The month of Elul is known for being the time of the year most favorable for t’shuva - generally known as penitence or repentance. But t’shuva is much more than feeling bad over the transgressions which we have committed. Rabbi Kook teaches that t’shuva is the force that makes the world go around.
If a Jew is thrown into prison and he doesn’t have tefillin, then he can’t perform the mitzvah of putting on tefillin. But the mitzvah of tefillin isn’t cancelled because of this. The very first morning that he gets out of jail, he once again must perform the mitzvah of putting on tefillin
About a month ago, I received an email from a 16 year-old girl from Europe, saying that she was on the way to the airport to fly to Israel. She said that her mother read my blogs at The Jewish Press and hoped that maybe I could help her, not knowing where else to turn. She wants to finish high school in Israel, make aliyah, and go into the army. Her present high school is all gentile and Moslem and very anti-Semitic. Could I help her, she asked?
After finishing a meal in which we ate bread, we are to thank God for the food and for the Land which He has given us, as we say, “Blessed are Thou, O Lord, for the Land and the sustenance,” and even if a Jewish astronaut were to eat a pastrami sandwich on the moon, or on Mars, he would still thank God for the pastrami sandwich and the Land of Israel.
These days, it’s pretty hard to know who really is Jewish. Let’s take the example of the singles-bar scene in New York. A lot of times a Jewish guy will start talking to girl (call her Debbie) and during the conversation, he’ll ask if she’s Jewish, and she says, “Sure,” when she isn’t Jewish at all. So I have devised an almost foolproof test to determine if a person is really a Jew.
If Moshe were alive today, I’m certain he would prefer living in the Land of Israel rather than living in Brooklyn. What do you think?
We learn from Moshe that the true meaning of Haredi is someone whose fear and reverence of God so fills his being that he rushes to do every mitzvah as speedily and completely as he can. We also find this Haredi quality in Moshe’s great desire to live in the Land of Israel. Moshe wanted to make aliyah more than anything else. This is a sign of a true Haredi Jew – a towering love for the Land of Israel and a passionate desire to live there.
And so it was, every 9th of Av, the men would enter the mass grave for the night and another 15,000 would perish by the morning. The night of the living zombies. 15,000 men for 40 years. In the 40th year, the remaining men entered the mass grave but nothing happened. They remained there through the 15th of Av, when they realized that nothing was going to happen. The decree of the plague had ended! So they climbed joyously out of the grave. This was on Tu B’Av.
In our previous blog, we mentioned that Moshe Rabainu offered 515 prayers to Hashem, at the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, begging Hashem to let him enter the Land of Israel. Some people have trouble making up prayers if it isn’t written out for them in a siddur. So here’s a prayer I wrote for coming to the Land of Israel. Print it out and say it every day for the next 515 days. If it doesn’t work, crumple up the page, send it to me, and I’ll eat it.
Moshe Rabainu didn’t say any of the other 515 excuses you usually hear. Just the opposite. Moshe begged again and again and again, 515 prayers, to be granted the incomparable blessing of entering the Land. Today, there are people frummer than Moshe. The Land of Israel isn’t glatt enough for them. Or they don’t like the government. Or they’re worried about finding jobs, as if the hand of Hashem is too short to feed them. They prefer to rely on Uncle Sam instead.
Rabbi Meir Kahane published this in The Jewish Press 40 years ago. Some things just don’t seem to change: A religion which develops a split personality is a religion in danger. A faith whose adherents begin to merely pay lip service to its tenets is in the first stages of atrophy. When individuals create a dichotomy between what they believe and what they practice, it calls for serious re-evaluation. The dream of settling in Israel is a basic part of the Jewish faith. It is an obligation, but it is more than that; it is a dream.
Rabbi Kook explains that a weakening of the will is due in large measure to a lack of physical energy and strength. When a person’s willpower is weak, he can fall into many bad habits. As part of his overall mending, he must improve his physical health, as well as his moral and spiritual worlds.
On Tisha B’Av, we mourn over the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, over the destruction of Jerusalem, and over being exiled from our Land. Unfortunately, because of the great length and darkness of the exile, there is a totally mistaken and distorted understanding of what exile is. Instead of experiencing it as a terrible punishment, it is all too often experienced as fun.
The roots for the Destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem were planted long before the Destruction itself, on the night the Spies in the Wilderness returned from their ill-fated mission and convinced the Jewish People not to journey on to live in the Promised Land. That night was the 9th of Av. Their rejection of the Land of Israel was the rotten foundation which brought about our later National Destruction as an independent Nation in our own Land.
No, I’m not talking about those famed Brooklyn Bums, I’m speaking about the Aliyah Dodgers, the Diaspora Giants, the Ultra-Orthodox Williamsburg White Sox, the Assimilated Cardinals, and the OU Washington Nationals.
When I look at the pictures of Brooklyn and Toronto, and Boca and Beverly Hills, I pray with all my heart that God open their eyes, and give them a heart of flesh to feel the horror of their plight, living in strange impure lands, living make-believe identities, as if they are Americans and Frenchmen and Australians and Germans, when they are really the descendents of Israelites displaced from their Homeland.
Doing my best to copy Sholom Aleichem’s gifted portrayal, and adding a bit on my own, I transformed the downtrodden Jew of galut into a proud pioneer in the Holy Land and a brave fighter for Jewish freedom. It’s a saga that I am sure you and your children will love. And now, thanks to The Jewish Press, it’s free!
With the Golden Gate Bridge symbolically in the background, the nuptial union between the pioneer Jewish anthropologist and the stunning, white wedding-gowned gorilla marked a historic bridge between mankind and the world of the primates, and another one of Judaism’s great contributions to human culture. Rabbi Christine Christy, dynamic leader of California’s Progressive Democratic Liberal Reform Jewish Movement, officiated at the tear-filled ceremony.
The Rambam himself, in his famous, “Letter of Teman,” writes: “Those who seduce themselves and say that they will stay in their places until the king, Mashiach, comes to the lands of the West, and only then will they depart and go forth to Jerusalem – I don’t know how the decree of destruction will be stayed from them. Rather, they are transgressors, and they cause others to sin."
Make no mistake. I am not criticizing any of the dedicated directors or employees of the Jewish Agency. Certainly, I have nothing but praise for Mr. Sharansky. But the Jewish Agency is obsolete. It is destined to failure so long as the Rabbis, and Roshei Yeshivot, and parents, and the heads of Jewish organizations in the Diaspora don’t urge their students and children and members to go on aliyah.
The task of the Mashiach is to save the Jews from its enemies and rebuild the Nation of Israel, yet the followers of Jezeus have slaughtered millions and millions of Jews and done everything in their power to keep Israel lowly and weak.
Some people don’t realize that Mashiach’s coming is a process that evolves over time. These people want everything to be finished at the start. They say that when Mashiach comes and does all the work of rebuilding the Land of Israel, and gathers all of the exiled Jews to Israel, and fights the wars of Hashem, and rebuilds the Beit HaMikdash, then they will come on aliyah. First, everything has to be perfect. First, the Mashiach has to do all the work.
An amazing thing happened to me last night! While I was sleeping, an angel appeared in a dream and told me to start a new Jewish religion. “A new Jewish religion?” I asked, bewildered. “That’s right,” he replied. I was certain that I was hallucinating because I had fasted yesterday and that my mind was playing tricks. So I went back to sleep. But the angel appeared once again and told me to start a new Jewish religion.
That’s right. I love Jews. All of them. I love good Jews and I love bad Jews. I love fat Jews and I love...
Our Sages tell us that HaKodesh Baruch Hu, the Holy One Blessed Be He, weeps when a Jewish home is torn apart by of divorce. Unfortunately, He must be crying quite a lot these days, judging from the vast number of divorcees you discover on the pages of Facebook.