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17 posts from May 2010

Will our children survive Gog & Magog?

This morning, the electronic media in Israel was suddenly inundated with haunting scenarios about what's instore for Israel, Heaven forbid. I certainly don't agree with many of the things that Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz writes, nor with his outlook, but I do give him credit for rationality and level-headedness. Mr. Horovitz is certainly not a doomesday profit; one therefore cannot ignore or casually dismiss what he writes about the current security situation here:

Today, Syria has an estimated 2,300 missiles that can hit Tel Aviv, Hizbullah has 1,200, Iran 400 and Hamas in Gaza has dozens. (Hamas test-fired a Fajr-5 – which can travel 80 kilometers – from the Gaza coast last October.)... The central Gush Dan area, home to more than a quarter of the Israeli population, could be hit – hit hard, and hit often – in the next war... Some of the missiles arrayed against Israel, moreover, are extremely accurate. Jewish Jerusalemites can no longer assume that they are off limits. Missiles built by Syria and recently acquired by Hizbullah are accurate to within a few hundred meters. The launch crews, feeling immune in a geographical comfort zone, say, north of Beirut, can now aim for the Jews of the holy city without worrying about blowing up Al-Aksa by mistake... The catch-all description of “Scuds” shouldn’t mislead us, either. These are not Saddam’s 1991 projectiles. These are missiles that can carry half-ton payloads. When they land, they cause major destruction... Were a new round of conflict to break out, Hizbullah and/or Syria and/or Hamas could attempt to fire hundreds upon hundreds of missiles into the heart of Israel in an opening eruption... and then to maintain intense fire for as long as they could – weeks or even months. The aim would be to confine much of Israel to the bomb shelters, and thus to extract capitulative decisions from an Israeli government weakened by a panicking citizenry.

Well-known columnists from Israel's ultra-popular Ynet, Hanan Greenberg and Ron Ben Yishai warn how the coming war - likely to be this summer, many say - will not be a walk in the park. This past week, we had civil defense drills all across the country. The experts say that the drills are aspirin in the face of a terminal disease - once again, we're not talking about doomsday prophets.

Yet, the anti-emuna media is completely skirting the real issue. Yes, the threats are there. Sure, "mighty" Israel will try to deal a devastating blow to the enemy. Certainly, the damage in the meanwhile is liable to be devastating.

The real issue is Hashem. The missile threats from our enemies - having discovered Israel's Achilles heel in the recent Gaza War and the Second Lebanon War - are non other than wake-up calls from Hashem, Who has been patiently awaiting for us to come home to Him. If we don't do so on our own, we'll have prodding from our enemies. Why? The time for Geula is coming fast.

Now hear this: it's either a massive preemptive strike of Emuna and teshuva, or a very imminent war. If you'd like to hear more on the subject, drop by the Carlebach Shul on Dolev Street in Ramat Bet Shemesh tonight, Sunday, May 30th at 8"15 PM, for we'll be speaking on the subject, "Will our Children Survive Gog and Magog?" Hope to see you there.

I'm a Jew

This is a must-see and hear and a beautiful contribution to Jewish unity. Let's scrap the the stupid infighting and start pulling together. Our enemies don't differentiate between us, they try to kill us all on an equal basis. Let's try loving each other on an equal basis. Have a great Shabbat!

The Ten Practical Principles of Emuna

Dear Rabbi Lazer,

I've studied the Rambam's 13 Principles, the foundation of the Jewish faith that I readily accept as a new Baal Teshuva (6 months ago, after having read The Garden of Emuna, the first book that ever really made sense out of my life). I appreciate the concepts of Moshiach and revival of the dead, but they don't really help me on a day-to-day practical basis. Would it be possible if you could give me some practical emuna principles to strengthen me in real-time tests of faith? I really appreciate your guidance, Rabbi. Most respectfully, Kevin from California

Dear Kevin,

Hashem really loves you. Just today, I was polishing some lovely ideas that I received from my good friend Yekusiel in the USA. I hope you find this helpful, for I use these principles all day long to strengthen myself and to keep a smile on my face:

Beliefs Which Strengthen and Inspire Me

1. I believe that HaShem loves me unconditionally and cares about me.

2. I believe that everything HaShem gives me is a free gift, much more than I deserve.

3. I believe that HaShem’s compassion is infinite; He treats all His creations with lovingkindness, whether they're deserving or not.

4. I believe that HaShem gives me challenges and difficulties to bring me closer to Him, not to push me away.

5. I believe that HaShem’s capabilities are infinite, and He has a solution to ANY problem I may have, in ways I can’t even fathom. I can therefore always depend on Him.

6. I believe that HaShem is in total control of every detail of my life; no one else can affect me in any way against Hashem's will.

7. I believe that Hashem is patient and forgiving, and that He always accepts sincere penitence.

8. I believe that HaShem is my loving Father who is always listening to me, guiding me, helping me and fulfilling my every need; any negative feelings to the contrary are the product of the Evil Inclination.

9. I believe that Hashem alone does, did and will do every action in the universe.

10. I believe that everything Hashem does is for the very best and for a specific purpose.

The above beliefs are our lasting heritage from our forefathers and ingrained in our souls. We simply need to internalize them in our hearts. With blessings always, LB

Ol' Elmer from the Ozarks

My friend David from the UK sent me the following "Advice from an Arkansas Farmer." It's delightful. In fact, if I have a chance, G-d willing, I'd like to elaborate on each of these 26 principles, which can all be found in the Gemara. Amazing. Ol' Farmer Elmer from the Ozarks had some good sense up there between his ears. See for yourself:

1. Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
2. Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
3. Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
4. Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled.

5. Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.
6. Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
7. Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
8. It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.
9. You cannot unsay a cruel word.

10. Every path has a few puddles.
11. When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
12. The best sermons are lived, not preached.
13. Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.
14. Don't judge folks by their relatives.
15. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

16. Live a good, honorable life ... then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.
17. Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't bothering you none.
18. If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
19. Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.

20. The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin'.
21. Always drink upstream from the herd.
22. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
23. Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.
24. If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
25. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply.
26. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to G-d.

More on down-home wisdom and a lot of fun tomorrow, right here at the Beams, comin' atcha from southern Israel...

Yosef Karduner: Shir LaMa'alot

After a long time with no music because of the counting-of-the-Omer limitations, we're back with an intimate rendition of Yosef Karduner's classic "Shir LaMa'alot" with Nachman Helbitz accompanying him on guitar. This was filmed during Chol HaMoed Pesach 7 weeks ago, at the Bar Mitzva reception of Yosef's oldest son, Moshe Nachman, may Hashem bless him. Enjoy, and have a great Shabbat.

Coming soon on the Beams, G-d willing:

* First call to join us in Uman for Rosh Hashanah, 5771 with the "Uman Experience" group

* Itinerary of our coming trip to NYC, Panama, Miami, Cleveland, and Shabbaton in Chicago

The Prophecy of Gushing Oil

Above image courtesy of AP, shows the oil slick off the Louisiana shore, reportedly now the size of the state of Maryland

With oil still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and now reaching Louisiana's marshes and rivers, it looks like yet another prophecy is being fulfilled: 

"I will create sediment in their waters and rivers and make them flow like oil, the word of The Lord Hashem" (Ezekiel 32:14).

The Gemara that we learn this week (Sanhedrin 98a) says that when the waters are heavy with oil, and the fish can no longer live, then these are the days when Moshiach is imminent.

Our actions will determine whether Moshiach arrives joyfully or whether he arrives in the aftermath of more wars and national disasters.

The BP oil spill is yet another in a series of wake-up calls from The Almighty. It won't help to bury our head in the sand any more, because the sand on the beaches is rapidly being contaminated with tar.

Wake up to emuna, world. Life doesn't have to be disastrous.

The Cowboy and the Yuppie

My special friend Ahron K. from NYC sent me the following joke, the best I've heard in a long time:

A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote pasture in eastern Oklahoma when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced toward him out of a cloud of dust. 

The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, RayBan sunglasses and YSL tie, leaned out the window and asked the cowboy, "If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?"

Bud looked at the man, obviously a yuppie, then at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answered, "Sure, why not?"

The yuppie parked his car, whipped out his Dell notebook computer, connected it to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfedto a NASA page on the Internet, where he called up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location which he then fed to another NASA satellite that scanned the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

The young man then opened the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exported it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany.

Within seconds, he received an email on his Palm Pilot that the image had been processed and the data stored. He then accessed an MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, received a response.

Finally, he printed out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer, turned to the cowboy and said, "You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves."

"That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves," said Bud.

He watched the young man select one of the animals and looked on with amusement as the young man stuffed it into the trunk of his car.

Then Bud said to the young man, "Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?"

The young man thought about it for a second and then said, "Okay, why not?"

"You're a Congressman for the U.S. Government," said Bud.

"Wow! That's correct," said the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?"

"No guessing required." answered the cowboy. "You showed up here though nobody called you. You want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You used millions dollars worth of equipment trying to show me how much smarter than me you are, and you don't know a thing about how working people make a living, or about cows for that matter.

This is a herd of sheep. Now give me back my dog!