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שולחן ערוך

דרך אמת

ציצית מילה הלכה


 In the Zohar ha Kaddosh it is written


And the Faithful shepherd (Moshe) said to him (Eliyahu): I conjure you in the name of Hashem, do not delay, because I am in great pain: “And he looked here and there and saw there was no man”, that is, no man that will help me to get out of this pain, in this grave, that is written about me: “And his burial was given to Reshaim”, and they do not recognize me, and I am considered in their eyes, the Erev Rav, evildoers, like a smelly dead dog, for the wisdom of Chachamim will expire among them, in every city and in every place, Israel are spread among them among Kings, and those Erev Rav are made into the Shepherds of Israel the herd of ha Kaddosh Baruch Hu, as it is written: “And I will give my herd that I have tended, ADAM to be with them”, and they have no power to do any good to the Talmide Chachamim. And the men of worth and the ones who are G-d fearing travel from one place to another and no one shows them mercy, and the Erev Rav disturb them in every place they go and only give them very little, so that these will have no getting up from the fall that they have suffered, not even for a short while, and all these Chachamim and G-d fearing people are in great pain, and suffering and they are considered like dogs, “How those who were decked in gold were after that considered like waste in all the streets that no one wants to receive them” (Eicha). And the Erev Rav, they are the wealthy men living in happiness and contentment without suffering nor pain, thieves and full of bribes, that they are the judges, the leaders of the people, about whom it is written: “And the land was filled with violence because of them”, on them it is written: “Their enemies became their heads”, and I conjure you a second time in the name of Hashem Tzevakot Eloke Israel Yoshev ha Keruvim,  that all these things will not be missing from your mouth to talk about them in front of Ha Kaddosh Baruch Hu, and to tell him about their suffering.

Zohar ha Kaddosh III Parashat Nasso Raaya Mehemna 124a


           Do not be concerned with wealth. Even with it your life can be in vain. The world deceives us completely. It makes us think that we are constantly gaining, but in the end we have nothing. People spend years earning money, but are left with empty hands. Even one who attains wealth is taken away from it. Man and wealth can't endure together. Either wealth is taken from the man or the man is taken from his wealth. The two do not remain together. Where are all the riches accumulated since the beginning of time? People amassed wealth since the beginning, where is it all? It is absolutely nothing            Rebbe Nachman mi Bresslov Sichot ha Ran 51




"For on that day each man shall cast
away his idols of silver and his
idols of gold, which your own hands
have made for you as a sin (Isaiah 31:7)


"You shall love Hashem your G-d  with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your resources" (Deuteronomy 6: 4). We learned in a Baraita: R. Eliezer the Great says: If it says "with all your soul," why does it have to say "with all your resources"? And since it says, "With all your resources" why does it have to say, "With all your soul"? To teach you that if you have a person who values his life more than his money, for him it says, "With all your soul"; and if you have a person who values his money more than his life, for him it says, "With all your resources." R. Akiva says: "With all your soul" means:  even if it means giving up your life.

Talmud Massechet Berachot 61b











1 These are the words which Moshe spoke to all Israel on this side of the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah opposite the Red Sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahav. (Devarim 1:1)

Rashi comments there: DIZAHAV: Moshe rebuked the Jews on the Golden Calf they made because of the great quantity of gold (ZAHAV) that they possesed as it is written: "And silver I increased for them, and gold they fashioned into Baal"

And the prophet Hoshea says: 9 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but she shall not find them; then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then it was better for me than now.
10 For she did not know that it was I who gave her grain, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they used for the Baal.



   10 When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your G-d for the good land which he has given you. 11 Beware that you forget not the Lord your G-d, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command you this day; 12 Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses, and lived there; 13 And when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 Then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your G-d, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery;   15 Who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, where were venomous serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought you water out of the rock of flint;
16 Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers knew not, that he might humble you, and that he might test you, to do you good in the end;   17 And you say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth.
18 And you shall remember the Lord your G-d; for he is who gives you power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.  19 And it shall be, if you do forget the Lord your G-d, and walk after other G-ds, and serve them, and worship them, I warn you solemnly this day that you shall surely perish.   20 Like the nations which the Lord destroys before your face, so shall you perish; because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your G-d.



“For a day comes” in which a man will throw his gods of silver, and his desire for the pleasures of the world, and his gods of gold, his lust for money, and they will come to Eretz Israel for it is in you hands, only that you are tied down by the mud of lust for the vanities of this world

Rabbi Shlomo ha Levi Alkabetz



Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah Chapter 7

" Do not say that repentance is only for sins that consist of actions, such as licentiousness, theft, or robbery. Rather, just as a person must repent for these, so, too, should he search the evil thoughts that he has and repent for anger, hatred, jealousy, frivolity, the pursuit of wealth and honor, the pursuit of food, and similar things. One must repent for all of these. These sins are more difficult than those consisting of an action, for when a person is immersed in them, it is difficult for him to separate himself from them. So, too, it says: “Let the evil man abandon his path [and the iniquitous man his thoughts].” (Isaiah 55:7)


“When it comes to matters pertaining to this world, it is never possible to be completely satisfied. If you want physical pleasures, you will always be lacking something. For example, someone might be:, able to satisfy his desire for food, but he will not have the honor he would wish. Regardless of what you do have, you will always be deficient in some area. But when you make it your main ambition to serve the Almighty, you will feel a sense oft wholeness. The pleasure of serving the Almighty is so intense that  it is above any other pleasures. Hence when you have this virtue, you are missing nothing.”




מעמדם של הגדולים בדור

לפני בוא המשיח יראו הגדולים כך: כל מחשבתם להרבות כבוד עצמם וביתם, ולהוריש ממלכתו לבניו עד עולם, כבוד שמים אצלם טפל דטפל, עושים שדוכים מכל חטאי עמי, סומכים על עצמם ועל יחוסם, ומי יאמר להם מה תעשה. לבסוףיבטלו, והיו כלא היו. זהו הברור בימות המשיח.

וכן מובא בתוספות בן יחיאל: מלכים אלו ומאן מלכי רבנן אשר כל מחשבתם להרבות כבוד עצמן וכבוד ביתם... ונותן הפחות עיניו, במי שגדול ממנו, עם קנאה ותאוה וכבוד שלהם, להשיג יותר ויותר, ולכבוד עצמן דורשים, ולא לטובת ישראל, כי כבודם עיקר, וכבוד שמים בעד עמם ונחלתם לדרוש - הוא טפל אצלם, וטפל דטפל, וגם תורתם... הוא אצלם לתכלית גדולתם ולנצחנות לגדל עצמם על חברם בגאוותם...

וכן ראה ברוח הקודש המעמד בדורות האחרונים קודם ביאת הגואל. גדולים הם כאלו, וכאשר הם בתקפם, מי יאמר להם מה תעשו... אפילו כל העולם כולו יחרב על ידי דרך הגויים הזו, מה אכפת ליה. אחרי כי הוא רב ושבט המושלים בידו, כי הוא במרומי קשת, ומדעתו להוריש ממלכתו גם לבניו כן עד עולם... או חרב - מלשון חורבן, כי נחרבו בגשמיות או ברוחניות ונהפכו לזרים... וסומכים עצמן על יחוסם וכח תורתם, ולצרף גם חיצוניות עמהם לזרעיהם, והם בוטחים בעצמן בזה, עד כי עברו ובטלו והיו כלא היו, וכן עם שדוכים וחתנים כאלו מכל חטאי עמי, עד כי יתמו חטאים מן הארץ... להודיע כי כן הוא הבורר מעמד הדור מן ימות המשיח.

(הגאון הקדוש בעל "לב העברי" זצ"ל).


And when the Jews who lived outside Eretz Israel will see that their brothers [Who were in Eretz Israel] become new creatures and fly through the air in order to enter the lower Gan Eden to study Torah from Ha Kaddosh Baruch Hu, then they will worry greatly and will complain to Melech ha Mashiach and will say: Aren’t we the Sons of Israel, just the same as them? Why did they merit to become spiritual with body and soul? Why was this withheld from us?

And Melech ha Mashiach will say to them: It is well known that the ways of Ha Kaddosh Baruch Hu are MIDDA KENEGGED MIDDA Those who lived outside the Land, and made the effort to come here in order to merit a pure soul, and did not care about their possessions, and did not care about their bodies, and came through land and sea, and they did not worry about drowning in the sea, or about being taken captive by evil masters. And because they made their spirits and souls the most important thing, and not their bodies and possessions, therefore they received a higher level of spirituality, measure for measure.

And as to you, who could have returned to the Land like them, yet you delayed coming here because of your love of money, and you worried about your money and your bodies, and you made them into your main focus, and your souls and spirits you treated like a secondary thing, therefore you remain physical, measure for measure.     Rabbi Avraham Azulai Sefer Chessed LeAvraham, Maayan 3 Nahar 22



The desire for honor is even greater than the desire for wealth, for it is possible for a person to overcome his inclination for wealth and the other pleasures and still be pressed by the desire for honor, being unable to tolerate being, and seeing himself beneath his friends…Many were caught and destroyed by the desire for honor…This same desire, according to our Sages of blessed memory (Zohar to Numbers 13:3), was responsible for the spies’ speaking ill of the land, thus bringing about their death and the death of the entire generation. They feared a diminution of their honor in the possibility that after entry into the land they would no longer be princes of Israel and others would be appointed in their place…  
 Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzato   
Mesillat Yesharim, Prate Nekiut

R' Chaim looked at his grandson lovingly and replied, "My son, I feel that being a laborer in Eretz Israel is greater than being a Rav in Chutz La'aretz (the diaspora)." Hearing this, the grandson immediately abandoned his plans [To leave for chutz la aretz].  (Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, Ha Ish al ha Choma)


Article that appeared in the Jewish Press

Of Sheitels and Chandeliers


"Speak unto the congregation of the Children of Israel and say unto them: Be holy, for I, the L-rd your G-d, am holy." (Leviticus 19:2).

It is not an easy thing to be holy, and there is not aman alive who has not stumbled as he has walked down the road of life, and fallen - even if but for a moment - into impurity. It is not an easy thing to be holy and in the Jew's climb up the difficult sides of the mountain of sanctity there are always slips and falls. But it is holiness and sanctity that remain the ultimate goal and purpose of the Jew, for to be holy is to approach the Almighty who IS holiness, while to emulate Him is the reason for man's being.


Holiness. To willingly deny oneself material pleasure; to sacrifice a desire; to give up a delicacy; to weave this into a philosophy of life with its value dominating those contradictory ones of materialism and transitory riches; to take one's ego and self and "I" and bend it beneath the yoke of sacrifice and denial. To become richer by far with far less, to become stronger with the ability to do without. This is holiness, this is sanctity, this is the purpose of all the individual mitzvot.

And how, when we grow in an atmosphere of supposed Judaism, in which there is no conceptual Judaism, when we merely load ourselves with mitzvot as a donkey laden with sacks, when we strew our mitzvot helter skelter without plan, blueprint or program, we end up with structures that are technically Jewish, but that in reality are empty and barren of everything that is holy and meaningful. The mitzvah becomes a thing to be done because of habit and ritual, while its purpose and reason are lost in the mists of a background that never understood the concepts and values that are the heart of the individual Torah commandment.

Little wonder that the Ramban - Nachmanides - found it necessary, when commenting on the commandment "Be holy!" to warn against the meticulously observant Jew who could be a "naval b'rshut haTorah," an abomination within the limits of the Torah, within the permission of the Torah!

It is almost inconceivable if we did not see it every moment of the day. To be a scrupulously observant Jew, one who carefully and technically follows every nuance and custom and yet who qualifies as a naval b'rshut haTorah, an abomination within the permission of the Torah ...

I do not even discuss, at the moment, the painfully obvious reality of supposedly religious, Orthodox Jews, who are as capable of sheer hate as any Sabbath violator. All of us know, to our sorrow, the "religious" Jew who - not merely because he or she stumbles and errs every so often, but as a matter of total, continuous practice - mixes mincha, the afternoon service, with the most vicious lashon hara, character assassination. All of us know how many fraudulent business deals have been planned over a glatt kosher lunch. The fact that this enables the irreligious Jew, who is just as bad, to point an eager finger at "religious Jews" and brand Torah Judaism as a whole as hypocritical, is only the least of the results. For the irreligious Jew does not understand and prefers not to understand that if violating the Sabbath takes a Jew out of the category of "religious" or "Orthodox", so too does his planned and deliberate and permanent pattern of lying, stealing and lashon hara. Such a person is no more a representative of Torah Judaism than the desecrator of kashruth. .

AlI this, however, stems from a definite cause. It has its roots in a particular evil. The irreligious Torah Jew, that phenomenon noted as far back as the days of the prophets, has his source in a particular philosophy of life that is as un-Jewish as that of any gentile's and that is the product of an utter lack of conceptual, ideological and philosophical study and thought. What emerges from the irreligious "religious" society is a culture that can best be described as Accomodation Orthodoxy, Comfortable Compromise, or the World of Sheitels and Chandeliers.

It is the world of the glorious ability to enjoy everything that the gentile does with a veneer of "yiddishkeit." Vacation in this kind of a world becomes not a time when one is finally free to learn Torah without the oppressive interference of work, but a glorious opportunity to go on a trip to Puerto Rico, where one is promised the chance to gamble all night under the auspices of a glatt kosher tour. Indeed, the world of "modern orthodoxy" stamps everything  right down to the night club with the obscene jokes and half­naked dancing girls - KOSHER, if the word "glatt" is prefixed to it.

It is the world of the meticulous observance of the law of covering the married woman's head with a gorgeous sheitel from the salons of Paris and London, that turns the simple woman not into a paragon of holiness, but into a thing far more physically attractive than she ever could be with the natural qualities given her by Heaven.

It is a status symbol, an effort to become more desirabIe than less so, a thing that becomes an object of vanity rather than modesty, a total contradiction of the spirit of the Law.

It is the world of the chandelier and the desperate, neurotic and un-Jewish value system that places materialism and desire for wealth and status at the top of the priorities. The throwing of fortunes into fancy homes; the following up of additional fortunes into their renovations; the expensive clothes and vacations and all the things that mark the conspicuous consumption that Torah always condemned in the world of gentiles and secularism. Yet, here they are, in "religious" garb, in the form of the meticulously observant Jew whose table is graced with only glatt kosher and who delights in taking to task the Conservatives for their hypocrisy and compromise and twisting of Judaism. The sad truth is that the irreligious religious Jew is just as guilty of comfortable accomodation, and the world of sheitels and chandeliers is his world as well.

It is not very difficult to be an observant Jew in the America of 1978, if one defines "religious" as the practitioner of Jewish folklore and ritual. The almost universal five-day work week and the presence of the OU, OK and an increasing alphabet-soup kashrut business, combined with the college education that makes every Jewish mother beam and every graduate guaranteed shelter from poverty, make the modern Orthodox, whether in Flatbush or Boro Park garb, eminently comfortable.

But religion and religious conviction are eternally measured by the yardstick of deep faith and true commitment, and that yardstick is a concrete, not an abstract one. It is in the area of genuine sacrifice, where the Jew is called upon to truly give of himself and give up of himself, that the real religious Jew is tested - and so woefully found wanting.

The mitzvah of living in the Land of Israel and leaving the abomination and impurity of an Exile that our rabbis called a place of G-dlessness and idolatry; the obligation to honestly and sincerely look at our failure to adhere to the mitzvah that the Sifri calls equal to all the combined mitzvot; the need to lift ourselves up and leave the fleshpots (albeit glatt) of the comfortable and warmly soothing Exile, and make the sacrifice, the very real sacrifice, of a lowered living standard, and an apartment rather than a house, an apartment that may not have a chandelier - if it is difficult to live in Israel, what does that matter to a Jew who really knows that it is difficult just to be a REALLY RELIGIOUS JEW? The Jew who never misses mincha and dedicates himself to the difficult observance of the eating of hot chulent on the Sabbath in the comfort of the gentile Exile, is not a religious Jew so long as he willingly and deliberately fails to bend his neck beneath the yoke of Torah that demands the doing of the real sacrifice. It is not hard to pray the mincha service or to wear the luxurious sheitel. It is very difficult to give up comfort and fulfill the mitzvah of living in the Land. Those who cannot bring themselves to obey the mitzvah are the ones who fail and who fail Judaism.

The mitzvah of dedication to the Jewish people. If one is obligated to wash one's hand of impurity before eating (and what religious Jew would ever overlook that?), then surely one is obligated to wash one's hands of the blood of a fellow Jew - and one's hands become tinged with blood, not through active assault or murder, but through passive acceptance and refusal to prevent that evil. The finding of a murdered corpse under unknown circumstances called for the elders to go out to the spot and declare: "Our hands did not have a share in the shedding of this blood." No one for a moment accused the elders of the actual murder, but they were declaring that they had not allowed the victim to go homeless or without accompaniment. For the Torah de creed that mere passivity in the face of danger to a fellow Jew is a shedding of blood!

And if so, how many religious Jews are shedders of blood and violators of the cry: "Thou shalt not stand by the blood of thy fellow Jew"? How many of the Comfortable Accommodation set are unwilling to risk their time and bodies and endanger themselves for fellow Jews? How many were as silent and indifferent as anyone else to the plight of poor and threatened Jews in the inner city areas, to Soviet Jews and Syrian Jews? How many refused to allow their children to attend demonstrations and to get involved? How many are adamantly opposed to their children living in Israel, desiring rather that their offspring share their sin of living in Galut under the bizarre theory that the family that sins together shares fate together?

How many wavers of the Torah banner become hysterical when their child declares his desire to give up a college career and, instead, learn in a Kolel, a yeshiva for married men, for a number of years? How many are obsessed with the new Orthodox status symbol, "my son the doctor-rabbi," and how clear it is that it is the physician that is the healthier of the two titles in the minds of the doting parents? How many pay lip service to the importance of total dedication to Torah study and the virtues of the talmid chacham, scholar, just so long as it is not their daughter who has to marry the man who cannot give her the chandeliers and the French sheitels?

Judaism is not a game we play. It is based on that awesomely difficult faith that demands risk and exposure to danger when the Torah so demands. Never will I forget the words of the nationally known Orthodox Jewish leader who said to me, concerning Israeli withdrawal from the liberated lands: "Of course we must have faith, but let's be practical." Such people have no faith. Judaism without faith, without sacrifice and without real values and concepts, rots away and becomes a ritualistic corpse. The practitioner of such an irreligious religion truly becomes the naval b'rshut haTorah, the abomination within the technical limits of Torah. That is the very antithesis of kedusha, holiness, and not of this did the Almighty speak when He called out: "Be holy!"

19 Shevat 5738 - January 27, 1978



In this age of great scientific and technological advancement, when materialistic, cosmopolitan "realism" makes assimilation seem acceptable, it is clear that the Jewish captive to foreign culture will not improve his ways. Quite the contrary, he marches along proudly, far from the camp, far from the idea of repenting, almost cut off from every link to his origins. He has lost, so to speak, the power of free choice. He who was earmarked to be like the stars of the heavens, wallows in the mire.




Another facet of the economic argument, one cited as a reason to delay aliya indefinitely, is financial “security.” (“How can we face the future without a sizable sum put safely away?”) The gemara (Sota 48) says: “One who has bread in his basket and worries what he will eat tomorrow is one of little faith.” The Kotzker Rebbe explains that the “little faith” is not evidenced by the uncertainty of tomorrow, but rather by this man’s certainty of today. By worrying only about to­morrow, he shows that he puts his trust in the presence of bread in his basket, and not in Hashem. A believing Jew, by definition, does not hang his security on large bank accounts; he certainly would not compromise his Torah life in their pursuit




My sons, come and see how great is the trait of contentedness. For our father Jacob, may peace be upon him, asked of the L-rd only what he absolutely required and could not live without, viz. (Genesis 28:20): “... and He gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, etc.” Similarly, King Solomon, may peace be upon him, asked of the L-rd only what he needed for subsistence, viz. (Proverbs 30:8): “Give me neither poverty nor wealth, but allot me my daily bread.” He requested no luxuries. He also implored that he not be impoverished. And he explained why he did not wish great wealth, viz. (ibid. 9): “Lest I be sated and deny, saying: ‘Who is the L-rd?” And why he did not desire poverty, viz. (Ibid.): “and lest I become impoverished and steal, and take the name of my G-d” [in vain, in swearing that I did not steal].

 Therefore, my sons, forsake pursuing luxuries, for they do not bring one to fear of Heaven. And this trait [love of luxury] is not found among the traits of the wise, the saintly, and the fearers of Heaven.

A certain sage wrote to one of the kings of his times: “There is nothing more beneficial than the forsaking of luxuries.” And; “Contentedness is the rein of lust and the curb of luxury.” And another sage said: “One who desires more than he needs undermines his soul.” It is told that a king said to a certain sage: “If you only asked it, I would provide for you for your entire life.” The sage replied: “Why should I ask? I am richer than you are!” The king:

“How are you richer than I?” The sage: “Because I am more contented with the little I have than you are with all that you have.” And: “One who is content with what the Blessed One has decreed is wealthier than all other men.” And: “Be content with what the Blessed One has given you, and do not look at what others have, and do not desire what was not given you; for one who rejoices in his lot is sated.”

...And what is trust in G-d? Entrusting to Him all of one’s affairs accepting all that the L-rd gives him, whether much or little, not worrying about his scant supply of food, and not envying one who is richer than he. They asked a certain sage: “What is trust in G-d?” He answered: “Trusting Him in all of your affairs, and leaving them to Him.” Another said: “The wisest of men and the most trusting of them is he who accepts things when they come and when they leave.”

Therefore, my sons, let a light, scant meal be sufficient for you, and accustom yourselves to it, so that you are not subservient to others. And thus did our early sages exhort (Shabbath 118a):

“Make your Sabbath a weekday, and do not be subservient to others.” May G-d prosper us in this in His many mercies.



    Rabbenu Bachya Ibn Paqudda, of blessed memory, wrote the book Duties of the Heart, around nine hundred and fifty years ago. He informs us, that the man who has great wealth falls prey to it, and although, people tend to view wealth as an unequivocal blessing from G-d, nevertheless for the wealthy man, wealth brings many perils. Let us quote what the Rabbi says (Chap. 4, Gate of Humility): “The sign that wealth is actually a vengeance from G-d, is that its owner is always involved in seeking pleasures and is too busy to fulfill his obligations to the Creator and to other people, both of which he is indebted to. He forgets the true owner of the good he has received, and doesn’t realize he should serve The Creator for this good, as it is written (Isaiah 22,13): “Here’s joy and gladness…Let us eat and drink because tomorrow we will die”, and it is also written (Isaiah 5,12): “There was musical instruments and wine banquets and the works of the Lord They did not pay attention to”. And this is what constitutes vengeance in the form of a blessing”.


Rabbi Bahya Ibn Paqudda further describes the process by which people fall prey to the excesses of materialism (Gates of Abstinence, Chapter 2): “It is known that the dominance of desire over intellect is the beginning of all sin and source of all tragedy. And the people do not turn to this world until they have before turned away from the Torah. And the evil instinct makes the person abandon the way of their forefathers which was that of material contentment, taking only from the world what is necessary for their basic needs and no more. The evil instinct leads the person to a lifestyle of indulgence and of the pursuit of wealth, to endear the person with this endless pursuit until the person drowns in the depths of the material sea. And his instinct obliges him to suffer the pains of the waves of this sea, and the world rules over him blocking his ears and closing his eyes. There’s not a single person that is not occupied with his own pleasures, to obtain them whenever possible and feasible. And this becomes the person’s law and religion, thereby abandoning the true G-d, as it is written: “Your wickedness will punish you, your sins will rebuke you” (Jeremiah 2,19).

And there are the ones who do not get to obtain the pleasures they pursue, but their minds are always on them, and it’s their only desire day and night, as it is written: “Evil he thinks on his bed, He plans on a path that is not good” (Psalms 36:5).


All the person’s years are engrossed on this pursuit, preventing the person from obtaining the true good that is in the world, too weary to attain it. The person loses with the merchandise he deals with. His soul diminished, he chooses evil, not knowing what he gives up, as it is written: “They exchanged their honor for the image of a bull that consumes grass” (Psalms 106:20).

And the person suffers from a growing addiction, and more and more the pressure from the loosing ways of the merchandise the person chose (his materialism) occupy his mind permanently, with ever newer forms of desire revolving in the person’s heart. The closer the person gets to his goal, the further he gets from the light of truth that he abandoned, and the stronger the person’s bond with his baser instinct.

In this way, darkness becomes thicker; this world grows in the person’s mind, enchanting him. The person develops in this world at the expense of his mind which becomes wasted.


And in the end, he thinks that his wrong path is the right one, and his mistake is the correct way, finally he makes this his statute and his moral. And parents teach these ways to their sons and grandsons, the majority is led to follow these rules, and the leaders are zealous to keep these statutes. And the evil is rooted in everyone. And the houses are filled with vanity. And what was foreign becomes normal and acceptable and what is good becomes foreign. The person who is content with little is considered not to have fulfilled his duty.


And everyone does what he saw his neighbor doing, and he who is happy with less is considered a lazy person. And the one who does not wish to accumulate material things is considered short of mind and the one who is content with little is thought to be weak and the one who is all day accumulating wealth is thought to be industrious.

And for the sake of materialism, people unite or fight and for the rewards, they make the stomachs their g-ds, and their clothing is their torah and their ethical ideal is to increase the size of their house”. (end of quote).



            "You say: 'I am innocent! Surely His anger is turned away from me!' Behold, I will judge you because you say: 'I have not sinned.' "(Jeremiah 2:35) .

Of course, that is why he is guilty of the unpardonable sin of vayimasu b'eretz chemda, ("and they despised the desired land'). The mitzvah of living in the Land of Israel is one that has been blotted out by the fleshpots of the Exile, the luxurious way of life. The cynical and nauseating attempt to rationalize this selfish, greedy trampling of this pillar of Judaism through halacha only adds to the gravity of the sin.

The descent into the joys of materialism must inevitably destroy the Jew, turn him from a religious one into a mere Orthodox one. The mitzvah trees that he plants become more and more barren of fruit and meaning as his entire sense of values becomes distorted and perverted.

"And Yeshurun grew fat and rebelled." (Devarim 32). "And I multiplied unto her silver and gold, which they used for Baal." (Hosea 2).

In Israel, money for their institutions drives religious parties not only to sell out Torah principles as they compromise on each and every ideal, but sees sinat chinam, baseless hatred reach new highs and lows. Rabbis defame other rabbis; rival political groups spew forth lies and libel concerning each other; little children learn to insult their fellows whose fathers happen to support a treyfe (unacceptable) rival political party - and all in the name of Torah.

Do we not understand that what is happening today is, in great measure, a repetition of that against which the Prophets rallied? Do we think that in those days, too, there were not the frum, the pious who went up to the temple regularly?

"When you come to appear before Me, who hath required this at your hand to trample My courts: your new moon and your appointed seasons My soul hates." (Isaiah I). And was not a Jewish people that observed ritual driven into Exile from its land because of sinat chinam, needless hatred? And is it not time for us to look at ourselves closely and see the terrible blemishes and warps and sins that have sprouted as they were nourished by the rains of materialism, wealth, ease and greed? Is it not long overdue for us to look at the perversion of values that is taking place, and all under the guise of Torah-true Jewish communities?

Of course, the sins of theft, robbery, fraud, greed, callousness are much, much more pronounced in the non-Orthodox Jewish community. Never allow them to hypocritically lie and deceitfully proclaim their commitment to "the laws between man and man." They trample on those with as much impunity as they do the ones that are written on the other tablet.

But what relevance does that have to what I write about Orthodoxy? We have a right and obligation to expect and demand more from the Torah Jew. He who accepts the Divinity of Torah is infinitely more culpable for his sins!

And so, is it not time to recognize that tshuva, penitence, is not only for the Reform and Conservative Jew; not only for the one who tramples on the mitzvot that we keep, but also for us who trample on the mitzvot that we do not keep.

And in so doing, is it not time for us to beat our breasts and beg forgiveness from the Almighty for the most outrageous and cynical of sins, the torture and agony of Jewish women that is at the heart of the scandal of gittin, Jewish divorce?

7 Iyar 5749 - May 12, 1989


It has become conventional wisdom in recent years to boast of the integration of observant Jews into the modern, western, American society. We are witness to innumerable articles and dinners honoring the success of individuals in living both as religious Jews and as modern members of modern society. Every religious physician, attorney, legislator and politician is trotted out as proof of the compatibility of Torah and modern, secular society. The logical extension of the Integrated Bionic Orthodox Man is, of course, the total compatibility of life in the galut with Torah Judaism.

It is, of course, true that there are Jews who quote both Maimonides and Plato. But while one can quote both Torah and Plato, he cannot live them both, since ultimately there are contradictions that force him to choose between one and the other or live a lie, for Judaism is far, far more than mere ritual and commandments. It is, first and foremost, a way of life, with basic concepts and ideas, and many, many of those concepts are at total and basic variance with the non-Jewish and secular outside world. The pity, of course, is that so many observant Jews receive elementary yeshiva training with total emphasis on individual mitzvot and little or no overall conceptual education. Theirs is a Torah of trees with no forest; of individual bricks with no architectural overview, no structure.

And so, they become, in great measure, observers of Jewish ritual and folklore while turning into assimilated Jewish Americans on the intellectual, conceptual level. Consider the concepts that American Jews are committed to so passionately and that are so often at variance with and in contradiction to Torah concepts: democracy, integration, the right to do what one wishes as long as others are not hurt by it (Le., so called victimless crimes, such as homosexuality, prostitution, etc.), abortion, freedom of speech for all, equality of Arabs and Jews in Eretz Yisroel. There are others, but these will do for the time being.



The people that were the most religious of all have become the most indifferent to G-d. The People of the Book place more faith in that of the check than the Bible. In time of crisis, the Jew does not believe in anything, except that which he can see, touch, feel. He can see Ronald Reagan; he believes in him far more than in the G-d of Abraham. He can feel the Russians; he fears them more than the intangible G-d he pays lip service to as long as there is no crisis. He can touch the tanks of the Israeli army, and so he prays that there will be enough of them instead of believing that One is enough of Him. "For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living water, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." (Jeremiah 2)

The truth is that we will swear our belief in the Omnipotence of the G-d of Israel as long as this remains in the abstract, in the realm of theory. We show our fervent belief in the mirac1es that happened yesterday, but we shrink from testing them today or tomorrow. That which we need not do ourselves is easily believed in and avidly taught or sermonized. Yesterday is always smoothly dealt with - who needs to place himself on the line? Who must be tested? The belief in the general Omnipotence of G-d easily fills our hearts. It is only when we must get down to specifics, to real and actual implementation of faith in our own lives that the hypocrisy becomes a stench which is overpowering.

The G-d of Israel is not a "Santa Claus." The religion of Israel is not a plaything. If there is one thing above all that the Almighty desires of us, demands of us, it is faith. "Therefore, the L-rd heard and was wroth; and a fire was kindled against Jacob and anger also carne up against Israel; because they believed not in G-d and trusted not in His salvation." (Psalms 78)

That is the Jewish Iron Law: Belief and trust in G-d, rather than looking to and raising Jewish eyes unto the gentile. There can be no greater Hillul Hashem, desecration of the Name of G-d, than when the Jew places his faith in the power of the gentile. For what he is saying by this is that there really is no G-d; and this is the end of Judaism, and this is the end of any reason for the existence of the Jew.



"You say: 'I am innocent! Surely His anger is turned away from me!' Behold, I will judge you because you say: 'I have not sinned.' "(Jeremiah 2:35) .

Of course, that is why he is guilty of the unpardonable sin of vayimasu b'eretz chemda, ("and they despised the desired land'). The mitzvah of living in the Land of Israel is one that has been blotted out by the fleshpots of the Exile, the luxurious way of life. The cynical and nauseating attempt to rationalize this selfish, greedy trampling of this pillar of Judaism through halacha only adds to the gravity of the sin.

The descent into the joys of materialism must inevitably destroy the Jew, turn him from a religious one into a mere Orthodox one. The mitzvah trees that he plants become more and more barren of fruit and meaning as his entire sense of values becomes distorted and perverted.

"And Yeshurun grew fat and rebelled." (Devarim 32). "And I multiplied unto her silver and gold, which they used for Baal." (Hosea 2).




       The Torah sages of all generations warned against extravagant lifestyles, flaunting our wealth in the eyes of the nations, and becoming too comfortable in Galut. The Maharsha (Shabbos 119) makes the following observation: “Most of the sins of this generation... can be attributed to the fact that.., everyone wishes to conduct himself in an extravagant fashion in regard to clothing, houses, and all other mat­ters; and this leads to theft,”

More recently, the Chafetz Chaim, in the Biur Halacha (siman 529), rebukes openly: “Many people err in this area and do not take to heart how to conduct themselves properly concerning their household expenses, to distance themselves from luxuries. Many have been damaged by this kind of conduct which ultimately brings one to theft and dishonesty and to shame and disgrace   In Sfas Tamira (chapter V) the Chafetz Chaim blames the suffering, trials and tribulations of his times on the dishonesty promoted by overspending on luxuries, especially costly clothing, by overextending oneself through buying on credit; and by lavish weddings with unreasonable demands made on parents for dowries.




An evil spirit rests on it, and in the end it will be to his detriment, God forbid. I said this long ago about individuals who use bribes and "protectionism" to remain in places from which practically all of the Jews were expelled. They use the prevailing market conditions to amass huge sums of money. Others take advantage of war-time market conditions to become wealthy. However, they forget that the Creator of the Universe sent these afflictions to awaken us, His children, to leave the lands of exile and yearn to return to our forefathers' inheritance. They do not understand this. They have fattened their hearts and become engrossed in accumulating wealth through the great business opportunities that have developed during these turbulent times. Nothing will come out of this but disappointment I cited a Midrash about the plague of locusts [to prove this]:

What is the meaning of the verse Not a single locust remained (Shemot 10:19)? R. Yochanan said, ''When the locusts came, the Egyptians rejoiced, saying, 'We wiIl gather them and fill barrels with them.' The Holy One Blessed be He retorted, 'You wicked ones, you are happy with the plague that I have brought upon you?!' Immediately, The Lord turned a very strong west wind, and it carried the locusts (ibid.). What does it mean Not a single locust remained? Even the ones that were salted in their pots and barrels flew away." (Shemot Rabbah 13:7)

The same is true of those who rejoice over the market conditions that have resulted from today's misfortunes. The Holy One Blessed be He says to them, ''You are happy with the plague that I have brought upon you?! I swear by your lives that you will remain empty-handed, because the wind will carry everything away!" Similarly, we must not expect anything from the market conditions that will arise after the war. The only outcome of these misfortunes should be that we leave the Diaspora, go up to the cities of Zion, and dwell therein. Then, we will succeed and attain everlasting peace and tranquillity. This is HaShem's will, as I proved above at length.




1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help; and depend on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not to the Holy One of Israel, nor do they seek the Lord!
2 Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words; but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of those who work iniquity.
3 Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord shall stretch out his hand, the helper shall stumble, and he who is helped shall fall down, and they all shall perish together.
4 For thus has the Lord spoken to me, Like the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them; so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for Mount Zion, and for its hill.
5 As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; he will defend and deliver it; and passing over it he will preserve it.
6 Turn to him from whom the people of Israel have deeply revolted.
7 For in that day every man shall throw away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made to you for a sin.
8 Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him; but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall become slaves.
9 And his rock shall pass away in terror, and his princes desert the banner in fear, said the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.


We have to realize that lack of faíth is much more severe than idolatry, as Ibn Ezra wrote in his comments on the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:2):

 It is a crime for anyone not to believe in G-d, greater than that of worshipping idoIs. Many peopIe believe in G-d yet bring sacrifices and incense to idoIatry, lilce those who of­fer incense to the stars, thinking they will bring them bounty. As they say, "Since we ceased offering to the stars in the heavens... we have Iacked all things" (fer. 44:18). It aIso says, "They feared the L-rd but served their own gods" (II Kin$s 17:33). SimiIarIy, Naaman refers to his "prostrating himself in the house of Rimmon" (Ibid., 5:18). These acknowledge G-d, yet also worship another. [See his further comments.]

 …Precisely in our day, man has fallen into the abyss with the whole world denying the existence of a Higher Power. The expansion of sci­ence and technology, which has generated so much wealth and possessions, creating lives of pleasure and extravagance which in the past even kings and princes did not know, has given man a feeling of con­fidence in his logical and mental powers, as if he holds in his own hands the key to infinite progress and a shining future. The more m~'s genius has flowered, the more his fear of a Higher Power has waned.

Heretical thoughts have reared their heads, crowning lowly man, whose beginning and end are dust, as king and true creator. Terrible heresy has spread, abetted by great scientific inventions, and materialism which has grown to an unbelievable degree feeds the lusts and pleasures of peoples and nations. Age-old ideas which once con­quered the world, have been shattered ovemight. Divine values which established the truth of surrender to G-d, the breaking down of the ego, suppression of passion, accepting the yoke of G-d's king­dom, have been defeated in favor of the values of the new man which sanctify pleasure and enjoyrnent, selfishness, and freedom of the in­dividual to do whatever he pleases without punishment or guilt.




The fatal disease of our times remains the insidious shatnez, the forbidden admixture of holiness and profane. The creeping impurity of gentilized culture and concepts, of Hellenism and foreign values, has seeped into the sanctity and polluted the uniqueness and isolation of the Temple of Jewish Ideas. Through our failure in the Exile to 1eave that Exile, and by our refusal in the Land of Israel to lock the doors of the Jewish state to the spirit of the Exile, we have created a generation of dichotomy, of Jewish schizophrenia. Part of us is unto the L-rd and part unto the goy. Moderdoxy is the fatal attempt to assimilate gentilization into Judaism, to sow the vineyard of the L-rd with diverse seed, to plough with the ox of Torah and the donkey of Hellenism, to wear the wool of G-d and the linen of the gentile and thus be comfortable and acceptable in a world of comfortably integrated ideas, instead of that of solid separation and division between holy and profane, good and evil, truth and falsehood, Jew and nations.

The Jew, faced with the terror, the terrible realization, of contradiction and stark opposition between fundamental concepts of Torah and modern liberalism, hastily sought escape in intellectual fraud and ideological perversion of those concepts. Unable to accept the consequence of cleaving, of totally subordinating his personal feelings to the Will of the L-rd, he set about perverting and corrupting and counterfeiting those concepts. In essence, each day of the year, the Moderdox, that shatnez Orthodox product of the western world, sets about to celebrate his own Shavuot, by taking Torah from a Sinai that he created, a Torah that he set about rewriting in a way that would soothe his fearful mind, stroke his tired intellect, eliminate the awful contradictions.

The concepts that leap out at him from the real Torah given at the real Sinai so long ago, are starkly impossible for him to accept. They simply do not alIow him to live with their notions of mercy and justice and ethics which are so at odds with his, conceived in foreign Jefferson and born in strange Mills, nurtured by the milk of western concepts of what is good and just and equal and fair; raised in the lowlands of democracy and the valleys of total equality. The Moderdox cannot ever c1imb the mountains of the L-rd with its basic concepts that are so at odds with all the above. And so, he simply does not accept them and must find some way to save his spiritual sanity by creating a Torah that will allow him to sleep his democratic sleep and wear his comfortable coat of many ideological colors, the shatnez of Moderdoxy.

Of this did the Avi Ezer and the Ibn Ezra and the verse in Deuteronomy speak, of those who refuse to cleave and who can, thus, never understand the great secret. For only those who are prepared to bend the neck beneath the yoke of Heaven, to accept the attributes of the world in the precise and exact manner that the G-d of Israel, the L-rd of the universe, proclaimed and decreed, can ever understand, "Lo, they are the great ones in the land..." And the Moderdox remain, forever, in the lowlands.

We find the authentic concept of justice and mercy of Judaism unpalatable? The fault, dear Jews, lies not in the heavenly stars but in ourselves. We cannot bear the Torah concepts of equality and democracy since they so contradict those which we drank with our foreign milk? The solution is to switch the Jewish baby's formula. Above all, if the Moderdox cannot accept the yoke of Heaven, let him be honest and go his own way. But never, never counterfeit and deliberately distort, pervert and twist Judaism. Never, ever recreate a Sinai in which he becomes G-d and gives himself a new Torah that never was.

Concerning the law of the false prophet who must be killed, the sainted Or Ha-Chaim (Deuteronomy 13:6) quotes the Midrash (Sifri) as explaining the basis of the crime to be the fact that he counterfeited Torah, and he declares: "And for this counterfeiting does he die." Should those who daily pervert and counterfeit Torah not tremble to their very roots for these words? Shall not those who are so overly righteous and who cannot accept the mercy and justice of the L-rd not contemplate very carefully the gravity of their sin of counterfeiting, a crime of which there is none greater?

Justice? Mercy? Jew and genti1e? Democracy? Equality? Vengeance? Violence? All these attributes are defined and set down by the L-rd, and not by man. He decides what and when and why they are and it is our obligation "to cleave unto Him," and not "to exchange the essence of one for the other." To bow our heads in joyous acceptance in total cleaving, for this is, indeed, a great secret, the great secret, the lesson of Shavuot.

. The emphasis is not on our taking the Law, for one takes what one decides to take. Shavuot is the time of the giving of the Law and then the acceptance of precisely and exactly that which G-d gave uso The acceptance of the yoke of Heaven is what we create when we understand that Shavuot is the total and unconditional acceptance

of the giving of the Law by a G-d who is greater and wiser than we are, whose concepts of pity and mercy and goodness are true. And of the Moderdox who cannot accept His decrees, the words of the Ramban echo throughout the ages. Concerning the verse (Deuteronomy 7:16): "And thou shall consume all the people which the L-rd thy G-d shall deliver thee, thine eye shalt have no pity on them," the Ramban declares:   "For through the mercy of the fools, all justice is lost."

     G-d in heaven, what wisdom and what truth! And how applicable to our generation of Moderdoxy, those who pervert and counterfeit Torah in the name of their own concept of mercy. "The mercy of the fools." And how they cause justice to be lost as the innocent are murdered by the evil that they, the shatnez purveyors, allowed to exist and to live, to kill the innocent.

Shavuot is the most important of all holidays for these times. It is the time of giving and of the casting upon us a yoke of Heaven and of the outcry against Moderdoxy and its mercy of fools because of which all justice is lost.











The Master of Prayer: One of Rebbe Nachman's stories. Refers to the times we are living in, and the idolatry the world has for money and honor even among the more religious people

El Señor de la Plegaria: Uno de los cuentos de Rebe Najman donde podemos ver lo que acontece en nuestros dias, wue todo el mundo persigue e idolatra el dinero y los honores







ב' קול קורא'ס מאת כ"ק הגה"צ רבי שלום יהודה גראס שליט"א מהאלמין יע"א קול קורא – חיה טורפת ושמה לוקסוס

Published with the help of Jason Robert Kovan