Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The World was created in Tishrei


The Talmud Tractate Rosh HaShana 10b teaches that Rabbi Eliezer said that the world was created in the "Jewish" month of Tishrei. However, this statement would only refer to the creation of mankind (Adam HaRishon and Chava) but not to the creation of the world itself. The real birthday of the world, so to speak, is five days earlier: On 25 Elul (this Shabbat).

Talmud Rosh HaShana mentions disputes about the true month of creation. One Rabbi claims that it was Nissan, others say it was Tishrei. One explanation of solving this dispute is the opinion of the Ohr HaChaim (any many further commentators) that G - d thought about a creation in the month of Nissan and in Tishrei or Elul, He took action.

The Gemara (rabbinic discussions) in Rosh HaShana 11a asks: "From where do we know that the world was created in Tishrei ?"
Answer: For it is stated:

And G - d said - Let the land be covered with vegetation - herbage yielding seed, trees of fruit.

This verse implies that at the moment of creation the fields were already covered with vegetation, and the trees already laden with mature fruit.
This is implied in the phrase "be covered with vegetation", which suggests a land thickly overspread with mature vegetation, and in the words "trees of fruit", which connote trees laden with mature fruit (Rashi and Maharsha).
And which month a tree is laden with mature fruit ? In Tishrei.

The Gemara in Rosh HaShana 11a brings a proof:
The newly created world required rain and, indeed, rains fell and plants came forth as it is stated:

And a mist arose from the earth
and watered the whole surface of the soil.

We see that creation took place at the rainy season, which comes in Tishrei.


There are many further opinions / commentaries on that Talmud teaching. As a matter of fact, the real meaning of the entire creation process is not known to us. We can interpret the Torah content on the subject but our mind just cannot grasp of what G - d did, why and how. How create our whole universe from NOTHING ? Only creating with THOUGHT !
I think it was Aristotle (described in the "Moreh Nevuchim - Guide for the Perplexed" of the Rambam) who claimed that something had existed before creation and that this something was used in order to create our universe. 

What was G - d doing before He created the world including us humans ?
I don't understand the famous statement that He created us, the world, the Jews, in order to show His kindness. It rather sounds like a weak excuse for having to say "I don't know ".  

Frum Wishes for Rosh HaShana


This Mozzaei Shabbat (Saturday night), the Jewish Ashkenazi world is going to start its Selichot prayers before Rosh HaShana. Regretting our sins (Chatai'im) of the ending year and promise to make everything better in the future. At least we will try doing so. 

While saying the Selichot, lots of emotions may come up and we start thinking of how we can improve our connection to G - d. There may be some who have none and now try to build one. 
Others think about different Mitzvot they should finally take upon themselves. 

Whatever you take upon yourself to keep, you should do in small steps. Choose one small Mitzvah where you are certain that you are able to fulfill it. One small Mitzvah for a long period of time. In case you take too much upon yourself, you may end up in depression and, in the worst case, just dump everything and run away. 

One tiny "easy" Mitzvah may sound like "nothing" but lets just look at the Mitzvah of being happy at certain holidays such as Sukkot. Are you able to be constantly happy during those eight days of Sukkot ?

The Cave of Shem and Ever in Safed


According to the Midrash, this is the cave where Shem and Ever (son and grandson of Noach) were studying Torah. Furthermore, Avraham and Yitzchak used to study here as well.

Today we find a building covering the original cave. The location in the Old City of Safed is used as a Synagogue but only open for a short period of time during the day.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Ramban on Molech


The Ramban (Nachmanides, 1194 - 1270) wrote a detailed commentary on the idol - worship of Molech which took place during the First Temple period. The Gemara (rabbinic discussions) in the Talmud Tractate Yoma 9b lists three reasons for why the First Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. Why let G - d the Temple being destroyed although it was King Salomon (Shlomo HaMelech) who built it ? Why had a destruction to take place ?

Another question: Why should a destruction not take place ? Didn't the Prophet Yechezkel not prophecies a Third Temple in the time of Meshiach ? A Third Temple where the Cohanim and Levi'im serve and Korbanot (sacrifcises) are being brought. Thus the two Temples had to be destroyed in order to pave the way for Meshiach and the Third Temple.

Sexual perversion, murder and idol - worship were reason enough for G - d to destroy the First Temple. The Babylonians were just a tool of G - d's infinite and perfect will.
One of the most famous form of idol - worship during the times of the First Tempel was the worship of "Molech". Executed by special Molech "priests" and taking place in the so - called "Tofet" near today's Cinematheque and Sultan's Pool (Jerusalem). Just right across Jaffa Gate.

The Ramban wrote a special commentary about Molech in Parashat Acharei Mot (Book of Leviticus / Vayikra):

Molech was an idol and Rabbi Avraham ibn Ezra wrote that it is possible that Molech is identical with MILCOM of the Ammonites.

Rashi explained the Molech idol - worship procedure:

The father would hand over his son to the priests, and the priests lit two pyres  (one opposite the other), and they made the child pass on foot between the two fires. 
Rashi asked the question whether a father acting this way is really guilty of worshipping an idol because the son is not touching the fire but only walking through the two pyres. The Torah doesn't allow the Jews to pass the children to Molech: "Le Ha'avir LaMolech". "Le Ha'avir" here stands for actually passing through the fire but the son didn't do so. Moreover, the father didn't deliver his son to Molech but to the priests who then gave it to Molech.

The Ramban, however, has a totally different opinion: He says that the son had to walk into the pyres and was burnt until he died. Furthermore, the Ramban claims that the Gods of the Sepharvaim (see Kings II, 17:31) are also identified with Molech, for their surnames Adrammelech and Anammelech denote kingship (from the Hebrew word "Melech - King").

"Molech" and "Baal" were the most popular forms of idolatry during the ear of the First Temple and both were, at certain times, identical. The Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin tells us a very famous story about how Chizkiyahu's (Hezkiah's) mother rubbed him with the oil of a salamander. His father Ahaz made him pass the Molech but Chizkiyahu survived due to his protective mother.

Not only Ahaz used to sacrifice his children but also King Menashe.

Further Link on the Subject:

Touring Tel Aviv

Levinsky Street in South Tel Aviv.
One of those areas you shouldn't walk around at night.


A colleague at work suggested that I should organize tours through Tel Aviv - South and show people who are interested what is really going on regarding drugs, prostitution and foreign workers.

I would be willing to do this to whoever is interested in having a tour for at least an hour. Charge: 35 Shekels.
Includes: Tour around the Central Bus Station, Levinsky Park, HaShomron Street, alleyways and Yad Charutzim.

I made this offer on one of my German blogs and already have inquiries if I do other parts of Tel Aviv as well. :-))) The answer is that it very much depends on my time.

Tel Aviv by Night - Photos


Last Thursday night, I was touring through Tel Aviv in order to experience the "City which never sleeps".

Rothschild Boulevard

At the Levinsky Park / right across the new Central Bus Station. Africans and foreign workers from the Philippines play basketball and volleyball.

I found about 30 Africans sleeping on the roof of the flat building in the middle of the photos. Also at the Levinsky Park and right next to a (at this hour) closed police station.

Whoever didn't find room on the rooftop slept on the grass. This is the reality of Africans staying in Tel Aviv and it is a pity that none of the leftist politicians or citizens ever has a look but only comment from far away.

Tel Aviv has a reputation of "The city which never sleeps". However, at 1.30pm, most restaurants, bars or cafes were either closed or abandoned.
Here a cafe in Masaryk / near Ibn Gavirol.

The Municipality

Ibn Gavirol Street

Conclusion: Tel Aviv is a city which goes to sleep !!!

Photos from an almost sleepless night: Miriam Woelke

Modest Woman in Meron

I saw this woman at the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron. Extremely modest and I wasn't sure whether she works a kind of modesty police. However, I passed despite my pants.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Selichot before Rosh HaShana

Ashkenazi Jewry is starting its SELICHOT prayers (before Rosh HaShana) on this week's Mozzaei Shabbat (Saturday night). This only gives us time for Selichot on Mozzaei Shabbat, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday night.

I have started explaining the whole Selichot issue in detail on my German religious blog and will give some insights in English as well. However, while writing I cannot stop thinking about reality which says: It will be extremely hard for me finding some time going to the Kotel (Western Wall) and saying Selichot. Every year the same fight because I need to work and hardly have any time for anything else in the evening. The perfect day for me would be a Thursday night but then we already celebrate Rosh HaShana. 

A real challenge every year anew, as the Selichot are usually said after midnight or early in the morning at about 4am. There is no other way and I have to find some time, as we have no more Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and his justifications (for every fellow Jew) before G - d around.:-)

The IDRA RABBAH CAVE between Safed and Meron


About ten days ago I participated in a "Meditation Seminary" organized by Chabad (Lubavitch). The location of the three - day course was the hostel "Ascent" in Safed.  Rabbi Shmuel Gavriel Tornek taught us some basic practices about Jewish meditation.

We didn't only spent our classes indoors but also went on two trips: One to the "IDRA RABBAH CAVE" where we meditated over a prayer. Our second trip took us to the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to Meron. 

It is said that the IDRA RABBAH was discovered by the medieval Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, 1534 - 1572. According to him, already Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, his son, Rabbi Elazar, as well as further Talmudic Rabbis had meditated in this cave.

The roof of the "Idra Rabbah Cave". As soon as you enter, you will see the original roof !

A list of those Talmudic Rabbis who used to meditate / pray in the cave.

Our meditation group in front of the entrance to the cave. 
Center: Chabad Rabbi Eli Naiditch.

Our group meditating with Rabbi Tornek.

I still have no idea whose graves can be found inside the cave.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Picture of the Day

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Friday, August 27, 2010

Shabbat Shalom

Banana plants near Tiberias

Photo: Miriam Woelke


A rather strange night in Tel Aviv and once in a while, people actually should go out and see what is going on in different neighbourhoods. I have been to south Tel Aviv. In the pit with African and workers from the Philippines. Plenty of Africans sleep at the Levinsky Park across the Central Bus Station. Now I am moving on to the more positive side of Tel Aviv at night !

Tomorrow I am going to return to Jerusalem and then I definitely need some rest from society.:-)

"Shabbat Shalom - Gut Schabbes" to all readers !

Thursday, August 26, 2010

At the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron


I was in Meron last Friday and I consider this trip as a highlight of the meditation class at the Chabad Hostel "Ascent" in Safed. In the morning we first went to the "Idra Rabbah Cave" where we meditated. Afterwards, the bus took us to Meron to the Kever of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

I hope to get my photos soon out of my broken cellphone, as I made great pictures of these two places !

Jews praying at the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

18th Elul - Birthday of the Baal Shem Tov


This upcoming Shabbat, Parashat Ki Tavo, 18th Elul, we are celebrating the birthday of the chassidic master BAAL SHEM TOV.

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov didn't introduce anything new to the Jewish world because Chassidism had already existed for hundreds if not thousands of years. What the Baal Shem Tov (the BESHT) did was reintroducing the ideology of serving G - d with joy or reaching a special closeness to the Creator.

The BESHT was born on 18th Elul (27th August 1698 or in 1700) in Okopy / Eastern Europe. He died on Shavuot of the year 1760 in Medziborz.

Here are some of his teachings regarding the Jewish people:

- Israel (the Jews) are like the stars: both appear tiny but are actually very big.

- The world could not exist without Jews and their Torah. G - tt created our universe in a certain way and Jews have the task of causing a Tikun Olam (soul rectification of the entire world).

- Three times, the Besht left for Israel and three times, something went wrong. Just a coincidence or a spiritual sign that he wasn't supposed to get to Eretz Israel ?


The present Baal Shem Tov Exhibition at the Jewish National Library in Jerusalem

Ma'arat HaMachpelah open 24 hours


The Ma'arat HaMachpelah (gravesite of the Jewish forefathers and mothers Avraham, Sarah, Yaakov, Leah, Yitzchak, Rivka as well as Adam HaRishon and Chava) in Hebron will be open 24 hours during the Aseret Yamei Teshuva between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. However, I am not sure whether the Olam Yitzchak is included because usually it is only open to Jews on Chol HaMoed Pessach and Sukkot. Otherwise the Arabs occupy it.

This is the first time that the Machpelah is open 24 hours a day. The reason is that thousands of Jews are especially coming during those ten days. Including many Jews from abroad.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Chabad Shaliach in Rehavia (Jerusalem) or How a new Shaliach is setting up his Center


Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg is the new Chabad Shaliach of Jerusalem's neighbourhood Rehavia. When I heard this news I thought that it would be an interesting subject writing about "How a Chabad House is actually established ?" How a new Shaliach is being chosen for the job, how he finds a location and everything else around. So, I met Rabbi Goldberg who is more than energetic. The father of five children is full of plans. As soon as a location is found, a Synagogue will be established. Rabbi Goldberg already has a Torah scroll ready for use. Shiurim (classes) will be given and during Sukkot, a huge celebration is going to take place. Probably at the Independence Park (Jerusalem).
The Rabbi's main concern is, however, trying to make a connection to each individual. Whoever has an issue or any question may come and ask him.

Rabbi Goldberg told me some details about "How a Shaliach is actually chosen today":

Every Chabad Shaliach basically chooses his place. Wherever he feels comfortable. As soon the potential Shaliach has made up his mind about a certain location in the world, he contacts the head shaliach of this particular country and then the decision is made.
When the seventh and last Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson was still alive, he usually gave a blessing to the new Shaliach. In case the Shaliach had a few places and couldn't make up his mind which one to choose, he went to the Rebbe for advice. Today, however, some Shlichim go to the grave of the Rebbe. They don't really get a blessing in the literal sense but they hope that somehow the Rebbe may have a positive influence.

Once a new Shaliach has made up his mind he comes to the new country and starts setting up a Chabad Center on his own. Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg stressed that it also depends on the Shaliach's wife because she has to like the place, as a Shaliach remains in his position for the rest of his life.

Every Shaliach is responsible for the finances of HIS own center and no one from Crown Heights is going to help him with that. The Shlichim depend on donations. When I mentioned to Rabbi Goldberg that this must be hard job (collecting donations), as there are hundreds of Shlichim he said that everyone has to build his own connections and one needs a special look for where one gets the money from.

Many Jews living in Jerusalem are looking for a firm community / Synagogue. I myself like doing Shul Shopping but there are times when I get tired of it. Although I am not Chabad I will look into the new center (when established). Why not ? Unfortunately Chabad is, besides Breslov, the only Chassidut where there are chassidic classes for every Jew. However, I do admit that Chabad is basically teaching itself (besides the Baal Shem Tov, the Zohar, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria and the Mezritcher Maggid).

I will stay in touch with Rabbi Goldberg and let you know what is happening.
If you have a question or would like to be on the Rabbi's mailing list:


Why Torah, Talmud and Kabbalah ?


With its Mitzvot (Commandments), the Torah answers the question WHAT we should do. The Talmud tells us HOW, and the Kabbalah tells us WHY we should observe the Mitzvot and how they affect the purpose of our lives.



"Song of the Soul"
by Rabbi Yechiel Bar - Lev

Picture of the Day

More Photos from Safed

Safed is a town located in the Galilee.
The above and below photos show the view from our Chabad - Hostel "Ascent". Right across, in the mountains, is the village of MERON where Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is buried.

I had gone to Safed with a friend and we got the "great" idea to explore the new city. We were looking for a shopping mall and asked a local bus driver where to go. He just stared at me but finally we found a bus. We got off at what looked like a mall but found out that Safed has nothing like that. Just buildings with several shops. Eventually we ended up in a supermarket buying some food and eating on the grass across (see photo above).

One of Safed's only shopping streets: "Jerusalem Street".

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Avrum Ehrlich's Research in Chabad (Lubavitch)


Neither am I a Chabadnikit nor against Chabad. However, when I write about different chassidic groups, I try to reflect the pros & cons. The same with Chabad where there is a huge controversy only concerning the messianic issue. 

Some time ago I read Avrum Ehrlich's book "The Messiah from Brooklyn" and found it quite interesting. Not only too one - sided as David Berger's books. Now I started reading Ehrlich's second book "Leadership in the Chabad Movement" and I found his website
Despite the books about Chabad I find Avrum Ehrlich's private profile rather disturbing: He studied in the national religious Yeshiva of Alon Shvut. A rather very open - minded religious settlement not too far away from Jerusalem. Sorry, but I cannot help it when I consider national religious Jews as not competent enough writing about the haredi / chassidic world. Furthermore it says in Ehrlich's profile that he studied at the Hartmann Institute in Jerusalem and this is even worse, as the Hartmann Institute is partially financed by Christians. 

Nevertheless, his books about Chabad seem to be well written and Avrum Ehrlich obviously invested plenty of time in his research. The question is: How much can you believe an author with such a background ?

Has anyone an answer available ? 

Eli Yishai versus Foreign Worker Children


The Israeli Minister of the Interior, Eli Yishai, is justifying his decision of deporting many children of Israel's foreign workers. I totally support Yishai and anyone who is so much in favour of the foreign workers should consider a few more issues and especially look into the future:

1. In case they and their kids stay and receive citizenship:
Thousands of foreign workers will then be on the dole.

2. What Israel gets is mainly uneducated people.

3. In case they receive citizenship:
Thousands of foreign workers will then ask their families to follow them to Israel. Our country will be flooded with people who have absolutely no busienss in Israel.

4. Just because the foreign worker children grow up speaking Hebrew doesn't make them to Israelis ! Israel's foreign workers have NO intention whatsoever integrating into society let alone convert to Judaism. All they are looking for is a better economical life in order to escape poverty in Africa, Thailand, China, Russia or the Philippines.

5. Importing more and more Gentiles is a spiritual danger to the State of Israel !

6. Those who are still in favour:
Why don't you move to south Tel Aviv or adopt a foreign worker into YOUR home ? Not only talking in favour of them but actually do something and accept them into YOUR own neighbourhood !

Further Links:

Daily Life in South Tel Aviv

Foreign Workers stream into Israel

Photos from the Ashkenazi ARI Synagogue in Safed


Many more pictures will hopefully follow !

There are two Synagogues of the famous Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (known as the ARI) in Safed: One is Sephardi and one is Ashkenazi.

Here are two photos from the Ashkenazi ARI Synagogue located in the Old City of Safed (Northern Israel).

The ten Sefirot

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Chabad Meshichistim dancing in Safed


Last Mozzaei Shabbat, we saw at least 50 Chabad Meshichistim dancing with their yellow Meshiach flags in the Old City of Safed.
Especially Safed is quite full with those Meshichistim.


Not all Chabadnikim believe that the seventh and last Lubavitcher Rebbe (died in June 1994) is the Meshiach ! One should be careful only to look at one side.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Jewish Meditation with Chabad


There are different approaches in Jewish meditation. Breslov, for instance, has a different system than Chabad, as Breslov is meditating on G - d's names or even objects. Chabad, however, prefers meditating on Torah concepts.

I am still in Safed. One more day, as our Ascent programme added an additional free day for the meditation programme participants. The weather is really boiling hot but I am enjoying myself with a friend. We are having more classes, Ask the Rabbi with water melon, beer and ice - cream.
Further this evening, we are going to have a barbecue.

This morning we learnt a special approach to prayer. As we all know it is of extreme importance building up a connection to G - d and reach a way of Devekut (concentration) or even a union. In order to reach all this, we ma study a Torah concept first in order to clear our thoughts and only afterwards go over into prayer.

I think that this is a nice way of getting into the mood and reaching a level of concentration. Nevertheless, the question is how much time we are able to invest in prayer. I know that we shouldn't consider this question but somehow we always o. At least at different times during the week when we are busy.

Rabbi Shmuel Gavriel Tornik gave us some meditation insights at our seminar in Safed:

Meron - Safed


At the grave of the Talmudic and Kabbalistic Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron as well as the town of Safed nearby:

This is where we are spending our meditative course. A great experience !

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Still in Safed


A SHAVUA TOV - A GREAT WEEK to everyone from Safed. I am still here, still alive (from Chabad) and finally relaxed after all those weeks of endless work. Enjoying myself very much and just listening to a rather Baal Shem Tov story. However, this depends on the storyteller and not on the Baal Shem Tov.:-)))

Going back to Jerusalem tomorrow afternoon in order to join the new week's ratrace.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Shabbat Shalom

Old City in Safed (Northern Israel)

Photo: Miriam Woelke


A short "Shabbat Shalom" to all of you !

Yesterday I went with a friend a the way of to Safed in order to participate in a three - day meditation programme organized by Chabad. So far, we have been really enjoiying ourselves and it gives me lots of material to write about.

Only this morning, we have been to the IDRA RABBAH CAVE or Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai as well as to Rabbii Shimons grave in Meron !

Staying in Safed until Sunday afternoon and then returning to Jerusalem.

Enjoy your Shabbat wherever you are !

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Famous Cemetery in Safed


The famous cemetery in the Old City of Safed. Especially many medieval Kabbalists are buried there: For instance - Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Rabbi Moshe Alshich, Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz or Rabbi Joseph Karo.

In order to get to the cemetery, you climb all the way down !

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Parashat Ki Tetze


How far to I have to close my eyes in order not to be confronted too much with my own Yetzer HaRah (negative side in each of us) ?

This week's Parashat "Ki Tetze" tells us about a Jewish soldier falling in love with a Gentile female prisoner of war. A Jewish soldier is going out to war, sees a Gentile woman and decides to marry her. Moreover, the Torah is trying to make everyone aware of the occuring problems afterwards.

"Going out to War" means following one's Yetzer HaRah (evil side within us) claim the Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the Baal Shem Tov and further chassidic Rabbis. We should prepare ourselves for not falling into the pit.
First we have the honest desire of not following our Yetzer but then we see something and try to convince ourselves that it would be so bad. Suddenly you get any excuses of this world into your mind and then weakness comes.
Maybe I try just once and I won't do it again. Promise !
My neighbour is doing it as well, by the way, and haven't I seen the Rabbi doing something last week ? If he can do it, I can do something.
No, I won't do it again. Only this time because this is an exception and it has to be.

Closing our eyes and just passing on without looking ?
Some succeed, some don't.
But before you really really succeed, this tiny little thought is entering your mind asking whether you won't miss something when you don't do this and that. Maybe later regretting that you didn't do it because it wouldn't have been that bad anyway.

Maybe it is not really against Halacha or the Torah ? Couldn't that be ?
Or there is a Machloket about it. Or only the Sepharadim keep it so strict.

In case you have all the listed thoughts, I have bad news for you:
You are human and not a perfect being at all.

Closing one's eyes doesn't always help but what you have to do is starting a "let go" process in your mind and behaviour. Only with a strong will of changing for the better you overcome your Yetzer HaRah.

And if you get weak, then avoid depression and start all over again.

Jewish Meditation, Part 1


When Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan wrote his book on "Jewish Meditation", the entire subject may have not yet been as popular as today. In our days, thousands of Jews are on the search for a more spiritual meaning in life. As I once learnt, every Jew has her / his own soul root. Thus many Jews are more interested in mystical subjects than others who rather prefer studying Halachot or Mussar. Each of us has a very different approach to Judaism including his individual task in life.

Meditation is already mentioned in the Talmud (Masechet Berachot) where it says that we should meditate before we actually pray. Getting into a certain mood and thus rid of our disturbing thoughts during prayer.

However, meditation is not meditation; meaning a Jew should practise JEWISH meditation and no strange variety of idol - worship meditation of other religions. The thing with Jewish meditation is that we have to learn it first and just do not sit down and run right into it.

From the book "Jewish Meditation" of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan:

One of the first steps in meditation is learning how not to take our thoughts for granted. A simple exercise will demonstrate how difficult it is to control your thoughts.

This is the exercise: STOP THINKING !

Try to blank your mind for a few minutes and not think of anything at all. Sound easy ?

How long did you succeed in stopping your thoughts ?
A few seconds ? It is extremely difficult to turn off thought.

There is another way in which you can try to control your mind. Close your eyes and you will probably see flashes and lights. Give yourself a few moments to relax, and these flashing lights will subside and develop into a series of kaleidoscopic images in the mind's eye.

Now, with your eyes closed try to control these images. Try to depict the letter A in your mind's eye. Without any further practise, it is impossible to hold on to this image. This technique can be perfected only through extensive training.

Bar Mitzvah in Belz with Satmar Guests


Yesterday I reported about a Bar Mitzvah in Belz celebrated in the wealthy Belz family Brisk. Brisk is their family name but they are Belzer Chassidim.

An Israel haredi forum asked the question concerning the relationship between Belz and Satmar and why the Satmarer came to the Belzer Bar Mitzvah. I spoke to a Belzer Chassid and the answer is very simple:

The visit has nothing to do with war or peace but the wealthy Brisk family has business relations with the Satmarers visiting. This is the reason why the Satmarer showed up.

Very simple but people in the forum are making a fuss about nothing !

Pictures from Safed


There are four holy cities in Israel:

1. Jerusalem, 2. Hebron, 3. Tiberias, 4. Safed



Small Synagogue (Klois) of Chassidut ZANZ.

Small Synagogue (Klois) of Chassidut Makarav.

Kikar HaMegidim - Megidim Square: Popular meeting point for some religious hippies and others.

 Shiur (lecture) at the Chabad Hostel "Ascent"

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi on "Wearing a Kipa"


The Chabad founder Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745 - 1813) wrote the following interpretation on "Why wearing a Kipa (Yarmulka)" in his interpretation of the "Shulchan Aruch - Code of Jewish Law":

The head is part of the body. The body is usually covered by Jews, and therefore uncovering the head is revealing one's nakedness before G - d.

However, a general custom is that all kinds of Chassidim not only pray while wearing a Kipa, but in addition to that, a Tallit or a hat.



"The Encyclopedia of Hasidism"
by Tzvi M. Rabinowicz