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+ 347 Grand Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch of the Eda Charedit, a great grandson of the Gaon of Vilna osb"m, said this past week that the times of the Mashiach are here. His source is the Vilna Gaon himself. Rav Shternbuch received a closely guarded secret that came to him from Rabbi Yitzchak Chever zatza"l, who received it from Rabbi Chaim of Volozhyn zatza"l, who received it from the Gaon of Vilna himself, who revealed it shortly before his death: “When you hear that the Russians have captured the city of Crimea, you should know that the times of the Messiah have started, that his steps are being heard. And when you hear that the Russians have reached the city of Constantinople (today’s Istanbul), you should put on your Shabbat clothes and don’t take them off, because it means that the Messiah is about to come any minute.” According to the above, we owe a note of thanks to Russian president Vladimir Putin for helping to bring Mashiach a step closer.

+ 188 “L’Chaim!” – a traditional Jewish toast.

+ 196 And in the fourteenth year, Chedorlaomer came, and the kings who were with him, and they smote the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim. Bereshit 14:5

+ 157 And the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Rephaim, Bereshit 15:20

+ 65 The descendants of Reuben built Heshbon, Elealeh, and Kirjathaim. Bamidbar 32:37

+ 67 They journeyed from Dibon gad and camped in Almon diblathaimah. Bamidbar 33:46

+ 66 They journeyed from Almon diblathaimah and camped in the mountains of Abarim, in front of Nebo. Bamidbar 33:47

+ 83 They also are considered Rephaim, as the Anakim; but the Moabites call them Emim. Devarim 2:11

+ 91 It too is considered a land of Rephaim; Rephaim dwelt therein formerly, and the Ammonites call them Zamzummim. Devarim 2:20

+ 108 For only Og, king of Bashan, was left from the remnant of the Rephaim. His bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbah of the children of Ammon? Nine cubits was its length, and four cubits its breadth, according to the cubit of a man. Devarim 3:11

+ 89 And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, the kingdom of Og, I gave to the half tribe of Manasseh; all the territory of Argob, all of Bashan; that is called the land of Rephaim. Devarim 3:13

+ 92 Saying you just want your kid to be happy puts enormous pressure on the child. They feel if they're not happy, they're failing. Periods of unhappiness are okay and our kids need to know that; it's the struggle that makes you who you are. Julie Lythcott-Haims, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success

+ 140 The language of The Zohar remedies the soul, even when one does not understand what it says at all. It is similar to one who enters a perfumery; even when he does not take a thing, he still absorbs the fragrance. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Ephraim of Sudilkov

+ 85 Halachah and Aggadah

by Haim Lifshitz

Once, a man close to Rav Kook confided in him, “My son does not have a great desire to learn Torah.”

Rav Kook replied, “When I was young, I also did not have a great desire to learn the halachah. My heart was drawn after aggadah. And by learning aggadah, I came to learn halachah. I advise you to teach your son aggadah. As a result, he will also come to learn halachah.”

And so it was.

Shivchei Harayah, p. 180

+ 123 The Prayerbook and the Villager

by Shai Agnon

Shai Agnon (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature) told:

One time, a number of us—myself, Chaim Nachman Bialik, Eliezer Meir Lifshitz, Rabbi Simchah Asaf, Binyamin and others—entered the presence of the great Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hacohen Kook and discussed the problems of the generation and how to rectify it.

One of the group made a speech in praise of the Torah, which ended by criticizing the many additional laws enacted by the rabbis in every generation. Rabbi Nachman rose in pain, and appeared angry. But he immediately overcame his anger, as was his holy way, and answered quietly: Hearing this has brought to mind a story.

There was once a great rabbi who happened to pass through a village. Night fell, and he had to stay there overnight. He asked the villager at whose house he was staying for a volume of the Talmud, but the villager didn’t have one. He asked for a mishnah—the villager didn’t have. He asked for an Ein Yaakov—the villager didn’t have that either.

Finally, he asked the villager, “Do you have a prayerbook?” The villager brought him an old prayerbook, which contained a commentary that the rabbi read the entire night, and which he enjoyed greatly.

The next day, the rabbi offered to pay a good price for the prayerbook, but the villager refused. The rabbi persisted: “I’ll trade it for a new prayerbook with a fine binding.” But the villager still refused.

“Why?” asked the rabbi.

The villager replied, “Rabbi, every morning when I get up I like to drink something hot, and I warm up the kettle. To make the fire catch quickly, I light a piece of paper and put it under the tinder. Since I don’t have much paper in the house, I rip a page out of the prayerbook and light that. And also, every time I want to smoke my pipe, I rip a page out of the prayerbook to light it.

“I am already an old man, but because there is so much commentary, I still haven’t come to the prayers. All the pages I’ve ripped out really aren’t the prayerbook.”

Malachim Kivnei Adam, pp. 363-65