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.

Connecting with G-d, Man and Self – the Jewish Way

This week’s Parasha / Torah reading is Vayera / and He [G-d] Appeared.

G-d Visits Avraham

Hash-m / G-d appears to Avraham after the third day of his brit milah / circumcision to do bikur holim – visit the sick. Avraham – sees travelers and is so desirous to do the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim / inviting guests – he asks G-d to wait for him while he does the mitzvah.

Angelic Visitors

The 3 visitors are really angels. The angels ask – “Where is Sarah your wife?” Avraham answers “she in the tent.” (Bereshit / Genesis 18:9) The angels come and inform him that he will have a baby boy. Sarah laughs and wonders if she will birth children when her husband is so old. Avraham also laughs inside when he hears the news. G-d asks Avraham “Why did Sarah Laugh? Why did she say that she was old?”

Torah of Kindness

The Torah starts with Hesed / acts of loving kindness – Hash-m clothing Adam & Hava / eve – and ends with acts of loving kindness – Hash-m buries Moshe. Avraham is the Av / Forefather – that is exemplary in hesed / kindness.

Three Things upon which the World Stands

Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers contains teaching of qualities for a person to emulate to reach perfection. It says in pirkei avot Chapter 1 – mishna 2 “Shimon Ahatzadik says … Al shelosha devarim holam omed – al hatorah, al haavoda ve algemilut hasadim.” The worlds stands upon 3 things – on Torah, On Divine service – prayer & on acts of loving kindness.

Three Things for Spiritual Satisfaction in Your World

We usually understand this mishna on a macro level – as the reason that the entire world survives – is because of these three things. But we can also understand it on a personal level – that the reason why a person lives – meaning has meaning and fulfillment in life – is because of these three things.

Judaism – How to Connect

Judaism is the the ultimate teacher of making connections. There are three ways to connect in life – connecting to our fellow person, connecting to G-d and connecting to ourselves. The Torah is teaching in the mishna 3 ways to connect – Our world stands because of the Torah – that teaches us to connect and better ourselves, prayer allows us to connect with Hash-m and doing acts of kindness is our manner of connecting with others. Each of them giving us spiritual satisfaction.

The Source of Satisfaction

We are basically souls clothed in a body. What gives the soul satisfaction is what makes us happy. The Three things above give our soul satisfaction and make us happy. Things that are the opposite make us not happy.

Let’s take connecting with others. It is best done through doing kindness. A great thing that we learn that we gain satisfaction more from giving to others than from receiving.

To Have satisfaction – we develop our relationship with Hash-m. Thus prayer and learning Torah – helps us to develop that relationship. Someone said “When I Pray – I talk to G-d. When I learn Torah – G-d talks to me.”

Torah teaches us how to be a stable person. How to deal with situations. What attitudes are healthy in life. What is a healthy productive lifestyle. It affects our mentality to allow us to ultimately achieve more of our potential in life. It helps us to put our priorities in place. (See article on Torah teaches Marriage – Society teaches Divorce)

Why do the Angels Ask – to Help Increase Appreciation of Others

In the parasha  – the angels ask Avraham “where is Sarah?” Avraham answers “She is in the tent” Why do they ask that question? –

Rashi – the Torah Commentator – says they ask the question to endear Sarah to Avraham. Avraham will answer she is in the tent & it will help him to realize Sarah’s great modesty. He will thus appreciate her more.

It is a mitzvah to make a person love another person more. You are motivating Veahavta lereacha kamocha – you shall love your fellow like yourself. And we do not do the opposite – to speak badly of others – because it causes gratuitous hatred – sinat hinam.

Why did G-d not ask Why Avraham laughed? – to Help Avraham Connect with Himself

Hash-m asks “why did Sarah laugh?” he didn’t ask why did you Avraham laugh

One answer is – because Sarah was a bit skeptical. Avraham was not. If Sarah was a bit skeptical – it was a reflection on Avraham.

Avraham was possibly skeptical about another matter – like when he asked G-d “How will he know that his descendents will really inherit the land. Avraham should also look into correcting himself. Hashem was  teaching Avraham to be connected to himself – knowing what really is motivating him and to teach him to better himself as well.

Changing words for peace

Sarah was astounded that her old husband would have a child. Hashem told Avraham  says that Sarah said that she – not Avraham – was too old to have children. He did this to not ruin the peace between Avraham and Sarah.

Why Judaism Treats Women Differently than Men?

I was walking down the street looking for a man to complete the minyan (quorum of 10 Jewish men) needed to recite certain parts of prayer – like Kaddish / the Mourners prayer for the elevation of a soul that departed. I see a man – he’s Jewish. I ask him reluctantly – “Hi sir – can you help us to complete a minyan? Our synagogue is just down the street.” I might have added – someone needs to say Kaddish.

Gathering a Minyan

The woman next to him – apparently his wife – gives an upset look. She says something “You Orthodox Jews differentiate between men and woman!” She was right – but I didn’t have a chance to explain why the Torah differentiates between men and woman – they both walked away with some kind of righteous indignation.

Learning Judaism

I encounter many people like that. They have righteous indignation that I try to offer them a card to help them find meaning & spirituality – by making a connection with Hash-m. Or they outright reject it – apparently they have a fear of becoming closer to G-d. Perhaps I should give them a copy of “The Bible for the Clueless but Curious – Finally, A Guide to Jewish Wisdom for Real People Nachum Braverman. I was perusing it just today. He’s also a co-author of The Death of Cupid. The author has an informal but eloquent – and meaningful righting
I mean writing. Wow I think – it’s the first time I used this strikeout function. OK.

Why People are Reluctant to Follow Judaism

So I understand people – they are reluctant to believe or have a close connection with G-d. Why? Some because they feel it will cramp their lifestyle if they believe. If they believe in G-d – Jews will no longer be able to get a Big Mac. (Hamburger & Cheese is a No no.) Gentiles will no longer be able to eat live animals. (Sorry to mention repugnant things – but some people still do this.) Big loss? I don’t know. I did it. I gave up the peperoni pizza. Nowadays – you have a kosher alternative to almost anything. The Rambam / Maimonides brings 24 reasons – which cause people to avoid Teshuva – Repentance.

The Difference Between Judaism & Other Religions

Some don’t want to believe because they are turned off by religions – that killed millions and keep killing in the name of their religions –  and they stereotype from other religions to Judaism. I hear that – so investigate the difference. The Bible for the Clueless is a good starting point.

Weighing the Losses & the Gains of Judaism.

I was in both worlds – the secular & the observant world – and I find that the benefits greatly out weigh the sacrifices. No more shopping on Shabbat – but a much better relationship with the family. No more eating Big Macs – but a much more spiritually satisfying diet – a Kosher one. They say that non-Kosher food clouds the heart of a Jew. Thus a Jew who eats non-Kosher has a harder time understanding mitzvot than a Kosher eater.

Did I get off tangent? Sorry.

Thanks for Not Making me a Woman

All Jews – men & women – say Morning Blessings daily to thank G-d / Hash-m for all the Good He supplies daily. Like the ability to see, the ability to walk, the gift of clothing, etc. The man’s blessings of the Daily Morning blessings are slightly different than a woman’s. A Woman says “Blessed are You Hash-m … that You made me according to Your Will.” Men say “Blessed are You Hash-m … that You did not make me a Woman.”

Q & A on Woman’s Blessing

You should have 2 questions – one on the woman’s blessing and one on the man’s. The one on the woman’s blessing – “Does that mean that G-d didn’t make the man according to His Will?” One Answer: G-d made a woman more complete than a man – a man has to strive to perfect himself – a woman is closer to where G-d want’s a person to be initially. Apparently, she can grow and she can fall. We all have freedom of choice.

Q & A on Man’s Blessing

The question on the man’s blessing: “Why term it that I am thankful to not be a woman? Since a woman – is closer to the connection with G-d – she has less mitzvot. Mitzvot are  to help a person reach spirituality, spiritual perfection and a closeness to G-d. A man needs a Talit, Tephillin, Lulav, and other external items to become closer to Hash-m. Thus a man has more Mitzvot to become closer to G-d. Thus the man thanks G-d that he did not make him have less Mitzvot – like a woman.

G-d didn’t first create man & woman and say – this would be an appropriate law for them. G-d first created the Torah – then based upon the Torah – he found it appropriate to make a creature called a Man and one called a Woman.

The Error of Society – Not Appreciating Differences in People

I heard in some societies & public schools – they are erasing the gender differences. They say no more boys line or girls line – there is the A line or the B line. It is prohibited in the schools to say “Boy” or “Girl”.

To do what society is doing today – to force a man and a woman to ignore their differences will in the end create confusion and psychological problems. If I can’t appreciate my strengths and weaknesses – so I become like a marshmallow – devoid of form, and purpose and uniqueness. A rabbi said “If one tries to be like someone else – he is not that person and he is not himself – he becomes a non-entity.”

The Torah on the other-hand appreciates the difference between men & and women. It tells a man how he is to talk with his wife – with kindness. It teaches how a man should appreciate his wife – with words & gifts. It teaches how a woman should speak with her husband – with respect – like all people.

Each gender is given their particular laws that suit their psychological and role in the family. These laws bring out their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

Say No to the Marshmallow Movement

Say No to being a Marshmallow!

 

 

Where Can I Find a Kosher Phone?

I remember the old cell phones. They were about the size of a brick. My first was a small Qualcomm device. Then I got a flip, then a Smart phone. I reverted back to a flip – because – through my filter – I saw I was spending too much time on certain apps. So I got a flip.

I tried looking for a Kosher phone – one without internet access or limited access – or at least one without a browser. Took me too much time. Basically – a person who wants a Kosher phone has 2 options – buy a non-Kosher phone and make it Kosher. Or by a Kosher Phone.

Once a person said “I can’t eat that food – it is not Kosher” The other person replied – “What’s the problem – ask a Rabbi to Bless it.” You can’t make food Kosher – if it is not. You can have a substitute – like Pizza with Vegetarian Pepperonis.

Some phones you can make Kosher. But I think the easiest option is to just buy one that is already kosher. It might cost a reasonable bit more – but time is money.

If you want to make your phone Kosher – one organization that deals with it is called  Technology Awareness Group – TAG for Short – they also go by – Smart Connections.

They also offer phones to buy. Another organization that sells and “Kosherizes” phones is called – Kosher Cell. I suggest – if your interested in a Kosher phone – to skip the hassel of surfing the shopping sites to find one. Just go directly to Kosher Cell and find a phone that suits you or your family.

A Kosher phone is a great addition or substitute for having filters that many kids can get around.

Improving Your Dating Resume and Should a Matched Date be Picture-less

Jewish Orthodox singles have the dating process down pat.

Firstly – the reason they date is to find a suitable marriage partner. That is their main goal. This allows for more focused dating. It’s not a matter of courting – like in the general society – but a matter of searching for real answers to questions that you are searching for in a marriage partner. Are they reliable, can they provide for a family, are they mentally stable, do they have Torah values, etc.

This is much different than today’s society. In society – they court the person and then find out if they are a suitable mate for marriage. In Torah Judaism we first determine if they are a suitable mate for marriage – then once all the requirements or preferences fall into place – then it sets up a foundation that the marriage will last. Once common points are found – it is easier for the marriage to last. Similar goals, similar backgrounds, similar mentalities, similar Jewish outlook, similar values make for a better chance of a solid marriage.

We search for a mate that has the criteria we are looking for – Learning Torah all Day or Part time, Open minded, From a particular cultural background, that is a growing individual, that has a good Hashkafa / Jewish Outlook  – the list goes on. So we ask around – friends, rabbis, acquaintances and/or Shachanim / Matchmakers – to find prospects with these critera.

Once a person sounds in the ballpark -the “matchmaker” or intermediary asks both parties if they are interested in exchanging resumes. If yes, they exchange dating resumes.

It is good to have a good intermediary – because they can help make or break the potential couple’s success.

A dating resume is similar to a career resume – it lists schools, employment, goals and references with phone numbers. It also lists siblings & Members of family and to whom they are married or what they are doing in the present.

Should You Include a Picture?

Several points are up to discussion. Should the matchmaker include a picture to send to the potential dating prospect? I am of the opinion that one should not include a picture. A picture tells 1000 words. But it doesn’t necessarily tell the complete picture. Pictures may put a person in a negative light. The portrait may be old or of the person on a bad hair day or in a bad mood or before he or she got braces to straighten their teeth. So I feel if the person is in the ballpark – it is good to give a date a try.

Obviously this is after all the references were called, the pointed questions were asked to references and non-references – like What good character traits / Middot does the person have? What problems or issues does the person have? How is their temper? Can you give me a particular incident or situation that can give me a clearer picture of who this person is? Can you describe their Yireat Shamayim / Fear of Hash-m? their Chesed? Better to ask open questions than for yes or no answers.

Caveats for Your Own Bio or Resume or Self

Know your audience that you are trying to attract – is one of the most important points in making a resume. A woman wants an appealing man and vice versa. It is a Torah recommendation that a person not get married without seeing their mate. This means a person should not get married without seeing their mate. It does not mean they should see a picture before they go out on a date.

If one is including a picture – it should show the person in the best light. With a kind, positive smile. A picture that brings out their positive points. If they have crooked teeth – it might be better to close their mouth or get braces. If they are a bit too casual – perhaps they should consider wearing more elegant or conservative attire – especially on a date. One should look good at every moment – meaning they shouldn’t walk around with a ring of keys on their belt or with their shirts unbuttoned or with spots on their clothes.

You resume should put you in a positive light. It might be good to be romantic – but to include “I am Romantic” on a resume may turn people off – especially if the other person is looking for a Ben Torah / a Torah Learner.

It is good to inform others of your family’s occupations, but some occupations may turn other people off. Not because they look down on the occupation – but because they think what you put as a positive point may be negative in their eyes. An example – Someone put on their resume – My Brother is a Sharp-Shooter for the Israeli Army. It is commendable to be defending your country. But to go into detail that his brother targets people might turn others off.

Get a Dating Resume Critique from a person who has Daat Torah – like a dating Coach that is a Ben Torah. Show your resume to a good friend to see if they have any recommendations for improvement.

Your Acts Generate Attitudes Towards You

People are on the lookout for deficiencies. Although that might not be the best attitude – it is an attitude out there. So if they see you eating a Felafel walking down the street with a beer in your hand – that will most likely portray a certain attitude.

Look at the Entire Picture

No one is perfect – Except Hash-m – so expect that there may be things about a date prospect that may not please you . Perhaps they are a bit heavy – people can lose weight. They have spaces in their teeth – a person can get braces. Know what is a primary requirement and secondary priority. See what can be changed and what is hard wired. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Evaluate the entire person – not just the things that you find unfavourable. Look at the good in others – it’s a positive trait for life.

The Missed Opportunity – Why You Should Throw Your Phone Out the Window & Other Tech Junk While You’re at it

You’re at the dinner table. Your kid is there munching some cake. “Got to check my whatsapp for two minutes”. The kid finishes eating and walks away. You lift your head from the phone. “Where is he?”

You lost. You lost the opportunity to connect with one of the most important people in your life – your child. Why? For some video that someone with nothing to do sent you. Worth it?

Just Once? Not.

More than Once? Of Course Not.