The Breakthrough

The Breakthrough

Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson

And it came to pass on the third day, when morning came, that there were thunders and lightenings, and a thick cloud upon the mountain, and the sound of the shofar exceedingly loud; and the entire people within the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with G-d, and they stood at the foot of the mountain…

And G-d came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And G-d called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses ascended.

Exodus 19:16-20

The most momentous event in history took place on Shabbat, the sixth day of the month of Sivan, in the year 2448 from creation (1313 bce). On that day, the entire people of Israel — more than 2 million men, women and children,1 as well as the souls of all future generations of Jews — gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai to receive the Torah from G-d. Ever since, the event has been marked on our calendar as the festival of Shavuot,”the Time of the Giving of Our Torah.”

But the Torah we received at Sinai had already been in our possession for many generations. Our ancestors had studied and fulfilled the entire Torah even before it was given, observing its every law and ordinance — including the obligation to make an eruv tavshilin when a festival falls on the eve of Shabbat.2 No new document was unveiled at Sinai, and no hitherto unknown code of behavior was commanded there. What, then, was given to us at The Giving of Our Torah?

The Midrash explains the significance of the event with the following parable:

Once there was a king who decreed: The people of Rome are forbidden to go down to Syria, and the people of Syria are forbidden to go up to Rome. Likewise, when G-d created the world He decreed and said: “The heavens are G-d’s, and the earth is given to man.”3 But when He wished to give the Torah to Israel, He rescinded His original decree, and declared: The lower realms may ascend to the higher realms, and the higher realms may descend to the lower realms. And I, Myself, will begin — as it is written, “And G-d descended on Mount Sinai,4 and then it says, “And to Moses He said: Go up to G-d.”5 (Midrash Tanchuma, Vaeira 15; Midrash Rabbah, Shemot 12:4)

For the first twenty-five centuries of history, there existed a gezeirah — a decree and schism — which split reality into two hermetic worlds: the spiritual and the physical. The spiritual could not be truly brought down to earth — its very nature defied actualization; nor could the physical be made transcendent and divine — its very nature kept it imprisoned within the finiteness and mortality of the lower realms. So Torah, the divine wisdom and will, could have no real effect upon the physical world. It was a wholly spiritual manifesto, pertaining to the soul of man and to the spiritual reality of the heavens. While its concepts could, and were, applied to physical life, physical life could not be elevated – it could be improved and perfected to the limits of its potential, but it could not transcend its inherent coarseness and subjectivity.

At Sinai, G-d revoked the decree which had confined matter and spirit to two distinct realms. G-d came down on Mount Sinai, bringing the spirituality of the heavens down to earth. He summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, empowering physical man to raise his physical self and world to a higher state of existence. The Torah could now sanctify physical life.

This encounter between G-d and man at Sinai introduced a new phenomenon: the cheftza shel kedushah or holy object. After Sinai, when physical man takes a physical coin, earned by his physical toil and talents, and gives it to charity; or when he bakes flour and water as unleavened bread (matzah) and eats it on the first night of Passover; or when he forms a piece of leather to a specified shape and dimensions, inserts into it parchment scrolls inscribed with specified words, and binds them to his head and arm as tefillin — the object with which he has performed his mitzvah (divine commandment) is transformed. A finite, physical thing becomes holy, as its substance and form come to embody the realization of a divine desire and command.

The mitzvot could have been, and were, performed before the revelation at Sinai. But because they had not yet been commanded by G-d, they lacked the power to bridge the great divide between matter and spirit. Only as a command of G-d, creator and delineator of both the spiritual and the physical, could the mitzvah supersede the natural definitions of these two realms. Only after Sinai could the mitzvah actualize the spiritual and sanctify the material.

[Thus we find that when Abraham required his servant Eliezer to take an oath, he told him to “place your hand under my thigh.”6 An oath is taken while holding a sacred object such as a Torah scroll or tefillin; here Abraham is telling Eliezer to swear on the part of his own body sanctified by the mitzvah of circumcision. But since Abraham “observed the entire Torah even before it was given” — i.e., he studied Torah, put on tefillin, affixed a mezuzah on his doorpost — it would seem that he had no shortage of sacred objects available to him. Why, then, did he have Eliezer place his hand under his thigh, contrary to all common standards of modesty and propriety? But as we said, the effects of Abraham’s pre-Sinai mitzvot were of a wholly spiritual nature. Since G-d had not commanded him to do them, they remained subject to the law that separated the supernal from the material; while they had a profound effect on his own soul, the souls of his descendants, and the spiritual essence of creation, they had no impact on the material substance of the universe. The single exception was the mitzvah of circumcision, which G-d did command to Abraham (as related in Genesis 17), imparting to this mitzvah something of the nature of the post-Siniatic commandments of the Torah.7

An Absorbent World

Therein lies the significance of a curious detail related by our sages regarding the revelation at Sinai.

The Torah tells us that G-d spoke the Ten Commandments in “a great voice, which did not cease” (Deuteronomy 5:19). The Midrash offers a number of interpretations for this description of the divine voice. One interpretation is that the divine did not confine itself to the holy tongue but reverberated in mankind’s seventy languages. A second meaning is that the voice did not cease on that particular Shabbat morning some 3300 years ago: throughout the generations, all the prophets and sages who prophesied, taught and expounded upon the wisdom of the Torah are the extension of that very voice, for they added nothing that was not already inherent in the Ten Commandments. Finally, the Midrash offers a third explanation of the voice’s “unceasing” nature: the divine voice at Sinai was unique in that it had no echo.

The first two interpretations obviously point to the universality and timelessness of Torah. But what is “great and unceasing” about a voice that has no echo? Why should the divine voice at Sinai have been distinguished in this manner from all other sounds?

In truth, however, the echoless nature of the divine communication conveys the very essence of what transpired at Sinai. An echo is created when a sound meets with a substance which resists it: instead of absorbing its waves, the substance repels them, bouncing them back to the void. Prior to Sinai, the voice of Torah had an echo. Belonging to the spirituality of the heavens, it could not truly penetrate the physicality of the earth. The world might hear of Torah and be affected by it; but there remained a certain degree of resistance, as the Torah and the physical world each remained defined by their respective “higher” and “lower” realms. At Sinai, however, G-d rescinded the decree which had severed the heavens from the earth. The world could now fully absorb the divine voice; a physical object could now become one with its mission and role.

The Empowering Precedent

Therein lies an important lesson to us as we pursue our mission in life to implement the ethos and ideals of Torah in our world.

At Sinai we were charged to serve as “a light unto the nations” — to actualize in our own lives, and to teach all of humanity, that no matter what the conditions of a particular time, place or society may be, there is an all-transcendent, unequivocal, divinely ordained truth and moral code of behavior to which to adhere.

At times, we might be confronted with a seemingly unresponsive and even resisting world. It may appear that one or another of the Torah’s precepts does not fit in with the prevalent reality. So the Torah tells us that the voice which sounded G-d’s message to the world had no echo.

The voice of the Ten Commandments permeated every object and reality in the universe. So any resistance we may possibly meet in implementing them is superficial and temporary. For at Sinai, the essence of every created being was made consistent with, and wholly receptive to, the goodness and perfection which G-d desires of it.

Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe; adapted by Yanki Tauber

FOOTNOTES

  1. A census taken eleven months later counted 603,550 males between the ages of 20 and 60 (excluding the tribe of Levi).
  2. Talmud, Yoma 28b.
  3. Psalms 115:16.
  4. Exodus 19;20.
  5. Ibid., 24:19
  6. Genesis 24:2; cf. Jacob’s similar administration of an oath to Joseph, Genesis 47:29.
  7. Nevertheless, Abraham’s mitzvah of circumcision was only a precedent for the divine commandments issued at Sinai, and not a full revocation of the decree dissevering heaven from earth; it was the closest thing he had to an object of holiness, but not a complete sanctification of the physical, which is possible only after Sinai. Thus Maimonides writes: “Pay attention to the major principle expressed by [the words] “It was said at Sinai” … For everything from which we refrain or which we do today, we do only because of G-d’s command to Moses at Sinai, not because of any communication by G-d to earlier prophets. For example, that which we do not eat a limb from a live animal is not because G-d forbade this to Noah, but because Moses forbade it to us by commanding at Sinai that the prohibition of eating a limb from a live animal should remain in force. Similarly, we do not circumcise ourselves because our father Abraham circumcised himself and the members of his household, but because Gd commanded us through Moses that we should circumcise ourselves as did Abraham (Maimonides’ commentary on the Mishnah, Chulin 7:6)




The 30 Mitzvot of the Bnei Noah

The Thirty Mitzvot of the Bnei Noah

By: Rabbi L Rabinowitz

The Talmud Bavli (Chullin 92a) mentions that Bnei Noach have thirty mitzvot (laws):

‘Rav Yehuda Says: This verse (Zacharia 11:12) refers to the thirty righteous persons among the nations of the world, whose merit sustains the nations of the world.

Ulla said: This verse refers to the thirty commandments which the Noachites have accepted. But they keep only three of them. One, they do not draw up marriage contracts for homosexuals. Two, they do not merchandize (human) flesh in the marketplace. Three, they do have respect for the Torah (and for Torah scholars).’

As RASHI tells us, Chazal do not elaborate on the nature of the 30 Mitzvot, but various commentaries offer suggestions. The basic thesis with which they work is that the 30 Mitzvot are subdivisions of the seven Noachide laws.

 

Rabbi Menachem Azaria de Fano  1548-1620 (also known as the ‘REMA mi’PANU’ רמ״ע מפאנו ) in his book ספר עשרה מאמרות Asarah Ma’amaros, Ma’amar Chikur Din 3:21   מאמר חקור דין ־ חלק ג פרק כא (Amsterdam 1649), enumerates the 30 laws as follows:

The REMA Mi’Panu’s 30 laws in Romanised Hebrew And translated into English in the original Hebrew

  1. AVODAH ZARAH / Avodat Elilim IDOLATRY:
  2. Ma’avir Ba’esh  Passing a child through fire in the worship of molech מעביר באש
  3.  Kosem Stick divination קוסם
  4. Me’onen  Divining of auspicious times מעונן
  5.  Menachesh Interpreting of omens / Superstition  מנחש
  6. Mechashef  Witchcraft / Sorcery מכשף
  7. Chover Chaver  Charming / using incantations חובר חבר
  8. Ov  Consulting mediums אוב
  9. Yidoni  Consulting oracles ידעוני
  10. Doresh El ha’Mesim Necromancy דורש אל המתים
    שנית
  11. GILUY ARAYOS SEXUAL SINS: גלוי עריות
  12. Peru * Be fruitful. פרו
  13. Revu * Multiply seed. רבו
  14. Ba Al ha’Zechur Don’t draw up marriage contracts for homosexuals. אסור הזכור אפילו יחדו בכתובה
  15. Kilayei Behemah Cross-breeding of animals כלאי בהמה
  16. Sirus Castration סרוס
  17. Harkavas ha’Ilan Grafting trees הרכבת אילן
    שלישית
  18. SHEFICHUS DAMIM MURDER: שפיכות  דמים
  19. Soter Lo’o Shel Yisroel Striking a Jew סוטר לועו של ישראל
    רביעית
  20. BIRKAS HASHEM BLASPHEMY: ברכת ה׳
  21. Kavod ha’Torah * Honour the Torah (and Torah scholars). כבוד התורה
  22. la’Asok ba’Torah she’Nitnah Lahem * Studying relevant parts of the Torah. לעסוק בתורה שניתנה להם
    חמישית
  23. GEZZEL THEFT: גזל
  24. Shelo la’Asok ba’Torah Shel Yisrael No to study non-relevant parts of the Torah. שלא לעסוק בתורה מורשה אלינו
    ששית
  25. HADINIM LEYISHUVO SHEL OLOM * ESTABLISHMENT OF A SYSTEM OF JUSTICE: הדינין לישובו של עולם
  26. Velo Yishbosu No to observe the Sabbath ולא ישבותו
    שביעית
  27. EIVER MIN HACHAY  EATING ALL OR PART OF A LIVING CREATURE: אבר מן  החי
  28. Dam Min ha’Chay Blood of a living creature דם מן החי
  29. Nevelah Eating an animal that died (without slaughter). נבלה
  30. Basar Hames Human flesh. בשר המת




Beyond The Jewish Community

Beyond The Jewish Community

For the longest time, man has been experimenting with a variety of ideologies, ostensibly to establish a truly civilized world in which he can live with purpose and in happiness.

The condition of the world today, however, bears testimony to his pathetic failure. Human logic alone simply cannot formulate a system of ethics and morality that will be universally acceptable and binding.

Witnessing the moral degeneracy of today’s society, what should the Jewish response be? Perhaps we should withdraw and become an isolationist community, concerned only with our own survival and developing our “chosenness” solely to our own advantage? That might indeed serve our own interests to a degree, but it has always been a key component of G-d’s plan that we, the People of Torah, should share with mankind the way towards hope and purpose.

No, Judaism is not a proselytizing religion. It does not seek converts. We believe that every person has a mission to fulfill in G-d’s creation, and can be deemed worth of the Almighty’s rewards — both in This World and in The World To Come — providing, of course, that he or she accepts and follows the guidelines that have been Divinely ordained for him or her. For the Jew, this means the 613 commandments. For the non-Jew — i.e. all “descendants of Noah” — it means the basic program of ethical monotheism built on seven commandments, the universal moral code called “The Seven Laws for the Descendants of Noah.”

“The Seven Noahide Laws” begin with the prohibition against worship of anything but the One Supreme G-d, and contain an orderly system of ethical behavior, comprising the code by which all of mankind is obligated to live. The Rebbe launched a campaign to teach and disseminate the Noahide Code to the world at large.

There is an obvious question, “Why now?” Why embark upon this outreach program to the Gentiles at this particular time in history? Why have the great Torah-leaders of previous generations not appeared to consider this a priority? The answer is, that throughout his turbulent history, with very few exceptions, the Jew has not been in a position to communicate on this level with his non-Jewish neighbor. The Jew has been a victim of severe circumstances, and could not dare suggest that he had something to teach his contemptuous hosts about faith and morality.

Today, in most countries, the Jew is, thank G-d, free to speak his mind on almost every subject. He would therefore be failing in his religious obligation and moral duty were he to choose to be an “unconcerned bystander” and not share his knowledge and insights with others. The opportunity triggers the obligation.

The obligation, in turn, triggers action — which has been highly successful on two levels, the governmental and the grass-roots. Some examples: Heads of State and government officials of various countries — particularly the United States — have issued proclamations encouraging their citizens to observe the Noahide moral code.

History repeats itself. As with many of the Rebbe’s past campaigns, the initial sense of “innovation” was total. The average non-Jew, though familiar with the Ten Commandments, had never heard of the Seven Noahide laws. Yet now, only a few years after the launching of the campaign, leaders in both government and education around the world are making increasing mention of the Noahide Laws as a cardinal foundation for ethical behavior. Seriously concerned by the erosion of morality all around them, they express warm appreciation of, and support for, the campaign.

Within the Jewish community, too, there is a greatly heightened awareness of the obligation to utilize one’s contacts with non-Jewish friends and acquaintances not only for material concerns but also to impart moral influence, to inform and educate about the Noahide Laws.

In summary: What is the Chabad-Lubavitch attitude to the non-Jewish world? Just this; that if we live our lives with Divine dignity and purpose, will inevitably inspire others; if we talk about a Supreme Being who created this world and continues to watch over it, others will begin to sense His presence; and if vociferously deny vulgarity and promote G-d-give decency and purposefulness, others will follow our example. In these times of moral crisis, an all-out attempt must be made to remind all people of their original purpose. The ultimate intention of G-d’s plan will be realized when everyone declares this world to be G-d Almighty’s dwelling-place, and recognizes that, “The earth and all in it is the L-rd’s, the world and its inhabitants” Psalm 24.

 

 

Culled from The Lamplighter




Dreaming of the Great Awakening

Dreaming of the Great Awakening

by Rabbi Ben Tzion Krasniansk

In a small shtetl in Eastern Europe in the late Nineteenth century this poor Jew suddenly withdrew the few dollars that he had in the bank. The next day the bank went belly up and all the wealthy Jews in town lost all their money. They were amazed, how could this poor Jew who knew nothing about finances have known that the bank was about to go under, something that had eluded all the mavens? They approached the poor Jew and asked: Tell us how did you know? He replied: I truly know nothing about finances but Friday before Shabbos the owner of the bank and myself were in the bath house and I over heard him say while sighing like only a Jew knows how to sigh, that Moshiach better come quickly. I realized that if this financial bigwig feels the urgency for Moshiach then he must be suffering terribly at the Bank. So immediately after Shabbos I rushed to pull out the few dollars that I saved up at the Bank!

The truth is, however, that Moshiach has always warmed the Jewish heart and inspired the Jewish soul. The Jewish people know how to long, to dream and to yearn, knowing that the day will come when the dream will come true.

The Torah tells us today that the first one to storm heaven and earth to bring the dream of Moshiach to fruition was Moses. The name of this week’s Torah portion, Va’eschanan means to plead. The Midrash teaches us that in the Hebrew language there are ten expressions for prayers and supplications, and Moshe used all of them in his prayers to be allowed to enter into the promised land. The word Va’eschanan itself has the numerical value of 515 telling us the number of times Moshe prayed to G-d to have mercy upon him to allow him to enter into the land of Israel. Why was Moshe so insistent, because had he entered into Israel he would have ushered in the final redemption.

G-d had to order Moshe to literally stop praying in order that people shouldn’t say, “Look how unyielding is the master and how adamant is the student.”

Yet we find that twenty four centuries ago, the Rabbis of the Great Assembly instituted that we pray for the coming of Moshiach a minimum of eighteen times each and every day. Why, what right do we have to constantly petition and pester G-d with the same request, isn’t it disrespectful? Yet the Rabbis institutionalized that Jews should relentlessly pray and question G-d’s decision to delay Moshiach’s coming.

Rabbi Moses Maimonides at the end of his Magnum Opus (Laws of Kings Chapter 11, 12) makes it abundantly clear that Moshiach is not a supernatural, other worldly phenomenon, rather Moshiach represents a perfectly natural state of events. It is the exile which comprises an unnatural reality. Exile in the Torah is compared to a dream state when we take leave of our senses, take a vacation from reality and dream up illusions. Moshiach is compared to a great awakening when we return to our natural reality.

In a very real sense Moshiach is not a change rather a return to a natural state of being. It is the status quo which is unnatural, an aberration and it takes a tremendous amount of energy to maintain this distortion.

Imagine a world in which you weren’t even tempted to act self-destructively because you keenly felt the power and the depth of your desire to live and be healthy. Imagine a world in which you were tempted to strengthen your relationship with G-d and you were repulsed by anything that could cause a disconnection between you and G-d because you keenly felt the G-dliness that’s located at the center of your being. This is the world of Moshiach.

This is the world that every Jew believes in and yearns for with every fiber of his being and every bone in his body. It is this belief that has sustained the Jewish people throughout its long and bitter exile.

When you see a painting that’s crooked it bother’s your sense of esthetics and you straighten it out. There’s no way that you will make the painting even more crooked because the sense of what’s wrong carries with it inseparably a sense of what’s right. If you had no clear image of the way the painting should be, you would never have been troubled by a sense that something is out of place.

Why is it that the Jew suffers from the exile more then anyone else and why is it the Jew’s unique mission to bring Moshiach? Because every Jew has hard wired into their system a deeply ingrained vision of the way world could be, should be, and will inevitably become once again.

The Torah tells us how at the beginning of creation the entire world was in a pristine state, a veritable paradise. At Mt. Sinai for a brief moment the world once again returned to its natural state of perfection. Ever since Mt Sinai, the Jew has been charged with the Divine mission to restore himself and the entire world, through the study of Torah and the fulfillment of its Mitzvot, to its good and wholesome self.

Consequently, the Rabbis instituted that every Jew follow in the footsteps of Moshe and on a daily basis storm heaven and earth and relentlessly seek out, pray and work towards the redemption. Even one extra moment of exile is unbearable and intolerable for the Jew. We are not asking G-d for a miracle, on the contrary it takes a miracle to keep up the distortion of exile. We are asking G-d to restore us to our natural selves, to help us get in touch with our true nature which is buried and submerged deep down inside of us. We are praying to G-d that our core and essence that our pintele yid or the Moshiach inside of us should emerge and surface and that we should experience the great awakening of the imminent redemption. Now!

“RabbiKrasnianski” <[email protected]>




Beck & Amb. Bolton remember…

Media Glenn Beck & Ambassador John Bolton
remember Gush Katif

by Shalom Abramowitz, Chabad.Info
with additional information by Tiffany Gabbay, The Blaze

Last night, the Razag ballroom in Crown Heights hosted one of the most powerful and inspiring events since its founding. A gala dinner honoring the great work of the “International Campaign for Saving The Land of Israel” directed by Rabbi Sholom Wolpo, and their “Gush Katif Museum.”

Chabad Chassidim from Crown Heights were joined by Jews from the Metro NYC area, and even some Non-Jews who care about the safety and security of the Jews in their ancestral land, Israel. They all came to show support to the great work done by the institution, informing and reminding everyone about the sheer stupidity behind giving land to hideous terrorists.

The event was emceed by Rabbi Dudi Farkash, who began by inviting renowned Chabad speaker Rabbi Yossi Jacobson to address the participants. Rabbi Jacobson spoke about the absurdity in giving land to terrorists and the destruction of vital Jewish settlements. He also pointed out that it is the only country in the world which has laws barring Jews from residing in areas inside its borders!

One of the evening’s keynote speakers was none other than Glenn Beck.

Dubbed by those who introduced him a righteous gentile and one of Israel’s “greatest friends,“ Beck spoke to the crowd about both the ”honor“ and ”responsibility” we incur for having been born into these tumultuous times, and noted that it is indeed “1938 all over again.”

The resounding message of the evening was clear: All of Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) belongs to the Jewish people.

He said that while many think him fearless, he is in truth most afraid of the consequences we may suffer for going against God and abandoning a life of uprightness. For Beck, there is no other choice but a path of righteousness. That righteousness is defending the innocent: Israel.

One of the key messages Beck hoped people would take away was a promise to “question with boldness” that which does not sit right with one’s conscience and common sense. He promised that if people were unafraid of such questioning, they would see the truth: that the Obama administration is “no friend of Israel’s.”

Beck, who lauds the righteous gentiles who rescued thousands during the Holocaust, ceded that too many stood idly by, silent. He added that when the Holocaust simply becomes “academic,” we no longer honor those who paid the ultimate price and that history can then easily be repeated. “It’s life, not academic,” Beck said pointedly.

Citing the recent string of vitriolic, anti-Semitic attacks across Midwood, Brooklyn and Rutherford, New Jersey, Beck said that he no longer recognizes his own country. “Evil is growing,” he warned.

Brimming with insightful passages and stories from his many travels — to Israel, the Vatican and even Auschwitz — Beck’s message of standing tall and doing the heavy lifting for what is right resonated with the audience in audible measure.

One instance that drew hearty rounds of approval was when Beck spoke about the new “civil rights movement,” saying that today’s leaders have twisted a noble pursuit into a hatred reserved for all the wrong subjects. Cloaked under the guise of a belief in civil rights, many today will say, “I am not against Jews, just against Zionism.”

“Well,” Beck started, “being anti-Israel, and being anti-Zionist, is anti-Semitism.” He also noted the irony of the fact that it was actually Dr. Martin Luther King who coined that saying and mindset.

For Beck, today’s skewed version of the civil rights movement is a “sham” and a “joke” and is becoming a threat to all humanity. After all, when one compares Israel to an “apartheid state” when there is in fact no shred of truth to the claim, one dishonors those who suffered under apartheid in South Africa and discredits Nelson Mandela’s efforts to bring unity to his country. When one claims Israel is committing “genocide” against the Palestinian people, when in fact they are delivering to them food and aid (even at Israelis’ own peril), one discredits the atrocities occurring in Darfur. The Left says its civil rights leaders care about oppression and human rights, yet mask the instances of rape in their own communities, like Occupy Wall Street. These same “civil rights leaders” also turn a blind eye to the oppression and abuse suffered by women, gays and minorities in the very regions of the world they inexplicably defend.

Beck drew the stark comparison that today’s civil rights leaders are, in fact, no different than the terrorists, dictators and thugs they claim to revile.

In speaking about the faithful, Beck also touched on an unsung hero of the Holocaust – Dietrich Bonhoeffer – a German, Lutheran pastor who wrote a book entitled, Führerprinzip, or Fuhrer Principle. Bonhoeffer was a staunch opponent of the Nazis, and was even involved in the assassination plot against Adolf Hitler. The pastor’s plans were never realized, however, as he was arrested and killed just days before the Nazis surrendered and Hitler, in a cowardly display, committed suicide.

The point Beck made by relaying this poignant story was that in his attempt to “fight the madness,” he often has looked to Bonhoeffer and his resolve to stand tall in the face of evil.

He also conveyed the story of another righteous gentile, a woman simply by the name of Paulina, who, through her belief in God, saved scores of Jews in Poland during the Holocaust by feeding them soup her mother had prepared for them.

When asked by Beck how we, moving forward, can grow the seeds of righteousness in our own lives, Paulina’s answers were simple: “You must believe in something greater than yourself.” That, and sometimes people decide not to barrel ahead “off that cliff.”

“We must hold onto each other,” Beck said, and not lose hold of our humanity.

As Beck touched on both the uplifting and bittersweet snapshots of Israel’s history, he took pause to reflect on the Jewish State’s many enemies. “When Egypt says they are building the ovens. Believe them,” Beck warned. “They say what they mean. They mean what they say.”

Culminating in an emotional moment, Beck believes that Israel’s enemies are enemies of God, and that he has chosen his path of righteousness for his children. “It’s an honor to say my father stood,” he said.

At the end of the day, “If America stops being good, we will meet the same fate as Dietrich Bonhoeffer.”

After a long round of applause, the emcee returns to the podium to introduce Nebraska Congressman Lee Raymond Terry, who spoke about his recent trip to Israel and his incessant activities to promote a safe Israel policy in Washington.

Mr. John Robert Bolton, who served as the US Ambassador to the United Nations was next, discussing the Iranian nuclear threat, a topic close to his heart. He discusses the various steps that Iran took towards achieving nuclear weapons, and shares his utter dismay with the Obama administration who chose to restrain Israel rather than supporting an affirmative military strike against Iran.

The main course is served, and world-renowned violinist Daniel Ahaviel entertains the crowd with uplifting melodies.

A dinner is for fundraising, and this dinner is no different. Rabbi Sholom Wolpo ascends to the podium and awards the three major sponsors of the organization: R’ Sholom Ber Drizin of Crown Heights, R’ Shlomo Markovich of Mexico and R’ Efraim Julius of Israel.

This is followed by a video of Jewish comedian Mr. Jackie Mason, who with humor and wit convinces the crowd to open up their wallets and write big checks to the organization.

 

Media commentator Glenn Beck, former Ambassador John Bolton and philanthropists Sholom Ber Drizin and Shlomo Marcovich headed a gala dinner in Crown Heights to remember Gush Katif. By COLlive reporter Photos by Levik Hertzel (a Gush Katif alum) Over 500 people from throughout the New York area gathered Wednesday in Crown Heights in support of the Gush Katif Museum in Israel. The crowd sat spellbound in the dimly lit, elegantly decorated Razag Ballroom, as they listened to influential media personality Glenn Beck as he passionately spoke about the Holy land and its precarious situation.

 

Choking back tears a few times during his speech, the conservative commentator said that all “decent Americans have a responsibility to stand up for what’s right, to support Israel and its citizens.” The former Fox News host lamented the fact the media is hiding the truth – “aiding and abetting” the terrorists and those who would harm Israel – and said he is one of the few who dare to speak the truth nowdays. “People say I’m not afraid – but that’s an out and out lie,” he said. “I am afraid. But I’m more afraid to go against what G-d tells me to do. Afraid of what the world will be like.” “The world is insane,” he said. “The world is in trouble.” To loud applause Beck criticized people who claim to be just ‘anti-Israel.’ “To say that is to be anti-Jew. That’s anti-Semitism.” IRAN’S DANGER The dinner was organized by “SOS Israel – Our Land of Israel,” an organization headed by both Rabbi Sholom Dov Wolpo from Kiryat Gat and Rabbi Yekutiel Rapp from New York. Other speakers included Rabbi YY Jacobson of Bais Shmuel Chabad of Crown Heights, and the evening’s MC was businessman Dudi Farkash.

 

Nebraska’s Jewish Congressman Lee Terry said that he has been to Crown Heights many times, and said he was proud to be attending this dinner as a friend of Chabad and of Israel. Terry introduced former US Ambassador John Bolton, who spoke about the grave danger posed by Iran and criticized the Obama administration for not properly addressing the great threat posed by their nuclear weapons. “From its inception, Israel has had to defend itself repeatedly,” he said. “Great powers have tried to destroy it, terrorists have attacked it.” Still, he said, the US has imposed ineffective sanctions on Iran which have done nothing to stop them. LIFE IN PIECES Honored at the event were philanthropists Sholom Ber Drizin of Brooklyn and Shlomo Marcovich of Mexico for their support in remembering the Jewish settlements in the southern Gaza strip unilaterally evacuated in 2005. Binyamin Gottlieb, former head of two schools in Gush Katif, attended the dinner as well. After the expulsion by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Gottlieb had to begin again and, five years later, he is still trying to pick up the pieces and get his life back together. “The gezeira of our expulsion from Gush Katif was from G-d,” he told COLlive. “Therefore we are strengthening our connection to him, through increasing our learning, to try and reverse it.” Comedian Modi had the crowd laughing, but then spoke in earnest about the plight of the children of Gush Katif, and asked the crowd to come forward and pledge to support the organization’s programs.

 

Dozens of dinner guests made pledges on the spot, ranging from 18,000 – $250, and were applauded by the crowd. A video-conference message was shown from comedian Jackie Mason, also known for speaking out on political affairs and Middle East conflict. Book publisher and philanthropist Rabbi Meir Gutnick said the dinner, organized by Fleishman productions with the Rivkin family of Kolshar AV, was one of the most inspiring dinners he has ever attended. The Crown Heights resident has been active in Israeli causes for years, but said this dinner really stood out. “I hope the message of tonight, that we must preserve the integrity and sanctity of the land of Israel, will resonate around the world,” he said. “Especially now, with Bibi Netanyahu coming to New York in the coming days, we must be strong. When it comes to Israel, there can be no compromises,” he noted.




Teach What You Know…

Teach What You Know: The Story of Clarence the Violin Player

I am a newly observant Noahide, and feel that I have much to learn. I hadn’t felt comfortable in teaching anybody about these laws, because I felt insecure in my knowledge. Recently, I had made a first visit to a weekly class about living in accordance to the Noahide laws. The rabbi who led the class gave me a hearty welcome and asked me if I had friends that were interested in the Noahide laws. I replied that I didn’t have any friends who were interested, or any friends who even knew about the Noahide laws. The rabbi then looked me in the eyes and said, “Why don’t you teach them about the laws?”

I was dumbfounded and my mind scrambled for a rationalization. Surely, I need some sort of certification. I thought to myself. I don’t know the laws that well. I replied, thinking that this would excuse me. The rabbi then said, You should teach what you know about the laws, and by teaching about them, HaShem will bless you with a far greater understanding I neatly filed it away in a corner of my brain, but I was not really convinced by what the good rabbi said.

The following week, I decided to gather up my tzedakah money that I had saved for almost a month and decided to leave my home on Staten Island to travel into Manhattan to distribute it. I distributed some to a Chabad house, and decided to head back towards the South Ferry station to go back home to Staten Island. There were often people who sat down along the sides of the entranceway to the station, soliciting money from passersby. I figured I would be able to give the rest to them. While I was waiting for the 1 train to South Ferry station, I saw a man on the platform who was holding a violin bow. Seeing the violin bow immediately brought me back to my own elementary school violin lessons, and regrets for not having continued to play. Oh if only I hadn’t stopped playing the violin! I thought. I would love to be able to try to play the violin, even if just once, so I could see what I still remember.

When I arrived at the station, I walked through the entranceway and saw a man to my right playing a violin. I started to listen to what he was playing, and noticed that he wasn’t playing any song at all! He was quickly drawing the bow against the strings, as if he were practicing fiddling. He doesn’t play very well. I thought to myself. He is not even playing a song. Still I took out some money and placed it in his opened violin case.

The man’s eyes lit up. Here, try it! he exclaimed as he handed me his violin. I was shocked and excited at the same time! HaShem heard my thoughts and answered them through this man. When I picked up the violin, I noticed that there was no tape on the fret to guide my fingers to the correct positioning. I fumbled with the correct placement of my fingers. No, no, no. the man said, like this as he guided my fingers. I kept misplacing my fingers, but he was patient while he instructed me to play the scales of G and D. Try it again, he would insist, and I marveled at his devotion in teaching me this instrument. In fact, I had forgotten about my earlier evaluation of his ability. When the lesson was over, he said to me, If you buy a violin, I will teach you. I let him know that I wasn’t able to afford to buy a violin now, but when I could; I would buy one and take up his offer. He then further explained to me: I am just learning to play too. Other people walk by and want to play my violin.

They play the violin and teach me new things. Since they taught me how to play, I want to teach other people how to play.

 

Touched by his generosity of spirit, and moved to know him better, I asked his name. Clarence, he replied. I gave him some more money for the lesson he had given me, and left to get on the ferry. Reflecting on this blessed and wonderful encounter, I remembered the words of the rabbi, teach what you know. It was an ah-ha! moment. Clarence may not have known much about playing the violin, but he knew more than I did. In gratitude for the knowledge he gained, he joyfully shared his violin and taught me.




Why Marry? Gay Marriage!

Why Marry? Gay Marriage!

Rabbi Yakov D Cohen


Why marry? According to Kabbalah, the compulsion to rush into a lifelong commitment is an expression of the human soul’s deepest ambitions. The subliminal signals emanating from the soul have caused the logic-defying institution of marriage to be an integral part of the human fabric since the dawn of time. The soul’s desire to connect and commit makes the aspiration for marriage one of our most basic instincts.

What is the soul’s agenda? What does it stand to gain from hooking up with another soul? The Mystics explain that two primary considerations drive the soul’s desire to marry: a desire to be complete and its need to transcend itself.

In the first marriage ever, Adam and Eve were initially created as a single, two-faced body. The single being was split in two — a man and a woman — and then reunited in matrimony. In the world of souls, the partition and reunification of the male and female components of individual souls occurs continually. Everybody is occupied by half a soul, and both body and soul only reach a state of completion when they are reunited with their soul mate/bashert, their long-lost other half.

In June 2011, the New York State Senate approved the legislation voted in favor of the bill of gay marriages. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had pushed for the bill, quickly signed the legislation into law meaning, pending court challenges, same sex couples can begin legally marrying in New York in 30 days. “New York made a powerful statement, not just for the people of New York, but [also for] the people all across this nation. We reached a new level of social justice this evening,” Cuomo said.

If the State wishes to grant legal and/or economic privileges to two individuals who choose to establish a joint household—then I can see the grounds for a legitimate debate: Is homosexuality immoral? And if yes, to what extent do the State have the right to legislate immorality?

The Talmud Chullin 92a “Said Rab Judah: These are the thirty righteous men among the nations of the world by whose virtue the nations of the world continue to exist. Ulla said: These are the thirty commandments ( These are comprised in the seven Noahide precepts ) which the sons of Noah took upon themselves but they observe three of them, namely, (i) they do not draw up a kethubah document for males, ( Although they are suspected of indecent practices and sodomy they do not go to that length of writing a ‘marriage’ deed for the purpose. vcu,f here means a marriage deed; for specific meanings v. Introduction to Kethubah) (ii) They do not weigh flesh of the dead in the market, and (iii) they respect the Torah”.

Jewish law unconditionally prohibits the homosexual act. Just as the heterosexual act is prohibited outside of marriage, regardless of personal desires, attractions or inclinations, so the homosexual act is forbidden.

Or perhaps your question is in regard to how we should react to the homosexual feelings of others? Or how we should react to someone who eats on Yom Kippur? Or someone who longs for the relationship with a man other than her husband? On this, the classic work known as the Tanya provides strong advice: Consider what it means to have such burning passions for forbidden fruit. Consider the day to day fierce and relentless battle demanded to conquer such passions. Consider that a person with such feelings who fails even once in such a battle is sinning. And then ask yourself, “Do I ever fight such a battle on my own ground? What makes me any better than him?”

The Tanya continues to illustrate the many areas in which all of us could improve by waging at least a small battle on our own ground.

On your question concerning community: A Jew belongs within a Jewish community. There are no application forms and no qualification requirements. He’s Jewish—that’s where he belongs. Period. We all have our challenges, our shortcomings, our feelings…and our failures in battle as well…and with all that, we are a community.

But that is not the issue at hand. The issue is marriage. Marriage is, and always was, a religious idea: the idea that a relationship between a man and woman can be sanctioned as a holy union, as a partnership in which G‑d takes part.

Marriage is not a civil institution; it is a religious one. The States intervention in this matter is, in my opinion, a dangerous precedent. This is a decision that should be left to the clergy.




Laws of Noah in Ghana

Laws of Noah in Ghana

Patrick Apedu, a local UN NGO from Ghana community, is working to help brige the gap between young and old to understand each other. Rabbi YD Cohen was in Ghana to help with the Laws of Noah a universal code to all people.

Especially now in these turbulent times, when so many people everywhere feel pressured and unsettled as a result of the global financial crisis, it is more important than ever to focus on the most important part of life: the spiritual integrity of human beings before G-d and the desire of the Creator to bestow all blessings on humanity through the full and complete redemption. At the same time, for the sake of children and youth around the world, it is critical that the representatives of the nations affirm and commit publicly to the basic premise, that people respect the very core fabric of life given by the Creator, which the Seven Universal Laws of Noah represent.

Young people increasingly engaging Governments in their own societies as equal partners for their development and peace of all people, “unity begins with ourselves and will have a ripple effect to all around us” as Rabbi Cohen told the story of world leaders spent weeks trying to put together a map of the world with no success and finally a young boy a snaps it together in minutes ask how he was able he replied I simply put the eyes together then the nose and so on … you see on the other side of the world map was a single person face.

Patrick Apeud NGO The FRIDAY BORNS FOUNDATION GHANA.It was officially formed a year ago under the Law of Ghana to take care of the welfare of the Aged since these Precious ones for a long time have been neglected .

Working with the Government of Ghana and the UNDP to support the creation of an enabling environment for all to help each other, as well in the private sector through improved public private partnership advocacy and dialogue




A New Road Map for Peace

A New Road Map for Peace

We’ve been reading about the “road map” to peace in the Middle East for many years. Anyone can see it hasn’t taken us very far. It’s been like trying to get to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco using a map of Lower Manhattan. You can try harder, pray harder, and double your speed. But your efforts only succeed in getting you to the wrong place faster. The fundamental problem has nothing to do with traffic jams, diversions or delays; it has everything to do with using the wrong map.

For over a decade, Israel has navigated tirelessly to achieve peace using the Oslo map, which was built on this premise: Assuage the other side’s grievances–end the occupation; give the Palestinians land, armed forces, their own state–and peace will follow. Hence in 1993, Israel brought the PLO out of exile and gave it recognition, international legitimacy, governmental autonomy and authority over 98% of the Palestinian population.

Where has this map brought us? In the past decade, terrorism has increased dramatically. Eleven years ago, Yitzhak Rabin, in his historic speech on the White House lawn, spoke of a future in which mothers no longer wept for sons lost in battle. But the weeping has not ended; it reached a deafening crescendo. Terrorists have killed more Israelis in the eleven years since Oslo began in 1993 than in the 45 years of Israel’s existence before that.

Obviously we’ve been using the wrong map to move us toward peace. Is there an alternative?

Ludwig Wittgenstein once said that his aim as a philosopher was, “To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle.” The fly keeps banging its head against the glass in a vain attempt to get out. The more it tries, the more it fails, until it drops from exhaustion. The one thing it forgets to do is look to the sky. Like the frustrated fly, the one thing Israel has forgotten to do is look to the sky.

If Israelis were to look up, they would see an alternative map to peace, provided by El Al, Israel’s renowned airline.

El Al is the gold standard in aviation security. There is a sense of safety and comfort on El Al planes felt by all of its passengers–Jews, Christians and Moslems alike–that one does not feel on any other aircraft. This is an astounding achievement, since El Al is the world’s most coveted terrorist target in the sky.

Now, imagine if El Al decided that because it has been despised for decades, it is time to change its policy and methods of security. First, El Al would invite people who in the past wished to hijack and blow up its planes and passengers and give them “autonomy” on one section aboard El Al aircraft. In these sections, former hijackers could move about freely without scrutiny or supervision. Next, El Al would make these “reformed militants” responsible for the security of passengers seated in their area of the aircraft. This overture of peace would certainly demonstrate to the international community that El Al is truly committed to coexistence and liberal values. It would help put an end to the animosity felt by many toward El Al.

Some would propose that El Al show more “flexibility” and relinquish control of the cockpit to the former terrorists. Some would advocate that El Al construct a wall to enclose the autonomous aisles or to unilaterally withdraw from several seats that are in close proximity to those aisles.

All of these strategies, of course, would be suicidal for El Al. All of them miss the fundamental point. Compromising on security or granting autonomy on a single seat would spell cataclysmic disaster for the entire airline. The life of every passenger, Muslim, Jew and Christian, would be placed in mortal danger. Travelers would before long bid farewell to El Al. That would spell the end of the airline.

The only way for El Al to eradicate terror from its airplanes is not through concessions or autonomy, but rather by destroying any hope the terrorists have of achieving their objectives. El Al has adopted an uncompromising stance against terrorism, and they make no apologies. The world stands in admiration of what El Al has accomplished. The El Al road map goes by the name “peace through strength.”

This is the right road map to peace in Israel.

If the last decade of the Oslo process has taught anything, it is that no responsible government can give in to terror. Such behavior does not end terror, but invites it yet more.

The Arab terror war against Israel is no more a territorial conflict than was al Qaeda’s strike against America, and it can no more be resolved by the current “road map” than anti-Americanism could be appeased by yielding New Jersey to Osama bin Laden.

Hence, Israel’s intent to withdraw from Gaza is profoundly misdirected. The Palestinian goal over the last decade has been to demoralize the Israeli people through terrorism and force a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the territories. If they succeed, the relentless war against Israel will be launched far more advantageously from their newly acquired territory.

At the end of World War II, Winston Churchill quipped, “You can always rely on America to do the right thing, once it has exhausted the alternatives.” Israel, which has far fewer alternatives than the U.S., has long ago exhausted them all. How much more innocent blood needs to be spilled before we abandon the failed maps of the past? How many more children have to be blown up by suicide bombers before we pursue the course El Al has bravely charted?

By Dov Greenberg
Rabbi Dov Greenberg is excutive director of Chabad at Stanford UniversityOriginally posted on Algemeiner.com