Posts Tagged ‘Portion of the Week’

6
Oct

From Past to Future

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Music of Halacha, Portion of the Week, Relationships, Spiritual Growth, What is the Reason?

[/caption]In 1509, Johannes Pfefferkorn, a Dominican monk who was also a converted rabbi, published Mirror of the Jews, an anti-Semitic book proposing that all works in Hebrew, including the Talmud, be burned.

Johannes Reuchlin, a Bavarian humanist, dismayed by the possibility of such desecration, formally protested to the emperor. Jewish scholarship should not be suppressed, he argued. Rather, two chairs in Hebrew should be established at every German university. Pfefferkorn, he wrote, was an anti-intellectual “ass.”

Furious, the rabbi who had become a monk struck back with Hand Mirror, accusing Reuchlin of being on the payroll of the Jews.

The controversy raged for six years. Five universities in France and Germany burned Reuchlin’s books, but in the end he was triumphant. Pfefferkorn’s fire was canceled and the teaching of Hebrew spread.

Pfefferkorn was the boogieman of my childhood. He was the ultimate self-hating Jew. It wasn’t enough for him to have converted and become a monk, he wanted to burn every Hebrew book in Europe. He wanted to destroy anyone who would defend Jewish scholarship.

“Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his brothers outside. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and they walked backwards, and covered their father’s nakedness.” (Genesis 9:22-23)

Ham ridiculed his father; He rejected the place from which he had come. Shem and Japheth honored their past, even when they were fully aware of its failings. They refused to look at their father’s nakedness. Ham felt that the only way to build the future was to reject the past with all its mistakes and failings. His father, Noah, represented the generation before the Deluge. When Ham saw his drunken, naked father, wallowing in his wine, he felt justified in cutting off the past, as the Sages teach, “Ham castrated Noah.” (Sanhedrin 70a)

Ham was the first Pfefferkorn. He was not satisfied in building a future; he wanted to wage war against his roots. He believed that the only way to move ahead was to destroy the past.

Shem and Japheth acknowledged the failings of the previous generations, but they understood that the future could only be built upon the past, even its ruins.

Noah deprived Ham of his future: “Cursed is Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers.” (Verse 25)

Shem, the ancestor of Israel, was rewarded with the Mitzvah of Tzitzit. Japheth was rewarded with a promise that his soldiers’ bodies would be honored with burial after Armageddon. Both were rewarded in the future that would be theirs as a reward for the honor they paid to the past.

Tzitzit reflect God’s promise that all we do has the potential of an eternal future. Japheth, who followed Shem but did not act on his own, merited honor for the bodies of his descendants; honor for the lives they lived, honor of their past, but without the promise of an eternal future.

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.

Share
5
Oct

Apples and Oranges: The Comparison Game

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

“Why can’t you be like other kids who behave perfectly?” is a refrain I often hear parents complaining to their children. Yes, there were and are certainly moments when I wish my children were as “perfect” as other kids, but those moments are rare. I am more than happy for my kids to be individuals, albeit imperfect.

People do not do well when they are compared to other people. The damage increases when we begin to compare ourselves to others. “Why do other people have it so much easier than I?” “Why are they successful when I am not?” are not productive questions.

It becomes even worse when we compare ourselves to others in order to measure our spiritual success: “She said to Elijah, ‘what is there between me and you. O man of God, that you have come to me to call attention to my sins and to cause my son to die!” (Kings I 17:18) The Ralbag explains that she felt that Elijah’s presence in her home, with his impeccable standards of piety and Godliness, caused God to take note of her sins. When God compared her to her neighbors, she was considered righteous. However, compared to Elijah, she was a sinner.

The woman believed that God only judged her in comparison to the people around her, not as she was as an individual. How many of us could stand up to such comparisons?

And yet, the Sages understand that God did compare Noah to others: “Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations.” (Genesis 6:9) Some Sages maintain that the stress on ‘HIS’ generations is intended as praise: Noah was righteous even in his corrupt environment. How much more righteous he would have been if he had the companionship of Abraham!

According to others, the verse is critical of Noah. He was considered righteous only when compared to his generation. Had he lived in Abraham’s time, Noah would not have stood out as a righteous person. (Rashi)

That sure sounds like the comparison approach to me!

I suggest that the verse is not describing how God judged Noah, but rather how Noah set his sights on achieving his status as a righteous man. Some Sages read the story and understand Noah as someone who strove to be righteous only in comparison with his generation. He did not strive to achieve objective righteousness. He was satisfied with being more righteous than those around him. It was Noah who played the comparison game, and limited himself by so doing.

Other Sages read the story and picture Noah as someone who strove for true Righteousness. He did not play the comparison game. He set his sights on achieving the highest level of Tzidkut. He did not measure himself against his generation but against the highest levels of righteousness, the levels, we know, that were achieved by Abraham.

Rashi seems to prefer the former approach and understands the verse as limiting Noah’s praises. He comments on the next phrase, “Noah walked with God,” and says, Noah needed to walk with God because he could not maintain his standards without someone holding him up. Whereas the verse says of Abraham, “Walk before Me,” Abraham was able to walk on his own.

Harry Chapin closes his song “Greyhound” with, “It’s got to be the going not the getting there that’s good.” It seems to me that Noah was focused on ‘getting there’, he wanted to walk with God. Abraham, on the other hand, was focused on the ‘going’, the journey of his life. He knew that ultimately he would walk with God. He wanted to make sure that the ‘going’, the journey was good and productive.

Abraham was focused on the journey. His goal expanded and grew as he extended his trip and developed himself. Abrahams ‘getting there’ constantly changed as he grew as a human being and servant of God. His ‘there’ was not defined until the end of his life.

Noah was only interested in the ‘getting there’. He needed to define his ‘there’ where and when he was. Such a person can only set his sights by comparing himself with others. That was the only way that Noah could define his ‘there’.

We, the children of Abraham, follow Halacha – we are walkers and see life as a journey. We do not compare ourselves to anyone or anything other than our highest aspirations, which constantly expand and rise as we continue our journey in 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.

Share
5
Oct

To Hear & To See

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

They listened and they watched for over a century, but they didn’t hear or see a thing. The farmer who, according to the Sages, invented the plow, changed careers, and gave up his work to become a carpenter in order to build a huge ark. He signed up at the local college for certification as a veterinarian, and pretty much kept to himself. People first attributed Noah’s change of course as a midlife crisis. After all, almost five centuries in one job is a little too much for anyone.

But people began to wonder at the size of his pleasure boat. When asked, Noah would answer. He warned people of their impending doom. His hammers banged through the neighborhood. His saws would often put people to sleep. People watched Noah build his monstrosity far away from any water. They heard and observed for the 120 years it took Noah to build his ark, but they were deaf to his words and blind to his efforts.

People lost their hearing again soon after the flood. They knew what God had done when angered. They could see the effects of the flood generations later. They listened to the stories, they observed the damage, but again they chose not to hear and not to see.

“God descended to look at the city and Tower.” (Genesis 11:5) People chose not to see so God ‘descended’ to earth to teach the sons of man how to see.

They chose not to hear, so God said, “That they should not hear one another’s language.” (Verse 7)

How interesting it is that our matriarch Sarah is introduced as “Yiskah” – “she could see the future by holy inspiration.” Sarah is presented as a visionary, and God appeared to Abraham in visions, “After these events, the word of God came to Abram in a vision.” (Genesis 15:1)

Abraham and Sarah observed and saw. They took what they saw to heart.

We live in a world in which people choose what they want to see and hear. I have attached a video of a commander of the British army, Col Richard Kemp, addressing the UN Human Rights Commission. His words are powerful. His audience chose to not hear.

We know what happens to those who choose to not hear and not see. Have we learned from their mistakes, or are we too, willing to miss the boat?

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.

Share
5
Oct

Fear of Change

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

He truly bore the deformity of baldness very badly, having experienced often his vulnerability to the jokes of his detractors. For that reason he was even accustomed to “recall” his thinning strands from the very top of his head, and out of all the honors decreed for him by the people and the senate he neither accepted nor took advantage of any other more gladly than the right of wearing a laurel wreath on every occasion. (Seautonius, Life of Julius Caesar 45.2)

Julius Caesar may have considered baldness a deformity, but times have changed. I see men who shave their heads wherever I go. Quite frankly, I don’t understand it. I refused to get a very short haircut when I was an eleven-year old student in Yeshiva. Everyone had the same haircut as a freshly minted soldier. The new style is even shorter; people literally shave their heads.

Our biology teacher in Ner Israel High School would make fun of his bald head and describe how he would wax his skull every morning to make it shine. He used to refer to himself as a “bowling ball.” Telly Savalas, Kojak, was his favorite actor simply because he shaved his head. Yul Brynner was a close second. Our teacher loved them. I pitied them for their deformities.

I have shared many hospital rooms with people who lost all their hair during chemotherapy. They certainly did not choose to be bald.

I once met a man, a Chazzan – cantor – who had absolutely no hair on his body. He had been one of Mengele’s guinea pigs for a medical experiment. He wanted to be known for his beautiful voice, but his shining plate overshadowed his singing. I don’t know if he is still alive, but I doubt he would still be known as the Hairless Chazzan. Caesar, Kojak and Yul Brynner have won the day. Bald is now officially cool.

The shaved heads are in good company. Elisha the prophet was bald, as was Rabbi Akiva. But the fact that their baldness is mentioned reflects how unusual it was for a man to be bald. What would the people of the First Temple period have thought of all the shaved heads passing us on the street? Would Caesar, ashamed of his head, have been relieved to know that people desire to look like him? Or, would he have felt slightly less special?

I never thought of myself as someone who is bothered by change. In fact I am bothered when everything remains the same without ever changing. Yet, here I am, typing on an Mac, having changed from a PC, learning all sorts of new software programs, with most parts of my life drastically changed from twenty years ago, but bothered by all those shaved heads. You just can’t tell which change will be the one that bothers us.

The world after the flood was very different from the world before. The new world lived in fear of God, Who had proven His ability to destroy everything. Noah spent 120 years as a carpenter, another year as a zookeeper and sailor, and he stepped from the ark to become a farmer. Shem and Yefet willingly accepted that all would change and they also continued to honor the past. Cham did not want anything to change. He rejected his father who he held responsible for bringing about this changed world.

What scared Cham? The Sages teach that he was frightened that Noah would have more children and then Cham, rather than be one of the three sons, would only be one of four or five. He was frightened of losing his position.

The people, who dreamed of building a great Tower that would reach the heavens, realized that the world was changing. They too wanted to maintain their position in the world: “Let us make a name for ourselves.”

Then a very special person appeared on the scene, someone not frightened of change. In fact, he was determined to create an ever-changing world that would never stagnate. His name was Abram and he became a traveler. He challenged the beliefs of his family and faith and changed the world into which he was born, a world of multiple gods and idols, one for every taste and palate, into a world of the One God, Unchanging but Infinite.

Abram changed into Abraham and introduced us to a world of unlimited opportunities. Not a flavor of the month world, a new hair style every few years, but a world of possibility and adventure. Abraham traveled as did Noah, but unlike Noah, he didn’t travel to escape but to thrive.

So, to all you shaved heads out there, enjoy your bald heads. I’ll simply change my hairstyle. I think it allows more opportunities for self-expression.

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.

Share
4
Oct

Languages

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Prayer

I realized that I forgot to bring my toothpaste and was happy to have an opportunity to practice my newly acquired and limited German. I breezed through asking and actually understanding directions to the nearest pharmacy. I received some strange looks when I asked for toothpaste, but I attributed it to the strange sight of a Jew wearing a yarmulke in a Moslem neighborhood in Hanover, Germany.

As soon as I began to brush my teeth, I realized that it nothing to do with my head covering; I had asked for denture glue. My mouth was glued shut and my teeth were still as stale as when I got off the plane.

I rushed to my appointment at the hospital. Any hopes that no one would notice my mouth were dashed when the doctor asked if I was having issued with my jaw. My determination to practice speaking German remained strong. I had practiced reporting my medical history and conditions, so I was fully prepared for this meeting. The doctor shook his head as soon as I mentioned my cervical surgery: “It’s not possible!” he said in English. “A man can’t have a hysterectomy.”

“I said cervical surgery, not a hysterectomy.” “No, you said hysterectomy. Perhaps we should stick to English.”

He obviously was not as fluent in German as my dictionary!

Things get lost in translation, especially if you don’t know how to properly use a dictionary.

We had a dog trainer come to the house to help us with a dog we rescued. He was Korean and quite fluent in English, but I soon found myself translating for my Argentine wife and the trainer. They both spoke English but could not understand each other’s accents.

As I was leaving the house this morning my wife, unhappy with my color coordination asked me to change into “your peacock blazer.” I had no idea what she was talking about. I thought she hated birds. Peacock?

My doctor said, “I see what you mean,” when he clearly meant that he did not.

We don’t need to speak different languages to be confused. We do a fine job with only one language.

When God “confused the languages” of the people who built the Tower of Babel, He didn’t only mix up different languages; He confused their communication. People who spoke the same language spoke in layers and people stopped communicating.

The literary term is “sprachgefeul” (Hey, I needed to show off my German!). There are layers of meaning in our words, layers that reflect our past, emotions and experiences.

The Ramchal explains that until the Tower of Babel humanity had the ability to share a united agenda: to repair Adam’s sin. Once people began to focus on their more immediate and limited agendas they lost the most essential quality they shared. The confusion of their communication was a natural consequence of their limited focus. Everyone was focused on different things and they forfeited their sprachgefeul.

We do share one language that rises above the consequences of the Tower: the siddur – prayer book. The Anshei Knesset HaGadol -The Men of the Great Assembly – composed it and in order to be appointed one had to be fluent in all major languages. (Do you think my “cervical” error would disqualify me?”) Many members were prophets and they used all their skills to compose the Siddur in such a manner that someone praying in 21st century America could share sprachgefeul with a Jew singing the same words in 8th century Egypt.

The siddur is our opportunity to rise above the consequences of the Tower. Do you understand what I’m saying?

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.

Share
28
Sep

A Treasure Hunt: An Invitation & Challenge

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

Where shall I go? Shall I search for my new gadget on EBay or go on a quest in New York City, where you can find almost everything that you can find on the web, but with a greater sense of adventure?

My children, when they were younger, loved going on “adventures” in the City. They hated the schlep, but the promise of a special treat, an abundance of which exist in New York, usually won the day. We would turn the day into a treasure hunt. We would have a contest of who would be the first to find the strange object of our expedition. We found unique boxes that we, actually Debbie, would transform into a Thank You Machine – often called a Tzedaka (Charity) box in the vernacular. An old lamp was soon converted into a Chanukah menorah. A 100-year-old pillowcase became a Tallit bag, and an old tablecloth became a magnificent Challah cover.

The adventure did not end when we found the object of our search. We would stand around and watch with awe as Debbie worked her alchemy and produced her miracles. The thrill over her creativity more than matched the joy of the hunt.

I have been ill for a few weeks and hesitate to go outside. I was desperate for an adventure. EBay was so insulted by the opening of this blog that they would not allow me to use them for my explorations. (Some people!) I decided to go to a place even more fun than New York City: this week’s portion: Bereishit with the stories of creation, the Garden in Eden, the big sin, Cain and Abel, the Cain’s death and the quick downfall of humanity. There are more stories in these few chapters than there are in Manhattan.

My heart was set on a treasure hunt, so that’s what it was: How many of our daily blessings could I find in Bereishit?

Care to join me? (I found 19 so far.)

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.

Share
27
Sep

The Phoenix of Our Desires

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

“But alas, what should I blame except my irrational desire? It lifts me so aloft, and flies so high in the sky that it reaches the sphere of fire which scorches its wings; then unable to bear me up, it drops me from the sky. But this is not the end of my ordeal, for it sprouts wings anew, and is burned again, so there is never any end to my rise and fall.” (Lodovico Ariosto; Orlando Furioso 1532)

Would I have made the same decision, as did Adam and Eve? I keep on telling myself that I would not. I never stood in their shoes. I have the advantage of hindsight. Do I understand their challenge well enough to know what I would do?

“Havei dan et kol Adam l’kaf Z’chut” – Judge each Adam – person – favorably (Avot 1:6) begins with Adam – the primal human being. We must judge him favorably despite the painful consequences of his actions.

Why does Adam deserve a favorable judgment? Perhaps because it is the only way that we can grant ourselves the same generous perspective. We too stumble. We make mistakes. We do not always succeed in resisting temptation. We, as Adam, often find it difficult to accept responsibility for our actions: “The woman that You gave me made me sin!” It’s someone else’s fault.

We believe that we are familiar with this most basic story, and yet there are many unanswered questions: Adam was the first to give life to another. God took Adam’s rib to construct the woman. Eve then replaced Adam as the one who would bring future generations into the world. Why was Eve standing by herself when approached by the snake? Where was Adam? Why was she alone so soon after her creation? How did the snake know about the tree? God instructed Adam about the trees. Adam taught Eve. Who informed the snake? Did he know about the tree before Eve? Did the snake know directly from God, whereas Eve only knew second-hand through Adam? Why did Adam add on the extra commandment to “not touch the tree”? Did Adam know that the fruit Eve handed him was of the Tree of Knowledge? Why did he eat it without her saying a word? Was this an instance of “He doth protest too much”? Was theirs an “irrational desire” as described by Ariosto?

The Sages never accuse the snake of lying. They describe him as speaking Lashon Harah!

There are so many more questions. We must step into Adam and Eve’s shoes before we can judge them.

Here I stand, having risen aloft even from the heights of Yom Kippur on the wings of Succot and Simchat Torah. These are some of the highest moments of the year. Will I withstand my tests any better than did Adam and Eve?

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.

Share
8
Sep

Ha’azinu: A Silent Song Beyond Words

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

Once upon a time, somewhere in the universe very far away from here, lived a tranquil star, which moved tranquilly in the immensity of the sky, surrounded by a crowd of tranquil planets about which we have not a thing to report. This star was very big and very hot, and its weight was enormous: and here a reporter’s difficulties begin. We have written “very far,” “big,” “hot,” “enormous”: Australia is very far, an elephant is big and a house is bigger, this morning I had a hot bath, Everest is enormous. It’s clear that something in our lexicon is not working. (A Tranquil Star by Primo Levi)

Our lexicon is certainly insufficient to express the depths of our relationship with God in a two plus column song, and yet that is exactly the message of this week’s portion, or, more accurately, song.

I cannot find the words to describe my feelings when I watch my students grow into magnificent human beings. There are no words to portray the love I feel for some people. No vocabulary exists to express the joy of prayer. It is laughable to expect the combined vocabularies of the world to illustrate the rapture of learning Torah. There is no language that reaches so far beyond our physical senses that it can depict the power of a relationship with the Infinite Creator. But, I am not frustrated. I have learned to enjoy that very feeling of something beyond words. It is a silence beyond words. That is my song, and that is how I sing the song of Ha’azinu.

Silence Beyond Words

By

Alter Esselin

In the silence of the night

The trees stand in melancholy calm.

Only a faint rustle of leaves.

On high—a star tremor.

Fireflies flash in the folded bed linen of the fields.

Silence streams from the moon,

Silence covers the world.

And from my heart there comes joy,

Joy that overflows in courage, praise

And expectation of honors.

How quick the flight to highest height;

The fall into deepest abyss.

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.

Share
15
Aug

Shofetim: Egla Arufa & Rasputin’s Death

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Music of Halacha, Portion of the Week, Spiritual Growth

If a homicide victim should be found lying in a field in the land the Lord your God is giving you, and no one knows who killed him, your elders and judges must go out and measure how far it is to the cities in the vicinity of the corpse. Then the elders of the city nearest to the corpse must take from the herd a heifer that has not been worked – that has never pulled with the yoke –and bring the heifer down to a wadi with flowing water,6 to a valley that is neither plowed nor sown. There at the wadi they are to break the heifer’s neck. Then the Levitical priests will approach (for the Lord your God has chosen them to serve him and to pronounce blessings in his name, and to decide every judicial verdict, and all the elders of that city nearest the corpse must wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley. Then they must proclaim, “Our hands have not spilled this blood, nor have we witnessed the crime. Do not blame your people Israel whom you redeemed, O Lord, and do not hold them accountable for the bloodshed of an innocent person.” Then atonement will be made for the bloodshed. In this manner you will purge out the guilt of innocent blood from among you, for you must do what is right before the Lord. (Deuteronomy 21:1-9) On 19 December 1916, in the last December of the Romanov Empire, a corpse bobbed to the surface of the Malaya Nevka River in Petrograd. Ice-encrusted with a mutilated face. But the most startling thing was its hands. It bound hands were raised. For there, under the icy water, that extraordinary individual, although beaten and shot, had still been alive, and had still been trying to break free of his fetters. And, as the police would later write in their report, great numbers of people hurried down to the river with flasks, jugs, and buckets to ladle up the water in which the awful body had just been floating. They wanted to scoop up with the water the deceased’s diabolical; improbable strength, of which all Russia had heard. (The Rasputin File by Edvard Radzinsky, Page 1) My grandfather, Rabbi Yaacov Yitzchak Ruderman zt”l explained why the elders of the city declared “Our hands have not spilled this blood”: The Talmud says that no one had escorted the person from the city. My grandfather asked: How did they know? How would an escort from the city have saved his life? He answered that someone who leaves a city alone, feels alone and therefore weak. Someone who leaves with an escort feels honored and therefore stronger. He would have fought back. We can literally give someone the strength to fight, or fight harder for his life by simply treating him with greater respect. The Egla Arufa teaches us that we bear some responsibility for people we know who give up without a fight. Consider the Russian peasants who were so inspired by the evil and hated Rasputin’s fight for life that they wanted some of the water in which he fought his final battle. We are moved and inspired by fighters. The Egla Arufa reminds us that we can nurture the will to fight in the people we know and meet. 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.

Share
12
Aug

Shofetim: Which Artist?

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

Jan van Eyck was one of the first artists to portray himself in a godlike pose: He painted himself facing forward.

Portraiture before this point was done on profile to mimic the portraits of Roman emperors minted onto coins. Only divine figures were painted facing forward. Van Eyck’s full-frontal portrait is not only an expression of his ego, but also with the philosophy of Neo-Platonism. He believed that art was the closest approximation to the perfection that must exist in Heaven, and that artists were therefore the conduit of a reflection, a shadow of the divine on earth.

Along the bottom of his self-portrait is written: “Johannes van Eyck me fecit”, which is Latin for “Jan van Eyck made me.”

This week’s portion, Shofetim, deals with the transmission of the Oral Law (See Marathon Man) and its creative power and energy. We agree with the Neo-Platonists that artists are the shadow of the divine on earth. We disagree with them about which artists meet this definition. We believe that only the artist in applying Torah to every aspect of this world and life is truly an artist. It is they, the masters of the Oral Law, not the van Eycks or Durers, who are considered the reflection of the Divine.

This power is offered to all. We do not need to be born with the special gifts of van Eyck, just with the desire to enter the palace of Torah and explore its treasures.

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.

Share