August, 2012 Archives

26
Aug

Pip and Yom Kippur-Personal Ramblings

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Holidays

It is not easy to put a beloved pet to sleep. It was clear that Pip was suffering. He couldn’t stand, eat, drink, or even relieve himself. He had to be relieved of his suffering, and yet, it was almost unbearable to be with him in the room as the veterinarian administered the drugs.

She first gave him a sedative to calm him and I insisted that he not be placed on the surgical table, but that I hold him in his final moments. He smooshed his head into my chest and looking up licked the tears off my face.

The decision to euthanize was the most compassionate, and yet I still felt guilty. I felt, with life and death of an animal in my hands, as if I were living the commandment, “If a birds nest chances to be before you (Deuteronomy 22:6),” which is the subject of debate between many of the great thinkers of our heritage, who use this commandment to explore the very purpose of Commandments.

“The Sages have already arranged it for us in Neilah, the closing service of Yom Kippur, ‘You have distinguished man from the beginning, and have recognized him to be privileged to stand before You, for who shall say to You, ‘ What are You doing?’ And if a person is righteous what can he possibly give You?’

Similarly, it states in the Torah, “Which I command you this day for your good (Deuteronomy 10:13).” Also, “And the Eternal commanded us to do all the statutes, to fear the Eternal, our Lord, for our good always.”

The intent in all these expressions is “for our good,” and not for His, blessed and exalted be He! Rather, everything we have been commanded is so that His creations be refined and purified, free from the dross of evil thoughts and blameworthy traits of character (Translated by Rabbi Dr. Charles Chavel zt”l).”

The only thing we can “give” God is to use this life for good; to use His Mitzvot to refine ourselves.

There are times when acts of compassion hurt. I thought of the Ramban’s reference to Neilah as the gates were closing on Pip’s life: We are reminded to use all such moments, “for our good,” to refine our character. Pip helped everyone in my family refine themselves:

Pip help me become a better, more consistent parent.

We jokingly referred to him as, “The Pipometer,” because he would tremble whenever someone in the room was tense. He helped all of us learn to manage our anger.

He taught us forgiveness; he would lovingly run to us just moments after we would speak roughly to him.

He was a great teacher of humility, because even when students would treat me with great honor, Pip would gently remind me that my job was to clean his poop.

He greeted everyone with a wagging tail and filled with joy.

He was great comfort whenever a member of the family needed a companion.

Pip was a dog. He was also a friend and teacher. He was a constant lesson in character refinement; that we can use anything in life, even a dog, to derive insights into ways to make ourselves better people.

If I can learn from a dog how to refine my character, I can surely learn more from the Torah and Mitzvot.

Additional Thoughts: The fast is almost over by the time we reach Neilah on Yom Kippur, but we can use our hunger to refine our character and think of those who are constantly hungry because they are too poor to buy food.

Our feet hurt and we can think of those who can’t afford shoes.

We can empathize with those who have yet to find love.

We can consider those who don’t have clean water in which to wash.

We can reflect on whether we have refined our character to constantly think of others.

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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26
Aug

BNN Reports: Scandal Rocks Victory Parade

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

This is Simcha Weinberg reporting for the BNN, The Biblical News Network, from a victory parade for our soldiers returning from a battle to expand the boundaries of Israel; a celebration that was marred by scandal! A soldier returned home dragging a captured woman behind him. When asked why he brought this enemy woman home with him, he replied, “I saw this woman in middle of battle and my passion was inflamed. The Torah allowed me to grab her.”

“What do you mean that you were permitted to grab her?”

“Well, I wasn’t exactly sure because I learned in yeshiva that there is a debate between Rashi and the Ramban on the one hand, and Tosafot on the other, as to what exactly I was permitted to do.”

“Let me understand, you said that you were allowed to grab her because your passion was inflamed, and that the Torah was acknowledging your uncontrollable desire. Then you said, that despite your inflamed passion, you were still concerned about exactly what it was the Torah gave you permission to do!”

“If your passion was controlled enough for you to consider what you were permitted to do, then how could you say that your passion was uncontrollable?”

“May I ask what you ended up doing?”

The soldier refused to answer. He wanted his privacy.

He may have desired privacy but everyone in the community was talking. The women were looking at their husbands and sons and wondering what they were doing during the battle. Many women were overheard insisting, “My son would never do such a thing!” Some were overheard saying, “If my husband did anything like that, I’ll kill him”

The BNN decided to remain in the city and follow this story as it developed.

All the local sermons this past Shabbat were based on the same idea: “The juxtaposition of the first three laws in this week’s portion, the captured woman, the hated wife, and a rebellious child, are in themselves an implicit argument against this sort of liaison, for after giving the laws of the captive woman, the Torah speaks of a hated wife, and then an incorrigibly rebellious child.” The implication, insisted all the local rabbis, is that there is a chain reaction.  The improper infatuation with a captive woman will lead to one family tragedy after another!

I caught up with our soldier as he stormed from the synagogue immediately upon hearing the humiliating sermon, and asked for his reaction.

“How can the rabbis be so critical of my behavior when in my moment of ‘uncontrollable passion’ I still followed the letter of the law! How can they describe my behavior at this point as ‘inflamed passion’ when I am willing to go through the entire process of a month adhering to every detail of the law before deciding what I will do with her! This isn’t uncontrolled passion; it is passion directed by the letter of the law!”

The community is humming with debate regarding this soldier and his captive woman. Many women are insisting that they will not allow their sons and husbands to join the Army in the next  battle that is not specifically for the safety and security of the nation.

The eyes of the nation are turned to the King, David, who is universally regarded as our leader and teacher. Many are hesitant to directly ask King David for his input, because, as you all know, he once took a captive woman and he ended up having a rebellious child, Avshalom. Many quietly reflect that they are convinced that Avshalom originally chose to become a Nazirite to reject to his father’s behavior with uncontrolled passion. It’s interesting to note that Avshalom’s approach of containing his desires by becoming a Nazirite did not work for him, but that King David became the beautiful spiritual force that continues to live in the heart of all of Israel despite, or even because of, his great passion.

We hope to be able to interview the King and share his thoughts with our beloved audience. Please stay tuned to the BNN for further developments. You are welcome to submit your questions for the king.

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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25
Aug

Eating Habits

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

We should look for someone with whom to eat and drink before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone and is leading the life of a lion or wolf (Epicurus).”

I’m not so sure that finding someone with whom to share a feast is necessarily going to protect a person from living the life of a wild beast. Bohumil Hrabal in “I Served The King of England,” describes a feast of wild antelope and roasted camel, the animals stolen from the local zoo, to honor Emperor Haley Selassie in 1939 Prague. As far as Hrabal was concerned, this was a meal of a wild beast.

I guess we can’t criticize anyone for their diet, as many would be disgusted by Cholent or steak. Of course, we would all agree that the dish of Powdered Wife described by John Smith (The Generall Historie of Virginia,) certainly qualifies as the meal of the beast.

How would we judge the enormous feasts consumed by the Rebellious Child? Does it qualify as something very strange, such as the meal prepared for Haley Selassie, or is it more like the meal of Powdered Wife? Perhaps, his eating habits are of concern because of Epicurus’s dictum against eating alone; his eating habits reflect a person who stands alone against the rest of the world.

Nachmanides explains that part of his sin is, “because he is a glutton, and a drunkard, transgressing that which we have been commanded, “You shall be holy (Leviticus 19:2),” and “He shall you serve, and to Him shall you cleave (Deuteronomy 13:5),” and we are commanded to know God in all our ways, and a glutton and a drunkard does not know the way of God.

It certainly doesn’t seem that Nachmanides sees this young man as a wild beast consuming a feast of antelope and camel, and certainly not a dish of Powdered Wife, but that he is someone who is he eating habits display that he is a person who does not know the way of God. I am confident that my eating habits do not reflect the strange dishes served to the Emperor of Ethiopia or the Powdered Wife consumed by a starving man in 1609 Jamestown, but I wonder whether my eating habits reflect someone who knows the way of God.

This is not about the ritual washing of hands before a meal, nor about the blessings before and after the meal, and it is not about our conversations while eating, but a description of the way we eat. Does our Netilat Yada’im lead us to be careful in the way we eat? Does our mention of God as King in our blessings before the meal remind us to eat as royalty, reflecting the way of God? It isn’t even about how we hold a knife and fork, because for ages people ate with their hands.

This is a lesson in eating with a sense of sanctity, and using eating as a way to attach to our Infinite Creator. I can’t do it when eating a candy bar, I have enough difficulty when eating a Shabbat meal.

I found that applying Epicurus’ rule led me to always imagine myself as setting in the eating at God’s table; I’m not alone. I’m aware that I am eating in the presence of Someone else. “When you sit down to dine with a ruler, know well what lies before you, put a knife to your throat if you are master of your soul. Do not lust for his delicacies, for it is deceitful bread (Proverbs 23:1–3).” King Solomon is teaching us that when we learn how to live life as one who is eating at the Kings table, we will learn how to master our desires in life. To ignore God’s presence even while we’re eating, is to act as did the mythical Rebellious Child.

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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