Winter 2017 in Jerusalem February 09 2017
So far, this winter has been very moderate with me. Very few days with real cold air that might remind me of the NY winters. And snow... forget about snow, although my kids still have that hopeful flicker in their eyes, that maybe, perhaps very soon, they will still get covered with that white snowy fluff.
Quietly, I agree with them. Many times I hoped to wake up to a white Jerusalem, a white covered stillness that will see me staring out the window, with a hot cup of chocolate.
They tell me that up in the Golan Heights, at the foot of Mt. Chermon, there's snow and even an active ski resort. Does it pay the drive up north? Drive for 3 hours and then tumble down the skiing slope in ski shoes? I say tumble, cause there ain't gonna be no skiing with me, tried that once and last.
Actually, I almost forgot to tell you, that a few weeks ago during Friday night, there was some snowfall for a few minutes. I know that because the late night street walkers woke me up with their exciting screams of "Sheleg, Ima'leh".
On Shabbos morning, there was almost none visible, except a few streaks of white near the building edges, marked with paw-prints of the local cats. That didn't stop the few Yerushalmi boys jumping in it with joy, till there was nothing left, except their smiles and laughter.
Good Night, and let's pray for snow.
We Have No One to Rely On, But Our Father in Heaven December 28 2015
It now became a daily routine of hearing the news, here another stabbing, a car ramming attack, and more attempted attacks throughout the holy land. Sometimes they appear as almost copy-paste from a day before, same story, same location etc. One thing is sure, that the solution is not to stay home and hide under your bed, rather to go on with life and face fear head on. But, that is only possible when one relies on divine providence and the belief in the one above, Hashem Echod.
We of course, have to do Hishtadlus and be vigilant, fill the streets with security and military personnel, to keep an open eye on potential trouble and act bravely when action is called.
We should learn to thank Hashem for all the miracles that happen to us every moment, every day with so many attempted terror attacks being avoided, and caught in the right moment. Then, we need to pray sincerely to our father in heaven for the safe-being of all Jews in the holy land and those who are on the forefront of danger, to protect Am Yisrael. We need to ask Hashem for peace in the world, for the day when "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (ישעיהו 2:4)".
These blood thirsty terrorists don't differentiate between styles of kippah or hats, religious or secular, they look at all of us as Jews. Plain and simple, with no prior knowledge of to which political party one belongs, or which Minhagim one adheres to, but just as Jews. We as Jews need to start looking at each other with eyes that unite, that seek out the good in others, to recognize what binds us together, not at our differences. וראה בטוב ירושלים כל ימי חייך
Let us all walk with our heads high, and feel connected to Hashem. Let us all anticipate the final redemption speedily in our days, Amen!
A multitude of prayers at the Kotel September 03 2015
I am very thankful to Hashem for being able to pray at the holy Western Wall, the Kotel Hamaravi.
The Talmud says that the Divine presence never left the Western Wall, so that all the future generations during their bitter exile can have a place where they can pour their hearts out in prayer.
I am surrounded by so many holy individuals, all immersed in their prayer books, each to their own quiet discussion with their creator. The expressions vary from utter Deveikus, deep spiritual and quiet connection to the almighty, while others scream and beg Hashem for their prayers to be answered. And interestingly enough I am not disturbed by the loud cries, in fact it helps me get even more connected in my private personal prayer.
Last few days, another spice has been added to our daily prayers, Slichot, the pre-Rosh Hashana prayers that come with song and Shofar blowing. I get transfixed by watching and listening to the Yemenite chants and huge Shofarot invoking the sacrifice of our father Yitzchok. I sing along with the Sefardic minyan, carrying along in tune "Chatanu Lefanecha", and I feel connected, connected to the Jewish nation, the Jewish family.
The wanderings of our long exile weaves through my emotional channels, and I see my people all merging together for that great day, slowly coming together to welcome the era of Mashiach, and to announce the kingdom of Hamelech, Hashem our king. We might have different ways and traditions of celebrating Rosh Hashana, but we long for the same oneness of the one G-d.
It's high time to embrace all Jews and show love to one another, focus on what unites us. If we are united, no enemy can hurt us.
אהבת חינם מקרבת הגאולה
(הרב קוק זצ"ל)
Today, a week after Pesach and we had pouring rain... April 16 2015
And I Will Give Your Rain in the Land...
That is a promise from Hashem in the Torah, that he'll give enough rain in the land, so it should produce in abundance. Especially in a Shmitah year, when we see more and more farmers taking upon them the great Mitzvah of leaving their land and let go for one solid year, the heavy rains are a Bracha indeed.
The Talmud in Brachot relates, how the key of rain is solely in the hands of Hashem, and any downpour of rain is truly a blessing from his goodwill and care, especially when it comes to the land of Israel. The Torah is full of promises and blessings of timely rain to his promised land. So, no wonder when I see how Israelis embrace rain, with joy and excitement, while in the States, people dread a wet weather and curl up instead. My kids learned quickly that rain is not a mood changer, but rather a fullfilment of a promise and it makes them happy.
The Talmud continues, that in Eretz Yisrael they also attributed the key to Parnassah as being in the hands of Hashem. Here we learn all about Emunah and Bitachon in Hashem for providing us and sustaining us and for our families.
As King David in Tehilim says "Shchun b'Eretz, Ureh Emunah", live in the land and graze on Emunah. Like a cow munches on grass and doesn't look around right or left, but is totally immersed in his chewing, so we have to graze and focus that all our Parnassah is provided from Hashem, and there's no need to look for other providers. Put your trust in Hashem and he'll feed you, we don't need to give him ideas and plans how to do that, he has his ways, although we need to do something, create that vessel. The vessel is not so much in our work, but in ourselves, we have to be ready to accept and recieve.
Can anyone imagine, leaving ones business for a full year? Not even answering emails, phone calls or keeping in touch with suppliers or customers? That demands a total trust in the one above. So, we have what to learn from our holy farmers and field owners.
"One who trusts Hashem, Chesed will surround him/her"
I love Tower Cranes in the Jerusalem skyline January 12 2015
Usually when you look at a post card from any nice city, you don't want to show or see tall cranes in it's skyline. But when it comes to Jerusalem, or any city in the Holy Land, it should be a cause to celebrate.
Every day when I walk or drive around the city and see new buildings coming up wherever my eyes look, it swells me up with great excitement and happiness. Today, I have seen a whole new beautiful town being built in Ramat Beth Shemesh Gimmel, and it felt very good.
It's simply seeing the words of our prophets, materializing before our very own eyes that makes me excited.
And we know that the time for the ingathering of our nation from the four corners of the world has begun. We can hear the foot steps of Moshiach, by listening to those cranes moving in the Jerusalem breeze, by watching movers unpacking an overseas lift that just arrived, by listening to a mingling of languages while shopping for Shabbat.
Now when I look around this glorious city, it is crowned with these massive tall machines, doing their own dance and singing their own song of "ובנה ירושלים", although, I am not so sure about the operator who sits in the cabin.
May we see a rebuilt Jerusalem, with Hashem's glory, dwelling within it's walls. Amen!
They say snow is coming to the Holy Land January 05 2015
Now that's news... It's not like the Middle East is lacking any news, we have abundence of that. In fact if any news media editor has no news in their own country, all they need to do, is open the Middle East folder and there will be news, lot's of them.
I am originally a Spring Valley NY resident, and I had my fair share of snow. But snow in Jerusalem is something else, it makes peace and it brings tranquility to the most volatile neighborhoods. (I think)
Adults and children alike, lose themselves in snowball fights, and build very artistic Jewish snow sculptures. Jewish? Yep, snow men decorated in Taleisim, Tzizit and Tefilin.
I am already stocking up with bread, milk and batteries, since last years snow, kept us in the dark for a while and out of work for the better part of the week. Cars and busses were totally imobile and the roads empty, except a for a few tough sabras in tanks.
The kids enjoyed waking up early, of course early... there were no school and cheder, so make that very early. They'd bundle up and play in the snow, make snow angles (Malachim), and build igloos. Then they'd sit near the window, sipping hot chocolate and prayed that this vacation should never end.
So snow is coming... everyone is talking about it. But, you can imagine my skepticism when today I woke up to a beautiful sunshine and warming rays. Hey, but it's snowing in Mt. Chermon... they say.
Mourning with tears in the holy city Jerusalem November 20 2014
What a sad day it is, the emotions are still raw, the tears are still wet and the graves are still soft.
For the Jewish people, news like these are not just one-time news tickers that fade in a few hours. It lingers on and it invokes deep scars, pain that is registered in every Jewish memory. A blood soaked memory that has been encoded with scenes of pogroms, blood libels, expulsions and mass killings for the last 2000 years.
I might be young, but after seeing the murdered lying with talis and tefilin, I remembered the mass killings of babi yar. After seeing blood soaked sidurim, I remembered the pogroms in Keshaniv. When I saw the UNs reaction, I remembered the world's silence while the chimeneys produced smoke and ash. When I saw subhumans handing out candies and celebrating with joy, I remembered the laughter of some blue eyed thugs laughing at our misery somewhere in a Polish town square. When I saw the cruel CNN and The Guardian reports, I remembered Der Sturmer.
But my friends, I also remember our prophets, who have foreseen all this many ancient ages ago, and that gives me hope. For they also told of a time when the tears will be wiped away and righteousness will reign.
Old men and women shall yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of old age. And the streets of the city shall be filled, with boys and girls playing in its streets. (Zecharya 8, 4-5)
We are witnessing a return of a people, an awakening of a tortured nation coming back slowly slowly to their home. May we see the fulfilment of their prophecies soon in our days with Mashiach Tzidkeinu. Then we'll live to see another promise of "He has concealed death forever, and the Lord God shall wipe the tears off every face". (Yeshayau 25, 8)
(11/18/2014 - 2 Palestinian terrorists savagly attacked Jews while praying Shachrit in Har Nof, Yerushalayim. Killing 5 and injuring 8 others. May Hashem avenge their blood and send a full recovery to the sick, and comfort the mourning)
The Sufganiyots (Doughnuts) are Back! November 12 2014
Before I made Aliya, I was told by a good friend, that in Israel you won't find doughnuts so easily throughout the year, you'll have to seek out some special fancy bake shop that fries them. But, comes Chanukah and douhnuts are everywhere, overflowing the carts and shelves.
Ok, I admit that I am now officially on a diet, so I will let everyone else enjoy that Chanukah pastry, while I just look on. What I do have to tell you, is that this little observation represents alot of what's going on in Israeli culture vs. to what I was used to in the states.
In NY for example, you can go into every bakery in the middle of August and order a dozen doughnuts, or two weeks after Sukkos and buy a box of Purim Hamantashen. We are used to get what we want, when we want it.
In Israel that's different, necessity takes rule over luxury. I mean yes, you can get lots and almost all of luxurious food items, at sometimes exurbient prices. But no doughnuts or Hamantashen when not in season. Now that the Chanukah winter breeze is here, what is more necessary on Chanukah than delicious spongy doughnuts? besides the Menorah and Dreidlech of course.
Enjoy YOUR doughnut, friend!
Erev Sukkot in Yerushalayim September 22 2014
I still remember the thrill of walking down Malchei Yisrael on Erev Sukkot, as a tourist. I felt like making my way through a maze of people and vendors, all vying for that Sukah decoration or perfect Lulav. Music blasting from many store fronts and attention-seeking announcements for specials and bargains.
I couldn't stop snapping pictures from everyone and everything, from the Kuppa Sruga boys selling Hadasim, to Yerushalmi boys selling Keishalach. Of course, until one 7 year old Mea Shearim boy holding his 4 year old sisters hands gave me that look... Was I scared from him? Yes... I hid my camera on the spot. I never felt that scared even when my Rebbi in Cheder gave me that look.
Once I saw a little boy of maybe 7 years of age, selling cold soda cans and drinks, while screaming to the tourists passing by "Shtiya Kara, Rak 5 Shekel"! And he sold them all quite quickly, well, it was a very hot day. As soon as he finishes his inventory of 5 cans, he runs back into the neighboring Shul and drops in a bunch of shekels in the vending machine, get's his new shipment of 5 cans, 3 shekel a piece and runs out in the street again, "Shtiya Kara, Rak 5 Shekel"!
This year I'll be doing the same walk, joining the same hustle bustle of the crowds of Malchei Yisrael, the only difference is, that this year, I will be in everyones albums of a local who's running around with a bunch of kids in tow searching and finding that perfect Sukkah poster, or plastic grape bunch to hang on my small Sukkah somewhere in Yerushalayim.
I never stop to thank Hashem for giving me that Zchus to make Yerushalayim my home. May you all join me soon still this year!
King David already spoke about the UN many years ago July 10 2014
As a new Oleh living in the Holy city of Jerusalem, this week was my first time experiencing breaking news first hand. I stepped out of a wedding hall in the city of Beth Shemesh and that eerie code-red alarm sounded off. Chills ran down my spine and I ran for cover to the closest building entrance with my wife and son.
But I felt privilaged. Privilaged? Yes, I am a Jew and a proud one. And I am very connected to this land, based on a promise made by G-d to our forefather Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that this land would be an innheritance to them and their children forever. Therefore I feel privilaged to live in the land of our forefathers.
So, now in 2014 when Israel boasts over 6 million Jews from over 130 countries, I have to say that I feel it happening. I feel the hope of Moshiach in the air, he's at our doorstep and very soon we will reunite with all Jews from the world over. And all the nations of the world will rejoice in the name of the one G-d Hashem.
So, I don't scare and I don't buckle under these sirens.... Wow! I just came back from an alarm that went off in Jerusalem. While writing the above words, the alarm went off in the Holy City, and I ran with my daughter to a safe place. Yea that's what it is.
While this is all happening, the world is busy pointing fingers at the Jews, they forget the rivers of blood that is flowing in Arab lands by other Arabs. But it's the Jew who's guilty, they are guilty when they attack terrorists, and guilty when they're being attacked. Our King David, already spoke about the world powers who are condemning Israel at every opportunity. I will quote some lines of Tehilim (Psalms) 83, and you'll see what I mean.
4 They hold crafty converse against Thy people, and take counsel against Thy treasured ones.
5 They have said: 'Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.'
6 For they have consulted together with one consent; against Thee do they make a covenant;
7 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab, and the Hagrites;
8 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
9 Assyria also is joined with them; they have been an arm to the children of Lot. Selah
The words of our holy prophets are eternal and give us strength whenever we find ourselves in difficult times. So i'll sing the song of David ובאו לציון ברנה "And they will come to Zion with praise".
I am privilaged indeed.
Reb Chaim of Yerushalayim a"h June 22 2014
One Friday night at one of Reb Chaim's Shabbatons in the old city, 2 women passed by and Reb Chaim asked them if they want to join for the Shabbat meal, they responded "sanks, but vee are German tourists, ve're not Jewish" but that didn't move Reb Chaim and he insisted they come in for the meal, they'll have good food and it's free. So they came in, sat down and stayed for a while and then they thanked their gracious host and left.
Come Shabbat morning and an Israeli women appears at the hall on Misgav Ladach Street and just stands at the door looking inside. Reb Chaim notices her and invites her in for the meal, but she is very hesitant and tells him a little bit aggressively "ani lo shomeret shabbat" so he answers "so what, did I ask you if you are religious? Just come in and enjoy a meal" to which she takes out a cell phone and waves it in his face, "you'll see me with a cell phone and you'll throw me out". But of course who won? Reb Chaim did, he always did.
That women sat through the whole meal and before she left, Reb Chaim asked her "so, did anyone throw you out?, can I just ask you a question? why we're you so sure that I won't let you in?" She answered him, that she was walking in the old city and met two very friendly German tourists and they talked about allot of things and when the topic touched religious Jews she told them that they are very rude and hate non religious Jews. They responded that their experience was just the opposite, last night they were invited by a Chasiddic Jew with the fur hat and all, for a Shabbat meal even after they told him who they were. She couldn't believe them, they insisted on showing her the place since they remembered that there's also a Shabbat morning meal. They shlepped her to the Hall waiting outside to see what will happen and surely enough she was in.
That was the first of many Shabbat meals to come for a newly Shomeret Shabbat. Hashem has his Shlichim, even in the guise of German tourists.
Last night at the moment Havdala was recited at his bedside at Rabeinu Tam zman as he insisted, Reb Chaim gave his Neshama back to his creator. Shabbat that was so loved by Reb Chaim waited out for Motzei Shabbat to part with her friend and promoter.
Reb Chaim of Yerushalayim (Daskal) will surely be missed by his lovely family, and the countless friends who were inspired by him. May his memory live on till the day of Mashicah very soon in our days, Amen!
Today at Shachris June 19 2014
Today while davening Shachris in Shul after Kriat Hatorah, the Gabbei shushed the crowd and recited a Mi Sheberach for the three kidnapped Bachurim. It's now day 7 and they are still not home, still held captive by yet unknown terrorists.
While he recited the Mi Sheberach, mentioning the names of these kids, so much ran through my mind, so many emotions. Here we sit and think about our own little worries, and we forget for a moment that three Jewish families are in pain, are in total agony. Who knows if they even slept tonight, who really knows their anxiety and suffering.
There is a responsibility that every Jew must accept, to feel the pain and joy respectively with each and every Jew. We are one big family, even if we wear different kinds of hats or no hat at all. In peaceful times we can bicker and complain, criticize our own like only Jews can. And when Hashem sends us a tragedy, we suffer together, we feel as one.
Why? My question is, why do we have to wait for things like that to happen, why can't we just focus on what unites us even in good times? We share the same holy forefathers, we share the same painful past, the same hopeful future. At the end of the game, those who seek our destruction, don't care if we are Datim or Secular, for them it's all the same. Rabbi Yisrael Mayer Lau, the previous chief Rabbi of Israel who was the youngest survivor of Buchenvald, once said "If we were able to die together, why can't we live together?".
I hope and pray for the great day, when all mankind will serve Hashem with joy, and all the Jews will come back home to their rightful land, promised by Hashem to our forefathers and their children forever and ever.
Amen! I have to say that the Amen I heard today in the morning after the Mi Sheberach was felt throughout the Shul. We meant it all the way.
The land of Israel has awoken December 05 2013
Mark Twain visited Israel in 1867, and published his impressions inInnocents Abroad. That's what he wrote “….. A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
Can you imagine what he would say while visiting today? The land of Israel has awoken, it's children are coming back embracing Zion, fulfilling a dream and a two thousand year old hope. The Talmud states the the biggest sign of the impending redemption, will be when the land will give it's fruit again.
My dear visitors and customers, it's happening now. We are seeing a miraculous recovery, of a land that laid wasted for so long, is now alive with abundance of fruits and vegetation, award winning wines and citrus fruits exported around the world.
I hope that we at Matana Boutique will bring you a little of that miracle in your hands. We will offer only lovely unique gift products, made in land of Israel, the land of the Bible.