Rabbi Yossi's Blog

Welcome to Rabbi Yossi's Blog; where you can expect to find thoughts on current events, Torah learning and Jewish spirituality. And of course, some good Jewish humor.

This Land is Our Land!

You may not have heard (it was hardly reported in the news) but over 70 rockets hit southern Israel this week. You may not know but this is hardly the first time it has happened this year. In fact, over 400 rockets have hit Israel in 2012. If this would happen here how do you think we would react?

With all the negative reporting about Israel and with all the movements trying to delegitimize Israel it’s easy for us to start to second guess our own right to the land. (Similar to the terrible experience of racism, when the victim begins to believe the negative things being said).

Tomorrow we will read the Torah portion of Lech-Lecha. In this portion the Torah describes the covenant that G-d forged with our ancestor Abraham, promising him that his descendants will inherit the land. A short while later Abraham purchased the area of Hebron, becoming the first area in the land to come under Jewish control.

Just to clarify, this was almost 4000 years ago. And we’ve been living there ever since. True, Jews have been in exile and for much of the time most Jewish people lived outside of the Holy Land, but through it all we retained the connection to the land. We face Israel when we pray; numerous prayers – said three times daily – emphasize our desire to return.

Our right to the land is not because of some decision by the League of Nations or the UN. Our claim dates back to thousands of years before the UN even existed. And don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

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Learn about the uniqueness and holiness of Israel visit It’s our land but how do we attain peace? Click here for Eyes Upon the Land, a presentation of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's views on the Jewish people's connection with the Holy Land, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the so-called "Land for Peace" issue.

What's the difference between success and failure?

If you were not one of the millions of people to watch it live, by now you’ve surely seen a video of it. No, not the presidential debate – Felix Baumgartner’s triple record-breaking feat: Jumping from the stratosphere and landing safely, on his feet, back on earth. 

The supersonic skydive drew lots of attention but you probably don’t know about the setbacks that had to be overcome. There were legal challenges and weather problems. The capsule that was to take Felix up was damaged during a test run. Baumgartner initially struggled with claustrophobia after spending time in the pressurized suit required for the jump. Overcoming all these challenges (and many more), this past Sunday Felix Baumgartner finally achieved his goal.

It is timely that this took place during the week that we read the story of Noach. Noach's personal story is often overshadowed by the flood. When Noach left the ark, the Torah describes him as “alone”. The Midrash says that he was also physically ill, “broken and spitting blood”. Immediately following his experience with the flood, the Torah describes his unfortunate encounter with alcohol. He seemed down and out. But he was charged by G-d to rebuild the world… and he succeeded.

Our goals may not be as glamorous as the ones mentioned above but in our personal lives they are of utmost importance. We will suffer setbacks and we will be disheartened, but we can’t allow it to distract us from our goal.

The difference between success and failure is patience and persistence. With patience and persistence we can – and will – achieve any goal.

Why the dancing?

If you joined us this past Monday evening for Simchat Torah, you may have wondered - what’s there to dance about? Dancing doesn’t seem to be an appropriate way of marking the conclusion of the yearly Torah study cycle. Wouldn’t a special evening of Torah study be more appropriate than dancing? The Torah is not even opened, we dance with it wrapped in its mantle and don’t even open it!

Torah has many dimensions. It has a limited number of verses that can be studied and mastered but it’s very essence is unlimited. G-d's infinite wisdom is contained in the Torah and we cannot connect to this G-dly core through intellect – our brains are too limited. So we dance, we reach beyond our intellectual limitations.

Traditional Jewish dancing involves a group – everyone dances together; the emphasis is on the group, not the individual. When we study Torah there are various levels, some are smarter and more knowledgeable, others less so. Dancing, on the other hand, unifies us and equalizes us, highlighting the essential bond to the Torah that we all share equally.

As we begin the new cycle of Torah study, please be sure to claim your share! Join us for one of our many ongoing classes or courses. To begin with tomorrow morning at 9:30 and coming up soon our new course: The Kabbalah of You: A Guide to Unlocking Your Hidden Potential.

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.