emunah, tefillah, a little mussar, and a shmeck of geula

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Ghost Of Lewis Carroll



Believable unbelievability


This Hamas penchant for using women and children as shields, hiding in tunnels, and wearing Israeli army uniforms and ski masks brings back memories.

Some fifty years or so ago comedian, Bill Cosby, produced a number of very funny and popular record albums (in the pre-historic pre-CD days).  One of his routines has some bittersweet relevance to our times.

For the uninitiated, every high school, college, or professional football game begins with a coin toss.  The referee introduces the captain of each team and the winner of the toss gets to choose to kick-off to the opposing team or be on the receiving end.  Bill Cosby created a comedy sketch depicting various events in history beginning with a coin toss and one of them was the American Revolution:

Referee: “Captain Harbets of the British, this is Captain Sobers of the settlers.  Captain Sobers of the settlers, this is Captain Harbets of the British. 

“Call the toss, British. 

“The British call heads.  (He flips the coin)

“It’s tails.  You lose the toss British and the settlers win.  

“What will you do settlers?

“Okay.  The settlers say that during the war they will wear any color clothes that they want to, shoot from behind the rocks, the trees and everywhere.  And they say that your team must wear red and march in a straight line.”

With his voice inflections it was quite funny and everyone laughed.

But now that what was once considered to be great comedy has morphed into the tragedy of our times, it’s not funny anymore. 

As we wallow in the hell of Gaza we hear a lot of the usual talk about double standards (both media and diplomatic), the new anti-Semitism, the old anti-Semitism (one in the same) and a host of other low blows that relegate us to what can be charitably described as international pariah status.  
The above mentioned attitudes/tactics, as bad as they are, are but a means employed to manipulate the masses.  But a psychologically healthy population, grounded in traditional values is not grist for such a mill.

It must first be softened up.

Thanks to the nefarious diligence of the International Left in its ninety year assault on what was once considered to be a common sense understanding of right versus wrong, the Western world has exchanged those bed rock truths for a pottage called relative morality.  These distinctions have been blurred for so long that we now live in a world where the majority probably cannot distinguish between the two while a significant minority among the elites choose not to.

And once right and wrong was put on the endangered species list, every other traditional value followed in close pursuit.  So much so, that in the last fifty years the universal bottom line understanding of the collective conscience of mankind has been turned upside down.

We live in a generation in which six billion people no longer know their right hand from their left.  This is the new normal.  Let’s call it believable unbelievability. 

In such a world those who commit the gravest violations of the Geneva Conventions with virtually every breath they take are accorded victim status whereas those who commit no such violations, but rather do everything humanely possible to limit the suffering of non-combatants, even to the extent of putting themselves at risk are accused of atrocities and genocide, the relevant and accessible facts to the contrary notwithstanding.

In some circles kidnapping is considered all in a day’s work while the pursuit of kidnapers becomes a human rights issue.

For some, alleged revenge is the most reprehensible conceivable crime while for others actual revenge is accepted as a most understandable emotional reaction.

And so it goes.  

All of us are refugees from a world that no longer exists and we now reside in Wonderland.

And what better proof could there be of this than the fact that we have the Queen of Hearts in the guise of the Muhammad wannabes, otherwise known as the ISIS, screaming at the top her lungs:

“Off with their heads.” 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Through Eyes of Emunah



In EmunahSpeak: The Wake up Call, we spoke about the nissim that Hashem is showering upon us like rain in a cloudburst.   The main point there was that we should rely on Hashem, not the Iron Dome rockets and in any case, the Iron Dome rockets that shoot down the Hamas missiles, the missiles that don’t explode in shuls and houses, and those that fall into open fields are all the same nes.

We said there that the Rav (Moshe Sternbuch) makes it clear that we are being enveloped by nissim day and night, and that we are required to take five minutes a day to intensely focus on the fact that Hashem is both knocking the missiles out of the sky and scattering the rest to the four winds.  He lets us hear that Hashem has opened all of the Sharei Rachamim of Shomayim to deflect the missiles from harming Klal Yisroel and if we don’t recognize this we are sinners.

Recognize it we do.  But do we feel it?

Emunah enables us to see behind the teva and intellectually understand that when an Iron Dome rocket intercepts an incoming missile Hashem is making it happen.  That’s a very high madreiga to be sure, but it’s usually not high enough to affect us viscerally because our correct understanding of the matter notwithstanding, what we see is still the teva of a rocket exploding a missile albeit that we morph it into a nes in our heads.

What’s missing is the emotional component of the nissim that we are observing, and without that regesh what exactly is there to seep into our bones and give us a palpable feeling for what we are experienceing?

Understanding can only go so far, but seeing is believing, and that’s what separates the real Ba’ale Emunah (Baal Shem Tov, the Vilna Gaon, et al. and those few rare yichidim that are still with us) from the rest of us.  They see the world through eyes of Emunah, not merely by means of a heart full of it.  And for starters, those who see through eyes of Emunah don’t see any Iron Dome rockets or any other manifestation of teva in the present salvation of the Yishuv. 

In EmunahSpeak: The Wake up Call, we said that the Brisker Rav’s real gadlus was not his lomdus as great as it was.  It was his Emunah.  If we had that level of Emunah we would be going out of our minds right now. We would be higher than on Purim.
 
So what would the Brisker Rav z”l see that we fail to see in daily nissim that we are experiencing by way of the Iron Dome?

It would be k’eelu (as if) he saw the Yad Hashem smack the incoming missile out of the sky.  And from such a sight a person can dance already.

Those who view these nissim through eyes of Emunah actually witness the miracles, while the best that the rest of us can do is realize that they took place.

And that’s no small thing either.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Wake up Call



That’s how HaRav HaGaon Moshe Sternbuch sees the current crisis in Eretz Yisroel, so it would behoove us to give it a serious look through his eyes.

For those Rip Van Winkles amongst us who have been sleeping through the last several weeks the operative word here is miracles. From the get go Rav Sternbuch makes it very clear that everything we are seeing are miracles and nothing but miracles with nary a shmeck of teva in sight.  

And he’s not alone.  Apparently, one of the top people in the Hamas leadership sees what Rav Moshe sees.  When asked by CNN why his missiles never seemed to hit anything of substance he answered that all of their missiles are tested and that those (barbarians) who launch them are experts, but their G-d (our G-d) stops them.  Then he was asked the obvious question:

“If you understand that their G-d is protecting them why do you keep launching missiles?”

“We’re probing for a weak moment,” he answered, “when their G-d doesn’t favor them.”

From this answer we have to understand that in addition to everything else that we’re up against in relation to Hamas (may they be blotted out) both in terms of what we perceive to be teva and from what we will soon hear from Rav Moshe, we’re also eyeball to eyeball with the wickedness of Bil’am Ha Rasha.

Query:  So if even Hamas understands what’s going down in their latest attempt to destroy us why don’t we?

Hashem is talking to us and the best most of us can do is to remark that a certain missile that failed to explode in a house full of people was a nes, and we say it with the same kavana as if we were saying what a lucky break that was.

Rav Sternbuch says that we are taking the Iron Dome for granted, in that we are relying on it to protect the population from incoming missiles and if we put our trust in it, it won’t, for as we quoted HaRav HaGaon Moshe Shapiro in EmunahSpeak: There is No Other Solution,.…according to teva (natural means) we are in a problem that has no possibility of a solution, period.  He says further that a solution that is similar to the “solution,” (with as many double quotes as we can put there) that we recently experienced vis รก vis the Iron Dome and the pin point surgical strikes by which the IAF took out 1500 Hamas launch sites, may last once or twice, but this is not a solution.
 
And as we said in EmunahSpeak: So Who are You Relying on… The avodah of bitachon is to train oneself to rely only on Hashem. 

Not on our rockets.

The Iron Dome rockets that shoot down the Hamas missiles, the missiles that don’t explode in shuls and houses, and those that fall into open fields are all the same nes.

Rav Moshe Sterbuch tells us that the Brisker Rav’s real gadlus was not his lomdus as great as it was.  It was his Emunah.  If we had that level of Emunah we would be going out of our minds right now. We would be higher than on Purim.

The Rav makes it clear that we are being enveloped by nissim day and night, and that we are required to take five minutes a day to intensely focus on the fact that Hashem is both knocking the missiles out of the sky and scattering the rest to the four winds.  He lets us hear that Hashem has opened all of the Sharei Rachamim of Shomayim to deflect the missiles from harming Klal Yisroel and if we don’t recognize this we are sinners.

And it’s not enough that we recognize and intensely focus on these nissim.  We are obligated to speak about them also.  They should be the tog taiglach of our daily conversation.

Truth be told, Hashem is not talking to us.  As per Rav Moshe, He is screaming, for these nissim are in actuality a Tochacha (Divine rebuke), a wake up call to show us that we really deserve to be whacked.

This is serious stuff.

If we heed the call of Rav Moshe and get with the program, then the Hamas missiles and all those that Hezbollah has waiting in the bull pen will continue to be rendered harmless because Behold the Guardian of Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dollar for Dollar



My flight was supposed to leave Israel Thursday morning at 10:40 A.M.  To be on it would require me to wake up at approximately 3:00 A.M. give or take a few assaults on the snooze button, daven Vasikin and leave immediately for Ben Gurion Airport in order to beat the rush hour traffic.

To compound things, the reliable driver who had picked me up at the airport upon my arrival told me that he would be in England visiting his parents on the day that I was scheduled to return to the States, and therefore wouldn’t be available to take me.  So given the fact that I had been lazily waking up between 5:15 A.M. and 5:45 A.M. during my stay in Israel, I was worried that I might sleep through the alarm that would be set to 3:00 A.M. and/or that the yet to be designated substitute driver might not show up on time.

After passively suffering for a week over the downside implications inherent in a flight leaving at this time in the morning I finally decided to take action by changing the flight from Thursday at 10:40 A.M. to Thursday at 12 :40 A.M.  

My anxiety evaporated in an instant.  Instead of saying goodbye to everyone and then go to sleep at 9:30 P. M. Wednesday night, I would now be saying goodbye to everyone and then leave for the airport at 9:30 P.M.  Aside from the $200 I paid to change the ticket there didn’t appear to be any downside to my switcharoo.

Or so I thought.

That Hashem thought otherwise was already apparent by early Wednesday morning. 

What I had thought was merely a clean wash was actually more akin to a debit balance against me in terms of zilzul the kovod (lack of respect) of Eretz Yisroel.  While my cheshbon as to the fact that there would be no social time lost with family in pushing up the flight by ten hours was correct, I had forgotten that I wasn’t dealing with just any ten hours.

We’re talking here about ten hours in Eretz Yisroel, not the Bronx.

I had spent $200 to walk away from ten hours in Eretz Yisroel plus the opportunity to daven with a vasikin minyan in Yerushalayim.  So on Wednesday, the morning after changing the ticket, I discovered that all of my money was missing from my wallet.

How it happened I still can’t figure out, but the why of it is very clear to me.  It was $200.  Midda keneged midda (measure for measure), dollar for dollar for the $200 I spent to walk out on the kedusha of Eretz Yisroel.

Moreover, the money was in twenties; ten twenty dollar bills.  One twenty for each hour that I was in hurry to return to shmutz l’aretz.