Friday, May 30, 2014

Man and woman or somethin else !?

The fourth book of the bible, for which the entire book is called, the book of numbers, begins with the command, to count the entire congregation of the children of Israel, agreeing to their (tribal) families.

Our sages explain many reasons why G-d would want a census of the Israelites in the wilderness.  One explanation, is to show His love for every individual, and by counting each soul, every person, this brought out the distinction to the unique mission and purpose of every individual,  and gave the strength to carry it out.

There are many ways in which to count and take a census of a people. Every tribe could have been counted separately and then a grand total made of all the members of each tribe. Alternatively, every person could have been counted without any affiliation to any other associations. G-d in the bible specifically instructs the connection of the count to be made “according to their families.”

This portion in the bible is always read in the synagogues before the major Holiday  - Shavuot, which commemorates the receiving of the Ten Commandments. This command emphasizes the importance   G-d attaches to the family, always, and especially as related to becoming a G-dly receptacle.

A family according to G-d in the bible, consists of two souls which are inherently two halves of one soul, who are very different from each other in their characteristics in their functioning and in their individualistic directions. When these two souls come together and are in harmony with each other, this accomplishes the new and greater personality and strength of a healthy family unit. Each one in their own uniqueness complements and perfects the other to create this most important unit – the family.

 G-d commands Moses to first present matters of the Torah the “House of Jacob” which we are told is a euphemism for women, and only afterwards to the “children of Israel” which refers to the men. The women are, the HOUSE of Jacob, because they are the principle element and what defines a home. There must be the input of the woman, and the leadership of the man.

Abraham and Sarah, two different individuals, started the Jewish people  when they came together and dedicated themselves to the same mission.  “They called out – G-d is the Creator of the Universe.” They started together, the movement of monotheism. Abraham instilled the faith and belief in the men and Sarah worked with the women.

When G-d created the world, the combination of the first human existence, is Adam and Eve. “Male and female G-d created them and blessed them and conferred upon them the name – man” – i.e. human existence.

There is a reason why nature can only produce people through the togetherness of a male and a female. This important duo,  isn’t just  a one-time event, but  the nature of every cell within a person. Every healthy cell includes and represents this combination to make and be a healthy person.

Children as they grown up need the environment and atmosphere of a father and a mother. The strength and leadership of the father and the softness and nurturing of the mother is the necessary balance needed to pursue a well-rounded successful satisfying and happy life.  Any other combination as a setting for a child cannot raise healthy children, and is unhealthy unnatural and therefore ultimately counterproductive.

The desire for self-actualization, to reach the individual potential and get out of life all of its potential is only through the unit of the family when a man who is very different from a woman blend together – to form the family unit. The count of the people emphasizing “their families” is to teach us that a G-dly people is created, functions properly  and is on its way to blessed things  only when the family unit exists and fulfills its role.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Are you a crowd pleaser??

In the book of the prophet Isaiah, he says, 20:5, “Woe to those who say, bad is good and good is bad, light is dark and dark is light, bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.” People, who look at depravity and immorality in the eye and say, “it is good.” They are tempted by debauchery and self-indulgence and call that light, and the bitterness of those choices, they call sweet.

I was talking to someone the other day about the “blinders” strictly orthodox and Hassidic Jewish people grow up in. This lady friend was telling me how sheltered and protected from the outside world these kids are. No internet, no Facebook, no Television, no movies.  How would they ever learn to deal with the realities of our world?

I asked her, does she think children should be protected at all from negative influences? How about viruses and bacteria? Shouldn’t the children learn to deal with the realities of this world? How come they set up this drug free areas around schools, and movies are rated?

The answer is pretty simple and obvious. Children haven’t developed the inner strength and wisdom to know right from wrong and haven’t developed enough muscle to fight it off when it is identified.

That’s what parents are for. To not only protect the child until they are old enough, mature enough, and strong enough, to deal with all the negativity in the world, but also to raise and cultivate children that will know and distinguish between what is bad and what is wrong.

If a child is exposed to sickness it will become sick. If a child is fed poison it will affect its physiology one way or the other. If a child grows up in an environment of violence and jungle mentality he/she will be a violent jungle person. It’s all confused.

There have been many studies that have shown there is more violence, like fighting, kicking, punching in comics than there is in grown up shows. The ads on all the social sites and pop up advertising are more and more provocative. The average person is exposed to all this and the negative news, an average of 5 plus hours a day!!! Dirt in. More and more of it, day in and day out. No wonder we have a violent angry society.

No more creative thinking, no more playing with friends and developing social skills, and added  violent stimuli from electronic games and watching more of the tube.

If a person sees a provocatively dressed individual on the street which calls for attention that could only lead for the most part and at best to nothing worthwhile, it gets the shrug of the head if you’re lucky. But if it’s 100 degrees outside and a Hassid is walking with his old country uniform, because he has principles in his life that are worth sweating for, that is called “extreme”?

There has been a study lately that claims, the biggest fear people have is, “what will the others, think of me.”

We are a society where no one wants to stick out like a sore thumb even if it means that the others are sugar coated in immediate gratification that leads to poisonous outcomes, while the sore thumb will not disintegrate into broken up families, children in jail and drug attics.

Unfortunately, if someone stands for something different, no matter where everyone else is heading, the oddball is always regarding as an oddity and eccentric.

The proof is in the pudding. The profusion of modern technology, ADHD, anxiety, fears, a confusion and muddling of values and morals. Or, an alternative.

The question is, are you strong enough to take this other path that leads to better results, stronger family units and much greater happiness.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why did G-d make it that way?? What’s the purpose?

Our souls existed, before it was sent down to this world to dwell in a body of flesh. The soul existed close to G-d in a blissful reality. No worries, no bills to pay etc. It was surrounded by the radiance of G-d and heavenly delight.

Life was good in Jerusalem while King Solomon reigned over the land in the times of the Temple. Everyone “lived under their vine trees”, wine and the good life was plentiful. The wheat kernels were as big as human kidneys, and people saw openly, miracles of G-d in the Temple.

The body, makes it very difficult for the soul to carry out its spiritual yearnings, and the “exile” present way of living, presents all kinds of temptations and challenges to living a purposeful, meaningful life. Everyone seems to be caught up in the attractions of the present moment. Bigger houses more extravagant vacations…

Since G-d is the intelligent force behind everything and His wisdom is imbedded in His Torah-Bible, what might be the reason G-d created this kind of a situation? It is difficult to recognize spiritualty and G-dliness in the world, it isn’t always apparent that doing the right thing always brings good results, and sometimes the opposite might be the case!

The answer is, a soldier doesn’t always see the whole picture during the war. Real loyalty to the commander is proven when orders are followed even when it appears irrational and counterproductive. When a person follows the correct path, not because he sees clearly how this will bring the right results, but because he has faith in the commander, and out of the integrity of his character that involves a continuous effort to develop, decides blindly, to choose right from wrong, this is the mark of true dedication and loyalty.

It’s written; the Angels requested from G-d, the commandments and the opportunity to serve G-d be granted to them. G-d said to them.  It’s no big deal if you were to follow these instructions.  Humans who have the inclination to do evil and choose the right path, humans in this world who are constantly tempted against the will of G-d and still nevertheless choose to follow G-ds commandments is to whom I want to give my commandments. They, have a real challenge to overcome, and they, can prove something to me, that you Angels don’t have the ability to demonstrate.

In the same way that the purpose is fulfilled, not up in heaven by angels but by human beings in a body down here in this world, G-d allowed for all the concealments that get darker by the day to exist, and come into being. Only out of the darkness comes, not only an appreciation for light, but an actual greater brightness that would not be produced had there not been this darkness and difficulty.

In the end, G-d assures us, when you choose the path of life, “the rains will fall in their proper times and…… I will lead you upright….”  Although upfront and superficially it is sometimes difficult to see the positive returns in following the right path, with only a slight effort and some patience it becomes very clear in not much time, that the only way to live a blessed life is to follow the one G-d has instructed us.

To rest once a week on the Sabbath with the family, to follow a dietary discipline of eating Kosher, to start and end the day with a prayer and focus, to wash ones hands before eating and coming out of the bathroom, to make a blessing and offer thanks before and after eating, just to name a few examples, actually creates a better deeper more positive experience to life.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The way up to the Holy of Holies.

The Bible tells us, life is a journey. Starts, when we are born, and shifts when we leave this world. G-d commanded us to build a sanctuary so He could dwell in our midst. According to the Bible, G-ds glory filled the whole world before it was created. G-d so to say, contracted Himself in order to make room for this materialistic world which conceals G-dliness, so that we humans introduce Him back into the world. Sounds almost like a game. It’s G-ds game, and we are the players in it.

This sanctuary G-d commanded us to make in the wilderness of our lives, was constructed from the contributions of the people’s possessions, 15 products in all. Gold, silver, copper, wood, precious stones, skins, wool, linen, etc… People who want bigger and deeper lives, are expected to take what appears as their hard earned wealth, and consecrate it to a higher and greater cause than mere selfish gratifications.

The sanctuary had different levels of Holiness beginning from the immediate area surrounding this sanctuary, leading all the way up to the Holy of Holies, where incredible, phenomenal miracles, took place on a regular basis.

In the courtyard of the sanctuary there was a wash basin. This served as the first concrete step on the mount, in ones ascent to Holiness. The wash basin literally, and in each individual person, serves as the transference from the worldly and mundane pursuits, to a more holy directed path. When a person realizes the transient nature of all that is in this physical world, and finally directs his interests towards a more meaningful and eternal existence, the first step, is to wash oneself from all the spiritual dirt that has attached itself to one’s body. Mentally, emotionally, physically, to clean away all that drags a person in the direction of vanity and narcissism.

Now, the person was acceptable to offer a sacrifice on the altar. The offering of an animal included the sprinkling of the blood and the offering of the animals’ fat. Slaughtering an animal meant draining its’ blood out. Blood is the warmth and the life of the animal. As long as the animal within, is fed and kept alive, there is no offering. Only when the animal is made lifeless and cold by drawing out its’ blood and further dedicating that too, on the altar of G-dliness, is this step fulfilled. The fat of the animal represents the pleasure of the animalistic drives which requires redirection towards more transcendent and spiritual goals.

Once a person disengages and detaches himself from the world owning and controlling him, and he is focused on holiness, the next steps forward was into the grand hall, where the incense altar, the menorah candelabra, and the show bread table were found.  These three articles where entirely in the spiritual domain of holiness.

The incense altar was this profound connection with G-d, which created a beautiful aroma, when the last remnants and residues of anything bad within the person, is elevated on the golden altar. The menorah was the act of spreading light and G-dliness into the world. When a person studies the Torah, G-ds wisdom, and through his study unites with G-ds wisdom, he becomes a conduit to channel new light into the world.  The bread table represents the absorption of this knowledge into one’s life, and the person shines in all his deeds.

The Holy Of Holies, where the greatest miracles in one’s life take place, is the highest one can reach and still remain human. This is reached through the sacrifice of the self in the worship of prayer, as a servant petitions and beseeches his master.