Posts Tagged ‘Succot’

10
Sep

Knowing

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer, Spiritual Growth

The people of Nineveh committed to fast and pray until God rescinded the decree of destruction. They ended their fast and prayers. How did they know that they were safe?

Jonah was angry that the people of Nineveh were saved. He had not received a prophecy informing him that God had rescinded the decree. How did he know?

They knew. There is such a thing as knowing that our prayers have been accepted.

When I began building my Succah this evening, immediately after Yom Kippur, I realized that I too, know. My Yom Kippur prayers were accepted. My Succah is my statement that I can now live sheltered by the Wings of God; His Divine Presence. It is only because I know that my prayers were accepted. What a feeling!

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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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5
Oct

Joseph The Builder

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

I was happy that Joseph’s visit was scheduled for a Shabbat meal this year; what could be a better way to greet the Viceroy of Egypt! He was a man who managed huge construction projects, building enough storehouses to feed Egypt for seven years, and I didn’t want him to turn a professional eye on my physically insignificant building.

Our Succah may not be fit for royalty, although I believe it is, (after all, it is Shabbat), but it would surely remind him of the booths in which he sat as he traveled back and forth to Canaan to bury his father.

It’s only been a year since his last visit but I wanted this visit to my Succah to be as exciting for him as when he ran to greet Jacob after twenty-two years apart.

I had to think of an invitation song as elaborate as what l sing to the angels who accompany me home from synagogue. I decided to welcome them before inviting Joseph because they would be as excited as I to see him; I hoped they wouldn’t monopolize the conversation.

I decided to invite him as he was when he was lifted from his prison pit, shaved and dressed for his first meeting with Pharaoh; “I invite you to join me in my Succah, a place where you can make more of a difference than you do in Heaven.”

A man dressed in royal robes appeared  and asked, “How can I make a difference in your Succah?”

I didn’t know whether I was supposed to bow, but with my family, guests, the angels and Joseph, there was no room for me to do anything other than bow my head. “I want you to teach me how to store the blessings of this festival to use throughout the year.”

“Are you expecting a famine?”

“No, I’m not. I’m expecting the most expansive year of my life. You have experience planting seeds for the future and I want to take my experiences since Elul and plant them so they will grow.”

I couldn’t stop asking, “I know far too many people who are hurting, as desperate as were you when you were in prison. Teach us how to look forward with the same trust you had even in your worst moments.”

This was a conversation with Joseph and I wanted even more; “You were able to prepare the nation for all their years in Egypt. You saw the future and promised them they would be redeemed. We need such a vision as we watch the world crumble around us.”

“I want to know how you stood so confidently even as your brothers were fighting you every step of the way.”

I was a little nervous when Joseph began, “Your long speech reminds me of Judah’s just before I revealed my identity.”

My visitor must have sensed my tension, “I responded to his speech by revealing my identity, so I guess you could describe it as successful. It was only at that moment that any of the brothers spoke to me with confidence. They were hesitant until that moment; intimidated, not acting as the great people they were. A person who lives and speaks without a full connection to his essence lacks a solid Yesod, Foundation. I constantly knew what I wanted and where I was heading, more importantly, I knew that God was guiding me each step of the way, and that I had to adjust to what He was teaching me. I had a solid Foundation.”

Joseph was silent for a few moments and all of us were to intimidated to speak.

The Tzaddik spoke to all of us, “If you really want to join our Society of Builders, you must have a solid Foundation, a Foundation Stone, so to speak (sorry, but I couldn’t resist). You must know where you stand and what you want. Define your goals. Choose the experiences that resonate most deeply in your soul. Speak, write and teach with confidence in who you are. You will be able to overcome anything and will develop a clear vision of the future.”

The next second, he was gone.

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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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4
Oct

Aaron The Builder

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Aaron’s is the first visit of the Seven Guests to which I look forward without any nerves. He was the one who would look at a petitioner bringing a Sin Offering with only love and respect, not judging the man for his sin, but seeing only the person who wanted to repair. I can face Aaron even in my jittery Succah knowing that he will see it as majestic, filled with Hod.

I want to form a special invitation to him, so I examine the moment when Moses invited him to assume his role as Kohen Gadol, completing the dedication of the Mishkan. I’m not sure it will work, but I sing out, playing on Leviticus 9:7, “Come near to my Succah and elevate it with your presence and bring atonement for us!”

It worked! Aaron appears with a huge smile on his face.

“A little dramatic, but a lovely invitation. I heard from your earlier visitors that you want to join The Society of Builders. Why did you invite a Kohen?”

“I invited you because it was only after you blessed the people that the Divine Fire appeared and completed the Mishkan. You were the one who completed the building.I invited you so you can teach me how to complete my Succah.”

“It looks a little shaky, but it’s kosher. Why do you think it’s incomplete?”

“Because, I am incomplete.”

“So was I when I blessed the people just before the Divine Fire appeared. I was certain that the fire had not appeared because of my sin with the Golden Calf. It was my moving forward in the service despite my feeling incomplete, the true power of Hod, that allowed me to, as you say, complete the building,” he said as he faded away.

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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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3
Oct

Moses The Builder

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

I’m sitting in my sukkah despite it being soaked; there’s no way I would miss a visit from Moses. I cleaned up as well as I could, after all, this is the man who supervised the construction of the Mishkan. He had the Ultimate Architect, an awesome foreman/artist in Betzalel, unlimited supplies, and a huge team of workers. I, well, suffice it to say that my sukkah was constructed by someone who still believes in the Maginot Line! I have all my excuses ready if my visitor will be disappointed in my construction project. I admit that I prefer to keep the conversation focused on the failings of my little sukkah than to be tested by Moses. So, here goes!

I sing my invitation to Moses, and he quickly appears, sits down, slowly looks around, stares up for a few moments at my s’chach, and, smiles. “I see that I did a good job,” he comments. I stare openmouthed at him, happy that he considers my sukkah a “good job,” but wondering why he would take credit for my Leaning Tower of Canvas.

I wait for our great teacher to speak. “You’re the one who believes that the Mishkan serves a greater purpose than the Temple in Jerusalem, are you not?”

“Yes, Rebbi, I am.”

“Why?”

“I believe that the Mishkan allows us to create holy spaces wherever we are; create a Temple environment even while in exile.”

“Exactly,” he says, “what I constructed, the Mishkan, is eternal, and it is what helped you create a holy space even in this horribly constructed sukkah! I can say, looking at your sukkah, that I did a good job.”

I smile.

“Rebbi, may I ask a question?”

“Of course.”

“How did Rebbi accomplish that sense of the eternal in the Mishkan?”

“When the project was finished I blessed the people in two ways: ‘May the pleasantness of my Master, our Lord, be upon us, and may He establish our handiwork for us (Psalm 90).’ I taught them to have God as a partner in every action so that He would find our handiwork as a source of pleasantness, or Nachas. I then blessed them, ‘May you always have the desire for God to dwell among you,’ it’s only a matter of how much you desire God’s Presence in everything you do.”

Moses gave me a serious look and asked, “What have you done that will have eternal effect?”

I stop smiling.

“I believe that I have taught people to think on their own, to study your Torah as if you are speaking directly to them.”

“You are building thinkers; the most significant building project of all. Do more.” And, he left.

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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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2
Oct

The Dance of Water & Earth-Baruch sh’Amar Succot Kavanot

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

The Abudirham teaches that there are Ten defined blessings in this prayer, each corresponding to one of the Ten Statements with which God created the world. Since Rosh Hashanah we have been engaged in a constant dance between earth and water. “A man is formed from dust, and his end is in dust.” This not only describes our physical end in the grave, it also speaks of the creation of the Primal human being, Adam, who was formed from the earth.

“A mist rose from the earth and watered the whole surface of the soil. And God, the Lord, formed the man of dust from the ground (Genesis 2:6–7).” The Primal Man was formed from a mixture of dust and water. So, on Rosh Hashanah, after speaking of our evening in the earth, we march to a body of water to perform Tashlich; the ceremony in which we toss our sins into the water.

Immediately after Adam’s sin God said, “Cursed is the ground because of you (Genesis 3:17).” The earth is considered to have contributed to Adam’s sin! Adam was formed from the earth, and the earth is described as having already rebelled against God! When God commanded the earth on the Third Day of Creation to produce trees whose bark would be as edible as its fruit, the earth, it was protecting itself from people believing who would destroy the trees by eating the bark, did not obey God’s instructions, and did not produce trees with edible bark. The earth contained the first seeds of sin, and those seeds found their ways into Adam, who was formed from the earth.

When we perform Tashlich at the water, we are saying to God, had He formed us from water, rather than earth, we would not have sinned!

Succot is the holiday on which we went to the Holy Altar in the Temple, the Altar of Earth, which housed in it Earth from the very place where Adam was formed, and poured fresh water onto it to not only reenact the formation of Adam from a mixture of earth and water, but to say, had we been created only from water, we would not have sinned. It is a reenactment of the formation of Adam.

On Succot we go back to the very beginning of creation. Hence, we refer to Succot as Yom HaRishon, the First Day, the first day of Man’s existence, our opportunity to repair any damage caused to creation.

For more Festival Prayer Kavanot for Succot see TheFoundationStone.org, i-Pray, i-Rejoice-Festival Prayers.

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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
Sep

Jacob the Builder

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

I spent a great deal of time thinking about Jacob this year, especially about his death as I knew that my mother a”h was approaching her end. (“A Different Sort of Fear of Life,” “Not Waiting for the Monument,” “The Fragrance of Permanence,” “Stopping the Leaks,” “Strength from Brokenness,” “Power of Softness,” “The Character in the Storm,” and “Laban’s Gasconade.”) I saw Jacob as one who considered life the connection to that which is eternal, specifically, the power to retrace our steps all the way back to Eden, and repair the damage caused by Adam. I was nervous about my expected visitor on the Third night of Succot; would he consider my life well lived?

I looked up to the sky and wondered how much of my life was connected above rather than anchored to the limitations of this world. I was suddenly aware of another presence in my sukkah; it was Jacob.

“I love the blogs and wish you had written more. Why did you stop writing for so long?”

“I was deeply affected by my mother’s death and have been having difficulty writing.”

“That would certainly imply that you are more connected to this limited life than to living a life that will lead you back to Eden. I am sure that you recall that before I left this world I charged my children with a vision of their ultimate future. The only way to live a life that is constantly connected to the eternal, to fighting your way back to Eden and repairing this damaged world, is to constantly look toward the Ultimate Future! This is the meaning of someone looking toward Redemption. Tzipita l’yeshu’a means that you will be asked in Heaven whether you lived a life that was focused on building a world prepared for Redemption.”

Jacob left. It was a short visit. But his message of Building a world that is prepared for Redemption filled my sukkah.

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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
Sep

Isaac the Builder

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

It’s now the second night of Succot and I await a visit from Isaac. It’s fair to say that this visit is the one to which I look forward with most anticipation as Isaac is the least familiar of the Seven Guests. I wonder about him. The verse makes it clear that Abraham was chosen, “It is You, God the Lord, Who chose Abram (Nehemiah 9:7).” Jacob, too, was chosen, “But hear now, Jacob, My servant, and Israel, whom I have chosen (Isaiah 44:1)!” There is no verse that speaks of Isaac as being chosen. In fact, when Maimonides (Laws of Idol Worship, Chapter 1:3) describes the transmission of Abraham’s message through the first generations, he speaks of Jacob as being appointed, and Levi also, as being appointed. However, he says only that Abraham made his message known to Isaac, but he never describes Isaac is being appointed by Abraham. There seems to be something missing about Isaac, and I can’t wait to ask him why.

My eyes are closed as I ponder Isaac’s life and mission. I open them to find my guest sitting facing me across the table.

“Do you feel chosen for a special mission in life?” It’s as if he was reading my mind.

“No,” I respond, “I feel that God has given many gifts to me, but that it is entirely up to me how to use them.”

“So,” Isaac continues, “you do not feel chosen. Do you feel that you have been appointed to a special position?”

I chuckle, point to my less than expertly assembled sukkah, and say, “and the position to which I have been appointed is not much better than the construction of this sukkah!”

“Did my father not visit you last night? Did he not describe to you how his first home was built in the air, so to speak, standing alone without any support from anyone other than himself (See “Abraham the Builder.”)?”

“Yes, he did visit me and speak of beginning my own construction project so that I could live a life in which I create my own destiny.”

“So then, how can you possibly describe this sukkah as something lacking, rather than the beginning of a major construction project to create something infinite, ‘above the stars’? If you truly desire to live a life in which you create your own destiny, you must understand that it is your choice and that you must assume the responsibility to appoint yourself as head of your unique project.”

“Did you do that?”

“Yes, my son, I did. My ‘project’ began as I lay bound hands and feet on an altar with my father standing over me prepared to sacrifice me to God. When I rose from that altar, I realized that I would have to build a life of my own. I did many of the things my father did. I visited Gerar. I dug the same wells  he had. I understood that I could do the same things my father had done before me and still make them my own actions. You sit in a sukkah as did your father before you, and as so many of your brethren do. You recite the same prayers. You practice the same mitzvot. Do you do it only as your father did, as others do, or are you able to make each thing your own?”

“I try to do each thing as my own.”

“So you are learning how to become a Builder.”

Isaac looks at me with piercing eyes and points out, “I suspect that you are held back by believing that you will never be as great as your father. Can you imagine what it was like to be the son of Abraham? I decided never to look back, but to look forward not only for myself, but in others as well! I was able to look at Esau, whom all are convinced was wicked and see his potential, to the point that I was willing to offer my greatest blessing to him. You will know that you are truly prepared to become a Builder, when you are able to look at anyone and see his potential. When you can see the potential for Building in each person you see, you will be able to see yourself as a Builder. I see some open spaces in your walls not just your roof. Use them to look outside the walls of your sukkah and perceive the potential for Building in all the people around you.”

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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
Sep

Abraham The Builder

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

I built the house.

First I made it out of air.

Then I raised the flag

and left it hanging

from the firmament, from the star, from

light and darkness. (Pablo Neruda in honor of La Sebastiana)

“God said to Abram, ‘Go for yourself from your land’ (Genesis 12:1).” Rabbi Yitzchak opened his discourse on this passage with a quote from Psalms: “Hear, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear;  forget your people and your father’s house (Psalms 45:11).” This is analogous to someone who was passing from place to place and saw a certain palace ablaze. He said to himself, “Shall you say that this palace is without a supervisor?” The owner of the palace peered out at him and said to him, “I am the master of the palace!” So too, because Abraham said to himself, upon seeing the constant structure and that was taking place in the world, “Can it be that this world is without a supervisor?” The Holy One, Blessed is He, peaked out at him and said to him, “I am the Master of the world!” The next verse in Psalms states, “Then the King will desire your beauty; for He is your master; so bow to him.” God will desire to beautify you, Abraham, in the eyes of the world, so bow to Him and be His servant (Bereishit Rabbah 39:1).”

Abraham has come to visit my sukkah and instruct me so I may join of The Society Builders (See “Ghosts As Guests.”) Abraham began his construction project by connecting people to God as the Ultimate Builder. He stood alone against the world. He chose his unique path and was willing to stand against everyone as he searched for the Master of the Palace. “First I made it out of air.”

He began to travel and to speak of the Creator as the Master of the Palace to others; “Then I raised the flag and left it hanging from the firmament.” He dedicated his life to having people look high above the heavens and join him in the search for the True Master of the Palace; “from the star.”

This is the Abraham of whom it is written, “He took him outside, and said, ‘ Gaze, now, toward the heavens, and count the stars if you are able to count them!’ And He said to him, ‘ So shall your offspring be’ (Genesis 15:5).” We are taught that God lifted Abraham above the stars and the planets and promised him that he would not be controlled by the constellations but would always be empowered to create his own destiny. This was the promise for Abraham himself and for his offspring.

This is the message that Abraham brings to my Sukkah: “You must be willing to build your own house; a place that reflects your vision and values, your beliefs and convictions. Even if you begin by making it out of air; having to stand up against the world and fight for what you believe is true. If you can build such a house, if you’re Sukkah will reflect your beliefs, it won’t be a flag hanging, “from the firmament, from the star,” and will empower you, as it did me, to live above the stars; to create your own destiny.

“Your little booth here may be a little flimsy, but it is no weaker than the house I built that began, “out of air.”

Abraham bids me a farewell and goes on to his next visit.

I sit alone in my sukkah and reflect on his message.

Is this, my small booth, a reflection of my beliefs?

Am I able to look through the empty spaces in my roof toward the heavens and see myself lifted as was my special guest, above the stars?

Am I willing to live a life in which I can shape my destiny?

I am ready. I am ready to build such a house, such a life.

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
Sep

Ghosts As Guests

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

It is a myth of the lazy storyteller that ghosts primarily inhabit desolate houses and crumbling castles. No ghost ever walks down the stairs and corridors of the places I visit; no specter looks in from the other side of the window. However, when I return to my sukkah, I encounter ghosts. It is in the strangeness of their fleeting presence that I feel haunted; it is in the familiarity of their absence.

I can see and hear the muffled footsteps of my sukkah guests. I know them intimately, though in another plane of existence. I speak, of course, of the Seven Ushpizin, the Seven Guests who visit us, according to the Zohar, each day of Succot.

Why would I possibly describe a visit from Abraham or Isaac as strange when they are such an essential part of my spiritual existence? How could I possibly say that a visit from Moses, Aaron, or Joseph, as haunting?

I am haunted by the strangeness of their visit because I have no idea what I would say to any one of them if I met them in person. I love Abraham’s creativity, Isaac’s determination, Jacob’s clarity, Moses’ sense of the eternal, Aaron’s appreciation of the majesty of every detail in creation, Joseph’s loyalty and, King David’s all encompassing personality. I study their lives. I strive to emulate them. Each is a very real character in my life. However, I perceive each of them as a giant, whose presence would fill my succah; each, a larger than life character who would overwhelm me with their presence.

I welcome each at the beginning of the evening meal, as I sit in my sukkah staring up through the holes in the s’chach at the dark sky sprinkled with the flashing lights of the stores. The setting itself is perfect for a ghostly visit; a little strange for a visit from someone so important to the way I live my life.

I’m even slightly embarrassed over the quite imperfect way I have assembled my sukkah. How strange that I choose to welcome these awesome visitors in a flimsy booth rather than in my home! I can just imagine these people who have successfully built a nation that has lasted for thousands of years wondering how one of their descendants/students could be such a poor builder.

That is, until I remember that their visit is intended as an invitation, to me, the host, to join them in the Society of Builders. Each of them offers guidance in becoming a better builder of a better 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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12
Oct

Return to the Future

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Music of Halacha

“But to return, if I may use the expression, to the future…(J.B.S. Haldane).”

Haven’t we been here before? Have we not experienced Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Succot, many times? Have we not dreamed of a fresh start year after year? How

will this year be different?

“Every man takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world (Arthur Schopenhauer).” I suspect that there is a hint in the imperfect roof of the Succah to Schopenhauer’s point: The open spaces in the S’chach are a reminder that our vision is limited, there are other views, the ones through which we glimpse that stars. Succor is an exercise in seeing God’s vision for us, rather than our own.

Even when the serpent spoke to Eve to convince her to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, he hinted to God’s vision of human potential, “You will be as Powers.” God’s vision of a human being is that of a true Power that can transform creation. Adam had two choices when he first stepped out of the Garden: he could look ahead terrified that he had no idea what to do. He was accustomed to being cared for by God. He could carry the failure of his past on his shoulders, dreading the world outside his protected place, his Succah, the Garden. Or, he could recall God’s first words to him, “Go out and conquer and master the world.” He had been equipped to master the world from his first moment of life.

Adam, unfortunately, began by choosing to focus on what he had lost. He blamed Eve and separated from her. He did not become a builder of the future until more than a hundred years later. He was weighed down by his vision of himself. He forgot God’s opening charge; God’s vision of what he could do.

I look up through the open spaces of my Succah to glimpse the heavens that, in God’s vision, are ours to reach. Hopefully, it will become my vision as well.

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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