March, 2010 Archives

28
Mar

Discoverers

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Spiritual Growth

“Kama Ma’alot Tovot Hamakom Aleinu!” This is usually translated as, “The Ominipresent has bestowed so may favors upon us!” However, a more accurate translation would be, “How many Higher Levels of Goodness does the Omnipresent possess over us?” I’ll readily admit that the usual translation, as inaccurate as it is, is easier to understand. This introduction to Dayeinu is to present how many favors God did for us over the process of Redemption. However, the words remind me of a different approach: In Arthur C. Clarke’s story “The Nine Billion Names of God,” a group of computer experts is engaged by a Buddhist monastery in Tibet. Their assignment is to use an automatic sequencing computer to list all the possible names for God. According to the monks, when all the names have been recorded they will no longer need to be spoken and God’s purpose will have been achieved and humankind and the cosmos will come to an end. As the project draws to a close, the computer specialists decide it would be wise for them to leave the monastery, even though they do not subscribe to the monk’s apocalyptic myth. As they secretly make their way toward an airfield where they will be picked up and whisked back to civilization, they look up at the night sky and realize that one by one, the stars are going out. We know that even if all the computers in the world would work for eternity that they would not discover all the names of God, Who is Infinite. Our lives are a process of discovery, and with each revelation of God, we discover more about Him. With each discovery, we rise to a higher level on the ladder of the Infinite. Each step of the Dayeinu was a step in the Revelation of the Infinite. We discovered more about God after each gift, we rose and touched an ever increasing level of the Infinite, only to experience our own limitations; “Dayeinu,” “Up to here, but we will never reach all the way.” Dayeinu is a reminder that the process of Revelation and Discovery that began with the Exodus, continued with Sinai, then Israel and then the Beit Hamikdash, continues in everything we do. We continue to reach for the Infinite despite knowing that Dayeinu, there will always be more. 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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28
Mar

The Matzah of Humility

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Spiritual Growth

The broken Matzah reminds us that a poor person may not even possess a complete Matzah. He must live with very little. He has nothing.

The Matzah itself is a symbol of poverty; it has only the very basics of flour and water.

It is fair to say that the broken Matzah is a symbol of humility.

Humility is a strange, perpetually receding virtue. If you search for it, it vanishes. If you examine yourself and find you possess it, it turns into its opposite – pride or arrogance. You may observe it in a beautiful stranger or friend as long as you remain silent and say nothing about it.

No wonder our final moments of Matzah are called Tzafun, or Hidden. The Matzah of humility can never be found. If it is, the humility will disappear. It must remain Tzafun, hidden, even when found.

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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28
Mar

Listening To The Matzah

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Reflections & Observations

I first hand out the portions of Matzah to everyone at the table and only then do I begin eating my own portion. We are all leaning to the left, crunching away at our Matzah. Inevitably someone at the table begins to giggle at all the crunching. The problem is that since I begin after everyone else, I am usually that last one crunching. They can all laugh at my crunching while I am trying to focus on the Mitzvah. I remember how as children, my siblings and I would not dare giggle aloud at my grandfather’s or father’s crunching. For some reason my children do not have the same self-control. I wonder why. I imagine that first Pesach, in Egypt, when it was a tense time. Everyone knew that something tremendous would happen that night and they would soon be leaving Egypt. Did they have a momentary release when they giggled at all the Matzah crunching? It must have been a wonderful gift – a moment of laughter amidst all the tension. Matzah is a complicated Mitzvah over which we worry from the moment the grains are harvested. We guard the grain, and then are meticulous in how it is ground into flour, mixed with water, and then how long it bakes. We are careful to eat the proper amount. Everything is directed by Halacha – Jewish law. And then we have the joy of listening to the Matzah, when we can enjoy the Mitzvah and, yes, giggle away. Just, please, not at my expense! 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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28
Mar

Hiding Places

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Spiritual Growth

I find it interesting that we name the part of the Seder when we eat the found Afikoman, Tzafun,” or “Hidden,” rather than “Found.” One of my favorite parts of the Seder is when my children, now older so it’s OK, have failed to find my hiding place for the Afikoman, and have to ask, “Where did you hide it?” Victory is mine!

The problem is that I have to find a new place each year as the kids do not forget all the previous hiding places. There are a limited number of hiding places in a house. The task of hiding challenges my creativity.

It isn’t much different from the way we creatively find places to hide our special talents and gifts. The problem is that we often hide such blessings from ourselves. The joy is not only finding what we have hidden, but, perhaps even more so, discovering where and how we hide so much of ourselves within us.

Tzafun is not only a celebration of discovery of that which was hidden, but a time to reflect on “Where were we hiding all along?”

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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27
Mar

The Freedom of Compassion

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Albert Einstein spoke about how our egocentrism alienates us from other forms of life. “A human being is a part of a whole, called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest…a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

We are critical of the wicked son for separating himself from the community, but where do find ourselves widening our circle of compassion? Where do we express our empathy for the entire community? Where do we embrace all of creation?

“David was very distressed, for the people were ready to stone him, for the soul of the people was embittered – Marah – as in Marror, each over his sons and daughters; but David drew strength from God, his Lord.” (Samuel I 30:6) It is interesting that the verse juxtaposes the bitterness of the people with David’s drawing strength from God. Bitterness is a strong indication that a person is not drawing strength from God. It seems as if the people’s bitterness increased because David, in all his magnificent spiritual strength, was not empathic of their bitterness.

When we eat the Marror we are not only empathic with the pain of the slaves in Egypt; we are empathic with all those who are bitter.

Karpas reminds us of the original greens that did not grow until Adam was formed and prayed for rain. Adam had to immediately accept responsibility for all of creation.

Marror is our expression of empathy. Karpas is our embrace of our role in creation.

Where do we widen our circle of compassion? “Whoever is hungry; come and eat,” even our “lachma anya,” even if we do not have much to share.

We are never free when we are alone and disconnected from others and from creation. We will not escape the prison of our delusions of independence unless we can use the Seder to open our arms and embrace the unity of creation.

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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27
Mar

The Thrill of Gratitude

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Spiritual Growth

In his autobiography, Vladimir Nabokov describes the gratitude he feels in the presence of a rare butterfly. “This is ecsatsy, and behind ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love. A sense of oneness with sun and stone. A thrill of gratitude to whom it may concern – to the contrapuntal genius of human fate or to tender ghosts humoring a lucky mortal.”

When we describe the Ten Plagues, the miracles of the Exodus, and the Splitting of the Sea to our children in the Haggadah, we want them to feel exactly as Nabokov felt about his rare butterfly, without the “tender ghosts humoring a lucky mortal.”

We want them to feel so overwhelmed by God’s miracles and love that they experience ecstasy and the thrill of gratitude. That is why the Haggadah is not satisfies with Ten Plagues and one miracle at the Sea, but expands the Plagues into 40 and then 50 and insists that 50 miracles, no, 200, no, 250 miracles occured at the Sea. We want our children to experience the same ecstasy that our ancestors felt while observing the Plagues and while crossing the Sea.

We want that ecstasy to expand into the thrill of gratitude and we therefore list the 15 miracles of the Dayeinu immediately after the description of the Splitting of the Sea.

The ecstasy and gratitude must be “like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love,” so we conclude Maggid with that most powerful expression of love – the Hallel.

We do not need the rare butterfly. We need only to reflect on our history.

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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27
Mar

A Sense of Wonder

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

The sense of wonder

that is our sixth sense.

And it is the natural religious sense.

D.H. Lawrence

“Tell me father, why do we dip the Karpas?”

“We do it so that you will ask that question.”

I never liked that answer. We dip the Karpas just to make our children ask a question that doesn’t have an answer! We use salt-water to remember the tears, but that is only after we decided to dip the Karpas. There is no reason to dip other than to make our children wonder and ask.

Everything about the Haggadah is about questions: The Ma Nishtana, the Four Sons, and “The wise on, what does he say?” and “Pesach, because of what?” Questions, questions and more questions!

Most of the questions have answers except that first one about dipping. We want our children to ask, yes, but even more so, to ask in wonder. We want our children to always wonder about everything we do. We want them to wonder about every detail of Judaism. We want them to wonder about prayer and each Mitzvah. We want the wonder about all our stories. We want them to grow up to be wonderers.

It is the natural religious sense.

“The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.” Ralph Sockman.

I wonder…can we teach our children to wonder if we do not?

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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27
Mar

Finding The Words

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“This primary intuition of the strangeness of it all, of our single selves as unspeakably fragile and brilliant observers of a grandeur for which we have tried through all our generations to find words, this is the experience that seems to me to underlie religion. – Marilynne Robinson, “Credo” Harvard Divinty Bulletin, Spring 2008

I have already given away hundreds of commentaries on the Haggadah, and I still have more than 200 volumes in my library. I thought I broke my addiction to buying books but I am struggling to stay away from Riverdale Judaica and buying all the new commentaries on the Haggadah. They don’t stop coming. There aren’t enough words to convey all the insights and thoughts into the Haggadah.

The Ari Hakodesh explains that Pesach is derived from two words: Peh and Sach, a mouth that speaks. The Children of Israel had lost their ability to communicate important ideas. They left Egypt from Pi HaChirot, The Mouth of Freedom, and they entered the desert, or Midbar, which can also be read, Midaber, to speak. They soon received the Aseret Hadibrot – The Ten Statements (definitely NOT Ten Commandments). Pesach is about learning to communicate, which is why we are commanded to communicate the stories of our history to our children.

It is even more interesting that we do all this speaking only after our children have remarked on the strangeness of it all by asking the Ma Nishtana (The ONE Question with four examples – NOT the Four questions) and the four sons have asked their questions. We wait for someone to remark on the unusual and the mysterious before we speak.

Pesach speech is focused on nurturing our ability to discuss and describe the strange, the things that, at first galnce, ar beyond words, the things that do not seem to match our everyday vocabulary.

We teach our children to articulate that which is beyond them in order to make it accessible and meaningful.

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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27
Mar

Genetic Backup

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Startling Scientists, Plant Fixes Its Flawed Gene

In a startling discovery, geneticists at Purdue University say they have found plants the possess a corrected version of a defective gene inherited from both their parents, as if some handy backup copy with the right version had been made in the grandparents’ generation or earlier.

The finding implies that some organisms may contain a crytic backup copy of their genome that bypasses the usual mechanisims of heredity. Equally surprising, the cryptic gene appears not to be made of DNA, the standard hereditary material. – Nicholas Wade, New York Times, March 23, 2005

“From the beginning our ancestors were idol-worshippers, but now the Imnipresent has brought us close to His service.” (From the Haggadah) Which ancestors? I know that the paragraph continues to describe Terach, the father of Abraham, but my first reading, “m’techila,” was that the sentance refers to our ancestors in Egypt who were idol-worshippers. It doesn’t make sense to say that God brought Abraham close to His service if Abraham’s descendants became idol-worshippers!

Unless, that is, when God brought Abraham close to His service, meaning He offered Abraham the opportunity to serve God and Abraham chose well, a genetic backup was created that allowed our ancestors in Egypt to make the same choice when offered a chance to serve; i.e. the first Mitzvah given to the new nation, the Mitzvah to sanctify the New Moon. The nation leapt at the opportunity because the genetic backup was activated. That is why the paragraph immediately preceeding “From the beginning,” is “Perhaps we should have done this two weeks ago on Rosh Chodesh,” when our backups fired up and we grabbed the opportunity to serve God.

We are reminding ourselves and our children that we possess a powerful genetic backup system that works beyond DNA and that was implanted in us as part of the Exodus.

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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27
Mar

The Story-Teller and the Maggid

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Some of my father’s favorite stories were about the years he spent as a Maggid. I had asked him where he found so many of the rare books in his library and he told me that his Rebbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner zt”l, had sent him to small communities all over New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as a Maggid. These communities could not afford to pay him to come and speak, so they allowed him to search through their piles of old books in lieu of payment. He would spend Shabbat with them as a Maggid.

There is a difference between a Maggid and a story-teller: A story-teller is just that, while a Maggid captures his audience with a story and then derives a powerful lesson and moral from the tale.

I remembered his stories about his days as a Maggid as I was wondering why we label the section of the Haggadah that “tells the story of the Exodus” as Maggid rather than Sippur, or story. This is the Haggadah’s way of reminding us that we cannot simply tell the story; we must apply its lessons as well.

No wonder when Isaiah (Chapter 41) repeatedly uses the word “Maggid,” he is describing someone who can speak of the future when telling his stories.

Our job is not to be story-tellers, but Maggidim. We must reflect on each detail of the story and apply its lessons and project the future.

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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