Chassidic Uniform?????

Satmar Chassidim (Credit: Reuters)

I have been told, as have many of you, that; because I don’t wear a white shirt and black pants, black coat and black hat when I am out and about, I cannot possible be a Chassid. OK, I must have missed the memo that said Chassidshe had a uniform and dress code! If you have a copy of the memo, please send it to me!

Back in the early days, black dye was very hard to make and very expensive. Most Chassidim back then wore dark greens, browns and blues. Black was reserved for Shabbat and special occasions. This concept of wearing a white shirt and black pants, black hat with a black coat is a relatively recent phenomenon. It was Chassidim emulating the dress of their Rebbes in order to be an impetuous toward attaining a higher level (not that that is at all a bad thing). However; a lot of Jews work in professions where dressing that way would be inappropriate and expensive (farmers, mechanics, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc.).

I choose to wear blue, brown or green during the six mundane days of the week and save my white shirts and black pants for Shabbat, when I am teaching and on special occasions. Heck, even the hat I wear during the week is either my brown or green hat. Why? Because, if I wore the white shirt, black pants, black hat and black coat during the six mundane days, what makes wearing them special when they are worn on Shabbat?

No, there is no Chassidic uniform or dress code other than to dress modestly.

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Back From Vacation

Well, we are back from vacation and it is time to get prepared for the High Holy Days. We will be posting the schedule soon, so keep coming back. In the mean time, here is a picture of the Tawas Lake at sundown.

Tawas Lake

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Composition of the Soul and Physical Matter

By Rabbi Aryel Nachman ben Chaim – 20 Kislev 5772

All souls are comprised of sparks. The sparks composing the soul in this transmigration are not all the same sparks that composed the soul in previous transmigrations. Based on what the soul is to learn and accomplish in the current transmigration determines the composition of sparks.

Sparks are like energy, it is the basis of the souls; just as matter is made up of energies (m-theory, string theory, superstring theory, etc.). Combinations of energies form protons, neutrons, electrons, isotopes, quarks, leptons, etc. Combinations of protons, neutrons, etc. form Elements. Combinations of elements form molecules. Continue to combine and we get to this corporal world as we know it.

The sparks were created by HaShem manifesting out of Ein Sof (B”H). The sparks are then combined to form the ruach, nefesh and neshomah resulting in the various attributes, and combining the various attributes composes the soul that exists in this transmigration. All this is contained within a vessel, or universe, which composes the physical self.

An element can be changed in and of itself through the process of decay, emission or fission; as inherent within the nature of the element. An element can also be changed by an external source or force; colliders and particle accelerators being the most obvious example. As an example, by simply passing an electrical current through water, you get hydrogen. However, all the components of the element continue to exist within the universe (or vessel) according the first law of thermodynamics.

So too, the soul can be changed by external sources: HaShem can cause a change. Study, knowledge and wisdom can cause a change. Interaction with others, or experiences we have, can cause a change. However, unlike matter and elements; which have no conscious awareness of internal change by decay, emission or fission, we are able to affect changes within ourselves. We, as conscious beings, can accomplish change intentionally by adding sparks, casting off sparks, and rectifying sparks. And, just as with the first law of thermodynamics, the sparks that are cast off, or sparks that are rectified and not incorporated into our being, are returned to the source (B”H).

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From Sorrow to Joy in the Blink of an Eye

The day will come when HaShem will, in the blink of an eye, turn Tisha B’Av from the day of our greatest sorrow to the day of our greatest joy. We will no longer observe the day in sorrow, but with a great festival! May this day come soon and in our days.

What is the proof, you ask?

The Arizal writes that the numerical value of ‘Dimah–Tears’ is 120, which in Torah signifies full life. In truth, the letters only add up to 119, but when the word ‘Dimah’ as a whole is counted, it equals 120. The Shomer Emunim explains that for certain concepts the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. In such cases, you also factor in the entire word to indicate a higher purpose that brings meaning to all the details.

Maimonides explains in his Laws of Mourning that the purpose of mourning and tears is repentance. Death only came into this world through sin, and it is through repentance that the world will be restored to its original state of eternal life, when “G-d will wipe away the tears from every face.”

Maimonides concludes his Laws of Fasts: “With the Redemption, all these days of mourning will be transformed into days of rejoicing, into days of good Moed.” Dimah plus 1, equals 120, which is the exact numerical value of Moed!

(From the shiur by Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson on 20 Menachem Av, 5742 · August 9, 1982)

Tehillim (Psalms) 30: 6 For His anger is but for a moment, His favour is for a life-time;
weeping may tarry for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.

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The Lament At The River

The Lament At The River

By (bs”d): Aryel Nachman for Tisha B’Av 5768

Psalm 137:

137:1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

Why did we weep? Was it for our homes, our property, our shops and fields? No, these we missed. Was it for our family and friends who we would never see again? No, for they are with us in exile. Was it for the dead? No, for these we mourn.

We wept because we closed our ears to the warnings, and now they were open. We wept because we closed our eyes to the abominations, and now we see. We wept because HaShem sent to us His prophet with warnings, and we were foolish and brazen, and therefore, we inherited Gehenom of our own free will. We wept because strange gods now surrounded us and we long for the G-d of Yisrael.

137:2 Upon the willows in the midst thereof we hanged up our harps.

The willow, like us, looks strong, but its roots in the land are shallow, and HaShem’s wind will uproot us at His will. The willow grows well by the waters, like us, when we are faithful and watered by the words of HaShem. The willow grows tall and then bends down humbly; like us when we are faithful, we bow down to HaShem. But now the willow reminds us of our brazenness and we are now bent low in a foreign land.

 The harp is an instrument of joy, and in this land there is no joy. The harp is an instrument of the Temple, and the Temple is no more, so we have hang up our harps. We hang up our harps in the willow’s branches so when the wind blows it will make the harp vibrate and remind us of what we had and to humble ourselves before HaShem. We hang our harps in the branches in hope that in His great mercy, He may look favorably on our repentance and return us to the land.

137:3 For there they that led us captive asked of us words of song, and our tormentors asked of us mirth: ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’

When we turn our backs on HaShem, He will hide his face from us. When HaShem hides his face, our enemy, like the jackal that smells the rotting carcass, follows the scent to devour the remains. They howl in delight.

137:4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?

On the Rivers of Babylon – Jhbard Fogel 1920

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The Mitzvot – Just Tradition, Superstition, or More Than It Appears?

By Rabbi Aryel Nachman ben Chaim – 28 Sivan 5775
Why is it we Jews do what we do? Is it just tradition? Is it habit? Is it superstition (G-d forbid!). Just as the Torah has many levels, so to do the mitzvot have many levels. Let us just dip our hand in the waters of mitzvot and examine a few of these and try to derive the deeper meaning.
Many, including some of our own people, view these things as nothing more than superstition that should be cast aside. They do not see the deeper meaning inherent in the act. This is very unfortunate for them.
First, let us understand right versus left at its simplest level.
The right hand represents mercy. It also represents righteousness. It also represents strength. The left hand represents judgment. It also represents weakness.
Hence we have the Talmudic injunction One should push away with the left hand and draw close with the right hand”
In other words: One should push away with the left (push away with the weak hand an errant child, the sinner, etc.) and draw close with the right (draw close with strength and mercy the one who performs teshuvah, requests forgiveness, comes to study and learn, etc.).

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The Shame of the Relegation of the Convert to a Second Class Status in the Synagogue

When a person comes to the shul and says s/he’s Jewish, you take them at their word. Until they say or do something that causes you suspect they are lying, you have no right to act as inquisitors. Whether the person was born Jewish or converted is non of your business, and should not even enter you mind. To cross-examine them in a effort to find  out is a violation of at least ten laws.

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Shiv’ah Asar B’Tammuz 5777

Today is Shiv’ah Asar B’Tammuz (17th of Tammuz), the day when we fast and mourn the beginning of the events culminating in the destruction of the first and second Beit Hamikdash.

Some of you may have seen my post on Facebook yesterday about what an absolutely crappy day I had. Well, I experienced a significant monetary loss. I was very upset, devastated and depressed since I was under the impression that someone else was taking care of this issue. Turns out that information that should have been forwarded to the attorney had not been, and once the money was taken, there was nothing that could be done to get it back.

I forced myself to say “All is for our own good!”, trying very hard to believe this and searching for an answer as to: “why this, and why now!” I prayed that HaShem would open my mind and my eyes as to what I had done that I needed to perform teshuvah for, what had I left undone that I needed to complete, what had I not done that needed to be done, and what was the lesson I had to learn from this? But all the time I tried very hard to cling to “All is for our own good!”.

I spent extra time on Minchah; concentrating on every word and it’s meaning looking and asking for answers. After completing Minchah, I saw a story of a Chassid who had been trapped under the aron kodesh when he attempted to keep it from falling over (to protect the Sefer Torahs within). The aron weighed around 3000 pounds, and it took the fire department to extricate him, but he emerged unscathed because, when the aron fell, it fell with the doors open and he was safely ensconced in the space with the Torah Scrolls.

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The American Revolution and the Jews

Today, in the United States of America, we celebrate Independence Day, or the 4th of July as it is also known. But how many Jews know the significant role Jews played in the formation of the USA.

On this Independence Day, let us not forget the role the Jews played in the formation of the United States of America.

Jews like Haym Solomon who financed the Revolution when the Continental Congress was essentially broke (and who was never repaid). Without his financial backing and brokering, the American Revolution would have literally failed;

Mordecai Sheftall of Savannah, Georgia who was head of the local revolutionary committee responsible for provisioning soldiers;

Reuben Etting of Baltimore;

Abgail Minis of Charleston, South Carolina;

Aaron Lopez of Newport;

Rabbi Gershom Mendes Seixas of the Mill Street Synagogue;

David Salisbury Franks and Isaac Franks, who served as officers in the Continental Army;

Isaac Moses of Philadelphia who outfitted privateers to harass British shipping.

And many others of whom history has ignored or forgotten.

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Summer Time and The Living Is Easy!

Yes, it is summer and we are busy with the garden, painting the shed, putting in new garden beds, and so on. We would also like to take a week up on the lake just to get away and get reconnected to HaShem in a meaningful way. So, posts may be a little sporadic until we come back in September with our new broadcast schedule.

In the mean time, here are a few more pictures of Zeyde’s Garden!

Zeyde plants some Basil

Peppers Peas and Tomato Cages

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