And Even Though He Tarries...

All the preconditions that our sages have stipulated for the coming of Moshiach have been fulfilled. The time is especially ripe now. Nevertheless, despite all the eager anticipation, and even though he tarries, we still wait for Moshiach innocently and patiently with simple faith. "And even though" in Hebrew is Ve'af al pi.

The Rambam's 12th principle of emuna is, "I believe with full and complete faith in the coming of Moshiach; and even though he tarries, I shall still wait for him whatever day he comes."

Let's hear Rav Shlomo Carlebach of blessed memory put the Rambam's above principle to music in one of his most soul-stirring melodies. Enjoy it, and may you have a wonderful Shvii shel Pesach and Shabbat, and may we all soon - together - merit to greet Moshiach in our rebuilt Holy Temple in Jerusalem, amen. 


Serving the same G-d

During the Omer, we must make a special effort to love, and at least respect, our fellow human. We curtail music and rejoicing during this time of the year because of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students who died in a plague. Yes, they were lofty Torah scholars, but they didn't properly respect one another. We must rectify this... 

The Melitzer Rebbe shlit'a told me the following story about his great grandfather, Rebbe Meir'l of Promiszlan. Keep it in mind before allowing yourself the "luxury" of feuding with a fellow Jew:

Serving the same G-d

Rebbe Meir'l of Promiszlan and Rebbe Yitzchok of Strettin were engaged in a long, drawn-out feud. Knowing that dissension serves no purpose, Rebbe Meir'l approached Rebbe Yitzchok and attempted to make peace. The latter only turned his face to the wall. "Please, Strettinner Rebbe, allow me to tell you a tale," said Rebbe Meir'l, and told him the following story:

During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, a Marrano* suspected of secretly being Jewish became deathly ill. The Inquisitors called the local priest, and told him to go see if the dying man would make last confession, proving that he's a Catholic, or else otherwise be burned at the stake as a Jew. The Priest and the Henchman entered the sick man's room, and the sick man turned his face to the wall, refusing to reject his true faith in Hashem during his last minutes on earth.

The Inquisitors said, "Ahah, he's a secret Jew!" The priest said no, he's embarrassed to confess in front of others. Everyone must leave the room!

Only the dying man and the Priest remained in the room. The priest, a Marranno himself, whispered in the man's ear, "You can say Shma Yisrael now, and express your belief in Hashem before you die. You no longer need to turn your back on me, because we both serve the same G-d." With his dying breath, the Marrano utterred, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is one!"

"So you see, Strettinner Rebbe," said Rebbe Meir'l, "You no longer have to turn your back on me, because we serve the same G-d!" The feud ended on the spot.

*Marranos - the Spanish Jews who posed as Catholics on the outside, and secretly continued to practice their Judaism behind closed doors


Birkat Ha'Ilanot: Blessing of the Trees

New beginning

Once a year, during the Hebrew month of Nissan, we have the special mitzva of making a blessing over (at least two) blossoming fruit trees. According to Kabbala, this blessing is deeply significant, and helps correct the soul that is reincarnated within the tree. That soul is forever beholding to the person that makes the blessing, for he or she has done a great favor in helping that soul attain its tikkun, or correction.

You have until Sunday, May 8, 2016 to fulfill this wonderful mitzva. All you need are two blossoming fruit trees within reasonable distance of one another (i.e. that you can see both at the time of making the blessing).

For your convenience, here is the blessing,

In English: Blessed are You, Hashem our God, King of the Universe, who let nothing lack in His universe and created within it good creatures and good trees in order to give pleasure to human beings.

In Transliteration: Baruch ata Adonoi, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, she-lo chisar be-olamo klum v-vara vo beriyyot tovot ve-ilanot tovim lehanot bahem bnai Adam.

In Hebrew:  ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם שלא חסר בעולמו כלום וברא בו בריות טובות ואילנות טובים להנות בהם בני אדם

May your Passover and upcoming summer be as fragrant as a citrus blossom! Now is the time for wonderful new beginnings. Every blessing, LB


Matzo Man

Important Pesach notice: Sadness and depression are the two worst forms of spiritual chometz. They have no place in our house or in our hearts! If you're not smiling, G-d forbid, go have a look at Matzo Man - this is one of our perennial favorites:


V'hi She'amda: The Eternal Promise

Even though I am cold-turkey on political issues, there are still those who are asking for my reaction to the USA's venomous criticism of Israel: I'm delighted. Maybe now, our people will finally learn that there's no one to trust but Hashem. We certainly can't trust our own elected leaders, who prefer political expediency to justice and truth and who brazenly declare in the media that they refuse to heed Hashem's laws. I pray that we all come back to Him in complete teshuva; this would be the finest response to both our so-called friends abroad, to our enemies and to our own elected officials, none of whom surprise us in the least.

The Gemara (tractate Sanhedrin 97b) says that the Nation of Israel (aka the Jewish People) will be redeemed as soon as they make teshuva, in other words, return to Hashem and the ways of His Torah. The Gemara then asks, what happens if the Nation of Israel doesn't make teshuva? Rebbe Yehoshua answers that if Israel doesn't make teshuva, then Hashem places them under the influence of a wicked king whose evil decrees are as severe as Haman's, and then they make teshuva.

We cannot fathom The Almighty's love for us and His infinite mercy. Despite the fact that we haven't made Teshuva from Love, which is what we need to do in order to be redeemed, and despite the fact that our own misdeeds put us under the boot of each generation's wicked kings, Hashem has made an eternal promise to deliver us from their hands. That's the V'hi She'amda prayer that we recite each year in the Haggada.

Let me share with you something additional about Hashem's love for His people: The Heavenly Altar and Throne is known as Upper Jerusalem; it is situated directly above Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which is known in the Zohar, Midrash, and Gemara as Lower Jerusalem. Hashem refuses to dwell in Upper Jerusalem until His permanent dwelling on earth - the Holy Temple - will be rebuilt in Lower Jerusalem (see Gemara tractate Taanit 5a, Midrash Tehillim 122, Vilna Gaon's elaboration of Zohar, Safra DeTzniuta, ist Chapter). Many evil world leaders are denying our right to the area of our own Holy Temple. Once again, we have no cause to be angry at them, for as soon as we make real teshuva, they will crumble. But, until we make teshuva, those evil leaders should be forewarned that by disenfranchising Israel from what they call East Jerusalem, they are in effect trying to disenfranchise The Almighty. Cherished brothers and sisters, that won't happen, period.

Hashem has no gratification by forcing us to make teshuva. When we strengthen our emuna and seek Hashem on our own accord, we sanctify His Holy Name. Let's wake up, beloved brothers and sisters. It's either nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles or emuna books and CDs; the choice is ours. Now you can understand why Emuna Outreach is working so hard to spread emuna around the globe - Rav Shalom Arush says that every emuna book or CD neutralizes one ballistic missile. When Moshiach comes, he'll show us all how emuna saved lives; the Gemara says that anyone who saves one life is considered as if he or she saved an entire world.

V'hi She'amda is a Passover song whose words come from the Haggada. It conveys a very timely message for the Jewish people: He who stood by our forefathers stands by us to deliver us from the hands of our enemies in every generation.

One of Jewish music's favorite sons, my dear friend Yonatan Razel, wrote a beautiful melody for this song, which he sings here with the king of Jewish singers, my very special friend Yaacov Shwekey. You'll get shivers up your spine and tears in your eyes listening to them. We're sure you'll enjoy this musical treat as much as we do. Enjoy it and have a wonderful Shabbat, Seder night and Passover holiday!