‘Prayer’ Category Archives

15
Jul

Kinah 3 – Gaining From Crying

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer, Spiritual Growth

Negative Emotions Are Key to Well-Being

Feeling sad, mad, critical or otherwise awful? Surprise: negative emotions are essential for mental health

By Tori Rodriguez

A client sits before me, seeking help untangling his relationship problems. As a psychotherapist, I strive to be warm, nonjudgmental and encouraging. I am a bit unsettled, then, when in the midst of describing his painful experiences, he says, “I’m sorry for being so negative.”

A crucial goal of therapy is to learn to acknowledge and express a full range of emotions, and here was a client apologizing for doing just that. In my psychotherapy practice, many of my clients struggle with highly distressing emotions, such as extreme anger, or with suicidal thoughts. In recent years I have noticed an increase in the number of people who also feel guilty or ashamed about what they perceive to be negativity. Such reactions undoubtedly stem from our culture’s overriding bias toward positive thinking. Although positive emotions are worth cultivating, problems arise when people start believing they must be upbeat all the time.

In fact, anger and sadness are an important part of life, and new research shows that experiencing and accepting such emotions are vital to our mental health. Attempting to suppress thoughts can backfire and even diminish our sense of contentment. “Acknowledging the complexity of life may be an especially fruitful path to psychological well-being,” says psychologist Jonathan M. Adler of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

Meaningful Misery

Positive thoughts and emotions can, of course, benefit mental health. Hedonic theories define well-being as the presence of positive emotion, the relative absence of negative emotion and a sense of life satisfaction. Taken to an extreme, however, that definition is not congruent with the messiness of real life. In addition, people’s outlook can become so rosy that they ignore dangers or become complacent [see “Can Positive Thinking Be Negative?” by Scott O. Lilienfeld and Hal Arkowitz; Scientific American Mind, May/June 2011].

Eudaemonic approaches, on the other hand, emphasize a sense of meaning, personal growth and understanding of the self—goals that require confronting life’s adversities. Unpleasant feelings are just as crucial as the enjoyable ones in helping you make sense of life’s ups and downs. “Remember, one of the primary reasons we have emotions in the first place is to help us evaluate our experiences,” Adler says.

Adler and Hal E. Hershfield, a professor of marketing at New York University, investigated the link between mixed emotional experience and psychological welfare in a group of people undergoing 12 sessions of psychotherapy. Before each session, participants completed a questionnaire that assessed their psychological well-being. They also wrote narratives describing their life events and their time in therapy, which were coded for emotional content. As Adler and Hershfield reported in 2012, feeling cheerful and dejected at the same time—for example, “I feel sad at times because of everything I’ve been through, but I’m also happy and hopeful because I’m working through my issues”—preceded improvements in well-being over the next week or two for subjects, even if the mixed feelings were unpleasant at the time. “Taking the good and the bad together may detoxify the bad experiences, allowing you to make meaning out of them in a way that supports psychological well-being,” the researchers found.

Negative emotions also most likely aid in our survival. Bad feelings can be vital clues that a health issue, relationship or other important matter needs attention, Adler points out. The survival value of negative thoughts and emotions may help explain why suppressing them is so fruitless. In a 2009 study psychologist David J. Kavanagh of Queensland University of Technology in Australia and his colleagues asked people in treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction to complete a questionnaire that assessed their drinking-related urges and cravings, as well as any attempts to suppress thoughts related to booze over the previous 24 hours. They found that those who often fought against intrusive alcohol-related thoughts actually harbored more of them. Similar findings from a 2010 study suggested that pushing back negative emotions could spawn more emotional overeating than simply recognizing that you were, say, upset, agitated or blue.

Even if you successfully avoid contemplating a topic, your subconscious may still dwell on it. In a 2011 study psychologist Richard A. Bryant and his colleagues at the University of New South Wales in Sydney told some participants, but not others, to suppress an unwanted thought prior to sleep. Those who tried to muffle the thought reported dreaming about it more, a phenomenon called dream rebound.

Suppressing thoughts and feelings can even be harmful. In a 2012 study psychotherapist Eric L. Garland of Florida State University and his associates measured a stress response based on heart rate in 58 adults in treatment for alcohol dependence while exposing them to alcohol-related cues. Subjects also completed a measure of their tendency to suppress thoughts. The researchers found that those who restrained their thinking more often had stronger stress responses to the cues than did those who suppressed their thoughts less frequently.

Accepting the Pain

Instead of backing away from negative emotions, accept them. Acknowledge how you are feeling without rushing to change your emotional state. Many people find it helpful to breathe slowly and deeply while learning to tolerate strong feelings or to imagine the feelings as floating clouds, as a reminder that they will pass. I often tell my clients that a thought is just a thought and a feeling just a feeling, nothing more.

If the emotion is overwhelming, you may want to express how you feel in a journal or to another person. The exercise may shift your perspective and bring a sense of closure. If the discomfort lingers, consider taking action. You may want to tell a friend her comment was hurtful or take steps to leave the job that makes you miserable.

You may also try doing mindfulness exercises to help you become aware of your present experience without passing judgment on it. One way to train yourself to adopt this state is to focus on your breathing while meditating and simply acknowledge any fleeting thoughts or feelings. This practice may make it easier to accept unpleasant thoughts [see “Being in the Now,” by Amishi P. Jha; Scientific American Mind, March/April 2013]. Earlier this year Garland and his colleagues found that among 125 individuals with a history of trauma who were also in treatment for substance dependence, those who were naturally more mindful both coped better with their trauma and craved their drug less. Likewise, in a 2012 study psychologist Shannon Sauer-Zavala of Boston University and her co-workers found that a therapy that included mindfulness training helped individuals overcome anxiety disorders. It worked not by minimizing the number of negative feelings but by training patients to accept those feelings.

“It is impossible to avoid negative emotions altogether because to live is to experience setbacks and conflicts,” Sauer-Zavala says. Learning how to cope with those emotions is the key, she adds. Indeed, once my client accepted his thoughts and feelings, shaking off his shame and guilt, he saw his problems with greater clarity and proceeded down the path to recovery.

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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15
Jul

Kinah 13 – Readings – The Oakling and The Oak

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer, Relationships

This Tisha b’Av Kinah – Lamentation bemoans the seeming loss of the Divine promises to the Patriarchs.

We have a strange relationship with the Patriarchs, on whom we depend for the merit to protect us, and defend us before God, and yet…

An 1833 review of the only book of poetry Hartley Coleridge published in his lifetime praised the verse for embodying “no trivial inheritance of his father’s genius,” but also quoted the old saying that, “the oakling withers beneath the shadow of the oak.”

Jean-Paul Sartre counted himself lucky that he was an infant when his father died. He wrote in The Words, “Had my father lived, he would have lain on me at full length and crushed me.” Those are harsh words. But it’s true that parents can be crushing—particularly fathers, particularly with eldest sons. (I urge you to read my favorite essayist, Anne Fadiman’s, The Oakling & The Oak, and, Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams, which contains the question of how would we achieve anything if our ancestors lived in their full capacities forever.)

Is it possible that part of what led to the destruction was the loss of our wholehearted connection with the Patriarchs, ancestors, parents and teachers? Is it possible that we were so desperate to mark our mark on the world that we severed important connections to our past?

Is it possible that our desire to reconnect to the promises made to the Patriarchs is the first step in reconnecting?

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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15
Jul

Kinah 4- The Hovering Life

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer, Relationships

This need to spit the world’s sinister truth in its face is as old as the world itself. Robert Musil, “The Man Without Qualities” (One of the most difficult books I’ve ever read): “One can’t resent one’s era without being swiftly punished by it.” Ulrich, the mathematician, is in search of a sense of life and reality but fails to find it. His ambivalence towards morals and indifference to life has brought him to the state of being “a man without qualities,” depending on the outer world to form his character. A kind of keenly analytical passivity is his most typical attitude. His intention is to arrive at a synthesis between strict scientific fact and the mystical, which he refers to as “the hovering life.”

We lose our personal qualities when we depend on others to form our character; we become People Without Qualities.

Read this Tisha b’Av Kinah – Lamentation, based on Ezekiel 23, describing the debate between Shomron and Jerusalem, and you will find that the people of both Judah and the Northern Kingdom were caught up in a game of comparisons – a game, which caused both to lose their better qualities.

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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15
Jul

Mark This Lament by Philologus

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Leon de Modena’s Kina Sh’mor, “Mark This Lament,” was written when he was a bar mitzvah boy of 13. (One of the most fascinating characters in Jewish literary and intellectual history, de Modena grew up to be not only an outstanding scholar, poet and all-around Renaissance man, but also a compulsive gambler who repeatedly lost all his money.)

The poem is an elegy for a teacher of de Modena’s, Moses della Rocca, who died in 1584, and its first four lines go in Hebrew:

“Kina sh’mor, oy ma ki pas otsar bo,

Kol tuv elim. Kosi or din el tsilo.

Moshe, mori, Moshe, yakar davar bo.

Sham tushiya on, yom kippur hu zeh lo.”

In a rough translation (the Hebrew is difficult in places), this would be:

“Mark this lament!

Ah, but the treasure of him has passed,

All his divine good!

The shadow of God’s judgment falls on my cup of light.

Moses, my teacher, Moses, how precious all was in him,

How much resourcefulness and strength were there!

This is his Day of Atonement.”

And now for De Modena’s homophonic Italian version.

“Chi nasce, muor. Oime, che pass’ acerbo!

Colto vien l’huom, cosí ordin’ il Cielo.

Mose mori, Mose gia car de verbo.

Santo sia ogn’ huom, con puro zelo.”

This translates as (or so I hope; my Renaissance Italian is imperfect):

“Whoever is born, dies. Ah, me!

A bitter thing has come to pass!

A man has been plucked, such is the decree of Heaven.

Moses, my teacher, Moses, so precious of speech,

Sainted be he of all men, pure was his zeal!”

Read more: http://forward.com/articles/179839/when-the-second-verse-is-same-as-the-first-in-hebr/?p=all#ixzz2Z4rgAjHu

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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15
Jul

Kinah 1 – Motivation

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer, Spiritual Growth

When we consider how this Tisha b’Av Kinah or Lamentation describes our responsibility for all the Tisha b’Av tragedies that occurred, we are liable to think of our relationship with God solely through the eyes of Reward and Punishment. We risk losing our motivation as described in: Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation.

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
Jul

Kinah 6-Is It Sophistry?

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

She has fallen to the depths and there she remains.

My eyes await Zachariah Ben Berekhia’s prophecy,

hoping for the miraculous wonders of Gilgal.

My tear stained face is marred by the mire of Greek sophistry.

He acted first and later regretted, calling others to tears,

as He Himself exclaimed, “I cry for them!”

Strepsiades, in the Greek play, was eager to escape the payment of his debts. He was told that the Sophists, led by Socrates, had a good school and a bad one, and that through the bad one, injustice could be made to masquerade as justice. So he went expectantly to the school, and prayed to be made perfect in the logic that could cheat.

He was old and dull witted, and could not learn, and his son of quicker wit became the pupil in his stead. The son learned only too well the lesson of the wicked logic. He proved before long to the luckless father that it is the duty of a son to beat his parents and to despoil them. So the play ends with Strepsiades disillusioned and repentant.

The wicked logic must be abjured; the good one marks the path of happiness and peace.

I have faith with Aristophanes that it is so. Yet even as of old, the rival Logics can be heard contending in the law courts of today, and the seeker after peace and happiness is still bewildered by the din.

Is there a part of us, the one that suffered Greek sophistry, that wonders whether all the explanations for our suffering is just another form of sophistry? Surely, if we believe that God calls others to cry, and if God exclaims, “I cry for them,” and regrets the devastating destruction, we are not wrong to wonder about the logic that explains our suffering!

This, is part of what we lament in this Kinah: we are confused. Even with all the explanations for the destruction of Jerusalem, how are we to understand the logic is God is weeping with us and for us?

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
Jul

Kinah 37 – Finding The Magic

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Long before the domestication of plants, early humans developed tools to unlock the usefulness of these foods, either by overcoming their defenses our own aversion to how they taste.

That’s probably what people must have sone in the case of the sap in the opium poppy or the bark of the willow, both of which taste extremely bitter – and both of which contain powerful medicines. Once humans discovered the curative properties of salicylic acid in willows (the active ingredient in aspirin) and the relief from pain offered by the poppy’s opiates, our instinctive aversion to these plants’ bitterness gave way to an even more convincing cultural belief that plants were worth ingesting even so; basically, our powers of recognition, memory, and communication overcame the plants’ defenses.

Humans also learned to overcome plant defenses by cooking or otherwise processing foods to remove their bitter toxins. American Indians, for example, figured out that if they ground, soaked, and roasted acorns the could unlock the rich source of nutrients in the bitter nuts. Humans also discovered that the roots of the cassava, which effectively defends itself against most eaters by producing cyanide, could be made edible by cooking. By learning to cook cassava, humans unlocked a fabulously rich source of carbohydrate energy [Michael Pollan; “The Omnivores Dilemma”]

My father zt”l used the salicylic acid in willows, what we know as aspirin, to explain the Rabbinic teaching that God creates the cure before the illness. We pray only for the ability to access the cure that already exists. Aspirin was in the world in the willow, and was waiting only for us to discover it.

Perhaps, this is also the meaning behind the opening statement of this Kinah: “Zion, take all the balm of Gilead for your travail.”

The Vilna Gaon described the secrets of Torah he brought to the light of day, as accessing the “Balm of Gilead,” secretly flowing from the Holy of Holies (Introduction to Even Sh’leimah).

We may even suggest that by approaching Torah as the Balm of Gilead, believing that the cure for all our spiritual ills, is hidden within it, waiting for us to discover it – overcoming our bitterness and aversion to Torah’s demands, will itself be part of the cure.

Just as we experience God as hidden during the exile, but continue to search for Him in our lives, so, too, we can acknowledge the healing qualities of Torah that are hidden, just waiting for, “our powers of recognition, memory, and communication,” to persevere, and discover what lies within.

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
Jul

Kinah 15 – Swallowed Up

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, cannot believe when she watches a frog crumple, sag, and disappear into the mouth of a giant water bug. The bug seizes a victim with its legs, hugs it tight, and paralyzes it with enzymes injected during a vicious bite. The poisons dissolve the victim’s muscles, bones, and organs, all but the skin, and then through it the giant water bug sucks out the victim’s body, reduced to a juice.

I had nightmares after reading her book, but was able to empathize with the people who cried, “He has worn away my flesh and skin. He has swallowed the Temple, erect and tall.”

The years of warnings from the prophets did not help us as we were poisoned by the exile of the Ten Tribes, by the first exile to Babylon, by the siege, by the walls being breached; we felt as if we were being slowly dissolved by the enemy’s bite (See, “The Poison Squad”), and could not hear the words of the prophets spoken to the best in us, to our highest selves, to our potential. (See, “The Muse.”)

Our only hope is to reconnect with our greatness, “My righteous ancestors and their deeds, will I bring to bear, since He has breached my path. This, do I call to mind!”

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
Jul

Kinah 27-Finding Beauty In What Others See As Ugly

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“The Germans chew with the mouth closed and find it ugly to do otherwise. The French, on the other hand, half open the mouth and find the procedure of the Germans rather ugly. The Italians proceed in a very slack manner and the French more roundly, finding the Italian way too delicate and precious (C. Calviac, 1560).”

What some people see as delicate, others see as disgusting. What some people find ugly, may be beautiful to others, as we see in the quote above, and, in this Kinah:

“Jeremiah came upon, leaving the Temple, a once beautiful woman, now disheveled.”

“I insist in the name of God and man, that you tell me whether you are a demon among demons, or a mortal human, for you are as beautiful as one of flesh and blood, but you are as awesome and frightening as only an angel can be.”

It’s as if Jeremiah can’t make up his mind if the woman is beautiful or frighteningly ugly!

The Talmud describes that way we view the Destruction in a similar way: Long ago, as Rabban Gamaliel, Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, Rabbi Joshua and Rabbi Akiba were walking on the road, they heard the noise of the crowds at Rome traveling from Puteoli, a hundred and twenty miles away. They all fell a-weeping, but Rabbi Akiba seemed merry.

Said they to him: “Wherefore are you merry?”

Said he to them: “Wherefore are you weeping?”

Said they: “These heathens who bow down to images and burn incense to idols live in safety and ease, whereas our Temple, the ‘Footstool’ of our God (Lamentations 2:1)’ is burnt down by fire, and should we then not weep?

He replied: “therefore, am I merry. If they that offend Him fare thus, how much better shall fare they that do obey Him!”

Once again they were coming up to Jerusalem together, and just as they came to Mount Scopus they saw a fox emerging from the Holy of Holies. They fell a-weeping and Rabbi Akiba seemed merry.

“Wherefore,” said they to him, are you merry?

Said he: “Wherefore are you weeping?”

Said they to him: “A place of which it was once said, “And the common man that draws close shall be put to death (Numbers 1:51),” is now become the haunt of foxes, and should we not weep?”

Said he to them: Therefore am I merry; for it is written, “And I will take to Me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the Son of Jeberechiah (Isaiah 8:2).” Now what connection has this Uriah the priest with Zechariah? Uriah lived during the times of the first Temple, while the other, Zechariah lived [and prophesied] during the second Temple; but Holy-Writ linked the later prophecy of Zechariah with the earlier] prophecy of Uriah, In the earlier prophecy in the days of Uriah it is written, “Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field (Michah 3:12).”  In Zechariah it is written, “Thus says the Lord of Hosts, There shall yet old men and old women sit in the broad places of Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:4),” so long as Uriah’s threatening prophecy had not

had its fulfillment, I had misgivings lest Zechariah’s prophecy might not be fulfilled; now that Uriah’s prophecy has been [literally] fulfilled, it is quite certain that Zechariah’s prophecy also is to find its literal fulfillment.

Said they to him: “Akiba, you have comforted us! Akiba, you have comforted us!” [Makot 24a-b]

Where the other rabbis saw tragedy, Rabbi Akiva saw hope. Where they saw sadness, he saw joy. Or, in the context of this Kinah: Where they saw ugliness, Rabbi Akiva saw beauty.

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
Jul

Kinah 15-The Poison Squad

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer, Spiritual Growth

The menu for the 1902 holiday dinner had a healthy serving of Borax, yes, the poison, after the apple sauce, after the soup, again, after the turkey, vegetables, and a final serving after dessert and coffee.

Harvey Washington Wiley, a chemist from the US Department of Agriculture, assembled Poison Squads, to test preservatives and additives to processed foods. He suspected that the country was suffering from coast-to-coast poisoning, strictly due to commercial food production (Deborah Blum, Death In The Pot).

Wiley even had a son about his experiments: The Song of the Poison Squad:

For we are the Pizen Squad

On Prussic acid we break our fast;

We lunch on morphine stew;

We dine with a match-head consommé

drink carbolic acid (Borax) brew

 

This Kinah describes how we continue to drink a Poison Stew, the Golden Calf Consommé, in two different ways:

“He remembers my circling the Golden Calf in the desert heat. He insists that He will never forget even as the shadows of evening grow long, “I will bring a sword against you.”

Rav Oshaia said: Until Jeroboam, Israel imbibed a sinful disposition from one calf; but from him onwards, from two or three calves.

Rav Isaac said: No retribution whatsoever comes upon the world which does not contain a slight fraction of the first calf, as it is written, “Nevertheless in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them (Exodus 32:34.” [Sanhedrin 102a]

We drink from the negative power of the sin: “Israel imbibed a sinful disposition from one calf.”

We sip at its consequences: “No retribution whatsoever comes upon the world which does not contain a slight fraction of the first calf.”

The author even finds a hint to the Golden Calf in the story of Revelation: “I will bring a sword against you.” One of the primary laws of the Altar is, And if you make for Me an altar of stone, you shalt not build it of hewn stones; for if you wave your sword upon it, you will have profaned it (Exodus 20:21).” This, of course, brings us back to the expulsion from Eden, “So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24).”

“East of the garden of Eden,” takes us back to the penultimate verse in Lamentations, “Bring us back to You, God, and we shall return, renew our days as of old,” “Days of old,” kiKedem, can also mean, “as is East of Eden.”

After Adam was expelled, he had only to battle the sword to regain access to the Garden, eat of the Tree of Knowledge, and become immortal – but he never did. We want an opportunity to have the same access to the boundaries of Eden, “On the East,” so that we can demonstrate our willingness to overcome the first sword, empowering us to overcome the sword that, “I will bring a sword against you.”

The poison we are drinking, predates the Golden Calf, and goes all the way back to Adam; it is the poison of fear that blocks us from achieving our potential.

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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