Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nasso - Sotah and Nazir

What is the deeper significance of the juxtaposition of the parshios of Sotah and Nazir? Why does a Sotah seem to be rewarded if she has not done adultery, when in any event she has been 'hanging out' with other men? Why should a person become a Nazir if he sees a Sotah's disgrace? What is the 'sin' of the Nazir?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Shavuos and the light of Moshiach

What is Rebbe Akiva and his students' connection to this time between Pesach and Shavuos? Why did they die then, and why do we mourn it to this day? What are the three times in history that the light of Moshiach was revealed, and how does this connect to Shavuos? What is Rebbe Akiva's role in the Moshiach story? Find out in the special Shavuos Podcast.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bimidbar - counting is love

Why does Hashem count us? How does it show his love? Why are the Leviim counted separately? Why is the counting specifically done with money? What is the deeper meaning behind money? Why are Bechorim redeemed specifically with money?

Find out in this week's parsha podcast

Ribono - strength through song

I must say that I was not sure if there would be much response to my anti-Loshon-Hara drive, and I was scared to look at my stats to see how many people downloaded Rav Kessin's shiur. I was truly impressed at the amount of response that it actually got. If you haven't yet heard it, please see the previous posts.

In any event, I wanted to share something with you, that perhaps will also give chizzuk, perhaps in a slightly different way. A while ago, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation asked me to put together a song on the concept of Shmiras Halashon, and Hashem gave me the gift of a beautiful niggun. The words are an abbreviated version of the tefillah of the Chofetz Chaim asking Hashem to help us guard our tongues.

The words are as follows:

ריבונו של עולם, יהי רצון מלפניך קל רחום וחנון שתזכני היום ובכל יום לשמור פי ולשוני מלשון הרע ורכילות, ויהיו כל מעשי ודיבורי לשם שמים
Master of the world, may it be Your will Merciful and Compassionate God that You give me the merit today, and every day, to guard my mouth and tongue from speaking negative speech and slander. And may all my actions and words be for the sake of heaven.

I hope you will learn this song, allow yourself to hum it or sing it, and maybe teach it to someone as you change the topic from whatever negative speech may have been spoken, or even tell them they can download it right here.

Click here to download Ribono, courtesy of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.

If you are keeping the second Sefirah, here is an a capella version of the song.

You can right click and choose download to get it onto your computer.

This song also appeared recently, most beautifully done, on an album by Shea Rubenstein.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

About Rav Mendel Kessin

I thought that perhaps it would have more power if we knew a drop more about Rav Kessin, so I found the following that was written about him on the Gateways website:

Rabbi Mendel Kessin

Rabbi Kessin was ordained by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. He has a PhD in Psychology from Fordham University in NY and runs a private practice in Brooklyn. Rabbi Kessin is a noted lecturer and educator and has spoken extensively in the United States, South Africa, Canada and Israel on Jewish Philosophy.

The following is a video that speaks about 9/11, but it is quite poignant in helping us to understand a lot of what is going on in general and how we are heading into the times of Moshiach.

I again encourage everyone to listen to the shiur on Loshon Hara which is linked on the previous posts.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Moshiach, now? part III

I took the four parts of Rav Kessin's shiur (see previous post) and combined them into one mp3. The total running time is 1 hr. 50 mins. This is a shiur that will change your outlook and really give you a deeper understanding of what is going on. Mendel Kessin on LH.mp3

Again, you can listen to it here, or right click and choose download to copy it to your computer or mp3 player.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Moshiach, now? part II

You know, I don't think there is anyone who will say that we aren't in a very significant moment in history. As I have said in the past, I do not like to make predictions, and the main reason is because predictions for the near future look rather silly when they do not come true. I honestly think that what is currently going on is heading in a certain direction, and it doesn't take a genius to see. If I am right, it is truly the time for us to start doing more than just talk. It is rather easy to jump from one blog to another and find something to buzz the brain and be excited about. And while it is nice, and I'm sure Hashem is happy that we are looking forward to Moshiach, Hashem wants action. I'm sorry to say this, but it's not worth too much when we sit around for an hour and check every news source to see if Obama is going to be Gog. It's just not. What is worth something is actually doing something.

Well, you say, it is hard to do something, after all, what can I do? I am just a little Jew, I may not really know too much, can't really learn too well. Well, I tried the daf a bunch of times. That didn't go. I tried out your podcast too, Ari. That was cute. But what can I really do? Come on now, does my little mitzvah really make a difference? Anyway, I'm inconsistent, and the one time I try just won't cut it. Why bother?

This is how the yetzer hara talks. He convinces us to give up before we have even tried. Now I'm quite sure that I have may have lost you by now, because I stopped talking about Moshiach, but guess what, this has everything to do with Moshiach. Moshiach can not come until we get ourselves together. And the main people who need to do that is us - because we know better. The Satan has nothing to say about people who aren't frum, because they just don't know. It is we who are stopping Moshiach from coming. It is we, with our petty שנאת חינם, believing that we are better than every other person who isn't as frum as us, doesn't learn as much as us, doesn't daven as long as us, hasn't been to the right Yeshivas, doesn't have the yichus we have, doesn't live in Israel, doesn't want to live in Israel, and on and on and on. We are so full of pride - we are Gog. Yes, we are the most prideful individuals that exist in the world, and we hate anyone who isn't like us. We are holding up the show, and a lot of people can die because of our pathetic outlook on life. Is it any wonder that the entire world hates us so much? It's middah k'negged middah, because we hate each other. They hate us for no reason, because we hate each other for no reason.

But it doesn't have to stay that way. We can learn to love. And I'm going to ask you to make a small investment right now. Please, please download the following two parts (each split in two) of a speech about Lashon Hara by Rav Mendel Kessin. You may have heard it before, or you may not have. Either way, this is the time to listen to it. You will get a different perspective that will make you want to be more careful about this mitzvah, and it will help you love your fellow more.

After listening to the shiur, please, please click on the last link and purchase the Chofetz Chaim's lesson a day, or go out to your local seforim store to buy it, and take a minute each day to learn a halacha. Maybe even read that halacha a few times until you have it memorized. This is a concrete effort than anyone can do that will bring Moshiach in a more merciful way.

I apologize if I came off too strong, and the truth is that I am speaking to myself as I write this as well.

If it is too much to listen to all at once, you can come back later, or right click and choose download to listen later on your computer or mp3 player. But I have a feeling that once you start, it will actually be hard to stop listening.

I will do this bl'n, and I hope you will too.

Here is the link to the book, which is about $17 + shipping.

One last thing. If this is powerful enough for you to copy, paste and send to someone you know, please don't send it to that person who 'really should be hearing it,' but rather to someone you care about who will appreciate your love for them, and will truly bring about an increase in ahavas Yisrael and diminish שנאת חינם.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Behar-Bechukosai - The secret of the Shofar

Did you ever look for the deeper meaning of the shofar? Did you ever think about why it was blown at Har Sinai and will be blown when Moshiach comes? Did you notice the parallel between the count to Yovel and Sefiras ha'omer? Why do we blow it on Yovel, and what is its significance on Rosh Hashana?

Find out in this week's Parsha podcast.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


If there is one podcast you must choose to listen to, it must be this one. Explained here is an incredible paradigm shift that will sharpen your view of your own mind - the emotional and intellectual - and help you understand your internal struggles and the approach that will really work to deal with it. This in turn will empower you in your relationships with others, which will unltimately empower you in your relationship with Hashem.

Here is explained, in layman's terms, the understanding of the male-female friction that we all sense naturally occurs both in our relationships, and even in our own minds - between the emotional and intellectual parts that also reflect the animal and spiritual. You will finally understand how to find the proper balance.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Aspects of MBY - 2-5

We continue with Rav Daniel Krentzman's new book on Moshiach ben Yosef, based on the sefer Kol Hator.

"אנוח ליום צרה ": “The time I should have rested will become a day of distress”(חבקוק ג' טז) . This refers to a time at which Mashiach ben Yosef is manifest. This similarly connects to the verse in Yirmiyahu(ל' ז) : "עת צרה היא ליעקב וממנו יושע" , “It will be a time of trouble for Yaakov, but he shall be saved from it”. It is also known that any usage of the language of "ישועה", refers to the qualities of Mashiach ben Yosef. Thus, although Mashiach ben Yosef’s mission requires difficult human effort and struggle, Hashem will ultimately come to his aid, and the hardship of his endeavor will result in salvation.

"אמת מארץ תצמח וצדק משמים נשקף ": “Truth will sprout from earth and Righteousness will peer from heaven” (תהילים ' פה יב). The next verse continues,

גם ה' יתן הטוב וארצנו תתן יבולה “Hashem, too, will provide what is good, and our land will yield its produce”. These two verses together refer to the efforts of Mashiach ben Yosef and their results. “Truth sprouting from the earth” is a reference to Mashiach ben Yosef, who is rooted in the middah of "דין", “Judgment” which dictates human effort and worthiness. This is additionally referred to, here, as "צדק", “righteousness” (i.e. righteousness in judgment). The result is Hashem’s reciprocating Chesed, "טוב", and the land of Eretz Yisrael yielding its physical, as well as spiritual, fruits; וארצנו תתן יבולה .

" אבן מאסו הבונים היתה לראש פינה ": “The stone the builders despised has become the cornerstone” ((תהילים קיח' יב ). This refers to Mashiach ben Yosef, who serves to establish the physical structure and framework that will serve as the spiritual vessel which reveals Hashem in the world. During the process, this may not be apparent and Mashiach ben Yosef may receive strong opposition, but his efforts will in the end be revealed for their true spiritual intentions and applications. The first letters of each word in this verse: אמההל"פ, has a total gematria of “161”; the same gematria as יהוסף" "; Yosef’s name, when the letter "ה" was added to it, the night before Yosef first spoke with Pharaoh - see סוטה לו:.

" אבן שלימה וצדק ": “a perfect and honest weight (shall you have)”-דברים כה' טו( ). This refers to Mashiach ben Yosef, who is connected to the middah of "דין", “Judgment”; represented by the weights, which judge and assess value, the aspect of "דין". It thus follows that the next paragraph in the Torah deals with the mitzvah of wiping out Amalek; which is also associated with the mission of Mashiach ben Yosef (see (55), (62) and (78) below). The conceptual progression continues into the beginning of the next paragraph in the Torah, the parsha of " כי תבוא ", which refers to inheriting the land of Eretz Yisrael, dwelling there securely, and fulfilling the Mitzvos which are specifically dependent on the Land; all of which are also connected to the mission of Mashiach ben Yosef.

To be continued...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Come to Israel, now?

It's been over a week since my last real post, and I had many thoughts that bounced around my head since then. On one hand, the post was nice for anyone in the US, because it made one feel rather comfortable kind of ignoring the urgency of some other blogs. It also kind of left the impression that parnassah is the end all answer to whether one should come here. I'd like to share some of my subsequent thoughts.

The Chofetz Chaim, in his seforim Shem Olam and Ahavas Chessed, uses a certain theme to help us in our thinking about our service of Hashem. Many times we have a certain attitude when it comes to our performance of mitzvos which might be somewhat lackluster. The objective comparison will always shed light on the more correct approach.

The Chofetz Chaim tells us that we need but look at a storeowner to understand the proper approach to Avodas Hashem. Someone who loves money will do anything to make money. He will get up early to work and go to bed late. He will travel to distant lands to buy the right merchandise. He will dedicate himself completely to the task of making a buck.

From the way such a person behaves, we can learn how we must approach our service of Hashem. There is a level of dedication that is necessary for success in any area, and certainly in the most important area of connecting to spirituality. If we must get up early to achieve it, if we must go to sleep late, it must be done. If we must travel to a far off land in pursuit of this most important goal, and if it might involve a great sacrifice, it must be done.

If someone would invest years of difficulty in order to one day be the millionaire of his dreams, would it not be worth a similar investment to earn the greatest closeness to Hashem possible by living in Eretz Yisrael? Is there no greater goal that one could imagine? Is there anyplace one can serve Hashem as Yisrael? Is there another place one feels the constant hand of Hashem guiding him? Is there another place that people are really as focused on their life's goal of serving Hashem? Is there another place that loving Hashem is really an aspiration? Is there anywhere in the world?

Is there another place where the entire country of six million Jews is eating matza on Pesach? Is there another country where six million of its inhabitants are fasting on Yom Kippur? Is there another country where the standard greeting on Friday is 'Shabat Shalom?' Is there another place where every single person on the street makes sure your kid is warm as you pass by on a cold day? Is there anywhere else where everyone calls you their brother? Is there any other place where 'baruch Hashem' rolls off the non-religious taxi driver's tongue? Is there a place where people feel each other's pain and each other's joys the way they do here? Is there another city like Jerusalem that as soon as you enter the holiness is palpable?

This is our land. It's the land Hashem promised to our people for all time. Let's come home with love.