The Capella Hotel in the Sentosa resort area of Singapore? What an unbelievable place for today's historic meeting between North Korea's Chairman Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump. As my esteemed friend Rabbi Mordechai Abergel, the Head Rabbi of Singapore can attest, this was the exact place where Emuna Outreach held an emuna gathering for over 120 Noahides some six years ago in Singapore. Could it be that the emuna of the wonderful people there laid the foundation for a future miracle? Could be...
Only 18 days ago, President Trump himself cancelled the planned summit with North Korea. Now, contrary to what every single media outlet and commentator believed or predicted, it happened. Not only did it happen, but Kim and Trump came out with sincere respect for one another. Look at the photo above and the way they're looking at each other - facial gestures and body language don't lie.
Does anyone still doubt the prophecy, that, "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid-goat," (Isaiah 11:6)? Hashem is showing that it can happen, for whatever He decides will be, as King Solomon attests, "The king's heart is in the hand of Hashem; He tilts it to whatever side He desires" (Proverbs 21:1). Hashem decided that Kim and Trump should meet and hit it off so well.
This could lead directly to the peaceful coming of Moshiach, as Isaiah says in the continuation of the above-cited prophecy. That is, if the Jewish People wake up in teshuva and in emuna.
If I were running for office or attempting to win a popularity contest, I wouldn't be writing this post. Many of our readers outside of Israel are not going to like this. But what can a person do if he doesn't like the weather? Bury his head in the ground? Close the curtains and say that there's no hurricane with killer winds outside? Once a person's house becomes flooded, the closed windows and curtains don't help anymore. There comes a time when one cannot escape the storm outside. Yet, once the storm is predicted, he doesn't sit with folded arms until it washes him away. He can get in the car or on a plane and move to a more amenable climate.
Don't forget that the inclement weather, as well as the inclement political climate, all come from Hashem and for a reason.
Be patient, I'm getting to the point. But first, I must preface and ask a question: Why are we so happy on Passover Seder night? Any 7-year-old will laugh and say, "What a dumb question! That's when Hashem took us out of slavery in Egypt!"
Is it such a dumb question when I show little 7-year-old Chaimk'e and his parents that in the three days that preceded our Exodus from Egypt in the Hebrew year of 2448 (1282 BCE), eight million Jews died, and that's according to the conservative figure. Some say it was 10 million. Rashi explains that only 1 out of 5 Jews left Egypt in the Exodus; the other 4 died during the three days of darkness. Since a minimum of 2 million left, that means that at least 8 million perished!
Why, therefore, do we not mourn during the three days that precede Pesach, and declare them as national Holocaust Days, when 33% more Jews died than during the entire six years of the Nazi Holocaust? Not only do we not mourn, we rejoice! What's going on?
Our sages rule that we do not mourn anyone who denies the Redemption and refuses to be a part of it, just as we don't mourn a heretic who denies the veracity of Moses's prophecy and the Torah (Rambam, Laws of Teshuva, 3:8, and other places). This notion is even anchored in The Code of Jewish Law (see Shulchan Oruch, Yora Deah 345:5; Mishna Berura on Orach Chaim 126:1, letter b). Moses, in the Name of Hashem, told the Children of Israel to arise, we must quickly leave Egypt. 80% didn't listen to him. They paid a steep price but we don't mourn for them. They had become used to Egypt and had no desire - despite what Hashem wanted - to leave Egypt. Even though they were slaves, they liked the Egyptian culture, music, pastimes and food. Moses said no, we must go to our Promised Land. Egypt is not our home.
Moses's voice saying, "We must go to our Promised Land", echoes through all of our history.
The periodic "Golden Ages" of our Diaspora have always been followed by calamity. The Golden Age of Jewry in the Iberian Peninsula culminated in 1492, when the horrendous Inquisition began. Jews were either killed, exiled or forcefully converted to Catholicism. The Golden Age of German and Eastern European Jewry ended in Hitler's Holocaust.
There is only one, true Golden Age in Judaism, and that's when our exiles return home, Moshiach comes and our Holy Temple is rebuilt.
Hashem wants to redeem His people but in the meanwhile, He won't until they come home. The sand of that "meanwhile" keeps is emptying out from the top of that 2,000 year hourglass. When a certain date comes according to Hashem's timeline, He won't wait anymore and Moshiach will come whether we like it or not or whether we're here in Israel or not.
Rav Yehuda Zev, of saintly and blessed memory, lived through the Nazi Holocaust. He witnessed the slaughter of his parents, his siblings and his fiance. He never had children because of the torture that the satanic Nazis did to his body. He did not take the word "Holocaust" lightly - he lived through it and experienced it on his own flesh and in his own heart in the most excruciatingly painful way. Though scarred, completely, inside and out, he was a tzaddik of perfect emuna and not bitter in the slightest. He knew that everything was from Hashem. Yet, with all his heart, he did everything to prevent another Holocaust. He didn't want Moshiach to come if the price would be tragic.
A tzaddik of Rav Yehuda Zev's caliber has 20/20 spiritual vision because nothing in this world can fool, sway or tempt him. No wonder he was so accurate in predicting the Arab Spring and Bibi's inability to attack Iran as we wrote on our No Go post from this past Friday.
A movie clip has now become public, where Rabbi Aharon Stern shlit'a from Bnai Brak, who was Rabbi Yehuda Zev's personal attendant, reveals the tzaddik's third prediction and says: "Before his death,Rav Leibowitztold me that the anti-Semitism in the United States is only going to continue to grow, until it gets to the point where the Jews will be forced to flee. They must come to Israel soon; if they wait too long, they'll be lucky to exit with the shirt on their backs...come soon, the Redemption will be here in the Land of Israel, not anywhere else." In case anyone doubts the veracity and authenticity of the quote, at the bottom of this post is the vid in Hebrew where you can see Rav Stern saying this (see minutes 2:48-3:40).
Hashem wants to redeem us, so He wants us all here. But what about those who for any number of reasons can't come now? What about those with joint custody on children from a previous marriage or those with an elderly parent? (Plug in your own reason...)
Rav Shalom Arush shlit'a says that even if you can't come now, you can do 2 things:
1) Pray daily for Aliya, so that you too can come home to the Land of Israel;
2) Spread emuna far and wide, in any way you can. This will protect you in the meanwhile, because the spread of emuna is also needed to expedite Geula, the full redemption of our people, speedily and in our days, amen!
There's a major difference between Hashem and political leaders: He keeps His promises whereas they don't. Seder night is proof...
Political leaders should really be in the furniture business, because all they care about is the chair they sit on. Ideology? Truth? You will find neither in politics, whether you look at the right, center or left. With that in mind, maybe now, our people around the globe will finally learn that there's no one to trust but Hashem. We certainly can't trust those who change their opinions as frequently as they change their socks and prefer political expediency to justice and truth. So, my Pesach-eve message to my cherished brothers and sisters, especially here in Israel, is that it's time that we all come back to Hashem in complete teshuva, asking His forgiveness for any trust we put in human beings, in Israel or abroad.
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!
Hashem's world is full of surprises, yet there's nothing new under the sun.
In the above photo, you see an Israeli F-15 Eagle refueling from a Boeing 747 that is serving as "jet mom", the tremendous aerial refueling plane that replenishes the small jet fighters, thus increasing their combat range. If someone would tell you that the "jet mom" in the photo is an aircraft from the Royal Saudi Air Force, it wouldn't be true - yet. But it could be - soon. Israel and Saudi Arabia are already sharing sensitive intel. They both face a mutual existential threat - Iran. In fact, the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is all over the Middle East - in Yemen, in Iraq, in Syria and in Lebanon. The advantage that Saudi Arabia stands to gain from allying with Israel far outweighs and differences that Riyadh holds with Jerusalem. That's why a joint military maneuver between Saudi Arabia and Israel is something that could realistically happen, soon.
Here's more proof: when did you ever hear Kuwaiti and Saudi leaders speaking pro-Israel ideas?
Meanwhile, Iran continues to threaten Israel with annihilation.
Although Saudi Arabia stands to gain from allying with Israel, Israel - historically - does not. Throughout history, whenever Israel leaned on a wobbly reed - any source of help or reliance other than Hashem - Hashem broke the reed so that Israel will learn to depend on Him alone (see Ezekiel 29:6 and Rashi's commentary there). The Israeli government would be much better advised to strengthen its adherence to Torah while we, Israel's citizens, should be working day and night to strengthen our emuna. This is our best defense against any enemy.
As far as strengthening emuna goes, it's not only the key to our survival but the key to Redemption too, as Rebbe Nachman writes in Likutei Moharan I:7. That is why the closest thing to Rebbe Nachman's heart was hafatza, spreading emuna teachings and bringing people closer to Hashem.
Emuna Outreach's and Breslev Israel's sole purpose in our travels around the globe is to spread emuna, for only emuna is the key to all of humanity living in harmony and to preventing this entire world from blowing itself to smithereens. I can testify that my beloved teacher Rabbi Shalom Arush's greatest joy in the world is getting another human being to call Hashem's Name. That's understandable; as we say three times every day in the Aleinu prayer, the world will attain its correction when all of living flesh calls Hashem's Name.
The IDF and the US Armed Forces are two focus-spots where we invest much time, effort and funds in spreading emuna. Look what happened at Fort Bragg.
The holy Talmudic sage Reish Lakish (Rebbe Shimon ben Lakish) was a Baal Teshuva and even a gladiator before Rebbe Yochanan - his future brother-in-law and learning partner - brought him back to Hashem. Reish Lakish was skilled in all areas of combat arts. As such, he was an authority on fighting, weapons and warfare. Reish Lakish says (see Gemara in Tractate Sota, 25b) that Israel is the fiercest of nations. The Maharsha, in his classic elaboration of the Gemara, says that Israel inherited its fierceness from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The "Pnai Yehoshua" adds that if Israel would put its efforts into fighting rather than Torah, it would rule the world. The Malbim in his elaboration of Parshat Vayichi and Jacob's blessing to each of his twelvw sons before he died, says that each of the tribes of Israel had its own style of combat. In short, as opposed to the wimpy stereotypes of "Fiddler on the Roof" and the cowering Jew make that above-cited Gemara hard to believe for those Jews who don't know enough about their own people, the Jews are rough dudes.
Here's more to substantiate Reish Lakish's point: stop and think who the greatest guerrilla fighters of all time were: how about Abraham and Eliezer, who defeated four entire armies. Or how about Shimon and Levi, who right after their Bar Mitzva, wiped out the Canaanite town whose prince raped their sister Dina. Don't forget the Maccabees, a small family of Cohanim who routed the Syrian-Greek army. Think about Bar Kochba, who with his small band of followers defeated the Roman Army and reigned as king for two years. If I had the time, I'd write a book on this, for there's so much to add...
Let's fast forward in history: who is the one people that the Moguls, the British, the Russian Army, the entire US military or anyone else has ever been able to defeat? If you answered the Afghan Pashtuns, you're right.
The are loads of research, proofs and documents showing the link between the Pashtuns (aka Pathans) and the Jewish People. Anthropologist Shalva Weil of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem says, "Of all the many groups in the world who claim a connection to the 10 lost tribes, the Pashtuns, or Pathans, have the most compelling case." Researcher Nadav Sofy notes, "The Pashtuns are beyond any doubt the 10 tribes of Israel. The have more than 40 Jewish customs and commandments rooted in Torah, Talmud and Kabala."
If you're still skeptical about the Pashtuns being one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, take a long at some of their customs (gleaned from the above links and other resources, especially this article):
Pashtuns obeserve Saturday as their Sabbath and light candles on Friday night
They don't eat shellfish (lobsters, shrimp and crabs), they don't use camel milk and they don't mix milk and meat
They circumcise their baby sons on the 8th day
They cover their heads at all times.
Many do not cut their sidecurls
The women perform a ritual immersion in the river at the end of menstruation.
Their names are right out of the Torah.
They carefully avoid eating blood - they check eggs for blood and salt their meat after slaughtering.
I can go on and on, for there are dozens of additional points, but I'm sure you get the idea.
Compare the Pashto language to Hebrew; for example:
* Gazera means carrot. In Hebrew it is Gezer
* Dor means an era. In Hebrew the word Dor refers to an era or a generation.
* Orezy means rice. In Hebrew it is Orez.
* Qurban means sacrifice. In Hebrew it is Qorban
What do our own sages say about this? Professor Navras Jaat Aafreedi of the Presidency University in India refers to our great rabbis Rebbe Saadia Ga'on (9th Century, CE) and Moses Ibn Ezra (11th Century, CE) who mention Afghanistan and the Pathan territories in Pakistan as the home of Jews descended from the lost tribes.
What does all this have to do with today?
Rebbe Eliezer ben Hyrcanos says in tractate Sanhedrin that when Moshiach comes, he'll tell the lost tribes who they really are and bring them back to Israel - this is the Israel of Moshiach and Torah, for Hashem's law will reign. You know what that means? The Pashtuns, who today make up the bulk of the Taliban, will become the defenders of Israel.
Just looking at them is like looking at brothers. Change the attire of the Pashtan elders pictured below (image with appreciation to thepashtuntimes.com), and you could be looking at the men around a Seuda Shlishit table in our local Sefardi synagogue - notice that all these men have untrimmed beards and sidecurls tucked under their lungee, their traditional turbans. As we can see, a lot of excitement awaits us as Moshiach comes, may it be soon, with the ingathering of all the exiles, amen!
You're probably looking at this picture and wondering what I'm trying to show you.
PEOPLE!! Don't you SEE that gas station sign??
To most normal people, this looks like there's a gas station on the side of the road. But you'd be WRONG!
To this not normal person, that gas station sign has great historical symbolism.
You see, this gas station is not finished. It hasn't been finished since they started building it nearly four years ago. Ffffour years!
I ask you - is that normal? Even a high rise building can be completed in less than four years! Why is this gas station taking soooo long??
Before I reveal the answer, I'd like to explain my obsession with this gas station. It's no ordinary gas station, my friends. The back road that I'm driving on is a wonderful road that bypasses nearly all of Bet Shemesh from the East side. It cuts your travel time down to less than half versus driving through all of Bet Shemesh itself. I use it every morning to go to the gym and run other important errands, like shopping and... um... shopping. (I just gotta say that David pulled a smart move by taking the credit card with him. And it's a good thing we only have one, because I'm a professional at using credit cards.)
The nearest gas station is in the industrial zone in Bet Shemesh, and it's a pain to get in and out of when it's crowded. Wait! I just realized something so hysterically ironic. Right up the street from the gas station that I use is another gas station, but I never use that one because you need to make very sharp 90 degree turns to get in and out of there, and my big ol' van with the front bumper hangin' low as if it's too cool for school ain't doin' no 90 degree turns.
That gas station was built in three months. But that's not the ironic part! Just this morning, I was driving by it, and poof! Another gas station just appeared out of thin air! Right next door! Same crowded road, same problem getting in and out. So now we have three gas station within a 10 second walk of each other. Hysterical. Irony.
This gas station that's on the back road is a dream. Not only is it convenient and spacious, it even has a drive-thru car wash!!!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND??!!
A DRIVE-THRU CAR WASH!!!
THEY DON'T EXIST IN ISRAEL!!
And soon, God willing, Bli Ayin Hara, B'ezrat Hashem, For God's Sake, Goodness Gracious, G-d forbid, I will be able to drive my car up to the gas station in leisure, and then drive it through the car wash!! And the best part is that I won't have to deal with the crazy traffic in that part of town!
So that's all nice, and the wine is starting to kick in, and you're probably fed up of my nonsense by now, so I'll explain what in the world my point is. But first, the wine is calling my name.
Okay, now that that's done, let's get to the point.
Many people claim that our Final Redemption is around the corner. They say they can feel it. Well I can do better. I can see it, right in front of my face. I can see it in that gas station sign. There is no logical reason, aside from lack of funds, turning over the property, a lawsuit, or all kinds of other legal situations, that this gas station wouldn't be finished by now.
Therefore, since I don't know why it has been taking so long, I came up with a brilliant and slightly crazy theory. If you even think about using my theory in your name, I have patented it, and I will come after you. Be warned.
I fully believe that this gas station will be ready just in time for the arrival of our Mashiach. It's on a road that conveniently leads to Jerusalem in several different directions. It's stalling big time, just like our Redemption. It's way too convenient, and convenience isn't very Israeli. At least, not current Israeli. But it sure is redemption Israeli!
Next thing they'll do is put grocery baggers at every cash register like they do in the States. I'm willing to bet big money that the Mashiach will be here before or slightly after my fantasy becomes a reality. Grocery baggers are a luxury, so enjoy them, ya chutznikim. Look it up. I'm too lazy to explain what that word means.
I hope that this Rosh Hashana brings us our Final Redemption in all its glory, minus the blood and guts. I hope we will all be able to internalize that Hashem loves us and is always doing what's best for us, even if it's taking a really long time and we're fed up of waiting and driving to the edge of town to get some gas.
Let's do our maximum to be the best people we can be. Let's focus on being there for our families, our children, and our spouses more than anyone else. Let's talk to Hashem as much as we can.
May you all be blessed with a beautiful year filled with everything good! (Seriously. Does that make sense? Because I can fix it. Really.)
Warmest Wishes for a happy and healthy Rosh Hashana! Shana Tova and G'mar Chatima Tova!