Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blessings and Prayers

The Bible tells us that Jacob, before he passed away, blessed his children, “each one according to their blessing, he blessed them”. Now, what does that, mean??
On one level, we can explain, that every child is different from each other, and everyone has their unique way, and exclusive mission in this world. Jacob as a G-dly person, reading the characteristics of their souls, gave each one the blessing according to the blessing and the individual personality, as needed.
In line with what we just said, one of the commentaries explains, “Jacob, with his power of prophecy was able to see the future and gave each one, a blessing, in line with what was coming their way, anyway”.
This would mean that a blessing doesn’t really create anything. When a person has a blessing and a good thing, coming their way because they generated a positive energy as a result of smart choices, or other reasons. The bible is telling us, that a blessing adds strength, muscle, and force to draw down and move forward this energy.
This is actually what the word blessing means in Hebrew. Bracha - (the word for blessing) literally means to draw down. Like an existing vine branch on a tree, pulling it down to the ground in order to plant it in the earth.
While a person’s blessing only has the power to push forward what already exists, when G-d gives a blessing, this creates from the source, a goodness that did not exist before His blessing.
This power to create a new blessing from the source can be generated and created, by a person, through prayer. Prayer has that power. That is why in our prayers we say, “G-d, may it be your will…. “We are asking and beseeching you, to create the will for whatever it is that we are praying for.
A person is created in the form and image of G-d. Like G-d who can initiate new energies, a person through his power of prayer can create a new will and desire in G-d for things that perhaps where not in the pike before the person prayed.
When a person comes before G-d, “and my soul let it be like dust before everyone” in humility, and realize it’s a partnership, and no one can do it alone. This surrender to G-d, connects us to the source of created blessings in the world, and then with His help, we can create and initiate new and good things that until then, were not possible.
There is another way a person can initiate a new source for blessings, and that is when he blesses another person. The Bible says, “I will bless all those who bless you”. When a person blesses from his heart, another soul, and truly means well for him, this engenders G-ds blessings, which initiate from an infinite source, brand new supplies of goodness, for the person who gave the blessing to the other.

So during this happy season, don’t look in jealousy to the other. It won’t accomplish anything worthwhile and will hurt all involved. Let us truly wish well to each and everyone, and you will be helping the other person, which will spiritually help you, and will create the proper vibes for brotherhood between all people.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reaching higher than where we where!!

Jacob, the third of the patriarchs, is very concerned regarding his going down to Egypt in order to get food during a famine in the land of Canaan. G-d pacifies and calms him down with the words – “don’t be afraid of going down to Egypt – I will go down with you, and I will go up with you, go up”.

Throughout the ages, G-d assured Abraham, and the prophets assured the Israelites, they would be protected, and in the end they would be redeemed from their exiles. We say at the Passover meal, “Blessed is He, who guards His promise (to guard and protect). and it is this (promise) that has stood up (for us) to guard our forefathers and ourselves…”

What did G-d say that strengthened Jacob for the journey? Where do we see any power, strength and motivation in G-ds promise for all of us?

When a regular person makes a promise, as sincere as he may be at that moment, he now needs to carry out the promise. There are two stages, the promise, and its manifestation, which isn’t always guaranteed.

When G-d created the world the Bible tells us he did it in ten statements. “Let there be light and there was light”. “Let the ground give forth grass….” and so it was. G-ds statements don’t need a second stage for them to be carried out and materialized. The moment G-d verbalizes a command, that energy itself becomes the substance of the thing created. There is nothing that will stand in the way of its formation. At the moment G-d puts into words, and articulates His thoughts, G-d is already there where he intends to be, with no time lapse or hindrance in the way.

And here is what G-d was telling Jacob. I will go down with you, I am already there with you, waiting for you in your descent. You have me, the entire way down, and you have me there even before you come down.

G-d is the essence of good, and all that G-d does if for the good, therefore, going down when it is meant to be, is always with G-d, and we are not alone. It is part of G-ds plan, and is therefore part of some positive and good purpose. We have His help and assistance, even in the falling so that we don’t crush and break ourselves in the process.

It goes further. In the same way that I am already there in the descent, I am already there in the ascent.

If the only thing after a fall is that we return back to where we where, why go through the experience? What gain is there in all the hardship and difficulty? Therefore G-d is telling Jacob a double expression,” and I will go up with you, go up”. Your descent, when things turn out that way, is so that you should be elevated doubly, as much as a double expression of going up, higher than where you where before having fallen. The experience of falling, if viewed properly, always has planted in it – in advance to the fall, the seeds and potential of something greater than we would be or reach without the descent.

This is our true source of solace and support. Knowing that it is G-d who promised to come down with us and take us higher than we where before. This thought, this reality, not only comforts us in the fall, it gives us the strength and reason to pull ourselves out of where we are, to reach even further than where we where.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Humility and happiness

Chanukah is all about oil. The oil in the potato latkes and the oil in doughnuts. More importantly, the oil that miraculously lasted eight days instead of one day. In Judaism there is a basic teaching that we learn a lesson from every occurrence we experience in life, especially when it comes to such an important holiday like Chanukah.

Oil has a lot of what appears to be contradictory characteristics. On the one hand in order to produce oil it must be extracted by crushing and squeezing the olive. Oil, penetrates and makes its way in to everything. Oil doesn’t mix with liquids and gravitates to the top.

This is the lesson. Oil, is many times a metaphor for wisdom, since oil fuels light. The bible says a fool walks in the dark and a wise person shines with light. Oil wisdom and light; go all together, while dark and a fool, go together.

Oil is produced by crushing the olive. When a person is crushed he is humbled. Only humble people, people who have a place in their heart for others and are sensitive to others, people who have empathy and compassion, produce the fuel for light and wisdom. That is why in Hebrew the word for wisdom – Chochma, can also mean, “what am I”, a sign of humility. True wisdom is acquired only through the trait of being humble.

When someone has developed the characteristic of humility, the quality within oil they will be heard by others because others sense the modesty and unassuming nature that they possess. Like oil they will saturate and soak through. A person who is humble has influence, he is an example, a necessary trait to become a leader.

An arrogant person who thinks it’s all about him, he is smart and everyone owes him because he deserves the credit, someone who is full of himself chases G-d away from himself, and his ego is a source of darkness and foolishness. G-d says, “I and him (an arrogant person) can not dwell together.” An arrogant person obstructs his own path to receiving and to hearing. He places obstacles in his own way for acquiring knowledge.

Oil naturally gravitates to the top. The only way someone can really acquire wisdom is when they have acquired and live with the quality of humility. They don’t think they know it all. They appreciate that everyone has something unique in this world to contribute to the universe and so they learn from everyone. A humble person knows he must continuously learn, he looks out for all the lessons he can acquire on a daily basis and because of that, not only expanding his own knowledge, he learns to respect everyone and everything around him.

That is why on Chanukah we “…acknowledge and give praise to His great name.” People who are humble naturally express gratitude for all the good they have in life. They recognize the miracles G-d bestows upon them all the time and take nothing for granted. People who are grateful for all they have, people who know to count their blessings, the so many of them in their lives, are happier people.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Miracles in OUR time

Holidays are not vacations, even though that’s included as well. Holy days, are special segments of time imbued with exceptional spiritual characteristics. These unique days are opportunities to strengthen ourselves in extraordinary ways.

Hanukah has many dimensions to it. There is off course the celebration of the lights. A small jug of pure olive oil to last for one day, preserved with the seal of the high priest, was found for the lighting of the menorah. When lit it lasted for eight days miraculously, enough time to procure more pure oil from the hills.

The Greeks who at that time entered the land of Israel and the holy Temple, left lots of oil in the Temple for the Jews to light their Menorah. The problem was that it was touched by impure hands. The Greeks/ Hellenists were saying; we don’t care that you observe your traditions but don’t include practices that can’t be explained rationally. If it can’t be explained scientifically it is backward and unacceptable.

Purity and impurity is observed only because G-d commanded us to do so in his book. When we observe rituals that make no sense to us in a relationship, and we do them only because it pleases the other person, this truly displays our commitment and dedication to the other person.

When a person in a relationship insists that they must always understand what they do for the other person, it must make sense to me, we are in truth serving ourselves. We are using the other person for a relationship with our self. Only when we do something for the sole purpose of doing it for them, because that’s what they asked, then we have connected and tied a relationship with the other person, as they are.

The Jewish people at that time remained unwavering in doing those commandments that could only be explained as doing them, for G-ds sake, even though the mighty Greeks had put out strict decrees against such observances. This is the reason why G-d in his full glory responded in such a super miraculous way. The paragraph of thanks states, “you delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous etc.”

There is a rule in mysticism that states, ‘The greater the quantity the smaller the quality.” The more materialistic, the less it contains spiritual and G-dly qualities.

On Hanukah the miraculous prevailed and triumphed. Spirituality and G-dliness succeeded. Sure there was a big army and a strong people. There where the people who did things only that made sense. Then there was a small group of people, the Maccabees, not very strong physically but with faith in doing pure acts for G-d. The Maccabees motto was – “who is like you (G-d) amongst the powerful”.

In the end, it was the people who understood the limitations of their own logic and did not become overwhelmed by the mighty and the strong, because they depended and relied on their faith, they won the day.

Hanukah reminds us, that light, the true light, even if only the size of a small flame, will always prevail to chase away the empty and hollow darkness.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. It is no longer (and perhaps never was) a celebration affiliated with any particular religion or faith, although some in America celebrate with religious ceremonies. On a social level, it is celebrated by Americans of a broad variety of religious backgrounds.

The bible discusses one of the many sacrifices that were instructed in the Tabernacle and Temple. The thanksgiving offering, would be brought to the Temple by anyone who survived a life- threatening situation, such as a potentially hazardous journey or illness.

These days one fulfills this obligation by making a certain blessing before a quorum and publicly acknowledging G-ds kindness. The code of Jewish law recommends giving money to charity and making a special party so that others will also share in recognizing G-ds benevolence.

In the times of the Temple, the Thanksgiving offering, included flour which was used to bake 30 unleavened loaves with oil and 10 leavened loaves without oil. The sacrifice along with the 40 loaves had to be eaten in an exceptionally short amount of time- less than 24 hours.

Why does the Thanksgiving offering have to be eaten in such a short amount of time? And why does the Thanksgiving offering include 30 unleavened loaves baked with oil and 10 leavened loaves baked without oil?

The Bible wants to create a situation whereby someone saved from a life-threatening situation will not only appreciate his good fortune, but will share that appreciation with others. With so much food to eat in a short amount of time the individual bringing this sacrifice and expression of thanks will have to invite family and friends to share in his gratitude to G-d.

Another reason offered for the requirement to eat the sacrifice in one day. EVERY DAY, if we only look out for them, there are lots of reasons to offer thanks and gratitude.

As for the symbolism behind the unleavened and leavened loaves, Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch elucidates. He explains how the leavened loaves (which rise and puff up) represent growth and unrestrained freedom. The unleavened loaves represent basic food, and the oil with which they are made is associated with well-being. Together the unleavened and leavened loaves show the idea behind the Thanksgiving offering.

The person has just emerged from a restricting, dangerous situation to an unrestricted life (leavened loaves) and now he must show recognition and gratitude (oil). He must realize that he owes everything - his food and well being (unleavened loaves) - to G-d. This recognition that we owe our very existence to G-d is done publicly. The books of Mysticism tell us, this act encourages G-d to continue his blessings of abundance to us.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

THE, way that works.

There are many schools of thought that influence how we deal with the negative aspects and challenges in life.

Let me begin with an example. You live in a house where a loud animal, doesn’t belong to you, so killing it isn’t an option, keeps on making all this noise. You can keep on driving your self crazy with the imposition and disturbance in your life, you can try to turn your mind away from this challenge and ignore the nuisance, or you can take on the challenge and harness its energy by perhaps becoming friendly with its owner, or even friendly with the animal.

When people are faced with bad patterns and habits in life, let’s say, being easy to anger or a weakness in discipline pertaining to eating habits, there are various ways people address and take on these issues.

One way, is to endlessly recognize and concede to this weakness and bad habit, and somehow try to fight and control the constant invasion and assault on your peace and harmony. This keeps you constantly aware and entangled with the negative, and ultimately you are always attached to what you would like so much to free yourself from. In the end, you will never gain the upper hand and it leaves you drained.

A second way would be to understand, that in the process of fighting the problem head on, you are wasting time and energy on a never winning proposition. You try another method, to divert and distract your mind away from these preoccupations so you can dedicate your life to your goal more purely. Instead of dieting all the time and fighting the cravings, you focus on living a healthy lifestyle.

A third way, is to recognize, everything in life is planned and planted by a benevolent G-d. All that G-d does is for the good, and a person should always be accepting of those things that appear bad and negative, for the good.

Whether it’s not being rich enough, craving food all day, being short, or being angry, there is something there in this energy, which could be redirected for the good. So, the anger turns into an energy and force to accomplish positive things, and the cravings for food becomes an opportunity to become a food critic etc.

When a person finds a way to turn all of life encounters for the positive, and in this faith, is accepting of everything that comes their way, besides not wasting an opportunity for the good, this person is never jealous, doesn’t need to compare themselves to others, and never needs to feel “successful’. He is not lacking “success” to feel fulfilled. In this belief, every day doing ones own very best, becomes a source of great fulfillment, and satisfaction.

This third method of dealing with life is obtained through the learning of Chassidus, an offshoot of the study of Kabbalah.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How to earn a Kosher living

A simple soul once traveled to Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl. Before departing he explained to the Rabbi, how he rises early to buy merchandise from the farmers and returns home to do his morning prayers. The Rabbi condemned such behavior, but the fellow excused himself saying that if he did his prayers first, he would be unable to buy the merchandise.

Rabbi Mordechai then told him the following story:

"A young man supported by his father-in-law was forced to find additional means of support when his family grew. He left home for three years and earned money as a teacher, saving every coin he received. On his way home he reached a small village and realized he did not have enough time to reach home in time for the Sabbath so he decided to stay at a motel. Having no other choice he left his bag of money with his host. Throughout the entire Sabbath, he worried about his money. Immediately after the Sabbath he requested his money back and counted all the gold coins and was happy to find nothing was missing. He then continued to shake the bag. "What are you looking for?" the owner asked, "Is something missing?" The guest told him that he wanted to make sure that this one copper coin was there as well..."

Rabbi Mordechai concluded. "Look at this man's silliness. After seeing that all his golden coins were returned to him, he still suspected his host of perhaps stealing one copper coin.

Every night, you entrust G-d with your soul. When you wake up in the morning, he returns the gold you have given him. How is it then that you still worry whether G-d can and will provide all that is necessary for the day after you have thanked him and done your prayers in the morning?"

The Bible says that a person must remember that it is G-d who brings a person any success, and one should not attribute it to his own doing.

A person who feels he must engage in ungodly doings to earn a living, or must compromise his principles, does so because he thinks that it is himself who generates the livelihood. If one truly believes that the entire universe was created and is constantly vivified by G-d, and that G-d provides everything in our lives, he would work only because G-d has commanded us to do so and therefore it is unthinkable that following the directives of G-d in other areas of life would stand in the way of G-d providing.

“One who has created the day, also created for each person his livelihood.” “One who has food for today, yet worries what he will eat tomorrow, is lacking in Faith”. Blessings and success come from above, the only thing necessary on our part is to make our effort within reason for G-d to bless our effort. One who is overly involved in his livelihood is compared to a person who sews clothing for himself that are too long, causing himself to trip and fall.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


There is only one way for a person to experience a joy that once attained is forever, and that is by being a soul person.

The kind of joy and happiness that knows no limits must be connected to the energy that has no limits and is infinite i.e. the soul, G-dliness. Living with soul, identifying with the spark of G-d within, liberates a person from the vicissitudes of an ever changing world and the limited existence of the physical.

G-dliness is spiritual, but for many people spirituality doesn't necessarily mean G-dliness.

For many people spirituality is anything they can’t see or touch with their five senses. To be sure, intellect and emotions are spiritual but many times they are not G-dly.

G-dliness, is the state of connecting with and emulating, living by the standards of the creative positive force that is the credit to this existence.

The Talmud says a story that once a fellow by the name of Nachum was traveling to Rome. On his way at an inn, the innkeeper emptied his box of diamonds and jewels he was bringing as a gift to the Caesar and exchanged them for stones and dirt so he would not immediately realize what happened. When he came to the ruler and presented the gift, the Caesar wanted to kill him for being offensive. Nachum’s reaction was not focused on the surface of what was going on, but he already trained his eyes and heart to see deeper, to the source that makes everything happen and he thought, “this too (all that happens and is orchestrated by G-d) is for the good”.

The Talmud continues, the stones and earth turned into a valuable resource for the king, miraculously.

Mysticism explains that because Nachum lived on the level of the soul, his own and that of the world, he always saw G-d in everything and was not fazed by surface appearances. He was able to connect with the spark of goodness that is in everything and through this attitude draw out the good to the surface.

A G-dly person understands that there is more to life than what meets the eye. Life is not about money and more cars and a bigger home. Yes a car can serve the purpose of G-dliness, but the pleasure of a car in itself is hollow and empty.

A G-dly person understands, life is not of the body. Living on the level of a body he would be no different than an animal.

A person who is G-dly manifests and exhibits the G-dly character traits of humility kindness, care for others, a desire to improve and make things better for others and a clear understanding of right from wrong. A person of this sort, strength and joy is his lot. There is meaning and purpose to everything, which brings self confidence. This person knows and feels, “ G-d is with me and I shall fear nothing”. This, is true Joy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

True Joy - Soul Joy...

There is a Chassidic saying, “Joy breaks all boundaries”.

The Talmud recounts a story that once a great sage in the marketplace encountered Elijah the prophet and asked him, “Was there anyone who was assured his place in the world to come?” Elijah answered in the negative. Meanwhile, two brothers entered the marketplace and Elijah pointed to them saying, “They merit the world to come.” The Rabbi walked over to them and asked, “May I ask, what do you do?” They answered, “We are joyful people, and we make those who are sad happy. If we hear about an argument, we make peace using humor between those quarreling.”

What does it mean to be happy, and how do we achieve this?

First, let me make a clear distinction between pleasure and genuine joy. Unhappy people, looking for joy, run to a good restaurant or movie or take an extravagant vacation to boost the happy hormones, but . it doesn’t work. They get fatter, wasted time and money, and eventually get back again into their old rut.

Pleasure is temporary. The real McCoy – long lasting – deep happiness and joy is an experience and a state of being where superficial experiences are irrelevant. That’s right, it almost doesn't matter what’s going on, on the outside, when true joy is attained.

Occasionally, a ramp that can lead to inner joy, or can draw out and enhance true happiness is when we are enjoying ourselves on the exterior superficially. However that experience must be one that is connected to something deeper than just doing it to “feel” good.

The world, i.e. materialism and consumerism for the most part can only offer the temporary sort of pleasure and happiness. More stuff does NOT equal more happiness. By its very nature, the property of physical existence is fleeting. It has a time when it (or its style) came into existence, and it has a time when it ceases to exist. Someone who only lives in a world of money and existence is “always” bouncing from one thing to the next, hydroplaning on the surface, with small or sometimes large drops and empty holes in between.

So what’s the answer? Where’s the real joy?

In the Book of Psalms, written by King David, he tells us, “Strength and joy are in the place of G-d ..The joy of G-d is your strength…and Strength and joy are in His place.” There is no escaping this. Real inner strength and moral fortitude; real genuine long-lasting, deep-reaching joy is in G-d, and pursuing a G-dly life. Living a G-dly life means imbuing our lives with the character and wishes of G-d.

King David had it all. After all, he was a wealthy individual with lots of power at his disposal. Yet, he also had a lot of challenges. Family, close confidants and neighbors continuously confronted, defied and challenged him in every single respect. A man who had it all teaches us, “Don’t put your trust in princes in the son of man.”

Inner strength, one that lasts under all circumstances and is never extinguished; true joy, comes to a person who lives a life connected and influenced by the spark of G-d within, the soul. Only by living a soul-driven life can a person be truly joyous and happy.

To be continued…

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why is life sometimes so difficult and challenging??

Many times, just when we finally make up our minds to move ahead in life, to move in the right direction, we are challenged with more difficulties, struggles and obstacles. Abraham, at 75 years old, accepts his first real mission from G-d, and on his journey towards Israel to fulfill G-d’s commandment, he is confronted with a famine. His wife, Sarah, is abducted and taken prisoner by the Pharaoh of Egypt. How is it, that you couldn’t find a more spiritual G-dly couple, committed and willing to do what’s right, and they are rewarded by encountering such hardships?

Why is life sometimes so difficult and challenging? Can’t G-d leave us alone?

By nature, when things are too easy, we tend to sit back and become comfortable. Lighting the proverbial fire underneath us, for most of us, is the only way to get us off our backs. Challenges force and push a person to bring the best out of them. That’s just the way it works.

Mysticism discusses the nature of this Universe as being inherently kind and good. When G-d decided to create this world, there was no one to deserve or earn His kindness, and He did it anyway. “The world was created with the attribute of kindness.” That means that even if something appears going downwards – a descent, it must be part of a process of going upwards and getting better, since G-d is good, and all that he does is excellent, with no inadequacies or deficiencies.

If someone is to be honest with themselves, they will acknowledge, only G-d really knows what is truly good and/or bad. Many times, we experience negative things, and we discover they were the catalyst for something very positive. How many people lost jobs only to find better opportunities? Many times what we thought was positive became the reason for something very negative. How many people won lotteries only to curse the day they won all that money? Our scope of vision is finite and limited, and in truth, we can never be sure what is truly good and what may be truly bad for us.

When a person relies on G-d’s infinite wisdom and goodness, by developing his/her muscle of faith and trust, we are catapulted in an entirely different way of viewing the world and our lives. A person who understands that the nature and character of the world is inherently good and a blessing from a source that is positive, benevolent and trustworthy; and develops this faith by using his intellect to strengthen himself, then he never encounters problems. Everything in his life must be another occurrence and experience presented as an opportunity for something positive.

Abraham and Sarah where chosen by G-d to go on His mission because G-d knew they understood this concept and would seek and search the bright side and the kernel of good in all that they would encounter. And so it was:the famine led to being sidetracked towards Egypt, which brought to the kidnapping situation, which and led to the great gifts Pharaoh lavished upon Abraham and Sarah. They literally became exceedingly rich from their travails.

This is the lesson for all of us. We must train our minds, and then our hearts will follow to always see the blessing – or at least have the patience and faith to eventually see in all that happens in our lives to be a blessing. When we look out at life this way, we are guaranteed to quickly see the good in all that happens, and life actually becomes better!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fear and doubt - defeating traits.

The Bible instructs us to take three steps when entering the Land of Israel. They are; we must nominate a king, eradicate the tribe of Amelek and build a sanctuary.

All the commandments/instructions in the Torah-Bible are a lesson to each individual in his own small world. “The world was placed in his heart.” Our own lives are a microcosm of the world at large.
Once a student came to his teacher and said he wanted to go to Israel. The teacher told him, “Make your own environment an Israel.” Everyone can and must make his own little world a Holy place where G-d would be comfortable to dwell.
When the Bible commands the Israelites in the wilderness to build a sanctuary, the words are, “And I will dwell in them.” It does not say “I will dwell in it” but “in them.” Our sages tell us, this comes to teach us that everyone can and must make out of their own lives a sanctuary for G-d to dwell in each of our own lives.
How exactly do we accomplish that? The first step is to establish a king. A king is the ultimate arbitrator and judge. A person must not allow himself to be swayed in every direction he is blown into. There must be an ultimate value system and authority who rules in a person’s life.
Emotions are very scattered and fragmented. The mind, in which the G-dly soul resides, is considered the king in the life of a human being. We must be aware of our habits, our desires, our pressures in life and with our mind decide, is this choice good for me or not. Is this decision in line with my values and goals in life?
The next step is to eradicate the evil tribe Amalek. In Hebrew, this word has the same numerical value as “doubt,” and the word itself can also be understood as meaning cold and unenthusiastic. The moment a person establishes a king in his life comes around this nuisance and negative energy that cools our enthusiasm and creates doubt. Then questions start cropping up: Maybe it’s not right for me; maybe it’s not the right time; maybe it’s too much for me; maybe I will fail at this and look like a fool. Anything and everything to dampen our progress forward.
Therefore, we are told to eradicate this pest. Where do we find the strength to do that? One of the very important statements in the Bible that in the merit of reciting this verse, the soldiers were assured to win their war is, “Listen Israel the Lord our G-d the Lord is one.” FAITH. The knowledge that G-d is everywhere and he is the same one in the war field as he is back home. He is the one that made each one of us and gave us the mission and guaranteed us success. Strengthening our faith is the antidote to cold, confusing doubt.
Enthusiasm, is faith manifested. Excitement, passion, zeal and zest come from a mind and heart that knows failure is not an option. If any soldier had fear he would be sent home because “fear is the beginning of defeat.”
Once a person’s loyalty and commitment to his king – his values and his mind is established and fear, doubt, coldness is eradicated by strengthening one’s faith, we come to the last step and that is building a sanctuary out of our lives. How is that done? King Solomon tells us, “in all your ways know him” and “all you deeds should be for the sake of heaven.” By infusing all that we do with a G-dly purpose, we make our lives a dwelling place for the miraculous and blessings.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ever wonder??? Who really is in control??

Unlike all other creatures that are only body, human beings have a G-dly soul which is independent from the body. The soul, our identity, operates in this materialistic, physical world through the body which has its own life force, which we call animalistic. It is animalistic because like animals, it thinks only of itself and self-gratification.

This is the perpetual struggle all human beings face, which truly spiritual, G-dly people have successfully overcome. The truly spiritual, G-dly person is in control of his body and the animal within. For most of us, however, we are pulled in different degrees by the body and its enticements without even thinking whether it’s going to be good for us in the long run or not. When that happens, the body is in control and the mind has succumbed. When the animal within draws us into its world of selfishness and hedonism, it leads ultimately to depression and loneliness.
In depression, a person has allowed himself to become victim to his own emotional, narcissistic drives. For many people, although they complain and are unhappy with this victimhood there is a certain comfort and syndrome to this situation.

For some, when they are depressed, they have something to blame for their failures. It’s a way to get attention; it’s an excuse not to be productive; and it’s a way to manipulate others. Remaining a victim is never good, it means allowing yourself to be controlled and YOU are out of control. People who are depressed have surrendered control over their bodies to the body and its drives. In truth, we have a G-dly soul, our true identity as human beings, that operates through the mind, and the mind inherently has more power over the animal.

G-d gave us animals not so that they should rule the roost. G-d gave us the tremendous physical strength of the animal so humans can leverage that strength for their human G-dly goals. The reason why G-d put a mind over the rest of the body is so that we should think and use our G-dly gift -- the ability to independently think about our lives, before we make every and all decisions related to our bodies. A person is in charge, liberated, and healthier and happier, when the mind is in control.

When the body steers a person towards superficial, skin-deep endeavors, ignoring the “soulful” value-filled endeavors, we have a very unfulfilled and empty life.

Depression is a bad habit, and after awhile it may even be noticed by a chemical imbalance in a person’s body, but habits, as difficult as they are to break can be reversed. It requires sincere desire to change direction in life. You can’t eat whatever you want and lose weight. I know that’s what people would like to believe, but it’s not possible. In order to develop a change in present circumstances, the current conditions need to change completely. Not necessarily cold turkey, but a new map needs to be drawn with a new sense of purpose.

The first step is always the hardest, but it is the only way to change direction. A good habit to regain control is to constantly remind ourselves, “I, am in control.”

My choices, which I am making constantly, cause the results I have in my life.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

is self indulgence the answer???

The national institute of mental health claims more than 26% of all Americans over 18 years old to be mentally depressed! One in four adults! That’s a lot of unhappy campers. :( Is this a state of existence we are forced to suffer with or is there a better way?

In order for a person to make the most out of their lives they must be happy. There is an expression “G-d does not dwell but only where there is Joy”. You want the power of G-d, the power of your own soul to burst it’s brilliance in your life? You need joy and happiness. One of the reasons for music in the Holy Temple was to elevate the spirits of the Levites while serving G-d so they could be good conduits for the blessings to be drawn down.

Depression is a negative harmful energy G-d created within, to test and strengthen us. Its’ force like all the negative forces within is mainly form and no substance. For the most part, a person who grew up and is surrounded by people with a faulty perspective to life will have caught the influence of this negative energy. The first step is to recognize the characteristic of this destructive energy.

Let’s take the root of depression, arrogance and a selfish, self absorbed person. Our society is all about what can I; get out of … whatever it may be. What’s in it for me and how will it serve me. This has its’ extremes, but even on a low key level let us consider the ramifications of this attitude.

This person believes he DESERVES to be happy and friends and family owe it to him. Everything is going in one direction and that is towards himself to serve him. Besides the fact that he is in for a big bad surprise and everyone in the world doesn’t “owe him”, this is a good prescription to become very lonely in life.

Because he is so self absorbed he thinks of himself and not others and the fact is, if you don’t serve others no one will serve you. Expecting always to be served will leave the person totally disappointed and disillusioned. Depressed - dejected and disheartened.

This person thinks life should be perfect, because he is perfect – arrogance, - which can lead to acute compulsive disorders, anxiety when subconsciously he faces the realization that he may err, and fear and doubt that he may not live up to the picture he has created of himself in his mind.

All this is a figment of the person’s imagination and not rooted in reality. The worst part of it all is that this faulty attitude perpetuates itself. Once we have trained our mind to see something in a certain way we seem to find more and more tidbits of information that support our faulty conclusions.

Being depressed is being a victim to the unbridled animalistic emotions within, which is self centered.

The solution – be happy. Not from another beer or more jewelry. Happiness comes when a person is internally fulfilled. The soul – the G-dly spark within needs an outlet, a channel to express itself. The G-dly spark within wants to create good and spiritual worthwhile endeavors like G-d did when he created the world. The G-dly spark wants to be able to think like G-d and not be inhibited by the coarse pleasures of the body.

When a person begins to align their bodily lives with the unique G-dly purpose we where put in this world to accomplish, happiness and joy starts flowing. Blessings and strength starts finding their way in to this person’s life.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A habit of this will make YOU HAPPY

One of the great sages once said, the evil inclination within is more interested in the depression we get after we do something bad than the bad we did. Depression is one of the grand tactics of the evil force within, to steer us in a bad direction.

Everyone is prone to making bad choices every so often, and to fail is to be human. Machines can be incredibly accurate however, they don’t realize when they make a mistake. Realizing we made a mistake is a sign of our humanity, and it signifies we know bad from good which is a good thing.
Despair after having done something foolish or wrong is a tactic of the evil within to bring us down and stand in the way of any self-improvement. Despair, melancholy and depression suck the life out of us and are the opposite extreme of joy and happiness that opens the gates of our soul to inundate and flood us with life and energy.

There is no reason for people to feel shame and humiliation when they are depressed because just like every so often people catch a cold. In the same way, the blues is a built-in challenge that we can overcome, no different than the feeling to push the snooze button in the morning. This is true for the overwhelming population who suffer from the blues and/or worse yet, depression.

Depression is a result of a person’s arrogance and selfishness, traits of the animalistic human nature when left unrestrained. Someone who is self-centered and thinks how he can get more out of the world for his selfish pleasures, is arrogant and haughty and thinks everyone owes him something. This is a most important cause for depression. Arrogance can sometimes be very crude and other times it can be subtle. People of this sort are into themselves and eventually this attitude puts a person into a very small and unstable world. They become psychologically lonely, isolated and separated.

A great Rabbi once said depression is a cheap excuse for avoiding one’s purpose in life and having a purpose in life is the best remedy for depression. Having a purpose in life means thinking about giving of one’s self to help someone else, be it a family member or anyone else in the world. It means sacrificing of one’s own time and money and appreciating the value it presents the world and as a result grants them.

Unfortunately, being surrounded constantly by marketers of products and consumerism, we are constantly being fed messages that compare us to others, trying to make us feel inadequate and needing to buy more things as a source to find happiness. But more things are not the answer. As a matter of fact, the focus on more things is what makes us increasingly less happy. It is a superficial cream -- an immediate shallow treatment -- that feeds further unhappiness.

Happiness and love aren’t things you can ever acquire by thinking more of how you can serve yourself. Gladness of the heart and contentment are the direct by-products of doing the right things.

Three of the right things are: to practice humility; think of others; and think of why G-d made you and gives you the miracle of life every time you take a breadth. Guaranteed, if you make a habit of the above, you will become a much happier person.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Addressing depression

The more we feed and give in to the body with its drives and passions, the more we are nourishing the animal soul within the body, and the more we must suffer all the consequences and penalties the body will create for us. Self gratification turns the body into itself, which is a very lonely place to be. Making a habit of giving in to bodily wishes brings anger, constant hunger to fulfill our desires and allows for control of the body over the spirit.

The body is heavy and lazy and is no different than an animal; after all it is motorized totally by the animal soul. The spirit of G-d within, is light and fulfilling, rewarding, meaningful and purposeful. One of the very painful situations the body will put a person into, is depression and sluggishness. Depression is the ultimate control of the body over the spirit. As a matter of fact, a depressed person has no energy or spirit left in him since it’s been totally blocked by the drives of the body. Happiness and internal joy is the spirit driving the body.

The following are four methods mysticism utilizes to address the condition of negativity in one’s life, especially depression, by shifting away from the bad and/or discovering the good or transforming the bad to good.

Depression ( in its’ many degrees) is a negative force since it takes the life away from a person. The following four steps must be done with the help of an outsider since there is a rule, “A person cannot untie his own knots.”

The first method is the weakest one and applicable to the right person at the right time. The depression is still there but a positive use was found for the depression which allows for the beginning of a small crack of light to shine into the person’s life.

It is to use the depression against itself as a handle to knock out the depression or better yet the depression itself is used against itself.

Depression, if carefully directed, can be used AGAINST those elements in life that a person should truly be unhappy about. This is temporary since we are dealing with a poisonous and harmful energy which should be avoided.

The second method is based on the axiom, “everything comes from a positive, G-dly source”. Depression started out as either frustration over a worthwhile desire or some other positive reason. We trace the negative back to its trigger and source and we sublimate the negative outcome, namely the depression, by addressing the positive need.

For example, if a person was frustrated over a lack of validation in life at work or at home, which is a perfectly healthy need and desire, once the validation is addressed, the depression will be for the time being eliminated.

This method can temporarily ignore the propensity to feel depressed, but potentially it’s still there should the problem recur.

The third method is completely shifting, focusing and training oneself through habit to ignore the bad and to focus entirely on the positive in life. Here again the bad is still there but not being allowed into this person’s consciousness.

The last and most powerful step which transforms the depression into joy is an understanding and developing the faith and trust, that all G-d does is for the good. Things that appear in life as challenges are disguised goodness. This attitude transforms all the bad in one’s life. Everything becomes only positive and good.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bottle neck issues

There is a constant conflict between the G-dly soul, which is intellectual and thinks objectively, and the animal soul, which thinks instinctively and impulsively.

The animal soul, who animates our bodies, draws us to the desires of the flesh. The G-dly soul, who shines through the mind, keeps on reminding us to do, not what feels right, but what is right.

The G-dly soul inside the body, our identity as human beings, is life itself. The body which is heavy and lethargic conceals and hides this inner soul. We need transcendence to rise above and go beyond the wants of the body in order to successfully allow the soul to express itself.

To live life, real life, not just the body being alive, a person needs the unhindered and unimpeded flow from the soul. However, as the soul coming first through the intellectual mind tries to make its way down to our heart and emotions and to influence the rest of our body, encounters bottleneck traffic. This is the shape and form of the narrow straights that exist between the head and the heart namely the neck.

Pharaoh was a wicked king over the land of Egypt, who kept the Jewish souls in servitude. He was assisted, the Bible tells us, by three servants, the butler, baker and butcher.

In Hebrew, the letters that spell “Pharaoh” can also mean the neck. “Egypt” in Hebrew can also mean constraints, and the first letters of the three servants spell, impure.

Mysticism explains that in a person’s neck, his Pharaoh - constraints, there are three major vessels corresponding to the three above servants. The baker is represented by the esophagus, the butcher is represented by the carotid artery and blood vessels and the butler is represented by the trachea. These three servants symbolize the resistance in the neck, between the head and heart.

The bottleneck that holds back the influence of the mind over the heart, and gives the heart and emotions in which the animal soul expresses itself, strength to resist the intellect are these three vessels. When a person continually indulges himself in physical enjoyment for its own sake, like eating – the baker – or is immersed in general pleasures, the butler – and identifies all his enthusiasm and heat of the blood in materialism - the butcher, it will strengthen the pharaoh in the neck to keep the soul in bondage.

When a person lives in order to eat and to enjoy, and his focus in life is materialism, the blockage is fortified. The more a person is into materialism, the more he is desensitized from intellectualism and G-dliness, and the animal soul is strengthened

When a person learns and gains the habit to ignore these impulses and instead of living to eat, he eats in order to live, as King Solomon says, “someone who guards his mouth and tongue, (this person) guards his soul from harms and troubles.”

That is why the Jews had to run away from Pharaoh. A person must escape the clutches of this terrible pattern. The more a person gives in to a bully the stronger the bully becomes. When a person allows himself to be manipulated by the commands of his own Pharaoh and his attendants, the more he gives in to materialism and reinforces these habits, patterns and strengthening of the body of flesh, the more difficult he makes it for the soul and the mind to be successful in influencing and harnessing the emotions.

To be continued….