85 posts categorized "Giants of Judaism"

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Abortion and Moshiach

RebbeThis post is in loving memory of the Lubavitcher Rebbe of blessed and saintly memory, whose 24th yahrtzeit is tomorrow
on Shabbat, 3 Tammuz. The Rebbe was instrumental in bringing me close to observant Judaism way back in the beginning of my search, in the early 1980's. I even had the privilege of spending Shabbat with him, exactly 31 years ago, on Shabbat Korach, 5747 (1987). I owe him an eternal debt

The Rebbe loved life, loved everyone, and loved every mitzva of the Torah. With this in mind, he was vehemently against abortion.

There's a well-known story of a childless young couple who came to the Rebbe for a blessing. Several months later, the woman became pregnant. When she was in the advanced stages of pregnancy, a fire broke out in her home. The woman, who was alone at home, inhaled smoke and fainted from the lack of oxygen. The rescue squad and firefighters carried her out of the burning house in a state of clinical death. The doctors resuscitated her for hours before she was out of danger. Then the haed physician decided that the woman's unborn child had to be aborted, because it was certainly lifeless, and even if it does live, it won't be more than a vegetable after such prolonged deprivation of oxygen. The doctor asked the husband to sign a release form but the husband refused. He sent an urgent telegram to the Rebbe, saying what the doctors wanted to do.

The Rebbe replied as follows: "Do not agree to an abortion; get a second opin­ion." The couple followed his advice, but the second doctor was equally adamant and admonished the husband for not agreeing to the abortion. "Forget about the baby; do you want to lose your wife too? The abortion must be performed im­mediately."

The husband sent another urgent telegram; the Rebbe's answer remained the same: "No abortion under any circumstances. With Hashem's help, everything will be fine." Eventually, the mother gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and later to another healthy child.

Wow, that's the Rebbe...

Why was the Rebbe so against abortion? The Gemara emphatically tells us that abortion delays the coming of Moshiach. Here's how:

The Talmud in tractate Yevamos (pg. 63b) says, "[Moshiach] Ben David won't arrive until all the souls are depleted from the body."

Rashi, our 11th Century sage from Ashkenaz (Germany-France) and the most important Talmudic commentator of all times, explains this very cryptic passage. "Body," says Rashi, "is the name of a partition that separates the Shechina (Divine presence) from the angels, which serves as the warehouse for all the souls that were created during the six days of creation, and that are destined to be given to bodies that will subsequently be created."

The above Talmudic passage teaches us that all the souls must assume bodily forms on earth before Moshiach can come. Even though unborn babies all possess divine souls (neshoma, since the unborn learn the entire Torah - oral, written, and esoteric - from an angel while in the mother's womb), the entire spiritual/soul complex that includes nefesh, ruach, and neshoma [basic vitality, spirit, and divine soul] all come together in the body momentarily before the baby is born (for further reference see Talmud in tractate Nida, pg. 30b; Tanya, first chapter; Eleph Hamagen, commentary on Mateh Efraim, intro. to laws of Rosh Hashonna; Sha'ar Hagilgulim, Seder knisas haneshoma). So, when for some reason the baby is not born, then the soul cannot leave "Body" (or 'Guf' in the original Hebrew), the heavenly warehouse for unborn souls. Until Guf is empty, Moshiach is delayed in arriving.

In light of the above Talmudic teachings, any person who performs, supports, assists, or encourages abortions is delaying the arrival of Moshiach with his or her own two hands.

I often wondered why the Talmud is so severe in its condemnation of doctors, when it says (tractate Kiddushin 82a), "the best of doctors are destined to Gehennom (purgatory)." When considering that in Israel alone, doctors perform over 20,000 abortions a year, then it's easy to understand why Moshiach is not yet being allowed to reveal himself. No, one does not receive a prize for contributing to the delay of Moshiach. Our sages in their infinite wisdom could see far into the future; that's why they said what they did about doctors.

So, if you'd like to lend a helping hand in bringing Moshiach as fast as possible, do what you can to fight against abortion in every way possible. I pray for your health, but if you ever need a doctor, I strongly suggest that you choose a physician who's opposed to abortion. A good physician recognizes the sanctity of human life.

Rav Yehuda Zev Leibowitz's Third Prediction

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 Leibowitz told 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!

The Tzaddik Decrees: No Go

"No go" in military jargon is an abortive mission, in other words, a mission that was on the table, planned and ready-to-go but due to an insurmountable obstacle, it cannot proceed. The troops get recalled and the jet fighters make a 180 back to base.

In the case of PM Netanyahu's planned attack on Iran, the insurmountable object was the decree of the head of the 36 hidden tzaddikim, who disguised himself as a gardener and street cleaner for the Tel Aviv municipality. But, the true tzaddikim of yesteryear, such as the holy Beis Yisroel of Gur, knew exactly who he was

We are referring to the holy concealed Kabbalist, Holocaust survivor Rabbi Yehuda Zev Leibowitz osb'm, Rabbi Shalom Arush's teacher and spiritual guide, who left this physical world in September of 2o1o (Elul 27, 5770). As I wrote in Rav Yehuda Zev's Legacy over six years ago, before he died - among other things - he said that Bibi will want to attack Iran but he won't be able to, for Hashem has other plans for Iran like He did for Sadaam Hussein.

Yesterday in the Israeli media, all chaos broke loose when former Mossad head Tamir Pardo revealed that he almost resigned from his post following a serious confrontation between himself and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What was the confrontation? Bibi ordered the IDF in 2011 to prepare the defense forces for a possible attack on a 15-day notice. Prime Minister Netanyahu wanted to attack Iran; in fact, he was dead-set on it. But, when former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz also opposed the mission, as the media reports, Bibi backed off.

Don't be so naive for a moment to think that Pardo or Gantz had the power to stop Bibi. There are plenty of instances when the PM overrode the head of the Mossad and/or the Chief of Staff. By law, they are required to heed the PM. Sure, they can make recommendations, but the PM has the last word.

The tzaddik knew what Hashem wanted. Notice that in recent years, the IDF has not enjoyed any decisive victories. Even with all the bravado of destroying the Hamas and Islamic Jihad infrastructure in Gaza this week after over 70 rockets were fired at the south of Israel, not a single Hamas or Jihadi terrorist was killed. The unofficial ceasefire, as in all the recent Gaza campaigns, have been dictated by the terrorists for their own benefit. The snake-pits of Gaza are still active and venomous as ever.

Why no decisive victories, like in 1967? Hashem is fed up with the "might of my right hand" mentality. Hashem wants us to spread emuna, not military might. How do I know? Rabbi Yehuda Zev told Rav Shalom that only the spread of emuna will save our nation. He told Rav Shalom that he must devote all of his assets and energies to this end. That's why we do what we do.

The tzaddik decreed and Bibi's hands were tied. The PM won't be able to attack Iran. This was Rabbi Yehuda Zev's second prediction, which as we learn retroactively this week, came true.

His first prediction, Arab Spring, completely materialized, starting 3 months after he died.

I don't like to speak about his third prediction, but it's alarming. I will say two things - if you're outside of Israel, help spread emuna. Start with yourself and your family. If you are thinking about moving to Israel, move forward with your plans.

Blessings for a lovely, peaceful Shabbat.

10 Teveth: Rebbe Natan's Yahrtzeit in Pictures

Today, 10 Teveth, 5778, is Rebbe Natan of Breslev's 173rd yahrtzeit.

RN 1
Image 1, above: Praying by the holy gravesite of Rebbe Natan Sternhartz, 1780-1845, known as "Rebbe Natan (Nosson in Yiddish) of Breslev", Rebbe Nachman's prime disciple, who wrote down all of Rebbe Nachman's teachings. Today, 10 Teveth, is his "yahrtzeit", the anniversary of his passing from the physical world. The gravesite is located in Breslev, Ukraine.

RN 2
Image 2, above: Rebbe Natan's gravesite, outside view.

Image 3, above: The Bugg River and the view of the Ukrainian countryside from Rebbe Natan's gravesite in Breslev, Ukraine.

Image 4, above: Personal prayer along the banks of the Bugg River, at the same exact spot where Rebbe Natan would spend hours pouring his heart out to Hashem.

May Rebbe Natan's holy and immortal soul intervene in our behalf, amen!

Rabbi Aaron Leib Shteinman, of saintly and blessed memory

Rav Aaron Leib Shteinman
The world of Torah came to a standstill this morning with the bitter news of the loss of one of our most learned, holy and righteous spiritual leaders who was like a father to all of us.

We tearfully mourn the passing of the Torah giant of our generation, Rabbi Aaron Leib Shteinman, of saintly and blessed memory, who left the physical world this morning at age 104. His funeral is now taking place in Bnei Brak. We all feel like orphans. Despite his prodigious Torah scholarship and righteousness, was Rabbi Shteinman was an utterly humble individual who lived in utter simplicity.

Born in 1913 in Brest, Lithuania, Rabbi Shteinman was a student of Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik osb"m, the holy Brisker Rov. He fled the Nazis and spent World War II in Switzerland, after which he came to Eretz Yisrael. The Rov became very close with the Ponovitcher Rov, Rabbi Yosef Kahanman, and with the Chazon Ish, both of saintly and blessed memory.

Probably more than anyone in this generation, Rabbi Shteinman was instrumental in opening new kollelim and helping more young men learn Torah. 

Everyone loved him, for he gentle and moderate, yet uncompromising when it came to Torah values. Although he headed the "Lithuanian" sector, he was non-partisan and he loved every Jew. He had an especially close relationship with the Gerrer Rebbe shlit'a.

He May his sacred memory intercede in our behalf, amen.

The Piaseczna Niggun

The moving and hauntingly inspiring melody you are about to hear was composed by "Derech Achim" from South Africa in memory of one of my all-time heroes and role models, the holy "Aish Kodesh" Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira of Piaseczna, Poland. He was a formidable educator and a profound influence on his generation. He was named after his great grandfather, the holy "Maor Vashemesh" - Rav Kalonymus Kalman Epstein, osb"m - who was the Rebbe of Krakow, Poland and the prime disiple of the holy Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk, osb"m.

The Piaseczna Rebbe inspired thousands of people during the darkest times of the holocaust. He brought hope and light to everyone around him and inspired so many to serve Hashem even in the purgatory of the Warsaw ghetto. In 1943, he was taken to the Trawniki Concentration Camp where he returned his sacred martyred soul to Hashem.

Enjoy this rare glimpse into history and into Chassidic life of today. We're still here - our oppressors always fall. Am Yisrael Chai!

Rabbi Yehuda Zev's Will

RYZ's Will
Rabbi Yehuda Zev Leibowitz of saintly and blessed memory was Rabbi Shalom Arush's teacher and spiritual guide. He was a holy tzaddik who concealed himself in layers of concealment. He was the only member of his family who survived the Holocaust, but he never married or had children because of the way the satanic Nazi Dr. Mengele mutilated him when he was only 12 years old. Rabbi Yehuda Zev was the head of the 36 hidden tzaddikim of his time. He adopted Rav Shalom like a son; to this day, Rav Shalom wears Rav Yehuda Zev's tefillin, which he inherited from his holy teacher.

Everything Rav Yehuda Zev predicted has come true. As far as his third prediction goes, I don't like to talk about it. It's scary, and no one strengthens emuna by being frightened. Yet, there are two ways to ward off hard times. One is to spread emuna. The other is to be especially careful in our relationships with fellow humans. For that reason, Rav Yehuda Zev's Will could save your life and the lives of your loved ones. Rav Shalom dictated it to me, and you acan see it in its entirety in this week's exciting issue of Breslev Israel web magazine.

Also featured this week:

Rabbi Lazer Brody - The Prince and the Protocol

Racheli Reckles - Holy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Zev Ballen - Kids of Compassion

Yehudit Channen - Doomsday Dating

Dovber Halevi - The Chosen Media

Ahava Margaretten - Glowing Like a Star

Pinney Wolman - The Language of Lyme's

Enjoy, and have a lovely new week and a wonderful new month of Kislev!