November, 2010 Archives

30
Nov

Make Em Pay!

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Why did the Egyptians not go to the man who was assigned to feed them? (Please read Rabbi Moshe Stepansky’s comments on Royal Parade)

I suspect that they perceived Joseph’s appointment as a whim. They could not believe that a seven year period of plenty could be so quickly followed by such a devastating financial collapse. (Sound familiar?) The taxes collected to prepare for the so called famine were simply taxes.

Joseph could have opened the treasury to feed everyone and prove that the government was preparing all along. He chose to charge them. Why?

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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30
Nov

Royal Parade

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

President Obama had a nightmare about the economy and the only person who can interpret the dream to his satisfaction is sitting in Federal prison. The president is so thrilled with the interpretation that he appoints the young man as the Economic Czar and has him paraded him through New York’s Fifth Ave. to be introduced to the country. Would you attend?

I wouldn’t. The times were different. People worshipped Pharaoh. What exactly happened? Did the BNN report the new Czar telling everyone about the parade? The text seems to say that Pharaoh simply sent Joseph down Fifth Ave in an open chariot with the PA system announcing & introducing the young ex-con/slave who would be in charge of their future.

His official title is: “He may be young, but he’s really smart!”. Not especially reassuring.

What was Pharaoh thinking? It certainly didn’t work: Joseph collected taxes for seven years, but when they were hungry the people went to Pharaoh, not Joseph. Why?

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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30
Nov

Joseph & Judah: The Empowering Humility of Yesod

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Both Judah and Joseph “go down.” Judah lost his prestigious position as the leading brother and had to move away and begin a new life. Joseph went down into a pit, was lifted out only to be sent “down” into Egypt, then rose to a position of leadership in Potiphar’s household, again only to be thrown back down into the prison pit! (OK – a Federal Prison, a.k.a. country club, but still prison.)

It’s interesting to note the different responses to being lowered:

Judah, as his father Jacob, in this portion of Passivity – Vayeishev – sleeps with a very, very expensive prostitute, who basically tells him she is going to blackmail him: She wanted all his personal things as security. Kind of overkill – Don’t you think? She then disappears and he can’t find her to pay her, so he…forgets about it.

He only comes back to some semblance of passion and life when he has an opportunity to rid himself of his problematic daughter-in-law, Tamar, with whom he has taken a passive approach of sending on a visit home, rather than informing her that he doesn’t want her around at all.

Tamar set things rolling, and Judah regained his former leadership position. (See The Big Lie)

Judah had a difficult time dealing with his low points.

It almost seems endemic to Judah’s family. Boaz rises to his greatness only in the final days of his life, at the urging of Tamar. King David appears in Kings, not Samuel, and rises to his best at the urging of Batsheva.

Joseph deals with his “downs” with equanimity. He also seems to deal better with his glorious moments. He does fail, but never seems as devastated as Judah, Boaz or King David.

Perhaps there is a simple reason: Joseph knows that his leadership positions are never his own. He understands that he is the attribute of Yesod – the preparation for Malchut, which belongs to his brother Judah. Joseph does not experience the same devastation upon losing high positions because he knows that they aren’t really his.

Judah and King David represent Malchut – Divine Kingship. They expect more of themselves and therefore are far more devastated when they fail.

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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30
Nov

The Cell Phone Hand Grenade by Prof. Gerald August

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Reflections & Observations

A couple of years ago I was at home and got a call from a friend. She was on her cell phone while driving. We were talking and at one point I heard her say “ooo,” and her phone went dead. Visions of an accident flashed through my head. I did not know if I should call because she might be in the process of avoiding an accident. The next 20 seconds were tense ones. Then the phone rang, and she told me a box had fallen off a truck in front of her and she had to drop her phone and put both hands on the wheel to swerve to miss the box. I told her to hang up because she did not have hands-free and to call me when she was not in the car.

Because of this incident, I realized that I should not talk to friends who are driving holding a cell phone. So when a friend calls me and I know they are in the car I ask if they are hands-free. If they tell me they are not, I tell them I am hanging up because they are putting themselves at risk. And I hang up.

What I am doing is a biblical commandment. We are taught to build a fence on a roof to make sure no one is injured by falling off the roof. It is our job to prevent accidents. And protecting people from themselves is also part of this commandment.

Holding a cell phone in your hand while driving is like holding a live grenade. Both have the potential to kill you. Your hands should be on the wheel, not holding a cell phone or a grenade.

The National Transportation Safety Board estimates there are one million six hundred thousand accidents a year cased by people who use cell phones to talk or text while driving. It impairs your ability to safely navigate the car by shifting your attention from the road. And a good friend will take the phone out of your hand.

This lesson was reinforced a year ago when I was crossing a street in Manhattan with a friend. We were one third of the way across and a car ran the red light and was coming toward my friend. Her instinct was to turn back to the near curb, but that would have put her in the path of the car. I grabbed her and pulled her in the other direction. She told me the driver was holding a cell phone and was oblivious to the presence of lights or people.

Texting or talking on a cell phone puts you and others at risk.

So how do you control the car cell phone habit? One idea is to consider your car a slice of Shabbat during the week. On Shabbat, you don’t talk on the phone. In your car, don’t talk on the phone. Give yourself some personal space during the week. Sort of a pause that refreshes… a pause that keeps you safe.

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30
Nov

Chanukah Hallel Paragraph Four: Joining in Song

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

In the Forms of Hallel and Focus of Hallel we have seen that many believe that Hallel is a conversation between the person leading the prayers and the congregation. We sing Hallel as the Highest Angels sing Kedusha, first one, then the other, and then together as a single voice. Rav Shlomo Kluger (Tehillot Yisrael, Page 1,178) insists that we read this paragraph as two parties singing to and then with each other:

“God remembered us and will bless –

Bless the House of Israel,”

Before battle, Matityahu sang to Israel to reassure them that God would bless their efforts.

After battle, he rejoiced in their blessings of success. Their leaders sang, not of their own blessings, but with joy that God had so blessed all the people.

“Bless the House of Aaron,”

Before battle, the people prayed for the success of their leaders, the House of Aaron.

After battle, the people sang God’s praises for inspiring their leaders.

“Bless those who are in awe of God, the insignificant with the great.”

Was sung by the Chashmonaim and their followers together, and therefore God responded with the following blessing:

“God will enhance you – you and your children.”

God will bless you with the ability to find the words to express the deepest feelings of your soul, and to inspire future generations with those feelings.

“You are blessed to God Who made the heavens and the earth.

The heavens are God’s, while the earth has been given to people.”

God, the Chashmonaim and the people sang this together in celebration of what people can accomplish when they acknowledge God’s blessings.

The Chashmonaim and the people sang in unison to God:

“The dead do not praise the Creator of Worlds,

nor do those who go down to their doom. But we – we praise the Creator of Worlds – From now and forever –

Hallelukah!”

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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30
Nov

Leadership Lessons From Pharaoh by Prof Gerald August

by developer in Portion of the Week

Leadership Challenges

Pharaoh had dreamed dreams and neither his magicians nor his wise men knew what the dreams meant. Pharaoh’s chief butler remembered Joseph had interpreted dreams. So he was brought to Pharaoh.  Joseph explained that Egypt would have seven years of bountiful harvests and seven years of famine. His advice was to store up plenty of food in the seven good years so food would be available for the seven bad years.

Pharaoh accepted Joseph’s interpretation of the dreams. And he did something amazing. He decided to appoint Joseph to head this project and be second in command to Pharaoh.

Why is this amazing? There was no need to appoint Joseph to any position. Pharaoh already had enough information to save the country. There were people who administered the agricultural system. Did he really need Joseph to be the chief administrator?

Consider who Joseph was. He had been accused of rape and was imprisoned. He was an alien. A good analogy would be from the American Civil War. Let us suppose there was a slave in the South who told his master what the battle plans would be in each upcoming battle for both the North and South and how to counter both plans. In other words, a bigger military genius than Robert E. Lee. The slave’s master probably would have gone to Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, and told him about this brilliant black slave.

How would Davis respond?  The slave would not be made commander of the Confederate forces because that would be unacceptable. Instead, he probably would have been  brought to the Confederate capital and housed in a nice place  near the Confederate White House. President David could have consulted with the slave on a regular basis and then send his ideas to the generals. The slave would want for nothing, and would probably be freed at the end of the war. Also, by keeping quiet about the slave, Davis could take the credit himself.

That would be the expected act from a Pharaoh

Yet, this Pharaoh decided to elevate Joseph. This might be the first instance in history of a meritocracy. Joseph gets the job because he is the best suited, non-withstanding all the strikes against him.

What are the lessons we learn? First, we learn to accept advice from the best person, no matter the outward appearance or circumstances of the person. It did not matter that Joseph did not have an MBA from Cairo University or was not a senior vice president at a food distribution company. Pharaoh saw talent.

We also learn that a good leader will try to do the best for his people despite the unpopularity of his actions. Was it not galling for the Egyptian hierarchy to take orders from a foreign man accused of rape, and a former prisoner? It probably was. But Pharaoh did not care.

The third thing we learn is a lesson best expressed on a sign in Ronald Reagan’s office.  “There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Recognition will spur people to achieve. In politics, business, or a family.

Pharaoh taught us to get good advice, get the best practitioner and to give people recognition. Good lessens from the Pharaoh of Genesis.

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30
Nov

Chanukah Hallel: Paragraph Two: External & Internal Freedoms

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“When Israel left Egypt, Jacob’s family from among a people that was glad.” Elsewhere, the verse says, “Egypt was glad when they departed.” (Psalm 105:38) Rabbi Berechiah told a parable of a fat man riding on a donkey. The fat man was wondering, “When can I get off the donkey?” The donkey was wondering, “When will he get off of me?” When the time came for the fat man to get off, I do not know which one was more glad.

And when David thought of how glad the Egyptians were when the Children of Israel went forth out of Egypt, he began to sing in praise of the exodus saying, “When Israel left Egypt…from a people that was glad.” (Midrash Tehillim 114.1)

The parable is focused on the period after the plagues began; they would not have been a ‘donkey carrying a heavy load,’ before the plagues began. It seems that God wanted the Egyptians to rejoice even more than their former slaves when Israel left. Some commentators (Rabbi Aharon Moshe Padua of Karlin) connect this Midrash with the Talmudic debate (Berachot 9b) whether the Jews rushed out of Egypt, or if the Egyptians rushed them out. If the rush was the Egyptian’s, it was the final straw in their physical freedom: The Egyptians had enslaved the Jews, and their pushing Israel out of Egypt severed the final link to them. However, if the rush was Israel’s, it was a step forward in their internal process of toward acting as free people. (See Rav Kook, Ein Iyah, Berachot 9b)

Rabbi Berechiah read this psalm as the second stage: When Israel left an Egypt glad to be free of them, they too, rejoiced in their internal freedom. He incorporates both opinions regarding the rush. This psalm celebrates both stages of freedom; the external and the internal.

This was acted out in the Chanukah story: The external freedom was the victory. Their internal freedom was acknowledged by God with the miracle of the oil. The Hallel is the key we use to connect both on Chanukah – the victory and the Menorah.

A woman described a horrible accident in her van while she was driving her children. Miraculously, no one was hurt. She wanted to know how to use the experience, both the accident and the miracle, to improve her relationship with God. The miracle was external – the victory. Her desire to learn from her experience was her internal process – the Menorah. Her Hallel can be the celebration of her connecting both the external and the internal.

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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30
Nov

The Toy Store by Prof. Gerald August

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

A few years ago, the week before Chanukah, I went to a toy store in midtown Manhattan to buy a gift for my seven-year-old niece. However, I made the mistake of going at lunchtime. So did a lot of other people. After I picked up the toy, I went to the lines for the cash registers. And the shortest line had 14 people in it.

I did not have patience for such a wait, but there I was. What should I do, standing there?  I was looking around at the different people giving up their lunch hour and standing on line for 15 minutes to buy toys.

And it hit me.  These people were spending time and money on other people. Parents were buying presents for their children.   Uncles and aunts were buying presents for their nephews and nieces. Friends and neighbors were buying presents for the sons and daughters of their friends. I saw lines of people doing good deeds.

I realized I was standing not only in a toy store, but in a sacred space. This thought banished my impatience and I stood waiting in line with a calm I had never experienced in this situation.

Perhaps the same will happen to you.

Happy Chanukah

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30
Nov

Chanukah Hallel: Paragraph One Part Four: A Feast of Song

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

The words of this psalm are to be considered in light of the verse, “I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance neginati in the night; I commune with my own heart.” (Psalm 77:6-7) What is meant by, “I call to remembrance neginati”? Rabbi Aibu and Rabbi Yehudah bar Shimon differed.

Rabbi Yehudah bar Shimon took it to mean that the Congregation of Israel said to the Holy One, Blessed is He, “I call to remembrance the miracles which You did for me in Egypt, and how I sang songs to You because of the miracles – how, indeed, I sang songs and psalms to You during that night,” as it said, “You shall have a song as in the night when a feast was hallowed.” (Isaiah 30:29) And what was that night when a feast was hallowed? The night when You did smite the first-born in the land of Egypt, as it is said, “And it came to pass at midnight, that God smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:29) Accordingly, Rabbi Yehudah bar Shimon took the words, “neginati in the night,” to refer to the song of that night when You did redeem us and brings us forth in freedom. We became Your servants, and were no longer the servants of Pharaoh. (Midrash Tehillim 113.1)

Rabbi Yehudah teaches that in order to have a proper internal conversation, “I commune with my own heart,” we must first recall the song we sang at the “hallowed feast,” after God killed the first-born of Egypt, and we officially became servants of God, and were no longer the servants of Pharaoh.

The “Hallowed feast,” does not refer to the Korban Pesach, the Paschal Offering; that meal was finished before midnight when the plague began! The “Hallowed feast,” was a Feast of Song when the people who were safely gathered in their homes, listening to the screams and cries of the Egyptians, sang with joy over achieving the status of Servants of God.

In order to sing this paragraph of Hallel, we must picture that Feast of Song, and transform our Hallel into exactly such a Feast.

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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30
Nov

The Burden of a Decision Part Three

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Matityahu forced a confrontation with the Greeks. (See “The Burden of a Decision” and “The Burden of a Decision Part Two”) His representatives spoke movingly of the stories of Gideon and Mordechai. Most people were moved. Many young men stepped forward to volunteer to join the Chashmonaim. One man voiced what many wanted to say: “Why do we need to be involved?”

The answer was the same lesson that Gideon taught to those who refused to join his actions against Midian, and that Mordechai and Esther taught to their generation: “You cannot stand on the sidelines. You have to be involved. Matityahu and his sons were not fighting the Hellenists who were participating in the Greek ceremonies, but all the people who have been standing on the sidelines, refusing to take a stand. Those who refuse to take a stand are as dangerous to our future as the Hellenists.”

We began this imaginary tale with a question: How would the Chashmonaim have handled Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai’s dilemma… To Be Continued… (I would love to receive your thoughts before posting my own)

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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