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December 3, 2016 / 3 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘kabbalah’

The Curious Customs of Lag B’Omer [photos]

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Of all the strange things we Jews do to commemorate our holidays, Lag B’Omer has got to have some of the stranger customs with particularly vague and questionable origins. In fact, there’s only a few hints to Lag B’Omer before the 17th century, when we start to see some of the customs popularized.

The 33rd day of counting the Omer between the holidays of Pesach and Shavuot commemorates the death of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi), who revealed Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah) to the Jewish people (or at least to his disciples) after hiding from the Romans for 13 years in a cave in the town of Peki’in.

Normally when someone dies, we’re not particularly happy, and we don’t memorialize his death with celebrations.

So some question if Rashbi really died (שמת) on that day, or if we think so because of a printing error in a book, and it was actually a day Rashbi was happy (שמח) about an a particular event.

And then there’s that matter of the revolt against the Romans. Depending on which version of the story you hear, it’s the day when the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva stopped dying – either because the Romans stopped killing them (because they killed them all), or the plague that was killing them was over.

To start off the celebrations, we make bonfires, very big bonfires, and pretty much try to burn anything that’s isn’t nailed down. And if it is nailed down, that what crowbars are for.

Lag B'Omer

Lag B'omer Photos by Yaakov Naumi/Flash90

LAG BA'OMER Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

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Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Sometimes the fire department has to be called out.

Firefighters in Bnei Brak on Lag B'Omer

Firefighters in Bnei Brak on Lag B’Omer. Firefighter Photos by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

LAG BA'OMER

Many people (and we mean quite a lot) go to Meron for Lag B’Omer to light those bonfires.

Meron is where Rashbi is buried. That we know for sure.

The bonfires either represent the intense light and fire introduced by Rashbi, or alternatively it was the signalling method the students of Rabbi Akiva used to let the others know they were still alive or that the Romans were coming.

Then there’s the bow and arrow. If you’re looking at the military explanation, it’s kind of self-explanatory.

Jewish men shooting a bow and arrow in Meron on Lag B'omer

Jewish men shooting a bow and arrow in Meron on Lag B’omer. Photo by Moshe Azriel/Flash90

Another strange explanation is that the students of Rabbi Akiva told the Romans they were carrying their bows and arrows to hunt animals, when in reality they were going into the woods to learn Torah together. In those years, the Romans were busy outlawing Jewish practices (Shabbat, Brit Mila and Learning Torah).

But seriously, have you ever heard of a Jewish person hunting an animal for food? We shecht (slaughter) our animals with a very sharp ritual knife. Did the Romans really believe that? Or is this just another obfuscation of the Jewish revolt?

The spiritual explanation has to do with the story that no rainbows (קשת=bow) were seen in the sky during Rashbi’s lifetime. The rainbow has a mixed connotation. It’s a reminder that God promised Noah that He would never again destroy the world by flood, but it’s also a reminder that humanity sinned gravely and is still sinning and deserves punishment but God is holding back.

And then we have the Upsherin, the custom where 3-year-old boys get their first haircut – except for the payos (sidelocks).

Again, this is a custom that only a few hundred years old, and has no clear connection to Lag B’Omer that we are aware of. But it is exciting to give your 3-year-old a haircut for the first time and watch him transform from a toddler to a child.

An Upsherin

An Upsherin. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash90

LAG BA'OMER

One thing is for sure, Lag B’Omer beats Burning Man hands down.

Photo of the Day

Safed Rabbi Arrested for Alleged Rape

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Police Thursday morning arrested a rabbi from Safed (Tzfat) whom a woman said raped her after giving her spiritual guidance several years ago.

A second woman filed a complaint Wednesday night.

The allegations were presented to rabbis in Tzfat last month, and rabbinical leaders, including Safed’s Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, asked the alleged rapist to leave the city during the investigation. The rabbis informed the police, who were not able to act until one of the women filed a complaint, which she finally did this week.

The national religious rabbi, who is a Kabbalist, was arrested while he was on his way to Ben Gurion Airport. He has denied the allegations.

Jewish Press News Briefs

A Night of Revelation and the Musical Spirit of Israel

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Why does Shavuot (Festival of Weeks or Pentecost) have so many themes running through it? Agriculture, Mount Sinai, the Ten Commandments, the Book of Ruth, King David, the Baal Shem Tov, the consumption of dairy products and more all come together on this holiday, that begins Saturday night. Yishai is joined in-studio by Rabbi Mike Feuer to make sense of it all, ahead of the great “revelation.”

Then, Yishai is joined in-studio by Nachman and Sruli — the Solomon Brothers — who created their own band of bluegrass music, infused with spiritualism and folk rock, influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Their special blend of music has gained them numerous TV appearances and rave reviews. Their live performance at VOI will blow you away.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Moshe Herman

Lag BaOmer, the Kabbalah, and the Renaissance of Jewish Womanhood

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai delves into two issues of intrigue: the Kabbalah and women. The holiday of Lag BaOmer is all about the victory of authentic Jewish culture and the Kabbalah — the mystical doctrines of the Torah. But what does that really mean? Can someone explain what the Kabbalah actually is? Rabbi Mike Feuer joins Yishai for a peak into the hidden, and inner, planes of Judaism.

Then, being a woman today means balancing family and career, leaving self-growth neglected. This was the impetus for the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, created to give Jewish women a chance to explore Israel, Judaism and themselves, while making friends similarly seeking a meaning-filled life. Yishai is joined in-studio by partnerships director Ariella Milobsky and trip director Tzippy Lieberman, who share their personal stories of growth and redemption, and discuss the that arose from Jewish women’s yearning for more.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Moshe Herman

Shocked Beit Din Tells Philandering Kabbalist to Quit, Following Audio Tape

Monday, November 10th, 2014

A Chareidi Beit Din (Ultra-orthodox religious court) is debating whether or not a Chareidi woman will be allowed to return to her husband after admitting to cheating on him, according to a report on the Shtieble.net website.

According to Jewish Law, a woman who commits adultery is forbidden to return to her husband.

But the woman claimed she was tricked into having the affair, three times, by a well known Israeli Kabbalist, who told the married woman she needed to have relations with him as a “tikkun” for the both of them, a mystical correction for their souls. She claims she fell victim to his scam.

The court asked the woman to go back and record the Kabbalist, and prove she’s telling the truth.

The very explicit admission the court got back from the secret recording was far more than they expected to hear.

The court immediately gave an ultimatum to the Kabbalist – if he doesn’t leave the world of Kabbalah at once and stop meeting with the public, they will distribute the very damning and explicit audio tape.

The audio tape has already been leaked onto the Internet. Sorry, we will not link to it here.

It is not known at this time what the court decided regarding whether the woman would be allowed to return to her husband or not.

Jewish Press News Briefs

A Yom Kippur Apology to Gwyneth Paltrow and Reform Jews

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Dear Gwyneth,

Several readers harshly criticized me for my remarks here about your decision to convert to Judaism under the auspices of a Kabbalah-oriented rabbi.

I have nothing against Kabbalah. I have nothing against Reform Jews.

My kosher beef is against fashionable Kabbalah and the Reform Movement industry that turn Judaism into a personal fiefdom based on personal views of universalism that have nothing to do with Torah.

Kabbalah is beyond me. Its mysticism can lead one to a great understanding of God and the essence of God, through the Zohar, the 13th century book that is studied worldwide by many very Orthodox Jews but which also has been hijacked by many as a tool for skipping over the basics.

I termed the conversion process by Reform “rabbis,” and this also holds for many Kabbalists, “instant Judaism.” I also referred to it as “false Judaism,” but quickly deleted the phrase after seeing justifiably angry talkbacks.

I apologize to you and Reform Jews for using both phrases, which I stand by 100 percent but regret having published because it didn’t serve the purpose of performing the mitzvah of “kiruv” – reaching out to bring Jews closer to Judaism based on beliefs of our first Yid, Avraham.

Although you are not Jewish, at least not yet, you do have a centuries-long history of learned rabbis in your ancestry. You discovered that your great-grandfather was a learned sage.

I find it sad that that some have no qualms about teaching their Kabbalah wares to the Hollywood holies, and that the Reform Movement welcomes with open arms anyone who wants to enter the tribe without learning and understanding the religion from the viewpoint of Orthodoxy.  Judaism has survived and flourished for 3,000 years in the face of attempts to destroy our religion through the same assimilation that the Reform Movement accepts be re-defining the term “Jew.”

Our sages, like your great-grandfather, always have discouraged conversion, which is a serious business and is more than “feeling” Jewish, putting on a tallis, eating gefilte fish and delving into the secrets of Kabbalah without having learned Torah.

I had no intention of discouraging you. That is not my business.

I do have the intention of discouraging conversions that reduce the Torah to nothing more than an interesting book from which one can pick and choose what he wants.

You were raised by an assimilated father and a Christian mother, and that says a lot about what happens to Jews when they do not stick to authentic Judaism, falsely libeled as a “monopoly” of the Orthodox.

As I have written elsewhere, certified medical doctors decide who are legitimate doctors. The same is true in dozens of other professions. I don’t go to an “alternative accountant” or “alternative lawyer.”

I often follow treatments in “alternative medicine,” but I never go to someone who calls himself an ”alternative doctor.”

Gwyneth, I won’t dwell on “instant Judaism” because it will only will cause me to apologize again after another argument readers who either disagree or simple feel I should ”leave you alone” and be happy you are searching for your roots. I really am glad you are doing so, and it would be wonderful if you read some translations of your great-grandfather’s books.

I apologize to you, and readers, whom I have offended.

I wish you a happy and good year and will try to lean more towards Kiruv and less towards mockery.

One other item, Gwyneth. Assuming you convert, and through an Orthodox rabbi, don’t forget your Jewish roots go back further than your centuries of rabbis in our ancestry. Your roots, once you are Jewish, are in Israel.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Gwyneth Paltrow ‘Quietly’ Converting to Judaism [video]

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Recently divorced actress Gwyneth Paltrow is moving on from Kabbalah studies to converting to Judaism, The New York Post reported.

She has two children from her marriage with British singer Chris Martin, from whom she divorced this year, and she said she wants to bring them up as Jews.

Her late father was Jewish, but her mother is a Christian, which determines the religion of the child, according to Jewish law.

She has been dabbling in Kabbalah, a favorite pastime among Hollywood stars who like to find instant spirituality, but Paltrow has something special going for her.

She discovered several years ago that she comes from a long line of prominent rabbis, as described in the video below from NBC”s “Who Do You Think You Are” program.

She was so thrilled to discover her lineage that she told an interviewer in 2006, “I really am a Jewish princess!”

So if she really wants to be a Jewish American Princess, she has to convert. The question is whether she will go for instant Judaism and go through a Reform conversion or if the knowledge of her lineage will persuade her to enter the tribe according to the same rules that her great-grandfather followed.

So far, her approach reflects the typical surface understanding of Hollywood stars. She has been quoted as saying that being raised by a Jewish father and Christian mother “was such a nice way to grow up.”

Paltrow is big on cooking, and she calls herself “the original Jewish mother: because she likes cooking for others. “ I am the original Jewish mother,” she told You magazine.

Gwyneth, sorry to bring the news, but there is bit more to Judaism to feeling Jewish and being a good cook, or even a good actress, and it certainly means more than studying Kabbalah, which for you and Madonna is like someone studying to be a doctor starting with medical school before learning Biology 101.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/gwyneth-paltrow-quietly-converting-to-judaism/2014/09/06/

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