The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
Prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes.
In the End of Days, after the Children of Israel have returned to their land, the children of Ishmael [the Muslim world] and the children of Esau [the Western Nations] will unite to attack Jerusalem. They will form a world coalition against the tiny nation of Israel. But something will go wrong with their plan. The religious beliefs of the children of Ishmael and the children of Esau will clash, and the two nations will collide and destroy each other. This is what is referred to as the War of Gog and Magog. Following this cataclysmic conflict, the Final Redemption of the Jewish People will occur with the coming of Messiah the Son of King David.” [Malbim on Ezekiel 32:17, from the Introduction to my book 2020 Vision]
We are seeing the “world coalition” forming and we can well imagine what the next steps will be. Perhaps the only comfort in this difficult world is that all the events we are witnessing have been predicted by our prophets. What else gives one the strength to endure what would otherwise be unendurable?
We are in the middle of Sefirah. Why have terrible things – including the decimation of the 24,000 disciples of Rabbi Akiva – happened to the Children of Israel during Sefirahs haOmer? And what happened on the thirty-third day of the Omer to turn them around?
According to Book of Our Heritage, during the period of Sefirahs haOmer “man’s future sustenance is on the line” because it is the period of harvest. “Will he be blessed with plenty or cursed by famine?…. Because this is a period of judgment that lasts for fifty days, the trepidation accompanying these days is great.”
But this is not the only cause of trepidation. Sefirah is the period during which, in biblical times, we marched from Egypt to Mount Sinai, attempting during these seven weeks to eradicate the terrible effects of long-term immersion in Egyptian immorality and idolatry. That’s not so easy. We have only to look at ourselves, immersed as we are in Western culture, to understand how the Jews could have felt that it was natural to live in the Egyptian culture. Only very few, apparently, felt they were completely out of place, and thus only one in five left Egypt.
This is the frightening aspect of both Sefirah and our current exile. Even those who did leave Egypt found it difficult to disentangle their souls from poison of exile: “We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt the cucumbers, melons, leeks onions and garlic” (Numbers 11:5).
During Sefirah there is a titanic spiritual battle over which way to go: backward toward Egypt or forward toward Mount Sinai and Hashem’s Torah. Apparently the turning point occurred on Lag B’Omer. Was it coincidence that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was niftar on that day? Was it coincidence that on that day the Zohar was revealed? What is it about Lag B’Omer?
We say in the Shema, “do not follow after your heart and after your eyes after which you stray “It seems the heart is the leader in going astray. If our heart is focused on Torah, we are safe, and all follows the direction of the heart. If it is focused on material objects, we are in danger, and our eyes and all our other limbs follow it to dust and destruction, God forbid.
As our rabbis tell us, “Rachmana liba ba’ei” – God desires the heart(Rashi on Sanhedrin 106b). Sefirah is forty-nine days. The gematria of “lev tov,” a good heart, is forty-nine. (The word “lev” (heart) is thirty-two (lamed-beis) and the word “tov” (good) is seventeen (tes-vov-beis). The first thirty-two days of Sefirah seem to focus on the battle for the heart. It is still in danger, pulled back by the lure of Egypt. Which way will we go? Will we in fact go forward toward Mount Sinai and a life of sanctity? Or will we return to the bottomless pit of Egypt?
On the thirty-third day, apparently, the issue was decided in favor of “tov” because in fact we went onward to Mount Sinai. Thus, the last seventeen days of Sefirah seem to reflect the gematria of “tov.” We took the good course. We seem to have felt the pull of Torah drawing us forward.
About the Author: Roy Neuberger's latest book, “2020 Vision” (Feldheim) is available in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Russian, and Georgian. An e-edition is available at www.feldheim.com. Roy is also the author of "From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul” (available in English, Hebrew and Russian, and Georgian) and “Worldstorm.” Roy and Leah Neuberger speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at email@example.com or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com. Roy and Leah Neuberger speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com.
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U.S and European demands for the creation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank is world hypocrisy.
We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.
During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai
Connecting Bamidbar&Shavuot is simple-A world without Torah is midbar; with Torah a blessed paradise
Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting
She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes
Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times
Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program
“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me
Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.
The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.
The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.
“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”
Jews thank Hashem at every step. We thank Him for our most basic physical existence. We thank Hashem for every step, for every breath, for every aspect of our elevation from the dust.
In the recent Gaza war and its aftermath, we saw a totally illogical reaction from the world.
Our rabbis told us it’s going to be very difficult before Mashiach comes. Should we fool ourselves?
The unwarranted hatred among us that caused the destruction of the Second Temple clearly still plagues us.
At the end of the harvest, winter begins. The earth becomes cold and hard, nights are long, and the sun seems far away in the southern sky. The sap ceases to flow in the trees. But in this season of temporary “death” Hashem sends down harbingers of coming life in the form of tal u’matar livrachah – dew and rain for a blessing – upon the earth.
“Logically” speaking, after the millennia of hatred and destruction directed against us, there should not be one Jew in the world today who still keeps the Torah.
They were lining up for gas masks in Israel.
Apparently, at the very time of year we are supposed to be full of simcha, Hashem wants us to be aware of the possibility of danger. Indeed, during the Yom Tov of Sukkos, we read cataclysmic haftaras dealing with the ultimate war, the Milchemes Gog Umagog. Where does that war take place? In the Holy Land, of course, where the eyes of the world are always focused.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/sefirah-and-the-pull-of-torah/2010/04/28/
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