Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Audio Shiur on Rav Kook's "Meshorer HaTeshuva"

I want to share with you a great shiur given by Rabbi Reuven Boshnack on Rav Kook zt"l's famous poem, Meshorer HaTeshuva. Rabbi Boshnack may be known to some of my readers by his blogs, Izbitz and כדאי To See Inside, as well as through his book and weekly e-mails explaining the Sefas Emes, called The Sfas Emes Project. He is also the new Jewish Learning Initiative rabbi at Brooklyn College.

In this shiur, Rabbi Boshnack introduces the depth of the concept of Teshuva, which Rav Kook takes to a whole new level. He does this through Rav Kook's famous poem, Meshorer HaTeshuva. I'm embeding the audio here below but you can also download the mp3 for your mp3 player right here.

And here, I'm re-posting the video of Rav Kook where you can clearly see the face of the tzadik (as well as another Tzadik and Bar Plugta, Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zt"l. Good for the soul to look at the face of a Tzadik!

-Dixie Yid

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Transition from Yom Kippur to the Rest of the Year - Audio

Reb Yerachmiel Goldman, a heiligeh commerical real estate attorney in Baltimore, leads about 20 other holy Jews in Baltimore, MD in a weekly chaburah, learning the seforim of Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus. Click below to listen to the embeded audio of Sunday's (9/23/07) chaburah. It is the perfect segue between Yom Kippur and Sukkos, as well as helping us take our heights from Yom Kippur into the rest of the year. He starts off going over Rav Pincus' classic approach to these "Yomim Habaintayim" (days between Yom Kippur and Succos) and then transitions into some aitzos and chiddushim regarding how to maintain our momentum all year long. It's a must-listen.

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If you would like, you can download a 15 megabyte wav file to take with you in your mp3 player of the same chaburah. Just click here. Tizku l'mitzvos!

(Picture courtesy of Chabad at ASU)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Inspirational Picture for Yom Kippur

Picture by Zalman Kleinman

-Dixie Yid

Bilvavi Video Shiur for Yom Kippur

Click here to view a shiur given by Rav Itamar Shwartz, Shlita, author of the seforim Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh at the Shorashim Center in Tel Aviv. In this shiur, he teaches the difference between the the spiritual work of the Jewish people relative to the spiritual work of Eino-Yehudim.

Thanks to the folks at for letting me know about this shiur.

Gmar chasiama tova!

-Dixie Yid

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Get Dixie Yid in your E-Mail Inbox!

You can subscribe to this blog by e-mail if you wish. You will get an e-mail in your inbox from FeedBlitz once per day with snippets and links to all of the posts that I have made that day. You can subscribe by clicking here. You can also subscribe by filling your e-mail address into the space under the words "Subscribe to Dixie Yid by e-mail." Then just click on the button that says "Subscribe Me." Regardless of the method you choose, you will get an e-mail that asks you to confirm your subscription by clicking on a link in the confirmation message from FeedBlitz.

Ksiva v'chasima tova!

-Dixie Yid

Yitz's Take on "The Biggest Chiddush" & the Marriage Relationship

Yitz, from A Waxing Wellspring has added to our conversation on the Bilvavi's bombshell relelation to use about the reality of attaining deveikus with Hashem in this world with a great piece today. I'll copy/paste his introductory paragraph but I hope that you will read his whole piece youself!

Althoguh his piece focuses on a different nekuda than my anonymous friend, I think his thoughts are well worth the read.

"Dixie Yid brought down from the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh yesterday that our level of enjoyment (עונג) in the next world is directly related to our enjoyment of mitzwoth and Torah (and HaShem) in this world.

A Simple Jew also mentioned the crisis of men whose wives are in nidah.

I wanted to learn zchut on klal Yisrael, so this morning in my tefillah I had an insight into both of these matters, and they are directly related."

-Dixie Yid

Stains on My Daughter's Dress

On the second day of Rosh Hashana, my four year old daughter asked my wife, "Mommy, if my dress gets dirty, will I still be beautiful?"
My wife answered her that yes, even if her dress were dirty, she would still be beautiful.

After we recovered from the utter cuteness of her question, I started to think about it more in light of the season in which we find ourselves.

Just as one's body has garments, the soul also has its garments. The garments, or outward physical expressions of the soul in our world, are our thoughts, words, and actions. Just as one's clothes can get dirty, one can also dirty his soul's garments by sinning in thought, word or deed.

Therefore, one can interpret my daughters question to mean the following: When I have dirtied my soul by sinning in thought (through hirhurei ta'ava or kefira, etc.), word (lashon hara or ona'as devarim, etc.) or deed (moving muktza or preparing for the weekday on Shabbos, etc.) I have "gotten my dress dirty." After I have done this, does Hashem still think that I'm beautiful?

On the first day of Rosh Hashana, the day before my daughter's question, our rabbi said in Shul that even when we look at ourselves as ugly and disgusting because of our aveiros, our Avinu Shebashamayim, our Father in Heaven, still sees us as beautiful, as His children.

With those ideas in mind, I would like to suggest the following tefilla for use as a personal tefilla on Yom Kippur:

Master of the World, I have dirtied my thoughts, my words, and my actions with aveiros. Despite that, I want nothing more than to be closer to You! Even though I have dirtied myself with aveira, I am still your child. And a Father always thinks that His children are beautiful no matter what. Please Hashem, I know that you still want me to return to you. Please help me clean my thoughts, words and deeds from any stain so that I can stand before you without shame. I don't want to disappoint you anymore. Please bring me close to your service so that I can dwell in Your house all the days of my life!

-Dixie Yid

The Biggest Chiddush - Clarification

I wanted to share a very thoughtful e-mail that I received from a very thoughtful reader. He wanted to remain anonymous so I'm not sharing his name. But I think that the different and perhaps more accurate way that he explains "The biggest chiddush" in the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim on a certain nekuda, relative to the way I explained it in this post, is a must-read:

Kirvas Elokim Le Tov.

I took yet another look back at the language, and my understanding of perakim 39 and 53 is different- it's not so much the "ta'anug" element at all, but rather more the "devaykus" component, i.e. the consciousness of Hashem with the framework of Torah, mitzvos and every element of our lives (even the "mundane"). Thus for example, in your 2nd paragraph, I would have thought it should instead read:

In volume 1, in the 39th and 53rd Perakim, the author points out that most people think that even if they do not have very much Deveikus with Hashem that comes from learning Torah and doing mitzvos, we will get the reward of Deveikus in the higher levels of the world to come. This is exactly what I thought before learning Bilvavi.

Similarly, in the 4th paragraph: He taught that the ta’anug from Kirvas Hashem that results from Torah and mitzvos that we have learned about is meant to exist DURING OUR LIFETIMES! And that if you’re neshama is so desensitized that it cannot feel the ta’anug of Kirvas Hashem in this life, you will not attain the Kirvas Hashem and hano'oh meziv Hashechina in the higher levels of Gan Eiden either.

I didn't want to contradict the host. However, I hope you might take another look at those perakim and you might agree that the emphasis is not "ta'anug" but rather devaykus. It seems that those who have responded to your post are honing in the "ta'anug" component which I don't believe is the emphasis there. Plus, "ta'anug" can mean, and manifest itself, in a lot of different ways. Sure, devaykus is a form of ta'anug and ta'anug can be a form of devaykus, but I understood the 39/53 chiddush stresses closeness to Hashem in this world and how that closeness to Hashem correlates and carries over, be'ezras Hashem, to the next world.

I'll certainly understand if you disagree and apologize if I am mistaken, but I think the true chiddush is: Elevated heights in olam habah, i.e. devaykus in olam habah, is rewarded in accordance with one's devaykus to Hashem Yisbarach in olam hazeh (as opposed to just fulfillment of mitzvos and how many mitzvos one can amass over and above aveiros per Hashem's hidden cheshbin, as most of us grew up understanding it).

(Picture is from the cover of Zev Reichman's book, collecting teachings of Rav Moshe Wolfson, Shlita, Flames of Faith)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What's the Yetzer Hara behind Historical Tanach Reading?

I heard a sadening interview with Robert Alter, a professor who's come out with his new translation of the book of Psalms on's website, which you can listern to here. From the interview, it is apparant that the author's main purpose in the translation was to de-spiritualify (I made up that word!) the book of Psalms. One example is how he strictly avoids the word "soul" when translating the word "Nefesh," holding that the author(s) of the Psalms do not believe in the eternality of the soul.

Another interesting thing to consider is looking behind the obvious relish he displays when reading his translation of the following psukim from Tehilim perek 82, in a way depicting the Psalm as describing polytheistic belief.

מִזְמוֹר, לְאָסָף:אֱלֹהִים, נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת-אֵל;
בְּקֶרֶב אֱלֹהִים יִשְׁפֹּט.
ו אֲנִי-אָמַרְתִּי, אֱלֹהִים אַתֶּם; וּבְנֵי עֶלְיוֹן כֻּלְּכֶם. ז אָכֵן, כְּאָדָם תְּמוּתוּן; וּכְאַחַד הַשָּׂרִים תִּפֹּלוּ.

My question is this: Why would someone invest so much time and effort in the de-spiritualification of Sefer Tehillim? What emotion underlies such a sacrifice of time and resources in trying to hard to remove, by hook or by crook, any reference to any transcendant spirituality or relationship to G-d? Although he rationalizes this approach with the assertion that spiritual references are a recent interjection into the Psalms, that explanation is merely the means he must use to get to his goal. It's especially interesting that someone who is knowledgable enough in Hebrew to accomplish such a task would be motivated to do this.

My feeling is that such a person must such spiritual potential which creates a vacuum in his soul which must be filled with a relationship with Hashem. I think that the ability to invest personal resources, to the extent that he has, is the result of the natural desire of a Jew to connect to Hashem. However, since he has invested himself in a life which is not in connsonance with that spiritual search, he must find some way of quieting that spiritual hunger for something greater than himself and something greater than our world.

The method he chose is work tirelessly to limit and consign "religion" to the small limited space of our world. By taking out any reference to the transcendant from Psalms and glibly asserting Dovid Hamelech's belief in a pantheon of gods, he is attempting to soothe his inner turmoil and emptiness by telling himself that there really isn't anything higher than this world to which his inner longing could be directed.

In the process, the writing of these books also serve as consecutive temporary attemps at achieving some repreive from his soul's need to fill the void and thirst that it feels.

His efforts at concealing and covering up the existance of a higher spiritual connection with G-d, that man requires, are not so different from what the rest of of do on a less visible scale. We do the same type of thing in various ways. Perhaps I may tell myself that a certain madreiga in Avodas Hashem is not really for people "like me." Rather, that is for special individuals, yechidei segulah. Or I may tell myself that the purpose of certain mitzvos is merely for a worldly purpose, without any specific intention of connecting me to Hashem.

In all of these cases, this is the work of the yetzer hara. Rather than soothing the cognitive dissonance that I feel when I know that my life does not measure up to its great potential by seeking to become personally greater and connect to the Infinite Light, I soothe it by denying the existance of that transcendant reality.

That is why it is especially ironic that he choose to humanize G-d in his translation of Psalm 82. He interpreted those verses talking about "Bnei Elohim" as refering to gods. When really, it is an answer to his essential problem. The psukim are actually saying (paraphrasing), You [the Jewish people] are Bnei Elyon, people with huge, lofty potential! But when you lower yourselves to rip out your transcendant relationship with G-d from your lives, then you will die like some "Joe" in the street.

May we all merit to never negate our infinite potential to connect to G-d through every detail in life and never shortchange our potential in exchange for temporary emotional comfort!

-Dixie Yid

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Learning Chassidus From Multiple Sources - At ASJ

A Simple Jew has a great guest posting by Akiva from Mystical Paths on a topic that has been grappled with here at Dixie Yid, the idea of drawing light from multiple Torah sources. It's an important addition to the conversation.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture by Zalman Kleinman)

The Biggest Chiddush That No One Knows

I have been thinking about a conversation I had with an e-friend a few weeks ago. We were discussing how we both learned a very basic fact of life, that was previously unknown to us, in the sefer Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh.

In volume 1, in the 39th and 53rd Perakim, the author points out that most people think that even if they do not get very much enjoyment and ta’anug from the Deveikus with Hashem that comes from learning Torah and doing mitzvos in life, we will get pleasure from our Deveikus in the higher levels of the world to come. This is exactly what I thought before learning Bilvavi.

I learned in Derech Hashem that the purpose of life is to attain Deveikus with Hashem and that this is the ultimate pleasure. I learned from there in the Ramchal that this is attained by doing mitzvos and learning Torah. When he said that this was the ultimate pleasure, I figured that since learning Torah and doing mitzvos do not currently give me ultimate pleasure, that the pshat was as follows: One’s neshama gets closer to Hashem whether he feels it or not. Due to the clouded perspective of this world, I may not feel that pleasure of closeness with Hashem, but it is indeed there. And when I leave this world and my neshama is no longer encumbered by the confusion of my physical body, then I will feel this pleasure from the Deveikus with Hashem that is created by Torah and Mitzvos.

Boy was I in for a shocker when the Bilvavi author taught that this was an ultimate mistake! He taught that the ta’anug from Kirvas Hashem that results from Torah and mitzvos that we have learned about is meant to exist DURING OUR LIFETIMES! And that if you’re neshama is so desensitized that it cannot feel the ta’anug of Kirvas Hashem in this life, you will not attain the Kirvas Hashem and hano'oh meziv Hashechina in the higher levels of Gan Eiden either.

At first I thought that this bomb that the Bilvavi author dropped on me was the product of his own thinking and logic. However, my friend shared with me that he asked Rav Avraham Schorr and Rav Moshe Weinberger whether the yesod that whether or not one feels that ta’anug from Kirvas Hashem in THIS WORLD is the test to see whether or not that closeness is, in fact, even extant, in terms of enjoying the higher levels of Olam Haba. They both answered him that not only was it true, it was so pashut that they thought it virtually did not require proof!

I am sharing this information so that people understand that it is important for each person to take steps to bring themselves closer to the place where he can say that his greatest pleasure in his life in Olam Hazeh his Kirvas Hashem from Torah and Mitzvos. Hatzlacha raba in that journey. This is why I am working on the path outlined in the seforim Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh. Although other paths may work for different people, we’ve all got to work on it somehow!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture of Melitzer Rebbe courtesy of R' Lazer Brody)

Food for the Neshama - Bilvavi Aseres Yemei Teshuva Drasha

Rav Itamar Shwartz, author of the seforim Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, delivered a drasha at the Beis Yaakov Seminar in Chaifa yesterday entited, "Mazon l'neshama". You can listen to the mp3 shiur at this link. Gmar Chasima Tova!

HT to for pointing this out to me!

-Dixie Yid

Monday, September 17, 2007

Frum Yid Appointed by President Bush to be Next Attorney General

Check out this article on Michael Mukasey's frumkeit.

-Dixie Yid

Rav Avigdor Miller on Appreciating the Wonders of Creation - Cute Vidoe!

A previous commenter requested this video, which was also made by David Jasse, on the wonders of creation, by Rav Avigdor Miller.

-Dixie Yid

The Meor Einayim On Teshuva and It's Relation to Din/Chesed

The Meor Einayim has an amazing explanation for why Chazel derive the nature of the aseres yemei teshuva from the pasuk, "דִּרְשׁוּ יְהוָה, בְּהִמָּצְאוֹ; קְרָאֻהוּ, בִּהְיוֹתוֹ קָרוֹב." "Seek out Hashem when He is found; call out to him when He is close." (Yeshayahu 55:6)

He quotes the Gemara's (Rosh Hashana 18a) kasha that asks, "Are there times when He is not found!?" Rather, this refers to the Aseres Yemei Teshuva. He then asks what the gemara saw in this particular pasuk to read in this remez to aseres yemei teshuva davka in this verse. Then then gave a couple of yesodos for background so that he could answer his quesiton.

One is the fact that the gemara in Menachos 29b sayt that the pasuk in Bereishis 2:4, "אֵלֶּה תוֹלְדוֹת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ, בְּהִבָּרְאָם," says that the word, "בְּהִבָּרְאָם," teaches that, "אל תקרי בהבראם אלא בה"י בראם." This means that the gemara is saying that Hashem created the world with the letter Hei. How and why is this so?

Hashem created the whole world for the sake of mankind, that they should serve him. He first created the world with the mida of din. And then it was created with the mida of chesed. Why was it done this way (with the switch from first din to later chesed in the creation of the world)? He explains how din is the instigator or the cause for mercy. The din preceeds and gives birth to the mida of chesed. This can be seen from the letter hei, with which the gemara said Hashem created the world. The letter Hei is made up of two other letters. There is a Daled, which make up the top and right sides of the yud. And there is the vav, which is small and makes up the left side of the hei, and which is surrounded by the daled.

He says that the daled is the feminine side, the side of din. This can be seen from the fact that the word "daled" is from the word "Dal," which means "poor." Leis l'megarmei klum. This represents the feminine side which is also called leis l'megarmei klum because the female side is that of the mekabeil. That is why is is refered to as poor, or "dal." The vav within and surrounded by the daled in the letter hei is the male side, the side which is mashpia. That is because the vav is known as the "vav Ha'hamshacah." The vav which draws down hashpa'os from shamayim and is mashpia them to the female side, the daled.

This whole setup of the daled and the vav within the letter hei refer to an amazing paradigm whereby the feminine side of midas hadin surrounds and ultimately gives birth to the male side like the pasuk in Yirmiyahu 31:21 says, "נְקֵבָה תְּסוֹבֵב גָּבֶר."

How does this apply to Aseres Yemei Teshuva? Everyone's consciousness of the Yom Hadin, the day of judgement, creates in them a feeling of fear and awe. This feeling of fear and awe creates in them the motivation to do teshuva. And when people do teshuva, this fulfills the whole purpose of the world, and this "awakens" within Hashem the mida of chesed and "creates" the desire in Him to have the world continue to exist. So we are recreating and validating the creation of the world on Rosh Hashana, and the aseres Yemei teshuva when we do teshuva based on that realization of the reality of Din.

That is what it means that Hashem created the world with the letter hei. Hashem recreates the world every year on Rosh Hashana with the reawakening of chesed that comes as a result of the Din, the judgment of Rosh Hashana. And now this is how he answers up his original question of why Chazal inserted their understanding of Aseres Yemei Teshuva into the specific pasuk of, "דִּרְשׁוּ יְהוָה, בְּהִמָּצְאוֹ." Seek Hashem when "hei" "matza'oh," when the letter hei makes [the world] created. (Matza, as a shoresh, means to create or brought into existence, as in the word metzius, which means "reality" or "existance.") Seek out Hashem when the letter hei (daled/din creating/brining out chesed/vav) brings the world into existance. And looking at the pasuk from that perspective, one can understand why the ultimate time where this happens is Rosh Hashana and the aseres yemei teshuva. So it is no wonder, then, that Chazal used that pasuk, which refers to this reality of din preceeding chesed, as a reference to the aseres yemei teshuva, which mean the same thing in terms of the annual recreation of the world.

May Hashem bless us that we be conscious this time of year of the Din that is going on so that we can be zoche to do teshuva and create merit for the continued existance of the world!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Sinai Central)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Making Every Minute Count - How to Get Written In the Book of Life

Thanks to my friendly neighborhood Aish Kodesh friend, I'm presenting to you Rav Moshe Weinberger's Shabbos Shuva Drasha audio. Rav Moshe Weinberger, from Kehillas Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY has been advised by Tzaddikim, as I understand it, that he should give drashas, that are normally given on Shabbos, on weekdays to allow more people to attend. So here is the audio of the Shabbos Shuva Drasha. You can click here to listen to the audio on the embeded player:

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And you can click on THIS LINK to download the shiur from Aish Kodesh's download page!

Update: Anti-Ma'aris Ayin Announcement: I have received permission from Aish Kodesh to post the embeded player for Rav Weinberger's shiurim, as long as I link Aish Kodesh's website for the actual downloads. And as you can see above, that it what I have done. May the Rav's words enter our hearts and assist us in doing teshuva!

-Dixie Yid

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

History of Congregation Aish Kodesh video

While searching for the videos I just posted of Slichos at Congregation Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY and also for the video of Rav Moshe Weinberger's Yamim Noraim drasha, I also came accross this interview with Rav Weinberger about the history and background behind the founding of Aish Kodesh. Very interesting and short (about 2 minute) video by a fellow named David Jasse!

-Dixie Yid

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rav Moshe Weinberger - Yamim Noraim Drasha

In response to an anonymous commenter, I am posting this drasha from Rav Moshe Weinberger from Cong. Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY. I think that I sensed from the words of the commenter that he was assuming that I had some sort of special access to these materials. I obtained the Slichos video from the Aish Kodesh website, not through any person connections. And actually, I had the same problems finding this video through the link on the Aish Kodesh website. However, I was able to find it through a Google search. So here it is!

Rav Moshe Weinberger- "The End of the Year: Approaching Our Father Yet Again"

-Dixie Yid

Amazing Aish Kodesh video from Slichos Motzoi Shabbos

Please watch this beautiful but short video of some of the amazing nigunim and rikudim (dancing) from slichos at Congregation Aish Kodesh in Woodmere this past Motzoi Shabbos! Awesome!

-Dixie Yid

Courtesy of Aish Kodesh's website)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tzeitzechem L'shalom to Our Friends Heading Off to Uman!!!

I want to wish a Tzeitzechem l'Shalom to all of our friends who left for Uman last night and who are leaving tonight!

I wish I were with you!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture of davening in Uman courtesy of

Applying Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh - Q & A with A Simple Jew

Please click here to read my Q & A session with A Simple Jew with some thoughts on practically applying the derech avoda in the seforim Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh. I'll copy/paste ASJ's question to me below:

Simple Jew asks:

You have written in the past about the advice prescribed in Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh. As you continue to learn this sefer, how have you successfully implemented its teachings in your daily routine? What difficulties have you encountered doing so? And finally, did your opportunity to listen to the recordings of the mechaber's shiurim that you posted give you any new insights on how to learn this sefer and put it into practice?

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

Summaries in English of U.S. Bilvavi Shiurim Now Online

An Anonymous friend has written summaries of all of the shiurim that I had made available for download a little over a week ago. I'm posting those summaries here now and also in my original post offering the shiurim for download. There had been continuing problems for some people in downloading those shiurim and now that they are almost all being hosted at's site, most of those downloading problems should have been solved. If you do have a problem when downloading those mp3 shiurim, try again and it should work. It has for others.

This may be good for people who cannot understand the Hebrew shiurim, and may benefit from the English summary of Rav Shwartz's message in that shiur. Or you might use these summaries as a basis for knowing which shiurim you would like to download or listen to in streaming audio. Important Note: The first two links to shiurim #1 and #2 are still hosted at fileden and are subject to downloading maximums per month and therefore they might not be downloadable till October 2nd, 2007. The rest are hosted at and should work. If they don't the first time, try again.

1- Lakewood-Ohr Zarua- When Rav Shlomo Wolbe zt”l asked Rav Chatzkel (Rav Yechezkel Levenstein) zt”l what important information he should tell the students in his yeshiva, Rav Chatzkel said, “Tell them there is a Master of the World!” Much later, Rav Wolbe understood the significance of this comment. Rav Chatzkel lived with a tremendous feeling of closeness to Hashem at all times, and insisted that all who learn Torah strive to attain the same feeling. It is possible for one to learn Torah, and yet, fulfill the pasuk (Yirmeyahu 12:2), “You (Hashem) are close to their mouths but far from their interior” and (ibid. 2:8), “Those who have grasped the Torah do not know me.” This can happen if one learns Torah and feels that although the Torah is here, Hashem is far away somewhere. The reason we are informed that Hashem’s presence is here is that we are supposed to intend to connect to Him when learning Torah. As the Chazon Ish wrote, “The main thing is to remember before Whom you toil in Torah.” If one approaches learning with no thought, there is a halachic problem: Torah-ordained mitzvos require prior intent. Before learning, one must spend a minute thinking about why he is learning. If one does this, he will become much closer to Hashem through his learning. This is the reason we must learn Torah every free moment — through it, one can cleave to Hashem at all times.

2- Lakewood- Freehold Kollel- Hashem has planted in us a need to speak so that we will use every opportunity to speak to Him. We cannot suffice with the three tefillos said daily; rather, we must also use every opportunity we have in the day to speak to Hashem. In the Bais HaMikdash, as well, although there were two main karbanos daily (and the fats thereof were burned at night) corresponding to our fixed tefillos, there was also a requirement for a constant fire on the mizbeach. The Chazon Ish would daven to Hashem every time he had a difficulty with a matter of Torah, and the Brisker Rov would say a short tefillah whenever he heard of a trouble someone had, since there is an obligation to say a tefillah in any time of trouble. In fact, Hashem sends the various kinds to troubles to us so that we will use them as means to turn to Him. Our entire lives are for the sake of becoming close to Hashem, and if one suffers in any way at all, it is so that he will use it as an impetus to remember Hashem. Rav Yerucham zt”l said that great people eat in order to make a beracha. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t get hungry, but that they understood that all needs, such as hunger, exist so that we can remember Hashem. If one will remember Hashem on a regular basis, he will not need major problems, which are sent to remind us of Him. Hashem is compassionate, and does not want us to suffer if we are already remembering Him. On Rosh Hashanah, there is a strong feeling of closeness to Hashem. Why is this? The reason is that Hashem wants us to experience the level that is expected of us all year. We should not just do teshuvah for little details. We must realize that we are lacking the whole point of life — closeness to Hashem. To start improving in this area, we should minimally follow the ruling of the Rambam, who states (Hilchos Mezuzah 6:13) that one when sees a mezuzah, he should remember about Hashem. If we can start doing this at least once a day, we will make large strides toward living life properly.

4- Baltimore- Ner Yisroel- The gemara (Berachos 20a) says that the greatness of the earlier generations derived from the fact that they devoted their souls to Hashem. This doesn’t only mean to give up one’s life, but also to serve Him with the soul, not just to perform the mitzvos and learn Torah with the body and brain. A way to tell if you are serving Hashem with your soul is by seeing if you love Torah so much that you learn intensively even when on vacation from yeshiva. You should love Torah so much that you would learn it even if there were no reward for it. You must also grow in your attachment to tefillah and other mitzvos. Although there is a rule that “the heart is drawn (meshicha) after the actions,” and so, the mitzvos should on their own improve us, we must look at this as any meshicha, an act of pulling something into one’s domain, which is a form of acquisition. If one does an act of acquisition with no intent, he does not become the owner. Action and intent are required. Here, too, when learning and performing mitzvos, we must yearn for Hashem, from Whom we have become distanced, and intend that our Torah and mitzvos will improve our hearts and awaken our souls.

5- Baltimore – Shaarei Zion- In a healthy marriage, the husband and wife speak to each other on a regular basis. They do not only have set times for communicating, and then ignore each other the rest of the time. Although they might also fix set times for talking with each other, these are not meant to exclude ongoing spontaneous conversation. The marriage relationship (as well as other friendships) is meant to be an example for us of a healthy relationship with Hashem. (One aspect of this example is that a person often needs to seek for years to find a spouse. The same is often the case with one’s search for closeness with Hashem.) Although we are required to daven three times a day so that we don’t ignore Hashem, we must spontaneously turn to Hashem in brief conversation throughout the day. Hashem made the world in a way that we must be regularly on the ground and breathe air; these are constants. We must recall that a relationship with Hashem must also be such a constant. Regrettably, we are raised to think that our material comfort is the main thing in life. Parents make a mistake when they focus exclusively on their children’s material well-being and wait until much later to introduce the spiritual. Even before the child can understand spiritual values, the parents must daven for the child’s spiritual health, and in this way, plant the seeds for the child’s spiritual life.

6- Baltimore Community Kollel- Elul is a period when Hashem is considered our Beloved (dodi). Starting Rosh HaShanah, He is considered our Father/King. These are actually better relationships, because they are constant, as opposed to a close friend or an uncle (dod). But we must first let in the Beloved. As it says in Shir HaShirim (5:2), “My Beloved is knocking.” Hashem is knocking on our hearts, asking to be let in. To let Him in, we must make a “room” in our heart that will be hospitable to Him, as Lavan said to Yaakov (Bereishis 24:31), “I have cleaned out the house (from idols)” so that Yaakov would be able to reside there. We, too, must clean out something negative from in our hearts so as to let Him in. We must sacrifice something for Hashem, giving Him a gift which we will never take back. These days are an amazing opportunity for us to bring Hashem into our hearts. If we prepare properly, He will not leave us, but remain in our hearts forever.

7- Baltimore- chaburah in Ner Yisroel- We know from the Rambam that there are thirteen essentials of Torah, the thirteen principles of emunah. Everything in the Torah is important, but these are the most important issues to focus on, especially the first: the awareness of Hashem. Emunah must fill our day, from the moment we say upon arising, “I thank in Your Presence (not merely “I thank You”) Hashem, for restoring my soul…” This truth should cause us to totally change our outlook on what is important in life. We may need to make changes as drastic as those adopted by a Ba’al Teshuvah, to reorient our lives in a way that a constant relationship with Hashem will be our primary focus.

8- Monsey- Belz Kollel- When the Ba’al Shem Tov came into this world, he brought a tremendous light that effectively revived Klal Yisroel from its state of spiritual death. The Satan was worried about all the inspiration and the love and fear of Hashem that the Ba’al Shem Tov and his followers would bring to the world, and sought a way to counteract that and conceal this great light. The Satan succeeded by making many chasidim who merely accept the chitzonius (outer customs) of the chasidim, such as the style of clothing, without having any of the pnimius (inner essence). The chitzonius is important, because it protects people from falling, but one needs more than protection. One would not suffice with just protecting his money by burying it in the ground; he would want to invest some of it. Now that the light of the Ba’al Shem Tov has entered the world, although it is becoming progressively more and more concealed, we are required to reclaim it, just as the light of Pesach is concealed at first, but then reclaimed during the Sefirah period.

How do we know what to do practically? It is fine to read sefarim on Shabbos, but that is not enough to build one’s life. Certainly, the main effort must remain to observe the times for learning gemara and halacha, and to be careful with all the halachos. But in addition, one must add chiyus (holy energy) to it all. There must be time for studying the works of chasidus on a regular basis. One work that is relatively understandable is the Ma’or Vashemesh. However, there is still a problem in that it goes by the parsha (weekly portion), and does not show us a specific path.

Nowadays, as in all times, there are not enough tzaddikim to be able to adequately guide all the seekers who need guidance. Our only option is to yearn for the levels we see in the sefarim and daven and cry to Hashem that He will show us the way to reach them. Many people despair of reaching the high levels portrayed in the sefarim. They feel the levels are way beyond them. They must know that these levels were originally beyond the abilities of those authors themselves, but Hashem granted the levels as a gift. We must serve Hashem to the best of our abilities, recognizing that we cannot jump levels on our own, and cry out to Hashem for guidance in finding a way and reaching levels really beyond our current abilities. In these special days of tefillah, we must take advantage of our opportunity to approach the King, and ask for these great achievements. We must not be satisfied with petty things.

9- Monsey -Yeshivat Tov- On Rosh Hashanah, there are two emotions that should be present within us. There should be a sense of fear, due to the judgment taking place on that day. In addition, we should feel great joy. That is the one day each of us comes before the King, and although He judges us, it is a tremendous opportunity for acquiring closeness to Him. The Arizal states that one should be crying at some point on Rosh Hashanah, which will be the time one is being judged. The crying is not due to fear. To the contrary, the fear should freeze us, as one would feel when confronted by a lion! The crying, rather, should be tears of joy, as the neshamah rejoices in its closeness to Hashem. But this can only be appreciated by one who has been seeking such closeness all year. Such a person can appreciate this gift of closeness that he receives. Another person would have no use for it. We cannot really start preparing for this Rosh Hashanah now, if we have not been on the path to Hashem all year. We should rather try to prepare for Rosh Hashanah of 5769! However, if we do take the steps to be truly ready for 5769, our proper commitment, although only a commitment, can be a merit even for 5768.

10- Kew Gardens Hills- Beit Midrash Tov- The word “shofar” relates to the word “shapru,” which means “to improve.” We must not suffice with hearing the shofar; we must take a lesson from the shofar as to how we should improve. The shofar is narrow at one end and wide on the other, indicating a transition from a narrow, constricted outlook to a broader one. This means that we must stop only thinking about ourselves and living for ourselves. This is essential is we are to be judged favorably and for Mashiach to come. There are many ways we can start to care for others. Even if one goes to learn Torah by himself, he can have in mind to give a small percentage of the merit of his learning to the rest of the Jewish people, particularly to those who do not have the opportunity to learn Torah. This intent alone can help inspire others to do teshuvah, and will even give them the ability to rise at techiyat hameitim (the resurrection), because one cannot be resurrected without the merit of Torah. Many people donate money, but for selfish reasons, such as for honor, or to be rewarded with wealth. We must train ourselves to give because we care about other people. If we start caring about others, our avodat Hashem will improve, as well. We will become used to not doing whatever feels good, but what is right. You must learn to think on your own about how you can help others, not just to be told by someone else how to do so. When we approach Rosh Hashanah, we must commit to be somewhat better in the coming year. You must not take on too many commitments, because they will not last; even one point is fine, if you will really work with it throughout the year. Here is a suggestion: commit to spending one minute a day thinking about how you can help others, either spiritually or physically. If you focus on giving selflessly, Hashem will also give to you, measure for measure.

11- Far Rockaway- Shor Yoshuv- The gemara says (Makkos 24a) that Chavakuk stated that all the mitzvos have one foundation: “The righteous man lives with his emunah” (Chavakuk 2:4). Why is emunah the foundation of everything? Shouldn’t the foundation be Torah? After all, we know that the mitzvos are only garments of the soul, while Torah study is the food for the soul. The answer is that without proper emunah, the Torah study does not serve its purpose. The Torah was given as an outgrowth of the revelation of Hashem, and it must be learned in such a way. Before learning, we must think about Hashem and do teshuvah, so that the learning can connect us to Him. Just as with learning Torah, one is not really connected to the learning unless he automatically thinks about Torah even when not in the Beis Midrash, so should one automatically have thoughts about Hashem. If he doesn’t, there is no real connection. The learning is all in the mind, but not the heart, and he has not learned properly. When making our self-accounting for Rosh Hashanah, we must evaluate not only how much Torah we have learned, but how much of a real connection to Hashem and His Torah we have achieved.

12- Yeshiva University- Although practically speaking, many people cannot learn Torah and engage in spiritual endeavors all the time, all of us must maintain the highest ideals. We must know that the ideal is a purely spiritual life with no involvement at all in the material world. Practically speaking, each person must be pragmatic, and not try to give up too much of the material world at one time, lest he be unable to handle it. One must make small improvements, constantly moving in small steps toward a more spiritual life. Likewise, we should all strive to live in Eretz Yisrael, but practically speaking, it is not possible or appropriate for everyone. We must, however, at least remember that we are in golus. The point is that we must have the loftiest ideals, with practical small steps towards those ideals. This is why we must yearn daily for Mashiach: we must yearn for that kind of world. When we approach Rosh HaShanah, we must evaluate not how much good we have done, but how much we have aligned ourselves with spiritual values.

13- Woodmere- Bilvavi Chaburah- Rav Yechezkel Levenstein, zt”l, the Mashgiach of Ponovezh, said in one of his lectures that each person should strive to become a great person. Anyone can become great, regardless of age, lineage, and intelligence. A great person is one who is attached to Hashem, and ultimately, nullifies himself before Him. There are three means through which we must cleave to Hashem: our character traits, our thoughts, and our will.

One does not need to actually acquire character traits; the good traits are already deep inside us, but they are covered by the “foreskin of the heart.” One might intellectually accept the value of humility, but the heart might still be arrogant of its own accord. The simple way to fix the negative attributes is to gradually work with them, step by step, over a very long time. But the Ba’al Shem Tov taught that when entering a palace with many gates, there are two ways to enter: you can have a lot of different keys, and hopefully open each door in its own way, or you can take an ax and break through all the doors in the same manner. In other words, one can improve himself with tremendous dedication and energy and quickly break through the negative barriers. The gemara (Avodah Zarah 17a) tells that R’ Elazar ben Durdaya did powerful teshuvah in a short period of time and merited eternal life through it. He cried from the depth of his heart and died with repentance. We don’t need to die from repentance, but if we want that kind of quick growth, we need to feel tremendous pain over our faults, cry out to Hashem, and totally commit ourselves to Him. To extent that we give ourselves over to Hashem, we can achieve inner purity.

To cleave to Hashem through our thoughts, we need the proper kind of Torah knowledge. For our Torah to resemble Hashem’s wisdom in some way, it must have yashrus (clear and straight thinking). But we cannot achieve this on our own. We must attain wisdom from Hashem, and then it will automatically have yashrus. To attain wisdom from Hashem, we must sense that He is with us when we are learning Torah.

To cleave to Hashem through our will, we need not create a new will. Deep down, we already have the desire to do His will. We need only to nullify our superficial opposing will, and access our inner will, which is identical to His will.

One who achieves these three means of cleaving to Hashem will be nullified before Hashem, as Moshe Rabbeinu was. Such a person will have no sense of self, as the Divine Presence will speak from his throat. This is the state referred to as “ruach hakodesh.”

14- Woodmere- Aish Kodesh- When the gemara says (Kesuvos 110b) that one who lives in the Diaspora is domeh (like) one without a God, it doesn’t mean that Hashem’s Presence is not there. He is everywhere, and tzaddikim throughout the generations, including the authors of the gemara itself, lived in the Diaspora. What it means is that one will have a dimayon (illusion) that Hashem is not present there. In other words, it is more difficult to find the presence of Hashem outside of the Land of Israel. We are influenced by the nations around us, who pursue material values and correspondingly ignore spiritual values. Even if we don’t see them, our hearts feel their influence. But one who puts forth the necessary extra effort will find Hashem. The Torah says (Devarim 4:29), “And you will seek from there (the Diaspora) Hashem, your God, and you will find Him, if you search will all your heart and with all your soul.” I was told by three separate people not to bother visiting the United States. “The people there will have no interest in what you have to say,” they insisted. I did not listen to them, and thank God, I was not disappointed. I have met so many people here who truly yearn for Hashem, and just need guidance in how to become close to Him. There are many people in this country with an even stronger yearning for holiness than is generally found among the people in Israel. Here, you can see the emptiness of materialism more clearly and use this recognition to spark a true yearning for spiritual attainments.

In earlier generations, people lived very simply. Just look at pictures and descriptions of the Chofetz Chaim’s simple two-room home. Those people understood that this world is a temporary home, and that our lives should be focused on our permanent home in Gan Eden. People who consider this world their real abode are akin to a man in prison who focuses on decorating and renovating his cell, and does not even want to leave it when he is freed! It is permissible to buy a house; many tzaddikim did so. But you must remember that you will only be there for a number of decades at most, and that hopefully Mashiach will come soon, so that you can leave this place.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture by Dave Bender on Israel At Level Ground)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

James Madison on How the Yetzer Hara Perverts Reason

"As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves."

Federalist Papers #10

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

To What Extent Does a Ger Feel Alone?

A Simple Jew has posted a very nice Q & A session with a Ger by the name of Levi Yitzchak. It's recommended reading, as far as I'm concerned. Here's ASJ's question for Levi Yitzchak:

A Simple Jew asks:

Vayikra 25:23 states, "...for you are Geirim and residents with Me." To this, the Degel Machaneh Ephraim commented that it is the nature of a Ger to feel alone since he has no one in whom to confide. The Ger may only feel that he can open up and share his true feelings and experiences on the occasion when he meets another Ger. However, the Degel suggests that Hashem is all is also Ger in this world since He too is all alone.As someone who has undergone an Orthodox Geirus, to what degree can you relate and identify with these words from the Degel Machaneh Ephraim?

Levi Yitzchock responds:

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

Even Our Mistakes Will Not Be Wasted

R’ Mordechai Yosef from Izbitz gives us an amazing teaching in Parshas Ki Seitzei, which really gives a person hope that nothing into which they invested love, interest, and sacrifice throughout their lives is lost. Even those things that weren’t right will still be redeemed and shown to have had a place.

He teaches us this by going through the whole seder haparsha, starting with the Eishes Yifas Toar. He starts out by pointing saying that the lashon “v’chashakta bah,” is a very strong word to use for “desire”. He also points that the Torah isn’t geared towards the lowest common denominator of people. Therefore, we’re talking about a person who is holy, a Tzadik which’s fighting in this milchemes reshus, and who is someone who has separated himself from ta’ava and worldy desire. Therefore, when he finds himself with a cheishek, a very strong desire for this woman, he truly sees in this some hashgacha pratis, that such a desire is not a product of his own cultivation of ta’avos, but rather it must be that he really sees something good in her and that is why he’s drawn to her. So he takes her according to the laws of the Eishes Yifas Toar.

It turns out though that she isn’t the hidden Tzadekes that he thought she was. And he’s now not only very disappointed in this fact, but he is also quite upset at himself that he was attracted to her to begin with. He worries that perhaps there was nothing good that he really saw in her and maybe he was just having a stam ta’ava for her, and that that desire he had for what he thought was the good within her was just an illusiory trick of the yetzer hara. However, he comforts himself by saying that it must be that they were have a good son together and that this would turn out well

But unfortunately, this man is beset by tragedy again and his son turns out to be a ben Sorer U’moreh. He has to take his son to the Beis Din and watch them kill him for stealing a little meat and wine. Now, he truly feels broken. Now, he can’t even look to their son as the nekuda tova that came out of his wife whom he originally desired. He really feels now that it was all for nothing.

But Hashem comforts him in three ways.

#1: He sees that after his son is executed, his body is hung. However, the Torah says it must be removed before nightfall, "ki Kilelas Elokim Talui." This means that even this person who deserved to be executed is still called a tzelem Elokim to the extent that it would be a Chilul Hashem to let his body just hang there. So he sees that in fact the son did posess a tzelem Elokim and that there was, therefore, a nekuda tova in him that only now, in the fulfillment of this halacha of removing his body after execution, is that fact of his tzelem Elokim revealed.

#2: The halacha for why he is executed after merely stealing some wine and meat is, "Tamus Zakai v'al tamus chayav." That means that the Torah is testifying that at this point in his son's life, he is called, "Zakai." Innocent. And this fact of his "zakai" status is only revealed in the ben sorer u'morer process. So the birur, clarification of the good in him is thus revealed in the halacha of ben sorer or morer its self.

#3: Later in the parsha, we have the halacha of Hashavas Ha'aveida. This means that lost objects must be returned. That cheishek that he had originally for the Eishes Yifas Toar feels to him like a "lost object," something which went for nothing. The halacha of hashavas aveida comforts this man by teaching him that Hashem will return every lost desire, decision, or mistake. Hashem will show him that in the end, based on #1 and #2 above, his original cheishek will be vindicated as having a purpose.

The Ish Hayisraeli is a chashuv thing and originates from the highest places in Shamayim. He would not have a cheishek unless it was directed at something truly good. It does not look this way on the outside, but the good points that one might be attracted to are often hidden in the lowest things. Many might be attracted to the "fallen" form of that nekuda tova. But deep inside, the only reason a Jew can be attacted to that thing in the first place is because of the true, good root of that nekuda tova.

May Hashem lift up and cleanse all of the ta'avos nefulos that we have had redeem those "lost" desires and energies that we have spent!

-Dixie Yid

(Painting is of the "Valley of the Dry Bones" - same message!)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Bracha For a Thief & Elul Thoughts by SRV

Check out Yitz's post at Heichal Hanegina!

A Bracha... For a Thief at Heichal Hanegina by Yitz

Beautiful lyrics that are so apropos to Elul from a SRV song posted at A Simple Jew...

-Dixie Yid

Great Story from Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh Author's American trip

Due to all that I have been writing recently about the Rav Itamar Shwartz's visit to the United States and the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim, I have been zoche to be contacted by several people who have been at various shiurim that Rav Shwartz has given. I want to share one story that personifies the unification that Rav Shwartz is revealing in the different darchei avodah.

Rav Shwartz spoke at the Belzer Kollel in Monsey, NY. (That shiur can be downloaded and listened to here.) His drasha was filled with the guidance and words of the Baal Shem Tov and the Talmidei Baal Shem Tov. From what I heard, the chevrah there were really lit on fire from his words and were inspired to deepen and internalize the message of Kirvas Hashem. I was told that two of the Chassidim were talking after the shiur and one of them asked the other one, "So what kind of Chossid is he?" And the other one answered, "An emesdikeh Chossid!"

The second story took place in a mostly Litvish yeshiva, Shor Yoshuv, in Far Rockaway, NY (which is also available for download/streaming audio here). There, Rav Shwartz gave over his message with teachings from the GR"A, the Talmidei haGR"A, the Mashgiach from Ponovicz, and the like. I heard that one of the top talmidim there was heard to have said, "Now that's a true Litvak!"

When these two stories were told over to Rav Shwartz and his translator/gabai, Ofer, he (Ofer) responded, "Now you understand who the Rav is."

May we be zocheh to see and understand the oneness and unification that underlies all flavors of Darchei Avodah!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

Monday, September 3, 2007

My Parents Beautiful New House in the Smokey Mountains

My parents are nearing the completion of a beautiful house in the Smokey Mountains by a small lake and overlooking a bluff, in which to enjoy my father's near retirement and retirement. "Oh I wish I was in Dixie."

-Dixie Yid

Dixie Yid's Take On the Bilvavi Author Starting Out Anonymously

Here's my take on why the author of the seforim Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, started off anonymously, from a Hashgacha Pratis perspective. If everyone knew who the author was at the very beginning when the seforim first began to come out about 3 years ago, then I believe that it would have been an impediment to the wide ranging acceptance the seforim have had. As it is, during his visit to the Eastern United States, Rav Shwartz spoke to Litvish Yeshivos, Kollelim and Baalabatim, Sephardi Yeshivos and Kollelim and Baalabatim, a Chassidishe kollel, a modern orthodox yeshiva, and to numerous FFB and BT Baalabatim from all backgrounds.

I believe that some would not have given the seforim a chance, if they knew who the author was at the beginning. Many might have said that the author is too young. Others would have said that since he's not coming from a Chassidisheh background, or their particular Chassidishe background, it's not for them. And Sephardim might dismiss it because it's from an Ashkenazi Rav.

As it was, no one knew who the author was or what his background or "denominational affiliation" was. Therefore, the seforim were judged based on their content, not the group affiliation of the author. Since the seforim draw light from many different paths in avodas Hashem and Torah, everyone saw the teachings of their own group in his writings. Everyone figured, "Look at what he says here, he's a Breslover!" "He's Sephardi!" "He's a Litvak!" "He's a Lubavitcher!" Since everyone saw the amazing clarity and direction that the seforim provided in focusing an individual's avodah in this world, they accepted it for its content, notwithstanding the mysterious identity of its author. Before you know it, the seforim were being studied in Litvish yeshivos, Chassidishe communities, Sephardi Shuls, and modern orthodox enclaves.

In the past 3 months, as the author's identity has become known, people are finding out that the author has a certain background, but that he draws his teachings from a unification of many different sources. This is why everyone was able to see their own mesorah in his teachings. Once they were learning the seforim and it had become accepted in their communities, people weren't going to stop learning them, simply because of some difference between the author's background and their own. It is for this exceedingly great advantage that I believe much good has come from the author starting out anonymously.

I told Rav Weinberger this theory of mine in the conversation that I wrote about before. He very much liked the idea, and in a subsequent conversation, told me that he told over my thought to Rav Shwartz himself!

We should all be zocheh to internalize the message of consciousness of Hashem at all times, that Rav Shwartz teaches about in his seforim!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Yoram Raanan)

Thoughts on Punishment/Kapara by Executed Man

As Yomim Nora'im approach, I was affected by the thoughts of the murderer, Gary Gilmore which he wrote to a friend, while he was waiting to be executed on Utah's Death Row, reflecting on the meaning of his impending execution:

"Recently it has begun to make
a little sense. I owe a debt, from
a long time ago.

Once you asked me if I was the devil,
remember? I'm not. The devil would
be far more clever than I, would
operate on a much larger scale and
of course would feel no remorse.
So I'm not Beezelbub. And I know
the devil can't feel love. But I might
be further from God than I am from the
devil. Which is not a good thing. It seems
that I know evil more intimately than I
know goodness and that's not a good thing
either. I want to get even, to be made
whole, my debts paid (whatever it may take!)
to have no blemish, no reason to feel guilt or
fear.... I'd like to stand in the sight of God.
To know that I'm just and right and clean."

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of The Biography Channel)

Sunday, September 2, 2007