Archive for June, 2012

Hammered

Posted: June 15, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Hammered

2008 changed many lives here in America and around the world as the recession began to pick up speed. It spread across not only our land but many lands and now four years later many countries are still feeling its affect and it is not over. Like one Rabbi said, G-d shook the earth like shaking a blanket.

What is the purpose of this world wide shaking?

“Everything in this world comes straight from its Maker. He will shake our emuna for the sole purpose of strengthening it.” Dovber HaLevi – The Emuna Fortress

Many of us have been hammered in one way or another not only through this recession but through the ongoing trials of life.

If we had it our way we would want smooth sailing without any disturbances but a sail boat cannot sail without wind. A smooth sea causes the boat to be still and not move.

Rabbi Lazer Brody spoke of a saying, “The child never touched the floor.” This is a way of saying the child is, ’spoiled’. This saying displays a child never put down; he was always in his mother’s arms. He never learned how to walk on his own.

G-d does not want our boats to sit still nor does He want us to be spoiled; so what does He do? He sends us a wind and He puts us down and backs off just a bit to teach us to walk. Yes the sea gets rough at times and we may fall and get bruised in the process but with each gust of wind our boat moves forward and when we learn to stand we will take steps forward as well.

Emuna is the Hebrew word translated into English as ‘faith’. As always in translation there is loss. The Hebrew word, emuna has much more meaning that what faith denotes.

My learning and pondering on the subject of emuna over the past few weeks have taught me a lot. This morning while reading another article on the subject and pondering points that Rabbi Brody has made on some of his teachings; I have listened to over the past few days have led my thoughts down another trail that I want to share.

I began to think about how our emuna is like a light. It shines outward. With every trial and test we go through our emuna grows and the light shines a bit brighter. This made me remember about a specific aspect of the Menorah that was in the Tabernacle.

Shemos/Exodus 25:31; 37:17

You shall make a Menorah of pure gold, hammered out shall the Menorah shall be made….

He made the Menorah of pure gold; hammered out did he make the Menorah….

The Menorah that would become the light of the Tabernacle an Temple was made out of pure gold but before it became a vessel of light it took a beating so to speak. Every aspect of the Menorah was hammered. It was completely made of one piece of gold; nothing else was made separate and forged in later.

The Menorah would take its form and shape from the pounding of a hammer. With each blow of the hammer, it came closer to its intended purpose and service.

Our lives like this Menorah. Our Maker pounds on us to shape us and to create a vessel for His light that is contained in each soul. Before we can truly shine the light of God we must be shaped, our emuna must be tried and tested on all fronts. He sends the wind, creates the waves and swings the hammer all for our benefit so that we can move forward and become what we are meant to be.

When I pondered these two passages even farther; I see that the Menorah cast two different lights.

  1. The primary mission of the Menorah was to be a vessel for the oil that would burn inside its cups and bowls. This oil is like our soul that is on the inside of us and when lit with the holy fire of God shines bright for all to see.
  2. With each blow of the Craftsman Hammer not only does the Menorah take shape but the hammer leaves a small indentation that becomes a reflector. When light strikes, it reflects back, each indentation shines a different reflection and makes the Menorah glimmer in the light.

The same is with us, with each blow of the hammer we take shape and with every indentation left by the hammer shines a different aspect of our emuna.

Those who are looking for easy street are not fit to become a menorah. To become a vessel of light we have to take a beating; this pounding of the Craftsman’s hammer is not of our destruction but a continuation of our creation – the gold was already there but it had not been of any service until the Craftsman began forming it with His hammer. Then from the first strike of the hammer the gold began its service and to shine its light.

“You shall make a Menorah of pure gold, hammered out shall the Menorah be made…”

  

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Our Choice, Emuna or Sin

Those who know me best, knows that for about four years G-d has stirred me continually about the His message found in  Berseishis/Genesis 4:6,7.

Throughout the years I have read and meditated upon these passages of Torah to draw out the message that G-d has spoken to man throughout his history.

The message is strong and comforting at the same time.

Bersishis 4:6,7

And G-d said to Cain, “Why are you annoyed, and why has your countenance fallen? Surely, if you improve yourself, you will be forgiven. But if you do not improve yourself, sin rest at the door. Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it.”

The message here in these two verses is, if one finds him/herself at odds with their Creator – improver yourself and you will be forgiven. As brought out in other articles I have written on this subject, the word translated into the English as ‘forgiven’ the sages of Israel tell us that it literally means to be lifted up. This is what G-d does when He forgives us, He lifts us up.

As the sages continue they teach us that when we succumb to the evil Inclination, evil and punishment is ever present as though it lived in the doorway of your house. (Sforno)

G-d is instructing us to make personal corrections when we make wrong decisions that lead us away from the ways of G-d. He tells us that He will forgive us when we make such corrections.

But the story and lesson does not end here.

This week G-d allowed me to learn even more lessons from this that I have not seen until this week. How great, a Creator we have who cares for His creation very well.

This week I have had a personal situation in which G-d used to take me to the next level in of understanding within Bereishis 4.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslev of blessed memory has given us tremendous wisdom on the subject of emuna/faith and happiness and how they play an intricate role with each other.

When we delve into our passage above we find that G-d does not deal directly with the issue that Cain brought an improper offering but He deals with Cain’s attitude.

What can we learn from Cain’s attitude?

We learn right off that G-d connects his attitude with sin. How can this be?

Sadness and depression does not only display a total lack of emuna but they become the leash that leads you to sin.

Sadness and depression are revealed in Cain’s annoyance and fallen countenance; G-d knew where Cain was heading and that is why we have the warning to improve ourselves but if we do not sin awaits us.

Sadness and depression is the opposite of emuna and cannot co-exist. When we allow sadness and depression to replace our emuna we become self-destructive; again we are shown this in Bereishis 4

After G-d gives Cain a pep talk, pointing him back to the right path and how to get there we are shown what happens when we allow our sadness and depression to rule our lives instead of emuna.

Bereishis 4:8

Cain spoke to his brother Abel. And it happened when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against his brother and killed him.

Sadness and depression is the opposite of emuna and happiness. The lack of emuna in Cain’s life led to his sadness, jealousy and hatred of his brother. All leading to two murders so to speak; his lack of emuna led him to sin and kill his brother and in doing so he self-destructed himself or killed himself. His fallen countenance and annoyance led him down this path of destruction.

When we surrender our emuna to sadness and depression we become self-destructive, this opens the door to sin. But if we maintain our emuna with happiness the door to sin remains shut.

It is important to cling onto emuna that, every situation is sent to us from G-d and it is for our benefit no matter how much it hurts at the time.

The lesson we are given in Bereishis 4:6-8 is for everyone at all times. It is not a cute Bible lesson.

It is an all important lesson on emuna, forgiveness, sin and the consequences of the lack of emuna has in our lives to this very day from our Creator.

Hidden Salvation

Posted: June 6, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Yosef’s story paraphrased:

The brothers were angered at their brother, they came together and threw him in a pit that eventually put into motion a string of events brought him to Egypt and into a powerful position would lead to the salvation of the world during a famine and his own family would be reunited.

An interesting point to ponder emerges from the story of Yosef:

Concealed within tribulation lies salvation.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslev teaches us the foundation of emuna (faith) is the knowledge that everything we experience comes from G-d – He sends the good and what appears to be bad both to us – another level of emuna is that everything G-d sends toward us is for our benefit.

Yosef knew this when he states in Bereishis/Genesis 45:8

“It was not you who sent me here but G-d.”

When we look deep into the story of Yosef, we find that his tribulations were not only for his benefit but also for the benefit of others.

How do we apply this today?

When G-d sends a tribulation, know through emuna that concealed within it, there is a hidden salvation.

I have been learning the sefer, Ruth the Scroll of Kindness – Megillas Ruth with the commentary Nachalas Yosef by Rabbi Yosef Ze’ev Lipowitz

There is a lot of discussion about Devarim 11:16 “Beware for yourselves, lest your heart be seduced and you turn astray and serve gods of others and prostrate yourselves to them.” Artscroll Chumash  – “Beware of being misled by the evil inclination to forsake the Torah, for he who abandons the Torah becomes attached to idolatry” Sifrei

As I ponder this I see two things that lead to the same conclusion.

  1. The seduction of the heart leads to idolatry.
  2. The abandonment of Torah leads to idolatry.

When I continue on with my thoughts they lead me to conclude that when the evil inclination seduces us to break a mitzvah that, that breaking of a mitzvah in itself is idolatry as when we do not serve HaShem in His mitzvoth we serve something else even if it isn’t but our self and self-interest.