September, 2011 Archives

17
Sep

Hearing: Impact

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Hearing The Message

“But My people did not hear My voice and Israel did not desire Me (Psalms 81:12).” Unfortunately, the dramatic Exodus did not leave a lasting impression upon the people. Immediately afterwards, in the wilderness, they refused to obey God. They continued to neglect God in the days of the judges and during the reign of the kings. (Radak)

The verse teaches that our ability to hear God’s voice is a reflection of our level of desire for God. Because we did not desire God, we did not hear His Voice as we could have, meaning in a way that would have a permanent impact.

The way we hear the Shofar of Elul and Rosh Hashanah is determined by our level of desire to connect to God. If we hear with full desire for a complete attachment to the Creator, we will hear a message that will have a lasting impact on us.

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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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17
Sep

Tehillim Tools: 80:5: Elul: Removing the Smoke

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

King David

“God, Lord of Hosts, how long will You fume (smoke) at the prayers of Your nation (Psalms 80:5)?”  When God is angered, the verse states that, “Smoke arose from His nostrils (18:9).” A barrier of smoke bars the path of Israel’s prayers as they struggle to ascend heavenward. (Rabbi Moshe Alshich)

I imagine the smoke of this verse, the smoke that blocks our prayers as hovering over us just as the smoke hovered over the ruins of Jerusalem and the Beit Hamikdash. I then imagine the Shofar of Elul as blowing away all the smoke that lingers from Av, clearing the way for our prayers to soar.

This verse can be used as a Kavanah when listening to the Elul Shofar: Please allow the Shofar, and the feelings it arouses in our hearts to clear all barriers between our prayers and You.

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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17
Sep

R’ Shlomo on P’ Ci Tavo:Getting Back My ‘I’

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

You know something friends, basically we are all living in two worlds. On a certain level we are living in a world where I have to do what everybody else is doing. Everybody goes to sleep, I go to sleep; everybody wakes up, hopefully I will wake up. Everybody makes a few rubles, I try to make a few rubles. But then there is something else, the deepest, deepest depths of me – where it’s just “I”, nobody else in the world.

I want you to know, the Gemara says that Eretz Yisrael is the center of the world. It doesn’t just mean that geographically Eretz Yisrael is the center of the world. Eretz Yisrael gives us back that center.

Here is a Modzitzer Torah which you can’t forget.

It says ‘Vehaya Ki Savo’u El Ha’aretz’, when you come to the Holy Land, ‘Asher Ani Nosain Lachem’, which I am giving you. So the old Modzitzer, Reb Shaul Yedidya says like this. ‘Vehaya Ki Savo’u El Ha’aretz’ when you come to the land, ‘Asher Ani Nosayn Lachem’, where G-d gives you back your ‘ANI’, your ‘I’.

See what it is, in chutz l’aaretz, outside the land we have everything, but we don’t have our ‘I’.

Friends, what’s the ‘I’ of a person? When I am in touch with my ‘I’, I know what the point of me being in this world really is.

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14
Sep

Ki Tavo: Grouchy & The Infectious Smile

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

Smile!

Smile!

We were playing handball against the western wall of Yeshivat Eitz Chaim in Toronto. I clearly remember that it was the western wall because there was a drawing of the Kotel – at that time called the Wailing Wall – posted on the wall. It was 1964 and Jews were unable to access the Kotel. The school posted the drawing so that we would remember and pray for the Western Wall.

The ball went flying behind us into the backyard of the house just next to the school. I was going to climb through the hedges to reclaim my “pinky” ball but everyone yelled, “Stop! You can’t go there. Grouchy lives there!”

Thank God, I listened. Grouchy came flying out the back door just waiting for his next victim to devour!

I noticed that Grouchy had a tattoo of numbers on his arm, just like Ben, the school-bus driver, and most of the teachers and rabbeim. In fact, almost all the parents I knew had similar tattoos. I was jealous because neither of my parents, and none of my grandparents had tattoos. My doctor had one, as did my dentist. The butcher had one, and so did the barber, and my building’s super. It seemed like most adults had numbers. I wondered how old you had to be to get one. After all, my parents were already ancient and they didn’t have numbers. My grandparents were beyond ancient; they were from a different century, and they didn’t get to have tattoos either.

I met Grouchy one day at the bus stop and he was very nice. “Why are you so scared of me?” “Because, you’re so grouchy!”

“You would also be grouchy if you had one of these,” he said pointing to his tattoo. When he saw the blank look in my face, he explained who tattooed him, where and when. I still tear when I remember his story. The Germans tortured and killed his wife and children in front of his eyes before sending him to a place called Treblinka.

Grouchy and I became friends. I asked the other kids to stop calling him Grouchy and retold his story. The most common response was: “My parents’ story is worse and they are not grouchy!”

I thought of Grouchy this morning on my daily walk. There is a man who looks just like Grouchy who never greets any of the other walkers. He refuses to move aside for anyone, despite the unspoken rule that you always walk to the right. I greet him every morning with a big smile and he refuses to acknowledge me. His grouchiness is infectious. It affects my mood.

This morning I saw his tattoo when I past him on my first lap, and remembered Grouchy.

There is another man I see every morning who is the polar opposite. He has the most beautiful smile and he greets everyone. We all call him “Smiley”. He lifts my mood even more than Grouchy ruins it. I passed him just after passing Grouchy and I was so infected by his smile that I decided to try again with my new Grouchy. “Good morning! How are you this wonderful morning?”

He stopped, looked at me, noticed my Curious George t-shirt and laughed. “Good morning to you.” Smiley infected me with his smile and I was finally able to infect Grouchy.

The power of a smile. No wonder God asks us to smile when we serve Him: “Because you did not serve God, your Lord, amid gladness and goodness of heart.” (Deuteronomy 28:47) The bible is describing the most horrible curses and explains that they will come because we are, well, so grouchy when we serve Him!

Imagine if everyone walked around with Smiley’s infectious smile when serving God! Awesome!

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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14
Sep

Tehillim Tools: Elul: Ask Big

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

The Message of the Psalms

“I am God, your Lord, Who raised you from the land of Egypt, open wide your mouth and I will fill it (Psalms 81:11).” Asked of me all that your heart desires, and I will fulfill every request (Ibn Ezra), on the condition that you hearken to Me. Then you will never know want, hunger, or thirst, just as you were completely provided for one I brought you from Egypt. (Radak)

From these words, the Talmud (Yerushalmi Ta’anit 3:6) derives the halachic principle that the worshiper should supplicate God for all his needs, thereby demonstrating his complete faith in God’s omnipotence and benevolence. The more one asks for God’s help, the wider he opens his mouth, the more he shows that he believes in God’s ability to provide all of a person’s needs.

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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14
Sep

Hearing: The Full Message

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Hearing The Message

“Listen, My nation, and I will attest to you; O Israel, if you would but listen to Me (Psalms 81:9).” The Midrash (Shir Hashirim 1) says that God’s commanding voice made such a profound impression on them at Sinai that the Evil Inclination was purged from their hearts. After hearing these two commandments, however, Israel grew weak. They panicked and refused to listen to God’s awesome voice. They demanded that Moses to come their intermediary and transmit the remaining eight Commandments to them. At that moment, they ceased to be spellbound by God’s holy words, and the Evil Inclination returned to their hearts.

Therefore, God says, “Oh, Israel, if you had listened to Me there would be no strange god [i.e. Evil Inclination] within you.” (Shevet M’Yisrael)

The Shofar’s voice is the same voice we heard at Sinai. It potentially carries the same power to purge the Evil Inclination from our hearts. We must lease in as if we are being presented with the same choice as the people who stood at Sinai: Will we choose to listen directly to God’s voice? Or, will we be so intimidated that we will, once again, fail to take full advantage of the opportunity.

What do we desire to hear?

How do we desire to hear the Voice of the Shofar?

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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14
Sep

The Search: Seeking Life

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Seeking God

“When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn (Isaiah 8:19-20).”

Most of us are seekers, whether we seek God, truth, material success, happiness, or the ultimate thrill; we are seekers.

When Isaiah urges us to,

“Seek God while He may be found;

call on him while He is near.

Let the wicked forsake their ways

and the unrighteous their thoughts.

Let them turn to God, and He will have mercy on them,

and to our Lord, for He will freely pardon (Isaiah 55:6-7),”

he is reminding us, that we not only must choose to seek God and His love, we must choose how we will seek, where we will seek, and whom we will consult.

“Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” We are seeking life, “Remember us for life, King Who desires life; Inscribe us in the Book of Life, for Your sake, the Living Power.” If we are seeking life, we must seek in something living, vibrant and real.

“Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning.” Elul, the most auspicious time to seek God, as this is the time when He may be found, is the time when we must “Consult God’s instruction,” and search for answers to our questions in His Torah.

We can use this month to make a list of our questions, the issues that we have with God and Judaism, our doubts, and our need for clarity. We should then use this month of Seeking God to “Consult God’s instruction,” to find answers.

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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10
Sep

Mistakes: Bagadnu

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Learning From Our Mistakes

“We have betrayed.” “A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know of Joseph (Exodus 1:8).” “He made himself as if he did not know of Joseph’s contributions to Egypt (Rashi).” My father zt’l often spoke of the fact that the first thing the Torah wants us to know about Pharaoh was that he had no sense of gratitude; he was a Bogeid, a denier of how he benefited from others! Pharaoh was cruel tyrant, a murderer, and a denier of God, and yet, the Torah wants us to know that at the root of all his evil was the fact that he was a person who betrayed Joseph! My father added, “One who denies how he has benefited from others will eventually deny God from Whom he has benefited most!”

It’s also interesting that the man who betrays Joseph eventually betrays his entire nation, allowing them to be destroyed as a result of his stubbornness!

We do not find Pharaoh attempting to rectify this sin, but, when we consider the story of the Ten Plagues, we find that God is directing the king to rectify this one point: The slavery ended as soon as the plagues began, and yet, Pharaoh refuses God’s demand that he, “Let My people go!” Pharaoh is certainly struggling with God, wondering why such a great Power needed his permission to allow the Jews to leave, but how did he rationalize his decision to allow his country to be devastated? He, at one point, agrees to allow the men to leave for a three day celebration with their God, but insists that they return, holding the women and children hostage. He wants Israel to remain in Egypt even if they are no longer slaves. He needs them for his country. Pharaoh is forced by God to acknowledge Israel’s contribution to Egypt. God directs events so that Pharaoh will repair his denial of Joseph.

Application:

“Bagadnu: I acknowledge that I have not consistently acknowledged how I have benefited from others, my parents, teachers, friends and strangers. I commit to actively repair this sin by reviewing how I have benefited from the important people in my life and contacting them to acknowledge how I have benefited from them.”

See: http://www.thefoundationstone.org/en/holidays/yom-kippur/1449-confessionsbagadnu.html



http://www.thefoundationstone.org/en/holidays/yom-kippur/4090-confessionsbagadnu.html

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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10
Sep

Mistakes: Ashamnu

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Learning From Our Mistakes

“It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I’m right.” (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière)

Genesis 42: 1 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” 2 He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”

3 Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him. 5 So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also.

6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. 7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked.

“From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.”

8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9 Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”

10 “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.”

12 “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”

13 But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.”

14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 15 And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17 And he put them all in custody for three days.

18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do.

21 They said to one another, “Surely we are guilty (Asheimim) because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.”

The brothers acknowledge their guilt for refusing to listen to Joseph’s cries even though they saw his distress. They did not say that they were guilty for not listening, but for not listening after they saw Joseph’s suffering.

We are approaching the Vidui as a way of learning from our mistakes: Did the brothers learn from this mistake? Did they change after acknowledging their sin?

The brothers “Knew” they were right when they threw their brother into the pit. They saw him as destructive, dangerous to the family’s unity. The Sages describe the brothers as convening a Court and sentencing Joseph to death!

They are do not openly state that they were wrong for getting rid of Joseph, only for ignoring his cries even after they saw his agony. It is difficult to pay attention when you know you are right!

Reuben attempts to have them consider that they were altogether wrong, “Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood,” but he is ignored. As far as the brothers are concerned, they were guilty only for ignoring Joseph’s cries even after seeing his suffering.

Did they attempt to repair their sin?

They did: “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father (50:15-16).” Rashi says that they sent the children of Bilhah to speak to Joseph, because he had always been very friendly with them.

I believe that the choice of the sons of Bilhah was an attempt to repair the sin described above. Joseph surely suffered when he realized that his brothers wanted to kill him, but suffered most from the hatred, or, at the very least, the silence of the brothers with whom he was friendly. The choice of these brothers, who had hurt Joseph the most was an indication that they were paying attention to Joseph’s experience; his pain, his response. They were attempting to repair the lack of sensitivity they displayed when they ignored his cries by demonstrating that they were now paying attention to his emotions. This was the rectification of their Ashamnu.

It is only when they attempt to repair the Ashamnu that they first acknowledge that they were wrong: “I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.”

The lack of sensitivity and compassion for Joseph prevented them from reconsidering their decision. Once they repaired the Ashamnu, they were able to reevaluate all their actions.

Application:

There are times when we reach a decision and act so convinced that we are correct that we ignore the effects of our decisions on others. That is Ashamnu. (Five of the six Asham Offerings are associated with the impact of our decisions on others. The sixth, Asham Talui, the Doubt Asham, is focused on dealing with doubting a “right” decision.)

A person is so careful with the laws of negative speech that he will not share information when asked for a recommendation for a Shidduch or a business transaction.

A person accepts new religious stringencies without considering the impact on his or her spouse.

The point of reciting Ashamnu is to identify such moments and commit to take specific action to rectify the lack of sensitivity. The Tikkun can be to commit to being a better listener, or to review important decisions with the people who will be most affected by the decision.

“Ashamnu; I have acted without being sufficiently sensitive to the impact of my decisions and actions on others. I commit to repair this sin by paying more attention to the reactions of others to my decisions.”

See: http://www.thefoundationstone.org/en/holidays/yom-kippur/1446-confessions-ashamnu.html

http://www.thefoundationstone.org/en/holidays/yom-kippur/4086-confessionsashamnu.html

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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8
Sep

The Mystery & The Puzzle

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

It Hurts!!!

David Morris writes in “The Culture of Pain” that to a doctor, pain is a puzzle, but to a patient it is a mystery, in the ancient sense of the word, a truth necessarily closed off from full understanding, which refuses to yield every quantum of its darkness: “a landscape where nothing looks entirely familiar and where even the familiar takes on an uncanny strangeness.”

I study the Vidui, the Yom Kippur Confession, and immediately experience the mystery of pain. I grew up observing people weeping as they recited the Vidui. When asked, they would describe the pain they felt over their mistakes, and how undeserving they were of God’s blessings. I never heard that approach from my father zt”l, but it left its mark. Here I am, pained over my imperfections and failings. I am viewing my life through the eyes of the Vidui, the things I could be doing better, and the landscape looks different from my regular perspective. I try to observe all that I do through the eyes of God’ Judgment, not my daily perspective, and everything becomes slightly unfamiliar. I become a mystery to myself. Why is it so difficult to change? Why do I repeat the same mistakes year after year? In my regular view, my anger was appropriate. In the Vidui’s view, the situation is different; there was no call for anger and resentment.

If my Vidui causes me to see me and my life as mysteries, how will it help me change in practical ways? Are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur about the mysteries of life or the way we deal with what we perceive?

I decided to take the physician’s perspective; that of a puzzle, not a mystery. I acknowledge the pain and attempt to understand it as a piece of the huge puzzle of a human being struggling with life: “Is the pain another piece in the complex puzzle of my life?”

For some people, the pain is how they experience Teshuva – they only feel that they are doing Teshuva when they feel pain over their mistakes. They want to feel the pain. It becomes an essential part of their religious life: “If I can’t live at a higher level, I will, at least, be pained that I cannot. The pain is my way of exculpating my inadequacies.” The pain has become part of the person’s service. It is one piece of the puzzle; a piece that adds pain to their spiritual lives. They do not believe in the pure joy of serving God; it must come with some pain.

That cannot be the intent of the Vidui.

The Vidui lays out a structure that describes our struggle with mastering a spiritual life challenged by the mundane. It lists the daunting challenges of living a God oriented life. It lays out the map of how spiritual yearnings may mislead us. It points out where we are straying from the path to success. I can pinpoint my mistakes and sigh in relief, not pain, as I realize where and how I can return to my path.

The Vidui helps me identify the source of my pain, and repair it. It is not intended to cause pain, but to identify it at its source. It restores the joy in my service of God. It heals me. It empowers me to move forward without pain.

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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