June, 2011 Archives

30
Jun

Background Text From Jeremiah’s Call To Sing Hallel on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz Part Two

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Jeremiah Chapter 10:1-16: 1 Hear what the LORD says to you, people of Israel. 2 This is what the LORD says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them. 
3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless; 
   they cut a tree out of the forest, 
   and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. 
4 They adorn it with silver and gold; 
   they fasten it with hammer and nails 
   so it will not totter. 
5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, 
   their idols cannot speak; 
they must be carried 
   because they cannot walk. 
Do not fear them; 
   they can do no harm 
   nor can they do any good.”

6 No one is like you, LORD; 
   you are great, 
   and your name is mighty in power. 
7 Who should not fear you, 
   King of the nations? 
   This is your due. 
Among all the wise leaders of the nations 
   and in all their kingdoms, 
   there is no one like you.

8 They are all senseless and foolish; 
   they are taught by worthless wooden idols. 
9 Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish 
   and gold from Uphaz. 
What the craftsman and goldsmith have made 
   is then dressed in blue and purple— 
   all made by skilled workers. 
10 But the LORD is the true God; 
   he is the living God, the eternal King. 
When he is angry, the earth trembles; 
   the nations cannot endure his wrath.

11 “Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’”[a]

12 But God made the earth by his power; 
   he founded the world by his wisdom 
   and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. 
13 When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; 
   he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. 
He sends lightning with the rain 
   and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

14 Everyone is senseless and without knowledge; 
   every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. 
The images he makes are a fraud; 
   they have no breath in them. 
15 They are worthless, the objects of mockery; 
   when their judgment comes, they will perish. 
16 He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, 
   for he is the Maker of all things, 
including Israel, the people of his inheritance— 
   the LORD Almighty is his name.

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30
Jun

Background Text From Jeremiah’s Call To Sing Hallel on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz Part One

by developer in Holidays, Prayer

Jeremiah 6: Jerusalem Under Siege: 1 “Flee for safety, people of Benjamin!  Flee from Jerusalem!  Sound the trumpet in Tekoa! Raise the signal over Beth Hakkerem!  For disaster looms out of the north, even terrible destruction.

2 I will destroy Daughter Zion,

so beautiful and delicate.

3 Shepherds with their flocks will come against her;

they will pitch their tents around her,

each tending his own portion.”

4 “Prepare for battle against her!

Arise, let us attack at noon!

But, alas, the daylight is fading,

and the shadows of evening grow long.

5 So arise, let us attack at night

and destroy her fortresses!”

6 This is what the LORD Almighty says:

“Cut down the trees

and build siege ramps against Jerusalem.

This city must be punished;

it is filled with oppression.

7 As a well pours out its water,

so she pours out her wickedness.

Violence and destruction resound in her;

her sickness and wounds are ever before me.

8 Take warning, Jerusalem,

or I will turn away from you

and make your land desolate

so no one can live in it.”

9 This is what the LORD Almighty says:

“Let them glean the remnant of Israel

as thoroughly as a vine;

pass your hand over the branches again,

like one gathering grapes.”

10 To whom can I speak and give warning?

Who will listen to me?

Their ears are closed[a]

so they cannot hear.

The word of the LORD is offensive to them;

they find no pleasure in it.

11 But I am full of the wrath of the LORD,

and I cannot hold it in.

“Pour it out on the children in the street

and on the young men gathered together;

both husband and wife will be caught in it,

and the old, those weighed down with years.

12 Their houses will be turned over to others,

together with their fields and their wives,

when I stretch out my hand

against those who live in the land,”

declares the LORD.

13 “From the least to the greatest,

all are greedy for gain;

prophets and priests alike,

all practice deceit.

14 They dress the wound of my people

as though it were not serious.

‘Peace, peace,’ they say,

when there is no peace.

15 Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?

No, they have no shame at all;

they do not even know how to blush.

So they will fall among the fallen;

they will be brought down when I punish them,”

says the LORD.

16 This is what the LORD says:

“Stand at the crossroads and look;

ask for the ancient paths,

ask where the good way is, and walk in it,

and you will find rest for your souls.

But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

17 I appointed watchmen over you and said,

‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’

But you said, ‘We will not listen.’

18 Therefore hear, you nations;

you who are witnesses,

observe what will happen to them.

19 Hear, you earth:

I am bringing disaster on this people,

the fruit of their schemes,

because they have not listened to my words

and have rejected my law.

20 What do I care about incense from Sheba

or sweet calamus from a distant land?

Your burnt offerings are not acceptable;

your sacrifices do not please me.”

21 Therefore this is what the LORD says:

“I will put obstacles before this people.

Parents and children alike will stumble over them;

neighbors and friends will perish.”

22 This is what the LORD says:

“Look, an army is coming

from the land of the north;

a great nation is being stirred up

from the ends of the earth.

23 They are armed with bow and spear;

they are cruel and show no mercy.

They sound like the roaring sea

as they ride on their horses;

they come like men in battle formation

to attack you, Daughter Zion.”

24 We have heard reports about them,

and our hands hang limp.

Anguish has gripped us,

pain like that of a woman in labor.

25 Do not go out to the fields

or walk on the roads,

for the enemy has a sword,

and there is terror on every side.

26 Put on sackcloth, my people,

and roll in ashes;

mourn with bitter wailing

as for an only son,

for suddenly the destroyer

will come upon us.

27 “I have made you a tester of metals

and my people the ore,

that you may observe

and test their ways.

28 They are all hardened rebels,

going about to slander.

They are bronze and iron;

they all act corruptly.

29 The bellows blow fiercely

to burn away the lead with fire,

but the refining goes on in vain;

the wicked are not purged out.

30 They are called rejected silver,

because the LORD has rejected them.”

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30
Jun

Hallel: Rosh Chodesh Tammuz: Paragraph One: Jeremiah

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

The opening paragraph of Hallel is always the invitation to the Hallel that follows. It is the call to sing Hallel, and sets out the parameters of the Hallel to be sung:

Jeremiah: The Hallel of a Child Reconnecting to a Parent

 

“Hallelukah!

Praise, you who serve God! Praise the Name of God.

Let the Name of God be an expansive source of blessing from now and forever.”

The people of Jerusalem are convinced that they can manipulate the Angels by their names to come and protect Jerusalem. They are focused on the Angels, but not on the God the Angels serve, the God Who created them. Jeremiah called on the people to reconnect to God, not His Angels. He wants the people who are so aware of God that they can’t believe that He will allow His city and Home to be destroyed, to become active participants in expanding God’s Name in the world. “If you are counted among those who serve God, as do the Angels; Praise His Name. Choose to actively expand His presence in the world, rather than passively wait for His Presence to save you!”

“From sunrise to sundown, the Name of God is praised.”

Nature itself praises God. Nature’s praises are passive and programmed. If you desire to become an active participant in expanding God’s Presence, acknowledge and sing:

God is above all the nations. His Glory is beyond the sky.

 

God controls all nations, even the Babylonians who are attacking you. Acknowledge that even the siege and all that ‘may’ follow are an expression of His control beyond our immediate understanding, “His Glory is beyond the sky.” That is an essential step in becoming active participants in expanding God’s Name.

Who is like God, our Lord, Who lives up high, but drops down to see what happens (to us) in the (lower) heaven and earth?

 

You can’t believe that God will miraculously save Jerusalem and His House unless you believe that He is actively involved in all that happens here on earth. What you do, how you respond matters! He is not only interested in what happens ‘on high,’ to His city and House, but in what happens to you as individuals as well.

 

Who lifts up the lowly from the dust, raises the destitute from the garbage dumps to be seated with leaders, the leaders of their people.

 

See yourselves as nobility. Know that He wants you to live as nobility; that your choices matter to Him, and He will lift you up from your current circumstances. The choice is yours.

Who Makes a home for the childless woman and joy for the mother of children.

 

“As long as we are disconnected from God,” says Jeremiah, “His Shechinah is as a ‘childless mother,’ whose children have abandoned Her. When you reconnect as a child to a parent, God will ‘make a home,’ meaning, He will protect Jerusalem and the Beit Hamikdash.”

Hallelukah!”

It is not difficult to place ourselves in the context of the people listening to Jeremiah’s call to sing Hallel. Jerusalem and Israel are under political and media siege. The President of the United States is establishing relationships with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, all in the name of peace. Europe is telling us to surrender. Many Jews are joining the siege. Jeremiah is telling us that our response must begin with Hallel, attaching to the potential greatness that can be ours if we become active expanders of God’s Presence in the world, not passive observers of God’s commandments waiting for God to save us. Jeremiah calls on us to sing Hallel and acknowledge that God Who is ‘above all nations,’ is guiding this process, that He is actively involved in history and in our individual lives, and that our choices matter to Him. Jeremiah wants us to sing this Hallel as children reconnecting to a parent from Whom we are disconnected.

This is not a Hallel that is an escape from reality, sung with hope in its magical powers. It must be sung in response to the call of one of the greatest prophets of God. I will post Jeremiah’s words.

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
Jun

Hallel: Rosh Chodesh Tammuz: Introduction

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

This is the second most difficult Hallel to sing. I write this commentary to the Hallel for Rosh Chodesh Tammuz with the assumption that the 17th of Tammuz plays a defining role in Tammuz. There are three perspectives of the 17th of Tammuz; Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah’s vision of the day as a festival.

 

Jeremiah’s Call For Hallel: Jerusalem has been under Babylonian siege for months. People are dying of starvation. They refuse to heed the prophet’s call for surrender to save Jerusalem and God’s House, the Beit Hamikdash. They are convinced that Jerusalem will be miraculously saved as it has been in the past. It is inconceivable to them that God will allow the Babylonians to destroy His holy city and His House. However, they are beginning to doubt the miracle. It is in this context that Jeremiah calls on them, on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, less than three weeks before the walls will fall, to sing Hallel and be saved.

Ezekiel

Ezekiel is already in Babylon. He has already received his mighty prophecy of the Chariot of God (Ezekiel, Chapter 1). The Jews who have been living in Babylon for eleven years are settled, doing well, and beginning to assimilate. They are still connected to their brethren in Jerusalem, but the connection is weakening. Ezekiel calls on these exiles to sing Hallel even as they wonder about their connection to God, Jerusalem and the Temple.

A Day of Joy

Zechariah promises the Jews that all the Days of Tragedy, including the 17th of Tammuz and even Tisha B’Av, will be transformed into days of celebration. This is the Hallel that describes how the tragedies will be reversed.

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
Jun

Tammuz Kavanot

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

We derive the appellation for God’s Name, used in the Rosh Chodesh Mussaf – Additional Prayer – for Rosh Chodesh Tammuz from the combination of letters and vowels of the following verse: “Yet all this is worth nothing to me so long as I see Mordechai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” (Esther 5:13) – “Zeh eineno shaveh li.” - H-V-H-Y

Zeh – This

This verse teaches us that all the treasures of that wicked man were inscribed on his heart, and when he saw Mordechai sitting at the king’s gate, he (pointed as his heart and) said, “This is worth nothing to me.” (Megillah 15b) The word “Zeh,” always indicates pointing to something specific and defined.

Rabbi Elazar taught, ‘In the future, the Holy One, blessed is He, will make a circle of the righteous, and He will sit in the center in the Garden of Eden, and each will point to Him with his finger, as it says, ‘And they will say on that day, ‘Behold, this – zeh – is our Lord.’ (Isaiah 25:9) [Ta’anit 31a)

It was taught in the Yeshiva of Rabbi Yishmael, ‘Three things were difficult for Moshe until God pointed each out with His finger.’ Each of the three things is proven with the word ‘Zeh.” (Menachot 29a)

What was the kindness that the people of Canaan did for Jacob? They pointed with their fingers and said, “This – Zeh –  is a great mourning for Egypt.” (Bereishit 50:11) [Yerushalmi Sotah 1:10)

In the Haggadah we recite, “Ba’avur Zeh,” for the sake of this; Pesach, Matzah and Marror.

To What Can We Point?

The Three Weeks begin in Tammuz. It is a time of warnings, warnings ignored, and suffering. It is the time when we must consider to what we can point and say, “This is what I want,” “This is what is important,” and “This is what I need.”

We pray on Rosh Chodesh for the clarity of Zeh.

Paying Attention

The people who lived through the destruction of the First Temple, heard many warnings, specific – Zeh warnings from the prophets, but chose to ignore them. Are we paying attention?

We pray on Rosh Chodesh for the ability to understand God’s messages with the clarity of Zeh.

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
Jun

Responding To Laughter

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

“This is the decree of the Torah.”

Because Satan and the scoffers ridicule Israel for observing the law of the Parah Adumah, which does not seem to make any sense, God declares, “It is a decree from Me. You have no permission to question it!”

My father zt”l used to say, “Look how powerful is the influence of those who make fun of us and question us! God has to demand our observance of the Parah Adumah in order to protect us from their laughter at our commitment to His Mitzvot.”

There is very real power in the laughter, jests and jokes of those who want to weaken our observance.

The Mitzvah of Parah Adumah is where God gives us the strength to stand up to their ridicule.

And, 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.

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30
Jun

Singing Despite

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

A palm tree stands in the middle of Rusafa,

Born in the West, far from the land of palms.

I said to it: How like me you are, far away and in exile,

In long separation from family and friends.

You have sprung from soil in which you are a stranger,

And I, like you, am far from home.

In old age, aware that he would die far from his native land, Abd al-Rahman wrote a lovely, heartbreaking little poem, an ode to a palm tree. He had been a daredevil young man and a vigorous and powerful sovereign, a man who had survived the vicious rout of his family and spent three decades turning a once wild outpost, rife with internecine violence, into a prosperous and civilized world capital.

He had triumphed as a warrior and a pioneer, and in his final years his greatness as a builder was every day more visible, as a mosque to rival all others, past and present, grew in Cordoba, row after row of red and white.

But at the end of the day, Abd al-Rahman shared with his Arab ancestors an unembarrassed and manly love of poetry. Although he was not himself a brilliant writer, Abd al-Rahman’s legacy is as crucial as the Great Mosque itself, his poetic tradition a palace that houses the memories of the oldest ancestors.

The Children of Israel after the death of Miriam, complaining about water, Moshe’s disastrous mistake, Aaron’s death, and fiery serpents, composed a poem. It is not as famous as the Song of the Sea, but is filled with essential messages about Torah study and service of God. (Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh)

“Then Israel sang this song:

“Come up, O well! Call out to it!

Well that the princes dug, that the nobles of the people excavated, through a lawgiver, with their dtaffs. A gift from the Wilderness –

the gift went to the valley, and from the valley to the heights,

and from the heights to the valley in the field of Moab, at the top of the peak, overlooking the srface of the wilderness.” (Numbers 21:17-20)

They sang without Moshe leading them as he did after crossing the Yam Suf. (Michtav MeEliyahu)They sang despite the tragedies and their failures. They sang even as they confronted that they had failed to achieve the spiritual heights that were their fathers’ when they sang.

They left us a legacy of “Singing Despite,” singing despite their failures, singing despite their limitations, singing despite the fact their song would never be as famous as others. They sang because the were so moved. They sang because they were able to celebrate all the good they saw amidst their troubles.

Their legacy is not the song as much as “Singing Despite.”

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
Jun

Cutting Up An Ox: The Artistry of Walking

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

Cook Ting is cutting an ox into pieces as Lord Wen-hui stands looking on. He carries out a virtuoso performance – as rhythmic and flowing as a dance. The lord, filled with awe and admiration, cannot suppress his delight. “Ah, your method is superb!” he says. Cook Ting lays down his knife and replies that, really, there is no method, except that after having carved thousands of oxen, it is the Way that guides him unerringly from his first cut to his last. He elaborates further, and when he has finished, Lord Wen-hui proclaims, “Excellent! I have heard the words of Cook Ting and learned how to care for life!” (Chau Tzu: Basic Writings)

The cook has carved up thousands of oxen. Have many hundreds of onlookers become enlightened? No. An awakening comes only to those who, like Lord Wen-hui, are prepared to receive the cook’s inadvertent lesson.

There are artists of life, artists of Chesed – Life Force Nurturers – artists of education etc. It is not their “method” that is superb, but, rather their Derech – their way. Judaism is a “Path” – it provides a direction, as we walk – Halacha. It encourages us to be Walkers Along The Path – “Mehalchim” (Zachariah 7) To learn from the Artists of Walking – we must, as Lord Wen-hui, be prepared to receive their lessons. The process of learning begins with the student’s desire for awakening.

Only then, will we see beyond the method and notice the path, which will then invite and direct us.

Moshe declared: “We shall travel on the king’s road.” (Numbers 21:22) The path is open and prepared. Are we?

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
Jun

The Red Heifer: Loving Others

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

The Holy Rebbe was stingy with his words. He would speak in cryptic sentences and his Chassidim would sit for hours after he spoke to figure out what he meant.

The secret of the Parah Adumah – the Red Cow – is Loving Others.

The Chassidim pondered for hours, but they could not figure out what their holy leader was trying to teach them.

They had no choice but to ask their master for an explanation.

The Cohen who purifies the impure with the ashes of the Parah becomes impure. He allows himself to become impure in order to help another. That is true love for someone else.

The secret of the Parah Adumah – the Red Cow – is Loving Others.

And, 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.

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30
Jun

What Would Moshe Have Done? Part One

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

In the year 427 B.C.E., a ship sailed from Athens for the Greek island of Mytilene, a region that had revolted against Athenian rule and lost. They had colluded with Athens’s greatest rival, Sparta. The soldiers on the warship were instructed to kill every Mytilenian and enslave every woman and child. However, back home in Athens a great debate raged whether such a harsh response was the proper strategy. Cleon, son of Cleaenetus, argued that to show mercy is to show weakness, and being perceived as weak would only invite further rebellion. Cleon insisted that Athens must project strength and determination. Diodotus, son of Eucrates, argued that the intended slaughter will only incite more desperate rebellion and convince others to fight to the bitter end rather than surrender since they would be annihilated even if they surrendered. Future conflicts would almost certainly last longer and be more costly in both lives and treasure. A vote was taken and Diodotus won the day. A quicker ship was sent to stop the warship.

We can hear echoes of Cleon and Diodotus in the commentaries reading of two stories in Parashat Chukat: Moshe backed down from a conflict with Edom, He requested permission from Edom’s king for Israel to pass through his territory and was refused. Moshe would not battle Edom, the rightful heir of Esau in the land Jacob’s brother received as his inheritance. (Numbers 20:14-21) Moshe avoided conflict with Edom only to face Sihon, king of the Amorite, a short while later. Moshe sent a similar request to Sihon: “Allow us to pass through your land.” Sihon refused and gathered his armies believing that he would successfully intimidate Israel and stop the traveling nation at his borders. Sihon was wrong. Israel fought and Sihon was destroyed. (21:21-24)

Did Sihon perceive Moshe and Israel as weak willed because of their detour around Edom and their unwillingness to fight? Would Sihon have avoided battle if Israel had warred and won against Edom?

The Cleons argue that Moshe was responsible for the conflict with Sihon because he did not project strength and determination. Diodotus and his followers supported Moshe’s actions.

We continue to debate the arguments of Cleon and Diodotus: The 2006 war in Lebanon against Hezbollah, and the recent war in Gaza against Hamas, were intended to project Israel’s unbending will and determination. What would Moshe have done? Would we have seen the Moshe who avoided battle with Edom? Or, would the Moshe who destroyed Sihon have led us into battle?

There are times when we forget that the stories of the Torah continue to resonate in practical ways on the world stage and in our lives.

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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