Tuesday, December 25, 2012

There is, a blessing, a prayer, and then there is a Blessing, capital B.

“Never take lightly the blessing of a simpleton in your eyes.” You really never know the power in the soul of another individual. Besides, at that moment it may very well happen that an Angel is listening and will throw his support to the blessing by responding Amen.

In the times of the Holy Baal Shem Tov there was a very simple fellow who earned his money by digging wells. Throughout the day he would review the five books of Moses and the entire book of Psalms which is all he was familiar with, by heart. The Baal Shem Tov said regarding this man. “Up in heaven they take seriously the opinion of this simpleton.”

The patriarch Jacob just before he passed away blessed his children, “each one according to what was their fate” in the future. In other words he didn’t create anything new for them. Through his blessing he merely helped bring about what was already theirs and in store for them for whatever reason. 

Instead of perhaps taking a much longer time for the good to reach them, by blessing his children Jacob accomplished the good would come faster and in a more revealed and noticeable manner.

This is the basic difference between a blessing and prayer.

In Hebrew the word blessing shares the same derivation as the word to “draw down” the branches. Specifically, it’s talking about branches of a vine tree that have already grown and are “pulled down” to the ground so they can form their own roots.

A person may have earned through his wise choices merit and positive deposits in his spiritual bank up in heaven. However for some other reason these positive energies have difficulty coming down to the person. Perhaps because of other not so smart choices the person has made. A blessing is a spiritual force and energy generated by the person giving the blessing to push this already existing good that it should reach the person so he/she can benefit and enjoy those dividends and rewards. 

In prayer, we ask, “May it be your will G-d, to cure the sick and provide for the poor.” It is possible that these individuals do not have in store for them to be cured or to have abundance. Their fate may be, to be sick so it can strengthen their faith and the faith of family members or to allow the opportunity that others can do good by helping these individuals. 

The power of prayer is such, especially when it comes from the heart and charity was given beforehand, that it can literally and actually change the fate of an individual even when it was not in store for them to be healthy or wealthy. Prayer is able to create a new will and desire on G-ds part to change His plan in favor of the one praying.

This is all as far as a person’s, blessings and prayers are concerned in the system G-d set up. 

A human being as great as he may ever reach is always finite. There is only so much he can accomplish in any realm. When G-d blesses however, since G-d is infinite and the source of everything, G-ds blessing is “an increase much greater, than the root of a humans blessing.”

How does one earn the blessings from G-d.

The Bible says, “I (G-d) will bless all those who bless you. (Abraham)” When someone blesses Abraham and his extension, which includes his children, they are guaranteed a blessing from G-d Himself.

Someone once asked Rabbi M.M. Schneerson for a blessing. The Rabbi responded. “When you will bless another this is the surest way for you to receive G-ds blessings because the bible (the word of G-d) already tells us “I will bless all those who bless you.” 

Bless another from your heart. Really feel it and mean it and this is the way to draw down into your life, in the most revealed way, goodness and blessings from the Almighty G-d.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dreams, Joy, Prophecy & Music.

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All of the Torah (the Bible) – has been presented by G-d to the world for it to be an eternal lesson of G-dly wisdom for all people in all times. There are an incredible amount of powerful life lessons from the weekly portion of the Torah (the five books of Moses - the Bible) that we are currently reading.

The Talmud and the books of mysticism tell us, dreams can sometimes contain a degree of prophecy and future telling. Joseph has these two dreams that he would become a master over his brothers. They really didn’t like the idea. One day, as Joseph was sent by their father to check up on the family, the brothers decide to sell Joseph as a slave.  Joseph ends up in a dungeon prison and Jacob loses his ability to experience the Holy Spirit.  A famine begins in Egypt, and after 22 years of being away from home Joseph becomes viceroy to King Pharaoh.

Jacob and his children, prominent wealthy people in the Land of Canaan hear there is food in Egypt, and they end up bowing down to Joseph, just as Joseph  had dreamt, in order to get provisions.

The brothers did not recognize Joseph and blamed each other for all the hardships they were going through, until Joseph revealed himself to them. They were shocked. Joseph tells them. “But now don’t be upset or angry with yourselves that you sold me to this place, for G-d sent me ahead of you to save your lives.”

Later on, after the death of Jacob their father, the brothers are afraid that Joseph may want to get even with them. Joseph tells his brothers. “Don’t be afraid, (that I will take revenge) for G-d only desires the good for you. Am I instead of G-d? (To decide unilaterally to punish you for what you did).” “You planned to do bad things to me (but) G-d intended for good – in order to make things like they are today, (where I am) keeping a great number of people alive.”

Let’s go through some of the powerful lessons in this short synopsis of a much longer story.

When a person has a dream that repeats itself, the Talmud tells us this could be an indication to take note of this dream.

“In the measure a person measures, so is measured for him.”  What goes around comes around. Jacob was away from his father (Isaac) and did not perform the Mitzvah - commandment and good deed to respect and honor his parents for 22 years. Jacob was punished that his son Joseph was away from him for 22 years.

Jacob was not as happy as he could have been,believing his son was killed by an animal. For that reason, he lost his capacity to experience the highest dimensions of G-dliness. “Strength and joy are in (His) Place.” In order for the Levites to channel G-dliness and the supernatural associated with G-dliness in the Temple, they played musical instruments to uplift and lighten their spirits

The prophet Elisha lost his prophecy because he was upset with the King Yehoram. “And it was when the musician played (for Elisha) and it came upon him the hand of G-d.”
For this reason, Joseph says the same thing to his brothers. “Do not be upset or angry.” “Depression is the emissary of the evil inclination to disturb and confuse a person in his G-dly mission. Slowly, it saps a person of his talents and stops up the faculties of his soul.”

No one can ever stand in the way of someone else’s destiny. The Talmud says, “A person cannot touch (affect) the canopy (destiny) of his friend.” Many times we would like to blame someone else for our lot in life.  This story shows us that even when the brothers tried to disturb and disrupt G-ds plans, they did not succeed.

Many more lessons but no more room.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The #8, Moshiach and Oil.

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The Torah-Bible informs us that G-d created the world in six days and ceased working on the seventh, the Sabbath. The number six can thus be said to represent the natural world that was created in six days (time) with its six spatial directions (east-west, north-south, up-down). The number seven represents G-d's immanence, the hidden presence of the Divine at the heart and core of this world.

The next number, eight, represents G-d's transcendence above and beyond this world. Chanukah happened from the level of "eight", that which is beyond natural law.

In Hebrew, the word shmonah (eight) has the same exact letters as hashemen (the oil), and neshama (soul). The number eight is also associated with the revelation of Moshiach – the Messiah. This is reflected in the Talmud which states, “the harp of the era of Mashiach will be of eight strands.”

And it’s all related. Oil, Moshiach, the eight days of lighting on Chanukah and soul.

All kings from the Davidic lineage were anointed however it is specifically and specially the ultimate king and redeemer of the world, who is called Moshiach. Moshiach, which literally means – the anointed one.

Oil and the Messiah-Moshiach have a very powerful and meaningful connection.

Oil represents and is associated with wisdom. Tekoa, a city south of Bethlehem, was renowned for its olive oil. The Talmud says that because the residents of Tekoa “where regulars with olive oil, wisdom was found in them.”

The Talmud says. “If someone should tell you there is wisdom in the world believe them. If someone should tell you there is Torah in the world do not believe them.” Many times people can know it’s bad to eat too much or engage in certain practices, but they will do it anyway.

The study of G-ds wisdom - our oil, the Torah, effects change in people. One of the characteristics of oil is that wherever it is placed it will saturate.

This wisdom, is imbued with an element and aura which surpasses the mind and is therefore able to accomplish eventually this change in those who study it. This recognition that Torah is G-ds wisdom, who allowed Himself to be understood only in limited measure, creates a very special approach to its study. One of reverence, holiness, and purity.

All this the Greeks were not able to swallow.  It was the oil and wisdom of the Bible, the Greeks were out to extinguish. They viewed the study of the Bible no different than any other philosophy and therefore saw nothing wrong in using impure oil for the light of the Menorah.

There was wisdom in the Greeks, however it was G-ds wisdom they were out to eradicate. The Bible which is G-ds wisdom makes its prohibited to use impure oil. The Greeks argued. Purity and impurity is beyond logic and cannot be rationally grasped. Therefore the Greeks did not pillage the oil from the Temple in Jerusalem they merely made it impure.

The prophet says that when the Messiah comes, “the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters fill the oceans.” Then, the light of clear and unambiguous wisdom will shine brightest. “The stones will shout from the walls,” all that it saw and heard throughout the ages. The times of Moshiach are associated with the best times for the Universe, because truth and clarity will reign. No more darkness, no more falsehood and confusion.

Moshiach is acclaimed as, THE anointed, with oil. This very special human being from the Davidic dynasty will usher in a grand era of the highest wisdom and light. Lighting the Chanukah menorah all eight nights and especially the 8th night of Chanukah, (this year Saturday night December 15, 2012 only when it is already dark outside) connects us with the deepest levels of our soul and the light within. This level of soul is the shine of Moshiach in each one of us. This adds more light to the world and brings us many steps closer to this wonderful and ultimate era for the entire universe.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Courageous ONE

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The Holiday of Chanukah begins Saturday night December 8, 2012 for eight nights. “Whoever observes the lighting of the Chanukah lights will merit children who will be scholars!”  WOW! What’s up with that? Let us go through some history.

The Jewish People entered the land of Israel and notwithstanding the many difficulties, about 400 years later the first Temple was built by King Solomon. During the times of the first Temple in Jerusalem which lasted 410 years, the prophets warned the people to improve their ways. Unfortunately ten tribes out of twelve where banished and lost from the land and then came the destruction of the first Temple by the Babylonians.

The second Temple was built in Jerusalem 70 years later under the leadership of Ezra the scribe. Ezra encouraged many to come back to Israel and many did return.

Living now in the land of Israel were the tribes of Judah Benjamin and the Levites which totaled a couple million souls. The Persians imposed their control over Israel and due to ongoing wars, after Alexander, the Greeks now imposed their influence and power over Israel.

About two hundred years into the second temple there was the Hellenization of the people. Strict observance of the Bible law was being compromised for the “forward” thinking of the times.  People’s attention were directed to the health of one’s body as the new “religion”. The Olympics, is one creation of those times.

The Greeks set up altars all over the land of Israel where they would offer pigs as a sacrifice something which is against the laws of the Jewish people. The Greeks claimed they had no problem with sacrifices as prescribed in the Bible. “But let’s be logical about it” they said. “Why and to whom, really, should it matter if it’s not being offered in Jerusalem in the Temple? Why and to whom, should it matter if the animal is not kosher?”

Most of the people caved in to the pressure. As the influence of the Greeks approached Jerusalem specifically the town of Modiin a priest by the name of Matisyahu the Hasmonean, son of Yochonan the priest, decided he would not give into the pressure.

Although the army of the Greeks where by far stronger, way more qualified and more numerous Matisyahu followed the example of Abraham, Gideon, Joshua, David and so many more in our history who were aroused by their inner soul and flame not to feel challenged  by what feels like the overwhelming power of darkness. Matisyahu understood that the light and flame of a G-dly soul can chase away much darkness, even when the darkness appears to be so vast and enormous. “Not because you are more numerous, but because I love you, says G-d.”

When Matisyahu was ordered to offer a pig for a sacrifice, he mustered the courage and killed the representative of this deviant and mistaken way for the people of Israel and was forced to flee to the mountains.

Matisyahu put out a cry, “Whoever is with G-d, (come) to me.”  His family and a small group of righteous, pure souls started to terrorize and fight this vast army. They fought with the slogan, “Who is like G-d amongst the strong.” In Hebrew the first letters of these words spell “Maccabee”.

Because of this powerful unwavering faith in fighting for G-d, the Maccabees miraculously overcame the vast army and established once again the untainted spiritual practices of the Temple. The rulership of the land returned back to the Jewish people.

“Observing” this Holiday means, looking into the lights and listening to their story. Remembering, that it is thanks to these few members of the Maccabees who would not cave in, that we celebrate our Holiday today. Remembering, that it’s not always the majority of people whom we should follow. Someone, must stand up for what is correct and proper. No matter how big the darkness, sticking with the G-dly path in itself is already the winning path, the path of light.

A home in which this light shines, is sure to have children that society will be very proud of.