Tuesday, March 31, 2015

the Antidote for Addictions- Depression-lack of self esteem, purpose, meaning.

We are approaching the 11th of Nissan - March 31, 2015, Birthday of Rabbi MM Schneerson the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rabbi Schneerson dedicated his life to two primary objectives. The study and dissemination of Chassidus, and the bringing closer of the final days - Moshiach. As his student, I dedicate this essay in the hope that I can in some small way help in that effort.

Chassidus Chabad is an innovative and ground-breaking revelation of G-ds wisdom – Chochmas Hashem, in every area and in particular when it comes to understanding the psyche of the human being as a reflection of G-d – Tzelem Elokim. Chassidus, offers a deeper and broader appreciation of life, our reason here in this world, and an understanding on how our lives work. This knowledge automatically makes life more meaningful. Each and every life has an enormous impact and influence on the entire balance of the cosmos.

Chassidus is a life philosophy. A precise and detailed manual to create an extremely happy and satisfying life, when applied seriously.

There are many many areas of psychology, emotional well-being and practical conduct, the wisdom of Chassidus illuminates, and serves as a guide in our lives. Because this essay has the broadest reach in mind, and I will stay focused to this constraint and share with my readers on a very basic level, some practical benefits available through the teachings of Chassidus.
The wide spread problem of addictions, depression, anxieties, hopelessness, aimless existence, obsessive compulsive behaviors etc.

Addictions include any and every practice that becomes an obsession (obsessive) in someone’s life at the expense of other important responsibilities and duties, which then, a person finds difficult to separate from. Addicted could mean the pleasure of having a verbal power play over a spouse. Addicted could include the self-serving feeling of a high, when getting angry. (Addicted and obsessive for this purpose is viewed similarly.)

Why was the person drawn in to this behavior to begin with? Is it just a bad habit with a pleasurable pay off?? What brings a person to be addicted and how can one help himself become unhooked?

An addiction at its core is the desire to fill a deep inside yearning of the soul that feels an emptiness. A sense of lacking, a vacuum, an absence of personal satisfaction and fulfillment in one’s life. People lacking self-esteem and purpose. People lacking an appreciation for the greater purpose of life, are attracted and will turn to the superficiality and/or the immediate quick fix and satisfaction offered by, what turns into an addiction.

Addictions are expressions and outgrowths of a deeper sickness inside, called, the mindless Ruach Shtus (spirit of folly) of the yetzer hara (animal –evil inclination). One’s mind is hijacked, rendered useless and non-functioning, and in this arena, the emotional drive inside gets the person running like a rat on a treadmill, responding illogically, senselessly, to the incitements of a world that offers no depth, but only superficial stimuli and pleasure to quickly fill the emptiness inside.

G-d is inadvertently or intentionally left out of the equation of life while we are blinded by the neon lights of “the moment”. We become mere atoms of existence, and cheap immediate pleasure, drunkenness joy, seems like a solution to life’s discomforts and pains.

This blunder, leaves the inner essence as empty as always, feeds further, feelings of self-guilt, more sadness, anxiety and depression.

Terminal illness, and chronic pain, can certainly put one into a tailspin of hopelessness and despondency when a person is left with more questions than answers. Loneliness, and (what appears like) injustices of life all add to an agony, which hunts for relief.

The aim of world, the “world of concealment” “the world of lies” is to hide anything deeper, and present only, all that glitters. A seductive hurricane of immediate gratification at any expense, overwhelming the necessity for composed rational thought, and when not achieved, leaves one fallen flat on their face, unhappy, unfulfilled, and eventually depressed..

After Chassidus tells us what to expect when filled with this “spirit of folly”, Chassidus offers us tools and techniques as an antidote.

Moiach Shalit al Halev – the use of an innate natural ability for mind to control the emotions. Through…

Hisboinenus – regular meditative sessions on the principles of, Emunas & Yedias Hashem – Faith, awareness and knowledge of our Creator and the purpose He placed us here in this world. G-d who is infinite, and everywhere, is fully in the finite world of nature. This leads to, Moichin over hispaalus – rational logic, totally in control of irrational emotional outbursts.

With Chassidus mindfulness, one gains control. The person creates his/her own inner world of value and purpose. Your very own inner sanctuary, safe and nourishing. The power of this G-dly awareness, together with the satisfaction of purpose, having the “why’s” of life addressed, will channel the drive of the emotions, so the person is fully in control to steer those energies towards a deeper more meaningful, happy and healthier life. The superficial, shallow, and artificial “world”, losses its stronghold and charm.

In truth, this is a lifelong course better started when young as a preventative measure avoiding the emptiness, but potent as well, as a corrective measure in dealing with life issues after they have become problematic.

A CHASSIDIC STATE OF MIND is the product of a meditative cognitive formula and technique, for young and old, to train and mold, an ongoing daily effort of deep G-dly and spiritual awareness, expanding and deepening this faith and knowledge.

Life is a constant journey overcoming the very limited, skin deep, superficial, attraction of a dark and decadent mitzrayim - the tests of this deceiving and illusory world. “World” shoves before our eyes on a daily basis a very shallow, artificial, and therefore unhealthy choice to pursue. Every effort, pushing those attractions away, as difficult as it feels, for the deeper values and right purpose, expands and strengthens our healthy and blessed side of existence.

For complete and total freedom from the emptiness and servitude to the winds and gimmicks of society, one must begin to totally and completely direct ones focus, recognizing and moving relentlessly with the final deeper and more meaningful destination in mind.

(A few toes stuck (left) in the trap, means still being caught). It is not possible to be off drugs but still entertain the joys of having a high. A person cannot lose weight and still imagine and be stuck with the indulgence of eating unhealthy foods. The mindset must be totally trained and focused in the direction one intends to reach.

Chassidus offers corrective thinking, tools and techniques, to place the person/his mind into a healthy happier more powerful place. To self-identify ones strengths, and muster the courage to overcome fear (for good reason). Chassidus Chabad intellectually stimulates the person to see and draw from the endless infinite well of G-dly wisdom.

Everything has its purpose, for the good. Everyone and everything has the full attention of the infinite G-d at their side all the time. The tests of the yetzer hara – “spirit of Folly” and the worldly appearance of world, have a deeper truth. To connect one with the good, from the energies of the higher two letters of G-ds name, reached, only when piercing through and negating, the false concealment of “world.”

Chassidus helps a person with a chronic disease, or feelings of being at the end of ones rope, with a deep hope/ faith and intellectually ( which last longer and permeates deeper) satisfying comfort, so not only does one say they now have strength to cope, and have faith, but they can and will actually embrace and absorb this faith. There is always a very real and better, deeper reality to existence. Very far reaching, beyond the moment. Pain and difficulty are never in vain.

Chassidus allows a person to reframe negative experiences so the moment is always positive, and we are not victimized by situations. It is a G-dly, true tool of self-empowerment which allows our awareness and thoughts to take control of our emotions.

The powerful concepts discussed in Chassidus mines the gold of life, and let us hear the constant song in the air of the universe.

People take life and days for granted. They don’t truly see the value of it. Chassidus offers a shovel, that with our effort (nothing truly good is, free), we can, find purpose. This helps fight against depression and aimlessly going through life. Life is good and life pays off, when we understand the purpose, and the opportunities to reach even higher heights, as a result of personal challenges.

Where there would be logical reason for doubt and purposelessness, Chassidus offers dignity. We were created for a reason, each and every single one of us.

Everything we do, including everything we decide to think, is creating and reinforcing habits. Habits, WE choose to develop. We are trying to regulate our emotions of boredom, anger, sadness, anxiety etc.

We must be more consciously conscious of our level of faith and acceptance of the infinite merciful G-d in our lives at this moment. In the crassness of nature, lie the highest levels of purpose and goodness. We get into this habit, and this becomes our natural way of looking at life, and opportunities open up before our very own eyes.

This mindfulness must be practiced and fed regularly to develop the instincts and habit for the good, so the responses to triggers are positive. To avoid the trap of habitual, impulsive and instinctively negative responses we need daily praying and concentrations, like the one mentioned in the prayer books while donning the Teffilin every day of the week.

This makes us more mindful of our thinking, which we are fully in control of, as a replacement for reacting and following our emotions and falling for the quick fix and/or self-blame.

Hisboinenus- the deep meditative concentration, to make a deep lasting impression, to make permanent change, in order to stabilize the disorders and swings. Hisboinenus, allows one to become aware of their internal state, the emotions that drive one to bad places

Mindfulness of G-ds presence on the deepest levels. Chassidus explanation of Ain Oid Milvado – there is nothing else but the energy of G-dliness inside and all around each and every person. With these concepts and tools, one is granted the keys to their inner self, to address emotionally chaotic episodes and/or barren empty lives, because one discovers and realizes, that too is just a superficial test.

A very powerful meditation to begin and end every day with the following two prayers, in deep concentration.

I give thanks – gratitude

Before You – G-d almighty, who sees everything and is everywhere

A King who lives and is real – who didn’t have to, but in His Kindness and in his ever loving mercy, returns my soul and my life to me every morning, refreshed and renewed, therefore, great is my faith in Him, forever.

“Into His hand, I entrust my spirit, when I sleep and when I wake. And with my soul, my body too, the Lord is with me, therefore I shall not fear.” I am never, ever, alone.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The month of Miracles - Netanyahu - and Messiah.

Never ever give up says the Talmud. Even if a sharp sword is at your neck, never give up. The prophet Isaiah came, in the name of G-d, to King Hezekiah to tell him he would die, but Hezekiah understood the power of prayer, and G-ds unlimited kindness. As a result, Hezekiah lived another 15 years.

Everyone said Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Netanyahu is finished. Netanyahu himself mentioned the hundreds of thousands of dollars coming in from foreign countries to over throw him. The polls were against him. It seemed he was doomed.

In the last few hours of the last chance, he woke up like a lion, praying at the Western Wall, giving more interviews than ever, standing strong and firm. To the surprise of the world, and perhaps even himself, he saw a landslide victory and a smashing of his opponents. The first place Mr. Netanyahu went to, was the Western Wall, the remnant of our Temple, G-ds sanctuary, to pray and thank G-d.

As we approach the first of the twelve months on our Jewish calendar, the month of miracles-Nissan in which the Jewish people were born at the time of the Exodus, we must reflect on, who we are, and where we get our secret of success.

The first commandment G-d gave the Jewish people after establishing this month as the first in twelve, was that they must offer in this first month the Pascal lamb as a sacrifice to the G-d of the Jewish people. The Egyptians, amongst the hundreds of gods they revered, worshiped primarily the lamb. What was the significance of worshiping our G-d through the offering of a lamb, as a prerequisite to liberation? True these hosts weren’t exactly very gracious, after all they drove the Israelites into cruel slavery. Nevertheless, why aggravate the Egyptians, their hosts?

G-d commanded all this to take place in a month that was super special to the Egyptians, since it was ruled and administered according to the believers of the lamb, when the stars were lined up in the form of a lamb, giving these worshipers, at least in their own minds, complete and absolute supremacy.

But that was, and is, the message G-d wanted the Jewish people to know. To survive as a G-dly people and a minority in this world, you must slaughter the god of everyone around you, so there is no chance, anyone, including yourselves, attribute ultimate success to anyone else.

G-d who created the heavens and the earth was telling the Israelites. If you are to experience unbelievable super natural miracles, you must show, total attachment only to one source - Hashem Echad – the One & True G-d, and then you will see in return, total dedication from the miraculous, infinite One.

In Hebrew the name of this month is Nissan which literally means miracles. The birth and survival of the Jewish people comes from their prayer, worship of G-d. “In Israel in order to be a realist, one must believe in miracle”. David Ben Gurion

Our Sages say, things tend to repeat themselves, especially when it’s most disposed to happen, as it did the first time. “In the month of Nissan – (starting this Saturday, March 21, 2015), our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt, and in this month, they will in the future be redeemed”, with the coming of the Messiah. This coming month has freedom and liberation in its energy, we must do our part and smash all the false gods around us.

There is (maybe not so) well known circulated story, from Rabbi Shnuer Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), one of the very few “new souls” in this world. This Rabbi was a synagogue Torah cantor, and once while reading for the congregation mentioned the year (5)775 (That’s this year) as the year the Messiah comes.

Miracles are happening before our very own eyes. If there has ever been a good time for good things to happen for the world, it’s now. Get ready today, by doing another good deed, for the biggest of all miracles is surely coming any day.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Too orthodox. Wayyyy Tooooo extreme. Wayyyyyy…

You ever hear anyone too rich? Too healthy? Too knowledgeable?

How about, have you heard anyone avoiding money because they may become too rich, or someone intentionally avoiding healthy practices because they may become too healthy, or someone avoiding knowledge because they become too smart? Absurd right?

So why are people, way too orthodox? Why are people afraid of learning about orthodox observances?

The Israelites sinned by worshiping the golden calf. Actually, it was a very small number who worshiped the golden calf. The majority was held guilty, because they did not protest the few who got involved, but I will leave that for another day.

G-d forgave them, for this terrible sin, on the day of forgiveness - Yom Kippur, and the day afterwards, when everybody was clean and pure, compared to Angels, starting a brand new slate, Moses gathered everyone. Moses assembled everyone, men and women, to tell them of this phenomenal opportunity G-d was granting them, to dwell in their midst through the sanctuary.

To be on the safe side and avoid any problems of temptation, Moses gathered the men and the women separately. On the surface, sounds like an extreme measure, no? I mean, didn’t Moses trust his people? Are women less people than men, that they don’t belong together?

Most improprieties concerning men and women are between people who know each other! They happen at the workplace, and started with the “innocent” shake of the hands. The formal “business” kiss.

To someone who cherishes and values monogamous faithful relationships, when one of the partners give away a little of themselves to someone else, like a little flirting etc., that is a matter of serious damage. The little bit that went in the way of the other person, comes at the expense of the complete dedication and attention towards the, one and only.

Everyone knows, if you really want to be on a diet, you shouldn’t bring home food that can be a problem. It is smart not to put yourself in a position of temptation.

One of the prayers we make every morning is, G-d please don’t bring me to temptation. Even the best and the strongest have failed when tempted.

For someone to intentionally place themselves when hungry, and they really need to, or want to, be on a diet, in a compromising situation, isn’t the smartest thing to be proud of.

They even advertise, guaranteed to lose weight and eat all that you want!!! The crazy and not so funny thing is, that people actually fall for this pitch.

The problem in our society is that we want to have the cake and lose weight too. We want marriages to last a lifetime and, we enjoy inciting our animalistic impulses at the same time. We put ourselves regularly in compromising situations, we allow ourselves to constantly and continuously be fed tantalizing, provoking and provocative messages and images, and then we wonder why the results are the way they are, for us and our children.

Moses was the vessel for wisdom and therefore brought down the law to this world. Moses represented the ultimate in the observance of law. Moses is teaching us the way to live with the healthiest and happiest of outcomes in life.

If orthodox, the rules of Moses, is regarded as restrictive with no benefits, no wonder people opt out. If orthodox is regarded as following the wisest life routines with the best results, that aren’t always easy to follow, well then, that takes on an entire different positive outlook.

Everything in life that is worthwhile comes from following proper guidelines. Nothing can be built by just doing it how you feel. No worthwhile product or outcome in life happens just by doing it as you feel, winging it. Orthodox Judaism is the only path that assures the tradition will remain in the family, and its adherents will enjoy the deepest, spiritual and G-dly experiences.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Holy fOOLs ?

The bible commands us to build a sanctuary, so “I will dwell in THEM.” It doesn’t say, so I will dwell in it, but I will dwell in, them. From these words, our sages tell us, everyone has the potential and the obligation, of having G-d dwell in “them”, if they only make a sanctuary out of their lives.

G-d, dwelt like a person who lives in his own home unrestricted, in a sanctuary, made of physical vessels transformed to His service. It is in the same way with each and every person. By dedicating our every day, mundane living for a spiritual G-dly purpose, we make our lives a vehicle for the presence of G-d in our lives. Where there is G-d, there are unrestricted blessings and miracles.

You can, expect it.

One of the major elements in building the tabernacle where the beams, made of acacia wood. In Hebrew, the word for acacia wood, is related to “foolishness”. In other words, it was out of foolishness that the walls of the sanctuary where fashioned.

The middle road, away from extremes at either end – Maimonides tells us, is the one we should travel on for the most part, and for most people. This middle road, is influenced and directed by logic and rational thinking. Foolishness, is a turn away from wisdom and rational logic, and there can be two sorts and types of “foolishness”. Below logic, a place that has never met the benchmark of rational thinking. This is a very negative kind of foolishness. Then there is a foolishness where a person acts in a way that is fueled and exceeds and is superior to accepted logic - Holy and positive foolishness.

The Talmud tells a story of a great sage who would juggle at weddings to add joy to the groom and bride, something considered a very noble and commendable act. Not everyone was happy with what they saw. Some colleagues of this Rabbi saw this act as minimizing the respect due to people in scholarly positions.

When this Rabbi passed away, there was a pillar of fire that separated him from the rest of the people. The sages attributed this separation from the rest of the people “because of his foolishness” in distinguishing himself from the crowd for the good, when entertaining at weddings.

Holy foolishness is when a person breaks from the “regular” “ accepted” ways, and spiritually elevates himself and his influence on others, in a way that doesn’t necessarily follow a line of logic. He doesn’t serve G-d limited to the ways that are only influenced by logic. He goes further and is stronger in his zeal, commitment and dedication.

If there was no such thing as negative foolishness, we would always be instructed to focus on the middle of the road. However, because every once in a while there are people, and a person may stumble into doing negative foolish acts, we must find a remedy to this. Maimonides suggests, that a person whose pendulum has swung to the negative, must now take the opposite extreme in the positive direction.

The walls of the G-dly sanctuary in every person’s life is made of people who stumbled, but realize that through Holy foolishness, one can redeem themselves and become a dwelling place for G-dliness. By going away from the middle to the right, we make up and balance the equilibrium.

There is an expression, “in the place where people who rehabilitated their lives stand, even people who were righteous their entire lives cannot stand”.

By going the extra mile in being kind, by giving and being of service to the people around you even when it defies logic, by becoming a Holy Fool, it is precisely there, the walls of G-ds sanctuary is formed.