May, 2010 Archives

31
May

Did You Really Get It?

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

“They awoke early in the morning and ascended toward the mountaintop saying, ‘We are ready, and we shall ascend to the place of which God has spoken, for we have sinned.” (Numbers 14:40)

These people realized that they had sinned against God. They understood that they had allowed their fears to overwhelm them and they announced that they were ready to move ahead and fight with courage to enter the Land of Israel. Isn’t that what God wanted?

The process of conquering the Land of Canaan was to be a lesson in balancing human effort and relying on Divine help. These people announced their readiness to move ahead.

Where was their mistake?

“For we have sinned,” was their mistake. They did not say, “For we have learned our lesson.” They did not say, “We are ready to assume our responsibilities.” They simply wanted to repair a mistake.

How often do we realize that we have made a mistake and focus on repairing the error, rather than applying the lesson learned?

We make a mistake when we think of Teshuva as fixing our mistakes, rather than repairing our relationship with God. No wonder Moshe said, “It will not succeed!”

Success does not come from focusing on fixing mistakes, but from applying the lessons.

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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
May

Itching For A Good Fight

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

“There are evils…that men inflict upon one another, such as tyrannical domination of some of them over others.” (The Guide For The Perplexed 3:2)

Maimonides rose to his position as leader of the Jewish community of Egypt by battling Yahya Abu Zikri, who called himself Sar Shalom – The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:5) – he regarded himself as the precursor of the Messiah or as the Messiah himself. His story is told in The Scroll of Zuta the Wicked as a parody of the Purim story. “Moses ben Maimon restored the law to its former state, removed the image from the temple and brought the beginning of salvation.”

I cannot begin to imagine that the Rambam was pleased with the book atop the Fostat Times bestseller list. However, he clearly understood that his victory over Zuta afforded him the prestige necessary to assume leadership of the Egyptian Jewish community.

It is often the battle against evil that affords us the opportunity to define our beliefs and values. Numerous secular Israelis only begin to identify with Israel when they have to fight for her survival. In this week’s portion, Moses attempts to convince Chovav to join the Children of Israel as they prepared to cross into Canaan. The word Tov – Good – is repeatedly used in the story, but Moses failed. The people quickly sink in the muck of their complaints and God must appoint 70 Sages to support Moshe as leader. The fight against evil led to a new era in a way that a passionate cry to follow a vision for good could not.

Must we wait for our enemies in order to fight for our survival? Why do we respond to a call for action against a problem or threat more readily than we do to a good cause?

I still believe in the power of good to inspire and raise us. The Foundation Stone is not intended to battle ignorance. It is intended to nurture knowledge and passion. We are not fighting those who would observe the Mitzvot as a matter of habit, but to touch those who are searching for a better understanding of the inherent good and power of Torah.

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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
May

After The Blast?

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

We were close to Israel’s border with Lebanon when we heard a frightening sound. The soldier with us rushed us into a bomb shelter. The sound was a katushya rocket. “The noise is the worst part!” said the soldier. There is a long, scary, whistling sound that haunts you until the rocket lands. This one happened to be a dud.

Sound is effective, and sound, or sound making, is one of the ideas in this week’s portion. God commanded Moses to make trumpets that would summon the people and send messages through the camp. I think of them whenever I hear the Shabbat siren in Israel.

I find it interesting that God makes a point with Elijah that He is not in the shivaree, but in the small voice: (See Beeps, Pwets, and Pons) “11. And He said: ‘Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.’ And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12. and after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” (Kings I, Chapter 19)

God was in the “still small voice,” not in the wind, earthquake or fire. What happened to the Trumpets and the loud noise?

We find both the trumpets and the still, small, voice in our High Holiday prayers: “The great shofar will be sounded and a still, thin sound will be heard.” (Unetaneh Tokef) What happens after a shockingly loud noise? There is silence. Only in that silence will we be able to hear the still, small voice, in which we can truly find God.

Perhaps the trumpets were not only an announcement; they were also intended for us to pay attention to what we could hear in the silence that followed.

We have recently been awaked by winds, earthquakes, oil spills, and volcanos. The trumpets were sounded and we focused on the loud noises. Perhaps the lesson of Moshe’s trumpets was that we must learn to pay attention to the “still, small voice,” that speaks to us in all of our life experiences.

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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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25
May

I Saw Something Beautiful

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Reflections & Observations

I was standing in front of the hospital and there was a long line of cars waiting to enter the driveway, all impatiently honking away. A NYPD officer was doing his best to direct the traffic and calm everyone. A car-service stopped to drop off a passenger. It was a very old man, and he had a suitcase. The policeman walked over, helped the man out of the car, and carried his suitcase into the hospital for him. I thought that all the drivers would become more agitated, but I was wrong.

When people saw what the policeman was doing, the drivers stopped honking, and people standing around ran over to help the man.

A line of people, both pedestrians and drivers, walked over to the policeman to shake his hand and say, “Thank You!” No one honked while people were thanking the officer.

It was a beautiful scene. Just wanted to share.

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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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25
May

A Free Pass

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

Uh Oh! I’m in trouble! I grew up in a family that did not celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. My wife grew up in a family that has a major 48 hour celebration for each birthday and anniversary. Let’s just say that I had to make some changes. I have learned to work very hard to never forget an important day. Today, I missed a very important day: La Revolucion de Mayo! How could I forget, not that I ever knew of, one of the most significant days in Argentine history? If you don’t hear from me ever again, you will understand that I deserved my fate. I need to earn a free pass to escape the consequences of forgetting an important Argentine anniversary. (No such thing for birthdays or normal anniversaries!) Please don’t tell Debbie, but if I ever survive this terrible sin, I plan to get my revenge! On May 24, 2011, the 20th of Iyar, I will catch my wife for forgetting the important event that occurred in this week’s portion: “It was in the second year, in the second month, on the twentieth of the month, the cloud was lifted from upon the Tabernacle of the Testimony.” (Numbers 10:11) She will never again be able to be angry with me for forgetting an important anniversary! “Is the 20th of Iyar any less important than the 25th of Mayo (May)? It is more important: Otherwise why would it be mentioned in the Torah?” I know my wife. She will respond, “Why is it important?” Do you think Rashi’s explanation will be effective: “This teaches us that they spent 12 months less 10 days at Choreiv.” I’m not sure that will be a good response. Let’s try the Ibn Ezra: “This was the first journey of the people as a camp with the Mishkan.” Somehow, I suspect that the explanation will not earn me a free pass for any important anniversaries I may forget. I need a better explanation. Let’s see: Perhaps we can combine Rashi and the Ibn Ezra. When I read, “12 months less 10 days,” I immediately think of the Ten Days of Repentance. “Journey,” stressed by the Ibn Ezra, tells me that it is a celebration of movement. I got it! “This anniversary is important because it teaches us that Teshuva is the beginning of a journey – a beginning far more important than a birthday. My journey through life will only be meaningful if I master the art of Teshuva.” Even after a year spent at Sinai, we still had to do Teshuva! We cannot remain in one place, even if that place is as holy as Sinai. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur may be days of Teshuva, but the 20th of Iyar is the day we evaluate whether we are living our life’s journey by constantly being willing to change and grow. Do you think I’ll win my Free Pass? 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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25
May

A Planet-Eating Sun

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

The Hubble space telescope has discovered a planet in our galaxy in the process of being devoured by the star that it orbits, according to a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The doomed planet, dubbed WASP-12b, has the highest known surface temperature of any planet in the Milky Way — around 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,800 degrees Fahrenheit).

WASP-12b, more than 300 times the size of Earth, has the highest known surface temperature of any planet in the Milky Way. It also has a mass 40-percent greater than that of Jupiter, the biggest planet in our solar system. It could be enveloped by its own parent star over the next ten million years, the paper’s authors have concluded. It is so close to its parent star that it orbits it in little more than 24 hours. Astronomers already knew that stars will swallow a planet that comes too close to it, but this is the first time that the phenomenon has been observed so clearly.

“Toward the face of the Menorah he kindled its lamps.” (Numbers 8:3) Rabbi Noach of Ka’arov (Kav Chein) explains that the purpose of the Service of God is to always practice living on the middle path. We should not go too far to the right, nor, too far to the left. We must always be focused on the center. We should not move too far away from the Source of Light, not attempt to come too close, lest we be swallowed up by the Light.

As they say in many holy books, “V’hamaivin yavin,” – One who has understanding will understand!

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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21
May

Applies To Me

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

“One who sees the Sotah in her shame, shall become a Nazir.” My Rebbi, HaRav Yochanan Zweig, asks how thirty days of being a Nazir is more powerful than watching the Sotah explode? He compares this to people who drive by an accident without stopping and becoming directly involved. We have the capacity to deny that something is relevant to us. The person who watches the Sotah explode will deny the relevance to him. The process of becoming a Nazir is a way of overcoming our propensity to deny. The Nazir accepts that what he witnessed applied to him, and that he must accept what he saw as relevant. The Nazir accepts that what he saw must becoming a permanent part of his memory. 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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21
May

A Shared Experience

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

In honor of Akiva S.: “One stormy night when my nephew Roger was about twenty months old I wrapped him in a blanket and carried him down to the beach in the rainy darkness. Out there, just at the edge of where -we-couldn’t-see, big waves were thundering in, dimly seen white shapes that boomed and shouted and threw great handfuls of froth at us. Together we laughed with pure joy, he a baby meeting for the first time the wild tumult of the oceans, I with the salt of half a lifetime of sea love in me. But I think we felt the same spine-tingling response to the vast roaring ocean and the wild night all around us.” (Rachel Carson – The Sense of Wonder) I study bible once a week with a twelve-year-old, spectacular young man. Together, he, who has not studied much bible, and I, who has spent all my life studying, exult in the magic of the text. There is no age difference, no gap in knowledge, as we listen in to the joyous thundering of the words, showered with a fresh spray of insights and questions. It is at such moments that I experience my greatest joy in Torah. I revel in its ability to speak to all, the young and old, the student and the rabbi, with the same power and intensity. Perhaps that sharing was the role of the Levites in the Mishkan. The Cohanim stood above us, directing us in our offerings and service. The Levites connected us and allowed us to share the experience of standing in God’s Home. 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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21
May

Receiving The Blessing

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

Five of us would gather in one of the Yeshiva classrooms and have our own “Minyan.” We were all between six and seven-years-old and could not wait for another lifetime before becoming bar-mitzvah and being the Chazzan in the Yeshiva davening, or prayer service. (We all assumed that once we were 13, we would be asked to lead the davening in the Yeshiva! It didn’t happen.) We would each take turns being Chazzan, Torah reader, and speaker in our mini-synagogue. We had “grown up” listening to Rav Dovid Kronglas zt”l, and Rav Avraham Blumenkrantz zt’l, leading the prayers, so we considered ourselves expert Chazzanim. I had a toy Torah from which we read the Torah portion. Our “Shul” was complete, except when the Cohanim would begin their preparations for Birchat Cohanim. We stroked our imaginary beards and determined that since none of us were Cohanim, we should join the “other” davening to be blessed by the Cohanim. We all would run out to the Yeshiva Beis Medrash to stand with our fathers. I admit that my decision had nothing to do with the absence of a Cohen in our shul. In fact, I didn’t even think about the Cohanim: There was no way that I would miss an opportunity to be wrapped up with my father under his Tallit. My grandfather zt”l would often invite me to stand with him under his Tallit. I tried it once and found myself shaking from head to toe and refused to ever again join him for the Cohanim to bless us.

My cousin from Israel was visiting for the holiday. He stood alone for Birchat Cohanim! “Do you hate your father?” we asked. “No! Why would I stand with my father?” Our hearts broke for my cousin. He obviously didn’t know anything about Duchaning! We suspected that either there was something really wrong in his family, or, that he was not really very religious.

I mentioned the horror story to my father, who explained that since my cousin lived in Israel, he received a blessing from the Cohanim every day. He had learned how to stand with his eyes averted without needing to hide under his father’s Tallit.

I was so confused! “What’s the point of Birchat Cohanim if not to stand with your father under his Tallit? I asked. “To receive a blessing from Hashem through the Cohanim,” my father explained.

“Uh oh!” I thought, “I had been missing the point all along my entire six and half years of life.”

It seems that my father knew what was going through my head. “Why do you like standing with me?”

“I feel safe, loved, and special.”

“One day you will realize that that feeling of ‘safe, loved, and being special,’ is exactly the blessing the Cohanim are giving you. They are asking Hashem to help you feel that way all the time.”

He, as usual, was right. I was soon ready to stand on my own to be blessed by the Cohanim.

I spent his final Simchat Torah with him. I was 40. I went to stand next to him for Birchat Cohanim and he invited my children and me to stand with him under his Tallit. I didn’t hesitate.

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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20
May

Pythagoras, Cholent, and Tznius (Modesty)

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

Pythagorus had a lot of influence for a man who probably never existed. The Pythagoreans invented their founder, including the manner of his death. Pyhthagoras had a strong revulsion to beans. He would definitely never have eaten Shabbat afternoon Cholent, and not because of its natural effects on the stomach, but because beans are not Tznius – not appropriate for a modest person: (Please do not read on if you are sensitive.) Bean may have been an Egyptian slang word for testicle. The Christian Bishop Hippolytus, in his Refutation of All Heresies (especially thefoundationstone.org) wrote that if beans are chewed and then left in the sun, they emit the smell of semen. Very not Tznius! There’s more! If one takes the bean in flower and buries it in the earth and, in a few days, digs it up: “It will have the appearance of something immodest.”

It seems that Pythagoras was very strict about Tznius: When running from the Syracusans during the war with Arigentum, he escaped because his followers formed a bridge over a fire with their bodies, only to be caught because he would not escape through a field of beans: not tznius! That’s commitment.

Even the great philosophers, if they truly existed, had their foibles.

Lately, I have been wondering if the manner in which we teach Tznius has become one of the foibles of certain religious communities.

I repeat: “The manner in which we teach the laws of Tznius.” I do not mean the laws of personal dignity.

If a teacher publicly humiliates a young girl for wearing a school uniform that is too tight; is she not stuck at Pythagoras’ field of beans? Is it Tznius – modesty to most – dignity to me – to humiliate someone? Did the “laws” of Tznius not just override the biblical commandments to love others, to rebuke in an effective manner, to not embarrass someone, to copy the ways of God in personal attributes, to avoid arrogance and numerous others? Is that public rebuke not a tergiversation (I wanted to use a word I learned today – not too modest, but hopefully dignified,) of all the lessons of Jewish law and thought?

I open this “blog” to you: How do you suggest we teach the concept of Tznius and its laws?

Please allow me one more reflection on this topic: I met a non-observant man this week who commented that he never understood the concept of Kedusha – Holiness – until he met a group of Satmar women. He used to laugh at their hats and dress. After one conversation he understood the concept of Holiness at least he sensed it. These were women who were untouchable simply by virtue of who they are as human beings. I can picture Reb Yoelish zt”l smiling with great pride.

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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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