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I was in Yeshivah soon after the end of the fast it wasn’t long before the spirit of Tisha B’Av soon dissolved to be superseded by the Bain Hazmanim spirit [myself included] .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.