July, 2010 Archives

29
Jul

Life Lessons

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Reflections & Observations, Spiritual Growth

I just finished reading “Life Lessons” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler: ‘Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us About the Mysteries of Life and Living.’ I try to read everything written by Dame Elisabeth ever since I read her “On Death and Dying” many years ago. People often called me as their rabbi to sit with them as a loved one lay dying. I learned a great deal about death and its lessons for life from her, and I am forever grateful.

“Life Lessons” was a quick and pleasant read. It sparked ideas that found their way into some recent blogs. (Riding With Shema, Not Moment to Moment, and The Comfort, Discomfort of Control, and The Fear Underneath) It sparked an idea for a recent lecture: “Additional Mechitzot,” in which I questioned why we work to diligently to separate men and women and not also people in different places in their relationship with God. The book was an excellent ‘Idea Sparker,’ but it did not teach me as much as Dame Elisabeth’s first book.

I post a regular column on The Foundation Stone, with the same title: Life Lessons; Stories and Parables That Illuminate Our Life’s Path. The column is written by Chana Chaya Klein, whom I respectfully call, “The Heileger Chana Chaya,” (The Holy Chana Chaya) in honor of her ability to transcend towering challenges, learn from them, and thrive in them, not despite them.

Although a devoted story teller, I do not enjoy reading stories. Ever since I was a child sitting on my father’s knees, I have critically questioned every story I hear or read. Yet, I read The Heileger Chana Chaya’s “Life Lessons” because each essay is filled with practical wisdom, and, at the very least, forces me to look at myself through the eyes of her “Lesson.”

What is the difference between one Life Lessons and the other? Well, I have known Chana Chaya for almost twenty years and have observed her development from a wonderful person into a truly great human being. She hasn’t stopped learning or dreaming for a single day in the past twenty years I have known her.

I have been a devoted fan of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross for twenty-nine years. I often get the feeling that she has not been growing as a human being. Her writings strike me as being the same as they were almost three decades ago. If I am going to read one Life Lessons or another, I choose the one written by a person who has never stopped learning Life’s lessons. I’ll stick with Chana Chaya.

In fairness to Dame Elisabeth, I must share an important story from Life Lessons, a story about her personally meeting one of her own lessons of life:

“After my strokes, I could live with the idea of dying and I could live with the idea of recovery. Instead, I had to live with being incapacitated, with my left side paralyzed, not getting better or worse. I was like a plane sitting on a runway: I wished it would either take off or go back to the gate. There was nothing to do but sit. I became angry. I was filled with anger at everything and everyone. I was even angry at God; I called Him every name in the book – and lightning didn’t strike me. Through the years, so many people have told me how much they appreciate my stages on death and dying, of which anger is one. But now, so many people in my life disappeared when I became angry myself. At least 75 percent of my friends left. Even some in the press condemned me for not having a “good” death because of my anger. It’s as if they loved my stages but didn’t like me being in one of them. But those who stayed with me allowed me to be, not judging me or my anger and that helped me to dissipate it.” (Page 155)

I honor her for her honesty. She learned to live what she had taught.

Chana Chaya’s Life Lessons are different: She only shares what she has already experienced first hand. Yes, I’ll stick with Chana Chaya.

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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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29
Jul

The Fear Underneath – Learning About Anger

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

I am often asked to post new “Tools” to deal with anger. I recently read “Life Lessons” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler and found a powerful lesson:

Untreated fear turns into anger. When we’re not in touch with our fears – or when we don’t even know we’re afraid – that fear grows into anger. If we don’t deal with the anger, it will turn into rage:

Andrew was supposed to meet his girlfriend, Melanie, at a coffeehouse. There are several of the coffeehouses spread throughout the city, and each went to a different one. Andrew waited for Melanie for thirty or forty minutes, left a message on her answering machine, and went back to his apartment. “I figured that there must have been some sort of mix-up, so we’d try again,” he explained. “That was not Melanie’s impression. She was very angry with me. She was implying that I deliberately left her there, that I disappointed her, that I couldn’t be trusted. I pointed out that we both just assumed it was a different coffeehouse.”

What for Andrew was a simple mix-up was for Melanie a horrible letdown suggesting he was unreliable and would disappoint her again. She brought more anger to the situation than it deserved, anger that was left over from an old hurt. Out of touch with the fear under her anger, Melanie made Andrew the villian. Unfortunately, she only took the first step – she got mad.

We’re all very good at this step: “I’m angry because you weren’t there,” “I’m angry because you were late,” “I’m angry because you didn’t do a good job,” “I’m angry because of what you said.”

We need to learn how to take the second step, looking into ourselves to explore the fear underneath. Here are some clues to what may really be going on:

The anger: I’m angry because you weren’t there.

The fear underneath: When you’re not there, I fear you’re abandoning me.

The anger: I’m angry because you’re late.

The fear underneath: I’m not as important to you as your work.

The anger: I’m angry because you didn’t do a good job.

The fear underneath: I’m afraid we’ll make less money and not be able to pay our bills.

The anger: I’m angry because of what you said.

The fear underneath: I’m afraid you don’t love me anymore.

“Life Lessons” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler, pps 150-152

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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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29
Jul

The Question Machine

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

My wife and I have been taking care of our 8 year old nephew, Felix, for a while and have quickly realized how much we forgot about dealing with younger children. The hardest part for me is becoming “Google” again, or as my wife and kids like to joke: “The Source of All Knowledge.”

Debbie took Felix to Wave Hill for a Shabbat walk. She told him the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. “Why did they not simply vomit the fruit and undo their sin?”

They took out a book about Shabbat and its laws: “Why can’t Tio Simcha design a solar powered car that does not use a flame and can be used on Shabbat?

Debbie then explained how we derive the Shabbat laws from the Mishkan: “Why doesn’t the Prime Minister of Israel simply build a new Temple?”

We had a small tornado this past Sunday in the Bronx: “Boy! God must be very angry!” “Well, Felix, no one was hurt even though so many trees fell and cars were destroyed. Maybe He isn’t so angry.” “Then, why did He do it?”

I may have been an “Answer Machine” for many years, but the position does not carry as much prestige as being “The Question Machine” Felix has become.

There is an important difference between the first paragraph of Shema and the second: “You shall teach them thoroughly to your children and you shall speak of them while you sit in your home…” (Deuteronomy 6:7) The second paragraph has an almost identical phrase with a powerful change: “You shall teach them to your children to discuss them, while you sit in your home…” (11:19)

The first paragraph of Shema commands us to teach Torah. The second paragraph commands us to teach our children to discuss Torah, to nurture them as Question Machines.

We can only nurture our kids as Question Machines if we are willing to become Answer Machines, even if we must respond, “I don’t know. I’ll have to look it up on “Google.”

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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29
Jul

Eikev: How? (Text Version)

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

In response to numerous requests for the text version of this podcast: “Perhaps you will say in your heart, these nations are more numerous than I; how will I be able to drive them out? Do not fear them! You shall remember…”

The verse actually describes a series of steps:

1) These nations are more numerous than I.

2) How will I be able…

3) Do not fear…

The seed of fear and doubt is planted the minute the people say; “These nations are more numerous.”

The verse does not mention fear. It simply says, “you will say in your heart.”

The battle with the Canaanites will change with that simple statement: It changes from a war in which God will lead Israel to a regular battle that must be examined and studied by numbers, strategies and weapons.

The next word is Eicha – How – the word that is the theme of the Three Weeks of Destruction ; Eicha – How? Alas! Woe!

We create the sense of doubt in our hearts, and that doubt leads to Eicha.

The verse is teaching us that all the Eichas of the three weeks that climaxed and ended in Tisha B’Av began with doubts – doubts planted in our hearts by us.

The verse continues with “Do not fear.” Once the doubt has been planted in our hearts, once we ask even a silent Eicha – we will begin to fear.

This week’s portion Eikev – is a description of different processes: The process of learning a Mitzvah in our heads and allowing it to flow all the way through our bodies into our heels. The process of Reward and Punishment. And now, the process we begin with our unstated doubts and questions that lead to fear, and a battle that will have to be waged on a more practical level rather than allowing God to fight for us.

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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29
Jul

Eikev: From Head To Heel (Text Version)

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

In response to the numerous requests for the written version: The opening verse in this week’s portion reads: “This shall be the reward when you hearken to these ordinances.”

Rashi comments: If you hear even those commandments that people “tread on them with their heels, meaning, the Mitzvot that do not seem so important, God will reward you with the following blessings.

As we study the portion we will find the word “Shema” to hear, or hearken, and Shimor, to guard.

Perhaps Rashi is teaching us the accurate meaning of the word “Shema” and all that it entails.

As the Ramban points out: Head is always used as a beginning, and heel as the end.

Rashi is telling us that although we may observe all the Mitzvot, even those we believe less important, that may only be with our heads – We know what to do and we do it.

The heel represents a Mitzvah that has flowed through the entire body from head to heel – from beginning to end – To Hear is to allow the Mitzvah to connect with all our being, so that it is expressed in the way we walk – or, move forward.

Rashi is teaching us that this verse does not refer to observance of the Mitzvot – but the care that allows each Mitzvah to flow through our being so that each Mitzvah we observe is an expression of our being.

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
Jul

Podcast: Eikev 3: What Does God Ask?

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

Eikev3-WhatDoesGod Want

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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
Jul
25
Jul

Podcast: Portion of the Week: From Head to Heel

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

From Head to Heel

“The mind is a moment in the response of the body to the world.” Paul Valery


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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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23
Jul

Forms of Prayer

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Prayer

Tens of people gathered to pray for the young mother of three who was mortally ill. The tears flowed. Everyone cried to God to save the family from tragedy.

They prayed for thirty minutes and left. No one was smiling. It seemed to the rabbi that no one believed their prayers even mattered.

They gathered again on the next day when they heard that the young woman’s situation was much worse. All were ready to pray with cries and tears. They waited for the rabbi to begin the emergency prayer session.

Rather than rise to face the Ark and lead the prayers, the rabbi stood up to face the congregation:

“Is there anyone here who believes that our prayers of yesterday helped?”

People were shocked, even horrified that a rabbi could ask such a question, especially in such a desperate situation, but no one raised a hand to say he believed that the prayers were effective.

“Is there anyone here who left yesterday believing that God had listened?”

A few hesitant hands that went half way up, then down. No hand was raised in confidence.

“Let’s try a different approach,” said the rabbi, “any suggestions?”

One person stood up to say, “I would like to argue her case before God! She is so young. She has three babies! God, this isn’t fair!”

Someone shouted out, “I’ll tell God that I won’t stop pestering Him until He responds!”

A woman shyly stood up to say, “You love me. Please, do it for me.”

“No,” said the woman next to her, “You love her. You love her children. Do it for them!”

“You can do it like this,” said another as she snapped her fingers. “What’s the big deal?”

A quiet man rose to whisper, “You guys can’t argue with God. He knows best. I would say, ‘Look, God, You know best, but I’m begging You to use the Nike approach; Just Do It!”

“Hey! Rabbi! Didn’t you say that we can pray with joy and confidence; ‘You are the Healer and we are confident that You will Heal her’?”

They spent thirty minutes describing how they would pray. There was no time left to pray. Everyone had to get to work. “We spent so much time discussing how to pray that we have no time left,” a woman moaned.

The rabbi said, “What do you think we were just doing? We just had one of the greatest prayer sessions in history!”

Everyone left inspired. They were hopeful. Each had a sense that his prayers were heard.

These are the ten (or, thirteen) forms of prayer listed in the Midrash on this week’s portion.

There are many forms of prayer. Why use only one approach? Why stick with the same approach if we feel that our prayers are not working?

Talking about prayer, and strategizing how to pray are also forms of prayer, just as it was for the people in the story.

By the way; The woman had a miraculous recovery. Just saying…

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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22
Jul

Sharing My Pie

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

“My dear one,” said the dying woman to her grieving grandson who refused to let go, “I am complete, my life has been full and whole. I know you must see me not being full of much life anymore, but I assure you, I have brought much life to my journey. We are like a pie: we give a piece to our parents, we give a piece to our loves, we give a piece to our children, and we give a piece to our careers. At the end of life, some people have not saved a piece for themselves – and don’t even know what kind of pie they were. I know what kind of pie I am; this is something we each find for ourselves. I can leave this life knowing who I am.”

“You shall love God, your Lord, with all your hear, with all your soul, and with all you resources.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) God doesn’t want a piece of the pie. He wants the whole pie, but it must come from one who knows exactly what kind of pie he or she is.

God doesn’t ask us to hand over the pie. He asks us to use every slice of the pie to express our love for Him. The slice we give our parents must reflect that love. The slice we give our loves must express our love for Him, as too the slices we give our children and our careers.

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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