Sunday, June 3, 2018

Why get up in the morning and daven with a Minion

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Most Tests are Subtle

 The tests and challenges that come to a person from the Almighty are so concealed and subtle the person being tested usually does not feel what is happening to him is a test. If he is aware it is just a test, he would definitely be able to withstand the difficulties and rise to the challenge, but then the test would not be a real test. Therefore, tests are concealed in such a manner that a person thinks they are merely obstacles and nuisances. A person who withstands such tests is truly elevated.

Love Yehuda Lave

Why daven in a minion

which one is you?

On Sunday morning we finished praying at about 8AM and came down to have breakfast and the question was asked as we sat down, "Does it make that much of a difference if I came to synagogue to pray with the minyan or if I just pray at home? And assuming you will answer as every other rabbi answers, that it does, what exactly is that difference"?
We referred back to last week's portion and a class we had based on the writings of the Shvilei Pinchas and where we read, "VeNikdashti - I shall be sanctified amidst Bnei Yisrael; I am Hashem Mekadeshchem Who sanctifies you." So I asked, every day in our prayers, we sanctify Hashem. In what specific prayers do we do that?
And as you all know, each day, we say Kedusha a number of times and each day we say kaddish a number of times. These are specific prayers which seem to fulfill this command to sanctify Hashem. But we also know that we are limited as to when we can say these prayes as they can only be said with a minyan. In fact the Mishnah tells us that all matters of kedusha, such as the reading of the Torah, the priestly blessings and the marriage blessings are all prohibited to individuals and must be said in a minyan.
Furthermore, we learned in the Gemara, a person's tefilah in only heard in the "bet kenesset" in the synagogue. There the Talmud asks from where is it derived that Hashem is found in a synagogue and answers that it states: "Hashem stands in the divine assembly."So when we come to pray with the Sibur, the congregation, or the minyan, we are coming to be with Hashem's presence.
So someone asked, what about a wicked person who joins the congregation. Does he ruin their prayers and force the Shechinah out? So we quoted our daily prayers. Hashem said to Moshe: "Take yourself spices—'nataf,' and 'shechelet' and 'chelbonah'—spices and pure 'levonah'; they shall be equal one to another." Rashi explains: "'Chelbinah' is a spice whose smell is foul. Why would we add a foul smelling spice? The Torah counted it among the ingredients of the 'ketoret' to teach us that we should not consider it insignificant to include the sinners of Yisrael with us as members of the congregation for our prayers so that they should be counted among us. In fact without the Chelbonah, the ketoret is unacceptable. We reminded ourselves that we say before we pray, "My tefilah should be considered as a 'ketoret' before You". Our minyan may be like the ten good spices mixing with one bad one. Rabbi Abittan would explain a Sibbur is Sadikim, Ben Onim and Reshaim. One needs all three to optimize the group. We explained that there are thouse who suggest that a minyan is not made of ten individuals, but those ten coming together form a completely new entity with combines with the shechinah which rests on the group. In fact this group coming together LeShem Hashem for prayer creates a moment of Et Razton – an auspicious time where prayers are answered.
This is a profound concept; for there is no prosecutor for the "sibbur"; because the "sibbur" possesses the status of the general public. From the perspective of the general public, sin does not exist; because the sin only pertains to its individual components. Regarding, the group as a whole, the notions of sin and blame do not pertain. And therefore we are told in Pirkey Avot, "Do not depart from the Sibbur". Do not depart from their protection.
We learn tremendous insight from the Talmud which tells us of the custom of Rabbi Akiva. When he prayed with the "sibbur," he would shorten his tefilah and finish … When he would pray by himself, a person would leave him standing in this corner and find him in another corner. It seems as if his prayers when he was alone would go on forever. The Rambam explains: one who prays with the "sibbur" should not overly extendhis tefilah; by himself, however, it is permissible. Why? Its seems that with the sibbur our prayers are more readily answered.
Finally we concluded with an amazing idea. The Talmud tells us that the Shechinah resides with all gatherings of ten (Yehudim who come together for Heaven's sake). The rabbis explain, it is well-known that the holy Shechinah is the source of all the neshamot of Yisrael; they are all united there. The shechina is also called Kennest Yisrael. She is the source of the gathering of all of the neshamot of klal Yisrael." It turns out, herefore, that when we draw the presence of the Shechinah down to earth to rest upon the neshamot of Yisrael, we cause all of the neshamot of Yisrael—which are united at their source--to unite and bind together.
This is an amazing concept. When I come together in the synagogue with ten others LeShem Hashem, regardless of who has joined us, we bring upon us a time of Et Rason and the shechinah dwells upon us and within the shechinah are all the souls of Israel. So I can imagine as we pray, my father is there, my drandfather and great grandfather, Moses and Aaron, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. All join together with my prayer. How awesome?
So the next time you want to sleep a bit more and skip minyan with the thought that you'll pray at home, just think about what and whom you will be missing and energize yourself to be part of the Sibbur.
Shabbat Shalom
David Bibi

How she [Jerusalem] sits in isolation! (Lamentations 1:1).


The opening verse of the book of Scriptures that depicts the fall of Jerusalem cites a state of isolation. Badad connotes loneliness, abandonment, and the state of being shunned by others. This term also appears in the Torah in regard to the expulsion of a metzora (someone who suffers from a disease called tzaraas), who is to be isolated from the community (Leviticus 13:46).

The Talmud states that the affliction of the metzora is in retribution for the sin of lashon hara. Indulging in harmful talk brings about enmity and divisiveness. Gossip and slander can turn people against one another and sow suspicion where once there had been trust and friendship.

The Talmud states that when Jews were united, and when there was no lashon hara among them, they were triumphant, even though they were far from perfect in other respects. On the other hand, when lashon hara causes dissension, all other merits may not suffice to tip the scales.

On the ninth day of Av, Jerusalem became badad, shunned by its neighbors, shunned its former friends, and to all outward appearances, even shunned by God. Why? Like the metzora, the Israelites had been guilty of behavior that brought about divisiveness. By bringing about the state of badad within their ranks, they themselves became badad, isolated from God.

We must jettison all personal whims and desires that stand in the way of Jewish unity, for in unity lies our salvation.

Today I shall ...
try to find ways in which I can bring myself closer to other Jews and fastidiously avoid any behavior that can cause divisiveness.

Gutman Locks Published on May 11, 2018 Are demons real?

Another hit from my friend Gutman

If a person commits a sin and repeats it, it appears to him as permissible (Yoma 86b).


As every scientist knows, different substances have different properties. Some liquids freeze at 0 degrees C; others at minus 60 degrees C. Some materials burn at higher temperatures than others, and some metals have greater resilience than others. In order to know how to work with any substance, we must know what its particular properties are. Ignorance of a substance's properties results in failure of the project at best and disaster at worst, as in the case of an engineer who overestimates the strength of the cables that suspend a bridge.

What are the properties of a human being? Physically, we know that we can survive only within a certain range of temperatures. But what about the guidelines for our spiritual survival? It would be foolish to think that there are no limits. Excellent guidelines do exist, and these are available in Jewish works on ethics.

The above Talmudic passage is an example. A person knows that doing something is wrong, but submits to temptation and does it anyway. He or she is likely to feel guilty, do teshuvah and thereby avoid repeating the act. However, if he or she fails to do so and repeats the forbidden act, the stimulus necessary for teshuvah may be lost. The Talmudic authors were astute students of human behavior, and they tell us that two consecutive commissions of a wrong act may cause people to totally lose their perspective; they are now apt to develop an attitude whereby what was once wrong is now perfectly permissible.

We do not have much leeway. If we do not promptly try to amend a wrong act, we may lose the opportunity to do so, because if we repeat it a second time, we may no longer realize that it is wrong.

Today I shall ...
resolve to promptly do teshuvah at the first awareness that I have done something wrong.

See you tomorrow

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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