Ohr Binyamin Distributes Free Water and Judaica at Israel Day Parade

It was a Hot Day in New York City – on Fifth Avenue at the Israel Day Parade. After a Hiatus due to Covid – Ohr Binyamin took back to the streets to distribute free water, candy and Judaica to spectators. Many were thankful to have water for themselves, kids and parents.

“Why are you doing this?” a woman asked a staff member. “Achdus.” [unity] the man quickly answered. Ahavat Yisrael / love of fellow Jews is a great mitzvah.

Ohr Binyamin – publisher of the JerusalmLife.com site – handed out over 400 bottles of water and over 150 Newly printed “My Little Siddur” / Jewish Prayer Books. We made and met old friends. “It was a pleasure to see the smiling faces and connect with people on the street again. It was also great to be able to connect people searching for authentic Judaism the means of connecting to Jewish spirituality by providing answers, advice, blessings and Jewish materials that will help them in their quest and thirst for Jewish spirituality.” said Matatia Chetrit, president of Ohr Binyamin.

His Soul is Bound with His Soul – How to Connect with People in Judaism

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Yehuda was pleading before the ruler of Egypt (Parasha Vayigash). Tzafenat Paneach (who was actually Yehuda’s Brother Yosef) wanted to take Yehuda’s brother, Binyamin, as a slave. Yehuda, son of Leah, was ready to give his life in this world and the next to save his brother from same father – Yaakov / Jacob – but another mother – Rachel. He told the ruler – you cannot take my brother. If you do so his elderly father will be brought down to the grave – he says:

And now, when I come to your servant, my father, and the lad is not with us; . (Bereshit 44:30)

The Torah tells you the essence of all. Here the Torah teaches the definition of Love. The text says in Hebrew “Ve Nafsho Keshura BeNafsho” – “and his soul is connected with his soul.” Targum Yonathan (the Aramaic translation of the Torah) translates Keshura – bound or connected as haviva – beloved. Meaning he translates that “And His Soul is Beloved like His Soul”

Thus Love is equated to connection.

Rabbi Nechemia Grama spoke about the subject of Connecting with children entitled – Ve Nafsho Keshura BeNafsho.

He asked for a one word definition of love. The response was “Connection.” He made a distinction between fulfilling a child’s physical needs – and the child’s soul’s needs.

He asked children What is the difference between their mother and their live in cleaning lady?

One child said “The cleaning lady gets paid to clean the house. My mother doesn’t”

Another “You can fire the cleaning lady – you can’t fire my mother.”

The point is that – children need to feel the relationship.

If a child that thinks his mother is an alternate cleaning lady – it may mean that his mother (or father) may be lacking in the connection department. A child should know and feel that their parents love them.

Soul Connection

When we make a physical connection between objects there are two parts. When we connect with another person – what are we connecting with? We are connecting one soul with another soul.

One Question he asked was “Why does a child do nothing significant in the first 5 years of life?” You feed them, you carry them, you play with them – but they accomplish little or nothing. He explained that one reason is to give a parent opportunities to connect with the child those 5 years.

Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe says a 3 month child can distinguish between a smiling look and angry look. Who knows what is more important to a child – is it the food that you give to them or the orat hapanim (illumination of the face) – connection that you give to them. it is clear a child that grows without the orot hapanim – is like a plant without sunlight.

Is Connection more important than food?

He told a story of children survivors after Holocaust. In the freedom camps there were many starving children standing on a long line. One American soldier was giving out chocolate to children. Kids waited patiently in line for their portion of chocolate.
Another soldier saw a kid passing, called him over to him and gave them a hug. The entire line of children went off the chocolate line and went on the hugging line.

How to connect

The rabbi mentioned that it is not the activity that causes connection. There are some activities that are more apt to cause connections – but it is not the activity – it is the interaction. Thus any activity can be used to create a connection.

He mentioned that a woman used to put the coat on her child just like she would put it on a coat rack. Then she started using the opportunity to connect with her child.

Suffering Loneliness

A person can be surrounded by people but still feel lonely or empty. The lack of connection causes loneliness or emptiness.

Certain problems can be caused by this lack of connection. He mentioned fear, lack of self esteem, lack of self-value, lack of sense of security, lack of calmness, and other concerns.

Connection Benefits

A child that is connected will want to be an eved hashem / Servant of G-d. How do we develop a ratzon / will to be an eved hashem? Rabbi Chaim Friedlander explains how to achieve it – Only if we can make a kesher hanafshi / Soul Connection. The kesher hanafshi with rebbi – will make a person want to learn. The parent who has a connection – the child will naturally want to make parent happy.

Why is Infinity a Number Eight on it’s Side?

Why is Infinity a Number Eight on it’s Side?

The Number 8 is the only number greater than zero whose writing can technically continue forever.

Torah says in Bereshit / Genesis of Five Books of Moses – that G-d created the world in Six Days Days and rested on the seventh day.

All of nature was created in Seven Days. Above the seven days is a the supernatural. Eight is above the natural world. Beyond the natural and limited world is infinity.

Spiritual Block? Try This

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Over 20 years ago, I was learning with a rabbi. He told the following story. A woman who apparently was following his lectures asked him – “I want to become more spiritual. I want to follow Judaism and Torah – but I just can’t get myself to do it. I don’t understand the Mitzvot – even if you explain them.”

The Rabbi replied “Try eating Kosher food for a month and you might better understand the Mitzvot.”

She had to go through a detox period. Just like one has to detox for overcoming alcohol addiction – they do also for spiritual growth. Part of the process is start eating Kosher, guarding the eyes, removing oneself from impure thoughts and acts. Then a person can become a better receptacle for spiritual growth through Torah.

I didn’t quite understand the connection between understanding Mitzvot and Eating Kosher. Recently I came upon a Sefer / Book By Rabbi Matityahu Glazer – On Repentance and Hebrew Letters called THE PREREQUISITES FOR REPENTANCE
REPENTANCE IN WORDS AND LETTERS.

Hebrew letters have significance – in that the Hebrew word defines their essence of the object. The word for “sin” in Hebrew is Het / Sin / חטא – Het, Tet, Alef.

REPENTANCE IN WORDS AND LETTERS
THE NEGATIVE EFFECT OF SIN
…This comes to teach us that the destructive power of the סתן (Satan) creates a “screen” ( מסך ) which separates and “locks out” (נעל) the Divine light.
מ precedes נ
ס precedes ע
ך precedes ל

 

The numerical value of the words פגם [imperfection – (in matters of holiness – especially promiscuity)] and מגף (plague) is 123 (80 + 3 + 40), which is the same as נגע (nega, plague: 50 + 3 + 70) and teaches us about the common source of these words, which is בלע (bela, corruption: 2 + 30 + 70).

 

מגף (magaf) is related to מגפה (magaifa, plague),the letter ג and פ combining to form the word גוף (goof, body) and showing that he comes as a result of overindulgence in the material world.

 

The word אלף (alef. instruction or learning the same as the name of the letter א) refers to an אולפן תורה (oolpan Torah, “study of Torah”), the acquisition of Divine wisdom, as is written in the book of Job (13:33): אאלפך חכמה (a’alfecha chochma ; “I will
teach you wisdom”). Through אולפן תורה , the study of Torah, a person merits the revelation of the Divine light of א, for the light of the Torah has the ability to penetrate the barriers created by sin. From here one learns that the repentant should involve
himself in אולפן תורה as much as possible. Rabbeinu Yona in “The Foundation of Repentance” (“Yesod Hat’shoova” found in Gates of Repentance)
teaches that for one who is accustomed to learn one page of Torah, a proper repentance should include learning two pages of Torah.

 

The opening of the letter ח (chet ) is directed downwards, which symbolizes the sinner whose tendencies and desires are also directed “downwards,” that is, to his materialistic and baser nature. Opposed to this is the letter ה (hai )-of the same shape but with an opening at the top, hinting to higher spiritual aspirations. Therefore, if a person
blocks his spiritual striving and closes the upper opening of the ה, it becomes a ח (chet , sin).

 

The difference can be clearly seen in the words חמץ (chametz ) and מצה (matza ). חמץ, the leavened food forbidden to eat or even possess during the Pesach festival, is a symbol of the Evil Inclination (it “fills” with a void and emptiness-like the yeast that
puffs up dough, makes it rise and expand but essentially adds nothing). The word מצה (matza, unleavened bread), on the other hand, is the symbol of the Good Inclination. The only difference in the letters of these two words is the “window of repentance”- the slight opening at the top of the ה.

 

ונטמתם בם

“That you should be defiled thereby,” referring mainly to forbidden food that defiles the
soul of man. One of the most impure foods is the חזיר (chazeer , pig), equal to 225 (8 + 7 + 10 +200) as is the word op (kleepa , shell; 100 + 30 + 10 + 80 + 5).

 

טמא Impurity is the Blockage of the Spiritual. טמא (tameh , impure) has the same letters as אטם (otem obstruction). Impurity causes a general breakdown of the spiritual structure of a person. Just as an אטם in the body is a barrier that prevents the
flow of blood to the heart, so too does impurity ( טומאה, tooma ) prevent spiritual abundance and existence from reaching the heart and brain of a person. The evil impurity caused by an עברה (aveira transgression) can be clearly seen in its letters רע בה (ra-ba, “evil in it”). This is what our Sages mean when they say (Yoma 39a): עברה מטמטמת לבו של אדם
– “Sin dulls the heart of man.” Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler (Michtav M’Eliyahu ) writes: “The sin itself is the dullness-the desire for and cleaving to the sin does not allow a person to find something to oppose it.”

The Power of Humility as a Prerequisite for Overcoming One’s Sins.

 

חטא  (chet, an unintentional sin) involves a lack of thought at the time of the transgression. When one’s mind-the אלף ( א , alef )-is “plastered over” (טח tach ), the result is sin, חטא. Intentional sins (עוונות) comprise -עוות – נ (avoot noon, “the distortion or corruption of the letter נ, which represents understanding). These letters also allude to the power of thought and purity (עיון, eeyoon ), which
is connected to the Fifty (נ = 50) Gates of Impurity  and Understanding,

A pleasant eye”) עין נוה is ( ענוה )The source of humility”

 

The Chida says that the power of humility is so great that it can mend one’s sins; the letters of ענוה (anava , humility) are the same as those of the word העון 190 (ha’avon, the sin). As our Sages say (Rosh Hashana 17a) כל המעביר על מדותיו מעבירין לו על כל ; “Whoever overcomes his feelings, all his sins are passed over.”

 

Repentance out of humility and love for G-d changes negative actions into positive ones. This amazing concept is unique to Torah thought: not only is a person capable of wiping the slate clean, he also has the ability to turn the negativity he has caused in the world into a positive force.

טמא – tameh is impurity. The letters also spell – Alef, Tet, and a Mem – spell Atum – which means blocked or clogged. If a person removes themselves from transgression – they will open up this blockage of the Spiritual.

Green Chiretta vs. Covid

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Saw this Article in Mishpacha Jr. Guard Your Soul.

Convicts Fight Covid in-Thailand

  • Sivi Sekula

Prisoners in Thailand are Producing an herbal remedy to help their fellow convicts fight COVID-19. Green chiretta. also known as “bitter herbs” is a plant that
has been grown in Asia for centuries for its medicinal properties. All parts of the plant are used to treat various ailments. The leaf of the plant is a poplar herbal remedy for fevers, coughing, and infectious diseases A substance in the plant called andrographolide helps prevent the spread of viruses. At the start of the pandemic, green chiretta was distributed in prisons as an emergency measure until a proper cure could be found. The unintended trial of green chiretta among inmates proved very successful. Out of 11,300 inmates treated With green chiretta 99.02% recovered. In July, the Thai government authorized the use of chiretta to treat mild and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19. Thailands prisons are notoriously overcrowded, and social distancing is practically impossible; one-quarter of The prisoners caught COVID-19 in just six months. Now, prisoners are growing and harvesting green chiretta in fields near their prisons. The leaves are tied, ground, and packaged into capsules, which are then sent to prisons across the country. •

Lamborghini Stuck in Traffic – What’s Stunting Your Growth?

Driving ahead to the left of me was a Black Lamborghini Aventador. I was stuck in slow traffic. So was he. He got about 30 yards of space so he sped up and then quickly stopped. The idea of a fast sports car is prestige and speed. Well at least he had one – prestige. Regarding speed – he was going about my speed in my old van.

Superheros in Judaism – Superpowers of the Jewish Righteous

People are the same way. G-d endowed people with tremendous abilities. We can even achieve – Super-Human abilities like we see many true instances in the Torah.

Superpowers mentioned in Torah

Some superhuman acts brought in the Torah include invisibility – like Pinhas, being averse to effects of fire – like Avraham Avinu (in the fiery furnace), transporting from one place to another in an instant (kefitzat haDerech) – like Yaakov Avinu (Jacob), walking through walls, seeing the future – like prophets, seeing what is happening in another place, transforming things from one thing to another (like Yosef HaTzadik), transforming oneself into another being, freezing a person, levitation / flying (like Pinhas), levitating objects. (Perhaps I’ll make a new post on it with further details – further on).

So why don’t we achieve? We’re slowed by traffic.

Thank G-d for Free Choice

G-d made the world for a person to choose between good and evil. We say a blessing  in the Daily Morning Blessings for this gift – “Barukh… HaNoten laSechvi Bina leHavchin ben yom uben layla.” / Blessed are You, Hash-m,… Who gives the heart of man the Ability to choose between Day (ie, good) and Night (ie, evil).”

A person can achieve great heights in good or in evil. And with both he or she can achieve the powers above. Witchcraft, sorcery, talking to the dead and black magic are all real according to Torah. But they are all forbidden – because it is using forces for evil.

Whatever can be done through evil can also be done through powers of good. G-d made it that way for a person to be able to have freedom of choice. If a person could only let’s say become rich by doing good – people would only be good – not for good itself – but to become rich.

What’s Stunting Your Growth?

I was at a Bar Mitzvah party last night. I mentioned – that at 13 a boys starts putting on Tefillin / Phylacteries – the black crown on the head and arm sign that a Jewish man wears. At the age of 13 (according to the Hebrew Year) – a Jewish boy becomes responsible to do mitzvot like a man. A girl becomes responsible at 12 for woman’s mitzvot. (Why 12? A girl matures earlier than a boy.)

Knowing our Goal in Life – Self-Improvement through Torah

After a Jewish boy is born he is circumcised. One message of Bris Milah is that a person is not born perfect – it is our job in life to perfect ourselves. Another message is that a person should direct their passions towards those permitted by Torah.

Attaching Ourselves to the One Who said “Let There Be Light”

Tephillin – allude to a crown and attachment to Hash-m. A crown to remind the wearer that he is nobility – that he is a child of the King / Hash-m – making him a prince. Recognizing his high stature and responsibility teaches the Bar Mitzvah – that he has importance in this world to make it better. This gives him self-esteem & confidence to face, overcome challenges and build the world.  Attachment to Hash-m is one of the ways we establish a connection to Him and emulate Him.

So – anything that creates a detour to our relationship with G-d will stunt our growth – excessive involvement in – politics, gossip, watching videos, TV, sports, etc.

The Difference between Permitted & Forbidden pleasures in Judaism

Exercise is good – overdoing it is not. Eating is good – overdoing it is not. Judaism – is not averse to pleasure. In fact it encourages permitted pleasure. Usually – the pleasures of Judaism – are pleasures that build a society, build a family, build an individual – spiritually, physically & materially. If you look at many of the pleasures forbidden by Torah they are pleasures that do not have purpose. They are pleasure without purpose or Pleasure for only for the sake of pleasure.

Change Yourself – to Change the World

Once a rabbi wanted to change the world. He saw he could not. He said he will change his country. He was not successful. He said perhaps his province. No luck. His city. Nope. His family – no success. He finally decided to change himself. Eventually – he changes the whole world.

A good place to start to better oneself – for Gentiles is to learn about the 7 Noahide laws from Torah. For Jews – it is to learn the Shulchan Aruch & Pirkei Avot.

 

100 Blessings a Day Keeps the Calamities Away

In the time of David HaMelech / King David a plague was killing 100 people a day. He thus instituted that people say 100 Blessings a day. People stopped dying.

Various types of blessings exist –

Blessings on gaining benefit / Birkot HaNehenim – like the blessings before eating food & before smelling pleasant aromas.

Blessings of Praise – like blessings on lightning, blessing on the new moon.

Blessings of Thanks – like saying thanks that we lived till today – on new clothing, new fruits, on new holidays

Blessings on Mitzvot / Commandments – like before washing hands, before putting on tefillin / phylacteries, before shaking lulav and etrog

The Torah (5 Books of Moses) writes “What Does Hash-m Your G-d ask of you – only to fear him” The Word “What” in Hebrew is “Mah”. Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess says the Word Mah similar to the Hebrew word – can be read as – “Me-ah” – meaning One-Hundred.

Meaning to fear G-d, Hash-m wants us to recite 100 blessings a day.

Why 100 Blessings A day?

In a Shiur / Lecture of Rabbi David Itmar Bitton /הרה”ג דוד איתמר ביטון – I believe on the Parasha / Torah Reading of Ekev recently – he asks why 100 blessings? Why not another amount?

He says that when Adam HaRishon / the first man – was created by Hash-m he was tall to the sky. When he sinned he was reduced to 100 amot. (1 Amah is 1.5 – 2 feet). Adam before the sin was a highly spiritual being. When he sinned – he changed to more of a physical being. (He used to have clothing of light (Ohr – with an Alef) – that were changes to clothing of animal skin / hide (O’hr – with an Ayin).

100 amot is the point – between heaven and earth. Adam’s new goal was to uplift the physicality into spirituality. Thus we recite 100 blessings a day – to change the physical – as food – to spiritual – by reciting blessings.

Are You Eating Soul Food

At times a soul is reincarnated to animate or inanimate object. When one recites the blessing on the food – if a soul was in that object – it is uplifted allowing it to go to a higher plane of existence. We are fortunate to be humans. Our soul was reincarnated to being a human – thus we have freedom of choice to elevate ourselves through spirituality or the opposite by pursuing pleasure without a higher purpose.

 

 

The Proper Response to Mazal Tov or Any Blessing for that Matter

Words have power.

Jewish people are constantly giving blessings. A boy or girl is born. “Mazal Tov!” / A good fortune!  An engagement! “You should have lots of Nachas / Nachat!” (Satisfaction) or “Build a Bayit Ne’eman Be Yisrael” / faithful home among the people of Israel!

When they meet. “Hatzlacha! / Success!” You hear someone got a new job. “Mazal Tov! Parnassa Tova!” / A good income! A Bar Mitzvah! “He should grow up to be a big Talmid Chacham!” / Torah Scholar. At a Brit / Bris Milah / Circumcision! She Yizkeh leGodlo beTorah, Huppah UMaasim Tovim. You should merit bring him up with Torah, Marriage and good Deeds.

What is a common answer to a blessing? “Thank You!” or “You Too.”

What is this like – A person gives you a check for $1,000,000. You say thank you very much. You don’t deposit it. You don’t endorse it. You don’t use it. One day you wake up and find the check hidden at the end of your office supplies drawer. “Wow I never deposited it?” You look at the date – 6 Months have passed. You don’t remember the giver. You really need the money. I guess you’ll learn for next time.

A Blessing has the power to affect the positive or negative. Prayer to G-d / Hash-m will have some kind of positive effect – either on the person you pray for or another person.

But you can make it more effective by “endorsing the check.” A blessing is a bit like a check – if you endorse and deposit it, it will appear in your account.

How do you endorse a blessing? You say “Amen.”

To return the blessing – we usually reply – “Vekhen LeMar” וכן למר

This means “and also for the master” implying the person who made the blessing.

So you receive the Blessing. You say “Amen. VeKhen Lemar.”

Now since they are recieving the same blessing of “Vekhen LeMar” The person who initially gave the blessing should also respond “Amen.”

 

Rejoicing for the Good

In Parasha / Torah Reading Ki tavo, in the first aliya – (Devarim / Deut. 26:11)  we read “And you shall rejoice for all the good that G-d gave you,  your household and the Levi and the convert who is among you. ” Why do we have a commandment to be happy for the good we receive? It is natural to be happy for good.

One reason is many have the attitude of ‘It’s my right.. I deserve it” Thus when they do receive good, they are not so appreciative. G-d is telling us to have the attitude that everything we receive is not a given. It is a gift from G-d. If we think thus, we will not take things for granted and be happy and thankful to Hashem for each thing we receive.

Having appreciation to G.d leads us to a more fulfilling life.  Thus we say the blessing of Shehechiyanu (Blessed are You, Our G-d … that He made us live, established us and that allowed us to arrived to this time.) on Jewish holidays to appreciate our arriving in good health to this time.