Elul – Spatial Bend Brings Heavens Closer

Heavens touches earth this month, beginning today.  Think of a tall father bending over his small son and thereby allowing the son to reach his hand easily, letting his son see into his face.  There is a spatial bend whereby spiritual becomes a bit closer, a bit more attainable, where G-d makes Himself a bit nearer to us.

This time of love between us and G-d has been etched into existence by the fact that G-d forgave our sin of the Golden Calf and allowed our nation to recapture that which we had lost by giving us a second set of Luchos (tablets).  Today, Rosh Chodesh Elul, is the anniversary when Moshe ascended on high again to begin anew the process of getting us the Torah from on high.

A sad story: young girls coerced into relationships they did n0t want and then told they were prostitutes and pressured into that line of work.  One such girl is a mere fourteen years old, throwing up her hands in despair, telling her mentor that whatever she will do from now on won’t count anymore as “I’m a prostitute, anyway.”  Painted into a corner psychologically first by the predator and then by an unsupportive/judgmental family and community.  And I texted the mentor to tell that young girl thus:  “Rachav Hazonah married Yehoshua and merited to have many Nevi’im be her descendants, including Yirmiyahu Hanavi.”  Texted back the mentor, “Cool”.   It is way more than cool, my friends, it is downright awesome to have a reset button that ensures mistakes and sins don’t stay a stain upon us.

No past precludes any of us from being royalty.  No smallness of stature blocks our relationship with G-d in this month.  For G-d Himself bends down to us.  And if we but lift up our hands to Him, we get lifted up toward the waiting spiritual heights.

———–

and for those who want a musical interlude:  Shuli Rand does his soul-searching Ayecka — a cry out to G-d — and the answer to that cry is this month – -G-d would answer Shuli, don’t ask where I am, I’m right here – -where are you?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oo2JskBPgA

Gutten Chodesh, everyone.

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Written Torah Definitely Got an Oral Torah Alongside It

There are various times in the written Torah that it is quite obvious that what was written was merely the tip of the iceberg and myriads of detailed Torah law was given alongside it.  This is the proofs to those naysayers who do not want to buckle down and live according to our Oral Torah traditions.

An example would be in this week’s Torah portion, in a verse that talks about the Tefillin, the adornments that Jewish men wear between their eyes.

The proof of oral Torah being from Sinai is that certain mitzvos don’t tell the details—obviously details were given and we keep them.  So the verse in this week’s portion says, “you should tie them for a sign on your hands and be as a decoration between your eyes…”  What is the passuk referring to when it says tie “them”?  How should you tie them?  Which hand?  Decorate between your eyes – temporary tattoo or an inset jewel?  But every Jew worth his salt, since the time of Sinai has been wearing very exact Tefillin.  Color, size, what is written, how it is wrapped, etc. has been given and done through the ages.  No one has red Tefillin that is wrapped with tzititis strings around the palm.  No one ever questioned that the Oral law that we have is “Toras Moshe mee’sinai” that we were told, along with these verses exactly how to keep the verses.

 

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The Levers Called Prayer

If ever you want candies galore
The place to head to is a candy store
Rows and rows of jars and bins
All with yummy candies withinBut, wait, my friend, how do you go about
Making sure the candies slide out?Look below the bin and you’ll see a lever
To get to the candies you don’t have to be cleverAll you need to do is give it a push or pull
And soon your waiting bag will be candy-full!

Up in Heavens there are blessings galore
Waiting in Hashem’s treasure store
The lever we use to get things from Above
Is to daven to Hashem with extra loveDaily prayers get things moving from high to low
The sun and the rain that allow things to grow
Personal prayers work wonders, too
Which bring us the gifts needed for me and you.

There are times when a lever gets quite stuck
And it seems those who want candy are out of luck
But then along comes a mighty man of muscle
And with the lever he begins to tussle
This way, that way, pound and squeeze
Until the stuck lever he manages to unfreeze
So, too, great people are often in pain
But their pain is what gives us our gain
Because when from pain they pray with passion
They flood the world with blessings in free-flowing fashion
With their spiritual muscles they get the levers going
And to all of us, not just them, all the blessings then come flowing.
So my friend, if you have pain in your life right now
G-d thinks you can unstuck a lever of blessings, somehow.
Pray nonstop, pray with all your spiritual might
Because YOU are probably the one to set blessing chutes just right.

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We’re the Future of the Past, and the Past of the Future

You can meet your past going toward your future or try to travel to the future and end up in your past.  That, dear friends, is a premise of non-linear time and the theory of Godel. 

Within Torah thought, past actions impact future and vice versa.  In this week’s Torah portion, we see the Jewish nation told to go even out the score with the Midianite nation for their role in trying to get us to sin.  Yet, the Moav nation which had instigated it was left unscathed.  The reason for allowing Moav to continue onward at this point of time was that the holy Ruth would come from the King of Moav. 

Here we go into the age old philosophical question that had seemed unanswerable until applying these concepts, namely, if G-d knows the future, how can there be free choice?!  Predetermination vs. Bechira. 

The answer can be that with non-linear time, all time is happening at the same time. 

Ruth was making a free decision to convert to Judaism and do kindness for her mother-in-law.  Her predecessor, the King of Moav, who had plotted to have the Jews annihilated by G-d, he merited life based on the merit of his future descendant. 

But, wait, there is more to the narrative.  He brought sacrifices, didn’t he, in an attempt to “bribe” G-d to curse the Jews.  Even a wrongly-motivated sacrifice has a spark of holiness.  And our sages say that spark of holiness stayed alive to make its way to Ruth, his descendant.

Ah, but wait, there is even still more to the narrative.  You see, Moav is from Lot, the nephew of Avraham.  Father Abraham poured lessons, love, guidance and even risked his life for his nephew Lot.  It seemed all that nurturing went nowhere when Lot moved to the corruption of Sodom.  Yet, even in that corruption, some of Avraham’s goodness remained with Lot, for we see him welcoming in the angels to his home and trying to feed them.  Hence, the spark lit by Avraham, stayed dormant in Lot, flickering occasionally in his soul.  That spark, carried generations later through descendants, burst into full-flame of Ruth’s majesty and holiness, eventually sparking the Davidic line.

Which epoch of time period influenced which?  Will the deeds of the future Messiah, who will be from the Davidic line, mothered by Ruth, impacting the past?  Or is the past dictating and shaping the future of the world?  With non-linear time, both can be happening simultaneously.

The “original sin” of man eating from that forbidden tree  shouldn’t, in a linear time frame, be that relevant to us as his descendants, other than the sad fact that we are being punished for his sin with death, hard childbirth, the difficulty in making a living, etc.  Yet, none of us has righted the sin.  If we go with the non-linear time thought, each time we do the same sin of Adam, which is what almost all of us are guilty of doing in our own lives, we are doing it at the precise moment he is doing it.  And, if in the future, we set it right, it might even set the past right.

Yup, folks, I believe in something more important being gained from the study of non-linear time than time travel.  I think we can learn that if we, the future of the past, set a sin wrong by rectifying a flaw in mankind’s nature by overcoming that rebellious nature, we can undo the past.  This is why in an esoteric view of Jewish history, world history is depicted as a full circle, with the Messianic age bringing us back to Adam in the Garden of Eden.

 

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This World = Camera Obscura. Next World, Right Side Up.

When inside it is inky dark and outside there is bright light, and if there happens to be a small chink in the obscuring darkness through which some light can enter, well then life gets a bit interesting. The image of what is outside will filter into the room, but in an inverted fashion. Up will be down and down will be up. You will see a tree on your wall, but an upside down one. That is the facts of what is often known as the Camera Obscura.

A brilliant artist using this method Abelardo Morell [1] uses this technique to blend upside-down outdoor panoramic scenes on right-side-up indoor ones for images that are both haunting and mystifying as you try to tease apart what belongs where. He also rights the images, as do our modern day camera, to give you right-side panoramas in some of his photos.

In the Talmud (Bava Basra) there is the story of Rabbi Yehoshua’s son who had what we might call a near-death experience. He was sick, his soul left his body, and then he was revived. Upon his revival, his father wanted to know what he saw during his out-of-body experience. And the patient said, “Olam Hafuch Ra’eesee – an upside down world I saw.” ‘Those who sit at the dais here in this world are relegated to back seats there. Those who are downtrodden here are placed up front there. Up is down and down is up.’ To which Rabbi Yehushua responded, ‘you saw with clarity, ‘tis true.’

A person living in a dark room with very little light coming in will think all of the world is upside down. That person, on emerging from the dark room, will be flabbergasted to find the actual objects that cast the image are stationed right-side-up on the outside. We, living here in Olam Hazeh, in the temporal world, are sitting in a dark world, where spirituality comes sneaking in through chinks in the physicality. Therefore, all we see is inverted panoramas (unless we have outfitted ourselves with special lenses to right-side-up the images). In the next world, where all is light and spirituality, that is where the right-side up actuality is found. That is why in this world we often value aggrandizing pontificators and shun the plain G-d fearing simpleton. Upside down views we have, until we will be surprised to find out that in realms of light, those who we shun here might be the kings there. After all, isn’t that the story of King David, the upright man, not valued in his generation, but beloved by G-d?


[1] see the upside down one at

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/05/camera-obscura/morell-photography

To read another explanation of the upside world, read Rabbi Ciner here:

http://www.neveh.org/ciner/parsha58/shmini.html

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Creator of the World – Analysis Rather than Blind Faith Recommended by Chovos Halevovos

There are three premises from which you can see that the world has a Creator.

  1. A thing does not make itself.
  2. Things are caused by things (chain reaction).   Somewhere up the chain there must be a first cause.
  3. Anything finite was created

Or as Rav Amnon Yitzchok says it, you are proof Hashem exists.  How?  You exist.  Now there are two possibilities.  Either you created yourself or you were created.  If you created yourself, then that is an untruth, because then you already existed before you existed in order for “you” to create yourself.  So that is not possible logically.  Which means you had to be created.  Period.  That means there had to be a Creator.  And if you take the argument that life is about cyclical infinity, my mother created me and her mother created her, etc. (perpetual existence), at a certain point you have to go back to the second premise of Rabbi Yehuda, which is that somewhere in that chain you will have to say, but who created the first person who created the second.  Another way to say it is in a math way – anything finite has an end and a beginning.  People have an end, they must have a beginning, which means something must have “begun” them.  At a certain point, you have to concede there is an infinite Creator.

Now, since we live in a time where folks think the theory! of evolution is truth, then let us take that angle and take it to its end.  There was a big bang.  Okay, if I’m stupid enough to believe that, I still have to ask, what banged.  Oh, some gas (a great big burp created the world).  Then I’m back to a Creator, because where did the gas come from.  If it existed, it had to have been put into existence, which means, even if I buy into evolution, I have to admit there must have been a Creator somewhere in the beginning to have created the gasses that bumped into each other during the big bang.

Let us do another analysis.  We are made up of components, which had to be put together intelligently.  This shows there is a Being of Intelligence who designs and put together the components.  This, by the way, is why many physicists do not believe in evolution, because there is “intelligent design” in the way the world is set up.  Even more, there is a delicate balance in those components, a harmony and symmetry.  If a child sits by a piano and bangs on the key, there is no song.  Someone who learned that chords and notes express music, can put together music.  When you hear a sonata, when you hear a few bars of classical music, you know without a shred of doubt someone composed it – music doesn’t bump out like that when a kid bangs on the keys.  There is such beauty in the way the world is running, there is no doubt, when you study physics, that there is a “composer” of the world.   In fact, says Rabbi Yehuda, what is more amazing is that composite materials that should not be able to exist together, do so in nature, which means that beyond seeing the intelligence of putting together the composite materials into structures supporting life (which proves G-d), the way they are put together in ways that make no physical sense, underlines the “Hakol Yachol” anything is possible with G-d aspect of G-d.

 

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A Unique Being in the Circle of Holiness

In this week’s Parsha (Verse 52) we read:  “the Jews should camp, each man by his camp, each by his flag, according to their divisions.”  Sardines in a can is not the style of Judaism.  No headless, interchangeable beings.  Individuality within Torah parameters is what we are to do.  Each shevet [tribe] was supposed to have its own customs and its own identity.  Each person should remember that within Torah, there is a huge amount that allows for individuality, for expressing your own unique self.  After all, you do have a unique mission.  G-d created you because you are uniquely needed.

The Ohel Moed [Tabernacle] had to rest in the center of all the camps – directly in the middle.  The Chofetz Chaim explains that is to show that Torah is accessible to everyone equally.  That is why we place the Bimah in the synagogue in the center of the synagogue.   You have as equal a shot as me.  That, by the way, is also why circle dances are a big thing by us Jews.  Because in a circle dance, no one is in front and no one in back.  No one is on the side.  Every person is equally spaced, a unique being part of a greater whole.

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