Why The Happiness of Purim?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Why The Happiness of Purim?

In a world that is constructed of the story of Purim, everything looks like it’s based on mere happenstance and there seems to be no G-d involved—this is a world of randomness and meaninglessness. Whatever happens, just happens by nature or luck, and what can be more meaningless and depressing than that! Thus, the Rabbis had to decree all the laws for the happiness of Purim, because happiness is not innate to a story that is seemingly happenstance and devoid of G-d. That is the big difference between Purim, where Hashem is hidden, and Passover or Hanukah, where Hashem revealed Himself and made incredible miracles—the 10 plagues and the splitting of the Red Sea or the one day of oil that lasted for eight days.


On Purim, we celebrate our deliverance from the evil Haman and the king’s decree to kill all the Jews, but also we are overflowing with Joy remembering that G-d is always with us—in good times and G-d forbid in the bad times–we are not afraid of anything (another indecisive election, the stock market downturn, our enemies, Coronavirus, etc.) knowing that He loves us and cares for us, and will deliver us in the old days and in the new. May the final deliverance soon be completed with the arrival of the Mashiach—and the hidden will become revealed like on Purim and the joy will be forever increased. Amen.

 
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Israel 2020: Day 4

Wow what an amazing day in Jerusalem!


We went to the Israel Museum (the best museum that I have ever been at), the Shrine of the Book with the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the best part was a tour of the Israeli Knesset. 


One of the interesting facts that I learned was that the 120 seats in the Knesset is in the shape of the menorah, and I loved seeing Herzl’s picture facing the speaker (front left).


Also, got to see the Israel Declaration of Independence with all the amazing signatories as well as the most beautiful Chagall paintings!


Inside the Knesset, all I could say to my wife is what a tremendous zechus (merit) it is to be able to be here today in this great hall where the modern laws of the State of Israel are made just as they were thousands of years ago by the Great Assembly of the Israelites.  


We are living in the most amazing of historical and religious times. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From Victims To Victors

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “From Victims To Victors.”

The critical image of transformation of the Israelites going from the very depths of slavery to the lofty heights of redemption, the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, and going to the Promised Land is relived again in our very own times. This happened immediately after the Holocaust, when the Jews left the death camps of Europe (in fact, many coming by boat over the Mediterranean Sea instead of on foot over the Red Sea as in biblical times) to come to Israel. Here too, the Jews went on to fight as free men in the War of Independence for the founding of the State of Israel just like the Israelites fought the Amalekites in the desert and the Seven Nations to receive the Promised Land of Israel. Furthermore, just like we received the Torah after the redemption from Egypt, we are seeing an incredible resurgence of Torah learning in Israel today.


In both cases of redemption, we had to transform from being victims of slavery and persecution to instead taking the reins in our hands, and with Hashem’s help, determining our own destiny and becoming the victors! Incredibly, just as the Israelites were redeemed by Hashem from Egypt and brought to conquer the Promised land 3300 years ago, so too were we, Jews, brought from the ashes of Auschwitz to the shores of the Israel to fight and become “a free nation in our Land, the Land of Zion, Jerusalem” (Hatikvah). And just like the redemption from Egypt resulted in the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) to worship Hashem in the desert, so too will we soon relive the redemption in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Again, in the right time, we will need to have faith and courage to rebuild it with our very hands, and this will happen speedily and truly in our days. May Hashem let it be!

 
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Vision of Jewish Strength

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “A Vision of Jewish Strength.”

 

With the rebirth of the State of Israel came the rebirth of the Jew. No longer the Jew cowering in the face of pogroms, Inquisition, Crusades, persecution, expulsions, and the Holocaust. The new Jew, as epitomized by the brave men and women of IDF, would be remade in the image of Moses who led the Jews out of Egyptian slavery, and King David who vanquished our enemies in our land, as well as the Jews of Purim and Hanukah, who fought ever so valiantly and to victory against the great empires of Persia and Greece or for us, whoever rises against us as the modern day equivalent.


But as important to the new Jew as our physical survival is that of our spiritual wellbeing. The persecution of Jews over thousands of years was not just a physical attack, as horrible as it was, but also a spiritual, religious, and cultural one, where Jews were prohibited from learning Torah, worshiping, and practicing as Jews. Thus, the second point of criticality in having the State of Israel is that it provides for Jewish sovereignty and ensures “the Jew as actor, determiner of his or her own destiny.” The Jewish people to truly thrive must be able to express themselves through their own language and history, religiously and culturally, and practically through their own leadership and decision-making to forge their own future.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Best of Jewish Nigunim


Shlomo Carlebach was a master of Jewish Nigunim (melodies).



With his music he could literally move one’s soul to reach for G-d Almighty in the Heavens and on Earth. 



Thank you Eitan Katz for bringing this alive again.



I hope you can feel it as I do.



Hashem lives!

Faith Chases Out The Fear

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Faith Chases Out The Fear.

It’s interesting that faith and fear are incompatible and they cannot coexist. Where one is, the other is not. Just like the light chases away the darkness, so too does faith expel fear from our lives. When we believe that G-d is in charge of everything that happens, and that he loves us and ultimately wants what is good of us then what is there for us to fear?


No matter in what danger we find ourselves and no matter how scared we feel, we are not alone. The Master of the Universe is watching over us, waiting for us to raise our eyes to the heavens in faith, and to take a stand and do what’s right. If we do, then G-d will manifest himself to us and indeed “will carry, and will deliver” us.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)