‘Spiritual Growth’ Category 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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24
Jul

Kinah 37: Miraculous Life

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

Everything about Israel, when the Temple was standing, was different, even the animals:

Never did serpent or scorpion injure anyone in Jerusalem. (Yoma 21a)

The Talmud describes how some of the great Rabbis continued to live with such miracles even after the Temple was destroyed:

Rabbi Phinehas happened to come to a certain inn. They placed barley before his ass, but it would not eat. It was sifted, but the ass would not eat it. It was carefully picked; still the ass would not eat it. ‘Perhaps’, suggested R. Phinehas, ‘it is not tithed’? It was at once tithed, and the ass ate it. He, thereupon, exclaimed, ‘This poor creature is about to do the will of the Creator, and you would feed it with untithed produce’! (Chullin 7a)

However, many of those who lived during the Temple times refused to acknowledge that their existence was different:

1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and held in esteem, because by him the LORD had given victory unto Aram; he was also a mighty man of valour, but he was a leper. 2 And the Arameans had gone out in bands, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. 3 And she said unto her mistress: ‘Would that my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! then would he recover him of his leprosy.’ 4 And he went in, and told his lord, saying: ‘Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.’ 5 And the king of Aram said: ‘Go now, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel.’ And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. 6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying: ‘And now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.’ 7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said: ‘Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? but consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh an occasion against me.’ 8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying: ‘Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.’ 9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariots, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying: ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come back to thee, and thou shalt be clean.’ 11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said: ‘Behold, I thought: He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and recover the leper. 12 Are not Amanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean?’ So he turned, and went away in a rage. 13 And his servants came near, and spoke unto him, and said: ‘My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee: Wash, and be clean?’ 14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh came back like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him; and he said: ‘Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel; now therefore, I pray thee, take a present of thy servant.’ 16 But he said: ‘As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none.’ And he urged him to take it; but he refused. 17 And Naaman said: ‘If not, yet I pray thee let there be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth; for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. 18 In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant: when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I prostrate myself in the house of Rimmon, when I prostrate myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.’ 19 And he said unto him: ‘Go in peace.’ So he departed from him some way. (Kings II, Chapter 5)

Elisha wanted the King and all to know “That there is a prophet in Israel,” meaning that everything is different even our waters. Na’aman, understandably had difficulty accepting Elisha’s assertion, but eventually, at the urgings of his servants, tested the waters and was miraculously healed.

We lived a different sort of existence as long as the Temple stood.

Some people believed that such a miraculous existence was possible, and would try anything, without understanding, (much as many people in our times seek magical answers from Kabbalists) to bring the miracles back to the land:

Once upon a time, a man was coming to Israel from Babylonia. When he sat down to rest, he saw two birds fighting with each other in the road. One of the birds killed the other, then flew away. It brought back a certain herb, which it placed on the dead bird, and revived it.

The man said, “It would be wonderful if I could get some of that herb. I could take it with me and bring the dead of the Land of Israel back to life!”

Having found some of the herb, he continued on his way. He saw a dead fox lying by the roadside. The man said, “It would be good to test this on the dead fox,” and touching the fox with the herb, he revived it.

Continuing still further on his way, the man reached the Ladders of Tyre, near the border of Israel. At that place he saw on the road a lion that had been killed. The man said, “It would be good to try this on the lion.”

He touched the lion with the herb, and it was brought back to life.

The lion then got up and ate the man.

(Vayikra Rabbah 22:4)

The man recognized the miracles. He believed, but he did not understand that his magical herb still functioned according to some of the rules of nature; Lions eat people! He did not appreciate that the Temple level of existence was necessary to use such miracles safely. He died in his efforts.

Others refuse to believe that we ever lived at such a miraculous level, and therefore reject the possibility that we should aspire to regaining that level of miraculous existence:

“I will make… your gates of precious stones [O’ Jerusalem], your surrounding wall, of gems.” (Isaiah 54:12)

R. Yochanan [explained] when he [once] sat and gave an exposition: The Holy One, blessed be He, will in time to come bring precious stones and pearls which are thirty [cubits] by thirty and will cut out from them [openings]30 ten [cubits] by twenty, and will set them up in the gates of Jerusalem.

A certain student sneered at him: [Jewels] of the size of a dove’s egg are not to be found; are [jewels] of such a size to be found?

After a time, his ship sailed out to sea [where] he saw ministering angels engaged in cutting precious stones and pearls which were thirty [cubits] by thirty and on which were engravings of ten [cubits] by twenty.

He said unto them: ‘For whom are these?’ They replied that the Holy One, blessed be He, would in time to come set them up in the gates of Jerusalem. [When] he came [again] before R. Yochanan he said unto him: ‘Expound, O my master; it is becoming for you to expound; as you said, so have I seen.’

He replied unto him: ‘Empty one, had you not seen, would not you have believed? You are [then] sneering at the words of the Sages!’

He set his eyes on him and [the student] turned into a heap of bones. (Bava Batra 75a)

Rabbi Yochanan did not rebuke his student when he sneered; he was angry only after the student witnessed a miracle and returned a believer! Rabbi Yochanan wasn’t troubled by the students skepticism; he was furious with his students belief in the miracle without any context.

What is the most important element necessary for proper context?

That our level of miraculous existence depends on the level we have achieved in our attachment to God, as the Midrash teaches:

Rabbi Yudan said in the name of Rabbi Avin, “Six things were taken away from Adam, namely:

his radiance,

his immortality,

the extraordinary ease with which he reaped the fruits of the earth and the fruits of the trees,

and the wondrous light of Early Creation.

How do we know his radiance was taken away from him?

The verse states,

“You alter his face and send him away.” (Job 14:20)

Bereishit Rabbah 12:6

When we appreciate the possibility that it once existed, that it can exist again, that it demands a higher level of service of God, we can then share in the following blessing:

When the Rabbis took leave from the school of R. Ammi — some say, of R. Hanina — they said to him:

May you see your requirements provided in your lifetime,

And may your latter end be for the future world and your hope for many generations; May your heart meditate understanding,

Your mouth speak wisdom

And your tongue indite song;

Aay your eyelids look straight before you,

May your eyes be enlightened by the light of the Torah

And your face shine like the brightness of the firmament;

May your lips utter knowledge, your entire being rejoice in uprightness,

And your steps run to hear the words of the Ancient of Days. (Berachot 17a) Truly, a miraculous existence!

To live without believing in the miracles that were, is to live in eternal Tisha B’Av.

To live without believing in the miracles that can be, is to live in eternal Tisha B’Av.

To believe without understanding the context of holiness and service that are necessary, is to live in eternal Tisha B’Av.

To believe in what was and what will be when we regain Beit Hamikdash existence and awareness is to live as shining examples of that original light.

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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24
Jul

Kinah 24: As Angels

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Spiritual Growth

The Cherubim

This Kinah, by Rabbi Elazar KaKalir, focuses on yet another tragic aspect of the Temple’s destruction. Not only was the Temple edifice destroyed but its furnishings, adornments and holy vessels were plundered too. Each one of these components was designed to reflect the celestial Temple in the heavens above where the ministering angels offer their fiery and awesome paeans of praise to the Almighty.

Moreover, each corresponded to some particular natural phenomenon. Here we lament the fact that these very adornments and vessels were ignominiously vandalized by the vile hand of Nebuchadnezar and then sent as gifts to adorn the pagan temples of the babylonian Empire.

Here we mourn this terrible degradation that befell both the terrestrial and celestial Temples.

Here we grieve over the diminution of benefits derived from the phenomena of nature. (Artscroll Kinot: Page 264)

One of the most prolific writers of Responsa in history was Rabbi David Ibn Abi Zimra (1479-1573), known as the Radbaz. As a Kabbalist, Radbaz believed that behind the plain meaning of the Scripture there are profound mystical meanings. A questioner asked Radbaz (#256) to explain to him the narrative of Adam’s sin according to the plain meaning, not according to the Kabbalah, which, the questioner says, is not his concern.

Adam was God’s creation, the work of His hands. The Rabbis wax eloquent in describing Adam’s lofty spiritual degree. All that God commanded him was to refrain from eating of the three, a small matter surely. How, then, could he have yielded to the importunities of Eve and defy his God?

Radbaz observes that the Zohar has tremendous things to say here but he is not permitted to divulge them and, in any event, the questioner has asked for the plain, not the mystical, meaning.

Radbaz proceeds to expound the narrative in its plain meaning, as he sees it. Adam knew that he could become immortal only by eating the fruit of the Tree of life. Unless he ate of this fruit he would be subject to the law of decay to which all creatures, by their very nature, are subject.

But Adam wished to live forever so as to be able to praise God for all eternity, attaining to the degree of the angels, nay, possibly to an even higher degree. In pursuit of his aim of living forever, Adam wished to discover where in the Garden the Tree of Life was situated, for this information had not been imparted to him.

When Adam saw that Eve’s knowledge had been increased as a result of eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, he realized that if he ate of the forbidden tree his knowledge too, would be increased, and that increase would endow him with the wisdom to discover the location of the Tree of Life.

He knew that it was sinful of him to eat the forbidden fruit, but justified the sin on the grounds that it was, after all, for the realization of the sublime aim of living forever to praise God. And he believed, further, that once having attained his spiritual ambition, he could erase the initial sin by repenting of it.

Thus, Adam did sin, but it was out of the highest motives and so, in no way, unworthy of his elevated degree.

Perhaps we cannot understand, appreciate, or even relate to the idea that, “Each one of these components was designed to reflect the celestial Temple in the heavens above where the ministering angels offer their fiery and awesome paeans of praise to the Almighty.” However, we can appreciate that there is a level at which a person strives to live at such elevated heights simply to be able to attach to God even more than can the highest angels. We lost much of this drive to connect heaven and earth when the Temple was destroyed.

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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24
Jul

Eavesdropping

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Spiritual Growth

People often request copies of the recordings I made of my personal conversations with my father and Uncle Noach zt”l. Even their casual comments were filled with treasures of wisdom, insight and clarity. The recordings contain many intensely private details and I am not willing to share them.

I am currently studying two complex topics in Halacha – Jewish Law – and the books are piling up on my desk. I glanced at the stacks and realized that I have a book from practically every century since the closing of the Talmud.

In fact, what I have on my desk is a recorded conversation between the Jewish People and God over the long course of our history. These are all public dialogues, often debates, and offer powerful insights into dealing with endless issues and challenges, conflicts external and internal.

Let me see: There are Responsa of the Geonim –(late sixth century to mid eleventh Iraq), Talmudic insights of the Rif – (1013 – 1103: Morocco, Tunisia and Spain), Rashi (1040 – 1105: Troyes, during the Crusade of Godfrey), the Rambam (1135 – 1204: Cordoba and Egypt, served as the court physician to Sultan Saladin), the Rosh (1250 -1328: Germany and Toledo), Rabbi Joseph Caro (1488-1575: Toledo, Salonika and Safed), Rabbi Akiva Eiger (1761 -1837: Hungary and West Prussia) the Chafetz Chaim (1838-1933: Radun), Rav Moshe Feinstein (1895 – 1986: Belarus, Russia and 20th Century America) and more.

Each book reflects the whole of Torah while offering insight into the society and struggles of each author. All the books written since Sinai are part of an ongoing conversation between God and Israel. Torah study invites us to eavesdrop on this ongoing dialogue.

We can listen in to the discussions of rabbis dealing with the threats from Karaites and Crusader. We hear them console people frightened of the Inquisition and Chmielnicki. The conversations cover Marranos and Moonies, clothing, marriage, child rearing, love, business, and God.

The Tisha B’Av Kinot – Lamentations – afford us headphones to listen into the intensely emotional talks we have had with God since the destruction of the first Temple.

It is painful, almost torturous, to listen in to these conversations, but there is great wisdom to be distilled, if only we will listen carefully.

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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23
Jan

Baruch Dayan Emet

by developer in Spiritual Growth

The Foundation Stone offers its condolences to Rabbi Simcha Weinberg on the passing of his mother Rebbitzen Chana Weinberg. The funeral is scheduled for 10AM Tuesday, January 23 at Ner Israel Rabbinical College 400 Mt Wilson Lane. Baltimore, MD 21208. Shiva will be observed in Rebbitzen Weinberg’s home on the yeshiva campus. May the Omnipresent comfort the mourners among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

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5
Jan

So What!

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

Many of the essays posted on The Foundation Stone have “Machberes Avodas Hashem” (The Service of God Notebooks) credited as the author. These essays are based on thoughts I’ve jotted down over the years to remember all the significant ideas I learn, hear, and read, and, what is more important, to figure out ways to incorporate into my Service of God in prayer, study, and work on my personal attributes, what I term, “Spiritual Tools,” many of which you can find as “Applications,” at the bottom of an essay.

One of my goals for The Foundation Stone is to introduce people to the idea of, “So What,” now that I have heard an idea; how can I use it.

If there is no practical lesson; it is not real Torah!

I recently posted a few essays on prayer based on the Parsha:

Without a Battle.”

Gathering the Joy.”

Becoming Magnets.”

Forgiveness.”

I hope to continue a series, “So What,”  on The Foundation Stone, throughout this calendar year of applying the commentaries to the Torah to Prayer and Spiritual Growth. I hope you enjoy this series, and that you will learn to reify all that you learn.

You can find more on this idea in, “Spirituals 101,” and, “Mishlei-Insight and Application,” and, “Stopping the Leaks.”

Enjoy!

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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24
Dec

Burning to Give Light

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

“What is to give light must endure burning (Victor Frankl).”

“Joseph shall place his hand on your eyes (Genesis 46:4).” God promised Jacob that Joseph would give light to him and to the entire family, for all generations. Although this would be a time of great stability for the family, a period of darkness was soon to descend on the Children of Israel. It will be Joseph’s vision that will give light to the people even during the darkest times. Joseph would not have been able to provide such light had he not 1st endured terrible burning; sold as a slave, thrown into prison, and struggling to live as the son of Jacob despite his position as viceroy of Egypt. It was Joseph’s endurance even while burning that empowered him to give light to his family for so long.

God acknowledged the light provided by the Maccabees with the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. The Maccabees continue to give us light thousands of years later. They too, would never have succeeded in providing such light had they not first endured burning in battle, losses, defeats, and terrible suffering. It was their determination to endure despite their burning that gave them the ability to give light just as a burning candle.

I am often moved when meeting with a family to prepare a eulogy how the most powerful memories are usually those of how the deceased illuminated the lives of his or her family by virtual of his ability to endure.

I have found for myself that the most effective way to endure despite the great suffering is to be aware that the endurance brings more light to the world. The key was to focus on the light I could create rather than focus on the demand to accept suffering.

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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11
Oct

Succot Contradictions

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Spiritual Growth

I love water. I love the ocean. I love waterfalls. I love to go whitewater rafting. I love to swim. I love the Mikvah – Ritual Bath.

I hate water. I hate finding water on the floor of my study. I hate when our garage is flooded. I hate having my clothes soaked by rain.

I was listening to a tape of Rav Soloveitchik zt”l as I was walking to shul. It was pouring rain, but I was so moved by the power of his thought and words, that I simply stood on the sidewalk with tears streaming down my face, feeling that I was being showered with the joy of Torah. I loved each drop of rain. I treasured each tear. Until, that is, a truck drove past me and splashed filthy water from the street all over me. I hated that filthy water.

Twenty years later I can recall the joy of hearing Rav Soloveitchik’s Torah. The puddle of dirty water is a distant memory. The experience in hindsight was joyous. The contradiction faded with the bad memories.

Hurricane Agnes (1971) confined us to our home. It was cozy being nice and dry and warm in my home even as it seemed that the world outside the window was coming to an end. The day got even better when I had the opportunity to spend the day learning with my father zt”l. I wondered how something so wonderful as Agnes could be so scary to most people. It was a heavenly day, at least until the basement flooded. The learning stopped and the work began. I hated hurricanes; they were no longer so wonderful.

Almost forty years later I can describe the joy of learning with my father, what we were studying, the insights he taught, with the same thrill I experienced when we were learning. The work cleaning up the water is far removed from my memory. The experience in hindsight was joyous. The contradiction faded with the bad memories.

The stories had both good and bad, joy and frustration. The memories are joyful. The bad parts have been diluted by time and even more so by the joyous memories.

Everything on Succot is about water and yet, we do not want it to rain until Shemini Atzeret. Rain will stop us from sitting in the Succah and create the feeling that somehow God is rejecting our Succot. We simultaneously love and hate water on Succot.

Perhaps the joy of Succot – Z’man Simchateinu – the Time of Our Happiness – derives from the sense that we can live with contradictory feelings. Life does not have to be one or the other. Succot, the Time of Happiness, is also referred to as “Yom HaRishon” – The First Day of the Counting of Sins.

Perhaps there is no contradiction between the Time of Happiness and The First Day of the counting of sins: It is difficult to readjust to our daily lives after Yom Kippur. We can become easily frustrated with the ease with which so easily slip back into old patterns of behavior, making the same mistakes for which we were forgiven on Yom Kippur. Yet, the Torah tells us, this period when we face the same imperfections as before Yom Kippur is our Time of Happiness, we cannot define ourselves, tempting as it may be after all the Yom Kippur confessions, by our mistakes and faults. We must find the joy in our lives, what is good and productive. Our Succot mission is to recall the joyous parts of our lives and allow the bad parts to fade and disappear.

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
Oct

Laughing In My Succah

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Spiritual Growth

Taking my children when they were young on a trip. Finding the perfect gift for my wife. My grandfather’s face when I received my first s’micha – Rabbinic Ordination. Receiving a call from my Rebbi, HaRav Yochanan Zweig, telling me that my father called him to tell him how excited my father was with a lecture I gave. The faces of my wife and children when they saw me walk again.

All of the memories listed are of making someone else happy, and all are counted among my highest moments of joy.

I spoke with someone just before Yom Kippur who literally transformed herself into a new person. She did not change her actions as much as she changed her inner essence. She became a greater human being. It was easy to imagine that she is someone who made God very happy that He created her.

The Zohar teaches that such will be the joy in the World to Come: Rabbi Yehuda said: At that time, in the World to Come, the Holy One, Blessed is He, will make His world happy and will be happy with His creations, as it says, “God will be happy with the things He made,” (Psalms 104:31) And then there will be laughter in the world, unlike now, as the verse says, “Then, our mouths will be filled with laughter.”(Psalms 126:2) This is why Sarah said; “God has made laughter for me.” (Genesis 21:6), for then the world will sing a Song to God, for it is a time of laughter. Rabbi Abba said, ‘The day on which God will rejoice with his handiwork will be unlike any other day since the beginning of creation, and the righteous who remain in Jerusalem will never turn to dust.’ (Zohar, Volume 1, 114a-b)

Such is the joy of Succot – Z’man Simchateinu – The Time of Our Happiness: We are happy with the confidence that we had a successful Yom Kippur. We are even happier that we were able to make God happy with us. We grew. We changed. We were absolutely clear that deep down we want a relationship with our Creator.

Our time in the Succah is a taste of the World to Come, when we will laugh with God over the infinite possibilities of life.

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
Oct

Disguises

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Spiritual Growth

Iphicrates, a famous Athenian general, once fitted out his own fleet in the enemy’s manner, and sailed to a people he viewed with suspicion. When they welcomed him effusively and enthusiastically, he sacked their town, now that he had unmasked their treason. (Frontinus, Stratagems 4.7.23)

I decided to copy Iphicrates and use my Succah as a disguise. I am not your typical Jewish man; I can build a solid structure. (OK, I cheated and used a prefabricated structure.) I even bought some WD-40 and duct tape, although I have no idea what to do with them. I considered picking up a table-saw at Home Depot, but was too intimidated.

Tomorrow night I will pretend to be an outdoors kind of guy, tough enough to move outside when everyone else is moving in. No one will now that I am Jewish and I will be able to discover what “they’ think of us.

The Holocaust survivors who were the parents and grandparents of most of my friends growing up always spoke of them and us. “Them” meant Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, Hungarians, and pretty much everyone who wasn’t Jewish. There are few survivors still alive, but the “they”s and “them”s are still part of my vocabulary.

Who are “they”? The answer depends on whom you ask. “They” could be the soft-spined ‘statesmen’ who sat in the UN and, with the New York Times, ignored Bibi’s powerful speech. I don’t need a disguise to learn what they think of us.

“They” could be the J Street lobbyists intent on battling AIPAC and Israel, but I wouldn’t need a disguise to figure out what they think of me.

“They” could be the CEO, of a company for which I worked, a former congressman, who would spew his hateful bile towards frum Jews whenever drunk, which was quite often. No disguise necessary there.

“They” could be Jews who are embarrassed when we build our Succot and walk on the streets with our Lulavim and Etrogim, but “they” are usually not an enemy and no Iphicrates strategy is required.

The “they” is we. “They” are the people who observe the same laws and customs, but without passion and joy. “They” pray three times a day, every day. “They” thrill to Torah study, but often forget that God speaks to them through His Torah. “They” forget that we must sanctify God’s Name when we walk on the streets, when we interact with all the other “they”s of the world, when we do business with “them”; everything we do and say.

The Succah is not our Iphicratesian disguise to find our enemy; it is our opportunity to uncover the disguises we wear the rest of the year when we imagine that we live in our own little world enclosed by the walls of our homes and synagogues. The Succah, derived from the same root as “Yiskah” – to see – provides the clarity of vision to evaluate whether our Service of God is a masquerade or if it is real. Are we hiding in the safety of Torah or are we empowered by Torah and Avodah – Service – to engage the world with joy and confidence.

So, hand me the biggest table-saw you can find, and I will cut away the masks, costumes and camouflage, and you will see with me the beauty and promise of all the things we do within our walls and without.

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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