The Mystery of Teenagers at Samson the Mighty Grave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guidebook to Life – by G-d – the Torah

As a teenager – I was one of the popular crowd. I would crack jokes in class – but I was smart enough to make them sporadically to not get kicked out. Once a teacher took me out of class to explain that my behavior of cracking jokes was unacceptable – and if I continued I would be sent out of class. I listened. In my yearbook one teacher wrote something like – “one day when you become a bit more mature you will be a nice guy.” I was already a nice guy – I just liked to joke around.

In Hebrew school I would never study. I think I had a series of zeros on my tests. Then the teacher talked to me after class – saying that I was a smart kid and she knew I could do better. I heeded the words and started getting 100’s on the tests instead. I would try to figure out what my average was based upon the zeros and hundreds. I tried to fiure out how many 100’s I had to get in order to get a passing grade. I think I passed.

My drive to differ continued in college. I was the different one – everyone was preppy – I was the one wearing two watches on my wrist and multi-colored sneakers or sneakers – each a different color.

I don’t know if people got the message. I wasn’t trying do be different to get attention – I was trying to show the world – don’t just follow after society – be yourself – think and act – don’t just act after others – then think.

I guess I still have the same attitude today. I feel people should think more about things – before just blindly following the norms and mores of society.

I started becoming more Torah observant at around 15 years of age. It was a slow process. First I started keeping Kosher outside. Then I started observing Shabbat. Then I started learning Torah. I got my MBA and then I went off to Geneva, Switzerland to start a Marketing Director job. My travels – got me thinking. When I returned to the US I decided to enroll in a Yeshiva. I was about 25 when I started learning Torah seriously.

My high school friends and I became distanced due to the winds of life. It didn’t mean I liked them less – I just put my priorities on different things – like spiritual growth, Torah learning, introspection and following Torah way of life.

In my growth – I was never really tempted to follow another religion or cult. Firstly because I am Jewish – I guess it was proper for me to investigate my religion first before trying others. But another reason was – of the little that I knew I knew that the Torah was the only divine document given to man by G-d before witnesses of millions of people. G-d appeared only once to a nation in history – and that was the Jewish people at Mount Sinai – where He gave us the Torah.

Why should I seek spirituality from some guru – when G-d himself was telling me – in the Torah – what spirituality is. Spirituality is basically doing things that will make you closer to G-d. G-d already told me in the Torah – all other ways of life couldn’t beat that.

— To Be Continued —

Jewish Education & Intermarriage – Winning the $100 Bet

For the third meal of Shabbat / Seudah Shelishit at our Synagogue we have an open forum of discussion. Sometimes I pose a question on a Jewish Law Topic and ask the people their opinion on the situation. Then I provide the answer from the Torah.

Leaving a Child Back – Positive or Negative for the Child?

At one of the side conversations – one person mentioned his kid was to be left back – so he took his child out of the school.

I mentioned – depending on the situation – it might be good for a child to remain in the same grade the next year in order to be the head of the class – in age and possibly intelligence – than to go to the next grade and be the youngest and not at the top. He said it might be a blow to the child’s confidence to know they were being left back.

I think a parent must be truthful to answer that question and see what’s best for the child. Will it be a blow to the child’s confidence or help his confidence? And evaluate if the decision is not being made because it be a blow to the parent’s social standing – that their child is left back.

Different opinions.

The Advantages of a Torah Day-school Education

The conversation turned to giving a child only a Jewish education at home and placing them in a Public school versus giving them a Jewish education at home and placing the children in a Traditional Orthodox Day School or a Yeshiva. Some were saying a public school education was better. Some said they have Jewish friends.

I mentioned that the Jewish schools are highly advanced in dealing with social issues and have an education that gives them not only secular knowledge – but a Yeshiva teaches them something far greater – the ability to think. Many Yeshiva students get into the Top Universities because of their developing their ability to think by attending a Torah Day school.

I mentioned a statistic – 70 out of 100 Jewish children that go to a public school, end up marrying outside Judaism. Meaning these children have a 70% intermarriage rate. While 2 out of 100 Jewish children that went to a Orthodox Jewish Day School for 12 years end up intermarrying. (See 1990 National Jewish Population Survey)

A friend at the table who is an Israeli wouldn’t accept it. He bet me $100 dollars that that is not true. I sent him the statistic.

Really I regretted betting him the $100. I should have bet him if I was right – he should put his children in a Torah Day school.