The virtual Kehilla of Orthodox Jewry of Greater Montreal

Mi la'Shem Elai Malchus Prepration for Golus

The Talmud asks what is Chanuka? Rashi explains the question being - on what miracle was it established ?

The Gemera then recites the miracle of finding the jar of uncontaminated oil

A few days ago , I received froma friend an article about the Chanukah miracle in Buchenwald ,1944.A group of prisoners in the Valley of Death, prepared a small menorah and were saved at the last moment from being discoverd by the evil

Hanukkah candle lighting in Westerbork concentration camp.

 “ Dog”—that skinny little Unterschaarfuehrer....

You can read   Chanukah 1944 in Nieder-Orschel slave labor camp, a Buchenwald subcamp in Germany, is an excerpt of The Yellow Star by S.B. Unsdorfer.

in a moving article as told

 Being fortunate to be blessed with involvement with the world of torah and some contact with holy sages from a young age, I 'answered ' somewhat too quickly and glibly.But as  I started to do some writing ,moetze shabbas, I realized that I too needed a boost in my own faith.I find myself more inspired by the story of how Rabbi Shmelka, an inmate in Bergen Belson desperately searched for oil for the Chanukah lights, and 'miraculously' found some just in time for the lighting, but worried that the person who had prepared the light would go without.

“Several years later… he paid a visit to an acquaintance from the ‘old country’ — Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum. While they reminisced, the Rebbe mentioned that he had also been a prisoner in Bergen Belsen. ‘I was there a year before you,’ said the Rebbe. ‘I was rescued four days before Chanukah… I bribed several camp officials and put together a package of oil, cups, and wicks, which I then buried in a field. I always felt badly that my little menorah was never put to use.’

“Rabbi Shmelke smiled. ‘Your menorah was used. It dispelled the darkness for hundreds of Jews and helped at least one of them survive the war.’”

When King David writes, “For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness,” I don’t envisage an actual lamp. It is a Jewish mystical idea to liken the human soul to the flame on the wick of a candle, scintillating upwards, seeking to escape the clutches of the wick to unite with its Source above. I envisage King David here showing gratitude to the One who warms, heals, and illumines his soul; the earthly king of Israel showing gratitude to the King of Heaven for His willingness to chase the darkness from within."

Taken from A Well-Rooted Perspective” is the Internet version of a column of the same name that I write for the Religion page of my local newspaper. The following story is adapted from “Chanukah In Bergen-Belsen” by Libi Astaire,

We are iven 8 days to sing 'Maoz Tzur Yehuosi' to express our reliance on the 'Rock' of our Nation.As we pray through all the tribulations for our place of worship to be rebuilt and then - אז

1+7 = 8 , as the Maharal teaches 7 is nature, +1 , 8 is above nature,we will sing a song at the dedication of the altar.

The 'Chassid Yaavetz' is is quoted as saying that the miracle of the survival of our Nation, a 'lamb amongst 70 wolves' is far greater than any of the miracles recorded in the bible.

But too often ,in our time,the story of Chanukah is turned upside down by those who have rejected the oral law and tradition.And today , as b'h ,more and more of our people are returing to their roots spiritually and physically, and  we are starting to see a flicker of hope for the restoration of Zion, confusion ,politics and infighting seem to reign.

When Mattisyahu said 'mi la'Shem elai', it was not just a rebellion on the Greeks .Much more serious were the 'misyavnim', the Hellenized jews who had drifted away from our mesora.Our people ahve always been lovers of wisdom,so there was a natural drift to the allure of Greek culture.Actually , flowering of the Rabbinical tradition started with that cry of Mattisyhau; Maccabee games in Israel is not what it is all about.Neither does the IDF represent the Macabees as Netanyahu recently said to a group of religious soldiers, recenly enlisted, because Netanyahu , himself ,is still more or less 'Hellenized' and his vision is part of the problem, not the solution.

What about the gala event of cnadle lighting in the White House..

president_trump_hosts_white_house_hanukkah_reception_the_festival_of_lights ?

I don't believe that the president will  be able to rid the world of the cancer of anti semitism as he says ;if anything ,it seems to be on the rise more and more.What it does mean , is that with all the sufferings of the ages our people have gone through, the pendulum is swinging back, and we are starting to be recognized as fulfilling our National raison d'essence ' to be a 'Light unto the Nations.'

Ultimately , the only ones who can rid the world of anti semitism are ourselves.I don't mean only those who have openly rejected their people and show real enmity to what we are and meant to be as a "Holy Nation" and 'Kingdom of Priests'; I mean , even amongst ourselves , the "Observant'. Do we love Yidden unconditionally? Do we love the Torah the blueprint of our lives?Do we love the Land, where we can truly fulfill ourselves as servants of hakadosh boruch hu and where we unite as one people; the land of Israel, being that land where the mitzvos of 'arvus', responsibility one for the other kicks in?

This ,  I think ,is very obviously , a strong message  of the parshios we traditionally read in this time of Chanukah ; 'Vayeshev, Miketz, V'yigash.It was the hate betwen brothers which brought them down into exile.The libel of the 'stolen monies' and the 'stolen goblet' obviously hints to the many 'blood libels' the goyim have thrown at us through the generations (on a deeper level,it must connect to Rachel 'stealing ' her fathers' idol and hiding it with the excuse of being a 'niddah').

My Rebbe, a'h ,(the 'Pachad Yitzchok') did not accept the name 'shoa' or 'holocaust'as it denoted a breakdown of history.The horrors of the Nazis are clearly foretold in the curses of parshas ' bechukosai' and the gemerra clearly says it was due to 'sinas chinum ' , hate for no reason ,between yidden (actually the curses in bechukosai refer to the second churban as the Ramban points out.But as we consider the Rome to be Esau , and Amalek to be the illegitamate grandson,it is safe to consider the Nazis -Germany - neither holy , nor roman , nor an empire,as the finale of golus Edom.) .

We have a "kabbala" (tradition) that there are  2 Moshiachs - ben Yosef and ben Dovid.When Yosef ate ogether with his brothers, they were amazed how all were in their correct place.This is Yosef, the tzaddik, who withstands temptation and thereby prepares the people for the long years of golus, to stand together without losing their kedushe and chalile ,intermarry.

When Yehuda pleads with Yosef that he will take the place of Binyamin as a slave, he shows soemthing even greater - 'arvus' - responsibility one for the other.

We are one people, one neshema , united universally as the people who say together Shma Yisrael,haShem elokeinu , haShem echod,in all times and conditions,in this world and the other.

A little light can push away a great deal of darkness, when that light is pure.May we speedily see the Redemption as we all echo together the words 'mi Lashem Alai.'




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And Esuv Despised the Bechore ויתן יתן ויחזור ויתן

The World Commemorates the 100th Year of the Armistice ending the War which was supposed to end all wars

Esuv despised the Bechore

Our Rabbis taught that the torah was given to bring peace to the world.Has there ever been a people more abused and hurt than our own 'Chosen ' People?

For ourselves ,living in the protection, b'h,in the western hemisphere, it interesting,how  both the US and Canada emerged with a strength and 'inner' pride in their deciding role in ending that conflict.Trudea is reported to have said'...

At dawn Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to Vimy Ridge, the battlefield in northern France where Canada found its sense of self when it defeated German opposition against the odds.

Standing amid the white headstones against an ashen sky, Trudeau addressed the fallen, saying what Canada has achieved in the past century has been “a history built on your sacrifice. You stand for the values on which Canada was built.”

But a scant 29 years later, the war resumed and consumed 6 million of our people (and altogether 50 million people).

Why did the brocho to Yaakov have to come through deception, and if we are truly the  'Chosen People", isn't that actually 'unfair?'

Anyone who learns the parshios of the week with a little thought must be amazed how different 'history ' looks from the standpoint of our holy torah, than in the world about.Whereas in the normal worldview we  discuss countries growing and waning , warring with eachother, and disappearing,clashes of culture, and movements, our holy torah discusses the private and quiet going ons of a family,progressively becoming more distinct.Yichus and family purity are foundational.In fact ,it would seem that may be that is why the Matriachs had to come from the family of Avraham, since their family tree goes back pure to Adom haRishon (to the best of my knowledge, the only such family in the world).

My Rebbeim taught that the family - nation to come from the 'seed" of Avraham, has as its purpose and destiny to bring the world to fulfilment of the Creater's original plan in creating 'Man' in His Image." Our job is to live life here on earth knowing that our personal fulfillment and the fulfilment of the whole universe lies in accepting His Majesty, here,in this world, and in the next.

The way ,one of my Rebbeim puts it ,if we are not the tikun , then we are nothing.

This is something intensely personal, and must be rediscovered in every generation and by every individual. I am not sure, but maybe that is why,that 'Yaakov ', the 'deceptor' has to continually find himself as "Yisrael', who has "striven with Man and with Angels".Every Rosh haShana (the birthday of Isaac) we blow the shofer of the ram which took Isaac's place and on Yom Kippur ,one goat is slaughtered in holiness and one sent to 'Azzazel.'

From the moment Yakkov said to his father, "I am Esau, your first born", we all have that option to take the role of the goy in our life (except a jew is always a Jew , no matter what, since Yaakov merited that all his children were to follow in the ways of haShem מטתו שלמה  ).And actually , Yaakov kept not only his own role as the devoted jew but that of his brother as the man of the world  (that is why he needed to marry two sisters)

The Ribono Shel Olam judges us as we judge ourselves.

Isaac, who placed himself on the altar, cannot be the one to properly choose to give over worldly blessings.Isaac lives secluded in a different univerese.Most of active history in the development of our people goes through Avraham and Yaakov.Yet the chazal teach that it is Isaac's prayers which actually save us from judgement on the Day of Judgement.

Our job as the 'kingdom of Priests' is to be the 'bechor', the firstborn who brings brocho to the world ברכה - בכרה

When Esau 'despised the Bechore, he didn't realize the brochos come as a result of accepting the bechore.They have the same letters, just changed about a little.The worldly blessings is an aid for us to be able to serve haShem as Yaakov clearly and humbly says by the Vision of the ladder  - אם יהי'א' עמדי ושמרני בדרך אשר אנוכי הולך ונתן

לי לחם לאכול ובגד ללבוש ושבתי בשלום אל בית אבי

והי' ה' לי לא'

The Kli Yakor explains that Yaakov  felt he needed shemira from sin.He needed very simple basic needs to be fulfilled so that he could return to his  father's home filled with knowing haShem and pure devotion.

Since Cain killed his brother, our instinctive need to connect and serve our Creator has only brought about jealousy and hatred and yet if we don't recognize that we are simple creatures , but with a divine spark within, the whole world can , chas v'sholom , come to an end.We are today at an incredible crossroads.Global warming , poisoning and destruction of our food supply and many other real challenges, mix with incredible technological changes, which could do fanatastic good, or the opposite.

Scientists say that robots could overtake us with 20- 30 years and many are truly worried. Is that for the good or bad?

The great challenge is one of ethics.

When Yaakov brought the meal to his father in order to blessed, Yitzchok sensed the smell of Gan Eden, because he had with him the blessings of Avraham.He starts his blessing with  ןיתן לך

 'and you should be given ', in other words an ongoing blessing.Esuv despised the bechore with saying 'why do ineed the bechore when I am going towards death? Our rabbis teach that Avraham Aveinu had just passed away- the holy Avraham was but mortal, and Eisuv's life as a hunter was itself , dangerous.

But we are personally , through  accepting the teachings of our holy patriarchs and matriarchs are connected with the source of everlasting life.An other connotation for brocho is 'brecha' -a channel.By praising haShem as a jew (Yehuda - Jew from the word to praise, to admit), we serve as a channel to bring the brochos haShem wants to bring into this world

And so we become the 'bechor.'

ויתן יתן ויחזור ויתן!

(What is maybe really interesting from all this is that at the very end of the parsha Esau marries the daughter of Yishmael,'Mochalas'.The rabbis derive that when someone marries ,all his sins are forgiven.Apparently , even though Esau never did a real teshuva  (he never divorced his first wives), but by marrying someone actually appropriate for himself as a child of Isaac, though he had lost his birthright forever, he did have a personal tikun.)



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The years, the life of Sarah all were good ןיהיו חיי שרה

ויהיו חיי שרה 

Image from chevron reading
The years that Sara lived

 Still reeling from the news last moetze Shabbas of the shul massacre in Pittsburgh to learn of  a hate incident in Sprng Valley this past shabbas ,the famous question is asked,'when will it all end?Actualy,I was asked this week,the famous question,'when will Moshiach come?" I answered , he is already here, just we really don't care or really want to know; it might upset our routine.

(Maybe I am slightly ahead of time, but the famous statement of the Aroch Chaim , that the 'owned ,ie the servant , Yishmael, will admit who is master;Yitzchok', in this week's parsha , is beginning to be realized in our time...

 Oman sends revolutionary message about Israel to Arab states )

Just think a little of the incredible changes that have been going on in our lives , so recently , as Jews in Israel, and in the Diaspora.The incredible success of the small land of Israel sorrounded by a sea of ignorance and of hate, brings blessings of science and humanitarian aid worldwide.And this is  parralleled by a tremendous growth unimaginably, of Torah institutions, the heart and soul of our people, in the Holy land and here ,in the golah.

The commentaries ask that the parsha starts  with the years that Sara lived, and yet just mentions her death.And they ask on Rashi , who brings the medrash that they were all good years, when we know the opposite, she had years of incredible difficulty and pain.Most of her life, she suffered childlessness;twice she was in the hands of hated goyish kings, and in the end, she died in the shock (according to the medrash) hearing how Yitzchok was almost slaughtered.

How can we say her years were all good?The answer is that yes, they were all good.Her inner life, her inner purity were actually all good; she carried within that bouyant joy so much so , that she could transfer all this to her children.That is why the holy tanna , Rabbi Akiva could say generations later, 'what did Esther  see to rule over 127 countries? She learned from Sara who lived 127 years.What did Rabbi Akiva mean that Esther saw?Esther too was in the hands of a goyish king.But she could learn from her matriach not to lose her inner purity and faith.The name Sara comes from a prince, princess , to rule.She was able to rule over herself for 127 years and in the end, her great granddaughter saw, learned from her to rule over 127 medinas, countries.

(1+2+7 =10, in Hebrew a yud, the smallest letter which refers to the world above and which was given to Yehoshua when that letter was taken away from Sarai as her name was changed to Sara , who ruled over the whole world, not just over Abram.The Rabbanan , as Yehoshua ,the first 'talmid',who accepted his rebbe's teachings,  are feminine as they live and accept the Kingdom of haShem in this world).

I am not sure, but perhaps we can say that even her death,in shock over her son's "almost dying" , was actually a form of 'kiddush haShem'.Her neshema left her , to go to the heights her son was ready to go.

It is that strength which has kept us alive all these years.As Sara was able to laugh when Yitzchok was born and say 'all who hear will laugh with me"; it is that same inner joy and faith which brings about the miracle of the modern State of Israel in spite of generations of having to endure incessant sick animal hate .

All the world will laugh with me !



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And Abraham accompanied the angels ואברחם הולך עמם לשלחם

Abraham accompanied the angels away

Rashi: He thought they were real human guests

 The mitzva of l'vaya -- accompaning the guest away is geater than the mitzva of hachannasas orchim (inviting uests to one's home) and the mitzva of hachnnasas orchim is greater than accepting the Shechine(the presence of the Creater)

Anyone with eyes to see realizes that the world is inexorably coming closer to the Geulah.The miracle of the rebirth of our people on our land, the miracle of being backed by the most powerful country on earth, the miracle of our people being a Center of inventive genius , the 'Startup Nation'. Events are happenning today which no one thought possible a century ago.And yet, so many of our people are drifting ,or have already drifted so far a way. How do you explain these words, to ourselves and to our brothers and sisters still living 'outside'?

What kind of skewred religion is this?Isn't devotion, being close to haShem ,what it is all about?Prayer, I understand is religion, involvement with old religious texts ,maybe. But bringing people home; that is religion? And accompaning them away is even a greater mitzva ? How?

Is it so important for me, a staunch member of the Torah observant community of Montreal to have the answers? I think , yes.We live in an age when it is not possible to hide. 'Derech Eretz ' kodmah l' torah, the ways of living which our holy  ancestors taught us, lay the foundation for all the centuries of labour in torah and prayer and we have gone through.Ultimately, becoming more genuine as jews,is what will bring the final, complete Geulah for ourselves and our kin , still living 'outside'.

*Perhaps my thoughts were in this direction because this past shabbas saw a worldwide  (9of which I could not find being practiced here in Montreal, this year), but , really we need this ourselves, even those who are  Ffb*


 I stopped writing late last night (moetze shabbas), planning to resume this morning.But waking up to the shock of the Pittsburgh mass shooting, makes it a little difficult to simply pick up where I left off.As one individual was quoted at the Western Wall in this article  ..

Israel Rosenberg: "We are all one nation and what makes us different is that we are really one spirit together. We are one soul so when someone gets hurt in America, everyone in Israel feels it into their soul because we are one connected soul."

Maybe it relates to some of the thoughts we whad in mind to write.


When the angels first appear to Avraham, he adresses them (or the Creator,  two different opinions brought by Rashi), with the Name 'Adon--oy' -- my Master.Avraham was the first to use this name.We are created in the image of G-d, but haShem , the creator is not some uncontrollable power, he is our personal Master to whom we owe all the good and allegiance.He created us and put us intot his world and sustains us here; by going in His ways, we show our gratitude.

Inviting another individual , also created in the image of haShem, into our home, is 'going in His ways'.I saw an incredible thought from the gaon Rav Yitzchok Soloveitchik shlite.That guest feels a little bit uncomfortable (as the seforim explain , since we are 'g-dly',it is difficult for us to accept from others,in fact , that is why we are placed in this world, to accept the 'g-dly' blessings through our work, so it should not be 'nahama d'kisufe -- 'bread of shame'.

When the owner of the household, accompanies the guest away , he shows the 'free meal' was an honour for the owner, because he treasured the presence of guest. This ''levaya', accompanient ,is therfore the ultimate in going in haShem's ways.

Being Jewish is not 'other worldly', it is bringing haShem into our lives, here on earth.That is why (according to the opinion that Avraham referred to haShem as 'Ado-noy)', he was in the middle of 'communion ' ,prayer, and asked haShem not to leave as he must attend to the guests.Becuase 'hachnasas orchim is greaer than accepting the 'shechine'.

It is for this reason , we are given the holy the first rashi iun chumas says, really the torah should start with 'hachodesh haze teheye lachem' the first mitzva given to the peopel , 'kiddush hachodesh', the sanctifying of the new moonth, but 'koach maasov higid l'amo ltes lahem nachals goyim' .HaShem told his nation of His strength, Creation , to give them the land  (take away from Canaan and give it to us.).

Contrast the ways of Avraham, the lover of humanity, the giver ultimate with the ways ,in the coming parsha, of 'Chaya Sarah,Efron, whose words were so magnamious, so 'giving' ,but was actually out to cheat to the ultimate.

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נחמו נחמו עמי יאמר אלוק'כם

A Generation Closer ,the most ready to accept Moshiach

A few thoughts enter my mind this moetze shabbas. to the best of my knowledge,  I am not the first to say so, but , even so, to many these ideas will be kind of jolting.But current events together with the parshios seem to point in one direction.

Israel, offcially a Jewish Nation State , not truly 'democratic' with even the 'chareidi  parties' in agreement ?'The Likud and so many other leaders are not religious, and the concept of 'national state 'rings with many as almost blasphema,and yet who is to say , we ever had it really better?

I heard from my rebbe , a'h,that only 1 time in history were the Jewish people truly 'pure ', so to speak. the night of the first pesach , in Mizrayim.When they left the next morning , they had with them the 'erav rav' (according to one medrash, twice the amount as the  children of Israel).

When Mr Trump was campaigning, I half jokingly said ,'maybe he will be the Trumpet player for Moshiach.(According to chazal, 'Eisav is compared to a chazir because he is 'asid ' to return the malchus to Israel).who,at that time , would ahve beleived such a political upset? B'h ,Yerushalayim is now offcially the eternal capital of the 'Jewish Nation State of Israel". Actually ,isn't that what the Balfour Decleration was all about?We were never meant or expected to be entirely secular , just like all the Nations.

If the 'gays' and lesbians are not happy , what can we do? They are anyways destroying themselves.They leave no future.When Saul was at war with Amalek, he had to deal with Yidden drinking blood.

At the time of the second beis hamikdash ,only a small portion of klall Yisrael lived in Israel, and many of the wealthier, including cohanim were tzdokim and rishaim.Today,almost 50% of our people are  back in Israel, and torah is flourshing as it has never before in history.

Those who are regular to daf Yomi, know that often the daf learned ften mirrors events.I was wondering about this as I noticed the daf to be learned for Tisha b'av would be the 100th blatt of zevachim.Lo and behold the Sar hatorah of our generation , R' Chaim Kanieefsky shlite told the tzibbur they would be allowed to learn the daf ! It deals with the laws of "onen'(someone who has just lost a close relative)Interestingly also,it deals with korban pesach , and we know that the second night of pesach falls on the same day of the week as Tisha b'av.

I told friends that the Orach Chaim hakadosh writes that the golus takes so long because Moshe Rabbenu won't allow the geulah to come to a nation botul from the Torah.let this be a sign that if on the tenth time the Jewish people learn together the daf, the 100th blatt of kodshim which we so much yearn to fulfill, that we will very speedily be able to accept Moshiachas the Rambam writes that the reason , we the jewihs people want Moshiach is that we can grow and fulfill ourselves in the torah as much as is humanly possible.






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