Friday, June 23, 2017

Everyone – even the dead can bless.

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Knowledge is Power. G-dly Knowledge is SUPER POWER.

Our sages teach, “Tzadikim (righteous people) are greater when they are dead than when they are alive.” (Chulin 7; 2)

A Tzadik is someone who refined all areas of his life to such a point that there is no coarseness that would block the spiritual shine of G-dliness from his soul, to his consciousness and in his physical existence. When a Tzadik talks, you are receiving pure G-dliness.

The Talmud teaches, “Whoever has an ill person in his home he should go to a Torah scholar and request a blessing for mercy.” (BB 116)

Everyone, man or woman, has the power of blessing, because everyone has a spark of G-d within himself or herself. When someone blesses another, they are literally sending a positive energy of and from themselves, in the way of that blessing to the ones being blessed.

In addition, there is the time in which a blessing is said, i.e. on Shabbat and before Yom Kippur. There are days and moments that blessings have the assistance of reaching their mark more effectively because of the special qualities in that moment.

There is also, who might be responding Amen to the blessing which further strengthens and confirms the blessing and positive energy generated by the one making the blessing. There are times that a good Angel is listening and he might answer Amen (pretty powerful). That is why we are told, “Never take anyone’s blessings lightly”, because it is not just who is blessing but there is also the time, the place, and the other one answering Amen. They all play an important role in the success of the blessings outcome.

A person who studies G-ds wisdom, The Torah, and performs G-d commandments has absorbed much more of G-dly energy within themselves and has refined their body to a tremendous degree. Our sages teach us, “a Tzadik (righteous person) decrees, and G-d (is forced to) fulfill.”

The Tzadik is a miniature G-d in this World, the highest expression of spirituality in this world. The Zohar says, “Who is the face of the master (G-d) in this world, it is Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.”

A true Tzadik is the embodiment in all ways, whether in character, mannerisms, behavior, and power, of G-d Himself. It’s no big deal when a Tzadik knows the future, or through his blessings a terminally ill person is miraculously cured. This is after all the power of G-d being channeled through this incredible elevated human being, and it knows no limits.

That is why traditionally and throughout history, people would go through much difficulty to receive the blessings of a Tzaddik.

Notwithstanding all that we just talked about, the Tzaddik is still finite, and limited by the constraints of his body and time. Once the Tzaddik however passes away and like everyone else, his soul ascends to the spiritual realms he is no more restricted by the confines of the worldly limitations, and still very much remains a Tzadik. He continues to look after his students and followers, and continues to bless them, but now, everything is on a much more expansive level and possibility.

“Even someone who did not know the Tzadik while he was alive in this world, but only studies, benefits and enjoys his teachings and is strengthened in his service to G-d, this too is called his student. Since he is influenced and impacted by the Tzadik and puts his faith in the Tzadik, this branch becomes connected and an extension of and from the root.” (Book of Hishtatchus)

After the Likutei Torah of Rabbi Shneur Zaman was printed, the Tzemach Tzedek said to one of the Chassidim, “ You have no idea whatsoever of the tremendous soul satisfaction you bring to the one being talked about and studied. The entire Palace and environment of the Tzadik in heaven shines and is illuminated in Joy and happiness. This act brings a (great) blessing to the one studying, for his children and grandchildren. “. (Letters of the Rebbe)

When a person very innocently and with a pure heart goes and visits the burial place of a Tzaddik he is able to connect on a very deep level with the Tzaddik. One very good moment, is every year, on the day the soul finished its journey on the face of this earth, and ascended to heaven. Every year on that date, the soul is strengthened to bless all those attached to him.

May we merit soon, “They will arise and sing, all those who lie in the earth’’.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

True meaning of Prayer. Prayer, is the vehicle to elevate all parts of our soul and being, to become attached with the groom.

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Knowledge is Power -- G-dly Knowledge is SUPER POWER

The Menorah that was lit in the Temple represented the light that shines from the center of the world i.e. the Temple, to and for the entire world. For this reason the Menorah also represents the Torah – “the Torah is light”.

Just as the actual Torah was brought down to this world by Moses who represents wisdom, so to it was Moses who was commanded to make the Menorah, since the menorah, light and wisdom was his thing.

Aaron (Moses’ older brother) as Priest, represented the other pathway to G-d, that of worship/service and prayer to G-d. Therefore, it was Aaron who was commanded to prepare the Menorah, and to light it.

The making of the menorah and “potential” for creating and holding light isn’t enough; it has to actually be lit, so the original intended purpose for making the Menorah is brought to fruition. If someone merely brought the ingredients to make light, oil and a wick, this isn’t yet a functional candle.

There is a saying “it isn’t enough to know Torah and wisdom. Torah and its wisdom has to influence the person and his life.”

The wisdom of Torah in itself isn’t the ultimate. It is only when the light is ignited and the wisdom actually sheds its brilliance and clarity on a person, in his life and his surroundings that the goal has been reached. This is accomplished by the spiritual service represented by Aaron, prayer.

The light, is the result of the oil and the wick being consumed. The more A) oil and wick B) being consumed, the greater is the fire. The first step in creating light is to stack up on the ingredients for light A) – the knowledge, wisdom and Torah.

Maimonides writes, “ It is a well-known and clear matter that the love of God will not become attached within a person's heart until he becomes obsessed with it at all times as is fitting, leaving all things in the world except for this. This was implied by the command [Deuteronomy 6:5: "Love God, your Lord,] with all your heart and all your soul.

One can only love God [as an outgrowth] of the knowledge with which he knows Him. The nature of one's love depends on the nature of one's knowledge! A small [amount of knowledge arouses] a lesser love. A greater amount of knowledge arouses a greater love…..

When a person is praying, B) meditating deeply and intensely concentrating on the words prepared according to the structure designed by our great sages, specifically the Men of the Great Assembly, this will bring them to a state of B) self-abnegation. A state where they will deeply cherish the G-dly and the spiritual and will yearn for more. More of the awareness that all that is physical is merely small and insignificant, and many times counterproductive expression to the experience of G-dliness. They will therefore care for less of the physical and more of what has, and is, of eternal value.

The more a person has studied the Torah – “Torah is light” and the knowledge of G-d, and realizes the infinite greatness of G-d he/she will be filled with an immense joy and happiness (through prayer & its meditations) that he/she is able to approach G-d in any way whatsoever, only by observing His commandments.

In our “prayers” we ask G-d to, “open our heart in your Torah” and wisdom. We are not asking for more brain clarity, but for more sensitivity, breadth and depth of the "heart". That is because in prayer, the person realizes that unless his wisdom of the Torah is able to affect his soul and his personal life nothing important was accomplished. At this point the person desires that his emotions be fired up with enthusiasm that will move him/her, and shed the light in his life on, and for, the things that matter.

That is why in mysticism the “best man” of the congregation of Israel is, Aaron. Prayer, is the vehicle to elevate all parts of our soul and being, to become attached with the groom, Almighty G-d,the source of all that is blessed and good.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Coaching from the best - Maimonides - Rambam

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Knowledge is Power -- G-dly Knowledge is SUPER POWER.

Over the gallery doors in the US House of Representatives chambers of Congress are twenty-three marble relief portraits of famous lawgivers, among them —the celebrated Jewish scholar, physician, philosopher, and community leader Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon HaSefaradi.

Though most know him as Maimonides or by the acronym “Rambam,” his full name reminds that he was a Sephardic Jew and a subject of the Almoravid Empire. He was born in Cordoba in 1135 - 1204, which was then part of Muslim Spain; much of his commentary on the Torah and Jewish religious law were written in Arabic or Judeo-Arabic. A prolific scholar, his many works cemented his place one of Judaism’s most important philosophers. Maimonides's insights on Jewish ethics and religious law continue to exert a profound influence upon Judaism today.

The following are some examples of Jewish Law included in Maimonides’ Magnum Opus – Yad Hachazaka - The strong Hand.

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For your own good -- stay away from bad influences in your life.

……According to Rabbinic decree, it is forbidden for a nazirite ( who took an oath not to drink wine) to abide amidst a gathering of people drinking wine. [Instead,] he should separate himself far from them, because they present a hurdle for him. Our Sages said: "Do not come close [even to] the area around the vineyard.'

Nezirut - Chapter 5 Hal. 10

Value your words - Your words should always matter.

…What is the source which teaches that it is forbidden for a person to take even these four types of vows which are permitted with the intent of nullifying them? It is written [Numbers 30:3): "He shall not desecrate his word," i.e., he should not make his word an inconsequential matter.

Nedarim - Chapter 4 Hal. 4

Don’t be faithless. Keep verbal commitments.

When a person agrees to a transaction with a verbal commitment alone, it is appropriate for him to keep his word even though he did not take any money at all, did not make a mark on the article he desired to purchase, nor leave security. If either the seller or the purchaser retracts, although they are not liable to receive the adjuration mi shepara (A curse on one who reneges on an agreement)  they are considered to be faithless, and the spirit of the Sages does not derive satisfaction from them.

Similarly, if a person promised to give a colleague a gift and failed to do so, he is considered to be faithless.

When does the above apply? With regard to a small gift, because the recipient will depend on the promise that he was given. With regard to a large gift, by contrast, the giver is not considered to be faithless if he retracts, because the recipient does not believe that he will give him these articles until he transfers ownership through a formal kinyan.

Mechirah - Chapter Seven Hal 8 – 9

A person cannot release himself from his own oaths.

It is not possible for a person to release himself from his own oath. A person does not have the license to release an oath or a vow in a place where there is a person whose knowledge surpasses his own. In a place where his teacher is found, he may only release a vow with the consent of his teacher.

Shvuot - Chapter 6 Hal. 3

A person can inspect all blemishes except his own.

Everyone can become impure due to tzara'at (A supra-natural bodily affliction often mistranslated as leprosy)  blemishes, even a new-born baby or servants, but not gentiles or resident aliens. Anyone is acceptable to inspect such blemishes. A person can inspect all blemishes except his own.

Tum'at Tsara`at - Chapter 9 Hal. 1

Friday, June 2, 2017

At the very essence of matter are we waves of energy or defined particles? Miracles - undefined, or nature - defined?

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Knowledge is Power - G-dly Knowledge is SUPER Power.

Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai - the Chida (1724-1806) quotes in his book in the name of Rabbi David Hanagid the grandson of Maimonides (1135 -1204). “My father told me, Maimonides sat in his room, and did not leave, for ten years until he finished his magnum opus the Mishneh Torah. On the night that he finally concluded his writings, his father Rabbi Maimon came to him in a dream with another person and was introduced to Maimonides as none other than Moses himself. Maimonides was startled, and his father said, he came to see the work he was working on for these so many years. He studied the newly made volumes of the Mishneh Torah and thanked him.”

Most likely this story was first recounted by Maimomides himself to his son Abraham, who then told it over to his son, David.

The question is. The Mishneh Torah of the Rambam writes in more than one place, dreams don’t improve or worsen a situation. Basically, they should be ignored. So why be impressed with a dream concerning  Moses and Maimonides?

“An incident occurred when a person was upset because of money that he knew that his father had left him, but he did not know where his father had hid it. He was told in a dream: "There was so and so much money. They are in this and this place, but they belong to so and so," or "...but they are ma'aser sheni (special food from the Tithes’)." He found the exact sum of money in the place that was told to him. The question was brought before the Sages and they said: "Words from dreams neither avail nor impair."  Zechiyah uMattanah - Chapter Ten Hal. 7

The above statement is made by the Talmud and the Rambam, when the Torah says clearly – “I will speak to him in a dream.”

Another point to ponder on.

Rambam wrote Avel 4;4 “ a person should not turn to visit cemeteries”. And yet, Rabbi MM Schneerson who prided himself as being a devoted student of the Rambam, specifically instructed people to go to the Rambam’s own burial place in Tiberias on special occasions!

Rabbi Levi Bistrisky would send from Tiberias to NY the Vodka used at these events, and the Rebbe would distribute it at his own gatherings in Brooklyn Ny as if there was some special energy transported from the event in Israel into the Vodka to Brooklyn NY! (more of this from the Rambam another time.)

In the years 1988 – 89 the Rebbe (Rabbi MM Schneerson) was suffering from pain in his legs. Rabbi Levi Bistrisky organized before Passover (the birthday of the Rambam) a quorum of people to say the entire book of Psalms on behalf of the Rebbes wellbeing. When the Rebbe heard about this he remarked, “ if they were at the Great Healer, I can already expect improvements.”

In the holy of holies the ark had a specific measurement and the room in which it was placed there was a specific measurement, and yet when the walls against which the ark was placed was measured, it was as if the ark did not exist! “It (the ark) was there (measured) and not there (as if  undetectable - invisible) both at the same time!”

How can (spiritual) dreams mean something and not mean anything? How could going to a cemetery recognizing the power of the soul  mean something, while Rambam talked about not going to a cemetery? How does an ark take up space, and not take up space, at the same time?

It all depends, on the observers own power of perception. The two tracks and two statements are both true and, it depends!

At the essence of everything is the power of the infinite where there is no beginning and no end. There are no boundaries and there is exists all possibilities. Not everyone can tap into this very exalted level.

And then, G-d created a Universe in seven days that is measured to specific specifications. When a person focuses on the created universe he sees particles. Measured entities. Possibilities with finite characteristics.

The other choice Is, when a person elevates his/her awareness through prayer, Torah, and the service of G-d, they connect and tap into the source and energy that started it all, and then even vinegar will light like olive oil for an entire Shabbat. Ta’anis 25, Story with Rabbi Chanina Ben Dosa.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Adam became King David -- Angels in the trees ? WHO SAYS WINNING IS EVERYTHING??

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Knowledge is Power -- G-dly Knowledge is Super Power.

Wednesday & Thursday, beginning May 31, 2017 is the major biblical holiday of Shavuot. On this holiday, we commemorate the giving of the Torah 3329 years ago.

Another less known fact is that King David was born and passed away 70 years later, on the first day of the Holiday.

After Adam & Eve sinned by eating from the forbidden fruit, instead of people living forever, this disconnect from G-d, as a result of acting against G-ds wishes, brought death upon the earth and the maximum a person could live was 1000 years.

One of the important souls significantly affected by Adams sin was the soul of King David which now was meant to die the moment it was born. Adam, taking responsibility for this tragedy asked G-d if he could gift David with some of his own years. G-d responded in the affirmative, so Adam gifted 70 (a very significant and appropriate number) of his own years to King David and instead of living 1000 years lived 930 years.

King David asked G-d he wanted to know when he would pass away. G-d told him this was a secret from all man. King David asked if he could just know the day in the year, but not the actual year. G-d did not agree. King David asked if he could know the day of the week, and G-d told him it would be on a Shabbat (Saturday).

Every Shabbat, King David would study Torah from the beginning of the Shabbat until the end, knowing that while a person studies Torah, its shielding energy protects even from the Angel of death. After the Shabbat was over, David was sure he would make it through another week and, made a Saturday night meal of thanks to G-d.

As a side bar, this is why there is a very beautiful practice to eat a meal every week after the Shabbat, to commemorate King David’s meal. The deeper meaning of this meal, is that there is a very small (part of a) bone in the back of one’s head, that receives its nutrition only from this meal. This bone does not disintegrate together with the rest of the body. It is from this bone that G-d will resurrect all the bodies when the Mashiach comes.

When Adam sinned and brought death to the world it was a Friday afternoon, so while his entire body became influenced by that fruit and now was destined to die, this bone, which only gets its nutrition on Saturday night, remained as G-d intended, to last forever.

When it came time for King David to leave the world, the Angel of death created a commotion in some trees and as King David went out to see what was happening he slipped, stopped learning the Torah and the Angel was able to take his soul.

What was it about the noise outside that made King David curious?

When David just became King and he was fighting the Philistines G-d told him He would come to his aide but he could not fight until he would hear the flapping of the Angels’ wings in the leaves of the cypress trees.

David, Avishai, Yoab and all David’s men were hiding in the cave and they heard the Philistines getting closer and closer. David’s men were nudging him to go out and fight but David said he did not yet hear the sound of the Angels. David’s men said they would lose the element of surprise if they were discovered but David still refused to charge out of the cave.

The Philistines were so close; the Talmud says David and his men could see their pupils.

David’s men said if we don’t fight now we are doomed. David answered, “Who says winning is everything?” It is more important, and there are more blessings, if we do not transgress G-ds words than rely on our own wisdom and strength. King David passed the test, and restrained all of them from charging out.

At that moment there was a great noise from the trees and King David gave the order to attack. Now, together with the help of G-ds Angels they had G-ds blessings AND they subdued the Philistines.

It was this same noise that King David heard on that fateful day. Wondering why there would be Angels outside he became curious to see for himself what was going on and as he stepped outside the angel moved one of the steps which caused him to slip and stop his studying of the Torah only for a moment.

This is one of the reasons it is also a very noble practice to read Psalms on Shavuot, since it is on this day King David’s soul, who composed the Psalms, praises and prayers to G-d, shines brightest.

There is much more – but you must come to our classes.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

How & Why -- do we observe G-ds commandments.

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Knowledge is Power -- G-dly Knowledge is Super Power.

Rambam/Maimonides writes; “Although all of the statutes of the Torah are decrees, as we explained in the conclusion of Hilchot Me'ilah, it is fit to meditate upon them and wherever it is possible to provide a reason, one should provide a reason. The Sages of the early generations said that King Solomon understood most of the rationales for all the statutes of the Torah.

It appears to me that the verse Leviticus 27:10: "It and the animal to which its holiness will be transferred shall be consecrated" shares a similar motivating rationale as the verse ibid.:15: "If the one who consecrates it shall redeem his house, he shall add a fifth of the money of the redemption valuation to it."

The principle behind these laws is that the Torah descended to the bottom of a person's thoughts and the scope of his evil inclination. For human nature tends to increase his property and attach importance to his money. Even though he made a vow or consecrated something, it is possible that he will reconsider, change his mind, and redeem it for less than its worth. Hence the Torah states: "If he redeems it for himself, he must add a fifth."

Similarly, if he consecrated an animal in a manner that its physical person becomes consecrated, he might reconsider. In this instance, since he cannot redeem it, he will exchange it for a lesser one. If he was given permission to exchange a superior animal for an inferior one, he will exchange an inferior one for a superior one and claim that it was superior. Therefore, the Torah removed that option, forbidding all exchanges and penalized him that if he made an exchange, "It and the animal to which its holiness will be transferred shall be consecrated."

All of these ordinances are to subjugate one's evil inclination and improve one's character. Similarly, most of the Torah's laws are nothing other than "counsels given from distance" from "He Who is of great counsel" to improve one's character and make one's conduct upright. And so it is written Proverbs 22:20-21: "Behold, I have written for you in the Torah prominent matters, to inform you of the veracity of the words of truth, so that you will respond truthfully to those who send to you." (Temurah Chap 4 Hal. 11)

In his introduction to ethics of our fathers, “Eight Chapters” Maimonides writes; When it comes to rational commandments, those directives that any human mind can and does appreciate they are no good, like killing and stealing, a person should always strive to have no attraction to those behaviors, and should always come to the knowledge and feeling of saying “I don’t find it possible to act that way”.

As far as the supra rational commandments that we observe, only because we are commanded to observe them in the Torah, like keeping the dietary laws of eating kosher, the proper mentality and attitude is to say, “oh how I wish I could do those (forbidden) things, however I will not, only because my Father in Heaven told me to keep away from them.”

However, according to the law mentioned at the beginning of this article, once a person discovers and ascertains a rational and purpose for the observance of ALL commandments, even for the statues in the Torah, he/she would be intellectually satisfied and will feel detested by all those things G-d told us not to do, and will not feel like he wants to do any of those detestable behaviors.

How will he be able to approach the statutes as Maimonides recommends, feeling as if he would do the transgression, but is not, ONLY because G-d commanded?

In His guide to the perplexed, Maimonides explains; Although there are commandments that do make rational sense, since it is G-d who is beyond human intellect commanding us, there are always going to be details in law that is beyond comprehension. As far as the commandments that are known as decrees and statutes, the entire foundation and many of the details of the commandment doesn’t lend itself to logic even when some of the details can and should be understood.

In both types of commandments, there is the aspect that requires obedience and acceptance of G-ds authority, and there is the area where humans can and therefore should find a personal satisfying rational and self-empowerment. "Logical commandments should be observed with the obedience of statutes, and statutes should be observed with the enthusiasm and personal connection of the rational commandments."


 This allows us to enjoy even those statutes that don’t really make much logical sense, and appreciate that even rational commandments are in truth part of our lives only because they are "counsels given from distance" from "He Who is of great counsel" to improve one's character and make one's conduct upright. Elevating & connecting us to a place higher than our finite identities.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Everyone, at this present moment, has their greatest opportunities, in the now.

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Knowledge is Power -- G-dly Knowledge is super Power.

It was one year after the High Holiday prayers and a Hasidic Rebbe from Poland, Rabbi Jacob Isaac Horowitz, known as The Seer of Lublin, 1745 - August 15, 1815 -- told his students, he knew exactly what each one asked for in their prayers, and the answer Heaven responded to them.
One of the students, challenged the Rabbi to tell him what his private prayers were.  
Said the Holy man. “You requested from Heaven they provide at the beginning of the week all the finances necessary for the week, so you shouldn’t be burdened and consumed with worries and anxiety all week long, which stand in the way of your worship and service to G-d.”
The Rabbi continued. “You even went on to make a deal with G-d that you are prepared to decrease your expenses by two golden coins, if the request was accepted.”
The student was humbled and impressed. “Wow, this is all very true. And what may I ask did they respond?”
Said the Rabbi. “As far as your readiness to accept two golden coins less a week, “Heaven was amused. Is there any lack in the treasures of the King? In addition,
As far as your gripe that your worries stand in the way of your service to G-d. What makes you so sure, G-d is interested and would prefer your study of Torah, your prayer, and your service to Him in peace and tranquility? Perhaps, G-d has greater satisfaction from your study and prayers when they come as a result of the effort and inner struggle you must make to concentrate, notwithstanding all the difficulties?”
Many of us make deals with G-d!
G-d can afford everything. As long as your intentions are sincere, don’t worry how G-d will provide.  “There are many emissaries to G-d.” He has a million and one ways, and then one more, to accomplish whatever it is.
Many of us think and feel, different circumstances would make things better. “This too is for the good.” “Everything, the Merciful one does is for the good.”
It is true we must judge by our human senses and pray accordingly. This is a great Mitzvah/good deed for ourselves. Hope and seeing a rosier future also plays a very important role. However, when it comes down to it, (at the end of the day :-) everyone at this present moment has their greatest opportunities, in the now. We must not be so preoccupied with the future that we forget the good intent and purpose G-d presents us with, in the current moment and situation.