December, 2010 Archives

30
Dec

Threats

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Threats

Threats

Moshe and Aaron threaten Pharaoh with the plague of blood, and they leave. We are not privy to Pharaoh’s response. What did he say in response?

Moshe and Aaron threaten Pharaoh with the plague of frogs and they leave. We are not told what Pharaoh said. Did the two brothers make their threat and simply walk out without waiting for an answer? Did they turn to leave wondering if Pharaoh would say, “Hold on a minute, let’s negotiate”?

There is a pause in the Torah’s text; a “Petucha” an open paragraph, indicating some time in between. Pharaoh and his magicians were left wondering. No one said a word. The servants were far too intimidated to raise their questions to their Pharaoh. The king could not laugh off the possibility that Moshe’s threats were very real. Egypt had barely survived the first plague, the blood.

Moshe was as good as his word. The frogs came.

Did Pharaoh wonder whether his royal court was beginning to question his sanity?

Did the palace guard begin to wonder about what was next?

Did the people begin to realize how much of their suffering was self-imposed?

When did this switch from a simple battle to preserve an important part of the Egyptian economy to becoming a battle of wills?

Perhaps these questions are the reason that the Haggadah teaches us that each plague was actually 4 or 5 plagues.

There’s 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.

Share

30
Dec

Mind Games

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Mind Games

Mind Games

Did you hear the one about the guy who walks into the throne room of the most powerful emperor on earth and say, “My God demands that you destroy your economy and acknowledge His power?” The emperor says, “Who let this guy in? Whoever it was, kill him!”

You haven’t heard it, well, neither have I. In fact, that is not exactly what happened. Yes, Moshe did walk enter and make demands, but Pharaoh deals with it strategically and makes things worse for the Children of Israel.

How did Moshe get into the palace for the second time for his ill-fated snake trick? He claims to be speaking for the Greatest Power and all he can pull off is the old stick turns into snake trick! Harry Potter could do that.

What was Pharaoh thinking this entire time? Would a powerful emperor allow someone into his palace to threaten him?

I can imagine his adopted grandson, Moshe being allowed into Pharaoh for the first time in 40 or more years since grandpa wanted Moshe dead. We do not read of Pharaoh trying to kill Moshe. I would have.

Did his astrologers not tell him that someone would come to topple him? Did Moshe not fit all the criteria? What was Pharaoh thinking?

Pharaoh was intrigued. Moshe walks in, claiming to speak for this Infinite Power, and yet, the Power wants Pharaoh to cooperate. The Power is not threatening to force the freedom. God wants Pharaoh to grant his permission. Why?

If God has such power, why is he even asking me?

Pharaoh was intrigued. Moshe was granted entry to the throne room.

That is exactly how God “strengthened” Pharaoh’s heart, long before God “hardened” the king’s will.

There’s 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.

Share
29
Dec

Finding

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Searching

Searching

Antonio Stradivarius, wandering in Venice one day, came upon a pile of broken, waterlogged oars, out of which he made some of his most beautiful violins.

“I do not seek, I find,” was Picasso’s famous dictum.

A lucky find gave Picasso one of his most famous sculptural creations: Guess how I made that head of a bull. One day, in a rubbish heap, I found an old bicycle seat, lying beside a rusted handlebar and my mind instantly linked them together. The idea for this Tete de Taureau came to me before I even realized it. I just soldered them together. (Picasso 157)

While Stradivarius and Picasso celebrated the hermaion – “a gift of Hermes, whose gifts entail both finding and losing, I celebrate a different sort of finding in this week’s portion.

I find it difficult to get the idea of the similarity between Motzi – to take out, as in “take out of Egypt, and Motzei – to find. Perhaps, I too, am simply soldering them together, but am convinced that the portion – Vaeira – and I appeared – is not only about God appearing to the Egyptians, but also about Moshe appearing to himself and all the Children of Israel finding themselves; something they must do before they can leave.

The plagues described in this week’s portion do not directly address Israel at all. It seems as if they were not asked to do anything, even think or reflect, and yet, what happened to them as they observed Moshe striking their masters on God’s behalf, and the fact that they were perfectly safe? What were they thinking? How did they feel?

Did Moshe change from the man who argued, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh,” to a more confident leader? Did he find new parts of himself?

As Moshe found himself, and as the Children of Israel found themselves, the process of Yetzia – leaving – began with the finding.

I want to explore the inner process of the Jews in this week’s portion with the few hints we are given.

Please join me.

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.

Share
29
Dec

Hail To The King! From The Diary of A Former Slave VII

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Personal Rain Clouds

Personal Rain Clouds

I once watched a drunken man running down the street in the rain, weaving from one side to the other. When I asked him what he was doing, he responded, “I’m running through the raindrops!”

I’m not drunk. I’m not even running. I can walk, even stand between the hailstones. They just won’t fall on me.

It all began yesterday. Egyptians were running around warning each other that another plague was on its way, and that Moses promised that whoever was inside, and all animals that were brought inside, would be safe. Pharaoh’s Royal Guards are trying to stop anyone from bringing their animals inside. “Anyone who brings his animals inside will be prosecuted for treason!” They have large chariots with megaphones passing up and down every street warning the Egyptians not to hide their animals.

My next-door neighbor is terrified. He doesn’t know whether to ignore Pharaoh’s troops, who have been decimated by the plagues, and to acknowledge God’s power and hide his animals, or to remain loyal to Pharaoh.

There is a civil war brewing. They hate each other now as much as they hated us. My neighbor went with God. He was too scared to ignore the warning. He doesn’t have any faith in Pharaoh’s ability to protect or even hurt him. Some diehards painted “Traitor!” all over his house.

We woke up to a perfectly quiet morning. When I went to the local Starbucks I saw that there was a cloud of hail over each Egyptian, his home and animals, while the sky was perfectly clear for me.

The hail was incredible: there were actually flames burning inside each hailstone! The Egyptians were running around like that drunken man, but their clouds followed them wherever they went.

They are all covering their ears because they hear a constant terrifying thunder. Interesting, because I don’t hear anything.

They are standing at their windows yelling out to us; “Forgive us! Please!” Rumor has it that even Pharaoh has acknowledged his sins and declared that God is righteous.

It won’t be long before this is all over. Their crops are destroyed. Most of their flocks have been decimated. The BNN reported that Egypt will have to import food for the first time in centuries. The food basket of the world, developed by Joseph, whom they chose to “forget,” has become a basket case.

I still don’t understand why God is waiting for Pharaoh to let us go. If He is so powerful, why does He need Pharaoh’s permission? If He keeps all this up, even those of us who want to stay in Egypt, won’t be welcome. The Egyptians will force all of us to leave.

Do you think that’s why God is dragging this out?

There is Moses walking outside the city. He’s stretching out his hands to God, The thunder stopped. The hailstones are not moving and just floating in the air. It’s perfectly still. Nothing is moving. It’s as if God is telling us that nothing has changed.

Is He waiting for us?

One minute; Moshe’s representatives are running through the streets announcing a gathering of all the Jews. I’ll let you know what he says. You’ll have to wait till after Shabbat.

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.

Share
29
Dec

The Way They Saw Us: From The Diary of A Former Slave: VI

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Ugly (No Offense Intended)

Ugly (No Offense Intended)

We were gathered outside at the local well discussing Moses’s most recent lecture on The Patriarchs, and everything that has happened and changed over the last few months. All of a sudden a dark cloud filled the sky and dust began to fall over the Egyptians and everything they owned.

The way God protected us from lice was awesome, but I have to tell you that when even dust falls only on Egyptians and not on us, it is even more mind blowing. It was as if the dust was directed by radar! How does God do these things?

The dust, soot actually, stopped falling. We watched the Egyptians brush the dust off their faces and clothes. They were spooked. As we watched, blisters and boils just popped out all over their skin. It’s gross.

At this point, we are no longer frightened of catching anything from them, but we stayed far away. The Egyptians looked so disgusting that we couldn’t even go near them, although they have been doing their best to stay far away from us ever since these plagues began. Even their animals are covered in those horrible, pus-filled boils.

We can hear their moans and cries coming from their homes. They can barely move. Once in a while an Egyptians limps outside to get water from the well, and we can see that their boils are steadily increasing in number and size. I’ve known these people all my life, and I can’t even look at them.

One guy said to me, “Do you remember how they would look at us as less than human? They would pretend not to see us, as if we were less than human. Even the “nice” ones would look away to pretend that there were no concentration camps in their neighborhood. I hope they understand what it’s like when someone won’t even look at you as a human being!”

I find it very interesting that in last night’s lecture, Moshe compared what happened to the animals in the previous plague, when God separated between the Egyptian and the Jewish flocks, to when Jacob and Laban separated their herds. He explained that Jacob always acted in a way that would compel people to see themselves. He acted like Eisav so that Eisav would experience what it was like to interact with Eisav. Jacob did the same thing with Laban.

That is exactly what is happening with the boils: The Egyptians are experiencing all the things they did to us. We lived in filthy conditions and got lice, boils and blisters and now it’s happening to them.

I think that God has a great sense of humor, but I must admit that I am nervous because what will happen to me when I do something wrong?

Last night, Moshe said that when God separated our flocks from the Egyptians’, He was teaching us that we must act differently from the Egyptians. Are these punishments what will happen to us if we don’t act differently?

God is awesome. God is powerful. God protects us, but I’m beginning to question how we will have to live in order to preserve that protection.

Some of my friends disagree: “What have we done to earn these miracles and this protection? God will always protect us!”

There are already divisions among us. Some people are planning to go with Moshe wherever he leads them. Some are too frightened of God to follow Moshe. Others, such as myself, have yet to make up our minds.

What would you do?

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.

Share
29
Dec

A Trip To The Royal Zoo: From The Diary of A Former Slave IV

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

The Picture Outside My Window taken with my iPhone

The Picture Outside My Window taken with my iPhone

My children had always dreamed of visiting the Royal Egyptian Zoo. They would watch with envy, as the Egyptian School Chariots would take each grade to visit Pharaoh’s private zoo. It bothered them even more when they would see families crowd into their station wagons for a visit to that magical place.

To be honest with you, I think it bothered me even more than it bothered my children. I always wanted to be able to take my family on a trip, but I worked six days each week, and, quite frankly, slaves weren’t welcome in the Royal Zoo.

Well, the zoo came to us! We woke up to all sorts of roars and growls, and were too scared to go outside. My five-year old son was sure that the wild beasts marauding through the streets wouldn’t bother any of the Jews, so he, despite his mother’s desperate yells, went outside. I am watching my sullen, quiet boy change into a confident and self-assured young man.

He was right. The animals stayed away from our property and from us. The Egyptians are watching us through their windows as we play with and pet the lions, tigers and crocodiles. They think we have become supermen!

Moses and Aaron have been discussing our potential to become “great” in their lectures, and we all, not just my boy, have a different self-perception. Moses and Aaron keep on telling us that a relationship with God will empower us. We will always have the opportunity to feel that He cares for us as individuals, and will help us achieve our potential.

They also remind us that we must leave Egypt and head toward Israel with a stop at some mountain along the way, in order to fully achieve this potential.

I didn’t want to leave Egypt. I was happy once the slave work ended, but everything has changed. My wife is already planning for the move. For some reason, she went to the music store to buy a small drum for her to use when she sings about God’s miracles. The kids are dreaming about the most elaborate miracles happening when we leave. For them, it’s not “if,” but “when.”

Would a responsible father just follow Moses and Aaron out of Egypt? What do you think I should do?

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.

Share
29
Dec

Being a Fool: From The Diary of a Former Slave V

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

A Fool

A Fool

The Egyptians have been outside since the Wild Beasts disappeared. They are learning how to do their own work, and they are not doing a very good job: their animals are dying. Some of them are pulling their animals into their barns. I hear conflicting reports: A rabbi named Rashi is saying that only animals that are outside are dying. Some other rabbis, Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachya, are saying that even the animals inside are dying.

It was a little scary today. We were outside taking care of our animals when Pharaoh’s personal troops came marching into our neighborhood. The children have this magical belief in God and aren’t frightened. I’ll admit that I was terrified. These guys are monsters!

I almost fainted when they knocked at my door. “Sweetheart, you don’t have to be scared,’ said my wife, “they never knocked before. They would just barge in. Answer the door.”

I opened the door and there was this giant soldier with his helmet in his arm facing me. He looked more scared than did I!

“Excuse me sir.”

“Sir,” I wondered. One of Pharaoh’s elite troops is calling me sir?

“May we check your animals?”

“Why? None of our animals are sick.”

“None of your animals,” he asked.

“That’s right. Not a single one. You won’t find a single Jewish family that lost an animal to this disease.”

“Thank you, sir. Pharaoh is searching for a single Jewish animal that died.”

“Why?”

“Because he refuses to believe that God can protect you so well and that this isn’t a normal case of mad cow disease.”

“Are you telling me that the great Pharaoh is looking for a single animal to die in order to prove to himself that this isn’t a Divine plague?”

“Yes sir,” he replied with a sheepish grin. “I think he’s desperate.”

When the soldiers left, my wife remarked, “Even his own soldiers know that he is a fool. I wonder why they remain loyal.”

It was embarrassing to hear my wife describe Pharaoh as a fool. Look at how long it took me to believe in God and Moses. Was I being a fool?

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.

Share
29
Dec

No Lice! From The Diary of A Former Slave III

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

It Itches!

It Itches!

When we walked outside this morning, we saw all the Egyptians scratching away. They were covered with lice. We all immediately ran to the local Sam HaChaim Pharmacy to pick up lice shampoo and sprays, only to find a large crowd gather around Aaron, Moses’ brother. Chaim the pharmacist was placing large cases of Nix and Licenex shampoos in front of his store.

“I hope the Egyptians do business with you,” Aaron said to him, “none of the Jews will need it.”

“Excuse me rabbi,” Chaim responded, “but you can never be too careful with lice.”

Aaron smiled, “Do you see anyone here scratching their heads? People start itching when they just see others scratching. Not a single Jew will get lice, or even itch.”

We looked around at each other and quickly realized that it was true; no one was scratching. “But, how…” we wondered.

“God is not only punishing the Egyptians, He is protecting each one of you,” said Aaron. “By the way, my brother and I will be lecturing on our heritage this evening at the local slave union office,” and he walked away.

Chaim the pharmacist was upset about all the business he lost, but Aaron turned back and said something very strange, “You will leave Egypt with a fortune of money. All of you. Don’t worry. See you at the lectures.”

This was becoming stranger by the moment. Even the Egyptians were responding differently to this plague than they had to Blood and Frogs. It seems that even their great sorcerers were stumped by this plague. Our former “masters” now looked at us with respect. It’s funny, because I can see that we are all walking with more confidence and hope.

This feeling of God protecting us is remarkable. It’s actually mind-boggling. How can He control even tiny lice and make sure that not a single one lands on a Jew? I’m going to tonight’s lecture. Hope to see you there.

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.

Share
29
Dec

The Person To Person Amidah by Prof Gerald August

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Prayer, Relationships

Rabbi Abraham Twerski asked the question: why do we say the Amidah three times a day? His answer was: We say words of praise, I’m sorry, please, thank you. We do this to remind ourselves to say these words to human beings.

Prayer, Hitpalel in the Hebrew, means to reflect upon ourselves. In the spirit of these two ideas, I offer the person to person Amidah. How to take each blessing and use it to think about our relationship with others and ourselves.

Here is a list of one word from each blessing, and how to make it “personal”.

1. Ozer- helper. Think of people you can be of assistance to today.

2. Neeman- faithful. Have you fulfilled your promises?

3. Shimcha-name. be careful not to smear a good person’s name.

4. Daat-wisdom. Do you give wise advice to people? Do you know when not to advise people.

5. Teshuva-Sorry. Do you tell people you are sorry for what you did to them?

6. Selach-forgive. Do you forgive people who sincerely ask you for forgiveness?

7. Hazak- strength. Do you use all your resources to help a friend who needs help?

8. Rfaaynu-Heal. Do you take care of yourself, or do you ignore warning signs of impending sickness?

9. Kal minai-all kinds…tovah-of goodness. Do you recognize all the different kinds of good deeds you can do for people?

10. Kabtzanu yachad-gather together. Do you bring people together or split them apart?

11. Shoftaynu-judges. Do you judge people fairly with all the evidence and circumstances or are you quick to make uninformed judgments?

12. Vlamaloshinim al thi sikva-for the slanderers there should be no hope. Do you quickly destroy from your mind the urge to speak gossip and falsehood about someone?

13. Al hatzadikim…valeunu. For the righteous…and ourselves. Do you denigrate those people who you think are not on your ethical level. Caution: maybe they are higher.

14. Vli rushalayim-And the city of peace. Do you work to make your community, not just the Jewish community, a nicer and more peaceful place? Are you involved in civic affairs?

15. Kivinu- our hope. Do you fulfill the hopes people have for you to fulfill your potential?

16. Raykom Al Tshivaynu-Turn away empty handed. If you cannot help someone with money do you help with your time or verbal support?

17. Veeshay-fire. Do you fire up people with praise that prompts them to new heights?

18. Modim. Say Thank you.

19. Bor panecha-the light of your face. Smile and greet people. Make the world a happy place.

How do you make this a physical part of the Amidah? Underline these words to prompt you to think of these ideas. Or, think of a word that speaks to a personal attribute you wish to improve.

Share
29
Dec

Lessons From The Hail by Prof. Gerald August

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

The hail came down on Egypt, and smote every man, beast and herb in the field. Yet, in Chapter 9, verses 31 and 32, it says: The flax and the barley were smitten, for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom (they were grown up). But the wheat and the rye were not smitten because they were not grown up.

Rashi explains that since they were not grown up, they were tender and bent with the wind. The grown produce had hardened, and therefore could be broken and destroyed.

I find it interesting that these sentences are placed after Pharaoh tells Moses he has had enough.   And Moses stopped the hail. Why are sentences 31 and 32 separated from the main part of the hail story?

I think they are put separately to call attention to an important lesson.

When people are young, they are searching and looking for a way of life.  They may hear one idea and start to implement it. Then they hear another idea and investigate that one. Then they decide to go on one path and this becomes a hardened ideology.

The problem is, sometimes life presents us with new ideas and new realities. And human nature seems to stifle people in their ability to then bend to a new reality. They do not think through the new situation. Rather, they stick to their guns defending what they are doing. They are hardened. When they are that hard, they may be broken and swept away to make room for a new reality that provides better answers for the current situation.

This can be seen very clearly from the siege of the Second Temple.  Rav Yochanam Ben Zakai was smuggled out of Jerusalem so he could meet with the  Roman General Vespasian. Vespasian granted him one request. Rav Yochanan did not respond by asking Vespasian to spare Jerusalem. Instead he asked for the school of Yavneh. There is a disagreement among the sages of the Gemara as to whether he should have asked for Jerusalem. Rav Yochanan decided this was not the time to ask for something he might not get. What was the result? Jews are studying Judaism today. We do not know, given all the wars in the Middle East throughout the centuries, whether the temple would have survived. There is a good chance the Temple would have been destroyed after the Bar Kochba revolt 65 years later. Rav Yochanan  understood when to bend.

Another example is one many people experience. They may be in a profession for years. They are comfortable in their knowledge. But new technology requires them to change the way they operate. Not bending and learning can cost them their career. Or, they may be unhappy with their career. But, to change would require changing their income, their distance from work or other major variables. They may be hardened to any change, even if it would be more advantageous in the long run. They will not be as happy or fulfilled.

Let us learn from the wheat and the rye.

May we all have the wisdom to know whether it is time to stand our ground, or to bend.

Share
Google Analytics integration offered by Wordpress Google Analytics Plugin