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 World Created with Truth

The Signet of Hash-m / G-d is Truth.

The World was created with Hebrew Letters. Each day was created with a sequence of 3 letters – starting from the hebrew letter Bet like bet of Bereshit. Each Letter has a numerical value. Gematria is determining the value of words with these values. Alef = 1. Bet = 2. Yud = 10. Kaf = 20. Kuf = 100. Resh = 200. Shin = 300. In gematria Ketana = each letter has a single digit – so Yud = 1, Kuf = 1, Resh = 2. Shin = 3

(Alef is starts the 10 Commandments with the word Anochi (I am) – that starts with the letter Alef)

Emet means Truth in Hebrew. Emet in Hebrew is written Alef Mem Tav = 1 + 4(0) + 4(00) = 9

Each day was created with three letters. Each time you add them up it comes to 9 – representing truth.

Day One was created with Bet Gimel Dalet – 2 + 3 +4 = 9

Day Two was created with Hei Vav Zayin = 5 + 6 + 7 = 18 = 1+ 8 = 9

Day Three was creaated with Het Tet Yud = 8 + 9 + 1 = 18 = 1 + 8 = 9

And so on.

Sheker = falsity is written Shin Kuf Resh = 3 + 1 + 2 = 6

If the world was started with Alef – that has one three letter sequence as Kuf Resh Shin (the letters of Sheker) = Each three letter sequence would equal 6 – signifying falsity. Thus each day was created with a three letter sequence starting with Bet – signifying truth.

If you start with Alef – the three letter sequence adds up to six:

Alef Bet Gimel = 1+ 2 + 3 = 6

Yaakov was the Forefather that is known for his carefulness regarding Truth.

In parasha Toledot – When his mother Rivka told Yaakov to get the blessing from his father Yitzhak – by pretending he was His brother Esav – he dreaded doing it. He didn’t want to lie.

It is apparent from his words to his Mother “Perhaps my father will touch me and I will appear as a trickster and bring upon myself….” Genesis (27:12)

“Perhaps” is a word to express hope of happening not distress of it happening. He should have Said “Lest my father touch me….”

The Vilna Gaon explains that Yaakov / Jacob would have rather been caught by his father than to have expressed a lie.

הרב שקד בוהדנה | פרשת תולדות | ה׳תשפ״ב – ראשון לציון

Leadership – Eight Qualities that Made Moses a Great Leader

Moses or Moshe Rabbeinu / Our Teacher – was the ultimate leader. He was a king of Ethiopia. He confronted Pharaoh to let the Jews out of Egypt and initiated plagues against him. He led the Jews out of Egypt. He negotiated with G-d / Hash-m to save the Jewish People. He Fought wars against Amalek and other Enemies of the Jews. One of his most challenging tasks was to Judge and lead the people of Israel for 40 years in the desert.

I recently heard a Shiur / Lecture of Rabbi Meir Eliyahu. He said the secret of Moshe’s success is found in the words : Hazak VeEmatz / Be Strong and Resolute – (in Devarm / Deut 31:7) – when Moshe is transferring the Mantle of leadership to Yehoshua / Joshua:

Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: “Be strong and resolute, for it is you who shall go with this people into the land that the HASH-M swore to their fathers to give them, and it is you who shall apportion it to them.

These are the qualities that successful leaders have:

H’et – H’ochma – Wisdom and Haritza – effectiveness. It is not just any wisdom – it is Torah wisdom. Torah gives a person wisdom to deal with people and all situations properly. Torah is the thought’s of G-d. Thus after thinking a situation out according to Torah Hashkafa and wisdom – a person makes more intelligent decisions. Effectiveness comes from getting things done – Moshe wasted no time to implement decisions.

Zayin – Zerizut – alacrity / quickness. When Moshe received the commandment to make refuge cities – he quickly established them – even though they were only to be used many ears later. He did not push off the war against the Midianites – even though he knew he would die after the war ended.

Kuf – Kedusha – holiness – When a person is holy – according to Torah – he is able to see things the average man will not.

Vav – Vatranut – yielding and overlooking slights – Moshe overlooked slights to his honor and opportunities for advancement to make peace.

Aleph – Amitzut – Strength / Resolute – Moshe was resolute to do something when he made a decsion to do it.

Mem – Metivat Ishit LaTzibur – Doing personal good for the congregation / Metinut – thought Out and deliberate – Moshe’s primary interest was the good of the congregation – not his personal popularity in the public’s eyes. His concern was to find favor in the eyes of G-d and man. He did not seek votes – seek the lowest common denominator of morality to get approval. He had and lived by the standards of Hash-m & His Torah – and sought to bring people up to those standards.

Tzadi – Tzadik – being righteous – Righteousness is a trait that helps a person keep their position. How many people have fallen because they took bribes, or worse holding a public office.

Moshe was the most humble of all men – yet he was the ultimate leader.

New Rules in Baseball – How to Choose a Way of Life

I told someone I can throw a curve-ball that goes from one corner of the room to another corner. I did it. I threw the ball – spinning it with two hands – it hit the floor and went to the other corner.

I continued – perhaps baseball should change the rules and allow any kind of ball you choose to be used – a tennis ball, a soccer ball, a basket ball, a rubber ball. Perhaps also the bats can be changed – you can use a broom, a stick ball bat, an aluminum bat, a pipe. Perhaps for gloves – use plastic bags. Instead of bases – they could have a pit that you must jump over.

Sounds fun? Perhaps – but it’s no longer baseball. Call it what you want – but it is not baseball. Take a tomato soup – remove from the ingredients – tomatoes, paprika, salt, pepper. It’s no longer soup it’s water.

In the past many people chose the Torah or Judaism as a way of life and followed it. Yet many said let’s choose Torah as a way of life but they say – let’s change this law. Let’s add this law. Let’s remove this law.

Sound’s fun? Perhaps – but it is no longer Judaism.

Many Jewish people say they followed Judaism – but they cooled down. Why? Perhaps they weren’t following Judaism – they were following a watered down dish that people called Judaism.

The Torah is the Only Divinely given document that was given to entire nation of millions of people.

G-d looked into the Torah and created the world. The Torah is the blueprint of the world. To change the laws of G-d – is like changing the rules of baseball. But human rules are susceptible to change – G-d’s laws are not. G-d is Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Immutable. We may make errors – He does not.

Choosing authentic Judaism is the proper way to follow the way of G-d.

 

Is “the L-rd” the L-rd?

Joe ate the sandwich.

A Simple sentence.

The editor edits it – “The person ate the sandwich”

Who ate the Sandwich?

OK. What’s the difference?

Before the sentence is edited – we know who ate the sandwich. After it is edited – we do not know who ate the sandwich.

The Proper Translation of the Five Books of Moses

I don’t know if “editors” or “translators” changed the proper noun of “Hash-m” to the common noun of “the L-rd” on purpose – to mislead people or to refrain from mentioning the true name of G-d because it is forbidden – but that’s what they did to The Torah / the Five Books of Moses. In many translations or editions of the Five Books of Moses / Humash it says “And the L-rd spoke to Moses Saying.”

That is not an accurate translation – in the Hebrew it says “Vayomer ‘Hash-m’ el Moshe Lemor.” Hash-m Does not mean the L-rd. The Word Hash-m replaces the actual name of G-d. Since we are not allowed to use the name of G-d we use Hash-m.

Hash-m refers to a the Name of the Jewish G-d.

It should say “And Hash-m spoke to Moses Saying.”

What is the difference?

When it says “the L-rd” people think it is a generic name of G-d – so anyone can be misled to believe that it is the god of their choice.

But really it says “Hash-m” – the Name of the Jewish G-d.

Some more recent translations of the Humash / 5 Books of Moses accurately translate Hash-m’s name properly. One such edition is The Artscroll Stone Chumash.

Removing the Wool from the Eyes

In the entire Tanach / Torah – 5 Books of Moses, Neviim – Prophets, Ketuvim – Witings – Only Hash-m – the Jewish G-d – is mentioned as G-d of the Universe.

What is the Reason for Turmoil in the World?

Corona. 4000 Rockets sent against Israel by terrorists. 45 People Perish in Meron. A Building Falls in Surfside, Florida. Iran attacks the US. Fears of Impending Floods. What is happening here?

Why the Turmoil in the World?

The world is going through turmoil. What is the reason?

There is a word for reaching the truth by experience – by trying a way of life and rejecting falsity. I thought it was catharsis – but apparently that means releasing pent up stress.

In a sense a person follows a path in life – then either they discover it is good or not good. The stress they had by following a particular way of life is removed when they find another “truth” – until they find the real truth.

The Search for Truth

The path of Avraham Avinu / Abraham our Forefather was to investigate the ways in life. He investigated until he could find truth or rejected it if it was lacking truth. He rejected all idolatry, until he found G-d / Hash-m. Yitzro / Jethro did the same. Yitro followed all forms of Idolatry, Religions and cults until he came to the conclusion to the truth of the Torah. He then converted to Judaism. (Judaism does not require a person to become Jewish to receive a place in heaven – a gentile just follows the 7 Noahide laws from the Torah – for the sake of the Torah). Many of the “Ism”s came and went or came thinking it could solve the world’s problems – yet they did not – like communism, anarchism, fascism, Marxism, totalitarianism, liberalism, socialism, etc.

One day there will be no more war – when people find the truth. It takes effort and willingness to give up one comforts to find truth. Would you switch your smart phone for a flip phone if it meant pursuing truth?

G-d’s Messages

G-d / Hash-m is sending messages to the world. We think it as a bunch of random events – but really they are a wake up call for us to return to Our Father in Heaven and finally seek His help – seek His guidance – seek to do the good in His eyes – not only in ours.

Messiah on the Doorstep

We are in the period of the Messianic times.

Two ways to bring Truth to the World

The sad truth is logically – there are two ways to bring truth to the world. One by allowing people to find truth. In the over 5700 years of the world existence – the entire world never achieved that status. One nation did – the Jews  – when they received the Torah at mount Sinai where millions of witnesses heard G-d speak.

The Second way is to eliminate people who follow not the truth. There are grim prophesies that say in “World War 3” – if people don’t search for truth – One Third of the world population will remain. One Fifth of All Jews will remain.

Opportunities to Open Our Eyes

Thus G-d is giving us opportunities to open our eyes and return to his ways – Jews by following their Torah Commandments and Gentiles – by following their 7 Noahide laws from the Torah.

Ask a competent Orthodox Rabbi to explain you your questions on the world. He’ll probably be able to answer. The problem is – many people are attached to their lifestyles and want a semi-truth. A truth allows them not to change. It’s possible – but really should put all their lifestyle on the line if it means pursuing truth – that was the way of Avraham Avinu / Abraham our forefather – that’s the way of Yitro / Jethro.

News to Jews

To observant Jews, News is not just an outlet to learn what is happening in the world – it is a message from G-d / Hash-m to repent / Do Teshuva, improve and to return to Hash-m’s ways.

G-d is One

We say it in the last line of Aleinu Leshabeach / It is incumbent upon us – the Concluding prayer Jews say 3 times a Day. And on that Day Hash-m’s will be One [meaning all people will recognize Him as the True G-d] and His Name will be One [He will be the G-d that everyone will call to]. (Zecharia 14:9)  Zecharia also has some prophesies of our current time period.

Search for Truth

A simple message – a challenging task – search for truth.

Believe It and Receive It

Believe it will be good and it will be good. If you believe something will be good – Hash-m / G-d will make it good.

Once Hillel Heard yelling from a house in the street. He said to a fellow “I know this is screaming not from my house.” He knew because he taught his household not to scream. But another proposed answer is that Hillel knew everything would be good – so he knew the yelling was not coming from his home.

Hash-m watches people as would a parent. Once I saw a Jewish person filling his tires with air at a Gas Station. I gave Him a card that says “Ein O’d Mile’vado” / There is Only Hash-m. He was astounded. He told me “Thank You. That is my motto in life. Don’t Just give out the card – Live it!”

The way that one wants to go – Hash-m brings him. Live your life a certain way – they will help you in heaven to go in that path. A thief that prays to be successful in his theft will be helped. Though, obviously he will be punished for the theft.

Thus – a person might be led in a path – because he wants to be lead that way. Thus a proper prayer is to ask Hash-m to guide him in the path of Truth. And search for Truth.

The Value of Pain – The Spiritual View of a Jew on Alleviating Pain

Each Yeshiva / Torah Learning institution has a goal. In Hebrew it is called a Shita שִׁיטָה / frame of mind or mindset. Telz Yeshiva – in the outskirts of Cleveland – brought it’s shita to the United States from Europe. They emphasize the importance of proper conduct of a Ben Torah / a Torah learner.

Majesty of Man – Proper Etiquette

Walking down the street with a Telz Yeshiva Alumni – I was impressed to hear of the high standards of personal etiquette recommended of Yeshiva Bachurim / young students. “In Telz people would bring laundry to the laundry room in a briefcase rather than a laundry bag – because it is unbecoming of a young budding Torah scholar to carry a big bag of dirty clothes.” I was impressed. “A person would not drink directly from a bottle. Using a cup is more befitting.”

Bottle Woe – The Nerve Dilemma

He told me – he knew of someone – that did drink from a bottle. The Popular Pop of that time was Royal Crown Cola. The student was drinking from a bottle. Another student bumped into him unintentionally. His front teeth were broken.

He went to a dentist that mentioned he had the option to keep or remove nerves from his teeth.

Encounter with a Gadol – Great Sage

He went to speak with the Rosh HaYeshiva – Rabbi Mordechai Gifter. The Rosh HaYeshiva mentioned to him that if he had the option of keeping his teeth’s nerves – he should do so. Someone he knew in Europe had his nerves removed from his teeth. Several weeks later half of his face welled up due to an infection. He couldn’t feel the pain. The pain that he would normally have felt was not able to warn him of the spreading infection. If he caught it earlier – he would not have to have a much more serious operation now.

The Value of Pain – the Message

Pain is usually viewed as bad. No pain is good.

Pain is not necessarily bad.

Pain can be a message.  It teaches us – there is something that needs correction. The proper question – we should ask then when experience pain is “Why I am experiencing this pain?”, “What is the Cause?” – not just how can I alleviate the suffering. Alleviating the pain may deal with the symptom but not the cause of the pain.

Suffering may be from physical pain, emotional pain, psychological pain or spiritual pain.

The Purpose of Pain

The reason of the pain? To prompt one to improve. The tooth story is a good example.

Are You treating the Cause or the Symptom?

One who treats a problem to alleviate the pain – may be treating the symptom – not the cause. Let’s say the person had nerves to feel the pain. Instead of taking antibiotics to treat the infection he took pain killers. He alleviated the symptom but not the cause.

The Spiritual Connection of Pain

G-d sends us pain. We try to alleviate the pain. But really we should ask “What does Hash-m want from me?” “Am I the cause of my own pain?” “How can I improve myself to not ever get this pain?”

Spirituality & Alleviating Physical Pain

Firstly – if the pain is a sign of a physical ailment – the Torah says to seek proper medical treatment from a competent, reputable Doctor. It says you shall very well guard your soul. One is not allowed to live in a Town where there is no Doctor.

There are 248 members of the body. A Jew has 613 Mitzvot / commandments from the Torah. 365 prohibitions that we avoid 365 days a year and 248 active commandments that we do with the 248 members of our body.

Each part of the body is connected to a particular Mitzvah. If one lacks in a particular Mitzvah it has an effect on that member of the body that it corresponds to.

So the second step – is to also see what spiritually one can do to rectify the spiritual aspect of one’s life to cure the physical member of the body.

Spirituality & Alleviating Emotional Pain

Hash-m made a physical nature in the world. An Apple falls. Heat rises. Plants grow. He also created a spiritual nature that corresponds to the physical world. One general spiritual rule of nature is called Midah Keneged middah. Measure for measure. One that does good gets good. One that does the opposite gets the opposite.

If someone yelled at you – check if previously you perhaps raised your voice at someone else. Do Teshuva / Repentance according to Torah and apologize when in order.

Spirituality & Alleviating Psychological Pain

When one feels down – it might be due to your soul’s feeling down. Really the mental condition of a person depends upon their spiritual soul’s state. The person is composed of a body and soul. G-d through the Soul gives the body life. If the soul is happy the person is happy. If the soul is sad – the person is sad. Doing good deeds makes a person happy. Doing bad deeds make a person sad.

The major problem of people seeking the elusive happiness and not finding it  is because they think that pursuing bodily pleasures and comforts will make them happy. At times the pursuit of pleasures makes a person even more depressed. It is not pleasure that will make one happy – the satisfaction of the soul that will.

The question one must address is “What are the pleasures that make the soul happy? And which are those that dampen it?” I found from experience – that pursuing bodily pleasure only for pleasure – may give temporary pleasure – but in its wake is sadness. If it is sanctioned by Torah – it brings happiness in it’s wake.

The Definition of Spirituality

Spirituality brings happiness. To understand a concept we must properly define it. Spirituality is having a positive, loving relationship with Hash-m / G-d. To enjoy such a relationship – we follow G-d’s Law – the Torah as a guide to develop that relationship. The Jews follow 613 commandments. The Gentiles follow 7 Noahide laws.

The Three Dimensions of Relationships

A person who relinquishes their relationship with Hash-m/ G-d relinquishes one satisfying relationship of life. A person has a relationship with himself or herself (Ben Adam Le’atzmo). They Have a relationship with people and nature (Ben Adam Le’havero). They have a relationship with G-d (Ben Adam La’Matkom). A non-believer or an atheist or one who disconnects themselves from their Judaism – disconnects from a satisfying relationship that they could possibly have.

The Call of Your Father in Heaven

Pain may be a call for a person to search out a satisfying relationship with G-d – through Torah. G-d is our father. He wants a relationship with His children. Hash-m communicates with us daily. He sends us messages, gifts, kindness, blessings, abundance. Do we communicate with Him? One just has to observe their daily life and see all the blessings.

Measure for Measure from G-d

When people ignore all Hash-m’s kindness – G-d may act with them the way they act with Him – ignoring them – leaving them in the hands of nature. A woman once served her family straw for dinner. The were in wonder – what happened with her. She told them – “You never appreciated – when I served you the best of meals. So I thought for you everything is the same whether it is delicious or not. So I served  you straw – it’s much easier to prepare & you don’t appreciate the good food when I make it for you anyway. A parable to teach us to be appreciative of our blessings.

Sweet Melancholy vs. Happiness

Memories of my youth – I remember my old friends and old experiences. I remember with sweet melancholy. Some memories I remember with Joy. I try to distinguish between that feeling of melancholy and the feeling of Joy. My happiness was many a time sweet melancholy. How do I know? Because Joy is an elation – melancholy is a form of sadness.

From experience I have found that doing good, providing kindness, helping others, learning Torah are sources of happiness. Also from Experience , I found pursuing pleasures not sanctioned by Torah is a source of sadness.

The closeness to Hash-m / G-d is a good barometer that is correlated with a person’s happiness. Doing good brings you closer to Hash-m – you become closer to the source of life & happiness. Thus one is happy when they are close to Hash-m. Or more accurately – the closer one is to Hash-m – the greater is their potential and actual happiness. The farther one is from Hash-m – has the opposite effect.

Pain Prompts People to Pursue Truth

In my youth I was like any youth – I sought attention, I did my share of trouble. I pursued fun, ate non-kosher. I played sports. My world was a world of the average boy. But certain difficulties – like skin problems – prompted me to question life. My question “Why Me?” I was a decent person. Ok, I did my share of trouble – but I wasn’t so much worse than others – “or was I?”

How could I get back to being the Handsome young man – people told me I was? What could I do? I thought I could go to a skin doctor – but I thought that the pain was a message from G-d to tell me to improve. It is very hard to break a habit. It is hard to change your lifestyle. It is hard to change your attitude – but a little pain to wake you up will motivate you to pursue avenues that you otherwise you would not have considered.

My pain motivated me to improve my relationship with myself (Ben Adam Le’atzmo) by improving my outlook on life to correspond more to the Torah Hashkafa / outlook. I learned the importance of proper conduct of a Ben Torah. I improved my relationship with people (Ben Adam Le’havero) – by being more considerate of others feelings. I strengthened my relationship with G-d (Ben Adam La’Matkom) by praying to Hash-m, talking to Him, observing Mitzvot. Through Study of Torah Study, Reading Torah Stories, Learning Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers and making more of an effort to observe Mitzvot / Torah commandments – I made my self-improvement effort to become a better person.

Use Pain to Gain

Some take pain and fall into depression. Some take pain and use it as a spring board to pursue truth and follow it regardless of the changes to one’s lifestyle it entails.

Looking back and looking at the positive points I gained from following the path of pursuing truth & Torah – I am grateful to Hash-m for the hard – but beneficial message he sent me. Now I try to conduct myself in a way to not need those messages anymore.

3 times 0 = 10? How to Not Be Misled by Falsity

The Seltzer Enigma

I was looking at a seltzer bottle’s ingredients. One serving is 0 calories. 3 servings is 10 calories. The last I checked 0 + 0 + 0 = 0. Or 3 servings x 0 calories per serving = 0 calories. Did the seltzer company come out with a new branch of mathematics? No. The reason for this discrepancy is that the FDA allows you to round to the nearest 10 calories. One serving of flavored seltzer is probably about 3 calories. They rounded to the nearest 10 – which is 0 for one serving. For 3 servings it is 9 calories – so they rounded to the nearest 10.

The point of this article is to help people discern what is true and good and what is bad and false.

Honest Reporting?

I am sure there remain people with morality and honesty in Journalist. The little news I do read are from sources that have some kind of non-biased bent – that report news facts.

The Change from Fact to Opinion

We are not here to condemn News organizations or Journalists. Yet I have more distrust of News media that 20 years ago. I remember the days where some kind of ethics reigned in the media. Nowadays – many once reputable news organizations – reports their take on the matter, at times reporting their own agenda & fake news. Some change spin doctor journalism into something close to fiction.

Falsity in History

It is not a new phenomena. People from ancient civilizations did the same. Reporting things – out of context – to give credibility to their agenda. Many cults, philosophies, religions use the same technique. Some will quote you verses from the “Bible” out of context to fit heir agenda. It makes them look good in the eyes of the ignorant. But the educated will not fall for their game.

Protect Yourself from Falsity

So how do you protect yourself from falsity and fakery? the simple answer: Educate Yourself & Research it. Be willing to sacrifice your comfort zone to find truth.

If you want to know three times zero is 10 – educate yourself in Mathematics. You know that 0 + 0 + 0 = 0. So there must be some explanation. If you know mathematics – you will attempt to discover a reasonable explanation for the discrepancy. If you don’t know math – you will accept it at face value.

Questioning Discrepancy

I know people who investigated many religions an cults. When they discovered a  discrepancy and asked about it – the leader either swept the question under the rug, or used the ‘you just have to have faith’ answer or looked down upon the person asking the question. These responses – lead the questioning person to have doubt that the person is covering up.

Questions to Improve Ourselves

The questions below are to help us to improve and clarify our philosophy in life. They are not to put people down. They are to make you think. We in this world are guided to live a moral, uncontradicted life. We are supposed to ask questions to ourselves and others to arrive at the truth – to correct ourselves in this world. In the next world we cannot correct ourselves. Our reward in the next world depends upon how we think, speak and act in this world. If we don’t ask these questions to ourselves – in Heaven they will show us the biographic “video” of all our life – and ask us to clarify some of the questions asked below. Better to correct ourselves in this world than to be corrected in the next world.

Questions that many a philosophy cannot answer but can be answered by Judaism:

Questions For Philosophies that deny the existence of G-d.

Question: How can the world be created by random atoms colliding with one another to create a perfect universe? Where did those atoms come from? What happened before the “Big Bang”? What is the physical difference between a body before death and after death? How does growth occur – according to the “random atoms” theory?

Torah Judaism’s Answer– We believe in a G-d that created and continues to direct the world every moment.

Questions For Agnostics:

Question: Would you expect a company that creates a complicated piece of machinery or even a simple appliance – like a toaster – not to include instructions & warnings? How could G-d create a world without providing instructions?

Torah Judaism’s Answer– We believe in a G-d that spoke to millions of people at Mount Sinai – when He gave the Jewish people the Torah. Those are the laws of the world.

Questions For religions – that believe in the Torah / 5 books of Moses –

Question: How can someone believe in a philosophy that condemns killing – Like it says in the Torah “Do Not Kill” in the 10 commandments – yet the history of that religion was replete with killing?

Torah Judaism’s Answer – Judaism never committed crusades, pogroms or terrorism to get converts – we are looking for sincere people to follow Torah not quantity.

Question: How can a philosophy that condemns idolatry – which is the second of the 10 commandments – believe in a Human as a deity?

Torah Judaism’s Answer – Judaism believes in one Omnipotent, Omniscient G-d Hash-m – that Has no body or physical form.

Question: How can a philosophy say that G-d “changed his mind” about observing of His laws or about His selection of the Jewish people – this insinuates that G-d does not know the future?

Torah Judaism’s Answer – Judaism believes that G-d never changed His mind.

Question: How can someone observe the 10 commandments if they were only given to the Jewish people? (The 7 Noahide laws from the Torah were given for the Gentiles).

Question: The Torah says “I am Hash-m, Your G-d, that brought you out of Egypt” Meaning the 10 commandments only applies to people who left Egypt and their descendants – the Jewish people.

Torah Judaism’s Answer – The Torah was given to the Jewish people to observe. A non-Jew that wishes to Observe them entirely – may convert. Their main obligation is to follow their 7 Noahide laws from the Torah and Torah laws that are not prohibited by the Torah – like observing the Shabbat. If they want to observe more they can take upon themselves certain commandments. Consult a competent Orthodox rabbi for more information.

Question: How can you believe in different G-d than Hash-m when Hash-m is the Only  Name that is mentioned in the 5 Books of the Moses? (Many Bibles erroneously translate – G-d’s name – “Hash-m” – as “The L-rd”. For instance a verse in the Text is properly translated as “Hash-m spoke with Moses Saying” – NOT “The L-rd Spoke with Moses saying)? )

Torah Judaism’s Answer – Judaism believes only in Hash-m.

Questions for People Who condemn Israel

Why? Did you define what is apartheid – and compare Israel’s policies to what Apartheid was? Do you also condemn virulently other nations that commit more heinous acts that what you accuse Israel?

How to Not be misled by Other Philosophies

To Not be misled by Philosophical Arguments – learn what Torah says about it – ask a competent Orthodox Rabbi. If someone from another religion tells you a “proof” that supports their view from a verse in the Torah or Tanach – first see what the Authentic Torah sages say about it – ( like Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ramban, Sforno, Abarbanel, Aderet Eliyahu (Rabbi Yosef Chaim), Alshich , Avi Ezer, Bartenura on Torah, Bekhor Shor, Chatam Sofer, Chizkuni, Chomat Anakh, Daat Zkenim, Gur Aryeh, HaKtav VeHaKabalah, Haamek Davar, Kitzur Baal Haturim, Kli Yakar, Malbim, Minchat Shai, Minei Targuma, Mizrachi, Or HaChaim, Paaneach Raza, Penei David, Rabbeinu Bahya, Ralbag Beur HaMilot, Ralbag on Torah, Rashbam, Recanati on the Torah, Riva, Rosh,  Siftei Chakhamim, Torah Temimah on Torah, Tur HaAroch, Tzafnat Pa’neach, Tzror HaMor) These commentators explain Torah as it was handed down from Mount Sinai. If one relies on interpretations that contradict Torah – it is like learning Tennis from the pre-game show.

Torah Questions

In Torah – we are encouraged to ask questions. The Passover Hagada /  Book – encourages the children and adults to ask questions. Torah study appreciates and relishes questions. The Torah is not afraid – because it was given by G-d / Hash-m. Hash-m is truth.

 

 

 

Are Your Ethics Stunting You – Get a Set of New Ones

A person lives a short term in this world.

THE Obligations to Achieve

In this small space of allotted time – one is to learn, observe the commandments partaining to them, learn torah, get a job, get married, have children, determine your purpose in life and accomplish your mission. Not necessarily in that order.

Where Your Ethics Stop Your Growth

People get stuck or stunted by the advertising of ethics of the world.

What Drives Your Ethics?

I am a vegetarian. I have to be slim. I have to eat healthy. I have to accept all people. All people are equal. I have to help the downtrodden people.

Behind all these ideas are a set of values. I am a vegetarian because I love animals. (Did I mention I have a parakeet.) I am into fasting because I want to be slim. I am into BDS because we have to protect the world from Israel. (Not me – but someone might think that way)

Ethics Cannot Be Determined by Feelings but may be investigated by What You Feel

Perhaps the above thoughts are right. Perhaps they are wrong. Who says feelings are necessarily – the proper way to determine ethics. I might feel one way about a matter and someone else might feel another way. So feelings cannot be the way to determine proper ethics.

Abraham determined what what right and wrong based upon his thoughts and feelings – His Kelayot / Liver taught him what was  right and wrong.

נאמר בקורבנות בספר ויקרא: לְעֻמַּת “הֶעָצֶה” יְסִירֶנָּה (ויקרא ג ט) לשון עצה, ובחז”ל נאמר מפורש שהכליות יועצות “לב מבין, כליות יועצות” (ברכות סא)

חז”ל אומרים על אברהם אבינו ע”ה: אב [תרח] לא למדו [לאברהם], ורב לא היה לו, ומהיכן למד את התורה? אלא זימן לו הקדוש ברוך הוא שתי כליותיו כמין שני רבנים והיו נובעות ומלמדות אותו תורה וחכמה, זהו שכתוב: אֲבָרֵךְ–אֶת-יְהוָה, אֲשֶׁר יְעָצָנִי; אַף-לֵילוֹת, יִסְּרוּנִי כִלְיוֹתָי. (תהלים טז ז) (מדרש רבה בראשית פ סא פס’ א)

Ethics, according to Torah, are not man-made – they are G-d made. The Torah tells you what is ethical – because it is G-d given. That is why a person can generally feel what is right or wrong.

Do Your ethics determine your feelings or your feelings determine your ethics?

The problem starts when a person has a strong feeling – their feelings try to convince them that what they are doing is right. People who support BDS – first they have a feeling of Hatred for Israel or Jews – then they convince themselves it is ethical to support BDS. (I Don’t think G-d wants a person to hate His Chosen People.)

A person loves animals. Their loves for animals taints their ethical viewpoint – to sometimes value an animal’s life over the life of a human.

“I love animals.” I once asked a class – if you could spend a million dollars to save an old ladies life – or that same money to save a racehorse that broke it’s leg – what would you do? One student answered – the racehorse.

The Values of Torah – the Value of Human Life

Obviously – that is not the values of the Torah. The Torah places life of a human being above animals and above most commandments.

A Jew who desecrates the Shabbat is liable for a strong punishments. (A gentile is  not commanded to observe the Sabbath – on the contrary it is better that they do not observe it – it is forbidden according to Torah.) Yet if a person is in danger one is allowed to “desecrate” the laws of Shabbat to save their life.

Syncing Our values with Values of the Torah

Ok. That is our Job in life – to synchronize our values with the values of the Torah. G-d / Hash-m is non-biased. We are biased. One day we can be angry at a person – the next day we can love that person. So our ethics can be swayed.

Why Torah? Millions is Greater than One

Why Torah? Ethics & Religions are a dime a dozen. I heard over 80,000 religions exists. So why choose Orthodox Judaism’s Torah Ethics?  Because the Torah is the only Divinely given law in the world that millions of people witnessed and heard its being given – when G-d Gave the Torah to the Jews the Torah at Mt. Sinai. G-d doesn’t change His mind – so the laws are as valid today as they were when G-d gave the Torah.

Why It Makes No Sense that G-d Changed His Law and gave it to Another People

Many offshoot religions that used Judaism as source for their teachings – say two things:

1. The Jews Did not Observe the Torah – so G-d Chose another People besides the Jews

2. G-d Changed His laws to Make it easier for people to observe.

Point One is illogical. The Jews always observed the Laws of the Torah in their entirety. Either some Jews or all Jews observed. There was never a point in history when Jews did not observe the Torah.

Point Two is also illogical. G-d, at Mount Sinai, initially gave laws for Jews – the 613 Commandments and Non-Jews – the 7 Noahide laws from the Torah. The 7 Noahide laws are laws that are incumbent upon all people to observe. Those are the Laws by which a Non-Jew will be judged by after they die and go to the next world.

It makes sense to know these laws to get in sync to maximize one’s potential for reward in this world and the next. (See 10 or 7 Commandments – Which do you Observe?)

The Long Short Path

The Children of Jerusalem are known for their intelligence. Once a person traveling to Jerusalem asked a child how to get to Jerusalem. He said “Do You want to take the short-long path or the long-short path?” The man answered “I’ll take the short-long  path.” The Child told him how to go. Traveling down that road, the man encountered a thicket of thorns and thistles. He could go no  further. he returned to the junction where he met the boy, He complained “How come you sent me on this path – I was stopped in the middle by thorns and thistles? I couldn’t go futher” The boy responded “You asked me to go on the short-long path. It was a short distance to get there but in the end you had to come back making it take a long time. The long-short is longer in distance but you get there in shorter time.”

Judaism the Long-Short Path

Most religions or ethics are the short-long path. Yes you feel good following your feelings for a while. Yes you are promised heaven to do something relatively easy. Just do A and get a place in heaven. That is the Short path. But it is plagued with thorns and thistles at the end. If you discover the truth only once you get to the next world – its too late to change. You made-up who you are in this world and you remain that way.

But if you take the time to investigate Torah Judaism and see all the challenges it entails and the benefits it provides – you will find the truth in this world and have time to change into the better person you want to be according to Torah.

I’m a Vegetarian. I’m a Vegan. I’m for Animal Rights – Focusing on the Priorities

Every person has a goal, purpose and potential to achieve. It’s true that there are many worthy causes out there. Obviously, one should focus on one main goal – before getting involved in a side goal.

It is good to support animal rights – for the purpose of the Torah Mitzvah of not causing pain to animals (Tzaar Ba’alei Haim). It is good to be a vegetarian – because it is healthy – which is also a Mitzvah (Venishmartem MeOd LeNafshotechem).

Maximizing Your Good – Focusing Your Kindness

In themselves they are good – but when dedicating oneself to a cause – one should ask two questions One – is this the best cause I can be involved with according to Torah? Two – is this my priority right now?

Let’s say a person can be saving humans lives and he is involved with saving animals lives instead – he or she is not maximizing their potential in doing good.

Let’s say a person is involved in BDS – but they could be spending their time saving animals. They are not maximizing their potential.

Let’s say a person is missionizing for another religion – but they could be involved in teaching people about the 7 Noahide laws according to Torah – they are not maximizing their potential.

In a book of R. Shalom Arusch – I think it is called “Garden of Peace for Men” he talks about a person who is learning Torah all day. He is busy teaching Torah and Learning.” Learning Torah is one of the greatest Mitzvot. But this person is not married yet. Being Married is an obligation from the Torah. Having children is another obligation. This person he says is not maximizing his potential and will be held accountable for not getting married and having children because he did not focus on one of the priorities of life and obligations of the Torah.

Focus on your obligations in the Torah. Focus on Maximizing your Good. Focus on making yourself great – to become a greater giver – and you are one step closer to achieving your potential and purpose in life.