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8 posts from August 2018

Shulem Lemmer: Avinu Malkenu

Tomorrow night, Motzaei Shabbat (Saturday night), Ashkenazi Jews join our Sephardi brothers in saying Selichot.

Meanwhile, would you like to hear the voice of an angel? Here's one of my favorite niggunim and favorite chazzanim, Shulem Lemmer with the Shira Choir singing "Avinu Malkenu," a prayer we say twice daily during the ten days of repentance between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur when we ask Hashem to listen to our voice and inscribe us in the Book of Life for a wonderful New Year. It's our privilege to share this rare gem with you - Shabbat Shalom!

When All Seems Lost

All Seems Lost
There is no Hollywood script ever that can surpass the suspense and drama of the Book of Samuel. In Chapter 30 of Samuel One, the drama reaches a climax: King David, chased all over the country by the jealous King Saul, takes refuge with Achish the King of the Philistines. Achish grants King David the town of Ziklag for David, his 600 warriors and their families to dwell in, and David goes to war to aid his ally Achish. While David and his warriors accompany Achish and his army, Amalek attacks Ziklag, burning the town down and taking all the women and children captive, including David's two wives.

David, born into adversity, has had to face every imaginable - and unimaginable - difficulty in life ever since his most tender years. Who has not tried to kill him? As a young child, a lone shepherd sent to the desert to die by his father who thought that David was illegitimate, he had to fight bears and lions. Barely a bar-mitzvah boy, he had to fight Goliath. His wife Michal, father-in-law King Saul and his own sons Absalom and Adonyahu, rose up against him. Now, his own loyal warriors were blaming him for Amalek's attack and calling to stone him.

What did David do? All seemed lost...

You definitely don't want to miss today's emuna shiur and live broadcast, entitled "When All Seems Lost," which will take place, G-d willing, on the ground-floor main sanctuary of the Chut Shel Chessed Yeshiva on 13 Shmuel Hanavi Street in Jerusalem at 7 PM Israel time; the shiur is open to the public - both men and women are invited. You can see today's lesson here - the broadcast, as well as our lessons posted from now on - are Mac and iPod compatible. If you tune in too early to the live broadcast link, you'll be sent to the main page of the Breslev Israel website, so try to tune in on time.  If you are not able to view today's broadcast live, then G-d willing, you'll be able to see the video tape of it later this coming week on Lazer Beams. 

Rouhani Roulette: Playing with Fire, Iranian Style

Rouhani Roulette2
While everyone's preoccupied with Labor Day weekend plans, back to school and Rosh Hashanah just around the corner, few are paying attention that the Middle East is a powder keg that could explode sky-high in a split second. The current political-military climate is almost identical to what it was in December of 1990, before the USA attacked Iraq. For those who don't know, or forgot, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August of 1990. His dream was to control all of Arabian Gulf oil and therefore cripple the US economy. In his chutzpa, he moved to control the Straits of Hormuz and so obstruct and control any Middle East oil shipments through that super vital route out of the Gulf to all points east and west. If Saddam would have been able to do that, it would have been a knife to the West's economic jugular. The USA could not let that happen, so after an ultimatum, it attacked Iraq on Jan. 15, 1991.

Iraq, having a ten-year long unsettled score with Israel, who had destroyed Saddam's nuclear reactor in 1981, was itching for revenge. As soon as America attacked Baghdad, Saddam made a huge missile attack on Israel, something we won't forget for a long time.

Fast Forward, August 28, 2018: Iran's economy is collapsing, after the US's rescinding the ridiculous nuclear treaty and renewing sanctions, real ones, that hurt. There are spontaneous protests all over Iran against Rouhani and the Ayatolla government.

Rouhani and the Ayatollas are about to lose control. They are acting now out of desperation and have done two rash things:

  1. They just now signed a defense pact with Syria, defying both Russia and the USA while daring Israel, and thereby attaining a quasi-legal license to remain entrenched in Syria.
  2. They have just now declared that they control the Straits of Hormuz and therefore the entire Persian Gulf.

Note that 20% of the entire world's oil flows through the Straits of Hormuz.

Iran wants one of two things: either peace for an ease of US sanctions or to lure the USA into an armed conflict in order to give them the justification to launch a massive missile attack against Israel, which has already been planned to the minutest detail. Don't forget, in recent months Israel has repeatedly attacked Iranian weapons stores and military bases in Syria. Iran wants revenge and so does Syria, for Israel's destroying its nuclear reactor in 2007.

Yes, Israel has a powerful army, but deterrence has no meaning to desperados; both Rouhani and Assad are desperate. Both need to redirect their disgruntled populations' attention from starvation to Jihad. It's Saddam Hussein all over again.

There's one difference, though. The Gemara tells us that the end-of-days showdown will be between Iran and the USA. We have before us, without being dramatic, the potential of World War III and an existential war for Israel. Will it happen?

It depends on two things only - teshuva and emuna. It's Elul - we have no time to waste. Our individual self-strengthening in teshuva and in emuna are critical to the security of our people and our country. This is no joke. If Rouhani wants to play Russian Roulette with the West, Hashem could put the bullet in the very first chamber, honoring Rouhani with the first squeeze of the trigger. Hashem can snap His fingers and there's no more threat against the USA and Israel, but Hashem is waiting to see what you and I do in the next few days before Rosh Hashanah. Meanwhile, say Psalm 27 twice a day with fervor. G-d bless!

CPR for the Soul

LB Judean Hills
Have you ever been in a great mood, upbeat and optimistic, when all of a sudden, you encounter someone whom you really don't like? Or maybe it was someone who insulted you, cheated you or upset you terribly in the past. Whatever the case might be, we sometimes encounter people who bring out the worst in us, whether it's anger or some other unpleasant emotion.

What's happening to us in a situation like that?

Imagine that your soul is a tiny flickering candle that illuminates the darkness in your life. The individual who triggered your negative reaction is like someone who threw cold water on the candle and extinguished it. The challenge now is to rekindle the candle as fast as you can and return to the pre-upset equilibrium.

In simple terms, if something or someone snuffs our joy in life, we have to ignite it again as fast as possible. You might call this emergency CPR for the soul. That's what we'll learn right now. My feature article in this week's new edition of Breslev Israel web magazine, Igniting the Soul in Five, will tell you exactly what to do. Don't miss it.

Also featured this week:

Rabbi Shalom Arush - Slander? Not in My Mouth

Racheli Reckles - The Car Show at Cary

Dr. Zev Ballen - Plugging In To Divine Power

Alizah Teitelbaum - Keeping the Show Going

Yehudit Channen - Know Why!

David Ben Horin - Choose Your Passport

Channa Coggan - Uman, The Ultimate Cleansing

Enjoy, and have a delightful new week!

Israel's Task

Rav Kook-Jlem

Let's see how well you know our great leaders, of blessed memory. Who said the following quote?

The unique strength of the Jewish people is not for self-centered nationalism, for military conquests and national aggrandizement. The eternal nature of Israel must be understood within the context of their special mission, to promulgate God's Name in the world.

Here's a hint - the same tzaddik also said this quote:

I did reveal the fundamental failure of the Zionists’ entire enterprise, namely the fact that they do not place at the top of their list of priorities the sanctity of God and His great Name, which is the power that enables Israel to survive.

1. Rebbe Yoel of Satmer

2. The Lubavitcher Rebbe

3. Rav Avraham Yitchak HaCohen Kook

4. The Chazon Ish

5. Rabbi Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld

Not a single one of my national religious friends got the above quiz right. Most answered #1, #4, or #5...

If you answered #3, you're right. Rubbing your eyes? So many things have been done and said in Rav Kook's name. But Rav Kook, like all our other spiritual luminaries, saw our task first and foremost as "light unto the nations." What's more, in light of the above, I don't think that Rav Kook zatza"l would have agreed to the Nationality Law, which, "aims to codify Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people" - the Torah already does that! Then again, do you think for a moment that Rav Kook would have tolerated pride parades in Jerusalem or female instructors in IDF combat units? No and no! Back to the textbooks, brothers and sisters.

After I wrote the above post, Hashem reminded me that today is the third of Elul, the yahrtzeit of Rav Kook, marking his passing 83 years ago. Please light a candle for HaRav Avraham Yitzchak ben Shlomo Zalman HaCohen. Rav Kook's love for Eretz Yisroel and for every single Jew knew no bounds. May his saintly and blessed memory intercede in our behalf, amen! 

Bayer and Monsanto: Axis of Evil

Block 10
Block 10
 (image, above) was the infamous hellhole in the bowels of the Auschwitz concentration camp where the epitome of evil Nazi "doctor" Josef Mengele performed his atrocious experiments on humans during the Holocaust. Block 10 leads to Mengele, Mengele leads to Bayer, Bayer leads to Monsanto and Monsanto leads to the convenience food you're eating, either at home or on vacation. Sounds surreal? We wish it were...

The closer we get to Moshiach, the more we see Divine justice settling unfinished scores. An apparently innocuous item on the international news-wire reveals an iceberg of evil that Hashem's fiery wrath will soon erase from the face of the earth. The shares of Bayer Pharmaceuticals just fell 10%, the result of  their subsidiary Monsanto's failure to warn of the cancer risks posed by its infamous weed killer, Roundup

Before I tell you who Bayer is, they bought Monsanto earlier this year for $63 Billion. Our sages teach that evil attaches itself to evil. In short, Monsanto is a conglomerate of evil that creates pesticides that destroy every type of viable seed - not only weeds - except for seeds that Monsanto genetically engineers. So, once you spray your field with Roundup, your soil is poisoned to regular seeds and you can only use Monsanto's genetically-engineered seeds. But, new types of weeds set in that are immune to conventional weed killers, which require more and newer Monsanto weed killers. With mafia-like tactics, Monsanto has gone around the world, not only impoverishing farmers, poisoning their soil and indenturing them into virtual slavery, but causing an epidemic of farmer suicides, especially in India.

Monsanto also hijacks faculties of agriculture in the world's universities, so that agronomy students will learn to use their products only. Thank goodness I majored in horticulture and deciduous orchards, where Monsanto's poisoned hands didn't yet reach my teachers. Fortunately, you can grow an apple, a peach or a plum without spraying Roundup...

Back to Bayer, who owns Monsanto. Do you know who Bayer is? Have you ever heard of IG Farben?

Both my pulse and my mind are racing much faster than I can type (chill, Lazer!) - let's take it slow.

Do you know that IG Farben was behind the Nazi's mutilation of our holy teacher, Rav Shalom Arush's spiritual guide, Rabbi Yehuda Zev Leibowitz of saintly and blessed memory? That's why he could never have children. Let me be more specific:

IG Farben financed Hitler’s electoral campaign and became a staunch supporter of the Nazis. IG Farben worked closely with the Nazi party to take over manufacturing plants when the Germans invaded other European countries. IG Farben also held stock in and was represented on the board of the company which produced the gas used in the Holocaust gas chambers. IG Farben tested its products on the concentration-camp prisoners of Auschwitz. Even more, IG Farben had its own concentration campJosef Mengele, the gruesome butcher of Auschwitz, the SS doctor (sic) and Hitler's right-hand man in the planned annihilation of European Jewry, worked with IG Farben in doing his experimentation on human guinea pigs, one of whom was our sacred and beloved teacher Rabbi Yehuda Zev Leibowitz who succeeded in surviving the Holocaust.

Bayer is the successor and continuation of IG Farben. Monsanto belongs to Bayer.

Is the GMO and GE domination of our fields, crops and foodstuffs a continuation of the Nazi conspiracy to dominate the world? You make your own conclusions.

For anyone who seeks my advice, eat natural and organic as much as possible. Steer clear of US commercially grown corn and soybeans as well as processed foods that are full of such derivatives as corn syrup solids and soy isolate. If you have a headache, don't take Bayer aspirin. Chances are that your headache - and many other ills, such as your close friend's, your relative's or your own autistic child - come from the use of Roundup in growing the food you eat.

The closer we get to Moshiach, the more we'll see evil's foundations crumble. Meanwhile, don't lose heart, because the darkest darkness is right at the end of night, before the dawn of a new day.

Battle for Air Supremacy: IAF F-16s vs. Hamas Kites

Wheat Field Israel Fire Gaza
It's so absurd, so surreal, so astonishing and so pitiful that it makes you laugh; that is, unless you're a Jewish Israeli, for if you are, you've gotta cry...

The world's most daring, most highly-sophisticated and most combat-proven Air Force - Israel's - cannot guarantee the security of our skies, as the fresh new fires in the south of Israel attest. The Air Force can't stop the incendiary kites that Hamas teenagers are setting free in the breezes blowing off the Mediterranean. The David's Sling and Iron Dome missile defense systems - the best in the world - are powerless against the Hamas kiddie kites, as thousands of burn acres of fields and forests, painstaking grown in the Western Negev desert, bear witness to (above image).

Elections are coming soon in Israel. The Government knows that it better return security to the south, or they'll lose a chunk of votes to the opposition. So where the IDF has failed, they've been grovelling behind the scenes asking the Egyptians to mediate a deal which is complete capitulation to Hamas. The Hamas kids have succeeded where terrorist rocket barrages have not.

Neither the Government nor the IDF gets the message. Nobody in the religious parties bothered to explain it to them. Sitting in the upholstered seats that are ever so comfortable, they continue to drink coffee around the Government's mahogany table and didn't say a world about the defilement of Jerusalem or Hashem's Torah that we protested last week. The Government of Israel thinks that its Nationality Law makes it kosher, but that's no more kosher than a kosher-style hot dog that they sell in Mets' Stadium. Hashem sends the incendiary kites and balloons as a wake-up call for the Government to realize that it's surreal, supernatural and absurd for the IDF and IAF to be rendered so ineffective by terrorist kiddies. So what do they do? The Government et al try to circumvent Hashem and cave in to Hamas. That won't work. It never did and never will.

This coming Shabbat is the beginning of the teshuva-month of Elul. It's time for national teshuva. Government capitulation to terror as a means of trying to circumvent Hashem, as so painfully proven by the disastrous Disengagement of 2005, is always a mistake. May Hashem help and torpedo the surrender to evil, from within and from without.

What do we learn from this? Hedonism, self-interest and self-indulgence are incompatible with self-assessment. And it doesn't matter whether the hedonist has a kippa on his head or not; the only difference between the religious hedonist and the secular one is whether or not there's a kosher certificate on the wall of the fancy resort where they're spending the weekend. Meanwhile, the firefighters in the south of Israel are spending their weekends fighting fires in fields and trying to save what's left to save in southern Israel's fields, forests and farms.

"My people don't open their eyes" (Isaiah 1:3). We need emuna more than ever.