February, 2010 Archives

28
Feb

TheFoundation Stone Purim

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

More than fifty people gathered last night to hear the Megillah – The Book of Esther – read with sound effects and more last night at The Foundation Stone headquarters. We then gathered and studied major themes in the Megillah such as the tension between men and women, and what exactly did Achashveirosh suspect about Haman and Esther, and Mordechai and Esther. We recreated the scene of Haman leaving the first party and seeing Mordechai sitting at the gate of the king. We examined why he had such a drastic reaction and felt a desperate need to immediately rid himself of Mordechai. We discussed how he could be so reckless in suggesting the manner in which the king should honor someone, and how his behavior reflects common mistakes made by all of us. We studied together until past midnight with the strong feeling that we were actual participants in the story of Esther.

The Foundation Stone thanks all of the participants for sharing their questions, thoughts and insights and making this a very special Purim.

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.

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24
Feb

A Student’s Honor

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

And Moshe said to Yehoshua, “Choose men for us.” Rashi comments on the power of the word “us”. Moshe said to Yehoshua, “Go out and choose men for you and me.” We derive a great principle from here that a master must treat his student’s honor as dearly as he treats his own. Moshe is charging Yehoshua to go and do battle and he choose this moment to teach Yehoshua and us that a teacher must be as careful with a student’s honor as he is with his own! It had to be this moment, as Yehoshua was readying for battle. The student had to enter the battle on his own, not in the shadow of his master. Yehoshua had to have a deep sense of his own honor. This was the gift that the great master, Moshe, gave his student before the latter entered battle. And there’s more: “Hamelamed Torah L’amo Yisrael” God is the teacher of all Israel. A teacher must treat his student’s honor as dearly as He treats His own. Moshe, the one person who spoke directly with God, Moshe, our rebbi, Moshe, the giver of the Torah, who knew God as did no other human being, told Yehoshua that the Ultimate Teacher, God, treats the honor of His students as dearly as He treats His own. This is the God Who is fighting at your side Yehoshua. This is the God, the teacher, Who sits with us as we study Torah. This is the God, the teacher, Who sits with us as we pray. This is the God, the Teacher, Who guides us through life. This is the God, the Teacher, Who directs us in our service of Him. He honors us. He holds our honor as dear to Him as He holds His own. This is what we remember on Parshat Zachor! 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.

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16
Feb

Heaven and Earth

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

They associated their construction project with their sense of identity. They were united in their effort. They gathered materials even before they knew the exact nature of their project. They intended to create a place where heaven and earth would meet. I am speaking, of course, of the Tower of Babel. They manufactured bricks before they decided to build the Tower. They intended to make a name for themselves. They acted as one, in solid unity. The Tower would reach the heavens and connect heaven and earth. It all sounds eerily similar to the Mishkan – the Tabernacle. “I and Your people will be made distinct from every people on the face of the earth.” The Mishkan was inexorably intertwined with Israel’s identity, just as the Tower served to, “make a name for ourselves.” “This is the portion that you shall take from them: gold, silver and copper; and turquoise, purple, and scarlet wool; linen and goat hair; red-dyed ram skins, tachash skins, acacia wood; oil for illumination, spices…” First, the materials, only then, “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me,” just as the people involved in the Tower of Babel project: “Let us make bricks and burn them in fire.” Only after, “And the brick served them as stone, and the bitumen served them as mortar,” did they decide, “Come, let us build a city and a tower.” “Moses assembled the entire assembly of the Children of Israel;” they were united just as, “The whole earth was of one language and of common purpose.” The Tower was a place for the “whole world,” as was the Mishkan, “”For My House will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7) The Children of Israel were driven to connect heaven and earth, “So that I may dwell among them,” just as the Tower project was intended, “with its top in the heavens.” Both projects were intended to extend Man’s reach, but while the one was holy and pure, the other led to tragedy. The Mishkan was a place of clarity, “Like everything that I show you.” The Tower resulted in confusion. The Tower project was to build up from the earth to the heaven. The Mishkan was designed to bring heaven down to earth, and therein lies the fundamental difference between the two creatively driven projects. The Tower was an expression of people who wanted to climb up to the highest heavens. The Mishkan nurtured our ability to bring heaven down to earth. The Mishkan does not take us out of this world into higher planes of existence; it transforms this very real world into our place for achievement and growth. The Mishkan nurtures our involvment in life. The Tower, as in, “the ivory tower,” of distance and remove, focused people on other worldly concerns, away from life. They could not imagine maintaining unity of purpose while struggling with the demands of this world. They could only find unity in other realms. The Mishkan charges us to bring heaven down to earth, to bring the holy into the mundane, to unify in this world, to be involved and to discover the taste of heaven, right here and now. 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.

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9
Feb

Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander Zt”l: Three Scenes

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Reflections & Observations

I just returned from the funeral of Rabbi Dr Bernard Lander. I share three scenes of our interaction:

Scene I. (April 1984) Four Clergymen Learn About Teshuva: A priest, minister and imam, no, this is not a joke, joined me for the drive from Comstock NY to the Homowak in the Catskills for the NY State Department of Corrections Chaplains’ Conference. One of the clergymen immediately fell into a drunken sleep as we began the long drive in a snowstorm. We were not friends, and did not have anything to say to each other, so I turned on my tape deck. Dr Lander was speaking about Teshuva – Repentance. He based his talk on Simon Wiesenthal’s the Sunflower.

Dr. Lander was a spectacular speaker and as he told the story about the concentration camp inmate summoned to absolve a dying German soldier of his murderous sins, he held us all in the palm of his hand.

Could the inmate forgive the soldier for murdering babies? Did he have the right?

Somehow, the drunken passenger awoke and insisted that we start the tape from the beginning, which we did. No one in the car said a word as we listened to Dr Lander speak of repentance and forgiveness, an issue with which we all struggled on a daily basis as we counseled convicted murderers, serial killers, rapists and every imaginable type of violent criminal.

The tape finished, and the imam said, “Play it again.” A priest, minister, imam, and yours truly, listened together to a rabbi’s Teshuva lecture again, and then, yet again.

The imam, priest and minister tried to convince the Albany official in charge of the conference to have a special session so that everyone could hear Dr. Lander. It didn’t happen. When we returned to Comstock we immediately demanded an appointment with the superintendent to advocate that each of the corrections officers should have to listen to Dr Lander’s lecture. The “sup” laughed us out of his office.

Scene II. (June 2001) The Greatest Ethical Lesson of My Life: I had just completed my first year as Rosh Yeshiva of the IDT Yeshiva for Torah and Technology. We had 19 students. I was invited to meet with Dr. Lander to discuss the possibility of having the Yeshiva under the auspices of Touro College.

Dr. Lander was already what most of us would consider a very old man. He was losing his sight. The nonagenarian Rabbi told me that what we had successfully done for 19 students we could do for thousands. He asked me to help start similar programs in Hungary, France, Austria, Germany and Russia for the coming year. (The Russian program happened, thanks to Rabbi Dr. Simcha Fishbane.)

I was in my forties. He was in his 90s, and he was by far, the most energetic person in the room. He lived a life of possibilities. There was no disconnect between vision and action. “If you can help 19, why are you not helping 19,000?”

Dr Lander invited me to consider his challenge and to meet with him in the near future: “Let’s see, next week I’ll be in Los Angeles, then Miami, the following week in South America. I have to go to Israel and Germany. I’ll see you in three weeks.”

He was in his nineties and I, many years his junior, was exhausted just by listening to his plans. He was planning new programs and schools until the very end of his life.

I am convinced that had I lived this second scene before the first, every person working in NY State Prisons would have heard Dr Lander’s Teshuva lecture. I would not have taken “No!” for an answer.

Scene III. Everyone Is Welcome: I had always imagined Touro to be a Jewish school. When I went to meet with the deans of different programs I met with men and women, Jews and non-Jews, religious and secular, Asians, African-Americans, and Hispanics.

The student body was a miniature United States. Dr Lander had created a spiritually nurturing environment for all people.

His was an infinite life that embraced all people, saw new opportunities every day of his life, and touched the souls of all those who could pause and listen to his wisdom, view his vision, touch his spirit, and experience his passion and commitment.

May his memory be a blessing.

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.

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4
Feb

Dark Memories

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Prayer, Reflections & Observations, Spiritual Growth

I had a strange experience today as I was hooked up to my IV. I closed my eyes to rest and listened to the pumping action of the IV, which usually helps me fall asleep. This time my mind played a powerful trick on me. As all the medications began to take effect and I fell into a deep and relaxed state, I felt as if I was back in the Medizinshe Hochshule Hannover in Germany, listening to the same sound of a machine pumping all sorts of things into me to keep me alive. All the fears, pain, loneliness, and frustration came back with a bang.

I had successfully repressed all those feelings while in Germany simply to keep my spirits up and maintain whatever I joy I could find in my existence. I was so successful at repressing those negative feelings that I have never thought about them until today. They were intense, almost overpowering.

How should I deal with all the repressed feelings of so long ago?

“Then any of the diseases that I placed in Egypt, I will not bring upon you, for I am God, your healer.” (Exodus 15:26) We understand that ‘diseases placed on Egypt ‘ as the plagues, but perhaps there is an additional meaning.

The Children of Israel suffered through many years of horror. Perhaps, they too, as did I, repressed the worst parts as their coping mechanism. If they looked back with fondness at any time in their recent history in Egypt, they were repressing memories. The repressed memories, not matter how well hidden, are diseases that can eat away at us. They are diseases which disconnect us from ourselves and prevent us from developing real relationships.

God was also referring to those diseased memories, promising His people a life in which they would not have to repress painful experiences. Once they learned to live without repressing the negative, the past would reappear, and God promises, “I am God, your Healer,” Who will heal those memories.

Marah was not only a bitter tree (Mechilta) that made the water sweet, it was also a promise, that God would sweeten those memories and turn them into something good, just as He did for me today, when he used those memories to offer another way read these verses.

This has transformed my recitation of the 8th blessing of the Amidah: Refaeinu – Heal Us. The bitter has become sweet.

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.

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