Friday, December 25, 2009

Esav as Moshiach ben Yosef

R' Daniel Krentzman has once again put together a wonderful kuntres on the topic of Moshiach ben Yosef, this time in regards to Esav's potential as Moshiach ben Yosef. The topic was discussed here, but R' Krentzman has outdone himself, and really takes this topic to another level.

Click here to read it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Vayigash - The secret of tears

What is the significance of Yosef's crying? Why is crying done on the 'neck?' Why do Binyamin and Yosef cry about the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash and Mishkan? Why does crying denote sincerity? Why did Yakov say Shema while Yosef cried? Why do the righteous cry when the Yetzer Hara is destroyed in the times of Moshiach?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yosef's credentials

Rav Chaim Friedlander asks some incisive questions in regards to the story of Yosef's rise to power, that I believe are very instructive as to what we can expect from a true king of the Jewish people.

He points out that it is remarkable that Yosef was raised to the unbelievable height of power as Egypt's second in command in such a short span of time. He had just come out of jail to attempt an explanation for Paroh's dream, and within moments of giving him a satisfactory answer, he was made the leader of the land. How did Paroh have the confidence in Yosef to give him this position so quickly? Was Yosef the only intelligent person that was around? Giving a good 'pshat' in a dream seems a highly unlikely impetus for such a high-ranking position to be obtained. How do we understand this?

As the story continues, there is continued reason to be amazed. It is clear that the people of Egypt were completely ready (at Pharaoh's command) to do whatever Yosef requested of them. In the end, they willingly chose to be slaves to satisfy Yosef's demands. What was the reason for Yosef's mesmerizing power of the people?

Rav Friedlander notes that if one were to try to figure out how to take control of a group of people so that they would be completely subservient to their ruler, there is only one way to do so where the people serve willingly. This can be accomplished only if the ruler exhibits completely and honestly that he has no concern for himself, and that he is totally dedicated to the needs of his people.

As Yosef entered Paroh's court, the first thing Paroh said was, "I have heard you can hear a dream and interpret it."

Yosef could easily have responded and said, "Yes it is true."

Instead, he took no credit, but rather gave it to Someone else - Hashem. By continuously doing so, he showed that he was not looking for self-aggrandizement, but was truly a servant-leader. Everything Yosef did saw success, because Yosef was never looking for his own benefit, rather for the benefit of others.

In fact, at the end of the story, we find that Paroh specifically tells Yosef to send gifts to his father. Why was it necessary? The meforshim explain that Yosef was so careful never to touch anything that was not his, that if Paroh had not commanded him, he would not have sent anything to his father!

If we want to know what Moshiach will look like, we need look no further than Yosef himself, who was the quintessential Moshiach ben Yosef. His motivation was purely to act as a facilitator for others' benefit, to bring Hashem's goodness to the world and specifically to the Jewish people. Moshiach will have no thought of himself, and will only look to benefit others. He will have a tremendous חן, all will make themselves subservient to him, because they will know that he truly is subservient to them.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Miketz - Clothing, the bris, food and speech

There are four themes that run through the entire story of Yosef, from beginning to end. They are the concepts of clothing, the covenant, food and speech. We explore the different places each of these themes appear in the story, and what the deeper significance of each theme is.

To listen to this eye-opening Parsha pocast, please click here.

Are we really so bad?

On the previous post, an important point was raised in the comments:

curious in chi said...
This was very well written. But I do have a question that I actually have had for awhile. Of course our generation is not entirely righteous, things are bad. But, can you really say that we are entirely wicked?? I see so much chessed being done, and so many people are returning to Torah observance. Even more so, what is the point of doing good if being "empty" will bring moshiach? But what is the point of striving to be righteous if so much of the generation is wicked? Its almost like the truly righteous people are stalling the coming of moshiach? That just cant be.

This is a very important question, and I am glad you raised this point. When our Chazal speak about a generation that is completely righteous or a generation that is completely evil, I think it is clear that it is impossible to have either extreme completely. Essentially, what happens when the generation looks as our generation does, the value of the mitzvos that one performs is increased dramatically. The fact that the world at large looks askance at religion, and specifically Jews and Judaism, and that much of the world has been seized by an atheistic approach to life, means that the challenge is very great for us to perform the mitzvos of Hashem. To believe, despite the rampant secularism, and to focus on coming close to Hashem and living a spiritual life, in contrast to most of the world, is a tremendously difficult feat. This very chessed that you speak of, and this very teshuva that you speak of, is all the more powerful because of the lowness of the generation we live in. The righteousness of the tzaddikim is all the more greater because of the contrast between their deeds and the deeds of the world. The greatness of using our time wisely is all the more powerful because of all those who allow their days to be occupied with emptiness.

I have mentioned this before, but I think it is important to hear this more than once, that one time, the Ari z'l told R' Chaim Vital that he (R' Chaim) is on the level of an amora (a sage of the gemara). R' Chaim could not understand how it could be that he was on such a high level. The Ari z'l explained that because the generation (at that time!) was so low, and R' Chaim was so great, despite it, his actions were on a much more exalted plane.

Of course, we can't even touch the dirt under the feet of the level of R' Chaim Vital, but I think it is obvious that the generation we live in also can't compare to those times. This gives incredible power to every good act that we do.

I hope this answers your question satisfactorily.

Ari Goldwag

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

דור שכולו חייב

Our Chachamim say that Moshiach will come either in a generation that is completely righteous, or a generation that is completely the opposite. As things look today, I think it is quite clear that we are not living in a completely righteous generation. If not for this statement of our sages, one would be hard-pressed to imagine how such a low generation could receive Moshiach, and enter into a completely spiritual dimension. On the surface, it would seem that the better option is that the world should be completely righteous, and Moshiach should enter into such a generation. The current situation, on the surface, would seem to be a poor second choice. Recently, I realized that this is not so. In truth, as you will see, the best way Moshiach can come is in a generation such as ours, a דור שכולו חייב.

I recently received a great treasure. When I was in the states for the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, I saw a good friend of mine from Yeshiva, and he told me he was about to get a set of DVDs containing many shiurim from my Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yechiel Perr. I asked if somehow I could get a copy of the shiurim. About a week and a half ago, the package came in the mail, containing four DVDs of shiurim covering over fifteen years of tapes that were transferred onto mp3. Of course, trying to sift through such a vast amount of material is impossible, but I immediately began listening to the most recent Mussar Vaadim that were there, which were from 5768.

My Rosh Yeshiva has the most wonderful style, where he reads a few lines from a piece in the sefer he is teaching (usually Madreigas Ha'adam). He then proceeds to expand on the ideas, painting a picture through his personal life stories and other anecdotes that bring across his point. It brought me back to my time in Yeshiva when I would get to hear the Mussar Vaadim every day.

Over the past few days, I have been back and forth to Yerushalayim, to play music there for three different yeshivas' Chanukah parties. The most wonderful thing about it is the opportunity to listen to the Rosh Yeshiva on the way to and from Jerusalem. My Rosh Yeshiva is the type of person who says it like it is, unafraid to tell serious stories that bring across his point, unafraid to make his strong Torah opinion known. His message of Mussar, striving for greatness, releasing oneself from the trap of the Yetzer Hara, hits right on target.

Something that struck me, that I would like to share, is that he spoke about the contrast between the way the Jewish people received the Torah at Sinai, and how they reaccepted upon themselves the Torah after the story of Purim. The Jewish people at Sinai were in a state of unbelievable inspiration. They experienced an intense revelation of Hashem and of the spiritual worlds. While it was true that they said נעשה ונשמע, accepting the Torah with no preconditions, our Chazal speak of the fact that Hashem forced them to receive the Torah (כפה עליהם הר כגיגית). The Alter of Novardhok explains that since they were on such a spiritual high, and the reality of Hashem was so clear to them, their acceptance of the Torah was, in fact, forced upon them. They did not have free will in accepting it, because there was no serious alternative. It was like a person who experiences a high on Yom Kippur, and promises himself he will take on a certain stringency. Once he comes down from his spiritual high, it is difficult to live up to the promise he has made.

The Jewish people in the times of Esther, on the other hand, were on a spiritual low. They had begun to assimilate, and they even partook of the party of Achashverosh, which represented Hashem's rejection of the Jewish people as his chosen nation, Heaven forbid. They had reached this great abyss, but they were brought to a great level of Teshuva, where they ended up accepting the Torah on themselves, rededicating themselves to their relationship with Hashem. Because this came out of a very low spiritual state, it was a relationship that they now forged through their own free will. This type of relationship is one that has much more staying power. It is akin to the alcoholic who has descended to the greatest depths on his alcoholism, and has realized that he must climb out of the pit he has dug for himself. He knows that he can never touch the alcohol again. Because he has fallen so low, he knows that he must never go anywhere near the wasteland he had created out of his life.

We don't need to look too far back in history to see how powerful this idea is. Just look at the war that we fought less than a year ago in Gaza. As the soldiers were about to enter into the boobytrapped city where the Hamas hoodlums laid to ambush them, they knew they had no chance without turning to Hashem. There was a tremendous spirit of unity here, where people across the spectrum knew that our brothers were there fighting, and that missiles were raining down on Jewish cities, and that we as a people were under attack. The non-religious soldiers were putting on Tefillin before going to the front lines, protecting themselves with tzitzis and Tehillim. Soldiers were paired with Yeshiva boys who would have them in mind during their learning, so the Torah should protect them and give them success. It was the pressure of the difficult situation that planted the seeds for a great salvation. There was a palpable sense of togetherness, and we turned to Hashem, because there was nowhere else to turn.

The first type of relationship, which is one that is based on a high, is extremely difficult to sustain. The second type of relationship, where one has climbed out of the depths, is one that has the potential to last forever.

This, I believe, is why Moshiach will come in our generation, a generation that is completely חייב. The spiritual low that we experience is one that will form the basis for the greatest relationship that is possible, the open revelation of Hashem. The contrast will be staggering, but I think that it will be born out of the growing awareness of the emptiness that our lives have become. If we look around the world, or even introspectively into our own lives, we will realize that our existence has become filled with a pursuit of emptiness. Empty money, empty houses, empty cars, empty computers, empty relationships, empty Torah. The list goes on and on, because our lives are completely empty. Most of the things we do are just to kill time. The contrast between what we do now and what we will do then will be so stark - it will be the ultimate joke. But I believe we all will laugh, because Hashem will give us a tremendous opportunity, just like the chance that was given to the Jews in the story of Purim. We will be faced with a king whose decrees will be worse than the decrees of Haman. We will be at a low that parallels the low we reached then, and we will climb out of the depths back into the waiting arms of Hashem. Only a דור שכולו חייב can truly reach the highest and deepest relationship that Hashem has in store for us in the times of Moshiach.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Vayeshev - Dreams and Chanukah

What is the deeper significance to the theme of dreams that runs throughout the story of Yosef? What is the concept of dreams in general? Why is Chanukah the only holiday that begins at the end of the month? Why is Chanukah the only holiday that extends into a second month? What is the connection between the story of Yosef and the story of Chanukah?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sheves Chaverim performance

Sheves Chaverim will be performing this evening in the Menorat Hamaor shul on Nachal Maor in Ramat Bet Shemesh Alef. The performance will begin around 8:30 PM. The boys performing will be Yair Frohlich, Moshe Dov Goldwag, Shlomo Lipman, Baruch Sheff, and Zev Sheff. They will be singing songs from their new album. The album will also be available for purchase.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Kosel - site of Unity, site of disparity

Last Shabbos, Parshas Vayetzei, I had the privilege to be in Yerushalayim for Shabbos. When I come to Yerushalayim, I am always drawn to the Kosel. If I am there to sing a wedding, I try to make it to the Kosel before I have to be at the hall. It's always amusing walking down to the Wall, because I am wearing a suit, and the tzedakah collectors usually assume that I am a chosson.

Naturally, staying in the Ramat Eshkol area, it was a no-brainer to make the forty minute trek on Shabbos morning to daven at the Kosel. When I got there, a Chassidishe boy noticed my arrival and led me to a minyan that was just beginning. It is hard to go to the Kosel and not find someone you know. The Jewish world is really a small world. At the minyan was a prominent member of my parents' bungalow colony, who also happens to be the gabbai of the bungalow's shul, so he asked me if I would lead the davening of Shachris. I acquiesced.

From the start I was uncomfortable at the amud. When one is trying to sing in an open area, surrounded by the not-so-quiet hum of many people davening all around, it is difficult. Besides for this, my voice was feeling weak, and I struggled to be heard. But the one thing that struck me was that I realized that there was a minyan to my right, as well as a minyan directly behind me, that were both in the same exact place in the davening! Each one had a separate ba'al tefillah, and a separate bimah, despite the fact that all three minyanim were davening the same nusach!

Ordinarily, this would not have bothered me too much, because I would have convinced myself that I was in some way part of all three minyanim. But as the one leading one of the minyanim, it was hard for me not to notice the separation that I, myself, was creating between these three groups. It was uncomfortable, to say the least.

It brought home to me an idea that I have thought about on a number of occasions. I have noticed that the Kosel is a place that is like a 'minyan factory' - minyanim are constantly beginning and ending. You can find a minyan there at any time. This seems like a wonderful thing, but the truth is that it shows that we have trouble getting ourselves together, to just daven together, as one. There are no set times for the davening, and no sense of unity. Wouldn't it make more sense to have set times, so that more people can daven together - ברב עם הדרת מלך? And of all places, shouldn't we have some unity at the site of the Beis Hamikdash, which is the central point of all of our prayers throughout the world?

The answer is, that it is absolutely true that the Kosel, and more accurately, the Har Habayis, is the point of unity of the Jewish people. We all focus our tefillos to this most Holy place. It is the place that was the central spiritual meeting point of the entire Jewish people as long as the Beis Hamikdash stood. But the deep truth is that despite the fact that we have returned to Eretz Yisrael, and the ingathering of the exiles has begun, we are still in Galus. The exile that we find ourselves in is most apparent at the place that represents our unity. It is not a coincidence that the Kosel is a 'minyan factory.' It is a stark reminder of the fact that despite the fact that we have begun to come back together, begun to coalesce as a nation, we are still in exile, we are still disparate. Because that is truly the definition of Galus, it is a state of separation and distance. As long as the Shechina does not dwell on that mountain, and it is instead inhabited by an עם הדומה לחמור, we remain separate from spirituality, and we remain separate from each other. As the light of Moshiach grows stronger and greater, the Jewish nation will slowly begin to sense the true nature of our unity with each other, of our oneness as a nation. This will be a reflection of the unity we will begin to sense with Hashem, and the greater desire we will have for spirituality, as we begin to identify more and more with our spiritual selves, as our very minds, which are in a state of disparity between our emotional and intellectual selves, become more and more unified as well.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chanukah videos

Torah Live is proud to present nine short, inspirational videos on Chanuka, with Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky as guest speaker, that are guaranteed to make your chanuka more meaningful!
Select from our basic / advanced track and get viewing at
Please leave feedback in the new comment section at the bottom of the screen.
Schools and communities are welcome to screen these movies in public for free by sending the name of their school/community, as well as the number of people in the audience, to
To dedicate one of these videos, or any other of our upcoming Torah Live productions, write to
Wishing you a happy chanuka!

More on Dina and Yosef

R' Daniel Krentzman just sent me a wonderful piece that he wrote on his understanding of the Dina - Yosef connection. You can see it at the following link.

Click here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Beginnings of Geulah

I'm now going through the sefer Kol Hator, from which I recently posted R' Chaim Friedlander's introduction. As I see concepts of interest, I will bl'n try to post them here.

It says as follows, in פרק א אות ב:

According to our teacher, the Gr"a, all that is involved with kibbutz galios (ingathering of exiles), building of Jerusalem, and bringing about more inhabitance of the land of Israel as a prerequisite to the return of the Shechina (Divine Presence); this work itself, as well as all of its details are included in the goal and purpose of the Moshiach that starts the process - the first Moshiach. This is Moshiach ben Yosef, who is the supernatural power that helps every action that is done through an Awakening from below, through natural means, because Moshiach ben Yosef is from the land, and Moshiach ben Dovid is from the spiritual realm, corresponding to the aspect of Rochel and Leah, as is known in the עקבתא דמשיחא (the footsteps of Moshiach) and the קץ המגולה (the revealed end). Moshiach ben Yosef is also further split into two aspects. The first is the aspect of Yosef the son of Rochel, who is of the land, while the second is the aspect of Yosef the son of Yakov, who is of the spiritual realms.

He continues in אות ג:

According to our teacher, the Gr"a, if they have not merited, the beginnings of the redemption will occur through an awakening from below, as it did in the days of Koresh (Cyrus) in the second Temple period, which will come from the left side, which means the attribute of justice. The verse in Shir Hashirim which says "שמאלו תחת לראשי" - His left hand is under my head - refers to Moshiach ben Yosef [and the idea we just mentioned that the redemption begins from the left side, through judgment], and it will be with the permission of the nations. Afterwards, the redemption will come to completion from the right side, which is the attribute of חסד, kindness, and also through the line of רחמים, mercy [which is the center], as the verse says "וברחמים גדולים אקבצך" - and with great mercy will I gather you.

According to our teacher, the Gr"a, the ingathering of exiles that occurs at the first stage of Geulah comes in a manner of captivity, and subsequent redemption from that captivity, as the verse says "ופדויי ה' ישובון ובאו ציון ברינה" - the captives of Hashem will return and come to Tzion with joy. [Note that Tzion is the same gematria as Yosef - ag.] This is all accomplished by Moshiach ben Yosef - the redemption from physical and spiritual enslavement. ישובון - they will return - is plural, implying a dual redemption. This refers to the two returnings: one to Tzion [which is the physical], and one 'returning' of Teshuva [which is the spiritual]. This is the secret of the verse "ששון ושמחה ישיגו" - Joy and gladness will be reached. [The word ששון has the word שש at its root, which can also be read as the number six, with shin's instead of sin's. This is reference to the job of Moshiach ben Yosef, who is the concept of the Tzaddik, who corresponds to the Yesod, which is the sixth aspect of the concept of ז"א. It seems that the ששון is reached through Moshiach ben Yosef, while the שמחה is reached through Moshiach ben Dovid, as is mentioned in the notes here, quoting from elsewhere in the Gr'a's works. Here, however, he is explaining that Moshiach ben Yosef accomplishes both of these aspects - one physical and one spiritual. This would correspond to the statement earlier that Moshiach ben Yosef has two aspects, one of the spiritual realms and one of the physical realms. - ag]

The general concept here, according to our teacher the Gr"a is that all things that are to come about in the completion of the redemption begin at the first stages of redemption "קימעא קימעא" - slowly, slowly, in the 999 steps of Moshiach, the steps of the sheep.

Vayishlach - Dina and Yosef (revisited)

Why was Yakov expected to know that Dina could have brought Esav to do Teshuva? Why would she succeed where Rivka and Yitzchak had failed? What is the meaning of the mysterious connection between Dina and Yosef? Why is Yosef connected to the city of Shechem?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

You can also find a .doc file of this podcast on my website on the Parsha page.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why Jerusalem?

I was shocked by Tomer Devorah's post about the EU's planned announcement that Jerusalem should officially be the capital of a 'Palestinian' state. It is on one hand extremely upsetting, and on the other hand extremely exciting, as we watch the drama unfold right in front of our eyes.

We all know that the Neviim spoke of a war that would be led by Gog and Magog and would center around Jerusalem. This would be the final war where Moshiach would vanquish the forces of evil. We need to stop and ask ourselves, Why Jerusalem? What is it about Yerushalayim that makes it the center of this epic battle? Why do the Arabs want Jerusalem so much, and how is it conceivable that they have their mosque sitting on our Holiest place, the Har Habayis?

We know, as per the Gemara in Kiddushin in עשרה יוחסין that Israel is the highest land in the world, and Jerusalem is the highest point in the world. This is meant in a spiritual sense, and the concept is also said in a slightly different way, that Jerusalem is the meeting point between this physical world and the spiritual world. Har Habayis was the place of the Akeida, the field that Yitzchak would daven in, the place of Yakov's dream. This all represents the singular primacy and focal point that Yerushalayim is.

But it is much deeper than this.

We start to see the beginnings of a hint from a statement of Chazal. They say that during the time that the Jewish people are not inhabiting the land of Israel, there is another nation that has the merit to be the 'tenants' while we are gone. That nation is the people of Yishmael. What did Yishmael do to deserve this honor? He had the merit of the bris, which he performed at the age of thirteen. The obvious question arises - why is this the merit that gives Yishmael the right live here? Yishmael, the son of Avraham, was also trained in chessed and hospitality toward guests (as Rashi notes in the story of Avraham and the angels). Why is it specifically the mitzvah of Milah that earns Yishmael this honor?

The answer here has to do with the deeper meaning behind the bris. The circumcision represents the removal of the barrier between the physical and spiritual worlds that was brought about by the sin of Adam Harishon. Before Adam sinned, he did not have a foreskin. After the sin, the foreskin grew, representing the barrier he had created between the male and female forces of creation. The male forces are the spiritual forces, the forces that give, and the female forces are the physical forces, the forces that receive. Avraham, whose job would be the tikkun of the sin of Adam, was commanded in the mitzvah of Bris, removing that barrier. Yishmael, his son, also performed that mitzvah at the age of thirteen.

For this reason, those who are שומרי הברית - who keep this covenant of the circumcision, recognizing the holiness of the connection between male and female - they are the ones who have the land of Israel. As the long as the Jews were doing their job, we were able to retain the land of Israel. As soon as we were thrown out, specifically the people of Yishmael, who keep the bris, merited to be the 'tenants' of the land. This is because Israel represents the highest point in the world - the connection between the male/spiritual elements of creation and the female/physical elements of the world. (This is not to say, heaven forbid, that women are less spiritual than men. In fact, the opposite is true. This just means that the male concept, which is infinite potential, best represents the spiritual, while the female concept, which is about limiting and building, best represents the physical.)

Thus, each of the points in the land of Israel that represent a higher level of connection are still currently occupied by the Yishmaelim. Take, for example, Chevron. The cave of Machpela (as we discussed in the Parsha Podcast from R' Chaim Friedlander) is a point of connection between the physical realm and the spiritual realm when the soul departs the body. Shechem, which is home to Yosef Hatzadik's body, also represents this connection, as we will see soon. Most outstandingly, Yerushalayim, which is the highest spiritual point in Eretz Yisrael, and specifically the Har Habayis, are occupied by the Yishmaelim. They would claim that they are the spiritual heir to this place, and that they are commited to the concept of the bris - the commitment to keep the spiritual and physical worlds bound together.

It is as if we are watching the spiritual show that is going on in Shamayim, right here in front of our eyes, only in a physical version of it. Imagine that the angel of Yishmael is standing before Hashem, claiming that Yishmael does a much better job of keeping the covenant. Yishmael deserves to have all of these places that represent this connection that the people of Yisrael are not deserving of. Esav's angel (the ס"מ himself!) steps into the fray and supports the claim of the angel of Yishmael. "Certainly Yishmael deserves to have Har Habayis. They have kept the covenant! I will make sure that Yisrael loses any claim to it. Only Yishmael can have Har Habayis."

Now, we know that when the ס"מ gets up to speak, Hashem always lets him have a chance to show that he is right. But the amazing thing is that Hashem always uses the ס"מ himself to accomplish the redemption He is bringing about.

We could wonder, Who is the angel of the Jewish people, and why is He quiet? The answer is that Hashem is the 'angel' of the Jewish people. He is quiet, because He knows the truth. The truth is that only the Jewish people have kept the covenant all of this time. The people of Edom (the Christians) claim, to this day, that they have replaced us. The people of Yishmael (the Muslims) claim that they have replaced us. Yet, we were promised so long ago that Hashem would never forsake us, and that He would return us to our Holy Land of Eretz Yisrael one day, and bring a tremendous war and a great salvation to His chosen nation. We have witnessed the fulfillment of the promise that we would return. We soon will witness the fulfillment of the promise of miracles and salvation.

It will come through Moshiach ben Yosef. Do you know why? Because all of these claims about Israel and Jerusalem, in a deeper and more spiritual realm, center around the קדושת הברית, the keeping of the Holiness of the covenant. This means that the Jewish people are enjoined to use their sexual energy only in a holy, spiritual, and uplifted way. This is the mitzvah of being careful not to be מוציא זרע לבטלה for a man, and the mitzvah of tznius - modesty - for a woman. These keep our claim on Israel strong, because this land, and specifically the city of Jerusalem, is the connecting point between the spiritual and physical realms. Moshiach ben Yosef is about the keeping of the covenant. He is about struggling with temptation, and ultimately triumphing over his desires for the physical, raising them up to the spiritual (as we see from Yosef himself). Every Jew who fights in this battle, and does not give up despite his many falls, is giving power to Moshiach ben Yosef, and to the Jewish people, to reclaim our spiritual homeland. This is the deeper meaning of the passuk "שבע יפול צדיק וקם" - seven times does the righteous one fall and arise. Moshiach ben Yosef is the צדיק יסוד עולם - the righteous one who holds up the world. He falls seven times, and constantly rises. We, the Jewish people, are the Moshiach ben Yosef of Mankind. Israel is the Moshiach ben Yosef of the world. We may rise and fall many times, but ultimately, together, we connect Heaven and Earth, the spiritual and the physical.

The place of Shechem is the place of Moshiach ben Yosef. It is also the first place that Avraham visited when he came to the land of Israel for the first time. It is the first point of connection. It is the place where Yakov stopped on his way back to Eretz Yisrael. It is the place where Dina was unfortunately violated, again a point of connection, seemingly for bad. Nevertheless, this connection (as we mentioned in a previous post) would result in a child who would marry Yosef himself. It is not a coincidence that this very place was a piece of the process (pun intended) that was brought to us by the Erev Rav to try and destroy Israel and the Jewish people's claim to it. The Erev Rav, like Edom, only wishes to remove the Jewish people from the covenant. They could be described as the foreskin of the Jewish people. They wish to instead support the Ishmaelite claim of spiritual superiority.

I think it is clear that Yerushalayim is the point of connection that the people of Yishmael try to usurp from us, with the aid of the people of Edom and the Erev Rav. The more we see this happening, the more we can be assured that soon Moshiach ben Yosef, who represents the Jewish fidelity to the covenant, will stand up to defeat the forces of Evil with his spiritual power. He will defeat the people of Edom and the Erev Rav, and bring about the removal of the people of Yishmael, and the reinstatement of the Jewish people as the true bridge between Hashem and the world, in our land of Israel, which is the physical manifestation of that very bridge. He will thus pave the way for the advent of the final tikkun of Moshiach ben Dovid, בב"א.

Sheves Chaverim

You can now listen to a preview and purchase a hard copy or a download of my new album, Sheves Chaverim.

Here's the link:

The album contains twelve songs, including two English songs. The vocals were done by six wonderful child soloists: Moshe Bell (of Sheves Achim), Yair Frohlich, Moshe Dov Goldwag (my son), Shlomo Lipman, Baruch Sheff, and Zev Sheff (twins!).