Spiritual Block? Try This

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Over 20 years ago, I was learning with a rabbi. He told the following story. A woman who apparently was following his lectures asked him – “I want to become more spiritual. I want to follow Judaism and Torah – but I just can’t get myself to do it. I don’t understand the Mitzvot – even if you explain them.”

The Rabbi replied “Try eating Kosher food for a month and you might better understand the Mitzvot.”

She had to go through a detox period. Just like one has to detox for overcoming alcohol addiction – they do also for spiritual growth. Part of the process is start eating Kosher, guarding the eyes, removing oneself from impure thoughts and acts. Then a person can become a better receptacle for spiritual growth through Torah.

I didn’t quite understand the connection between understanding Mitzvot and Eating Kosher. Recently I came upon a Sefer / Book By Rabbi Matityahu Glazer – On Repentance and Hebrew Letters called THE PREREQUISITES FOR REPENTANCE
REPENTANCE IN WORDS AND LETTERS.

Hebrew letters have significance – in that the Hebrew word defines their essence of the object. The word for “sin” in Hebrew is Het / Sin / חטא – Het, Tet, Alef.

REPENTANCE IN WORDS AND LETTERS
THE NEGATIVE EFFECT OF SIN
…This comes to teach us that the destructive power of the סתן (Satan) creates a “screen” ( מסך ) which separates and “locks out” (נעל) the Divine light.
מ precedes נ
ס precedes ע
ך precedes ל

 

The numerical value of the words פגם [imperfection – (in matters of holiness – especially promiscuity)] and מגף (plague) is 123 (80 + 3 + 40), which is the same as נגע (nega, plague: 50 + 3 + 70) and teaches us about the common source of these words, which is בלע (bela, corruption: 2 + 30 + 70).

 

מגף (magaf) is related to מגפה (magaifa, plague),the letter ג and פ combining to form the word גוף (goof, body) and showing that he comes as a result of overindulgence in the material world.

 

The word אלף (alef. instruction or learning the same as the name of the letter א) refers to an אולפן תורה (oolpan Torah, “study of Torah”), the acquisition of Divine wisdom, as is written in the book of Job (13:33): אאלפך חכמה (a’alfecha chochma ; “I will
teach you wisdom”). Through אולפן תורה , the study of Torah, a person merits the revelation of the Divine light of א, for the light of the Torah has the ability to penetrate the barriers created by sin. From here one learns that the repentant should involve
himself in אולפן תורה as much as possible. Rabbeinu Yona in “The Foundation of Repentance” (“Yesod Hat’shoova” found in Gates of Repentance)
teaches that for one who is accustomed to learn one page of Torah, a proper repentance should include learning two pages of Torah.

 

The opening of the letter ח (chet ) is directed downwards, which symbolizes the sinner whose tendencies and desires are also directed “downwards,” that is, to his materialistic and baser nature. Opposed to this is the letter ה (hai )-of the same shape but with an opening at the top, hinting to higher spiritual aspirations. Therefore, if a person
blocks his spiritual striving and closes the upper opening of the ה, it becomes a ח (chet , sin).

 

The difference can be clearly seen in the words חמץ (chametz ) and מצה (matza ). חמץ, the leavened food forbidden to eat or even possess during the Pesach festival, is a symbol of the Evil Inclination (it “fills” with a void and emptiness-like the yeast that
puffs up dough, makes it rise and expand but essentially adds nothing). The word מצה (matza, unleavened bread), on the other hand, is the symbol of the Good Inclination. The only difference in the letters of these two words is the “window of repentance”- the slight opening at the top of the ה.

 

ונטמתם בם

“That you should be defiled thereby,” referring mainly to forbidden food that defiles the
soul of man. One of the most impure foods is the חזיר (chazeer , pig), equal to 225 (8 + 7 + 10 +200) as is the word op (kleepa , shell; 100 + 30 + 10 + 80 + 5).

 

טמא Impurity is the Blockage of the Spiritual. טמא (tameh , impure) has the same letters as אטם (otem obstruction). Impurity causes a general breakdown of the spiritual structure of a person. Just as an אטם in the body is a barrier that prevents the
flow of blood to the heart, so too does impurity ( טומאה, tooma ) prevent spiritual abundance and existence from reaching the heart and brain of a person. The evil impurity caused by an עברה (aveira transgression) can be clearly seen in its letters רע בה (ra-ba, “evil in it”). This is what our Sages mean when they say (Yoma 39a): עברה מטמטמת לבו של אדם
– “Sin dulls the heart of man.” Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler (Michtav M’Eliyahu ) writes: “The sin itself is the dullness-the desire for and cleaving to the sin does not allow a person to find something to oppose it.”

The Power of Humility as a Prerequisite for Overcoming One’s Sins.

 

חטא  (chet, an unintentional sin) involves a lack of thought at the time of the transgression. When one’s mind-the אלף ( א , alef )-is “plastered over” (טח tach ), the result is sin, חטא. Intentional sins (עוונות) comprise -עוות – נ (avoot noon, “the distortion or corruption of the letter נ, which represents understanding). These letters also allude to the power of thought and purity (עיון, eeyoon ), which
is connected to the Fifty (נ = 50) Gates of Impurity  and Understanding,

A pleasant eye”) עין נוה is ( ענוה )The source of humility”

 

The Chida says that the power of humility is so great that it can mend one’s sins; the letters of ענוה (anava , humility) are the same as those of the word העון 190 (ha’avon, the sin). As our Sages say (Rosh Hashana 17a) כל המעביר על מדותיו מעבירין לו על כל ; “Whoever overcomes his feelings, all his sins are passed over.”

 

Repentance out of humility and love for G-d changes negative actions into positive ones. This amazing concept is unique to Torah thought: not only is a person capable of wiping the slate clean, he also has the ability to turn the negativity he has caused in the world into a positive force.

טמא – tameh is impurity. The letters also spell – Alef, Tet, and a Mem – spell Atum – which means blocked or clogged. If a person removes themselves from transgression – they will open up this blockage of the Spiritual.

The Victory of Hannukah – Building Yourself with Light

King Antiochus was notorious for conquering countries with a strong hand. When conquering Israel – his objective was not just physical subjugation – but mental subjugation. His war  wasn’t just a war against nations – but a war against spirituality. Spirituality is basically connecting with the Creator of the Universe – Hash-m.

He outlawed Circumcision, Rosh Hodesh / the New Month, and Shabbat. The Jews fought back and after a war lasting almost 25 years – Hash-m gave victory in their hands – they won the war. The major miracle was the Jews’ victory over the superpower of that time – Greece.

We know that in the end – when the Jews come to purify the Holy Temple / Beit HaMikdash -they find one jug of oil with the seal of the Cohen Gadol / Chief. This oil, that is supposed to last one day, lasts eight days.

G-d Loves the Sincere Efforts of the Common Man

The Rambam says that if the Mizbeach / Altar is broken – one is not required to light the Menorah. The Greeks broke the altar  So why did they want to light it? There was no Mitzvah / commandment to light the Menorah. It was just a commemoration – to remember the Mitzvah. So why did G-d make a miracle if they weren’t even doing a Mitzvah? Apparently, G-d appreciates even the small, sincere efforts that a person makes to establish a connection with him.

My friend told me a story of a woman who ordered a “Kosher” Hot Dog for her son in Manhattan on Passover. On Passover we are forbidden to eat bread. She was very adamant that the vendor not put the Hot Dog on the bun. “Don’t Touch the Bread with the Hot Dog!” I am sure that Hash-m had satisfaction from that woman’s sincere effort to avoid allowing her son to eat Hametz – leavened products on Passover.

Build What Others Want to Break

I was listening to Rabbi Shaked Bouhdana. He mentioned an interesting point. Antiochus outlawed Circumcision, Rosh Hodesh / the New Month, and Shabbat. The Jews fought hard to have the freedom to do these Mitzvot and others. It turns out that Hanukah Lasts 8 days – the same amount of time a child born waits to be circumcised. Since Hanukah lasts Eight days – it is sure that at least one Shabbat will fall during Hanukkah. There is always a New Month that falls on Hanukkah. When we fought for a Mitzvah that others wanted to outlaw – we won by having a greater level of sanctification for these three Mitzvot.

If we use our forces for the positive growth spiritually we gain in a greater way than what we originally had.

Building Your Personality

Some people are fragile. Send one word out of place – and here comes the fire. Someone asked me how to deal with difficult people. I said – we shouldn’t look at people who upset us as our enemies. Ultimately – our deeds that we sent out are boomeranging back to us.

The Boomerang Principal – Midah Keneged Midah / Measure for Measure

If we got angry at a spouse – this anger will find it’s way back. So the smart thing to do is to recognize this principal and when someone lashes out at us – realize that that might be the fruit of our previous misdeed. So if we lash back at them – it is akin to a (pardon the comparison) dog biting a stick that was thrown at him. We bite at the stick – the person who lashed at us – but we forget that we were the one who initially threw the stick.

Fight fire with water – not fire. Calm the situation. Don’t fuel the fire.

 

The Jugs of Oil that Yaakov Went Back For

Yaakov / Jacob took the right of the first born & blessings from Esav / Esau, his brother. Esav wanted to kill Yaakov. He went to make peace with Esav. The Night before his meeting with Esav – Esav’s Angel encountered Yaakov and wrestled with him till the morning. The Angel encountered him when Yaakov was going back over the river to get some small jugs he forgot.

By Morning time the Angel had to leave to sing praises to Hash-m. Yaakov – told him to bless him and also asked his name. The Angel told him he would no longer be called Yaakov – but Yisrael – for he wrestled with the Divine and won. When asked about his name he responded “Why do you ask my name?”

The Angel was the Evil Inclination – the Satan. Why did he come to attack Yaakov at this time? He had many other opportunities to attack.

Yaakov was going back to retrieve the small jugs of oil. It represented the spark in each and every Jew that cannot be tainted. Some say that the Jug of oil was the actual Jug of oil that was used for the miracle of Hanukah. The angel wanted Yaakov to give up hope on this spark of holiness. Yaakov struggled for all the sparks of holiness – even in a Jew that is very far from Judaism. He still had hope.

When the Romans conquered the Jews and wanted to ransack the Holy Temple in Jerusalem – they were afraid to enter. They sent in a Jewish Informant against the Jewish people. They told him – anything he found he could take. He went in and took the Menorah. They said that is a prize of war that they wanted to keep to show their victory. They told him to take something else. He refused – he said I angered my G-d once – I don’t want to anger Him again. They threatened him with death. He died as a Martyr not to anger Hash-m.

How is this? Several minutes before he was willing to ransack the Temple – in one moment he changed to become a Very Righteous Jew – who gave his life for the Sanctification of Hash-m’s name? The answer – the holiness of the Temple inspired him and removed all of the coverings of impurity that covered that Holy spark within him.

Every Jew has a holy spark within him or her. They just have to uncover it. A Jew should never give up on spirituality – a connection with Hash-m. They are closer than they think.

 

Keep Calm & Move On – Stopping the Self Pity

A family member mentioned to me that someone I know is now ready to get married. He told me the reason why they weren’t ready until now was – they were in a relationship that went bad and it took them 10 years to get over it.

I feel badly for them. That precious time does not return.

OK. The relationship ends – take a week to recuperate. Some days off. 10 years? A bit much. A person should know that the clock is ticking.

What can we learn? We get involved with certain attitudes. This attitude stops us from progressing. I’ll push off making cold calls. I am reticent of following Torah – what will my friends say? I am too depressed to find a new job. Come on – let’s get over it and just do it.

The evil inclination does not just make a person sin – afterward it makes a person feel sad and depressed. So not only will he make a person do a Torah prohibition – but after that it will make a person sad and depressed to prevent the person from doing positive Torah commandments.

If we don’t feel happy – make the motions to be happy and happiness will eventually come. If we are stuck – make the motions – and we’ll get out of the rut and move forward.

Making & Breaking Family Connections

The Chinuch Lessons from Expert Educators

Recently Rabbi Nehemia Gramma spoke at our school’s Chinuch Melave Malka / education Saturday night dinner. The Title or the talk was “Raising Children with Tranquility”. He spoke of what is making kids unmotivated to advance.

He gave three ingredients necessary for a proper chinuch. Chinuch is different than education. Education comprises of teaching kids knowledge. Chinuch means we are also teaching children to be good people as well. Most schools teach knowledge. Torah schools also teach kids how to become better people.

Is Only Love Necessary?

He mentioned that many a time parents think that you just “have to love them” That’s the cure-all for all teenage problems. He said two other ingredients are necessary. Setting clear boundaries of what is right and wrong – what is acceptable and not. And thirdly a motivation for personal growth.

Examples of How Setting Boundaries Improved  Motivation

He gave examples of how he helped kids who were uninterested in school into motivated achievers. One kid was given all he wanted – but he was failing in proper proper people skilled. The study partner of the teenager was called by the director. He told him to avoid interaction with the kid for he was a bad influence. The teen was to hurt – he decided to shape up – instead of feeling bad for himself. He became a top student.

Education is More than Love

It is true that love is a necessary component in helping the child to grow – but it is not the only one. The other two are necessary.

Building the Child

Love is not giving a child every thing they want. It is giving them the tools to deal with life in a positive fashion. There will be ups and downs – but the child will be built up – not spoon fed.

This is applicable to relationships. Giving without expecting requiring responsibility  spoils the child. Giving them all the gadgets is not healthy for their emotional and relationship development.

Torah is a Venue for Developing Real Relationships

Torah Judaism is all about interaction and relationships. We eat together. We pray together. We learn together. We do mitzvot together. We rejoice together and comfort one another. Together as a family. Together as Friends. Together as congregants.

Establishing connections – like spending quality time together is a healthy part of growth and emotional maturity.

The interactions – allows for building people and relationships.

Technology vs. Relationships

Today’s generation is in a bind. On one hand they crave family ties. On the other hand they are addicted to media and technology.

I once gave a presentation in class. I mentioned that about 94% of households have a TV. I cracked a joke about the 6% of people who did not have one. People laughed.

Now the joke is on me. I am among the 6% without a TV.

In 2017, an average U.S. consumer spent 238 minutes (3h 58min) daily watching TV.[1]

Introduce a new media – the smart phone – and it becomes a pocket TV.

The Bad Baby Sitter

Let’s put aside the negative aspects and influence of the media these days. Let’s talk about the effect of the media on the family connections. The smart phone has become today’s new baby sitter. The kids are acting up – let me give them the smart phone. Kids are bored – let me put them in front of the TV.

Wise?

On an immediate convenience perspective – it is a simple way to shut children up or shut them out of your life for a few moments. Yes you have more important things to do. Really? That’s not usually parent’s intention – to shut them out – but kids are smart and understand the message. Parent’s convenience – has sent this message to children. Now parents ask – why are children so distant or acting up? You gave them a machine that teaches them how to act in the street. What do you expect.

The Media Dividing Wall

On a purely relationship / personal connection perspective when a family watches TV together – it is akin to putting a wall between them. Instead of interacting together – they have a device between them that separates them. Call it a cell phone or a TV – but it separates families. I’d rather interact with my parent than to watch a video – even if the parent put that smart phone in my hands.

Kids crave real relationships. Meaningful relationships – much more than a screen to help them pass the time – without reason or rhyme.

Structuring Your Life – the Easy Way

It’s good to know about yourself. A person who knows their challenges, strengths and weaknesses – is better equipped to self-improvement.

Myers Briggs Test

I took personality tests. One I tried is the Myers Briggs Personality Test. It defines a personality into one of 16 groups based upon Four Two-Factor scales. One is Introvert (I) – Extrovert (E). Another is Intuition (N) or Sensing (S). Thinking (T) – Feeling (F). Judgemental or Perceptive (P)

So
ESTJ is: extraversion (E), sensing (S), thinking (T), judgment (J)
INFP is: introversion (I), intuition (N), feeling (F), perception (P)

It comes out to 16 different basic groups.

I tried it several times – once I was an INTP another time is was marked as an INFP.

These are the general employee characteristics of these groups:

ISITEJ

Inspector

ISIFEJ

Protector

INIFEJ

Counselor

INITEJ

Mastermind

ISETIP

Crafter

ISEFIP

Composer

INEFIP

Healer

INETIP

Architect

ESETIP

Promoter

ESEFIP

Performer

ENEFIP

Champion

ENETIP

Inventor

ESITEJ

Supervisor

ESIFEJ

Provider

ENIFEJ

Teacher

ENITEJ

Fieldmarshal

The Do What You Want – When You Want Personality

I Forgot why I was telling you this. Oh Yea – I am not into structure. I’d rather do my thing when I want. Do whatever interests me at the moment. Get up when I want and stay up until I fall asleep. I wanted to say whatever I had on my mind and follow my fancies.

I don’t think that I would be the ideal employee doing those things.

I did hold a Job that was more or less flexible. I was more or less successful. But I had to set boundaries and rules for myself – to get to work on time, to finish projects on time, to fulfill my requirements.

The Guide to Structure in Life

What helped me in life was my decision to follow with orthodoxy the precepts of the Torah. For my wanting to get up late – I had to get up to go to synagogue daily – to pray with a minyan – a quorum of 10 Jewish Men. For my wanting to just do what I wanted – when I wanted – I had to follow the 6 day week – working Six Days and Resting on Shabbat. For wanting to speak my mind without care for hurting others or talking badly of others – the Torah taught me laws of Onaat Devarim (Hurting Others) and laws of Lashon HaRah. I regret I used my mouth to hurt others – but now I am more careful.

The Self-Improvement Path

For wanting to follow my fancies – the Torah provides guidelines or what is acceptable and the Torah makes it a Mitzvah to get married, have children and raise a family with the Torah as a guide. I followed halacha / Jewish law – which gives a person rules to live a productive and meaningful life.

That’s what I did. Yes I made many mistakes and still do. I veered from the path & fell into my past habits. But little By little I reduced my falling off the path.

I’m still trying to improve. But the Torah put me in line and structured my life.

Hacks to Make Your Cell Phone Safer

I get these phases in which I get involved with an subject that interests me. I do research. I buy the related products. Then it wanes. Once it was the Microscope phase. Once it was the laser. Once it was Free Energy. Once it was Making Your own Diesel Gas – Bio-Diesel. Once it was Water Fuel (HHO). I also got interested in Cell Phone Safety.

Cell phones receive and emit EMF (Electro-Magnetic Frequency) radiation. Each Cell phone has an SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) Rating. The recommended level for a cell phone is less than 1.6. They have a rate for the head and the rate for the body. I would recommend – when buying a cell phone find one with the lower SAR Rate – at least less than 0.7. Before buying – look up the SAR rate of the phone. The Lower  the better.

If you use your cell phone as an alarm – when you go to sleep – put it on “Airplane Mode” or at least turn off data, gps, and bluetooth.

I purchased the equipment to test SAR and EMF. The equipment was average quality. I then tested different cell phones. Each one had a different EMF value. Then I tested Shielding materials radiation blocking ability – like aluminum, copper wiring, MU Metal, and others.

The One that I found to be most effective to block radiation was MU Metal (Ultraperm 80). I bought a sheet of MU Metal and Bought a phone case that had a flip cover. I lined a phone case with the MU Metal and it significantly reduced the EMF.

I don’t know why enterprising entrepreneurs haven’t thought to line phone cases with MU Metal to not only protect from falls – but from radiation as well. One day.

But You can do the same thing. Buy a Celll phone case (Preferably with a flip cover. Buy a Sheet of MU Metal / Ultraperm 80 – like the one below. Cut it to fit your cell phone case. Make the holes for the camera and other areas that need to be uncovered and fit  your cell phone inside. Do the same for the case’s flip cover. Will it affect reception? I didn’t test that. Let me know your results.

You can Use the Ultraperm to line a desk phone holder. How? Get a desk envelope or mail holder and Ultraperm 80 sheet. Line Phone holder with the ultraperm metal.

==

Info on the Ultraperm 80 I Bought.

Product Details
Manufacturer NooElec
Model Ultraperm 80
Quantity 1 Sheet

Technical Details
Dimensions
8.0″ x 10.50″ x .004″
Alloy

80.3% Nickel
14.3% Iron
5.4% Molybdenum

Product Information
Ultraperm 80 shielding sheet commonly used to reduce EMI (interference) in all sorts of DIY projects. Very popular for RF and audio applications.

This alloy is specifically designed to reduce the effects of magnetic fields and static interference.

Unlike sheets sold from other vendors, these custom sheets are fully annealed to increase the EMI shielding properties and increase resiliency.

The sheets have a high-quality Nitto Denko peel-and-stick adhesive backing to facilitate easy installation. They are very malleable and can be shaped and formed to fit most any application.

The sheets are relatively thin and sharp; please handle with caution!

The Mystery of Teenagers at Samson the Mighty Grave

Shimshon HaGibor / Samson the Mighty was a Nazir / a Nazarite. A Nazarite is not allowed to drink wine, eat grapes or consume other grape products. He was a Judge, tremendously strong and a fierce defender of the Jewish people. His physical might was from heaven. For the Rest of the story – see the Book of Judges (chapter 14-17).

Just recently someone knocked at my door to collect money. He told me his cause was to raise money for Shabbat meals for Young teenagers that come to visit Samson’s grave. He, the caretaker, was perplexed when he saw so many youth visiting there.

He asked them why they come. They told them they wanted to connect with someone who is strong and powerful. They admired his might and apparently his plight in defending the Jewish people.

After youth many seek truth. They want to find real meaning. Apparently this is a step in  their search for meaning in life. The Shabbat meals give them a taste of Judaism and give them a taste and feel of meaning.

Apparently the secular education did not satisfy their person. They did not find the satisfaction or meaning they wanted.

The Sefer Hovot HaLevavot / Book Duty of the Heart – explains that a person is composed of a body and soul. This soul is on a high spiritual plane. It is not satisfied by physical pleasures. Doing good and following Torah is what gives it satisfaction.

Their soul drew them to the mighty. But the mighty Samson recognized that his physical and spiritual strength came from the Mighty One above – from Hash-m / G-d.

Take 2 for a More Productive You

People procrastinate. It isn’t always the work they shun. It may be that they have more interesting things to do. So they’ll put that “maintenance” chore on the side to do more creative work.

I am not into filling out forms. I am not into routine work. But you have to do them.

Should I take ten minutes to do them? Ten whole minutes? How about Five? Five – not bad. Two Minutes? That’s doable.

Take the two minutes to start the “push off” task. Once you start, it’ll be more easy to continue. One way to get you to start the task is to make starting the thing seem doable. Once you start – continue.

Apparently the same applies to advancing in Judaism. Learn Torah for two minutes. Learn Two Halachot / Jewish laws a day. Learn Two Mishnayot a day. Do 2 new Mitzvot a day.

I now understand why it says “One who learns Halachot / Jewish Laws daily – is promised a place in the World to Come.” The minimum of a plural is two. Get started – go far.

Elifaz is Saved by Yeshiva – The Influence of a Place of Torah

Esav / Esau – in this week’s parasha / weekly Torah reading – VaYetze – instructs his son Elifaz to kill Esav’s Brother Yaakov / Jacob. Elifaz encounter’s Yaakov and tells his uncle that his father instructed him to kill Him. Elifaz is concerned about following his father’s orders as he thinks that Honoring one’s parents – supersedes killing Yaakov.

Yaakov tells him – there is a way to accomplish both – killing Yaakov and Honoring parents. Yaakov tells him “Take all my money. A poor person is considered as if he is dead.” Elifaz learned that in the Yeshiva – either with Yaakov or Yitzhak / Issac his grandfather.

Several lessons :

Help People to Do Good

If you can help a person do a Torah Mitzvah – help him or her.

The Power of a Yeshiva / Torah Study Hall and Torah Study

The Steipeler Gaon, Zt”l – Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky learns from this The influence of sitting in a Yeshiva has great power. Elifaz – who was ready to kill his uncle did not do so – because he learned in a Yeshiva.

Just in sitting in the Yeshiva has an influence – learning Torah there has even more of a positive influence. If a person is tempted by his or her evil inclination – bring the evil inclination to a Torah study hall. Hash-m says “I created the Yetzer HaRa – I created Torah as an elixir.”  It also says in Talmud Kiddushin (30b) :

A Sage from the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: My son, if this wretched one, the evil inclination, encounters you, pull it into the study hall, i.e., go and study Torah. If it is a stone it will melt, and if it is iron it will break, as it is stated with regard to the Torah: “Is not My word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29). Just as a stone shatters a hammer, so too one can overcome his evil inclination, which is as strong as iron, through Torah study. With regard to the second part of the statement: If it is a stone it will melt, this is as it is stated with regard to the Torah: “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come for water” (Isaiah 55:1), and it states: “The water wears the stones” (Job 14:19), indicating that water is stronger than stone.