Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Picture of the Day

Tiberias (Tveryia) in northern Israel.

Photo: Miriam Woelke



The Sefat Emet (a previous Gerrer Rebbe Yehudah Aryeh Alter) is providing us with a few Chanukkah insights:

Generally speaking, Chanukkah is seen as a time of renewal. When the Jews fought the idol - worshipping Greeks, "Klal Israel - all Jews" found a closer connection to its / their national ties. The miracle of the Menorah was a demonstration of G - d's pleasure and a rededication of the Second Temple.

Every individual Jew perceiving the Chanukkah miracle enjoys the annual opportunity to start fresh, to begin anew. The Second Temple was defiled but a miracle happened. So, too, every Jew, no matter how much he has gone astray, can return to his heritage every Chanukkah.

The light of Torah is unable to fully penetrate certain souls even on Shabbat. These Jews who are not inspired by the weekly Shabbat are spiritually moved by the yearly observance of Chanukkah. A certain spark, an inner purity, always remains burning bright in the heart of every Jew. This spark, knows as the "Nekudah HaPnimit", constrained all year from permeating the Jewish psyche, is liberated on Chanukkah through the power of "Hallel veHoda'ah", praise and gratitude for the miracles that occurred at this time.

The same progress of renewal and growth that occurred at the time of the Chanukkah miracle will also occur prior to Meshiach's arrival. Certainly, Meshiach's arrival will hasten this progress. Despite our shortcomings, when the Final redemption (Ge'ulah) will occur, a radical transformation will take place. Meaning, we will gain spiritual perfection.

Chanukkah also serves as an ideal occasion to teach once again the need for conscientious observance of the Mitzvot. The previous generation, heavenly influenced by Hellenistic values, had become lax in its commitment.

By observing Chanukkah, Israel not only prepares for Meshiach's arrival, but also for the festivals associated with that era. The Midrash (Yalkut Yeshayahu) relates that during the messianic era, the Jews will visit the Third Temple very Rosh Chodesh (beginning of the new Jewish month). In preparation for these future festivals, G - d initiated the contemporary holiday of Chanukkah.


"Days of Joy"
Ideas and Insights of the
Sefat Emet on Chanukkah and Purim

Author: Rabbi Yosef Stern

Chanukkah Insights

Chanukkiot in the Old City of Jerusalem.


Thursday, Dec. 2, or 25th Kislev, is already the first day of Chanukkah. Chanukkah lasts for eight days and is the only holiday where the event took actually place in Israel. Especially in Jerusalem and in the Beit HaMikdash. It is a rabbinic holiday stipulated by the Sanhedrin. For the first time, Chanukkah was already celebrated one year after the Greeks were thrown out of the Temple.


Chanukkah is a Jewish holiday although other religions such as Christianity like to steal Jewish holidays and claim them as their own. The Chashmonaim (Maccabim) were Cohanim and fought against idol worship in Israel. They fought for Judaism and the Jewish people and if they knew today how other religions use their ideas for their own selfish purposes, the Chashmonaim would turn around in their graves. Xmas and Chanukkah have nothing whatsoever in common and whoever tries to connect them kicks the ideals of the Chashmonaim with his feet.

I am not mentioning the whole Chanukkah - history but I would like to give some insights instead.

The goal of the Greek - Syrian occupation was to destroy the Jewish religion. Studying Torah, keeping Shabbat and Brit Milah (circumcision) was forbidden according to the law.
In 165 B.C.E., the Chashmonaim won the war against the Greek idol worshipers and brought back the spirituality to the Jewish people. The Greeks concentrated on materialism and the beauty of the body whereas the Jews wanted to keep their religion. It was not only a physical war but also a spiritual. The Neshama fought against materialism.

The real miracle of Chanukkah is not the military actions of the Maccabim but the burning of the Menorah for eight days (see Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Apta in his book "Ohev Israel", the Sefat Emet and many others). After the Maccabim reconquered the Temple, they only found one tiny bottle of kosher olive oil which hadn't been used for idol worship. With this amount, the Menorah was only to burn for one day but miracoulesly the oil lasted for eight days. In that time, the Jews were able to produce more kosher olive oil.

In Kabbalah and Chassidut, the eight days of Chanukkah and the miracle are timeless. For G - d, time does not exist because He is infinite. Time only exists for us and is implanted in our DNA. The upper (higher) spiritual worlds of G - d do not know time. There, past, present and future coexist and all three times happen together. Therefore, Chanukkah is timeless.

But why miracle ? What exactly is a miracle ?

For us a miracle is always something supernatural. Something is happening against nature and we are unable to explain it with our human understanding. We have no logical explanation for it.
But not everything which seems to be a miracle is really a miracle. G - d is always able to change nature and at the time of the Chashmonaim He did. Thus, the Temple Menorah burnt for eight days instead of one.

Chassidut sees the Chanukkah candles as Jewish Neshamot (souls). The light itself is considered to be the "Or HaGanuz - the Hidden Light" which G - d created on the very first day of Creation. This hidden light will only be back in the time of Meschiach (see Bnei Yissachar and others). The eight days are a spiritual journey of body and soul. Food, candles and the history represent body and meditation; joy, warmth and light represent the soul.

The light of Chanukkah has the power to reach every single Jew, no matter how far he is from his Jewish roots. His soul (Neshama) still contains the spark which enables him to connect directly to G - d (Rabbi Shmuel Bozorowsky, the present Admor of Chassidut Slonim in Jerusalem). This spark always remains with a Jew, even after his death. At the time of the resurrection, the spark will come to life again (Bnei Yissachar).

The Sefat Emet (one of the previous Rebbes of Chassidut Gur) considers each Chanukkah as a spiritual renewal. Especially for the Jews in the Diaspora. The Chanukkah light reminds them of their Jewish identity and, at the same time, of the difficulties of living in the Diaspora. The war of the Maccabim shows us that we should never give up hope because we Jews have the spiritual power to change everything. G - d can change nature any time and bring us the Ge'ulah.

Have a great and spiritual Chanukkah wherever you are - Chanukkah Sameach from Tiberias.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Writing a Biography


So, here I am writing a book about a person I have never met in my life. In fact, I have only found out about the person approximately two months ago. The person is female and used to be quite well - known 50, 60 years ago. After she retired and became ill, no one seemed to have cared too much about her. Once you are not famous anymore but sitting in an old age home without children or any other family members, you may be lonely. Lonely and start thinking about your life. What you have accomplished or thought you did. However, suddenly you realize that all the former fame was just artificial and vanished. Then it is time to bring out your true personality and start dealing with life how it is.

Someone told me recently that I have no idea what an elderly person sitting in an old age home thinks about life. Maybe they don't regret their actions and don't see their former fame as a wasted time in life. They know that those days are over but are now ready to start something new, something more meaningful and spiritual.

Seems like I have to learn a lot. They main issue at the moment is doing research, and this research is a lot of fun. Putting together a puzzle. Slowly, slowly and layer by layer although some people tell me that all witnesses are dead and therefore I won't find anything.
The very interesting point is that the topic makes you think about your own life.

The Oracle of Delphi


Rabbi Yitzchak Ginzburgh states in his book "Turning Darkness into Light" that secular Jews define their goal in life like this:

"Find yourself" or "I have to find myself, know who I am and then I will find constant pleasure".

The Rabbi explains that the words "Find yourself" were actually engraved in the hall of the famous ancient Greek "Oracle of Delphi".

The Jewish way of life was defined by David HaMelech (King David) when he spoke to his son Shlomo (Salomon) shortly before he died:

"Know your G - d, your father, and serve Him with all your heart and soul".

Know in front of whom you are standing !

All of us were created by G - d and each of us has his specific mission in life only he is able to fulfill. However, our common main goal in life is to be aware of G - d. To know that there is a creator. ONE eternal G - d ruling the entire universe. Every human being should be aware of the infinite presence of G - d.

I always have problems when I read that we should mostly forget about our needs and desires but serve G - d. There is no question that there is a G - d but, without being too selfish (hopefully) each one of us has a personality. Not everyone can just jump into the Mitzvot and nullify himself (Self - nullification is a Chabad concept mentioned in the Book of Tanya).

Am I already selfish when I still want to find out who I am and how I can be happy with myself ?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

No Redemption Day


I was invited by Chabad Tiberias to come to the Mitzveh meal last night. Chabad was celebrating another "Redemption Day" after the one ten days ago (9th Kislev). This time, on 19th Kislev, Chabad founder and first Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi was released from the Russian jail. This anniversary was celebrated with a special "Mitzveh Meal" but I preferred watching a reality show on TV. In fact, Israelis are great fans of reality shows and last night, when the final of "Master Chef" was broadcasted, almost the entire country was watching.

However, I went to the Chabad Synagogue yesterday morning and a Rabbi gave a Drasha. He compared Parashat Vayeshev with the 19 Kislev when Rabbi Shneur Zalman got out of prison. Where is the connection between those two days ?
The Rabbis answered: Yaakov moved around in different countries and spread his ideas and so did Rabbi Shneur Zalman when he spread Chassidut.

The Tiberias Chabad Synagogue is part of the Chabad House in Rashi Street and not to big. The women have a small Ezrat Nashim and the Mechitzah was irritating. A small window with a curtain in front of it. I could hardly see anything and the Chazan was more praying to himself. It wasn't that bad but I will keep on looking to find something else.

Ruth Blau - רות בלויא, Part 1


Ruth Blau (Bloi) was the second wife of the formerly well - known head of Jerusalem's Neturei Karta, Rabbi Amram Blau. Most facts about the two are already known but now I got hold of Ruth's autobiography published in 1979 (in Hebrew). The French original version of the book is called "Les Guardiens de la Cite" and the Hebrew translation is named "Shomrei Ha'Ir - שומרי העיר".

Ruth Blau, formerly Madeleine Ferraille, was born into a French Catholic family. In her book she claims that she didn't have such a great happy childhood due to some quarrels between her parents. Alreday at an early age she promised herself not to depend on a potential future husband but make decisions on her own.

Her family was Catholic but her mother was absolutely anti - religion despite that she admitted that there must be a G - d. But if so, then only ONE and not a trinity. Ruth, on the other hand, believed in G - d and felt the urge to pray. At the age of three, she and her parents moved from Calais to Paris where they lived in a tiny little apartment in Rue De Kant. Her parents slept in one room and Ruth slept on a couch in another room. Besides the two tiny rooms, they only had a kitchen.

Her father hated the Christian "Meshiach" Joshke and once Ruth asked a priest how G - d could have come down into a human being when He is probably spiritual and eternal. She says in her book that she doesn't remember the priest's answer but that he got really angry at her. Ruth (then still MADELEINE) got many doubts about what the church is telling her to believe. For instance, she found it extremely disgusting that her Catholic community used to kiss various Christian statues.

She read Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and started learning German. Jews who had escaped Hitler Germany and fled to France became her teachers. They also told her how the Jews suffered in Germany.

In late summer 1937, she met her first husband who was then only 19 years old. She describes him as a quiet man who grew up as an orphan. They married in September 1939. The Second World War begun and Ruth's husband joined the French army. She bore her son Claude but describes her marriage as not a happy one. On September 5, 1942, she filed for divorce. Afterwards she signed up at the University of Toulouse and started studying geography as well as history. She got her degree in 1943 and started to work as a school teacher. However, she still continued the university and studying geology. She said that her extreme passion for science happened in order to stop her hunger for answers. Answers to her questions about G - d the the entire being.

In 1947 she and her son Claude moved to Geneva. In order to make a living, Ruth sold insurances at night and kept on studying for her PhD. during the day.

To me it looks like Ruth (Madeleine) was always searching for something. For answers, for things she didn't even know she was looking for.

I will anxiously continue reading her biography but I am wondering already how such an educated woman fit into the Mea Shearim backyard "Batei Ungarin".


The secret life of Ruth Blau

Notes on a Scandal by the Failed Messiah

I do not agree to all facts and reasons the Failed Messiah is listing ! In fact, there are further reasons involved why Rabbi Blau davka married the French convert Ruth Ben David. Why a convert at all and not a born Jewish woman ?
Furthermore Ruth Blau writes in her biography "Shomrei Ha'Ir" that she filed the divorce from her first husband on September 5, 1942.

Israel's Left and its propaganda machinery against the own Country

Source: Latma

Friday, November 26, 2010

Shabbat Shalom


I met the Tiberias Chabad Shaliach a few days ago, and he was convinced that I was meant to me him. Call it "Divine Providence". 
Well, I have nothing against it because, so far, I haven't really done too much in Tiberias in a frum community sense. I have friends in Zfat and mostly stayed there over Shabbat but this is a mistake when you want to get settled about 40km down south in Tiberias. 

Of course, the Shaliach invited me for Shabbat. Who would be surprised when it is a Chabad Shaliach.:-) He also told me that the Chabad communities in Tiberias is much smaller than its counterpart in Zfat. About twenty families have settled here and their main center is in Rashi Street. Further chassidic groups keep on buying real estate. Vishnitz, the Kaliver Rebbe has a house here and the Toldot Aharon may be not too far away anymore.

Yesterday I went to the famous Tiberias cemetery (photos will follow a little later). Many great chassidic Rabbis are buried there. Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, Rabbi Chaim Abulafia, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk and plenty students of the Baal Shem Tov. In order to get the best pictures, I used the male alleyway to the graves of the Baal Shem Tov students. An alleyway with a Mechitzah (gender separation fence) is leading into this particular section of the cemetery. About twenty minutes after I had left the male section, a prominent Rabbi with a Yeruslami hat showed up with his three or four followers. I was lucky they hadn't caught me in using the male alleyway.:-))))  

"Shabbat Shalom - Gut Schabbes" to everyone !

Photos from the DONA GRACIA FESTIVAL in Tiberias


Honestly, I was expecting a little more from the DONA GRACIA FESTIVAL taking place in in Tiberias last week. The Dona Gracia Hotel was the organizer of the festival to remember the great woman Dona Gracia and her 500th birthday. However, most events actually took place at the hotel itself and many Tiberias inhabitants didn't even know about the festival.

The festival began on November 15, 2010, and mostly consisted of music performances. Concerts and some short trips but nor for free. On November 16, the concerts taking place at the promenade of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) were for free and hundreds of spectators came. I doubt that all of them had a deeper knowledge about who Dona Gracia actually was but the people enjoyed the performances. I have to admit that I didn't like them too much. Too commercialized and the female singers appeared to be dressed immodestly. This reason alone let the religious population stay a way. A real pity !

The only people performing in a natural Dona Gracia way where some youngsters dressed in medieval clothes. I asked them for a group photo and two other teenager joined (see bottom picture).

Maybe I expected too much but I would have preferred theatre plays in the streets, as Jerusalem sometimes does during Sukkot. Two or three actors stand at a corner and just perform a small dialogue dressed in the clothes the Jews used to wear during Temple times.

I will continue writing about Dona Gracia and her life in a more detailed way !

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Photos from Kiryat Shmona

The Theatre


Two weeks ago I went on a trip to the northern Israeli town KIRYAT SHMONA. Only a few kilometers separate Kiryat Shmona from the border to Lebanon and the town has become well - known due to the Hizbollah rocket attacks.

Many Israelis may consider Kiryat Shmona as a village and boring but two weeks ago, I got to know it from a very different side. Shopping malls, a nice market, cultural places, industrial areas and malls again. I would rather call Kiryat Shmona the "Tel Aviv of the North".

The Mall 

The local market.

One of the bomb shelters.
Whenever the Lebanese terror group Hizbollah is in a freaky mood, Katyusha rockets are falling on Kiryat Shmona.

Photos & Copyright: Miriam Woelke

Yud Tet Kislev - יט כסלו


19th Kislev (Yud Tet Kislev) is not only a celebration day in Chabad but also in Chassidut Toldot Aharon. On 19 Kislev, the Toldot Aharon are going to have their annual meeting in order to sign the TAKANOT (internal laws). Rebbe David Kahn is giving a Drasha and Chizuk (strengthening) and then each members is signing the Takanot (existing ones + new additions).

However, I don't know about this year's procedure because 19 Kislev comes out on Friday. I just know about Chabad where most Farbrengen are going to take place this Mozzaei Shabbat.

What are the Chabanikim going to celebrate on 19 Kislev ?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Are you Religious ?


The question "Are you Religious ?" seems to have different meanings in Israel. 
Secular Jews normally refer to me as frum because in their opinion, a Jew who knows quite a bit about his own religion must be frum. No way that someone knows some Torah, Talmud and Chassidut; about the Rebbes and chassidic content without being religious.

For Haredim I am not religious at all because I simply don't look like it. Pants, T - shirts, sneakers or Crocs. Does any "anstaendige" (modest) Chassida dress this way ? No, and therefore, I must be totally secular. However, as soon as I start talking, Haredim start showing their surprise: A Chiloini (secular) knowing Chassidut ?

Just a short while ago, a secular Jew asked me "Are you Religious ?"
I said that I consider myself religious but sometimes I am not.
"And how about you", I asked back.
"I don't know anymore what I am", he responded and told me that he was confused by a variety of teachings. "Sometimes he just couldn't believe all those stories and Midrashim. How people know that this is true ?"

Almost every day I see some Breslover standing somewhere and handing out the little Tikun prayer for your soul rectification. In case they hand me one over, I usually respond that I have done so many Tikunim and nothing ever made me really really frum. The only question is whether every Jew has to be totally frum ? 

The Miracle of the Oil


Regarding Chanukkah, the Talmud speaks of the miracle of the oil. We celebrate the oil because it was G - d's means of showing us what we would otherwise not have known - that it was He who delivered the strong, many, and wanton into the hands of those who were weak and few but who fought for the sake of G - d's Torah.

This year, we are going to celebrate the first day of Chanukkah on December 2.



Publisher: Artscroll Mesorah Publications Ltd.
Written by
Rabbi Hersh Goldwurm
Rabbi Me'ir Zlotowitz
Rabbi Nosson Scherman

Toldot Aharon Events in Kislev 5771


The Toldot Aharon Rebbe David Kahn is always on the run. Traveling, collecting donations for his Mosdot but also marrying off his children and grandchildren.

Here is a short video showing the TA Rebbe talking to the Satmarer Rebbe Zalman Leib Teitelbaum.
(Yes, there is also Rebbe Aharon Teitelbaum and I am not going into the dispute right now.:-)))

The second video shows a Toldot Aharon Rebbe at a TA - Melitz wedding celebration. However, I don't know who in the Toldot Aharon got married to whom in Melitz.

Remark: Chassidut Melitz is an offspring of the Ropshitz Dynasty !

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Chaim Amsellem" - SHAS' enfant terrible is a voice of haredi sanity


Photo: Knesset

Not only the LIKUD has its rebels but also the Sephardi haredi SHASS party under its spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef and its head, the Minister of the Interior, Eli Yishai. For quite a while not, the SHASS Knesset member Chaim Amsellem has been criticizing its party. Among many other issues, he claims that Haredim who do not really study Torah and are basically hanging around and killing time should move their "behind" to work. It cannot be that so many Haredim are not even studying Torah but spending their days with waiting for the welfare to pay them. Furthermore, Chaim Amsellem criticizes the haredi education system. Haredim should get an education and use their brain and not sit around like a dummy.

SHASS members close to Rabbi Yosef said that the Rabbi was crying yesterday, when he heard about the claims of Chaim Amsellem. SHASS wants the rebel to resign but Amsellem refuses and is even thinking about founding his own party.

I do have to admit that Amsellem has made many good points and I have heard him several times on a haredi radio channel. I have seen too many young Haredim just hanging around not knowing how to spend their day. Only the day before yesterday, I saw a young Haredi at the municipality library in Tiberias sitting on a chair and reading through secular novels. 

Read about the SHASS scandal in HAARETZ !

Landscape in the Jordan Valley

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Cactus fruits (Sabras) in Israel

Photos: Miriam Woelke

In Jerusalem


I am in Jerusalem at the moment taking care of the bureaucracy regarding my separation leave from the bakery. I am going a write a longer article about Israeli laws and what kind of rights do you have when you quit a job. However, one thing I can tell you for sure: Insurance agents are rip offs if not criminals.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Shimon bar Yochai Niggun

Has the Jerusalem HERITAGE HOUSE WiFi ?


One blog reader was looking for an answer to the following question:

Does the Jewish hostel "Heritage House" in Jerusalem's Old City have WiFi access ?

The answer is NO. The women's as well as the men's Heritage House have free Internet but you either use the hostel computer or, in case you are staying at the women's hostel, you steal WiFi from the neighbours. But this only works when you sit upstairs !

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginzburgh and the Twelve Senses

Photo: Miriam Woelke


Rabbi Yitzchak Ginzburgh came to the Chabad Hostel ASCENT in Zfat (Safed) and at least two hundred people arrived in order to listen to his two lectures. One in English and the second one in Hebrew.
It was packed and when you listen to Rabbi Ginzburgh, you have to sit in one of the front rows, as he speaks very gently and not too loud.

At Ascent, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginzburgh spoke about the twelve senses of the soul. Each sense has a connection with one of the twelve Jewish months of the year. According to "Sefer Yetzirah - The Book of Creation" every Jewish month represents a human sense, a horoscope, a Hebrew letter, a colour or a biblical tribe. How does this all apply to us and how does it influence each one of us ?

The first month of the calendar is the month of NISSAN (according to certain Talmudic aspects). Nissan mostly falls into April and the sense of Nissan is SPEECH.
Speech is a form of expressiveness. The power of a king are words and thus is the tribe of Yehudah the tribe of Nissan.

Expressiveness is an expression of the soul and already the way we speak or move can be a deeper sign of our soul which we don't even realize.

Rachel, Yaakov's wife is representing the sense of speech whereas her sister Leah represents the second sense: Thought.

THOUGHT is the sense of the month of IYAR (following Nissan). The tribe of Iyar is Yissachar who was a brilliant thinker. Yissacher was a great mind, rational and his task was to calculate the Jewish calendar. The Jewish calendar is one of the greatest secrets in Judaism.

Rachel is speech and Leah is thought meaning that Leah acted in an analytic way whereas Rachel was more intuitive. There is nothing wrong with being more analytic than intuitive or vice versa.

How do we know that Leah was into thought ?
She knew way before that she was supposed to marry Esav and she cried because she had heard that he was an evil fellow. Rachel, however, didn't worry. Not because she was destined to marry the younger brother and Zaddik Yaakov. But what Rachel did was thinking that everything will be fine. G - d is going to take care of everything, He is in charge and thus we don't have to worry. Intuition comes from the right side of the brain and stands for "Chochmah - Wisdom". Intuitive people fit into art jobs.

Leah stands for thought and rational thinking. She is the mother of spirituality and meditation. Her analytic thinking comes from the left side of the brain standing for "Bina – Understanding". Thought people make good scientists.

For instance, people say that the Babylonian Talmud is more analytic than the Talmud Yerushalmi which is intuitive.

The next month, Sivan (May / June), stands for the sense of WALKING. Never be stuck and satisfied in spirituality but go forward. A Jew can beat time.

Rabbi Ginzburgh was selling his books. The English
ones were much more expensive than his books in Hebrew. 
Photos: Miriam Woelke

Then comes the month of Tammuz (June) with its sense of SEEING. Perceiving, that what hits the eye.

The month of Av (July / August) has HEARING as its sense. People born in this month do absorb and try to integrate spiritually.

The sense of REPARATION refers to the month of ELUL (August). People born in this month repair and heal.

Tishrei, the month of Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot has TOUCH as its sense. Ephraim is its tribe and people born in this month have the intuitive essence of choice.

The month of Cheshvan (Okt. / November) has SMELL as its sense. Sensitivity and consideration to another soul.

Kislev, the month we are in now, has includes the sense of SLEEP. Stability of the soul to enter tranquility. Trust in G – d that He will take care of us.
There is a passive trust when we simply trust and there is an active trust, as the Chashmonaim showed us during Chanukkah. Trust in G – d but you actually act.

Tevet (Dec. / January) is the month of ANGER. People born in this month care, they see injustice and they act. Positive anger comes from wisdom and we see that Chanukkah is divided by two months: Kislev and Tevet. Tevet when we see injustice and fight.

Shevat, the month I was born, has as its sense EATING. The tribe is Asher and Shevat symbolizes taste, sensitivity, integration of pleasure, caring and thinking.

Last but not least, the month of Adar. LAUGHTER stands for Adar. The tribe is Naftali and we will all laugh when Meshiach comes.
May this be soon !

You can find further details on the subject on the Rabbi's website !
Furthermore his lecture is getting published on his website and on the Ascent Facebook page.

Water Show in Tiberias (Tverya)


Every night, the famous water shows at the Tiberias promenade are taking place. Hundreds of spectators are gathering in order to watch the free of charge shows. 

The pictures inside the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) are coming from a special movie projector across. There are several shows with different topics. The times are 7pm, 8pm and 9pm. Even on Erev Shabbat.

Mika Drimer and her ceramic art work


I met the Israeli artist MIKA DRIMER at her exhibition at the "Beth HaTefuzot - Diaspora Museum" in Tel Aviv during Pessach last April. What she was showing us was a set Shabbat table and everything on it was made of ceramics. Even the napkins !
However, she didn't want to tell me her secret of how she creates all her art pieces and what kind of ingredients she uses.

If you ever meet her at one of her exhibitions in Israel or abroad, it is worth seeing her art and getting an explanation from the artist.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Redemption Day and Iggeret HaKodesh

The Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) and the Golan Heights 
on the other side of the shore.

Photo: Miriam Woelke


Chassidut Chabad was celebrating "Redemption Day" on Wednesday this week. When I asked what "Rdemption Day" actually means, it took some Chabadnikim a longer time answerin my question. Some were saying that it is the birthday of Yahrzeit of the Mittlerer Rebbe (the second Lubavitcher Rebbe) and others said that the 9th of Kislev is the day when one of the Rebbes was released from the Russian prison.

The Chabad Meshichisten in Zfat (Safed) were wildly waving there yellow Meshiach flags but in Tiberias, people were very much down to earth and Chabad didn't even open its center at the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). However, the Ge'ulah and Meshiach have not yet arrived but prepare yourself for another Chabad celebration: Kislev 19th.

A Chabad woman in Zfat tried to convince me to believe in the Rebbe as Meshiach. When I quoted her the rule of the Rambam (Maimonides, 1135 - 1204) that a dead Jew cannot be Meshiach, she said that we just have to believe. "Forget about you common sense and simply believe", she said. 
No, I wont.

I also learnt that many Chabadnikim still communicate with the seventh and last Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson (passed away in June 1994). How ?
With the Iggeret HaKodesh (Iggrot HaKodesh) book. Usually it is included in the big Tanya book and it works like this: You write a question on a small piece of paper and then stick the note into a random page of the Iggeret HaKodesh. The sentence where the note is on, tells you the Rebbe's answer to your question. In case you don't understand the Passuk in the Iggeret HaKodesh, you should ask a professional advisor from Chabad.

Let us all have a great Shabbat and pray for Meshiach. We need him and it doesn't really matter whether it is the Lubavitcher Rebbe or someone else.

Scientists are researching the Dead Sea


The national religious site ARUTZ 7 brings an interesting article: Israeli scientists are drilling a 1200 meter deep hole into the Dead Sea in order to find out about the history of the lake. When we look at the Torah, we should already know about the history, as it tells us in the Parashot Lech Lecha and Vayera. 

In the days when Avraham fought the Kings who had kidnapped his nephew Lot, the Dead Sea didn't even exist. On the contrary, in the days of the war against the Kings and the wealth of Sodom and Gomorrha, the Dead Sea used to be a fruitful valley. Only after the destruction of Sodom, the valley turned into a salty sea as we know it today. 

I am excited to see whether the Torah will be proven true once again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday night in Tiberias (Tverya)


Not a drop of rain in Israel but only a burning sun. Today, Tiberias (at the Sea of Galilee / Kinneret) was suffering from humidity and 31 degrees Celsius. No rain at sight and Israel is suffering from a water shortage. The only water supply is the Sea of Galilee in the north and the lake is drying out. The above photo shows the shape of the Kinneret at the promenade and the photo below shows the main purpose of the statue: Showing the water level which is now more than 2 meters. As far as I see, the lake needs to rise at least 5 meters and not only 2. Facing the lake drying out and witnessing on a daily basis how the beaches become wider and wider, is sad and a main nature desaster. The boats nearby almost swim on the ground of the lake because some tiny harbours have hardly any water at the shore.

Rabbis ask to pray for rain in Israel but tonight, Tiberias is still warm and humid. Thursday night is party time and many people from surrounding villages and other towns visit Tiberias. Arabs, Druse and Jews. All of them sit in restaurants, look at the daily water show on the Kinneret and just enjoy themselves.
Many Jews see a huge problem in the high amount of Muslim population in the lower and upper Galilee. More Israeli Jews should move to the north, as otherwise the Arabs may take over.

Despite all the problems, it is a great pleasure being at the Kinneret at night and watching all the lights surrounding the Kinneret. Lights from distant Kibbutzim, Moshavim, Jewish as well as Druse villages. Those lights reflecting on the water of the Kinneret and in case the tourists boats don't turn their disco music on full volume, you just hear the waves. Young people like to barbecue near the promenade and others just stand at the shore and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

The water level of the Sea of Galilee shows a big Minus.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

The Toldot Aharon and the Bones at the Rashbi Kever


I read today that some Toldot Aharon Chassidim found their way to the Kever (grave) of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron and searched the surroundings of the Kever for human bones. The article on a haredi site was kept short and didn't give too many details. Only that the Toldot Aharon found out that there are actually further bones around the Rashbi grave and, as a result of this, there is a new halachic problem with Cohanim (Priests) entering the cemetery even under halachic circumstances. The Edah HaCharedit would be very upset and hold a talk about the new claims of the Toldot Aharon. This time, the Toldot Aharon seem to really go on the nerves of the Edah.

I am just asking myself how the TA found out about more bones around the Kever ? Did they come with a shovel and started digging ?

Of course, there are bones all over the Galilee, as even the Canaanites used to bury their dead around the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and in the nearby mountains. If a Cohen is so afraid and masking such a bone fuss, he shouldn't come to the Galilee.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

View from Zfat (Safed) to the Kinneret

View from the northern Israeli town of Zfat to the Sea of Galilee / Kinneret (to the left) as well as over the hills of the Galilee.

Photo: Miriam Woelke

The Dona Gracia Festival + Rabbi Yitzchak Ginzburgh


I am a little behind with my writings because I am still in the process of moving and, unfortunately, still have bureaucracy to do in Jerusalem. However, I am going to publish some Dona Gracia Festival Photos in the blog within the next days. Furthermore, I am going to write about Rabbi Yitzchak Ginzburgh's lecture in Zfat. 

When Yaakov sent Messengers


Describing the history and the customs of a chassidic group is one thing. However, within all those years dealing with haredi society I learnt one important thing:
When you want to understand a chassidic group, you have to know their teachings. Only then you are becoming aware of the ideology. It doesn't help when you know all the in - laws of the Rebbe but what you need to know is their Torah and how to internalize it.

I found an interesting Torah teaching of the DIVRE BINAH, Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Rabinowicz who died in 1905. Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov was a former Rebbe of Chassidut Biale, and the Bialer Rebben are direct descendants of the Przysucha Movement.
Not too much literature exists about the topic why the Przysucha Movement separated itself from the Chozeh (Seer) of Lublin. Nevertheless,  I found some great material and, for a long time, have been planning to write about it. Also about the Seer of Lublin itself who died in a rather precarious way and there is a claim that he committed suicide. 

Basically the, later on, Przysucha Movement split off from Lublin because Lublin had become too lofty and up in the air. Famous chassidic and maybe more down to earth groups from the Przysucha Movement are Gur (Ger) or Biale, including the Kotzker Rebbe.

The DIVRE BINAH commentated on Yaakov sending the messengers:
"When Yaakov sent messengers" (Bereshit 32:3). Rashi, quoting the Midrash Rabbah 75, states that they were real angels. Every time a man performs a Mitzvah, he creates an angel in the heavenly spheres. If, however, the Mitzvah is performed without any real Kavanah (intention, concentration), the newly angel is defective and does not survive. All the Mitzvot that Yaakov performed were perfect and wholehearted, and all his angels survived. Hence, the Midrash says, "real angels, living entities, angels who survive".


"Hasidism in Israel"
by Tzvi Rabinowicz

I just want to add a brief personal thought:

Isn't it an amazing that our Mitzvot can have an internal influence on this world ?
Nevertheless, I rather avoid thinking about the other way around.  


The ancient side of Zfat (Safed)


Zfat (Safed) in northern Israel is especially known as the town of the medieval Kabbalists. However, many people may not know that Zfat has been destroyed by different earthquakes. One of the biggest one took place in 1837. By the way, the same year when Tiberias was destroyed by an earthquake.

Jews were killed in the earthquake and many ancient buildings destroyed. Nevertheless, until today there are some ruins to see in the old city.

Photos: Miriam Woelke