April 30, 2006

Reform leader holds olive branch to Evangelicals

From Ynet News,

Eric Yoffie calls on Jerry Falwell supporters to seek out 'shared values' to fight pornography, self-gratification

A Reform Jewish leader told evangelical Christians at Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University on Wednesday that prayer in schools is not the answer to moral decline in America. Instead, Rabbi Eric Yoffie urged Christians and Jews to "build bridges, find shared values and join together."

Here's how the conversation went: (in my mind)

Eric: There's no reason we can't work together, Jerry. I mean, we both believe that the Torah is invalid and that our own beliefs, no matter how much they contradict the Bible, are what's important. Sure, we Reform Jews embrace radical values and go against everything that Judaism stands for, but so do you.

Jerry: Um, okay. But I must warn you ahead of time. We do believe in G-d.

Eric: (pause) Oh. Okay. Forget I said anything.

Beautiful: Photo Essay: Monthly Encirclement of the Temple Mount

Photo Essay from Arutz Sheva. See it HERE

Every month thousands of worshippers take part in the traditional sivuv she'arim, the encircling the outer walls of the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site.

The renewal of the ancient custom began nearly four years ago with a small group, and has since become a very popular event. The marchers express their desire to identify with the Temple Mount by circling the holy site - stopping to pray and sing at each of the gates.

The march takes place at the start of every Jewish month, meeting in the Western Wall plaza toward nightfall and continuing around the outside walls of the Temple Mount. The march is accompanied by prayer and singing and is known as one of the most festive and moving Jerusalem traditions.

April 28, 2006

Chodesh Tov - Ani Hashem Rofecha

From the Hineni website:

"This coming Shabbos, we celebrate the new month of Iyar. Iyar is the acronym for the words, "I am the L-rd your Healer." (Exodus, 15:26)

Therefore, this is a very auspicious month for healing, when we can appeal to G-d to cure us of all our ills. Our people are experiencing great suffering. There is so much pain, so much tragedy, on a personal as well as a national level. Let us gather our strength, unite as one and turn to our Heavenly Father in prayer and supplication. May He have mercy on all of us and bring peace to our beleaguered brethren in Israel and to all of us who are in need of healing.

I humbly ask those who read this to please mention me in your tefillos: Yehudah Tzvi HaKohain ben Elisheva as I am going through a very trying medical time. I thank you in advance and may Hashem rain brachos on you.

May Hashem Yisborach heal all the individuals, the Klal, the Am and the ganze Olam for refuah, gezunt, hatzlacha and geula bimhera biyameinu. Amein.

יַסֹּר יִסְּרַנִּי יָּהּ וְלַמָּוֶת לֹא נְתָנָנִי
And He said, If you hearken to the voice of the Lord, your God, and you do what is proper in His eyes, and you listen closely to His commandments and observe all His statutes, all the sicknesses that I have visited upon Egypt I will not visit upon you, for I, the Lord, heal you.
וַיֹּאמֶר אִם-שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמַע לְקוֹל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְהַיָּשָׁר בְּעֵינָיו תַּעֲשֶׂה וְהַאֲזַנְתָּ לְמִצְו‍ֹתָיו וְשָׁמַרְתָּ כָּל-חֻקָּיו--כָּל-הַמַּחֲלָה אֲשֶׁר-שַׂמְתִּי בְמִצְרַיִם לֹא-אָשִׂים עָלֶיךָ כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה רֹפְאֶךָ

April 24, 2006

Jews visit the tombs of Joshua Bin Nun and Calev Ben Yifuneh

"The Land is very, very good"
Numbers 14:7

Read the inspiring and beautifully written article from Arutz Sheva HERE

April 23, 2006

Speaking of Tzaddikim: Yehoshua Bin Nun

Tonight is the Yahrzteit of Yehoshua Bin Nun.

The gravesites of Joshua Bin Nun and Kalev Ben Yefuneh, near Ariel in the Shomron, will be open to visitors next Sunday night, the 3,249th anniversary of his death. Joshua, of the tribe of Ephraim, died, like his ancestor Joseph, at the age of 110.

Hayinu K'Cholmim?

Tomb of Jewish Talmudic Sage Ransacked In Arab Village

The tomb of a Talmudic sage in the Galilee has been vandalized in recent weeks apparently by Arabs who live near the site.

The tomb of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel is located in the Israeli Arab village of Kafr Kana, near the Golani Junction.

In recent weeks the iron bars at the entrance to the structure – which sits atop the cave the prominent rabbi is buried in – were bent and broken. The entire tomb was also set on fire.

The fire damaged the site, blackening the stones and obscuring explanatory plaques explaining its significance. The stone steps leading down to the grave have been smashed and one of the walls has been torn apart as well. The site is also apparently being used as a dumping ground for garbage from the local village.

Read the rest and see the picture HERE

Me: What is the correct response? Those who have no regard for life certainly have no regard for death or the bodies of those who lie defenseless in the ground. The world cowers at the violent reactions to cartoons of the Moslem prophet, yet Jews will probably remain silent at the physical desecration of the bodies of their holy Sages.

Israel MUST flex its muscle against this criminal act.


April 21, 2006

Gettin' scared?

Islamists’ message to Israel at New York City rally: "The mushroom cloud is on its way!"

From counterterrorismblog.org

Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) Newswire - April 21, 2006 : The Queens-based Islamic Thinkers Society (ITS) held a rally yesterday outside of the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan. Members of the Islamic Thinkers Society are easily identified by their Khilafah flags and provocative signs as well as rhetoric against homosexuals, Jews, Christians, Danes and others, depending on the hot button issue at the moment. Yesterday's rally was held in response to Monday’s Tel Aviv bombing that killed 9 and injured scores. While carrying signs including “Islam will Dominate” with a picture of an Islamic flag over the White House, the small but loud group of men chanted threatening slogans

With our blood and our lives we will liberate al Aqsa!
With our blood and our lives we will liberate al Aqsa!
Israeli Zionists What do you say? The real Holocaust is on its way.
Israeli Zionists, What do you say?How many women have you raped today?
Israeli Zionists, What do you say?How many children have you killed today?
Zionists, Zionists You will pay! The Wrath of Allah is on its way!
Israeli Zionists You shall pay! The Wrath of Allah is on its way!
The mushroom cloud is on its way! The real Holocaust is on its way.

Please visit the reporting site (and an excellent blog), Counterterrorism Blog for more on this.

April 18, 2006

Birkas Kohanim Video

I know I've offered it before, but it's worth seeing it again.

See it HERE

Should we be bringing the Korban Peasch today?

"It's not a question of 'maybe' or 'if'," says Ramat Gan's Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel. "Bringing the Paschal sacrifice is a Torah obligation incumbent upon the People of Israel these very days."

Speaking with Yoel Yaakobi of the weekly B'Sheva newspaper, Rabbi Ariel said that though there are some grave Halakhic [Jewish legal] problems associated with bringing the Paschal sacrifice, "we have found the solutions, and the obligation is as strong as ever. This is [one of the only two positive Biblical commandments] that those who forsake it are liable to receive the ultimate karet [cutting off] punishment. From the moment that a Jew stands on the Temple Mount and the site of the Holy Temple is under our control, the Jewish People are immediately obligated to bring this sacrifice."

Sixteen of the 613 Biblical commandments relate to the Paschal sacrifice, which must be brought on the 14th day of the month of Nissan - Passover eve - and eaten on the night of the 15th. Today, this sacrifice is remembered only in the form of the Afikoman, the piece of matzah snatched and hidden by children during the Pesach seder meal, by the small roasted shank-bone on the Seder plate, and by prayers and study.

Rabbi Ariel said, "After the destruction of the First Temple, when the Jews began returning from Babylonia to the Holy Land, they brought the Paschal sacrifice during the course of 22 years even though there was no Holy Temple. They also were considered ritually impure - because there was no Red Heifer by which to become pure - yet they still brought it... There is currently no genuine impediment to bringing the Paschal sacrifice."

Read the rest HERE

The audacity of the LA Times

From their "Opinion" section

The horror of Hamas

THE HORROR OF MONDAY'S SUICIDE bombing in Tel Aviv, which killed the bomber and nine other people and wounded scores more, presented Hamas with an opportunity to break from its history as a supporter of terrorism. Instead, a spokesman for Hamas, which formed a Palestinian parliamentary government last month, described the attack carried out by another group, Islamic Jihad, as an act of self-defense.If there was any lingering doubt that the U.S. and Europe were right to ostracize the Hamas government and cut off economic aid, it has been dramatically dispelled. It remains part of the problem, not part of any Arab-Israeli solution.

That doesn't mean Israel should respond to the attack with self-defeating actions, such as a wholesale reoccupation of the Gaza Strip. It does mean that Israel has cause to crack down anew on Islamic Jihad and institute stronger security measures along the "Green Line" separating Israel and the West Bank — even if that means injuring and inconveniencing innocent Palestinians. As always, they are hostages to the extremists.In the past, when the Palestinian Authority was controlled by the late Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, Israelis and the United States often complained that Palestinian denunciations of terrorism were not accompanied by measures on the ground to prevent such attacks. Hamas was incapable of even a rhetorical condemnation of Monday's atrocity, which profaned the Passover season and came hours before the swearing-in of Israel's new coalition government.Instead, Hamas spokesman Sami abu Zuhri said the attack outside a fast-food shop was "the natural result of continued Israeli aggression and escalation and can only be considered a form of self-defense." Morally repellent in themselves, these sentiments raise the question of whether Hamas' own cessation of terrorist attacks is a temporary expedient or an unnecessary one — because its allies will continue to kill and maim Israelis.It is small consolation to Israelis that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Monday's attack or that Abbas insists that Palestinian security forces are under his control, not Hamas'. Still, even though his influence has been waning, he remains a voice for the two-state solution that even Ariel Sharon came to recognize as the way out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In reacting, as it must, to the attack, Israel must be careful not to marginalize Abbas further.

Me: Bolding above is mine. Amazing. Israel should crack down on Islamic Jihad? Hamas campaigned on the platform of terror and killing Jews and now, when they don't condemn it, the LA Times Editorial Staff is shocked. Hamas is the problem as are ALL radical Islamic terror organizations in Israel and the world. How many more innocent people will have to die before the world at large cracks down within their own borders, let alone Israel?

My Pesach Dream

I was standing by the Kotel with my ten year old son. I pointed to it and said: "We used to pray here." Then I pointed up to Temple Mount and said: "Now we pray there." The Holy Beis HaMikdash was rebuilt and shining like a diamond.

April 12, 2006

Reviewing the Halachos of Birkas Kohanim

Brothers, I implore you to study the halachos of Birkas Kohanim BEFORE going to shul to duchan on Yom Tov.

There are a few points I want to stress:

1. The Kohanim do NOT say "Am Kidushecha K'amor" at the beginning (Mishna Berura 128:38) It amazes me how many Kohanim mistakenly say this.

2. We turn to the RIGHT only.

3. We are forbidden to look at our own hands when we pronounce the blessing.

4. We swing our hands only on words that end in "chah" (eg. yiverechiCHAH, v'yishmereCHAH, Vi'chuneKAH, etc.) as well as the word Shalom.

5. If the mechitza is on the side PLEASE make sure you swing your hands to cover the women as well. People standing behind the Kohanim, even if they are not directly behind, but behind them toward the side, are not included in the blessing. This is often neglected.

6. There are specific kavanos a Kohain has to have when he duchans. There is not enough time and space to elaborate here. Please refer to the handy book "A Guide to Birkas Kohanim."

7. We stay on the bima until Kaddish is over.

8. If people say Yashar Koach to you do NOT respond Baruch T'heyeh (Shulchan Aruch 128:17, Ramah and Mishnah Berura).

9. We wash our hands without a brocho if we touch our shoes.

Hope this helps.

A happy and meaningful Pesach to all!

May this be the year of Redemption for all Klal Yisrael!

Korban Pesach

May we be zoche to bring the Korban Pesach THIS year!

To read a drash about it - click HERE

Rav Kook on the KP is HERE

More about it from Torah.org - HERE

Want to bring the Korban Pesach this year? Click HERE

An interesting sight - the Samaritans doing their "Korban Pesach" on Har Grizim (the Samaritans, descendants of *transplants who adopted parts of Hebrew rituals, have been separated from the Jewish people for over two thousand years). My inclusion of the site is in no way an endorsement of them or their practices. Click HERE

*From KINGS II: "24. And the king of Assyria brought [people] from Babylonia and from Cuthah and from Avva and from Hamath and from Sepharvaim, and he settled them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel, and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities. 25. And it was in the beginning of their dwelling there, that they did not fear the Lord, and the Lord incited lions against them, and they were killing them. 26. And they said to the king of Assyria, saying, "The nations that you exiled and settled in the cities of Samaria, do not know the law of the God of the land, and He has incited lions against them, and behold they are killing them, as they do not know the law of the God of the land." 27. And the king of Assyria commanded, saying, "Bring there one of the priests whom I have exiled from there, and let them go and dwell there, and teach them the law of the God of the land." 28. And one of the priests whom they had exiled from Samaria came and settled in Bethel, and he would direct them how they should fear the Lord. 29. Now each nation made its god, and they placed [it] in the temple of the high places that the people of Samaria had made, each nation in their cities wherein they were dwelling."

April 09, 2006

Mmmmmmmmmmmm nuts.

More nutiness from those kooky reshaim known as Neturei Karta...

Click HERE

Ps. "the Exodus is a Zionist plot. We true Torah Jews reject the release of the Jewish people from slavery and ask the honorable Pharoah to not judge all Jews by the actions of Moses and Aaron. The Jewish People have had a long-standing, peaceful relationship with the Egyptians and we stand in solidarity with them. We pray for the destruction of the Zionist Exodus and look forward to the day we can re-enter slavery and serve our Egyptian masters as we have for hundreds of years. We also apologize and symathize with the Amalekite and Canaanite People and realize that they wouldn't have attacked us if we hadn't tried to illegally occupy their land."

April 07, 2006

Shabbos HaGadol

This Shabbos is Shabbos HaGadol (or the Great Sabbath).

From the Hineni website by Rabbi Osher Jungreis

The Great Sabbath, for the following reasons: a) There is an ancient tradition that on this Sabbath, Rabbis deliver in-depth sermons dealing with the intricate laws of Pesach, b) In this Sabbath`s Haftorah, it states, "Behold, I will send Elijah the Prophet to you before that great (HaGadol) and awesome day, c) The Jews in Egypt set aside the pascal lamb on this Shabbos for the first pascal sacrifice. Since the lamb was the deity of the Egyptians, this took great courage, faith and commitment. The Almighty G-d protected the Jewish people and miraculously the Egyptians did not attack the Jews.

He also writes -


At the end of this week`s parsha there is a puzzling passage, "This is the thing that HaShem commanded to be done.." (Leviticus, 8:5), but the Torah does not specify what "the thing" might be. In order to gain illumination, we turn to the previous verse wherein G-d instructed Moshe to gather the entire assembly of the Jewish people "to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting" - and herein lies the explanation which in and of itself is paradoxical. Although the area at the entrance was very small and could not contain so many people, nevertheless, miraculously, there was ample room for everyone. Through this phenomena, the Torah teaches us a profound lesson that speaks for all time: When true love prevails among people, no room, no place is too small. On the other hand, when contention and animosity fill hearts, then no space is big enough. The most majestic palace cannot accommodate those who are not at peace with one another, Thus the meaning of the passage becomes clear - "This is the thing that HaShem commanded to do": to reach out with love, kindness and understanding, and if we do that, then even the smallest, most limited space will miraculously expand. That is the power of love.

Although we no longer have the Temple, these laws are as meaningful today as yesterday, for our sages teach that each and every one of us is a Temple in microcosm. If we dedicate our lives to G-d and to His commandments, we become holy, but if we transgress, we defile ourselves. When we repent however, we recreate ourselves and in essence, rebuild the Temple within our souls, and in that re-creation we touch greatness.

Today, we no longer have sacrifices, but we can offer sacrifices through acts of mesiras nefesh - tapping deep within our hearts and dedicating our lives to a higher purpose - the service of our people and the worship of G-d. Self sacrifice is the stuff of which goodness and greatness is made. It is not limited to the Kohen, but is in the domain of each and every one of us. Let us pray a litle bit more, dedicate ourselves with more intensity to Torah and mitzvos, give a little bit more tzedukah, and feel the pain of our people.

Thought for the week: "The offering of G-d is a broken heart." (Psalms 51)

Please check out Hineni and all they have to offer. Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis is a Tzadekis in every sense of the word. Her audio lectures not only inspire me but her voice has a calming kedusha. Check it out for your selves by clicking HERE

On another note, this Shabbos is also the yahrtzeit of:

Miriam the Prophet (sister of Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohain) and

Reb Betzalel HaKohain of Vilna, author of Mareh Kohain

3 Kotel Web Cams

Check 'em out HERE

April 03, 2006

Parshas Tzav - Annointing Aharon and the Kohanim

6. And Moshe brought Aharon and his sons forward and bathed them in water. 7. And he placed the tunic upon him [Aharon], girded him with the sash, clothed him with the robe, placed the ephod upon him, girded him with the band of the ephod, and adorned him with it. 8. And he placed the choshen upon him, and he inserted into the choshen the Urim and the Tummim. 9. And he placed the cap on his [Aharon's] head, and he placed on the cap, towards his face, the golden showplate, the holy crown, as the Lord had commanded Moshe. 10. And Moshe took the anointing oil and anointed the Sanctuary and everything in it and sanctified them. 11. And he sprinkled from it upon the altar seven times, and he anointed the altar and all its vessels and the washstand and its base, to sanctify them. 12. And he poured some of the anointing oil upon Aharon's head, and he anointed him to sanctify him. 13. And Moshe brought Aharon's sons forward and clothed them with tunics, girded them with sashes, and bound them up with high hats, as the Lord had commanded Moshe...

36. And Aaron and his sons did all the things that the Lord commanded through Moshe.

Rashi: And Aharon and his sons did [all the things]. To tell their praise, namely, that they did not deviate to the right or to the left.

There are so many halachos and minhagim that Jews are careful to keep. Whether it's kitneyos or gebrucht on Pesach, black hats or streimels, cholent or hamin on Shabbos.

And yet, how many Kohanim do you know who actively learn about their obligations, their specific mitzvos whether d'oraisa or d'rabanan?

Kehuna is a gift from G-d. There are those who claim that all Kohanim are safek today. Why is this? We have a chizkus kashrus of all Jews, but not Kohanim? When did this opinion arise? Even so, the Klal gives kavod to Kohanim during kriya and bentching. The Klal accepts our blessings. They are podeh their firstborn to us.

Therefore WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION to learn all the Halachos of Kehuna whether it be Taharos, Kodshim, and the Avodah.

As posted before:

The following is from a letter by the Chafetz Chaim (Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagen HaKohain):…

Presently it is difficult to find Kohanim who know the laws and practices of the Temple Service fully. How disheartening and embarrassing. It sadly indicates that our prayers for the Temple and the Service are merely lip service, not real or heartfelt. For if we really desired it to come, we would prepare and make ready for it.

Therefore my brothers, it is incumbent upon us to…further the knowledge of the Temple and its Service. Particularly the Kohanim and the Levites, who are most directly involved in this Torah Mitzvah, for they will be the first to be asked, “why didn’t you prepare for the Temple Service?”

Here endeth the rant.