Connecting to G-d or Don’t Give Me that Kosher Style. I want the Real Thing!

Jews are connected.

Connected to the One above.

I know it first hand. I meet Jews in the street with all the paraphernalia – nose rings, tattoos, leather jackets. They seem tough on the outside. Scratch a little below the surface accessories and you find a warm heart connected to Judaism.

The struggling Jewish comedians. The doctor who tells me she started saying blessings on food. The Palestinian college student with a Jewish mother. A vegetarian suffering from a tough divorce. And also that non-Jewish woman steeped in materialism, grappling with conversion to Judaism.

Each has one thing in common. They are connected.

Complete Torah Observance? Not there yet.

Connected – yes. Connected in their own way. Connected by coming to the synagogue. Trying to be good to others. By putting on that big white kippah when they enter the shul. The women that cover their hair with a scarf when they come to ask for a blessing from the big Rabbi.  The secular Jews who give donations to hospitals because of their concern for others.

The Torah confirms this saying that each Jew has a spark from the Divine that keeps the Jewish person connected to Hash-m – no matter how far they feel.

G-d Loves People

G-d loves these people. They try. They support Israel or don’t. They eat kosher or kosher style – because they think it’s really Kosher. They don’t know the extent of how much G-d loves them. But those little actions mean much. I heard even that G-d loves you – a person who follows or tries earnestly to follow His laws – more than any person can love you in the world. Even one’s parents. I believe it.

Even the people who get on the defensive when they see you wearing a black kippah. And take out their frustrations out on you. I know one reason why they get defensive – because deep down they also want to be connected as much as you to the Great Power above. Apparently they envy someone they feel has a greater connection.

I love them too.

Don’t want to be be Politically Correct

I try not to be politically correct in life. I’d much rather tell it like it is. I’d rather people hear the truth than to stretch truth to make others happy. Obviously I try to be tactful. So please don’t think I’m doing the politically correct jargon.

The Lost – finding the Right Path & Getting Connected

In a sense I feel for all people. I feel that many are lost – sincerely searching for a path that will bring them to Utopia on earth. I can’t say I found Utopia – because Utopia will never exist. The true Utopia is living a life in which any situation you encounter – stressful or not – you’ll be able to deal with it in the most positive way possible. That’s real Utopia. I  did find a real path that helps me to feel I am accomplishing purpose. Yes, I do stray and sway – unfortunately – but I try keep anchored to Torah.

Yes – synagogue. Yes – Shabbat. Yes – Kosher. Yes – Daily Torah Study & Prayer. Yes – trying to not talk badly about others. Yes – Part of a Torah Community.

The more I try to be connected, the more I feel I need to be connected.

the Path to Spirituality & Self- Fulfillment – Torah Commandments

They say that a Jew is full of Mitzvot / Commandments [they do] as a pomegranate. Why a pomegranate? We as Jews have 613 commandments. (a Gentile has 7 Major categories of commandments – the Noahide Laws – that come to 30 detailed commandments). A Pomegranate has 613 seeds in it. Each Jew is connected in doing a special Mitzvah. Some try to do all. Some pick and choose. The real idea behind a Mitzvah is becoming connected to G-d. True spirituality.

Many people search cults and exotic religions – trying to find spirituality and meaning. But I say – “What more do you want? – when G-d came down and told us – to over 3 million people who witnessed – that this – the Torah – is what He wants.

This is the guide to become close to Him. Spirituality in my eyes is being close and connected to G-d. He already told us. So my job now to become connected is to try to do what I can to follow. Someone asked the Hazon Ish – a great Rabbi who lived in Benei Brak – what is the pathway to spirituality? He said follow Halacha / Jewish law.

I mentioned before that one’s real self is not the body. It is the soul. Please the soul and you will live a happier life. The problem why happiness is elusive is that – people pick and choose Mitzvot. “This is good enough for me.” “This mitzvah doesn’t fit my lifestyle.” So I will pick to follow my own made up religion – of what I think is good and what I think is wrong.

G-d really made it easy for us – He already told us what is right and wrong. That’s not our realm. Our realm is determining whether – the situation we encounter it is right to do A or B – based upon what Torah says. We can’t rewrite the Torah. No one can. Because I know my intelligence is nothing in comparison to G-d’s, I’ll relegate determining what is right and wrong to G-d. I’ll just decide if my intended reaction to a situation fits the Will of G-d as described by the Torah. This makes my life much easier.

Even this week pray – given all our Torah knowledge – that Hashem gives us the wisdom to do His will in each situation.

G-d’s View vs My Personal Interest – Choosing the Greater Good for the World.

I realized – after the fact – What it really comes down to is choosing to let G-d guide your life through Torah is choosing a greater good for you and for all society. I am very limited in my vision and the consequences of my actions. G-d takes all into account. The good for me, the good for society, the good for your family.

My scope is much more limited. I am biased. It’s putting my personal interest aside for G-d – for the greater good of the world. Though – I may not understand G-d’s ways or sometimes even certain of His laws – I follow. Once I know that G-d gave a nation of millions of people a law – where millions of people witnessed the giving of this divine document – I can feel confident following that law. I can feel confident I am doing a greater good for the world by following Torah.

A higher level is doing things leshem shamayim – for the sake of G-d. We have a special relationship with Hashem – for thousands of years He has been helping us with a kind hand. We thus do good for His sake.

We become a greater individual. We become bigger. I look at the interest of others rather than just my own. I follow what G-d wants rather than what I think is right. Usually they coincide. Sometimes they don’t. But in a case of my opinion – and the opinion of the Torah is diffferent – I defer to Torah – for G-d’s wisdom is greater than mine.

Remove Doubt – Remove Suffering

Living a Life of doubt is painful. If I don’t know what is right or wrong, I am always in doubt. Torah takes that doubt away. I just see what Torah says or ask a competent “Orthodox” rabbi what it says about a particular issue.

Years ago someone asked “what should be done with a person on life support”? I didn’t know the answer. I asked a Posek (a Rabbi qualified enough to make Halachic / Jewish law decisions) on “pulling the plug from life support.” I explained the case – He said it was forbidden. I told the family.

They followed and were happy with their decision. They did not live a life of regret asking “Did I do the right thing?” They knew they did the right thing for they based their decision upon Torah.

My Life of Picking and Choosing

I was in the situation of picking and choosing what is convenient for me.The “This doesn’t fit my lifestyle” attitude – until I chose to get off this “double citizenship” – of on one hand following Torah when it’s convenient and not when it is not. It took time. As they say “slowly but surely wins the race.” But once I did commit to follow Torah based upon what it said to do rather than what I thought is convenient – I changed myself and changed my life for the better.

I didn’t choose what I should do and not. I knew I had to do all – my choice was relegated to choosing what I was ready to take upon myself. At one time I took complete eating Kosher inside and out of the house. Then I took complete Shabbat observance. Then I took wearing a Kippah. Then I took Daily Torah study. Each one has their own path to Judaism. I’m still trying to grow. But at least I have a path. Some don’t know the path exists.

Achieving Your Purpose in Life

That same path in Judaism – that brings spiritual satisfaction – brings one to achieving their personal potential and purpose in life. Apparently they are related.

The Real Thing

I don’t want that Kosher style lifestyle. I want the real thing.

I won’t lie. It takes effort. It takes sweat. Going against the grain. Breaking the mold that society builds for you. Moving Forward day by day. Overcoming the challenges – but you know in the end you have a Hand that carries you. A good G-d that watches over you.

Anyone – regardless of their level of righteousness – can have emunah / trust in Hash-m’s / G-d’s providence and He will help them. G-d will even help the thief who prays to Him to be successful in his endeavor to steal from a house. Anyone can repent and start over.

But strong connection takes work. Work at it. Be ready to go the whole 9 yards. And you’ll never be or feel alone. You’ll always be directly connected to the One above.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai – Why We Celebrate

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai was a Tanna. A Tanna was a Rabbi Mentioned in a Mishna – which explains the laws of the Torah. The Mishna & the Gemara – the explanation of the Mishna – Together is called the Talmud.

When G-d gave the Torah to the Jews – he gave the written Torah (the 5 Books of Moses) and Oral Torah. The Oral Torah explains the Written Torah.

When it was being forgotten, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi decided to commit the Oral Torah to writing – this is called the Talmud.

Any Tanna – Mishna Rabbi or Amora – Rabbi from Gemara – was so great that they were able to bring the Dead back to life. Rabbi Shimon was a Tanna – Student of the Great Rabbi Akiva.

Lag Ba’Omer – the 33rd Day of the Counting of the Omer – is the Hillula / Yartzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai – when He died.

He ordered that people celebrate the day of his death. Usually, death is synonymous with crying and sadness. So why do we celebrate lag Ba’Omer?

Rabbi Shimon ran away from the Romans. He hid in a cave in Meron for 12 years with his son – R. Elazar. During these 12 years – they ate carobs for food and drank water. They were involved in Torah study day and night.

He reached such a high level of holiness – that he was able to reveal great secrets from the Torah. He reached His potential in life. We rejoice his reaching of potential.

There is a question – why do people cry when someone dies?

Apparently – one cries because he will miss the other person. But it is also possible that the remaining relative realizes that the person didn’t reach their potential in life and that’s what causes him or her sadness.

Rabbi Shimon – did not waste his potential. He reached his potential and purpose in life.

My Quick Encounter with an Atheist – the Question He Could Not Answer

I asked a man for the time. He told me.

Ready to walk away, I thought he looked interesting. I asked him if he wanted to learn about the 7 Noahide Laws for all Humanity.

He declined. He exclaimed he was an atheist.

I asked him [if you believe so] ‘Where does the world come from? Does it make sense to you that the world was created by randomness?’ He grumbled something, but nothing to defer the claim of irrationality in atheistic belief.

There are no random molecules that could have created a flower. There are no random molecules that could have created a baby. There are no random molecules that could have created even a cell. The first one and even more the second.

You have two types of people or attitudes.

One person is willing to go all out for truth. Even if it means changing their lifestyle or disregarding their beliefs or belief system.

The more common attitude – I hold of a certain position based upon my lifestyle or upbringing – and keep it as long as it can suit me. I don’t question it. I don’t want to change.

The first is the attitude G-d wants us to take. For he knows if one follows truth he will come to find what G-d really wants from us. He gave Torah to enable us to reach that state of freedom.

The media and the marketers prefer the second attitude to keep you glued to big brother – whatever your big brother may be.

G-d knows what’s right and wrong. Do we?

Uplifting the Five Souls or Finding Music to Gladden the Heart


Music in Judiasm
David HaMelekh / the King had a Kinnor / Harp. He would play it and the midnight wind that blew through the strings would awaken him. He used it to reach a higher state of Joy to learn Torah.

Music is an essential part of Judaism. We sing or chant many of the prayers in the daily prayer services.

The Usual Mood of a Person

Usually – we are to be in a state of happiness. Prayer and serving G-d with happiness is a way to reach high spiritual heights. The Ariz”l reached his heights due to his serving G-d with happiness.

Music can lift a person to higher spiritual heights and can help them shirk off sadness. Music can en-wrap a person and change his mood. The Levite musicians, outside the Beit Hamikdash, were able to look at a person and play the precise melody to improve his mood.

Moroccan Jewish Prayer is known for its beautiful melodies, cantillations and Torah reading. Some say the Melodies in Moroccan prayer are from the melodies played by the Levites at the Time the Beit Hamikdash / Holy Temple.

Using Music to Improve Mood

Jewish kings would ask their court musicians to play for them music to allow them to reach the level of happiness needed to reach higher spiritual heights.

Yaakov Avinu / Jacob Our Forefather heard his granddaughter, Serach Bat Asher / the daughter of Asher to singing to him a song that “Joseph is Alive.” He was rejoiced. He blessed her to live forever. She did live many years afterwards. (She was alive at the Time of Moses – hundreds of years later).

I believe his Ruach HaKodesh / Spiritual Holiness – returned to him when he heard this song. For 22 years he lacked this state of holiness because he was saddened when he heard that his son Yosef was attacked by an animal and was missing. Music brought him back to a higher level of happiness that he lost.

I read once a person who was down started listening to comedies and comedians. He got as many as he could. He listened. He laughed in bed for days. He kicked his sadness away.

Good for him. If it works for you – good too.

Being Attuned to Music – What mood it Evokes

Some music brings you up. Some Down. One can recognize what mood it evokes. Some music is made to evoke happiness. or Sadness. Desire. or Melancholy.

Ask yourself, what mood does this music evoke for me?

Then choose the one that makes you happy.

Music & the Soul – When Music Just Doesn’t Do it for You

Yet some try comedy. Some try music. Some try amusement parks.

But they still say – “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”

Why?

Apparently a person is composed of several souls. One is an earthly Soul – that craves physical satisfaction to assure the health of the body. A more lofty soul exists as well that craves the spiritual. To uplift the soul – one chooses music that lifts up the spiritual soul – rather than engaging the physical soul.

The Five Souls

There are five souls – Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Haya Yeh’ida.

Some people have more souls than others. I guess the more spiritual one becomes – the more souls they acquire.

Spirituality – we define as the process of becoming closeness to G-d through Torah guidance.

Different kinds of music will evoke different feelings. Music can uplift a person spiritually. And music can evoke other negative spiritual outcomes.

I remember I used to listen to certain rock music. When I reflect upon the music I listened to I find that it evokes for me feelings of melancholy. Not only for the memories of the my youth past. But in the music itself I feel melancholy.

When I go to a Jewish Wedding the music is uplifting. Apparently some music provides spiritual happiness and some provides impurity. The spiritually uplifting one will bring a person up. The other music will do the opposite – it might bring negativity, or desire or sadness into the person. Thus being selective about music can change a person’s mood.

Contemporary Jewish Music usually brings one up. Apparently one should be concerned about the spirituality of the singer.

Years ago a Jewish singer that was following Torah. He continued singing Jewish songs, but went off the Torah path. A well-known great rabbi said that one should avoid his music being used in the prayers from the period he left the proper path.

When Music Doesn’t Work

At times a person is depressed. They feel life is caving in on them. They feel like they can turn to no one. Unfortunately, many feel that way – but if one were to make a small inquiry one would find that many avenues exist of people more than willing to help you. (you can always contact us – friend@jerusalemlife.com. And remember to carry the “You are Special Card.” 🙂 )

So people try the clubs. They try the bars. Music. Comedy. Sitcoms. Classical. Rock. Nothing. Nothing. Emptiness remains. I talk from experience.

What now?

Apparently you have to define where the sadness is coming from. Is it a deep sadness due to the fact one feels no purpose? Is it a sadness that one has no job? Is it sadness due to not being married? Is it sadness due to not having children?

Apparently all stem from – the spirituality soul. A person doesn’t usually become depressed because he has no candy to eat. Maybe annoyed. Depressed, not really.

If a person is abused. Or insulted. Or beaten. This requires immediate consultation with close family members or friends on what is the best path. Or speak with a reputable social worker that preferably has daat Torah / Torah knowledge.

Prayer to Hash-m / G-d helps in all cases.

You might need a friend. A good friend. A very good friend that will hear with patience your concerns. Who will not misjudge you.

The Spiritual Health

A definite connection exists between psychology & attitude of a person and their mental & even physical health.

But after all is said and done aside from physical & mental health – a person’s own spiritual health has a bearing on their happiness.

One’s spirituality has an effect on their happiness and state of mind.

The more spiritual – one becomes – the more one relies on the Creator. One puts their burdens on Him – rather than keeping everything on their heart and on their back. Our G-d / Hash-m is a kind Creator. He is our Father that wants the best for us.

The closer to Hash-m / G-d one feels – the close one is to spiritual satisfaction.

If you are spiritually satisfied – that will have an effect on mental and physical well-being.

So what is a good place to start – if you are far from the spiritual?

Becoming Close to Spiritual

First believe in yourself. Know what you are an important person in the world and important in G-d’s eyes. Know that G-d loves you and wants your best. Know that challenges and problems are here not to break you but to guide you to the proper path.

Three Steps for Relieving Depression – Knowing the Good in You, Seeing Good in Life and Becoming Closer with Hash-m / G-d

Write down all your good points. Brainstorm. Don’t criticize any idea. Just keep writing all your good qualities. Continue. Now Take another sheet of paper. Or keep typing. Now write all of the good things you have in life. Print and post in front of you. Write all the people who you love. Write the people who love you. Call to Talk to some of them.

Now write very precisely and concisely write your greatest problem on a piece of paper. Now write the 5 main causes in five separate columns. Now under each cause brainstorm for solutions. Do not evaluate. Just keep writing – solutions. Solutions. Solutions. Then take that paper and discuss it with others and implement the solutions daily.

Overcoming problems takes patience and prayer to Hash-m. Simple overnight solutions may not always be available. But commitment to a long term solution will usually relieve the problem. If not more prayer, consultation with people, effort for physical solution and spiritual solutions will usually help.

Listen to Torah Lectures. Change slowly. Take one step at a time into Jewish spirituality. Commit to one small Mitzvah and when ready take another.

Learn Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers with an Orthodox Rabbi – or listen Torah Lectures on audio. Listen to Jewish Music.

Take one step at a time. Be in touch with a caring, reputable Orthodox Rabbi. Speak with friends & family. Grow. Be Positive. Get Help. Talk it out. Share your burden with Hash-m and others. You’ll overcome it.

Sometimes problems are like growing pains. They are there – to help you grow into the best person you can be. But have a friend or a mentor to help you on your path to growth.

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Sometimes a person has a physical problem linked to the spiritual. Each member of the body corresponds to a Mitzvah. I heard from a lecture of R. Yeshayahu Pinto (Parasha Vayigash) that the eyes, correspond to the Mitzvah of Honoring Parents (A person has 2 – Eyes and 2 Parents). If a person was having eye trouble – aside from visiting the ophthalmologist – it might be good to improve their deeds towards their parents. I also heard shoulder pain being linked to interruption between Mayim Acharonim / washing Fingertips after a bread meal and the Birkat Hamazon / Grace After Meals. The reason – תכף לנטילת ידים ברכה Tekef LeNetilat Yadaim Beracha & Ketef – Shoulder.