March, 2013 Archives

16
Mar

Location, Location, Location!

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Reflections & Observations, Spiritual Growth

I returned to Van Cortland Park today for the first time since the winter began. A four and half mile walk is, well, a walk in the park compared to an hour on a treadmill. (On My Terms) It’s not simply that I can fool myself into believing that I burned more calories when there is no monitor measuring my progress. I am far more comfortable in the park. There are all sorts of people, not just muscle men and people far thinner than am I. There are old people and young, men and women, fat and thin, fast walkers and slow. The people in the gym are nice. Many refer to me as Miracle Man because they remember how I first arrived in the gym using a walker. Others call me String Man in honor of my Tzitzit. They are helpful and warm, but they are generally in far better physical condition. I fit in better with the other park walkers.

But the main difference is not the people; it’s the location. I remember a real estate agent telling me that it’s all about “Location, location, location!” She was right. The location makes all the difference in the world. I am outside in middle of nature. I have a sense of freedom that isn’t there in the gym. I think well. I come up with ideas for the blog and lectures, which doesn’t often happen in the gym. I relax and consider the time productive. My time on the treadmill is a burden. Location matters when I walk, as it does when I learn, pray, or eat.

The Children of Israel did not really have a place in Egypt. They did not belong to society. Yet, out they go, into the desert, again without a sense of place. They may have been in a camp, in their own tents, but I imagine they felt displaced all those years in the desert, never knowing when the cloud would rise and they would have to pick up and move yet again.

It’s not surprising that the verse does not describe God dancing, or passing over, the people; it says that God danced over their Homes, their place, as if God was nurturing a sense of place for them, even as their bags were placed and they were dressed for travel, knowing that they would soon be traveling. They were creating a place for themselves when they placed the blood on their doorposts and lintels. No wonder they were not allowed to move outside of their homes while eating their Pesach Offering. It’s all about location.

They learned that a person does not need to have something permanent in order to have a sense of a place all their own. This is why the Sages teach that we create a space of four cubits around ourselves when we pray or study Torah. We can create a place for ourselves wherever we go.

No wonder we refer to God as Hamakom – The Omnipresent – in the Haggadah! We gained the ability to create our own special locations for ourselves wherever we go as part of gaining freedom. We can move around and make that special “location,” with everything we do.

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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16
Mar

Battling the Nemesis-The Haggadah of Gratitude

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Nemesis is lame; but she is of colossal stature, like the gods, and sometimes, while her sword is not yet unsheathed, she stretches out her huge left arm and grasps her victim.

The mighty hand is invisible, but the victim totters under the dire clutch.

[George Eliot; Scenes of Clerical Life]

I’ve always been struck by the choice of words, “sword not yet unsheathed,” “huge left arm,” and, “mighty hand,” all phrases we use in the Haggadah to describe God striking the Egyptians. We could say that God was their Nemesis.

However, in the story Reverend Amos Burton, a pious man but unpopular parson, “sadly unsuited to the practice of his profession,” loses his wife in childbirth, and receives notice that he has lost his position. All has fallen apart; he feels that life is his nemesis. But it is not life, but he, who is his own nemesis, something I wonder whether he ever understands, even when, at the story’s end, twenty years later, he stands at Milly’s grave.

I picture the moment when the Egyptians are carried by their horses and chariots into the Sea, as their moment of realization that they are being carried by their own decisions, that they are their own nemesis. God’s Sword, Arm, and Hand, were released by them, not Moshe, not even God.

This would explain why Dayeinu immediately follows the counting of the miracles at the Sea; We address our role as our own nemesis with our lack of gratitude. (See “The Haggadah of Breaking Our Anger II.”)

We are so careful with all the laws of Pesach because we want to obey the law, but we can easily forget to perform the Mitzvot with gratitude, and as God’s way of saying Thank You to us (“Infectious Gratitude”).

The Egyptians too began their process of becoming their own nemesis with a lack of gratitude (Listen to, “Shemot-Thanks”).

We can celebrate the entire Seder as an expression of Gratitude:

Fifteen Steps: Thank You for providing the structure within which we can be creative and act with free choice. (“Fifteen Steps-Shelah,” “The Creative Impulse,” “Order! Order!”).

Kadeish: Thank You for empowering us to Sanctify this world, our actions, and connect all to You. (“The Conference of the Birds,” “Family Discussion.”)

Urchatz: Thank You for creating us in Your Image, which we honor by washing our hands. (“Haggadah-Urchatz-Rachtza”).

Yachatz: Thank You for giving us enough to set aside food for the future. (“Broken Matzah-Broken Hallel,” “What Does God Really Want,” “Breaking The Middle Matzah”).

Karpas: Thank You for teaching us the difference between eating as an instinct and eating as royalty (“Rav Kook-Yachatz I”)

Maggid: Thank You for having experiences to share (“Teaching Our Children”), stories to tell (“Owning Our Slippers”), wisdom to convey (“Four Songs of the Four Portions”) and the opportunity (“The Story-Teller and The Maggid”) and means (“Chidah-Fourth Level of Sippur”)to so do. (“Ma Nishtana in the Warsaw Ghetto.”)

Rachtza: Thank You for constantly allowing us to wash our hands each time we rise after we fall (Walking With A Flute VIII”), so we can move ahead.

Motzi: Thank You for our creative spirit that allows us to make bread from wheat (“Finding”).

Matzah: Thank You for the humility necessary for relationships, especially with You (Pesach, Matzah, u’Maror”).

Maror: Thank You for the gifts of empathy (“Connecting The Story”) and patience (“The Maror of Patience”).

Koreich: Thank You for empowering us to share different approaches in our service of You (“Fighting The Fire IX”).

Tzafun: Thank You for empowering us to live with a sense of how much more there is to discover (“Hidden No More”).

Bareich: Thank You for the ability to transform the physical into spiritual (“Moshe and The Burning Bush,” “Ohr Chadash,” and, “Higher Eating”).

Hallel: Thank You for the ability to create eternal realities with our words(“The Blessing of Being Able to Sing”).”

Nirtzah: Thank You for the opportunity to give You Nachas (“A Blessing For God”).

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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16
Mar

Here & Now

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

No longer forward nor behind

I look in hope or fear,

But, grateful, take the good I find,

The best of now and here.

John Greenleaf Whittier 1859

These words struck me as I was reflecting on the Haggadah. Much of the Pesach Seder is either looking forward or behind. We look forward as we prepare for Pesach; even when we search for Chametz, we place it aside till the morrow to be burned. (Countdown to Pesach 15)

We look behind as we burn, for we are taught that this is a process of spiritual cleansing as well.

We spend the day preparing for the Seder, looking forward with hope, and perhaps a little bit of fear as we wonder how well everything will run.

We look forward as we make Kiddush over “the first of four cups of wine.” We wash our hands to prepare for what comes next, Karpas, something difficult to define, that does not, without some creative mental and homiletical gymnastics, address the now and here.

We break the middle matzah placing half away for the future. My experience is that it is difficult to be fully present in Ha Lachma Anya, especially when the younger children are chomping at the bit to demonstrate their Ma Nishtana skills. Questions look to the future; the answers.

We spend a great deal of time speaking of the past, and some, dreaming of the future, but where is the now and here?

I first thought it was in the charge that each of us see ourselves as if we went out of Egypt, but there is that past tense again; “went out!”

The meal is great but we must look forward and save some space for the Afikoman.

I experience Hallel as the preparation for the next stage of life; forward.

The closing section, Nirtzah, although it honors what we have done in the past, is that moment of here and now; we are experiencing the state of accomplishment, in which we celebrate that God found pleasure in our Seder.

But…

It’s an official moment; everyone does it. It’s standard. How do we know that we actually exist in a state of Nirtzah?

Do we examine and evaluate what we have done?

Do we wait to see what happens next to be certain that Nirtzah; it was accepted?

Nirtzah, this here and now moment, cannot depend on another, even God; it is a celebration of our own state of mind: can we allow ourselves to experience an unquestioned state of Nirtzah?

You know what?

Such acceptance demands a great deal of personal freedom…

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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