Here's a gift for Shabbat - a Hebrew lesson of the the most important three-word phrase you'll ever need to know, and a lifesaver at that - ein od milvado - literally, there is no one or nothing but Hashem. Only He can help us, both collectively and individually. Like the Rambam teaches in the firsst of our 13 Principles of Faith, "He alone does, did and will do every deed."
The Torah says (Deut. 4:35), "You have been shown, in order to know, that Hashem, He is the G-d. There is none beside Him!" אין עוד מלבדו - "There is none beside Him," is the key to understanding everything that happens to us, both on a broad national scale and on a personal private scale.
"Shown, in order to know", explains the Ramban, refers to the revelation of Hashem on Mount Sinai. Moses received both the written and the oral law from Hashem on Mount Sinai. Therefore, whenever a person deviates - even in the slightest - from "Halacha Le'Moshe be'Sinai", or the law as it was given to Moshe on Sinai, one's understanding that "There is none beside Him," is seriously weakened.
"There is none beside Him" means that everything in the world happens because Hashem decrees that it should happen. No one can lift a finger against Hashem's will. So, if someone harms us or insults us, its pointless to bear malice toward that person. Rather, we should make an accounting of the soul, understand that Hashem does everything for our ultimate good, and pray to Hashem to help us understand the message and correct what needs to be corrected. This is especially important in Elul.
In light of the above, any time a person - or a movement of people - make any compromise on Shulchan Oruch, e.g. religious law, they weaken their own faith with their own two hands. Conversely, when a person strengthens his or her observance of the Torah's commandments, that person automatically benefits from a chizuk, or reinforcement, of faith. That's one of the reasons why Rebbe Nachman of Breslev implores us to learn Shulchan Oruch every single day of our lives, and not to budge an iota from its statutes.
Faith that "There is none beside Him" is the only reliable bridge to traverse this world safely to the other side.
Hashem has once agained foiled a major Hamas scheme. A few hours before the end of the ceasefire, the Israeli Internal Security Authorities (Shin-Bet) ruined a Hamas network's plot to carry out a coup in the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Judea and Samaria like they did in Gaza in 2007. This was also designed to trigger a third intifada. Read all about it here.
Just imagine if Hamas would have control of Judea and Samaria - the entire center of Israel would have become like the Gaza-area towns and villages.
So can anyone trust Hamas?
If anyone thinks that there's a difference between Hamas and the ISIS, they're mistaken.
Once again, missiles are falling in the south of Israel, but thank goodness, Hashem runs the world. And He does everything for the best, with no exceptions. Thank You, Hashem!
I entered a Jerusalem bookstore, looking for a book that I couldn't find anywhere else, a commentary of Torah written by the Rabbi Yitzchak Caro osb"m, uncle of Rabbi Yosef Caro osb"m, the author of the Shulchan Aruch. When the store owner told me that he had a copy, and told me the price that was remarkably reasonable, I started to thank Hashem then thank him, blessing him profusely. The store owner then asked me, "Are you from the South, from Ashdod or Netivot maybe?"
I replied, "How did you know? Is it written on my forehead?"
The merchant answered, "No, nor am I a Kabbalist. It's just that you southerners have a certain smile and a certain tone - I don't know how to describe it - it's like you're full of emuna."
I started to think; the missiles from Gaza have probably done more than anything to make us southerners strengthen our emuna and cling to Hashem. We're reminded constantly that our lives are totally dependent on Hashem. So in that case, the missiles have been ultimately good, for they've brought us closer to Hashem. With emuna in mind, everything is from Hashem and everything is for the best. As such, when we realize that our troubles come from Hashem, we can ride on their backs and they'll just take us higher and higher.
The Three Weeks are tough without music. Luckily, we are still allowed to sing, as long as we don't use background or accompanying instruments.
We are especially encouraged to sing when it means strengthening our emuna.
Here's a special treat: Child Soloist Yitzi Rosinger led by Shloimie Taussig sings "Shema Yisrael" accompanied by the outstanding Yedidim Choir, led by Avrumi Berko. This particular clip was filmed at the annual Boro Park Hatzolah Auction Melave Malka last year. Enjoy it!