November, 2009 Archives

24
Nov

How To Or How To Become

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Prayer

I spoke with a few people this week whose children are having difficulty praying in school. The kids do not enjoy prayer and express their resentment by coming late and talking while others pray. (Sounds like some adults I know!)

The parents, with whom I spoke, all mentioned the teachers insisting that they teach the children how to pray, and they cannot understand why the children do not understand what they must do.

My response is a simple question: Are you teaching them how to pray, what they must do, or are you teaching them how to become prayors; people who develop their relationship with God through prayer?

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
Nov

Thank You Lincoln Square Synagogue

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Reflections & Observations

“Hey! Weinberg! Where have you been? Don’t you know that you have to post at least twice a day for a successful blog?” Good questions. I’ve been busy. (See Busy-itis)

As The Foundation Stone grows, I receive increasing emails and calls every day. Since I have non-profit flowing through my blood, (we are filing all sorts of paperwork with the IRS), I don’t think in terms of money and cost effectiveness.

How did I do it when I was a pulpit rabbi? I answered and responded just as many calls each day, met with people, prepared and taught classes, visited the sick and lonely, performed funerals, raised funds for the synagogue, and even had time to learn every day. All that when I had young children with whom I spent at least two hours of uninterrupted time every day.

How was I able to manage all those things then without feeling overwhelmed? Simple: I was paid a salary by my congregation. The members made sure that I did not have to worry about money, health insurance, or tuition. It was the synagogue that provided a rabbi for all the callers and seekers, many of whom were not members and did not pay dues to the Shul.

So, thank you LSS. Thank you for giving me the means to do all those things, and thank you on behalf of all those people I would not have been able to help if not for you.

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
19
Nov

Looking For Permanence II

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Portion of the Week, Spiritual Growth

People often ask me about the Jewish problem with tattoos.

I believe that it is an issue with the idea of permanence. (See Looking For Permanence) One of the Jewish inmates I served as a prison chaplain had a tattoo of a heart with a long list of names of women he had loved. Ever name, save the last, had an additional tattoo across it. He told me that he was going to have the bottom name crossed out as well because she had abandoned him when he was sentenced to life in prison.

“Why have the names tattooed on your (huge) arm if they don’t last?” I naively asked. “I only tattoo the name of a woman who I’m gonna be with forever,” he answered with full sincerity.

Rather than a permanent tribute to love, he had a permanent record of failed relationships.

I usually ask people with tattoos that are a few years old, if they would choose the same design today. Although a few people say, “Yes,” most people would choose a different design. They simply decide to have another tattoo with the new design.

“If you realize that your taste changes, why do something so permanent?”

“This one will last! I have a better sense of myself and how I will be for the rest of my life.”

Judaism celebrates our ability to change and grow. We are never stuck if we choose to change and grow. We rage, rage against the idea of permanence, except in a Covenant with God, and that is a reflection of God’s Unity, and not of our ability to achieve permanence.

It may feel like our problems are permanent, but they are not. We may expect our relationships to last, but not all, will. Judaism sees life as an ever-changing adventure, and warns us against locking ourselves into anything that will limit our ability to evolve.

The Torah associates such ideas of permanence with failure or blindness. Eisav failed because of his desire for permanence. The Torah does not associate God’s Name with anyone while they are alive, because even the great one’s can fall and fail. Yochanan Kohen Gadol served as High Priest for 40 years, only to lose his way. There is only one person in the bible with whom the Torah associates God’s Name even while the person was alive: Isaac. His blindness limited his movement to his immediate home, and there was no danger of his falling off his righteous path.

So, I’ll forego any tattoos, at least for now; after all, nothing is permanent.

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
9
Nov

Tefillah: Class Notes 11/08/09

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Prayer

God didn’t heal Moshe’s speech impediment because Moshe did not ask for healing. Moshe did not ask for healing because he felt that no matter how well he spoke, he was an inadequate representative of God to the powerful Pharaoh. (Nachmanides, Exodus, Chapter 4) Was Moshe saying that he knew better than God? We compared this to the Talmudic ruling, “That a person would have been more comfortable, not having been created.” We asked, if God is perfectly good, why would He do something that is not good for us? We explained that our soul is willing to give all up in order to never lessing God’s honor in the world. God understands that we will slip and fall, and damage His Presence (Kaviyachol) but we prefer to never lessen His honor. Moshe was fighting for God’s honor. We must pray and ask in a way that adds to God’s Honor and presence and only for things that will bring honor to His Name. Once we learn how to focus on Kivod Hashem, our prayers will automatically be answered. 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
9
Nov

The Nineteen Steps: Class Notes 11/05/09

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Prayer

Avot is a celebration of human potential: God desires to be known by the Avot: The Lord of Abraham.

We may thrill at the potential but we have difficulty connecting, because we are so attached to limitations. We therefore turn to the second blessing: Empowerment – Gevurot.

We move back and forth between the thrill of potential and limitation in the same way we move between worlds. The Third blessing speaks of our ability to connect the worlds and use them to create a new reality.

In order to create the new reality we need Torah.

Torah is not a list of rules or information. Da’at Torah demands an intimate connection as in, “And Adam knew Eve his wife.”

We compared this to the story of two congregants who carried very old and worn letters in their pockets wherever they went. They each wrote a letter to each other when they were in the Warsaw ghetto so that they would remain connected no matter how distant. They carried these letters with them until their deaths in the late 90s. They read and reread the letters. They read what was written and what was not. They read between the lines and never tired of finding new levels of meaning in the familiar words.

The Torah is such a letter to each of us from God. Da’at is the ability to read the Torah with that connection.

Da’at is the difference between Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l answering a question that flowed through every cell of his body, or finding the answer on a computer search.

“Ata” – You – speaking to God in second person, something we would never do to a Rebbi, is God’s way to call us closer to Him when we begin to withdraw.

You – our close and intimate God, grant us such an intimate connection with Torah as a gift without any strings.

This is the only blessing that begins with acknowledgement. We offered two reasons:

1. One must appreciate wisdom in order to receive more. (Based on Daniel 2:26)

2. We speak as if God has already responded to our prayer even before we asked, simply because we intended to ask. We compared this to Taanit 8a, the story of Rabbi Zeira and accepting to fast for rain.

You teach us understanding: We accept life experiences as lessons in understanding. Instead of asking, “Why did God want me to be stuck in traffic on the way to a job interview?” Ask, “How did I react to the situation? How could I have improved my reaction?”

We then spoke of the interaction of Da’at and Binah in a marriage.

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
5
Nov

In Honor of Harav David Lapin’s Birthday

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

You can read the Torah of this great master on this week’s portion at http://www.iawaken.org/shiurim/list.asp?subcat=440

The following is a special essay by Rav Lapin on his birthday:

It is strange that with the passage of time children “grow up” but adults “get older”? At what point do you stop growing up and start getting older? The truth is, there isn’t a point on a spectrum of age where you suddenly stop growing up and start getting older. Children get older too and adults also grow up. It depends what your perspective is on growth and aging.

If you experience the world through a physical lens, then as a child gets bigger and stronger, he or she is growing up. When we begin to go into physical decline (probably sometime in our twenties) we grow older. But that is like looking at a glass as you fill it with water and only seeing the volume of air in the glass diminishing.

During life two simultaneous processes occur: one spiritual, the other physical. The spiritual process is the soul growing bigger and stronger as you exercise it, develop it, and overcome the resistance to its growth. But at that very same time, the second, physical process happens: your physical strength begins to wane. Physical waning can be slowed by good health practices just as spiritual growth can be accelerated by healthy spiritual practices, but neither can be avoided.

We start life as predominantly physical beings; we end life as purely spiritual beings leaving our physical bodies behind. Everything in between is the movement from the predominantly physical to the purely spiritual. During this movement, our bodies contract their physical power so as to create “space” for the growing soul. In considering growth and aging then, it is important to see both of these processes and their relationship with one another. We should see the soul expanding at the very same time as the body contracts in strength. The total result if a person is working on himself spiritually, is that he grows holistically into a much more dynamic, powerful, wise and insightful person with every passing year. This is the growth that birthdays celebrate.

Milestones in Decades

Many milestones mark the journey through this life-process. The most significant are the ones tracked by Yehuda ben Teima in Pirkei Avot (5:24).[1] In my own life I have found them to be astonishingly accurate. Towards the end of every decade I begin to feel seismic disruption somewhere deep in my subconscious. Sometimes these tremors break through to the surface, sometimes they manifest in major shifting of the ground I used to feel firm on. Then, at the end of the decade comes the decade-birthday marking the beginning of a new era in the journey to ultimate spirituality. With this birthday I feel a profoundly deep and peaceful awareness ushering in the next decade, a time of new and promising breakthroughs. These breakthroughs have always occurred exactly in the areas featured by Yehuda ben Teimah and the sum of the transitions he outlines, produce an elaborately exquisite chain of spiritual! evolution.

The twenties are Lirdof, Ben Teimah says, a time of ambition and the pursuit of goals. The thirties are when people are at their physical peak. At forty the decreasing graph of physical strength and the increasing trajectory of spiritual growth intersect. The forties are a time of Binah, the understanding of complexity and intellectual innovation. During the fifties, when wisdom is growing, ego is in decline and the individual has accumulated some life experience, he becomes a competent consultant to others. The characteristic of this period is Eitzah, the giving of sound advice.

Binah and Eitzah, diminishing ego and growing experience, lay the ground for a dimension of wisdom different from the Binah of the forties. There are two classes of intelligence. One is the class of intelligence that is not dependent on chronological age and that is accessible to young people. The second class of intelligence is the wisdom that, like good wine, is only achieved through a lengthy process of maturation. This wisdom is called Ziknah, and manifests in a person’s sixties.

Ziknah is zeh kanah chochmah (a person who has acquired his wisdom through his investment in life and learning), someone whose chochmah is his own, he has made a kinyan in it, and it carries the stamp of his own personality. It is not a commoditized wisdom that he absorbed from books and the teachings of others. Ziknah is a wisdom that has matured over years and carries the stamp of a person’s own uniqueness. The wisdom you will learn from a man or woman of 60-plus, is not the same as the wisdom you can learn from any other human-being. Their wisdom carries with it the inimitable hallmark of that individual’s own life-experience and history.

Bringing Learning into Life and Life into Learning

During the first part of my Torah career my focus was to bring my Torah learning into life and to share it with the Benei Torah I was privileged to teach and with business leaders, both Jewish and non-Jewish to whom I have consulted. Thrilled and thankful for the impact this has had, I shall bs”d continue to do that.

But as I transition from the decade of consulting to the decade of wisdom, I experience a growing desire to go beyond that. I seek not only to bring my learning to life, but also to bring my life experience to my Torah learning. Increasingly I find myself bringing my atypical life experience of working with great people and leaders around the world, into the way I understand and teach Torah. Having grappled with global issues and complex leadership challenges and having used Torah to resolve them, I have gained a perspective on chazzal and the wondrous depth of their wisdom that I couldn’t have had before. As my rearview mirror of life reveals a longer stretch of road than it used to, I can see patterns in life and history that were not evident over short distances in time. These patterns make sense of Torah ideas that were previously puzzling to me. All of this provides me with insights that are unique just as my life (and each of ours) has been un! ique. They enable me to offer a brand of learning and teaching that is not a commodity, but a rarity for which I feel eternally grateful to Hashem.

We are all climbing up the mountain of life. Some of us are further up the mountain paths than others. You may notice that those of us who are further up the slopes get a little more tired than those who are still in the foothills. That is normal. Yet if you want to know the direction to go, or if you need insights into the conditions ahead, ask the people who are further up the path. Their Ziknah-wisdom surpasses the Binah-intelligence of the more vigorous people lower down. They may be walking a little slower, but they have a better chance of reaching the peak than those who have just begun. We’re all climbing the mountain together. It is not about growing up: it’s about going up.

[1] “Study chumash at 5, Mishna at 10. Observe the mitzvoth from 13 and marry at 18. The 20’s are for the pursuit of goals, the 30’s for strength.etc”

Share
5
Nov

The Jew With A Beautiful Face

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

One of the Shpole Zeide’s comrades was Rabbi Mordechai, the first Nes’chizsher rebbe. (He was the father of the Kavler rebbe, Rabbi Leib, who was the father-in-law of the Trisker maggid. He was also the father of the Ustiler rebbe, Rabbi Yosele, and of the second Nes’chizsher rebbe, Rabbi Yitzchak, whose teachings are presented in Toldos Yitzchak.) Rabbi Mordechai decided that he too (like the Shpole Zeide) would become a nistar, a hidden tzaddik. But he had an elevated public persona. He filled the rabbinical post in Leshnav, a small shtetl near Brod.

While rabbi of Leshnav, he came to mistrust the shtetl shochet (ritual slaughterer). And so he set out by foot to Brod, to look for another shochet.

As he was passing through a forest, a Jew with a beautiful face emerged from a small path and joined him.

“Where is a Jew going, and for what reason?” he asked Rabbi Mordechai. Rabbi Mordechai answered, “I am going to Brod to look for a shochet, because I do not trust the one we have.”

The man told him, “Is that so? I am no longer a young man. I remember once when a rabbi dismissed a shochet. And do you know what happened in the end? With my own eyes, I saw the shochet and his wife and children became wandering beggars. Nu! I saw what happened to the shochet– but I have not yet seen what happened to the rabbi.”

With these last words the man disappears. Rabbi Mordechai believed that this had been an appearance of Elijah the prophet, who had come to prevent him from committing a great injustice. And so he set aside his misgivings, went back home and continued to remain a nistar.

Chasidishe Maasiyos

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

Share
5
Nov

Rebbi Nachman of Breslav: The Land of Israel

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

In honor of the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yisrael Dov Ber Odesser, leader of Breslaver Chassidim (1888-1994). He is best known for revealing and teaching the Na Nach Nachma mantra. born in Tiverya to a family which for generations were Karliner Chassidim. Later a follower of Breslav, his revelation of the Na Nach Nachma mantra was rejected by mainstream Breslovers for many decades. In 1980, however, a group of baalei teshuva discovered him in an old-age home in Yerushalayimm and were attracted to his teachings:

1. As a result of dwelling in the land of Israel, God’s providence rests upon the entire world.

2. In accordance with our original Torah thoughts, so is there drawn to us an illumination from the holiness of the land of Israel.

3. As a result of our longing to come to the land of Israel, great amounts of income are drawn to us.

4. As a result of your giving to the poor of the land of Israel, our own money remains in our hand.

from Sefer Hamidot

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

Share
5
Nov

Rav Kook: A World That Is Clearly Seen Part Two – Presented by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

These matters grow ever more profound. At last, even sensations of physical pain grow still and their sharpness is removed. And when [this] concept grows [yet] stronger, they even become pleasurable.

However, this line cannot proceed to its end. [This] account must squeeze [dry] its measure, and realize that being is happiness and existence is good. As a result of this awareness, every suffering and pain is [again] viewed in accordance with its usual place and consensus meaning. But we still actually see that all evil in the world is nothing less a diminished good in relation to the outcry for the abundant good.

An insightful gaze into every exceedingly refined part of goodness–which is even found in evil–reveals the light of truth in existence. And we see that all God did is good, very good.

And [we can say the following in regard to] the moral evil in the world. If not for the longed-for goodness that will raise everything to full goodness (and this is the goodness that is coming into being, the goodness that is rising, that is blossoming, goodness in itself, original, goodness whose foundation and whose goodness are contained within it and gush from it in its original source)–if not for this hidden happiness, our eye would see that even moral evil is none other than reduced goodness, and that all evil is none other than diminished charity.

However, if this were to be seen, the desire to ascend would cease to exist. And then the world would be desolate of its happiness and elevation. Therefore, we do see the evil of moral evil. This [more limited viewpoint], when [we see] goodness reduced, is also a refining of the structures of truth. And it is accompanied by a limitation of all structures of evil, all sufferings and pain, all disgrace and all diminution, which have come in consequence of sin.

[Ultimately,] with the improvement of the spirit, with the permanence of the desire for an elevation that does not cease from its very essence, there is no fear of any evil. Automatically, the world and all its fullness are seen with their full goodness in the foundation of their broad and full existence. The tree of knowledge of good and evil is completely transformed into the tree of life–from the depths of its roots when it absorbs its nutrition to the height of its crown, its buds, leaves and blossoms. “Its fruit will be for food and its leaf for healing.”

This supernal view of goodness is viewed by the soul of the soul of the Torah, which sends its sparks in a hidden manner to all who cling to the lights of God, who desire the glory of God, who say, “May the name of God be magnified beyond every label and word, beyond every speech, expression and utterance, beyond every thought and conception.”

“To You, silence is praise.” “Give thanks to God, for He is good, for His kindness endures forever.”

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

Share
5
Nov

Rav Kook: A World That Is Clearly Seen Part One- Presented by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

[Translator’s note:The following teaching of Rav Kook is difficult both in its language and in its ideas. Accuracy in translation cannot be guaranteed. It seems to me to be saying the following:

There is a view of the world that sees existence as something from which to flee. But when we see the world clearly, there is no reason to complain about evil. Even those who seek nothingness–and thus complain about this world’s somethingness– are complaining that the world is deficient. And since deficiency is a species of nothingness, then they would have to agree that this world is in fact good.

In other words, the deficiency of this world is not in opposition to a transcendent “nothingness.” To the contrary, it is an expression of that “nothingness.” Within this physical world rest the most transcendent states.

The problem with the world is not that it has too much existence. To the contrary, the problem with it is that it does not have enough existence. Suffering in the world is not caused by our being led astray by things of this world but by the fact that we are yearning for that ultimate true being.

But if a person is yearning for “nothingness,” he is yearning for that which appears evil, but which is in essence good. Even that person cannot reject this world as unredeemably evil, for good is hidden within it and within everything.

A person who totally rejects this world as he seeks “nothingness” can transcend feelings of pain and even find them pleasurable. Nevertheless, this must come to an end. One must realize that existence is good–and we continue to be aware of that, even as we return to a normal perception of pain.

The more we look the more goodness do we see. Then we see good even in moral evil, for everything is in essence good. If we were satisfied with the state of affairs as it is, we would be content to have a raised state of consciousness in which we see the good even in evil. But because we yearn for an ultimate good, our perception of this world in a sense diminishes, and we cease to see the good hidden in evil.

But finally, we will come to that ultimate goodness–and then, looking at the expanse of all reality, we will see that goodness was hidden within the evil at all times.

The knowledge that goodness is hidden within evil is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But if we eat of that tree’s fruit prematurely, we grow content with things as they are, and no longer yearn for an ultimate goodness. But once we do reach the ultimate good, the tree of knowledge of good and evil is transformed into a tree of life. We see that every part of the universe and of history was in the service of goodness.

This awareness comes from the essential soul of the Torah, and is revealed to those who yearn for God to be revealed–beyond labels and conceptions. Then we reach a level of silence, a world-transcending awareness of the goodness that pervaded the world throughout the era of human history. That silence is our connection to God, our praise.]

In taking an account of a world that is [seen] clearly, there is no place to complain about the existence of evil.

There are those who are repulsed by being, who say that their ultimate goal is nothingness. According to their conception, therefore, deficiency and emptiness comprise goodness. If that is the case, then [even according to them] there is nothing that is not good.

Any inadequacy in the world is nothing else than either (a) a diminution of existence; (b) a diminution of the existence of the diffusion of the essence of being (which desires existence and its perfection); or (c) anything that has any sort of relationship to [diminution]: a diminution of [this world] acquiring [reality], a diminution of consciousness, a diminution of glory.

All of these lead to suffering, solely because of one’s yearning for what [truly] is and one’s yearning for the perfection of being.

[So even] if one’s total yearning for happiness is an outcry for nothingness, then everything evil is good, for [evil] is closer to nothingness.

Orot Hakodesh II, pp. 468-69

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

Share
Google Analytics integration offered by Wordpress Google Analytics Plugin