Friday, July 30, 2010

Hashem's Love for the Jewish People - Reb Itchie Mayer on Eikev

Here is Reb Itchie Mayer Morgenstern's Torah on Parshas Eikev, with English excerpt and full text in Hebrew in pdf form from Reb Itchie Mayer's Torah. You can send an e-mail to this address to subscribe to receive Rav Morgenstern's Torah in your e-mail box every week.

“And it shall come to pass, because you heed these ordinances, and keep, and do them, that Hashem you G-d shall keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers.”[1]

Rashi explains: “‘And it shall come to pass, because you heed’—If you heed the little mitzvos that people tend to trample on with their heels [עקב] and do them, Hashem your G-d will keep His blessing for you, and will love you and make you numerous [which is the continuation in the next verse].”

Hashem’s Love for the Jewish People

The Arizal taught: “‘And He will love you and bless you and make you numerous’—The sages said that everything that the Jewish people eat [enjoy] in this world is from the blessing of Bilaam the wicked. But the merits of the Jewish people are kept in reserve for them for the world to come. As the verse says, ‘And Hashem your G-d will keep...’ The sages learned this from our verse here, from a parallel use of terms—here the term, ‘He will love you’ is bound to the term, ‘He will bless you.’ The verse says of Bilaam, ‘And Hashem your G-d will overturn for you the curse to a blessing, for Hashem your G-d loves you.’ In no other place in the Torah do we find blessings juxtaposed with the expression of Hashem’s love other than in connection with Bilaam. If so, the promise of Hashem to love and bless and make us numerous is the blessing of Bilaam.”[2]

In the section detailing Bilaam’s blessings the verse says, “A star has gone forth from Yaakov, and a tribe has arisen from Yisrael.”[3] The star coming forth from Yaakov refers to Moshiach.[4] The Messianic era is one that will be characterized by the total revelation of Hashem’s love for the Jewish people even to the lowest level of the world of Asiyah. This is why all of the blessings uttered by Bilaam refer to all of the blessings and abundance that reach the Jewish people in the world of Asiyah [which we call “this world”]. Its main revelation will be when Moshiach arrives.

Uplifting the Heels

The verse’s promise of Hashem’s love is really that we will merit to experience the full revelation of Hashem’s presence in the lower worlds when Moshiach arrives. But it all depends on, “If you will heed these ordinances...”—if we heed the aspect of the עקב, the heels [which is the lowermost world of Asiyah], then we will merit the arrival of Moshiach and the full expression of Hashem’s love for us.

The main blessing is that Bilaam’s curse should be transformed into a benediction; that the physicality of the world of Asiyah should be transformed into a revelation of G-dliness. Even when a person is in a lowly place and the yetzer hara challenges him, G-d forbid, even so he must make efforts to bind himself to the light of Hashem’s presence. This is the mission of the Jewish people, to reveal G-dliness in the lower places. In the ultimate future, Hashem will transform the yetzer hara into the joyful pleasure of Torah study, as the Zohar teaches. This is really the main joyful pleasure of Torah—to reveal Hashem’s presence in the lower worlds, because this is what rectifies all evil and creates a platform for the good.

[1] Devarim 7:12
[2] Sha’ar Hapesukim, Parshas Ekev
[3] Bamidbar 24:17
[4] Devarim Rabbah 1:20

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Please donate to my son's cheder by going to to buy a raffle ticket. The drawing for a new minivan, car, or $20,000 cash will be IY"H Chanukah time. $100 for 1 ticket. $360 for 5. Where the form says "Referred by," please write "Dixie Yid." Tizku l'mitzvos!

My Child Became a Tortfeasor This Morning!

When my 5 year old son secretly snuck into our bed during the night despite the fact that we told him he had to stay in his own bed, I could not be liable for this little undiscovered tresspassor's transgression because of the attractive nuisance doctrine.

Yes, I admit it, it's hard to get my brain out of bar exam mode.

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Please donate to my son's cheder by going to to buy a raffle ticket. The drawing for a new minivan, car, or $20,000 cash will be IY"H Chanukah time. $100 for 1 ticket. $360 for 5. Where the form says "Referred by," please write "Dixie Yid." Tizku l'mitzvos!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's Done!!!!!!

Praise the L-rd!

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Please donate to my son's cheder by going to to buy a raffle ticket. The drawing for a new minivan, car, or $20,000 cash will be IY"H Chanukah time. $100 for 1 ticket. $360 for 5. Where the form says "Referred by," please write "Dixie Yid." Tizku l'mitzvos!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Am I Wrong to Join the Rat Race?

A particular piece from the Me'or Einayim in Parshas Ve'eschanan struck me hard this past Shabbos. This is particularly so because I'm working hard studying for the bar exam now (which I'm taking tomorrow and the next day). The piece also struck me because I'm planning on earning my "gold and silver" working very long hours at the job I'm IY"H starting in November. Here's a summary/translation of the relevant parts from the middle of the first piece in Ve'eschanan:

The root of all of the desires, pleasures, and ways of this world are "gold" and "silver." Money is the means through which one can attain all of the desires and pleasures of this world. But their source in the upper world are Ahava (love of Hashem, in the case of silver) and Yirah (fear of Hashem, in the case of gold). [Reb Nachum then proves this with various verses] Since gold and silver are rooted in Ahavas Hashem and Yiras Hashem, the verse "Mine is the silver and mine is the gold," (Chagai 2:8) applies to it. And "mine = for my sake." Meaning that silver (love, desires) and gold (fear and anxiety) are meant as means to come to love of Hashem and Yiras Hashem.

When man desires gold and silver, runs after it day and night wihtout rest, chases after his livelihood, and amasses wealth, he falls into the trap of the yetzer hara. This in turn results in one being cut off continually from the Creator of the world. This is a trap laid out before all of the living. In fact, most people in the world come to sin by cutting into others' livelihood, hurting others financially, stealing, and the like. Such people do not believe in the fact that everyone has only what Hashem desires them to have and has absolutely nothing from anyone else (Yuma 38b). This is why the 600,000 letters of the Torah (which correspond to the 600,000 souls of the Jewish people) cannot touch one another in a Sefer Torah; because even though the Torah is one unit, each letter (and Jewish soul) is separate and one may not touch that which is designated for another person. (Ibid.)

If one is smart and knows and believes this (that all of the desires and fears of this world are meant as means to assist one in drawing himself close to the root of those desires and fears, Ahavas Hashem and Yiras Hashem), then he would not run after his livelihood day and night. And as Shlomo Hamelech (source?) said, "אם לא היה האדם רודף אחר פרנסתו, היה פרנסתו רודפת אחריו." "If one would not chase after his livelihood, his livelihood would run after him."

It is the nature of things on a lower level to run after things on a higher level to be nullified into them and elevated through them. The majority of the world who run after the physical world, and are cut off from Hashem, place themselves on a lower level than the physical things of this world, which are rooted in the highest levels of Ahava and Yirah. Therefore, they run after gold, silver, and livelihood all of the time because those things exist on a higher level than them.

But a Jewish soul that is connected to the Creator of the world and runs after Ahavas Hashem and Yiras Hashem directly (as opposed to running after making a living, gold, and silver, etc.) is thereby connected to the ultimate source. Such a person is therefore on a higher level than all of the gold and silver which are less connected to the Divine source than this Jew is because they are a more constricted (lower) form of that light. This is why this person's livelihood runs after him; because he is on a higher level than it is.

If a person does as he should do, as we mentioned above, the livelihood which is designated to him will run after him so that it can be elevated through him to its root from which it came...

I know that later in the fall, IY"H, I'll be working very long hours. This sounds like I'm falling right into the yetzer hara's trap. On the other hand, since I cannot think of any alternative right now which wouldn't constiute a dereliction of my duties as a husband, father and Jew, how could I not do what I'm planning to do?

I think at my current level of lack of connectedness to Hashem, if I tried to go back to not working too hard, it would not work in any case. My wife pointed out an analogy to what is says in Eruvin 13b, that when one runs after gedula, gedula runs away, but if one runs away from gedula, gedula persues him. She correctly pointed out that when one runs away from greatness, but is looking over his shoulder, hoping greatness will follow, he is still essentially running after it. Here too, if I did not pursue a livelihood fully, hoping that it would chase after me, I would essentially still be running after it and would certainly not merit Shlomo Hamelech's (?) promise!

I'm not sure there are any real answers here. The best I can figure it, if I can remind myself in tiny hisbodedus'n through each day that everything I'm running after are rooted in Elokus and if I ask Hashem constantly to help me elevate the hidden Elokus in everything I'm involved in to its source, then maybe I'll increase my connecttion to Hashem. And if do that, maybe in a few years some non-hishtadlus-intensive parnasa will just come knocking at my door, just begging me to leave the rat race behind and spend a lot more time on Avodas Hashem... Who knows...

Picture courtesy of istockphoto. Please donate to my son's cheder by going to to buy a raffle ticket. The drawing for a new minivan, car, or $20,000 cash will be IY"H Chanukah time. $100 for 1 ticket. $360 for 5. Where the form says "Referred by," please write "Dixie Yid." Tizku l'mitzvos! Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shlomo Carlebach on Nachamu Nachamu

HT Malcom Ezekiel. He's speaks in Ivrit here. Enjoy!Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Story of the Steipler, Tzadikim Knowing Things, and Potential Gerus

I saw this interesting quote from Y.Y. Rubinstein's new book That's Life, quoting a story from the Steipler Gaon that related to him "knowing things" that he couldn't naturally have known. The story also related to gerus in an interesting way. People who read my post on Tzadikim knowing our thoughts and actions (especially Snag!) will find this story particularly interesting. And those who remember our discussion on the difference between a Ger's soul before and after Gerus may be interested as well since the story discusses the difference between a Jewish and non-Jewish soul.

Very interesting story I once heard from Rav Baruch Rappaport, shlita, an example of the sort of thing that the Steipler “saw.”

Once, a bachur who had been learning in Bnei Brak came to the Steipler for a berachah. The young man had just become a chasan and he wanted his engagement blessed.

The Steipler looked at the young man and, instead of giving a berachah, told him to go and bring his rosh yeshivah. The boy was obviously distressed and shortly returned as requested. He was instructed to wait outside while the Steipler Gaon spoke to the rosh yeshivah.

The rosh yeshivah was astonished when the Steipler asked him, “Vi macht ir a shidduch mit a Yiddishe meidel and a goy? How do you come to sanction a match between a Jewish girl and a non-Jewish boy?”

The rosh yeshivah was dumbfounded. He protested that the boy was a Jew. He had personally known the boy’s parents in America for many years. They, like him, were very fine people. The boy was a talmid chacham possessed of good middos.

The Steipler was unimpressed and insisted that the young man was not Jewish. Inquiries were made, and indeed the Steipler was proved right. There had been a conversion that was in reality no conversion at all. The conversion occurred three generations before, through the maternal line. The parents were unaware of it, as was the bachur.

I never heard the conclusion of the story, but if he was as exceptional as his rosh yeshivah described, it would be easy to assume that an authentic conversion followed.
I did, however, hear of the question that the much surprised rosh yeshivah put to the Steipler Gaon after the truth had come out.

“How did you know?”

That was a very reasonable question indeed. The boy’s “genetic” makeup was overwhelmingly Jewish. He looked Jewish. He spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and probably Yiddish, too. He learned well.

The Steipler was perplexed by the question and replied, “Er hot nicht gehat a neshamah! He had no neshamah.”

The word neshamah is usually translated as “soul.” That is not accurate. Every human being has a soul. A neshamah might be best translated as “super-soul.”

When I am teaching my students, I always draw an analogy with a truck. When the truck is empty, you will see one of the double sets of wheels at the back, raised off the road. When it is fully loaded, these extra wheels are lowered to help carry the heavy weights the truck has to transport.

Since Jews have an extra spiritual burden to carry - more mitzvos than non-Jews - they are given an extra spiritual component to bear it. That is a neshamah. The Steipler “saw” that the bachur who had come to seek a blessing did not have one.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Reb Itchie Mayer on Tu B'Av and Parshas Ve'eschanan

Here is Reb Itchie Mayer Morgenstern's Torah on Parshas Ve'eschanan and Tu B'Av, with English excerpt and full text in Hebrew in pdf form from Reb Itchie Mayer's Torah. You can send an e-mail to this address to subscribe to receive Rav Morgenstern's Torah in your e-mail box every week.

Tu B’Av in Netzach and Yesod

The Arizal writes that the sefirah of Netzach is revealed on Tu B’Av.[1] Yet in another place he says that the sefirah of Yesod is revealed on that day.[2] The meaning of this apparent contradiction is that the fifteen of Av essentially relates to the sefirah of Yesod. We can understand this since many matches were finalized on this day. As our sages tell us, “The daughters of Yisrael would go out…”[3] Of course, a match requires a matchmaker. This “shadchan” is the sefirah of Netzach which literally means “victory” and connotes perseverance in the face of challenge. At first both parties to the match have doubts whether the other person is truly the right one. It is the determination of the shadchan that irons out the difficulties and completes the shidduch.

This is the strength of the true tzaddik who says, "גמרתי ואגמור"—“I have finished and I will finish.”[4] [The full quote of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov is, “I have been victorious and I will be victorious; I have finished and I will finish.”] This signifies that the main task of the tzaddik is to complete the shidduch between Hashem and the Shechinah. [The Shechinah signifies the revelation of Hashem’s presence in this material world through our actions, speech, and thoughts.

“Completing the shidduch between Hashem and the Shechinah” means that the Jewish people — and subsequently the entire world — attain a deep consciousness of Hashem in every action, word, and thought.] Even when there are many barriers, as the verse in our parshah states, “And Hashem was angry with me [Moshe Rabbeinu] because of you [the Jewish people],”[5] the tzaddik declares, “I have finished and I will finish.”

The task of every Jew is to enter into the aspect of Netzach, holy victory, which is above reason or one’s feelings of the moment. Commitment to victory imparts vast spiritual strength to achieve one’s goal. We can understand this from when a person is involved in a struggle with an antagonist; he will work hard and try any possible strategy to win. He will force himself to stay up long hours, day and night, until he defeats his nemesis. It is because the source of Netzach is above the mochin of Chochmah-Binah-Da’as, because its spiritual root transcend thought itself, that this attribute can awaken such astonishing strength of character. It is specifically through this characteristic that the tzaddikim succeed in completing the shidduch between ourselves and our Father in heaven.

[1] Pri Eitz Chaim, Mikrah Kodesh, Chapter 4
[2] Ibid, Sha'ar Chag Hashavuos, Chapter 1
[3] Taanis 31
[4] Chayei Moharan #218.
[5] Devarim 3:26

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Reb Itchie Mayer on Devarim

Here is Reb Itchie Mayer Morgenstern's Torah on Parshas Dervarim, with English excerpt and full text in Hebrew in pdf form from Reb Itchie Mayer's Torah. You can send an e-mail to this address to subscribe to receive Rav Morgenstern's Torah in your e-mail box every week.

Appointing a King

We eradicate Amalek nowadays by sanctifying ourselves from all evil. We rebuild the temple by building up our understanding through the holy works of the tzaddikim, both of Mussar and Chassidus. How to fulfill the third mitzvah of appointing a king in our time seems unclear, however.

Rebbe Nachman writes in Likutei Moharan: “Every person must say that the world was created for my sake.5 Since the world was created for me it follows that I must look carefully, delving at all times into how I can rectify the world through filling in what is missing in the world and praying for them.”6

It is not only Moshe who must lift up his fellow Jew in any way that he can. It is incumbent on every Jew to do his utmost to help his friend in material and spiritual matters. We all must feel for our friends’ lacks and do everything we can to rectify your fellow Jews. The entire world having been created for each of us means that each of us is responsible for the entire world.

Jews are all part of one cohesive neshamah. Like the heart, which the Zohar teaches is the king of the body because it is always working to bestow vitality on every part of our bodies, a person must always do good for his friends. He must pray that Hashem give everyone whatever they need. We should never think that another's problem is not our business, since we are all connected and everyone must do his part to rectify what he can. We do this either through prayer or focused thought where we draw down Hashem’s mercy on every Jew that he knows. This is an aspect of, “And he saw their suffering.”

Rebels Against the King

The main obstacle to truly entering into this mindset is one’s perception of his friend’s attitude. He stops wishing his friend well and praying for his benefit when he sees that his friend does not return the kindness. And worse, at times his friend may even repay evil with good. Yet even if one breaks off for this reason he is still
blemishing the Malchus since the main element of Malchus is to bestow good on everyone unconditionally. Without this characteristic he cannot possibly eliminate Amalek or attain true understanding which is the rebuilding of our personal Beis

There is an aspect of the destruction of the holy temple that exists in every Jewish heart. This is when one falls prey to discouragement and small-mindedness. Yet Hashem always waits for every one of us to reign over his kingdom in holiness by acting like the heart of the world. This person does not only think about himself and his own needs. He feels for his fellow Jews and prays for their every need.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shiur by Yaffa Jungreis for Women in Woodmere This Sunday 8 PM

My friend passed on to me this notice that Rebbetzin Yaffa Jungreis will be speaking this Sunday night, July 18th, at 8 PM in the home of Jenny Gerber, at 325 Howard Ave in Woodmere.

The shiur is entitled "From Darkness to Light" and was organized by Ruchie Frei. This shiur is for women only. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Info on Upcoming Women's Trip to Uman & Other Kivrei Tzadikim

There will be a women's group to Uman after Sukkos with Rebbetzin Yehudis Golshevsky. Here is the text of a message from her:
With Hashem's help, I will be taking a women's group to Ukraine after Sukkos (babies, girls, and boys before seven are welcome), with one night in Berditchev, one night in Mezhibuzh, a stop in Breslov, and three nights in Uman. We will be arriving in Kiev on Tuesday night, Oct. 5th, and leaving from Kiev on Sunday night, Oct. 10th.

This year, we will actually arrive in Berditchev within three days of Rav Levi Yitzchak's yohrtzeit, so we will still have a "taste" of the greatness of that day. We will be spending Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan in Uman, b'ezras Hashem.

For anyone traveling with American, Canadian, or EU-country passports, the total cost from Israel is $880 and includes ElAl round trip tickets, ground transport in Ukraine, lodging for five nights, beautiful Shabbos meals, one hot meal a day, and shiurim in English every day.

For anyone coming from the States or Europe (or anywhere else), we coordinate your flight that you arrange yourself in time to meet us in Kiev and leave after we return. Whatever the price of the flight--from the US it should run about $700, from Europe it will run about $300, you add the ground costs of $350.

One should not worry about meeting since we already have a number of women coming in from NY and other places and no one will have to wait alone in Kiev, G-d willing.

If you are interested in joining us, please be in touch with Yehudis Golshevsky at yehudisg013(at)

Wishing you a month of revealed mercy,
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Stories From the Zohar - First in a Series of Articles by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

The Book of Radiance: Stories from the Zohar
By Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

1. The Stories in the Torah

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the sage behind most of the teachings of the Zohar, once offered a remarkable statement there about the Torah … and about the holy Zohar itself (3:152a).

“Woe to those who say that the Torah only came to relate simple stories and foolish tales!” he warned. For, “if that were so, why, then even we ourselves could create a ‘Torah’ with foolish tales -- and even better ones!”

What an astounding thing to say! But how could he ever say that about the Torah, which “existed 974 generations before the world was created” (Zevachim 116a), which “G-d took council (with) before He created the world” (Pirkei d’Rebbe Eliezer 3), which is “one of the three things thanks to which the world is sustained” (Pirkei Avot 1:2), and without which “heaven and earth couldn’t continue to exist” (Petachim 68b)?

Rabbi Shimon didn’t stop there, though. He went on to say that “if (the Torah only came) to address material matters” as it sometimes seems to, “then our leaders would have better stories to tell, so we should follow their example and produce (such) a ‘Torah’”.

He ended his point there, though, and offered the following insight.
“The truth of the matter is that all the words of the Torah are exalted and (contain) arcane mysteries.” They aren’t at all what they seem to be. And his point is that it’s the job of the Zohar to reveal those secrets.

All kinds of mysteries and secrets are discussed in the Zohar: the secret details about creation, about the ways of the angels and the tzaddikim, about the meaning of life, about the purpose of this mitzvah and that one, about the Jewish Holydays, as well as about birth and death, happiness and sadness, and much more.

“Come and see,” Rabbi Shimon goes on …. “It’s said of the angels (that G-d) ‘formed His angels (as pure) spirits’ (Psalms 104:4), yet when they descend down here the angels don earthly clothing”. Why -- “because if they wouldn’t, they couldn’t function in this world, and the world couldn’t endure them”. That is, seeing them in their native clothes of bright, celestial light would be too intense to bear, so they have to “dress down”, as the expression goes.

“Now, if that’s true of angels,” he says, “then how much more so is it true of the Torah … which all the worlds exist thanks to!” Shouldn’t it “don earthly clothing”, too? After all, who could stare straight ahead at the Torah in all its celestial light?

So in fact “the Torah did do that when it was conveyed to this world, (because) if it didn’t don worldly garments, the world couldn’t bear it.” The point is that “the Torah’s stories are its ‘garments’” and the Torah has to don them so that we can handle it.

And so, for example, when the Torah speaks about the various goings-on of our ancestors or about the sights and sounds it depicts in one story or another, it isn’t just passing information on to us and trying to catch our interest -- it’s stowing away a clue here and there about the secrets of the universe.

Rabbi Shimon goes on to offer this parable about our naiveté when it comes to this.

“Come and see!” he says, “when simple folks see someone dressed beautifully they (look at his garment alright, but they) don’t look any further. In fact, they look at his outfit as if it was his body, and they look at his body as if it were his soul”.

That’s to say, when some people see someone’s clothes they look at it as if they were actually catching sight of the person behind it, when they’re really not. After all, they think they’re looking right at a person’s soul when they look at him face to face.

“It’s the same thing when it comes to the Torah” Rabbi Shimon says. “For it (too) has a ‘body’ … (which) wears (different) garments, and they’re the Torah’s stories” that cover-over the Torah’s “body”.

“Simple folk only look at that garment, which is the stories in the Torah, and are oblivious to everything else. They don’t consider what’s beneath it”.

“Those who know a thing or two” on the other hand, “don’t (just) look at the garment -- they look at the body beneath”, which is far more splendid.

“But the wise -- those who are servants of the great King and who stood at Mount Sinai (when the Torah was given, and thus know what they’re looking at) look at the (Torah’s) soul …” to be sure, which is stupendous. But it’s not the ultimate.

For “in times to come, (these same people) will actually be able to look at the soul of the Torah’s soul”, which is to say, at its inner essence.

And so we learn that the Torah is alive, that it wears splendid clothes that are rich in texture, and that somewhere deep within the seams and pockets, along the edges, and along its contours the Torah itself calls out to us!

“Woe to the wrongful who say that the Torah is just (a collection of) stories!” says Rabbi Shimon in the end. ”For they only look at the garment and no further”.

“Praised are the righteous,” on the other hand, “who see the Torah as it should be seen”.

May we ourselves be counted among the righteous!

© 2010 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rav Weinberger, Rav Hershel Reichman, & Others' Video Shiurim on Naaleh

For those who have not already found it, there's a great site with many many shiurim by a number of great magidei Shiur, Of course closest to my heart is their shiurim by Rav Moshe Weinberger. Here are the first two in a series of 10 on a ma'amar from the Baal Hatanya on the relationship between Hashem and the nation of Israel:

You can see the full series by Rav Weinberger HERE.

There are also a number of shiurim by Rav Herschel Reichman, renowned rebbe of the "Rebbe Reichman Ruach Revival" chassidim. Here is one shiur by Rav Reichman on the importance of consistency in one's avodah of tefillah:

Click HERE for all of the shiurim by Rav Reichman.

Another interesting speaker they have is Rabbi Ari Jacobson who I just saw at my daughter's camp Visiting DAy this past Sunday! He's the rabbi of the YOung Israel of Monsey and Wesley Hills. But I knew him as a Rebbe at YU back in the day. His shiurim are mainly on tefilla. So check that out. Here is one shiur by Rav Jacobson on a very practical topic, how to catch up with the shaliach tzibur:

Again, there's a list of all available shiurim over there at

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Want to Join Our Kevarim Bus on the Way to Uman?

If you are going to Uman (like me!) and would like to travel to daven at the kevarim of several Tzadikim on the way to Uman for Rosh Hashana, I have an opportunity for you.

My friend Chaim is coordinating transportation to several kevarim on the way to Uman. A number of us are already coming and we're going to Mezbitz, Berdichiv, Vilednick, Annapoli, and Breslov on the way to Uman.

If there is enough interest, we will be renting a tour bus. Details:
  • Departing Monday Sept. 6th from Kiev airport @ 3 PM
  • Cost: $200 (unless enough people sign up, then it will be less)
  • Traveling to the kevarim in Mezbitz, Berdichiv, Vilednick, Annapoli, and Breslov
  • Traveling for about 24 hours
  • Arriving in Uman about 2 or 3 PM on Tuesday Sept. 7th, erev erev Rosh Hashana
  • This will allow us plenty of time to rest and go to Rebbe Nachman's tziyon in preperation for Slichos at about 3 AM erev R"H.
Please contact Chaim at 516-851-8855 or by e-mail if you're interested in joining.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Interview & Archive Video on Rabbi Grossman & Migdal Ohr

This is a beautiful video with a video from a major NBA personality and with some nice clips from Rav Grossman and Migdal Ohr. Very nice.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Connecting the Beginning and End of the Torah - R' Boshnack on Likutei Moharan

I am happy to have the zechus to share a very deep shiur given by Rabbi Reuven Boshnack, the heiliger Brooklyn Colleger Rebbe. He gave this shiur during his recent stint as guest lecturer at the Young Israel of Staten Island, as a guest of the world renowned Rabbi Elie Mischel.

CLICK HERE to listen to the shiur

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

True Hisbodedus - Reb Itchie Mayer Morgenstern on Matos-Masei

Here is Reb Itchie Mayer Morgenstern's Torah on Parshas Matos-Masei, with English excerpt and full text in Hebrew in pdf form from Reb Itchie Mayer's Torah. You can send an e-mail to this address to subscribe to receive Rav Morgenstern's Torah in your e-mail box every week.

Dovid HaMelech said, “My heart said to You [לך]...”[1] Rebbe Nachman quotes Rashi’s comment there, “to You” can also mean, “for You, on Your behalf.”[2] If a person wants to do a real hisbodedus, he must stand before Hashem believing fully that every word he says is from Hashem, that he is Hashem’s emissary. To come to this, one must begin by working at learning Torah lishmah, because it is certain that a person who learns Torah superficially will not come anywhere near to pouring his heart out spontaneously before Hashem. But with both Torah and prayer infused with dveikus, one merits [the influence of] the upper three sefiros of Atik, whose “breath” is completely infused with dveikus. One merits to make yichudim at the level of the Divine chariot, to really feel that everything is G-dliness. This is the meaning of Chashmal: mal [“speaking”] indicates ma’aseh merkavah, and chash [“quiet”] indicates ma’aseh bereishis.

One must feel a chiddush in prayer just as one finds a chiddush in Torah, and the tzaddikim said that when a person merits to speak fresh words of prayer before Hashem it is a sign that his prayers are accepted on high. But to be able to pray spontaneously before Hashem, one needs purity of heart—how do we purify it? “Every thing that went in fire must pass through fire.” The fire of enthusiasm purifies the heart so that one can compose his own prayer with freshness. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches further that such words are a manifestation of ruach hakodesh, and this is the basis of the entire book of Tehillim.[3]

One must yearn for these levels, and feel pained for not having reached them. And one must yearn that the Torah should be like fire within him, because, “Everything that was in fire [and became impure] should be passed through fire [to purify it].”[4] As the Baal Shem Tov taught, all of the fiery sounds of Matan Torah can still be heard, and every person must sanctify himself so that he can catch them. Every little bit of learning must be in the fire of the dveikus of Matan Torah so that we can come to be, “directly before [נכח] the face of Hashem.” The word נכח is equal to three times the value of the Shem HaVaYaH [78 = יהו"ה x 3]; one must see three permutations of the Shem HaVaYaH before him at all times and eventually he will be able to really see that everything is Elokus—and this is the purpose of creation and the beginning of the redemption.

The Oath of the Exile

Through all of this we will merit to undo the oath that binds us to the exile, as the Zohar explains. [These are the “three oaths” in Shir Hashirim, as explained at the end of Kesuvos.] The Torah teaches that the sage, the bearer of Chochmah, has the power to annul a vow, and this is because the vow itself is on the level of Binah. We begin the fast of Yom HaKippurim with the annulment of vows in Kol Nidrei; this is a manifestation of the light of Chochmah. The exile [גולה] and the redemption [גאולה] stem from the same root—it is only that we are bound in exile because Chochmah manifest in completed Da’as represented by the alef [which means to teach] is absent. Yet this is repaired by anyone who seeks Da’as and dveikus, who believes that the Torah is Divine and that the Torah that he learns is the same that was given at Sinai, who feels that Hashem has planted eternal life in him now and has been chosen right now from all the nations to receive Torah as a gift from the heavens. And this is why there were many tzaddikim who exhorted their followers to spend time every day studying the words of the Zohar regarding the greatness of the Torah, or who learned section 47 in the Bach that discusses the blessings of the Torah time after time—to awaken their hearts to the holiness of the Torah.

The Blessings of the Torah

The destruction of the Beis Hamikdash was because of the Jewish people’s failure to appreciate the greatness of the Torah. This was demonstrated by the fact that they did not make the blessing over the Torah before they learned. And we can also fall into this error today by not having sufficient faith in the Torah’s ability to help us reach the redemption. And so the very beginning is to develop total emunah in the greatness and the holy power of the Torah itself, and this will empower one to devote more and more time to Torah lishmah so that all of the levels described above can be reached.

[1] Tehillim 27:8
[2] Likutei Moharan I:138
[3] Ibid., I:156
[4] Bamidbar 31:26

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stories on How Blackberries Affect Our Relationship with Hashem and Other People

Great post over at Army of Achdus on how Blackberries are affecting our relationships with each other, and with Hashem: He has several stories and anecdotes that really illustrate the point. Definitely worth reading.

On Lag B'Omer, at a private "hadlaka," my Rebbe spoke about this topic. It wasn't said over a public drasha for public consumption, but for his "chassidim," he said to just get rid of our Blackberries if at all possible. I don't know about other people, but one friend of mine who's a successful entrepreneur, actually did it! He got rid of it a short time later and he's now doing just fine and is still very successful.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Differentiating Between Chizuk & Flattery - Reb Itchie Mayer on Pinchas

Here is Reb Itchie Mayer Morgenstern's Torah on Parshas Pinchas, with English excerpt and full text in Hebrew in pdf form from Reb Itchie Mayer's Torah. You can send an e-mail to this address to subscribe to receive Rav Morgenstern's Torah in your e-mail box every week.

Distinguishing between Avraham Avinu and Bilaam HaRasha

We find in the Mishnah in Avos: “What is the difference between the disciples of Avraham and the disciples of Bilaam…”[1] The Baal Shem Tov asked: why doesn’t the Mishnah discuss the difference between Avraham and Bilaam? Why focus only on their disciples? He explained that the difference between Avraham and Bilaam is not readily discernible in themselves, only in their disciples.

This seems very difficult to understand. How could we say that Bilaam could somehow be comparable to Avraham? The answer is that at times a true tzaddik will teach Torah that seems to be appropriate for the likes of Bilaam too, G-d forbid. The tzaddik may explain that even if a person has sinned and fallen to the worst levels of darkness and distance, even if he has sinned with every limb of his body, there is still hope for him. If he will connect to the tzaddik who truly recognizes Hashem and honestly believe in the unique oneness of Hashem, learning the holy works of the tzaddikim and internalizing their words, they will pull him out of the netherworld and purify him from all defilement. They can do this since they have the power to transform all sin to merit and every bad to good. At first glance, this sounds very much like what a Bilaam might say: “Don't worry about your sins, since everything is Elokus and can be transformed to good. You need not fast or do any kind of self-mortification or difficult exertions to serve Hashem. If you will just associate with a wise man and believe with your entire heart that everything is from Hashem, your sins will be forgiven and transformed to merits.”

When the tzaddik gives encouragement he can sound somewhat similar to the wicked person who claims that it doesn’t matter what you do. For this reason, a righteous person can easily be confused for a wicked one, and vice versa. How can one tell the difference?

The answer is to study their students. What is the practical end of the Torah of encouragement provided by the teacher? Do his students grow by truly focusing on Hashem and truly repent, or do they start off strong but eventually stagnate and fade to a place where their lifestyle is not in accordance with their purported goals? If the students use the encouragement as a way to fight Hashem by continuing to sin, this is a clear sign that their master is not as he should be. But if his encouragement inspires his students to live with Hashem, he will be purified of all his sins like a newborn. They will come to greater dveikus and change their ways for the better as a result of his encouragement.

[1] Avos 5:17

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