Posts Tagged ‘Abraham’

7
Oct

Surprise!

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

I left our home in Toronto in 1971 for summer camp, and was surprised to be driven at summer’s end to a new home in Baltimore. I didn’t know that we were moving. There seemed to be what Richard Russo, in “The Mysteries of Linwood Hart,” describes as a Ghost Scene, “from which I had been mysteriously and unfairly excluded.” Major decisions had been made without my input; I had not even been informed. Worse was that my sister Naomi knew before I. It was yet another lesson in the unfairness of life.

I had experience with Ghost Scenes. The first time I learned this week’s portion, Lech Lecha, “God said to Abram, ‘Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you’ (Genesis 12:1),” I wanted to know why God spoke to Abram. The teacher spoke of the many Midrashim that describe the young Abram’s clarity and courage, but I saw those as Ghost Scenes as well; if true, why are the stories not in the Torah? How can the Torah, which is God’s way of speaking to us, leave out such important information?

Incredibly frustrated by the teacher’s answers and the unfairness of being taught by someone who couldn’t answer my questions, I had to turn to The Source of All Knowledge, my father zt”l.

We began by reading the opening verse, “God said to Abram, ‘Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you’.” My father asked me if I saw another Ghost Scene in the verse, something other than, “why did God speak to Abram?” It wasn’t difficult to find, “To the land that I will show you.” God was telling Abram to leave without informing him where was going.

“Ghost Scenes are not only in the past as in God’s reason for speaking to Abram, they are also in the future as in knowing God wants him to go someplace Abram doesn’t yet know.”

I wanted to know if it was to be a surprise for Abram such as when my father would take me out without telling me where. “Surprises are only for people who don’t have the patience to wait for something special.”

I wasn’t convinced, “Don’t you shout ‘Surprise!’ when you find a new idea while learning? You like surprises!”

“I find surprises in everything I do every day, and I don’t need special surprises, and I think that Abraham was much better than I at finding new things.”

Then it clicked, “That’s why God spoke to Abraham, because he knew how to find surprises in everything!”

My father then challenged me to find all of Abraham’s surprises in the portion, and I now share that challenge with you!

I left our home in Toronto in 1971 for summer camp, and was surprised to be driven at summer’s end to a new home in Baltimore. I didn’t know that we were moving. There seemed to be what Richard Russo, in “The Mysteries of Linwood Hart,” describes as a Ghost Scene, “from which I had been mysteriously and unfairly excluded.” Major decisions had been made without my input; I had not even been informed. Worse was that my sister Naomi knew before I. It was yet another lesson in the unfairness of life.

I had experience with Ghost Scenes. The first time I learned this week’s portion, Lech Lecha, “God said to Abram, ‘Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you’ (Genesis 12:1),” I wanted to know why God spoke to Abram. The teacher spoke of the many Midrashim that describe the young Abram’s clarity and courage, but I saw those as Ghost Scenes as well; if true, why are the stories not in the Torah? How can the Torah, which is God’s way of speaking to us, leave out such important information?

Incredibly frustrated by the teacher’s answers and the unfairness of being taught by someone who couldn’t answer my questions, I had to turn to The Source of All Knowledge, my father zt”l.

We began by reading the opening verse, “God said to Abram, ‘Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you’.” My father asked me if I saw another Ghost Scene in the verse, something other than, “why did God speak to Abram?” It wasn’t difficult to find, “To the land that I will show you.” God was telling Abram to leave without informing him where was going.

“Ghost Scenes are not only in the past as in God’s reason for speaking to Abram, they are also in the future as in knowing God wants him to go someplace Abram doesn’t yet know.”

I wanted to know if it was to be a surprise for Abram such as when my father would take me out without telling me where. “Surprises are only for people who don’t have the patience to wait for something special.”

I wasn’t convinced, “Don’t you shout ‘Surprise!’ when you find a new idea while learning? You like surprises!”

“I find surprises in everything I do every day, and I don’t need special surprises, and I think that Abraham was much better than I at finding new things.”

Then it clicked, “That’s why God spoke to Abraham, because he knew how to find surprises in everything!”

My father then challenged me to find all of Abraham’s surprises in the portion, and I now share that challenge with 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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25
Jul

The First Step Through The Door

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

It’s not surprising that the portion immediately following Shema – Hear/Listen, begins, “This shall be the reward when you carefully listen to these ordinances.” I wonder about the Hebrew name of the portion, Eikev. When I see that word, that translates as, “heel,” I immediately think of Adam’s, Eve’s, and the Serpent’s. consequences and punishments (yes, there are both) for their part in the sin: listening to the Serpent, running when they heard God’s voice, and Adam’s listening to the voice of his wife, all these mentions of listening and hearing, and the first place we find the word, “Eikev,” as in, “He will pound your head, and you will bite his, Akeiv,” heel (Genesis 3:15).”

It’s therefore not surprising that the next time we find an Eikev it is also associated with listening, “Eikev, because Abraham hear the inside of My voice (26:5).”

Somehow, proper listening, fixes the Eikev, or at least repairs, some of the damage of the first misguided listening.

Elise Ballard, chose from all the many reflections in her book, “epiphany!” a quote from Kristin Neff, the founder of the Horse Boy Foundation as the epigraph:

“The epiphany was like life opened a doorway, and my job was to walk through it. I didn’t know what I was going to find.

I didn’t know what was going to happen.

But in life, you don’t ever know what’s going to happen.

What I do know is that as life continues to open these doors, I feel safe enough and trusting enough to walk through them.”

 

I see the poison of the snake’s bite on the Eikev as the inability to walk through the doorways opened in life when we carefully listen to life’s messages and lessons. Adam and Eve were unable to appreciate the message when “they heard God’s voice walking in the Garden.” They ran and hid, rather than run toward God, Who still spoke to them in the most open way.

Abraham was the consummate listener to such messages and bravely walked through every door opened to him. The opening verse in this portion is to remind us to emulate Abraham, and use the Shema skills we developed in the previous portion, to hear enough from the commandments we observe to gain the safety and trust necessary to take that first step through the doorway of opportunity.

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 – Script or Writer

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer, Relationships

Remember what Chardin told us at the Salon: “Gentlemen, gentlemen, be lenient. Look through all the paintings here and find the worst, and know that two thousand poor devils have bitten their brushes to pieces in despair of ever doing as badly. You all call Parrocel a dauber, and so he is, if you compare him with Verner, but he’s a rare talent compared with the multitude of those who’ve abandoned the career they entered with him.

Le Moyne used to say that it took thirty years’ practice to be able to turn one’s original sketch into a painting, and Le Moyne was no fool. If you’ll listen to what I say, perhaps you’ll learn to be indulgent.” [Denis Diderot, The Salons]

In this Tisha b’Av Kinah – Lamentation, (The Oakling and the Oak, Just So, Clarity, & Kah), we ask God, “Where is the promise You made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?” I can hear the unspoken challenge to the question: “Who are you to compare yourselves to the Patriarchs? Are you not the ones who forfeit the connection to their merit? (See, “Kinah 26: Growing Old.”)

In “The Oakling and the Oak,” we began discussing the challenge of living with great parents, and the dangers of comparing ourselves to them, and in “Kinah 4 – Salieri & Mozart,” and, “The Hovering Life,” we wondered about the impact of the competition between Samaria and Jerusalem had on both populations. Diderot’s report reminds us to be patient when judging good artists who fail to match the great ones. How are we to ask where is Your promise to the Patriarchs in our lives? Where was it at each stage of our suffering? Are we, as Chardin advises, asking God to indulge us and be lenient? Or, are we really asking for the same promise made to Abraham?

In “Kinah 7 – Above The Stars” we explained the essence of God’s promise to Abraham as, “Hashem will acknowledge Abraham’s descendants’ accomplishments and give them the means to raise themselves up above the stars and create their own reality.” The words, “Koah y’hiyeh zaracha,” “so shall your children be,” means, “They will be Koh, just like you, and have the ability to rise above their destiny and create new destinies for themselves.” We are asking, “Where is that promise?” Perhaps, we are not asking God, but ourselves, “Are we even striving to live above the stars, creating new destinies?”

This Kinah – Lamentation is the reverse image of Kinah 3, which describes people limited by an imposed destiny – people who cease to use their Free Choice – a natural consequence of experiencing the destruction and suffering the exile.

Are we following a prewritten script, or, are we scriptwriters? Are we stuck where we were in Kinah 3, or have we accepted the challenge of living as Koh, as Abrahams who write their own script and change the world?

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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29
Sep

Isaac the Builder

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

It’s now the second night of Succot and I await a visit from Isaac. It’s fair to say that this visit is the one to which I look forward with most anticipation as Isaac is the least familiar of the Seven Guests. I wonder about him. The verse makes it clear that Abraham was chosen, “It is You, God the Lord, Who chose Abram (Nehemiah 9:7).” Jacob, too, was chosen, “But hear now, Jacob, My servant, and Israel, whom I have chosen (Isaiah 44:1)!” There is no verse that speaks of Isaac as being chosen. In fact, when Maimonides (Laws of Idol Worship, Chapter 1:3) describes the transmission of Abraham’s message through the first generations, he speaks of Jacob as being appointed, and Levi also, as being appointed. However, he says only that Abraham made his message known to Isaac, but he never describes Isaac is being appointed by Abraham. There seems to be something missing about Isaac, and I can’t wait to ask him why.

My eyes are closed as I ponder Isaac’s life and mission. I open them to find my guest sitting facing me across the table.

“Do you feel chosen for a special mission in life?” It’s as if he was reading my mind.

“No,” I respond, “I feel that God has given many gifts to me, but that it is entirely up to me how to use them.”

“So,” Isaac continues, “you do not feel chosen. Do you feel that you have been appointed to a special position?”

I chuckle, point to my less than expertly assembled sukkah, and say, “and the position to which I have been appointed is not much better than the construction of this sukkah!”

“Did my father not visit you last night? Did he not describe to you how his first home was built in the air, so to speak, standing alone without any support from anyone other than himself (See “Abraham the Builder.”)?”

“Yes, he did visit me and speak of beginning my own construction project so that I could live a life in which I create my own destiny.”

“So then, how can you possibly describe this sukkah as something lacking, rather than the beginning of a major construction project to create something infinite, ‘above the stars’? If you truly desire to live a life in which you create your own destiny, you must understand that it is your choice and that you must assume the responsibility to appoint yourself as head of your unique project.”

“Did you do that?”

“Yes, my son, I did. My ‘project’ began as I lay bound hands and feet on an altar with my father standing over me prepared to sacrifice me to God. When I rose from that altar, I realized that I would have to build a life of my own. I did many of the things my father did. I visited Gerar. I dug the same wells  he had. I understood that I could do the same things my father had done before me and still make them my own actions. You sit in a sukkah as did your father before you, and as so many of your brethren do. You recite the same prayers. You practice the same mitzvot. Do you do it only as your father did, as others do, or are you able to make each thing your own?”

“I try to do each thing as my own.”

“So you are learning how to become a Builder.”

Isaac looks at me with piercing eyes and points out, “I suspect that you are held back by believing that you will never be as great as your father. Can you imagine what it was like to be the son of Abraham? I decided never to look back, but to look forward not only for myself, but in others as well! I was able to look at Esau, whom all are convinced was wicked and see his potential, to the point that I was willing to offer my greatest blessing to him. You will know that you are truly prepared to become a Builder, when you are able to look at anyone and see his potential. When you can see the potential for Building in each person you see, you will be able to see yourself as a Builder. I see some open spaces in your walls not just your roof. Use them to look outside the walls of your sukkah and perceive the potential for Building in all the people around 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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29
Sep

Abraham The Builder

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

I built the house.

First I made it out of air.

Then I raised the flag

and left it hanging

from the firmament, from the star, from

light and darkness. (Pablo Neruda in honor of La Sebastiana)

“God said to Abram, ‘Go for yourself from your land’ (Genesis 12:1).” Rabbi Yitzchak opened his discourse on this passage with a quote from Psalms: “Hear, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear;  forget your people and your father’s house (Psalms 45:11).” This is analogous to someone who was passing from place to place and saw a certain palace ablaze. He said to himself, “Shall you say that this palace is without a supervisor?” The owner of the palace peered out at him and said to him, “I am the master of the palace!” So too, because Abraham said to himself, upon seeing the constant structure and that was taking place in the world, “Can it be that this world is without a supervisor?” The Holy One, Blessed is He, peaked out at him and said to him, “I am the Master of the world!” The next verse in Psalms states, “Then the King will desire your beauty; for He is your master; so bow to him.” God will desire to beautify you, Abraham, in the eyes of the world, so bow to Him and be His servant (Bereishit Rabbah 39:1).”

Abraham has come to visit my sukkah and instruct me so I may join of The Society Builders (See “Ghosts As Guests.”) Abraham began his construction project by connecting people to God as the Ultimate Builder. He stood alone against the world. He chose his unique path and was willing to stand against everyone as he searched for the Master of the Palace. “First I made it out of air.”

He began to travel and to speak of the Creator as the Master of the Palace to others; “Then I raised the flag and left it hanging from the firmament.” He dedicated his life to having people look high above the heavens and join him in the search for the True Master of the Palace; “from the star.”

This is the Abraham of whom it is written, “He took him outside, and said, ‘ Gaze, now, toward the heavens, and count the stars if you are able to count them!’ And He said to him, ‘ So shall your offspring be’ (Genesis 15:5).” We are taught that God lifted Abraham above the stars and the planets and promised him that he would not be controlled by the constellations but would always be empowered to create his own destiny. This was the promise for Abraham himself and for his offspring.

This is the message that Abraham brings to my Sukkah: “You must be willing to build your own house; a place that reflects your vision and values, your beliefs and convictions. Even if you begin by making it out of air; having to stand up against the world and fight for what you believe is true. If you can build such a house, if you’re Sukkah will reflect your beliefs, it won’t be a flag hanging, “from the firmament, from the star,” and will empower you, as it did me, to live above the stars; to create your own destiny.

“Your little booth here may be a little flimsy, but it is no weaker than the house I built that began, “out of air.”

Abraham bids me a farewell and goes on to his next visit.

I sit alone in my sukkah and reflect on his message.

Is this, my small booth, a reflection of my beliefs?

Am I able to look through the empty spaces in my roof toward the heavens and see myself lifted as was my special guest, above the stars?

Am I willing to live a life in which I can shape my destiny?

I am ready. I am ready to build such a house, such a 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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15
Sep

The Walk

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

Almost forty years before this week’s portion of Vayeilech, “And we (Moshe) walked,”    God began revelation by saying, “Thus shalt you say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel,” understood as an instruction to teach each person in the manner with which he or she could relate. Strangely, we never find Moshe speaking to each individual in this personalized manner. Rather, “Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which God commanded him.”

And God said to Moses: “Go, Lech, to the people,” reminiscent of His first charge to Abraham, “Go from your country, Lech Lecha,” and, again, we find that Moshe seems to do something other than what God commanded, “And Moses went down from the mount to the people,” he did not Lech, go, but ‘went down.’

Until this week’s portion, Vayeilech, “And Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel.” It seems that on this, the final day of Moshe’s life, he fulfilled the Lech of long ago, and the personalized instruction first commanded at Sinai, because Vayeilech is understood as Moshe going to each family to offer personalized words of farewell.

Abraham too ends the significant part of his life as patriarch with a Lech: “And He said: ‘Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go, lech lecha, into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of’.”

Moshe could not fulfill the personalized Lech until the end of his life, when he could go to each person with an individual message. The commandment of Sinai was to take them on a journey that would culminate in this sense of Lech, a personalized message that would allow each his or her individual journey with God.

We read of Abraham’s ultimate Lech on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, because his journey too was one that would serve as an example of walking with God, journeying through life with God; the real challenge and blessing of Rosh Hashanah: Discover your own personal journey through 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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29
Dec

The Family Moves Part Three-Outsiders

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

We’ve been rewinding through the family’s history to better understand why things move at Fast Forward. We’re searching to figure out Joseph’s Menu.

I believe the key to this story to be the definition of “Hebrews,” the people with whom it was loathsome for the Egyptians to eat, even when meat was not on the menu. We usually associate Hebrew, or, Ivri, with Abraham who “came from the other side of the river (Rashi, Genesis 14:13 s.v. ‘HaIvri’),” and who, “Vaya’avor Avram ba’aretz,” “Abram passed into the land (Genesis 12:6),” a man who could pass through the land and insert his ideas on his way. Of course, there is that famous verse included in the Haggadah, “I took your forefather Abraham from beyond the river, mei’ever haNahar (Joshua 24:3).”

Jacob did some Ivri work: “When he took them and had them cross over the stream (32:24),” just before his life defining wrestling match with Esau’s angel.

Of course, we could not have the definitive Covenant Between the Pieces, with its prediction of the slavery in Egypt, without some Ivri action: “There was a smoky furnace and a torch of fire which passed between these pieces (15:17),” alluding, in part, to, you guessed it; leaving Egypt!

Since we are already rewinding; let’s go back even further in history to the Tower of Babel: “And to Shem, also to him were born; he was the ancestor of all those who lived on the other side (Genesis 10:21).” Shem even has a grandson named Eiver, the one with whom he establishes his famous Yeshiva at which both Isaac and Jacob studied. Eiver is also the man who prophesied that the population of the earth would be divided (Rashi, Genesis 10:25),” as a result of, “They said to one another (11:3), the same phrase usually used for Simeon and Levi (37:19, 42:21), in this case referring to Egypt (Rashi)!” [We will soon see that these are not simply interpolations] There was a split between Egypt and the Ivrim going back all the way to the Tower.

Why not go back even farther to the scene in the naked Noah’s tent, when Noah curses Canaan, and displaces his oldest son Ham, the father of Egypt (10:6), and gives the birthright of the firstborn – sound familiar? – to Shem, “The ancestor of all the Ivrim!”

The story of Joseph, Jacob, the brothers, Egypt and Pharaoh – the saga of the Egyptians versus the Ivrim goes way back in history! This, as the battle over the birthright, is the battle for supremacy; the course of humanity. A battle that began in the internal struggle of the first “outsider;” Adam outside the Garden of Eden. No wonder we need The Master of Memory to guide 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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12
Nov

No Fear of The Lord In This Place

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

What was Abraham thinking? He was already famous as the person who defeated the Four Kings in battle. Abraham could not simply choose to settle anywhere without being perceived as a potential threat. Yet, he wants to move away from Sodom because the area has been devastated and he cannot spread his message of God. Did he believe that he could settle down, even temporarily, in Gerar, the land of the Philistines, without making Avimelech nervous? Abraham knew that his arrival would catch the king’s attention.

Abraham had no reason to be intimidated by Avimelech, and the Philistine King was probably desperate to establish peaceful relationships with this powerful personality. He had reason to want Abraham’s “sister” as a wife. What better way to form a bond with Abraham?

People were already nervous. A major commercial area, Sodom and her sister cities, had been destroyed, reminiscent in everyone’s mind of Noah’s Flood. When Abraham traveled, everyone knew. Reporters researched his background and probably uncovered the story of Pharaoh and Sarah. Avimelech had good reason to assume that Abraham, secure and strong, wouldn’t pull the same “sister” trick. What was Abraham thinking when he settled in Gerar? …when he presented Sarah as his sister?

The only hint we have of Abraham’s thinking is when he justifies his lie by saying, “There is no fear of the Lord in this place (20:11).” Abraham was the perfect person to consult about the Divine destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Avimelech’s first question should have been about the devastation, not peace treaties! The King had good reason to suspect that marrying Abraham’s sister wouldn’t help: Sodom was destroyed despite the fact that Abraham’s nephew, Lot, lived there. Avimelech doesn’t mention the terrifying destruction of Sodom. It’s as if he took it all in stride. Avimelech wasn’t paying attention. He learned nothing from Sodom. Abraham knew that there was no fear of the Lord in this place.

He suspected that Avimelech was someone who refused to learn from the past, so he pulled the same “sister” trick he had famously pulled in Egypt. He was right! Avimelech ignored all the press reports and chose to move ahead with his own agenda. Avimelech’s lack of fear of the Lord indicated a person who did not pay attention to the past. He would ignore Abraham’s great military victory.

Avimelech eventually considers the past: “At that time, Abimelech and Phicol, general of his legion, said to Abraham, ‘The Lord is with you in all that you do.” Rashi explains that they referred to Abraham’s victory over the Four Kings. “At that time,” only after Abraham exiled his son Yishmael, did Avimelech consider Abraham’s victory. Only then did Avimelech and his general consider the Lord. Why?

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
Nov

A Spiritual Workout

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

“Good people strengthen themselves ceaselessly (Confucius).” My back is aching more than usual, and it’s my fault. I knew that if I would shovel the snow that fell over Shabbat  two weeks ago that my body would hurt. I was being a good person, as I cleared the snow (when my wife wasn’t watching) so that my wife could reach her car.

Then, my older neighbor, a doctor, mentioned to me that he exercises all year so that he can shovel the snow without hurting himself. I have not been regularly exercising to prepare for the winter, or even to strengthen my muscles to support my constantly aching back. I have not been ceaselessly strengthening myself; does that mean that I am not being the good person described by Confucius? Probably.

If I have to exercise to prepare for shoveling snow, I certainly have to exercise to be ready to be tested by God. I’ve been wondering whether this Spiritual Workout is what our Sages mean when they describe Abraham as tested ten times: The ten times that Israel tested God in the desert, are actually nine plus one that was more than the previous tests combined. The first nine tests were “tests” of how far Israel could go in testing God; they were all preparation for the tenth test. Abraham’s first nine tests were a spiritual workout, all meant to prepare him for the tenth and only test that truly mattered.

“He looked and saw the place from a distance,” can also mean that Abraham looked back on how far he had traveled through life to arrive at this test. He understood that all that preceded this moment was a complex workout to prepare him for the Akeidah.

We all feel tested by God, but I wonder how often we consider whether the immediate test is part of a spiritual workout, or the defining test. Failing a workout test, as the Ramban suggests Abraham did, is not a failure; it is a learning experience to train me for the defining test. The difference matters.

I think I’ll go exercise…

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
Nov

“The Pain of Abraham” by Prof. Gerald August

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Relationships

It was the third day after Abraham was circumcised and he was in pain. So how do we explain what he does? He saw men approaching his tent. He ran to greet them and bowed before them. He ran to tell Sarah to make cakes, and again ran to take a calf to be slaughtered for a meal. He then carried the meal to the men and stood by them as they ate, in case they needed something else.

Wait a minute. What about the pain? Did it magically disappear?

The answer is one I experienced years ago. I was visiting a friend in the hospital, and he was in bad shape. During the first 20 minutes of my visit, he was in discomfort and hardly spoke. I was distressed. But then I asked if he wanted to hear an idea I had on the Torah reading. After saying my part, he began, in an animated voice, telling me his thoughts on the Torah reading. He became a different person. After 5 minutes, his wife looked at me in astonishment, and I gave her the same look. This was the antidote. He was focused on something he was passionate about, and he ignored or did not notice his discomfort.

Abraham did the same thing. The story also teaches us how to visit the sick and be helpful. Engage them in something that is their passion, and they will be their own pain killers.

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