Lamborghini Stuck in Traffic – What’s Stunting Your Growth?

Driving ahead to the left of me was a Black Lamborghini Aventador. I was stuck in slow traffic. So was he. He got about 30 yards of space so he sped up and then quickly stopped. The idea of a fast sports car is prestige and speed. Well at least he had one – prestige. Regarding speed – he was going about my speed in my old van.

Superheros in Judaism – Superpowers of the Jewish Righteous

People are the same way. G-d endowed people with tremendous abilities. We can even achieve – Super-Human abilities like we see many true instances in the Torah.

Superpowers mentioned in Torah

Some superhuman acts brought in the Torah include invisibility – like Pinhas, being averse to effects of fire – like Avraham Avinu (in the fiery furnace), transporting from one place to another in an instant (kefitzat haDerech) – like Yaakov Avinu (Jacob), walking through walls, seeing the future – like prophets, seeing what is happening in another place, transforming things from one thing to another (like Yosef HaTzadik), transforming oneself into another being, freezing a person, levitation / flying (like Pinhas), levitating objects. (Perhaps I’ll make a new post on it with further details – further on).

So why don’t we achieve? We’re slowed by traffic.

Thank G-d for Free Choice

G-d made the world for a person to choose between good and evil. We say a blessing  in the Daily Morning Blessings for this gift – “Barukh… HaNoten laSechvi Bina leHavchin ben yom uben layla.” / Blessed are You, Hash-m,… Who gives the heart of man the Ability to choose between Day (ie, good) and Night (ie, evil).”

A person can achieve great heights in good or in evil. And with both he or she can achieve the powers above. Witchcraft, sorcery, talking to the dead and black magic are all real according to Torah. But they are all forbidden – because it is using forces for evil.

Whatever can be done through evil can also be done through powers of good. G-d made it that way for a person to be able to have freedom of choice. If a person could only let’s say become rich by doing good – people would only be good – not for good itself – but to become rich.

What’s Stunting Your Growth?

I was at a Bar Mitzvah party last night. I mentioned – that at 13 a boys starts putting on Tefillin / Phylacteries – the black crown on the head and arm sign that a Jewish man wears. At the age of 13 (according to the Hebrew Year) – a Jewish boy becomes responsible to do mitzvot like a man. A girl becomes responsible at 12 for woman’s mitzvot. (Why 12? A girl matures earlier than a boy.)

Knowing our Goal in Life – Self-Improvement through Torah

After a Jewish boy is born he is circumcised. One message of Bris Milah is that a person is not born perfect – it is our job in life to perfect ourselves. Another message is that a person should direct their passions towards those permitted by Torah.

Attaching Ourselves to the One Who said “Let There Be Light”

Tephillin – allude to a crown and attachment to Hash-m. A crown to remind the wearer that he is nobility – that he is a child of the King / Hash-m – making him a prince. Recognizing his high stature and responsibility teaches the Bar Mitzvah – that he has importance in this world to make it better. This gives him self-esteem & confidence to face, overcome challenges and build the world.  Attachment to Hash-m is one of the ways we establish a connection to Him and emulate Him.

So – anything that creates a detour to our relationship with G-d will stunt our growth – excessive involvement in – politics, gossip, watching videos, TV, sports, etc.

The Difference between Permitted & Forbidden pleasures in Judaism

Exercise is good – overdoing it is not. Eating is good – overdoing it is not. Judaism – is not averse to pleasure. In fact it encourages permitted pleasure. Usually – the pleasures of Judaism – are pleasures that build a society, build a family, build an individual – spiritually, physically & materially. If you look at many of the pleasures forbidden by Torah they are pleasures that do not have purpose. They are pleasure without purpose or Pleasure for only for the sake of pleasure.

Change Yourself – to Change the World

Once a rabbi wanted to change the world. He saw he could not. He said he will change his country. He was not successful. He said perhaps his province. No luck. His city. Nope. His family – no success. He finally decided to change himself. Eventually – he changes the whole world.

A good place to start to better oneself – for Gentiles is to learn about the 7 Noahide laws from Torah. For Jews – it is to learn the Shulchan Aruch & Pirkei Avot.

 

100 Blessings a Day Keeps the Calamities Away

In the time of David HaMelech / King David a plague was killing 100 people a day. He thus instituted that people say 100 Blessings a day. People stopped dying.

Various types of blessings exist –

Blessings on gaining benefit / Birkot HaNehenim – like the blessings before eating food & before smelling pleasant aromas.

Blessings of Praise – like blessings on lightning, blessing on the new moon.

Blessings of Thanks – like saying thanks that we lived till today – on new clothing, new fruits, on new holidays

Blessings on Mitzvot / Commandments – like before washing hands, before putting on tefillin / phylacteries, before shaking lulav and etrog

The Torah (5 Books of Moses) writes “What Does Hash-m Your G-d ask of you – only to fear him” The Word “What” in Hebrew is “Mah”. Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess says the Word Mah similar to the Hebrew word – can be read as – “Me-ah” – meaning One-Hundred.

Meaning to fear G-d, Hash-m wants us to recite 100 blessings a day.

Why 100 Blessings A day?

In a Shiur / Lecture of Rabbi David Itmar Bitton /הרה”ג דוד איתמר ביטון – I believe on the Parasha / Torah Reading of Ekev recently – he asks why 100 blessings? Why not another amount?

He says that when Adam HaRishon / the first man – was created by Hash-m he was tall to the sky. When he sinned he was reduced to 100 amot. (1 Amah is 1.5 – 2 feet). Adam before the sin was a highly spiritual being. When he sinned – he changed to more of a physical being. (He used to have clothing of light (Ohr – with an Alef) – that were changes to clothing of animal skin / hide (O’hr – with an Ayin).

100 amot is the point – between heaven and earth. Adam’s new goal was to uplift the physicality into spirituality. Thus we recite 100 blessings a day – to change the physical – as food – to spiritual – by reciting blessings.

Are You Eating Soul Food

At times a soul is reincarnated to animate or inanimate object. When one recites the blessing on the food – if a soul was in that object – it is uplifted allowing it to go to a higher plane of existence. We are fortunate to be humans. Our soul was reincarnated to being a human – thus we have freedom of choice to elevate ourselves through spirituality or the opposite by pursuing pleasure without a higher purpose.

 

 

The Proper Response to Mazal Tov or Any Blessing for that Matter

Words have power.

Jewish people are constantly giving blessings. A boy or girl is born. “Mazal Tov!” / A good fortune!  An engagement! “You should have lots of Nachas / Nachat!” (Satisfaction) or “Build a Bayit Ne’eman Be Yisrael” / faithful home among the people of Israel!

When they meet. “Hatzlacha! / Success!” You hear someone got a new job. “Mazal Tov! Parnassa Tova!” / A good income! A Bar Mitzvah! “He should grow up to be a big Talmid Chacham!” / Torah Scholar. At a Brit / Bris Milah / Circumcision! She Yizkeh leGodlo beTorah, Huppah UMaasim Tovim. You should merit bring him up with Torah, Marriage and good Deeds.

What is a common answer to a blessing? “Thank You!” or “You Too.”

What is this like – A person gives you a check for $1,000,000. You say thank you very much. You don’t deposit it. You don’t endorse it. You don’t use it. One day you wake up and find the check hidden at the end of your office supplies drawer. “Wow I never deposited it?” You look at the date – 6 Months have passed. You don’t remember the giver. You really need the money. I guess you’ll learn for next time.

A Blessing has the power to affect the positive or negative. Prayer to G-d / Hash-m will have some kind of positive effect – either on the person you pray for or another person.

But you can make it more effective by “endorsing the check.” A blessing is a bit like a check – if you endorse and deposit it, it will appear in your account.

How do you endorse a blessing? You say “Amen.”

To return the blessing – we usually reply – “Vekhen LeMar” וכן למר

This means “and also for the master” implying the person who made the blessing.

So you receive the Blessing. You say “Amen. VeKhen Lemar.”

Now since they are recieving the same blessing of “Vekhen LeMar” The person who initially gave the blessing should also respond “Amen.”

 

Rejoicing for the Good

In Parasha / Torah Reading Ki tavo, in the first aliya – (Devarim / Deut. 26:11)  we read “And you shall rejoice for all the good that G-d gave you,  your household and the Levi and the convert who is among you. ” Why do we have a commandment to be happy for the good we receive? It is natural to be happy for good.

One reason is many have the attitude of ‘It’s my right.. I deserve it” Thus when they do receive good, they are not so appreciative. G-d is telling us to have the attitude that everything we receive is not a given. It is a gift from G-d. If we think thus, we will not take things for granted and be happy and thankful to Hashem for each thing we receive.

Having appreciation to G.d leads us to a more fulfilling life.  Thus we say the blessing of Shehechiyanu (Blessed are You, Our G-d … that He made us live, established us and that allowed us to arrived to this time.) on Jewish holidays to appreciate our arriving in good health to this time.