Thursday, December 27, 2012

Vayechi - Blessings and Prayers

What is the general concept of a blessing? Why do I need to go to a tzaddik to get a bracha? What does a bracha do for me more than I already have, and why can’t I access it myself? When Yaakov gives the brachos, is he just stating a fact as to the nature of that person, or his he drawing down some spiritual reality upon that person? Why do these brachos come when the tzaddik is about to die, as we also see with Yitzchak? What is the deeper concept of prayer? How is prayer connected to blessings?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 22:05

Friday, December 21, 2012

Vayigash - Tears, Silence and Shechina

What is the difference between the crying Yosef does with Benjamin, as opposed to his crying with his other brothers? Why does Benjamin merit to have the Divine Presence in his portion? What is the secret of the silence of Benjamin, Yosef, Rochel and Esther? Why do Yosef and Benjamin cry about the destruction of the temples and the tabernacle?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 24:07

Friday, December 14, 2012

Miketz - Salvation in the blink of an eye

What is the secret of Yosef's miraculous and instantaneous turn around? How does one move past envy? How does one focus on spiritual desires? How does one merit Hashem's salvation in the blink of an eye?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 19:33

Friday, December 7, 2012

Vayeshev - Yaakov and Yosef

Why does Joseph seem to have so much charisma with everyone except for his own family? Why does the Torah place the story of Joseph immediately after the enumeration of the generations of Esau? What is the significance of the numerous parallels between the life of Jacob and Joseph? What is the concept of the all inclusive aspect, as it is reflected in Jacob and Joseph?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 24:08

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Chanukah, yesod, Yosef

If we look at each month as a ten sets of three, we discover a pattern that repeats itself. The number ten always corresponds to the ten sefiros, so we can unearth a lot of information if we look at it through that lens.

The month looks as follows:

Day of month
1-3 Keser
4-6 Chochmah
7-9 Binah
10-12 Chesed
13-15 Gevurah
16-18 Tiferes
19-21 Netsach
22-24 Hod
25-27 Yesod
28-30 Malchus

As Malchus is always the mochin of the following set, it is an overlay into the next month, and therefore is sometimes counted as the first of the next month. This is the concept of Keser-Malchus. Something else that comes out of this is that the beginning of the next month, really the first nine days, which are Keser-Chochmah-Binah, are really a continuation of the previous month. The koach of the previous month is then born into reality when we get to Chesed of the following month, which is the tenth.

With this information, we get an interesting insight into Chanukah and the connection to Yosef, whose story is always read around Chanukah. Chanukah begins on the 25th of the month, which, as we noted, is the beginning of the sefirah of Yesod. It is the culmination of the month, which, as we spoke about last year, is really the completion of Succos, as well. It is a funneling of all of the spiritual power that has been going on.

That is the concept of Yosef, who is the focused power of Yaakov in the lower spiritual realm, as represented by his sons. Yosef is Yaakov in the lower realm (אלה תולדות יעקב יוסף). Yosef also extends further, as does Chanukah. Yosef's two sons become tribes of their own. Chanukah is the only chag that crosses the month border into the next month. This passes through Rosh Chodesh, which is when the moon, which reflects the light of the sun, is completely invisible, coming into union with the Sun. (The moon and Sun are in the same location on the horizon at the beginning of the month.)

Yosef's conception took place on the ultimate Rosh Chodesh - Rosh Hashana. This day is intimately connected to the concept of the Tzaddik and the concept of Yesod, as represented by Yosef, who was the Tzaddik Yesod olam. On Rosh Hashana, the world completely nullifies itself by giving homage to the King of kings who created it all. That complete hisbatlus is the character of the true Tzaddik. This is the light of Chanukah.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Vayishlach - Truth of the Soul

Why does Yaakov return for the pachim ketanim - the small jugs? Why does the angel fight with him at that very moment? What is the difference between Esav's statement 'yesh li rav,' - I have a lot - and Yaakov's statement, 'yesh li kol,' - I have it all? Why is Yaakov's name changed to Yisrael at this point, after all his children are born? What is the concept of 'Yisrael' in this context? What is the difference between the enumeration of Esav's progeny as 'nefashos' - souls, as opposed to Yaakov's progeny as 'nefesh' - one soul?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 18:07

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Vayetzei - Synthesis of Opposites

What is the significance of the contrast between Rebecca coming to Israel to marry Isaac, as opposed to Jacob going to Charan to marry Rachel and Leah? Why is it as 'hard' for Hashem to create matches between men and women as it is for Him to split the sea? Why did Jacob remove the rock covering the well and push it down into the earth? What does the rock represent? What is the 'wondrous work' that we thank Hashem for after we use the facilities?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 24:09

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Toldos - Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov

How do we see a reference to all three patriarchs in the first verse of the parsha? What does the midrash mean when it says that Avraham was saved from the fire in the merit of his grandson Jacob? What does the midrash mean when it says that all of the patriarchs were referred to as Israel? What are the unique character traits of each of the patriarchs, and how do they relate to their experience in the land of Israel?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 22:09

Friday, November 9, 2012

Chayei Sarah - Developing Willingness

How does Eliezer, the servant of Avraham, overcome his internal struggle - the desire for his daughter to marry Yitzchak? How does he give himself completely to the task of finding a different girl for him? How does one overcome one's natural desires, and find the willingness to align himself with a Higher Will?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 21:25

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Vayera - Kindness and Surrender

Why does Hashem separately reveal Yitzchak's birth to Avraham and then to Sarah? Why is the story Sodom being destroyed in the middle of Avraham and Sarah finding out about Yitzchak's birth? What is the significance of Avraham's kindness to the angels? What is the significance of Lot's kindness to the angels? What is the significance of Moshe having a speech impediment? Why does the Torah follow immediately with a story telling that Moshe had not given a circumcision to his son?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 20:28

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lech Lecha - Inspiring Impressions

Why does the Torah stress the fact that Sarah was so beautiful? What does the midrash mean when it says that Abraham realized how beautiful she was when he saw her reflection in the Nile river? Why did Pharaoh give his daughter to Abraham and Sarah to be their maidservant? Why did Abraham call Jerusalem 'Yireh' - 'to see?' What is the connection between seeing (Yireh) and awe (yirah)?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 21:55

Friday, October 19, 2012

Noach - Illusion and Reality

If water is a creative force, why is the world being destroyed by water? What is the connection between the cooling of the waters and cooling of the anger of Achashverosh in the story of Purim? What is the parallel between the water's destruction here, and the water's destruction of the Egyptians as the Jews made their exodus? What is the significance of the Jewish people traversing 'dry land in the midst of the sea?' Why is Noach called 'Ish Ha'adamah' - isn't this the opposite of the concept of tzaddik who we would equate with water?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 19:31

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Breishis - Waters of Love

Why is the creation of water not mentioned in the narrative of Creation? What is the concept of the upper and lower waters? Why was the lower water originally a mixture of water and earth? Why is the water gathered to reveal the land? What is the meaning of R' Bachya's statement that the water's nature is to be on top and the earth's nature is to be below? Why were they to defy their nature? What is the deeper concept of water?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 20:59

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Rabbi Perr's book about his father

Check out this page.

Tzidkus Stands Forever: The Life and Lessons of Rabbi Menachem M. Perr zt"l Tzidkus Stands Forever: The Life and Lessons of Rabbi Menachem M. Perr zt"l
by Yechiel Yitzchok Perr
5.0 out of 5 stars (9 customer reviews)
Price: $10.00
16 used & new from $7.88
In Stock
Learn More  

This book was written by my Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yechiel Perr. It is the remarkable story of his father, a true tzaddik, who was at the forefront of the struggle to save the Jewish soul in the United States of the 50s and 60s. Like the great classic "All For the Boss," the book will entertain and inspire. My whole family was captivated.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Succos-Vzos Habracha - Riding the Willows

What is the concept of the willow branch? Why is it taken separately on Succos? Why does Hashem 'ride on the willows?' Why do the souls of Sodom return before the Messiah comes? Why does King David's soul and Moshiach's soul descend from an illicit union? Why are Reuven and Yehuda placed next to each other for their blessings?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 21:44

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Haazinu - Heaven and Earth, Mind and Heart

What is the difference between Dibbur-speech and Amirah-speech? Why is dibbur used for the heavens, and amirah used for the Earth? What are the two approaches for the intellect and the emotions? How does one transition from the days of Awe to the holiday of Succos, which is a time of intense joy? How does this connect to the Heavens and Earth which were created in Genesis?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 17:50

Friday, September 21, 2012

Vayelech - Giving it all to Hashem

Why does the special mitzvah of Hakhel (gathering) apply immediately after Shmitah (sabbatical year)? Why is it referred to as being in the Shmitah year, even though it's in the following year? What is the parallel here between Shmitah and Shabbos? What is the special power of atonement intrinsic to Yom Kippur? What is the deep lesson of Yehudah and Tamar?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 19:42

Friday, September 14, 2012

Nitsavim - Voices inside, voices outside

Why does the Torah seem to indicate that the main relationship and covenant with Hashem is through the congregation as a whole? Why does the Torah later seem to imply that the relationship is forged within the heart of the individual? What is the resolution of these two seeming opposites? What is the concept of the quorum of ten that is required for prayers? How can someone be brought to repentance by the simple act of someone thinking a positive thought about them?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 20:04

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ki Savo - Rejoicing in darkness

Why does the Torah speak at length about the curses, and only cursively about the blessings? Why does this parsha start off with the obligation of bringing the first fruits, which is only an obligation in Israel, only for the seven special species, and only to be brought to the Temple to a Kohen? Why does Rabbi Akiva laugh at the sight of the Temple Mount plowed over? Where is the deepest revelation of Godliness to be found?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 22:56

Friday, August 31, 2012

Ki Seitze - Sending away the mother

What is the concept of sending away the mother bird? How does it relate to the idea of Binah - intuition? What is the depth of the reward of 'long days?' How can one reach a goal if one is overwhelmed by the goal?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 19:28

Friday, August 24, 2012

Shoftim - Preparing for war

How can we be assured that God will be with us when we go out to war? Why does the Kohen use the phrase 'Shema Yisrael' - Hear O Israel - when he introduces his speech to the cavalry? Why is the concept of the heart repeated so many times? What is the concept of hearing and how does it relate to the heart and to the idea of Binah/intuition? What is the concept of Hashem's throne? How does this connect to the sound of the Shofar?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 22:05

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thoughts on Elul

The month of Elul is one that doesn't get much airplay on the national Jewish consciousness networks. There aren't any significant events that happened in Elul, no holidays to celebrate, no tragedies to mourn. The month usually comes at the end of the summer, when the kids are still in camp, and the heat seems to continue unabated.

But in another time and place, the word 'Elul' could cause someone's heart to stir, because it meant that there was only one more month until the Days of Awe would be upon us. Somehow, it could be sensed that Elul was a time that meant that a certain seriousness was necessary. It was a time to focus again on our relationship with God, our relationship with others, and even ourselves. To take stock of where we'd been that year, to look to the future with resolve.

The month of Elul, however, is not just about the coming Holy days. It is also a culmination of the months that preceded it.

In previous articles, we noted that the Jewish calendar is composed of two sets of six months. There are six that are the winter months, months of quiet growth beneath the surface. These months will begin soon, with the month of Tishrei. Currently, we are in the month of Elul, which is the culmination of the six month series of the spring and summer, when the growth is more active and pronounced. The world takes on a bright and warm sheen, which reflects a corresponding time of open spiritual growth, as well.

The cycling of the summer is also more pronounced, as we go through the joys of Passover and redemption, as well as the recommitment to Torah we experience on Shavuos. It is then followed by the three weeks of mourning over the destruction of the Temple.

And here we are, after all these experiences, looking ahead to the New Year that awaits us, and another cycle of subtle growth through yet another winter.

Our sages point out that the name of the month of Elul (אלול) is an acronym for a number of different phrases from the Torah. One of them is the phrase from the Song of Songs (6:3) אני לדודי ודודי לי - I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is mine. This denotes the powerful bond between the Jewish people and God. On another level, the sages note that it also an acronym for the phrase in the book of Esther (9:22) איש לרעהו ומתנות לאביונים - [gifts were sent] from a man to his friend and gifts to the poor. In both of these phrases, if one takes the first letter of each word, it spells the word Elul (אלול).

It can be deduced that the sages are suggesting that Elul contains a special aspect of relationship between man and God, as well as between man and his fellow. On a deeper level, there is also an aspect of our relationship with ourselves, as we will see.

It is interesting to note that the month of Elul is the sixth in the series of spring and summer months. The corresponding month in the autumn and winter months is the month of Adar, when we celebrate the story of Purim, as told in the book of Esther. It was in that very story that we found the verse which speaks of the relationship between man and his fellow, which forms the acronym of the month of Elul.

As we explained earlier, the sixth month in a series is the culmination of all of the spiritual energy of the five previous months. It is for this reason that we find in the deeper sources, the sixth aspect is referred to as "כל" - All. (See R' Aryeh Kaplan, The Bahir, p. 101.) In a parallel way, the sixth day of the week, Friday, is also the culmination of the five days that preceded it. It is also the day about which our sages sages say (Avodah Zarah 2A), "מי שטרח בערב שבת יאכל בשבת" - whoever puts in effort on Friday will be able to eat on Shabbat. It is thus a day that completes our weekly efforts and prepares us for the day of rest.

As we mentioned, the five months that precede Elul are the active spring and summer months. During this time, we have been very involved in the cycle of our relationship with God. In Jewish life, our relationship with God is always intertwined with our relationships with the people who are most dear to us in our lives.

In the first month of this series, Nissan, we experienced the Exodus from Egypt as we sat with our families at the Seder, recounting how God redeemed us. We counted the days through the second month, Iyar, leading up to Shavuos. In the third month, Sivan, we sat with our friends and family through the night as we brought back to life the giving of the Torah on Shavuos. In the fourth month, Tamuz, we began the mourning for the destruction of the temple, which culminated in the fifth month, Av, when we sat on the floor, mourning as a community, and read from the book of Lamentations.

As we got up from our sorrow, we celebrated the holiday of Tu B'av, which expresses a renewal in relationships. This expressed the completion of this cycle of relationship.

As we come to Elul, the sixth in the series, we have the opportunity to take stock of all of our relationships. We look at the cycle of our relationship with God, as well as our relationships with our fellows. And on a deeper level, both of these are really outward manifestations of our relationships with ourselves. Our interactions with others, and the type of contact we have with God always reflect who we really are at our core.

Thus, Elul is a time to look at the cycle we have experienced in a more pronounced way than in the winter months. Here we can openly see who we are and start to think about who we want to be. We gaze backwards, even as we look forwards to the month of Tishrei that is soon approaching. It is in Tishrei that we will express our desire to be committed to our relationship with God. This higher relationship is reflected in our associations with the people in our lives, and our commitment to them, as well.

As we observe where we have been, and where we hope to head, we become more whole within ourselves. Paradoxically, as we focus more on our relationships with others, we become more content within our own beings. This is the ultimate preparation for the month of Tishrei. Elul is that opportunity. If we take it, and prepare properly on 'Friday,' we will have a most beautiful and meaningful experience for the High Holidays.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Reeh - Elul - Culmination and Preparation

What is the deeper concept of the three festivals? What is the idea of the seven months that they span? How does Elul represent the concept of both preparation and culmination? What is the concept of the number six? How does six attach to seven? What do our sages mean when they speak of Elul as a time of relationship? Why does Elul not have any holidays?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 20:58

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another book update

Someone commented on the previous update, asking what the update is on my book.

So, Baruch Hashem, close to $3000 in donations have come in, and we are 3/5 of the way to getting started.

I would be happy to soon give the update that the full amount has been collected...'s up to you now.

Click here to donate!

I just figured that if we're making it 'up to you now,' I would give a link to the song from my album "Pure Soul."


Friday, August 10, 2012

Ekev - Divine Advice

How does one approach the problem of becoming confused and believing that he has accomplished on his own? How does one realize that it is really Hashem who has given the advice to his heart? Why does the Torah repeatedly refer to the merit and love Hashem has for the forebears of the Jewish people?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 24:02

Friday, August 3, 2012

Vaeschanan - Resonating with Truth

Why does Moshe preface his request to enter Israel by appointing Yehoshua to lead the Jewish people into Israel? Why does Moshe form his prayer as a "תחינה" - a supplication asking for a free gift? What is the difference between the experience of spirituality outside of Israel as opposed to the experience inside of Israel? How does one bring himself into a place of deeper truth?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 21:48

Friday, July 27, 2012

Crying in our times?

I got the following question from a friend who listens to my podcasts:

I’ve just listened to your this week’s Parsha podcast and I can honestly say even at the age 52 which I am,  I have never felt so well prepared for Tisha B’Av as I now feel after having listened to your podcast. However Arele please can you help me on the following. Lets face it as much as even children are aware of the history of the Jews and what we have endured and still today it is possible to witness an elderly Yid rolling up his sleeve to put on Tefillin only to notice you know what, not an eagle,loveheart or dinosaur but a number. However the fact is that although anti-semitism is forever hovering over us but nevertheless  while in exile we are at least  legally  able to get up to go to our shuls to daven and learn. We are able to get Kosher food unhindered ,we don’t have to hide Yiddishkeit for fear of being arrested for having committed a crime of any sort. Especially at this time of the year when holidays/vacation follow immediately after Tisha B’av and for instance in the Shuls , notice boards are full of adverts of where minyanim can be found in parts of e.g. England, Wales destinations where holidays are taken or general adverts about holidays French Alps, Spain or camps etc. I also remember when I was in Yeshivah soon after the end of the fast it wasn’t long before the spirit of Tisha B’Av soon dissolved to be superseded by the Bain Hazmanim spirit [myself included] . All these things at least talking about myself only stand in the way of properly looking forward to Moshiach. Just imagine what was going on in the minds of the three boys who were imprisoned in Japan [Unfortunately Yaakov Yosef Ben Raisel is still there as you may well be aware.]Most probably hardly a minute went by without them thinking when will we be back home. Ideally if only we would have the same frame of mind with Moshiach. In fact even in my own personal history at the place where I once worked and suffered there immensely and desperate to see the end I also used used to feel the same. Finally I have been married for 27 years and only about two to three times did we ever go on a family holiday, it was just beyond my means. However now I can say it was a blessing in disguise because as a result it becomes easier to concentrate on Inyono Deyoima. I would be grateful to have your response.

This was my response:

Thanks for your thoughtful email. You know, I think your question is indicative of the fact that we are in a very unique time. Personally, I believe that we are already over the threshold of Moshiach, that the age of Moshiach began already following the Holocaust. It is an age that takes time to be born and come to maturity, just like a child. But I think your question is based on the confusion we experience, as we see a certain redemption. How do we refer to Yershualayim as "שממה מאין יושב" - desolate with no one to live there? Jerusalem is no longer desolate. It is a sprawling growing city with almost a million inhabitants! Isn't Rebbe Akiva's vision already fulfilled - the city sees elderly people walking in it with their canes, and children playing in its streets! Unbelievable!

But, of course, the physical redemption that has been developing for the last 200 years or so is being followed ever so slowly by the spiritual redemption, which is not as obvious, yet.

That is reflected in a mosque which rests on the Har Habayis, in a Western Wall - which we only see a very small piece of - the rest serves as a wall for Arab homes! There is Torah, there are minyanim, but there is no heart! There are daf yomi siyumim but there is a deep emotional disconnect. There is so much on a superficial level, but our youth are running away because we do not have anything spiritual and emotional to offer them.

This is a great tragedy that we can cry about. And we find it hard to cry about it, because we are so detached emotionally. This is the darkness and weight of the end of the gallus - our lives are covered with a deathly pallor at the emotional level.

This is why the Navi talks about the sasson v'simcha of the future, and why it is so painful for me, as I spoke about in the podcast. It is because the future will contain such vivid and overwhelming emotion. The death-dream will be over, and we will literally be dancing together through the streets of Jerusalem, arm in arm, all of us as one. It will no longer matter what type of yarmulke, or even if there is a yarmulke on one's head. All that will be experienced is the ultimate triumph of goodness, that spark which is inside every Jew will be revealed.

Can we cry in recognition of the contrast between how it will be and how it is?

I wish you a moving and meaningful Tisha B'av, which I hope will be transformed to Sasson and Simcha!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Devarim - Where is His place?

Why do we always read Devarim on Parshas Chazon - the Shabbos before Tisha B'av? Why do we comfort mourners with a reference to a consolation from Hashem as 'hamakom' - the place? Why do the angels search for Hashem's 'place?' What is the concept of the word "איכה" - in our parsha, in the story of Adam, in the book of Lamentations? What is the connection between Adar and Av? What is the connection between crying and laughing?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 24:13

Friday, July 20, 2012

Matos Masei - Vows, Humility and Unity

Why does the Torah speak only briefly about the vows of a man, and then speak at length about the vows of women? What is the deeper understanding of the Torah's teaching that are women's vows beholden to their father or husband? What is the greatest manifestation of Hashem in our world? How do we align ourselves with His humility? What is the balance between giving space and still seeking a relationship?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 27:13

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Book Update

You may have received an email or read a post here in the past about my book. I just wanted to share where it is up to and some of the developments that are going on around it.

With tremendous help from Hashem, I have just completed a full five years of podcast-shiurim on the parsha. I started five years ago with Parshas Pinchas, and I have merited to put out an audio shiur every week since then. I am grateful to Hashem for the opportunity to share words of spiritual encouragement and personal growth with between 400 and 500 who download the shiurim every week. One of the nice things about this number is that I do not send anything out - all of those who download it choose to do so, so this number reflects a pretty accurate picture of how many people are listening each week.

For a while already, I have wanted to take some of the best lectures and put them into a book form, in order to reach a broader audience. To this end, all of the shiurim on Bereshis (five years worth!) have already been transcribed from the audio.

I recently had a meeting with a publishing imprint called Mosaica ( I sat with Rabbi Yaacov Haber and Doron Kornbluth, both of whom have had a lot of experience in publishing their own successful material. What they basically do is help the author self publish and produce the best possible product, both from a literary standpoint, as well as graphically.

What was nice about this meeting was that they both felt that there is a lot of potential in the type of material that I have been presenting on the podcasts, and it is the type that can appeal to a larger audience. I also felt encouraged because they felt strongly that the material in the book would be complemented by my music, as well. There is a lot of potential for me to use the personal growth material and integrate it with music to create a unique presentation for a live audience, as well.

One of the things I have learned throughout the last five years of putting out podcasts is the power of small pieces that add up. Whether it is the seforim I have completed in five minute podcast increments, or finishing the Torah five times by consistently putting out the twenty or so minute podcasts each week.

I believe this is a lesson for the Jewish people as a whole - each one of us has something to give to the greater good. When we are each doing our part, it adds up to something amazing and great. No part is insignificant - all of us are needed for the greater good of the revelation of Hashem in the world.

On this note, I would like to ask you to join with me in creating this book. The expenses of self publishing are very great. To start the project, $5000 is needed. To complete the project, another $5000 to $10,000 is needed.

This would seem like a daunting number, but I have already seen the outpouring of support from people from an appeal I recently made on my podcast. To me, a five dollar donation is just as important as a five hundred dollar donation. If two hundred people give $25, I will have already reached the amount needed to start the project moving forward. I am gratified to have received donations of $5, $10, $20, $36, $100, $170, $250, and $500.

To me the amount isn't as significant as the sense of encouragement that people believe in the message of personal growth and spirituality, that it is a message that needs to spread and take root amongst the Jewish people today. There are so many challenges facing the Jewish people in our times, and I believe that the more we go back to the spiritual roots of the Torah, the more we will succeed in the world today, on all levels.

Please join me in this effort.

I greatly appreciate your support.

Thank you,
Ari Goldwag

the following can be used to donate, as well as the donate button on my website

Monday, July 16, 2012

Moshiach podcast 13 - Secret of Thirteen

We uncover the secret of the thirteenth aspect. There is a higher aspect of it, which is represented by Yaacov, and a lower aspect, as it is revealed in the lower realms, which is represented by Yosef. We explore how this applies to the tribes and the leap year, why it is necessary, and what this means for the Moshiach ben Yosef process. We also explore why it is impossible to guess the date when Moshiach will reveal himself.

Here is the thirteenth Moshiach Podcast.

Running time: 37:29

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pinchas - Zealous Patience

What are the two approaches to guiding the Jewish people? When is it appropriate to be zealous? When is it appropriate to be patient? What is the significance of the fact that the stories of both Pinchas and Eliyahu center around the concept of the Bris, which alternately represent the covenant with God, as well as the concept of circumcision?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 23:27

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Balak - Truth and Will

Bilam seems to be a good guy. Why do chazal paint him in such a bad light - Bilam Harasha!Why do we have this funny interaction where the donkey knows about the malach even before Bilam? What is the point of the malach standing there if it won't end up killing Bilam anyway? What is Bilam's fundamental character flaw? The midrash stresses that Bilam spoke to Hashem in a dream at night, thus indicating his inferior quality of prophecy. But lemaaseh, he experiences prophetic moments with his poetry during the day - so what is the meaning of it? What is the significance of the comparison between Bilam and Avraham?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 30:05

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

More on seventy

It was prophesied that there would be seventy years between the first and second batei Mikdash. Nobody knew when the count started, so there was confusion as to when the second Beish Hamikdash was to be built.

This was the root of the party of Achashverosh, and how he thought he could take out and use the vessels from the temple. He thought the seventy years had ended and that Hashem had forsaken His people.

But there is a deep secret here, which I spoke about at length in the 12th Moshiach podcast. That secret is that he was right. And so were those who counted seventy years and came up with an earlier date. And so were those who came up with a later date.

Because all the seventy year counts represented a starting and finishing point where something was conceived, a process began, and where that something was born, the process was completed.

Sometimes the process yields another process.

Sometimes the process yields a challenge that brings about the final stages of a process that began a short time after the first process.

We can not know when the end will be.

We can not say Moshiach will come or reveal himself or hide himself or anything in Av of 5772. Or 5769. Or 5776. Or 5778. Or 5750. Or 5770. Or any date.

We don't know the end.

We can't know the end.

Because the end is not determined yet.

Reality is fluid because everything depends on our free will.

And at the same time, there are processes that began seventy years ago, and seventy years before that.

I mentioned that each day of Succos is exactly seventy days before each day Chanukah. This would seem to indicate that each day of Chanukah is the culmination of each day of Succos. And 'zos chanukah' is the culmination of Shmini Atzeres. So what? That is for each of us to answer.

What is the significance of the fact that we are seventy years after the Final Solution?

What is the significance of the fact that 2018 will be seventy years after the Jewish people stood up as a nation in Israel?

What is the significance of the fact that 2037 will be seventy years after Jerusalem was reunited?

If Moshiach comes in Av, will these questions matter?

If he doesn't, chas v'shalom, will anyone stop reading Moshiach blogs?

I still maintain that we do a lot more for bringing Moshiach when we live our lives and try our best to do Hashem's will. He's the One doing everything, anyway. He doesn't need us meddling in His affairs. Does it really get us anywhere? Does it make us better people? Do we suddenly believe we are so brilliant because we might have figured something out? Are we humbled when things don't work out the way someone predicted? Do we continue to guess and guess?

Is it any wonder that Chazal say תיפח רוחם של מחשבי הקץ - the spirit of those who predict the end becomes engorged?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Moshiach Podcast 12 - Seventy Years

What is the concept of seventy years in relationship to the Moshiach process? What is the meaning of the question of Choni Ha'me'agel about sleeping for seventy years? What is the parallel between this process and the planting of a Carob tree? What is the significance of our sages teaching of the star that comes every seventy years? How is this connected to the Moshiach ben Yosef process? We explore all these questions, and more in the 12th Moshiach podcast.

Running time: 32:05

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fields of Judah

Fields of Judah, sing your song
As the sun sets and its rays cast long shadows
across the stalks lazily waving
In the soft breeze
voices whispering as they sing
Trust, just trust
for Hashem is all you need
He's with you at every turn
even as we sway to and fro
He's with us, too
For all the fear melts away
With trust.

There's no experience like being out in the field, talking to Hashem for a while, then pausing for a bit to listen for His response.

Hashem's voice sings quietly. It can't be heard above the noise. I must quiet all the busy voices if I want to hear Him.

But once I hear that soothing voice, something changes in me.

Because I can't be the same once I've heard the voice of truth.

And there are many 'voices of truth,' or, more accurately, voices that claim to be the voice of truth.

But there is only one real voice of truth. Or perhaps one voice of real truth. Is 'real truth' redundant? It would be redundant, I guess, if there were no other voices claiming to be that voice.

Once I've tasted that subtle sweetness, though, something has changed permanently. And even if I ignore it for a while, that taste of realness now discolors all of the other sweetnesses. Because they are only superficially sweet. When you taste the real thing, there is no turning back. At least not without pain.

I need to return to that truth. When I am there, I know it, because it just resonates at some place deep inside of me. It's not in my mind. It's in the same place where I laugh and cry. That place that is beyond explanation. I couldn't take you there unless you've been there. But maybe I could help you find it yourself.

People ask where Hashem is. And I recently heard that people really need to ask something else - where they are.

And I couldn't help but think that the two questions are not really two questions at all.

And is there an answer to that question?

But it is good to ask.

And if you ask me why I'm laughing, can I answer?

And if you ask why I'm crying?

But it is good to ask.

Friday, June 29, 2012

You can do anything

Do you know that you have unlimited power inside of you?

Do you know that it is there, bubbling beneath the surface?

Do you know that you - yes you! - have the ability to change the world?

There's a voice that quickly snaps, "No, that's not true."

But underneath the harshness of its tone, there is a hint of something hopeful, perhaps wistful. Something inside of you believes that I might really be talking to you.

Because I am.

And it's true.

I'm reminded of a time that I spoke to an elderly woman. She had grown up in a world of resentment. In a world without God.

When she was young, a close family member had taken ill, and she was told to pray, and that God would heal. She prayed for a week, and the person died. But no one told her, and she kept praying for another week.

When they finally did tell her, she learned that God does not answer prayers, if He's there at all.

And that little girl went through life without God.

And even as the elderly woman told her story, and explained why she could not pray to this very day, I watched a tear form in the edge of her eye.

That same voice that tells us not to pray, because He's not listening, that same part of us that is cold and hardened, also wishes that we would somehow figure out how to break its macho facade.
That part of us that has us convinced that we can never burst out and use our potential, that has us believe that we are limited...

... it knows the truth. That its own 'truth' is a shabby, forlorn version of reality. That its covering up a diamond that is meant to shine out into the world with all its brilliance.

And that God is waiting to shine His light through that gem stone out onto the world. Not just for yourself, so that you can make a claim to its light. That would be the return of the false voice.

That light you have inside is meant to shine for everyone to see - for their sake. Because when they see it, they will realize that they also have a light to shine, and they will reflect it back at you.

And the most amazing thing happens when I'm shining my sun on you - just for you - and you are shining your star on me - just for me...

... because at that moment, there is no me, and there is no you. There's only the light that we're shining, which is the light of God.

Chukas - Waters of Desire

What is the concept of the well? When was the song of the well sung? Who sang the song? Why was there a song connected to the water? Why was it specifically the merit of Miriam that was the cause of the miracle of the well? What was underlying the sin of Moshe when he struck the rock? What is the general concept of water?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 36:05

Friday, June 22, 2012

Korach - Understanding the Tzaddik

What is the superficial view behind the rebellion of Korach? What is the special character of Aharon that is being challenged? How does this story parallel the story of Yosef and his brothers? What is the parallel to Amalek and the Jewish people? What is the concept of the staff of Aharon that flowers and blossoms, producing fruit? What does the cryptic medrash mean when it says that Aharon's staff swallowed the staffs of the other tribes, as it did to the staffs of Pharaoh's necromancers? How many staffs were there? What is the general concept of the staff? What is the connection between the staff and the tzaddik?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 30:11

Friday, June 15, 2012

Shelach vort 2 - Deeper truth

I had two thoughts this week on the parsha. The first was the official 'studio' recording podcast. This is the second which I presented in my parsha shiur this morning in Beis Medrash Ahavas Shalom.

Presented is the very beautiful and deep concept of R' Nachman, as expounded by R' Nosson, which is the concept of truth and true truth.

Click here to download the second version of the parsha podcast.

Runnning time: 17:47

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Shelach - Spiritual resonance

What is the deeper idea behind the story of the spies? What was the great sin of the Jewish people in this story? Why does Hashem seem so angry with them, to the point that He is ready to destroy them? How does one access the power of spiritual resonance?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 22:56

Friday, June 8, 2012

Behaaloscha - Doing what you really want

Why does the command to light the Menorah in the sanctuary immediately follow the sacrifices of the Nesi'im of the tribes? What is the underlying concept of those sacrifices? What is the underlying concept of the lighting of the Menorah? What is the great praise of Aharon that he 'did as he was told?' What is the deeper connection between the Menorah and Shabbos? What is the secret of will which is found in Shabbos? How does one tap into his true will, to do what he truly wants, as opposed to what he 'feels' like doing?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 23:50

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Naso - Love and Respect

Why does the Torah place the concept of the encampments next to the idea of Metzora? The midrash tells us that the Jewish people were cured of this type of ailment at Mount Sinai, and that it returned after the sin of the Golden Calf - Why is this only significant now, almost a year later? Why does the midrash seem to imply that the counting and encampments are the solidification of the relationship of Hashem and Klal Yisrael?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 22:19

Monday, May 28, 2012

Geulah music video

This is really cool. I am not into heavy Moshiach messages anymore, but this is a really nice way of giving it over.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bimidbar - Reflecting Hashem's Love

What is the concept of counting the Jewish people? How does it show Hashem's love for us? Why is it necessary to involve the heads of the tribes in the count? What is the significance of the midrash telling us how each tribal leader was connected to the original progenitor of the tribe? What is the job of the true tzaddik?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 20:31

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Finding our voice

I always wonder what makes a song become popular. What is that secret ingredient that people latch onto that makes them want to listen to or sing it repeatedly?

I've noticed that there are two distinct types of songs that draw us into their spell. One song could be called a 'show piece.' This is a song that only a professional singer can sing. We enjoy listening to this type of song, and we can appreciate when someone sings it well.

There is a second type of popular song, which is much simpler. This song sounds good no matter who sings it. It is this type of melody that will be sung at a kumzitz or at the Shabbos table.

Looking at these two types of songs, we can observe that the first type of song usually comes into our consciousness and goes out the way it came. In contrast, the second type has a staying power. The simple, beautiful melodies of decades ago still grace our modern day kumzitzes, alongside newer additions of this type.

There are two types of aspirations that are espoused by our society. One is the desire to become what we could call a 'star player.' This is the Rosh Yeshiva or maggid shiur who has a profound effect on many people, or perhaps even someone who spends his entire life completely dedicated to learning, affecting the entire world in a more subtle way.

Then there is a second type of personality, who is much simpler. This is the 'balabos' who goes about his life in a way which may not be as glamorous. He provides for his family and is involved on some level with providing a service to others. He tries to balance his time with a kvias ittim and three tefillos a day.

For some reason, when it comes to a song, we can more easily resonate with the simpler song. When it comes to our societal aspirations, we don't necessarily appreciate the true value of the simple ehrlicher Yid.

A few months ago, I had the zechus to be involved in leading a very special Shabbos retreat for Yeshiva bochurim. The goal of the retreat was to uncover and expand the hidden potential that lies within each of us.

One of the exercises encouraged these young men to push past their comfort zone and recognize that there is untapped talent within them that can be accessed. The option was given for each person to sing in front of the rest of the group. This proved to be a formidable challenge.

Although, at first, the volunteers were not forthcoming, Hashgacha Pratis provided for the eventuality that would lighten the atmosphere and give the young men an opportunity to push past their limits.

Some mistake had been made when the lights were set before Shabbos, and just as we began this exercise, the lights in the room all went out. There was only a bit of light coming in from outside, enough to remain there, but not enough to see each other well.

This was when the magic began. One by one, the bochurim started to sing. Each one began his solo with a noticeable lack of confidence, but by the end of each performance, there was a sense of conviction that was enhanced by the almost palpable encouragement in the room. A burst of applause completed the picture as each of them sat down with a sigh of relief.

With the close of this exercise, we all joined arms in a circle, singing a moving and simple melody together. As we swayed in tandem, singing in unison, I couldn't help but reflect on the beauty of all the perhaps unpretentious voices coming together to create such an exquisite sound. As each individual found the unique elegance of his voice, we sang a song, as one, that seemed to rise to the heavens, offering a most simple, yet profound praise of Hashem.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bechukosai - Facing the Truth

Why does the Torah speak so forcefully in the Tochacha (Admonition)? Why does it seem so negative? What is the concept of different dimensions of truth? How does one access deeper truth?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 24:27

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Behar - Thanking Hashem for the challenges

Why does the Torah place the concept of Shemitah directly after the Mekalel (one who cursed Hashem)? What is the depth of the concept of Shmitah and Shabbos? Why is the song of Shabbos a song of thanks? What was the mistake of the Mekalel?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running Time: 19:08

Friday, May 4, 2012

Emor - Beauty and Greatness

Why does the Torah place so many strictures on the Kohanim? What is the concept of the 'Kohen Gadol' - the High Priest? What is the concept of Gedulah - greatness? What is the connection between Avraham and the Kohen Gadol? Why does the medrash say that the Kohen Gadol must be physically beautiful, wealthy, and wise? What is the concept of counting? Do we count forty nine or fifty days from Pesach to Shavuos?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 24:27

Friday, April 27, 2012

Acharei Kedoshim - Understanding the logic of illogic

Why is the service of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur prefaced with the death of Nadav and Avihu? What is the connection between Pesach and Yom Kippur? What is the depth of the idea of the Holy of Holies both taking up space and being beyond space? What is the depth of the concept of our Free Will? What can we learn from a dream?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 20:38

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tazria Metzora - Birth and Rebirth

Why is the pain of birth followed by the pain of separation from relationship? What are the stages of birth and rebirth? What is the parallel between the birth process and the redemption process? How does this parallel the stages of growth we all experience?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 24:02

Monday, April 16, 2012

Moshiach Podcast 11 - Moshiach NOW?

What do we mean when we ask for Moshiach to come quickly? It seems to have taken quite a long time. What is the sense of urgency that we see around us in those who are looking for Moshiach to come? Why is the advent of Moshiach specifically through a process? When does it become fast? What is the laughter of Moshiach? Why does Moshiach ben Yosef come to a generation which is completely in a negative state?

We explore all these questions, and more in the 11th Moshiach podcast.

Running time: 38:11

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Shmini - Six, Seven, and Eight

Why is the mishkan completed on the same day as the creation of Man? What is the significance of the fact that it is both the sixth day of creation and the eighth day of the mishkan? What is the deeper concept of the numbers six, seven, and eight? How is the sadness of this day rectified? Where do we see these three numbers in the last day of Pesach? What is the significance of the silence of the Jewish people in the face of their Egyptian pursuers? How does the first day of Nissan connect to the 21st day of Nissan?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 22:20

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pesach - Leaving Egypt with great wealth

Why is it necessary for the Jewish people to be enslaved in Egypt? What does Egypt represent? What is the concept of the Jewish people leaving Egypt with great riches? Why is the Mishkan and Beis Hamikdash bedecked with silver and gold? What is the significance of the parallel idea in the future redemption? What is the concept of money?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 21:33

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tzav - Traversing Adar and Nissan

Why does the dedication of the sanctuary begin in Adar and finish in Nissan? Why does the creation of the world start in Adar and end in Nissan? What is the connection between Purim and Pesach? Why does Purim continue to be celebrated after Moshiach comes, whereas Pesach is not? What is the significance of Adar being connected to laughter, while Nissan is connected to speech? What is the meaning of the statement of our sages that the Mishkan will last forever? How does the Mishkan parallel Moshiach ben Yosef, while the Temple parallels Moshiach ben Dovid?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 24:54

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Vayikra - Prayer and sacrifice

What is the concept of the sacrifices? What is the connection between sacrifice and prayer? Why are both of these concepts called 'avodah' - service? What is the difference between service of Hashem and the service of idolatry? What is the deeper reason why the sacrifices were completely consumed by the body with no waste, like the manna?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 30:19

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Vayakhel-Pekudei - Sensing Hashem in our lives

hat is the deeper connection between Shabbos and the Mishkan? How did all of the parts of the Mishkan come together seamlessly if they were made by so many different people? How were the artisans able to avoid haughtiness from their work? How does working provide the tikkun for Adam's sin?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 19:08

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ki Sisa - Secret of the Ibbur

How do we understand the great disparity between Moshe receiving the Torah at the very moment the Jewish people are worshipping the Golden Calf? This is especially difficult in light of the fact that Moshe is the combining soul of the Jewish people. How does this connect to the miracle of Purim? What is the concept of the twelve and thirteen tribes and the twelve and thirteen months of the year? Why does the miracle of Purim occur in Adar? What is the significance of the fish as its zodiac sign? What is the spiritual concept of the fish?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 22:46

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tetzaveh - Valuing our purpose

Why does the Torah specify that the pure olive oil is to be brought to Moshe? How does one tap into the aspect of Lishma - pure motivation? How does one recognize one's true purpose and move out of jealousy of others? What is represented by the clothing of Aharon? How does this connect to the special coat of Yosef?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 20:44

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Terumah - Secret of Lishma

Why does the Torah refer to the donation to Mishkan as 'taking?' What is the concept of Lishma? Why do we refer to a pure motive as 'for the sake of Hashem's name?' Why is this a requirement specifically in regards to the commandment of building the Mishkan? Why is Hashem's name found in correlation to the concept of Love and Unity?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 22:52

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mishpatim - Closeness and Tikkun

Why is the narrative of the revelation at Sinai interrupted with the laws of Mishpatim? Were these laws given at this point? In light of the statement of Chazal that the Jewish people had returned to the state of Adam before the sin, why were did they receive commandments that seem inapplicable to them? Why doesn't the Torah wait until after the sin of the Golden Calf, when they fall from that state, to teach these laws? Why does the Torah begin with the tikkun aspect of the slave, instead of the sin that caused him to be sold into slavery? What is the connection between Adam Harishon and the Hebrew slave?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 20:55

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Yisro - Stages of completion

Why is the story of Yisro the preface to receiving the Torah? What is the connection between the fifteenth of Shvat and the receiving of the Torah? Why do we eat fruit on this day, if it is not about the product, but about the first budding? What is the deeper meaning of the concept of 'the end product is in the first thought?'

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 20:07

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

15 Shvat - 25 Adar

Tu b'shvat is exactly forty days before the 25th of Adar. My chevrusa, Yaakov Raice told me that it is brought down that just as we have a concept of "forty days before the fetus begins to take form", we have a similar concept here. The 25th of Adar is the moment of Bereshis, according to one opinion in the Gemara in Rosh Hashana. It is when the world took its form. Forty days before is the day of Tu b'shvat, when the conception of the world occurs. This is true each year, as the world is renewed, and the trees begin to bud, showing this first thought, the מחשבה תחילה.

May we be zocheh to see the budding of the צמח דוד - the 'plant of David,' speedily and in our days. Amen.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Beshalach - Removing husks, revealing soul

Why does Hashem allow the Jewish people's food to run out before providing them with the Manna? What is the significance of this happening in the month of Iyar? Why does this occur again with the water? Why do the Jewish people question if Hashem is in their midst? Why does the war with Amalek immediately follow, in the same place, Refidim? Why do these events take place in the interim period between the Exodus and receiving the Torah? What is the concept of the altar that Moshe calls 'Hashem nisi' - 'Hashem tested me,' or 'Hashem raised me up?'

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 23:17

Friday, January 27, 2012

Four fifths

I was thinking about the plague of darkness, where we find that our sages tell us that four-fifths, or 49/50 or 499/500 died amongst the Jewish people. To understand this on the surface level would have us calculate the Jewish people to be five, fifty or five hundred times 600,000 before the plague of darkness. The very fact that this number is so fantastic hints that chazal here are not teaching us something literal, but instead, this statement is included in the concept that they would hide deeper concepts in fantastic statements, in order to repel the uninitiated, and teach a deep lesson to those who have the key.

To understand what could perhaps be the true depth of chazal in this instance, we need to look at the numbers chazal use, as the numbers are generally the key to unlocking what chazal were actually referring to.

It is remarkable that at the point of the plague of darkness, we have passed the four fifths point of the ten plagues. Being that the plagues correspond to the ten sefiros (as do all groups of ten), we can see that the concept of four fifths means that we have passed Binah and are now in Chochmah, the ninth of the sefiros when we count from the bottom up.

If we look at the numbers 49 vs. 50, we see the concept of the seven times seven lower sefiros (as we count from Pesach to Shavuos), and the fiftieth level, which is Binah.

If we look at the number 499 vs. 500, we have the concept of צבאות, whose gematriah is 499. This concept always refers to the two legs of Netsach and Hod, which are the third and fourth from the bottom of the עץ החיים.

Thus, while we would initially perceive an ascension in the numbers 4/5, 49/50, 499/500, we are actually looking at a descending point in the sefiros.

I believe that chazal are hinting to a very deep concept here, which is spoken about by the Izhbitzer. There is a process of birur, purification, through which the Jewish people as a whole, as well as every individual, comes to the realization that Hashem is all there is, that everything is truly Him. During this process, the dross of physicality is slowly burned away, and the individual or nation recognizes that all the externals are nothing more than illusion.

During the process of the plagues, the Jewish people were being purified through this process so they could merit to leave Egypt. Each מכה had the effect of burning away another layer of externality, until the core was revealed.

As one rises through the sefiros, one finds the more rarefied essence which is at their core. In the levels of Soul, the aspect of Nefesh corresponds to Malchus, the lowest of the sefiros. Ruach corresponds to the next six; Neshama corresponds to Binah, the eighth. The makifin levels of Chaya and Yechida correspond to the last two sefiros, Chochmah and Keser, which are levels of transcendent unity.

It could be said that chazal are hinting to this idea when they say that 'four-fifths of klal yisrael died during the plague of darkness.' This could mean that the lower aspects of reality were removed, and the Jewish people had access to their higher selves, the unifying aspects of their chayah and yechida.

On another level (because everything is relative), the forty nine levels represent malchus and the next six, the seven lower sefiros (multiplied by seven). The fiftieth represents the level of Binah, which corresponds to Neshama. Here, too, we can say that there was a removal of the lower, outer aspects of the Jewish people, such that the Neshama was revealed.

On still another level, the 499 represents the aspect of צבאות, which corresponds to the concept that the Jewish people (or Nevi'im, who access prophecy through netsach and hod) are but 'hosts' for the Divine that 'rides' upon them. When the outer aspect of the 'host' is stripped away, the Divine within is revealed, which is the 500th aspect (or תתקצ"ט).

The point is that chazal are showing us that the purpose of the plagues in general, and the plague of darkness, in particular, was to strip away the layers of darkness surrounding the soul-essence of the Jewish people. The four-fifths, or 49/50, or 499/500 of the Jewish people that died here could very well not have been a percentage of the Jewish people as a whole, but rather, a percentage of each individual as their outer 'garment' of physicality was removed, and their soul essence was revealed.

This is what is to happen for each one of us as Moshiach arrives and we have the corresponding experiences to the sefiros. We will iy'H soon see Hashem revealed in each and every human being until the moment when we will realize that there really is no other besides for Him. ביום ההוא יהיה ה' אחד ושמו אחד. May it be soon. Amen.

Bo - Spiritual depth perception

What is special about the plauge of the firstborn? Why must the Jews remain inside for this plague? Why is the mitzvah of Tefillin given at this point? How does the Tefillin remind us of the exodus? Why is the Tefillin not referred to by name? Why does the Torah refer to the placement of the Tefillin as 'between the eyes,' if it really means on the head?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 23:24

Friday, January 20, 2012

Vaera - Moshe and Aharon, the Geulah team

Why are Moshe and Aharon both necessary for the redemption to take place? Why does it seem that Moshe is initially supposed to be the only redeemer? What is the special attribute of each of the brothers?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 20:29

Friday, January 13, 2012

Shemos - Birthpangs of Redemption

Why does the plight of the Jewish people worsen with Moshe's revelation as redeemer? What is the reason for this pattern repeating in subsequent redemptions - before the second temple and in the final redemption? Why does Hashem reveal Himself in a bush? Why does the giving of the Torah immediately follow the Exodus, and why does it take place on Mount Sinai, in the wilderness, and not in Israel on Mount Moriah?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 22:29

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Moshiach Podcast 10

It's been a while since I really talked Moshiach. As will become clear to those who listen to the podcast, I have decided, for a few different reasons, to continue this series, albeit taking it in a slightly different direction than the last three episodes.

Here is the description from itunes:

Understanding Moshiach is really about bringing Moshiach. We discuss what Moshiach means, its roots in the times of Adam, and the things each of us can start to do to actually bring the world closer to that worldwide consciousness of God's presence.

Here is Moshiach podcast #10.

Running time: 42:27

Friday, January 6, 2012

Vayechi - Lesson of Beit Shemesh

Why does Yakov wait until he is about to die to give his sons rebuke? What is the power of the tzaddik? What is the true nature of the town of Beit Shemesh? What is the power of focusing on good points?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 21:19

Wednesday, January 4, 2012