Today, Sunday Tishrei 21, is Hoshana Raba.
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach ob"m left this world a month after Succot, 21 years ago in 5755. Here is a vintage clip of him during the last Hoshana Raba service of his life. Enjoy it, and may we all be signed and sealed for a wonderful New Year 5776. Chag Sameach!
Above image: On the way to the Henkin funeral procession with lulav in hand, this morning (Friday, Oct. 2), Jerusalem
All of Israel mourns last night's tragic and despicably evil murder of two holy martyrs, Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin, Hy"d, a couple in their thirties from the village of Neria in Samaria. Their four children, aged 9, 7, 4, and 4-months, were in the car when drive-by terrorists affiliated with Abbas's Fatah party shot their parents at close range with automatic weapons. Although their bodies are unscathed, who can fathom the scars on the children's souls from witnessing their parents being shot to death. May Hashem avenge the blood of this holy couple, who represented everything beautiful about the Land of Israel and its finest people, and may Hashem comfort the orphans and raise them in health of body and soul.
Terror attacks and violence are nothing new here, but this incident is jolting the people of Israel to the core of their souls. Such indescribable pain comes at the time of the year's greatest joy, Chol Hamoed Succoth. Undoubtedly, since we lack our Holy Temple and ritual sacrifices, the martyred Henkin couple are the two unblemished sacrifices that Hashem has chosen to atone for the Jewish People.
With eyes of emuna, what message can we discern? What is Hashem telling us?
The message is twofold: first, Hashem is reminding all of us, in case we have forgotten, Heaven forbid, that we are Jews. When we forget that fact and pursue all types of anti-Torah lifestyles, our enemies remind us who we really are. Therefore, in loving memory of Eitam and Naama hy"d, each one of us must strengthen his or her relationship with Hashem by reinforcing emuna and more careful observance of Torah, especially here in the Land of Israel, which does not tolerate unholiness. Second, we must trust completely in Hashem and not lean on the wobbly reed of so-called foreign allies who are systematically selling us out. This means doing what we must do without bowing to any foreign dictates, no matter what, including declaring Israeli sovereignty over all the Land of Israel, period.
The Torah says that when the Name of Hashem is upon you, your enemies fear you. This is the deterrence that the IDF needs. A proper government response to Abbas and his Fatah terrorist would be to build two new cities in Judea and Samaria, and call them "Eitam" and "Naama".
One might ask, "How can I dance on Simchat Torah with such a heavy heart and with the tears of four fresh orphans?" Eitam and Naama are dancing for us in the highest Heavenly realm, in the Hall of the Holy Martyrs. It's only proper that we should dance for them down here. Shabbat Shalom, moadim l'simcha, and may we see Moshiach soon, amen!
Rabbi Yoel ben Shmuel Sirkis (1561-1640), aka the "Bach", named after his landmark commentary on the Arba Turim, was one of the greatest rabbis and scholars of all time. He was also my 11th generation great grandfather on my mother's side, which makes me a distant cousin of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, of blessed memory, who was a great-grandson of the Bach.
In the following memorable clip, here's Rabbi Shlomo telling a classic story about the Bach, which I enjoy telling to my guests and grandchildren in our Succa. It's really moving, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Moadim L'Simcha and Shabbat Shalom!
Above image: Lazer by a willow tree in the town of Breslev, Ukraine, near the Bugg River - these are probably the same willows that Rebbe Nachman used with his lulav...
Today, the 18th of Tishrei 5776, is the 205th yahrtzeit of our holy, esteemed and beloved Rebbe, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, may his holy neshama intervene in our behalf, amen!
Please light a candle in loving memory of Rebbe Nachman the son of Faigie and Simcha. In his memory, ask Hashem for a favor you need, especially in the area of spiritual growth.
Breslev Israel and the Beams wish everyone a healthy, happy and joyous Succoth holiday!
I'm writing this to you for two reasons: first, you don't know me and I feel really embarassed talking about this to a rabbi that knows me; and second, since you too are a Baal Teshuva, I'm hoping you can understand a fellow BT that was born in the spiritual gutters far away from Torah. I became observant about five years ago, when I finished my masters degree. As a university student and a popular dude at that, I guess you can say that I did about everything and enjoyed it too. I won't go into the reasons that I made teshuva, but I became very disgusted with my lusty lifestyle. I began to learn Torah and was drawn especially to the teachings of the Zohar. I did an about face and made serious efforts in developing my personal holiness. With daily mikva, daily teshuva, and total immersion Torah, I became a new person. Two years ago, I was introduced to a young lady who after three dates became my fiance. We are blissfully married, in no small thanks to The Garden of Peace, which I live by.
So what's my problem? I thought I had deleted my naughty x-rated past from my brain. On Yom Kippur, the Yetzer gave me a triple whammy. During Kol Nidre, a really raunchy image flashed before my eyes which I won't describe, but it was something from the lowest part of my past. The same thing happened during Mussaf, and the same thing happened again in Neila. During the three highest points in the Yom Kippur prayers, I was watching myself in x-rated movies from my own past, the exact opposite of holiness. Why did Hashem shtup me with these terrible thoughts? What could I possibly have done wrong to be pushed away like this? I had such aspirations of clinging to Hashem with real devotion in this year's prayers, and I blew it. I feel devistated and dejected, as if I've been totally defeated. What can I do? Please help me. Thanks so very much, David from California
The Yetzer - the Evil Inclination - wants you to think that you're a loser. The exact opposite is true - this Yom Kippur, you have attained a lofty and admirable soul correction. You're the winner, my man; here's how:
Back in your university days, you thoroughly enjoyed doing the lewd things that so embarassingly popped into your head during this past Yom Kippur. Yet now, the forbidden acts that you once enjoyed are now a source of shame. Your shame during Yom Kippur is not only a sign of humility and holiness, but a soul correction for the past. Having done teshuva out of love (hear our CD on the subject), your past transgressions now become valuable merits to your credit. What's more, when you did those wrong things, you didn't know they were wrong. You can be proud of yourself, for Hashem is proud of the unbelievable growth that you've made in five short years. Don't ever forget that spiritual growth and serving Hashem are like football - you can't gain an inch without facing tough opposition; that's why the rewards are so great. Keep plugging away, slowly but surely, for you'll be a big winner. Remember also that as a BT, you're now playing in a championship league. Be happy, David - you're doing great. With blessings for joyous Chol Hamoed and a wonderful year, LB
Israel, 22:50 - The holiday atmosphere here was rudely interrupted with the Red Alert sirens chasing everyone to the bomb shelters. The Iron Dome missile defense system battery stationed near here thwarted the two missile attacks. We were taken by surprise for in recent weeks, things have been calm in the south of Israel. If anything, there's tension in the north with Russia now openly operating in Syria, helping Assad and his allies Iran and Hizbulla, a situation that could easily turn into a confrontation with Israel.
Right now, I'm reassuming my battle station - right here in the Brody succa. Moadim l'simcha - happy holiday!