Thursday, December 19, 2013

2 GREAT stories.

Two stories. There is a plan and a virtuous and noble purpose behind everything that must happen.

Once a fellow came to see the Grand Rabbi of Apta. He told him, that his entire life he made a concerted effort to always earn his livelihood from the sweat of his own brow. He never turned to anyone for handouts or assistance because he recognized the importance and virtue of living off a person’s own hard work.

Now however, he was already becoming somewhat older and it was more difficult to work, and he had two more daughters to marry off. He didn’t have enough money to pay for the two weddings and certainly didn’t have enough money for a dowry. Recognizing that everything comes from the blessings and good luck of G-d, he was seeking a blessing from the Grand Rabbi that some opportunity, a lucky break, should come his way so he could earn a living and pay these expenses without having to accept from anyone.

The Grand Rabbi of Apta told him. “Heaven is upset with you! You desire to rebel against the Master of the Universe!  Let me explain. There are souls in this world who have no other merit to protect their own soul but the fact that they help others, in their time of need. G-d desires that these souls also reach their complete perfection and wholeness. Now G-d who is the cause of all causes will sometimes direct matters in such a way that a person with a worthwhile purpose will be forced to turn to these otherwise pitiable souls for assistance, and by them helping this worthy cause, their souls are redeemed and brought to a certain level of perfection.

And, you, are hesitating and declining to do this.

I therefore instruct you to travel to the cities you know where these people are, and that way you will help their souls with this huge merit and great good deed, of helping to marry off a bride in need.”


Once there was a little town and it had its’ own humble Doctor.

Many times when the residents where not well and felt they weren’t sure what to do, they would go to the local Rabbi for advice. After all, the Rabbi had all the wisdom from the Torah, G-ds Bible, so certainly he would give them the best guidance.

After a while the local Doctor started noticing a trend with the Rabbis advice. The rich residents who could afford to pay full price where sent to the big city to visit the fancy and expensive physicians, while the hard working lower class residents, were sent to the local Doctor.

The Resident Doctor, decided to confront the Rabbi for an explanation. He was just as qualified as any Doctor in the big city, and why shouldn’t he also have the chance to receive the revenue from these better paying patients?

The Rabbi explained.

“For whatever reason G-d decides, when a person gets sick and encounters problems, sometimes, part of the equation, is how much effort and energy must the sick person put into the sickness before he can get better.

If I send you the rich patients who I know must spend more to get better, it will take so much more time until that happens, since you are local and it doesn’t take all that much time and money for each visit. By sending them off to a farther place, and therefore paying more money towards their sickness, they get over their quota faster, and are able to put their problem behind them sooner.”

Everything we feel sometimes forced to do has a reason behind it and it is always for the good of everyone involved.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Respecting one's Parents.

We are all familiar with the commandment to, “honor your father and your mother….” This is one of the few commandments in the Bible, G-d promises reward in this world. “… In order that your days are lengthened...”

To what degree are we obligated to respect our parents?

Our sages point out, that a person should always appreciate what has been done for him, and not be ungrateful. He should therefore take to heart all the energy and effort his parents have exhausted in raising and nurturing him and show them appreciation.  This will also habituate the individual to focus and pay attention to all the good that G-d bestows upon him.

The commandment to respect one's parents is so great, that in G-ds eyes it is considered equal to the respect and honor required to show G-d Himself.

Our sages instruct us, "Even if one's parents takes his pouch filled with golden coins and throws it into the sea, in front of his eyes, he should not shame them, nor shout, nor show anger in their presence. Rather, he should accept the decree of  G-d ('Honor your father and mother') in silence."

We learn to what extent one must go to respect one's parents, from Dama the son of Nesina, a commoner from Ashkelon. Once, while sitting in the company of Roman noblemen, his mentally disturbed mother approached him, tore off the gold-embroidered silk cloak he was wearing, hit him on the head, spat in his face, and took a shoe and hit him. Despite all this, he continued to sit in silence. Moreover, when the shoe fell from her hand, he lifted it up and handed it back to her.

On another occasion, there were those who wanted to purchase some precious stones from this same Dama the son of Nesina for the breast plate, the high priest would wear in the Holy Temple. An offer was made to pay a huge sum of money for these very hard to get precious stones. Dama,  turned down the offer because, the key to the box which held the precious stones was under the pillow of his sleeping father, and the box with the precious stones was under his  father’s legs.

The Talmud says, G-d rewarded this Dama with a very rare animal in his herd. From the sale of this animal, Dama made more money than what appeared to be the year earlier a  missed opportunity.

The great Rabbi Tarfon, treated his mother who was a very short woman, with such great respect, that whenever she wanted to go to sleep, he would bend down, allowing her to climb onto his back and into bed. Likewise, whenever she got out of bed, she would step down onto him and then onto the floor.

Rabbi Tarfon once came to the house of study to speak from personal example on the subject of, honoring ones parents. Rabbi Tarfon’s colleagues told him. "You have not yet reached even half of the honor required to show ones parents. Has your mother ever thrown your wallet into the sea in your presence and you did not shame her?"

One Sabbath, while Rabbi Tarfon's mother was walking, her shoe straps tore. Rabbi Tarfon placed his hands on the ground so his mother could walk upon them, step by step, until she reached her bed.

Whenever Rabbi  Yosef heard the footsteps of his mother, he would say, "I shall stand, before the approaching footsteps of the presence of G-d." (Who commanded we respect and show honor to ones parents.)

No matter how ones parents behave, a person never has the right to be disrespectful to his parents.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Is it a Dog eat Dog world?

“For the leader, By David, a psalm. I have put my hope in G-d, He turned to me, and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the dark pit, from the slimy mud…Happy is the man who puts his trust in G-d, and did not turn to the arrogant, and followers of deceit…”

This past week I was introduced to a business, “power” book.  I was told it’s quite popular and on amazon it ranks pretty high. To me it seemed more like a book on how to deceive people for one’s own selfish benefit and promotion, no matter what. When a person lives in a dog eat dog world, the fastest, strongest, animal wins. The question is, is this world really, a dog eat dog world?? And, if you succeed to devour others, have you really won?

Rashi one of the foremost commentators on the Bible explains the word “slimy mud” from the psalms above, as the type of mud that sucks one into it. A mixture of earth and water that pulls and draws anything that falls into it.

Earth, represents all that is  physical, dark and heavy. There is a tangible sense of self in earth, it doesn’t move, and says, “Here I am.”

Water is a metaphor for G-ds wisdom. It flows from on high and gratifies all that is low. Everything grows, with water. In true wisdom, one becomes absorbed in the new insight and understanding, and the self is nullified in front of the new awareness. A person is endowed with new perspective and true growth. An expanded and improved character becomes the new reality.

People are made of both spiritual and physical. We all have a spark of G-d within, which is essentially the wise intelligent wisdom of G-d that is nurtured and drawn out into our bodies and lives, by studying G-ds wisdom in the Bible and its commentaries.

We are also made of bodies that are made coarser every time we feed and satisfy the desires of this body. The sense of self becomes all the more manifest and prominent and everything begins to revolve around me. In the end a person who feeds the body as a primary concern, becomes very small, in his own small dark and heavy world.

Pursuing exclusively the desires of materiality in itself is pretty dangerous, mixing into this shortsighted and misguided pursuit, wisdom, just enough to give consistency and body to the loose earth, creates a slime and mud that magnifies individuality, and  is a recipe for making a person’s situation  all the more worse.

People get sucked into this way of thinking and behaving. Mixing the earth with some water, covers and sucks in, all those who pursue this mentality in their own small areas of existence, separate and fragmented from anyone else, to struggle for more and more, in the never ending dark little corners of their own places in the mud.

On the opposite side of this mentality is what King David describes as one who is happy, because he does not turn to the arrogant and people of deceit and has placed his trust in G-d.

He lives in the same world with the same body. Earth and carbon is still very real and tangible, but it is the water, the wisdom of G-d and the spiritual which is his focus. Instead of the water serving the earth, he uses every opportunity to have the earth become permeated by the wisdom of the water, so it isn’t slimy mud.

The world is fragmented and disjointed when one lives in slimy mud. When the focus is soul, something much more fluid, larger and more brilliant than the corporeal, unity, strength, wisdom, happiness and light are just some of the positive results.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The power for each one, from the observance of Chanukah.

A Jewish holiday is not just a day off from work, or a day to be inspired and learn a lesson from a past historical event. In its truest sense, a Holy Day is a day that is inherently different than the days before or afterwards. A Holy Day is by its very nature an energy that is unique to this holy day, when compared to any of the other holydays, or even when compared to the same holyday as it was experienced the last year, or the year to come.

By the practices and observances of a holy day that were instituted by the Bible, and or by our great sages, we get a small glimpse and a feel for the amazing opportunities and strengths afforded by the holiday.

For example, when someone tells you to handle an item with extreme care and sensitivity, to wear gloves so you don’t cut yourself, and to keep the item away from frozen substances that might melt. Although, you’re still left in the dark regarding the exact description of what it is you are holding, you begin to get an idea, what it is you are holding and what it may be able to be used for.

When the Chanukah lights are lit, we are instructed to sit by the lights for at least a half an hour. Great mystics tell us, it’s to hear and listen to the tale each candle has to communicate with us every night. There is something very powerful being transmitted, for those who kindle and watch these special lights.

The code of Jewish law tells us, “the candle of Chanukah must be placed, at the door towards the outside… and if one lives on an upper level, they must place it by a window, towards the public domain.”

A candle is made with physical ingredients. We are fulfilling a G-dly deed, generating a charged energy, but it is accomplished not just through our minds and heart, with imperceptible elements. The ultimate goal, is taking and using the physical materialistic components all around us, as an ingredient and a main element in serving G-d, to create spirituality.

Chanukah comes from the root word of dedication and education. Education and dedication are essentially the same accomplishment. Both actions begin and start off something new.

The rule on Chanukah is that we must add a new candle every night. No matter what was accomplished up until now, a new day means a brand new chance to learn more, to do more, and dedicate ourselves every day to a fresh new start, notwithstanding how much was accomplished up until now.

Setting something down, is giving it a place to settle. We are not allowed to light the candle and then move it from one place to the other. Where we light the candle is where it must remain.

Our routine in life can’t be on a shaky unsure platform where things shift from one moment to the next according to the whims of society.  Life and its routines needs to be permanent and on solid ground.

This realization of the above must be at the door towards the outside. Our obligation to ,”love our friend like ourselves” means, sharing this great lesson with as many people as possible outside your home, out in the public.

And if someone feels he lives on an upper level, and it is not befitting, or his time is too valuable to help others, he too must find the window to reach someone on the outside in the public domain.

The Talmud says, “I have learnt a lot from my teachers, and from my colleagues, but I have learnt most from my students. ‘ When a person dedicates himself to help others, he is helped first and more than even the people he is attempting to help.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The G-dly Man & a Humans weaknesses.

Between the years 1745 to 1812 lived a very G-dly person, Rabbi Shnuer Zalman from the town of Liadi, in what was then imperial Russia. While the majority of people have a “per-owned” soul, in other words, it was once before, here in this world, and is now in your body to complete its mission, this Rabbi, had a brand new soul.

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov - master of the good name, summoned the parents of this Rabbi ahead of his birth, so they could prepare themselves accordingly. The Baal Shem Tov also gave very specific instructions how to rear the child from the moment of birth.

He displayed extraordinary talent. By the time he was 8 years old he wrote an all-inclusive commentary on the Bible, and at his Bar Mitzvah celebration he delivered a discourse concerning the complicated laws of astronomy, to which the people of the town granted him the title "Grand Rabbi.”

Rabbi Shnuer Zalman was falsely accused of subversive activities - on charges of supporting the Ottoman Empire, since he advocated sending charity to support Jews living in the Ottoman territory of Palestine.

In 1798 he was arrested on suspicion of treason and brought to St. Petersburg, at which time he was subjected to an examination by a secret commission.

The day he was taken to prison from his home, in the infamous “Black Chariot” was a Friday. The Rabbi asked the wagon driver to stop for the Sabbath. The driver ignored his request and was forced to stop, when the axle of the wagon broke. The axle was repaired and one of the horses suddenly died. In the end, the driver asked permission from the Rabbi to proceed to the edge of the road for the 25 hours of the Sabbath.

Ultimately he was released by order of Paul I of Russia who personally came to visit the Rabbi in his cell disguised as a regular officer, but the Rabbi nonetheless identified and sensed the Czars presence.

Rabbi Shnuer Zalman established the Chabad way of serving G-d. “Mind by its very nature has control over the emotions”. The Rabbi authored many teachings, guiding his students with knowledge, tools and techniques to apply this rule in practice in order to make a person, a more refined G-dly individual.

Once, a student came to Rabbi Shnuer Zalman for advice regarding a libel against him. Rabbi Shnuer Zalman advised him to buy at the market, the best horses and the best chariot and that he should ride around the palace of Czar. He should refuse to sell the horses at any price. However if anyone asks to purchase the horses on behalf of the Czar, he should offer the horses for free, as a gift to the Czar.

So it happened, and the Czar was incredibly impressed with the free gift. The Czar looked into this person and discovered the libel was false and freed him from the accusations.

Rabbi Shnuer Zalman explained. Everything the Bible tells us to do, or not to do, is because otherwise without these rules as humans, G-d knowing our nature, we would have a tendency to hurt ourselves.

G-d tells us once a week to rest, because otherwise we would never know when to stop working. The Bible says not to steal, because people have a tendency to sometimes take what’s not theirs. The Bible says to pray every day, because people might forget where their blessings really come from, and, they might not connect with their inner resources of strength.

The Bible says, a King should not amass a great number of horses. Said Rabbi Shnuer Zalman, from this I deduced, that people in power lust for horses, and “it’s with this fact of awareness, I derived the plan, “how to”, enter the czars’ weak spot to help this individual.”

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The case made, for the inequality of the man and the woman

So, I’m listening to this professor of biology and director of a very prestigious genome institute. The discussion was all about men and women. Are they equal or are they not? This professor thinks they are not, and scientists got it wrong.

Well, as we discussed last week, it won’t be the first time. Science is always in the process of discovery. Nothing in science can be absolute. As the machines change and people discover new things, different conclusions are reached. The word in the Bible on the other hand is the product of an infinite G-d, who foresaw all that would happen and included in His wisdom, everything that will forever be necessary for mankind. G-ds signature is truth and everything in the Bible is truth. Truth doesn’t change.

That is why Maimonides writes, “this Torah – Bible, will never change.” Anybody who thinks the Bible is antiquated and lacking, denies what the words inside the Bible say, and which has been transmitted throughout the generations, “And G-d spoke to the Israelites… before each single one of the nation..’

There are over 10 trillion cells in a person’s body.  The nucleus of each cell carries 23 pairs of chromosomes which carry the DNA, hereditary info, and execute all the necessary functions. All 22 pairs of the chromosomes in both men and women are identical except for one chromosome pair in the male which is an XY pair and in the female it is an XX pair.

Most scientists and biologists believe that this one difference between men and women is restricted to the reproductive tract and apart from this area in the body everything else is equivalent. Men are identical to each other 99.9% in their genome, and the equivalence between men and women is 98.5 %.

The question is. If men and women are so similar to each other, how come for every man with rheumatoid arthritis 2 to 3 women will be affected? How come for every girl with autism spectrum disorder, 5 boys will be affected? How come for every man with lupus, 6 women will have the same disorder?

Another example.  Men will die younger than women with dilated cardiomyopathy.

This professor asked his colleagues for an explanation and most give him the answer, “ I don’t know.” When pushed further they will say, perhaps it’s the fault of the XY chromosome or hormones.

His “theory”, is that the difference between men and women is not just limited to the reproduction tract, but on a fundamental level within each cell and all over the body, Men are different than women.


Thousands of years ago the Bible already describes to us the difference between men and women. G-d created people “in the form and image of G-d.” Humans are a reflection of the spiritual, manifestations of G-d Himself.  “From my flesh I perceive G-d”  says the Bible.

A spiritual person will know all that is in humans, because G-d attests to the fact that He created humans in His Image. And a more corporeal person gets a hint of what’s up with G-dliness, by studying the form and functionality of the human existence.

“G-d did not create even one small creation for naught.” Although there appears to be so many similarities between men and women, mysticism tell us they are fundamentally different. Men think differently than women, and women experience life emotionally, very different than men.

Men are designed to be more of a thinker and aloof, and women are designed to be more nurturing and supportive of each other. Men are physically stronger and naturally attracted to the beauty of women, and women are physically weaker and attracted to the ability of the man to provide.

It’s all in the Torah, and I ran out of my allowance for words.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How to be REALLY happy.


This past week I was listening to an interview with this world renowned psychiatrist. He is the author of many self-help books that have sold in the millions. He runs a special clinic, and many have been helped by his unique treatment. The premise of his cure is to treat mind disorders, like that of depression without medications, using cognitive therapy.

In this interview he speaks of the importance to identify the grossly exaggerated and distorted negative thoughts, recognizing and isolating this self-inflicting damaging energy and containing its detrimental effects.

All this makes lots of sense in the eyes of the Torah as well. The evil inclination, the inner soul put there to test and challenge us, only has its power through lies. G-d is truth, and his Bible is truth. Dealing and living with truth, means living and dealing with the way things really are, and in the long run will always be helpful to a person.

Through the power of forgetfulness which temporarily makes us forget the truth, and through the power of lies and exaggerations, the evil in the world is brought to life and flourishes. That is why when we speak of the future times, the Bible says, the spirit of impurity will be lifted from the world and all will see and recognize “the truth”. The opposite of truth, light and joy, is the sprit if impurity, darkness and depression.

This psychiatrist is saying in this interview, that after decades of practice, he has come to discover the power of motivation, which may be even stronger than, identifying the dark and destructive thoughts.

So years have passed and now he realizes that there may be another approach which brings even better results. HELLO?

The Bible emphasizes again and again the greater strength there is, in faith, trust, and optimism.  More than anything else, the greatest positive blessing in a person’s life, the channel that opens everything that is good, is a focus on what’s good and uplifting, as opposed to getting involved deeper in the dark thoughts that bring a person down.

The expression repeated again and again, is that it’s easier to get rid of darkness by putting on the light, than it is to chase the darkness out. “A little light dispels much darkness.”

Another speaker, a Health psychologist was saying in a speech, she has “a decade of demonizing stress to redeem.” Something she had been teaching for the last ten years may be in truth more harmful than good, in light of “her” recent scientific discoveries.

She had been teaching all those years that stress is harmful to our lives. 43% of the people who thought stress can kill actually died, while those who didn’t think so, where no more likely to die than anyone else, all things being equal. The “new” science of stress teaches, that how you think about stress matters.

If we decide to see stress, not as harmful, but a sign for our bodies to respond to a situation with greater attention, if we see stress as being the trigger to activate positive results, we can actually gain from stress rather than be hurted by it.

HELLO? Once again.

The Bible teaches us that there is nothing in the world that happens by itself. It’s not possible for anything to happen without G-ds intervention. And since G-d is the source of all that is good and kind, “all that G-d does is, for the good.” Or the other expression is, “this too is for the good.”

Everything that appears stressful and worrisome is merely a test. It is up to the individual to interpret the stressful occurrence in the positive, and then the outcome is a greater individual than before the stressful event.