Monday, October 10, 2011

Yamim Noraim

These are the Yamim Noraim; the Days of Awe.
Rosh Hashanah. Yom Kippur.
These are the High Holy Days of the Children of Israel.
During the entire previous month, Elul, we have prayed that Hashem give us the strength to Repent; to Return to the Ways of G-d.
And now we are Judged. And now we are Signed and Sealed.

Unesana Tokef

“Let us now relate the power of this day's holiness, for it is awesome and frightening. On it Your Kingship will be exalted; Your throne will be firmed with kindness and You will sit upon it in truth. It is true that You alone are the One Who judges, proves, knows, and bears witness; Who writes and seats, (counts and calculates); Who remembers all that was forgotten. You will open the Book of Chronicles - it will read itself, and everyone's signature is in it. The great shofar will be sounded and a still, thin sound will be heard. Angels will hasten, a trembling and terror will seize them - and they will say, 'Behold, it is the Day of Judgment, to muster the heavenly host for judgment!'- for they cannot be vindicated in Your eyes in judgment.”

“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, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, 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.”

“But REPENTANCE, PRAYER and CHARITY Remove the Evil of the Decree!”

- from the Machzorim (Prayer Books) for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

"Three books are opened on Rosh HaShana: one for completely wicked people, one for completely righteous people, and one for those in the middle. The completely righteous people are immediately inscribed and sealed for life; the completely wicked people are immediately inscribed and sealed for death. Those in the middle have their judgment suspended until Yom Kippur. If they merit it, they are written for life; if not, they are written for death."
- Talmud; Tractate Rosh Hoshana; 16b

Towards the end of her book, “Life is a Test,” Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis examines the idea that G-d sends us “wake up calls” through the events that happen in our lives.
One such event was September 11, 2001.
She noted that, on the Internet, the idea was being circulated that the number Eleven was significant –
9/11 – Nine plus one plus one equals eleven; the Twin Towers resembled the number eleven; September 11th was the two hundred and fifty fourth day of the year – two plus five plus four equals eleven; the flight number of the first plane to hit the towers was eleven; ninety two passengers were aboard – nine plus two equals eleven; after September 11th there were 111 days left to the end of the year; 911 is the call for help; and there were many, many more “elevens” that were significantly tied into September 11th.
The Rebbetzin wrote that originally she did not take much stock in the idea that the number 11 had anything to do with Judaism or “Jewish answers” to 9/11.
However, she then went on to look at the significance of the number 11 in Judaism and the Torah.
She found that September 11th occurred on the 23rd day of the month of Elul. Elul is the sixth month on the Jewish calendar and – two plus three plus six equals eleven.
The portion of the Torah that we read that week is called Nitzavim. There is a section that has eleven “cantillation dots” over the words: “The hidden things are for Hashem, our G-d, but the revealed things are for us and our children.” (Deuteronomy 29:28)
There is a system of numerology in Judaism called gematria. Every letter and word has a numerical value. The numerical value of teshuva in Hebrew is 713. Seven plus three plus one equals eleven. Teshuva is commonly translated as repentance. It means Return to G-d. It is what we are called to do when G-d sends us a wakeup call that our lives are not on the right track.
Rebbetzin Jungreis brings many other “Elevens” from the Torah and their significance to the idea of teshuva – repentance.

There is one particular example that the Rebbetzin bring from the Torah that is most closely related to Rosh Hashanah; the New Year of the Jewish calendar when G-d Judges the World and calls His People to Repent; to do Teshuva, and Return to Him. It is from the Halftorah portion that we read on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.
The Rebbetzin writes:
“The numerical value of the Hebrew for Rachel Imenu – “Mother Rachel” is three hundred and thirty five. Three plus three plus five equals eleven!
Regarding Mother Rachel it is written [in the Halftorah we read on Rosh Hashanah], ‘A voice is raised on high – wailing and bitter weeping, Rachel is crying for her children. She refuses to be consoled for her children are gone. Thus said the L-rd, ‘Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears – there is reward for your labor… Your children shall return to their borders.’ (Jeremiah 31:14-17). Mother Rachel, to whom G-d gave this unconditional promise, died on the eleventh day of the Hebrew month of Chesvan.”
The significance of this whole idea of the number 11 being associated with teshuva – repentance, is that it is possible to pause and view events that happen in this world as more than just “coincidence.”

This Jewish Year 5772, that began on this Rosh Hashanah, is the beginning of the 11th year after the events of September 11th, 2001; Elul 23, 5761.

In the Talmud; Tractate Rosh Hashanah, it states:
“On Rosh Hashanah, all of the world’s inhabitants pass in judgment before Hashem, like sheep passing single file in review before the shepherd. As the verse states (Psalm 33:15): ‘He fashions their hearts together and discerns all of their deeds.’”
There is a discussion in the Rabbis of the Talmud that, actually, a person is judged every day; that a person is judged every minute… So, what is the particular significance of the awesomeness and uniqueness of Rosh Hashanah if we are judged every day; every moment?
We are told that on Rosh Hashanah, the Angels that represent the Nations of the World converge to accuse Israel and the Jewish People and list all of their misdeeds before the Throne of G-d.
Because of their many sins, these Angels demand of G-d that the Jewish Nation be either destroyed or assimilated. They demand that Hashem terminate the existence of Israel as G-d’s Chosen People.
It is at this time that Jews are required to come to their own defense by giving their only Advocate – G-d – their sincere Repentance; their sincere Prayers; and their sincere example of Righteous Behavior. One of the symbols used to communicate this Sincerity is the Sounding of the Shofar. The Shofar represents the Wakeup Call that Jews take upon themselves as they recognize G-d’s Wakeup Calls that He gives both the Jewish People and all Mankind.
Sincerely and loudly proclaiming G-d as the Only King is the only defense of Israel as the Angels of the Nations gather together to wipe out our existence and to deny that we are suitable to be G-d’s Holy People.

As we learn in the attacks of 9/11, the significance of the number 11 is Teshuva; Return to G-d, so we should learn from all of the other “wakeup calls” that Hashem has given us.
According to our Rabbis, the “natural disasters,” that have occurred with astonishingly massive results in the last ten years are a wakeup call that the Jewish Nation needs to Return to G-d; Repent; and recognize G-d as the One and Only King.
The Children of Israel are a People of Wonder - at times the Nations of the World become astonished at their own cruelty and horror that they afflict on the Jewish People. And, at times the Nations of the World become astonished at the Miracles that G-d has performed for the Jewish People.
But whether the Jews have been cursed, or the Jews are Blessed, every significant event that happens to the Nation of Israel is a communication from G-d to turn towards Him in Prayer; in Repentance; and in Righteousness. Hashem keeps calling His Children to Him.
This Rosh Hashanah, 5772, we can see the Hand of G-d reflected from the Heavenly World to This World; the World below.
As the Accusing Angels of the Nations of the World petition before the Kisei HaKavod; The Throne of Glory, that Israel should be destroyed, so do the Nations of the World petition before the Seat of Power in This World; Olam Hazeh – the United Nations, that Israel should be destroyed.
It is no coincidence that it is only last month, during the Month of Teshuva; Repentance, Elul, that the Nation of Turkey, an ally of Israel since 1949, should repudiate its friendship with Israel;
That Egypt, ostensibly at peace with Israel since 1979, should attack the Israeli embassy;
That Iran, another former ally of Israel, should call for the annihilation of Israel;
And that the Arabs of the Palestinian Authority should demand that Israel be dismembered and her Holy Places given over to Yishmael.
As above, so below.

What happens in This World is a reflection of what happens in the Heavenly Spheres.
Our only defense in This World and in the World of Truth is Teshuvah; Tefillah; and Tzedakah.
As we enter the Year of Repentance in This World, may the True Judge be our Advocate and may we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a Year of Blessing; Prosperity; Peace; and – Teshuvah.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reflections on 9/11

Every year, at this time, I watch one of the first 9/11 memorial videos made.

 America Attacked 9 1 1 

The only way to really remember is to be emotional.  This video does that.

I have never let go of 9/11.  My brother, an assimilated Texan and a Vietnam vet, gave me a lapel pin shortly after that was an American flag with a red white and blue memorial ribbon around it that says 9-11-2001 on the bottom. 
I am still wearing that pin. 
In my Orthodox Jewish world, people do not wear American flag pins with what looks like a candy cane around it. I get peculiar looks in some of the Orthodox enclaves where I visit or daven. 
I have often thought that maybe it's time to take the pin off – I have also been flying the American flag on the flagpole outside of my house and, I sometimes think that it's time to take that down too… 
But, I don't. 
When the rare person stares at my lapel pin with a questioning look in their eyes, I try and explain  - 
There is a Great Evil in this world that is seeking to destroy us all. It is present and ongoing. Bin Laden was simply the Evil that attacked us on 911.

This exact same Evil is present in what is today called the "Arab Spring" – which is just a continuation of a murderous 100 year Great Sectarian Civil War in the Muslim and Arab worlds. 
This Evil worships Death and wishes to destroy all those (particularly other Arabs and Muslims) who do not worship Death in the same manner. 
This Evil wishes to obliterate Israel. 
This Evil wishes to destroy the United States. 

If we do not remember this Evil and fight against it, it will, indeed, "destroy" our world. 

So, I wear my lapel pin and I hope that I remember to remember.


Live Free or Die

The World; the United States; and Israel, face a problem called History.
With the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, Islam lost its stabilizing governing power.
In the hundred years since that time, every tinpot Islamist Death Cultist has declared that THEIR Death Cult was THE Death Cult that all should follow.
In some areas, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, these Death Cultists managed to change normative Sunni or Shia Islam to their new fascist version of the same.
In the rest of the world, Muslims and Arabs have been engaged in a never ending war against each other as to who gets to be Top Dog.  The current "Arab Spring" is a manifestation of this never ending Civil Sectarian War.

The US and Israel have been trying to deal with these lunatics on a macro level while ignoring the micro terrorism that these fascists foster on a daily basis.
And, that is doomed to failure.
Afghanistan will never be a "country."  The US will never succeed in establishing a stable society there.
Iraq will continue to be ripped by factions that are bent on killing each other.
Saudi Arabia will continue to support Wahhabi terror cells all over the planet.
This will never end.

Unless - the US and Israel deal with each micro event with total force.
Invade Gaza and free Gilad Shalit from his kidnappers.
Invade Iran and free our kidnapped Americans from their captors (as we should have done in 1979 when Iran invaded the United States).
Bomb the crap out of all of Hezbollah's missile sites.
Cease supporting all Arab/ Muslim fascist regimes - from Egypt to Pakistan, with American dollars.
Respond to every single act of terror against innocent civilians with overwhelming force and determination.
Support only those Arabs and Muslims (and the rest of the world) who support both Israel and the United States and are willing to defend that way of life with their blood.
We either Live Free - or die.

If the US and Israel would spend 1/10th of their treasure and might that we currently spend on the "war on terror" on these individual problems and terrorist acts - we would win and the fascist death cultists would lose.





Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Mitzvah of Ransoming a Captive


I am making an appeal.

I have a friend who needs help.

Her name is Wendy Runge; Zeva Rochel bas Chaya 

Wendy; her husband Pinchus; her children; her parents; her siblings and their spouses; and Pinchus' father, are all personal friends of mine who have all, in one way or another, enriched my life; my Yiddishkeit, and the lives of my family and friends.

Wendy has been unjustly accused and is being unjustly sentenced for crimes she did not commit.

Below is a letter written in her defense by Rabbi Chaim Goldberger, the Rav of Knesseth Israel synagogue here in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

Rabbi Goldberger mentions Shalom Rubashkin in his letter in defense of Wendy.

For those who are not familiar with Shalom Rubashkin, Google his name and find out more.


Interestingly enough, I also consider myself a friend of Shalom and his family.  

When I first moved to Minnesota, he was kind enough to hire me to remodel his house in St Paul, and I spent six months practically living with his warm and loving family as he commuted back and forth to his new job in Postville, Iowa.

Shalom Rubashkin was treated unjustly and unfairly by the Iowa legal system.

Baruch Hashem that he has a large mishpocha and kehilla that has rallied to his defense and is working tirelessly to overturn this injustice.

Shalom Rubashkin has many strong advocates in the greater Jewish community and in the US political and Justice system.


Mrs. Runge's case has not been as notable as Shalom Rubashkin's.  Her family and friends, who have supported her; are supporting her; and are universally convinced that she is being treated with incredible harshness and injustice by the Iowa justice system, are also not as influential or as large as Shalom's wonderful supporters.


This is a plea, for anyone reading, to read Rabbi Goldberger's letter; to donate to her cause; or to just publicize her cause and this appeal. Wendy needs to radise money to defend herself in the appeal process which, in this country, is incredibly costly.

The Runge family is already in debt to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars just for the initial trial and appeal.  Without the additional funds for her appeal, the judge is going to sentence her to 10 years in prison.


In the Talmud, Bava Basra 8b, the gemorah explains that pidyon shvuyim; ransoming Jewish captives, is considered a Great Mitzvah; a mitzvah rabbah and that captivity is worse than death and starvation.

The Rambam; Maimonides, rules that he who ignores ransoming a captive is guilty of transgressing commandments such as: "you shall not harden your heart" (Devarim 15:7); "you shall not stand idly by the blood of your brother" (Vayikra 19:16); and "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Vayikra 19:18).


This injustice needs to be publicized.

Wendy needs to be supported.

Please help.

Thank you.


A letter from Rabbi Goldberger:

Let me state from the outset – I am opposed to gratuitous charges of racism or anti-Semitism. Such claims have become tools too easily used to batter an ideological or political opponent into undue submission. 

But bias can and does exist. Even in our cultured and progressive world, instances have been known to occur in which conclusions have been reached as a result of pre-conceived perceptions about a member of a racial or religious group, conclusions in many cases grossly unsupported by the facts. 

The only way to discern true prejudice from intemperate hysteria is to examine the facts of a given case. 

I refer to the case of State of Iowa vs. Mrs. Wendy Weiner Runge, which has recently taken an unexpected and malevolent turn.




When we last reported on this story, Wendy's trial had ended with a plea deal, releasing Wendy from all but one charge, to which she admitted guilt. That was the charge by which she substituted one named future film project for another on an application for State financial credit, an action she took only after having been assured by the authorized State official that it was permissible. As it turned out, the official's assurance was in error. The substitution was, in fact, against the law, and Wendy accepted responsibility for this mistake in the court of Judge Douglas Staskal. 

In the plea arrangement, not only did Wendy agree to plead to the one count, she also agreed to cooperate in the prosecution's ongoing investigation of any other of the filmmakers against whom the State had filed complaints. 

In exchange, the Attorney General agreed to drop all other charges against Wendy, including all charges of financial misconduct – all of which she had denied vigorously from the outset and none of which the State could prove – and to refrain from having the judge pass sentence on her guilty plea until after all other court proceedings in this matter were complete (assumed to be at least a year or more down the road). Compared to the ominous threat of immediate and lengthy prison time as well as an enormous financial fine that had faced the mother of four throughout her trial, this eleventh-hour deal was embraced by Wendy and her legal team with great relief and even celebration.  This plea agreement stipulated a POSSIBLE prison time of not more than ten (10) years and/or a financial settlement not to exceed $10,000. 

It was more than jarring when Wendy received a notice from the judge less than two months later summonsing her to an immediate sentencing hearing on her charge. She had cooperated fully when the DA sent an investigator to interview her about the other defendants. What had gone wrong? 

Evidently, what the State wanted from Wendy was more than cooperation. They demanded Wendy present incriminating evidence they could use to prove guilt against the other defendants. Wendy had consistently asserted that such a thing did not exist, as no financial conspiracy had ever taken place. And so, despite opening all her records to the prosecutors, and despite telling the truth as she knew it, the Attorney General decided Wendy was not being cooperative. 

And he reneged on the deal. 

And so, as swift as it was disheartening, the Attorney General sent a note to Judge Staskal saying he was no longer interested in using Wendy as a witness in any upcoming trials and thus there was no longer a reason to delay her sentencing. 

Two associates of Wendy on the film The Scientist had earlier pleaded guilty to felony theft (Remember – no wrongdoing on anyone's part was ever proven in court. The associates decided to take the guilty plea to avoid the enormous expense of mounting a legal defense.) 

The two were sentenced on that same day by Judge Staskal to probation. With regard to Wendy's sentence, the pre-sentence assessor, taking into account the relatively minor nature of the charge, her being a first time offender, and her being a solid community citizen responsible for the care of four children and an elderly father-in-law, recommended Wendy be given a suspended (no actual jail time) sentence. 

Shockingly, Judge Staskal ignored the recommendation and sentenced her to an unprecedented ten years in prison – the maximum sentence allowed and agreed to as a part of the original plea deal. 




How did Judge Staskal justify the disparity in his penalties? He claimed Wendy showed no remorse over her crime. Had she spoken out defiantly at the hearing, such a conclusion might have been warranted. But in fact what she did at the hearing was read a statement expressing appropriate regret commensurate with her crime – apologizing to the State for having assumed the assurance of the State official was sufficient to rely upon when in fact it was not. She did not apologize for theft, because no money had changed hands; she did not apologize for financial misconduct, because there was none. But to Iowa's justice system, which had desperately wanted to nail her on these charges, this was defiance. 

The judge went further. Where was the evidence of Wendy's lack of remorse? In entries on her personal blog expressing joy over the dropping of the original charges, and in an earlier newspaper article in which Wendy was quoted as wondering what might have caused the assistant attorney general to bring up Sholom Rubashkin's recent conviction at a deposition. In the judge's words, Wendy Runge failed to demonstrate sufficient remorse, as evidenced by entries on her blog alleging vague conspiracies and an article alleging anti-Semitism. 

The judge issues a harsher sentence to a lesser crime on the grounds that he believes he is being falsely accused of anti-Semitism?   This allegation is a result of the initial request for information about Rabbi Rubashkin.  Then in May 2010, the Court knowingly scheduled the pre-trial hearing on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (5 months later) even after Jewish holidays were carefully outlined and the religious significance was detailed to the court.   The response was, "Rosh Hashana is NOT a recognized holiday in Iowa."  After numerous (expensive) motions, hearings and a letter from the highest religious authority, ONLY the day before Rosh Hashana the court relented just in time for Wendy to return home from the hearing for candle lighting, a traditional Jewish ceremony that officially enters the family into the holiday. 




The facts of Wendy's case do not match with the aura assigned it by this judge. 

The plain facts an impartial judge is to consider in passing sentence include: 

  1. only the charge for which the defendant was found guilty, not charges that were dismissed 
  2. mitigating factors (which Wendy has in abundance) 
  3. the seriousness and/or violent nature of the charge (little to none here) 
  4. the recommendation of the pre-sentence assessor 
  5. parallels to others similarly charged


The judge's decision fails on all five.


Prejudice, in its purest state, indicates a prior leaning to judge a person based on your perception of his proclivity to commit the offense – irrespective of his actually having done so. From the beginning, Wendy was treated as one who was likely to have committed all the crimes for which she was charged. Despite her dogged insistence on having been misled by State officials acknowledged to have misrepresented the State's tax credit program, despite the State having been unable to prove a single charge against Wendy or any of her associates, despite the utter inadmissibility of personal, out-of-court communications into any aspect of a judicial hearing without due process, and despite the legitimacy of Wendy expressing a natural sense of joy and vindication on her personal blog, Judge Staskal continued to relate to her as a criminal mastermind who had somehow managed to slip through the system. 

According to the Victim Impact Statements and Pre-Sentencing Probation Reports section of the Women's Justice Center Handbook: 

In most all cases, judges abide by the sentencing recommendation that is formulated by the pre-sentencing probation officer. 

In his attempt to justify straying wildly from this recommendation, Judge Staskal has crossed serious boundary lines touching on questions of judicial bias, presumption of innocence, and First Amendment free speech rights. 

I would like to remind the reader than Wendy was NEVER allowed to make a formal statement about the circumstances that lead her, her attorneys and others to believe that the Film Commissioner was the appropriate authority.




Let us take a look at another recent sentencing, that of Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Unlike Wendy Runge, Tom DeLay was verbally defiant at his sentencing: 

"Everything I did was covered by accountants and lawyers telling me what I had to do to stay within the law. I can't be remorseful for something I don't think I did." 

DeLay called the case "politically motivated" and spoke about how it had affected his wife's health, forced him to raise and spend $10 million in legal fees, and cost him everything he had worked for – including the second-highest post in the U.S. House. 

As with Wendy, the prosecutors in the DeLay case wanted a ten-year sentence and said he should not receive probation because he had shown no remorse. 

Tom DeLay was convicted of a crime scheme designed to launder money and illegally influence Texas elections. He is a major public figure. He was openly defiant at his sentencing. He does not have a large family to care for at home. 

How long a sentence did Mr. DeLay receive? 

Three years. 

Compare that with the treatment given Wendy. Wendy pleaded her own guilt. She was misled by a State official. She received no State money as a result of her crime. She spoke with no defiance in court, restricting her frustrations to personal communications that are supposed to be outside the reach of the court. 

What did she get? Ten years.




We must reach out in support of Wendy and her family. Her attorney believes she has a powerful case for reversal on appeal, but the appellate process is costly, with a large retainer due immediately to her attorneys. Rabbi Michel Twerski remains on record that this mitzvah qualifies as Pidyon Shevuyim – the highest rank among Tzedakah obligations. We look forward to sharing news of Wendy's redemption – and indeed that of all K'lal Yisrael – with you in the very near future. 


Please help Wendy not have to go to prison by making a much needed contribution. Send your checks, payable to The Rabbi's Discretionary Fund at Kenesseth Israel Synagogue

4330 W. 28th Street Minneapolis, MN  55416.

And put Wendy Runge's name in the memo line


May Zeva Rochel bas Chaya have an immediate yeshua


With blessings and appreciation,


Rabbi Chaim Goldberger


Funds are desperately needed ( $50,000) to pay her attorneys to file the appeal. Please help her by sending a check payable to the Rabbi's Discretionary Fund at
Kenesseth Israel Synagogue
4330 W. 28th St.
S. Louis Pk., MN 55416
and put Wendy Runge's name in the memo line, 
or online at ( once you have enter the amount and click donate, you are taken to the page where you enter your credit card info. Click on " add a designation" and type in Rabbi's Discretionary Fund for Wendy Runge

Please forward to anyone you might know who can help, and may Zeva Rochel bas Chaya have an immediate yeshua.


Thank you for caring.


Friday, May 20, 2011

There is No 1967 Border

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu delineated it quite precisely.
Israel will NEVER agree to the mythical "1967 borders."
Israel will NEVER negotiate with the terrorist entity, Hamas, pledged to eradicate Israel.
And, Israel will NEVER permit millions of Arabs called Palestinians to invade Israel in some kind of fantastical "right of return."

So, the line or "not line" (the Bewish Juddhist version) is irrelevant.

Do not try and negotiate over "the line." That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
There is no line.
Then, you'll see, that it is not the line that is significant, it is only whether or not the Islamist terrorist scumbag death cult nutburger Jihaddis wish to eradicate themselves or.... wish to eradicate Israel.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pesach Chametz


Ahhh… Pesach is coming. Time to get rid of the Chametz!

One of the meanings of Chametz is that it is the spiritual impurities that we allow to fester within us. Allegorically, the Torah tells us that we cannot free ourselves from the level of Mitzrayim – Egypt; the lowest spiritual to which a Jew can possibly sink and still be alive, unless we get rid of our internal Chametz.

Chametz is leaven or yeast. And, our spiritual Chametz is all of the "yeast" that rises within us as we hold dear to all of the imagined affronts to our precious Egos.

Every grudge; every thought of "getting even;" every sullen dislike; every single conviction that it is "THEIR" fault, never mine – is a speck of Chametz that prevents us from purity and… prevents us from leaving Egypt.

Time to give it up!

We learn that four fifths of the Jews died in Mitzrayim. They never made it out of Egypt. They could not let go of their "Chametz" in whatever form it took.

There is a new industry in the world called "Life Coaching." I recently learned from a friend who is familiar with this concept that a Life Coach's objective, at least in the corporate world, is to work with an individual to overcome flaws that are standing in the way of using his full potential in business. It is an attempt to alter personality traits that make a person less able to achieve; traits that make a person less productive. A person first has to recognize these flaws and then learn how to change them so that coworkers and customers will no longer be put off by these personality quirks.

Apparently, Life Coaching has had some good success in the corporate world. Apparently, continued employment and financial success are great motivators…

We should all be blessed to examine our own ingrained personality traits; our Chametz, that we are better off without and be able to remove them, purifying ourselves and redeeming ourselves from the slavery of Mitzrayim.

A Kasher Sameach!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let It Snow?

Today is March 23rd.  It snowed last night.  It was raining yesterday so the rain gradually turned to snow and laid down a heavy layer of slushy ice all over everything...

"You want a prediction about the weather, you're asking the wrong Phil. I'll give you a winter prediction: It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life…"

- Groundhog Day




Why yes it is...  Oh.  Okay.  Sorry then.   We can deal with a little snow in MARCH - THE BEGINNING OF SPRING!  CAN'T WE... !! ??

Oops.  Sorry.  Yes, of course we can...


So, I get up to go to the synagogue for morning prayers, which are at 6:30 AM, as I do every morning, and there is a heavy layer of ice slush all over my wife's car.  

Oy... Sigh...

So, I turn the car on to warm it up and search for the scraper which hasn't been used for a month or so; finally find it and start scraping the windshield...  I get most of the driver's side done and I'm just down to freeing the windshield wiper from the ice when, because I left them on last night when I turned the car off; they both turn on; break free of the ice, and both wipers break off!  

It's 6:30 AM and I am in somewhat of a stupor and the wipers are on the lowest intermittent level so it looks like they just spontaneously went on and then off again.

So, I continue to scrape the windshield while dumbly staring at the broken wiper blades just lying there...

Then the bladeless wipers pop on and off again.

I turn them off in the car.

I pick up a wiper blade and, in the still dark morning, try and see if it reattaches to the wiper arm...  Hmmm... It seems to be broken... I stare at the ice covered attachment thingy, holding the blade in one hand and the wiper arm in the other, pressing them together as if they will magically reattach to each other… After a minute of this, I put down the wiper blade and I begin scraping the windshield once more… when finally, it penetrates my little pea brain that I cannot drive this car in the dark while it's snowing without windshield wipers...

Huh, I think...?


Okay.  I turn off the car and go over to my work van; turn it on; and begin the same process all over again...

However, now I am awake and relaxed, being so grateful that I have another vehicle that I can drive that is so easily accessible and planning on how I am going to buy new wiper blades for my wife's car after synagogue...


Hey.  It's Minnesota.  I live here.  Life is beautiful all the time... :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Purim 2011

On March 17th, 2011, the United Nations Security Council approved a "No-Fly Zone" over Libya, authorizing "All Necessary Measures" to protect civilians.

On Saturday evening, March 19th, 2011, international forces began to bomb Libya.

March 17th, 2011 was Adar 11, 5771 on the Jewish calendar – the Fast of Esther.

Saturday Evening, March 19th, 2011 was Adar 14, 5771 on the Jewish calendar – Purim.


According to the Megillas Esther; the Story of Purim, the Fast of Esther was the day that the Jews of Persia did teshuvah; repentance. They beseeched G-d on that day to overturn the decree of the Wicked Haman to eradicate the Jews of Persia.

And, on Purim, instead of the Jews, Haman and his wicked sons were eradicated.



The Purim story is all about teshuvah; repentance.

Hashem sends His messages into This World that we need to turn towards Him.


Events happen.

But, when they happen in Adar; when they happen on Purim - I ask "why?"

"Why now?"


I began a modern timeline of Purim as a result of this question when the United States declared war on Saddam Hussein on Purim in 2003.

I asked myself why were things in Iraq happening on Purim?

Of course, even before my timeline, numerous historical occurrences, both tragic and miraculous have occurred on Purim, or in Adar, throughout the Ages.

A few of the more profound occurrences that are directly related to our own time are:

In 1774, the troops of Karim Khan, a Persian who wanted to destroy the Jews of Basra, were defeated in a great slaughter of his troops, on Purim, by the local Arabs near Basra.

In 1946, Julius Streicher, a Nazi war criminal, made reference to Purim before he was hung.

In 1953, Stalin had a stroke on Purim and subsequently died.


My timeline begins in 1991, when Saddam Hussein surrendered to President George Bush on Purim, after a great slaughter of his troops, at Basra.

In 1994, Boruch Goldstein murdered 29 Arabs in cold blood, at Mearas ha Machpelah; the Cave of the Partriachs, on Purim.

In 2003, President George Bush declared war on Saddam Hussein, on Purim.

In 2004, the 1st Iraqi Constitution was supposed to be signed on Purim. The Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the leader of the Shia Muslims in Iraq, for no apparent reason, pushed off the signing to occur on Shushan Purim, in the walled city of Baghdad.

And, in 2011, international forces, with the blessings of the entire Arab world, began to bomb Libya –on Purim.


In my original Purim timeline, I correspond the year 1991 with the first year of the reign of King Achashverosh, which actually occurs three years before Megillas Esther begins the Story of Purim.

1994 corresponds to the beginning of the Megillah, where the Jews ate at the banquet of Achasheverosh (and were thereby condemned by G-d).

2003 corresponds to the year that the Megillah describes how Haman and his ten sons were hung, which would have been the 12th year of the reign of Achashverosh.

2004 corresponds to the decrees by Mordechai and Esther, establishing the legal holidays of Purim and Shushan Purim, which occurred a year later in the Megillah after Haman and those who wished to destroy the Jews were defeated.


And, as an addendum - according to chazal, our Great Rabbis, the Second Temple was rebuilt two years after the end of Megillas Esther.

This would have corresponded to 2006, the year that Saddam Hussein was hung.


Purim is the story of G-d's Hidden Hand in our world, in This World where we learn that Everything is under the Hand of Hashem.


I look at the events of today, and of yesterday, that happen on Purim - and I come to understand that it is the same story today and yesterday.


The Story is not only about the Miracles of Purim and the amazing "coincidences," which are not coincidences at all, that are associated with these dates of Purim but, it is about the whole point of the Megillah, which is that the Jewish Nation do teshuvah.

Haman is Amalek.

Amalek wants to murder the Jews.

And, the ONLY way to stop Amalek is to turn to G-d and do what He commands us to do.

We are taught that in every generation, Amalek wants to wipe out the Jews. In every generation, there is a Haman, a descendant of Amalek, who wants to utterly annihilate the Jews.

And, the Cure against this Haman; this Amalek, is for the Jewish Nation, with one heart, to turn to Hashem and do teshuvah…


Today's Purim is no different than the miracles of any other year.

This year, on Purim, international forces began to bomb Libya, attacking today's Haman, Muammar Gaddafi, the evil dictator of Libya.

The amazing thing about this is, that from a Jewish point of view, Gaddafi does not seem to be the most likely candidate for today's Haman. Yes, he has made lunatic statements such as that Israel is responsible for all of the unrest in Africa, but most of the world seems to believe that Israel is responsible for most of the world's ills.

Gaddafi certainly doesn't appear to approach the same level of Evil as does Amadinejad of Iran or Nasrallah of Hezbollah or even (the dead) Osama bin Laden.

The Hidden Hand of G-d has apparently chosen the crazy, psychopathic Muammar Gaddafi as today's Haman.

This year, as the international forces were bombing Libya, we were either celebrating Purim, the holiday of our deliverance or – remembering to eradicate the Name and Remembrance of Amalek. This year, Parshas Zachor, the Shabbos where we are commanded to Remember to eradicate the Evil Amalekites, was on Saturday, March 19th, the day immediately before Purim.


On one hand, it appears to me that G-d has chosen Gaddafi as this year's Amalek. On the other hand, G-d has terrible ways of telling us who, exactly, Amalek is.


Dennis Prager, a Conservative talk radio show host, wrote a column for, called "The Other Tsunami."

It deals with the brutal murders at Itamar in Israel that happened last week, in the midst of Adar:

It is very difficult to hate babies.

It takes a special person.

As morally wrong as it is to murder innocent adults, mankind seems to have a built-in revulsion against killing babies. If a baby does not evoke any tenderness, if a baby is regarded as worthy of being deliberately hurt or murdered, we know that we have encountered a degree of evil that few humans -- even among murderers -- can relate to.

That is why what Palestinian terrorists did to a Jewish family on the West Bank this past weekend deserves far more attention than it received.

Normally, Palestinian atrocities get little attention -- certainly far less attention than Israeli apartment-building on the West Bank receives. But this particular atrocity got even less attention than usual because the world was focused on the terrible tsunami that hit Japan.

On Friday night, Palestinian terrorists slipped into a Jewish settlement, entered a home and stabbed the father, the mother and three of their children to death: an 11-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a three-month-old baby.

In order to understand what those actions mean, a seemingly separate incident needs to be recalled: the prolonged sexual attack by up to 200 Egyptian men on Lara Logan, chief foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News, in Tahrir Square, Cairo a few weeks ago. It was reported that after stripping her naked and then molesting and beating her, the men kept shouting, "Jew, Jew!"

The two incidents tell the same tale. In much of the Arab Muslim and some of the non-Arab Muslim world today (such as Iran), "Jew" is not a person. "Jew" is not even merely the enemy. In fact, there is no parallel on Earth to what "Jew" means to a hundred million, perhaps hundreds of millions of Muslims.

Think of any conflict in the world -- Pakistan-India, China-Tibet, North Korea-South Korea, Tamil-Sinhalese. There are some deep hatreds there, and atrocities have been committed on one or both sides of those conflicts. But in none of those conflicts nor anywhere else is there something equivalent to what "Jew" means to millions of Muslims.

There really is only one historical parallel, and it, too, involved the word "Jew." The Nazis also succeeded in fully dehumanizing the word "Jew." Thus, for Nazism, it was as important (if not more so) to murder Jewish babies and children -- often through as cruel a means as possible (being burned alive, buried alive or thrown up in the air and impaled on bayonets) -- as it was to murder Jewish adults.

The human being does not have to learn to hate. It seems to come pretty naturally. Nor does the human being have to learn to murder, steal or rape. These, too, seem to be in the natural human repertoire of evils.

But the human being does have to learn to hate children and babies, and to regard the torture and murder of them as morally desirable acts. It takes years of work to undo normal protective human attitudes toward children.

That is precisely what the Nazis did and what significant parts of the Muslim world have done to the word "Jew." To them, the Jew is not just sub-human; the Jew -- and his or her children -- is sub-animal.

Palestinian and other Muslim spokesmen and their supporters on the left argue that this unique hatred is the fruit of Israeli policies, not decades of Nazi-like Jew-hatred saturating Islamic education, television, radio and the mosque. But for this to be true, unique hatred would have to be matched by unique evil on the Israelis' part.

Yet, among the injustices of the world, what the Israelis have done to the Palestinians would not even register on a moral Richter scale. The creation of Israel engendered about 750,000 Palestinian refugees (and an equal number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries) and the death of perhaps 10 thousand Palestinian Arabs. And all of that came about solely because Arab armies invaded Israel in order to destroy it at birth. Yet, when Pakistan was yanked from India and established as a Muslim state at the very same time Israel was established, that act engendered 12.5 million Muslim refugees and about a million dead Muslims (and similar numbers of Hindu refugees and deaths). Why then doesn't "Hindu" equal "Jew" in the Muslim lexicon of hate?

Here are some answers in brief:

First, many groups have been hated, but none have been hated as deeply as the Jews.

Second, Jew-hatred is often exterminationist, which is why Jew-hatred has little in common with ethnic bigotry, religious intolerance or even racism. Rarely, if ever, do any of them seek the extermination of the disliked or hated group.

Third, exterminationist Jew-haters are particularly dangerous people. Non-Jews who do not recognize Jew-hatred as the moral cancer it is are fools. Nazism was born in Jew-hatred and led to the death of more than 40 million non-Jews. Islamic terror started against Israeli Jews but has spread around the world. More fellow Muslims have now been murdered by Islamic terror than Jews have.

That is why the tsunami the world ignored this weekend -- the Palestinian-Arab-Muslim flood of Jew-hatred -- is the one that will prove far more dangerous to it than the Japanese one it understandably focused on.


It is as if G-d is grabbing the Jewish Nation by the lapels and shaking us, demanding that we recognize Amalek.

This is Amalek. This is who wants to eradicate Israel - those who murder babies. And, we are Commanded by G-d to Remember to eradicate Amalek – forever.

The time of Purim tells us that there are no coincidences.


These unspeakable horrors that occur specifically to the Jewish people during the month of Adar are not new.

Eight boys were slaughtered by Amalek at the Yeshiva Mercaz Harav in Jerusalem on Rosh Chodesh Adar in 2008.


Hashem never stops asking us to do teshuvah.

And, Hashem never stops telling us to Remember to Eradicate Amalek.

And, He never stops telling us exactly who Amalek is.


This presents us with a huge dilemma.

On one hand, chazal, tell us that we cannot and do not know who is Amalek, as Sancheriv, the Assyrian king, relocated; mixed up, all of the nations when he was conquering the world.

On the other hand, G-d deliberately shows us Amalek by making these events coincide with Purim and Adar.


Hashem shows us who are Amalekites by having the generals of Saddam Hussein surrender to the Coalition Forces under the Aegis of President George Herbert Walker Bush, at Basra, the site of a great massacre of the enemies of the Jews, on Purim in 1991.


However, in 1994, Hashem shows us the dangers of deciding who is Amalek "just because…"

If 1994 corresponds to my timeline of Megillas Esther, then 1994 was the year that the Jews of Shushan ate at the banquet of Achashverosh and thus, Hashem allowed Haman to promulgate his evil decree to eradicate all the Jews of Persia.


Megillas Esther 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.

In the Talmud, in Tractate Megillah (12a), it 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.


In my timeline, this date corresponds to February 25th, 1994, when 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.


Purim is also 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 "the Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor."

And, the Second Temple was rebuilt.

In the timeline of my Purim Torah – today, the equivalent of the Second Temple being rebuilt should have occurred by now.


The main miracle of Purim is the story of the Jewish Nation doing Teshuvah.

Today, in spite of G-d's Hidden Hand in the Messages that He is constantly sending us every year in Adar and on Purim, it does not appear that the Jewish Nation has done teshuvah.


Dennis Prager also often repeats another quote – that those who are kind to the cruel will be cruel to the kind.

This quote usually refers to treating those that commit hideous crimes with compassion.


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.


We should pray that we will all turn towards G-d in teshuvah and remember to eradicate Amalek, in all of his disguises…



A Purim Recap for 2011


Purim Torah, A Recap for 2011:

On the Jewish holiday of Purim, we read in the Book of Esther, the Megillah, that the ten wicked sons of Haman were hanged.

Our Sages note that any change in the words or letters of the Torah or, in this case, the Megillah of Esther, that is different from what is "normal," always indicates some kind of hidden meaning.

On the Megillah scroll itself, one letter is written smaller than all of the others in three of the ten son's names: the Hebrew letter "ת" (sav) in the name one son, Parshandasa; the Hebrew letter "ש" (shin) in the name of another son, Parmashasa; and the Hebrew letter "ז" (zayin) in the name of the son, Vayzasa. In addition, the first letter, "ו" (vav) of the name of Vayzasa is written larger than all of the other letters.

Every Hebrew letter also has a numerical equivalent.

The numerical equivalent of sav-shin-zayin is 707, seven hundred and seven.

The numerical equivalent of the large vav is 6.

The combination of these letters is the designation for the Jewish year 5707 (the large "6" would indicate the sixth millennium of the Jewish calendar).

The Jewish year 5707 began on Rosh Hoshana, September 25, 1946.

In that secular year of 1946, the Nuremburg trials took place.

At the end of those trials, 11 Nazi war criminals were convicted to be sentenced to death by hanging.

However, Hermann Goering committed suicide.

Therefore, on October 16, 1946 only ten of the worst Nazi war criminals were hanged.

October 16th, 1946 was the 21st of Tishrei, 5707, Hoshana Rabbah.

Hoshana Rabbah is a Day of Judgement. According to the Torah, Hoshana Rabbah is the day, each year, when all the nations of the world are judged by the Creator of the World. Just as the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hoshana is the Day of Judgement, each year, when all of the Jewish People are judged by the Creator of the World.

That day, Hoshana Rabbah, 5707; October 16th, 1946, is the day which was alluded to in the writing of the names of the ten wicked sons of the evil Haman, who tried to wipe out the Jews, in a story that is 2,500 years old. On that day, in these "modern" times, ten wicked Nazis, followers of the evil Hitler, may his name be obliterated, were hanged once more.

The last Nazi to be hanged was Julius Streicher, the editor of Der Sturmer, a Nazi racist newspaper, which was specifically aimed at creating hatred for Jews and everything Jewish.

When he was hanged, with the rope literally around his neck, one of the last things that he shouted out was: " Dies ist mein Purimfest 1946." - "This is my Purim celebration 1946."


There is an axiom in the Arab Muslim world and in the world of wacko conspiracy theorists – "It's all about the Jews."

The Jews control everything; manipulate everything; even, as Holocaust deniers such as President Ahmanutjob of Iran have said, starved themselves to make the "fake movies" that were taken when the Allied troops liberated the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.

Several years ago, a newspaper column written by a United States Senator, Fritz Hollings, said that President Bush invaded Iraq "to secure Israel."

"It's all about the Jews."

The first of the horror videos created for mass consumption by Islamic death cultists, was the murder of Jewish American journalist, Daniel Pearl, in Pakistan. The second showed the slaughter of Nick Berg, an American Jew, in a Muslim cultic murder in Iraq.

"It's all about the Jews."

Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah ibn Abd Al-'Aziz once stated at a gathering of Saudi dignitaries, including top Muslim clerics and preachers that "It became clear to us now that Zionism is behind terrorist actions in the kingdom. I can say that I am 95% sure of that."

"It's all about the Jews."

President Ahmanutjob of Iran blamed Israel and the Jews for the fact that the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, published cartoons about Muhammad and touched off their Cartoon Jihad.

"It's all about the Jews."

The list is endless and there is literally a new story every day how everything that happens in the world is because of the Jews.

Today, in 2011, the Arab world is being overthrown with unrest and revolt. And, of course, from Yemen to Syria, the despots of the Arabs are claiming that these spontaneous revolutions shaking the entire Middle East are all a plot by Israel…

The problem is – it's true. It is all about the Jews.

However, the fools of the world believe in a Jewish conspiracy where the Jews control everything and therefore events flow from the Jewish people.

Those who study Torah of the Jews know that G-d is in control and all events originate with G-d.

He has promised in His Torah that what happens in this world of "Olam Hazeh," this material world, is because of His relationship with the Children of Israel. From Hashem's perspective, it is all about the Jews.

And as much as the Jewish people plead "I know we're the chosen people, but, once in a while, couldn't you choose someone else?" (Tevye, "Fiddler on the Roof"), it is always going to be all about the Jews.

Both Jew and gentile are confused by this seemingly bizarre paradox every day.

But it is irrevocable and omnipresent, as can be demonstrated by the most confusing Jewish holiday of them all, Purim.

Purim is an odd holiday. It is not a major festival such as Rosh Hashanah and Passover and, it happened a long time after Passover and the other major holidays were established by the Torah. But, nonetheless, it is a time of wonders and miracles where the presence of G-d remains totally hidden. G-d demonstrates His power by creating a puzzle which confuses both Jew and gentile alike….

The story of Purim, the Megillah of Esther, occurred around 2,500 years ago.

The story begins with King Achashverosh, the king of Persia, married to Vashti, his queen.

He throws a big party. Everybody, including all of the Jews, get to come.

After some drunken carousing and revelry, the king orders his queen to come before him and his guests, naked, wearing nothing besides her royal crown. She refuses to come and, as all good Persian despots do, he has her executed (an action that is recognizable today in the Arab and Persian Middle East).

Queen-less, the king calls out and sequesters all of the eligible women in the land.

Esther, a Jew, gets herded in with the rest of them. No one knows she is Jewish and her uncle Mordechai tells her to keep her identity secret. And, of course, from among all the women taken to the palace, the king falls in love with her and Esther becomes Queen.

The Plot thickens: King Achashverosh's top minister is a man named Haman.

Haman becomes pathologically obsessed with Mordechai, the Jew, whom Haman believes is royally dissing him.

So, Haman gets King Achashverosh to agree to issue a secret decree to annihilate all of the Jews of Persia on the 13th day of the Hebrew month of Adar. (This horror of killing one Jew - or killing all the Jews - what's the difference, still prevails in the Arab Muslim world.) He decides on the best date for genocide by leaving it up to chance, by throwing lots which are called "purim."

Haman believes that everything that happens on Earth is a random occurrence.

He believes that everything happens by chance.

But, by casting lots; by creating Purim, Haman, who believes in the transcendent power of Chance, suddenly becomes the model of the fact that Nothing happens by chance.

Because, from the moment that Haman shakes the dice, everything begins to change. Everything becomes "topsy – turvy."

Things begin to go very bad for Haman.

Haman gets called to King Achashverosh and is asked how to honor someone whom the King wishes to honor. Expecting that these honors will be for himself, he lays out a fine set of accolades and laurels only to find he, himself, is forced to bestow these honors on his arch-enemy Mordechai.

Then, Haman is overjoyed to be invited along with the King to a feast given by Queen Esther, believing that he is once more being honored above all others, only to discover at the feast that the Queen is Jewish!


Big, big Oops for Haman!

Suddenly, Haman finds himself accused by the Queen of plotting to murder her along with her people.

Oops! Ouch!

Haman begs for mercy and throws himself onto the queen's bed only to be caught by the king in this rather precarious position.

Oops! Double Ouch!

Haman is accused of attempted rape. Oh my goodness gracious!

How could things have possibly gotten this turned upside down, wonders Haman?

But, wait, there's more!

Haman erected a giant gallows to hang Mordechai, whom he was just itching to kill. Unfortunately for Haman, King Achashverosh sentences Haman to die on this same gallows. (The origin of gallows humor – oops.)

And, as for Queen Esther, Mordechai, and the Jews, whom Haman wanted to annihilate; to wipe off the face earth? Well, rather than being annihilated, they are given the king's permission to annihilate their enemies. And Mordechai is given Haman's place as Prime Minister.

"The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor." (Megillah, The Book of Esther, VIII, 16)

Throughout the entire Book of Esther, the name of G-d is never mentioned.

The Hebrew word that best describes Purim is venahafoch hu, meaning "flipped over story."

The things that look bad in the Purim story; that seemed to be happening by chance were, in fact, intricately planned by G-d for the Good. The lesson is that Nothing happens by accident. Nothing happens by chance.

G-d conceals His presence in the world, but we see G-d's actions in real life history.

G-d is the Hidden Master who puts everything into place.

Because everything is not what it seems.

It would appear, that in G-d's plans - it is all about the Jews.

Because, for better or for worse, the Purim story seems to be still happening today.

In the year 1991, Saddam Hussein, the evil dictator of Iraq, was utterly defeated in war by a United States led coalition, led by President George Bush.

Saddam Hussein periodically promised to wipe out Israel, both before and after the first Gulf War.

Iraq was the only country that invaded Israel in 1948 that never signed an armistice agreement in 1949. Iraq is the only other Middle Eastern country that did not border on Israel, which kept on attacking Israel with its armies along with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, the countries that did border on Israel.

During the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein attacked Israel with 39 scud missiles for no other purpose than to murder Israelis; he wanted to annihilate the Jews.

Israel is the only nation in the modern history of the world to give absolutely no response after being viciously attacked by another nation.

The first Gulf War was the only occurrence in Israel's history where Israel did not retaliate against an enemy that attacked them; an enemy who had sworn to annihilate Israel.

And, this is the only instance in the history of the world where a stronger nation, Israel, was attacked by a weaker nation, Iraq, and the stronger nation did not defend itself or retaliate, even as the weaker nation was totally defeated.

In the year 1991, Saddam Hussein, the evil dictator of Iraq, was utterly defeated in the first Gulf War – on Purim.

His generals signed a treaty with the coalition force that defeated him, in a tent somewhere outside of the city of Basra in Iraq. According to the Jewish calendar, that day was the 14th of Adar, 5751 – Purim.

The area that encompasses part of modern day Iraq was formerly known as Babylon. Babylon was the kingdom that destroyed the First Temple; conquered Israel; and took the Jews back to their land as slaves. Persia in turn conquered Babylon.

It is that Persia where King Achashverosh ruled over the former Babylonian Jews at the time of the original Purim, 2,500 years ago.

According to the Book of Esther, from the beginning of King Achashverosh's reign to the time that that Haman's evil plans were overturned and Haman was destroyed was a period of twelve years.

Twelve years after President George Bush accepted Saddam Hussein's surrender in 1991, President George Bush announced the start of a new war against Saddam Hussein. He said "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."

President George Walker Bush declared war on Saddam Hussein in March of 2003, 12 years after his father, President George Herbert Walker Bush, made peace. He declared war on the 14th of Adar, 5763 - Purim.

The entire twelve years, from the time President George H.W. Bush signed a treaty on Purim with the evil dictator, Saddam Hussein, who wanted to annihilate the Jews, to the time his son, President George W. Bush, declared war on Purim with the evil dictator, Saddam Hussein, a new, "flipped over" story was created - a modern Purim story.

During those twelve years, this new Purim story said that Saddam Hussein was utterly defeated.

During those twelve years, this new Purim story said Saddam was a dangerous maniac.

During those twelve years, this new Purim story encouraged Iraqis to rebel and overthrow their dictator.

During those twelve years, this new Purim story let the defeated Saddam Hussein defeat his rebellious subjects.

During those twelve years, this new Purim story had the defeated, dangerous, peaceful, maniacal Saddam Hussein paying terrorists to try to annihilate Israel and attack the "victorious" United States.

During those twelve years, this new Purim story saw an "insignificant," "defeated" Saddam Hussein bribe the world into doing whatever he wished to do and become a major threat to world peace.

During those twelve years, this new Purim story saw Saddam Hussein grow and prosper as the evil dictator of Iraq while President George H.W. Bush was removed from office.

During those twelve years, this new Purim story saw the new President George W. Bush elected, ostensibly by "confused, elderly, Jewish voters" living in Florida.

On Purim, 2003, this new President George W. Bush proclaimed that the dictator of Iraq was not defeated. The United States declared war on the only country that ever attacked Israel where Israel did not retaliate.

Then, after twelve years of this new Purim story, Saddam Hussein and his evil sons were annihilated.

Just as after 12 years, in the Megillas Esther, the story of Purim, the Prime Minister of Persia, Haman, and his evil sons were annihilated.

There is even a strange twist in to the story that is independent of Purim, yet still relates to the Jews.

In Jewish synagogues throughout the world, a portion of the Torah is read each week. It is the same portion everywhere in the world and it is called the weekly parsha.

In December, 2003, Saddam Hussein, filthy and bedraggled, was pulled from a pit and captured. Thus ended the kingship of Saddam Hussein.

The Torah portion for that week was called Vayeishev. It told of the story of Joseph. On that week, the Torah told how Joseph was pulled from a pit and sold into slavery in Egypt. This was the beginning of his rise to power as Pharaoh's Prime Minister. Thus began the kingship of Joseph.

(And there is always more…. Saddam Hussein sometimes pretended to emulate the ancient kingdom of Babylon. He perhaps "playfully," perhaps seriously, believed that he was fulfilling the Babylonian role of King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of Nebuchadnezzar's reign:

"All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king said, 'Is this not magnificent Babylon, which I have built as a royal capital by my mighty power and for my glorious majesty?' While the words were still in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven: 'O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: The kingdom has departed from you! You shall be driven away from human society, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like oxen, and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals and gives it to whom he will.' Immediately the sentence was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven away from human society, ate grass like oxen, and his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers and his nails became like birds' claws." From the Book of Daniel: 4:28 - 4:33

And, of course, this was how Saddam was found as they pulled him from the pit.)

On the thirteenth year of the Purim story in the Book of Esther - the Megillah tells us that the Jewish holiday of Purim was established by the authority of Queen Esther and the new Prime Minister, Mordechai.

A decree of Law obligated the all Jews to remember this holiday forever.

"That is why they called these days 'Purim' from the word 'pur'. Therefore, because of all that was written in this letter, and because of what they had experienced, and what had happened to them, the Jews undertook and irrevocably obligated themselves and their descendants, and upon all who might join them, to observe these two days, without fail, in the manner prescribed, and at the proper time each year. Consequently, these days should be remembered and celebrated by every single generation, family, province, and city. And these days of Purim should never cease among the Jews, nor shall their remembrance perish from their descendants." (Megillah, the Book of Esther, IX, 26-28)

On the thirteenth year of this modern Purim story, the year 2004, the Iraqis did not sign a new, interim constitution.

They were supposed to sign on new constitution on Purim, but they put it off for one day. Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the leading Muslim Shia authority in Iraq, advised postponing the signing of this new Iraqi constitution for one day.

Iraq's new constitution; the first new decree, perhaps in Iraq's entire history, establishing justice and Laws was signed the following day. That date was the 15th of Adar, 5764, on the day the Jews call Shushan Purim.

"But the Jews in Shushan mustered on both the thirteenth and fourteenth days, and so rested on the fifteenth, and made it a day of feasting and merrymaking. That is why village Jews, who live in unwalled towns, observe the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and make it a day of merrymaking and feasting, and as a holiday and an occasion for sending gifts to one another." (Megillah, the Book of Esther, IX, 18)

The Jews that live in walled cities, such as Shusan, which, according to the Book of Esther, was the capitol of King Achashverosh during the time of the Megillah, celebrate Purim a day later. This day is called Shushan Purim.

Shushan was a walled city. In the Megillah, it was the capital of Persia.

Historians tell us that the capital of Persia at that time may have been a city called Ctesiphon. When the Arab dynasty of the Abbasids built Baghdad, it was on the site of an older walled city also called Baghdad, and they purposely used the ruined building materials from the nearby ancient walled city of Ctesiphon – which is Shushan, the capital of Persia in the story of Purim.

And, our Sages tell us that Baghdad is considered a "walled city" in regards to Jewish Law regarding walled cities.

The new, interim Iraqi constitution was signed in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, a walled city from the time of the Megillah, on Shusan Purim, the Purim of walled cities.

Purim is a time when the Name of G-d is hidden; when the Hand of G-d is not revealed.

Purim is a time where nothing is what it seems.

Purim is a time when, in reality, Everything is manipulated by G-d, for G-d's purposes.

It is a time when G-d reveals that He is the only one in control.

Our Sages tell us that, after the time of the Megillah, Achashverosh was no more and that a new king arose in Persia who looked favorably on the Jews.

This would have happened after the fourteenth year of the Purim story which, in this Modern Megillah, would have been the secular year 2006.

That year, Saddam Hussein, the Evil Dictator of modern Iraq, which was once a province of Persia, 2,500 years ago, was hanged on December 30th, 2006, which is the 9th of Teves, 5767 in the Jewish calendar.

This day is the day before Asara b'Teves, the 10th of Teves, a Fast day and day of mourning and repentance in the Jewish calendar.

On the tenth of Teves, Jews mourn and remember the day when the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, laid siege to Jerusalem on the 10th of Teves in the Hebrew calendar year 3336; 425 BCE.

Thirty months later, on the 9th of Tammuz, 3338 of the Jewish calendar, the city walls were breached by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar. And, on the 9th of Av, that same year, the Holy Temple of the Jews was destroyed. The Jewish people were then led away in captivity and exiled to Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom of Babylon for the next 70 years.

And, oddly enough, it is at this time, 70 years later, when the Megillah of Esther takes place – for Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom was then conquered by the Persians, who were the rulers at the time of Megillas Esther.

Saddam Hussein fancied himself a reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar.

He believed that it was his destiny to destroy Israel and the Jews, and to rule the Middle East.

Saddam Hussein named the nuclear reactor that the Israeli's destroyed in 1981, "Tammuz," which is the month above when Nebuchadnezzar breached the walls of Jewish Jerusalem.

And, the first and only dictator in modern times to be tried, convicted and hanged, Saddam Hussein was hanged, like Haman and his ten sons; like the Nazi war criminals before him, on the day before his great role model, Nebuchadnezzar, was able to attack and therefore eventually destroy, the Jewish kingdom of Israel.

Another role model for the now defunct Saddam Hussein was Josef Stalin, the mad dictator of the Soviet Union. Hussein studied Stalin's works and history and believed that he could rule as Stalin did - with a bloody iron fist.

This dictator Josef Stalin was also a vicious anti-Semite.

In the Party Congress of October, 1952, he made it clear that he planned to "cleanse the party" of all those that he felt were disloyal. In November, high Kremlin officials and all of the doctors who served Stalin were arrested and forced to confess to a plethora of bizarre crimes. The majority of these doctors and officials were Jewish and it became clear that a massive anti-Jewish reign of terror was planned. Stalin even believed that Beria, the murderous thug who was the head his secret police, was Jewish, and Stalin planned to have him killed also.

However, four months later, on March 1st, 1953, Stalin suffered a stroke and died as a result, before he could institute his nefarious plans.

March 1st, 1953 was Adar 14, 5713, the Jewish holiday of Purim.

May the Blessings of Purim fall on all Free people and may these events foretell a speedy Redemption for all Jews, Now, and in Our Time.

A Freilichen Purim to all!

(Which simply means – Happy Purim! )


Thursday, March 17, 2011


In this new writing venture of mine, I have also been publishing these thoughts on the Forums that I frequent. Therefore, people will comment and the discussions may continue on other tangents.

One forum poster posted a whole diatribe, ranting against the idea of religion and G-d and ending every sentence with a putdown such as "you smug ignoramus;" or "I have little patience with self infatuated twerps like you," (just to mention those that I feel comfortable publishing without being profane).

My response, like all of my writing, is not necessarily original to me. It is partially derived from, where I know that I can Google a Torah idea and it will come up with a wonderful drasha.



At the end of Bereishis (Genesis), Yaakov; Israel, blesses his sons.  When he gets to Shimon and Levi, he says: 
Shimon and Levi are brothers -- instruments of violence are their weapons. My soul should not come into their secret meetings; my glory should not be united into their assembly, for in their anger they killed a man ... (Bereishis 49:5) 
Rashi, one of our great Commentators on the Torah, says that this means: " 'In their anger they killed a man'  - This refers to Chamor and the people of Shechem ..."  
Now, Shimon and Levi are two of the 12 Tribes of Israel.  They are considered "Great Men," as are all of the Children of Israel.  Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses, Our Teacher) and Aaron, his brother, are of the Tribe of Levi. 
Yet, on his deathbed, Yaakov curses their anger. He does not, G-d forbid, curse Shimon and Levi.  He curses their anger.   
There's nothing like a little anger to make one lose one's perspective.  And, in the case of Shimon and Levi, do what Yaakov decided not to do and take physical revenge for the violation of their sister, Dinah.

(When Israel settled in Shechem, Chamor, the son of the local Chieftan, raped Dinah, Yaakov's daughter. After pretending to accept the idea of Chamor marrying Dinah, Shimon and Levi killed all of the male inhabitants of Shechem.)   
There is a special prayer that anyone can say at the end of the Shemonah Esrei (the Silent Amidah or Prayer; The Eighteen Blessings): 
"It should be Your will, G-d, G-d of our Forefathers, that no person should be jealous of me, and that I should not be jealous of others; that I should not be angry today, nor anger You ..." 
The Torah tells us that Anger is one of the most negative traits a person can possibly have.
It is a blessing for someone to be good-natured and patient.  
We learn: 
"Someone who tears his clothing in anger, or breaks something in anger, or throws his money in anger, will be in Your eyes like one who worshipped idols, because that is the trade of the yetzer hara [evil urge] ..."(Talmud; Tractate Shabbos 105b) 
And, the question one could ask is: what does idol worship have have to do with anger? 
A person who is angry places himself at the Center of the Universe. 
A person who is angry rejects Hashgacha Protis - Divine Providence.   
Hashgacha Protis, is the idea that G-d is behind EVERYTHING. 
When there is an incident that drives us to anger, G-d is sending us a message. 
A person who denies this believes that he has been personally affronted by... whatever it is - even inanimate objects!


Think of this. We live in an upside down world where anger makes ordinary and, often good, decent, extraordinary people become enraged because they believe that either some random occurrence or deliberate provocation on the part of another person has violated their sense of Who They Are!


"Don't You Know Who I Am!!" is the cry of a person who puts him or herself at the Center of the Universe.

It is the cry of a person who, at least for a moment, refuses to believe that G-d runs the World; that G-d is constantly sending messages on how we are supposed to act; supposed to feel; and supposed to behave.

How often might someone tell an angry person to be calm; to relax; to not get so angry. 
And, that angry person says: "Don't tell me not to get angry!  I deserve to be angry!  Did you see what that *&%/#!_________(dog; car; person; flower; aardvark; cloud formation; color pattern...) DID TO ME?  I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE ANGRY!" 
("I have a Right to scream until my throat is sore; tense my muscles until they hurt; get a stomach ache; hit things and hurt myself; kick things and break my possessions.") 
Most ordinary individuals today, be they religious or not, would find the idea of genuine idol worship absurd. 
Yet, giving in to anger puts us, at best, on the same level as those who worship stones and mud and, at worse, on the same level as an animal; as the local raccoon. 
The Talmud also tells us that "anger leads to sin" (Berachos 29b); and that loshon hara (evil speech) is often spoken only out of anger. 
"Anger can lead to a loss of wisdom." (Pesachim 66b) 
"One who constantly gets angry and doesn't control his temper is like one who is not alive." (Pesachim 113b) 
Yaakov "blessed" Shimon and Levi by recalling their anger so many years after the incident of Shechem. 
Yaakov's words weren't simply a blessing, and a warning, to Shimon and Levi, but for all of us. 
Life is Beautiful All the Time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gut Voch

So, I had a beautiful daughter married to a beautiful young man. Where's the tzuris in that? Of course "Life is Beautiful All the Time."

My daughter started dating a few years ago. Now, Shidduchim are in the Hands of Hashem, but it is sometimes difficult to remember when it seems that "I;" personally "me," is the problem in my daughter finding her basheirt.

I am what is called a ger tzaddik – a righteous convert to Judaism. And, in the eyes of some of my fellow, very Orthodox, Jews from birth (frum from birth), this is a disability. Why marry one's son to the daughter of a convert when there are so many other FFB girls available?

There was one time when I had made plane reservations for my daughter to meet a boy from another city and, the family cancelled it after discovering that I was a ger. That was a bit of a low point and, I talked to my Rabbi – HaRav Moishe Tuvia Lieff. He made an interesting point.


Rabbi Akiva is one of, if not THE, Greatest Jewish Sages that ever lived. He had humble beginnings – he knew no Torah until he was 40 years old and, his father was a convert.

Rabbi Lieff pointed out to me that why should I feel badly that someone who would have rejected Rabbi Akiva as a son-in-law because his lineage was flawed also rejected my daughter because of her lineage? The question he asked is why would I ever want my daughter to consider marrying such a person?

In addition, any other time that a person might deliberately take the question of my daughter's lineage into consideration and thereby reject her, and me – that person would have been violating a stringent commandment that is mentioned in the Torah over and over and over again - the Commandment to love the Righteous Convert.


After that, whereas I was still anxious over the tzuris that my daughter had to go through (just the whole dating process itself – which is almost like a serious job evaluation for each party, repeated over and over and over again until one or the another decides not to hire…), I no longer felt personally affronted.

And, G-d did indeed find a basheirt for both my daughter and my new son. He put in front of my face proof of the idea of Zivug and Basheirt.

And, it is Good.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Last week was the wedding of my only daughter and my new son.

It was a beautiful thing.

In the Talmud (Sotah 2a; Sanhedrin 22a), Rabbi Yochanan says, "V'koshe I'zovgon k'kriyas yam suf." The simple meaning of this phrase is that making Marriages is as difficult as the Miracle that Hashem performed when He Parted the Waters to finally free the Jews from the Land of Egypt and the clutches of Pharaoh.

In reality, the definition of "Nature" is Miracles that constantly repeat themselves day after day. When something totally extraordinary happens – once - we call it a Miracle. When it happens daily, we call it "Nature."

If a Heavenly Voice thundered out from Nowhere – "Such and Such is Destined to Marry So and So," the story would be all over the Internet in a day along with the Youtube video! Everyone would be discussing "how this was done;" whether it was real or not; etcetera. However, if "Heavenly Voices" started Proclaiming Marriages all the time, all over the world, people would soon become occupied with passing anti-Noise ordinances and suing G-d for interference in "Private affairs of the Heart."

The Torah teaches us that G-d, does indeed, find each and every one of us his or her Soul Mate.

In the case of my daughter, I witnessed this extraordinary process…


In the Torah, the Jewish people begin with Avraham Avinu – Abraham, Our Father.

The Story of the Jews begins with Abraham and Sarah and their marriage. It continues with the marriage of Isaac and Rebecca; then Jacob with Rachel and Leah; and then finally on to the 12 tribes – the Children of Israel.

From the very beginning, the Jewish story is focused on marriage and "Learning." "Learning" is learning what G-d asks us to do. And, G-d asks us to "Learn Torah."

"Lerning Torah is der bester zach!" - Learning Torah is the best thing to do.


In the beginning - Abraham and Sarah were married and, after years of aspiration, had children. In the beginning - G-d asked Abraham and Sarah to learn His Laws and to obey His Commandments.

The highest aspirations of Judaism focus on the marriages and learning of the Jewish Patriarchs and Matriarchs.


Get married. Have children. And learn Torah.


In Judaism, getting married means to find your soul mate. In Hebrew, this is called your basheirt, which literally means your "destiny."

It is the one whom G-d appointed to be your "zivug." Zivug literally means "mate," but it means mate in terms of a pair that are mated; that go together as One.

G-d has created a zivug for each and every person on Earth. And, according to the Torah, the unmarried man or woman is not fully complete.

Having children is G-d's Blessing to the Jewish People.

It is both a Commandment and a Blessing. We are commanded to be fruitful and multiply and have children who can be raised up to do G-d's Work on this Earth; to be Lights among the Nations.

And, the way we bring up our children is to steep them in learning Torah. G-d Commands us to learn His Torah that we might do His Will in all things.

These are the highest aspirations of the Jewish people. Get married. Have children. And, learn Torah.

These are the Jewish people.


. . . Rather, to my land and to my kindred shall you go and take a wife for my son, Yitzchak. (Bereishis 24:4; Genesis 24:4)


This marriage process is called Shidduchim. A shidduch is a match; a marriage negotiation; it is the process of finding the other person's zivug.

In the Talmud; Pesachim 88b, it says that the world was Created for the sake of propagation. Isaiah 45:18, says "He did not Create it to be a Void; instead, He Formed it to be inhabited."

G-d's Plan for the world was that people should beget children.

This explains that the main reason for a man and woman to marry each other is not only for companionship and pleasure - but to have children.


Of course, in This World that G-d has Created, there are many, many distractions that keep us from fulfilling G-d's Holy Purposes of Marriage; of finding one's basheirt. Not the least being the many differences between Men and Woman and their individual needs and desires.


Hence, we engage in the process of shidduchim.

This is simply… no, check that. It is never simple… This is the process of making a pre-arranged date between two people where the shadchan, the matchmaker, has the best interests of each of the individuals at heart.

However, as we learn in the Torah, the true Shadchan, the true Matchmaker, is always Hashem; G-d, Himself. The shadchanim that bring young couples together are merely instruments in G-d's Plan for these two individuals.

More to follow… Life is Beautiful All the Time.