Friday, June 8, 2018

Depression -- and Joy.

One of the most successful tactics of the evil inclination inside each one of us, is to cause a person sadness and worse yet, depression. When one is tired and weary, he makes his move to bring the person down even further. Not only with doing foolish things, but worse yet, the guilt that follows afterwards.

In the Holy book of the Tanya, he writes that the only way one is able to be victorious over the evil inclination is with Simcha - enthusiasm and joy, which is not tainted by any worries or sadness. The Tanya compares this, to two people fighting. Even if one is naturally stronger, the weaker one (the evil inclination) will defeat him if he lacks joy and enthusiasm.

The G-dly inclination inside every person is the spark of G-dliness, and is compared to light. By Nature, naturally, a small quantity of light will chase away much darkness, but the person must be happy and joyous. I did not say he must enjoy himself, I said, he must find joy in his life. 

This is one of the very powerful reasons why, the first acknowledgment we make as we open our eyes every morning, is gratitude to G-d, for returning our souls to us. This demonstrates G-ds faith in giving us another day to fulfill and accomplish. 

The spirit of internal strength, the flow from ones soul – the internal candle - does not shine on someone who is sad or downhearted.

The book of the prophets tells us a story, that when Elisha became angry with Yehoraam the king for his wicked ways, the spirit of prophecy left him. It was only after music was played for him, and his mood was lifted, that his spirit of prophecy returned.

The Talmud says a story, that once there was a Rabbi walking around in the market place when he happened to notice Elijah, the prophet. The Rabbi asked the prophet, was there anyone in the market place who merited paradise. The prophet answered in the negative. Soon, two brothers entered the marketplace, and Elijah pointed to them saying, “These will merit the world to come”. The Rabbi went over to them and asked, what their occupation was, and they said, “We are joyful people, and we make those who are sad happy. If we hear an argument, we make peace using humor between those quarrelling.”

In the book of mysticism, the Zohar, it says….. The way we act here in this world, is the way we are dealt with from above. When a person acts in a happy, joyous, grateful, relaxed, and open mind-set, G-d will deal with him in the same way, in a happy and joyous way.

Once, a great Rabbi crossing over a bridge saw a man struggling to save himself in the waters below. Seeing no way that he could save the fellow, he called out, “send regards to the big fish (Leviathan) at the bottom of the river”. At that moment – G-d came to the fellows’ aid, and the fellow was able to catch onto a plank of wood and save himself. 
The Rabbi later explained that due to the man’s broken spirit, he could not be helped. “When I made that foolish funny comment – in that moment of distraction, he was able to save himself with the power of the joke”.

“The mind is always working”. A person should consciously try to keep his mind occupied with things to accomplish, so he does not have the time, and does not give his mind the chance to think sad thoughts. 

When the evil inclination comes to a person and tries to persuade him with all kinds of foolish arguments that he has every reason to feel sad, the person must respond without entering any logical arguments. “You are bad and trying to trick me, even if what I did or who I am isn’t perfect, I have an obligation to always be happy” and immediately divert his mind to positive and uplifting thoughts AND NOT LOOK BACK. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Grinding out the Light

You can change the entire World with; Only One Thought

You can change the entire World with; Only One Thought

The influence of thought on our surroundings is observed in many ways. This has been established to some limited degree with machines that measure brainwaves recorded either directly or through the scalp.

According to Jewish Law, a person is not allowed to think holy thoughts of prayer or of the Bible in an unclean place. A person's thinking interacts with his outside surroundings and, it is disrespectful to the holy thoughts and a conflict with the uncleanliness of the place he is in.

A person is not allowed to think badly of an otherwise genuine person. The mere reservation of trustworthiness is considered wrong and harmful to that individual. Even worse, for both parties, is to hate in your heart and bear a grudge.

The Talmud tells us that when the Bible character, King Balak, brought sacrifices to curse the Jews, his bad intentions brought a harsh punishment years later, and his good deeds, the sacrifices to G-d, generated the reward that King David and King Solomon where his progeny!

While on the subject of sacrifices...if a person brought a sacrifice and, in his mind, he was thinking an intentional wrong thought, to eat the sacrifice outside the allotted time or place where the sacrifice must be eaten, this would invalidate the offering.

The Rambam/Maimonides says, a person should always see himself as half-meritorious and half-contemptible, and with even one thought, he can tip the world to the positive or to the negative.

A person's thought can influence and tip the entire Universe for the good.

The Talmud further says that in one moment a person can make an about face from where he is, he can think and regret his past misdeeds. In that one moment, his status changes from being considered an evil person, and he can become righteous!! Saying he is sorry mechanically accomplishes nothing. It is specifically his thoughts of regret, and his sincere resolution to look in another direction from now on, that transform the person status, entirely.

One of my teachers sent to hard labor for eight years remembered how his spiritual teacher once said that all those who were in the Russian gulag for teaching Judaism should intensely connect in their thoughts, and he would reciprocate.

So, at the first possibility, he closed his eyes and envisioned himself in a private audience with the Rebbe giving him a letter regarding his situation. The Rebbe actually responded with a letter!

When his wife received this letter she first thought he successfully escaped and soon would be reunited only to discover that he was still in the hard labor camps. It was only years later seeing the date on the letter did the whole story fall into place. Think positive, think faith and transform your world. Transform the entire universe.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Great Strength and Power of the Chanukah Lights

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev (1740–1809) was asked. “Why did the sages institute the holiday of Chanukah to commemorate the miracle of the Hasmonean (Maccabees) victory over the Seleucid Army, and a Holiday of Purim to commemorate the victory of Mordechai and Esther over Haman and the Persians, while no holiday has been established to remember and celebrate the victories that happened long before these two, with the prophetess Deborah and Barak over Sisera, or the miraculous victory of Yechezkel the King over Sancheriv?

The Rabbi answered. There are miracles which blast away the rules of nature through a greater involvement of G-d in those events, but they are temporary and fleeting. Then, there are shines of G-dliness that are so powerful, they penetrate into the actual fiber and character of the day forever, and remain embedded in the day, to connect, and draw from this power every year, and such is the miracle of Chanukah and Purim.”

Just like there are foods that are worn out on us in a few hours, and then there are vaccines we introduce into our bodies that can last a lifetime. Certain influences of G-d are onetime events, and other inputs of G-dliness which are eternal.

This is the deeper meaning of the blessing we make when lighting the Chanukah Menorah every night for eight nights, “who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.” The miracle of Chanukah that happened at that time, is available and shining again at this time!!”

Some people may be walking around with “paper” in their pocket not realizing each and every paper is a hundred-dollar bill. As a result, they may misuse this paper not using the “paper bills” to its full potential. Some people may see shiny rocks and stones on the ground not realizing the value in those stones. The same is also with certain days, and time.

Like objects, certain days and certain times of the day are more inclined to certain opportunities. The seventh day of the week, Shabbat, when observed properly has the strength and qualities to literally become a retreat in time, a vacation without the bills and traveling headaches. Unlike any other day of the week, Shabbat i.e. the seventh day of the week has in its DNA the possibility to give one observing this G-dly day, a true deep soul rest, tranquility and peacefulness.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772 – 1810) once said. “Through the lighting of the Chanukah lights” (at the proper times, and making the suitable blessings etc.) one draws into their life, into their soul, and into their world the infinite light of G-d. The kind of light that we pray for, “the Lord make His countenance shine upon you, and be gracious to you.”

When the lights shine, and there is less darkness, we are able to see where to go and what to avoid. We can see in clarity what is good and what is not so good. The negative forces thrive in darkness and run away from light. The holy Baal Shem Tov had a very strong affinity for light and would say. “In Hebrew the word for “secret” is the same numerical value as “light”. Whoever has “light” (as in, the candle is a Mitzvah, and Torah is light), knows the secret.” Life has less secrets, and more of the truth and reality is uncovered.

The MIRACLE of Chanukah was and is, all about the few and the holy who would not buckle in to the many, and the impure. Today, we are not remembering the ones who in weakness blended in and assimilated. The story and the holiday of Chanukah is a commemoration and tribute to those who believed and dedicated their lives for the purpose of their faith. It is in their merit; we today can still identify ourselves with our faith. It is in their merit, G-d made the miracle of Chanukah and we benefit from the infinite light of our candles.