Thursday, April 30, 2009

Audio Shiur on Bilvavi Volume 2, Ch. 11 - Part 2 - Rabbi Boruch Leff

Rabbi Boruch Leff has shared another shiur he gave this week on Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, Vol. 2, Ch. 11. If you missed Part 1, click here.

The shiur touched on the following topics:

  1. How we can connect with Hashem even at work
  2. How we can feel Hashem is with us at all times
  3. Active Hashgacha vs. Passive Hashgacha
  4. How free will works in tandem with Hashgacha
P.S. You can get "Shabbos in My Soul," Volumes 1 and 2 by Rabbi Leff, for the price of one, HERE.

CLICK HERE to listen to/download the shiur. (wav format)

Picture courtesy of flikr. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Pictures of New Zman at Koidinover Yeshiva, Bnei Brak

Here are a few pictures from the beginning of the new zman at the Koidinover Yeshiva in Bnei Brak. The pictures feature the Koidinover Rebbe, who has visited my community a couple of times in the past year or so. Pictures courtesy of Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin.

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Handy Dandy Skirt Length Tznius Ruler


Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Don't Waste This Opportunity for the Redemption- Translation of Sudilkover Rebbe's Letter

A few weeks ago, I translated a letter written by A Simple Jew's rebbe, the Sudilkover Rebbe. In it, he discussed how we find ourselves at a very important time in the process of the redemption and how we have to daven stronger than ever that Moshiach come now, and not to waste this chance.

A Simple Jew: This Opportunity, So Ripe For Redemption, Will Be Wasted

P.S. I translated another article by the Sudilkover Rebbe very early in this blog's history. It was on the topic of the meaning of Chassidic stories. You can read that translation in two parts here:

Part 1
Part 2

Picture courtesy of Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Guest Post By Yoseph Robsinson, Ger From Jamaica - Some Background

I asked Yoseph Robinson, who Gruntig recently posted about, to write a guest post about his journey and how he discovered Yiddishkeit. It is an interesting introduction. Feel free to ask Yoseph any questions you have about his fascinating journey.
In Hollywood you would think we had it all, and in a manner of speaking, we did. I lived in Beverly Hills, I alternated between driving a Hummer, Bentley and a Jaguar convertible, and went to the wildest party scenes. I mean I went to Jamie Fox's house, I double dated with Jay Z, I met Shakheil O'neal, Kobe Bryant, Usher, Steve Harvey, and many, many others.

Holywood life, however, and the music industry included, could be summed up in one word: plastic. The stereotypes are accurate. The hip-hop music culture centers on money, girls, drugs, cars, money, jewelry, money, and EGO. I was leading a life of unabashed and unfettered self-indulgence. It was all-consuming and it was pointless.

We felt our talent and creativity entitled us to all the pleasures of the world and then some. Sure, we also worked hard but our arrogance and sense of entitlement knew no bounds. I'm a contemplative person by nature, and the hedonistic lifestyle was wearing me down psychically, and even physically. In addition, tensions in my music company were brewing and the loyalty of those closest to me were suspect.

I decided to leave the world of Hollywood behind and the only option was to make a total break from my previous life. I would say discovering Judaism was merely coincidental, but Hakadosh Baruch Hu, it seems, had a plan for me. The story is quite simple.. I walked into a book store and asked to buy a Bible. It turns out, I was in a Judaica store and I bought a Hirsch English edition of the Chumash. I was immediately hooked. I was moved, I was inspired, and I felt connected to something deeper and greater than anything I had ever encountered in my entire life.

I took Judaism classes for a period of two and a half years at Toras Hashem and the conversion itself was conducted by the Beis Din of North Hollywood headed by Rabbi Zvi Block. I live in Brooklyn, New York and I daven at the Agudas Israel of Ave L.

I am currently writing a memoir. It starts with my childhood in Jamaica, my street life in Brooklyn and then in Philly, my move to LA, and my journey to Judaism, which is ongoing. I hope my story can entertain, as well as inspire. I also hope that my circumstance can help facilitate communication and sensitivity between all races, cultures, and religions.

Thanks for reading and I hope you come along for the ride!

Yoseph Robinson
Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Ve'Lerushalayim Ircha: Bringing Moshiach "In" Our Days With the Closeness and Urgency "Of" Our Days - Audio Shiur

In his latest shiur on the topic of berchas "VeLerushalayim Ircha" in Shmoneh Esrei, Reb Yerachmiel of the Baltimore Community Kollel discussed the basic and more elaborate meanings of the words "Bekarov Beyamainu" ("soon and in our days"), as well the related phrase "Bimhaira Beyamainu" ("speedily in our days").

Additionally, using a yesod borrowed from his Rebbi, Rav Shmuel Brazil shlita, Reb Yerachmiel suggested a more novel upteitch to inspire us all to not only yearn for Moshiach's arrival in our days, but to help bring it (i) "with the quality of our days" ("beyamainu"), (ii) "with our desire for Kirvas Elokim" ("bekarov") and (iii) "with the middah of Torahdik haste" ("bimhaira").

CLICK HERE to get the shiur by either listening right away by left clicking or right clicking and selecting "Save Target As."

Picture courtesy of travel-images. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Filling the Soul's Need for Excitement and Avoiding "Empty Yiddishkeit"

I wrote yesterday about how being brought up with negative associations with Yiddishkeit can lead to children/teenagers/young adults going off the derech, leaving the path of halachic observance.

But the truth is, one must ask himself what kind of Yiddishkeit was there in his home to begin with? Was there really that much for the child to leave? Or was it all a mile wide and an inch deep?

Faranak Margolese, in her book Off the Derech, addressed the problems of "empty Yiddishkeit" in chapter 11. She talked about some people never grow up with all kinds of bad or horrible experiences in their families or with Yiddishkeit. They left observance, but it did not follow divorce, abuse, yelling parents, condemning principles, Morahs or Rebbeim. They had a relatively happy, normal time growing up. So what was the problem? Why did they leave observance behind?

It is "empty Yiddishkeit," or as Mrs. Margolese calls it, "neutral" Judaism. It is clear that leaving observance often is the result of having a Yiddishkeit that is void of spirituality, passion, or love of G-d. My rebbe always quotes Tzav V'Ziruz #9 (from the Piaczena Rebbe, Rav Klonymous Kalmish Shapira) in this regard for an absolutely fundamental point that one must understand in order to successfully raise one's self and one's children (adaptive translation):
The soul craves excitement and sensation. This does not only apply to joyful feelings alone. Rather, it merely loves "feeling." It even desires sadness and crying. People love to watch horrifyig scenes, and to hear scary stories, even to the point of causing one's self to cry, just in order to feel something. This is an absolute requirement of the soul, like any of a person's other natural needs.

Therefore, only one who fulfills this requirement with Avodas Hashem and with exciting Torah and tefillah will guard his soul. But if someone does the work of serving Hashem without feeling, then the soul will gratify its need for excitement with other, cheaper things, even through aveiros, just in order to fulfill its fundamental need for excitement. Or, if it is unable to achieve excitement through anything at all, it will become diseased, as it would if any of its other physical needs were not met.
I think of this teaching often and I think I need to re-read it even more frequently. It is fundamental to understand its principle not only for the way I bring up my children, but also for how I live my life as a Jew personally.

If I do not bring up my children in such a way that mitzvos, learning, chessed, davening, Seudos, Shabbos, brachos, etc. are exciting, then the question will not be whether they will simply continue living without that excitement or not. Rather, they WILL achieve excitement. The only question is: Through what?

If my kids see me getting excited and jumping up and down at a baseball game, but falling asleep whenever I pick up a sefer to learn, where will they learn they can fulfill their soul's need for excitement? If they see my wife's eyes light up when new furniture is delivered or when buying a new dress, but if they never see her saying Tehillim or speaking words of Emunah with great feeling, then where will they learn that exicement can be found?

If one looks at his (or her) own feelings and finds that avodas Hashem/Yiddishkeit is not one's main source of joy/pleasure/excitement in life, then *this is a major problem,* both for one's own situation and for how one's children will grow up. It should be a wake-up call to start taking whatever steps fit the predilictions of one's own soul to start reorienting one's hopes and dreams about what will give him fulfillment and excitement in life.

Once a person at least gets on the right track by moving in the right direction in avoiding empty Yiddishkeit, and moving toward a fulfilling Yiddiksheit, then he will take a major step in avoiding that particular cause that could lead to one's children going off the derech.

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

How Jews Eat - Video

IY"H, I'm having a guest post at A Simple Jew soon about eating, specifically on Shabbos. I thought this video, created by and Judy Prays was very interesting.

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Video Profile of Alan Vinegard, NFL Ba'al Teshuva

Gruntig posted this beautiful video. This is a feature story from a sports TV show about Alan Veingard, who played for the Greenbay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys, and whose team won the Superbowl in 1993. He's now a very frum, Erlicheh Yid who davens and learns at Chabad of Coral Springs, FL. The Chabad rabbi there is interviewed as well. Check out Gruntig's post too, he has some other links to videos and other websites about Alan and his journey back to Yiddishkeit.

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

How Can We Prevent Our Kids From Dropping the Tablets Because "They're Too Heavy"?

Since Thursday, I have been chewing over the quote that Chana, from the Curious Jew blog, brought from Off the Derech, by Faranak Margolese.

This was a letter that a recently rebellious son left for his father after they had started to reconcile with one another:

Dear Father,

We are both blind. You don't always see how much I have done for you and I don't always see how much you taught me. But you think that I took the Tablets and I just threw them to the ground. That's not what happened. They were too heavy and they simply dropped from my hands.

First, I have to say that I definitely have to recommend Off the Derech to every parent, future parent, teacher, or future teacher. As I have written before, I think that no one can afford to take for granted that any given child will always stay "on the derech" and therefore one helpful strategy that should permeate parenting is keeping in mind some of the factors that are commonly associated with kids going off the derech, and then planning out one's life and parenting so as to avoid those mistakes.

That being said, I would like to darshen this young man's words a little bit. If observance ("The Tablets") really were too heavy to carry, then everyone would go off the derech. The problem is not that they are too heavy. The problem is when they are made to seem too heavy, or that to a specific child/young person, they seem too heavy.

As I said the comment section of my recent post on why people to away to hotels for Pesach, any amount of avodah seems burdensome when it is merely seen as drudgery. When parents and teachers create a Yiddishkeit that is full of negative associations, guilt, pressure and judging, then halachic observance will feel "too heavy" and may slip out of the hands of the next generation.

Our job as Jews is to live a Yiddishkeit and teach a Yiddishkeit to our kids that is positive, full of love, and is designed al pi darko, specifically for each person so that no one feels like they are a square peg being shoved in a round hole. That way, we can avoid bringing up our children in an environment of "negative Yiddishkeit."

Negative Yiddishkeit is one major problem when raising our children and ourselves. Empty Yiddishkeit is another major problem that I want to write a little bit about tomorrow. I would say that negative Yiddishkeit is a larger problem in the "frummer" parts of the frum community and that empty Yiddishkeit is the larger problem in the more modern or less frum parts of the frum community. Although I think that much of the time, both problems exist in both communities.

More tomorrow...

Picture courtesy of Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bilvavi Mishakn Evneh, Vol. 2, Ch. 11 - Audio Shiur by R' Boruch Leff

I would like to share this shiur on Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh Vol. 2, Ch. 11 by Rabbi Boruch Leff. As you can see by following the link on Rabbi Leff's name, he has been speaking and writing a lot on the teachings of Bilvavi in Baltimore and in various magazines and newspapers.

CLICK HERE to download the wav file of the shiur.

Picture courtesy of Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Ve'Lerushalayim Ircha: Talking Torah on "KaAsher DeBartah" - Audio Shiur

Reb Yerachmiel has come through with a special shiur from the Baltimore Community Kollel Tefillah Chaburah. This time it's in two parts:

Part 1
Part 2

Picture courtesy of Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Photo of Birkas HaChama in Antarctica

Picture courtesy of Shimon Balakhani, of Baltimore, MD. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rebbetzin Yehudis Golshevsky - Breslov Chassidus on Sefiras HaOmer - Audio Shiur

I am pleased to present Rebbetzin Yehudis Golshevsky's first shiur in her series on Breslov Chassidus on Sefiras Haomer. For Women Only. The following sources were covered in the shiur:

  • Likutei Halachos, Sefiras Ha'Omer 1, first part.
  • Based on Likutei Moharan I:6

CLICK HERE to download the shiur.

Picture courtesy of naaleh. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Don't Cause Yourself An Early Death By Wasting Your Life

Over Shabbos, Rebbe spoke (based on a piece in Tiferes Shimshon [Pincus]) about the idea that one's potential self is actually "created" before he is. Not only that, every mitzvah, every bit of Torah, Tehillim and Chesed that one does is created before he or she is, in Shamayim. Then Hashem creates each of us with our own unique kishronos, talents and kochos, abilities, in order to bring those mitzvos that Hashem put in shamayim down to the earth. And he said that when we fail to do that mitzvah, learn that Torah, do that chesed, or when we fail to become the pre-created self that exists in Heaven, that mitzvah or Torah in shamayim is destroyed by our failure to reach our potential. When we don't become or do what we should, we should not only mourn for our failure to do something that we could have done. We should also mourn for the destruction of that image in shamayim of what we should have brought into the world.

I saw a similar idea in the 2nd piece in Tzav V'zeiruz, by the Piaczetzna Rebbe, Rav Kalonymos Kalmish Shapira. He says that every year one should write out a picture of what he plans to be the next year. One should write out what his attainments will be, what kind of avodas Hashem he will have, what aveiros he won't be doing, what he will have learned, how his davening will be, etc. Let's say a person's name is Chaim. He should use that picture of the year 2010 Chaim as a measure against which he should gauge how he's doing throughout the year. He can ask himself whether he actions, as they are going now, are such that they will allow him to become the 2010 version of Chaim that he set out at the beginning of the year.

He says that if, after the year, he sees that he has not even reached the heels of that 2010 Chaim that he imagined a year ago, then it comes that that this 2010 Chaim's life was shortened by a year. If one hasn't grown or worked at achieving an elevation of himself over the past year, then perhaps when one is 30 years old, the only "Chaim" that he will have brought to the light of this world will be the Chaim of 13 years old, when he was Bar Mitzvah.

What will happen when a person dies at the "ripe old age of 85?" If that person only worked on himself for about two years of his life, then the real him that he brought into the world only made it to the age of 15. And when someone dies at the age of 15, it is a big tragedy. That person should mourn the loss of the death of his potential at the age of 15.

In contrast, it says about Avraham, "And Avraham was old, he came with his days." What does this mean? He came to his death with all of his days up to that age. There was a potential Avraham in Shamayim that Avraham should have brought down into the world by the time he died and he succeeding in bringing all of those days with him as he approached the grave.

Rav Weinberger told over a story he heard from Rav Shalom Swadron in 1980. He said that Rav Shalom told a "ma'aseh she'haya," a true story, that all of the souls in heaven were given 30 minutes to come back to this world. During this time, they all rushed around to apologize to people they'd wronged during their lifetimes, to learn Torah, to say Tehillim, to give Tzedaka, to return a stolen object, etc. They had no time to talk to anyone because in the world of truth, they understood the value of these things and didn't want to lose a second. A bas kol came down announcing how much time they had left and they rushed more and more vigorously as the clock would down trying to squeeze in every good deed they could before they ran out of time. And as Rav Shalom reached the point when the bas kol was about to announce that the 30 minutes were up, he paused for a long time and then said...

"And nu, what would be so bad if we have more than half an hour in this world to take advantage of...?"

Picture of Rav Shalom Schwadron courtesy of ohrdaniel. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Explaining the Non-Observance of Yom HaShoah - Guest Post by Yosef Hakohen

Why I Defy Death through Speech:

“I shall not die, but I shall live and relate the deeds of God!” (Psalm 118:17)

Dear Friends,

I discovered my Jewish spiritual roots in my youth, and I am part of the generation that sang the following verse from a song by Joni Mitchell about the spiritual seekers that attended the Woodstock Music Festival of 1969:

“We are stardust, we are golden, and we've got to get ourselves back to the Garden.”

The Garden of Eden is mentioned in the Torah, and I therefore discuss with spiritual seekers various Torah teachings regarding the Garden. The following is a brief summary of one of the themes which I often discuss: Adam and Eve had the potential to live forever when they were still in the Garden of Eden, and had they continued to fulfill the Divine mandate “to serve and protect” the Garden (Genesis 2:15), death would not have come into the world. When, however, they stopped viewing the world as a place for serving and instead began to view the world as a place for selfish gratification, they felt free to eat from the “forbidden fruit”; thus, death entered the world (Genesis 2:17). In the era of our complete renewal and redemption, Hashem, the Compassionate and Life-Giving One, will eliminate death, as it is written:

“He will eliminate death forever; and the Master of All, Hashem God, will erase tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:8).

The era of the death of death has not yet arrived. In the meanwhile, human societies have developed various rituals and customs which honor and commemorate the departed. For example, some societies have the custom to have a period of silence in honor of the departed. Our spiritual tradition does not have this particular custom; nevertheless, after the State of Israel was established, its secular leaders decided to institute this custom on the State’s official days of mourning.

The wise King Solomon wrote:

“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to be silent, and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7)

A study of our spiritual tradition reveals that there are occasions when silence is sacred and meaningful. For example, King David, the sweet singer of Israel, proclaimed to Hashem: “To You, silence is praise” (Psalm 65:2 – translation of Rashi).This awareness leads to the following question: Why does our tradition not have a custom of honoring the departed through an official period of silence?

Death itself is the great silencer. This awareness is expressed in the following verse, where, as some commentators point out, “silence” is used as a metaphor for death:

“It is not the dead that praise God, and not all those who go down into silence. (Psalm 115:17)

Instead of reinforcing the silence of death through more silence, we honor the departed through holy human speech – an expression of life! The following verse can help us to understand this idea:

“And Hashem God formed the human being of dust from the earth, and He blew into his nostrils the soul of life, and the human became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

Targum Onkelos is the ancient and revered Aramaic translation of the Torah, and regarding the soul of life which caused the human being to become a living being, Targum Onkelos states:

“It became within the human being a speaking spirit.”

It is through the soul of life within us – the “speaking spirit” – that we honor the departed. One of the ways in which we honor the departed is through saying the Kaddish prayer which opens with these words:

May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified in the world which He created as He willed.

“His great Name” refers to the most sacred Divine Name that we respectfully refer to as “Hashem” – the Name. According to the Vilna Gaon, the most sacred Divine Name expresses the following idea: “He gives existence to all.” (Cited in “Shaarei Aharon,” in the commentary on Genesis 2:4)

As Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains, the meaning and grammatical form of this Divine Name denotes not only the One Who grants existence, but the One Who is always ready to grant new life (commentary to Genesis 2:4).

There is no mention of the dead in the Kaddish, and its major theme is the sanctification of the Name of the Life-Giving One in “this” world. Why, then, do we chant the Kaddish in memory of the departed?

The neshamah – soul – is sent down into this world in order to sanctify the Name of the Life-Giving One through her own life-giving words and deeds. When a neshamah leaves this world, there is a void, for this neshamah is no longer able to sanctify the Divine Name in this world. We therefore recognize our responsibility to fill this void, and we proclaim: May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified in the world which He created as He willed.

We say the above words in memory of the souls of the departed; thus, these souls become a cause of our increasing Kiddush Hashem – the Sanctification of the Divine Name – in this world. Our Kaddish therefore brings merit to their souls.

Another way of bringing merit to their souls is by saying words of Torah in their memory, as the words of Torah increase life. In this spirit, the wise King Solomon wrote concerning the words of Torah: “For they are life to the one who finds them” (Proverbs 4:22); moreover, King Solomon also described the Torah as “a tree of life” (Proverbs 3:18).

Eretz Yisrael – the Land of Israel – is especially suitable for the life-giving Torah, as before we entered the Land, Moshe, our great teacher, proclaimed to us: “See! I have taught you statutes and social laws, as Hashem, my God, has commanded me, to do so in the midst of the Land” (Deuteronomy 4:5). We are to fulfill the life-giving Torah in all the regions of this sacred land, and this may be one of the reasons why King David proclaimed:

“I shall walk before Hashem in the lands of the living.” (Psalm 116:9)

“The lands of the living” – Eretz Yisrael (Commentaries of Rashi and Radak)

All of our activities within “the lands of the living” should be in the spirit of the life-giving Torah, including the way in which we honor the departed. It is with this awareness that I relate to the official days of mourning in the State of Israel, including the day which the government calls, Yom HaShoah V’HaGevurah – the Day for Remembering the Holocaust and the Heroism.

I live in Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem, and when the siren goes off on Yom HaShoah – the government’s signal to be still and silent for two minutes – I am usually at home. When I hear the siren, I feel a bond of love with all our brothers and sisters who are using this occasion to honor in their way the precious souls that were taken from us during the Holocaust, but I am not still and silent. Instead, I chant words of Torah in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust, and I also pray for the great comfort and redemption of our people. If, however, I would be in a public area where there are other Jews who are following this secular custom when the siren is heard, I would also observe this custom, in order not to hurt the feelings of others who do not yet understand why this is not a Jewish custom. This is also why most of the Torah-committed Jews who do not observe this custom when at home or in their own religious communities will observe this custom when they are in a public area with Jews who do not share their understanding.

Many of those who do not observe the custom of a period of silence on Yom HaShoah when they are at home or in their own religious communities are Holocaust survivors, the children of Holocaust survivors, or the relatives of those who perished in the Holocaust. Their response to the Holocaust is to renew Jewish life – physically and spiritually. They therefore strive to bring more Jewish children into the world; moreover, they have renewed some of the Torah centers and communities that were destroyed in Europe. They also organize or support outreach programs which are designed to strengthen the Jewish identity and commitment of unaffiliated Jews with little or no Jewish education. In terms of my own life, the awareness of the Holocaust was a major factor in my decision to devote my life to Jewish outreach and education, for as sociologists point out, assimilation is a major threat to the survival of our people.

Through the full renewal of our people, we will “walk before Hashem in the lands of the living.” And through this full renewal, we will experience the ultimate redemption when, “He will eliminate death forever; and the Master of All, Hashem God, will erase tears from all faces.”

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

Related Teachings:

1. Although we do not have a custom of “honoring” the departed through a period of silence, there are occasions when silence may be helpful during the mourning process. For example, there is a mitzvah to visit and comfort the mourner during the seven-day mourning period; however, we are to also be aware that there are periods when the mourner may wish to be silent. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch discussed the laws and customs of mourning in “Horeb” – his noted work on the Torah’s mitzvos, and regarding the mitzvah to offer words of comfort, he writes in Chapter 43:

“Do not offer any word of comfort until you see that the mourner desires it –otherwise show him your sympathy by your silence, for your very presence evidences sympathy (Yorah Deah, 376).”

The source in Yorah Deah which Rabbi Hirsch referred to mentions that someone who goes to comfort the mourner should be silent until the mourner initiates the conversation.

2. There is a special Kaddish chanted at the burial of the body of the deceased, and this Kaddish opens with the following words:

May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified in the world which will be renewed, and where He will resurrect the dead and raise them up to eternal life.

This Kaddish is also chanted when a tractate of the Talmud is completed – a reminder that the study and fulfillment of Torah leads to eternal life.

Hazon – Our Universal Vision

Picture courtesy of Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Hashem Bypasses All of Our Calculations and Our Sins to Redeem Us

Rav Moshe Weinberger spoke, in his pre-Pesach drasha, about how the main nekuda that we had to focus on was Hashem's unabiding love for us, no matter what we have done.

He said that we see that one of Moshe's biggest questions that he sought to have answered leading up to the redemption from Egypt was why Hashem would redeem us when we were so unworthy. We see this question when Moshe saw that two Jews were fighting with each other and he said "Now I see that the thing is known," which the meforshim explain meant that now Moshe knew why they were being enslaved, because they were acting wickedly.

Rav Weinberger said though that Hashem answered Moshe that he was not redeeming the Jewish people because they were worthy, but rather, it was just because of His great love for them alone. Hashem sent this message through the Sneh, the burning bush. Moshe saw that even though the bush was being enveloped by fire which should have destroyed it, it was nevertheless not being consumed because that was Hashem's will. Moshe then underststood that similarly, the Jewish people may be full of aveiros and perhaps by all accounts, should be destroyed by Egypt. But since Hashem desires to save them they too will not be consumed by the fire of Egypt.

He shared an amazing in Medresh in Psikta D'Rav Kahana on Parshas Hachodesh (page 13 of the pdf) that goes as follows:
Moshe told them that they would be redeemed and they responded that Hashem said to Avraham (Breishis 15:13)" וַעֲבָדוּם, וְעִנּוּ אֹתָם--אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת, שָׁנָה," "And they [your descendants] will serve them [the Egyptians] and they will opress them for 400 years." But we have only been in Egypt for 210 years! He [Moshe] said to them, "Since he desires to redeem you, he is not looking at your calculations. Rather (Shir Hashirim 2:8) "מְדַלֵּג, עַל-הֶהָרִים, "He skips over mountains," over end-of-times-calculations, and "מְקַפֵּץ, עַל הַגְּבָעוֹת," "he skips over hills," this refers to calculations...

Rav Nechemia: When [Moshe] said to the Jewish people, "In this month [Nisan] you shall be redeemed," they said to him, "And how can we be redeemed?! The land of Egype is full our idols!" Moshe said to them, "Since he desires to redeem you, he does not look at your idol worthsip. Rather, (Shir Hashirim 2:8) "מְדַלֵּג, עַל-הֶהָרִים, "He skips over mountains," this refers to your idols...
Part of Rav Weinberger's main point in that drasha was that we should always remember, especially during Nisan, the month of redemption, that Hashem loves us unconditionally and just like he redeemed us from Egypt, He will redeem us with the final redemption soon in our days.

Picture courtesy of Aish Kodesh Birkas Hachama pictures. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Eating the Bread of Faith on the Eighth Day of Pesach - Moshiach's Meal

Rav Weinberger spoke about some very fundamental inyanim at the Moshiach Seuda at our shul. He gave a great background introduction into why the Baal Shem Tov instituted the Moshiach seuda and what it all means.

He taught that the Meor Einayim in many places, and especially Parshas Pinchas, based on the Kisvei Arizal and the Zohar, says that every Jew has the presence of Moshiach within him. There is a little bit of the neshoma of Moshiach in every Jew, and therefore, even though our hope for Moshiach is often concealed, we all have the ability to believe in the coming of Moshiach because he is already a reality that exits in our very beings.

Similarly, he showed how a similar idea exists with regard to our belief in Hashem. Hashem is not just some entity outside of ourselves that we are told, by some kind of Divine fiat, that we must believe in. The Tanya in perakim 18-20 teaches that Emunah in Hashem is really already part of every Jew. Since, as the Baal Hatanya says in the first perek, every Jew has within him a "חלק אלוה ממעל ממש," a "piece" (kevayachol) of Hashem within him, believing in Hashem is part and parcel of the person since Hashem is already present within him.

Sometimes people don't think that they believe in Hashem or that their Emunah in Hashem is weak, or that they have questions in Emunah. But this is only because the klipahs, tumahs and confusions of this world have concealed their knowledge of Hashem's presence. Hashem is "part" of us so if we would know our true selves, our inherent knowlege and consciousness of Hashem's presence would be revealed in our minds and hearts.

I also wanted to point out that the Aish Kodesh, the Rebbe of Piasetzna in Tzav V'Ziruz #13 makes the same point. He talkes about how we have all seen seforim that try to prove the existence of Hashem through science, logic, philosphy, history, etc. But he says that a Jew who has removed his inner blockages and obstacles will recognize the existence of Hashem from his own soul. Again, this is because Hashem is there in the soul of every Jew. Therefore, the only thing one needs to do to have true and deep Emunah in Hashem is to remove the ta'avah, the dirt, etc. that covers up our existing recognition of Hashem's presence. Then our pre-existing knowledge of Hashem's presence will be revealed without the need for any "external proofs."

It's the same idea with Moshiach. Since the Meor Einyaim says that a bit of the neshoma of Moshiach is in every Jew, the belief in the coming of Moshiach would be revealed within us if only we would know ourselves.

We know that there's an hisorerus, an awakening of the presence of, and the potential for, Moshiach on Achron Shel Pesach, the last day of Pesach because Chazal were mesakein, instituted the haftara on the topic of Yemos HaMoshiach for the 8th day of Pesach. So why do we have a seuda with matza at the Moshiach Seuda?

The Zohar calls Matza "נהמא דמהימנותא," the bread of Emunah. By eating this "bread of faith" at a time when there is an awakening for Moshiach, we hope to inbibe that Emunah in the coming of Moshiach into our inner selves.

There are two levels of understanding the truth of Emunah. In a bechina, an aspect, of Makif or in the aspect of Penimi. Makif means an understanding of Hashem's presence which is surrounding and which one knows about, but which is "out there." But the understanding of Hashem's presence which is Penimi means that a person feels Hashem in every crevice of his being. It is an understanding of Hashem where Emunah is absorbed into every pore of his body. As it was said about one of the Tzadikim of Chabad, that if you would cut him, he would not bleed blood. Rather, he would bleed Chassidus.

By talking and learning about the inyan of Moshiach at the Seudaso Shel Moshiach and by taking the "bread of Emunah" into one's body, our goal is to internalize, b'ofen penimi, the Emunah in Hashem and in the ultimate fulfillment of His purpose in Creating the world, through Yemos Hamoshiach.

May we merit to imbibe Emunah in Hashem and in his Moshiach into our minds, our hearts and our souls.

Picture courtesy of Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beautiful Shor Yoshuv Birkas Hachama Video With Rav Shmuel Brazil

HT Gruntig

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Awesome Satmar Birkas Hachama From the Sky - Video

HT Gruntig

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

The "Olam Ha'Yedidus" of Pesach and Our Every Day - Audio Shiur

Reb Yerachmiel has shared with us his latest shiur from the Baltimore Community Kollel Tefillah Chaburah that relates to Pesach.

Below are links to an audio shiur that Reb Yerachmiel gave immediately prior to yom tov to crowd of yeshiva bochrim returning from Eretz Yisroel and from around the globe for Pesach. It should be noted that this chevra was organized by Yaakov Lasson of Baltimore who is learning at Yeshivat Shaalavim, and who coordinated a "Bain Hazemanim" Yeshiva which is being hosted by Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Baltimore.

Click on the links below to get the two parts of the audio shiur and the pdf of the ma'areh mekomos sheet:

Part 1
Part 2
Ma'areh Mekomos

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Those Who Go Away to Hotels For Pesach

Those who go away to hotels for Pesach, in these trying economic times, really have to be moser nefesh not to be moser nefesh.

Picture courtesy of Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Burning Out the Chometz From Our Hearts - R' Moshe Weinberger & Rav Tzvi Mayer

Tonight is Bedikas (the search for) Chometz and tomorrow morning is Biur (the destruction of) Chometz. B"H, in our kehilla were were fortunate to hear Rav Moshe Weinberger speak at Shalosh Sheudos about what to think about while cleaning for Pesach, and doing bedikas and biur chometz.

First I want to traslate a short tefillah before Bedikas Chometz from the sefer Avodas Hakodesh, brought in the Koidinov Hagaddah, which was assembled by the current Koidinover Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Tzvi Meir Ehrlich of Koidinov (who we were zocheh to have in our home for two Shabbos seudos a little over a year ago).
May it be Your Will Hashem our G-d and G-d of our forefathers that you cause us to merit to examine and search the biases of the recesses of our souls which we have defiled at the counsel of our evil inclinations. And cause us to merit to return to You with perfect Teshuva. And You, in Your great goodness, have mercy upon us. Help us, G-d of our salvation, in the matter of the honor of Your Name. And save us from the prohibition of chametz, even the smallest amount, this year and every single year for the rest of my life Amen, so may it be Your will.
Rav Weinberger gave over some words from Rav Zvi Meyer Zilberberg from Divrei Chizuk on what to think about and work on during bedikas and biur chometz. It is known that we work harder to get ride of any trace of chometz than we do any other davar asur, forbidden thing. This makes no sense al pi pshat, on a simple level, unless we understand that we're really supposed to be davening the whole time to get rid of the chometz in our hearts, our yetzer hara, our bad traits and midos.

It is also know that many Tzadikim spent hours and hours doing bedikas Chometz. Many of them lived in tiny apartments that probably would have taken less than an hour to check for chometz. So what were they doing for all those hours? Their whole time checking for chometz was filled with crying and davening that they be ableto do teshuva and get rid of the chometz in their hearts.

Rav Tzvi Mayer connected some of these thoughts to the words of bitul chometz that we say in the morning after burning the chometz. When we say "כל חמירא דאיכא ברשותי, דחזיתיה ודלא חזיתיה," "all chometz in my domain that I have seen and that I have not seen," we're really saying something much deeper. We know all too well about many of our faults and must live with that knowledge every day until we correct them. But there are other faults that we do not know about because we have never even seen though (though unfotunately our wives, husbands, parents, etc. can see them all too clearly). So we're asking Hashem to remove both the faults that we do see in ourselves and even those that we have turned away from because we don't want to see them, "דחזיתיה ודלא חזיתיה."

And then there are faults that we knew about, and we worked on them. We thought that we got rid of them. When we say "דבערתיה ודלא בערתיה," we are saying that there are yetzer haras, faults that we thought we got rid of, דבערתיה, but really, "ודלא בערתיה," we did not really get rid of them. They were just swept under the carpet and they are still part of our lives. For those things, we should daven during bitul and biur chometz that Hashem should help us get rid of those yetzer haras.

Rav Tzvi Mayer suggested that we use biur and bitul chometz as a small beginning to start working on and davening for getting rid of some of the chometz in our lives, even in a small way by making a small kabalah. We should make some small commitment to change one thing about ourselves, a bad mida, a yetzer hara, an indulgence, something... And to work on that thing throughout the year starting at biur chometz.

Hashem should help all of us remove the chometz from our hearts and bring us close to Him.

Picture of the biur chometz in Belz, Yerushalayim, courtesy of Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Leshana HaBAah B'Yerushaliyim Habnuya- Audio Shiur

Here is this past Sunday's shiur by Reb Yerachmiel in the Baltimore Community Kollel Tefillah Chaburah.

In this fourth shiur on berchas "Ve'Lerushalayim" in Shemoneh Esrei, Reb Yerachmiel discussed the famous machlokes regarding "Who" will rebuild the Third Bais Ha'Mikdash, as well as the phrase "Leshana HaBAah B'Yerushaliyim Habnuya" ("Next Year In Jerusalem Rebuilt") and what it means to us!

CLICK HERE to get the wav file of the shiur by either left clicking to listen right away or right clicking and selecting "Save Target As" to download.

Picture courtesy of Avakesh. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Rav Dovid Heber on Birkas Hachama - Nifla'os HaBoreh - Audio Shiur

Courtesy of Reb Yerachmiel, here is a shiur given by Rabbi Heber in Baltimore, MD last night on Birkas HaChama, which really makes one appreciate niflaos haborah, the wonders of the creator.

Rabbi Dovid Heber introducted by Rav Moshe Heineman: Shiur starts at about minute marker 1:30. Either left click to listen right now or right click and select "Save Target As" to download.

Picture courtesy of Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Egypt: Exile to Redemption - Video Shiur by R' Lawrence Hajioff

From the Jewish Enrichment Center, to which I owe hakaras Hatov.

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Rabbi Zalmin Mindell - Video Shiur

Rabbi Zalman Mindell is a little know, but very great teacher of Chassidus. Here he is at his brother's kiruv organization, the Jewish Enrichment Center.

Picture courtesy of XYZ. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Two Great Shiurim in Preperation for Pesach

Rav Moshe Shapiro spoke at Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore on the topic of Birkas HaChama. it can be downloaded HERE.

And here is a fundamental shiur by Rabbi Boruch Leff, also in Baltimore, that must be heard by anyone cleaning for Pesach. He gives over a piece from Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh on the thoughts one should be having while cleaning for Pesach. It is fundamental for any Jewish person to hear and internalize these ideas! You can download that shiur HERE.

Picture courtesy of cartoon barry blog. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Chag Kasher V'Sameach! - Great Picture!

Courtesy of Rabbi Tal Zwecker. Click on the image to enlarge.

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Present of the Ever-Present Divine Presence - Audio Shuir

Below is the link to the third shiur on the topic of berchas "Ve'Lerushalayim Ircha" in Shmoneh Esrei given by Reb Yerachmiel this past Sunday night at the Baltimore Community Kollel.

In this shiur, Reb Yerachmiel focused on the words "Tashuv" and "Sishkon", which appear to imply that Hashem's Shechina is not currently present in Yerushalayim or the Makom Ha'Mikdash. In doing so, Reb Yerachmiel discussed many sources in Gemara, Medrash, Rishonim and Achronim which address the concepts of Shechinta Be'Galusa and the different levels of Hashem's Divine Presence that can be found in our homes, our shuls, our yeshivos, our Kosel and our Har Habayis even today!

CLICK HERE to get the shiur by either left clicking to listen now or right clicking and selecting "Save Target As" to download.

Picture courtesy of Kabbalah Canvas. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.