50 posts categorized "Jewish Customs and Practice"

Birkat Ha'ilanot: Blessing of the Trees

New beginning

Once a year, during the Hebrew month of Nissan, we have the special mitzva of making a blessing over (at least two) blossoming fruit trees. According to Kabbala, this blessing is deeply significant, and helps correct the soul that is reincarnated within the tree. That soul is forever beholding to the person who makes the blessing, for he or she has done a great favor in helping that soul attain its tikkun, or correction.

You have from now until Wednesday, April 26, 2017 to fulfill this wonderful mitzva. All you need are two blossoming fruit trees within reasonable distance of one another (i.e. that you can see both at the time of making the blessing). Since some poskim say that the blessing shouldn't be made on grafted trees, it's a good idea to look for wild fruit trees or trees like olives, pomegranates or date palms here in Israel.

For your convenience, here is the blessing,

In English: Blessed are You, Hashem our God, King of the Universe, who let nothing lack in His universe and created within it good creatures and good trees in order to give pleasure to human beings.

In Transliteration: Baruch ata Adonoi, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, she-lo chisar be-olamo klum v-vara vo beriyyot tovot ve-ilanot tovim lehanot bahem bnai Adam.

In Hebrew:  ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם שלא חסר בעולמו כלום וברא בו בריות טובות ואילנות טובים להנות בהם בני אדם

May your Passover and upcoming summer be as fragrant as a citrus blossom! Now is the time for wonderful new beginnings. Every blessing, LB


Parashat Ha'Man - Story of the Manna

Today is Tuesday of the week we read the Torah portion of Beshalach. Our sages tell us that reading the episode of the manna today - Parashat Ha'Man, which appears in this week's Torah portion - twice in Hebrew and once in Aramaic, is very conducive for one's good income the entire year. Don't miss this special opportunity to bring down more Heaven-sent bread to your doorstep.

If you can't read Hebrew, read Exodus 16:4-36 in your English bible - that's Parashat Ha'Man.

To learn more about Parashat Ha'man and making a pleasurable income, check out Rabbi Shalom Arush's superb article, Pack Mule.


Happy Lag B'Omer from Ashdod

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 leaving for the airport. Usually, after the bonfire here we head for Rebbe Shimon's holy gravesite in Meron. This year, we're headed for Monsey, NY, 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.


Serving the same G-d

During the Omer, we must make a special effort to love, and at least respect, our fellow human. We curtail music and rejoicing during this time of the year because of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students who died in a plague. Yes, they were lofty Torah scholars, but they didn't properly respect one another. We must rectify this... 

The Melitzer Rebbe shlit'a told me the following story about his great grandfather, Rebbe Meir'l of Promiszlan. Keep it in mind before allowing yourself the "luxury" of feuding with a fellow Jew:

Serving the same G-d

Rebbe Meir'l of Promiszlan and Rebbe Yitzchok of Strettin were engaged in a long, drawn-out feud. Knowing that dissension serves no purpose, Rebbe Meir'l approached Rebbe Yitzchok and attempted to make peace. The latter only turned his face to the wall. "Please, Strettinner Rebbe, allow me to tell you a tale," said Rebbe Meir'l, and told him the following story:

During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, a Marrano* suspected of secretly being Jewish became deathly ill. The Inquisitors called the local priest, and told him to go see if the dying man would make last confession, proving that he's a Catholic, or else otherwise be burned at the stake as a Jew. The Priest and the Henchman entered the sick man's room, and the sick man turned his face to the wall, refusing to reject his true faith in Hashem during his last minutes on earth.

The Inquisitors said, "Ahah, he's a secret Jew!" The priest said no, he's embarrassed to confess in front of others. Everyone must leave the room!

Only the dying man and the Priest remained in the room. The priest, a Marranno himself, whispered in the man's ear, "You can say Shma Yisrael now, and express your belief in Hashem before you die. You no longer need to turn your back on me, because we both serve the same G-d." With his dying breath, the Marrano utterred, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is one!"

"So you see, Strettinner Rebbe," said Rebbe Meir'l, "You no longer have to turn your back on me, because we serve the same G-d!" The feud ended on the spot.

*Marranos - the Spanish Jews who posed as Catholics on the outside, and secretly continued to practice their Judaism behind closed doors