Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Four Mysteries of King Solomon By Yanki Tauber and  Stravinski and Lenord Bernstein

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Right now, take FIVE SECONDS to experience yourself without any judgments. Slowly expand that time until you can feel more loving and accepting of yourself as you are right now.

It is self-sabotage to dismiss your victories as, "No big deal." DO make a big deal of them! The positive acts you do when you are in a slump are especially significant!

Love Yehuda Lave

The Four Mysteries of King Solomon By Yanki Tauber

Three things are wondrous to me, and four I do not know.1

Despite all the wisdom granted to [King] Solomon . . . he was mystified by the Four Kinds. As it is written: "Three things are wondrous to me"—these are the Passover offering, matzah and maror [eaten at the Passover seder]; "and four I do not know"—these are the Four Kinds [taken on Sukkot].2

On Sukkot, the Torah commands us to take the "Four Kinds"—the etrog (citron), lulav (an unopened frond of a date palm), hadas (myrtle twig) and aravah (willow twig).

As is often the case with the Torah's commandments, the "Written Torah" (the Pentateuch or "Five Books of Moses") conveys this mitzvah in a few cryptic words, leaving it to the "Oral Torah" (the traditional interpretation of the Written Torah taught by Moses and handed down through the generations) to decipher their meaning. In the Written Torah, the verse regarding the Four Kinds reads:

And you shall take for yourselves . . . the splendid fruit of a tree, fronds of dates, the branch of the thick-leafed tree and aravot of the river . . .3

King Solomon, the Midrash tells us, was mystified by this verse. "Who says that 'the splendid fruit of a tree' is the etrog?" he queried. "All fruit trees produce splendid fruit! [As for] 'fronds of dates,' the Torah tells us to take fronds, in the plural . . . yet we take a lulav, the unopened heart of the palm. And who says that 'the branch of the thick-leafed tree' is the myrtle? . . . And concerning the 'aravot of the river'—all trees tend to grow near water."

How, indeed, do we know that "the splendid fruit of a tree, fronds of dates, the branch of the thick-leafed tree and aravot of the river" are the etrog, lulav, myrtle and willow? The Talmud, which summarizes forty generations of the oral tradition of Torah interpretation, identifies the Four Kinds through a series of homiletic exegeses of the Hebrew words employed by the verse. The clue to the identity of "the splendid fruit of a tree" lies in the word hadar ("splendid"), which can also be read as ha-dar—"that which dwells." The etrog is unique in that, while other fruits each have a particular season in which they grow, the etrog "dwells in its tree all year round," continuing to grow and develop under a variety of climatic conditions.4

As for the lulav, the Torah indeed writes, "fronds of dates," but the word kapot ("fronds of") is spelled without the letter vav, meaning that it can also be read kapat, "the frond of," in the singular. In addition, the word kapot also means "bound," implying that we are to take a closed frond ("the heart of the palm"). By these means, the Oral Torah identifies the second of the Four Kinds as the lulav.5

There are many "thick-leafed trees" in whose branches "the leaves completely cover the stem"; but the Hebrew word avot ("thick") also means "plaited" and "rope-like." Hence the "branch of the thick-leafed tree" (anaf eitz avot) is identified as the myrtle twig, whose overlapping leaves grow in knots of three, giving it the appearance of a plaited rope. There is another plant that meets this description—the hirduf (oleander, Nerium oleander)—but the Talmud rejects that possibility as inconsistent with the rule the "[the Torah's] ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its pathways are peace" (since the hirduf has thorn-like leaves and is a poisonous plant).6

The aravot of the verse are identified as willow branches, because of the willow's tendency to grow near water, and the elongated shape of its leaves (like a river).7 Another identifying mark of the aravah is that willow bushes tend to grow in close-knit groups (aravah is related to the word achavah, "brotherhood").

So what was it about the identity of the Four Kinds that so mystified King Solomon? Surely "the wisest of men" was as proficient in the ways of Torah exegesis as the Talmudic sages whose analysis is summarized above. In any case, there are many cryptic passages in the Torah where laws are derived from double meanings and variant spellings of its words. Solomon's dramatic declaration regarding the etrog, lulav, myrtle and willow—"[Three are wondrous to me] and four I do not know"—must bode a deeper meaning, a meaning that relates to the inner significance of the Four Kinds taken on Sukkot.

Four Species of Man

The Four Kinds, says the Midrash, represent four types of people.

Man's mission in life consists of two basic challenges, learning and doing; or, as these relate to Jewish life, Torah and mitzvot. The Torah is the vehicle by which we gain knowledge of our Creator and insight into the essence of life; the mitzvot, the divine commandments, are the means by which we build a better and holier world, developing the physical creation into a "dwelling for G‑d." These two endeavors define the four personalities represented in the Four Kinds.

The etrog, which has both a delicious taste and a delightful aroma, represents the perfect individual who both learns and achieves. The lulav, being the branch of the date palm, produces fruit that has a taste but no aroma; this is the prototype of the reclusive scholar who grows in wisdom but shuns the world of action. The fragrant but tasteless myrtle is the activist whose profusion of good deeds consumes all his time and energies. Finally, the tasteless, scentless willow represents the person who neither learns nor does, actualizing neither his intellectual potential nor his capacity to improve the world.

On Sukkot, concludes the Midrash, these "Four Kinds" are "all bound together in one bundle," each an integral part of the community of G‑d.8

The Tormented Fruit

In light of this, we can understand the four things that mystified the wisest of men.

If the "splendid fruit" in the Four Kinds represents the harmony of learning and accomplishment, why is this the fruit that "dwells in its tree all year round"? One would expect such perfection from a fruit maturing in tranquility, in a climate that is singularly attuned to its nature and needs—not from one whose development is agitated by ever-shifting conditions. And yet, time and again we indeed find that the greatest lives are those beset by travail and challenge; that the most balanced personalities are forged by the need to deal with changing circumstances and to constantly adapt to new climates and environments.

This, to King Solomon, was one of the great mysteries of life. How does vacillation fuel growth? Why is it that the individual who enjoys a tranquil existence is never as "fragrant" and "delectable" as the one who is battered by the vicissitudes of life?

Pressed Leaves

The lulav, too, perplexed the great mind of Solomon. Is not the very nature of intellectual discourse that it produces varied opinions and conclusions? In the words of the Talmud, "Torah scholars sit in numerous groups and study the Torah. One group deems a thing impure, and another deems it pure; one group forbids a deed, and another permits it; one group disqualifies something, and another renders it fit."9

So when the verse speaks of "fronds of dates," we are inclined to understand these words in their literal, plural sense. For if the second of the Four Kinds connotes the Torah scholar—the human mind enfranchised to assimilate the divine wisdom—should it not consist of two palm branches, in keeping with the plural nature of the intellect? Should not their leaves be opened and spread, pointing to the various directions that the rational examination of a concept will take when embarked on by the mind of man?

And yet, the lulav commanded by the Torah is a single, closed frond, its leaves fused to a single rod pointing in a single direction. As the above-quoted Talmudic passage concludes: "Should a person then ask: How, then, might I study Torah? But all was received from a single Shepherd."

This was the second of the two mysteries pondered by King Solomon. How do the flock of opinions and perspectives of Torah relate to their "single Shepherd"? How can the divine wisdom be funneled through the multifarious world of human reason and remain the singular truth of a singular G‑d?

The Plaited Twig

The myrtle in the Four Kinds represents the "deed" aspect of life—the manner in which we fulfill the purpose of creation with the physical actions of the mitzvot, thereby constructing a "dwelling for G‑d in the physical world." Thus, the Torah identifies the myrtle by alluding to its "plaited" appearance, given it by the way that its leaves grow in clumps of three: the number "three" represents the realm of action, which is the third of the soul's three "garments" or vehicles of expression (thought, speech and deed).

Here lies what is perhaps the most profound mystery of all. How can the finite and mundane physical deed "house" the divine essence? Indeed, the plaited twig that comes to mind when thinking of the physical world is not the fragrant myrtle, but the barbed and poisonous hirduf!

Yet it is the material world where G‑d elected to make His home. It is the physical deed to which He imparted the ability to serve as man's highest form of communion with Him. Why? To the wisest of men, this was one of the four phenomena to which he could only say: "I do not know it."

A Brotherhood of Trees

The fourth of Solomon's mysteries concerns the willow, a plant with neither fragrance nor taste, devoid of learning as well as deeds.

Why is this species counted among the Four Kinds? The verse itself answers that question by referring to the fourth kind as "aravot of the river." The willow might not exhibit any positive qualities, but its roots are embedded in the banks of its ancestral river and nourished by the waters of its heritage. It, too, is a child of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; in its veins, too, course the love and awe of G‑d that they bequeathed to all their descendants.

Another hallmark of the willow is that "it grows in brotherhood." This alludes to a unique feature of the human "willow." Taken alone, he might exhibit not a single positive trait or achievement; but when gathered in a community, the aura of holiness that suffuses each individual soul suddenly comes to light. Thus our sages tell us that the divine presence rests upon a gathering of ten individuals (the number that comprises a "community") even if they are not engaged in the study of Torah or the performance of a mitzvah. This is also the significance of the minyan (the quorum of ten required to recite certain prayers): ten individuals gathered together represent a quantum leap in holiness. Ten ignorant boors make a minyan, while nine pious scholars do not.

This is what mystified King Solomon about the willow. How does ten times nothing add up to something? If each on his own possesses no visible expression of his innate holiness, how does that change when ten of them come together? All trees grow on water, mused the wisest of men; what sets the willows apart, earning them a place among the Four Kinds? Simply the fact that they grow close together?

Impossible Truths

If we think of these mysteries, they are as enigmatic and elusive as when King Solomon pondered them thirty centuries ago. But we usually don't think of them at all, so deeply are they ingrained in our reality. Despite their logical incomprehensibility, these are obvious and ever-present truths in our lives.

Why do vacillation and hardship fuel growth? How can contradictory ideas embody a singular truth? Why does a simple physical deed elevate us to levels of holiness and G‑dliness unequaled by the most transcendent spiritual experience? How are a number of ordinary human beings magically transformed when knit into a community, greatly surpassing the sum of their individual parts?

King Solomon couldn't explain these mysteries; certainly, we cannot. But we recognize these as axiomatic to our lives, as four cornerstones to our existence that bear the stamp of a Creator within whose infinite being opposites merge and paradoxical truths harmoniously reside.10

Footnotes 1.Proverbs 30:18. 2.Midrash Rabbah, Vayikra 30:14. 3.Leviticus 23:40. 4.Talmud, Sukkah 35a. 5.Ibid. 32a. 6.Ibid. 32b. 7.Ibid. 33b. 8.Midrash Rabbah, Vayikra 30:11. 9.Talmud, Chagigah 3b. 10.Based on an entry in the Rebbe's journal dated Sukkot 5702 (1941); Reshimot #62, pp. 16–20. By Yanki Tauber

The beatles - I saw her standing there - Rock and Roll hall of fame introduced by Mick Jagger

great piece

Rabbi Binyamin Kahane Sukkot Not Everyone Is Included In The Four Species


The Writings of Rav Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane HY"D- Dvar Torah in honor of Sukkot דבר תורה לכבוד חג הסוכות


Organs of power at home joining the side of our enemy requires us to take another look at the known midrash about how the "four species" symbolize different levels in Am Yisrael.

It is impossible to ignore the growing and obscene phenomenon, where Jews in the upper echelons of Israeli society mobilize time and time again to further the cause of our bitter enemies. Whenever possible, they rise from within us, under the orchestration of the media, to demoralize the nation during its fight for existence, while furthering the interests of the enemy. The question is: How should we relate to these people? Are they one of us, or are they "beyond the pale"?


One of the famous midrashim in connection to Sukkot, compares the four species to the unity of Israel:
Just as the Etrog has both taste and smell, so too do the Jewish People have within it people who have Torah and good deeds:

Lulav...has taste and no smell, and so too there are those who have Torah and no good deeds...

Just as the Hadas has smell and no taste...(there are those) with good deeds and no Torah...

Just as the "Arava" has no smell and no taste, so (there are those) who have no Torah and no good deeds.

And what does the Almighty do to them? To destroy them would be impossible! But rather the Almighty said that he will tie them all up in one unit and they will atone for one another". (Vayikra Raba, 30:12)

In view of how we opened this article, this amazing midrash mentioning how the Aravot are held tightly together with the rest of Am Yisrael, seems to shed light on the subject, and must be further analyzed.


The worst kind of Jew spoken of here is the Arav, who is not destroyed, because the righteous atone for him. They are Jews "who have no Torah and no good deeds." True, we are not talking about the cream of the crop - but we are talking about Jews who are ready to be part of the union of Am Yisrael, connected to them so that the righteous can atone for them. We are not talking about Jews, who G-d forbid, sever themselves from the collective and detest their own Jewishness. We are not discussing Jews who the sages spoke of when they said that in the days of the Messiah, there will be Jews who will identify with and join forces with the enemy. About such Jews, the above midrash does not speak. On the contrary. The idea of the midrash is two-fold. On the one hand, G-d does not desire to see the wicked of Israel destroyed. One the other hand, the wicked mentioned here are those willing to join and be a part of Klal Yisrael. Only they merit this special atonement. It is an atonement reserved for one who feels belonging to the collective of the Jewish Nation.

It must be known: Relatively speaking, there really are only a few Jews who seek to cut themselves off from Am Yisrael. In Israel today, this miniscule band of haters, though they wield tremendous control, are a tiny minority. Through all the generations, and especially in this final era before the complete redemption, there were always Jews who took themselves out of the collective, and deep inside of them, identify more with the goyim than with the Jews.


And so, it is a great mistake to identify such people as the "Arava" described in the midrash. for while the Arava is still only an Arava, it still has a belonging to the Jewish collective. While it has no taste or smell, at least it does not give off a putrid or damaging smell. The Arava sees himself as part of the four species and does not nullify his Jewishness, nor does he want to be like a gentile. By this very fact, he is able to absorb within him the smell and taste of the others. We must also remember that there are certain things that disqualify the four species from being Kosher. And so, though we are never happy about disqualifying a Jew, there are those who are rejected, and not tied together with the rest of the four species.

The nation is willing to absorb the individual sinners, and to cover and atone for them so that they will not perish with their sins. (Even though this causes us great suffering as a people). It is ready to hold on tightly to them with all its might in order to unite them, for we Jews are all guarantors for one another. But the nation is not ready to carry under its wing he who in his very essence is an aberrant traitor. Such people remove themselves from the Sukkah of Israel, and as much as it hurts to say, they are beyond the pale for us.

Chag Sameach!

Shlock Rock newsletter

Trust In God!

Hi Everyone!

Happy Succot!  May you all be happy in this holiday!  Succot celebrates the 40 years that the people of Israel lived in temporary housing in the desert.  And so we move out of our houses into Succot or temporary houses to commemorate!   The greatest moment that the Jewish people had in terms of trust in God was when they left Egypt and followed God into the wilderness.  They went into the desert and showed pure trust in God that He would take care of them.  In light of all the tragedies and natural disasters that are happening in this world I would submit that at this point in time we must have complete trust in God!  Here is a You Tube clip of myself and the band performing at the 2013 Chabad Chanukah Telethon in Long Island.   The song - "Trust in God" from the No Limits release! Enjoy!   Daniel in Babylon Movie Trailer   Here is the latest from the musical movie Daniel in Babylon. A 1 minute trailer.  Feel free to share it!  The movie is ready to be cast rehearsed and filmed and the location of the movie will be Las Vegas and the State of Nevada.  It just needs funding! Enjoy!  

Igor Stravinski introduced by Leonard Bernstein conducts the l... Leonard Bernstein introduces Igor Stravinsky


BY AMY SPIRO  OCTOBER 2, 2017 15:21 'Above the Drowning Sea' is narrated by Julianna Margulies and Tony Goldwyn.1 minute read.

A documentary about Jewish Holocaust refugees who made their way to China will be playing this week at a US film festival.

Above the Drowning Sea, directed by Rene Balcer - who is known for his work on Law and Order and Law and Order: Criminal Intent - premiered last week at the JCC in Manhattan. It will play at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival next week and then head to the Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival in November. 

The film, narrated by Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) and Tony Goldwyn (Scandal), tells the story of "the courageous intervention of Ho Feng Shan, the Chinese Consul in Vienna who defied his own government and braved the Gestapo to issue visas to the refugees."

The 90-minute film, shot in six countries, includes interviews with refugees themselves, Chinese residents who aided the newcomers and animation which tells some of the stories from 75 years ago.

"All my grandparents came here as Jewish refugees to a country that greeted them with open arms," Margulies said in statement. "When I was asked to narrate this film about refugees then and today, I immediately picked up the phone and said I'd do it. Who wouldn't?"

Balcer co-produced the film with his wife, Carolyn Hsu-Balcer.

Balcer got his career start in 1973, as a cameraman covering the Yom Kippur War for Canadian media outlets. He stumbled into the job by accident, as he had just landed in Israel to visit a girlfriend when the war broke out.

At a post-screening discussion at The Asia Society in New York on Thursday night, Balcer noted how the story of Above the Drowning Sea still has such relevance today.

"They always say this is a nation of immigrants. Well this is a planet of immigrants, of refugees, and there's always movements of populations," he said. "Because, at some point, whether its 50 years ago, 10 weeks ago or 1,000 years ago, somebody told our ancestors yes you can stay here, and it's OK." 

See you tomorrow, continue to enjoy Sukkout

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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