Choose Life – Surviving the War of Gog and Magog / World War III

rav-chaimI was once in Yeshiva learning with my friend Avraham. We were discussing the Redemption from Egypt. We learned that the redemption of the Jews – in the times the Messiah would come – which is now – would be somewhat parallel to the redemption in Egypt. We tried to imagine what could the parallels be & What would happen to convince all the nations the truth of the Torah’s laws.

Certain things we do know – that in the times of Messiah people will align themselves with either good or evil. If the people align themselves with evil – the Messiah will come on a white donkey – representing his domination of materialism. If we are worthy he will come down with a chariot. If we are worthy Messiah will come peacefully. If not there will a great war – called the war of Gog & Magog apparently it is World War III. Gog is a great leader that will lead the nations against Israel. Some say this war started the 25th of Elul 5775 – Sept 11, 2015.

Everyone has a destiny. Some can change their destiny by changing their ways. A person who was a thief can become righteous. Apparently the times of the Messiah will be times to shape up. If a person commits to becoming better – ie, aligning their thoughts and deeds according to Torah they will survive. Jews commit to adapting the 13 principles of Judaism of the Rambam and following the 613 commandments according to the Shulchan Aruch / Jewish Code of Law. Non-Jews that commit to following the 7 Noahide laws by the Torah will more likely survive.

Your Opinion or Your Life

It is quite simple. Instead of aligning one’s opinions, attitudes and actions according to the society and popular culture, one adapts them to follow Torah ways. I was once immersed in following fads and fashions of society. I had a wake-up call that prompted me to change my ways. I slowly started aligning my ways with the pleasant paths of the Torah. I am much happier for the effort.

In the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt, Many Egyptians died for having persecuted, tortured and discriminated against the Jews.

During the 9th plague – the plague of darkness those Jews that refused to leave Egypt died. They were so assimilated into Egyptian Society – that when Moses came, they paid no heed to him. They were not interested in his message that the time had come for the Jews to to be redeemed. They perished.

The Great Rabbis of this generation are urging people to do Teshuva / Repent according to the Torah’s Ways.

The Great Rabbi, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky recently gave the message:

Rav Mishkovsky brings Rav Kanievsky’s words – this is one of the critical hours for the Jewish People. Rav Kanievsky: “Go and inform Klal Yisrael that we are in the footsteps of Mashiach. Mashiach is about to arrive.”

Request in the name of Rav Kanievsky: “To the children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’aqov, even those called ‘secular’, I was asked by my teacher and my rabbi, shlita, to inform that whoever wants to be saved in this generation, it is only via Torah [Torah learning and Observance] and gemilut chasadim [Doing acts of Kindness], there’s no other way. …Take a loudspeaker and advertise it all over the country.”

We pray that as many righteous people as possible will be saved in the war of Gog uMagog. The Torah gives freedom of choice to choose good and bad, right and wrong, righteousness or evil, life or death. You have the choice in your hands. Choose Life!

The Point of Life – I Don’t Know Yet

158330438xAsk People what’s the point of life. Many will respond “I Don’t Know Yet” “Yet” is an important word. Yet means that they still hope on finding the point of life.

The Torah, tells you the point of life: To do as much good as one can. Many want to do good but don’t know how. Like the Kuzari – the King of Kazar – who wanted to find out Truth by asking a Priest, An Imam and a Rabbi. His thoughts were good, but his actions needed to be fixed.

After thorough investigation and contemplation of comparative religion, the King of the Kazars finally converted to Judaism with his people.

Apparently the Main point of the Book “the Kuzari” is to investigate why Torah observance primes. One point it makes that some call the Kuzari Principle – because Torah is the only book of law that was given by G-d in the presence of millions of witnesses. All other religions were started by one man and then transmitted. When the Torah was transmitted – it wasn’t just one man who heard G-d, nor two, nor a thousand it was over 3 million people who heard G-d speaking directly to each individual. No other way of life claims this.

G-d knows the future. He knew that other religions would claim the title of truth. So G-d gave the written Torah and the Oral Torah. The Written Torah is not fully understandable without its explanation – the Oral law – now comprised by the Talmud and Midrash. G-d is also omniscient – knowing all – does not change His law. He will not give a law and then revoke it. I never saw any one who said that we should revoke the law of stopping at a traffic light. Traffic Laws are so fundamental that everybody agrees that they are needed for safety concerns.

The Torah explains the Point of life – by providing a detailed way of living – that guides a person reach their true potential in life.

The Torah has a two path system. One for Jews. One for Gentiles / Non-Jews. The Jews follow the 613 Commandments as explained in the Shulchan Aruch – Jewish Code of law. And the Gentiles follow their laws – the 7 Noahide Commandments.

Many gentiles and Jews eagerly seeking to find truth – if they pray to Hash-m to help them find truth and make the proper efforts – will eventually find Torah.

“Yet” is an important word.

Sukkot – Appreciating the Great Outdoors

Sukkah_in_Tel_AvivJudaism allows you to appreciate things that one takes for granted.

Judaism, as opposed to other ways of life, takes materialism and elevates it to spiritual. We don’t live ascetic lives. When we eat – we say a berakha / A blessing. This elevates our experience in eating and also elevates the food.

We work six days. The seventh we rest. We thus appreciate the work and the rest. We fast and eat. Thus we appreciate the food and the fasting.

On Sukkot – memorializing the Clouds of Glory that G-d surrounded us with in the dessert – we leave our homes and live outdoors in a temporary outside dwelling. We sleep, eat and dwell in the Sukkah. The Sukkah becomes our home and our home becomes secondary.

Thus we appreciate the outdoors and our homes, when we return. We appreciate what we have and what we don’t need. Sukkot is a time for us to spend with family, learn Torah and appreciate both. Sukkot reminds us that we are dependant on Hash-m. We learn that we are here in this temporal world for a short time before returning to our long-term dwelling – in the next world.

Being Prepared for Survival in the Nuclear Age

glass-of-waterAll the great Rabbis of this generation have proclaimed that we are in a period called in the Talmud “the footsteps of Mashiach / Messiah”. It is a period in which turmoil among nations will be common.

Advent of Messiah

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the Greatest Rabbis in the Generation, has exhorted Jews to return to Israel. He said to someone recently visiting him from Lakewood “Stay in Israel.” The Rabbi replied – but I am in charge of over 700 students in Lakewood.” He replied “If you don’t come now, it will be hard to find place on the airplanes to get here.”

Some stock experts are predicting the downturn of stock markets and the economy. Some are saying to prepare for survival – by stocking up on water or knowing how to produce water. (One simple method to distill water is to take a bowl, a cup, plastic wrap, a stone and salt water. Put salt water in bowl outside in the sun and put cup in the middle. put plastic wrap on top of bowl. Put rock on plastic wrap. Evaporated water will condense on plastic wrap, and drip into cup.) The best way is to prepare oneself spiritually.

There are ways to avoid the difficulties of this time and survive the storm.

Repentance and Yom Kippur – Opportunities to Clean the Slate

The 4 Steps of Repentance are
1. Regret – regretting what one did. Obviously one has to know what is right and wrong to regret. If one thinks stealing is right – they will not regret. To find out what is right and wrong – A Jew repents by looking at the 613 commandments or the Shulchan Aruch / code of Jewish Law – that regulates Jewish life. A gentile starts the process by looking at their the 7 Noahide Laws.
2. Cessation – Stopping doing the misdeed
3. Confession – Admitting to G-d / Hash-m the wrong that one did and asking for forgiveness
4. Commitment – Committing not to do the transgression again. One know one is forgiven if he or she finds oneself in the same situation and does not commit the impropriety

Repentance for things done against ones fellow must be accompanied by asking for forgiveness. Yom Kippur forgives transgressions against G-d. But to receive pardon from transgressions between man and man, one must ask for forgiveness.

If you are holding a grudge – let go. Forgive and forget and G-d will forgive you. Don’t speak badly about others and the accusers in Heaven will not speak about you.

Cleansing Oneself with Water

Water distillation is like the process of Teshuva / repentance. The pure water rises. When we set our sights towards being good and doing the will of G-d – we purify ourselves. The pure goes up and the bad deeds remain down. Thus we purify ourselves and wipe the slate clean.

One who learns Torah – which is compared to water – as its study cleanses a person – will gain special protection. (note: There are only certain parts of the Torah that Gentiles can learn – a gentile who learns about the 7 Noahide laws is praiseworthy. Other parts of Torah – that a gentile may learn – one must inquire by a competent Torah Jew or Orthodox Rabbi.) When one fills oneself with the wellspring of Torah G-d will offer them special protection.

On Rosh HaShannah we are compared to Sheep. To decide which sheep were to be offered on the Altar – they were placed in a fenced area with a passage to another. As each sheep would pass through they were counted. The 10th sheep would be marked with a red mark. If a sheep was smart – if it wanted to get out of being offered – they could jump into water and wash away the red mark. We too have a chance on Yom Kippur to repent and wash away our past failings.

What many people forget are three things:

1. The Paths of G-d are Pleasant -The pleasantness of following Torah, of being close to G-d, of raising righteous children of having a positive marriage cannot be explained in this short article. G-d is our Father and wants our happiness. G-d knows the true path to happiness – He did make humankind. Like a father, He wants a child to enjoy a fulfilling relationship with Him. Thus he gave the Torah. Some think that if I follow Judaism I will be subject to restrictions. They overlook that – on the contrary, the guidelines are to give a person more pleasure.

2. Any Physical punishment that occurs to a person or nation is because they did something spiritually wrong – according to Torah. For instance people who worship Idols – like an object, or man, or a tree – will be punished because they disregarded the Noahide law prohibiting idol worship. So if a person, changes their ways to correspond to the Torah’s laws they can avoid punishment. The punishment can be used to propel the person to make amends with G-d or can be wasted by ignoring its spiritual message to improve ones ways.

3. Each person has freedom of choice to change for the better
– no matter where a person is terms of their level in Torah observance – Jewish or Gentile they can repent and be forgiven by G-d. (A gentile / non-Jew need not convert to Judaism to follow Torah they just have to follow their Noahide laws as outlined in the Torah.) Once someone said to me “I am unworthy of doing good.” I should have responded “The fact that you feel unworthy means that you have good inside you – meaning you are very worthy.” Every person can better themselves.

Settling of Accounts

The goal of the Messianic period is to settle accounts before the world reaches its true perfection. True perfection means that peace will reign in the world and people will recognize the G-d of the Jews as the true G-d.

Apparently if all the people choose to follow the G-d of the Jews – they will survive. If they don’t they may not. Thus this time is a proper time to do Teshuva / repent. A non-Jew repents by abandoning their old ways and follow the 7 Noahide commandments. A Jew repents by following the Torah – as explained by the Shulchan Aruch / code of Jewish Law – that regulates Jewish life.

All those nations and individuals that tormented the Jews will be punished. All those that were good will be rewarded – possibly with their survival.

The Torah has prophesies about what will happen in these times. (Talmud : Sanhedrin 97a). In Torah there are accepted ways to interpret verses from the Five books of Moses and verses that are interpreted in the Oral Torah – including the Talmud.

The Prophesies stated can be interpreted for the good or for the “will be good”. America is called a Malchut Shel Chesed – a government of Kindness. It has done kindness with other nations that no other nation has done.

Yet America does have its failings – One such failing is the legitimization of same gender marriage. G-d hates improper marital relations.

Midrash Rabbah (26:9) tells us that “The generation of the Flood was not wiped out until they wrote marriage documents for the union of a man to a male or to an animal.”

Another Such failing is that America is the reincarnation of Rome. Rome committed terrible atrocities against the Jewish people. Now G-d wants to settle the accounts.

According to one Rabbi in the Talmud – which was originally the Oral law, given to Moses at Mount Sinai by G-d – There is a prophesy (Talmud Yoma 10a) that says “Iran / Persia will overtake Rome (ie, America).” Another says that “Rome will overtake Iran.” Apparently it could go either way. Either scenario is feasible, now that Iran has gone Nuclear. If America plays its cards right – it could possibly be saved.

How? G-d basically wants people to follow the Torah – Jews and Gentiles. The Torah says that all people are to follow the 7 Noahide laws, because G-d in the Torah that he Gave to Moses said so. For some it will mean abandoning their physical gods or god of materialism. For some it will mean they must abandon their hatred of the Jews. All apparently will have to follow the laws to survive.

G-d does not want the death of the wicked. He wants them to abandon their evil ways and become righteous. Thus any person, who wants to be saved has a way of survival – to follow the laws of the Torah and they will be considered righteous and thus likely be saved.

The Torah says for “To avoid the pains of before the Messiah, a Jew should scrupulously observe having the 3 meals on Shabbat”

The Ben Ish Hai interprets certain prophesies in the Torah – in a positive manner. Others Interpret it in a way that are pretty scary and we see the signs of that that is happening. One such sign is that if the Jews do not repent G-d will appoint a ruler, like Haman, to force them to change their ways by his evil decrees.” But it doesn’t have to be such. If Each Jew takes upon themselves some principal commandments – like observing the Shabbat / Sabbath & Keeping Kosher and observing family purity – they will probably be saved.

Why the Pain? Using Adversity to Grow

2010-kawasaki-ninja-zx-10r-motorcyclesA Young man came to Rabbi Noach Weinberg of Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem.

“Rabbi, I’m really close to G-d!”

“Yes. Can You Explain” said the rabbi.

“I was speeding on my motorcycle on a narrow road winding around a mountain. All of a sudden, In front of me is this huge truck. I swerved out of the way. Me & my motorcycle flew over the side. A large branch, jutting out of the mountain was in just the right place. I grabbed it and hung on until help came to rescue me. Boy does G-d love me!”

The rabbi replied “Yes you are right. But who do you think sent the truck?”

Who is Wise

Intelligent people ask questions. Other people are smart because they don’t ask questions.

The wise person, knows when to ask and when to accept.

Smart is Sometimes Not Asking Questions

When I was young I searched for respite from the troubles and concerns of youth. I jumped into Torah Judaism to find a solution. I accepted with no questions – not because I am so spiritual.I accepted because it seemed like the only solution to the pain. I reasoned – if I am suffering, it must mean that G-d wants something from me. If I do it Perhaps, I will be offered some respite from the emotional pain. Looking back, I see it was the right thing to do. Now I do ask questions to understand the how and the why. But my difficulties prompted me to accept doing the Jewish laws / Halacha without question.

Obviously – the base of rationality must be there to accept doing without question. When Jews accepted The Torah, they first said “We will Do & We Will Hear” (the reasons). They accepted because of the relationship they had built with G-d and the fact that Millions of Witnesses viewed the great plagues and the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. A claim that no other way-of-life makes or claims. It was the only time in history that G-d appeared to an entire nation of millions of people. Given both of these factors – it made sense to accept the Halacha / jewish Laws like keeping kosher & observing Shabbat.

Many people dismiss religion because its start is based upon a single individual’s dream. They say “why follow a dreamer – because he had a dream?” Many reject many religions because they are based upon this principal. One single individual has a dream or vision and people follow blindly. Those who dismiss say it is akin to following one person who said he sighted a UFO vs. accepting a news report covered by all major and minor news organizations. Judaism is based upon millions of people who witnessed and heard G-d giving the Torah at Mount Sinai.

Thus my accepting without question the Torah Laws was a logical decision – regardless of the fact that I didn’t do it for the logic. I followed, because I was in pain, and had the intuition that G-d was sending me these trials because He wanted something from me. The natural thing for me to do was to follow the laws that – he gave in the Torah (given by G-d before millions of witnesses).

Due to my pain – I became a hermit, a loner and I was lonely. I estranged myself from people. I must admit that turning to G-d, things didn’t automatically get better. Someone said – G-d is not a vending machine that you put in your coin and out comes a soda. Or put in a prayer and out comes a solution.

Pain is Part of the Solution

The solution to the problem is sometimes the effort that you put in to better yourself.

The pain prompted me to seek a relationship with Hash-m / G-d. Before G-d was convenient to turn to when I had a chance. Maybe to talk to once in a blue moon when I needed something.

Now my pain prompted me to turn to Him daily.

I unintentionally alienated some friends – because I needed to be alone. But I gained a new relationship with G-d. The first times in this relationship are so special. But after one has to work at it to experience the thrill. First G-d gives you a gift – then you have to work at it. It is like marriage – first one becomes enthralled by their partner, but afterwards one has to work to make the love last.

This does not mean that developing a relationship with G-d alienates you from friends. On the contrary – Judaism is very social. One prays with a congregation. One joins a community. One is expected to get married and have children. Being involved with Judaism prompts one to: Make friends. Get married and have children. Develop your relation with G-d and community. Do mitzvot. Join Mitzvah groups like Bikur Holim / a Group that visits and provides food and support for the infirm.

Making Priorities

As a youth I learned an important Hashkafa / Jewish Outlook from Torah. There is the Principal and the Secondary.

Many of our problems are due to our putting the our efforts on the secondary and putting aside the principal.

A General Rule that I learned in Business is try to solve the root of the problem.

As I progressed in becoming more spiritually attuned – I realized the more spiritually attuned you are, the closer you become to your real self. The pain I experienced sloughed off all these side pursuits – that were distancing myself from the real me.

The real goal in Judaism is not to become a religious – it is to uplift yourself through the means of Torah to become your true self. Repentance is called return / teshuva. It could mean that one is returning to their Jewish roots – meaning that they were never estranged but just distanced from the source.

Another possible explanation of Teshuva is Returning to your real-self. Kids are usually joyful. Why? Because they are their real selves. They don’t try to impress with nice externalizations. They express what is in their innermost self. In Judaism – the Torah gives us the opportunity to return to our real self and re-experience the Joy of youth.

Not that you become a different person by following Torah – it is that you become closer to who you really are, which allows you to reach your purpose and potential in life.

This is one of the real reasons why G-d sends challenging situations our way. For us to remove our external facade and reach into our real being.

What is the real you?

I hear people blasting music in cars parallel. I ask – is it that they love the music and are enjoying or are they trying to drown their sorrows by playing music.

We see the Ads – a single man happy with his new fast car. Exhilarating. Fast. Cool.

Wow. What a super car. Ferrari. Lamborghini. Maserati. Aston Martin. Tesla. Rolls.

Wow. What speed and excitement.

I want one.

I drive at times and catch a glimpse of one of these super cars. They speed past me – so fast that I don’t even notice the brand. Do I really want one? It’s tempting.

Really, I have not the bank account that will finance one. Also, I could buy a small home for the price of one of those cars.

Opportunity Cost

In Economics we learn of a concept called opportunity cost. The classic example is guns or butter (or so it was so in my days).

Should a country spend money on guns – the military and not buy butter – necessary food supplies?

Apparently – there is a balance – a country needs some of both.

Opportunity cost means, if we buy one – we cannot buy the other or as much.

Economics teaches us another principle.

The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility.

It means – the more consumption of a particular item – the less satisfaction you get from that item. It basically explains the attitude of the worker in the ice cream shop. First day – boss says eat as much ice cream as you want. The worker is thrilled. First Day wow. Second day. Good. Third day – Already tired of ice cream.

Society and marketers plays tricks on us.

They show us how you feel that first minute when you just get that car. When you just get that ice cream. When you get that house.

But it wears off. Society sells you glamour. So a person searches for glamour. Perhaps he finds it. Perhaps he doesn’t. Let’s say he does. After a couple days – it wears off.

Society will sell you on the short term. The moment of excitement. That’s why a movie changes shots about every 3 seconds.

Torah says “Work on yourself” Be happy with the little victories. As you conquer your desires that sometimes bring you down – you automatically lift yourself up to a greater state of being. You thus feel real happiness because it was you who achieved a greater level of greatness. You improved your inner being, rather than bought another external gadget – that is not you – that gives you pleasure for the first day or so.

When you improve yourself you are happier with yourself. When you buy something new – you do not improve yourself.

It doesn’t mean that you should refrain from buying the new. The Torah wants a person to enjoy life to the fullest. Just use the new for good. And know what is the principal and what is secondary. The external is secondary. The internal is primary!

Jewish Biblical Prophesy – Iran, Saudi Arabia & America – Advice on Survival

roosterI Heard a story that describe a possible scenario of what will happen at the time of Messiah.

It was said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan Eibeshitz by Yerachmiel Tilles co-founder of Ascent-of-Safed on the Torah Reading / Parshat Balak. He has many excellent Jewish stories on his website.

Chicken Little

A royal minister once debated with Rabbi Yonatan Eibeshitz in front of the king.

“Your holy books say that the Mashiach will come as a poor man riding on a donkey,” the minister said. “How is this possible? After all, he will have to conquer all the world’s mighty kings and have them all yield to him.”

“I will give you the answer in two months,” Rabbi Yonatan replied.

Rabbi Yonatan then asked the king for permission to order in the king’s name each of the royal ministers to buy a chicken, care for it very well, and bring it to the palace in two month’s time. The king agreed, and Rabbi Yonatan issued the order.

Each minister brought a large chicken, personally cared for it, and fattened it for two months. On the appointed day they brought their chickens to the royal palace.

As they entered, they saw Rabbi Yonatan standing there holding a small, scrawny chicken, all skin and bones.

“Put all the chickens in one room,” Rabbi Yonatan instructed.

The ministers did as they were told. Rabbi Yonatan included his own scrawny chicken along with the others. Then he, the ministers, and the king lined up outside, looking in the windows to see what would happen.

The strong, healthy chickens began to fight among themselves, clawing at one another, drawing blood. At the end of the lively battle, all of them were lying dead. Only then did Rabbi Yonatan’s chicken, which had been hiding in a corner during the fighting, emerge from its hiding place. It went over to the dead birds and began pecking at them.

The minister laughed at the spectacle. Then Rabbi Yonatan explained.

“This is the way it will be in the times of Mashiach. Kingdoms will war with one another until all the mighty kings will topple from their thrones. Then our king, Mashiach, will come and conquer them all. May it happen speedily in our days. Amen!”

Adapted from “Stories my Grandfather told me” (Mesorah) by Zev Greenwald]

Time before the Jewish Redemption

I recently found the source of this story. It is in a Sefer / Torah Book – the Yalkut Shimoni (Yeshaya / Isaiah 499). The Yalkut Shimoni [which culls from sources of 2000 years ago] touches on many future scenarios both for the nation of Israel and for the world. In its section on the biblical Book of Isaiah and the prophecies contained therein, the Yalkut Shimoni states:

“Rabbi Yitzhak Says: In the year the Messiah will arrive – all the nations of the world will antagonize each other and threaten with war. The king of Persia (Iran) antagonizes the King of Arabia (Saudi Arabia) with war. The King of Arabia goes to Edom (The Western Countries, headed by USA) for advice. Then the King of Persia destroys the world (and since that cannot be done with conventional weapons it must mean nuclear which can destroy most of the world). And all the nations of the world begin to panic and are afraid, and Israel too is afraid as to how to defend from this. G-d then says to them “Do not fear for everything that I have done is for your benefit, to destroy the evil kingdom of Edom and eradicate evil from this world so that the Messiah can come, your time of redemption is now.”

I saw a further explanation of this and a further prophesy in the Talmud – About Iran Attacking America Here.

Pretty Scary. Even Scarier when recently the King of Saudi Arabia came to the US to consult with the President of the US and the Iran Deal Pending.

Saving Oneself in World War III

Apparently G-d’s real desire is that the return to the ways of Torah and the Non-Jews follow the 7 Noahide laws found in the Torah. If one sincerely follows them and prays to Hash-m / G-d to be saved during these times- he will be.

Ode to Yosi Piamenta – a Loss to the Jewish & Music World

piamentaYosi Piamenta was an expert musician. He was rated as one of the greatest 8 guitar players in the world. His recent passing saddened those who knew him.

Yosi’s goal was to make others happy – with his music and other means he had available.

Although at certain periods – he did live in New York – his home was Israel.

“My home was always in Israel,” said Piamenta. “I just rented an apartment in New York, but I was really just living out of my suitcase.”

In an article in VIN about him it says

“I’ve had the opportunity to use him many times as a featured guitarist at concerts or at chasanas, (weddings)” singer Srully Williger told VIN News. “You would think someone with such talent would be difficult to get to or a baal gayva (Haughty). But Yossi was never like that. You were always able to get to him in a second. He was always so nice and always did whatever you wanted, when it came to the music, the price or everything else. It was all about helping people and being able to bring simcha (happiness) into their lives. He was wonderfully sweet, the sweetest guy you could ever meet.”

“I worked with him for many years and at dozens of wedding,” added Shlomie Friedman of the Shlomie Friedman Orchestra. “Besides the chesed that everyone knows of running to play for sick people that would appreciate it, the thing I remember about Yosi zichrono l’vracha (of blessed memory) was that he wanted to make the chosson (groom), kallah (bride) and the guests happy. Obviously it was parnassah (livlihood) and he was paid, but if for some reason he felt that on a particular night he wasn’t able to bring joy to the people he was disappointed. That was Yosi: a true person of simcha (joy) who exuded simcha and just wanted everyone to be happy. Yehay zichro boruch. (May his memory be blessed)”

“He was a person that went through the whole Sefer Tehillim / Psalms twice a day,” said Mendlowitz. “A true baal teshuva ( Returnee to Judaism) who would forfeit nothing, I mean nothing, when it came to keeping Shabbos (the Sabbath).”
“Klal Yisroel (the people of Israel) lost a diamond, a precious diamond,” added Mendlowitz.

His goal was to make the other people happy. We are told a story in the Torah about two people who would go around cheering other people up. These people are – people who merit a portion in the next world – the Talmud says.

In contrast to others – his music was about making others rejoice.

My Short Brush with the Piamentas – True Joy vs. Vain Fun

Judaism wants people to be happy – truly happy. There is a difference between what people call pleasure today and what is real pleasure according to Torah. Pleasure in Torah is pleasure with purpose. Pleasure in Today’s society is pleasure without purpose. Pleasure in Torah is real pleasure. Pleasure in society is usually imaginary pleasure.

Rabbi Noach Weinberg – of Aish HaTorah – gave an example – two men – one a married Torah Jew and another a single secular person. (I was in both camps.) Each one looks at the other and says “Poor Guy, He has no pleasure.” How so? Imaginary pleasure – that one which leaves a person unsatisfied. (ie, like the song “I can’t get no satisfaction”) Real Pleasure gives a person satisfaction and meaning. Let’s take the example of a person today who dates for fun without intention of marriage and a person who marries to build a Torah family – a Torah Jew.

A Swinging guy goes from one relationship to another to pass a fun time. Which never amounts to building anything – but the fact that he had a good time. He looks at the Torah Jew and thinks “Poor Guy – No Pleasure.”

A Torah Jew builds a relationship with his or her spouse. Every word, act and moment is a stone in building a beautiful realationship. (Intentionally misspelled) Each disagreement (provided used properly) or special time is a brick in building the relationship. Thus the Torah Jew thinks to himself about the Single “Swinging” Guy – “Poor Guy – No Pleasure.”

Yosi Piamenta Knew the difference between True Joy and vain fun.

Once I was at my cousin’s wedding. The Piamentas were the band for the small wedding in a nice Kosher restaurant. They were family with the bride. The music was joyful – like other Jewish music.

The people were enjoying themselves. Men were dancing together. Women were dancing separately. All of a sudden the music stopped in the middle of the song. I wondered – what happened? I then heard – that a man and a women started to dance together. To avoid the improper mixing of genders they stopped the music in the middle. When they stopped – some were briefly annoyed but they got the message – that the Piamentas wouldn’t tolerate mixed dancing.

Why Mixed Dancing is Inappropriate

There is great Joy in a Torah Jew’s wedding. It is because of the joy of holiness. In holiness there is Joy. For being close to G-d is the greatest Joy. G-d dislikes immorality and inappropriateness in relationships. When there is inappropriateness he withdraws. When there is appropriate boundaries – G-d / Hash-m provides his
presence – which causes great Joy at the wedding.

Today’s society mixed dancing in certain celebration is common and viewed as normal. In a Torah wedding it is completely inappropriate. Unfortunately – in mixed dancing – men dance with other men’s wives sometimes leading to catastrophic results – breaking families. If it doesn’t break families – it breaks the heart of the wife whose husband is dancing with a strange woman. It breaks the heart of the man whose wife is dancing with a strange man. All – in the name of a little vain fun. That is why it is inappropriate in Torah weddings. All these pains are avoided in a Torah wedding – because the men dance separately and the women dance separately – separated by a divider – Mechitza.

Yosi Piamenta’s message in stopping playing – was deeper than just an act of protest of mixed dancing – his ultimate message was that true Joy is a consequence of investing in building a relationship through Torah ideals. Vain Fun is just pleasure without purpose – to pass time.

Yosi – exuberated with true Joy – through his music – and gave Joy to people. His Legacy and Music Will Live On.

Market Crash Caused by Iran Deal

2nd-temple-modelThe Torah recognizes the psychology of people. Many Jewish civil laws are based on a person’s psychology. The Beit Din / Jewish court of law uses certain principles to determine the truth of a case. The Jewish Court System is based on the laws of G-d, and determines the truth of a person’s arguments and the law, given by G-d, that applies – based upon the facts. Determining truth or if one is believable, one must know psychology. Even non-Jews sometimes approach a Beit Din for a fair judgment.

There is a well known story of King Solomon. Once two women came to him seeking judgment. Each one was claiming a baby. One said it is mine. The other said it is mine. King Solomon said – the law for two people claiming an object is to give half to each. Accordingly, he said – the baby is cut in half. Hearing the law, One Woman cried and pleaded not to cut the baby in half. When King Solomon saw this he knew she was the real mother – for she really cared about the baby.

The stock market is a measure of the psychology of people. If people don’t believe in the future of a company they will sell – causing the price to go down. If stock holders and traders believe in the potential profit of a company they will buy -driving the price up. More demand, higher price.

If people believe in the future of a country they invest in it. If Iran gets nuclear weapons the world will become a more dangerous place – not just for Israel – but for the entire world. It is possible that if the Iran deal goes through – the Stock Market will tumble, prices of Real Estate in the US will fall, and the economy of Arab nations will likely fall – Billions of Dollars if not trillions will be lost.

But another factor is is that living in Israel might be safer than other nations. Remember the Operation Protective Edge – Over 4,000 rockets were fired and G-d protected the people of Israel from much calamity. Many People hearing of the deal might be prompted to leave their countries. Thus causing brain drain to the countries they leave from.

Uncertainty breads fear. Fear breads distrust in the future. Distrust in the future causes people to sell off possessions to keep money in a safer place. Will banks be broken? I don’t know.

The predictions of the time preceding the arrival of the Jewish Messiah are becoming clearer.

One of them being – That a coin will not be found in a pocket.

So what is the solution? Pray to Hashem for a good future. See if there are any ways that you could improve yourself. Giving money to a reputable Torah Institution helps a person preserve their wealth.

Someone said – If one believes in the stock market, when it goes up – one is happy. If it goes down, one is sad. But if you Believe in Hash-m / G-d your happiness is always possible – because G-d always does good for you.

Many difficulties arrive to help propel a person to higher heights and better themselves through overcoming challenges and appealing to G-d and to help a person improve their relationship with the Creator of the Universe – Hashem.

If we do do our efforts in becoming better people by ourselves – making peace with our fellow, acting properly in Business, making a Kiddush Hash-m / sanctification of the Name of Hashe-m, sincerely doing the Mitzvoth, we do not need all these travails to prompt us to do Teshuva / Repent. G-d wants the Heart and for people to be sincerely devoted to him through doing the commandments – The Jews their 613 Mitzvot and the Non-Jews their 7 Mitzvot. Once we repent the “medicine” of Travails is not needed, and we can live a life of peace and serenity, evermore.

In the Talmud, in that section of the predictions, of the time of the Messiah, it says – “We only have our Father in Heaven (Hash-m) upon whom we can rely.”

Trump & the Limo’s Flat Tire – Was He Given Reward in this World?

98-02_Lincoln_Town_Car_limousineAbout 2000 years ago, conflict broke out between Greeks and Jews in Jerusalem and Caesarea.

According to the Talmud, Nero went to Jerusalem and shot arrows in all four directions. All the arrows landed in the city. He then asked a passing child to repeat the verse he had learned that day. The child responded, “I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel” (Ez. 25,14). Nero became terrified, believing that God wanted the Temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed, but would punish the one to carry it out. Nero said, “He desires to lay waste His House and to lay the blame on me,” whereupon he fled and converted to Judaism to avoid such retribution.

The Talmud adds that the sage Reb Meir Baal HaNess, one of the greatest Torah Scholars in his time, was a descendant of Nero.

Nero’s having a descendant of such high stature among the Jewish people was one of his *rewards.

Why is it a reward? A person will receive part of the rewards of their children. If their children do Mitzvot and good deeds – a person will be rewarded in heaven. If they follow after vanity and do bad for the world, apparently the parents will lose their stature in heaven.

About 3,000 years ago G-d gave the Jews the Torah. Torah is His blueprint for creation. The laws of nature and spiritual laws follow Torah laws.

Thus, apart from one oneself doing the commandments – One of the greatest things a person can hope for is that their children go in the path of the Torah. For every mitzvah – commandment that a person does – provides a reward to the parents.

One of the reasons people do Mitzvah or organize Torah learning in memory of a deceased love one is that the departed receive a portion of the mitzvah that is done for them in heaven. Thus one is able to send a “gift” to a departed loved one by doing a Mitzvah in their honor. In the next world – a person enjoys the reward they built by doing Mitzvot on Earth. In the next world one cannot earn reward. He must rely on others he or she left on earth to continue his or her legacy of doing mitzvot or learning Torah.

A Story.

Once a young Torah learner was riding down the road. He saw a limo with a flat tire. He decided to stop and help.

He helped the limo driver change the tire. Who was riding in the limo? Donald Trump. He thanked the young Torah learner and took down his coordinates.

Soon after – when the Torah learner went to pay his outstanding debts – he found they were paid. He inquired how is this so he didn’t pay them. He found out that Trump paid his outstanding debts.

Trump has a daughter – Ivanka – that became a righteous convert to Judaism. She follows the Jewish laws / Halacha of Torah – as all Orthodox Jews do.

What was Trump’s merit that he had such a daughter? Was it that he helped a Torah learner?

I don’t know.

In heaven – the world of truth – one will find out. Suffice to say that he must have done something good to have merited a Daughter that follows Torah.


*(We see also the power of sincere Teshuva / Repentance. That although Nero committed terrible acts in his lifetime, when he repented – he was forgiven. A Jew repents by feeling badly for one’s bad acts, committing not to do them again and commits to following Torah. A gentile does the same but commits to following the 7 Noahide laws.)

The Generation before Messiah & The Face of the Dog

BIG_47196Great Jewish sages of today say the arrival of Messiah is imminent.

The Messiah will bring peace to the world.

There are two ways for him to come -Either

Peacefully – if people have accepted to do good and follow the path of G-d as explained in the Torah (ie, Jews following their commandments and Gentiles following the 7 Noahide laws)


With Turmoil – If people don’t follow the path of G-d

Each is a possible scenario – as there must be freedom of choice.

Before the Messiah – the Jewish writings say:

“With the advent of the footsteps of Mashiach, insolence will increase and prices will soar; the vine will yield its fruit, yet wine will be dear; the government will turn to heresy and no one will rebuke them;… and the face of the generation will be like the face of the dog

So upon whom can we rely? — Upon our Father Who is in heaven.” [Sotah 9:15]

There are several interpretations

– A dog walks in front of its master. It seems to be leading but it looks towards its master to guide its path.
– If you throw a stick at a dog – the dog will bite the stick. (I never tried it, and I wouldn’t suggest you try either.)

A real leader will stand up for what is right. He will ignore his personal interests and look at the will of G-d and the interest of his city, state or country.

According to the first explanation it means that the leaders will look to their constituents to make decisions. They will not necessarily look to do what is right but to do what is popular.

The second explanation means – that people will see that they are being struck by a stick – so they will fight the stick. In my case, when I experienced suffering I thought G-d was sending me a message through the suffering – so I tried to shape up by making a resolutions to follow Torah. How well I did, I don’t know but at least I got the message.

Obviously, one must try to quell the symptoms, but the main point is to solve the main cause.

Today, some people fight the stick. Others apologize to the stick because if they were hit, it must mean that they did something bad. But really they should be apologizing to the one who threw the stick – not to the stick. They got the message that they should make amends – but are mistaken about with whom to make amends. The master (G-d) threw the stick, the stick is just an intermediary to inflict suffering – to awaken a person to do teshuva / return to G-d’s pleasant ways.

When we wake up to learn that the good and the difficult all come from G-d, we have a different perspective on life. As G-d is good, every event happens for the Good, and is an opportunity to become closer to Him.