January, 2011 Archives

30
Jan

BNN Special Report: Moshe’s Ruling

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

This is the BNN reporting to you live from the Sinai Desert, today, the 26th of Shevat:

The area just outside the Mishkan courtyard is silent as all wait for the Sanhedrin’s (Supreme Court) ruling on today’s question. We happily participated in contributing material and work toward constructing the Mishkan, and were ecstatic to witness our success when God’s Presence filled the structure. Many of us, who are not Cohanim or Leviim, are desperate to see the inside of the building, the Holy and the Holy of Holies. Those who were purified and participated in making an offering stood before the Altar, but could not even peek inside because of the beautiful curtain. The BNN, the Biblical News Network, requested that Moshe allow a remote controlled video camera inside the Mishkan, even the Holy of Holies, so they could broadcast an “Insider’s View of the Mishkan.” ‘Eliyahu’s Manna Preparation Kitchen’ and ‘Shirel’s Water Delivery’ have offered to sponsor the special. Eli-Chai will be narrating the broadcast, based on a script written by Esther Biel.

Moshe and Aaron are stepping toward the mic to announce their decision. “The Sanhedrin has ruled that a camera and microphone manufactured under the strictest laws of purity, supervised by The Foundation Stone, will be allowed into the Mishkan, even the Holy of Holies. The BNN can broadcast the special on Rosh Chodesh. Commentary and explanations will be provided by David Avraham Solomon.”

“We, the members of the Sanhedrin, urge all to purify themselves in preparation for the BNN Special Report. Although you will be watching the broadcast on your computers, we feel that it is important that you treat this broadcast with the highest respect. The better your preparations; the more you will gain. Please dress in your Shabbat clothes and do not eat, drink, or speak during the broadcast.”

“The filming will not take place during the actual Service.”

“You will be able to email your questions during the broadcast to Moshe’s email: moshe.rabbeinu@mishkan.org. Thank You.”

“Rebbi,” called out one of the reporters, “how will the camera be able to enter the Holy of Holies?”

Moshe smiled, “we’ll see.”

We hope you will all tune in on Rosh Chodesh for the BNN Special Report: An Insider’s View of the Mishkan.

And now, a word from our sponsors…

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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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30
Jan

A Look Inside

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Looking In “The world always looks straight ahead, as for me, I turn my gaze inward. I fix it there and keep it busy. Everyone looks in front of him, as for me, I look inside of me.” Michael de Montaigne.

I think of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, with its increasing levels of sanctity, as an inward gaze, that pulls our attention deeper and deeper into the inside of life and existence. Only when we can see into the deepest parts of our souls will we find the Shechina – the Divine Presence – that lies there at the core. Even if we cannot see past the final curtain, the one that separates the Holy of Holies from the Holy, we will at least glance at the part of our own souls that is beyond our imagination.

The Mishkan traveled. It moved from one place to another, just as we move and changed, as we say in the Shema, “when you travel on the way.” The Mishkan is our look inside and inward as we move forward in life.

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
Jan

Mathematics of the Mishkan

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

I have never been very good at mathematics. The Mishkan, or, Tabernacle, does trigger a very important mathematical skill.

In his new book, “The Mind’s Eye,”, neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks makes the surprising disclosure that he has a disease called Prospopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces. ” I have had difficulty remembering faces for as long as I can remember,” he writes.

Scientists argue that our brains do not store a photographic image of every face we see. Instead, they carry out a mathematical transformation of each face, encoding it in “face space.”

On a map of “face space,” you might imagine the North-South access being replaced with a small-mouth-to-wide-mouth axis. But instead of three different dimensions, like the space we are familiar with, “Face space” may have many dimensions, each representing some important feature of the human face. By reducing a face to a point–creating a compact code for representing an infinite number of faces–our brains need to store only the distance and direction of that point from the center of “Face Space.” “Face Space” also sheds light on the fact that we are more likely to correctly identify distinctive faces than typical ones. In the center of face space, there are lots of fairly average faces. Distinctive faces dwell far away from the crowd, in much lonelier neighborhoods.

What does this have to do with the Mishkan?

Well, the Mishkan is a face. Take a look. Imagine the Holy of Holies as the top of the face. The brain, or the holy Ark, is right there.

Just below the Holy of Holies, at the top of the Holy, on one side, is the Menorah, offering light, representing sight, or, one of the eyes.

Opposite the Menorah is the Table with the “Show Bread,” or “Face Bread,” representing the other eye.

Just below the two eyes, and the Menorah and Table, is the Incense Altar, placed in the center, representing the nose.

Just outside the Holy, is the Large Altar on which the offerings are made. This represents the mouth.

Brain, eyes, nose and mouth: We have a complete face.

Let’s examine this face in light of “Face Space.” We examine other faces in terms of a basic face. The Mishkan provides us with a special “Face Space,” the face by which we measure, evaluate, and recognize other faces. The Mishkan reminds us to look at faces in terms of the role each individual can play in the perfection of the world. Each face has a space in serving God. Each has a unique role in the world. It is not the individual face we see, but the special role each plays on the face of this world.

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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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28
Jan

The Story of The Two Pebbles – Judgment Calls Part Two

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Many years ago in a small Indian village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the farmer’s beautiful daughter. So he proposed a bargain.

He said he would forgo the farmer’s debt if he could marry his daughter. Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. So the cunning money-lender suggested that they let providence decide the matter. He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag. Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag.

1) If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven.

2) If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven.

3) But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the farmer’s field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.

Now, imagine that you were standing in the field. What would you have done if you were the girl?

If you had to advise her, what would you have told her?

Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:

1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.

2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the money-lender as a cheat.


    3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment.

Take a moment to ponder over the story. The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking. The girl’s dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking. Think of the consequences if she chooses the above logical answers.

What would you recommend to the Girl to do?

Well, here is what she did ….

The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

“Oh, how clumsy of me,” she said. “But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”

Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the money-lender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.

Two forms of thought. One is “Na’aseh,” the other, “V’nishma.”

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
Jan

Where’s Moshe?

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Just Beyond Reach

Just Beyond Reach

Image courtesy of http://debiperalta.artistwebsites.com/ In December 1974 the Austrian economist Friedrich August von Hayek received one of the first Nobel Prizes in economics. Hayek titled his speech “The Pretence of Knowledge.” Concluding his speech, he warned, “If man is not to do more harm than good in his efforts to improve the social order, he will have to learn that in this, as in all other fields where essential complexity of an organized level prevails, he cannot acquire the full knowledge which would make mastery of the events possible.”

Politicians and thinkers would be wise not to try to bend history as “the craftsman shapes his handiwork, but rather to cultivate growth by providing the appropriate environment, in the manner a gardener does for his plants.”

“Moshe ascended the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of God rested upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for a six-day period. He called to Moshe on the seventh day from the midst of the cloud. The appearance of the glory of God was like a consuming fire on the mountaintop before the eyes of the Children of Israel. Moshe arrived in the midst of the cloud and ascended the mountain, and Moshe was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:15-18)

Moshe just guided the Children of Israel into the Covenant of Sinai. They didn’t know what to do next. They needed their teacher to help them with this new level of existence and relationship with God, but where’s Moshe? He went up the mountain. He wasn’t there on the day after to teach them the next step.

They had Aharon, Nadav and Avihu to consult about problems and conflicts, but who was there to teach them the next step?

Unless, the next step was to learn and experience two fundamental ideas about a life of Torah: “He cannot acquire the full knowledge which would make mastery of the events possible.” A major part of studying Torah is the constant awareness that, “Where’s Moshe?” the sense that we will not achieve full knowledge. Torah always exists as something beyond us: No matter how much we know, we will only taste, “a drop in the vast ocean.”

They also had to understand that Torah is not information, but, “cultivate(s) growth by providing the appropriate environment, in the manner a gardener does for his plants.”

The Sinai experience created a Garden, paralleling the original Garden in Eden, where there were few instructions other than to grow. This is why the Sages compare the Children of Israel immediately after Sinai to Adam and Eve before the sin.

Where was Moshe? He was teaching them even as he was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights. In a manner of speaking, he is still there reminding us that we will not achieve full knowledge of Torah, but will be able to create an environment that will cultivate our spiritual growth and development.

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
Jan

Judgment Calls

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Making Decisions

It’s challenging to review the numerous and diverse laws in this week’s portion, Mishpatim, and distill a theme: A man sold into slavery to repay a theft and the ensuing steps. A young girl sold into slavery, the laws of marriage, murder, manslaughter, injuries caused by a person or an animal, theft, self-defense, a borrower, seduction, loans, the judicial process, and more until its conclusion back at Revelation. The theme must somehow be connected with Sinai and Revelation. What is the theme?

Judgment Calls/Choices

The man who steals to feed his family makes a judgment call. He is offered another choice when the time arrives for him to leave his master, second ‘wife’ and ‘children.’

A man so desperate to feed his family that he must ‘sell’ his daughter and find a good husband for her.

A woman who wants to protect her husband as he is being attacked and attacks the attacker.

People who avoid choices by using magic. (22:17)

Using extra sensitivity when dealing with the vulnerable. (22:20-23)

The risks involved with loans. (22:24-26)

The judicial process. (23:1-3)

Israel’s choice at Sinai. God’s choice of Israel. (23:20)

“Whoever has a grievance should approach them.” (24:14)

This portion was to teach Israel that our relationship with God is one of constant judgment calls and choices.

There is a way to put all these ideas into practice: A “Bein Adam L’chaveiro” – “Between One Person and Another” – Workshop:

Gather a group of people and allow each person to share a challenging situation with an anonymous person. Allow each member of the group to offer suggestions and strategies how to best handle the situation. Then review all the suggestions through the eyes of the laws in this week’s portion.

The members of the group will practice making judgment calls and choices based on Mishpatim. They will then be prepared to commit to Halachah as a Choice; they will have the same opportunity as did the Children of Israel at Sinai.

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
Jan

Help! I’ve Been Minimized!

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

Mini Me You probably can’t see me, but I’m here. My wife and I were on Skype talking to one of her friends, when Debbie walked out of video range for a moment and her friend minimized the screen while I was on it. I’ve been screaming for help for hours, but the minimized me is so tiny that no one can hear me. Debbie is desperately searching for me. I have to jump on each key of the computer in order to type and I am exhausted. We minimized people have minimum strength. I hope she reads this post so she can find me, “I’m down here!”

I’ve had people minimize my problems, but this is worse. Some minimized my accomplishments, but this is worse. Some teachers minimized my questions, but this is worse. I’ve had my strength minimized, but this is worse. I feel so unimportant, as if I don’t exist, and I hate that feeling. My tiny tears couldn’t water a plant.

Someone once asked me how the common people felt at Sinai. There were the usual big stars, Moshe, Aharon, Nadav, Avihu and the Seventy Sages, who were the center of attention. Everyone knew that something major was happening and that they were all participants, but did they feel a sense of maximization at being one of the participants in the Covenant of Sinai?

It was an enormous camp. Few people could actually see Moshe. Did they feel just that little bit removed or minimized? I have sat at a Chassidish Tish with hundreds of people and everyone was fighting and pushing to be as close to the front as possible. The further away they were from the Rebbe, the more minimized they felt. Did that happen at Sinai?

I think not. “K’ish echad, b’leiv echad,” usually understood as, “As one person with one heart,” can also mean, “To each individual, to each heart.” Each participant in the Covenant of Sinai had a personal experience of God and the relationship being offered. And each participant knew that each and every other person present experienced his or her personal connection. No one had what others did not. Everyone had what everyone else experienced. That is why they were able to connect to each other “as one person, with one heart.”

This experience can be recreated each time we study Torah or pray to God. Each of us can have our own personal experience that is uniquely ours. We are never minimized no matter how unworthy, unprepared, or unimportant we may feel.

If we remember that everyone has that same ability, we can connect to all souls as one person with one heart every time we study Torah and every time we pray. They are both maximizing experiences.

Hey! I’m back!

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
Jan

“Uncle” Barry by Prof Gerald August

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Relationships

Uncle Barry's Motto

In 1958, I was in day camp and my counselor was Barry. In camp we called our counselors uncle. Uncle Barry is still a friend.

On his 65th birthday, I bought a book by a great Rabbi and asked him to autograph it. He asked me to tell him a little bit about Uncle Barry. And I told him three stories.

After I got up from shiva for my mother, may she rest in peace, I needed a ride to the train station. Barry had offered to take me. I called him and was a little confused about when I wanted to leave. He cut short my confusion with the following: “Just tell me when and where.”

That has always been true with Uncle Barry. Whenever I visit my hometown he can be counted on to pick me up if I need a ride. And it doesn’t matter how far out of the way he has to go. I know if I tell him where I need to go, I will get to my destination. Barry is dependable.

25 years ago, when my aunt had a stroke, her son Fred left New York and went back to help his father take care of her for a few months. Fred became a caregiver and it was a full-time job. Barry would continually get him out for a few hours. He owned a company and frequently would throw parties for business associates. Fred was always invited to the parties and many times Barry would pick him up. Caregivers need a break. And Barry made sure Fred got time off on a regular basis.

Barry is interested in local artists and is on the board of the local museum. One day he was talking to an artist who was just an acquaintance. The man said he had a big opportunity coming up. He had an appointment to take some of his paintings to Washington DC and have the curator of a museum evaluate his art. Barry said to him, “I will lend you my Mercedes for the day.” The man said to Barry, “I have a car.” Barry asked him what kind of car he had, and the reply was, “A Chevrolet.” Barry said, “Take my Mercedes. When you get to Washington a couple of people from the museum will probably come out to help you take your paintings inside. They will see the Mercedes and assume you’re successful. And people like to do business with people who are successful.” Barry saw a way to be helpful, even though the artist did not. This is a higher level act of kindness. Rabbi Telushkin has called this “moral imagination.”

Barry has always been there for me, my cousin and an acquaintance.

After hearing these stories, the Rabbi knew what to write inside the book. He wrote, “To Gerald’s Uncle Barry. A man who has lived a life of kindness and generosity”.

My wish is for each of us to have an Uncle Barry…and to strive to be like Uncle Barry.

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28
Jan

The Love Triangle by Prof Gerald August

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

This week’s parsha tells us that a servant goes out after six years of work, and takes only what he brought. If his master gives him a wife and they have children, he still goes out by himself. But the next verse introduces the love triangle. Verse five says,” If the servant shall say,’ I love my master, my wife and my children, I will not go out free.’ he does not go free.

Think about it. This man is about to get his freedom but he loves the people around him. He wants to stay with his master. He wants to be a responsible father and help raise his children. He wants to be a loving husband.

When he goes to the judges and they are witnesses to the fact he is not being held against his will, there needs to be a sign. After all, people will notice he has been with his master longer than six years. They may think he is being held against his will. So a hole is drilled in his ear to give witness to the fact that the judges heard him say he wants to stay with his master.

But I also think the hole in his ear is a badge of honor. Unfortunately, there are husbands who abandon their wives and children. And the loss of a father and husband can have grave negative consequences. This servant is actually a role model for fathers and husbands. If you love your spouse and children your first duty is to take care of and nurture them.

3300 years ago a provision was made for a love triangle. It allowed a man to stay with his family.

Sometimes familial servitude trumps the freedom to roam.

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27
Jan

Getting It Just Right

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Me, yesterday.

I don’t drive much anymore for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, I had to drive yesterday and discovered another reason not to drive: windshield wipers.

It was snowing lightly when I began my drive and all I had to do was turn on my wipers so I could see. Well, it was obvious that they had to be on high speed to clean the windshield, but they quickly cleared the accumulation and the rubber began to squeak, so I switched to a lower speed. The lower speed seemed to smear the spray from passing cars so I switched back to a higher speed when I sprayed the windows. I was grateful for the wonders of modernity when I had a perfectly clear windshield, that is, for about ten-seconds. I knew I had at least a three-hour drive ahead of me and wanted to preserve the wiper-fluid, so I decided to try the intermittent switch, hoping that would keep things clear enough to see out the window. After an hour of playing with the intermittent speed and spraying every few minutes, I reached 87N and the road was much clearer and I breathed a sigh of relief. Just then, a truck sped past, spraying my window with filthy snow. The wipers just added to the mess. I was out of fluid. I couldn’t get things just right. Another reason to not drive, at least during a snow storm.

I returned home fifteen hours later in a second storm, much worse than the morning storm. The drive home was a nightmare. The wipers didn’t matter because it was impossible to see anything other than the lights of the truck ahead of me; the only vehicle moving on the highway. I had to stay close behind the truck to see its lights, which meant that my window was covered with its spray. No wiper speed or windshield fluid made a difference. The usual three-hour drive took more than five.

Why, you ask, would anyone drive in such weather? Good question. I had to go somewhere for one of my children. Why, you may ask, did you have children? Another good question. I wanted to have someone to shovel the sidewalk, steps and driveway. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan well. At first, they were too young to shovel. When they were teenagers, they were either in school or too busy with homework to shovel. Just when they were sufficiently strong and reliable to shovel the snow, and just when they became interesting enough to have real conversations, they left for college. Once again, I couldn’t get it just right!

So, you ask, if you can’t get it just right; why did you have children? Because children are never about getting it just right. (Grandchildren, however, are always perfect, and the best reason to have kids!) There are few things, if any, we can get just right, and yet, many keep on trying. I can understand why the Torah, when describing Revelation at Sinai, a story about a nation, adds a single moment about a few people who ruined the “Just Right” feeling: “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 the heaven in purity. Against the great men of the Children of Israel, He did not stretch out His hand – they gazed at the Lord, yet they ate and drank.” (Exodus 24:10-11) These ‘great men’ wanted more. It was the only way they could understand the experience “Just Right,” and by so doing, they ruined the “Just Right” moment for all of Israel. Even the scene we would most expect to be “Just Right,” Revelation, was imperfect.

God was not asking Israel to get things “Just Right.” He does not expect us to live “Just Right,” but to consistently struggle to get things better. The men who ‘gazed at the Lord,” were trying to get things better. But ‘Better’ is never “Just Right,” whether at Sinai or driving during a snow storm.

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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