Hendel does Israel

While I may no longer technically be in Israel, I have no intention of stopping who I am or what I am about. We all know the timeless Chabad teaching of "Mach Doh Eretz Yisael" - its very empowering. I'll let you know about my journey, my struggles and my dreams. JaHbless.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

new outpost in israel!

Today, a new out post began construction "Kumi Ori"
I was there to help, there wasn't much action, but its just the beginings...
right now...just some photos...

Sunday, December 25, 2005

the lights of chanukah!

This week, Jerusalem is alive. The truth is, that Jerusalem is always alive, but this week, it is a lot noisier, and a lot more alive. The streets are overcrowded, and the buses jam packed. The temperature has dropped below ten degrees, but somehow, the air is still warm. Chanukah is coming, I can feel it. There are Menorahs of all shapes and sizes being sold on every corner - of every single street. People are shouting and screaming, pushing and shoving, trying to get the best quality oil – for the cheapest price.

It is Chanukah time, and what better place to be, than in Jerusalem. If you walk down the streets of Jerusalem on Chanukah, it is literally lit up by thousands of menorahs, placed next to thousands of windows. Tiny flames reflect off the glass window panes, and dance, creating shadows, over the ancient cobblestone landscape. It is magical and mystical, the entire city glows from the subtle radiance of the lights of Chanukah.

Two years ago, I was also in Jerusalem for Chanukah. At that time I was studying at the Mayanot Yeshivah, and a few students who played music, decided to put together a band. The Yeshivah had organized several Chanukah parties at isolated army bases, and we were scheduled for them. It was all very exciting, especially for me, as it was the first time I was going to perform in front of a large audience. The first night of Chanukah came quickly, and it was time to load our van with musical instruments and doughnuts, as we headed toward our first gig – at an army base next to Ramallah.

When we arrived, the room was full from wall to wall, with well over three hundred soldiers. The energy was high, excitement and anticipation was thick in the air. The General of the army base lit the menorah and we started playing music. Immediately everyone in the room was up on their feet, holding hands, dancing and singing. The soldiers took off their guns and stacked them up in the corner of the room. They replaced their green army berets with our black hats. They continued dancing until they were out of breath and could barely move. I have never seen such joy before, not even at a wedding. That cold winter night, at an isolated army base, we brought the warmth and light of Chanukah to those brave soldiers.

The party went on till late, and by the time we got back to Mayanot, it was well past midnight – and we still hadn’t lit our own menorahs! We were all so tired, we just wanted to go to sleep, but, we gathered around our dormitory doorway, lit our menorahs, and began to sing Hanerois Hallalu. We gazed at our menorahs, pondering what we had done that night, whilst rubbing our eyes, trying to stay awake.

Now, anyone who knows the laws of Chanukah, knows, that the correct time to light the menorah is around sunset, and definitely not at one in the morning! It is also forbidden to eat or learn Torah until the one has lit the menorah. I remembered wondering to myself that night, “How could we wait until early in the morning to light our menorahs? What about the Halacha? What about our mitzvah of Chanukah? What about sitting around, eating latkes and spinning the dreidel? What about spending Chanukah in Jerusalem? If we kept on going to army bases, we would never be able to properly fulfill the mitzvah of Chanukah!" And then it hit me. I realized what Chaunkah is all about. Chaunkah is not just about our own experience. Rather, its about spreading light, its about bringing meaning, spirituality and joy to others. By traveling to that remote army base and playing music for those lonely soldiers, we were fulfilling the mitzvah of Chanukah! Not only we were fulfilling the mitzvah, but we were fulfilling it in the greatest and deepest way possible!

So often, we get so caught up in having our own experiences, that we forget about sharing with others. So often, we forget that only way to be inspired, is by inspiring others. Chanukah is a time when we have to stop forgetting, and start remembering. On Chanukah we remember what being Jewish is really about. It is so much more than eating doughnuts and latkes. On Chanukah, we celebrate. We celebrate the miracle of the oil, a purely spiritual victory. We celebrate the advantage of light over darkness. We celebrate our ability to publicize and express G-dliness in this physical world. We don’t celebrate by ourselves, on the contrary we make every effort to celebrate with as many people as possible.

This year, once again, I am learning at Mayanot. I have taken a few months during my Australian summer to dedicate time to learn torah, and rejuvenate my soul. Once again I am here in Jerusalem for Chanukah, and once again, there is a part of me that is tempted to sit at home and eat doughnuts and play dreidle. However, there is also another part of me. That part of me, wants to inspire others, to connect with others, and to bring light to others. That is why, this year, I’m going with the rest of my Yeshivah, to visit soldiers who can’t sit at home and eat latkes and light their own menorahs - and bring them the joy and light of Chanukah. This year, once again, I am blessed with the opportunity to be able to celebrate Chanukah in the fullest way possible. I hope you get that opportunity too.

Happy Chanukah!

Friday, December 23, 2005

The first time...

Have you ever watched a movie, and it was so good, that you wanted to watch it again - for the first time?
I have.
This week, I went with one of my best friends to the kotel, for his first time. To be honest, I was a bit jealous of him. When I was a lot younger, my family went to Israel, but I don't remember my first time at the kotel. I still get a little tingle, right next to my belly button, when I go to the kotel, but its just a tingle. This week, my friend, who I have grown up with, shared many nights, days, laughs and tears with, a person he is practically my brother, experienced the kotel, for his first time. It was so beautiful, that this to, I could share with him.

Just before we walked down the winding steps that lead to the kotel, we stopped for a minute. I wanted to give over some inspirational words, something that would make the exprierence more meaningful. I began talking about how the kotel on one hand, is just a wall, just a remenant of perimeter of a perimeter of the temple. In itself, it practically has no significance. But its deeper than that. I told him how many people have given up their lives to protect this wall. I told him how many people are kept alive by the hope, that one day the will get the chance to pray at this wall. I told him that when he prays here today, he connects with the prayers of millions of Jews, for thousands of years. I told him that when he cries here today, he connects with billions of tears. He interrupted me, he was eager, he wanted to go to the wall.

And so, we went, and prayed together at the wall, for his first time. He didn't cry, or become overwhelmed, but he was quiet for about 10 minutes, and that was definitely a first. Something happened that day, when he put on teffilin and touched the wall. Something happened to him, and something happened to me. I don't really know what happened to him, maybe i'll know in a week, or a year, or maybe i'll never know. But for me, i know what happened. For me, on that day, it was like going to the kotel, for the very first time.

Monday, December 19, 2005

if you have five minutes...a beautiful story I heard last shabbos...

Every body knows how much Reb Levi Yitzchak of Barditchev loved his fellow Jews. In fact, Reb Levi Yitzchak would do anything he possibly could just to do a favor for another Jew.

Once, in his town, there was a simple Jew by the name of Shmulik. Now Shmulik was a hard working & G-d fearing man, but as hard as he worked, and as much as he feared G-d, he never managed to scrape together more than a few rubles to feed his family.

One day, Shmulik stormed into shul and demanded to see Reb Levi Yitzchak.
“Reb Levi”, Shmulik said, “I need to you to make a Din Torah”.
“And who has done you injustice, that you want to take to a Din Torah?” inquired Reb Levi.
“I want to take the Riboneh Shel Olam to a Beis Din!”
Well, you could imagine, that its not very often that the Riboneh Shel Olam gets taken to a Din Torah, and Reb Levi immediately became very excited. A date for the Din Torah was set, and soon enough, the whole entire Barditchev were gathered in the court house in anticipation of a most peculiar and unique Din Torah.

Usually the defendant and plaintiff would sit next to each other, but in this case, Shmulik sat down, and a Talis was draped over the chair next to him to represent HaShem. Reb Levi Yitchak walked into the room and with a great big smile on his face and asked Shmulik to begin.
“Reb Levi Yitchak”, Shmulik said,
“I am a hard working man. I have four daughters and would like to marry them off, but I can’t possibly afford a dowry. HaShem isn’t supposed to give a man a test greater than his capabilities, but in my case, he has! I claim that HaShem is guilty for not giving me the opportunity to perform this important mitzvah.”

Reb Levi Yitchak then asked to hear HaShem’s side of the story. The court immediately became quiet. Reb Levi closed his eyes, turned toward the chair with Talis and stood still for about twenty minutes.

At this point in a regular Din Torah, both the defendant and plaintiff are asked to leave the room while a decision is being reached. However, this was no regular Din Torah, and Reb Levi Yitchak couldn’t ask HaShem to leave the court room, because after all HaShem is everywhere! So he allowed Shmulik to stay in the court room as well. Finally, Reb Levi Yitchak and the Beis din announced that they had reached a Psak Din.

“We hereby find the Rinoneh Shel Olam guilty, and order him to pay Shmulik four thousand rubles within the next thirty days!”

Happy, but not fully convinced, Shmulik asked Reb Levi Yitchak if he could have it writing. Reb Levi Yitchak took out a piece of paper, wrote on it, placed into an envelope and handed it over to Reb Shmulik.
By now, Shmulik was so overjoyed he ran off into the forest dancing and singing his heart out. All of a sudden, straight out of no where came a fierce wind, that almost knocked poor Shmulik off his feet. Before he knew it, Shmulik’s jacket blew open and out flew his precious letter from Reb Levi Yitchak. Shmulik couldn’t believe it! He felt cheated, and robbed! Wasn’t it bad enough that HaShem made him poor, now HaShem wants to take away his victory as well!
Shmulik began running like a wild man chasing after his letter. The wind kept on blowing, and the letter kept sailing through the air, until it flew right through the window of a pasing carriage.

Shmulik caught up to the carriage, opened the door, and demanded that he get his letter back! Shmulik didn’t know that the carriage belonged to a Polish nobleman by the name of Gorki. A Jew in Poland could not just demand things from Polish nobleman! When he demanded the letter back, the nobleman became suspicious and asked him why it was so important. Could you imagine shmulik trying to explain to this nobleman what the letter was all about? The court case? HaShem? He would never understand! Seeing that Shmulik was not willing to divulge the contents of the letter the nobleman decided to take it into his own hands. He opened the letter and in great surprise saw the following:

Dear Gorki,
In front of you is a simple Jew, he is hardworking but extremely poor. He needs to marry off his four daughters but cannot afford to pay a dowry. Could you please give him four thousand rubles to help him perform this very important deed?

Unaware of what the letter really said, Shmulik began to explain but as he began talking Gorki motioned for him to stop. Without another word, Gorki reached into his pocket, took out a pouch of golden coins and handed them over Shmulik.

The end.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

the power to change

Ok, I apologise for not updating my blog - its hard to get to a computer - and I'm busy having the time of my life!

So an idea for this week...

I was learning a mammar which discusses Yaakov's avodah in refining Lavan & Eisav.

Eisav comes from the 3 unholy klipas, and we know, that unlike kilppas nogah, the 3 unholy klippas never change.

That, is the level of Eisav - a man who refuses to change.
There are people in this world, who are so stuck as they are, refusing to change, content with what they are doing.
They are scared, but they don't even know it.
They feel no reason to progress or regress, they have the right car, job, wife, and family.
They are missing so much, but they have no idea why.

How do you try and change someone that doesn't want to change?
Where do you begin?
What do you tell them?


Eisav hates Yaakov!


Here are some reasons:

1. yaakov is not scared to face an angry brother armed with 400 men
2.yaakov is prepeared to wrestle with a demon all night
3. Yaakov has no problem with losing

Yaakov splits his camp into 2 in case half get wiped out - his own children!

But Eisav, Eisav has to win. He can't accept defeat, he is angry, and wants revenge.

We cant be afraid to change.
We can't be afraid to fall and get hurt.
If we fall, from that place we will rise up and become stronger.

Rebbe Nachman says, "if you belive that you can get hurt, belive you can heal"

Lets try and change ourselves a little,
and shine some light into this dim world.
It so simple, but so hard, and at the same time,
so easy.

and now.... some pictures!

Mattisyahu Concert!

as a girl was

crowd surfing
the music stopped
and mattisuyahu

"I don't want
anyone getting hurt,

so please,
lets keep our
feet on the ground
and heads in
the clouds."

And that,
is exactly
we did.

my brother
my soul friend

I'll never understand

how the simple pleasures

in your life

make you





i love it!


Friday, December 09, 2005

The many faces of Jerusalem...

After Shabbos ,
we sat on the roof,
made a shlomo havdallah,
and asked all the
important questions,
to which Ronnie always
seems to know the
right answers to...

Thats me and shmagoog
at the shuk
buying juices
that are meant
to improve
the way we look at the world
from a sephardi healer
called uzieli

There aren't many
whom I can honestly say
are more chabad than
but Freda is one of them
I mean it!

There is a secret part of the
that people don't really
know about
and in that place
hundreds of old sefradic men
sit and play cards
drink turkish coffee
and smoke the worst
smelling Israeli ciggarrets imaginable

So many questions...

You know something, since I started learning here, I have begun learning like 7 different mammarim. All of them interesting, and all of them asking the deepest questions. Problem is, I have alot of questions in my head now, and its going to take a long time to get to the answers.

I spoke about this dilema with a friend and he said like this:
"whats the difference between chassidus & philosophy? well, philosophy asks questions on G-d - but chassidus ask questions on man"

That means that its not only not a problem that I don't have answers yet, its a good thing. If I ask and ponder my own existiance, maybe i'll come closer to knowing the true and only existance of Ein Od Milvado...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Some new photos!

An acharit HaYamim Concert
on Ben Yehudah! Ain Yehush!

Like the hat?


Friday, December 02, 2005


Its been an amazing week , really. I haven't had time yet to write properly, and to reflect, because i'm busy living it. Please G-d on monday I'll post some ideas and pictures.
For the parsha....So this week Rivkah complains because she feels kicking in here belly when she passes a shul and then kicking when she passes avodah zorah, but the question is , why was she confused, we all kick when we pass a shul and then when we pass avodah zorah we kick again, we are people with a g-dly soul and an animal soul, so its only noraml to be attracted to both! but rivkah, she was confused.
why? becuase we kick half heartedly at a hul, we don't really really mean it. But she felt kicking of yaakov so strongly , he was real , hewanted to daven to beclose to HaShem, so she get confused, if he is real, why does he kick when I pass the avodah zorah?

all the blessings