Thursday, May 28, 2015

Heyyy... G-d is talking. Are you listening???

The Holy Baal Shem Tov teaches, everything we see or hear, is specifically intended as a message, for you, from G-d.

The Torah teaches, when a person sees an immoral woman, he/she should take extra precautions, by minimizing his/her alcoholic beverages.

The Jerusalem Talmud brings three stories to demonstrate this lesson, drawn directly from the book of Isaiah. “If one hears talk around them, (speaking to you), “this is the way to go (or not go)”, it is G-d telling you something.”

Once Bar Kaparah came to a village and bashed his finger. As he was composing himself, he heard children telling each other a certain verse from the Bible. Bar Kapara immediately understood he would be unsuccessful, turned around, and went back home.

Rabbi Yochonan and Shimon Ben Lakish were travelling to Babylonia to visit a certain Rabbi Shmuel who wasn’t feeling well. They stopped next to a school and heard the children learning about Shmuel the prophet,” who died, was eulogized, and buried. Rabbi Yochonan says to Shimon Ben Lakish, “did you hear what the children said? Shmuel is dead.”

Rabbi Shimon wasn’t convinced. Rabbi Yochonan said, “record the time we are hearing this.” It wasn’t long afterwards, they heard Shmuel passed away on that day.

R’ Yoseh and R’Yonah went to visit R’ Acha in Babylonia. Again, they weren’t sure if they would make it there on time. “ G-d will already tell us whether it’s worth going or not”. On their way they heard in a village, one woman ask the other, “Did your candle go out yet?” And the other answered,” It did not go out, and it will not go out, the candle of Israel.” R’Yonah said. “If we heard these words, we have a reason to continue, since his candle didn’t go out yet.”

Ilfa and R’ Yochonan decided to earn some money. They rested in an abandoned home. As they are resting, R’ Yochonan hears two voices speaking, “let’s throw the wall down and kill them”. One voice responds. “No. One of them is yet to become a somebody.”

R’ Yochonan asked Ilfa,” did you hear the conversation?” And Ilfa says, “No”. Said R’ Yochonan. “If only “I” heard the conversation, it must mean, I am the one that is set for greatness.”

The Talmud goes on even further and says. Even “when one overhears about world events, that too, are lessons for the one hearing.”

In the tractate of Kallah it tells a story with the great Rabbi Akiva, who was once travelling in a village by a field and saw a man carrying a heavy load and two people at either side hitting him. Rabbi Akiva thought, there has to be something more to this and asked the man being hit, “what’s the story?”

He tells Rabbi Akiva, he did all kinds of transgressions while alive and this was his personal rectification. Rabbi Akiva asked him, did he leave any children behind, and he says, only a pregnant wife. Rabbi Akiva went to his city and asked for the wife and they said to him, why do you bother with the wife of such a terrible person.

Rabbi Akiva found the pregnant wife and offered her to personally take care of the child. After a few years and the child was able to say Kaddish/sanctification of G-ds name in a synagogue, and Borchu, the man met Rabbi Akiva and thanked him profusely for what he did.

Rabbi Akiva gave years of his precious time to the lad because he knew, if G-d made him see the father suffering like that, it was a message to him personally, to attend to the situation.

G-d is sending us messages all the time. We may need better, stronger, hearing aids.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Angelic Revelations & the Holiday of Shavuot.

This coming Sunday and Monday – May 25 -26, 2015 is the second major Biblical holiday of the year, Shavuot. We are commemorating and reliving the great event, as described and recorded in the Bible, and passed down uninterrupted for 3327 years, when G-d in all His glory, revealed Himself to the entire Jewish people and presented them with The Ten Commandments.

This is the holiday to gain strength and inspiration in all areas of our Holy Torah and all its eternal G-dly wisdom, to guide each one of us in the happiest, most fulfilled way to live our lives.

The bible instructs us in the fundamental belief in a prophet, who will have the spiritual virtue of communicating with the people, G-ds words, as long as it will never contradict any of the teachings in these books.

With this in mind I will share with you another revelation, related to this Holiday, which took place about 500 years ago, and guides us to this very day in all areas of our lives.

The most authoritative book on Jewish Law, was written by Rabbi Joseph Karo in the early 16th century.

Rabbi Karo was born in Spain 1488 and was chased out together with all the Jewish and Moslem people in the year 1492. Moving to Portugal didn’t last very long, when in 1496 the Jews were expelled once again.

The Ottomans invited the Jews to settle within the Ottoman Empire, and the Karo family moved from one city to the other. Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, until finally reaching the city of Safed in Northern Israel, through Egypt.

Rabbi Yoseph Karo became head of the Rabbinical court in Safed. There was not a single matter of national or global importance that did not come to the attention and ruling of his court. Its rulings were accepted as final and conclusive, and Rabbi Karo's decisions and clarifications were sought by sages from every corner of the diaspora. He came to be regarded as the leader of the entire generation.

Much of Rabbi Karo's inspiration and teachings were guided by a very special event that took place years before living in Israel, on the night of our upcoming holiday, Shavuot.

In a dramatic testimonial, recorded in the book of the great and holy mystic Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz, Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz (author of the famous mystical hymn Lecha Dodi - sung in all synagogues on Friday nights) testified, that in Salonica, Rabbi Karo had become one of the rare individuals who merited to be instructed by a maggid - a private angelic teacher who revealed to him many Kabbalistic teachings.

"Rabbi Karo and I decided to stay awake on the night of Shavuot and read passages of the Torah/Bible. After midnight, as we reached the section of Mishnah, a sweet voice was heard aloud from the mouth of Rabbi Karo. The voice grew ever louder, until even the neighbors were able hear it, though they were unable to understand it. The voice told us, the great impact our learning had this night, silencing all the prosecuting Angels and piercing all the heavens. It then spoke of our great merit of staying awake this night, and the greater effect it would have, had there been a quorum of 10. The voice then encouraged us to continue learning throughout the night, not wasting even a moment. Finally, the voice instructed us to stand up and say Boruch Shem... aloud, as is done at the conclusion of Yom Kippur.

The Shaloh HaKadosh – Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz concluded: "It is apparent that there was much more that was not allowed to be revealed. "

This spirit exhorted Rabbi Karo to sanctify and purify himself, and he revealed to him events that would take place in the future. Rabbi Chaim Vital explains that this visitation by the “Maggid” is a form of Divine Inspiration. Rabbi Chaim Joseph David Azulai notes that only about one fiftieth of the manuscript was ever published.

The Maggid promised him that he would have the merit of settling in the Land of Israel, and this promise was fulfilled. Another promise, that he would merit to die a martyr's death sanctifying God's name similar to his teacher had merited, did not transpire for an unspecified reason.

His reputation during the last thirty years of his life was greater than that of almost any other rabbi since Maimonides. This entire trajectory solidified, by the honor accorded to the Holiday of Shavuot and the Torah.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cherish the Struggle......

Why all the hardships and the pain??

The only way to build muscle is by experiencing pain, sore muscles etc. There is no other way, period. To expand fundamentally and inherently, you can’t be stretched just from the outside, it must come from inside, your own internal struggle with the status quo.

One of the 13 principles of faith states, that G-d administers rewards and punishments. “If you will go in my statutes and guard my commandments …I will give rain in its proper times and the earth will offer its produce….” No free lunch with G-d. If you work, “your employer is trustworthy to remunerate your efforts.”

G-d is the essence of good. G-d, the source of this entire world is pure kindness. If that’s the case, why doesn’t all this good and kindness just naturally flow from G-d, since that’s all He really is anyway? Why all the conditions, restraints and limitations? Why, the struggle of life?

Actually, mysticism explains the above principle applies to the realm of Holiness and blessings. In the realm of darkness and negativity the flow of energy comes without any or very little effort. Darkness, is a state of existence because there is no light. To create light, to draw light, an effort must be made to have it. But, why is that the case?

True good, is good when completely and totally appreciated. What good is it, if you don't even know or feel the goodness? True good is not just superficial, but reaches deep inside and is internalized.

Because G-d is the essence of good He wants to give that same kind of good that isn’t fake, and doesn't want to give a good that may not be valued by its recipients. G-d wants the good to be appreciated for ALL its’, worth and value. Therefore, those that are not of G-ds good side and are undeserving, what appears to be blessings in abundance, is in truth not only not valued and/or is appreciated, it is actually the source of much heartache and trouble in their lives.

Mysticism describes free (unearned) bread, as "bread of shame”.

Real confidence and self-esteem can’t ever come to people who steal and cheat. Feelings and knowledge that “I” am worth something, can only come when the “I” is really worth something. In addition to the corruptness and immorality in the process of trying to scam someone, there can’t ever be real inner happiness and/or joy in possessions or accomplishments that don't belong where they are. The blessings of life are missing.

A person will only truly relish the fruit, the product of their own hard labor. Our sages say, “a person prefers (and enjoys) one measure that is theirs, more than 9 measures granted for free from others”. The quality in less, is way more, than in the superficial quantity of more.

The ultimate purpose in the obstacles and struggles of life and in serving G-d, is to strengthen and deepen the pleasure and personal satisfaction that comes from overcoming the test. Not only because that’s what brings the best out of the person, but also because the deeper and higher dimensions of G-d are conveyed through the struggle.

Spiritual fulfillment therefore requires and stresses the need for the internal fight and the struggle with our environment. Difficulties, create the yearning and desire for respite.When finally reached, this makes the sweetness and pleasantness all the more deeper and richer.

Once, Rabbi Shneur Zalman wanted to gift his grandchild with the wisdom of the Torah. The grandchild, Rabbi Menachem Mendel refused the gift, thinking it’s better and more accomplishing when attained through hard work. Later on in life, he was sorry for refusing the gift because he realized, as much as he would have been granted through the gift, since G-ds wisdom is infinite, there would still be so much more to earn through hard work and toil.

Cherish the struggle because it will bring you to the deepest and best things G-d/life has to offer.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Scientists are they REALLY THAT smart?

“They” I mean scientists, are constantly telling you, we, have all the answers. It’s all a pretty well proven science. Well, “they” couldn’t be any further from the truth.

I was reading two articles this past week. One a book review on, “The Half-Life of Physicists” and the other on, “armed with old bones and new DNA sequencing technology, scientists are getting a much better understanding” of the prehistory and background of the human species.

The book review writes. Einstein set out on a search for a unified geometrical theory of gravity and electromagnetism and would spend the rest of his life on this project, joined in later years by Schrödinger. They had no success, and the problem still resists the best minds around.

According to our current understanding, the line of research that Einstein and Schrödinger were pursuing was hopeless. While most of their colleagues were moving on to the study of such quantum-field theories, the two of them resisted, feeling to different degrees that such theories were likely inherently flawed.

What they found most problematic was the role that probability seemed to play in quantum theory, with calculations yielding only statistical predictions, not certain answers. Little did they appreciate the role of an infinite mind, impossible to comprehend, behind creation.

Einstein famously summarized his objection as “G-d does not play dice with the universe.” Schrödinger responded with, “don’t tell G-d how to run His world.”

I’m afraid to say both, weren’t getting us any closer to master the secret code of the universe, while ignoring the continuous and constant influence G-d has on the Universe and in each person’s life. That’s why our good or opposite of good deeds still matter. That’s why, how and where, prayer makes a difference.

Imagine what it must have been like to look through the first telescopes or the first microscopes, or to see the bottom of the sea as clearly as if the water were gin. This huge article in the WSJ tells us, this is how students of human prehistory are starting to feel, thanks to a new ability to study ancient DNA extracted from bodies and bones in archaeological sites.

While they felt they were already seeing the gin years ago, only recently, they are coming to realize the muddied waters of the past.

Low-cost, high-throughput DNA sequencing—a technique in which millions of DNA base-pairs are automatically read in parallel—appeared on the scene less than a decade ago. NO MORE THAN TEN YEARS AGO! It has already transformed our ability to see just how the genes of human beings, their domestic animals and their diseases have changed over thousands of years.

Before these technical innovations, reading DNA required the laborious amplification of short segments, one at a time. By 2008, companies such as 454 Life Sciences in Branford, Conn., and the San Diego-based Illumina began marketing machines that could read millions of DNA samples in parallel. In the past, researchers wanting to study ancient or modern DNA had to sip from raindrops; now they can drink from fire hoses.

Now let’s get this straight.

It’s not like I have anything against science, but let’s not constantly and regularly over exaggerate their accuracy and dependability. G-d Himself in the Bible instructs us to respect common accepted knowledge and conclusions of science, but never if it flies against the instructions and wisdom of G-d. G-d allows us a small area to function, but without Him, we would fail again and again.

When we go to a Doctor we know the Doctor as good as he or she may be, doesn’t know everything. Living here in South Florida we certainly know how much the weatherman knows, no disrespect intended.

Resting once a week on the Sabbath, drinking wine a few times a week, cleaning our hands before eating, meditating on the purpose and goals of life before retiring to bed every night and the first thing in the morning is still recognized as the best advice to live by, suggested by the Bible.

Time to join more classes on our heritage, and discover what is, and has always been, the wave of the future.