July, 2013 Archives

25
Jul

Sitting In The Barber’s Chair

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

I was sitting in the waiting room of the service department of a car dealership and an “Oldies” station was playing, and I was surprised over how many of the songs were familiar. I couldn’t remember anyone playing these songs in our house, especially when my father zt”l was home, and then, I realized that I had heard all these songs in the barbershop where my mother a”h would take me for haircuts.

The songs took me back to my childhood, and triggered all sorts of wonderful memories of my mother taking me out shopping, to the doctor’s office, and yes, to the barbershop. I heard the music and it triggered powerful and wonderful memories.

No wonder a portion that begins with hearing, “This shall be the reward when you carefully listen to these ordinances, (See, ‘The First Step Through The Door’)” also focuses so much on memory:

“You shall remember the entire road on which God, your Lord, led you these forty years in the wilderness so as to afflict you, to test you, to know what is in your heart, whether you would observe His commandments or not (Deuteronomy 8:2).”

“Be careful that you do not forget God, your Lord, failing to observe His commands, His laws and His decrees that I am giving you this day.”

“But remember God, your Lord, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your ancestors, as it is today.”

This portion of Hearing developed further than the Shema of the previous portion, describes how we can use our hearing to trigger important memories. Perhaps this is a development of, “Na’aseh v’Nishmah,” “we will observe, and we will hear.” We are asked to observe to train ourselves to become better listeners: “It will be if you hear and relate to My commandments,” which is understood as teaching us to serve God with Love; the love that is triggered by the music of the Mitzvot that connect us to all that God has done and continues to do for us each day.

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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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25
Jul

The First Step Through The Door

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

It’s not surprising that the portion immediately following Shema – Hear/Listen, begins, “This shall be the reward when you carefully listen to these ordinances.” I wonder about the Hebrew name of the portion, Eikev. When I see that word, that translates as, “heel,” I immediately think of Adam’s, Eve’s, and the Serpent’s. consequences and punishments (yes, there are both) for their part in the sin: listening to the Serpent, running when they heard God’s voice, and Adam’s listening to the voice of his wife, all these mentions of listening and hearing, and the first place we find the word, “Eikev,” as in, “He will pound your head, and you will bite his, Akeiv,” heel (Genesis 3:15).”

It’s therefore not surprising that the next time we find an Eikev it is also associated with listening, “Eikev, because Abraham hear the inside of My voice (26:5).”

Somehow, proper listening, fixes the Eikev, or at least repairs, some of the damage of the first misguided listening.

Elise Ballard, chose from all the many reflections in her book, “epiphany!” a quote from Kristin Neff, the founder of the Horse Boy Foundation as the epigraph:

“The epiphany was like life opened a doorway, and my job was to walk through it. I didn’t know what I was going to find.

I didn’t know what was going to happen.

But in life, you don’t ever know what’s going to happen.

What I do know is that as life continues to open these doors, I feel safe enough and trusting enough to walk through them.”

 

I see the poison of the snake’s bite on the Eikev as the inability to walk through the doorways opened in life when we carefully listen to life’s messages and lessons. Adam and Eve were unable to appreciate the message when “they heard God’s voice walking in the Garden.” They ran and hid, rather than run toward God, Who still spoke to them in the most open way.

Abraham was the consummate listener to such messages and bravely walked through every door opened to him. The opening verse in this portion is to remind us to emulate Abraham, and use the Shema skills we developed in the previous portion, to hear enough from the commandments we observe to gain the safety and trust necessary to take that first step through the doorway of opportunity.

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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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19
Jul

Readings: Parsha Mitzvot-Vaetchanan-Talmud Torah

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Portion of the Week

Elevate The Reader, by Brian Doyle – The American Scholar: The second great editor I worked for, after Mister Burns in Chicago, who taught me to never begin a sentence with the word hopefully and indeed to search out and destroy all adverbs as unnecessary crutches for poor writing, was a newspaper editor named Floyd Kemske in Boston. Floyd was a lean, erudite, amused man who often said his idea of heaven was an evening in a bubble bath with fine wine and his lovely bride, an image I never could erase fully from my mind; even today when I think of the heaven that all editors will surely achieve, as reward for having endured poets and proofreaders, it is a heaven filled with bubbles and excellent wines and the alluring smile of a woman I met, interestingly, while learning to be an editor from Floyd.

Floyd said many other memorable things. Elevate the reader, that was my favorite, and clarity is first and verve is second, and writing that is all about the writer is selfish and writing that is about the reader is at least useful. Mostly he would say these things while leaning back in his chair during editorial meetings, thumbs hooked in his suspenders. In general these meetings were not thrilling, as the two newspapers we produced in our office were devoted to computer training, trends, and products, but Floyd slowly taught me, by the force of his example, that my initial feeling that our work was boring was foolish, and our real work was to help people grapple with new ways of living their lives. In a real sense, I learned from Floyd, we were guides through a dense and confusing wilderness, translators of a new tongue for people who spoke it only haltingly if at all, companions along roads so newly cut that even we did not know how far they extended.

I cannot say that I grew into any sort of computer expertise at all in my years at those newspapers—I remain a happy doofus, able only to write small essays and check box scores on my computer—but the lessons I learned from Floyd have stayed with me through nearly 30 more years in the editor’s chair: elevation, clarity, assistance, humility. At least be useful in your work; at best lift the mind and heart and spirit; and if you do your work well, in the end you will be rewarded with fine wine, a bubble bath, and a woman with the most remarkable blue eyes.

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland magazine at the University of Portland, and the author most recently of the novel Mink River. He writes the weekly Epiphanies column at theamericanscholar.org.

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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19
Jul

Readings: Parsha Mitzvot-Vaetchanan-Tefillin

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Portion of the Week

No, you never will bind him

To your signs and your burdens!

The least chink — he’s inside it,

Like the supplest of gymnasts.

By the drawbridges

And flocks in migration,

By the telegraph poles,

God’s escaping us.

No, you never will train him

To abide and to share!

He, in feelings’ resident slush,

Is a gray floe of ice.

No, you never will catch him!

On a thrifty dish, God

Never thrives in the window

Like domestic begonias!

All, beneath the roof’s vault,

We’re awaiting the builder,

The call. Poets and pilots

— All gave up in despair.

He’s the sprint — and he’s moving.

The whole volume of stars

Is, from Alpha to Omega,

Just a trace of his cloak.

1922

by Marina Tsvetaeva

(1892 – 1941) Timeline

English version by

Paul Graves

Original Language

Russian

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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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16
Jul

Kinah 22 – The Composer

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“All I know about music is that not many people ever really hear it. And even then, on the rare occasions when something opens within and the music enters, what we mainly hear, or hear corroborated, are personal, private, vanishing evocations. But the man who creates the music is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air. What is evoked in him then is of another order, more terrible because it has no words, and triumphant too, for that same reason. And his triumph, when he triumphs, is ours (James Baldwin, Sonny’s Blues).”

Our Tisha b’Av Kinah – Lamentation begins, “Leave me in silence, that I may speak (without fear – Job 13:13), and let come on me what may [See, “Kinah 5-Unclothed Words – Kinah 22-Fearing To Speak,” in Readings: Kinot], I cry out to You, Who dwells in heaven; my spirit constrains me for it lacks the space to contain all I feel (Metzudat David, Job 32:18), and is too distracted by this world to express her song (Ibid. Ralbag) but I cannot keep silent.”

The Yesod v’Shoresh haAvodah, connects this Kinah – Lamentation to the Halachah that a person with a beautiful voice is obligated to use it in singing to God by leading services: We are so overwhelmed by those pressuring to convert that we have lost our ability to hear the song of Torah revealing her secrets and lessons, and are no longer able to sing our song in response to God.

This Kinah is reconnecting us with the composer within, the one who, “is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air.”

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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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15
Jul

Kinah 36 – Zion: Beyond Our Fears

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: when will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing, because only that is worth writing about – worth the agony and the sweat (William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 1950).”

I hear the same idea resonating in this Tisha b’Av Kinah – Lamentation: “You are the Royal House, and you are the throne of God.”

“Who will make me wings that I could wend my way afar?”

“The air of your land is the very life of your souls!”

“To whom are your anointed ones to be compared, to whom your prophets?”

Why, asks Rav Yehudah haLevi, are we living in fear, rather than problems of the constrained spirit that is in conflict with itself as it struggles to fly free of exile and soar to the Highest Heaven?

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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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15
Jul

Kinah 13 – Script or Writer

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer, Relationships

Remember what Chardin told us at the Salon: “Gentlemen, gentlemen, be lenient. Look through all the paintings here and find the worst, and know that two thousand poor devils have bitten their brushes to pieces in despair of ever doing as badly. You all call Parrocel a dauber, and so he is, if you compare him with Verner, but he’s a rare talent compared with the multitude of those who’ve abandoned the career they entered with him.

Le Moyne used to say that it took thirty years’ practice to be able to turn one’s original sketch into a painting, and Le Moyne was no fool. If you’ll listen to what I say, perhaps you’ll learn to be indulgent.” [Denis Diderot, The Salons]

In this Tisha b’Av Kinah – Lamentation, (The Oakling and the Oak, Just So, Clarity, & Kah), we ask God, “Where is the promise You made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?” I can hear the unspoken challenge to the question: “Who are you to compare yourselves to the Patriarchs? Are you not the ones who forfeit the connection to their merit? (See, “Kinah 26: Growing Old.”)

In “The Oakling and the Oak,” we began discussing the challenge of living with great parents, and the dangers of comparing ourselves to them, and in “Kinah 4 – Salieri & Mozart,” and, “The Hovering Life,” we wondered about the impact of the competition between Samaria and Jerusalem had on both populations. Diderot’s report reminds us to be patient when judging good artists who fail to match the great ones. How are we to ask where is Your promise to the Patriarchs in our lives? Where was it at each stage of our suffering? Are we, as Chardin advises, asking God to indulge us and be lenient? Or, are we really asking for the same promise made to Abraham?

In “Kinah 7 – Above The Stars” we explained the essence of God’s promise to Abraham as, “Hashem will acknowledge Abraham’s descendants’ accomplishments and give them the means to raise themselves up above the stars and create their own reality.” The words, “Koah y’hiyeh zaracha,” “so shall your children be,” means, “They will be Koh, just like you, and have the ability to rise above their destiny and create new destinies for themselves.” We are asking, “Where is that promise?” Perhaps, we are not asking God, but ourselves, “Are we even striving to live above the stars, creating new destinies?”

This Kinah – Lamentation is the reverse image of Kinah 3, which describes people limited by an imposed destiny – people who cease to use their Free Choice – a natural consequence of experiencing the destruction and suffering the exile.

Are we following a prewritten script, or, are we scriptwriters? Are we stuck where we were in Kinah 3, or have we accepted the challenge of living as Koh, as Abrahams who write their own script and change the world?

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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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15
Jul

Kinah 16 – Readings – In the Slave Hold of a Ship

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

In “Kinah 16- The Greater Terror,” we read of the young boys and girls who were being brought by ships from Israel to Rome for immoral purposes. I share the following chapter from the narrative of a slave to help us understand what the experience must have been:

The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast was the sea, and a slave ship, which was then riding at anchor, and waiting for its cargo. These filled me with astonishment, which was soon converted into terror when I was carried on board. I was immediately handled and tossed up to see if I were found by some of the crew; and I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me. Their complexions too [Page 71] differing so much from ours, their long hair, and the language they spoke (which was very different from any I had ever heard), united to confirm me in this belief. Indeed such were the horrors of my views and fears at the moment, that, if ten thousand worlds had been my own I would have freely parted with them all to have exchanged my condition with that of the meanest slave in my own country. When I looked round the ship too and saw a large furnace or copper boiling, and a multitude of black people of every description chained together, everyone of their countenances expressing dejection and sorrow, I no longer doubted of my fate; and quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted. When I recovered a little I found some black people about me, who I believed were [Page 72] some of those who brought me on board, and had been receiving their pay; they talked to me in order to cheer me, but all in vain. I asked them if we were not to be eaten by those white men with horrible looks, red faces, and loose hair. They told me I was not; and one of the crew brought me a small portion of spirituous liquor in a wine glass; but, being afraid of him, I would not take it out of his hand. One of the blacks therefore took it from him and gave it to me, and I took a little down my palate, which, instead of reviving me, as they thought it would, threw me into the greatest consternation at the strange feeling it produced having never tasted any such liquor before. Soon after this the blacks who brought me on board went off, and left me abandoned to despair.

I now saw myself deprived [Page 73] of all chance of returning to my native country, or even the least glimpse of hope of gaining the shore which I now considered as friendly; and I even wished for my former slavery in preference to my present situation, which was filled with horrors of every kind, still heightened by my ignorance of what I was to undergo. I was not long suffered to indulge my grief; I was soon put down hinder the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life: so that, with the loathsomeness of the stench and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste anything. I now wished for the last friend, death, to relieve me; but soon, to my grief, two of the white men offered me eatables; and on my refusing to eat, [Page 74] one of them held me fast by the hands, and laid me across I think the windlass and tied my feet, while the other flogged me severely. I had never experienced anything of this kind before; and although, not being used to the water, I naturally feared that element the first time I saw it, yet nevertheless, could I have got over the nettings, I would have jumped over the side, but I could not; and, besides, the crew used to watch us very closely who were not chained down to the decks, lest we should leap into the water: and I have seen some of these poor African prisoners most severely cut for attempting to do so, and hourly whipped for not eating. This indeed was often the case with myself. In a little time after, amongst the poor chained men, I found some of my own nation, which in a small degree gave ease to my mind. I [Page 75] inquired of these what was to be done with us; they gave me to understand we were to be carried to these white people’s country to work for them.

I then was a little revived, and thought, if it were no worse than working, my situation was not so desperate: but still I feared I should be put to death, the white people looked and acted, as I thought, in so savage a manner; for I had never seen among any people such instances of brutal cruelty; and this not only shewn towards us blacks, but also to some of the whites themselves. One white man in particular I saw, when we were permitted to be on deck, flogged so unmercifully with a large rope near the foremast that he died in consequence of it; and they tossed him over the side as they would have done a brute. This made me fear these people the more; and I [Page 76] expected nothing less than to be treated in the same manner. I could not help expressing my fears and apprehensions to some of my countrymen: I asked them if these people had no country, but lived in this hollow place (the ship): they told me they did not, but came from a distant one. ‘Then,’ said I, ‘how comes it in all our country we never heard of them?’ They told me because they lived so very far off. I then asked where were their women? had they any like themselves? I was told they had: ‘and why,’ said I, ‘do we not see them?’ They answered, because they were left behind. I asked how the vessel could go? They told me they could not tell; but that there were cloths put upon the masts by the help of the ropes I saw, and then the vessel went on; and the white men had some spell or magic they put in the water [Page 77] when they liked in order to stop the vessel. I was exceedingly amazed at this account, and really thought they were spirits. I therefore wished much to be from amongst them, for I expected they would sacrifice me: but my wishes were vain; for we were so quartered that it was impossible for any of us to make our escape.

While we stayed on the coast I was mostly on deck; and one day, to my great astonishment, I saw one of these vessels coming in with the sails up. As soon as the whites saw it, they gave a great shout, at which we were amazed; and the more so as the vessel appeared larger by approaching nearer. At last she came to an anchor in my sight, and when the anchor was let go I and my countrymen who saw it were lost in astonishment to observe the vessel stop; and were now convinced it was [Page 78] done by magic. Soon after this the other ship got her boats out, and they came on board of us, and the people of both ships seemed very glad to see each other. Several of the strangers also shook hands with US black people, and made motions with their bands, signifying I suppose we were to go to their country; but we did not understand them. At last, when the ship we were in had got in all her cargo, they made ready with many fearful noises, and we were all put under deck, so that we could not see how they managed the vessel. But this disappointment was the least of my sorrow. The stench of the hold while we were on the coast was so in tolerably loathsome, that it was dangerous to remain there for any time, and some of us had been permitted to stay on the deck for the fresh air; but now that the whole ship’s cargo were [Page 79] confined together, it became absolutely pestilential. The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us. This produced copious perspirations, so that the air soon became unfit for respiration, from a variety of loathsome smells, and brought on a sickness among the slaves, of which many died, thus falling victims to the improvident avarice, as I may call it, of their purchasers. This wretched situation was again aggravated by the galling of the chains, now become insupportable; and the filth of the necessary tubs, into which the children often fell, and were almost suffocated. The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable. Happily perhaps [Page 80] for myself I was soon reduced so low here that it was thought necessary to keep me almost always on deck; and from my extreme youth I was not put in fetters. In this situation I expected every hour to share the fate of my companions, some of whom were almost daily brought upon deck at the point of death, which I began to hope would soon put an end to my miseries. Often did I think many of the inhabitants of the deep much more happy than myself. I envied them the freedom they enjoyed, and as often wished I could change my condition for theirs. [Olauadah Equiano,  Interesting Narrative, Chapter Two]

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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15
Jul

Kinah 16 – The Greater Terror

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“The ocean is an object of no small terror. Indeed, terror is an all cases whatsoever, either more openly or latently, the ruling principle of the sublime (Edmund Burke).”

This Tisha b’Av Kinah – Lamentation mentions a famous story from the Talmud: On one occasion four hundred boys and girls were carried off for immoral purposes. They divined what they were wanted for and said to themselves, “If we drown in the sea we shall attain the life of the future world. The eldest among them expounded the verse, “The Lord said, ‘I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring again from the depths of the sea’ (Psalms 68:23).”

‘I will bring again from Bashan,’ from between the lions’ teeth (bein shain).

‘I will bring again from the depths of the sea,’ those who drown in the sea.

When the girls heard this they all leaped into the sea. The boys then drew the moral for themselves, saying, “If these for whom this is natural act so, shall not we, for whom it is unnatural?”

They also leaped into the sea. Of them the text says, “Yes, for Your sake we are killed all the day long, we are counted as sheep for the slaughter (Psalms 44:23).”21 [Gittin 57b]

Which was the greater terror for these young boys and girls? It was not the sea; it was the fear of being used for immoral purposes. Despite all the destruction they witnessed, they maintained an inner sense of dignity, and lived with great courage. Despite Titus violating God’s Home, they believed that the God would keep the promise made in Psalms. Titus may have ripped the curtain that covered the Holy of Holies, but he did not succeed in violating the internal holiness of these boys and girls.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The power which the sea requires in the sailor makes a man of him very fast, and the change of shores and populations clears his head of much nonsense of his wigwam.” Perhaps the Romans sailing these ships were as the sailors described by Emerson, but they were far lesser “men” than these young people who, in a world without structure, cleared their heads of all the wigwam, and had the clarity to live higher than the Holiest of Holies.

While we plead with God to remember Titus’ violence, we remind Him of that holiness to which we cling in every moment and every place.

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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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15
Jul

Kinah 10 – Silence

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer, Reflections & Observations

“The voices of those who carried the Ark were silenced.” Destruction often causes the loss of music:

Listen to, “TED Talks: Bernie Krause: The Voice of The Natural World.”

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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