Posts Tagged ‘Torah’

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.

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.

Man and Nature

Posted: January 15, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Man and Nature, making sense of current world events.

The following was inspired from the news of late and from an introduction of a book by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer.

The news has been loaded with reports of the storm that dumped ice and snow across the south and northeast in an unusual fashion. There are the floods of Australia, Brazil & Sri Lanka, and then we have the uprising in earthquakes tsunamis; Zodiac signs may all be messed up affecting many people.

Is there a message in all of this?

Yes there is, and it is not global warming caused by mans use of large amounts of carbon emissions – the global warming picture that many are painting is nothing but a rouge to keep the world from seeing what really is going on – and yes man is causing it but how?

We must go back to the beginning to where the Torah (the word of the One true G-d given to Israel at Mt. Sinai some 3500 yrs ago)

In the Torah we are given the information that G-d wants us to have to be able to live on this earth with G-d and man. In light of what is going on lets look into the Torah for some answers.

God gifted the earth and the cosmos to Adam – He gave him keys to unlock the powers of them both. The keys he was handed was the keys of prayer. In Hebrew the word for prayer is ‘tefillah’ at the root of this word is the meaning ‘to connect’ – prayer is about conversation and connection with G-d, it is not a vehicle to get G-d to be our maid; prayer is the arena in which the opportunity for the merger of the will of G-d and the will of man.

So from the get go we find that G-d wants a connection with His creation, and it is by this connection the whole of creation is affected.

“now all the trees of the field were not yet on the earth and all the herd of the field had not yet sprouted for HaShem God had not yet sent forth rain upon the earth and there was no man to work the soil.” Gen. 2:5

The great Jewish commentator Rashi, teaches us here the reason that God did not send the rain was because there “was no man to work the soil”, no one to appreciate the need for rain. After the creation of Adam, he knew that there needed to be rain for life to spring forth from the earth. He prayed for rain and it fell and vegetation sprang forth.

What we learn here in this passage is that G-d and man work together to bring forth the working of nature – this is a shared responsibility; G-d has given man the opportunity to team up with Him in making this world work.

In the awesome and infinite wisdom, G-d put together spiritual forces that act as transfer agents to bridge the gap between the infinite and the finite. These agents are the malakim (servants or in English angels) and the stars in their constellations. The malakim are forces that control every aspect of nature. When G-d was about to create man he informed them that man would be their master. The Talmud relates that the malakim protested but G-d said that man alone is worthy to represent the Master of the universe; thus G-d gave the keys of creation to man as we find out in the following Psalm.

“When I behold Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast established; What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou thinkest of him? Yet Thou hast made him but little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou hast made him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under His feet:” Psalm 8: 4-7

“The malakim and the constellations are very similar in their functions as Divinely appointed positions of translating the spiritual blessings from heaven into material bounty on the earth. The word ‘malak’ (angel) is connate with the Hebrew word ‘noizale’ (flow); because all that emanates from the celestial source flows to earth through the channels of the star formations.” Rabbi Feuer

“And He took him outside and said, ‘Gaze now, toward the Heavens, and count the stars if you are able to count them, “So shall your offspring be!” And he trusted HaShem, and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Gen 15: 5-6

The great Torah commentator Rashi teaches us that when G-d took Avraham outside and told him to gaze into the Heavens that when he did he saw that the stars revealed that he would be childless and it had been true all his life; but then G-d said look not only at what they are telling you but count my servants if you can – thus so shall your offspring be and then Avraham trusted the Master of the Universe.

G-d is showing him that the message is true but I am the Master and I can change nature – Avraham’s trust had brought on the fact that G-d was changing nature for the one who had placed all his trust and faith in the One True G-d during a time when the entire world was chasing and worshiping idols.

What do we learn from all of this? That being connected to and having trust in the Master of the Universe has an affect on the nature around us and the opposite is true as well.

The following is a direct quote from Rabbi Feuer’s book:

“A discussion of angels and stars may appear to be mystical and esoteric, but an appreciation of these concepts is essential to a fundamental teaching of Judaism, which emphasizes that we must perceive this world on not one, but two levels; the natural and the supernatural. The Almighty who created the world continues to control its every detail with an omnipotence that defies human comprehension, but He chooses to hide Himself behind the curtain called Nature, which operates by predictable laws and cycles that appear to be independent of a Divine Master.

The curtain of divine nature divides between God and man, and God issued the challenge, “Lift the veil of nature and discover that I stand behind it!” Since nature itself is controlled by the heavenly intermediaries, we must be aware of the forces controlling nature  – the angels and stars – that stand, so to speak, with one foot in heaven and one foot on earth. Our Sages made it clear when they taught: Rabbi Simon said: “There is no blade of grass without a guiding star in heaven, which strikes it and commands, “Grow!” (Bereishis Rabbah 10:7)

In truth, just as the stars influence man, man influences the stars, because the forces of nature not only challenge man, they serve him as well. However, they serve man only to the extent he serves his true Master, the Almighty. Should man’s service of God slacken, nature will turn against him. Thus, the Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 10:4) teaches that prior to the sin of Adam the planets and celestial spheres traveled at an extremely rapid speed, so that they could quickly bring him God’s blessings. As a result of Adam’s sin, however, the planetary orbits were enlarged and their speed was drastically reduced. When man tarries in the service of his Creator; nature tarries in serving man.

These fundamental concepts and beliefs were revealed to Avraham when God took him outside, and elevated him above the stars. Hitherto, Avraham’s perspective had been limited by natures narrow field of vision. Now God raised  Avraham perception of reality by providing him with an elevated point from which to view the world. God encouraged him to soar high above the forces of nature by means of his faith and free-will service of God. In effect, God said, “Appeal to Me, the Creator, the Controller, the Source. You will surely arouse my compassion and I will tailor nature to suit your needs.” (Bold emphasis mine)

The above is a mouth and mind full to contemplate. What we learn from the encounter Avraham had with God, is the power behind faith and prayer that connects us to the One True God of Avraham.

The evidence of a world disconnect with its Creator has been evident in the news over the past few weeks. As this world becomes more disconnected we will see a rise in natural disasters, it is not global warming causing the shifting in the weather patterns it is the shifting of man away from his Creator.

As in Avraham’s day the world is full of idols and false gods – Avraham was the first to stand up against the plethora of false gods of world and declare that there is but One God and so he passed it down to his children who today are persecuted for their trust and belief in the One God, the Creator.

To find this One God turn to the Torah – the instruction book given to the offspring of Avraham and Sarah. They have had this information for 3500+ years – others have come into be trying to pervert it with their ideas do not follow those thieves but come to the ones who have this knowledge that was passed down from their father.

“seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of HaShem, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that HaShem may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.” Gen 18:18-19

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”‘”  Zechariah 8:23

If man will return to his Creator in faith and prayer he this will cause the reverse affects that he has caused on the earth.

You can fill the universe with green technology and it will not help man but turn to God and He and the earth with return to us.

A later side note to the above:

I love making discoveries; it is like finding buried treasure.

As I completed and posted my last blog on Thoughts.com in which it was the longest one that I have written and the subject matter was new for me on this site.

I noticed that this blog was my 414th blog on Thoughts.com and thus I wondered what the Hebrew numerical value would be. A bit of info before I share my discovery; in Judaism Hebrew is the native tongue and it is the mother language of all languages – there is not even a fowl word in Hebrew. To create a fowl word it has to be mixed with another language. Also in Hebrew the Alef-Beis (alphabet) is its numerical system, as each letter has a numerical value and thus giving whole words a numerical value. The system is called gematria – this adds value in deeper studies of the Torah.

So with this bit of info I set out to see if there was a relevant word in Hebrew with the numerical value of 414 the number attached to my last blog. And boy did I find something interesting as I investigated the first site I came to.

Well, it turns out that the Hebrew word with the numerical value of 414 is “Ve’ahavta” – “And you shall love” – this word is the first word in the first paragraph of the Shema, the most sacred of prayers, just after the declaration that God is One. It is passage starting in Deut. 6:4

So what is this word pointing to? The exact same point brought out in the blog.

“Ve’ahavta es Hashem”  “And you shall love G-d”

WOW – what an unplanned discovery to have my last blog to be connect to this word “Ve’ahavta” in numerical form.

 

I feel like this is a blessing bestowed upon that blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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