August, 2011 Archives

29
Aug

Elul Hallel VI.III

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“Please God; Save us! Please God; Make us successful!” (Psalms 118:25) We sing the first half, “Please God; Save us,” as we approach our service with prayers that God will empower our actions and service so that His Presence will rest upon our efforts.

We sing, “Please God; Make us successful,” when we complete our service that all our efforts be successful. (Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein – Or Yechezkail)

We sing these verse on Rosh Chodesh Elul, with the intention that the first half will empower all our work during the coming month as we repair the past year and prepare for Rosh Hashana. The second half of the verse is our prayer that we should complete the month with a powerful sense of success, so that we can enter Rosh Hashana with great joy and confidence.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Aug

Elul Hallel VI.II

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“God is with me, I have no fear; what can people do to me?” (Psalms 118:6) The ‘people’ mentioned refer to the ‘man’ described in Daniel’s vision of the Four Beasts,when he says, “I was watching in night visions and behold! with the clouds of heaven, one like a man came; he came up to the One of Ancient Days, and they brought him before Him. He was given dominion, honor and kingship, so that all peoples, nations and languages would serve him; his dominion would be an everlasting dominion that would never pass, and his kingship would never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14) Jacob saw this ‘man’ in his dream of the ladder, when the fourth (exile) ascended the ladder and did not seem to come back down. (Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer 35) Jacob was terrified, until God came and said, “Behold I am with you.” (Genesis 28:15)

In Obadiah’s prophecy against Edom, the ‘man’ in Daniel’s vision, and the fourth exile in Jacob’s vision, he promises: “Even if you raise your nest like an eagle or if you place your nest among the stars, I will bring you down from there.” (Obadiah 1:4)

Our verse, “God is with me, I have no fear; what can people do to me,” explains Rabbi Yitzchak Eizek Chaver (Yad Mitzarim) is a reminder of Obadiah’s promise. Although we may feel that the exile is unending we must grasp and hold onto Obadiah’s promise, and David’s song, “God is with me, I have no fear; what can people do to me?”

We approach the end of the Jewish calendar year, another year and the exile has not ended. We sing this verse with joy as we celebrate Obadiah’s prophecy and David’s promise; as long as we feel that “God is with me,” especially during this month of intense relationship with God, “(we) I have no fear, what can the ‘man’ do to me?”

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Aug

Elul Hallel VI.I

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“Give thanks to God Who is good, for His kindness is forever!

Let Israel declare that His Kindness is forever!

Let the House of Aaron declare that His kindness is forever!

Let those who are in awe of God declare that His kindness if forever! “ (Psalms 118:1-4)

Rav Yechezkail Levenstein explained that we must read these four verses as ascending from one level to another: We begin to offer thanks as part of the entire creation, but are not satisfied.

We rise to the level of Israel and offer songs of gratitude for the opportunities offered by being part of the covenant between God and Israel.

We are so moved by our expressions of thanks that we want to intensify the gratitude by singing as part of the “Kingdom of Priests,” as we were promised at Sinai.

Our songs of thanks raise us to a point at which we are still not satisfied with all the expressions of gratitude until this point; we want our thanks to come from an even higher point; those who achieve Awe of God.

We sing these four verses in this order as we begin the month of Elul to celebrate our opportunity to ascend to higher levels of attachment each day of the month so that the songs of thanks of the previous day are no longer sufficient to express the intensity of our gratitude.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Aug

Elul Hallel V

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“For His kindness has overwhelmed us, and the truth of God is eternal, Halleluyah!” (Psalms 117:2) Rabbi Baruch Ber Leibovitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Kaminetz, shared the following story with my grandfather, Rav Ruderman zt”l, when my grandfather was a young teenager: The Vilna Gaon went to visit the Righteous Convert, (Count) Avraham Potoski when the latter was waiting to be executed for converting to Judaism. Avraham ben Avraham was weeping. The Vilna Gaon wondered how such a remarkable human being could weep when he had the opportunity to display such an act of Kiddush Hashem – Sanctification of God’s Name. “I rejoice over my opportunity,” said the Holy Convert, “I weep because I have no father in Israel, nor any children, and I feel as if I never took root among Israel.”

The Gra responded, “We find in the Midrash, “This said God, King of Israel, ‘I am the first,” (Isaiah 44:6) means, ‘I am the Father for one who has no father.’ “I am last,” I am the son of one who has no children. This refers to one such as you, a convert; God is your Father and Your child. He is your root in Israel. Is he not better than ten children?” (See Samuel I 1:8)

As we enter the month of Elul, the month of Love, we celebrate the intensity of God’s love for us that is expressed in such attention to every detail of what we need, even on an emotional level.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Aug

Elul Hallel IV

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“I will raise the cup of salvations and the Name of God I will invoke.” (Psalms 116:13) The Talmud (Pesachim 119b) offers a remarkable explanation of this verse: R. ‘Avira lectured, Sometimes stating it in R. Ammi’s, Sometimes in R. Assi’s name: What is meant by, “And the child grew, and was weaned [va-yiggamel]?(Genesis 21:8) The Holy One, blessed be He, will make a great banquet for the righteous on the day He manifests [yigmol] His love to the seed of Isaac.

After they have eaten and drunk, the cup of Grace will be offered to our father Abraham, that he should recite Grace, but he will answer them, ‘I cannot say Grace, because Ishmael issued from me.’

Then Isaac will be asked, ‘Take it and say Grace.’ ‘I cannot say Grace,’ he will reply, ‘because Esau issued from me.’

Then Jacob will be asked: ‘Take it and say Grace.’ ‘I cannot say Grace,’ he will reply. ‘because I married two sisters during [both] their lifetimes, whereas the Torah was destined to forbid them to me.

Then Moses will be asked, ‘Take it and say Grace.’ ‘I cannot say Grace, because I was not privileged to enter Eretz Yisrael either in life or in death.’

Then Joshua willbe asked: ‘Take it and say Grace.’ ‘I cannot say Grace,’ he will reply, ‘because I was not privileged to have a son,’ for it is written, “Joshua the son of Nun;”(Numbers 14:38) “Nun his son, Joshua his son.” ( Chronicles I 7:27)

Then David will be asked: ‘Take it and say Grace.’ ‘I will say Grace, and it is fitting for me to say Grace,’ he will reply, as it is said, “I will lift up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.”

The Talmud is describing the great banquet for the righteous on the day “He manifests His love” for Israel. Elul, the month of manifest love, is the period of this great feast and celebration. It is during this entire month that King David accepts the Cup of Grace and sings with us, “I will lift up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.”

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Aug

Elul Hallel III

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“May God increase upon you, upon you and upon your children!” (Psalms 115:3) Rav Chaim Kanievsky (Ta’ama Dikra) points out that the increase mentioned cannot refer to children as the verse also says, “upon your children.” Therefore, the increase is in terms of what the Talmud (Pesachim 87b) teaches: “R. Eleazar also said: The Holy One, blessed be He, did not exile Israel among the nations save in order that proselytes might join them, for it is said: “And I will sow her unto Me in the land,” (Hosea 2:25) surely a man sows a se’ah in order to harvest many kor!”

This verse describes the Children of Israel living with such sanctity and integrity that they attract all the nations of the world to attach to God.

We sing this paragraph of Hallel on Rosh Chodesh Elul, the month of intense love between God and Israel, with a vision of that love being so manifest to all the people of the world that they desire the same level of relationship.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Aug

Elul Hallel II

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“Who turns the rock into a pond of water, the flint into a flowing mountain.” (Psalms 114:8) The water that issued forth from the rock is far beyond the rules of nature. Generally, God desires to minimize the miraculous. It would have been sufficient for God to provide water for the people, but He wanted to did far more, and with great display to show His concern not only for the people, but for their animals as well. This is the meaning of the Talmud (Menachot 76b):

Said R. Eleazar, The Torah wished to spare Israel unnecessary expense. Where is this indicated? For it is written, “And you shalt give the congregation and their cattle drink.”(Numbers 20:8) Rabbi Yechezkail Landau – Responsa Nodah Biyhuda, Y”D

As we begin the month of Elul, the month of intense expression of God’s love for us, as expressed by His concern for all we do, and our love for Him as expressed by our desire to reconnect, we remember and celebrate another powerful expression of His deep love: He cares even for our money and possessions. There is no detail of our lives that escapes His attention and concern.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Aug

Rosh Chodesh Elul Kavanot

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

We derive the appellation for God’s Name, used in the Rosh Chodesh Mussaf – Additional Prayer – from the combination of letters and vowels of the following verse:

“And it will be a Tzedaka for us if we are careful to perform this entire commandment before God, our Lord, as He commanded us.” (Deuteronomy 6:25)

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

I. A Sixth Sense

This verse is the conclusion and summary of the famous question of the Wise Son on the Seder night. Although most believe that his question is about the Seder and Passover, in truth, he is asking about one of the fundamental Mitzvot/Concepts in the Bible: “You shall do that which is just and good in the eyes of God.” Nachmanides explains that the purpose of all the Mitzvot/Concepts is to train us to be able to naturally respond to life situations in a manner that is good and just in God’s eyes. The Mitzvot/Concepts are tools to help us nurture this sense to be applied in the countless situations we face each day. The verse teaches us that God considers it an act of Tzedaka when we use His Mitzvot/Commandments to develop this extra sense. Elul is the month of deep connection with God. It is the time when we can best take advantage of the Mitzvot/Concepts to develop this extra sense, so necessary for a thriving relationship with God.

II.  Looking Forward

The Maggid of Mezeritch compares the word “nishmor” – translated above as “careful” – to Jacob, who, upon hearing Joseph’s dreams, “Guarded the matter”; he waited for it all to come true. The Holy Maggid taught that this is the month of such “Guarding” – It is a month in which we are waiting and looking forward to the promise and potential of Rosh Hashana.

III. Being There First

The Kozhnitzer Maggid  compares this to the Children of Israel, who did not wake up early to be at Sinai. God was waiting for them.  The Maggid teaches that in the month of Elul, when we begin our preparations for Rosh Hashana, we are saying to God that we will be there first! We cannot wait to meet Him, so to speak, even if it is for judgment.

IV. Performed With Love

The Or HaCHaim HaKadosh teaches that a Mitzvah/Concept performed in fear or desire for reward will never be considered Tzedaka. Only a Mitzvah performed as an expression of love can be considered by God as an act of Tzedaka. This month of Elul is the month of deep love between God and Israel. The Mitzvot we will perform this month will be such powerful expressions of love that God will consider them as Tzedaka.

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29
Aug

Feeling Vulnerable: Kavod haTorah II

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Reflections & Observations

I’m feeling vulnerable! Just when we thought the worst was over and moved everything back outside, the wind began to really blow! A huge tree just in front of our home blew down pulling the electrical cables with it, and put the entire neighborhood into the dark.

The tree just missed our car. It fell on top of our neighbor’s car without actually touching the car! Its branches are holding it up. Just its leaves are brushing against the vehicle. The police didn’t want us to walk anywhere in the area because of the electrical cables.

It was not the hurricane that made me feel vulnerable. It wasn’t the wind. It wasn’t the tree or the electrical cables. I realized that my grandfather zt”l grew up using candles at night in a much smaller home, and with much less safety. He was not fazed by the dark; he just kept on learning. He wasn’t fazed by not having hot coffee; he just kept on learning. He wasn’t fazed by the wind; he just kept on learning, and learning and learning. That’s why I am feeling so vulnerable!

My life has become so dependent on externals that my learning suffers when I lose just a few of them! My Torah study is vulnerable to external circumstances in a way that my grandfather’s learning was not.

I’ve been trying to figure out why God wanted me to experience someone accusing me of lacking proper respect for Torah (Real Kavod haTorah). The explanation is obvious; I am lacking in respect for my own learning. It is too fragile and dependent on circumstances. The best way to honor my mother, may she live and be well, is to honor the Torah she raised me to learn, independent of any and all externals.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Aug

Real Kavod haTorah

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Reflections & Observations

Irene was not my first hurricane. That was Agnes in 1971.  One story went around the Jewish community about the Shamash of the synagogue in Wilkes-Barrie, PA, a Holocaust survivor, who, despite being a very old man, rather than evacuate as did everyone else, ran to the synagogue and carried all the Torah scrolls to the safety of the roof, far above the flooding. He refused to get onto the helicopter sent to save him until they had secured all the Sifrei Torah.

It’s one of those stories you store in the back of your mind.  It wasn’t the hurricane that made me remember; it was the earthquake.  I was in Baltimore visiting my mother, may she live and be well, when everything began to shake.  I was with the person who trained me to be incredibly careful with blessings, and to see each beracha as an opportunity, so while everyone else was screaming, I protectively crouched over my mother and recited the blessing over earthquakes.  I admit that I was more focused on using the blessing to honor my mother than I was on honoring God. Little did I know that my blessing was considered an active rejection of Kavod haTorah, Honor of Torah.

It was my mother who taught me about Kavod haTorah. It was she who insisted that as we approached Baltimore, hot and exhausted after the very long drive from Toronto, we stop and change into our Shabbat clothes to greet my grandfather zt”l, “You have to dress in your best clothes to greet one of the greatest rabbis of the generation.” It was my mother who taught me to wash my hands before performing a Mitzvah. I washed my hands before beginning the trip to Baltimore to visit my mother, and, when she asked my for a cup of ice water, I washed again. Her nurse asked me why, and was touched by the explanation, “It’s like you are honoring God when you honor your mother!”

The nurse heard my blessing and thought I was praying. I explained that I was reciting a blessing over the earthquake, just as I do over lightening and thunder. She stopped me on my way to the elevator an hour or so later, and said that she asked a rabbi, and he said that there is no such blessing.

“I’m also a rabbi,” I said.

“He’s a real rabbi,” she responded, “with a long beard and a long coat!”

I laughed, and an obviously observant woman standing next to me, chided me for my lack of Kavod haTorah.

It was at that moment that I recalled the story of the elderly man who risked his life to save the Torah scrolls. That was Kavod haTorah! The rabbi of the congregation told me that the man had served as an example of how lacking he was in properly honoring Torah. (I have great honor for that rabbi’s honesty in speaking to a young teenager.)

I learned one form of Kavod haTorah from my mother. I learned another from the shamash who risked his life to save the Torah scrolls. Am I concerned about the perceived lack of respect for a “real rabbi,” who was unfamiliar with a basic law? No, not really. Am I concerned when people are more focused on external, rather than internal, expressions of honor? Absolutely.

I think I’ll stick to honoring the person who taught me the real meaning of honoring Torah.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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