Monday, September 29, 2008

Missionary Propaganda from Jerusalem Post - Critique

Guest Post: Recipients and Publicity comment to "Messiainic Jews encourage Messianic Ethiopian immi...":

Let's analyse the article as it's posted here and see just how ridiculous it all is and that nothing adds up, except that the missionaries never give up finding "angles" from which to carry out there agenda of undermining the Jewish people. Here goes:
"Under Operation Tikva,"
RaP: Notice how they always find these deceptively misleading cute names. They call it "Tikva" that even a secular Israeli can relate to because Israel's national anthem is "HaTikva" -- "The Hope" nothing new, just the usual plagiarism that has always been the hallmark of Christianity in its two millenia of struggle with Jews and Judaism.
"through which thousands of people in Ethiopia are provided with clean water, money for food and educational services, they are also reminded often that they are Jews and that the people of Israel are waiting for them.
RaP: The Ethiopians in question here are obviously being duped and sold a false bill of goods. It shows that the missionaries do not care about humanity as such, otherwise they would feed the starving unconditionally, but they are just manipulatively training these suffering and needy people like Pavlovian captives being trained to respond to the call signal of the missionaries in return for the basics of living. It's the height of fraud and manipulation that they should be ashamed of, but no, the hallmark of missionizing Christians is their chutzpa.
"What makes Operation Tikva different than other Jewish aid programs in Ethiopia,
RaP: Hold it right there. The Jerusalem Post is being complicit with the missionaries when it reports the events as being "Jewish" when they are clearly not, because it's all being orchestrated by CHRISTIAN groups and not "Jewish" ones.
"however, is that neither the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency for Israel, nor any other recognized aliya organization is involved in it. In fact, The Jerusalem Post has learned it is a program run by Messianic Jewish missionaries, and very few people in Israel even know about it."
RaP: Good, so then the question is what is the Jerusalem Post doing by making all this known? They are only helping the missionaries and certainly not the Jewish people nor the State of Israel. But Jews are funny that way, they will help their enemies when their enemies would never offer them any help under similar circumstances. I hate to mention the Holocaust, but Jews should note that when the Nazis were sending millions of Jews to their deaths, and the Catholic Church and the world media knew full well what was happening from either their priests or reporters, none of them ran to spread the word to help the dying Jews and even if news reached the outside world, no one lifted a finger to help the Jews, but, yet nowadays liberal Jews have to prove that they are "holier than the Pope" and do things for gentiles that gentiles would never do for Jews in a million years.
"It seems that while Israel has officially stopped encouraging the immigration of thousands of Ethiopians either via the Law of Return or the Law of Entry, other groups have taken up the task."
RaP: These are not "other groups" they are dangerous Christian missionary groups, they are soul snatchers with an ANTI-Jewish agenda, and if even the secular Israeli government has said enough already why do people think they have better ideas?
"These Messianic Jewish missionaries continue to be active in far-flung villages of northern Ethiopia,"
RaP: They are all over, not just in Ethiopia. Ask poster Jersey girl, she sees missionaries creeping and crawling in every nook and cranny.
"telling local farming communities there that God, Israel and the Jewish people are rooting for them,"
RaP: So the missionaries are liars and frauds, what else is new. Just more chutzpa.
"even though their ancestral link to Judaism is tenuous at best."
RaP: Umm, no, they have no links with Judaism not even "tenuous" ones. Otherwise one may as well accost close to two billion Christians and tell them about their "tenuous links" to Judaism via Christianity's history rooted as it is in Judaism, or that that the Christians are the "true Israel" and more Supercessionist hokum etc.
"Run by the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA), Operation Tikva is contravening the Israeli government's attempts over the last year to wind down official aliya operations in Ethiopia, and the project is being viewed in Jerusalem with alarm."
RaP: But of course, that does not stop the JPost and other Jewish and Israeli media from giving these scoundrels a forum to attack both the Israeli government and undermine the Jewish people.
" 'I don't believe that we are working against the Israeli government,' MJAA General Secretary Joel Chernoff, told The Jerusalem Post in response Thursday."
RaP: This Chernoff, as he speaks he lies and he is contradicting himself. The Israeli government has said one thing but he is going to say another based on classic Christian missionary distortions of facts. Yet more chutzpa.
" 'The political situation in Israel can always change and we believe that what has happened to these people is a major injustice,' he said."
RaP: Just what is he saying here, that maybe Israel will welcome Christians who claim to be Jews and would maybe one day change the Law of Return (chok hashvut) to openly allow Christians into Israel since some self-chosen ones have decided for themselves that they can be both Christian and Jewish at the same time (just a ploy concocted by evangelizing groups to convert gullible Jews), something that is theologically provably impossible because Judaism and Christianity are entirely different and conflicting religions.
"According to Chernoff there are between 50,000-70,000 Ethiopian Messianic Jews who are being discriminated against by the Israeli government based on their beliefs."
RaP: Oh, so now Chernoff has decided that the Israeli government is "discriminating" because they have not heard of his new definitions to include these people and why stop at only 50-70,000 people make it 500-700,000 Ethiopians or maybe more with links to Christianity and hence to Judaism, and since when have any Ethiopians EVER called themselves or been called "Messianic Jews" by anyone, except now? Such hokum and bold-faced lies it's laughable.
"Messianic Jews believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is their Messiah, but still consider themselves to be Jewish."
RaP: Do readers of the JPost have to be told this? All it does is legitimate this ridiculous notion that is rejected by all serious theologians as being an impossibility because Judaism regards Jesus as a traitor who deserved to be put to death and he was certainly no messiah, perhaps a deluded aspirant false prophet, while Christianity holds he was not just the messiah but that he is (lehavdil) the "son" of God and is God himself in total opposition to Judaism, so please spare intelligent readers the baloney of what so called "Jewish Christians" believe because that holds as much water as telling people that some believe that the moon is made of cheese.
"Jews of other denominations do not consider Messianic Judaism to be a form of Judaism, but a form of Christianity."
RaP: Such drivel. What does the JPost mean when it talks of "Jews of other denominations" -- is Jewish Christian Messianism now another "denomination" of Judaism like one speaks of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox all of which are essentially based on Rabbinic Judaism that utterly reject Jesus or any notion that he could have been either a prophet, or messiah or part of God through a virgin birth. As far a Judaism is concerned, ANY Jew who accepts Jesus and Christianity in ANY way is automatically an APOSTATE, and there is no such thing as a "branch" of Judaism called "Jewish apostacism" which is what the "Jewish Christians" want to claim about themselves. Simply put, that which is forbidden and not allowed according to Judaism cannot be made kosher by word play, not unless one wants to lie and resort to manipulation and trickery that is. What is with the writer of this article and the editors of the JPost, have they lost their minds and now act as the mouthpieces of the missionaries? It's irresponsibility and madness.
" 'These people are viewed by the government of Ethiopia and by their neighbors as Jews and are persecuted as such,' argued Chernoff,"
RaP: Who says? Can Chernoff prove any of this? There are thousands of tribes in Africa and there are constant conflicts based on religion and tribalism. Presently it is Islamic tribes that are killing Christian-connected tribes, and let's call a spade a spade. As in Sudan there is the Darfur tragedy with Muslims killing Christian blacks, and it's the same in Ethiopia, but the missionaries have seen an opening here for mischief and they have moved in for the kill with anti-semitic charges against the Israeli government that are not based on truth nor on reality. Again we see how the missionaries are taught to lie at all costs and as Hitler said, the bigger the lie the greater the chances that people will believe it. This is moving beyond chutzpa to becoming an outrage, but instead of the JPost blasting this liar Chernoff it is quoting his words as if he were the font of knowledge and self-righteousness. Such a sham it is pathetic.
"adding that it all 'boils down to the fact that Israel has decided not to accept Jews who believe in Jesus.'[...]"
RaP: What bubba-mesies is this guy spouting now? So now Israel is not fair enough to Christian missionaries and Christians who enjoy full freedom to carry out their missions and to practice Christianity, and if the Israeli government does not accept every new-fangled Christian missionary project then it is going against Jesus? How sick is that? One wonders what would be if people like this Chernoff would be running the Israeli government would any non-Christian Jew have the right to keep their faith or to accept converts to Judaism? This man, like many Christians is a hater of Israel and Jews if he has to complain that Israel and Jews do not accept Jesus. Is he joking? Since when do Jews have to welcome people who believe in Jesus with open arms even if they may claim to be born Jewish or have some Jewish ancestry going back to who knows when. The real shame is that the JPost and other Israeli and Jewish media give the missionaries this kind of attention that translates into a free podium and free ad time and even undeserved respect that unfortunately can only harm Jews, Judaism and Israel.

Messiainic Jews encourage Messianic Ethiopian immigrantion

JPost reports: ( from Jersey Girl)

Under Operation Tikva, through which thousands of people in Ethiopia are provided with clean water, money for food and educational services, they are also reminded often that they are Jews and that the people of Israel are waiting for them.

What makes Operation Tikva different than other Jewish aid programs in Ethiopia, however, is that neither the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency for Israel, nor any other recognized aliya organization is involved in it. In fact, The Jerusalem Post has learned it is a program run by Messianic Jewish missionaries, and very few people in Israel even know about it.

It seems that while Israel has officially stopped encouraging the immigration of thousands of Ethiopians either via the Law of Return or the Law of Entry, other groups have taken up the task.

These Messianic Jewish missionaries continue to be active in far-flung villages of northern Ethiopia, telling local farming communities there that God, Israel and the Jewish people are rooting for them, even though their ancestral link to Judaism is tenuous at best.

Run by the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA), Operation Tikva is contravening the Israeli government's attempts over the last year to wind down official aliya operations in Ethiopia, and the project is being viewed in Jerusalem with alarm."I don't believe that we are working against the Israeli government," MJAA General Secretary Joel Chernoff, told The Jerusalem Post in response Thursday. "The political situation in Israel can always change and we believe that what has happened to these people is a major injustice," he said.

According to Chernoff there are between 50,000-70,000 Ethiopian Messianic Jews who are being discriminated against by the Israeli government based on their beliefs. Messianic Jews believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is their Messiah, but still consider themselves to be Jewish. Jews of other denominations do not consider Messianic Judaism to be a form of Judaism, but a form of Christianity. "These people are viewed by the government of Ethiopia and by their neighbors as Jews and are persecuted as such," argued Chernoff, adding that it all "boils down to the fact that Israel has decided not to accept Jews who believe in Jesus."[...]

Chabad revives dying Shuls

To find the 10th man for a minyan, the quorum required in Orthodox Jewish services, some rabbis on the Lower East Side of Manhattan have been known in recent years to step into the street and stop passers-by. Are you Jewish? they ask.

It is a troubling notion for the remaining Jewish population of a neighborhood that in the 19th and early 20th centuries was the American portal for Jewish immigrants — hundreds of synagogues once thrived there — and where now a few dozen synagogues struggle in a place jammed with Indian and Thai restaurants and secular-minded young people.

So if there is trepidation among the older members of the weather-worn Community Synagogue on East Sixth Street about the changes coming with the start of the High Holy Days this week, it is leavened with a sense of forbearance in the absence of alternatives.

Starting this evening with Rosh Hashana services, Rabbi Simon Jacobson, a Lubavitcher rabbi from Crown Heights and founder of the Meaningful Life Center — a project known for blending religious teaching with tai chi, introductory kabbalah and Hasidic rap — will become a kind of Jewish mystic-in-residence at the traditional, Orthodox Community Synagogue.

Inspired by the movement known as Chabad, a Hasidic sect with a missionary tradition around the world, Rabbi Jacobson said he would offer his programs — which until now has he operated on an itinerant basis around the city — at the Sixth Street synagogue in hopes of creating “a spiritual Starbucks.”

The plan is to attract people, regardless of their faith, from all over the city, he said. But the goal is to restore Jewish identity to those estranged from Judaism and, if possible, to add them to the membership rolls of Community Synagogue.

Like many Lubavitchers, Rabbi Jacobson embodies a paradoxical mix of strictly conservative theology and a freewheeling, nonjudgmental hipster style. He is partial to drum circles. He is friendly with the Hasidic reggae-rap-klezmer artist known as Matisyahu.

Of course, this is not everyone’s cup of tea.“Is there tension because we love things the way they are and he wants to make everything completely different?” asked Ruth Greenberg, 90, a member of the congregation, which had about 250 members when she joined in 1950 and now counts not quite 100. “Not at all, not at all. We may not like each other, but that doesn’t mean there’s tension.” [...]

“This area used to be a place with a deli or a shul on every corner,” he said. “There are lots of young, unaffiliated Jews living here. They just do not go to synagogue.” In terms of Jewish practice, he added, “It is a kind of tundra, and we are trying to figure out how to resettle it.”

The partnership of the Lubavitchers’ outreach tradition with more conventional synagogues like Community has invigorated several declining congregations around the country, said Jonathan D. Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University.

Gary A. Tobin, director of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco, said such partnerships marked “the convergence of the two major trends in Jewish life: the expansion of the most successful movement in world Jewry, which is Chabad, and the undeniable fact that Jews are becoming birds of passage like everyone else, less likely to belong to a synagogue but still searching for the authentic religious fundamentals.”

Kiddush HaShem & Chillul HaShem

Yoma (86a): As it was taught: And you shall love the L‑rd your G‑d (Devarim 6:5). That means that the Name of Heaven should be beloved because of you. If a person studies Bible and Mishna and serves scholars and deals honestly with people – what do people say about him? They say, “Happy is his father who taught him Torah, happy is his teacher who taught him Torah. Woe is it to the people who don’t learn Torah because this man learned Torah see how wonderful are his ways and how refined are his deeds.”…

Rambam( Hilchos Shavuos 12:2): The sin of false oaths is amongst the most severe sins as we have explained in Hilchos Teshuva. This is so even though there is no punishment of kares or execution by beis din. Nevertheless there is the desecration of G‑d name (chillul HaShem) which is greater that all other sins.

Concerning the discussion regarding a man committing adultery or being unfaithful to his wife - the seriousness is not just a reflection of the punishment for the specific sin - but it also includes the fact that his behavior is a chillul haShem.

Agada & Kabbala - learning things beyond comprehension

Tzlach (Introduction): There is a critically important benefit of learning agada of the Talmud and medrashim - the profound thoughts of our Sages - which they presented in a concealed and obscure manner. They obviously were fully aware that such profound secrets would not be totally comprehended even by a very wise man. Nevertheless despite all the concealment there is in fact a major benefit when we should merit that it should be fulfilled in us. "He kissed me with the kisses of His mouth". And that the exalted spirit manifests itself in us and we hear the words of the Living G-d. Then we will comprehend and know the great good which we obtain by the means of our study of the words of agada even though we don’t properly understand them.

Let me explain how one can benefit from studying material he doesn't understand. A child when he starts school - the first thing the teacher does before beginning formal learning - is to teach him the forms of the letters. He teaches him what letter is an aleph and which is a beis - as well as all the rest of the letters. Once the child has mastered the letters he teaches him the different vowel sounds. When the child has mastered the letters and the vowels he teaches him the combination of the letters and the vowels. All this requires tremendous effort to master something which seems to have no inherent value. If in fact the child had a mature intellect he would find this study boring and repulsive. He would view himself as slave occupied in a totally meaningless task. He would object and say that he sees no significance in knowing whether the letter is read as oh or ah. He would protest simply because he is not able to comprehend the great accomplishment of knowing how to read. Therefore ironically we find that a child - because of his inferior understanding - is actually superior to this task to a mature mind. He is able because the weakness of his understanding to study the letters with great enthusiasm and fully master them This is obviously a critically important accomplishment.

In fact there is a true story in which there were highly educated men traveling on a ship and with them was a pregnant woman. When the ship was well out to sea a great storm arose that transported the ship to a certain place which was uninhabited and had never been seen by man before. In that isolated place the ship broke up and the men and the woman were saved by going on the dry land. The remained there many days. After the passage of time the woman gave birth to a boy. He grew up there. The men did not have any books with them. Nor did they have any writing material. When the boy grew up he was taught various knowledge by the men. The boy did not know anything about reading and writing at all - since he never saw it. Then one day one of the men came to him and said to him - I am going to teach you something. He began by teaching him the letters of the alphabet and how to pronounce them. He taught the boy in the same way the small children who first start school are taught the letters. However this boy who was born in the ship who already had grown up. He objected and demanded to know what the significance of this study was. He began to angrily argue with the teacher and denounced the study as a complete waste of time. He demanded to know what possible benefit came from studying the letters since it was pure mechanical memorization without any wisdom or intelligence. However the teacher told him that when they returned to civilization the boy would be able to read books as a result of mastering the alphabet and then he would appreciate the great good that is the result of this knowledge. Consequently he forced the boy to learn despite his objections - until the boy had mastered the alphabet. Eventually G-d had mercy on these people and they saw a ship which rescued them. When the boy returned to civilization he found there books of profound wisdom which he was able to study because of his mastery of the alphabet. He learned new things which he had never conceived of. Only then he realized and appreciated having learned the alphabet. He expressed his deep appreciation and gratitude to the teacher who had forced him to learn the alphabet.

This is the moshol. This itself is the nimshol regarding Agada which have been taught to us by our Sages. All of them are in fact allegory which conceal within them great light. We unfortunately lack the ability to see this light and understand it. However without the superficial awareness we have from the agada it would be impossible for us to see this light and understand it in the future. In other words the agada is the material for the form that will be comprehended in the future. Nevertheless we have to realize that the agada which introduces us to this wisdom is in fact very far from being the wisdom itself. It is comparable to the relationship of the alphabet that the child learns to the wisdom contained in the holy books. In the future when the material is separated from its form then we will grasp and understand how wonderful it is that we learned the relatively superficial lesson of the agada. Without the preliminary superficial understanding obtained from the agada it would be impossible to understand - when we are in Heaven - the words of the Living G-d which are concealed in the agada. It will be at that time that we will understand and give thanks to our Sages who taught us the agada. We will then be able to recognize the great good that has done for us through the study of agada that are included in the Talmud and medrashim. Similar to this I heard in my youth from the great tzadik Rabbi Noach Levi of Brody concerning the 10 Sefiros and other issues of kabbala - all of them are merely introductions that are comparable to learning the alphabet with a child. By means of our exposure to them in this world we will merit in the Future World when the materialistic aspects have been removed from us - we will be capable of grasping and understanding their wisdom and give praise and appreciation to our G-d. It is then we will truly comprehend the profound secrets of the Torah. We will then know the truth. The ways of G-d are upright and the righteous go in them. Amen.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Convert father for welfare of the children

Melamed LeHo’il(2:83):If a Jewish woman marries a non‑Jew then according to halacha her children are complete Jews. Nevertheless the children will be attracted to follow after their father and they will end up sinning through no fault of their own. Therefore it is better for the beis din to commit a small sin to accept the father as a convert and to train him in the Jewish religion so that the children will turn out all right. Nevertheless it is necessary for the beis din to caution the father that he must keep and observe all of the Jewish laws in particular Shabbos and to only eat kosher food. It is a good idea to receive from him a promise instead of an oath concerning this.

Conversion - Anusim - Genetic basis?

Smithsonian Magazine: [referred by Jersey Girl]
One september day in 2001, Teresa Castellano, Lisa Mullineaux, Jeffrey Shaw and Lisen Axell were having lunch in Denver. Genetic counselors from nearby hospitals and specialists in inherited cancers, the four would get together periodically to talk shop. That day they surprised one another: they'd each documented a case or two of Hispanic women with aggressive breast cancer linked to a particular genetic mutation. The women had roots in southern Colorado, near the New Mexico border. "I said, 'I have a patient with the mutation, and she's only in her 40s,'" Castellano recalls. "Then Lisa said that she had seen a couple of cases like that. And Jeff and Lisen had one or two also. We realized that this could be something really interesting."

Curiously, the genetic mutation that caused the virulent breast cancer had previously been found primarily in Jewish people whose ancestral home was Central or Eastern Europe. Yet all of these new patients were Hispanic Catholics.

Mullineaux contacted Ruth Oratz, a New York City-based oncologist then working in Denver. "Those people are Jewish," Oratz told her. "I'm sure of it."

Pooling their information, the counselors published a report in a medical journal about finding the gene mutation in six "non-Jewish Americans of Spanish ancestry." The researchers were cautious about some of the implications because the breast cancer patients themselves, as the paper put it, "denied Jewish ancestry."

The finding raised some awkward questions. What did the presence of the genetic mutation say about the Catholics who carried it? How did they happen to inherit it? Would they have to rethink who they were—their very identity—because of a tiny change in the three billion "letters" of their DNA? More important, how would it affect their health, and their children's health, in the future?

Some people in the valley were reluctant to confront such questions, at least initially, and a handful even rejected the overtures of physicians, scientists and historians who were suddenly interested in their family histories. But rumors of secret Spanish Jewry had floated around northern New Mexico and the San Luis Valley for years, and now the cold hard facts of DNA appeared to support them. As a result, families in this remote high-desert community have had to come to grips with a kind of knowledge that more and more of us are likely to face. For the story of this wayward gene is the story of modern genetics, a science that increasingly has the power both to predict the future and to illuminate the past in unsettling ways.

Expanding the DNA analysis, Sharon Graw, a University of Denver geneticist, confirmed that the mutation in the Hispanic patients from San Luis Valley exactly matched one previously found in Ashkenazi Jews from Central and Eastern Europe. The mutation, 185delAG, is a variant of a gene called BRCA1. When normal and healthy, BRCA1 helps to protect breast and ovarian cells from cancer. An extremely long gene, it has thousands of DNA letters, each corresponding to one of four chemical compounds that make up the genetic code and run down either strand of the DNA double helix; a "misspelling"—a mutation—can occur at virtually any letter. Some are of no consequence, but the deletion of the chemicals adenine (A) and guanine (G) at a site 185 rungs into the DNA ladder—hence the name 185delAG—will prevent the gene from functioning. Then the cell becomes vulnerable to a malignancy. To be sure, most breast and ovarian cancers do not run in families. The cases owing to BRCA1 and a similar gene, BRCA2, make up less than 10 percent of cases overall.

By comparing DNA samples from Jews around the world, scientists have pieced together the origins of the 185delAG mutation. It is ancient. More than 2,000 years ago, among the Hebrew tribes of Palestine, someone's DNA dropped the AG letters at the 185 site. The glitch spread and multiplied in succeeding generations, even as Jews migrated from Palestine to Europe. Ethnic groups tend to have their own distinctive genetic disorders, such as harmful variations of the BRCA1 gene, but because Jews throughout history have often married within their religion, the 185delAG mutation gained a strong foothold in that population. Today, roughly one in 100 Jews carries the harmful form of the gene variant.

Meanwhile, some of the Colorado patients began to look into their own heritage. With the zeal of an investigative reporter, Beatrice Wright searched for both cancer and Jewish ancestry in her family tree. Her maiden name is Martinez. She lives in a town north of Denver and has dozens of Martinez relatives in the San Luis Valley and northern New Mexico. In fact, her mother's maiden name was Martinez also. Wright had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, when she was 45. Her right breast was removed and she was treated with chemotherapy. Later, her left breast, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries were removed as a precaution. She had vaguely known that the women on her father's side were susceptible to the disease. "With so much cancer on Dad's side of the family," she said, "my cancer doctor thought it might be hereditary." Advised by Lisa Mullineaux about BRCA testing, she provided a blood sample that came back positive for 185delAG.

When Wright was told that the mutation was characteristic of Jewish people, she recalled a magazine article about the secret Jews of New Mexico. It was well known that during the late Middle Ages the Jews of Spain were forced to convert to Catholicism. According to a considerable body of scholarship, some of the conversos maintained their faith in secret. After Judaism was outlawed in Spain in 1492 and Jews were expelled, some of those who stayed took their beliefs further underground. The exiles went as far as the New World. [...]

Pruzbul - Chabad service

Chabad of the West Side:

The outgoing year of 5768 is a Sabbatical or “Seventh” year. It is also known as the Shemitah year – the year of “release”. Concerning the Shemitah year, the Torah states (Deut. 15:1-2): “At the end of seven years, you shall make Shemitah. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release that which he has lent to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor; because the L-rd’s release has been proclaimed”. According to many opinions, this passage teaches that it is forbidden to claim one’s private debts after the seventh year passes, when “the release has been proclaimed”.

Years ago, because of the release of loans of the seventh year, many Jews ceased to lend money as the seventh year approached. To encourage the continuation of loans, the great scholar and leader Hillel instituted a custom which allows one to demand repayment even after the seventh year. This custom, known as “Pruzbul”, consists of the creditor transferring his debt to a Rabbinic court before the end of the Sabbatical year, whereupon it ceases to be a private debt and therefore can be collected.

It is customary for all Jews to make a Pruzbul - even those who do not have outstanding loans. This practice demonstrates how dear we hold a command of our Sages.

The Pruzbul can be accomplished by means of a legal document, or even by verbal agreement. For your convenience, you may submit the form below. If, after submitting the form, you give another loan, you must complete an additional Pruzbul form. Encourage your friends and relatives to participate as well. The transfer goes into effect the day before Rosh Hashanah.

Palestinian Authority - Temple Denial propaganda

( The Palestinian Authority, run by PLO Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas, is again making efforts to popularize Muslim denial of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, especially to the site of the two Jewish Temples. The PA claims fly in the face of the archaeological evidence, as well as the history of Jerusalem as endorsed by the most authoritative Muslim sources.

According to Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook of the Palestinian Media Watch organization, Fatah-controlled television broadcasts have been promoting a music video that "denies any historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem." Building on the denial of Jewish rights in Jerusalem and the claim that the Temple Mount is "ours," meaning it is Muslim, PMW explains, that "the lyrics repeat the Palestinian fabrication that Israel is planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and therefore it needs protection."[...]

Aleppo Codex - Search for missing pages

Fox News reports:

A quest is under way on four continents to find the missing pages of one of the world's most important holy texts, the 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible known as the Crown of Aleppo.

Crusaders held it for ransom, fire almost destroyed it and it was reputedly smuggled across Mideast borders hidden in a washing machine. But in 1958, when it finally reached Israel, 196 pages were missing — about 40 percent of the total — and for some Old Testament scholars they have become a kind of holy grail.

Researchers representing the manuscript's custodian in Jerusalem now say they have leads on some of the missing pages and are nearer their goal of making the manuscript whole again.

The Crown, known in English as the Aleppo Codex, may not be as famous as the Dead Sea Scrolls. But to many scholars it is even more important, because it is considered the definitive edition of the Bible for Jewry worldwide.

The key to finding the pages is thought to lie with the insular diaspora of Jews originating in Aleppo, Syria, where the manuscript resided in a synagogue's iron chest for centuries.

A turning point in its history came three days after the U.N. passed the 1947 resolution to grant Israel statehood, provoking a Syrian mob to burn down the synagogue. Aleppo's Jews rescued the Codex, but in the ensuing years the 10,000-strong community was uprooted and scattered around the world.

Scholars believe that Aleppo Jews still hold many of the missing pages, while others have fallen into the hands of antiquities dealers. Two fragments have already surfaced: a full page in 1982, and a smaller piece last year that had been carried for decades by a Brooklyn man, Sam Sabbagh, as a good-luck charm. Persistent rumors tell of more waiting to be found.[...]

Past efforts, including some by Israeli diplomats and Mossad secret service agents, came up against a wall of silence in the Aleppo community. The new search has recruited a small group of Aleppo Jews, better able to win the community's trust, and has yielded information on the whereabouts of specific pieces and on the people who are holding them, said Zvi Zameret, the Ben-Zvi Institute's director.

"Only someone who believes that this manuscript is one of the foundation stones of the people of Israel, someone whose goal is not to get rich — only such a person can make progress," he said. [...]

Each page is priceless, but money wouldn't be an issue for most Aleppo Jews because anyone trafficking in such holy relics could be banished by the community, Roitman said. Some of the Crown's pages bear an inscription warning that it "may not be sold." [...]

The Codex, on 491 parchment pages about 12 inches by 10 inches, was transcribed sometime around 930 A.D. by Shlomo Ben Boya'a, a scribe in Tiberias on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. It was edited by a renowned scholar of the time, Aaron Ben-Asher. Its completion marked the end of a centuries-long process that created the final text of the Hebrew Bible. It belonged to a Jewish community in Jerusalem until it was seized by the Crusaders who captured and sacked the city in 1099. Ransomed, it made its way to Cairo, where it was used by the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, who declared it the most accurate copy of the Old Testament. [...]

"The bottom line is that the whole process of putting together the text of the Bible ended with the Codex," said Rafael Zer of the Hebrew University Bible Project in Jerusalem, which is using the Codex to create what is meant to be the authoritative text of the Old Testament but can't properly complete it without the missing pages.

Not enough has been done to find them, laments Hayim Tawil of New York's Yeshiva University, the author of a forthcoming book on the Crown. "For Jews and for Western civilization this manuscript is equivalent to the Magna Carta," he said.

How the Codex reached Aleppo in northern Syria is unclear. Some scholars believe it was brought by a descendant of Maimonides in the late 1300s. There it was guarded as the Jews' most prized possession and talisman. But on Dec. 2, 1947, the mob burned the synagogue. In the ensuing years, Aleppo Jews would describe rushing to snatch pages from the flames. The missing ones have not been seen since, with two exceptions.

One page from the Book of Chronicles survived in the New York apartment of an Aleppo woman and was handed over by her relatives in 1982. Another fragment recounting the Exodus story of the 10 plagues survived in the wallet of Sabbagh, another Aleppo exile in New York, who laminated it and kept it as a good luck charm. Last year, following Sabbagh's death, his family brought the fragment to join the rest of the manuscript in Jerusalem.

One of the men who rescued pages from the synagogue was Mourad Faham, who sneaked into the building disguised as a Bedouin and found the bulk of the manuscript on the floor, according to his grandson, Jack Dweck. A decade later he strapped the manuscript under his robe and crossed the border into Turkey, Dweck said. From there it was wrapped in towels and, according to most versions of the story, bundled into a washing machine to be shipped to Israel. Dweck, a businessman who lives in New York, home to one of the biggest communities of Aleppo Jews, says he has heard the rumors among his fellow Jews and believes the missing parts exist.

"My guess is that there's a bigger piece somewhere else, waiting to be found," he said.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Vidoi - Confession to let go of sin

הכתב והקבלה (ויקרא ה:ה): והתודה. פירשוהו לשון הודאה, כענין הודה לו בקנקנים המורגל בפי רבותינו (בעקעננען), ואין זה נכון לדעתי כי עיקר הודוי אינו הודאת החטא (זינדענבעקעננטניס) אבל העיקר בו ההסכמה הגמורה לעזיבת החטא כמ"ש הרמב"ם (בהלכות תשובה) יגמור בלבו שלא ישוב לזה החטא לעולם, כמ"ש יעזוב רשע דרכו וגו' ולא נאמר עוד אלהים למע"י, וזהו עיקרו של וידוי, ואם נפרש לשון והתודה הודאת החטא לבד, חסר במובנו העיקר המכוון בוידוי, גם תקשה לר"ע דסובר (יומא פ"ו) דאין לפרש החטא בשעת ודוי, וכן לר"כ דאמר (ברכות ל"ד) חציף עלי מאן דמפרש חטאי', הלא להך פירושא מפורש במקרא שלפנינו דצריך לפרש החטא (והפוסקים שכתבו דבלחש מותר לפרש החטא לכ"ע, אין זה דבר ברור כ"כ למעיין בב"י או"ח סי' תפ"ז), גם לשון והתודה בלשון התפעל אין לו מובן לפירוש זה (ומ"ש הרנ"ו בביאורו אינו לפי לשון הודאה ע"ש), לכן נ"ל לפרש מלת והתודה לפי העיקר המכוון בענין ודוי החטא, והוא עזיבת והרחקת החטא, כי שרשו ידה אשר הוראתו הרחקה והשלכה, כמו וידו אבן בי, ידו עליה גורל, והמקום המוצנע המרוחק מחברת בני אדם נקרא יד, כמו ויד תהיה לך מחוץ למחנה, וכן חלק המופרש מן הכלל נקרא יד כמו חמש ידות (בראשית מ"ג), והמכוון בלשון ודוי חטא, הרחקת ועזיבת החטא (זינדענענטפערנונג), ולפי שצריך התחזקות רב להתרחקות החטא אחרי שנעשה אצלו כטבע שניה לכן נאמר בלשון התפעל והתודה (ענטשליסע זיך אבצולעגען):

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rosh HaShanna - Discovering your unique Avodas HaShem

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz (Sichos Musar #33 5731): Everyone is required to thoroughly examine his deeds especially before Rosh HaShanna - the Day of Judgment. This obligation is not just to discover transgressions and lapses in observance of the commands. It also includes the evaluation whether one's path in serving G‑d is the correct one for him since everyone has a unique path. The issue  of Avodas HaShem is such that a person could keep all the mitzvos yet have a completely false approach to serving G-d. The problem is compounded by the fact that he might have incorrectly assumed that what he was doing would be pleasing to G‑d. Nevertheless all his efforts would have been to accomplish a mistaken goal. Consequently if he has not carefully evaluated the correctness of his plan then all his efforts and sacrifices are wasted. Furthermore he is punished according to the degree of effort he made to accomplish this wrong plan. This can be seen from the fact that Rav Yochanon ben Zakkai who was not only the leading Torah scholar of his time but also had succeeded in saving Torah for all future generations was frightened before his death. He cried before his students and said "I see before me two paths - one to Gan Eden and the other to Gehinom and I don't know where they are taking me. Shouldn't I cry?" His fear was not because of failing to keep the whole Torah. His fear was solely because he might have failed to properly have done his Avodas HaShem. There is the additional problem with Avodas HaShem - that one simply can't repent for doing it incorrectly since it is easy to be mistaken and assume that you are doing the right thing.

Power of Negative Thinking


GREED — and its crafty sibling, speculation — are the designated culprits for the financial crisis. But another, much admired, habit of mind should get its share of the blame: the delusional optimism of mainstream, all-American, positive thinking.

As promoted by Oprah Winfrey, scores of megachurch pastors and an endless flow of self-help best sellers, the idea is to firmly believe that you will get what you want, not only because it will make you feel better to do so, but because “visualizing” something — ardently and with concentration — actually makes it happen. You will be able to pay that adjustable-rate mortgage or, at the other end of the transaction, turn thousands of bad mortgages into giga-profits if only you believe that you can.

Positive thinking is endemic to American culture — from weight loss programs to cancer support groups — and in the last two decades it has put down deep roots in the corporate world as well. Everyone knows that you won’t get a job paying more than $15 an hour unless you’re a “positive person,” and no one becomes a chief executive by issuing warnings of possible disaster.

The tomes in airport bookstores’ business sections warn against “negativity” and advise the reader to be at all times upbeat, optimistic, brimming with confidence. It’s a message companies relentlessly reinforced — treating their white-collar employees to manic motivational speakers and revival-like motivational events, while sending the top guys off to exotic locales to get pumped by the likes of Tony Robbins and other success gurus. Those who failed to get with the program would be subjected to personal “coaching” or shown the door.

The once-sober finance industry was not immune. On their Web sites, motivational speakers proudly list companies like Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch among their clients. What’s more, for those at the very top of the corporate hierarchy, all this positive thinking must not have seemed delusional at all. With the rise in executive compensation, bosses could have almost anything they wanted, just by expressing the desire. No one was psychologically prepared for hard times when they hit, because, according to the tenets of positive thinking, even to think of trouble is to bring it on. [...]

When it comes to how we think, “negative” is not the only alternative to “positive.” As the case histories of depressives show, consistent pessimism can be just as baseless and deluded as its opposite. The alternative to both is realism — seeing the risks, having the courage to bear bad news and being prepared for famine as well as plenty. We ought to give it a try.

Breslov - Ownership of R'Nachman's grave resolved

JPost reported:

Euro-Asian Jewish Congress President Alexander Machkevich said Wednesday he has resolved a prickly land dispute over the reputed grave site of the founder of Breslov Hassidism in the Ukraine, and has recovered the area for the benefit of the local Breslov community.

The controversy over the land where Rabbi Nachman Breslover (1772-1810), also known as Nachman from Uman, is thought to be buried began six years ago after the local Jewish community decided to build a new synagogue at the site, and employed a Ukrainian contractor to do the job.

After the Jewish community defaulted on payment, the Ukrainian Supreme Court ruled that the contractor, who is also a member of the country's parliament, became the lawful owner of the property, Machkevich said.

Years of negotiations failed to resolve the issue.[...]

After six months of negotiations, Machkevich, a self-made billionaire, closed a deal with the Ukrainian contractor last week after paying him more than half a million dollars.[...]