for the sins of the Jewish people. The word can also be seen as a reference to MBY as it could be read Ke'parah - like a cow. The Parah-cow and Shor-ox are classic references to Moshiach ben Yosef. This is also part of the idea of the Parah Adumah - red heifer (והמבין יבין).

With this idea, we can understand why we only say "ולכפרת פשע" - "Kaparah-Atone for Pesha-sin" - from the beginning of the leap year until the second Adar. Once we move into Nissan, we no longer say it, because the Pesha has already been converted to Shefa through the difficulties of Moshiach ben Yosef, and we enter the last of the ten Sefiros - Malchus, which is pure reflection. This is representative of the full tikun that has been accomplished in the process, at the current stage.

I found out that there was supposed to have been a visit this past Monday night to Kever Yosef, attended by many busloads of people. These visits are few and far between because of security reasons, and are generally only done with the sanction of the IDF. At the last moment, it seems, the visit was canceled. It is interesting that the visit was to have been on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the very day of the completion of MBY's nine month tikkun, in my theory. The cancellation would seem to indicate that although the tikkun was accomplished, it is not yet the final stage of full tikkun.


What is very interesting about all this is that the implication of the Maharsha is that the Moshiach ben Yosef process is pushed ahead in a leap year with a special tikkun. What is fascinating is that there are seven leap years in a nineteen year cycle. Each one of these seven years is like a birth pang, moving the MBY process forward. I was struck with a possible understanding of the Gemara in Sanhedrin that speaks about the "week" in which Ben Dovid comes. The 'week' is usually explained to mean a Shmitah cycle, and most of us are familiar with the fact that the Gemara there speaks of a number of different signs of Moshiach's advent in each of those seven years, culminating with MBD's arrival after the seventh year. It could be that this 'week' is not a week of consecutive years, but rather, the 'week' of the seven years of leap years, in which the MBY process is pushed forward, as described above. It is worth looking at it, and lining it up with the leap years that occurred in the current cycle. The current 19-year cycle started in 5758 (Sep. 97- Sep. 98), and saw (or sees) leap years in 5760, 5763, 5765, 5768, 5771, 5774, and finally, the seventh leap year, which follows the Shmitah year, is 5776.


Another thought that occurred to me is that chazal tell us that the six months prior to Nissan were when the Makkos took place in Mitzrayim (Egypt). This, again, lines up nicely with what we said above. It will be interesting to see what kind of events take place around the time of Pesach, as Pesach is the full revelation of all that occurred over the previous nine months, as we see in the time of the exodus.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tazria - Milah, circumcision and words

What is the connection between the concept of circumcision and Lashon Hara, destructive speech? What is the power of words? Why is Man referred to as a 'speaking spirit?' Why does the Torah want us to constantly be speaking words of Torah? What does it mean that circumcision pushes away spiritual leprosy?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 14:04