Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My thoughts on the election of Barack Obama, an historic occasion, designed by G-d if there ever was one...

Ode To a Mouse by Robert Burns

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave 'S a sma' request:
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' wast,
An' weary Winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Monday, October 13, 2008

During the month of Elul, when Jews begin preparing for Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur, doing teshuva; focusing on G-d; and, in general, trying to achieve a higher level of repentance, the financial markets of the world began to go seriously crazy.

This happened at the end of the 7-year Shemittah cycle, the Jewish "Sabbatical" Year, when, amongst many other things, all debts are forgiven.

The last end of the Shemittah year was 7 years ago. The end of that last cycle - on the Third day that we say Selichos, special prayers entreating G-d for His Mercy and Redemption, the 23rd of Elul, 5761, a week before Rosh Hoshana, was September 11th, 2001.
On September 17th, 2001, the 29th of Tishrei, the day before Rosh Hoshana, the Jewish New Year, the Dow Jones went down 684.8 points, the largest single day decline (until Now) in the history of the stock market.

The day before Rosh Hoshana, Erev Rosh Hoshana, this year- the Dow Jones plummeted 777.7 points, the largest point drop in history, because, ostensibly, Congress refused to "forgive" the debts of those who created this mess.
The market then declined 678.9, the third largest drop in history, on Yom Kippur.
The last single largest drop, erev Rosh Hoshana, 2001, is now the 2nd largest drop in history.
During the Ten Days of Repentance, the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, between Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur, the financial markets of the entire world plummeted more so than any time in history.


One possibility -
The number 777.7 is indicative of the normal flow of events in This World. Seven is the number of Creation. Adom HaRishon was Created by Hashem on the 6th Day of Creation - Rosh Hoshana.
This number indicates the complete cycle of This World; the world of gashmius, the material world; the world of the senses.
Beyond this world of teva, the natural world, lies the Real World; a level above This World. This is represented by the number Eight.
Eight is the beginning of a new cycle; a new octave, on a higher plane; a higher madreiga. It is the madreiga beyond teva.
It is this higher spiritual plane which all Jews are striving to achieve through Repentance during the Days of Awe - the holidays of Rosh Hoshana, Yom Kippur and beyond.
The financial crisis' culminating with the market crash of 777.7 erev Rosh Hoshan could be a signpost for Jews (and therefore Mankind) that it is imperative that we pull ourselves out of This World of Greed and Corruption, which are the sole factors for this whole financial mess, and achieve a Higher Level of Being.
We need to achieve a New Octave above This World.

Then, the continued unprecendented turmoil during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, culminating again on Yom Kippur, could be a further sign that, not only is Hashem arranging the Entire World as a Signpost for the Jews, but that He is doing so in a manner to show all of Mankind that we live in a Age of Miracles and Wonders by doing so.
After all - if this were not the Hand of G-d, the markets and whole meltdown could have easily occurred on some other insignificant date.
The stock market crash of October 19th, 1987, the largest percentage drop of the Dow Jones in a single day in its entire history, including today's turmoils, occurred on the 26th of Tishrei, a fine date, but not one of particular significance and occurring after all of the major Jewish holidays of this season.

Another speculation as to the whole Purpose of This Time of Wonders and Miracles could be posited based on an historical perspective.
At the time of the last great turmoil and crisis at the end of Shemittah - September 11th, 2001, where Wall Street was literally blown up and where the stock market then dropped more than ever before on erev Rosh Hoshana, Israel was being attacked in a new, particularly vicious war fomented by Arafat the Rotting. That "Second Intifada" had begun a year before - on Rosh Hoshana.
Due directly to the 9-11 atrocities, the United States and much of the rest of the world, stopped criticizing Israel for defending itself against the Arab death cultists. Israel approved the security fence in 2001 and launched Operation Defensive Shield against the various territories in 2002.
It is conceivable that without 9-11, Israel would have not been able to defend itself from the incessant terror that began again in 2000.

Today, it would appear that the greatest existential threat in this material world to Israel comes from Iran.
The Credit Market Collapse and attendant Oil Price Collapse may well bankrupt Iran, or at least make it unable to continue its aggressive military plans to obliterate Israel.
Iran has a history of revolutions when its people are not supported and satisfied. It is a fact that the Iranian government has dissatisfied the majority of its citizens and has totally mismanaged the Iranian economy.
It would appear, on the face of it, that this sort of financial turmoil along with the collapse of oil prices would offer a large incentive for the people of Iran to change their government.

On Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur, we humbly and fearfully recite the Unesaneh Tokef, a prayer recited 1,000 years ago by Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, after he was tortured by the Bishop of Mainz to convert. He refused and died on Rosh Hashanah after reciting this prayer.

Part of this prayer declares:
"On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, who by stoning. Who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted."

As Torah observant Jews, we fervently claim, in this prayer, that G-d Controls Everything. He alone is King and Creator. And that there is Nothing, absolutely Nothing, that does not occur, except by His Will.

Why Hashem would show His Hand in the World in the turmoil of the financial affairs of the world is open to speculation.
The Historical Facts of when these world shattering events occur and occurred is not open to speculation.
On Rosh Hashana and on Yom Kippur...
At the end of the Shemittah Cycle.
On the Jewish High Holy Days.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Be Happy. It’s Adar!

Purim - 2008

The ways of G-d are mysterious.

I write various short letters; thoughts; and I post on various forums on the internet discussing this and that throughout the year.

Since 2003, I have revisited “my” Purim story, finally updating it again in 2007 as I discovered new “coincidences” that I found amazing.

This year is different.

This year…

I feel like I am peering at the dark clouds on the horizon. I can see the black lines of rain coming down far away. I can see the awesome cracks of lightning that illuminate everything and I can hear the distant thunder. I know that a powerful storm is headed my way. But I am standing there transfixed by the incredible display of weather, trying to figure out what it all means. And, I can’t. All I know is that this powerful storm exists and, it is headed our way.

But…. During the Hebrew month of Adar, this month, we are commanded to be happy.

How do I reconcile the miracles that G-d has performed on the Jewish holiday of Purim and the astonishing events that have continued to happen, in our times, which continue to happen on Purim, with the tragedies of this year?

I don’t know.

The boys murdered in Yerushalayim in Eretz Yisroel on Rosh Chodesh Adar adds a new and terrible level of complexity the Purim Torah as it relates to modern times.

This is the first time that I know of, since the Arabs massacred yeshiva students in Chevron, in 1929, where Jews had lived for hundreds of years, that religious Jewish yeshiva students have been deliberately targeted for murder by the Arabs.

I don’t know what it means.

But this is Purim. This is Adar. And it means something. I can see the storm coming. I can feel it.

Every year I learn something new. Every year the Purim Torah grows and every year the Hand of Hashem is ever more evident on Purim, the holiday that means “chance” or “coincidence.”

My timeline thus far:

1991 – In a tent outside Basra, Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s generals surrendered to the Coalition Forces under the aegis of President George Herbert Walker Bush on Purim, the 14th of the Jewish month of Adar.

2003 – On the evening of March 17th, on worldwide television, President George Walker Bush formally declared: “Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.” This was the eve of Purim, the 14th of the Jewish month of Adar. President Bush ordered the bombing of Iraq to begin on March 18th, the day of Purim.

2004 - Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the leading Muslim Shia authority in Iraq, postponed the signing of this new Iraqi constitution for one day. The new Iraqi constitution was signed on the 8th of March, in the Walled City of Baghdad, on the 15th of the Jewish month of Adar, Shushan Purim, the Purim of Walled Cities.

2006- The time when the Jews are allowed to rebuild the Temple; Saddam is hanged.

This year however…

Why should I discover this particular new Purim “chance event” this year?


- The Megillah begins in the third year of King Achashverosh’s reign, when he decides to throw a great big party celebrating the failure of G-d to redeem the Jews from the bondage of exile and of G-d’s failure to rebuild His Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

At this banquet, Achashverosh serves food and wine using the Holy Vessels stolen from the First Temple.

The Talmud, in Megillah, 12a, says:

The students asked Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai: "Why did the Jews of that generation deserve annihilation?" He told them, "What do you think?" They said, "Because they enjoyed partaking in the great party of Achashverosh [an event that took place roughly nine years before Haman issued his edict]. He objected, "In that case, the Jews of Shushan, the capital, [the Jews who attended this party] would deserve such a punishment, but why would all the Jews in the world who did not participate be included in the edict of destruction?" They said, "You're right, so you tell us." He said, "They bowed to the idol of Nebuchadnezzar [an event that took place roughly seventy years earlier]." They objected, "If so why indeed were they not wiped out? Does God show favoritism?" He said, "They didn't mean it in their hearts and only did it out of respect to the king, so the edict against them was also not issued by God with finality and therefore could be revoked."

According to our Rabbis, the Jews of Persia were condemned to be killed by Haman’s evil decree because they sinned against G-d by worshipping idols and by taking pleasure in the blasphemous party of King Achashverosh.

If the timeline in my Purim Torah begins in 1991 and corresponds to the first year of the reign of King Achashverosh, which began three years before the banquet party where the Jews of Persia sinned before G-d, then the banquet would have been in the equivalent year of 1994.

On February 25th, 1994, Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Arabs worshipping at the Mearas ha Machpelah; the Cave of the Patriarchs, in Chevron, in the Land of Israel. The date was the 14th of Adar, 5754, Purim.

The most hideous mass murder ever committed by a Jew in the name of his religion was perpetrated on the Purim that matches the year that Hashem decreed that the Jews of Persia should be annihilated for their unforgivable sins.

The Purim Story is a story of redemption. G-d allowed the evil enemy of the Jews, Haman, to persuade King Achashverosh that the Jews should be annihilated.

Mordechai and Esther inspired the entire Jewish nation to do teshuva – to sincerely repent for their sins. And they did! All of Israel repented; Haman, the Enemy of the Jews was destroyed; Mordechai became Achashverosh’s Prime Minister in place of Haman and, And “the Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor.”

And, the Second Temple was rebuilt.

In the timeline of my Purim Torah, these years; today – 2007; 2008; 2009, would be the days when the Second Temple was rebuilt.

It occurs to me that nowhere in my timeline do I have any kind of event that relates to the Fast of Esther; that corresponds to the Jewish world doing teshuva.

And, every single Orthodox Jew, bar none, including my own family, with whom I have shared this particular realization regarding a possible correlation between Purim 1994 and the banquet of King Achashverosh, has shared the same degree of incomprehension as to why I think the two events might be related.

I have received responses from every point of the spectrum –

"There is no correlation..

I don't understand what you are saying...

Goldstein was doing what the Jews were supposed to do in the story of Purim...

There was a plot by the Arabs to attack and wipe out all the Jews in Chevron...

It's not the same thing – Avraham Avinu purchased Chevron and the Arabs have no right to be there...

What's one attack compared to the multitude of atrocities committed by the Arabs…?"

I have heard a phrase that those who are kind to the cruel will be cruel to the kind. It strikes me that Hashem allowed the Jews to defend themselves and annihilate their enemies at the End of the Purim Story, after the entire Jewish nation had done teshuva. He did not allow them to strike at their enemies whilst they were at the banquet sinning against G-d.

It would appear that now, today, in 2008, when we are supposed to be annihilating our enemies and rebuilding the Temple, we are not doing so. We have not taken up the sword when it would seem that G-d has allowed us to do so.

We have not done teshuva. And, one obstacle to this might just be not recognizing the "sin" that we participated in at "the banquet" in 1994.