Out of the Depths
"Hebrew has a number of different words referring to various kinds of purgatory suffered by the souls after death. Zohar and other sources explain the differences between the suffering of the body in the grave and the suffering of different souls for different periods of time on different levels of Gehennom. Let's hope we never find out what this suffering really is, because we will do complete Teshuva!" (Rabbi Avraham ben Yaakov Greenbaum).

 


"Throughout the Talmud, the standard term referring to hell is Gehennom, but this does not appear in the Bible at all except as the name of a location just outside ancient Jerusalem -- Gey Hennom, the "Valley of Sighs." I.e. the place of human sacrifice to Molech.

This was where there was an idolatrous temple to Molech, to whom children were dedicated by being passed over fire (making the children scream or "sigh")."

 

The confusion over what hell really is derives precisely from the fact that all false religions and cults use precisely this idea to strike such fear into the hearts of their led flocks that they will be psychologically locked into the cult all their lives" (Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum).


The ancient pagan religions promoted the same idea about atonement as Christendom continues to preach today (e.g.  Molech). They would joyfully offer a child into the fires of their sacrificial offering in order to expiate their sins and appease the gods.  Why would a child sacrifice be used in this pagan ritual rather than an adult?  The reason is because a child is thoroughly innocent of sin.  A child, they reasoned, could not have committed iniquity and thus mirrored the animal sacrifice which also had to be unblemished.  The Torah therefore admonishes the children of Israel never to offer human sacrifices, and forewarned Jewish people of terrible consequences if this commandment were violated. 


”We’ll wear the battle-vest of self sacrifice and follow the path of the shahids,” (Child narrator, HAMAS, Al-Aqsa TV).


"I gave him, my son as a gift and we sacrificed him to Allah and to His religion [Islam] in order to maintain His religion and to make sure that His slogan (of Islam] "There is no God besides Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah" will be spread all over Palestine and all over the world." "I talked my son into sacrificing himself for Allah, and he was more than willing to do so..." (Um Nadil, mother of Muhammad Farat, a Hamas operative).

This message was carefully communicated at Mt.  Moriah where Abraham was prepared to offer up his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice.  At that crucial juncture in history when Abraham was ready to sacrifice Isaac, the Almighty admonished him that He did not want the human sacrifice, and directed Abraham to sacrifice the ram caught in the thicket instead.  The Almighty's directive -- that he only wanted animal sacrifices rather than human sacrifices -- was immediately understood. 
This teaching has never departed from the mind and soul of the faithful children of Israel (Rabbi Tovia Singer).

Could Jesus' Death Atone For Any Kind of Sin?

 

"In the Five Books of Moses, the prime sanction that is threatened for disobedience against the Torah is not hell, but rather the tribulations of This World, as in the curses in Leviticus Ch. 26 and in Deuteronomy Ch. 28" (Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum). But, in the end of days, when Israel has repented and is brought back to its land, the Torah says that God "will place all these curses upon your enemies and upon your adversaries, who pursued you (Jews) Deut. 30:7. See also Deuteronomy 4:27-31, Ch. 30, Isaiah 24:1-6,17-23.

God inflicts illness, tribulations and suffering to make the victim consider his mortality and mend his ways, thereby saving his life in the process (Rashi). "His soul approaches the grave (pit, death), and his being the killers. If there will be for someone but a single defending angel out of a thousand to declare a man's uprightness on his behalf, then (God) will be gracious to him and say, "Redeem him from going down to the grave (pit, death), I have found him atonement (or, "I have found ransom," which is redemption). For God absolved him from going into the grave; so that his being might see the light. (As it says: "For a commandment is a candle, and the Torah is light," Prov. 6.23).
To bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of the living (the Jews). To return to the land of Israel. (Job 33:22-24,28,30, Psalm 33:18-22, 56:14). Even if only one angel defends him against a thousand accusers, God will spare him (Rashi, Kara). So, even a small amount of good can save man.


"Therefore, my heart rejoiced, and my soul was glad; even my flesh shall dwell in safety. For You shall not forsake my soul to the grave (sheol, also translated nether-world, Gehennom); You shall not allow Your pious one to see the pit (shachat). You shall let me know the way of life (the Torah), the fullness of joys in Your presence. There is pleasantness in Your right hand forever" (Psalm 16:9-11, Ch. 49, Deut. 33:1-4).

"But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave (sheol), for He shall take me forever" (Psalm 49:16). But I, who have bent my ear to the parable God will redeem my soul so that I do not go to the grave, because He will take me in my lifetime to go in His ways (Rashi).

Psalm 116:7-9 "Return, O my soul, unto thy rest; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. FOR THOU HAST DELIVERED MY SOUL FROM DEATH, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the LORD in the lands of the living." In this Psalm Israel declares its love for God DESPITE ITS LOWLY STATE AMONG THE NATIONS, and prays for their Redemption out of and from the wicked nations.

Psalm 30:2 "I will exalt You, O Lord, for You have raised me up, and You have not allowed my enemies to rejoice over me." Hebrew (dilitani): "You have lifted me on high." The Sfas Emes tells us that the downtrodden state of Klal Yisrael is actually part of their uplifting. The word dilisani, “raise me up,” has its root in the word deli, a bucket. Just as a bucket must be lowered to bring up fresh, life-giving waters, so too Klal Yisrael must sometimes be brought to a lower depth before being raised up. The descent is part of the rising...

Genesis 37:23-24,28 "Now it came to pass when Joseph came to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his shirt, of the fine woolen coat which was upon him. And they took him and cast him into the pit (bor); now the pit was empty there was no water in it... Then Midianite men, merchants, passed by, and they pulled and lifted Joseph from the pit, and they sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty silver [pieces], and they brought Joseph to Egypt."

Joseph rose to prominence despite the hatred he suffered. His brothers and Potiphar and his wife all embittered him and became antagonists. People with arrow-like tongues – a Scriptual allusion to malicious slander and gossip – dealt bitterly with Joseph, but by the grace of God, he rose to prominence despite them (Rashi). See Genesis 49:22-26, Deut. 33:13-17, Psalm Ch. 78:9-11.

Zechariah 9:11 As for thee also, because of the blood of thy covenant I send forth thy prisoners out of the pit (bor) wherein is no water" (no Torah knowledge). Not only the Messiah, but all Jews will be protected and snatched from the waterless pit of exile by merit of the covenant of Sinai (Exodus 24:7-8) and the covenant of circumcision (Genesis 17:1-21).

Psalm 30:3 "O Lord, I have cried out to You, and You have healed me." That is the forgiving of iniquity, as it is said: "lest he see with his eyes, and hear with his ears, and his heart understand, and he repent and be healed" (Isaiah 6:10).
 

Psalm 30:4: "O Lord, You have brought my soul from the grave (sheol, nether-world); You have revived me from my descent into the Pit (bor) (that I should not descend into Gehinnom)." The netherworld is usually understood to be referring to Gehinnom, a place for sinners after death. Here we see that even during one’s lifetime a person can find himself in such emotional pain that it is as if he is already visiting that place of purgatory. David tells us that even from within such total misery one can find life. Through our connection with Hashem, we can find a way of preventing ourselves from falling into life’s deep pits.

Psalm 30:5-6 "Sing to the Lord, His pious ones, and give thanks to His holy name." Even if you are experiencing pain, have no fear, suffering must be recognized as chastisement for sin. Prayerful repentance is the cure. And "charity (righteousness, Deut. 6:25) will save from death" (Prov. 10:2, 11:4, 12:28, Daniel 4:24, Psalm 41:2-4). One must repent and look to God for salvation. "For His wrath lasts but a moment; life results from His favor; in the evening, weeping may tarry, but in the morning there is joyful singing."

Psalm 86:4 "Cause the soul of Your servant to rejoice, for to You, O Lord, I lift my soul. For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, with much kindness to all who call You." If we lift our eyes unto heaven and direct our hearts toward Him, wholehearted supplication, complete dedication, and awareness of God's closeness lift one's soul and bring it closer to God. "Hashem, I am so far removed from where I should be that my heart is twisted and contaminated. If You would bless me with gladness, my soul would soar higher and higher (Rabbi Yitzchok Rubin)." It then takes flight, soaring to the heavens...

Psalm 86:11-13 "Teach me, O LORD, Thy way, that I may walk in Thy truth; make one my heart to fear Thy name. I will thank Thee, O Lord my God, with my whole heart; and I will glorify Thy name for evermore. For great is Thy mercy toward me; and Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest nether-world (or: the lowest depths of the grave)." (It is customary for adulterers (or idolaters) to be put in "the lowest depths of the grave," David repented (See Psalm Ch. 51, a fitting prayer for any penitent), and Nathan the prophet said to him:  (II Sam. 12:13): “Also the Lord has removed your sin, YOU SHALL NOT DIE.”

In the Book of Daniel Ch. 4 we learn that God, brings down and humbles the mighty in order to teach them that everything they have is only His gift.
Nebuchadnezzar had ascended to the greatest heights as a conqueror and ruler of a world empire. He had built up Babylon as an enormous metropolis whose magnificent buildings were the very wonder of the world. But he said in his heart, "My power and the strength of my hand has made for me all this might."

He had to learn the same lesson that we all have to learn: that no matter what we may have achieved, whether materially or spiritually, there is no place for vanity and arrogance because everything we have has been given to us by God not because of our own intrinsic worth or merit but only through His kindness and compassion.

To teach Nebuchadnezzar his lesson and humble his arrogant heart, he was to be literally cast down from his kingship and transformed into a beast living wild with the animals eating grass and moistened with dew. Stripped of his human intellect and sensibilities, he would have the heart of a beast for seven years.

Daniel spelled out the essential lesson that Nebuchadnezzar was to learn from his banishment (Daniel 4:22): "You will be driven from men and your dwelling will be with the beasts of the field… until you know that the Supreme God rules over the kingdom of men and that He gives it to whoever He pleases."
Ordinary citizens like ourselves should also learn from this that it is God who has appointed all of the world leaders of today, and He alone decides whom to raise up and whom to bring down (Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum).

Daniel 4:31-34 "And at the end of the days (of the seven years), I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my understanding was restored to me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and glorified Him Who lives to Eternity, Whose dominion is an eternal dominion, and Whose kingdom is with every generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reckoned as nothing, and according to His will, He foes with the host of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth, and no one can stop His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?"

At that time, my understanding was restored to me, and I returned to the glory of my kingdom, and my splendor was restored to me; and my leaders and my dignitaries were seeking me, and I was established upon my kingship and excessive greatness was added to me. Now, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, Whose works are all true and Whose ways are just and Who can humble those who walk with arrogance."

Nebuchadnezzar's recognition of the saving power of HaShem was a great SANCTIFICATION OF HIS NAME during the very exile of Israel and Nebuchadnezzar wrote a letter to all the people's of his empire praising the supreme God.

"The Lord tries the righteous (tzaddik), but His soul hates the wicked (rasha) and the one who loves violence (hamas). He shall rain upon the wicked charcoal, fire, and brimstone, and a burning wind is the portion of their cup" (Psalm 11:5-6). "Then the LORD caused to rain upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;.. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the Plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt (Genesis 19:24,29). In the case of Sodom, the Defense (Abraham) could not prevail, and the Accuser went to destroy the place. Yet the Defender's prayers did accomplish something: the salvage of Abraham's nephew Lot and his family from the catastrophe that befell Sodom.

Ezekiel 38:22 "And I will judge against him (Gog) with pestilence and with blood, and rain bringing floods, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone will I rain down upon him and upon his hordes and upon the many peoples that are with him" (Zech. 12:9, 14:3, Tzefaniah Chs. 1-3, Isaiah 41:11-12, 60:12).  "Woe! For great is that day with none to compare with it, and it will be a time of trouble for Jacob!" Likewise Daniel (12:1) said, "It will be a time of trouble such as has never been since the time they became a nation". But "HE (Israel) WILL BE SAVED FROM IT!!!" (Jeremiah 30:7-11). For a deeper understanding read more: Isaiah 34:1-12 and Obadiah with commentaries and Parshah Vayera: http://www.azamra.org/

Will God Only Save the Jews?  

Abraham was tested with ten trials, but he overcame them all.
"You tested with the greatest of tests those who fear You, to demonstrate Your eternal truth." The world needs to be reminded of Hashem’s truth. The Jewish nation is the one people who have an understanding of how all-encompassing the Torah is, and when we, too, lose sight of this, we are given tests to help us find our way back.  (Psalm 60:6).

Tehillim: Rhythm of the Heart by Rabbi Yitzchok Rubin

http://www.torah.org/learning/tehillim/


”All the nations that You have made will come and bow down before You, O Lord, and will give glory to Your Name. For You are great and work wonders, You alone are God” (Psalm 86:9-10).

 

”All the ends of the earth will remember and turn back to HaShem, all the families of nations will bow before You. For the kingship belongs to HaShem, And He rules the nations. All the fat ones of the earth will eat and bow down, all who descend to the dust will kneel before Him, but He will not revive each one’s soul” (Psalm 22:28-30).

 

The prosperous nations, who were all destined for the grave and for mortality, will return to God and their repentance will be accepted (Meiri). But there are those among them who will descend to the grave and whose souls He will not revive even though they now kneel before Him. These are the ones whose hands are stained with Jewish blood (Radak).

Isaiah 5:11-16,24 "Woe to those who rise early in the morning; they pursue strong wine. They sit until late in the evening; wine inflames them. And there are harp and lute, tambourine and flute, and wine at their drinking feasts; and the work of the Lord (the Torah) they do not regard, and the deed of His hands they have not seen.Therefore, My people shall go into exile because of lack of knowledge, and its esteemed ones shall die of hunger, and its multitude shall be parched from thirst.

 

Therefore, the nether-world (SHEOL, the grave) has expanded itself and opened its mouth without measure, and her splendor and her populace and multitudes, shall descend and those who rejoice therein (will fall into Sheol, i.e., they will die).  And man shall be humbled, and man shall be brought low, and the eyes of the haughty shall be brought low. And the Lord of Hosts will be exalted in judgment, and the Holy God shall be hallowed with equity. (When He executes judgment upon them, His name shall be exalted in the world).  Therefore, as a flame of fire consumes stubble, and a flame shrivels straw, their root shall be like rot, and their blossom shall go up like dust, for they have rejected the law of the Lord of Hosts and the word of the Holy One of Israel they have despised." (See Obadiah 1:18). 

Cameras Help Police Nab 2 Arabs who Attacked Jew in Old City on the Sabbath


Psalm 130:1 "A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths (of my heart) have I (David, Israel) called Thee, O LORD." The word “depths” indicates various levels of despair we may fall into. No matter how far into the depths we have slid, we will be redeemed. (Tehillim: Ch. 130 by Rabbi Yitzchok  Rubin, Torah.org).

"Save me, O God; for the waters are come in even unto the soul. I am sunk in deep mire, where there is no standing; I am come into deep waters, and the flood overwhelmeth me. They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; they that would cut me off, being mine enemies wrongfully, are many; should I restore that which I took not away?


Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink; let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters. Let not the waterflood (oppression) overwhelm me, neither let the deep (troubles) swallow me up; and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me" (Psalm 69:2-5,16-17). Psalm 69 is a vivid prophetic portrayal of Israel's plight in its long and bitter exile, and an impassioned plea for its speedy deliverance.

"You have put me into the lowest pit (physical, spiritual or mental exile), into dark places, into depths. Your wrath lies hard upon me, and [with] all Your waves You have afflicted (me) constantly.
You have estranged my friends (the nations) from me; You have made me an abomination to them; [I am] imprisoned and cannot go out" (Psalm 88:7-9).
This Psalm is an impassioned plea for deliverace from Israel's long, almost unbearable exile.

Psalm 44 is vividly portraying the recurring oppressions and persecutions of exile. Israel pleads for strength to endure until it is redeemed. "For it is for Your sake (while performimg the Mitzvos) that we are killed all the time, [that] we are considered as sheep for the slaughter..." (44:23, Isaiah 53:7).   

Arab violence against Jews spread to the northern city of Tzfat (Safed) on the Sabbath, several days after rabbis urged Jews not to rent or sell  to Arabs. 

"You make us as scum and refuse among the peoples. All our enemies have opened their mouth wide against us. We had terror and pitfalls, desolation and ruin. My enemies have hunted me like a bird, without cause. They have confined my life in the dungeon and have cast a stone upon me.


Water (heathens) flowed over my head; I thought, "I am cut off." I called on Your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit. You did draw near when I called on You; You did say, "Do not fear." You did plead my cause, O Lord; You did redeem my life. You have seen wrong done to me, O Lord; judge my cause. You have seen all their [acts of] vengeance, all their devices against me. You have heard their insults, O Lord, all their plots against me" (See Lamentations 3:45-61). The final section of this elegy (vv  57-66) are a ringing affirmation of faith that God will redeem Israel and wreak His vengeance on their enemies for all their evil.

"And Yonah ("dove") prayed to the Lord his God, from the belly of the fish. And he said: I called out from my distress to the Lord, and He answered me; from the belly of the grave (sheol, nether-world, hell) I cried out, You heard my voice.
 
And You cast me into the deep in the heart of the seas (fall prey to the power of other nations), and a river surrounded me; all Your breakers and Your waves passed over me. And I said, "I have been driven away from before Your eyes," Indeed, I will continue to gaze upon Your Holy Temple.


Water has surrounded me even to the soul, the deep encompassed me; the Red Sea hangs over my head.
 
To the bottom of the mountains I descended, the earth-its bars are closed on me forever; but You brought up my life from Gehinnom (pit), O Lord, my God. When my soul grew faint upon me, I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came to You to Your Holy Temple..." (Yonah 2:2-8). Jonah prayed... But he was not answered until he said, "But I will sacrifice unto Thee with the voice of thanksgiving; that which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is of the LORD."
And at God's command; the fish vomitted Jonah out onto the dry land.

The story of Jonah is an allegory of Israel among the Seventy Nations, and how the terrible global storm sent by God as a result of Israel 's flight from Him into sin eventually brings Jonah and all the nations back to the path that they deviated from and to know and fear God. (Job 28:28, Prov. 1:24-33, 5:7-14). Israel's Torah scholars are meant to serve as HaShem's priests, whose task will be to minister to the nations and teach them about the unity of God and His Torah (Isaiah 61:6-11, Ex. 19:5-6). Peace will only come to the world when the nations embrace God's Torah and the Seven Laws of Noach.

Song of Songs 2:14 "O My dove (YONATI), that art in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let Me see thy countenance (your prayerful gaze), let Me hear thy (supplicating) voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.' When the Jews were trapped between the Sea and the Egyptian army, they were like a dove fleeing a hawk. It flew into the cleft of a rock, and found a serpent lurking there. It could neither enter, because of the snake, nor turn back, because of the hawk.

Exodus 14:10 "Pharaoh drew near, and the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold! the Egyptians were advancing after them. They were very frightened, AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL CRIED OUT TO THE LORD."


Job 22:27-30 "Thou shalt make thy prayer unto Him, and He will hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows; Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee, and light shall shine upon thy ways. When they cast thee down, thou shalt say: 'There is lifting up'; for the humble person He saveth. He delivereth him that is innocent, yea, thou shalt be delivered through the cleanness of thy hands."

Isaiah 63:11-13 "And His people remembered the days of old, [the days of] Moses; where is he who drew them up from the sea, [like] a shepherd His flock; where is he who placed within them His Holy Spirit? He led at Moses' right the arm of His glory, splitting the water before them to make for Himself an everlasting name. He led them in the depths like a horse in the desert; they did not stumble..."


Psalm 77:20-21 "In the sea was Your way, and Your path in the mighty waters, and Your steps were not known. You led Your people like sheep by the hand of Moses and Aaron."