May, 2010 Archives

20
May

The Nose

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Holofernes puns, “And why, indeed, Naso, but for smelling out the odiferous flowers of fancy.” (Shakespeare: Love’s Labours Lost, IV,ii) It seems that “Naso,” the name of this week’s portion, means, “Nose.” In fact, Ovid, the Roman poet, author of Metamorphoses, was named, “Publius Ovidius Naso!”

Obviously, I had to find a hint of “Nose” in Naso!

I found it! Can you?

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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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18
May

Time Zones

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Prayer, Spiritual Growth

I need a few days to adjust to a different time zone. I flew into LA a day before Shavuot in order to adjust before the Holyday, but one day was not enough. Things only got worse when I had to teach all night and my inner schedule was ripped to shreds. I could no longer tell what was day and what was night.

While in this state, I traveled to yet another time zone: I stood with the Children of Israel as they sang Hallel before stepping into the sea. Just when I settled into that time zone, I had to travel again, this time to Deborah and Barak as they sang their Hallel before battling Sisera and his 900 chariots. It was frightening, thrilling, and fascinating. I wanted to speak with Deborah and get some tips on leadership but I had to take off yet again to stand with King Hezekiah as he sang Hallel as he watched the Assyrian army surround Jerusalem. It was darker than the battle with Sisera, but it was the chance of a lifetime to speak with a man destined to be the Messiah. Even if, for some inexplicable reason, Hezekiah wouldn’t meet with me, I could always interview Isaiah who was hanging around.

My travels had not ended. I took off again, this time for Babylon, just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed Nego were singing Hallel as they were being thrown into a furnace of fire. I’ll admit that there was no way that I would get close enough to that furnace to interview them and Nebuchadnezzar was scary. I was intimidated and was grateful when I felt myself lifted again into another time zone, back to Los Angeles, just in time for morning prayers.

Something magic must have happened: I was wide-awake. The constant switch from one time zone to another did not confuse my body’s clock: it was restored. All was well.

I’ll admit that I took another few trips over Shavuot: Sinai was intense, Ezekiel in Babylon was inspiring, Ruth was impressive, David and Batsheva were a handsome but controversial couple, Samson was intimidating, and observing the Sotah ceremony in the Second Temple was super cool.

For some reason, these dramatic journeys do not disturb my inner clock as much as did the flight from Newark to LA. They did disturb me in a different way: When I returned from all these trips I could not find any of my footprints in any of the scenes of the Bible. It was as if I had never been there. I guess that it is hard to find those marks in stories more than 2,000 years old, and that even just 100 years from now there will be no mark of me in this time zone either.

I may have left no marks on those stories, but they certainly left their marks on me, and that is what it’s all about. Every Hallel I will sing will have the imprint of those stories. I live, love, learn, pray, and observe, not in order to leave my mark, but to allow those experiences to leave their impressions on me. It works, and it is absolutely wonderful.

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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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18
May

Nachas!

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Reflections & Observations

I have never seen so many happy parents gathered in one place. We were watching our children graduate from the George Washington University, and although there were many tears flowing, all the parents were glowing. We were all nervous about our children’s futures. Few graduates have found jobs, especially those who, as a certain daughter of mine, chose to major in history and archeology. We were nervous but proud. We watched our children approach the podium to receive their diplomas, their final steps from childhood into adulthood. Somehow, all the struggles to guide them to this point seemed worthwhile. It was a far more powerful experience than their kindergarten and even high school graduations. Our children will take all the lessons we have imparted over the years and apply them to life. I know that it may sound corny, but I had a sense of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs watching their descendants accept the Torah at Sinai. They had dedicated their lives so that we could reach that moment. They, too, knew that their children would struggle, but they realized that those children now had all the necessary tools they would need to thrive and build magnificent lives. Such Nachas! 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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18
May

The Poetry of Torah

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Reflections & Observations

It is difficult

to get the news from poems

yet men die miserably every day

for lack

of what is found there.

William Carlos Williams – Asphodel, that Greeny Flower

Every Biblical narrative and law is a unique creation, yet consists of universal components and techniques which are shared by other narratives. Can we read the Book of Ruth without comparing it to the story of Lot’s daughters, Yehudah and Tamar, and the laws of Yibum – levirate marriage – and our obligations to help our poor relatives redeem their land? If we ignore the poetry of the narrative, will we learn how to apply the story to our lives in meaningful ways?

Can we read the stories of Revelation in Yitro, and Mishpatim without comparing them to the same stories retold in Vaetchanan and Eikev? What do we miss when we ignore the intentional differences in narrative? We miss the poetry of the Sinai experience. It becomes an historical story, without pulling us into the scene so that we can relive Revelation and its challenges.

How can we make sense of Ezekiel’s vision without a sense of his standing outside of Israel? How can we live Ezekiel’s lessons without wondering about the Sages’ comparison of Ezekiel’s vision to that of the lowest person crossing the Red Sea? They are calling our attention to the subtle messages. They are inviting us to relive the miracle of the Sea even as we are mystified by Ezekiel’s words.

Torat Chaim, a Torah of Life, asks us to pay attention to the poetry of her words. Without the poetry, we may live according to instructions, without joy, and live “miserably every day – for lack – of what is found there.”

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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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18
May

Crossing Boundaries

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Early summer 1945: Britain was broke. Its cities lay in ruins, its citizens were shabbily dressed and its daily food and fuel would be strictly rationed for the next ten years. The world’s richest nation had become its biggest debtor. There were neither the resources nor the urge for frivolity. Yet within weeks of the end of the war and with creditors baying at the door, an almost indigent nation resolved without controversy to set up three cost intensive new cultural institutions.

The high-domed, walrus-eyed, free-spirited, Treasury adviser, John Maynard Keynes declared, “I do not believe it is yet realized what an important thing has happened. State patronage of the arts has crept in. It has happened in a very English, informal, unostentatious way – half-baked, if you like.” A boundary was crossed, and Baron Keynes knew that there was no going back.

Boundaries were crossed at Sinai as well: “Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel ascended. They saw the Lord of Israel, and under His feet was the likeness of sapphire brickwork, and it was like the essence of heaven in purity.” (Exodus 24:9-10) God was not pleased. They looked where they should have not. They crossed a boundary. Many believe that the seeds of the sin of the Golden Calf were planted at that moment.

But other boundaries were crossed as well. A nation of newly freed slaves entered into a living covenant with God. They too crossed a boundary; the one that lies between a life of limitation and a life of the infinite.

We too often cross boundaries. There are ill-defined lines separating holy speech from the unholy. A hair separates between eating and spiritual nourishment, between arrogance and humility, between knowledge and the essence of Torah. I will leave it for the ethical masters and preachers to address the times we creep across the line into destructive behaviors. I prefer to celebrate with you the many times when we are able to reach just beyond the boundary into the good and the holy.

We may not often succeed at leaping across the line, but we do excel at taking baby steps into higher and better levels of existence. Perhaps it is informal, unostentatious, and half-baked, but we have crossed those boundaries never to permanently slip all the way back.

Perhaps when we realize how skilled we are as Boundary-Crossers, we will be able to overcome those Cherubim standing at the boundary of Eden with their swords of fire, threatening to stop all except, of course, the Boundary-Crossers.

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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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18
May

The Final Moments

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

I envy her final few seconds: She was not an especially religious woman. She did not believe in God or His Torah. She was warned by her husband to stay away from a certain man. She knew that she was being watched, but she did not care. She slipped into a home with the man and stepped out a few hours later.

Her husband brought her to the Beit Hamikdash. A Cohen spoke to her and explained the process of Sotah. She would be publicly shamed. She did not care. God’s Name would be erased. She laughed. She was warned that she would die a horrible death if she was guilty. She didn’t believe it. She confidently drank the water and everyone waited to see what would happen.

All of a sudden, she experienced the strangest sensations inside her body. Something was happening. The Sotah Waters were real. God was real. In the final seconds before she exploded, she realized that she had been wrong about God, about His Torah and about life. In her final seconds she physically experienced Truth. In her final seconds of life, she was granted a gift: absolute clarity that God exists and is directly involved. She exploded and she died in that state of clarity.

No one who watched her die could deny the Hand of God. Even the holy Cohanim were moved, shaken, and inspired. They witnessed a tragedy and a miracle. Her final actions and her death served to sanctify God’s Name.

The woman who rejected God ended her life proving His existence to all who witnessed her story.

I envy her final seconds of absolute clarity. I envy her “accomplishment,” her influence on so many people, proving God’s existence.

The Children of Israel were defeated in their battle with the city of Ai. (Joshua, Chapter 7) A man, Achan had sinned against God and brought tragedy to the entire nation. Joshua pinpointed the culprit through a lottery. He confronted Achan and pleaded with him to acknowledge his guilt. If Achan denied his guilt and laughed at the lottery’s accuracy, Joshua would never be able to use the lottery to divide the Land of Israel between the Tribes and their families. The future of Israel was in the hands of this terrible, blatant sinner. If he denied his guilt, he would damage the future, but he would live. If he acknowledged his guilt, he would sanctify God’s Name and the lottery, but he would die.

Achan, the sinner, chose to save Israel’s future and sanctify God’s Name, knowing that he would die. In the final moments of his life, Achan the sinner, became a person who sanctified God’s Name. We honor his choice with the second paragraph of Aleinu: Al Kein Nikaveh,” – Therefore we hope – the first letters of the three words spell out Achan.

His example of being able to repair a lifetime in the final moments of life is the reason that all of us, whether an Achan, a Sotah, or a person distant from God, always hope that we will be able to achieve the gift of Achan and the Sotah. We don’t have to wait until the final moments. We do not have to drink the Bitter Waters. We do not have to be willing, as was Achan, to die. In fact, we only have to be willing to live.

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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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18
May

The Ongoing Revelation

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Pinocchio-nosed frogs, gargoyle-faced geckos and the world’s smallest wallaby are among the newly identified species discovered during an expedition to Indonesia’s remote Foja Mountains and announced today. The newfound species they detailed include several new mammals, a reptile, an amphibian, at least 12 insects and a new bird.

The amphibian in question was a tree frog with a long, Pinocchio-like spike on its nose that points upward when the male is calling but deflates and points downward when he is less active. This frog’s discovery was a happy accident, after herpetologist Paul Oliver spotted it sitting on a bag of rice at the campsite. (Yahoo News)

My soul may have been present at Revelation, but my memory was not, at least not at the Revelation of Sinai. However, I am present in a different Revelation, which, as the Shofar at Sinai, increases in power every moment: I live in a world of constant discovery of God’s magnificent creations. This Revelation increases with each new Galaxy discovered by the Hubble telescope and with each new creation we find right here in this world, still to be fully explored.

If we can find this expanding Revelation in our finite world, just imagine how much more we can find in God’s Infinite Torah. I guess I am still present at Revelation.

Thank You, God.

PS: Where can you find this in Hallel?

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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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18
May

The Desert With Poetry, Or, Life Without?

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Having confessed his crime (writing love

poems to the Prince’s mistress), the straight

young knight from Venice stood all alone, above

the royal palace court, to hear his fate:

“You have a choice. So listen and decide.

Either: retire to the desert, and take

a vow to forfeit women, wine, and pride,

until you die, as penance for your mistake.

Or second, never write a poem again.”

The court was stunned. A duke unsheathed his sword.

But the youth stayed calm. he waited, and then

addressed the court. “God bless your mercy, my lord.

The choice is easy,” explained the grateful knight.

“I’ll keep my pen, and ride to the desert tonight.”

Judgment – William Baer 2002

A man signed up for a tour of Jerusalem. The climax was to be a visit to the Beit Hamikdash – The Holy Temple. The tour guide pointed out all the important sights; the King’s palace, the homes of the Cohanim, the Mount of Olives, Avshalom’s monument, the ramps of purity that were used only for the offering of the Red Heifer. He and all his fellow tourists were busily taking pictures and videos of the Holy City. They were hoping for a glance of the King’s motorcade, or even the King himself.

The tour organizers insisted that everyone maintain the highest levels of personal spiritual purity in order to enter the Temple grounds. People were excited and nervous.

When the group arrived on the Temple Mount, even the experienced tour guide was speechless. They had arrived during a rare ceremony: A Sotah, a woman accused of adultery after a complex process of warnings and suspicious activities, was being paraded around the Temple grounds as part of the process of breaking down her defenses before God’s Name would be erased in the Bitter Waters. She haughtilly refused to admit her guilt. A scroll on which God’s Name was written was placed in the water until all the ink dissolved in the water. She smiled and confidently lifted the cup and drank the water.

All of a sudden, her faced changed. She was shocked, terrified and in pain. She exploded in front of the crowd that had gathered to observe the ceremony. There was a loud scream of agony, and everyone turned around to see a man, who was hiding in middle of the crowd, explode as well. Her lover!

The tourists were shaken. They had seen the Hand of God. They witnessed His justice. They saw a portion of the Torah come to life. The tour bus was silent as they returned to their hotel.

The man could not sleep. He was not kept awake by images of the two deaths. He was thinking about the woman, and what he saw. He did not think about her shame or her sin. He thought only of her body. He realized that something was terribly wrong within him. How could he focus on the woman and not the miracle and justice?

He did not join the tour in the morning. He walked to the Temple grounds and asked to speak with a senior Cohen. “You will have to wait,” said the appointments Cohen. “There seems to be an unusually number of men today asking to speak with a Cohen.”

All the men who were waiting in line were silent. Everyone was uncomfortable. The man suspected that his issue was not unique.

The Cohen Gadol, before the Sotah ceremony, had ordered all senior Cohanim to come to Jerusalem post haste. He had expected the crowds of men. It was not a long wait. The man entered a small office and was warmly greeted by a Cohen. He soon felt so comfortable that he was able to explain the reason for his visit without too much shame.

The Cohen smiled, glanced through the window of his office, and said, “It seems that you are not the only one with this issue.”

“The Torah teaches us to expect people to come to us today with this problem. That is why the laws of the Nazirite immediately follow the laws of the Sotah.” The Cohen told him the story of the young knight and his choice of punishments in the poem above. “Which would you choose? The desert with poetry, or life without?”

The man chose, and the Cohen directed him through the process of becoming a Nazir.

Which did he choose? The desert with poetry, or life without?

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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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17
May

Running Conversations

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Prayer

Traffic was terrible. We were on our way to Washington, DC for Shabbat and we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. We would pick up speed for a few minutes, and then everything would stop again. We were all becoming agitated and grouchy.

We noticed that the man in the car to our right was constantly staring at us, so I responded as the mature man I am, and stared back. He began to laugh and gesture, “What?”

Noticing the Italian flag on the back of his car, when I lowered the window to speak with him, Debbie, who was driving, began speaking to him in Italian. We soon learned that he, as I, was born in Baltimore, and his grandparents came from Italy, as did Debbie’s. We were almost “Mishpacha,” family. Here we were making friends with someone else as we were driving. The conversation continued even when we picked up speed.

It was only when he moved too far away to continue our conversation that we realized that we enjoyed the conversation so much that we forgot to be annoyed by the traffic. Our running conversation distracted us from the exasperating traffic. At that moment I understood why the same cloud that was the manifestation of God’s Presence in the Mishkan, was used as the indicator that the camp had to move. The Cloud was our reminder that our conversation with God is not only when we are settled in our homes, and everything is stable and fine. Our conversation with God is a running conversation. It continues even “U’vilechticha baderech,” “When you are traveling in the way,” even when we are in annoying situations, even when everything seems unstable, even when we are aggravated.

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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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17
May

The Instincts of Others

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

My granddaughter knows that Pip will not enter the dining room on Shabbat. All we have to do is say, “Shabbos!” and he leaves the room. She was baking Challah on Thursday with her mother, and Pip was desperately reaching for the food on the counter, driving her crazy. “Thursday!” she yelled. He looked at her with total confusion. Obviously, Thursday is not Shabbat.

Her younger sister doesn’t like bugs, so, when they fly around her on Shabbat, she cries out, “Shabbos!” The stupid bugs don’t listen. The five year old doesn’t realize that Pip is different, and that not all of God’s creatures are as careful with Shabbat as our dog!

It’s easy to forget that what we take for granted as natural behavior is not always shared by others; people or bugs, or even other less wonderful dogs. If it works for us, it should work for everyone! I am often shocked when I share, what I believe to be a powerful and exciting insight, does not elicit a similar response from others. I may consider an idea to be life changing, and someone else will simply yawn. I feel like my granddaughter crying out “Shabbos,” to no avail.

Was it possible for anyone who stood at Revelation to imagine that there were others who did not see with the same clarity? I think, not. Until, that is, the people who stood at Sinai, pulled away, and asked that Moshe speak for God. They were too intimidated to maintain the necessary awareness for continued Revelation.

At the moment they pulled back from God, they learned that there will always be people who will pull back from a powerful, life changing insight or experience. The Children of Israel learned that even as one part of them desired connection, another part withdrew. They realized that not only to other people respond differently, but even parts of us will have a different experience.

The Children of Israel learned tolerance for others. They learned tolerance for themselves. They learned that no matter how powerful an insight, we still have to work at committing our entire being to respond. We will be able to share our insights only after we have integrated them into our entire being.

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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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