8 posts categorized "Holy Sites"
Rabbi Avraham Levi was a holy kabbalist and a student of the Ariza'l, who would wake everyone nightly in Tzfat for Midnight Lamentations (Tikkun Chatzot) - he was so holy that on Tisha B'Av, he merited seeing an image of a women dressed in black on the Kotel - the Shechina - begging for the end of exile and the restoration of the holy Temple. That's what you see in the adjacent below - in the spirit of Tisha B'Av, see today's lesson, a meaningful one, in the post directly below this. Have an easy fast, and may we all see the Geula soon, with our own eyes, amen!
Mazal Tov! I got out of Bet Shemesh again.
David had the genius idea (don't tell him I said that) to take the family to the Kotel for Rosh Chodesh Sivan. OMG I just remembered as I wrote this! It's Rosh Chodesh!! Chodesh Tov, yo!
I'm super excited because that means my birthday is coming up!! I plan to remember my birthday this year, just like I remembered it last year. Super proud of myself.
Today was a beautiful experience. Not just because I got to leave my four cubic feet of space. No. It was beautiful for a, um, beautiful reason.
First of all, let's all give me props for taking this awesome picture. It's so spiritual-looking, right? Sure, the subject of the picture happens to be super spiritual, but let's focus on my photography skills. See how I caught that ray of sunlight at just the right angle? And see that bird that I got to pose so nicely in his little rock nest?
Let's give credit where credit is due.
Being at the Kotel is such a special experience. To stand there, knowing that Hashem's Divine Presence is there, floating all around the wall, covering everyone with her spiritual protection, it's awe-inspiring. And to be able to stand there, at the holiest site in the world, a site that was fought over throughout our history (and is still fought over) is just incredible.
People get very emotional at the Kotel. It's like their souls can feel this unique closeness to Hashem that is unattainable anywhere else in the world. Because there is such a strong connection, it is easier for the soul to express her feelings and her longing to reconnect with Hashem.
The prayers a person prays at the Kotel are probably one of the most real prayers he/she will ever pray. Since we can feel the spiritual longing that our souls have, we are instinctively more aware of the fact that we are praying in front of G-d and not just into a prayer book.
This was all very beautiful, but the most beautiful thing for me was when I looked around at the other women praying. There were all types of women: young religious girls, women with different types of hair covering, women with no hair covering, old women, middle-aged women - all had a single goal in mind.
To connect with Hashem.
It sounds silly, but I imagined Hashem looking down at us, His children, like little ants here on Earth, asking Him way up in shamayim for whatever we need. And when I thought about it this way, I really saw us as one big dysfunctional family.
We all have our different opinions, different ways of doing things, and different paths that we use to connect with Hashem. But in the big picture, we all want the same thing. We all want to be close to Him. We want to feel His love for us and to know that He cares about us.
Even though we may be so different on the outside, we really are the same on the inside. We all want the same things from life: health, money, spirituality, healthy children, a happy marriage, a condo on the beach, etc.
I hope that this realization somehow makes its way from my head to my heart (and yours too!) The next time we find ourselves about to get into it with someone, let's do our best to step back and realize that the other person is not much different from us. Hopefully this realization will prevent much unnecessary hurt and suffering.
In the merit of Rosh Chodesh Sivan (and my upcoming birthday) let's do our best to not argue. Because above everything else, being kind to others, giving in to others (without being taken advantage of, please!), and respecting the other's perspective is what will bring the Mashiach.
I wish you all a happy, healthy Rosh Chodesh and a wonderful, dairy-infested Shavuot!
p.s.- Don't miss Rav Brody's weekly Emuna Class tonight! Check out his post below for details!
Probably my favorite prayer place in the world is the Cave of the Machpela in Hevron, where Abraham and Sara, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah are buried. I ask our holy ancestors to beg in our behalf at the Divine Throne, that we should successfully weather the "birth-pangs" of Moshiach, and fulfillment of all the redemption prophecies. May we all see our holy forefathers soon in the flesh, with the full redemption of our people in our holy land, the ingathering of the exiles, the coming of Moshiach, the revival of the dead, and the rebuilding of our holy Beit HaMikdash, amen. More than anything, may we merit to see the revelation of Hashem's Divine Presence within our midst, amen sela.
The feeling of being in the company of the holy ancestors defies description, so I'll just show you the pictures.
Photo 1: Maarat HaMachpela, Hevron
Photo 2: Leah's gravesite
Photo 3: Abraham's gravesite
Photo 4: We found the white donkey, now all we need is Moshiach
Photo 5: Maarat HaMachpela: A little piece of every Jew's heart is always here
Recently, with all the flare-ups on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, there has been a fierce debate as to whether Jewish Law permits a Jew to enter the Temple Mount at this time, when we are all in a state of ritual impurity. When the Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef answered a categorical "no", many accused him of contradicting his father, the great Rav Ovadia Yosef of saintly and blessed memory, one of the greatest rabbinical authorities ever. To set things straight, here is an excerpt of a shiur by Rav Ovadia osb"m, where he clearly states what is permissible and what is not:
The ink is barely dry on our post from yesterday, A State for Jews or a Jewish State, where we observed the hypocrisy of demanding to be recognized as a Jewish State while acting like anything but a Jewish State. Maybe our post jolted the Prime Minister, because he just made a declaration that he'll initiate legislation that defines Israel as a Jewish State.
Honorable Prime Minister, who do you think you are fooling? On one hand, you want Israel recognized as a Jewish State. Then you retire to the ugly smoke-filled backrooms of your anti-emuna government, and look for ways to hand King David's holy gravesite to the Pope.
Who are you, Mister Prime Minister, a liar, a thief, a Kafkaesque cynic or all three?
In my first position as a rabbi, I was the rabbi and spiritual rehabilitation director of a prison. I came in contact of criminals of all kinds. Yet, I never met one who would sell his grandfather's grave.
Many of us are King David's descendants. The anti-emuna government has no right to sell our ancestor's grave.
Not only was King David Hashem's anointed King of Israel, he is the great grandfather of Moshiach, may he come soon, amen. King David is the author of the Book of Psalms, the greatest bestseller of history. According to Kabbala, as King of Israel, his soul had sparks of all of Israel. That is why everyone of identifies with Psalms. King David is buried on Mount Zion.
How can you be a Zionist if you give away Zion, and to those who engineered and supported the persecution and destruction of our people for the last 1200 years?
Hashem's Jerusalem and the holy gravesite of His anointed son David are not for sale. Think again, Mr. Prime Minister.
This coming Shabbat is "Beshalach", also known as "Shabbat Shira", the Sabbath of Song, since the Torah portion tells how Moses and the Children of Israel sang to Hashem after having been miraculously saved from the Egyptians at the Red Sea. The "Haftorah," or weekly Prophetic reading, also talks about song, particularly the Song of Deborah the Prophetess (see Judges, Chapter 5), after Israel miraculously defeated formidable invading enemies.
A few years ago at this time, I made a special trip to Tel Kadesh in the Upper Galilee some 350 meters from the Lebanon border to pray by Deborah's gravesite. Several miracles happened shortly thereafter:
1) Our neighbor's daughter inlaw, named Deborah, still had no children after several years of marriage. 10 months after I prayed for her at Deborah's gravesite, she gave birth to a healthy son.
2) Rebbetzen NB here in Ashdod had a history of miscarriages and very difficult child-bearing. When I arrived at Deborah's gravesite, Rebbetzen NB was again in the hospital, this time in labor for 14 hours. She was in danger and so was the unborn baby. The doctor's were preparing for an emergency Caesarian - before they had the chance, Rebbetzen NB suddenly gave a quick an unexpected natural birth to a baby daughter. At first, the doctors thought that there was damage to the baby's lungs. Shortly afterward, that proved wrong too. Today, this healthy baby girl is named Deborah.
3) Itai the son of Deborah, hit by a car the week before, came out of a coma.
That wasn't all...
Mattia Ben Cheresh was a holy Tanna and a student of Rebbe Meir. He was an unbelievably holy individual who is the role model for all times about personal holiness and guarding our eyes. His holy gravesite is therefore a special place to pray for personal holiness and guarding our eyes.
The Midrash Tanchuma tells the story of how the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) tried to tempt Rebbe Mattia, who sat all his days in the house of study occupying himself with Torah. The Midrash says the splendor of his countenance shone like the sun's radiance of the sun, and that he was as handsome as an archangel. Never in his life had he raised his eyes to look at a woman.
Once, Satan passed by became full of envy when he saw Rebbe Mattia. The Satan asked, "Is it possible that there is a righteous man entirely without sin in the world?" He instantly flew upstairs,stood before Hashem and asked, "Master of the universe, Matia ben Heresh: what sort of man is Mattia ben Cheresh in Your sight?"
Hashem: "He is totally righteous."
Satan: "Give me permission, and I will tempt him."
Hashem: "You will not prevail over him."
So Hashem gave him permission. The Satan went found Rebbe Matia imbersed in Torah. So he appeared to him in the guise of a beautiful woman, the like of which there had not been in the world since the days of Naamah, Tubal-Cain's sister, on account of who even archangels went astray.
Satan (as a gorgeous woman) stood in front of Rebbe Matia, who refused to look and turned his back.
Satan went around and again stood in front of Rebbe Matia. When Rebbe Matia turned his face to still another direction, Satan was once more in front of him.
When Rebbe Matia saw that Satan [in the woman's guise] turned up on all sides, he said to himself: "I'm afraid that the evil inclination is about to overcome me and cause me to sin. So then what the tzaddik do? He summoned one of his disciples, who acted as his attendant, and said to him: "My son, go and bring me fire and nails."
After the pupil brought them, Rebbe Matia passed the nails through the fire, then plunged them into his own eyes.
When Satan saw this, he was shaken, all but knocked out, and left Rebbe Matia.
In that instant, the Holy One summoned Raphael, the angel of healing, and said to him, "Go and heal the eyes of Mattia ben Cheresh."
When Raphael came and stood before him, Mattia asked, "Who are you?"
Raphael answered, "I am the angel Raphael, whom the Holy One had sent to heal your eyes."
Mattia: "Let me be. What happened has happened."
Raphael returned to the Holy One and reported to Him, "Master of the universe, thus-and-thus did Mattia ben Ceresh answer me."
Hashem said, "Go and tell him: From this day and henceforth, fear not. I guarantee you in this matter that, throughout your days, the evil inclination will have no control over you."
When Mattia ben Cheresh heard Hashem's guarantee from the angel, he was willing to accept the angel's healing and was healed.
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Rebbe Mattia's holy gravesite is on the outskirts of the village Aiblin in the Central Galilee, pictured below. May his holy memory protect us, amen!