Thursday, March 28, 2013

Messiah and splitting the sea

The last days of Passover commemorate the miracle of the splitting of the reed sea and all the Israelites passing through the water in 12 distinct paths on dry land. The bible tells us, the miracles at that time were even greater than those witnessed and experienced when going out of Egypt. “A maidservant saw at the splitting of the reed sea more than the prophet Ezekiel did in his time.” “Children were pointing at G-d and saying, “this is MY G-d and I will beautify him.”

The last days of Passover is also connected to the ultimate redemption with the coming of Moshiach. What is the connection?

Our sages, thousands of years ago tell us that everything a person has on dry land can be found in the seas. There is no basic essential difference between the two. Inside the waters there is a rich world even greater than on land, with an incredible and marvelous amount of various species of life. The difference is only to our eyes.

On dry land we see everything before our very own eyes revealed and open.  While, the wondrous life that exists in the waters is more difficult to reach, see and experience because it is hidden and concealed from us by the waters.

In this context, the seas represent concealment and a lack of revelation albeit there is a much greater reality there.

Openly, we only see the physical and materialistic side to things. Openly we know we are being lied to. These are the waters that conceal and cover the truth. The fact that the world presents itself as the ultimate and hides G-d from us is the greatest turbulent waters we can encounter.

With this thought in mind, splitting of the seas would mean opening up before us and uncovering the truth behind it all. That everything is really for the good. That there really is rhythm and rhyme to all the madness. The essence, the spirit, the real meaning that is mostly hidden from us becomes revealed. Instead of being fooled by what we see we appreciate and realize more apparently the G-dly spark and wisdom that is hidden inside.

This is exactly what happened with the splitting of the reed sea. The miracle was not only physical and the actual waters split at that time. Much more took place, and what happened physically was only a  mirror of what was taking place spiritually.  The curtain of concealment was lifted and so the infinite which is always present, G-d, became noticed. Seeing G-d, means seeing the wisdom in everything. Children were now able to see G-d as a reality just like they see their toys.

When Moshiach comes speedily in our days, “the honor of G-d will be revealed and all flesh together will see that it is the word of G-d that is speaking.”  “The world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d like the waters fill the seas”.

We will walk in the streets and we will constantly hear the uplifting song and music of the Angels who are continuously singing G-ds praise. That is why it will be a time of eternal joy and happiness, “Then our mouths will be filled with laughter, and our tongue with songs of joy.”

At the splitting of the sea this was a one time occurrence. With the coming of Moshiach, G-d willing very soon, this will become the normal way of the universe.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Birthdays, The Rebbe & Passover

As a devotee and disciple of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention a very significant day in the life and soul of our teacher and master, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson,

Our sages tell us that everything that is significant in one’s life, becomes the pattern of their soul forever. The soul of a teacher remains forever connected to his students and the important day of a birthday when a person’s soul is strengthened to take on the next leg of life’s journey, remains significant to the soul forever.

This Friday March 22, 2013 marks the Rebbes 111th birthday. This is an auspicious day for our own souls to be strengthened through our connection with the soul of the Rebbe.

The Holy Baal Shem Tov instituted the tradition to say daily the chapter of Psalms associated with the number of one's years. Students of a great teacher and master will say in addition to their own chapter the chapter in Psalms of their teacher as a way of praying to G-d for his wellbeing. This act connects and attaches the student even more deeply with their mentor and spiritual father figure.

This short chapter is only 10 verses long. In verse nine we read: "He has distributed, giving to the needy; his righteousness will endure forever, his horn (his strength) will be exalted with honor.” Chasidic teachings explain when one gives charity in a manner of distributing - the Hebrew word "pizar" is used here which more literally means "to scatter" rather than to give carefully, without any limitations - the effects of this charity are limitless - it endures forever.

Our Sages state, "Great is charity for it brings the Redemption closer."

The Lubavitcher Rebbe's concern and longing for the final Redemption was evident even when he was a child, as seen in the Rebbe's 1956 correspondence with Yitzchak ben Tzvi (the President of Israel at that time).

"From the day I went to cheder [primary school] and even before, the picture of the final Redemption started forming in my mind - the Redemption of the Jews from their last exile, a Redemption in such a way that through it will be understood the sufferings of exile, the decrees and the destruction ... And all will be in a way that with a complete heart and full understanding it will be said on that day, ‘Thank you G-d for chastising me.'"

The Rebbe’s dream and his lifelong dedication was and forever remains, redemption for the entire world from all its problems.

In the book of the prophets it describes the time leading up to the final redemption as birth pangs. It compares the moment Moshiach comes as the moment of his birth.

When a child is born it’s not just a celebration for the parents and friends, it’s mostly a celebration for the child himself. Although the baby had nothing to worry when it was in its’ mother’s womb, birth allows for the fetus to become distinct and independent.

In the mothers womb everything is provided without effort and therefore can never be attributed or credited to the child’s own effort. Anything we receive free  without working and struggling for it remains aloof and superficial.

Only by virtue of our own individual struggles and overcoming challenges have we truly grown and become something evolved and better.
Redemption for the individual is the result of their own choices. It is the reward in each person’s life for never giving up and always marching forward.

The Holiday of Passover is the power of freedom and redemption from all that constricts and restrains a person from reaching the fullest potential. By performing the G-dly act of eating the hand baked special Matzah, at least one ounce within four minutes, on both nights of the Seder, G-d promises us strength to experience freedom.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How to manipulate your Soul.

Inside of us, living in our bodies, everyone has a soul, a spark of G-d that animates every nook and cranny of our entire bodies. This spark, is who we really are. This is the real “I” “Me”.

This soul inside ourselves is granted three garments -- thought, speech and action. Through the use of these three tools we call garments, we express different aspects and characteristics of our soul. As a result of these expressions communicated through the “garments” people judge us, and rightfully so! It’s not always who we really really are, but it is how we have decided to let people outside ourselves view “us”.

These garments we choose to wear over our soul have the power to make us, either feel good or the opposite, just like cloth influence how we feel.  Although the soul is revealed through these garments, these garments never become one with the soul, and always remain an external instrument, with the possibility of either helping or hurting the essential nature of the soul.

In the same way that we can choose as we please the garments we don upon ourselves, the same is also true for the garments of the soul. A person can think, speak or act in line with his true nature, such as a rich man putting on rich cloth or a hard working individual putting on the appropriate clothing which honestly reflects his status. Or a person can decide to think, speak and act for whatever reason he has in mind not in line with his soul’s true character. Much like a poor person putting on luxurious clothes.

While it’s true a person does not get to choose the kind of body or soul they have, we always have full control over the garments of thought, speech and action we place in our lives and over our souls. G-d  gave everyone full control over ones soul garments and it is possible for a person to put on clothing not compatible or exactly reflective of his soul many times even at the expense of their own soul and many times to help improve and steer ones soul to a better place. A “dirty” soul always retains full capability to put on clean clothing, and a clean soul can always choose to put on dirty clothing.

A person can do (action) a favor for someone, even when his heart tells him to do the opposite. A person can say (speech) nice things, even when his heart feels differently. And in thought, a person can think positively, even when he is inclined to thoughts of sadness and hopelessness. While free will and total opportunity is always present to think, speak and do as a person chooses, it takes extra effort at the precise moment that it does not feel natural, to conscientiously and deliberately put on an incompatible thought, speech or action over  the soul for its’ very own benefit.

That is why the instructions and commandments to be moral, ethical and G-dly are satisfied always through the garments and not by the tendencies of the soul itself and its own essential characteristics. G-d expects us and rewards us for doing things that are within our power to fulfill. It would not be fair for G-d to expect something a person could not deliver. A person has full control over his garments, even against the feeling of his own heart or what he or she believes is a natural tendency of their own soul.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It all in your mind.

Kabbalah - mysticism makes it pretty clear; ”A person is his thoughts”. In the words of the Holy Baal Shem Tov, “In the place where a person’s thoughts are, there is where the person really is.”

The master key to all of your life is determined by what you allow your mind to think, and, “The mind is drifting, moving and thinking all the time.”

Inside each one of us - inside our bodies of flesh and blood - we have a soul independent of our bodies. A type of G-dly energy that is unique to humans. A pure spark of actual G-dliness that animates our bodies and is our true identity. This soul provides us not only with life as in the case of all living creatures but with many other exclusive soul powers. Our ability to think about our own existence independent of our bodies, the deep awareness and feelings associated with our emotions and the ability to make choices, are all from this soul. This soul has its own preprogrammed way of operating, similar to the body of every person that operates by a predetermined and for the most part fixed pathology.

There are many things that can affect or manipulate the body either in a positive or negative manner. The foods we eat, exercise or the lack of it, are some of the things that can seriously make a difference and change to our bodies.

Kabbalah explains that the soul inside our bodies, this pure spark of G-d with its own preprogrammed pathology, has its own ways in which it can and will be influenced and manipulated. This power to influence the soul comes in the form of spiritual garments to the soul.

The soul has three garments: thought; speech and action.

Why are they called garments? Because their relationship to the soul, is similar to clothing and the person who puts it on. For one thing, a garment is not the essence of a person. A garment, serves the person. One of the ways garments serve the person is by revealing and expressing the person. They are a form of communication. People judge us by the clothing we wear. The essence and character of a person is expressed in the clothing he or she decides to wear. Clothing, also affects and influences the person’s attitude and demeanor. We feel and think very differently when we are wearing expensive and classy clothing as opposed to cheap and “shleppy” clothing.

Through the medium of thought, which is always using internal letters and words, a person exposes their own character and true feelings to one’s self. The internal words of thought are like windows, or the style and color clothing of the soul. That is why the better a person’s vocabulary, the clearer a person will understand him or herself. Through speech, a person reveals his or her thoughts to the people around them. And through action, a person expresses his or her soul and character in this physical world. What a person decides to say or do speaks volumes on who they really are.

Also, like actual garments, the thoughts a person CHOOSES to place and clothe their mind and on their soul and humanity, whether they are positive or negative – will affect their feelings and motivations accordingly. Thinking, speaking and acting positive is not just how you communicate with others, it is also how you influence, manipulate and control your own feelings.

The first step in the donning of the three garments of the soul, and the first tangible expression of the soul that leads to the other garments is thought. The way a person decides to think, determines not only the world a person lives in as far is their mind and heart is concerned, even further, what a person exposes their mind to will determine how they speak and act concretely and physically.