Posts Tagged ‘Shema’

12
Aug

Shema: Waiting For God

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Prayer

Simone Weil speaks in Waiting For God as a kind of readiness. The opening sound of the Shema is “Shhhhh” – be quiet – listen – be ready to hear – become someone who is waiting for God.

The great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova wrote in her diary: “X asked me whether it was difficult or easy to write poetry. I answered that when somebody dictates it to you, it’s quite easy, but that when there is nobody dictating – it’s simply impossible.” When we are silent, ready, and listening: We will hear the poetry of the Shema guide us.

The Transition From Ahavat Olam to Shema

Dante wrote: “I am one who, when Love breathes me in, takes heed, and as he dictates it within me, I follow along writing it down.” (Purgatorio 24.52-4) When we connect with God’s eternal and vast love for us in the blessing immediately preceding the Shema, we can better hear the Shema’s lessons.

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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
Aug

Love With No Object

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Prayer

There is a way of loving not attached to what is loved.

Observe how water is with

The ground, always moving toward the ocean, though the ground tries to hold the water’s foot

and not let it go. This is how we are with wine and beautiful food, wealth and power,

or just a dry piece of bread: we want and we get drunk with

wanting, then the headache

and bitterness afterward. Those prove that the attachment took

hold and held you back. Now you

proudly refuse help. “My love is pure. I have an intuitive

union with God. I don’t need

anyone to show me how to be free!” This is not the case.

A love with no object

is a true love. All else, shadow without substance.

(The Ecstatic Poetry of Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks)

There is an important change in the verse in the second paragraph of Shema, found in this week’s portion, from a verse in the first paragraph: “You shall teach them thoroughly to your children and you shall speak of them.” (Deuteronomy 6:7) In this week’s portion the Torah teaches: “You shall teach them to your children to discuss them.” (11:19)

Only a heart overflowing with love for Torah can teach it so that our children and students will discuss the Torah’s words on their own.

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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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26
Jul

Shema: The Three Weeks: Mitzvah Planters

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“God does mighty deeds. He does things entirely new, plants the seeds of Tzedakot, good and just acts, thereby causing Yeshu’ot, awesome life-saving acts to flourish, creates new cures, works wonders, makes Creation happen every day (Blessings of Morning Shema).”

“God, the Lord, planted a garden in Eden (Genesis 2:8).” “When you arrive in the Land, plant all kinds of fruit trees (Vayikra 19:23).”

Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabbi Simon opened his lesson: Just as, at the beginning of Creation, God took time to plant, as the verse says, “God, the Lord, planted a garden in Eden,” so, too, with you; When you enter the Land of Israel, you should start right away by planting (Vayikra Rabbah 25:3).

What does God plant now? He “plants the seeds of Tzedakot, good and just acts,” and as the prayer continues later, “God raises those who feel low; frees those who are captive; redeems the humbled; does what is necessary to remove the misery of poverty from the lives of the poor, and responds to His people at the time they cry out to Him.”

Each act of Tzedakah is planted and causes Yeshu’ot, awesome life-saving acts to flourish, leads to new cures, wonders and joy.

The Three Weeks is the time of the year when we are most focused on the need for Yeshu’ot, and therefore is the time we can bring these words of prayer to life by becoming Tzedaka Planters. This is, teaches Rabbi Yehudah in the Midrash above, how we can build Israel, and regain the Garden of Eden!

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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

Elijah’s Vision

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

“And He said, ‘Go forth and stand on the mountain before God; and behold! God is passing, and a great, powerful wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the God; but the God was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but God was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire; but God was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.”

“And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entrance of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said: ‘Why are you here, Elijah?’ (I Kings 19:11-13)”

The message of the “still small voice,” is consistent with the lesson that began with Elijah’s first meal, something can come form nothing, and the second meal that nourished him for forty day and forty night journey; a small thing, even a small accomplishment can last. Elijah may see himself as a failure; a nothing, but something can come even from nothing. Elijah may view all his efforts as no more than a whisper in the battle for Israel’s soul, but God is in the “still small voice.”

Before Elijah could learn the lesson of the still small voice, he had to first learn that God was not in the powerful wind, He was not in the earthquake, and not in the fire. Elijah’s mission was not to be as powerful as the splitting of the Sea, affected through the wind, not as the great miracle of the earth swallowing Korach, and not even in the fire he brought down from heaven at Mount Carmel. Change brought about by a miracle will not last; people will not find God in the big productions.

However, when we carefully read the text, we find that the order spoken by God is not the order of the events! When God speak, He says, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before God,” and after Elijah goes forth and stands on the mountain, “Behold! God is passing.” Yet the wind began to blow before Elijah could go forth. The earthquake shook the earth, and the fire burned, and Elijah still did not go forth and stand. He does nothing. “When Elijah heard it,” the still small voice, “he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entrance of the cave.” He did not emulate Moshe who covered his face at the Burning Bush, or Moshe whose face was covered by God’s Hand when he stood in the same cave, when he heard the wind, felt the earthquake, and saw the fire. He covered his face only when he heard the still small voice. Although God’s words read as if He is describing what will happen, they happen as He speaks. The wind blows, the earth shakes, the fire burns, before Elijah can go forth and stand on the mountain. Elijah experiences the power of God’s words, and this is the still small voice that he heard.

He wrapped himself in his mantle as we wrap ourselves in a Tallit, and went out to stand on the mountain to find God, which he does, in God’s question: “Why are you here, Elijah?” Do you still want to shake the world? Do you still burn with the same fiery jealousy? Have you learned the lesson of this vision and experience? If you have not changed, Elijah, from this incredible vision, can you expect Israel to change because of your Hollywood productions?

“And he said, ‘I have been exceedingly zealous/jealous for God, Power of Legions, for the Children of Israel have abandoned Your covenant; they have razed Your altars; they have killed Your prophets with the sword, so that I remain, by myself, and they seek my soul to take her‘ (I Kings 19:14).” The same words. The same answer as before his vision. “I have not changed.”

Elijah now understands that challenge of change, and is prepared to live as a still small voice, step by step preparing Israel for the future.

This is the Elijah who comes to a Brit Milah; This is only a step forward; it is not the end, but the beginning.

This is the Elijah who appears at the Seder: Don’t expect wind, earthquakes, or fire, from this experience. It will not be life changing unless you stop and listen to the still small voice.

This is the Elijah we remember as we recite Havdalah and step out of the cave back into the world, ready to take small steps forward, one after the other, each reflecting the still small voice we can hear if only we stop seeking powerful winds, earthquakes and fires to be inspired to grow in our service of God.

The same still small voice we can hear when we cover our faces and recite the Shema: Listen! Listen for the still small voice.

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

Hearing the Voice

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week, Prayer

“He came there to the cave and spent the night there; and, behold! The word of God came to him and said to him, ‘Why are you here, Elijah?’ (I Kings 19:9)”

“The word of God came to him and said to him, ‘Why are you here, Elijah,” sounds like, “They heard the Voice of God, the Lord, walking in the garden…God, the Lord called out to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ (Genesis 3:8-9).” Two steps; first the experience of the Voice, and then a defining question.

“Where are you,” ‘ayeka,’ is the same as ‘Eicha’,’ the theme word of Tisha B’Av. We can only imagine what would be different if Adam and Eve, realizing that they could sense the Voice of God even as it moved through the Garden, “mithaleich,’ walking on a journey, despite their sin, ran out to greet God rather than hide; if they had responded to Ayeka with, “We sinned! Forgive us!” This is what we intend to repair when we say, “Shema Yisrael,” Hear!

What would be different if the Children of Israel ran toward God after hearing the report of the Ten Evil Spies, and called out, “We sinned! Forgive us!” This is what we intend to repair when we say, “Shema Yisrael,” Hear!

What would be different if the Jews of Jerusalem heard the thunder of the Babylonian armies as the Voice of God and reached out to Him and said, “We sinned. Forgive us!” This is what we intend to repair when we say, “Shema Yisrael,” Hear!

The people who recovered the corpses of the Beitar Tisha B’Av, that were not decomposed, experienced the miracle as the Voice of God and responded by adding to Benching, even in their darkest hours, “Hatov v’hameitiv,” Who is good and does good, responded as Adam and Eve, the Jews in the desert, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, all could have, and they set the path for the journey of the Jews through history, renewing our commitment to Halacha, the journey of serving God. This is what we intend to emulate when we say, “Shema Yisrael,” Hear! We recite the final blessing of Grace AFTER the Meal, not as an After, but as the first step forward from the experience of God’s blessings through the meal into the journey of our future.

Elijah’s experience is similar, but different: It was not the Voice, but the word. It was as if resting in the famous cave of Moshe (Exodus 33:22) could hear all the words of Torah he had learned, all his prophecies, coming with new clarity. These words called out to him, “Nu! So why are you HERE?”

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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30
Jun

He Listened

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Prayer, Reflections & Observations

Based on a few hundred emails, I realize that many people wondered why I have barely written anything for a few weeks. Many guessed that I was ill and extended their prayers and best wishes.

I was ill, frustrated, and frightened. I carry not only the scars of many surgeries, but emotional scars of long and devastating illnesses as well. I choose to not share specifics, however, I can say that the most frustrating aspect of illness is, as my uncle Noach zt”l used to say, “God is articulate. If you haven’t figured out what He’s telling you; either you’re deaf or a fool, and I happen to know you aren’t deaf!” Ouch!

I ceaselessly bother my doctor, and he always makes himself available. Today, he listened in a way I’ve never experienced a doctor listening. His physical exam didn’t help him understand what was the underlying issue. His careful attention to my description of what I was experiencing offered a clue. He diagnosed the issue, prescribed new medication, and within a few hours, I felt like a new man.

Not the examination, but the listening was the answer. That had to be the clue to what I was to learn from my illness. Am I listening as carefully as Dr. Dwyer listened to me? The answer is, “Probably not.” So, I apologize to all those to whom I haven’t been listening carefully. I will try to be a better listener.

It may take a few days for me to begin writing and meeting with people, so meanwhile I’ll begin the listening with Shema. I pray that it will help.

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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26
Jun

Gift Wrapped

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Prayer

In honor of S.S.: “Bind them as a sign upon your arm and let them be Totafot between your eyes. And write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates (Devarim 6:8-9).”

It is difficult for me to find a gift for my wife; her tastes are measured by “her country,” not Yeshiva Lane. I have been successful from time to time only to confront an even greater challenge: wrapping the gift. I found a website that guides you in the actual wrapping, but I’m having a challenge with the bow. I spent more time tying and retying the ribbon than I did choosing the gift. The card is ready. The paper is (almost) perfectly folded, but I can’t get the bow just right. Is it as important as the gift? No, but Debbie is familiar with my artistic limitations and a bow tied perfectly by me would reflect the enormous effort in presenting the gift.

I finally decided to leave the bow askew because it would be proof that I, not a professional, wrapped the gift. The bow and paper will last only for the moment it takes my wife to read the card, and then she’ll rip it all apart, but the wrapping is a sign of the care that went into the presentation of the gift.

I wrap a present six days a week. I tie a knot that will not last long past my prayers. The way I tie the knot is a sign of how much care I put into wrapping my “gift,” my whole heart, all my feelings, dedicated to God.

I watch as people mechanically wrap their Tefillin each morning. They are as skilled as the professional gift-wrappers, but I remember that the Mitzvah is the tying. I am tying up my gift. It will be unwrapped when I finish praying. The special connection of that moment when I present the gift will physically pass, but the sign, the care I put into tying the knot, will echo throughout the day.

Permanently? No, but then it is a sign, not permanent like a tattoo, but a sign of where my heart is at this moment.

When I realize how much I care about the presentation of my “gift,” how my entire heart is focused on God, I slide my shirt sleeve over the sign; it is personal and intimate. A powerful sign that I cannot violate by allowing others to see.

That moment of intimacy allows me to take all the different compartments, Totafot, of my mind; the ones that are focused on paying my bills, personal issues, questions etc. and point them all in one direction, at least while I pray. The compartments are unified by my passion for connection to God.

The gift wrap, the bow, my feelings, unifying the compartments…all dependent on my prayer. I want it to last. I desire that powerful connection to last and define my day, so I want my home to reflect that passion. I look at m home as the carefully considered gift that needs the perfect wrapping, even with an imperfect bow. I want to preserve the gift and its wrapping, so I inscribe this feeling on every part of my home, and I walk within my wrapped gift, and find that I can live my life as a gift: This particular gift; the one I wrapped this morning.

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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18
Apr

Haftarah: Second Day Pesach: A Pesach of Covenant

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

II Kings 23:1-9, 21-25: “Before him there had never been a king who returned to God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his resources, according to the entire Torah of Moshe, and after him, no one arose like him.” This is a story of Pesach as a tale of the Shema; “with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his resources,” and Yom Kippur, “who returned to God.”

I’m not happy when people observe Yom Kippur only as a serious day of trembling without the joy that comes with atonement, purity, and deep connection to God. I’m even unhappier when people treat Pesach as another one of those Yom Kippurs; not as a day of rejoicing in freedom and singing Hallel, but obsessing over the laws to the point that they are only happy with added strictures, terrified of making the slightest mistake. Our story, that of Yoshiyahu’s Pesach of Shema, Teshuva, and Covenant, is the real story of Pesach: “For such a Pesach Offering had not been offered since the days of the Judges who judged Israel, and all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah (Verse 22).” This Pesach was greater than King David’s, Solomon’s, Yehoshafat, and Chizkiyahu! What made it so special?

The young king, raised in a house of idol worshippers, understood that God’s House could not remain in disrepair. He ordered a remodeling, and during the process something rare was discovered; a Sefer Torah. It was the Torah written by Moshe. They opened the scroll and read Ki Tavo, describing the consequences of violating God’s covenant by serving Him without joy. Yoshiyahu revered the Torah as The Book of Covenant; the Book to which we said at Sinai, “We will do, and we will relate.” “Relate,” as in “Nishmah,” of Shema!

Yoshiyahu, “Stood on the platform and sealed a covenant before God: to follow God and to observe His commandments, His testimonies, and His decrees (Hints of the Wise Child) with a complete heart and a complete soul, to establish the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And the entire people accepted the covenant (Verse 3).”

Yoshiyahu began this Pesach with a Covenant of Relationship, just as did the Children of Israel begin their Pesach with the Covenant of Milah.

It was only after the people sealed their Covenant of Relationship with God that they began their Pesach cleaning: “The king instructed Hilkiyahu the Kohen Gadol, the Kohanim of the second rank, and the gate keepers to remove from the Temple of God all the vessels that had been made  for the Baal, the Asheirah, and all the heavenly hosts (Verse 4).” He Pesach cleaned all of Israel, “He brought all the Kohanim from the cities of Judah and he defiled the high places where the priests used to burn offerings (Verse 8).”

After the Covenant, and the Pesach cleaning of all that would interfere with the relationship he, “Commanded the entire nation, saying, ‘Bring the Pesach Offering to God, your Lord (Verse 21).”

This was a “whole” Pesach, “you shall not break a bone in it (Exodus 12:46),” as the original Pesach. It was an expression of Covenant, Relationship, Cleansing ( as in, “You shall nullify the leaven from your homes [12:15]), and Holy Convocation (as in, “On the first day shall be a holy convocation [12:16]). They returned to that first Pesach; Teshuvah, and celebrated a Pesach of the Freedom of Relationship.

This was Yoshiyahu’s Pesach, and this can be ours as well.

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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28
Mar

The Stifled Trumpet

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

The westerly wind whines sharp,

wild geese cry in the sky, the frosty morning’s moon.

Frosty the morning’s moon,

horses clatter hard,

stifled the sound of the trumpet.

“Loushan Pass” by Mao Zedong, 1935

No, I’m not becoming a communist. I am intrigued by the idea of Mao as a poet, and wonder whether Pharaoh was as well.

I can imagine him going out to the Nile early in the morning when the plague of Hail was just beginning, terrified by the noise, perhaps even more than the hail itself, and composing a similar poem. All of Egypt’s chariots and might army, all of its work projects, were silenced. The only sound was that of the sky thundering, shaking his kingdom.

What was he thinking? I suspect that he had to laugh at himself, chuckle over the irony that he, the man who turned his back to Moshe and Aharon, pretending to not even hear them demand the release of the Children of Israel, could now, not even hear himself. He could hear only God’s message, brought by Moshe. He now had to listen; there was nothing else to hear.

How interesting that we too constantly remind ourselves to hear: Shema Yisrael, Hear O Israel. God wants us to hear His message. He wants us to pay attention. He wants us to listen to our words as we pray. He wants us to hear the way Pharaoh heard God’s message on the morning of the Hail; Listen as if it His, is the only sound in 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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16
Feb

Eyes Shut By God

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Prayer

We described the Children of Israel as wondering what would happen when they were not looking, when their eyes were shut. They were not the only ones. Moses too, was placed into a similar situation. He asked God, “Show me, please, Your glory.”  and God responded, “a human being cannot see My face and live.”

Moses entered the cave, and waited for God’s great revelation. God said, “I will place my hand over your face.”

Moses did not shut his eyes. His eyes were shut by God. There are some things a human being cannot see.

What is the difference between a shutting our eyes and having God cover them? When we shut our eyes we only see darkness. When God covers Moses’ eyes, Moses was granted a sense of the Infinite.

We cover our eyes while reciting the Shema. The idea is not to shut our eyes and wonder what is there when we are not looking. We are reenacting God covering Moses’ eyes, granting him a sense of the Infinite.

If we shut our eyes, we will be so busy wondering what is there when we are not looking that we will not “Shema,” hear, the message of the prayer. However, if our eyes are covered by God, we will step into a different plane, we may not see, but we will certainly hear.

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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