Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Solar Eclipse - Its Implications and What To Expect!

Above is a picture of the total solar eclipse of August 11, 1999, below the stages of the eclipse.

On March 29, 2006, there will be a total solar eclipse, stretching from Northeast Brazil to Mongolia. The map above details the path of the solar eclipse, as evident in the gray area, as well as the location of the total solar eclipse, as evident in the thin strip, stretching down the middle of the gray zone.

There is word going around that around the time of the solar eclipse (this Wednesday or Thursday), there will be an
event that will shake the world. I don't know the veracity of this, however, check it out by clicking on this paragraph. On this website, is the assertion, along with links, that a number of gedolim (Torah leaders) say that a major event will happen in the world that will change the course of world events. That event is set to occur this week.


What significant event is scheduled prior to the eclipse? The Israeli election. If the information from the site linked to above is accurate and a major world event/s occurs this Wednesday or Thursday, it may affect the world to such an extent that many things change very quickly. Rav Kaduri, zt"l, was quoted last May as saying that Ariel Sharon would be the last Prime Minister of the "old-regime". Currently, he is still Prime Minister, with Olmert being the "acting Prime Minister". However, if things were to proceed "naturally", in a very short time, after forming a government, there would be a new Prime Minister. If that were to happen, and if the interview quoting Rav Kaduri, zt"l, is indeed accurate, then Sharon would not be the last Prime Minister of the "old regime". The "new" leadership refers to the rule of Mashiach. Therefore, assuming the
interview is accurate, something would have to happen to ensure that there will be no new Prime Minister. Some major earth-shattering events. Something that would really shake up the world.


Below is the mishneh and gemara from Sukah 28b-29a that relate to the discussion and meaning of solar eclipses:

On the page above is a discussion in the mishneh regarding up to what point should one continue eating in the Sukkah if it is raining. The answer in the mishneh is that once the rain spoils food which is not thick nor soft (RaSH"I). Meaning, once this type of food is spoiled, return to the house. The compares this to a king who no longer desires the service of his servant, who is attempting to pour a drink for the king. Whereupon, the king pours a ladle of water on the servant's face to show the servant that his service is no longer wanted. On the next daf (page), on the right, the gemara begins by discussing the parable of the king who expels his servant from his service (at least temporarily) and then goes on to discuss the phenomenon of solar-eclipses and their meaning.

"'A parable, to what is this thing similar?' They asked him, who poured water [on whose face]? Our Rabbis taught [in a Baraisa], 'At the time of a solar-eclipse, it is a negative sign for the whole world (note: literally, "the sun is stricken" - the term in Hebrew for a solar-eclipse is "לקוי החמה" - the same word usage as here in the gemara). A parable: To what is this thing similar? To a king of flesh and blood that made a feast for his servants and he placed a lantern before them. [Whereupon], he became angry at them, and he said to his servant, 'Take the lantern from before them, and have them sit in darkness.' Rabbi Meir is quoted in a Baraisa, "All the time when the luminaries are eclipsed (literally "stricken"), it is a negative sign for the "enemies of Yisrael" (generally when something is quoted in the gemara that is negative in reference to the Jewish People, it will say “enemies of the Jews”) for they are accustomed to afflictions. This is analogous a scribe that came to the school with a strap in his hand. Who is afraid? He who is accustomed to be struck every single day – that is the one who is afraid.

Our Rabbi taught in a Baraisa: “At the time that the sun is eclipsed, it is a bad sign for the idolaters (a general reference to the nations of the world). If the moon is eclipsed it is a negative sign for the “enemies of Yisrael” (see note), because the Jews count according to the moon (lunar year) and the nations [count] according to the sun (solar year). If the [solar eclipse] is in the east [of Eretz Yisrael], it is a bad sign for those who dwell in the East. If it is in the west, it is a negative sign for those who live in the West. If [the eclipse] is in the middle of the sky, it is a negative sign for the entire world. If its’ “face” is similar [in appearance] to blood, sword comes to the world. [If it resembles] sackcloth, arrows of famine comes to the world. [If its’ appearance resembles both blood and sackcloth], sword and arrows of famine come to the world. If it is eclipsed when it is setting, suffering waits to come. If [it is eclipsed when rising, suffering] comes quickly. And there are those who say the opposite (regarding the meaning of eclipses upon setting and rising).

There is no nation that is struck without its’ god being struck along with it, as it says, “And among all the gods of Egypt, I will do Judgments…” (Shmos: 12; 12)

And at the time when the Jewish People do the Will of HaShem, they are not afraid of all of these, as it says, (Yirmiyahu: 10; 2) “So says HaShem, ‘Do not be accustomed to the ways of the nations, and from the signs of the Heavens, do not fear, for the nations fear from these. The idolaters fear and Yisrael (the Jewish People) does not fear.

Our Rabbis teach: “Because of four things there is a solar eclipse: On the head of the Beis Din (Torah Court) that dies and is not eulogized fittingly, and on a betrothed girl that cries in the city [because she is being raped] and no one rescues her, and on homosexual relations, and on two brothers whose blood is spilled as one…”

RaSH”I says as follows on the gemara: According to the opinion cited earlier in the gemara, the Jewish People should worry about the sign of the solar-eclipse because they have been accustomed to more suffering. When the color is like sackcloth, it is black. The explanation why the afflictions would wait for a solar eclipse close to sunset is because the eclipse “waited” to happen until the end of the day, the opposite for an eclipse at sunrise. According to those who interchange the explanations for night and day, the explanation is: If the eclipse happens at sunset, there is very little time in the day left, therefore, little time for the suffering to come. Whereas if the eclipse is at sunrise, the sun has time left for the day, so too suffering has time to come.


AUGUST 11, 1999: Solar eclipse. (wikipedia)

AUGUST 17, 1999: "The Izmit earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 which lasted for 45 seconds killed over 17,000 (officially over 17,000; unofficially over 35,000) in northwestern Turkey."

OCTOBER 3, 2005: Annular solar eclipse.

OCTOBER 8, 2005: "
The Kashmir earthquake (also known as the Northern Pakistan earthquake or South Asia earthquake) of 2005 was a major earthquake whose epicenter was the Pakistan-administered disputed region of Kashmir. The earthquake occurred at 08:50:38 Pakistan Standard Time (03:50:38 UTC, 09:20:38 Indian Standard Time) on October 8, 2005. It registered a minimum magnitude of 7.6 on the moment magnitude scale making it a major earthquake similar in intensity to the 1935 Quetta earthquake, the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake, and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. As of 8 November, the Pakistani government's official death toll was 87,350. Some estimate that the death toll could reach over 100,000."


In the RaMCHa"L's (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto) sefer Mamar HaGeulah (section 2), which discusses the Final Redemption, the RaMCHa"L makes reference to those who rule in Eretz Yisrael (Israel) before the coming of Mashiach and after the coming of Mashiach.

To paraphrase: The RaMCHa"L explains that at the beginning, when the Jews were in Eretz Yisrael, there was a Heavenly Gate that was open, through which all of the blessing entered the Land of Israel. Once the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, the Gate was closed and small windows were opened in their place from which the blessing went down to Israel. Those small windows, the RaMCHa"L explains, refer to the "small governments". Those windows could not be closed until the Gate is reopened, for if the windows were to be closed, even for a moment, the world would be destroyed. Once our Redemption comes, the Gate will be reopened. The RaMCHa"L quotes from different gemaras which discuss the passing of rulership from one leader to another (as in the case of Moshe and Yehoshua), or from one type of government to another. For example, the current government in Israel to the rulership of Mashiach. The Gates will be rebuilt as the windows are removed. This will only be apparent in the Heavens until the rulership of Mashiach commences here.

The RaMCHa"L further explains that at the time these "windows" are sealed and power is transferred to the Mashiach "and it is a time of great darkness which will not last long, for the opening of "The Gate" will be strengthened and the powerful light will return as it was originally [when the Jews were in Eretz Yisrael]. However, [after] this [action] is done above, its' actions are seen below for according to the influence of the luminaries actions are done in the world..."

From Nevuas HaYeled: This is a prophecy of a child, many years ago that is endorsed by the Kabbalist Rabbi Benayahu Shmueli, Shlit"a: In the time around the coming of the Mashiach, the light of the moon will "wait" to come and darken the sun. In that time there will be eclipses of the luminaries. The nation that was prideful that spread all over the world will try to seek out a place to run. The commentator then goes on to explain that there will be great changes in the world, including the sea coming and flooding part of Edom."

Due to shortness of time, there are scientists who say that the volcano, Cumbre Vieja, on the island of La Palma will eventually erupt, causing a large chunk of the island to fall into the ocean, flooding many parts of the world, including the Americas with a large tsunami. Maybe these events could refer to an earthquake in the Mediterranean. See the links on the sentences. Either way, based on the above passages and word from Torah leaders (see first link on "blog"), something major will happen in the near future. Rav Kaduri, zt"l, said that there would be "a "struggle between the oceans," and said that the large oceans [Haokeanus hagadol] would strike the world. Rabbi Yosef Kaduri said that grandfather's warning includes were Jews of the Americas." Hold tight, wait, and see! May we merit to see the coming of Mashiach and the ingathering of our exiles in the near future!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Observing the Shabbos - Its Centrality in Judaism

Shabbos (Sabbath) is mentioned in a number of places throughout the Torah, including in the last couple parshios (Ki Sisa and Vayakhel/Pekudei).

In Ki Sisa we read as follows:

(פסוק יב) ויאמר י-ה-ו-ה, אל משה לאמר.
(פסוק יג) ואתה דבר אל בני ישראל לאמר, אך את שבתתי תשמרו: כי אות הוא ביני וביניכם, לדרתיכם:לדעת, כי אני י-ה-ו-ה מקדשכם.
(פסוק יד) ושמרתם את השבת, כי קדש הוא לכם; מחלליה, מות יומת:כי כל העשה בה מלאכה, ונכרתה הנפש ההוא מקרב עמיה.
(פסוק טו) ששת ימים, יעשה מלאכה, וביום השביעי שבת שבתון קדש, לי-ה-ו-ה; כל העשה מלאכה ביום השבת, מות יומת.
(פסוק טז) ושמרו בני ישראל, את השבת, לעשות את השבת לדרתם, ברית עולם.
(פסוק יז) ביני ובין בני ישראל, אות הוא לעלם: כי ששת ימים, עשה י-ה-ו-ה את השמים ואת הארץ, וביום השביעי, שבת וינפש. [ס]

"And HaShem said to Moshe, saying: And you speak to the Children of Israel saying, but my Sabbaths you shall guard; For it is a sign between Me and between you, for your generations, to know that I am HaShem who has made you holy: And you shall guard the Sabbath, because it is holy to you; Those who desecrate it shall surely die; For all who do melachah in it, his soul will be cut off from the midst of its nation: For six days you shall do melachah, and on the seventh day it is a holy Shabbos Shabbason for HaShem, all who do melachah on the Sabbath day shall surely die: And the Children of Israel guarded the Shabbath, to perform the Shabbath for their generations, an eternal covenant: Between Me and between the Children of Israel, it is an eternal covenant; That six days HaShem Made the Heavens and the Earth is Shabbos (Shavas - type of rest) and He Rested (VaYinafash is spiritual rest)." (Shmos; 31: 12 - 17)

Melachah refers to one of the 39 types of actions forbidden on Shabbos - the 39 types of work done in the Mishkan.

Shabbos Shabbason comes to teach that even such things as preparing food by cooking, which is permitted in general on Jewish holidays, is forbidden on the Sabbath.

In last Shabbos' reading of Vayakhel/Pikudei (at the beginning) we read the following:

(פסוק א) ויקהל משה את כל עדת בני ישראל, ויאמר אלהם: אלה הדברים, אשר צוה י-ה-ו-ה לעשת אתם.
(פסוק ב) ששת ימים, תעשה מלאכה, וביום השביעי י-הי-ה לכם קדש שבת שבתון, לי-ה-ו-ה; כל העשה בו מלאכה, יומת.
(פסוק ג) לא תבערו אש, בכל משבתיכם, ביום, השבת. [פ]

"And Moshe gathered all of the congregation of the Children of Israel, and he said to them; 'These are the things, which HaShem Commanded to do them: Six days you shall do melachah, and on the seventh day it will be holy for you, a Shabbos Shabbason to HaShem; All who do melachah on it will die: Do not burn a fire, in all of your dwellings, on the Sabbath day:" (Shmos; 35: 1 - 3)

If someone were to say the above, they may be considered "extreme" by some of our "Politically Correct" "friends". That would probably also be the case even if they knew that it is quoted from the Torah. Even those who believe that the Torah was Written by HaShem may think it to be "extreme". Therefore, one must learn why the penalty for violation of the Shabbos is seemingly "severe".

Why is the punishment seemingly so "severe" for doing something as seemingly "minor" as lighting a fire on Shabbos?

Without going into any of the commentaries, just by looking at the passages above, we see that observance of the Shabbos is testimony that we recognize HaShem as having separated the Jewish People from the other nations; Thereby, we represent Him. The word kadosh, often translated as "holy" also means "separated". The Jewish People are holy because we were separated from the other nations.

The purpose in the Creation of the Universe, as we learn from our Holy Torah, is for the world to come to accept HaShem as the One True G-D. The Jewish People are HaShem's Messengers. The relationship between the Jewish People and the Shabbos is so powerful, that HaShem paired the Jewish People and the Shabbos together, in a way greatly resembling a marriage between a man and a woman. In order for the Jew to carry out his/her mission in life - to endeavor to spread the Teaching of HaShem to the world, it is absolutely essential that the Jew do their utmost to observe the Sabbath. It is also a recognition that it was HaShem who took us out of Mitzraim in order to be our G-D, subsequently gave us His Torah.

We learn in the Torah that if the Jewish People had not accepted the Torah at Har Sinai, the world would have been returned to a state of Tohu Va'Vohu (utter chaos) - it would have been destroyed immediately - chas v'shalom never realizing its' purpose in existence. It is the Jewish People who must actively recognize HaShem by changing from their "regular routine" during the week. By doing so, we, as HaShem's messengers, portray to the world that it is not "nature" that created and runs the world, rather everything exists because of HaShem. It is a great sanctification of HaShem's Name to follow the Torah - against all odds (of course, in general, saving one's life allows (even obligates) one to break the Shabbos.

When the Jew keeps the Shabbos, it is a powerful sanctification of HaShem's Holy Name. On the flip side, when one violates the Shabbos (assuming they are aware what Shabbos is), he/she acts as if the world is run by nature, thereby cutting themselves off from HaShem, and by extension, His Messengers, the rest of the Jewish People.

The Shabbos is so powerful, that its observance is equivalent to keeping the entire Torah! Therefore, one who keeps the Shabbos is considered as if they kept the entire Torah and one who desecrates the Shabbos is considered to have desecrated the entire Torah. The proper observance of the Shabbos could save an individual, and even the entire Jewish People from harm. As with all other mitzvos not dependent on the "Land", Shabbos as well applies all over the world. (Kiddushin 37a) Yimiyahu, prior to the destruction of the First Beis HaMikdash, warned the Jewish People and the leaders that observance of the Shabbos would be able to save the Jewish People from the destruction and suffering experienced from the Babylonian destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and the resultant great loss of Jewish life (we should only know of happiness). Even when things looked bleak for the Jewish People, Shabbos was (and is) our answer!

To conclude, there was a well-know fire in New York City in 1911. It was the a fire that cost the lives of many Jewish girls. What was so interesting about the fire? Well, it occurred on the Shabbos. It happened on Shabbos Parshas Vayakhel. That is the parsha that begins with the warning about observing the Shabbos. HaShem is telling us through this portion of the Torah (among several others), that it is the Torah that protects the Jew. Another interesting relationship - the fire itself. The Torah, after warning about how breaking the Shabbos (assuming the individual knows they should be observing the Shabbos) is a danger to one's life, we read not to light a fire on the Shabbos. HaShem Wants that which is for our good. He Wants us to do that which is the best for ourselves, and the world, both spiritually and physically. We should be a light to the world and stand up to those that think it is more important to follow the dictates of man than the Torah of HaShem. That's what Rose Goldstein did and she lived to tell the story. Who was Rose Goldstein? Well, she was one of the few survivors of the fire of 1911. What did she do to protect herself? Well, she followed HaShem's Will over pressures of flesh-and-blood. She lived until the age of 82. Read her story by clicking on this link - it could be worth the world, literally!

שבת שלום! שמור את יום השבת לקדשו. אי"ה, השמירת שבת שלנו יגן עלינו ועל כל אחינו בני ישרא-ל! אמן

Friday, March 24, 2006

About "Choshvei Shemo" - What's Behind the Name!

Many readers may wonder why I chose "Choshvei Shemo" as the name of my website.

"חשבי שמו" - "Choshvei Shemo" comes from the last sefer (book) of nevi'im (Prophets) and means "those who think of His Name". It refers to those individuals who remain steadfast in their belief of HaShem, in spite of all the hardships of their times and in spite of the predominance of the evil in society.

The last sefer of nevi'im is Sefer Malachi. "מלאכי" - "Malachi" means "My Messenger". This is a reference to the prophet who relates the prophecies in this final Sefer of Nevi'im. According to RaDa"K, among other meforshim (commentators), the prophecies of Malachi were said during the time of the Second Beis HaMikdash. The RaDa"K explains that he is likely the last prophet (of those recorded in Nevi'im). In Sefer Malachi, musar (moral rebuke) is given to the people to not intermarry and to keep the Shabbos. Sefer Malachi concludes with the (prophecy) of the Complete Redemption and the coming of Eliyahu the Prophet to herald the day Jews look forward to - the coming of our holy Mashiach to redeem us from this exile of 1,936 years.

Now, to understand the reason behind the name of the website, it is essential to have an understanding of the pasuk it is based on.

The pasuk reads as follows:

(פסוק טז) אז נדברו יראי י-ה-ו-ה, איש אל רעהו; ויקשב י-ה-ו-ה, וישמע, ויכתב ספר זכרון לפניו ליראי י-ה-ו-ה, ולחשבי שמו.

"Then those who fear HaShem spoke, one man to his fellow; And HaShem Heard and He Wrote a Book of Remembrance before Him, to those who fear HaShem and those who think of His Name." (Malachi; 3, 16)

Alternatively, one could read the above as "calculate His Name". The Torah is "His Name", and, as we learn in the Zohar - "He Looked in the Torah and Created the world" - the Torah is a blueprint for the universe. "Thinking His Name" could not only refer to thinking HaShem's Name, but being involved in the learning of Torah - That is His Name.

The purpose for creating this "blog" is to help spread the word of Torah to Jews the world over. It includes entries about how current events do (or could) play into what the Torah has been telling the Jew for thousands of years. It also includes discussion about various Torah-related issues. I hope to write short divrei Torah (Torah teachings) on various sections of the Torah (hopefully on a daily basis, or at least frequently). These teachings would include teachings from the Nevi'im (Prophets), the Torah (based on the weekly parsha), and halacha (Jewish law), among others.

What the meforshim said about this pasuk:

תרגום: "Then those that fear HaShem speak, one man with his friend, and it is heard before HaShem and revealed before Him and a Book of Remembrance is written before Him to those that fear HaShem and those that think to honor His Name."

רש"י: "Then they spoke, etc." I answer regarding their words; Then, when the wicked do wickedness and the good go around [in a state of] darkness because those that fear HaShem speak against clinging to the evil actions [of the wicked], I will not forget their words before Me. Even though I will not act quickly to reward [those who fear Me, know] that I have Listened Attentively, and Heard, and Commanded that there be written for them a Book of Remembrance, and these words [expressing fear of HaShem's Awesomeness] will be everlasting to Me."

מצודת דוד: Though the wicked will raise doubts and complaints against HaShem, those that fear HaShem will discuss these words of the wicked and show that HaShem is Just and all His Ways are correct. These individuals will be rewarded by HaShem.

רד"ק: For this saying [by the evildoers questioning HaShem] are sayings of people who do not understand the Ways of HaShem and His Justice. When those who fear HaShem will hear the words from these individuals [who question HaShem and] deny (הכופרים) the [complete] Providence of HaShem below [in this world], they will speak [those that fear HaShem] to their fellow and show that all His ways are Just, He is The G-D of Truth, with no wrong.

"And HaShem Listened Attentively" - HaShem pays close attention to their words and gives them their reward.

The אבן עזרא, of blessed memory, wrote that "those who fear HaShem" (יראי ה) are the righteous, and "those who mention His Name" - "Choshvei Shemo" (ולחשבי שמו) are those who are wise at heart and know the secrets of HaShem...

מלבים: What we can learn from the MaLBi"M is that it is important for us to hold steadfast in our belief in HaShem and follow the Torah. This applies also to times of hardship, chas v'shalom. When these times come, hold steadfast to the Torah and HaShem will record your actions to your merit, as He Does all your actions.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Reading of the Megillah: To Make Noise, or not to make noise - That is the Question!

Note: To see the original website, where the high-quality Megillah below, as well as higher-quality Megillahs are sold, click here, to go to the Sofer website where you can buy all sorts of holy items, click here. I know the Sofer personally, he does excellent work, is very knowledgeable, and has a first rate character.

On the night (and less so during the day) of Purim, many people bang and make noise when the name "Haman" - yimach shemo, is mentioned during the Megillah reading. We learn in the Torah (end of Parshas Beshalach) that we are supposed to blot out the name of Amalek - yimach shemo (may his name be blotted out). In Jewish law, different customs as to how to blot out the names of these evildoers. Some people would write the name on their shoe and then blot it out. So, many Jewish communities make noise to, in a sense, blot out Haman's name - yimach shemo. There is a famous saying, "everything in measure". So, not bearing that saying in mind, and not expecting what happened at the Megillah reading, I decided to go to the reading where noise was allowed, opting not to go to the reading where there was to be no noise. I felt that it would be better to attend a reading where the name of the despicable rasha (evildoer) would be "blotted out". Well, I was in for a bit of a surprise! Every time the mentioned the evildoer's name, people made noise, for as long as 30 seconds to a minute! Not only that, but the noise was loud to the extent that it was unhealthy. I mean, such a long pause in the middle of a phrase in a pasuk (verse) could change the meaning (which might not be a problem in terms of fulfilling one's obligation to hear the reading of the Megillah, assuming one heard all the words). However, the noise was very loud. To make matters worse, there were some kids, as well as older "kids" who decided to mock people who would want others to quiet down by saying "Nu!" in a degrading way. The reading, as a result of this, lasted a long time. I, being unhappy with the way the reading went, decided to hear a reading later that night, which did not have noise, and was, overall, much better.


The pluses, as I mentioned before, are short and simple, assuming that it is taken in measure, as many congregations do. Those congregations (i.e. most of the reading I attended) would put a time limit on how long people could make noise (usually 5 - 15 seconds), many also limit how loud the banging can be. This situation allows for the attendees to not have to sit through lengthy banging and not be exposed to the loud noise. As well, people do their part in "blotting out" the name of Haman, yimach shemo.


Some of the smaller minuses, that I mentioned above, include unnecessarily extending the reading of the Megillah. I'm against rushing through the Megillah. However, if one can read the Megillah clearly, and at a reasonable pace in a half-hour, why extend the reading for a half-hour just to make noise? These minuses only apply to what I would describe as "extreme noise", which is noise that is extended and loud. Another problem is that if one makes noise in an inappropriate manner (as described above), it is a disgrace to the reading of the Megillah. Of course we should rejoice in the Jewish Nation being saved! However, when we rejoice, we should remember that we were saved after fasting and doing teshuvah (repentance). We should also remember that the Jews reaccepted the Torah She'Ba'al Peh (the Oral Torah) after being saved from destruction. Therefore, it is only right that the few people who sometimes make things loud for others would learn the following from the Torah She'Ba'al Peh: "...if he makes him deaf, he pays his (the victims') entire value" (Bava Kamma 85b).
RaSH"I comments on the above that the reason one who causes one to lose their hearing has to pay their entire value (a larger penalty than other bodily damages) is that one "is not fitting for anything", as Rabbeinu Yonah says, the person is no longer worth anything when he is lacking his bodily function of hearing. Meaning, hearing is such an essential component in a person's existence that lacking it takes away from what he is worth (assuming his value on the market). To make my point, it is great to celebrate and blot out the name of reshaim on Purim, however, it should all be done in measure.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Prophecy and Eastern Mediterranean Tsunami

Nevuos (prophecies) often refer to more than one historical incident. Many of the prophecies often refer to the time immediately near the coming of Mashiach. The current discussion relates to the following prophecies from the books of Yechezkhel and Tzefaniah.

Yechezkhel: 25, 15 - 17: "So says HaShem Elokim, because the Palestinians (Pelishtim) acted with revenge, and they took revenge with contemptible soul, to destroy with eternal enmity: Therefore, so says HaShem Elokim, behold, I am stretching My Hand upon the Palestinians, and I am cutting off (V'hicrati) the Kereisim, and I am Destroying the remnant of the seashore: And I Shall do in their midst great acts of Revenge with Rebukes of Anger, and they shall know that I am HaShem when I Place My Revenge in their midst:"

RaSH"I explains that the area referred to above is in the southwestern part of Eretz Yisrael, referring to Gaza.

Metzudas David explains that the "Kereisim" referred to in the passage refer to a large segment of the Palestinians. They are called "Kereisim", meaning "those that are cut off" because their sins make them liable to be cut off from existence. The people living by the seashore in Gaza, according to him, will be completely wiped out, as a result of their sins.

Tzefaniah: 2, 5 - 7: "Woe to the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of Kereisim, the Word of HaShem is upon you, Kina'an, the Land of the Palestinians, and you shall be destroyed without inhabitant: And the sea coast will be meadow pastures for shepards and for flocks of sheep: And the coast will be for the remnant of the House of Yehudah, upon it they shall take delight, in the houses of Ashkelon in the evening they will lie down, for HaShem their G-D Remembered them and returned their captives:"

This second prophecy is similar to the first one. Note the first one prophesizes the disaster right before it discusses a tsunami that will wipe out Tyre (the destruction of Tyre happened after the destruction of the first Beis HaMikdash).

Note: The first quote is the Hebrew from Yechezkhel, the second Tzefaniah.

(פסוק טו) כה אמר א-דני י-ה-ו-ה, יען עשות פלשתים בנקמה; וינקמו נקם בשאט בנפש, למשחית איבת עולם. (פסוק טז) לכן, כה אמר א-דני י-ה-ו-ה, הנני נוטה ידי על פלשתים, והכרתי את כרתים; והאבדתי, את שארית חוף הים. (פסוק יז) ועשיתי בם נקמות גדלות, בתוכחות חמה; וידעו, כי אני י-ה-ו-ה, בתתי את נקמתי, בם. [פ] (פסוק ה) הוי, ישבי חבל הים:גוי כרתים; דבר י-ה-ו-ה עליכם, כנען ארץ פלשתים, והאבדתיך, מאין יושב. (פסוק ו) והיתה חבל הים, נות כרת רעים:וגדרות צאן. (פסוק ז) והיה חבל, לשארית בית יהודה:עליהם ירעון: בבתי אשקלון, בערב ירבצון:כי יפקדם י-ה-ו-ה א-להיהם, ושב שבותם.

Note: Many commentators do subscribe the above prophecies to happening after the first Beis HaMikdash. However, the Jewish prophecies are meant for all time. Again, do not negate these prophecies, as these prophecies apply throughout time! Also, I believe it was the Chasam Sofer who said that any people that have the characteristic of going around in armed bands could be considered part of the Pelishtim (Palestinians), though not descended. Nowadays, there are people like that who also call themselves Palestinians, many of whom live in Gaza. That sounds familiar, just like the "goy keresim"!

Note: The two pictures from the March 7 blog are from wikipedia.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Seudas Purim - The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Celebrate

It all began with a party and it all ended with a party. "It" refers to the story of Purim, as we read every year in Megillas Esther. The first party was the vulgar party, lasting seven days, which Achashverosh threw for his entire kingdom. We learn that Haman, ym"sh, ensured that the food would be "glatt kosher" in order to use as bait for the Jewish dignitaries. The attendance of the Jews at the party had a negative spiritual effect on the Jewish People. That was Haman's, ym"sh, evil design. The party, aside from the food, was anything but kosher. People were getting drunk, no cap in place for the amount of wine drunk. There was sexual lewdness, or at the very least, that was what Achashverosh intended. The spiritual shield of the Jews was weakened by that Rasha. It was only as a result of Mordechai refusing to "intermingle" and "please" the "international community" that the "decree" to wipe out the Jews was annulled.

As we can see below, there were two negative "parties" (note: the term "mishteh" "משתה" - is related to the word "shiti'yah" - "drinking" - it was a party for "drinking"). After the two parties, the first one where the Jews attended a spiritually inappropriate "party" and the second one was where the decree was "sealed" to wipe out the Jews. It took Esther two of her own parties to counteract the first two parties. The two parties of Esther brought a turnaround "v'na'hafoch hu" - "ונהפך הוא" where the Jews enemies were wiped out instead.

The purpose of Esther's parties was very spiritual indeed; To save the Jewish People from destruction. The first two parties were dedicated to immorality - the first - sexual lewdness, the celebration of the Jews "not returning to rebuild the Beis HaMikdash", as well as the presence of many idolaters. The second one dedicated to murdering the Jewish People.

We must learn from Esther's seudos, that we should have our parties with spiritual meaning, not with any inappropriate behavior. We are celebrating Esther's Seudos, not the vulgar mishtes of Achashverosh and Haman.

(פסוק ה) ובמלואת הימים האלה, עשה המלך לכל העם הנמצאים בשושן הבירה למגדול ועד קטן משתה:שבעת ימים: בחצר, גנת ביתן המלך.

"...the King made for all those who were found in the capital Shushan, from grown to small, a seven day party..."

(פסוק ח) והשתיה כדת, אין אנס: כי כן יסד המלך, על כל רב ביתו:לעשות, כרצון איש ואיש. [ס]

"The drinking was like the law, no one was one forced [to drink a given amount], for that is what the King established, on all the ministers of his house, to do in accordance with the will of each person."

(פסוק ט) גם ושתי המלכה, עשתה משתה נשים, בית המלכות, אשר למלך אחשורוש.
(פסוק י) ביום השביעי, כטוב לב המלך ביין:אמר למהומן בזתא חרבונא בגתא ואבגתא, זתר וכרכס, שבעת הסריסים, המשרתים את פני המלך אחשורוש.

Here we see Achashverosh ordering Vashti, the Queen to appear in a very inappropriate way in front of all those in attendance.

(פסוק טו) הרצים יצאו דחופים, בדבר המלך, והדת נתנה, בשושן הבירה; והמלך והמן ישבו לשתות, והעיר שושן נבוכה. [ס]

"The runners went out, pushed, with the word of the King, and the law was given, in the capital Shushan; And the King and Haman sat to drink, and the city of Shushan was in [a state of] confusion."

This was a decree to wipe out the Jewish People. This is the next mishteh (party) recorded in the Megillah, where Haman and Achashverosh sit down to celebrate what they think is the eradication of world Jewry.

(פסוק ד) ותאמר אסתר, אם על המלך טוב:יבוא המלך והמן היום, אל המשתה אשר עשיתי לו.
(פסוק ה) ויאמר המלך:מהרו את המן, לעשות את דבר אסתר; ויבא המלך והמן, אל המשתה אשר עשתה אסתר.
(פסוק ו) ויאמר המלך לאסתר במשתה היין, מה שאלתך וינתן לך; ומה בקשתך עד חצי המלכות, ותעש.
(פסוק ז) ותען אסתר, ותאמר: שאלתי, ובקשתי.
(פסוק ח) אם מצאתי חן בעיני המלך, ואם על המלך טוב, לתת את שאלתי, ולעשות את בקשתי:יבוא המלך והמן, אל המשתה אשר אעשה להם, ומחר אעשה, כדבר המלך.

"And Esther said, if it is good upon the King, Haman and the King should come today, to the mishteh, which I made for him. And the King said, hurry Haman, to do the word of Esther, to the mishteh which Esther prepared. And the King said to Esther during the mishteh of wine, what is your request, and I will give it to you; And what do you seek, up to half the kingdom, and I will do. And Esther answered, and she said: My request and that which I seek. If I have found favor in the eyes of the King, and if it is good upon the King, to give my, and to do that which I seek: The King and Haman should come to the mishteh that I will make for them, and tomorrow I will do, in accordance with the word of the King."

(פסוק יד) עודם מדברים עמו, וסריסי המלך הגיעו; ויבהלו להביא את המן, אל המשתה אשר עשתה אסתר.

"They were still speaking with him, and the guards of the king arrived; And with a state of confusion they came to bring Haman, to the mishteh that Esther made."

(פסוק א) ויבא המלך והמן, לשתות עם אסתר המלכה.
(פסוק ב) ויאמר המלך לאסתר גם ביום השני, במשתה היין:מה שאלתך אסתר המלכה, ותנתן לך; ומה בקשתך עד חצי המלכות, ותעש.
(פסוק ג) ותען אסתר המלכה, ותאמר:אם מצאתי חן בעיניך המלך, ואם על המלך טוב: תנתן לי נפשי בשאלתי, ועמי בבקשתי.
(פסוק ד) כי נמכרנו אני ועמי, להשמיד להרוג ולאבד; ואלו לעבדים ולשפחות נמכרנו, החרשתי:כי אין הצר שוה, בנזק המלך. [ס]
(פסוק ה) ויאמר המלך אחשורוש, ויאמר לאסתר המלכה: מי הוא זה ואי זה הוא, אשר מלאו לבו לעשות כן.
(פסוק ו) ותאמר אסתר:איש צר ואויב, המן הרע הזה; והמן נבעת, מלפני המלך והמלכה.
(פסוק ז) והמלך קם בחמתו, ממשתה היין, אל גנת, הביתן; והמן עמד, לבקש על נפשו מאסתר המלכה:כי ראה, כי כלתה אליו הרעה מאת המלך.
(פסוק ח) והמלך שב מגנת הביתן אל בית משתה היין, והמן נפל על המטה אשר אסתר עליה, ויאמר המלך, הגם לכבוש את המלכה עמי בבית; הדבר, יצא מפי המלך, ופני המן, חפו.

"King and Haman came to drink with Esther the Queen. The King said to Esther, also on the second day, in the party of wine, 'What is your request, Esther the Queen, and I shall give it to you, and what are you seeking, up to half the Kingdom, and I shall do it. And Esther the Queen answered, and said, if I have found favor in the eyes of the King, and if good is upon the King, give me my soul as my request, and my nation as that which I seek. For I and my nation have been sold to be destroyed, killed, and annihilated; If it had been for slaves and maids that we had sold, I would have been silent, for the trouble is not worth the damage to the King. And the King Achashevosh said, and he said to Esther the Queen, who is this, and where is this one, which fills his heart to do this!? And Esther said, a man of trouble and an enemy, this evil Haman, and Haman was frightened from before the King and the Queen. And the King got up angrily from his party of wine to the garden of Bithan; And Haman stood to seek his life from Esther the Queen, for he saw that the King was already determined to do "bad" to him. And the King returned from the garden of Bithan, to the house of the mishteh of wine, and Haman fell on the bed that Esther was upon it, and the King said, "Also to conquer the Queen with me in the house?" The word went from the mouth of the King and the face of Haman paled." - Death

It was after this second appropriate meal that the enemy of the Jews was determined to be killed, along with all his cohorts. We should follow Esther's example, have appropriate seudos.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Power of Prayer - Part III - The Best Way to Pray

Just to precede, the Ba'al HaTurim explains to us that the gematria (numerical equivalent) of the word "ואתחנן" - "Va'Eschanan" is equivalent to "שירה" - "song". Moshe said his prayer as a song in order that it would be accepted (Sifrei). I noted in the previous post the sentence from the Book of Koheles (Lamentations) which says that "the bird of the Heavens will carry the voice". (Thanks to Ariel for his copyrighted picture of the bird above.) Birds are the most spiritual of creatures; They fly over the earth, not completely bound to stay on the earth, but capable of flying over it. If one reads through פרק שירה (Perek Shirah), they may notice many interesting things. First, we must note that it is called "The Chapter of Song" and is considered (according to the MaBi"T) to have more power than reciting the entire Book of Tehillim. No wonder that Moshe prayed with song! As I note above, birds are the most spiritual of creatures. It's no surprise that birds are the most represented of all the creations, with 17 out of the 84 creations being birds! If you say birds are good, there's a reason, the gematria of "טוב" (good) is 17 . In addition to the prayers' beauty increasing, reciting a prayer as a song, slows down the prayer and allows for more concentration. In fact, the first section of the prayer is called "Pisukei D'Zimrah" as they are "verses of song" and should be recited in accordance. It is unfortunate for the one who is in a rush to pray and rushes through the prayers, including Pisukei D'Zimrah. It is worth the extra five minutes (or fifteen minutes for the entire prayer) to say the words more slowly, have more concentration, and have a much more powerful spiritual effect on the universe!

In order for one's prayers to be the most powerful, he should pray with the most concentration, at the best time, with a minyan, and at the best place. Sometimes, there are situations that arise where one's prayers would be best overall without all of these criteria. However, the above combination usually helps get the most out of one's prayer.

How can we come close to HaShem without the ability to offer korbanos (sacrifices) nowadays?

The following, taken from Sefer Olas Tamid (Chapter 13), on "The Great Importance of the Tefillah":

The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to Yisrael (the Jewish People): "Be careful regarding tefillah, for there is no middah (attribute) that is nicer than it. And it is greater than all of the sacrifices, as it says, (Yeshayahu, chapter 1): "Why is there for Me, your many sacrifices... also when you increase in prayer..."; From here we see that it is greater than sacrifices (when it says, "also", we learn that it is something "in addition to" korbanos, in terms of importance). And even if a person is not fitting to be answered in his prayer and have Kindness done with him (from HaShem), [regardless], when he prays and increases in supplication, I Perform Kindness with him, for such is written regarding him (Tehillim, chapter 25): "All the Ways of HaShem are Kindness and Truth" - 'I precedeed Kindness to Truth, and Righteousness to Judgment, as it says (Tehillim, chapter 89): "Righteousness and Justice are the foundation of Your Throne, Kindness and Truth precede Your Countenance." (Taken from Tanchuma, beginning of Parshas Va'Yera)


The time of the prayer of the morning, its mitzvah begins with sunrise, as it says, "You shall be seen with the sun"... And its time extends until the end of four hours, which is a third of the day (the hours are daylight-proportional hours). And if he made a mistake, or intentionally [didn't pray until] after four hours [into the day, he may pray] until chatzos (the middle of the daylight hours). Though he does not have reward like prayer in its proper time, there is still the reward for prayer. According to the Rema, "After Chatzos it is forbidden to pray the morning prayer". (Shulchan Aruch - Siman 89, 1)


A person should strive to pray in the synagogue with the congregation. However, if one is an "anoos" (according to the Magen Avraham, an "anoos" is someone who is weak or sick - an "anoos" is not necessarily limited to the above), that he is unable to come to the synagogue, he should have in mind to pray at the time the congregation is praying. Similarly, if one was an "anoos" and he did not pray at the time the congregation prayed, and he is praying on his own, nevertheless, he should pray in the synagogue. (Shulchan Aruch, siman 90, 9)

Mishna Berura: "It is similarly written in the Book, Eliyahu Rabbah (Eliyahu HaNavi's Sefer), in the name of the "Teshuvas Beis Yosef", that [it is fitting] to fine those people who refrain from going to shul (synagogue) because they are involved in Torah or because they are profiting money..."

On praying in the synagogue after the congregation finished praying, the Mishna Berura notes that it is preferable to pray in the shul as it is a place of holiness. However, he notes that if one is a Talmid Chacham and there is a possibility that his praying late in the shul will lead to a Chillul HaShem (desecration of HaShem's Name), it is better for him to pray at home.

The Power of Prayer - Part II, Nefesh HaChaim

Rabbi Chaim Volozhin, a Torah Giant during the 1800's, wrote his famous work, "Nefesh HaChaim" which includes a lot of Torah on the level of Sod, often quoting from the Zohar (among other works) in order to make the reader much more aware of the power of his Torah learning and tefillos (among other things).

In Chapter 10 of the second volume of "Nefesh HaChaim" we read the following:

...Each word from the Tefillah, or of any berachah, ascends by way of masters of voices and [those that are] winged that take it, to perform its' work in The Upper Root that is designated for it, and he (the person who recites the Tefillah or Berachah), is made, so to speak, into a partner with the Creator, to build and plant many, many worlds.

As is written in "Tikkunim" - Tikkun 18, 35b: "And when a person utters "vapors" and words in his prayer, a number of birds open their wings and their mouths to accept them (the tefillos). This being [the meaning behind] that which is written, "For a bird of the Heaven will carry the voice, and the master of wings..." (Koheles: 10, 20) And the Holy One, Blessed is He, takes those words and builds
worlds with them, regarding which it is written, "For when the new heavens and the new earth..." (Yeshayahu: 66, 2) And the Sod (Secret) of this thing is [in accordance with the following pasuk:] "And I Shall Place My Word in your mouth... to plant the Heavens..." (Ibid.: 51, 16) "And to say to Tzion, you are My nation." - Do not read "Ammi" - "My nation", rather, "Immi" - "with me", with My Partnership..."

And the "thinking one" will understand from that which he knows, that it was not for naught that 120 Elders, among them
many prophets, establish a small supplication and prayer like this (note: The Anshei Kenesses HaGedolah - The Men of the Great Assembly composed the Shemoneh Esrei prayer that we recite). Rather, they contemplated through Ruach HaKodesh (Divine Inspiration) and the contemplation of their Elevated Prophecy, it being clear to them the paths of all the orders of Creation and the chapters of the "Merkavah" - the "Heavenly Chariot" (can only be contemplated on a very high spiritual level). For this they made the foundation for, and established the nature of these Berachos and the Tefillos, specifically [in this form - as we have it today], being that they saw and contemplated how every word would have its [spiritual] light dwell on it, which is very necessary for the tikkun ("repair") of the many worlds and [spiritual] forces, and the order of the "Merkavah".

The Power of Prayer - Part I, Examples

Prayer, or tefillah (also commonly referred to as "davening"), is a central part of life as a Jew. It is the time for one to ask HaShem for his needs, speak to and have an audience with, the Creator of the Universe. There are many (Jewish laws) that relate to prayer which benefit the individual, providing them the wherewithal to respond appropriately to all sorts of situations that may arise during tefillah. These laws also benefit the individual by instructing one as to how to have the optimal kavanah, or concentration, during tefillah. There are three daily prayers. As the Jewish day starts with nightfall (in accordance with the Torah's description of the days of Creation as, "And it was evening, and it was morning..."), the first prayer is Ma'ariv, the next one is the morning prayer of Shacharis, and the closing prayer is Mincha. The optimal manner in which to do the prayer, in general, is with a group of ten-men (all attendees must be at least 13 years of age).


When one prays, especially with the proper kavana, blocking all foreign thoughts, that prayer is powerful. It is especially important for one to learn the meaning of what he is saying, thereby increasing the power of his prayer. We have a tradition of the power of tefillah, through historical events that have occurred where individuals have prayed and were subsequently answered as a result of that prayer.

The famous prophet, Eliyahu, was answered in the prayer of Mincha at a time when he wished to encourage a great deal of the Jewish population to abandon idolatry and return to the true service of HaShem. The "prophets" of the idol, Ba'al agreed to a public display, where either HaShem would be shown to be the True G-D, or, lehavdil, the Ba'al would be shown to be the "true" one. The deal was that the prophets of Ba'al would bring a sacrifice, if a fire descended from Heaven to consume their sacrifice, that would show that Ba'al represents the truth. If, however, Eliyahu would be answered, HaShem would be shown to be the True G-D. A fire did come down and consumed a cow that was surrounded with water. Thus Eliyahu proved that HaShem is The True G-D. However, we learn that Eliyahu first said a prayer to HaShem that he should be successful in his display to the assembled Jews. The prayer took place in the afternoon. The Rabbis teach of the great power of the tefillah of Mincha from the incident of Eliyahu.

The tefillah of Mincha was established by Yitzchak. We find in the Torah that Yitzchak went out to "speak in the field". This incident occurred immediately before his soon-to-be wife, Rivka, arrived. Another prayer answered successfully. One may claim that these individuals were exceptional, their prayers powerful. Some may go so far as to claim that these are "isolated events in history". This essay aims to show that prayer is powerful, how to enhance the power of one's tefillos, and, being that HaShem is Infinite, what is the benefit of our personal praises to HaShem.

Before continuing, tefillah has been recorded in saving the Jewish People from destruction. In this parsha of Ki Sisa, we read about the great sin of the Jewish People by taking part in the sin of the golden-calf, in one way or another. The sin was so great, that HaShem says to Moshe, "And now leave Me, and My Anger will flare up in their midst, and I shall consume them, and I shall make you into a great nation." (Shemos: 32, 10) On this pasuk, the following from Shemos Rabbah is brought by RaSH"I: "'Leave Me' - We have still not heard that Moshe prayed on their behalf, and HaShem says, 'Leave Me'? Rather, here He made an opening for him and informed him that the matter is dependant on him, that if he prays for them, they will not be destroyed." The sin of worshipping the golden-calf was great enough that was liable to be destroyed. Moshe's prayer for the Jewish People was great enough to avert that punishment. On fast-days when the Jewish People commemorate events of national tragedy, we read of Moshe's prayer and the fruits of Moshe's prayer, "And HaShem relented regarding the bad which He Spoke to do to His nation." (Shemos: 32, 14) Furthermore, in Parshas Va'Eschanan, we read of Moshe's prayer to enter Eretz Yisrael. HaShem Tells him to not pray again as HaShem would "have to" allow Moshe to enter Eretz Yisrael.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Part III - Purim and Kaparah

For now, I will write the short version of "Purim and Kaparah":

In a recent blog, I mention the fact that HaShem asked the Jews to give a half-Shekel toward the Mishkan in order to counteract the money that Haman, ym"sh, used to "buy" from Achashverosh the right to annihilate the Jews, chas v'shalom.

Parshas Shekalim, which discusses the half-shekel donation of the Jews is found in this week's Shabbos portion of Ki Sisa. Later in this parsha, in the second aliyah, we read of the infamous instance in which many of the Jewish People were drawn after the Erev Rav to worship the golden calf. HaShem tells Moshe that as a result of the terrible sin of the golden calf, the Jewish People should be destroyed, chas v'shalom. Moshe would then become the progenitor of the Jewish People. HaShem was hinting to Moshe that he should pray for the Jewish People. Instead of accepting the offer to become the progenitor of the Jewish People, Moshe prayed for the Jewish People. HaShem relented from destroying the Jewish People. However, our Rabbis teach us that every time the Jewish People suffer, a part of that suffering is to atone for the national disgrace of worshipping (and not stopping the rest of the nation from worshipping) the golden calf. According to RaSH"I on Shemos 30, 16, the Jews were commanded to give the half-shekel as an atonement for their souls, as the Jewish People were suffering from a plague following the incident of the golden-calf. As an interesting note, the money is referred to as "kesef hakiPURIM" - the "money of atonement".

Next, we have the haftorah and maftir of Parshas Zachor. Amalek, ym"sh, attacked the Jewish People - their purpose was to wipe out the nation that represent HaShem in this world; It is their goal to wipe out the Jewish People and "remove" HaShem from this world. How were they able to attack the Jewish People. Well, we learn that the Jews were encamped in a place called "Refidim" immediately prior to the attack. It is called "Refidim" because "refu yidaihem min HaTorah" - the Jews weakened themselves from the Torah. Amalek then attacked the Jews who were the "stragglers", one of the reasons they are referred to as stragglers, is because the people who were attacked were worshipping idols. Interesting. It is not because the Bnei Yisrael represent HaShem that they are attacked, rather because they represent HaShem do not follow His Ways properly. Like I said before, it is first a part of Bnei Yisrael that "abandons" HaShem, then HaShem "abandons" then.

The next of the four "parshios" is Parshas Parah. We learn that it is the "mother" - the red heifer - that comes to clean up the mess of the "child" - the golden calf. So, this parsha also comes and shows us that HaShem, in His Kindness, has given us a way to help atone for the sin of the golden calf.

The last of the four parshios is known as "Parshas HaChodesh" is read on the Shabbos immediately preceding Rosh Chodesh Nissan. On this parsha we read of the Jewish People's first mitzvah, the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh. The maftir goes on to discuss how the Egyptian firstborns would be killed; The Egyptians being punished for their terrible treatment of the Jewish People.

So we have a cycle here sin to atonement. The Jewish People sin by straying away from HaShem, whether it be by worshipping idolatry, or throwing off the Yoke of Heaven completely, or even disregarding one mitzvah as not being correct or not being commanded to do that mitzvah from HaShem. The Jewish People are punished to atone for their sin and to get them back to serve HaShem, until the point of Redemption, where HaShem Takes us out of our suffering, as He did in Mitzraim. Parshas HaChodesh, immediately preceding Nissan, the month of Redemption, discusses the situation of the Jewish People immediately prior to Redemption. How appropriate, moving away from our sins to Redemption.

And Purim - That is smack in the middle of the parshios. I would like to write more about this in the near future, however, to summarize in a couple sentences, we learn a lot from Purim. Especially we learn about the situation of the Jewish People, between the First and the Second Batei Mikdashos. The Jewish People had sinned and had "abandoned" HaShem. As a result, HaShem "abandoned" us by destroying the First Beis HaMikdash and Hiding His Presence. Nevertheless, Esther and Mordechai knew that, though HaShem's Presence was as obvious as it had been in the past, they still had to stand up for the Jewish People, bring about national teshuvah and the salvation of the Jews from what seemed like "imminent destruction". Purim is a time when the Jewish People moved from a situation of being distanced from HaShem to HaShem's salvation. Shortly thereafter, the Second Beis HaMikdash was built. So too should we merit in our days to have the Salvation that the Jewish People (and the world for that matter) have been waiting for for thousands of years. Then we will see HaShem's Presence as much more evident in this world. May we all merit that through teshuva, we bring Jewish History full-circle and see our Final Redemption Speedily in Our Days! Happy Shushan Purim!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Gemaras on our Purim Discussion