July, 2009 Archives

31
Jul

A Child’s Tisha B’Av Prayer

by admin in Spiritual Growth

It was Tisha B’Av morning, I was sitting on the floor, saying the Morning Blessings. Meira, our three year old daughter, runs into the living-room and stops short.

“Mommy,” she asks. “Why did you break the couch? Why did you take the cushions off the couch, and put them on the floor?”

And so, I explain to her that today is Tisha B’Av, and we sit closer to the floor because we are sad. We remember the Bais Hamikdash that was destroyed.

“Well, who broke the Bais Hamikdash?”, she wonders.

“The Romans destroyed the Second Temple. We were not being nice to each other, and Hashem decided to burn down His House, and so He sent the Romans to do it”, I answer.

I expected her to go, and find some toys to play with. Instead, she climbs up to the back of the couch and onto the windowsill. She looks out the window and says: “ Oh! Here. I see Hashem in that cloud.” And she calls out with some indignation: “Hashem! Why did You let the bad guys break the Bais Hamikdash?” She continues excitedly: “I know that there is a new Bais Hamikdash in the sky, and You are also in the sky. So, can You please get it down for us? Thank You!”

With a smile on her face, she jumps from the windowsill to the couch, and clambers down to go about her three year old business.

I am still sitting with my opened Siddur in my hands. And I wonder if I will ever be able to pray like my three year old daughter.

Share
28
Jul

Refining

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

The prophets often compare the hardships we suffer to the refining process of gold and silver.

This is not the only application of refining in Jewish Thought. The Zohar teaches:

The word of God is refined

As silver and gold are refined.

When these letters came forth, they were all refined,

Carved precisely, spakling, flashing.

All of Israel saw the letters

Flying through space in every direction,

Engraving themselves on the tablets of stone


We have survived by continuing to see the refined letters of the Torah engraving themselves on our lives and on history. We watch the process and understand that we must refine ourselves in order to fully appreciate the magnificence of the letters, more precious than gold and silver.

Author Info:

Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

Share
28
Jul

History As An Artichoke: Reflections on The 9th of Av

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

We do not refer to the 9th of Av as the Hebrew date on which both Temples were destroyed. We make lists: it was the date when the Children of Israel were sentenced to die out in the desert rather than enter the Promised Land. Beitar, the last stronghold of the Bar Kokhba rebellion was destroyed in 133C.E. Turnus Rufus plowed up the area of the Temple and its surroundings. The Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. (It wasn’t actually the 9th, but that’s a different story.) World War I began on Tisha B’Av.

It’s a long list and raises all sorts of dilemmas for the thinking person. Tisha B’Av forces us to confront the presence of evil in the world. We cannot revisit the Av stories without wondering how God can hide His face. We are urged to repent, but are not told what we must repair.

I often ask people who have just listened to a screaming cry for repentance, people who are careful in every aspect of their lives, for what they must repent. The answer is always the same: “Everything!”

Perhaps Dostoyevsky was right when he wrote: “If Stravogin believes, he does not think he believes. If he does not believe, he does not think he does not believe.” (The Possessed – The Devil)

I returned home after one of those tirades, (I would say; menticide) that moved people for a moment or two, but no more, because they did not know what they did and did not believe. The family, not I, was eating artichokes, and I had an epiphany as I watched them savor the multiple, prickly and densely superimposed layers: Tisha B’Av can be better understood as an artichoke.

What if, rather than compile lists of all the terrible things that happened on Tisha B’Av, we examined each tragedy as one prickly layer to help us uncover the deep core of our beliefs.

We renewed the covenant with God after the generation of the spies died out. We uncovered a layer, and were better prepared for the future.

The Men of the Great Assembly renewed Torah and its applications as we returned to Israel from Babylon and Persia, and began a period of fantastic creativity and possibility. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai saved Yavneh and her sages, and renewed the role of Torah in our lives after the destruction of the Second Temple.

Each layer, prickly and painful, allowed us to achieve new heights.

I hope and pray that we are consuming the final layer and we will know what we believe and what we do not. Then we will discover the luscious beauty of our faith in the center of all existence.

Author Info:

Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

Share
24
Jul

Rav Kook’s Poetry (2) Translated by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

by admin in Spiritual Growth

DARK ALLEYS SHINE


by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

Once we learn much hidden Torah, whatever we understand and learn from the revealed Torah shines with a precious light. Then the hidden Torah, with its special quality, appears in all those topics that the revealed Torah discusses.

This is found in the Jerusalem Talmud: since its authors were pious, their Torah was “blessed.” In contrast, the words of the Babylonian Talmud are merely “kept.” It seems that the Jerusalem Talmud deals with more elevated, pious people. Because of them, the Torah grows and becomes glorious. This is due to the appearance of attainments of holiness, starting from a small beginning and developing into great and powerful rivers. These people attain the light of Torah by prayer and deep study, as well as before and after learning. [Such people] constitute the body of Torah and the soul of Torah.

In this regard, there is a difference between the air of the land of Israel (where the holy spirit can flow upon the content of Jewish law) and elsewhere (where the holy spirit can spread openly only in aggadah, whereas Jewish law is judged by human intellect).

“‘In the dark places, You have placed me’ (Eichah 3:6)–this is the Babylonian Talmud” (Sanhedrin 24a). But from the midst of darkness, great light will sprout: “The nation that walks in darkness has seen a great light, those who dwell in a land of the shadow of death–light has shone upon them” (Is. 9:1). [“These are masters of the Talmud, who have seen great light, for the Holy One, blessed be He, illumines their eyes with what is forbidden and allowed, what is ritually unclean and clean” (Midrash Tanchuma Noach).]

In this way, these people bring down to the lowly avenues of life the illumination of God’s supernal Presence. In this way, they cause multitudinous dark alleys to shine. This aids numbers of those who are distant come, approach and connect to the supernal light of the glow of Torah in its might, the Torah of the land of Israel: “‘The gold of that land is good’ (Bereishis 2:12)–there is no Torah like the Torah of the land of Israel, and no wisdom like the wisdom of the land of Israel” (Bereishis Rabbah 16).

Oros Hatorah 13:1

Yaacov Dovid Shulman’s Writings can be found at ravkook.net and jewishlights.blogspot.com

Share
24
Jul

Rav Kook’s Poetry – Translated by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

by admin in Spiritual Growth

THE SHEER SPIRIT OF ISRAEL

by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

The Torah is bonded with the spirit of Israel.

The sheer spirit of Israel is filled with everything: the light of God, the testimony of life, and the source of souls.

When the Torah grows strong, when its knowledge grows broad, when its light shines, when its feelings grow deep in the midst of every soul, then the divine light spreads in the world, grows beautiful and rises.

Then the entire world rises with the elevation of those individuals of elevated spirit.
Oros Hatorah 12:1

Yaacov Dovid Shulman’s Writings can be found at ravkook.net and jewishlights.blogspot.com

Share
24
Jul

As Dreamers

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

“When God will return the captivity of Zion, we will be like dreamers.” (Psalm 126:1)

Winter Night Farewell

Chia Tao 779-843

At first light, you ride

swiftly over the village bridge;

Plum blossoms fall

on the stream and unmelted snow.

With the days short and the weather cold,

it’s sad to see a guest depart;

The Ch’u Mountains are boundless,

and the road, remote.


I wonder whether when we look back on the long exile as a dream will we say farewell to the night as this monk said goodbye to a winter’s night?

Will we just sigh in relief that the ugliness is over? Or will we be able to look back and appreciate the opportunities and growth of exile? Will we miss anything as we watch the exile float out of the village forever?

Author Info:

Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

Share
24
Jul

Rereading the Stories: Moshe’s Goodbye

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

Clambering up the Cold Mountain path,

The Cold Mountain trail goes on and on:

The long gorge choked with scree and boulders,

The wide creek, the mist-blurred grass.

The moss is slippery, though there’s been no rain.

The pine sings, but there’s no wind.

Who can leap the world’s ties

And sit with me among the white clouds?

Han-shuan (1546-1623)

Perhaps we can read Moshe’s farewell as an invitation to “leap the world’s ties

and sit with me among the white clouds”. Even as he reviews 40 years, sprinkled with some stinging rebukes, Moses offers a different view of many events with which we are familiar.

He does not mention Jethro as he retells the story of the appointment of judges. Moses admits to his disappointment with the people for accepting Jethro’s idea, and, by so ding, rejecting him.

He retells the story of the spies from a completely different angle.

Moses is inviting the Children of Israel, and us, to leap the world’s ties and sit with him among the white clouds and examine the stories of our lives from his place among the clouds.

Author Info:

Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

Share
23
Jul

Envy

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

“Envy is the religion of the mediocre. It comforts them, it soothes their worries, and finally it rots their souls, allowing them to justify their meanness and their greed until they believe those to be virtues. Such people are convinced that the doors of heaven will be opened only to poor wretches like themselves who go through life without leaving any trace but their threadbare attempts to belittle others and to exclude -and destroy if possible- those who, by the simple fact of their existence, show up their own poorness of spirit, mind and guts. Blessed be the one at whom the fools bark because his soul will never belong to them. ”

Carlos Ruiz Zafon, “The Angel’s Game”.

Share
23
Jul

Tisha B’Av: Our Weapon in the Battle of Good vs Evil

by admin in Spiritual Growth

My friend’s long-time, (and I would add; long-suffering,) secretary received a marriage proposal from a successful businessman. She was worried that, approaching her late thirties, she may never have another chance to have children, and upon my friend’s advice, accepted. My friend, L, and his wife were the first guests of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Fritz. The host immediately took L into his private study to show off his most prized possession: An original copy of Mein Kampf signed by Hitler y”s and dedicated to the host’s father, who was Hitler’s ambassador to the US.

Mr. Fritz knew that L was Jewish and intended to provoke him. The host smiled. L and his wife quickly left, and the new Mrs. Fritz is not allowed to even speak to a Jew.

Tisha B’Av is not limited to stories from the past. It has a life of its own and refuses to die.

Good and Evil are in a fight to the death: Each is fighting for immortality. Tisha B’Av, when we mourn over the continued presence of evil, is our statement that Good is immortal. Evil will die, if we are willing to fight. We know through our teachings that Good is unlimited and evil is limited. It is the illusion of this plane of existence that it is the opposite. Our job on Tisha B’Av is not only to mourn over the tragedies of our history, but to act out the death of evil.

Author Info:

Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

Share
23
Jul

A Different Perspective

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

His father is 98 years old. The father usually does not remember his son’s name, or even that he is his son. The old man thinks of himself as a teenager in the small Canadian village where he was raised.

My eyes teared when I heard, but my friend smiled: “He is 98 years old. He cannot see. He can barely walk. But he is happy in the world he remembers. He lived a blessed life and that is all he can recall at this stage of life. I think he’s very lucky.”

That’s why he’s my friend.

Author Info:

Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

Share