Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Blog

I have created a new blog.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Long Hiatus

I haven't written an article since October. Baruch Hashem my son, wife, family, Torah learning, and Work have kept me very busy. Not that I haven't had ideas that I wanted to expound upon here but I just have not had the time until now. I on Jury Duty right now so this will give me iy"H some free time.

Lots to talk about but first I must say it is AMAZING that even without writing in 3 months, my blog has had almost 1,000 hits.

The Rebbe Shlit'a payed a visit to Los Angeles and it was such a blessing to daven with him, and speak with him privately more than a few occasions as well as getting the opportunity to hear amazing and uplifting words of Torah. His son is getting married iy"H July 26th but before that, my family and I are spending 2 weeks in Monsey (Feb 22nd - Mar 8th) with the Rebbe and his wonderful Gabbi R' Moshe Berush Friedman & Family. As a Chassid of the Nikolsburger Rebbe it is very difficult in Los Angeles and having the Rebbe here really strengthens me. People are very curious of the minhagim, niggunim, and lifestyle of the Nikolsburg Chassidic Sect and I must say I dont know much except that I have a very strong Kesher with the Rebbe Shlit'a. 2 weeks in Monsey should help fix that.

As far as the pshat goes, the Rebbe was a chasid of the Divre Yoel of Satmar as was his father as well. The Rebbe even as a young bochur attracted yidden who sought advice, help, and even brachos. Today the Rebbe has built from the ground up a network of Torah learning through a Yeshiva, Kollel, Girls Seminary, and Cheder with a beautiful main shul and large social hall. The Chassidim number at around 500 family and growing with hopes to build a Kiryas Nikolsburg in Eretz Yisroel.

I will write much more about the Rebbe Shlit'a and Nikolsburg in general after my trip.

My Torah learning has been steady and I am learning some amazing things. I have a daily Gemara Chevrusa in the mornings learning Masketa Shabbos starting with 36a which begins the Chapter on Kirah's and cooking before/on Shabbos. I also started Masketa Brachos with a friend in the evenings twice a week who is really helping me with vocab and grammar structure. Learning the daily Tanya, Rashi, Tehillim, but still missing the Rambam. I haven't learned via Google Video with that chevrusa since my son was born but iy"H soon I will be able to start that up again. Learning the Chassidus of the Rebbe Shlit'a, Sfas Emes, & Noam Elimelech for the weekly Torah portion has also kept Torah on my mind during the week.

I have just been very busy lately with my Graphic Design business and haven't even had time to go into the studio to work on art. Thank G-d though that in such an economic crisis I am working nonstop. That is really all that is going on right now so hopefully I will have time to focus on articles about Torah and Chassidus soon.

Kol Tov.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Beginnings: Part II

(courtesy of me )

Baruch Hashem, new beginnings seem to be a trend in my life at the moment. I thank HaKodesh Baruch Hu for blessing me with such a myriad of revealed Brachos for my entire family. My son was B"H born on the 10 of MarCheshvan and on the 17 of MarCheshvan (today) was his Bris. It was Baruch Hashem a beautiful event with a packed room. We named him Shmuel Elimelech in honor of some of the Chassidic Greats as well as my wife's fathers' father.

שמואל: Shmuel was named after my wifes grandfather Shmuel HaLevi ZT"L, the Rebbe Reb Shmuel Shmelke HaLevi of Nikolsburg ZT"L, and the Rebbe Maharash of Lubavitch ZT"L.

אלימלך: Elimelech was named after the Rebbe Reb HaGoan HaTzaddik HaRav Elimelech of Lizensk.

These Tzaddikim have had and continue to have a tremendous impact on my spirituality and learning of Torah and I pray that in their merit my wife and I will raise our son and the rest of our iy"H future children "LeTorah Ulchupah Ulmasim Tovim!!!"

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Beginnings: Parshas Bereishis


Something I noticed while learning this weeks Parsha was that starting a new cycle of Torah reading was not the only new beginning. As we read Parshas Bereishis we read how Hashem began to create the world starting on Day One which is Sunday. Last year we completed a Shmitah seven year cycle as well as participated in Birkas HaChamah which is when we bless the sun after it completes its twenty eight year rotation cycle. This year the Sun is back where it began when Hashem created the universe and our world inside it. Sunday during Simchas Torah we read Parshas Bereishis and thus begun a very amazing cycle that I am not sure how often happens or how long it continues. We are living each day of creation in line with the first week of Creation. This Shabbos will coincide with the very First Shabbos. May we all merit a truly elevated Shabbos and a truly elevated year of Torah and Mitzvos not only for ourselves but inspiring others to do the same. With this IY"H Moshiach will be here to end this bitter Galus.

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Beginnings 5770

My Mashpiah told me a story over Rosh Hashanah that really fused together a string of Torah concepts that I had been trying to connect.

Once, as the holy rabbi, Reb Aharon of Karlin (one of the great disciples of the Maggid of Mezritch), was about to recite [the prayer beginning with the word] המלךhe fainted. Later, when he was asked what had happened, he replied that he had been meditating on the words in the Talmud [which were spoken by Vespasian, but which Reb Aharon of Karlin understood metaphorically as spoken by G-d]: “If I am the King, why did you not present yourself before me until now?” Now, what answer could we possibly give?

The week before Rosh Hashanah I had been learning three different dvar torahs/maamarim. One from my Rebbe, HaRav Yosef Lebovitz Shlit'a of Nikolsburg, another from the Sfas Emes ZT"L, and a third from the Pittsburgher Rebbe Shlit'a.

In Elul we proclaim that the King is in the field! We blow the Shofar from Rosh Chodesh Elul on to remind us that we must do Teshuva as Rosh Hashanah is on the horizon. In Elul we recite extra Tehillim, ask our fellow Jew for forgiveness, and try to perform mitzvos while strengthening the ones we perform routinely. The Chassidus from each Rebbe focuses on how Shabbos is a time for Teshuvah just as much as Elul, and the First 10 days of Tishre. I only speak for myself when I say that during Elul it is difficult to remember the lack of kavana in Adar, the wrong bracha in Kislev, and whatever else I do wrong throughout the year. Shabbos is the greatest time for teshuvah and we see this from Shabbos Rosh Hashanah itself which wont occur together again for another 11 years.

On Shabbos R.H. we do not blow the shofar and it is considered Muksa (Prohibited to use on Shabbos). When Shabbos coincides with Yom Tovim like Sukkos the symbols of that holiday are Muksa because Shabbos is a greater symbol. This is not the case with the Shofar as it is forbidden because one might be unsure how to properly blow the Shofar and carry it (an activity forbidden on Shabbos) to a Rabbi's house to learn how to blow it. There is a deeper reason that is revealed by the Chassidic Rebbes who quote the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah that the purpose of the Shofar is to call the King of Kings HaKodesh Baruch Hu from the Throne of Din (Judgement) to the Throne of Rachamim (Mercy). On Shabbos Hashem is already on the throne of Mercy and this means that the effort put into calling Hashem from throne to throne can be used to beg for his forgiveness.

It wasnt until I heard this story of the Holy Rebbe of Karlin that everything connected and really put Teshuvah in perspective. We wait the whole year till Elul and spent 30 days contemplating Teshuvah and then use all our energy on Rosh Hashanah to beg Hashem for forgiveness for our sins. Hashem is asking us why have you not presented yourself until now? Why did you wait until Elul and Rosh Hashanah when you had every Shabbos to come to me? If we utilized every Shabbos to do teshuvah on a smaller scale we wouldnt have to take such a risk of a one time teshuvah deal on Rosh Hashanah.

We should all be blessed with a year full of revealed blessings that will help us build a life of Torah and Mitzvos and inspire the Yidden around us to do the same. We should merit to see Moshiach immediately and bring this Galus to an END!

Another thought is how we should be very thankful for America. Never in history have Jews had such freedom to follow Torah. We have more religious freedom the even Eretz Yisroel! When else in history could Jews parade down the street with a Torah and have the government block off the streets and have their police making sure everything goes smoothly? We must also NEVER forget Yerushalyaim and yearn for its return to her former glory with the Bais Hamikdash at the center. Still we must realize that Hashem gave our weak generation America so we could easily perform his mitzvos.

iy"H I plan to write more often especially once my blog moves over to my website at which I hope everyone who looks here goes to. My art is for sale and you can email me at michael mordechai at gmail dot com for pricing and info.

Shana Tova U'Mesuka

Kisva V'Chasima Tova

A Git Gebentched Yoor

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chozeh of Lublin ZT'L Yaharzeit ח Av

Zchuos Avos article on the Chozeh of Lublin

ח Av is the yahazeit of the Chozeh of Lublin

Reb Yaakov Yitzchok ben Avrohom Eliezer HaLevi Horowitz, known as the Chozeh of Lublin or the Rebbe of Lublin, who passed away in 1815. He was a talmid of the Magid of Mezritch, Magid of Zlotchov, Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev and the Rebbe Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg. His main Rebbe, of course, was the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizensk, the author of Noam Elimelech. He was one of the four top talmidim of the Noam Elimelech. (The other three were Reb Yisroel of Koznitz, Reb Avrohom Yehoshua Heschel of Apta and Reb Menachem Mendel of Rimanov. There were, of course, many other great talmidim, but these four were singled out by the Noam Elimelech and he gave them each different spiritual gifts before his passing.)

His talmidim included Reb Dovid of Lelov, Reb Yissocher Dov of Radoshitz,

Meor VeShemesh, Reb Naftali of Ropshitz, Yid HaKodosh, Bnei Yisaschor, Yismach Moshe, Reb Meir of Apta, the Zhidichover and Komarna Rebbes, Sar Sholom of Belz and numerous other great tzadikim. He also wrote approbations for Sefer Likutei Mohoran and Siddur Tefila Yeshara (Berdichiver Siddur). His seforim include Divrei Emes, Zichron Zos, and Zos Zichron.

You Will Cry On the Day I Die

On Simchas Torah the Chozeh fell from a window and hurt himself very bad. Certain opponents of the Chozeh were openly happy about this. When the Chozeh heard about this, he said: "On the day I die they will be crying". This statement was understood when the Chozeh passed away on the saddest day of the year, Tisha B'Av.

May the merit of this Holy Tzaddik keep Klal Yisroel safe and help bring Moshiach immediately AMEN!!!

"You're a chill Jew"

I had a recent conversation with a friend of my wife and I. This friend who had recently become religious referred to my wife and I as "chill Jews". Now such a statement has a forked road the size of Kentucky in the middle of it. Either we are chill Jews because we are welcoming and can make any Jew of any walk of life feel comfortable ooooooooooor.... we are chill because we are lenient in Halacha and are influenced by the modern excitement of Los Angeles and the world over. I didn't give off the impression of being insulted because I didn't want to argue with someone who I haven't seen in at least 2 years and at that point they were most likely eating a cheeseburger on Shabbos. The question was part of a larger conversation based around them interested in a shidduch with someone who was a baal teshuvah as well and completely swore against going to the movies. This friend of ours still couldn't shake the habit and this was really a pressing issue. I always laugh at such statements like hearing someone at Aish saying they don't go to movies anymore after being "religious" for a summer. I just don't understand how the baal teshuvah mind works sometimes. It could be because I lived in a frum house for 4 years with religious parents before I myself became religious, but I hold learning of Hilchos Shabbos higher than staying away from the movie theater. Well this potential shidduch had been religious for 3 years and was very shtark and isn't in touch with the reality of the modern world "like my wife and i". Whaaaaaa? 3 years and their mea sharim mindset is in full effect? Sounds like one holy person to me. My Rav once told me "We are more modern than someone in Borough Park, but we are not Modern Orthodox". Its a powerful statement for me because although I work in the Ad Graphic Modern World, I do not indulge in it. I don't own a TV and I have been to 1 movie in 2 years and I really wish I picked a better movie. (Do not see Indiana Jones it was bad.) Chumrahs and Minhagim aren't going to bring Moshiach and I have yet to find in any seforim advice to focus on them more than Halacha. My writings are not a platform to brag about how religious I am but to comment on an important misconception in the Baal Teshuvah world and that is that going to the Movies will send you to gehenom but performing a malacha on Shabbos eh...B'Shogeg. Maybe when we invite this friend for Shabbos they will realize their err in judgement. It just goes to show you that you shouldn't judge a Jew by their cover. Its the one criticism I have for the baal teshuvah yeshivas is that they don't keep Baal Teshuvah Syndrome in check and make sure these Jews don't think they are poskim for the masses or that going to the movies or not should be #2 on their shidduch qualification list.

G-d willing we will all including myself realize that we need to serve Hashem for his sake and inspire others to do so and with that bring Moshiach who will rebuild the Beis Hamikdash before tomorrow and we will dance in Yerushalayim AMEN!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back from Sabbatical

I havent posted in awhile due to other priorities, but now will iy"H be posted as much as possible with hope of bringing the blog up to a level of daily postings. The blog should move to my website soon which I ask all who read to check out. My art and design is featured there and I can help you with any designing needs from Judaica Art, Kessubah Design, Wedding Invitation Monograms, to fine art and other graphic needs.

For now please read my blog about my time spent with the Pittsburgher Rebbe Shlit'a of Ashdod, Israel.

Monday, June 1, 2009

My days with the Pittsburgher Rebbe Shlit'a

Grand Rabbi Mordechai Yisachar Ber Leifer of Pittsburgh shlit'a

The Pittsburgher Rebbe comes every year to Los Angeles for a few weeks to spend time with his Chassidim there and fund raise for Pittsburgh Institutions. I met him last year at his Tish at Anshe Emes and was very excited to hear that he was coming during the Omer. My wife and I had yechidus with the Rebbe and gave us some good advice on where to move and how to go about getting to Israel to learn for a year. He told us to move to Los Angeles and when the time comes we will be able to go learn in Israel. I told him how I dont have a Rebbe and that I am teased by Chabad Chassidim because of this. Anytime I meet a new Chabad Chasid I am always asked what kind of Chasid I am, in case they forget that we were BOTH Jewish and that should be enough. The Rebbe smiled and told me that when I meet my Rebbe I will know and we will have a very deep connection and comfort with eachother, but I could borrow him for the time being. This left me with an amazing feeling of true Ahavas Yisroel from the Pittsburgher Rebbe.

The following Shabbos was his Tish which I unfortuantly missed but thought I could at least go late and wish the Rebbe Good Shabbos. When I got there I was told the Rebbe had just left and I was a little sad about it but was determined to spend Shabbos Day by the Rebbe. Before I left, I was given the a Nusach Sefard-Pittsburgh siddur by one of the Rebbe's Chassidim. This siddur is one of the best versions of the Siddur I have come across. The layout is outstanding as you never have to turn a page to finish a blessing or section of prayer. There is kavana under the four letter name of Hashem and for me at least that helps me concentrate better on davening and makes Hashems name stand out more on the page above the words surrounding it. For me it is a more stable davening than using the Artscroll Nusach Sefard, so I was very happy with the gift.

I walked to the shul where the Rebbe would daven Shachris and apparently made a left where I should have made a right and got turned around. Out from around the corner comes the Rebbe and I felt such a feeling of relief and of joy as the Rebbe approached me. We davened at a Litvish shul and the speed was very fast and I realized as I was emersed in my davening that I was very far behind the Baal Korah. After davening the Rebbe told me to walk next to him and we spoke words of Torah and he gave me advice on moving to Los Angeles. The Rebbe made kiddush for us and I was so nervous I almost made Hamotzi on Cake. That made me realize how foolish I am with my brachas that I have such fear to falter in front of a Rebbe but not in front of the King of Kings who the bracha is directed too. We sung a niggun and then the Rebbe went to where he was staying. We joined again for Shalosh Seudah and were blessed with amazing Torah from the Rebbe and a niggun called "Kol Dodi" which was very uplifting. We finished with maariv and I told the Rebbe I would hope iy"H to be by him tomorrow for Rosh Chodesh.

The Davening was the best since davening at the Kotel. Perfect speed and hearing the Rebbe cry out to Hashem strengthened my own cry. The Rebbe layned Torah for us and once again we parted ways. Maariv was late and the Rebbe didnt have his siddur with him so I lent him mine and used idaven on my cellphone which was very difficult. We had the blessing to hear one of the most heart felt counting of the Omer that I had ever heard. I later said I never heard Sefiras HaOmer untill I heard it recited by the Pittsburgher Rebbe Shilit'a. When we were done I came to get back my siddur and when the Rebbe found out it was mine he grabbed my hand and said to me, "I bless you that ALL your teffilahs should be heard." Speechless I struggled to get out an Amen and a Thank you and ran off with joy. The final night with the Rebbe concluded with a small tish with L'Chaims and singing with some Rabbonim from the La Brea area of Los Angeles. As the Rebbe walked out he shook my hand very tight and said to call him and to not give up if I cant get through because soon enough I will.

After reflecting on my time spent with the Rebbe I was very grateful for the experience. I learned some amazing Torah and Chassidus and was strengthened in my connection to Hashem and to Yiddishkite by having such an opportunity to be close to a Tzaddik. I hope to visit the Rebbe when I am in Eretz Yisroel soon either by opportunity, by Moshiach, or by both! I may not be a Pittsburgher Chasid but I feel I have a close relationship with the Rebbe that will help me grow closer to Hashem. We should all be blessed to interact with Tzaddikim and be inspired by them to do Teshuvah, perform Mitzvos, and bring Moshiach readily in our days Amen!

Monday, April 6, 2009

"Dont Mess With The BESHT"


It has been some time since I last posted on here. I have been very busy with my artwork. My show "Dont Mess With The BESHT" opened this past Sunday (April 5th) with great success thanks to Hashem. There were a lot of people and everyone was positive. It motivates me to continue my work and show again soon in the future. Im trying to get my new website finished and the blog working. My Art Exhibit was featured in the Long Beach Press Telegram as well as the Los Angeles Jewish Journal's Blog, so check it out.

Pesach and Birkas HaChamah are upon us and Baruch Hashem I feel that I am almost free from the chains of university and will be freed to fully consume myself with Torah like the Israelites did in the desert. Then, just as our ancestors did I must leave the Clouds of Glory and work the land. Hopefully my artwork with Hashems blessing will help bring parnasah to my family to feed them and educate them.

I wish everyone a Kosher and Joyous Pesach and iy"H will be writting again after the Chag.