Posts Tagged ‘Jewish’

HaShem’s Emuna

I just got my monthly treasure in the mail from Breslev Israel. It was the small booklet, Outpouring Of The Soul by Rabbi Nachman translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan.

As usual with all my Jewish books in the introduction there is as much wealth as in the rest of the book. In the Translator’s Introduction he is talking about the issue of Jewish meditation and prayer, he brings up the point how the Amidah can be used and was a meditative set of prayers.

The Amidah is chocked full of wisdom and amazing revelations of Hashem. The second prayer of the Amidah, Gibor HaShem, is one of my favorites, if having a favorite is appropriate.

There is one part of this prayer or statement of the greatness of HaShem that makes me shout every time I read it or even ponder on it.

As I learn from Rabbi Kaplan, I can see now how meditative the Amidah really is. So let’s look at one statement in the second prayer and let this be our meditative point.

“and Who maintains His faith to those asleep in the dust.”

Here is an aspect of eternal life that is so amazing and it is a declaration of the, might and strength of HaShem.

Over the past 4 or 5 years I have replaced the English word, faith, with the Hebrew word, emuna – for when one grasps what emuna is then the English word is no longer fitting.

Here in this prayer we have the word, Emunasoy/ His Emuna

Emuna is more about knowledge than it is about belief. Belief has an element of doubt attached to it whereas knowledge is concrete an factual dispelling any doubt. As long as you only believe in something there is always the opportunity to doubt it but when cold hard facts are on the table then there is no doubt to its substance.

With this being said let’s look at this again, Emunasoy, HaShem’s emuna to those who are asleep in the dust.

He is a G-d without change and is rock solid, He has full knowledge of His plans for those who love Him and serve Him and the grave does not stop His plans for them. He maintains His emuna with those in the grave – come on how awesome is that

Meditate on the fact that HaShem has emuna toward us.

What a powerful point to meditate on.

How does this strengthen your tefillah – your connection with Him?

Today as we meditate on HaShem’s emuna let it build up your emuna toward Him.

Let’s go and breathe new life into the Amidah as it becomes not only a daily prayer but our daily meditation.

Atah gibor la-oy-lam HaShem – You are mighty, eternally, Our Master

Emunasoy – His emuna, His might, His Strength.

I think I hear you shouting now with me.

Terry W. Hayes

 

 

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…”

  

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

What if the Creator, blessed be His Name decided that He had changed His mind on just one of the laws of nature? What would happen if He done away with just one of the laws that held molecules together, or planet rotation, or gravity?

What impact would this have on the physical realm?

The same can be asked about the spiritual laws of Torah that were in place before the creation.

So many from outside the Jewish world play and tamper with the Hebrew Scripture. They add and take away words, manipulate verses and rearrange, rearrange the order of the books so to fit their own theologies and agendas.

One predominate religious systems of today even claims that the original laws were done away and replaced by another.

How foolish this line of thought is when G-d said that He never changes. Reflecting on my opening question; if G-d would change but one law of the natural world it would cease to be as it is. The same is true with the eternal laws of Torah given to Israel.

That is the focal point behind these missionaries that seek to convince Israel and the rest of the world that the Torah had taken another form that it is foreign to. If G-d changed even one law, it would destroy the spiritual system that He put in place before creation.

He sole purpose to draw the Jewish people away from Torah to their system is to destroy Israel. There is no difference than what Antiochus IV Epiphanies and his cohorts were doing to Israel in their day. Only the names and some of the methods have changed but the resulted outcome has not.

As this physical world and universe remains intact so does the covenant and Torah of Israel remains.

We ‘the world’ will see in a short time how true this is. If you are a goy (one of the nations that are non-Jewish) then do as the Hebrew Scriptures tells us;

Zec 8:23

Thus saith the LORD of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, shall even take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying: We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’

Jer 16:19

O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.

This passage is a downer for one particular group who thinks that they will be taken away and escape the day of affliction – looks like they will running to G-d and admitting their folly.

“G-d will never amend nor exchange His law for any other one, for all eternity.” Morning Blessing – The Complete Artscroll Siddur