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Ask the Rabbi
Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
Tevet 24, 5769, 1/20/2009
Prayers for a rafuah shelema go out to our friend, Moshe Rafael ben Aliza Chaya, who was shot and wounded critically last night by Arab terrorists as he drove with his wife by the settlement of Kochav HaShachar.
In order to maintain our revitalized posture of military deterence, supposedly regained in the Gaza War, the Government of Israel must keep true to its promise and immediately respond by bombing the city of Ramallah and the Mukata, headquarters of the PA officials and henchmen who have authority over the Arabs in Judea and Samaria where the shooting took place.
It must be made immediately clear to Arabs, and to the world at large, that a Jew-killer is a Jew killer, whether he calls himself Hamas or Fatah or the head of the Palestine Authority.
Let the Government of Israel stand behind its mighty warnings and take up the cry of Rabbi Kahane, "Never again!"
Our jets must strike now at the killers in Ramallah! Otherwise, the cry will go out that "Jewish blood is hefker" and the Jews of Yesha will become the new shooting ducks, as were the residents of the south for the last eight years. G-d forbid.
Tevet 17, 5769, 1/13/2009
Let’s see what a Jewish classic has to say about @@@. YouTube addicts may not find it to their liking, but this is what Judaism has to say about you know what.
Is it worth it?
The book, “Mesillat Yesharim,” written by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, and known as “The Path of the Just” in English, is universally accepted as a classic of treatise on Judaism. The book is studied in every yeshiva and found in every serious home library. Here is a condensed version of what is says about @@@:
“We shall now consider the subject of sexual transgression, which is also included among the most severe sins. One who desires to be completely clean of this sin also requires no little effort, for the prohibition includes not only the act itself but anything approaching it, as the Torah states: ‘Do not come near to uncover nakedness’ (Vayikra, 18:6). And our Sages of blessed memory have taught, ‘The Holy One Blessed Be He said, Do not say, since I may not have sexual relations with a woman, I will hold her and be free of sin, I will embrace her and be free of sin, or I will kiss her and be free of sin. The Holy One Blessed Be He said, Just as when a Nazerite takes a vow not to drink wine, he is forbidden to eat grapes or raisins or drink grape juice, or partake of anything that comes from the grapevine – so it is forbidden to touch any woman but one’s own wife, and anyone who does touch a woman other than his wife brings death upon himself’ (Shemot Rabbah, 16:2).
“By applying this principle to the area of illicit relations, the Sages prohibited anything partaking of the nature of fornication or approaching it, regardless of the avenue of approach, whether that of deed, sight, speech, hearing, or thought.
“Deed: namely touching or embracing, and the like.
“Sight: our Sages of blessed memory have said that a man who counts coins from his hand to hers in order to gaze at her will not be cleansed from the judgment of hell (Berachot 61A). Also they ask, ‘Why did the Jews of that generation require atonement?’ Because they fed their eyes on impurity (Shabbat 64A). Also, it is stated in the Torah, ‘Keep yourself away from every evil matter,’ meaning that a man should not gaze on a beautiful woman, even if she is unmarried, nor a married woman, even if she is ugly. (Avodah Zara 20A).
“Speech: it is explicitly stated ‘One who converses at length with a woman draws evil upon himself’ (Avot 1:5).
“Hearing: ‘Everyone knows why a bride goes to the wedding canopy, but anyone who speaks obscenely concerning it, even a decree of seventy good years is converted to evil’ (Shabbat 33A). And ‘Even the casual conversation between a husband and his wife is held up to him at the time of Judgment (Chagigah 5B).
“Thought: our Sages have said that the Torah verse, ‘And keep yourself away from every evil matter,’ also means that a man should not think obscene thoughts during the day and come to impurity at night (Avodah Zara 20B) and that ‘Thoughts of sexual transgression are worse than the sin itself’” (Yoma 29A).
So the next time you have an urge to click on one of those little tempting, rotating, pop up images on YouTube, ask yourself if it is worth getting the skin of your fingertips singed off down to the bone.
Tevet 16, 5769, 1/12/2009
The six week period of “Shovavim” is the time most suited for repentance over sexual transgressions. The period begins this week with the commencement of “Shemot,” the second book of the Torah, and ends the week of the Torah portion “Mishpatim.”
Posters on billboards all over Israel are announcing the times and places of special “Shovavim” gatherings, where special prayers are recited designed to cleanse a person of sexual misdeeds. One of Israel’s leading Kabbalists, Rabbi David Batrzi, writes on his “Shovavim” poster:
"As is known, the verse, ‘There is no righteous person who does good and does not sin' (Kohelet, 7:20) is referring to the area of sexual transgressions, which give birth to destructive spiritual forces which pursue a person to his great harm, both in this world and the next. Nearly all of the tribulations, sufferings, wars, illnesses, plagues, and poverty that come upon a person – all derive from sexual transgression (Pagam HaBrit)”.
Many religious couples think that they don’t have to repent for sexual transgressions because they lead perfectly kosher lives. However, the fact is, in this matter, even the most Orthodox of couples can succumb to the wiles of the evil inclination. As our Sages have taught, “No one is immune from sexual sin.” For this reason, Kabbalists stress that special care must be taken in this area of our lives.
In his writings on “Shovavim” the saintly Tzanz-Klausberg Rebbe, leader of the Tzanz Hasidic community, and founder of the Lanyado Medical Center in Netanya, stressed that even married men and Torah scholars must make a concerted effort to repent during the "Shovavim" period ("Halichot Chaim," Holidays and Seasons, Chapter on "Shovavim").
Every week, people with all kinds of problems come to speak with the elder Kabbalist, Rabbi Leon Levi, seeking salvation and advice. You would be surprised to discover – just as they are – that in a great many cases, the source of their troubles, whether it be illness, livelihood problems, marriage difficulties, or unruly children, stem from sexual transgression. At first, many deny that they are guilty of sexual wrongdoing, but confronted with the Rabbi’s spiritual radar, they break down and admit their errant ways. By turning away from transgression and setting out on a healthier spiritual life, their salvation is often just around the corner.
Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi
To cite a few examples, recently a religious couple came for advice about a dangerous medical problem. Rabbi Leon told them that he “saw” that they were lax in their guarding the laws of family purity. Both the husband and wife adamantly denied it. Nevertheless, the Rabbi maintained his assertion. Finally, he asked if they separated their beds when the wife was in her niddah-menstrual period. The wife said, no, but that they didn’t touch one another at all. The Rabbi reminded them of a story in the Talmud where an angry wife comes before the Sages to protest the sudden death of her husband, a righteous, Torah scholar. It turns out that they slept in the same bed when the wife had not yet completed the seven clean, safety days after her menstrual bleeding had stopped, and the Sages strongly condemned their behavior, even though they didn’t engage in relations during that time (Shabbat 13A).
On another occasion, a man who was steadily losing his vision, came to the Rabbi, hoping for a miracle cure. Rabbi Leon explained that looking at forbidden pictures causes damage to the brain and the eyes, may Hashem have mercy. At first the man denied it, but when the Rabbi offered to go outside with him to check the trunk of his car and the stash of dirty magazines hidden there, the man broke down and admitted his evil habit.
Another time, a couple appeared before the Rabbi with their three young children, all of whom were born mute. They wanted a miracle so that their children could speak. When the Rabbi explained the source of the problem, suddenly the husband and wife became silent themselves. The husband was wont to kiss his wife’s private place, and that was why their children couldn’t speak.
The point is that even nice religious people have to do t’shuva. The six week period of “Shovavim” is the perfect time. If not now, when?
[An all-night “Shovavim” tikun with Rabbi Leon Levi will take place this Thursday night at the Challalay Tzahal Synagogue in Holon, 7 Savingon Street, starting at 11pm.]
Tevet 13, 5769, 1/9/2009
When sufferings befall the Jewish Nation, there is a mitzvah to sound trumpets and cry out to G-d for salvation. Today, when missiles are falling in the north and the south, and when our soldiers are in moment to moment danger, we are beholden to cry out to Hashem in repentance, as the Rambam writes:
“And this is one of the courses of repentance, that when tribulations befall the nation, and when the nation cries out and sound trumpets, everyone must know that the evil has come upon them because of their wicked deeds, as it is written, ‘Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good things from you’ (Yirmeyahu, 5:25). And this (recognition of their evil ways) is what will cause the tribulations to depart from them. But if they will not cry out to G-d and not sound the trumpets, but say instead that this situation is just the normal ups and downs of life, nothing more than mere happenstance – behold this is the way of cruel arrogance that will bring them to cleave to their wicked behaviors. And it will bring further tribulation. This is what is written in the Torah: ‘And if you walk contrary with me, then I will walk contrary to you also in fury, and will chastise you seven times for your sins.’ That is to say, when I bring tribulation upon you in order that you shall return to Me in repentance, if you say that what has befallen us is mere happenstance, then I will pour out my anger upon you in a happenstance manner as well” (Rambam, Laws of Fasts, Ch. 1:2-3).
Two types of repentance are involved in this mitzvah – national repentance, and the personal repentance of each individual Jew. As a nation, we have to repent for adopting the ways of the gentiles, for not conquering all of the Land of Israel, for surrender parts of our homeland to foreigners, for not expelling the enemy from our borders, and for lingering in the lands of the gentiles long after Hashem has allowed us to come home.
Personally, in order to avert further tribulation and appease Hashem’s anger, each and every Jew must repent for his individual wrongdoings, citing them one by one, in true remorse, with the commitment to turn from his, or her, evil ways and return to the paths of the Torah. Anyone who does not do this weakens the war effort and gives strength to Israel’s enemies.
For people who have trouble getting started, here’s an example:
"Thou shall not stray after your heart and your eyes"
“Please, G-d, from the bottom of my heart, I ask for Your forgiveness. Forgive me for all of my sins, those that I remember, and those that I don’t recall because they are so numerous, or because they happened long ago. Forgive me for eating non-kosher food. Forgive me for not keeping the Sabbath. Forgive me for not studying Torah when I had the free time. Forgive me for not honoring my parents. Forgive me for stealing. Forgive me for all of my sexual transgressions – for masturbating, for having pre-marital sex, for committing adultery, for having relations with a non-Jew, for not guarding the laws of family purity, for gazing lewdly at women and watching forbidden sites on the Internet and for violating the commandment ‘not to stray after your hearts and your eyes.’ Forgive me for speaking badly about other Jews. Forgive me for getting angry. Forgive me for being arrogant. Forgive me for not keeping Your commandments and for not serving You in joy….
If you haven’t done so already, why not do it now? Find a quiet corner and pour out your heart before G-d. Our soldiers are putting their life on the line in Gaza for us. This is the least we can do for them.
Tevet 12, 5769, 1/8/2009
The War in Gaza started 28 years ago when Israel allowed Yassir Arafat and his band of PLO murderers to flee from Beirut, which the Israel Defense Forces held under siege during the first War in Lebanon.
PLO LEAVES BEIRUT
Arafat regrouped in Tunis and lied his way back to Israel, where he was rewarded with Yericho, Gaza, vast portions of Judea and Samaria, a stronghold in Ramallah, handshakes with Rabin and Peres on the White House Lawn, a Nobel peace prize, and enough arms and ammunition to subsequently slaughter and maim thousands of Jews. Before dying of Aids, he enflamed the spirit of Arab nationalism into a terrorist cancer that brought forth the suicide bombers and rocket launchers of Hamas.
If we had killed him and his henchmen in Beirut, our soldiers wouldn’t have to be fighting in Gaza today.
The lesson is that victory will only be won in Gaza when we wipe out Hamas down to their very last sheik and soldier. But if we agree to a phony cease fire, and let them get away, you can be sure the rockets will return with even more fury and force.