It is with great sorrow we inform you about the sudden passing of Rav Chaim Mann, zt"l, who was known for his exceptional piety, mesirus nefesh, and good deeds, in particular hachnasas orchim in his home in Kiryat Breslev, Tsfat. He was a talmid chacham and beloved for his pleasant and peaceful ways. He was one of the closest students of Rav Gedaliah Aharon Kenig, zt"l, and in his youth, attended yeshiva with Rav Elazar Mordechai Kenig, shlita, remaining devoted to the mission of building Tsfat for over 50 years. 69 years old, he left this world on the way back from Uman last night, returning his soul shortly after landing in Ben Gurion. He was laid to rest a short while ago in the cemetery of Tsfat. Words cannot express the profound void felt in Breslev Tsfat and by everyone who knew him. May his soul be bound up in the bond of life.
Reb Gedaliah gave a number of informal shiurim in Yiddish which were recorded over the years 1975-1980 shortly before his petira. We've posted them online for the first time here in their unedited form for the sake of making them available to the public. Heartfelt gratitude to R' Dovid Zeitlin who personally and painstakingly recorded and catalogued these tapes. Without his efforts, nothing would have remained from this treasure trove. Also a yasher koach to Hillel Lubman who assisted on the technical end to bring the recordings into a digital format. Also in the near future, iy'h, with the assistance of R' Nechemia Cheshin, edited recordings will be made more widely available across the web.
Click here to view the list of tapes. To download, right-click on the gray bar.
When HaShem examines a soul before it is born and sees that it can make converts to Judaism and influence mankind to return to God,1 He sees to it that this soul is surrounded by controversy. Looking at the world today, we see examples of people who possess this quality and are, in fact, successful in arousing people to do teshuva, and even making converts. HaShem Himself ensures that there is a certain stormwind encircling such a person.2
This stormwind exists before the soul is born, as well as after it enters the world. It is a tumult that manifests itself in many different ways, coming from any direction. We are witness to how all types of controversy are played out in the world. The controversy surrounding a greater person is expressed at a higher level. For instance, certain people may say he/she is acting improperly according to the Kabbalah, or that he/she is out of line according to a particular subtle religious issue. Someone of lesser stature may be maligned via more material issues, such as financial matters. Or for example, in the case of a simple Jew who has the quality to bring people back to G-d, others on a similar simple level might say, “Who do they think they are? You know what? They’re not so great! After all, we are simple people!” All kinds of lashon hara surround this soul. Even further, although it is for the good, G-d sees to it that this type of slander is readily accepted as fact.
FLOODING THE WORLD WITH COMPASSIONRav Ephraim Kenig
With everything we already know about Chanukah, the 8th night of Chanukah—called Zot Chanukah—represents an utterly new concept.
Chanukah is a holiday that touches everyone since it encompasses all ages. Everyone easily relates to it and feels part of this special time. But what are the deeper dimensions of Chanukah?
The very fact that Chanukah lasts for eight days, already distinguishes it as an unusual holiday. Other holidays such as Pesach and Sukkot are seven days long. (Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah,which falls at the end of Sukkot, is considered by the Talmud to be a holiday unto itself.)
Chanukah, however, is different. It lasts eight days rather than seven. What is the significance of the number eight? Chanukah reaches just beyond the seven-day structure, which signifies the creation of the world. The seven-day week is universally accepted—beginning with Sunday and ending with Saturday—the cycle then repeats itself.
The fact that Chanukah extends beyond these seven days and lasts for eight indicates that Chanukah originates in an extremely high and exalted place. It wasn’t taken from this world at all, but rather from the future perfected world. From there, G-d drew down a type of light to give us a certain momentum—a yearning and hope—to exit from this long exile. This is the essential message of Chanukah, and it is a completely new concept having nothing to do with what transpires during the regular annual cycle. Chanukah draws its power from a place far beyond our conception, infusing us with such great hope, despite our inability to see the “light at the end of the tunnel.” This gives us a point of faith from which to draw, infusing us with a spirit of life. The light of Chanukah is a completely different type of light, since its source is higher than the seven days of creation. It is an eternal and everlasting light beyond any familiar concept of light where darkness inevitably follows. This special light, and its hope, is what Chanukah imparts to us, especially on Zot Chanukah, the eighth day of Chanukah which is the culmination of the festival.
CHANUKAH & THE 13 ATTRIBUTES OF MERCY
According to the Arizal, the eight days of Chanukah correspond to the thirteen Attributes of Mercy. How does this work if Chanukah is only eight days? The first seven days each correspond to the first seven attributes: Keil rachum v’chanun erech apayaim v’rav chesed v’emet. “ God,  merciful,  compassionate,  slow  to anger,  abundant in kindness and  truth.”
Zot Chanukah, however, encompasses the remaining six attributes in a single day: notzer chesed la’alafim nosei avon va’pesha vi’chata’a vi’nakeh. “ Preserver of kindness  for thousands of generations,  forgiver of iniquity,  [forgiver of] transgression,  [forgiver of] sin, and  Who cleanses.” It is written that these last six attributes of mercy hold the mazal, the heavenly influence, of Israel. The Gemara states, “Israel has no mazal,” meaning that Israel is not subject to the regular zodiac influences like the rest of the world, but is influenced from a much higher plane, specifically from these six attributes of mercy.
To understand this conceptually, the thirteen attributes of mercy are the spiritual channels G-d uses to direct abundant mercy into the world. This includes not only the mercy He bestows upon us Himself, but also the ability we possess ourselves to have compassion on others both individually and collectively. The truth is that if we could succeed in arousing even a single attribute of mercy, it would trigger such an abundant influx of shefa into the world that it would flood the entire planet with mercy and compassion. Only goodness and chesed would exist without any admixture of harsh judgment or tragedy.
If this is true of only one attribute, the power of all thirteen attributes is astounding. The intensity of Zot Chanukah can now be understood in proper context, since on the last day of Chanukah, six attributes of mercy are activated simultaneously to govern over us. If only we had the ability to contemplate this properly, or perhaps even the desire to grasp it correctly, it would bring such an influx of light and divine mercy into the world that we would immediately exit from exile into the wide open space of redemption, geula. However, this very much depends on us and the extent to which we think and pray about these attributes, while realizing that they operate in the world despite our inability to comprehend them. Even the greatest tzaddikim, who discuss these attributes extensively, admit to their own fundamental limitations in understanding G-d’s unlimited attributes.
It is up to us to be aware and joyful on Zot Chanukah that our mazal is bound up with and dependent upon these six attributes of mercy. Here the beauty, strength, and redemption of the Jewish people must be found.
We should never give up or become tired! Instead, we must awaken ourselves more and more. The name “Chanukah” is from the Hebrew word chinuch, education. Chinuch denotes instilling a brand new idea, introducing it for the first time. This is exactly how we should educate not only ourselves, but our children and family, as well as everyone around us: we should constantly begin anew, as if for the first time. Chanukah, Chinuch. Experience Chanukah with a renewed perspective, with hope and anticipation. Don’t catch yourself saying, “How long have I been praying over and over again for the same thing?!” Whatever happened in the past is over. Begin from this moment with refreshed strength. Say, “HaShem, we have absolutely no complaints against You. Everything is undeserved chesed. You promised redemption. Please bring us the complete redemption!”
With the sheer number of prayers, there can be no doubt that G-d will be left with “no choice,” as it were, except to bring the redemption. He will be “compelled” to redeem us because, the truth is, this is exactly what He desires. He only wants us to show how serious and ready we are for the redemption. Our prayers for redemption should not be from a place of force and demanding the end, but rather with chesed (kindness), rachamim (mercy), and much pleading. G-d will most certainly help us. He won’t leave us much longer in exile. He will hasten the redemption, soon speedily in our days, mamash, Amen. Chanukah Sameach.
Bachur v'bachura zeh b'chezkat shidduch. "Any boy and girl matched up could be a good shidduch." (Said in the name of Reb Avraham Sternhartz, zt"l.)
Start with a "yes." Receive every suggestion with a positive attitude and assume it will work until proven otherwise. In other words, don't automatically say no to any suggested match, assume it could work.
This being said, there are certain guidelines based on the Torah that can help in choosing a mate.
Look to see if there is a basis for cooperation on shared goals, since this will be the anchor through the choppy waters that inevitably come from time to time with married life.
It is important to check out the family of the proposed match by considering the overall health, both physical and mental, of family members. The family itself should also be evaluated, especially any siblings, if there are any. This is because the character of the siblings can usually shed much light on the one you are considering for marriage.
It is worth mentioning an additional point regarding family background. Great differences in family backgrounds should be weighed seriously. Of course, there are countless successful marriages between those from very different cultural and social backgrounds, including couples who do not speak the same language. However, they always face enormous and formidable challenges along the way. It is important to realize that not everyone is up to such challenges over the long term.
And finally, there is no bigger consideration than middot, i.e., personality characteristics and overall character. It should be obvious that tendencies toward violence or criminal behavior should be avoided.
The stark truth of the matter is, married or not, no one ever went to the grave claiming a trouble-free life. However, regarding the prospect of marriage, it is very beneficial, both now and in the future, to remove from one's mind the illusion of a perfect and tranquil existence to married life, for those who have over-idealized it. And for those who feel they don't need such a challenge in their lives, it is important to unequivocally state that, without marriage, one cannot come close to reaching their highest potential or fulfill their proper role in the world.
Based on a recent conversation with Rav Ephraim Kenig, shlita.