June, 2011 Archives

30
Jun

He Listened

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Prayer, Reflections & Observations

Based on a few hundred emails, I realize that many people wondered why I have barely written anything for a few weeks. Many guessed that I was ill and extended their prayers and best wishes.

I was ill, frustrated, and frightened. I carry not only the scars of many surgeries, but emotional scars of long and devastating illnesses as well. I choose to not share specifics, however, I can say that the most frustrating aspect of illness is, as my uncle Noach zt”l used to say, “God is articulate. If you haven’t figured out what He’s telling you; either you’re deaf or a fool, and I happen to know you aren’t deaf!” Ouch!

I ceaselessly bother my doctor, and he always makes himself available. Today, he listened in a way I’ve never experienced a doctor listening. His physical exam didn’t help him understand what was the underlying issue. His careful attention to my description of what I was experiencing offered a clue. He diagnosed the issue, prescribed new medication, and within a few hours, I felt like a new man.

Not the examination, but the listening was the answer. That had to be the clue to what I was to learn from my illness. Am I listening as carefully as Dr. Dwyer listened to me? The answer is, “Probably not.” So, I apologize to all those to whom I haven’t been listening carefully. I will try to be a better listener.

It may take a few days for me to begin writing and meeting with people, so meanwhile I’ll begin the listening with Shema. I pray that it will help.

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 Attached Cover

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Prayer

I was surprised to find another hint toward the etymology of Tefillah in this past week’s portion. “Any open vessel that has no attached cover – Tzamid Patil – is contaminated.” (Numbers 19:16)

Patil shares the same root as Tefillah: P-T-L. We are familiar with the connection between the two words from “Sacred schemes have I maneuvered,” (Genesis 30:8 In Hebrew: “Naftulai Elokim Niftalti” again the same root of P-T-L. God created the Primal Human in a straight manner. He corrupted and confused himself. He twisted himself up in knots, as a Petil – a thread. Tefillah is the untying of the knots and straightening ourselves out. (Peirush Maharzu on Bereishit Rabbah 52:13)

Onkelos and Rashi understand the relationship with a Petil – thread – as connecting the different parts of our lives together.

The Tzamid Patil – Attached cover – in this past portion, hints to P-T-L as attachment: Tefillah is our means to attach to our Creator.

In Jewish Law we can connect only similar species – Min b’mino. We must be “similar” to God in order to attach. We must use our prayers to bring an abundance of life and positive influence to all of God’s creation.

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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
Jun

Interview With Moses: Part Two – The “Chok” of The Staff

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

We wondered why Moshe granted our interview request, his first in almost 40 years. We now understand that he intended to use this “interview” to teach us. He left us with a tantalizing, “and there’s more…” just before our batteries died and we had to take a short break.

“Moshe Rabbeinu, may I ask a short question before you continue? Joshua mentioned during our break that in the future there will be a book called the Haggadah, and it will contain the following phrase: “With signs,” – refers to the staff, as it says, “Take this staff in your hand, that you may perform the miraculous signs with it.” (Exodus 4:37) Is this related to what you described earlier about the Staff you used to hit the rock and how that was connected with the time when God instructed you to throw the staff and it turned into a snake?

“Excellent question! Tell me; was that the only time the staff turned into a snake?”

“No. Aharon did that in front of Pharaoh.”

“Very good, although there were some differences, which I hope you study. Do you know why God wanted me to throw the staff as one of the signs for the people? We know that it didn’t convince Pharaoh. How would it convince the Jews?”

“I heard that when God ordered you to throw the staff it was to tell you that you deserved to be punished for suspecting the people of not believing you. (Shemot Rabbah 3:12)”

“The famous Staff would be the instrument that God would use to demonstrate to the people that He would hold me accountable for the way I spoke of them. The sign wasn’t how it transformed into a snake, but that God would punish me for doubting the people. The same Staff that would make signs and wonders would demonstrate God’s love for the people. The Staff itself was the sign – the sign of God’s love.

“When I spoke to the people in anger, ‘Listen now, O rebels,’ (Numbers 20:10) I ended up using the Staff to damage myself.”

“Let me understand; the seeds of the recent tragedy of the Rock were planted at that first meeting with God. Everything that happened was simply being played out again at the Rock. You always knew that the Staff would also be used to punish you for treating God’s people with less than full respect.

“Is that why God instructed you, “Take the staff and gather together the assembly?” (20:8)

“Just think; what does it say I did?”

“Moses took the staff from before God.’ (Verse 9) What does ‘from before’ mean?”

“Moses raised his hand and struck the rock with HIS staff twice.’ (Verse 11) I used it as my staff, not as the Staff of the signs. Do you recall that first sign with the Staff, “God said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ and he said, ‘A staff.’ (Exodus 4:2) Whenever it is in my hand it is only a staff. My failure began the second I picked up my staff ‘from before God.’ The Staff will never allow itself to be used against its nature. The Hebrew word for a defining characteristic is ‘Chok.’ Sound familiar? Rocks cannot go against their ‘Chok’ and neither can the Staff.”

We were overwhelmed with all this information and we had so many new questions that we requested another short break to digest what Moshe had taught us.

“Of course,” he said with a warm smile, “but I want you to consider what happened with Korach, when I seemed to ask God that He change the Chok of the earth to respond to Korach. Count the number of ‘signs’ it took to calm the people and convince them that Aharon is the true Cohen Gadol, and compare that to the number of signs God gave me to convince the Jews almost 40 years ago. There, obviously, is 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

Contradictions

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

There are contradictions in the Parah Adumah. The Cohen who purifies others becomes impure as he purifies.

There are contradictions in the Parah Adumah just as there are contradictions in life.

Judaism, torah, nurture our independence. They use our drive to become something to attach us to God, when we can only truly be. And yet, in order to attach to God, we must let go of ourselves, and stand in total and absolute humility before Him.

We nurture our growth and independence, our Bechira Chofshit, our Free Choice, and yet, ultimately, we understand that we can limit ourselves when we focus on our development. We can become too self-defined.

Development that can limit. There are contradictions in our spiritual lives. These are the contradictions of the Parah Adumah. They are part and parcel of Creation.

The Parah Adumah reminds us not to become too lost in one approach or the other. It gently reminds us that our struggle to grow is the struggle of all human beings. We cannot be frustrated by the contradictions. They are not only ours. They are everywhere and everybody’s. They are part of the Parah Adumah.

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

The Heavens Into His Head

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

John Wheeler, who learned quantum mechanics from its creators, liked to summarize the two schools of thought on the question of reality. He gives the example of three umpires at a baseball game discussing the finer points of baseball. In making a decision, the three umpires say:

Umpire 1: “I calls ‘em like I see ‘em.”

Umpire 2: “I calls ‘em the way they are.”

Umpire 3: “They ain’t nothing till I calls ‘em.”

To Wheeler, the second umpire is Einstein, who believed there was an absolute reality outside human experience, an “Objective Reality.” The third umpire is Bohr, who argued that reality existed only after an observation was made.

What happens when the Torah shatters our image of reality? This week we will read the portion of the Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer (Numbers 19), that is the paradigm of contradictions and a reality beyond our comprehension. We can’t, as Bohr would choose, observe the “reality” of Spiritual Purity, and there is none of Einstein’s “Objective Reality,” for that which purifies the impure, impurifies the pure.

We will also read the story of Nadav and Avihu (Leviticus 10), who, seized by the passion of “I calls ‘em like I see ‘em,” bring their fire to the Altar only to suffer the burning of their souls from their bodies because they were limited by what they observed. They could not discern the “reality,” that was beyond their ken. Imagine how they would have handled the Red Heifer! I am reminded of Chesterson’s wry comment, “The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.” Nadav and Avihu were desperate to get the heavens into their heads, “They saw the Lord of Israel, and under His feet was the likeness of sapphire brickwork, and it was like the essence of heaven in purity (Exodus 24:10),” (Talk about Objective Reality!) and their heads certainly split.

We stand everyday before the challenge of the Parah Adumah, the tugs of war between reality and the heavens, wondering how to understand everything happening in the world and our lives; how to get our head into the heavens. We stand everyday as did Nadav and Avihu searching to elevate our actions into meaning, desperate to ‘make a difference,” trying to get the heavens into our heads. I picture myself observing the offering of the Red Heifer, trying to make sense of its laws, and finding my sense of peace in the fact that this offering is not made inside the Temple, but from a distance. It is not a regular part of our service of God; it stands outside the boundaries of our immediate world. I do not picture myself at that moment as trying to get my head into the heavens, or getting the heavens into my head, but enjoying my reality, right here in this world, practically applying what I know and learn to my life, actions and attributes. I love the “secrets” of Torah only as they inform my immediate development. I cherish what I have yet to learn, I thrill when confronted by that which I have yet to understand, because they promise that there is so much more right here, to my life and aspirations. I do not need to bring any “strange fires (Leviticus 10:1),” to my service; the fire already burns within me, right here on earth.

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

Living With Croissants

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

If not for celiac disease, I would protest Turkey’s recent hostility toward Israel by eating croissants.

In 1683 an army of more than a hundred thousand Ottoman Turks was besieging Vienna. They tried tunneling under the walls, but the Viennese bakers working through the night heard the digging sounds and raised the alarm. Their early warning prevented the Turks from breaching the city walls and delayed the attack until the Polish King John III reached Vienna and drove the Turks away.

The bakers celebrated the end of the siege by copying the crescent moon from their enemy’s flag and turned it into a commemorative pastry; the croissant.

We don’t need the complex and seemingly contradictory laws of the Red Heifer to realize that there are deep mysteries to God’s laws; even pastry can have a hidden meaning.

This week’s Torah Reading – Chukat – Statutes Beyond Our Understanding – is not about one statute: “God spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, ‘This is the statute of the Torah..speak to the Children of Israel.” (Numbers 19:1-2) God did not instruct Moses to teach that the Red Heifer is a statute. The verse does not say, “Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them this is a statute.” The Chok, or statute, is that every teaching of the Torah must be presented with the idea of Chok – This is beyond human comprehension.

Torah learning is an invitation to explore the hidden meanings of absolutely everything in life, even croissants. Each Mitzvah we perform is a call to search for the hidden lessons of our lives and relationship with God.

When we study God’s laws as rules without a sense of mystery, or Chok, we forfeit their vibrant messages and delicious insights.  Reading the Bible, Talmud, or prayerbook without an appreciation for the hidden meanings waiting to be discovered by us turns perfect croissants (available, of course, only in Argentina as Media Luma) into Krispy Kreme Donuts.

We step into the world of Chok each time we pray. We have a chance to discover hidden treasures each time we open a Bible. The Mitzvot train us to step into different worlds with every action.

There are three categories of commandments, but all Mitzvot contain an element of all three. Each category triggers different lessons: Mishpatim ask us to reexamine our assumptions about life. Eidot, or Testimonies, remind us to always consider how we fit into the broader history of God and Israel. Chukim challenge us to always reach deeper into the mysteries and hidden meanings of absolutely everything.

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

Interview With Moses – Part One – Emunah Water

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

This is a BNN Special Report: We are standing outside Moshe’s tent waiting to begin our exclusive interview with the great leader.

The interview was originally scheduled for last month, but, as you know, Miriam, Moshe’s sister, passed way, and we rescheduled for after Shivah. Little did we know that by the time we would meet with Moshe that he would announce that he had been sentenced to die in the desert, never to enter the Land of Israel.

Will Moshe be different after this latest catastrophe? We will soon see.

Joshua has beckons us into the tent and is serving delicious Manna cakes and water. “Is the water still called Miriam’s Well”” we asked.

He smiled at us, “Why not?”

“Her well dried up after her death leading to, … you know, and people are not sure how to refer to the water from the rock.”

“I suggest that you ask Moshe,” he said as he led us into the Moshe’s office.

We are uncomfortable as Moshe rises to greet us. None of us have ever been so close to this man who had led us for close to 40 years.

He certainly does not seem depressed. He also seems unusually strong and vibrant for a young man, certainly not a man who is almost 120 years old. As experienced as we, the senior correspondents of the BNN, are, we are overwhelmed by this meeting.

Moshe senses our discomfort and rather than wait for our interview to begin, mentions, “Joshua told me that people do not know how to refer to the water from the rock.”

We haven’t been able to print labels for the new water, but I can tell you that we decided to name it “Emunah.”

We are shocked; Emunah?

“I am sure that you recall that one of the first things I said about the nation was, ‘But they will not believe me, – Ya’aminu – and they will not heed my voice, for they will say, ‘God did not appear to you.’” (Exodus 4:1)

“Of course we remember! But, what does that have to do with the water from the rock?”

“Are you aware of what happened with the rock?”

“You spoke and it didn’t work, and then…”

“Excuse me for interrupting, but when you say, ‘It didn’t work,’ don’t you mean that, ‘It did not heed my voice?’”

We stared at Moshe with our mouths wide open. He was right!

He continued, “I accused the Jews of not believing, and God was angry with Aaron and me, “Because you did not believe in Me!”

There was a heavy silence in the tent as we considered Moshe’s words: He predicted that the people would not heed his voice, and the rock did not heed his voice. He accused them of not believing and he ends up being accused of not believing!

Ever the teacher, Moshe continued, “Do you recall how God responded when I predicted that the people would not believe?”

“God said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ and he said, ‘A staff.’ He said, ‘Cast it on the ground,’ and he cast it on the ground and it became a snake, Moses fled from it. God said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand and grasp its tail.’ He stretched out his hand and grasped it tightly, and it became a staff in his palm. ‘So that they shall believe that God, the Lord of their forefathers, appeared to you, the Lord of Abraham, the Lord of Isaac, and the Lord of Jacob.” (Exodus 4:2-5)

“I’m happy you know your Bible. Do you realize that after the rock ‘did not heed my voice,’ that I sinned with my staff?”

We were shocked. Moshe was telling us that the seeds of the famous rock story had been planted in his first meeting with God!

“And there’s more…” he said…

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 Struggle

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

The Mitzvah of Parah Adumah can be quite confusing and demanding. The more we learn the more demanding it becomes.

Children had to be raised from birth in a secluded environment specially designed to protect them from any possible impurity in order to have people with the proper level of purity to prepare the Parah Adumah. They were not able to live among a normal functioning society.

This situation is not unique to the Parah Adumah. There are many of us who feel that in order to live as we should we must separate ourselves from society. In order to maintain the purity of our prayers, blessings, learning and Mitzvot we must seclude ourselves from any external and corrupting influences. How can we possibly maintain our spiritual integrity in an environment, which seems so contradictory to so much of what we believe?

These children were not being secluded from a corrupt society. They lived at a time when people were living with great spiritual honesty and awareness. They still had to be separated. There is no perfect society. There is no way to live in absolute spiritual purity and holiness. This was the gift of the Parah Adumah. When we felt overwhelmed by the demands of life, of making a living and raising our children, when we felt torn away from the joy of connecting with God as we desire in the deepest part of our being, we could travel to Jerusalem and taste perfection, if only temporarily.

The contradictions of the Parah Adumah are the contradictions of life. They are part and parcel of human existence and are not bad. They are the core of our job to discover the holy even in the impure.

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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29
Jun

Rabbi David Lapin of iAwaken on Chukat

by admin in Portion of the Week, Spiritual Growth

The Artful Juggle: No You See It, No You Don’t

Ash and Dust: Sotah and Parah

Travel with me on an imaginary trip forward (or backward) into a time when the Beit Hamikdash is operational.

We stroll and we observe. We see two strange, seemingly unrelated practices. First, we see a Kohein fixing a drink. The scene is sad. Conflict, fear and resentment permeate the atmosphere. He is mixing sand and water for the Mey Sota (Waters of a Sota). A man requested that his wife avoid ongoing privacy with another man. After ignoring his request, he accuses her of unfaithfulness. Drinking this water will prove her either guilty or innocent. If innocent, cleansed of the negative energy between them, the couple will reconcile in peace and joy. Later, a righteous son of Abrahamic stature will be born.

In a different place a Kohein is mixing another inert powder, the ashes of a Para Aduma (Red Cow), with water, the source of life. This mixture also cleanses negative energy; the negative energy that attaches to a Jew when he has contact with a dead body. This mixture however will not be drunk; it will be sprinkled.

The intersection of Masechet Sotah in the current Daf Yomi program with Parshat Parah in this week’s Parsha, begs a comparison that the Gemmara (Sotah 17a) provides: “Rava researched[1] and discovered that as a consequence of Avraham’s humble declaration ‘and I am merely dust and ashes,’ his children were privileged with two mitzvot: the ashes of the Red Cow and the dust of the Sotah (water).”

The Yeast in the Dough

Ash and dust are also correlated in the laws of chameitz (food containing unleavened bread or yeast). Before Pesach we must destroy any chameitz we own. This destruction, according to R. Yehuda[2] requires the reduction of chameitz to ashes. But when we perform the act of bittul chameitz (canceling our attachment to chameitz), we use the phrase “let it be (to me) like the dust of the earth.”

Chameitz is often referred to as se’or she’ba’issa (the yeast in the dough). This means it represents the ego, which bloats the personality. Destruction of ego, the primary practice of Pesach, has two forms: it can be reduced to ashes by means of burning or to dust by means of grinding. Ash is sterile, unable to produce any life at all whereas dust nurtures vegetation and supports life. There are times when ego needs to be rendered as sterile as ash, and other times when it has a use and gives rise to life.[3]

Can’t live with it; can’t live without it

Ego needs to be kept in check at all times; but in our general activities, some degree of ego is necessary. “Were it not for the Yeitzer Hara (ego), men would not build homes nor marry women!”[4] Not so in the study of Torah. In the study of Torah there is no place for ego at all. Even the tiniest amount of ego is devastatingly destructive to the study of Torah[5] (like tiny quantities of chameitz on Pesach).

Part of the practice of Torah study, is the “burning” of our ego as we burn the chameitz. We burn it with the heat of our creative passion in the ecstasy of our learning, where being true is more important than being right. In our general activities we learn to crush our egos too. In business we submit ourselves to the needs of our customers or work for the wellbeing of our employers. When we love, we do so selflessly and unconditionally. Yet in both business and love there is a dimension of conquest for a man that is entirely absent from Limud Torah. Conquest is a function of ego. Ego, after it has been crushed into dust, still plays a part in business and in love. From dust’s virtual inertia, life, success and love grow and flourish.

Moral Heroism: Hakoveish et Yitzro

Avraham demonstrated the elimination of his ego in both senses: he was both dust and ashes. His ego was entirely inert with respect to his service of G-d, but in his relationships and business activities he was able to use his ego to produce life. And this translated into these two mitzvot generations later.

In the case of Sota, out of the dust of an almost broken marriage, after both the husband and his wife’s egos have been crushed but not destroyed, love and life blossom. But Para Aduma teaches us the principles of Torah learning: This is the “Chukat Hatorah[6]”;and “this is the Torah- A man who dies in a tent[7]” or as Chazal read it “a man who kills his ego in the tent of Torah study”. In the study of Torah ego is to be utterly sterilized, it must be burnt into ash.

It would be so much easier if like the religions of Asia, we merely had to kill our egos entirely, or like Western materialists we were free to live by our egos. But neither is what the Torah demands of us. The Torah challenges us to become artful in the juggle of the ego. Burning it into nothingness in some areas and crushing it into dust that can still produce, in other areas. We are not to bluntly destroy our egos but to conquer them, able to apply our egos where they are needed, and silence them where they are not. Who is a hero? One who has conquered his ego, hakoveish et yitzro.[8]

Notes:

[1] A translation for “dorash” that I learnt from Reb Simcha Wasserman ztz’l

[2] Pesachim 27b

[3] See Keren Ora Sotah 17a

[4] B.R: 9:9 cf. Yomah 69b

[5] Tosfot Berachot 17a

[6] Bamidbar 19:2

[7] Bamidbar 19:14

[8] Avot 4:1

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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27
Jun

The Gift of Courage

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Prayer

“He who loses wealth loses much. He who loses a friend loses more. But he that loses his courage loses all (Miguel de Cervantes).”

“Who gifts strength to the tired.” The gift of strength is not given to the weak, but to the tired. Perhaps the blessing is referring to the strength of courage; the courage to face a new day with the same challenges we’ve been facing for a while.

Sometimes there is courage just in waking up and getting out of bed. I know people who get up only because of responsibilities to their children.  It takes courage to wake up to responsibility.

I know people who get out of bed because they can’t just stay in bed all day doing nothing. That first step out of bed takes courage.

I know people who get out of bed convinced that they have nothing to look forward to other than the same problems or tedium. That first step still takes courage.

This blessing is not about being physically tired; but emotionally exhausted. The courage to get up and face the day is a gift. Recognizing that gift can empower the second step, the one that follows getting out of bed. The pleasure of that gift of courage can lift our feet into more steps, and even into new possibilities and hope.

Perhaps it is the gift of discovering the courage we use to live our lives. We may not realize how much courage we have and use each day.

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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