The Torah is the Jewish name for the first five books of the Jewish Bible. In Hebrew the five books are named by the first phrase in the text: Bereshit (“In the beginning,” Book of Genesis), Shemot (“Names,” Exodus), Vayikra (“He called”, Leviticus),Bamidbar (“In the desert,” Numbers) and Devarim (“Words,” Deuteronomy). In rabbinic literature the word Torah denotes both these five books, Torah Shebichtav(תורה שבכתב, “Torah that is written”), and an Oral Torah, Torah Shebe’al Peh (תורה שבעל פה, “Torah that is spoken”). The Oral Torah consists of the traditional interpretations and amplifications handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation and now embodied in the Talmud (תַּלְמוּד) and Midrash (מדרש) .
According to Jewish tradition, all of the laws found in the Torah, both written and oral, were given by God to Moses, some of them at Mount Sinai and most of them at the Tabernacle, and all the teachings were later compiled and written down by Moses, which resulted in the Torah we have today. According to medieval Jewish mysticism the Torah was created prior to the creation of the world, and was used as the blueprint for Creation. Most Modern biblical scholars believe that the written books were a product of the Babylonian exilic period (c.600 BCE) and that it was completed by the Persian period (c.400 BCE).
The priestly blessing or priestly benediction, (Hebrew: ברכת כהנים; translit. birkat kohanim), also known as raising of the hands (Hebrew nesiat kapayim), or Dukhanen (from the Yiddish word dukhan - platform – because the blessing is given from a raised rostrum), is a Jewish prayer recited by Kohanim during certain Jewish services (included Passover). It is based on a scriptural verse: “They shall place My name upon the children of Israel, and I Myself shall bless them.” It consists of the following Biblical verses (Numbers 6:24–26):
May the LORD (YHWH) bless you and guard you -
- יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
- (“Yivorekhekhaw Adonai v’yishm’rekhaw …)
May the LORD make His face shed light upon you and be gracious unto you -
- יָאֵר יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ
- (“Yo’ayr Adonai pawnawv aylekhaw vikhoonekhaw …)
May the LORD lift up His face unto you and give you peace -
יִשָּׂא יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם
(“Yisaw Adonai pawnav aylekhaw v’yasaym l’khaw shalom.“)
In my recent trip to Jerusalem during the Passover, was at the Kotel when I saw a rabbi praying alone surrounded by a crowd of followers. One of them approached and asked me to take some pictures of his rabbi. When he finished praying, he ran fired with more than a dozen followers who would have way. It was difficult to get a good position to take pictures. I actually knocked down once. Upon arriving home, I discovered the history ofthis controversial rabbi.
Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Yeshia Milikowsky was born in the United States. He is the present Amshinover Rebbe in the Bayit Vegan, a neighborhood in southwest Jerusalem, Israel, with a mostly Haredi Jewish population. He is the grandson and successor of Rabbi Yerachmiel Yehudah Meir Kalish of Amshinov.
He prays for hours on end, meditating on every word, as a result of which he ends the Sabbath very late. Once an adam gadol, a very learned man, discussed the Halachic implications of the Rebbe’szmanim with the late Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. Reb Shlomo Zalman referred to the Rebbe as a “Pillar of Fire” and advised his questioner that one who touches fire will be burnt. The Rebbe is also the mentor of the famous Hasidic preacher, R. Tzvi Maier Zilberberg who considers himself an Amshinov chassid. The renowned mekubal Rebbe Yitzchok “Itche” Myer Morgenstern, the rosh yeshiva ofYeshivas Toras Chochom considers the Amshinov Rebbe the “Tzadik HaDor.”
The Amshinover Rebbe is widely known within the Haredi world, and is regarded within Hassidic circles for his exceptional Ahavas Yisroel, love of every Jew; a good example is his warmth towards Shlomo Carlebach and his unconventional followers. The Rebbe has literally counseled thousands of newcomers to Judaism. The Amshinov Rebbe has been quoted as believing that Reb Shlomo was the “Pillar of Prayer.” In the present generation the Rebbe himself is considered a “pillar of tefillah” and davens for hours on end. Of note is the Rebbe’s guidance of the Sde Tzofim Yeshiva in Beitar for Baalei Teshuva.
The Rebbe is also known for his outstanding advice in medical matters. HaRav Meier Bransdorfer, z”l advised the Rebbeim of “A Time” to consult with the Amshinov Rebbe – “a eish gadol meod” regarding complicated medical shailas. His advice is sought after on very delicate matters worldwide.
The Tomb of Rachel, Judaism’s third-holiest site, has been the scene of prayer and pilgrimage for more than three thousand years. Is a small religious building revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims. It is believed by some to be the burial place of the biblical matriarch Rachel. The tomb is located within a Muslim cemetery in a walled enclave biting into the outskirts of Bethlehem, 460 meters south of Jerusalem’s municipal boundary, in theWest Bank. The earliest extra-biblical records describing the tomb as the believed site of Rachel’s burial place date back to the beginning of the 4th century.
It has been viewed as the symbol of the return of the Jewish people to its ancient homeland. For Jewish women, the tomb was associated with fertility and became a place of pilgrimage to pray for successful childbirth.
During my last travel to Israel, during Passover, was crowded by jewish practitioners from around the country, who took advantage of their vacation days to make a pilgrimage to this sacred place.