Big Bright Beam blessings for an inscription in the book of long life for a wonderful New Year 5776!
42 posts categorized "Jewish Customs and Practice"
Above - IDF infantry soldier learning Gemara in his off-duty time - image courtesy of Emuna Outreach
Up in Shamayim (the Heavens), the seemingly unglorious mundane day-to day mitzvoth that a person does with uncompromising perseverence 365 days a year is much more respected than the bombastic once-in-a-lifetime headline-grabbing mitzvoth.
Take for example a page of Gemara; some people ask, "what's the big deal" or "so what?" The snobs turn their nose up at a person who's not in Kollel or is not some big Rosh Yeshiva. Let me enlighten them: you have no idea how much Hashem loves the guys who make an honest living, then come home to learn Daf Yomi, a daily page of Gemara. Today, Hashem is especially rejoicing in these guys. Do you know why?
The working guys prove that anyone can learn Gemara today; there are online lessons in English, English-Hebrew Gemaras, and Daf Yomi lessons in every neighborhood. You can finish Daf Yomi during your lunch break, learning while you munch. Many people do this too.
Daf Yomi is a great replacement for the morning newspaper with your morning coffee. Hashem doesn't get any gratification when you read the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal, and not from the Jerusalem Post either. He gets untold gratification when you learn Daf Yomi.
Even if you fly through the Daily Page in 30 minutes, it all adds up. After 7 years, look what you've accomplished. I know a retired taxi driver who has been learning Daf Yomi for over 60 years straight! He's in his late 80's, and his head is as clear as a bell. After his 120 years on earth, he'll be higher up in Gan Eden than most rabbis.
It all adds up.
Since yesterday was Shabbat the 17th of Tammuz, we fast today the 18th of Tammuz, which marks the beginning of the “Three Weeks” (Bein HaMetzarim), a period of mourning marking the destruction of both the First Temple and the Second Temple in Jerusalem. During the “Three Weeks”, it is customary to spend extra time studying Torah and in personal prayer, to give extra charity and not to hold joyous celebrations, such as weddings, or wear new clothes. We also don't listen to or play musical instruments during this period.
The first Holy Temple was destroyed because of idolatry and the 70 shemitta (Sabbatical year) cycles that were not observed, both heinous transgressions in Judaism. The punishment - 70 years of exile.
The second Holy Temple was destroyed because of baseless intramural hate, seemingly a much lesser transgression than idolatry and desecration of Sabbatical years. Yet, 2000 years have gone by and we're still in exile. When will we ever learn? Hashem despises arrogance because it leads to hate; when one person or group thinks that they're better than anyone else, that's sufficient arrogance to perpetuate the exile. The result? Another Three Weeks of lamentations.
Hashem doesn't need the lamentations of those who allow themselves the luxury of condemning, hating, snobbing and/or boycotting other Jews. Thank G-d my beloved rabbi and teacher Rav Shalom Arush is a beacon of unconditional love and demands the same of his students.
Loving another Jew doesn't mean that you necessarily agree with his practices or philosophy in life. Loving the other person is a simple commandment of Torah that Hashem unconditionally requires of all of us, to respect all others and to treat them in the same manner that we would like to be treated.
Just remember - our sages in Tikkun Chatzot (Midnight Lamentations) say that every generation who fails to rebuild the Holy Temple is as if it were the generation that destroyed it. Categorically, intramural hatred is not only perpetuating the exile, but is causing Hashem to use drastic measures to wake us up and to prod us to act like brothers toward each other. Let's start being stringent about our unconditional love for each other, so that the notorious Three Weeks will turn into Three Weeks of joy and redemption, amen!
As they near the age of five, Chassidic children are already reading fluently. They now begin to learn "Chumash", the Five Books of Moses. Traditionally, they celebrate this occasion by dressing the children up as Torah scrolls and making an important celebration with teachers and families participating, for this is the beginning of their life-long endeavor of learning Torah. Here, we see the Chumash celebration in the Vizhnitzer Cheder of Ashdod, Israel. These children, who grow up without TV and movies, already can recite all the weekly Torah portions from Breishit to Zot Habracha. They also know the Ten Commandments by heart both in Yiddish and in Hebrew, for they are all bilingual. Enjoy this clip, and may you have much joy from your children!
My first two choices for the greatest leaders of the Jewish People of all times are Moses and Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai. We should only have such a leader in today's challenging times...
On Lag B'Omer, the day I flew to the USA for our recent speaking tour, I was interviewed on Arutz Sheva TV; here is the interview, which I hope you enjoy:
As you're reading this, I'm on my way to Miami, via Rome, Italy. We hope to see you soon!
The third birthday is a big milestone for a little Jewish boy, for that's when he gets his first haircut and begins learning how to read. Traditionally, this is done on Lag B'Omer. Many people travel to the graves of great tzaddikim for the "challakeh", the first haircut, such as the gravesites of Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai in Miron or the gravesite of Shimon Hatzaddik in Jerusalem. Others take their children to their rabbi and spiritual guide for their first haircut. In this clip, I have the privilege of giving sweet little Itzie Kligman from Ramat Bet Shemesh his first haircut, a tearless one, Baruch Hashem. May you have much joy from your own children, the ones here and the ones on the way!
Here's a quick clip I made, having been privileged to attend our annual Lag B'Omer bonfire in Ashdod with the Melitzer Rebbe shlit'a this evening before I left for the airport. Usually, after the bonfire here we head for Rebbe Shimon's holy gravesite in Meron. This year, we're headed for Miami, the first stop of a 2-week USA speaking tour. Happy Lag B'Omer, and we hope to see our wonderful friends in the USA soon, G-d willing.