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Shavua Tov!

Giant Etrog!

Wishing you a joyful Sukkot

Following on the heels of the High Holidays is Sukkot, a seven-day festival (8 days in the Diaspora) characterized by the outdoor Sukkah-huts that we sit in, and the “Four Species” of plants waved together each day.
Sukkot is a holiday of immense joy, where we express our complete trust in G-d, and celebrate our confidence in having received a “good judgment” for the coming year.
Throughout the week of Sukkot, we eat, sleep and socialize in a Sukkah, reminding us that:
  • The Israelites lived in huts during the 40 years of wandering in the desert.
  • G-d is our ultimate protection – just as He protected the Israelites in the desert with the Clouds of Glory (Exodus 13:21).
The Four Species
On Sukkot, we are commanded to wave the Four Species, each noted for its special beauty:
  • Esrog – the citron, a fragrant fruit with a thick, white rind. It is often picked from the tree while green, and then ripens to a bright yellow.
  • Lulav – the palm branch, which is defined in beauty by having a straight shape and leaves tightly bound.
  • Hadas – the myrtle branch, which has a beautiful plated pattern of three leaves coming out from the same point in the branch.
  • Arava – the willow branch, which should have oblong leaves with a smooth edge.
We bind all the branches together: two willows on the left, one palm branch in the center, and three myrtles on the right. We then lift them together with the Esrog and shake it in all directions, as a symbol of G-d’s mastery over all Creation.
The Four Species are waved each day (except for Shabbat) in the synagogue, during the recitation of the Hallel prayers of praise. Hallel is followed byHoshanot, where everyone circles a Torah scroll held on the Bima.
It is a special tradition to “beautify” this mitzvah by getting the nicest species available. At the very least, there are specific requirements to be valid for the mitzvah. Since the details are many and technical, it is not recommended to search through the forest on your own for these species! (Particularly the Esrog, which can easily be confused with a lemon.) Purchase a complete set from a reliable distributor; your local Jewish bookstore should have a “Four Species Set” with a rabbinical seal certifying their validity.
After the holiday, some have the custom to recycle the esrog as a “spice box” for use at Havdalah. In this way, the esrog goes “from one mitzvah to another.” Here’s how to do it: Buy a package of whole (not ground) cloves. Use an awl to make the holes, then place the cloves painstakingly into each hole. (Yes, this is a great way to keep kids occupied for hours on end.) Keep the cloved esrog in a box, to preserve the beautiful scent of the pungent citrusy etsrog mixing with the sweet ‘n spicy cloves. (A plastic container carries a higher risk of mildew.)


shiva’at ha-minim

The biblical Seven Species (shiva’at ha-minim) are seven agricultural products listed in Devarim 8:8 as typifying the bounty of the Land of Israel. There are two grains , wheat and barley ,and five fruits, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and/or olive oil, and dates and/or date-honey(silan), which is alternately interpreted as honey.
At Sukkot, the Seven Species are traditionally used as decorative motifs all over the Jewish world. In Israel, however, they are actually harvested at this season and, like all things Israeli, these ancient fruits of the land are being adapted to the modern world.


Yom Kippur

In order to keep your body hydrated for the Yom Kippur fast, start to drink water (fluids) today. 
Also, it’s a Mitzva to eat today, just like its a Mitzva to fast tomorrow. 
Shanà Tovà ve Gmar ve Chatimah tovà to all Jews.


Yonah and the fish...

from CrownHeights comics


The five abstentions

A distinctive feature of Yom Kippur is its designation in the Torah as both a 'Sabbath' and a fast day. Fasting on Yom Kippur (from before sunset until after dark the following night), which the Torah expresses with the term ‘affliction,’ is a broader concept than a mere abstention from food and drink. The Sages (see Yoma 76a-77b) derive from Biblical exegesis that affliction implies abstention from five activities: 
(a) eating and drinking; 
(b) washing one's body; 
(c) anointing oneself with oils; 
(d) wearing leather shoes; and 
(e) marital relations. 
 In addition, all labors that are forbidden on the Sabbath are forbidden on Yom Kippur as well. 
 (from Artscroll)


Atonement occurs by G-d’s grace; purification by dint of one's own efforts. Although Yom Kippur brings with it atonement and forgiveness, its ultimate objective is that you “purify yourselves before G-d,” inside and out, by your own efforts, even in those matters visible only to G-d Himself. 
Rabbi Moshe Alshech

Yom Kippur War Miracle

This video describes a miracle that happened on the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War. In what became known as "The Valley of Tears", a small Israeli force under Avigdor Kahalani held back the bulk of the Syrian army for four days, preventing them from overrunning Israel. After the war, General Raful Eitan, commander of Golan forces, told Kahalani, "You saved the Jewish People!" The most amazing part is that just when Kahalani's force was on the verge of collapse, the Syrians retreated!

Miracle at Golan Heights

B'H"The true story of a mysterious wind appearing suddenly to help some Israeli soldiers get through a field covered with land mines.May G.d always protect His sons.


Shavua Tov

G-d knows we will stray Now it is time to reflect about our Return
This past Shabbat was called Shabbat Shuva - literally, the Sabbath of Return. While we should always reflect on the choices we make and always “know before whom [we] stand“, the Ten Days of Repentance - and particularly Shabbat Shuva – is a time when we are more aware of our obligation to apologize to others, find peace with (return to) our G-d, and consider how each of us can be a better person in the year to come.
May we all had a meaningful Shabbat, an easy Yom Kippur fast, and find the coming year one of goodness and blessing.


Shabbath Shalom

Ha-azinu ha-shamayim v’adabera; v’tishma ha-aretz imrei phi
“Give ear, ye heavens, and I will speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.”

This sublime oratory of Moshe Rabbeinu really grabs our attention, just as it is meant to. Moshe knows he is about to leave his cherished people, and he wants to end his service by reminding them of why they.

“Neither with you only do I proclaim this covenant and this oath; but with him that stands here with us this day before the L-rd, our G-d, and also with him that is not here with us this day.”


Humanitarian hypocrisy

Apples and Honey for soldiers in Hebron

ער"ה תשע"ג - Rosh HaShana Eve 5773 - 2012


On that day, Moshè wrote down this song, and he taught it to the Israelites" (31:22)
The Baal Shem Tov taught that when the Messiah arrives, he will explain the entire Torah from the perspective of each and every letter, starting from the first letter of the Torah to the last. Then he will join all the letters together into one long Name of G-d and explain the entire Torah from the total perspective. Meaning to say, first he will explain the Torah according to the unique view of every individual, so that each one will hear an explanation of Torah that rings harmoniously with the root of his soul. Then he will join all the letters together, and reveal the unity of the entire Jewish People through the Torah.

(Eliezer Shore-Bas Ayin)


A new beginning

The New Year begins. A special Shabbat – Shuva
It’s time to return
This week’s haftarah starts with words from Hosea
“Shuva, Yisrael”
The prophetic reading for Shabbat Shuva begins with Hosea 14:2 “
"Return, O Israel, to Adonai your G-d, for you have fallen because of your sin.”



In with the new year and its blessings!"
L'shana Tova tikateiv v'tihateim 

Happy new year!

Shana Tova from IDF

Shavua tov!!

So an infinite, omnipotent G-d suspends His infinity, suppresses His endlessness and concealed His omnipotence, in order to allow space for an intelligent, independent and self-oriented human being who is then capable of choosing G-d as his or her king.
Rabbi YY Jacobson.


Shabbath Shalom

"It will be when all these things have happened... you will return to G-d... and G-d will return your captivity and will gather you from among all the nations where He dispersed you." 
All of the Prophets prescribed teshuva, and the Jewish people will be redeemed only through teshuva. The Torah has given assurance that Israel will do teshuva - at the end of its exile-and will be redeemed immediately, as it says: "It will be when all these things have happened... you will return to G-d... and G-d will return your captivity and will gather you from among all the nations where He dispersed you."
[L'Chaim 988]

A Rosh Hashannah message

IDF soldiers blow shofar at the Western Wall
IDF soldiers blow shofar at the Western Wall
Flash 90

This year, choose life. A Rosh Hashannah message you will carry with you, from the Chief Rabbi of the UK, Lord Jonathan Sacks
from Arutz Sheva

Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year, is a kind of clarion call, a summons to the Ten Days of Penitence which culminate in the Day of Atonement. The Torah calls it ‘the day when the horn is sounded’, and its central event is the sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn.


Kingship in this world

In the future, when Moshiach comes, every creation in this world will understand and recognize that there is a
G-dly power within which makes it exist and gives it its life-force. This is the meaning of the line from the Amida prayer which we say on Rosh Hashana. We beseech G-d to reveal His Kingship in this world - "May everything that has been made know that You made it"- because in truth nothing exists without this G-dliness. 

(Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi)

Rosh ha Shana and Rosh Chodesh

There are many levels of understanding the significance of Rosh Hashana also being Rosh Chodesh (New Moon Day). Every Rosh Chodesh inaugurates an entirely new energy and a new opportunity to begin again. The ability to renew and rejuvenate is one of the secrets of the Jewish calendar being based on the lunar cycle. The capacity to begin again and again lies at the very root of Jewish survival. Rosh Hashana, the new year, is the "headquarters" for newness, thus it shares the same energy as Rosh Chodesh.
The shape of the moon on Rosh Chodesh and Rosh Hashana is but a thin cup like sliver seen for a short time in the western sky before going down at sunset. The judgement taking place on Rosh Hashana is similarly very hidden, yet a sliver of the light does reach us. We can envision the shape of the moon representing our heartfelt prayers to create a vessel to receive blessings. God wants to give us so much - the question is do we have vessels to receive it.
The Midrash states that when the moon was created it complained to God that both it and the sun could not wear the same crown. Therefore God made it smaller. A different Midrash states that every Rosh Chodesh, God - as it were - brings a guilt offering for making the moon small. Rosh Hashana comes on a Rosh Chodesh in order to teach us that since we should not judge anyone till we stand in their place, God - so to speak - whispers to us that he empathizes with our situation and thus understands our desire for rectification and forgiveness, for He too brings a guilt offering on this day! This parable represents the judgement on Rosh Hashana as one of understanding and compassion. 

10 Reasons for Blowing the Shofar

This list was compiled by the 10th century sage, Rabbi Saadia Gaon.


1. The Shofar is like the trumpet which announces the coronation of a king. That is why it is used on Rosh Hashanah, the birthday of the universe. At that time we accept Hashem's Rulership. Our tefilos and shofar blasts are like the coronation ceremony in which Klal Yisroel crowns Hashem as Sovereign.
2. The Shofar calls us to examine our deeds and return to Hashem, who will always accept us if we are sincere.  This is why we blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana which is the first of the Aseres Yimei Tshuva.
3. The Shofar reminds us of the Shofar which blew when the Torah was given at Har Sinai; thus we are reminded to study and cherish  Hashem's Word.
4. The Shofar reminds us of the voice of the Nevi'im, whose voices rang out like a Shofar blast in calling the people to do justice and mercy and follow Holy ways.
5. The Shofar sounds like crying, which reminds us of the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, and thus calls upon us to work for and daven for the Geula.
6. The Shofar, since it is a ram's horn, reminds us of the binding of Yitzchok, when Hashem provided a ram to be sacrificed instead. Thus we are called upon to be as faithful to Hashem as Avraham, and be inspired by his example of sacrifice and love of Hashem.
7. The Shofar calls us to be humble- its mighty blast reminds us of the mightiness of Hashem and the fact that Hashem is everywhere at all times.
8. On the Day of Judgment, a Shofar will be blown to announce Hashem's Rulership- our Shofar blasts remind us to prepare for Hashem's examination of our deeds.
9. The Shofar foreshadows the jubilant return to freedom and peace when we all end up in Yerushalayim in the time of Moshiach- it reminds us to have hope and faith in Hashem's saving power.
10. The Shofar will be blown in Messianic times to announce the redemption of the whole world, when all nations will recognize that Hashem is One. 

5 Reason Why We Dip Apples In Honey

The minhag to eat special fruits in Rosh HaShanah is from the Gemara in Horiyos 12a. While the gemara gives a list of recommended fruits dipping apples in honey is not mentioned. The earliest source for the apple in honey is from the Abudraham as quoted by the Rema (OC 583:1). What is the significance of this famous minhag? The Moadim L'Simcha brings a number of reasons.

1. The Maharil says that Yitzchok smelled an apple orchard when he commented on the beautiful smell as Yaakov came in to him to receive the Brachos. The Vilna Gaon in the Biur HaGra says that this happened on Rosh HaShanah.

2. The Ben Ish Chai says that apples give three pleasures Smell, Appearance and Taste which correspond to three Brachos we'd like to receive for the next year Bini (Chidren and Nachas from Children), Chayai (Life/Health) and Mezoni (Wealth).

3. The Zohar says that wine symbolizes Din or judgment. Apples are eaten after strong wine in order not to be harmed by the strength of the wine. Therefore since Rosh HaShanah is a time of Din we eat apples in order to sweeten the judgment.

4. Rosh HaShanah we want Hashem to remember the ashes of Akeidas Yitzchok. The ashes that accumulated on the mizbei'ach from all the korbonos are called Tapuach or apple. 

source: revach lists



Ashkenazi Jews join Sephardi in saying Selichot this week.

Tens of thousand of jews, with rabbi Ovadya Yosef- singing\ praying together, asking G.d to forgive us all. This exuberant happening occurs every year at midnight before Yom Kippur. 
It is the highlight of an entire month of asking forgiveness at the Kotel.

Here's what Selichot at the holy Western Wall in Jerusalem with Rav Ovadiah Yosef shlit'a looks like.

Like A Pauper

What's the best way to pray during the awesome High Holidays, and for that matter, all year long? Here is the very best way to have your prayers answered...

Reflections of emuna with Rabbi Lazer Brody בס"ד

Limiting The Allowance of Davening With People Who Sin

Pashkevil: Limiting The Allowance of Davening With People Who Sin

Daniel Lewin (Levin) - An Israeli Hero Of Flight 11

Daniel Lewin, a 31 year old Israeli-American, was murdered aboard American Airlines Flight 11 on the morning of September 11th, 2001, while attempting to subdue the hijackers.
Lewin was a former Captain in the Israeli army's elite commando unit, Sayeret Mat'kal, a top-secret reconnaissance unit that specializes in counter-terrorism missions.
He was also the co-founder and the chief technology officer (CTO) of Akamai Technologies Inc.
Daniel was a strong, thick-boned and muscular man who could bench-press more than 300lbs. and squat close to 500lbs. He stood 5'11" tall and weighed in at 200+ lbs.
Because of his advanced military and counter-terrorism training, Lewin knew how to kill - quickly and efficiently - with whatever was available - a pen, a set of keys, a credit card, or even his bare hands.
He would have had to been caught off-guard, or completely taken by surprise during a struggle, for the terrorists - or anyone else - to sucessfully succeed in murdering this elite soldier.

Security Officer Died to Protect Tel Aviv

The Israeli Post Office and set of new stamps.

a little bit of music...

Yaakov Shwekey - Lo Yaavod
 יעקב שוואקי - לא יעבוד


A little bit of music...

Acheinu by lev tahor


from Rav Yaakov bar Nahman

29: 9 “You are standing this day all of you before HaShem your G.d: your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, even all the men of Israel, 10 your little ones, your wives, and your stranger that is in the midst of your camp, from the hewer of your wood unto the drawer of your water; 11 that you should enter into the covenant of HaShem your G.d--and into His oath--which HaShem your G.d makes with you this day; 12 that He may establish you this day unto Himself for a people, and that He may be unto you a G.d, as He spoke to you, and as He swore unto your fathers, to Avraham, to Yitzack, and to Yaakov. 13 Not only with you do I make this covenant and this oath; 14 but with them who stand here with us this day before HaShem our G.d, and also with they who are not here with us this day“

HaShem is telling us very plainly that ALL the commandments given were for ALL generations, for ALL communities and “brands” of Judaism, and included converts as well.
HE also puts before us the plain truth of “free choice” and recognition of the laws of cause and effect. Knock your head against a brick wall and booby it’s gonna hurt. Not only is it gonna hurt, but as long as you keep banging your head against that brick wall no aspirin in the wall is going to help you, plus eventually you will cause yourself permanent serious damage. Sin and you close a pipeline of Divine sustenance to you, be it on an individual level of a group level; cause and effect, measure for measure. It’s that simple.

thank you

Elul is always a time of introspection, self-improvement and repentance for all of us, G-d willing. This changes somehow a normal rhythm.
So I am sorry I have not had time to blog more recently, I am truly humbled that anyone would read my blog.
My thanks to all of you who do it.
Thank you very much.