Thursday, February 25, 2016

The distinguishing characteristic of the female quality ..............

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When G-d gave the Ten Commandments, Moses was instructed to convey G-ds message first to the women and only afterwards to the men.

According to the Midrash, G-d did not want a repetition of a catastrophic mistake all over again. When the world was created the commandment not to eat the forbidden fruit was conveyed only to Adam and as a result, Eve was able to be persuaded and eat from the tree of good and bad. This time, G-d said, I will include the women first and the Torah will have an eternal existence.

In mysticism, male and female play very central and fundamental roles. Both, need each other and complement, each other. One without the other, is incomplete and essentially not able to accomplish.

The male, is the initiating power that generates the first motion of action. Deprived of the receptacle and partner to develop the tremendous potential in the details of this energy, it will disappear and be wasted. Because spiritually the woman was not part of the original equation when G-d conveyed the first commandment not to eat from the forbidden fruit this instruction was disrupted and violated. It did not endure.

To understand on a very crude level the roles of male and female the Talmud says the following. A male plows and seeds, threshes and winnows. After all this work, the grain is still not able to be used or enjoyed by humans. The woman takes the grain, grinds it down to flour, kneads the dough and makes it into bread which can be enjoyed by everyone.

The distinguishing characteristic of the female quality as opposed to the initiating of the male, is that the uniqueness in the female is to receive, nurture, cultivate and develop. To make it useable and practical, functional on the level of down to earth.

Since every person is a whole world unto themselves, these two qualities are within each person on many different levels and in many different areas.

A person is a composite of soul and body. The soul is where it all begins. The soul is the male and giver. The body, receives and absorbs this energy and channels the soul into a thinking brain and feet that go places. The soul on its own, if it is not drawn into the physical realm of the body accomplishes nothing. People can have an inspiration or a nice dream, and it is meaningless if it isn’t drawn down into the world of action. A body without a soul and devoid of inspiration will not get one very far.

On a more refined level and within the soul powers itself there is male and female energies. The first spark of intellect, when the light bulb of inspiration comes on, must be immediately and carefully taken to its next step known as Binna – understanding, to dissect and develop the inspiration into a cogent concept.

That is why in mysticism the first step of intellect is known as father- Chochma, which literally means the power of something, still not fully appreciated. The second step in the process of intellect is known as mother-Binah, which means understanding. Developing the first spark of inspiration into something more cogent, logical and rational.

When G-d presented the Ten Commandments to the world, for the first time ever, there became the possibility, for a more revealed and open connection between spirituality and this physical world. Both dynamics male and female were in full swing.

When doing what G-d instructs, we are able to infuse the actual physical existence with the qualities of G-dliness itself. The world is receptive. It is ONLY through the power of the Torah and its G-dliness, we can infuse and transform the corporeality of this physical existence with blessings of goodness and kindness.

When a person is inspired with a genius thought, in order to benefit from this moment, he/she must immediately grab the inspiration. In the same way, when G-d presented His G-dly wisdom and energy to the world and we act on this wisdom with our bodies, this G-dly energy enhances our lives with great meaning and blessings.

Forgiveness - someone is always watching -- every little detail -- your life may depend on it!

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The Talmud repeats many times, a well-known principle. “In the measure one creates and measures out life, in that measure, and in that same manner, he is dealt with (by G-d).”

“There is no righteous person that does good and doesn’t (once in a while) slip.” No human being is perfect, and therefore every human being requires G-ds good grace and forgiveness. If we are easily forgiving, G-d acts with us the same way.

Before we retire every night and return our soul to G-d, in the hope we wake up the next morning, we proclaim. “I forgive everyone who has angered me… and may no one get punished because of me…..”

The following is a very inspiring story on this general subject, and …… much more.

In Berdichev lived a man named Hirshel who was a failure in every business enterprise he attempted.

On the eve of Yom Kippur, he hoped to have a small bite to eat before the fast, but with what should his wife have prepared a meal? Instead of even a meager meal, Hirshel received a tongue lashing from his frustrated wife. His stomach gurgled as he trudged to the synagogue, where everything glowed in anticipation of the great day.

A thought entered poor Hirshel’s mind. Maybe, Baruch, the wealthy businessman who sat at the first row near the eastern wall, would give him a little smell of his snuff. That would, perhaps, revive his spirits enough to allow him to pray.

Hirshel approached the front of the synagogue and tapped Baruch on the back: "Shalom Aleichem, Baruch. Maybe I could have a little sniff of your tabak (snuff)?"

Baruch turned with an incredulous look on his face. Who could have the nerve to bother him in his prayers on this holiest of nights, to ask for some snuff? When he saw it was Hirshel, the pauper, he just looked at him in disgust said only one word: "Now?!"

Hirshel turned back to his seat, as humiliated as he had ever been. He thought, "I'm not even worth a sniff of tabak."

No one witnessed the little episode, but on High, the ministering angels were in an uproar. How could the wealthy man have humiliated his poverty-stricken brother like that? It was decreed, in the upcoming year, things would be radically different. The wheel of fortune would turn and Hirshel, would be on top for the first time in his life. Baruch, however, would be on the bottom.

And so, right after Yom Kippur, Hirshel received an unexpected inheritance from a deceased relative, and invested in some merchandise. Hirshel made an enormous profit and reinvested it. Whatever he set his hand to was successful.

At the same time, Baruch began losing money at every turn. He went to the great Rebbe, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev Ukraine (1740 -1809) who asked him, "Can you think of any dealings you may have had with Hirshel?"

Baruch remembered Yom Kippur when he refused the snuff to Hirshel.

"Because of your actions, it was decreed that you would lose your money and that he, would become wealthy."

Baruch was stricken with remorse. "How can I atone?" he cried.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak said. "It won't be easy. All I can say is that if you approach Hirshel and ask for a sniff of snuff and he refuses you, then you will have something to bargain with."

Hirshel, continued to prosper. He was now a respected member of the community and when his daughter reached marriageable age, she was betrothed to the son of the Rabbi of Zhitomir Ukraine.

The whole town looked forward to celebrating the great event. Baruch's anticipation was perhaps greater than most, for he had a plan to recoup his wealth. As the young couple stood under the wedding canopy surrounded by their happy parents, Baruch quietly came up to Hirshel and said, "A sniff of tabak?"

Without a thought, Hirshel removed his gilt snuff box from his coat pocket and handed it to Baruch. Baruch immediately fell to the ground in a dead faint.

When Baruch regained consciousness, Hirshel asked him, what was the matter with him.

"Please come with me to some place where we can speak privately," replied Baruch. The two men sat down and Baruch explained everything that had transpired and related the words of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, that Hirshel’s refusal, would be his only chance to recoup his wealth. They agreed to go together to the great Tzadik (G-dly man) and follow the advice he would give.

The Rabbi listened to the story and said to Hirshel. "Are you willing to share a percentage of your wealth with Baruch?"

Hirshel, considering where all his wealth came from, decided to divide his fortune with Baruch, and the two lived as close as brothers, in prosperity and health for the rest of their lives.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Saying the Truth & Being Truthful.

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The Bible tells us; "stay FAR from falsehood".

There is no other transgression that is written in such an urgent manner. Even when it comes to forbidden relationships, the Bible says, “Don’t come “close” to transgressing.….Here however, the expression is to stay FAR ….

Our sages explain that we should not say, or do, anything that is even remotely untrue. The Sefer Hachinuch published in 13th century Spain, which discusses all 613 commandments, says, there is nothing more despicable than lies and deceit. Blessings rest only on those things that are compatible and similar to G-d whose signature is, TRUTH. Just as G-d is merciful, kind, and a G-d of truth, so too, when people act in mercy and in kindness and are truthful, they will automatically become vessels for peace, happiness and strength in their lives, the qualities of G-d. And the opposite is also true….

The Talmud relates, there was a city by the name of Kushta – Truth, where nobody ever died before their time.

The question is asked. What is the connection between being truthful and living a full life? And the answer is. When a person is born, G-d announces how long the person will live. However, when a person doesn’t keep his own promises, lies, and doesn’t tell the truth, G-d deals with the person in that exact same measure and is not bound by His own commitment, to the years promised.

The Talmud supports this principle with the following story.

Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi was approached by the Angel of death who offered him a wish. Rabbi Yehoshua said to the Angel. Please show me my spot in the world to come before you actually take my life. When the Angel showed him his spot, Rabbi Yehoshua jumped into his spot and made an oath that he wouldn’t leave.

The Angel of death asked G-d what to do. G-d told the Angel. If the Rabbi had ever in his life made a vow and had it annulled, then this vow too could be annulled… but if not …. He would stay in heaven … alive! And the angel of death would be unable to kill him!

[Which, in fact, is what happened! Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s vow was upheld and he is listed along with Elijah the Prophet and several others (Moshiach is another one) that physically entered heaven and never tasted death.]

The Talmud says, there are four groups of people who will come to Heaven, as mostly everyone does, and will never get to see the face of the Divine Presence!! (something not said, even regarding some of the worse transgressions!!)

They will be ushered into the Palace and unlike the righteous “who sit with their crowns on their head and bask in the glory of the Divine Presence” these people will not.
“Those who flatter others – those who lie – those who speak evil talk -and those who scoff at everything holy.”

Our sages explain the common denominator, is that all four types are based on the bad practice of lies and falsehood.

Flatterers don’t mean a word of what they are saying. It’s only being said to accomplish their objectives. Liars are self-evident. People talk bad about others only to lift their own status in the minds of those listening, otherwise they would never say what they are saying. And scoffers, create a negative impression of the words and the world of truth. Both create a false impression of reality, an illusion, misconception, and deception of the truth. One regarding others, and one regarding everything that is holy.

The Talmud says a story. Once there was a Rabbi whose wife always did the opposite of what he asked. The son, who wanted to avoid problems in the house, would change what his father requested, so his mother would end up doing the opposite just as the father really wanted.

When the father figured it out, he told his son. Although one is allowed to bend the truth for the sake of peace, that is only once in a while in rare instances. To be changing my requests regularly to your mother for my sake is accustoming you to lie, “teaching your tongue to utter falsehood”, and that is dangerous and wrong.

The prophet Zachariah says. “So said the Lord of Hosts: Old men and women shall yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of old age”. In the city of truth – Jerusalem, when Truth will be restored “from the ground”, the very natural consequence will be, the long life of the elders, good health and happiness for everyone. May that day come very soon, in the merit of our truthful and honest behavior in these days.