Aside 24 Jun

This week’s words of Torah are dedicated to “our boys,” to Naphtali, Gilad and Eyal, who were kidnapped almost two weeks ago near Hebron and not heard from since.  It is known who the kidnappers were – two Hamas operatives recently released from jail in the Shalit deal.  Here is what the chief Bedouin tracker says,  “In every corner and in every room and tunnel that I go into, I see them in front of my eyes,” Major Mazarib, 37, commander of the southern West Bank’s specialized tracking unit, said in Hebrew. “As long as there are three missing, we’re going to keep going.” Major Mazarib and his 50 trackers, all Bedouin citizens who serve voluntarily in the Israeli military, were among perhaps 1,000 troops who converged Monday around the village of Beit Kahil.”  We are witnessing an unprecedented expression of Israeli unity.  It is significant that the whole country, not only the families of the kidnapped, stand behind this search.  Yes, there are the usual far-left loonies who attempt to justify this dastardly act, but overall there is more unity behind the search than behind anything that happened recently in Israel.  We will find our boys!
For something on the weekly Torah portion, check out www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly/w_Chukas_5774.php If you’d like to delve a bit deeper and look into books on the subject, try www.jewishspiritualbooks.com  And finally, for a taste of Chabad in Jerusalem, go to www.chabadjerusalem.org  And here are a couple more options for the spiritually oriented:  www.rootsofprayer.blogspot.co.il and www.neirot.com  With all these options, you are sure to find something that suits your fancy!

Aside 27 Jan

Some musings from Jerusalem as we meet a new group of new immigrants at the Beit Canada absorption center…people have a variety of reasons for making aliya.  One Canadian girl says, “Americans from Jewish centers such as New York City, have not necessarily made aliyah in an attempt to escape explicit or implicit discrimination. Rather, [the] choice is motivated by a desire to live freely in all senses of the word…There is a sense of ease felt here as a Jewish person that may go beyond any logical or tangible explanation. ”  And a British girl says, “After years of telling people that I’m going to make Aliyah, I have finally done it. Some people have no problem leaving their families, countries and homes; some people might even be desperate to leave. But for me the idea of moving made me feel completely torn…But however much I love and need my family, eventually it was time to make Aliyah.”  There you have it; whether the decision is made out of fear or out of love, the feeling that Israel is “home” is what brings Jews to Israel.  But, I’d go even further than that; I knew from age seven that I want to live in Israel, even though I didn’t make aliya until after college.  It’s a neshama thing – there are some souls who belong here, while there are still many who are more fitting for life in the Diaspora.  Soon, though, the majority of world Jewry will live in Israel and that is when we will see real change. 
For more musings, especially on the weekly Torah portion with the secrets of the parsha, got to http://www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly  And if you like delving deeply into matters of prayer and meditation, you’ll find yourself at home with our books, at www.jewishspiritualbooks.com  Finally, if you want to know what’s going on with Chabad in Jerusalem, you need www.chabadjerusalem.org  Enjoy!

Aside 27 Jan

Some musings from Jerusalem as we meet a new group of new immigrants at the Beit Canada absorption center…people have a variety of reasons for making aliya.  One Canadian girl says, “Americans from Jewish centers such as New York City, have not necessarily made aliyah in an attempt to escape explicit or implicit discrimination. Rather, [the] choice is motivated by a desire to live freely in all senses of the word…There is a sense of ease felt here as a Jewish person that may go beyond any logical or tangible explanation. ”  And a British girl says, “After years of telling people that I’m going to make Aliyah, I have finally done it. Some people have no problem leaving their families, countries and homes; some people might even be desperate to leave. But for me the idea of moving made me feel completely torn…But however much I love and need my family, eventually it was time to make Aliyah.”  There you have it; whether the decision is made out of fear or out of love, the feeling that Israel is “home” is what brings Jews to Israel.  But, I’d go even further than that; I knew from age seven that I want to live in Israel, even though I didn’t make aliya until after college.  It’s a neshama thing – there are some souls who belong here, while there are still many who are more fitting for life in the Diaspora.  Soon, though, the majority of world Jewry will live in Israel and that is when we will see real change. 
For more musings, especially on the weekly Torah portion with the secrets of the parsha, got to http://www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly  And if you like delving deeply into matters of prayer and meditation, you’ll find yourself at home with our books, at www.jewishspiritualbooks.com  Finally, if you want to know what’s going on with Chabad in Jerusalem, you need www.chabadjerusalem.org  Enjoy!

Aside 6 Jan

Here are three reasons to come to Israel right now:  One – the weather is great (chilly but sunny), unlike the extreme cold that the US is facing right now.  Two – During this week fall the memorial days of two great Tzadikim (holy men) – Baba Sali (R’ Yisrael Abuhatzeira) and the previous Rebbe of Chabad (the Rayatz, R’ Yoseph Yitzhak Schneerson), and people in Israel still appreciate and celebrate the life of a tzadik.  Three – Birthright groups are here, and they raise the spirit and energy level with their enthusiasm for everything Israeli.  If that’s not enough for you, then this also happens to be the week of Torah portion Beshalach, during which the Jews escaped from the Egyptian bondage and officially become a people.  Moreover, the month of Shvat that just began has something for all of us.  First of all, it’s the month of food (and if you’re vegetarian it’s the month of trees), and the organ of the month is the stomach.  But perhaps most of all, the month of Shvat is associated with the tribe of Asher and the sense of enjoyment.  Something for everyone, for those who are willing to partake!
For more on the subject of the Jewish escape from Egyptian bondage, go to http://www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly  If you are interested in Jewish meditation and meditative prayer, then www.jewishspiritualbooks.com is for you.  And if you just wish to become acquainted with Chabad in Jerusalem, then www.chabadjerusalem.org is for you! 

Aside

Mikveh in the Shomron

12 Dec

This week, I attended an inspiring and eye-opening event in the Shomron, the beautiful northern hill country of Israel.  The event was a mikveh dedication near the settlement of Yitzhar.  With this mikveh, a young family of six with a small yeshiva on the premises could say that they have now established a permanent settlement in Israel.  The Talmud tells us that one should not live in a city without a mikveh, so the building of this mikveh turned this settlement into a permanent establishment.  This part of the country is where the Jews entered the land of Israel on three different occasions (with Abraham, with Yaakov and with Joshua).  In our weekly Torah portion (Vayechi), this part of the land is called the “shoulders” of Israel.  It is the source of Jewish pride and strength, just as the shoulders of an ox are the strongest part of its body.  Joseph, who is buried in this area, was described as an “ox” in the Torah, because of his ability to implement big changes in the world, as he did in Egypt.  For some photos of the dedication, go to our Facebook page (Jerusalem Connection).  Every part of the land of Israel corresponds to part of the Jewish soul, and we are not whole until all Jews are settled in all of our land, learning the entire Torah.  For more on the weekly Torah portion, go to our weekly words of Torah, at www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly.  To know what’s going on with Chabad in Jerusalem, go to www.chabadjerusalem.org, and if you would like some instruction in Jewish spirituality, go to www.jewishsprititualbooks.com Image

Aside 18 Nov

We seem to be off by about one week.  Generally, we can detect a correspondence between the weekly Torah portion and at least some current events.  Last weeks’ encounter between Jacob and his brother on some level corresponds to the ongoing contest of wills between Israel and the American president regarding how to deal with Iran.  The Biblical encounter ended when Jacob’s brother got a sudden “love rush” and kissed and embraced Jacob.  No such rapprochement has occurred between Washington and Jerusalem, at least not yet.   However, the Biblical narrative has moved on, even while the US-Israel contest remains in full force.  This week it is Jacob’s son Joseph who is the protagonist, and Joseph takes the action down to Egypt.  Even though it looks like Joseph was having a hard time in Egypt, he ended up on top.  Moreover, whatever he seemed to be doing in Egypt was a mere front for what was really taking place.  So, we also need to be aware of the “soul” dimension in everything that we are doing – Joseph certainly was, and that’s how he came out on top.  For more on that, visit us at http://www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly   And if you have a hankering for more soul food in the form of books, go to http://www.jewishspiritualbooks.com/shop   Look forward to seeing you there!

Aside

Moving into Ellul…

17 Jun

Of course, it was only “yesterday” that we fasted and mourned over the loss of our Temple, the Beit Hamikdash…but it’s already time to move on to another period of the year, the period known as Ellul, in preparation for the “High Holidays” about to come upon us in another month…

Is Ellul important?  You bet it is…the King is in the Field…He is accessible, all we have to do is go out to find Him, get connected.  It’s not always this easy, so get with it friends, it’s the month of Ani ledodi v‘dodi li (“Elul”) – “I am for my Beloved, and He for me” – but it starts with us, the Jews, simply going “out to the field” to meet the Him,  The rest of the year, He’s in His palace, inaccessble, but now is the time to reach and get reconnected…more to come…