Music is a gateway —

Selected themes from the inspiring book, My Father My King by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin , published by Artscroll/Mesorah.

Experience My Presence:

Wherever you are feel my presence

Take care of your health:

Take care of your health


Use your money to elevate yourself spiritually

With money you can fulfill my will


Many of us  are reaching the age when we look into a mirror only at calculated moments – that is, after we are prepared to see only what we would like to see and are able to  ignore the rest.  In our adolescence we were taught that   youth equals success and aging is what happens to someone else.  Believing ourselves to be immortal, invincible and in control, we took the credit for  G-d given gifts of intelligence, strength and attractiveness. Alas, we are now paying the emotional and spiritual price of these attitudes.   The blush of youth has left our cheeks, our speed and vigor have diminished and we are more disillusioned then we ever dreamed we would be.  So many people spend large sums of money on cosmetics, tonics and therapies of all sorts in the hope of restoring strength, loveliness and enthusiasm. Yet, for the most part, we are disappointed with the results.

We desperately need a “makeover” in this area, but how do we go about getting one – and how much will it cost?  There must be a better way, we groan, as we are dragged kicking and screaming into our “twilight” years.

The essential “ingredient” for this “makeover” is to recognize that the Creator is the source of all energies and abilities.

When we begin to absorb this idea into our pores and circulate it in our systems and understand it intellectually and emotionally, then a heretofore dormant quality within us will begin to awaken.  That quality is humility.

The acquisition of humility is not a matter of a brief exercise or meditation.  It requires our wholehearted commitment and a determined plan of action.  We must constantly examine and test our reactions to make sure that our “Thank you to G-d” is real and not rote because taking credit for ones endeavors can become a lifelong habit.    Now, as we  perceive ourselves  losing our position and place in the world,  if we are not careful, we may tend to clasp even more tightly to those moments of accomplishment and achievement.  We may find ourselves, once again, taking credit for our achievements in a last ditch effort to win back some of our former honor and glory.

We must not do this.  It is crucial that we recognize that it is this very need to take credit for our accomplishments that has created our downfall and not the aging process.

And, ironically,  it is often our “failures” and not our accomplishments that will pave the way to our success.  Egos do not necessarily deflate by themselves. When a person, whose wealth has made him haughty, experiences financial disaster,  his ego is deflated.   Whether it is unsightly wrinkles or the forced retirement of a workaholic, when the “sun” sets and the “day” wanes, its decline helps us to achieve the feeling of humility that allows to recognize the temporal ness of life and allows us to  focus upon the true and eternal values.

So now let us look in the mirror again, however this time, let us learn to appreciate the signs of aging as an indicator, notifying us that the time is measured. Through graciously accepting the portion the Creator has given us and use our experiences to nurture and teach, our faces will begin to shine with an inner expression of beauty.  When we no longer feel embarrassed about aging, then we can communicate, without awkwardness or fear, the crucial message that time is short and the work is long and acts of kindness are potentially many.  We can then teach our younger counterparts that we must use the daylight hours as golden opportunities to choose to do the Creator’s Will.

When we reach this higher consciousness, we are instantly transformed.  We will no longer see ourselves as old and useless, but as servants of the Creator who have a special message to deliver that is uniquely crafted from  the very lessons we learned during our lives. When we wholeheartedly accept our new roles as messengers, we will experience a renewed sense of purpose even greater than the purpose we felt when we were raising our children or building our businesses.

Relating this message to the persons who will most need to hear it and benefit from it,  provides  spiritual nourishment for us that is kosher and that allows us to thrive and grow.

If we live with this attitude we will age like fine wine becoming more valuable with each passing year.  We will mature.  We will never cease to educate.  We will become a living embodiment of the Creator’s message.   Torah principles will displace the secular view of aging and we will become shining beacons transforming what might have been a dark and overcast “twilight” into the splendor of a “sunset”.  We will become enlightened beings who are truly happy with our portion [sameach b’chelko].  Our praise of the Creator in acknowledgment of his perfect creation will bring a personal, deep inner peace and tranquility during our visit through the “evening hours” of life and the next generation will then be able to learn this important lesson from us.

If we strive to achieve this positive attitude during our “sunset” years, thereby acknowledging the Will of the Creator as perfect, then the true light of day, will eternally shine for us in the world of truth – (haolam shekulo tov) the world that is completely good.


For more articles and information join us at:

© Yehoshua Binyamin Falk

All rights reserved

First publication:  Jewish Observer Magazine


We Jews are ancient, expert travelers in time.  We are given special times, from our holy Torah and wise Sages, in which we can help mend, renovate and elevate the entire creation. The whole month of Elul along with the first twenty two days of the month of Tishrei are a case in point. To the rest  of the nations these days are merely times on a calendar that hangs  on a wall, destined  to be marked off and discarded. For us, these sanctified days are our “time machine” that transports us to new levels of holiness (kiddusha). If we program this “time-craft” of opportunity carefully according to the laws (halachas) and  customs (minhagim), fill it with the fuel of enthusiasm and adjust our trajectory by keeping our proper spiritual focus, we can strive to reach into the “stratosphere” of kiddusha undeterred by the pull of  the atmosphere around us.

THE COUNT DOWN  – T minus 30 Days:[1]

ALL CHODESH ELUL : Take on board sefarim on Musar and Chassidus to inspire thoughts of teshuvah. Sefardim begin saying Slichos and blowing the shofar, Ashkenazim blowing the shofar and many are reciting additional Tehilim. We now have a unique opportunity to prepare for our new journey:  (The space shuttle is launched in two stages.  At liftoff, it uses boosters and main engines.)


T minus (minimally) 4 days: (Main engines ignite in staggered intervals.)  Ashkenazim begin to say Slichos the Motzei Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah which can fall no less than four days before Rosh Hashanah in order to allow for final countdown preparations. A small reminder of the power of these days:  {These engines provide 1.2 million pounds of thrust and the boosters provide 6,600,000 pounds of thrust.} 


T minus I day:   (Main engines commanded to lift off position.)

EREV ROSH HASHANAH.  It seems that there could not possibly be sufficient time to achieve what needs to be accomplished before we set off.  However, through various minhagim and halacot such as:  hataras nedarim, fasting until chatzos, toveling in the mikvah and other Yom Tov preparations culminating in halacot narot, we are then able to reach the necessary level of energy and preparedness for our holy mission. Erev Rosh Hashanah is the last moment before take-off :{In order to attain orbit,  the space craft has to accelerate  from zero to eighteen thousand miles per hour and travel at an altitude higher than most of the Earth’s atmosphere.}


T minus 0 seconds: Rosh Hashanah seen as the lift off for the New Year :       ( Onboard computers ignite solid rocket boosters; three main engines at 100 per cent thrust level. Ground launch sequence terminated, lift off.) 

ROSH HASHANA:  All of the external preparations – the Yom Tov clothing, the festive meals and the internal preparations of introspection, learning halachas, making resolutions- are done, and here we are.  We lift up our machzorim and feel the weight of the awesome and spectacular task that lies ahead of us.

Rosh Hashanah, the – rosh – head, is truly the beginning of the new year, setting the trajectory which in turn sets the course for the whole year.  Using delicate instruments consisting of  halachot and minhagim, it fine tunes the three essential dimensions of  person-nefesh, place-makom and time-z’man.

The first tikun in the dimension of nefesh is when upon concluding our tefillos on Rosh Hashanah eve we greet and bless our friends and families with the wish that they be inscribed for a good year.

The tikun achieved for the dimension of time—z’man is through the sounds of the shofar.  The sounds of the shofar are halachically regulated by the length and number of the notes which help to rectify the dimension of time. These holy customs and laws are infinitely more powerful than the following moshal: {At lift off the shuttle with its boosters and fuel weighs 4.5 million pounds and takes eight seconds to accelerate to a speed of one hundred miles per hour.  After one minute,  the craft is traveling at 1,000 miles per hour and has used more than one and one half million –pounds of fuel.}


T plus 2 days: Solid rocket boosters separate.

ASERES YIMAI TESHUVA: Rosh Hashanah with its stirring tefillos,  awe inspiring melodies and soul searching shofar blasts proclaims Hashem’s Kingship. Now it is the fast day – Tzom Gedalia, the third day of the ten days of repentance. Even during the fast we are still continuing to ascend:  {When it reaches an altitude of twenty eight miles, and is traveling at 3,000 miles per hour, it jettisons its boosters.} 


T plus 9 days:  (The three main engines continue to fire.)

EREV YOM KIPPUR. Sometimes we feel distant from the process, as if the judgment is going to happen to someone else, but as Erev Yom Kippur arrives we all become very involved, feeling the day of awe and hope is soon to be with us. This dichotomy within us also exists in the creation:  {The engines burn liquid hydrogen – which at  minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit is the second coldest liquid on earth – with liquid oxygen. When they unite and burn the mixture can reach a temperature of 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit – higher then the boiling point of iron.}


T plus 10 daysSpace Craft  attains preliminary orbit.

YOM KIPPUR.  We are now shaping the path and direction of the coming Year. We are accelerating very quickly because we must break out of the physical atmosphere and move into a very unique spiritual zone.

To do this we need let go of those habits and thoughts that have weighed us down and taken their toll upon us in the past year. This is a critical moment, allowing for our final stage of being freed from the past:  {After that period of time, the space craft, in an ovoid (oblong) orbit, reaches a speed of five miles per second.  The engines shut down, the external fuel tank is jettisoned and the shuttle will have consumed more than 3.5 million pounds of fuel}.

T minus 14 days:  (Orbital maneuvering system engines are fired.)

SUKKOS.  We now are dwelling in our Sukkas.  For an entire week we live inside this unique mitzvah where we rebalance ourselves and establish our course for the year, free of the gravitational pull of our daily lives.  We wave the lulav, esrog and two other species in all six directions suggesting an empowerment over all of the spatial orientations and also symbolizing the Heavenly gift of freedom from attachment to the – teva – nature through our deepening connection with the Creator. Our avoda on Succos is essential for our spiritual growth in the upcoming year.   :  {If nothing more was done, the space craft would begin to descend and re-enter the atmosphere.  However, about a half hour after the main engines have shut down, usually as the shuttle reaches the highest point in the ovoid orbit, the two orbital maneuvering system engines, are fired for about three minutes. This causes the spacecraft to travel in a circular orbit that stabilizes it at a safe altitude above the atmosphere.}

From this elevated position which spiritually parallels Shimini Atzeres/ Simchas Torah we are truly free of  the gravitational pull of this world.  We enter a euphoric / blissful state of “free fall” sustained and supported by rapturous song and ecstatic dance while embracing the holy Sefer Torahs.

These first twenty-two days have been given to us as a blessing to assure our proper and safe “take off” directing us properly to our new set of goals for the New Year.   May we all travel together, returning in joy and peace to our land, with the advent of the Mashiach soon in our days.

[1]  The data for the space shuttle reported here is provided by the National Space Agency. It is in no way meant to minimize our days of holiness or limit them to the physical world. These figures are only here to help alert us to the awesome power of these days and the (advoda) myriads of opportunities in them.


This week in Torah reading (Parshas Eikev) there is a very interesting  portion in which the Creator( Hashem) promises to drive out the nations that lived in the land of Canaan as it is written: “Hashem, your G-d will thrust these nations from before you little by little; you will not be able to annihilate them quickly, lest the beasts of the field increase against you”(Devarim 7:22). It is also written in Parshas Mishpatim (23:29-30) “I shall not drive them away from you in a single year, lest the land become desolate and the wildlife of the field multiply against you. Little by little shall I drive them away from you, until you become fruitful and make the land your heritage.”

We are aroused to ask a few interesting questions of how we can possibly understand the simple reading of this section (pasukim) which implies that the wild animals, as threatening as they can be, could be considered more of a danger to us than the well fortified, strongly armed calculating enemy Canaanite nations? After all don’t we find that throughout history enemy nations have always posed a much greater threat than any type of wild animals? What therefore are these “beasts of the field” that are so dangerous that the Torah announces that it is seemingly preferable to allow the potentially hostile Canninite nations to continue dwelling in the land temporarily until we “become fruitful and fill up the land?


Perhaps these Torah sections can be understood in the following way that will teach us a wondrous lesson:    Eretz Yisrael can be seen to correspond to the body for our nation and Jewish people are the soul within the body, as is alluded to within the name of Israel which is the name of both our nation and our land. How do we see the spiritual DNA of this connection?  The letters yud, shin, reish, alef and lamed which form the word “Yisrael” the name of us as a nation and the name of our land are amazingly the exact acronym for the names of the Avos and Imahos of the Jewish people: Yitzchak, Yaakov, Sara, Rivka, Rachel, Avraham and Leah (according to the Ari HaKadosh, Likutei Torah, Kisvei Ari, parashas Vayishlach, d’h, Vayikra es shemo Yisrael).

If this is so, then let us ask if we are the soul and Eretz Israel compares to the body then what do the Canaanite nations and the beast of the field symbolize?

Perhaps we can venture to say that the powerful “Canaanite nations” can be understood to correspond to that part of human intellect which views life only through a lens of intellectual understanding of ephemeral values, while the “beasts of the field” can be seen to represent those baser emotions which are concerned with corporal pleasure seeking.

The Torah is therefore perhaps giving us an awesome teaching that when a Jewish neshoma begins its entry into the realm of  fulfilling golden opportunities (mitzvos), as expressed in our nations entering the land of what will become Eretz Israel, there will be waiting for us two fierce adversaries which have to be subdued and controlled or expelled: One is the powerful, well fortified intellect which uses its powers of subjective reasoning and rationalization to ratify and justify its lifestyle choices, while the other even more potentially licentious adversary is here referred to as the “beasts of the field”.

Therefore the Torah is informing us, that because our self willed intellect and the unbridled emotions will not meekly yield to this yoke without a struggle, that only as quickly as we “increase” our levels of Torah and yerias Shamiem, will Hashem correspondingly help us to safely remove “little by little” the influence of those our ego motivated  powers within all of us that up until the time of the 12th year for girls and the 13th year for boys has total rein over us . [Of course when referring to those kinds of thoughts allowed to temporarily remain, we are only referring to only those kinds of thoughts that are in the permissible range.] From here we can derive awesome lesson in life that human mind, like the land, is never a vacuum and therefore if the intellect is not occupied with some kind of mindful thoughts it will easily become inundated with an onslaught of corporeal desires. It is only when the 12 or 13 years of age that we receive the power of our eternal soul and that is when the battle really starts.

May we, the Bnei Israel, all merit soon in our days to reach the ideal level of Eretz Israel, as our Avos and Emos did, where our minds and hearts will only yearn to be constantly filled with the Devar Hashem.


There are two popular holidays in the Jewish calendar that can be celebrated even as we perform our ordinary weekday activities. Even though they have no special Yom Tov or Shabbos requirements they do much more than just commemorate events in history. Chanukah with its lighting of the menorah with, ideally, olive oil and Purim, in which wine is the drink of choice, have concealed within these days of joy and celebration, like olive oil that is extracted from olives and wine that exudes from grapes, heretofore untapped hidden powers that can aid us to help to rectify and elevate the entire creation.

How is this achieved and why is it necessary? When Adam and Chava ate the forbidden fruit, violating the specific commandment of the Creator, the yetzer hara became internalized causing an admixture within all mankind of tov and rah. Since four of their five senses – of touch (feeling), sight, hearing and taste – acted as accomplices to the primordial sin, we need to now use those very same senses, in the performance of mitzvos and acts and chesed, to rectify this cosmic error which continues to reverberate throughout the generations.

Partially because of a lack of enough sensitivity and an increase in senseless enmity (sinas kinom), that was a major cause of the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, our Sages wisely gave us specific additional mitzvos that focus on strengthening our sense of awareness thereby reawakening our sensitivity in our relationship others. How can this best be achieved?

We can learn how to rekindle the proper feelings between each other, through the teachings of the holiday of Chanukah which call for bending over and lowering ourselves, as the naros are ideally below ten tefakim, so as to be able for the flame of the helper candle, known as the shomus, to touch the Chanukah neros until that are lit up. So too in our relationship with people sometimes it is necessary to bend over in order to share our soul’s “flame” help kindle – ie. inspire – our brethren. The “message” hidden within the Chanukah lights is so enlightening that it even has the ability to remove the surrounding darkness for those who are still out in the shuk – ie. – the marketplace of spiritual obscurity, thereby inspiring them to be included in the mitzvah when they joyously proclaim: (Sheasa nesim la-avosanu ba-yamim ha-haim bizman ha-zeh. that Hashem made miracles for our forefathers in this time.

After Chanukah rekindles our feelings for others and gives us clearer insight on how to be best be of help to them, Purim in its own unique way teaches us not only how to be good listeners, while hearing the reading of the Megilla, but to also learn how to hear – ie. understand – the true needs of others so as to best share our blessings with them. How is this achieved? We accomplish this through the other three mitzvos of the day which are sending gifts – of food that need no preparation – to friends, giving charity generously and opening the “doors” of our homes and hearts for a tasty meal and flavorable experience.

Sending readymade foods to friends perhaps on a deeper level sends a message to all our acquaintances that just as this food needs no preparation, we are always ready and prepared to accept you just as you are.

May we, through these mitzvos, once again regain the proper level of love and respect between all of us, thereby meriting the final Bais HaMigdash soon in our days.


             Chanukah, unlike the Yomim Tovim, seemingly requires very little of us; we are not asked to refrain from most of our daily tasks. We achieve this zeman’s spiritual goal by lighting the menorah on each of the eight nights of Chanukah, at the appointed time, and in so doing we declare the ability of the compassionate Creator to rekindle our (neshamos) souls even as we experience the depths of galus.

            What is the theological “technology” that enables a relatively small flame that burns only for a brief period of time to light up the “spiritual darkness” that envelops the world?

           It is well documented that light and sound can have a profound effect upon the human psyche, affecting health and mood. Alternative medical practitioners, utilizing these principles, have developed light-wave and sound-wave therapies which are growing in popularity. It is claimed that these therapies allow the body and psyche to “re-balance and realign” themselves.

            To us, as Jews this should come as no surprise as we have been blessed with the holy Torah that has guided us with the inner secret wisdom of spiritual rectification at its source– at the level of soul. Thus we begin our year on Rosh Hashanah with a unique (mitzvah) commandment in that through listening to the sounds of the shofar we become spiritually retuned in harmony with the Creator’s “blueprint”, in plan and purpose, for our neshamas. This supernal “sound wave therapy” helps to guide us in our spiritual journey throughout the New Year.

             Due to the harshness of the long galus, Chazal have added to our “prescriptions” of spiritual antidotes, a subtle but highly effective “lazer light wave therapy.” The precisely directed (neiros) lights of Chanukah possess the inner illuminating power to dispel even the most obscurant darkness.

              Now let us examine more closely the flames of Chanukah and their profound symbolism. Chanukah represents a bonding of the spiritual with the physical, as seen through the menorah holding the oil and the wick as the flame hovers above. What is the significance of the flame always ascending upward above the wick, the oil and the menorah? This is a physical expression of a spiritual truth that reveals the relationship between the neshama and the (guf) body. Even as the flame hovers over the wick and the oil unlocking their energy bringing forth a radiant light into this world, so too the neshamah infuses the body with lofty goals that reveal spiritual treasures previously hidden within the creation. Without the fuel, the wick and the menorah – the flame would not exist but without the flame – the fuel, wick and menorah would remain inert elements.

               To what does this compare? When Moshe Rabbanu ascended to Heaven to receive the Torah, the angels protested saying that the Torah should remain in Heaven. Moshe responded that the mitzvoth of the Torah could only be fulfilled in this world by human beings that were given (bechira) freedom of choice. This means that down here on earth there are certain “spiritually conducive atmospheric conditions” that don’t exist in the heavens.

               Through this mitzvah of kindling the light of Chanukah beginning from 25th of Kislev, (which is alluded to by the 25th word of the Torah being – ohr – light) we our privileged to tap into the “light from Above” – the (Ohr ha-Ganuz) hidden light. This supernal beneficence at this auspicious time brings with it insight, clarity and purification.

                   Oh yes, before we conclude, let us also not forget to enjoy and appreciate the latkes or other fried foods that will be served on Chanukah. This custom celebrates the role of the flask of pure oil found in the restored Bais Hamikdash. Shemen zayis symbolizes wisdom. Perhaps by eating these foods fried in shemen zayis on Chanukah we are simultaneously proclaiming, as well as benefiting from the plentiful flow of Divine wisdom that is available at this auspicious time.

                    (Shemen zayis is the desirable component of one of the praised seven fruits of Eretz Israel (shivas ha-minim). It is obtained by squeezing the olives with intense pressure. A well know (moshal) example compares the potential within each Jew to the untapped value with the olive, in that our best achievements are often produced when we are under pressure to meet a challenge.) May our eight day dosage of ner Chanukah’s “supernal illumination” revitalize us, helping to dispel the “darkness” of (galus) the exile and ushering in the long awaited final (Geulah) redemption, shining in radiant splendor, soon in our days.



           Have you ever stopped to think about just how much in our lives depends upon (teivos) words?  Although in theory, we could manage the basic tasks of  survival without them, it doesn’t take much imagination to appreciate that without language we would probably function much as the animals do, but in a less accomplished fashion, since we lack the instincts and physical prowess that they were given.   Language is a repository for human traditions and culture. Each nation uses words that convey the collective cultural, historical and geographic experiences of its people and their unique worldview.  These words, however, are descriptive, but not creative.

(Lashon Hakodesh) Hebrew is a unique language in that it was the instrument with which the Creator fashioned the creation. Thus the DNA, the blueprint, of the created universe, exists within the letters and words of the (Torah) Five Books of Moses.   Consequently a word in Lashon Hakodesh not only describes the subject, it literally creates it and continues to do so.

When (Hashem) G-d brought the flood waters to inundate the world, He directed Noach to build a (teiva) Ark.  In Lashon Hakodesh, “ark” and “word” are cognates, that is, they are both composed of the same letters.  This is not mere coincidence.  There is a profound spiritual message in that equivalence.   Sheltered within that “word-Ark”- were all of the precious letters and words which were going to ensure the continued physical and most significantly the spiritual survival of its hand picked human passengers and their ecosystem, the necessary animals, birds and vegetation that made up their world.

This “word-Ark” was constructed of certain specific dimensions. The dimensions of the Ark were (shin) three hundred (amos) cubits long; (nun) fifty (amos) cubits wide and (lamed) thirty (amos) cubits high. The three letters, nun, shin and lamed, which are embedded within these dimensions, form an(rashei teivos) acronym for the three major motivators of human behavior – the (neshama) soul, the (seichel) mind, and the (lev) heart.

These qualities are expressed through the personalities of the three sons of Noach whose names were: Shem, Cham and Yafes.  Shem personifies the (neshama) soul in all of us which ideally is drawn to the spiritual and dedicated to learning and following the ways of Hashem.  Cham personifies our (lev) hearts through which the emotions are expressed.  Yafes personifies our (seichel )intellect whose cultural and esthetic pursuits should ideally be directed at refining and adorning a person’s good deeds and Torah study ( as it is written in the Zohar Chadash Part I  parashas Noach, 36a).

Like the Ark – words, too, are a vehicle.  They are the repository for our thoughts, ideas, dreams and hopes.  Just as the Ark had three dimensions, length, width and height, language has three dimensions.  These dimensions in our verbal expression provide the means for setting course and direction and maintaining balance and stability in our lives.   The quality in language which gives direction to our thoughts is our seichel, our unique intelligence that assists us in navigating through life’s challenges.  This attribute is expressed through the Ark’s shin amos length. The characteristic of language that provides stability and guidance is our neshama which endow us with the spiritual balance that keeps us at an even keel as we face adversity during our voyage through the seas of this physical world.  This attribute is expressed though the nun amos width of the Ark. The trait in language which provides the emotional coloration, the vitality and enthusiasm is the lev – our heart.  This attribute is expressed through the lamed amos height of the Ark.

We are all well aware of the power of speech which can either build or destroy worlds.   When Shem, our neshoma, takes the lead in our lives and focuses us upon the service of Hashem, and Yafes, our minds which supplies the intellectual support for that endeavor and in conjunction with Cham, our hearts providing the inspiration, we are able to produce spiritually empowered  (siach) speech spelled out in Loshen HaKodesh – the Sin of Sham, the Yud of Yafes and the Ches of Cham which becomes the vehicle for the Torah directed communication of ideas that shapes and sustains the world.

When Noach emerged from the Ark, he offered (korbano) sacrifices, to praise and thank Hashem.  Today, we accomplish this through our words of (tefilla) prayer.  Indeed, when we perform the (mitzvos) commandments and make them the primary focus of our lives, they become the guiding light over all aspects of our neshama, thereby transforming our siach, speech, into a sincere appeal for our long awaited (Moshiach) true redeemer.  Moshiach spelled in the order of mem, shin, yud, ches alludes to the perfection of all mankind through our Mitzvos guiding our neshamosShem – to its fulfillment, then directing our intellect – Yafes to its fullest potential and thereby guiding our heart – Cham – to its fullest potential. This will be one of the powers of healing and rectification that the Moshiach will bring to the world.



May we all fill our (teivos) Arks with (kedusha) holiness so that they can serve as a sanctuary for us in our voyage through this world thereby meriting to complete our passage through the storms of (galus) exile safely returning us to our home port of final (geula) redemption soon in our days.











When thousands of katyusha rockets were falling in Eretz Yisrael, there were many I’m sure who wished there was some way to put a “protective roof” over the entire country.  In the last few years we have lost life and land all in the name of “security” and yet have found it to be an illusive goal. It continues to elude those who try to achieve it in a natural way, but if we seek it under Torah guidance, we will find direction as well as assistance from a mitzvah that defies all of our concepts of security. What is that mitzvah, you may ask?   It is the mitzvah of sukkah.

Through the year we dwell in homes that are solidly constructed to provide us with insulation, protection and privacy. The security we experience in these dwellings is a paradigm for the external reality of  nature, which cloaks the Creator‘s essence within it.  When we leave our homes to dwell in the Sukkah, we are proclaiming that we desire to relinquish our man-made “security” for true Divine protection.

The succah is a conduit of holiness affording a unique and incomparable spiritual shelter with its halachic dimensions and regulations designed to effectuate that goal.  One of the fascinating halachas of the succah (lavud) declares a wall to be kosher even when there exists a gap of up to three tefachim between the wall and the ground as long as the remaining halachic requirements for the walls are met.  Our Sages inform us that a space of three tefachim or more would enable a (g’di) a kid goat, to be able to creep underneath the wall. What is the significance of the fact that the standard of measure is  a g’di?   A possible explanation may be found in understanding the attributes of the g’di and in the seemingly unconnected “assaults” upon Yerushalayim that occurred a few years ago. Yes, that’s right, the attempted assaults against Jerusalem as we will soon see.

Viewed from this prospective, two incidents which occurred in the summer of last year take on a very different coloration.  One was a scheduled event that did not, Baruch Hashem, take place and the other was an unscheduled event that did occur. R’l.  The scheduled event was a march and rallies planned and promoted by the proponents of certain lifestyles that brazenly defy Torah law. This rally was to take place in Yerushalayim for seven days in Chodesh Av.  The “unscheduled event” was the military conflict which escalated into a war during the same period which was ostensibly launched against Hezbollah for the  return two soldiers that they had abducted. The month  long conflict ended with a cease fire, but without the return of the captured soldiers. On the surface the entire military engagement may seem to have been futile; however the conflict did achieve at least one unforeseen goal as it served as the catalyst  for the cancellation of the march and rally.

The holy city of Jerusalem, like the sukkah, is (when we merit it) surrounded not only by physical walls but also is privy to Divine protection. However, these spiritually protective walls do not tolerate the encroachment of anyone who attempts to defy their sanctity. Our Sages have given us the gauge for measuring such abhorrent behavior through the symbolism of the g’di , a young goat (az) whose trait arrogance (azut).

Hence the attempted intrusion of the holy city of Yerushalayim by the ultra liberal left was fortunately cancelled. Nothing less than the withdrawal from Gaza was the rational cause for the cancellation of the march and rally at that time. Last year they again attempted to breech the holy “walls” of Jerusalem; because of the “redeeming” factor of the war this rally too was cancelled.

How was the war with Hizbullah connected to the spiritual “war” with the marchers and the halachic boundaries of the Sukkah ? The s’chach that covers our Sukkah  must be thick enough to provide more shade than sun, yet not loose its halachic porous quality. This perhaps indicates that we should always remain under the “shade”/ guidance and protection of only Hashem and give no credibility, power or independence to ideologies that may offer some perceived glimmer of “light”.

The Torah clearly warns us that the power of our enemies derives not from their tactics or military might but from our failure to uphold the honor of Hashem by keeping His Torah properly. This breach in Eretz Israel can only exist if our “walls of faith”, which supports the protective s’chach, becomes weakened.  What is the solution for us in the future to prevent such a tragedy? By keeping our “walls” of faith and purity intact by not allowing any unholiness to breach our lives then the spiritual “s’chach” of Divine protection will become impenetrable to any potentially harmful forces.

Each of the seven days of succah is a unique time to connect with the different aspects of kedusha ,exemplified through the seven shepard’s of the Jewish nation (Ushpizin). Each of our righteous forefathers continues to positively influence all the future generations aiding us to bend (dofin ha-koma) towards the altruistic service of Hashem thereby drawing down holiness as well as protecting us from all negative influences.

Our adversaries scheduled a seven day rally as a statement of “defiance”, whereas we dwell in the succah for seven days as a proclamation of “compliance” May we merit the building of Sukkas David  soon in our days.



ith deep meaning and profound impact in our lives, transmits to us elaborately (spanning over one hundred passukim in Parshas Bamidbar, Nasso,  Behaaloscha [and then further in Parshas Korach] (perek 1  passukim 47 – 54; perek 3 : 5-51; perek 4: 1-49, perek 8: 5-26 and 18-21-32) the designation, separation, elevation of  the tribe of Leviim. “The Levities according to their father’s tribe were not counted among them.” – that being the rest of the Jewish Nation.  “Hashem spoke to Moses saying, ‘but you should not count the tribe of Levi, and you shall not take a census of them among the Children of Israel. You shall appoint the Levities over the Mishkan of Ha’edus, over all its utensils and everything that belongs to it”

Rashi, our most illustrious commentator, tells us that the Leviim merited this elevated status because of their loyalty and courage in the incident of the Golden Calf (1:49). / The entire tribe of Levi refused to participate in that sin proving their unswerving dedication to The Creator of the Universe.

The Ramban further enlightens us – “The task of the Levities was not so much to protect the Mishkan [and Bais HaMigdash] as a militia, but rather to serve as an honor guard, as befits the royal palace” (1:53). / The Jewish people’s task is to be an instrument of recognition of Hashem and His will in this world. Chazal tell us that a true King only assumes status as a ruler if there exists a nation that acknowledges and follows His decrees. / Thus Leviim in all generations are those Jews who steadfastly keep their focus on proper, enthusiastic service of Hashem through His Torah.

The Leviim’s duty in the Mishkan/Bais HaMigdash was to assist the Kohanim – among other ways by singing and playing musical instruments as korbonos were brought. Today the sound of  our voices and music, if expressed sincerely, is an inner expression of our soul’s yearning to come close to the Creator. Song also expresses the fact that the total harmony of the universe is under the absolute control and guidance of Hashem.

The Divine service of Leviim represents the part of each of us that links us forever with our spiritual purpose in this world. Rashi, on the same passuk, tells us: that “from this time on, the Leviim were to be separated from the rest of the nation and elevated to a new status.” The Seforno, (also on this passuk) informs us that: “because the Leviim would be performing their service on behalf of the nation, the rest of the people would have the obligation to support them, by giving them tithes.”

An Art Scroll commentary explains it thus: “Those who serve the people by filling their responsibilities in the Tabernacle, by teaching the Torah, or by performing any other spiritual tasks are not to be regarded as supplicants. It is national responsibility to provide for those who carry out the spiritual obligations of the rest of the people.”

The Leviim were counted from one month and upward – with no limit to age indicating that their spiritual mission is not dependent on age or strength (3:15). The Rambam describes the mission of the Leviim in Hilchos Shemittah and Yovel  (13: 12-13) “They are the legion of Hashem, whose task is to serve Him and to teach His Torah and way of life to others.” He adds : “Any who follows the example of the Leviim becomes sanctified as kodesh kodashim, and Hashem will be his portion and heritage for all eternity. In this world, he will merit what befits him, as the Kohanim and Levities merited it.” This status of Levy is conferred for life on all those who totally dedicate their lives to the service of Hashem, independent of age or strength.

A wonderful concept derived from the Leviim’s designation is brought to light by the Midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 3:7). The infant Leviim  counted from one month old, surely did not participate in the guarding the Mishkan, so the Leviim should have been counted from when they began their service. However, Hashem wished to reward them greatly for their loyal service, so when they reached thirty years old and began to serve, He retroactively rewarded them  as if they had indeed served from the age of one month.

This concept should also apply to our own lives. Meaning, if we totally dedicate our time, energy and potential from now on to the service of Hashem, we may merit to have our entire lives credited as Divine service. How much hope and opportunity this teaching offers us. We can no longer say it’s too late, or I have already wasted so much of my life. If we start today with an absolute dedication, we can be credited with lifelong service.

Now let us look at a few classical commentaries on the names and purposes of the three sons of Levi, who each were given a unique role in the carrying of the Mishkan. In Bamidbar 3:17 it is stated – “These were the sons of Levi, by their names: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.” However in 4:4 it is stated “This is the work of the sons of Kohath in the Ohel Moed: the most holy.” The commentators explain that Kohath was later listed first before Gershon because he was designated to carry the most holy parts of the Mishkon, meaning that he had become elevated because of his assignment.

What can we learn and apply to our own lives from this part of the Torah? Some of the great Cassidisher masters teach us that Gershon, Kehas and Merari represent three varying but proper approaches available to us depending on our spiritual level, when we are confronted by challenging circumstances. There is the level of the tzaddik, whose service is so unswerving that no temptation lures him away from his steadfast dedication to the Creator. This is symbolized by the sons of Kehas, who carried the Aron Hakodesh miraculously on their shoulder – like tzaddkim who don’t use the desires or objects of this world for their own personal pleasure, but only for Divine service.

The next level of avoda is practiced by those stay at a distance from the allurements of the yetzer hora, making ‘spiritual fences’, as alluded to in the name Gershon – separating or divorcing themselves from anything that could blemish their proper service.

Then there are those times when, for all of us,  the righteousness of  Kohath or the protective attributes of Gershon are not within our reach. At such times we must use the inner strengths represented by Merari. Literally the name means “bitter”, and it is at those times, when life seems bleak, when one feels helpless and besieged, that the proper avodah is to cry out sincerely to our Creator. Merari was assigned  to carry the heaviest parts of the Mishkan teaching us that the proper path of service during difficult times, as hinted to in his name, is to accept the yoke of Heaven with sincere repentance.

When the Jewish nation was asked: “Mi la-Hashem…?” the entire Shevet Levi stepped forward. May we all merit to “step forward” thereby bringing closer the Final Redemption, soon in our days.