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.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Split hoofs -- a good thing?

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Knowledge is Power - G-dly knowledge is SUPER POWER

The Torah designates two symbols that determine an animal is Kosher. 1, Chews its cud and 2, has split hoofs. All other “animals that walk on their paws, on all four, are not kosher”. Rashi – Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, 1040-1105, the principal commentator on the Bible, offers examples of non-kosher animals, i.e. the cat, dog, and bear.
There are many more animals that are not kosher. The fact that Rashi decided to enumerate just these three as examples of impure and non-kosher- bad for the spirit, is because, they uniquely offer an over-all perspective on the characteristics of the animals that must be kept out of our systems so we retain our identity as a “ Holy nation unto Him.”
A cat according to the Talmud has a major blemish in its thought processess, “it doesn’t acknowledge its owner.” While it is true the Talmud tells us, “had the Torah not been presented to the Jewish people, we would learn (the imperative) to be modest from a cat,” there is this major flaw with its intellect.
A dog according to the Talmud, does acknowledge and recognize its owner and master. The Midrash says, ’’Dogs are smart.” The weakness in a dog is its problems with its emotions. All its intelligence is controlled and subservient to its emotions. The Talmud says, dogs are brazen animals.
While the cat and the dog represent blemishes and weaknesses internally, regarding the intellect and emotions, the bear who is plump and heavy represents the coarseness of the external faculties of a person. The bear in its spiritual non-kosher status is represented in its faults regarding its external forms of communication, i.e. thought, speech and deed which are absorbed in materialistic and coarse pursuits. Like the Bear who is always restless and roaming about for more food, this person is always lacking internal peace and tranquility.
The kosher animal on the other hand distinguishes itself from all others with its complete split hoofs that separate it from the ground. A Kosher animal does not walk directly on the ground. While the non-kosher animal walks on the ground and is connected to the materialism of the ground, kosher animals have the elevation that separates and lifts them from the ground.
Only someone who recognizes the specialness of the human being over all other creatures and intentionally separates and elevates themselves from the physical ground can influence the ground by their own elevated status and not become drawn in by the magnetism and gravity of the ground, materialistic pursuits.
It was only when Moses was on holy ground that G-d told him to “ take your shoes off from your feet.” In a place like the Temple where everything is imbued with G-dliness and spirituality, connecting to it all is imperative.
On a typical basis, kosher and holy is keeping a clear demarcation and detachment, between the pursuits of worldly values and spiritual G-dly interests that bring true fulfillment and deep satisfaction.
“I washed my feet, how could I make them sullied.” “How beautiful are the ornaments to your Shoes.” To be like a cat, dog, or bear, is to be unacceptable within the framework of Kosher and Holy. To be Kosher and to be G-dly, to be “a Holy nation unto Him”, a person must remain in his/her mind, heart, thoughts, speech and deeds, elevated, from the coarseness and unrefined ways of worldly pursuits.

"Whoever is careful concerning these matters brings an additional measure of holiness and purity to his soul and purges his soul for the sake of the Holy One, blessed be He, as [Leviticus 11:44] states: "And you shall sanctify yourselves and you will be holy, for I am holy."
Maimonides Ma'achalot Assurot - Chapter 17 Hal. 32

Friday, April 21, 2017 improve one's character and make one's conduct upright...Maimonides.

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

The Torah compares the wholeness of a human being, to the tree of the field.

There are four general categories to all of creation. The inanimate, vegetation, animals, human beings.

Within the world and universe of a person, there is also these four categories.  Says the Talmud, a person’s greatest nourishment and being comes from those things that grow in the field, vegetation and trees. The person is identified most by the category of “the tree.”  One of the characteristics of a tree, is that as tall and as big as it grows, it is always deeply rooted and connected to the ground.

Within a person, his emotions play the role of vegetation. Emotions grow as a person matures, and are more deeply rooted in the ground of a person’s soul than even his intellect (the role of animal). That is why it is very difficult to change the underlying nature of ones emotions and much easier to change the way one thinks.

A person’s intellect is the animal category within himself and like an animal who has mobility and freedom to travel, a person through his thinking is able to put himself even in places that are against his very own nature.  

Although the edge of a human being over all creations is his/her intellect it is only when it has successfully expressed itself by making a mark on the emotions and through the emotions that the person has reached self-actualization.

 According to the Torah, a person is defined by the way they act – emotions/behavior, (compared to the tree) and not just by, how smart they are.

Vegetation comes, from a higher source in the spiritual worlds, than the human being, and “fell” here in this world on a lower level than the person. This is the reason and explanation why & how it is able to nourish and sustain the person who is on a higher level here in this world. 

The emotions as they express themselves within a person are on a lower level than intellect. It is however up to the intellect to influence and transform the emotions so the person connects and experiences the greater force and life energy within the emotions, and once the emotions and character are changed this will feed and define the person.

Within intellect itself there is also the four above-mentioned categories. It is only the purest and most sublime of thoughts that are not affected at all by emotions that can accomplish 100 % the above-mentioned goal of totally influencing the character of a person for the good.

“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."  Maimonides Temurah Chap 4 Halacha 8. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Miracles & Prophecy in OUR TIME. Mind blowing stories/lessons.

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

In the North, there lived a French Jew, Yehuda Ben Souson and as a result of a blessing he received from the Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson) through Rabbi Shmuel Azimov, it was born to him after ten years of Marriage an only child, a daughter.
At about ten years of age, the girl started complaining of severe pain in her head and after some tests, it was discovered she had a large tumor in her brain. Loi OLaini. Their only solution was to travel to Boston and consider their options once there.
The doctors in Boston offered two possibilities. One, to do an operation however, they could not guarantee she would awaken from it. The second option; leave things as is and she would last at the most another half a year.
The father immediately went to Brooklyn NY for a private audience with the Rebbe, and broke out in overwhelming cries.
The Rebbe looked at him and said, “When the month of Adar comes, one must increase in Joy and you came here to do the opposite??!  Who gave you permission to bring depression into my room”? The father thought the Rebbe was making light of the situation in such a difficult moment, and started to cry out, “this is the life of my daughter”. The Rebbe held strongly on to his position and again responded to the father. “And, is that how you intend to save your daughter, by bringing depression and sadness into the room, in the month of Adar?”
The father said, he is prepared to be joyous, but how is that possible. The Rebbe answered. “Adar is a month of Joy because ‘everything was turned on its head’; The Rebbe then turned his hands over from right to left and said, “turned over, everything turned over”.
The father left the room, and suddenly remembered he forgot to ask the Rebbe what to do regarding the operation.
The father submitted a letter, and the Rebbe answered through the secretary, he already addressed the issue during the private audience. The father did consider the words “it’s all turned over” but still nevertheless insisted on receiving a clearer directive. The Rebbe answered. “If he insists on asking, he should take guidance by asking a third Doctor”.  (The father only understood this entire exchange with the Rebbe later on.) The third Doctor advised them to go ahead with an operation. To the amazement of the Doctors when they opened the girls head there was no more tumor there. However, the operation had a great price on the daughter and she lost her ability to speak.
That Passover the family was staying with relatives in Flatbush NY and for the last meal of the holiday Moshiachs’ meal, they decided to walk to 770 Eastern Parkway and spend the meal as all Chassidim do with the Rebbe. During one of the breaks at the meal, the Rebbe called the father over, gave him two pieces of Matzah, and told him. “Matzah is the bread of cure and also the bread of faith. Give one piece to your daughter she should have a cure, and the other piece should be for you to have (more-deepened) faith. Your daughter doesn’t have to lose out because you are lacking in faith.”
Later on in the evening after Havdalah, when the Rebbe was giving everyone some wine, as the father was passing by, the Rebbe told him. “Normally the month of Nissan is a month of (energy for strengthening ones) faith, and then afterwards the month of Iyar is a month of (energy given to) cure. In your case however, “it’s all turned over”, and the cure of your daughter should not (have to) wait until you have faith. First she will be healthy and afterwards you will gain your faith.”
That evening, the daughter’s memory, and speech, came back to her. 


The following is a PS to a letter sent by the Rebbe.
“You write regarding the Jew from Bulgaria, who says he is waiting to see miracles and wonders etc. and then …..(will observe more) ….  tell him, that if he will look to his own past he will see many miracles and wonders, as long as he does not care to fool and dupe himself. And also, why would he want to challenge the Creator of the world and its conductor, that He, G-d forbid bring upon him, another time, to constricted straits, to a position of danger, and then have to save him! It is understood the fears there will have to be until the relief comes , when he was already in such situations in the past, and, was saved. It is only that the evil inclination is taunting him in order to keep him from fulfilling the commandments of the Creator of the World.
May it be G-ds will, you will “speak words from the heart that will certainly enter the heart” and he will go on the straight path, the path of Torah, our Torah, the Torah of Life, which is best for him, not only physically but also spiritually. –  This alone that I write regarding a Jew I have never seen, who was in the past in a very dangerous situation and was saved , this alone should be enough (to have proven a G-dly sign) that immediately, as he receives this message, he should begin to put on Teffilin, eat kosher, keep Shabbat etc. May it be G-ds will you will share good news regarding this.”
It’s incredible the open miracles and prophecy of the Rebbe in these two situations.