118 posts categorized "Land of Israel"

Moses's Rock, Miriam's Well, the 3 Weeks and the Recent Earthquakes

Epicenter Earthquakes July 2018

Miriam's Well July 9 2018
For years, veteran Galilee fisherman have known that there's a small area northeast of Tiberias that you avoid; it's dangerous and it has very strong undercurrents.

For years, experts have been baffled how so many experienced swimmers have drowned in the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, which by Swiss or American standards, would be no more than a medium-to-small-size docile lake whose waves at their choppiest barely reach a foot tall.

Since the 4th of July a week ago, there have been over a dozen earthquakes in Israel. Nine felt earthquakes, those 3.0 on the Richter scale and higher, have been smack in the middle of the Kinneret, all revolving around the earthquake epicenter (see above graphics), which is the exact place of the great Syrian-African Rift that separates between Asia and Africa. This is also a potential center of volcanic activity, as bear witness all the volcanic rock that surrounds Kinneret. In fact, the old houses in Tiberias, Capernaum and all around the Sea of Galilee are built of that familiar black volcanic rock.

All week long, I've been asking myself what the message Hashem is conveying by way of the earthquakes. This has been in my prayers as well.

This morning, after Shacharit prayers, I had a strange urge to run home and open up a Chumash. I did, and my Book of Numbers opened up to Chapter 20, that tells about Moses hitting the rock to elicit water in the desert instead of talking to the rock. The holy Ramban (Nachmanides) says that this rock was Miriam's Well that accompanied the Jewish People for forty years in the desert. Rashi, in his elaboration of the Gemara in Pesachim 54a agrees with the Ramban and says that the rock Moses hit was Miriam's well. Comes along the Yerushalmi Gemara, tractate Ketubot 67a, and tells us that after the Jewish People came into the Land of Israel, Hashem deposited and concealed Miriam's well in Kinneret, off the coast of Tiberias. This fact was later substantiated by the holy Ariza'l and his prime disciple Rabbi Chaim Vital.

So you see, Moses didn't have to hit the rock. The rock, inasmuch as it was Miriam's well, was ready to flow forth with sufficient water to quench the thirst of an entire nation, if he would only have spoken to it as Hashem requested. 

Hold it - this is getting much more exciting. The same rock that provided water for all the Jewish People for forty years in the desert became the rock that Moses was punished for. If you look at Rashi's commentary on Numbers Ch. 21, verses 15-16, you'll see that the same benevolent rock not only triggered an earthquake that led to the death of the Amorites who hid in the mountain crevices waiting to ambush the Jewish People on their way to Israel. Not only did the rock trigger the tremor, but its water later washed up the remains of the Amorites to show the Jews the miracle that Hashem did for them.

We see an amazing principle fact here: the rock, which is also Miriam's well, can be a source of life or a source of destruction.

It can be a source of abundance, of healing waters, or the epicenter of destructive earthquakes. 

What does all this have to do with the Three Weeks? The Yerushalmi Gemara in Berachot 64a says that Elijah the Prophet told Rabbi Nehorai that when Hashem gazes down at earth and sees all the plush stadiums and theaters, yet His Holy Temple is still destroyed, His roar causes earthquakes. That same Gemara lists two other causes of earthquakes - failure to give sufficient charity and homosexuality. The Babylonian Talmud in Berachot 59a gives a slightly different reason, but also connected to the Three Weeks: when Hashem sees that His children are still dispersed among the nations, He sheds two tears in the sea and this causes earthquakes.

No wonder we read the Torah portion of Chukat, which talks about Miriam's well and Moses with the rock, a week before the 17th of Tammuz and the start of the Three Weeks. No wonder the string of earthquakes, which has the whole north of Israel losing sleep at night, began with the Three Weeks.

Meanwhile, the south of Israel is still burning. Rather than making emuna and teshuva a national priority, our Nero-like leaders, rather than taking the earthquakes and the chance of a "big one" on the way as experts are warning, they're worried about sending an Israeli spacecraft to the moon. I truly wish I were joking, but I'm not.

Would you rather wait for Ezekiel's prophecy to manifest itself? "For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath have I spoken: Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel" (Ezekiel 38:19).

I can only imagine the boo-hoo and bellyaching that this post will elicit, but that's too bad. People argue with Emuna News because it bursts the bubble of their comfort zone, while Torah, emuna and teshuva take a second place (or no place at all) to chatrooms and social media. But, you're not arguing with me, incredulous brothers and skeptical sisters: I've listed all my sources above. All I did here was to connect the dots. Go argue with our sages - Elijah the Prophet, Ezekiel the Prophet, Rebbe Yochanan, Rava, Rav Ashi, Rabina, Rashi, the Ramban and the Ariza'l, and that's not all...

Guess what will happen when Moshiach will come and reveal the exact place of Miriam's well: people with an incurable and terminal diseases will immerse themselves in its waters (one source says a mere sprinkle will suffice) and emerge with perfect health. Even the Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch, Rama, Orach Chaim 299:10) mentions the healing powers of Miriam's well.

So what do we prefer, the lust and folly of this world together with earthquakes, or emuna and teshuva with the abundance of Miriam's well? Hashem is showing us that the choice is ours; He of course commands us and wants us to make the right choice (see Deuteronomy 30:19).


The Land of Israel: Kinneret's Holiness

Kineret
Rebbe Nachman said, "Wherever I walk, I walk in the Land of Israel." He knew what he was talking about, for walking in the Land of Israel is being immersed in kedusha, holiness. And, when Rebbe Nachman visited the holy Land of Israel, he made a beeline for Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee. He knew what he was doing...

Those who love the Land of Israel say the word "Kinneret" as if it were the name of their long-lost love. The Sea of Galilee is known as Kinneret in Hebrew, from the word kinor, or violin. Most people will tell you that Kinneret got its name because it's shaped like a violin. Your brother Lazer will tell you otherwise - Kinneret's gentle waves play music like a violin. 

"Eretz Yisroel is holier than all other lands" (see Mishna, Kelim 1:6 - LB). Kabbala teaches that Eretz Yisrael has a holiness that manifests itself by seven different spiritual lights that illuminate the seven different sections of the Holy Land, corresponding to the seven spheres of Chessed to Malchus. Kinneret receives her illumination directly from the Shechina, the Divine Presence.

We all long for the Shechina. We're waiting eagerly for the redemption of our people, when the Shechina will illuminate all of Eretz Yisrael in an indescribably exquisite splendor. One look at the Land of Israel in all of her glory will make everyone forget about the senseless and meaningless material idiocies they chased after their entire lives. Soon, very soon, amen.


Above the stars

Negev Stars
The Negev Desert is one of the best places on earth to look up at the stars (above photo).

Our forefather Abraham was an expert astrologist; he gazed up at the stars from there, and saw that he would never be a father.

Hashem told Abraham that his reading was accurate, but that he must put the astrology aside. By virtue of Abraham's clinging to Hashem, he raised himself to a status where he was above the stars - the zodiacs no longer had an influence on him, and he became a father to great nations.

Astrology is a true discipline, but those who cling to Hashem in faith and in loving obedience to the Torah's commandments are surely above the stars.

Nature, teaches The Ramcha'l in chapter 7 of Derech Hashem, is certainly influenced by the stars, for that is the way of Hashem's creation. But, Hashem gives us the opportunity to transcend nature, and to live above the stars' influence. Therefore, anyone can change fate or a stroke of bad luck by making Teshuva and clinging to Hashem. As such, the Gemara declares (tractate Shabbos 156b), Ayn mazal leYisroel, in other words, the stars have no influence over Israel, the loyal ones who cling to Hashem.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev adds that for those who live above the stars' influence, miracles are natural. The Sombrero Galaxy, courtesy of utahskies.org


Like a Vineyard

King David in Psalms compares the Nation of Israel to a vineyard and the people of Israel to a grapevine; here's the explanation, from the biblical border between the hill country of Efraim and the tribal lands of Menashe, not far from Shechem near the village of Yitzhar:

Bright Beam blessings for a beautiful week!


The Beauty of Creation

IMG_20180419_150044531 (1)

Wow, my son's hand looks giant. It makes me feel old, you know?

We found these stunning seashells and rocks at one of the most unbelievably gorgeous beaches in Israel, Palmachim Beach. The rocky coast is full of seashells and little sea plants swaying back and forth under the crystal clear water. 

I tell you, the blues and greens there are just unreal. There is even a grotto there, and a large part of the shore is actually flat rocks that are so shallow, you feel like you're walking on water.

Not that anyone else ever tried that trick. 

What can I say. It's a spectacular beach. 

And these special rocks are no less spectacular. Just look at them. Aren't they so beautiful? So unique?

It blows my mind. Imagine, Hashem created every single thing in existence. Every. Single. Thing.

And just look at how much attention to detail He gave even the smallest rock. These little creations are so full of unique beauty and charm. Each one has its own special look that makes it stand out.

You know, I've always been amazed by nature. To me, just looking at nature gives me such a deep feeling of awe and wonder about Hashem. Those that take the time to enjoy nature would likely tell you it's a very spiritual experience. 

When I think about the overwhelming amount of things people need to do in just one day, I'm not surprised that so many of us would say we don't see G-d. How can we see or experience G-d when we're constantly with our faces in our phones or computers, or frantically running one errand after another? 

How can we see G-d if we're not even aware of our surroundings?

So I'm going to share a simple little trick that will help you connect with Hashem in a deep and profoundly spiritual way.

Go outside. 

Take a few minutes to just sit outside during your coffee or lunch break. Open your eyes and look up at the sky. Look at the clouds, watch the leaves swaying gently in the wind. Listen to the birds chirping or dogs barking. Enjoy the colorful flowers. If you have a place to comfortably sit or walk on the grass, do it. 

For just five minutes, immerse yourself in nature. Appreciate it. Enjoy it. Breathe it in with full, deep breaths.

I can't emphasize enough how much this will recharge you and put you in a good mood.

For those of you that want to add another level to your 5-minute recharge, speak with Hashem. Thank Him for giving you such a beautiful world for your senses to enjoy. Thank Him for having taken the time to make each and every creation so full of detail, so awesome and beautiful.

Try this today and send me a comment! I'd love to know how you felt!

~Racheli

And of course, don't miss Rav Brody's weekly emuna talk tonight! Scroll down for details. 


The Living Land

Dunes
The photo above is of the dunes east of Ashdod, one of my favorite personal prayer spots. It was completely isolated before the new hospital was built (upper right of photo). So what's the big deal about sand dunes? In Israel, every grain of sand breathes. Every pebble sparkles like a diamond. The Land of Israel is alive. You feel it...

The Ariza'l teaches us that even the inanimate mineral creations have souls. This is especially so in the Land of Israel, for the Torah makes no effort to hide the secret of the inanimate Divine witnesses, which actively react to the way we act and bear testimony for or against us, How?

Don't miss today's (Wednesday) amazing Emuna shiur and live broadcast from Jerusalem, entitled "The Living Land," which will take place, G-d willing, on the ground-floor main sanctuary of the Chut Shel Chessed Yeshiva on 13 Shmuel Hanavi Street in Jerusalem at 7PM Israel time; the shiur is open to the public - both men and women are invited. You can see today's lesson here - the broadcast, as well as our lessons posted from now on - are Mac and iPod compatible. If you tune in too early to the live broadcast link, you'll be sent to the main page of the Breslev Israel website, so try to tune in on time.  If you are not able to view today's broadcast live, then G-d willing, you'll be able to see the video tape of it later this coming week on Lazer Beams.