Tag Archive for King David
|his article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s Berrel Wien , Yossi Bilus, Asher Hertzberg, Jay Shapiro, Yitzchak Frankfuter, Abba Goldman|
The first lady Jacqueline Kennedy was very much a private person. When she went on mini vacation her husband, the President, decided to have a public photo shoot with the kids….opposite attract
One advocate of a dethroned leader complained “How can you disclose embarrassing information about our great leader?” The reply was, “Why not? He has committed himself to the public, therefore he has exposed everything about himself to the world. Nothing is private anymore for him. He’s fair game! A public figure has no right privacy.”
However that is insane!! It’s a recipe for disaster for any leader or public figure, or really anyone for that matter, as we all have skeletons in our closet. No one is ‘squeaky clean perfect’ and if someone happens to actually be the “white puritan”, frankly my dear, that would constitute abnormality and would be considered a freak of nature.
Does the reader agree?
The scrutinizing of the High Priest has may have been a springboard for all leaders thought history to be hounded and examined with a magnified glass, but in truth there is no comparison between the High Priest and other leaders. That is because the High Priest’s chief scrutinizer is none other than G-d. Evidence of this is that if he has skeletons in his closet, G-d will smite him on Yom Kippur.
As explained by the historian Rabbi Berel Wein: One of the signs of corruption that doomed the Second Temple Commonwealth of Judea (Bais Sheni) was the unethical behavior of many of the High Priests who served in the Temple during that period of Jewish history. The Talmud teaches us that many of them died when entering the Holy of Holiness because of their unworthy private behavior. There where Kohanim that seemingly had the confidence of the people however “G-d examines the hearts.” He determines which Kohen Gadol is worthy and moral. For this reason a rope was attached to their leg so they can be pulled out in case they perish. Nobody but the Kohen Gadol is allowed in the Holies of Holies.
The public figure, the leader has been the object of the paparazzi and the National Enquirer ever since.
A question is posed: With the exception of Kohen Gadol, is it fair to judge personal behavior of a leader, such as Rabbi, head of State, or congressmen to determine if they are suitable for such a lofty position? Shouldn’t we look at other factors – economic issues, issues concerning our rights to live as Orthodox Jews, religious freedom, and liberty issues? There are issues that relate to bringing resources into our communities. There are other issues, too. Who services the constituency best? Who is most likely to be responsive to individual phone calls for assistance on individual matters? Aren’t these issues just as important as morality?
We need to look where the leader stands on other issues, such as the resource issues, the economic issues, the religious liberty issues, and accessibility. You have to judge a candidate based on the totality of the situation. Though moral issues are certainly a relevant factor, they are not the only factor.
That was the language of an ad that ran in Der Yid, a Satmar paper based in Williamsburg, during a re-election campaign for Fred Richmond, the congressional representative for Williamsburg during the late ’70s and early ’80s. Richmond had a depraved personal life; the ad was promoting the idea that the chassidic readers of the paper, who were so careful in their own lives about any hint of immorality, should overlook Richmond’s immorality because he was helping the community with its needs. The ad was obviously countering those who had objected to Richmond on those grounds.
King David didn’t care about his honor by dancing with the Torah; he did it for the sake of G-d. Michal, his wife, who witnessed this, didn’t think it was dignified to do so. She thought it was unbecoming that the king dance and show a glimpse of his legs. The act shows a disregard for modesty and would hamper the respect and dignity of the King. Nevertheless, G-d was honored by David’s devotion and Michal was punished for criticizing. It’s not an easy understanding for Michal’s train of thought was in line with her father, Shaul’s, philosophy of modesty and respect.
Not with standing, one sees at what degree our ancestors value modesty and respect of a leader. Here is another example pertaining do King David again: When Shimi ben Gerah insulted King David the incident was not forgotten. On his death bed the King instructs his son Shlomo to “do what is right”. At the end Shimi ben Gerah was executed and the King’s honor had been defended.
Part of the blame has to be directed to the press for reporting and making a mockery of the Clinton/Lewinsky incident. Interestingly, John F Kennedy was just as immoral as Clinton, however he was an effective President. The press never reported his indecency even though it was occurring regularly in the White House.
Can one imagine if they did report the indecency and made light of the President? Does one think Cuba, neighboring communist country at the time, would have backed down and pulled their missiles?
One of our beloved leaders who had to admit an embarrassing moment in his private life was Yehuda, Yaakov’s son. Even though his act was considered lowly, Yehuda admitted and faced up to his guilt and was hailed in high regards for doing so by his brothers and by G-d. He took responsibility for his action. Yehuda is a prime example of “nobody’s an angel, but be a man and pick up the pieces”. For reward for his admission he and his genealogy were appointed royalty, leaders of the Jewish people forever
ABILITY TO GET ALONG
NIXON AND RABBI AVIGDOR MILLER
Rabbi Avigdor Miller said that when we vote, we vote the same way. He said, ‘I’m not afraid of Russia personally. The President, who is against Russia, is against them for his own reasons, because they are the Big Bad Wolf and they are having an arms race with nuclear ballistic missiles. Our interest has nothing to do with that. We’re not afraid of them; we just have to stand against them because they are kofrim [deniers] in Hakadosh Baruch Hu.’ That was his position.
It is important to note many clarify the moral issue: not so much the moral personal life of the candidate but what does he/she morally stand for. Perhaps that is the moral issue!! This brings us to the other prime candidate of this election. Perhaps it’s commendable that she had taken the abuse and humiliation of her husband and stuck with the marriage, however does she approve of same sex marriage and abortion, which is directly against the Torah?
Traditionally Jews in this country have always voted Democrat for they help financially to our Yeshivas. We value a Torah education which is our prime directive. However the Democrats of today are in favor of same sex marriage and abortion, someplace they weren’t 20 years ago. It seems like though todays Republicans are yesterday’s Democrats.
We can learn much from the two king that Avraham and Sarah visited. Both were immoral. Avimelech did everything in secret while Pharoah was not discreet and shameful, he did everything in the open.
On the last meeting between Avraham and Pharaoh, Pharaoh suggested something to Avraham which the latter acknowledged “This place is not for you.” In other words, we have different moral values. Perhaps, we should take some of the suggestions of some of the prominent Rabbis who denounced President Clinton. If he can do what he did and not feel remorse, it’s time we should depart this country. However there are those that say “Let’s remember we are in a non-Jewish state, what do you expect?
We see that although traditionally the primary decision on a leader was the moral issue many Rabbi’s or heads of communities look for other factors in picking a leader. Perhaps yes or perhaps not the private lives of leaders is best be left alone and not disclosed there are other important issues? That is a hot debate in today’s times.
This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s Baruch Dopelt, Yossi Bilius, Pinchas Winston, Asher Hurzberg and Dr. Abba Goldman
In our illustrious glorious past we’ve often yearned for the mashiach. When we were in grade school we had to recite that “we believe whole heartedly that Mashiach is coming”. Mashiach this and Mashiach that. There have been many songs sung, manypsalms read, There even was a period where many of our people were killed for they thought that time had come and were careless, where they’re usually very careful, in dealing with gentiles arousing their hostility and Anti-Semitism only to be disappointed with a false prophet.
How ironic it is then, the proud Jews that we are, with our glorious past, the beautiful temple both past and future, that the Mashiach signs in through an undignified manor. We would never write a Hollywood script like this. Here, there is no poor or rich young couple who loves each other, have a baby (Mashiach), is allergic to kryptonite, and can’t keep him etc. It’s quite different script. One cannot complain “this movie is predictable -same formula”.
Let us take a look at the relevant places in the Torah and perhaps, dig deep, learn some insights into the mashiach
This is where the Jewish monarch and the Mashiach comes from……..
Uncharacistaly, Yehuda, leader of the tribes visits a prostitute, who is his daughter-in law in disguise. The Sages, say that the cohabitation of Yehuda, Tamar, his daughter in law, resulted in the inception of the Mashiach……Go Figure!! (Please see highlight section for full synopsis)
One may ask, how can the Mashiach come in such a degrading way?
Wait there is more!
*The seed of the Mashiach was also implanted in a bazar way by Lott, Avrahams nephew, After the destruction of Sedom, Lott’s two surviving daughters believed that the world was destroyed. They devised a plan to seduce their father on back to back consecutive nights after getting him drunk where they will procreate and populate the world once again. Ruth, is a descendant of this union The oldest son/grandchild Moav is where Ruth, the grandmother of king David, comes from.
* Boaz, a widower, a leader and descendant of the tribe of Yehudah marries Ruth, the convert, a widow herself to the childless son of Elimelech, a descendant of Yehuda as well. The courtship was strange, Ruth appear that night on the threshing floor to be as close as possible to the fields at a critical time in the harvest. Niomi, her mother in law, instructs Ruth to uncover Boaz’s feet so as to wake him and set the process of “yibum” in motion. Pretty odd isn’t it. The union between Boaz and Ruth was in question for A Israelite is forbidden to marry from Moav. Boaz died the next morning after their wedding night and Ruth gave up her child to Niomi to raise.
*King David marries Bat-Sheva in one of the most controversial union in our history. Did he usher Bat Sheva’s husband to the battlefield in what was presumably a death wish? The marriage between David and Bat-Sheva produced King Shlomo
This is our royal past?
In our current mindset or Western mentality we, perhaps, will entertain the thought of the Mashiach having that kind of introduction for we have grown accustom to a very promiscuous nature. The media has etched in our minds the kind of sexual provocation daily. Car commercials, game shows and even real estate ads come with a door prize and a smiley attractive female or male model. Television, no matter how PG it is full of sexual innuendos. Let’s not forget the advancement of the internet….GOODNESS GRACIOUS!!
Furthermore, as we Jews moved around the world we are constantly reminded through our neighbors about their immodest appetite way of life. We were the only Jews living on the block, in my childhood home in Rego Park. It was a predominantly Irish neighborhood and it was difficult to stay focused even as a very young Yeshiva grade school student with the immodest dress of my non-Jewish neighbors. What’s an orthodox boy doing living in this part of the world?
Interestingly, if one notices our biggest test growing up before entering our young adult, where then we are introduced to inflated egos, pursuit of money, keeping religion, is to watch our brit. There is a tremendous insurgence or wave of desire where hormones are flying uncontrollably when entering the teenage years.
This is our mundane life of today where the western culture has a tremendous influence. However, why has the Torah have to introduce the Jewish monarch and future Mashiash in a degrading way. Golden Yerushalayim and its purity should be left alone. Why drag it to such shmutz?
Furthermore, why is the topic of Erva- promiscuity associated with the kingdom. Why not murder? Jealousy?
Lets examine an aspect of brit milah where then perhaps we might understand the topic of mashiach a little more clearer.
Adam HaRishon was created circumcised, as it says, “God created man in His image …” (Bereishis 2:5). Avot d’Rav Nossan 2:5
Rav Yitzchak said, [Adam] caused his foreskin to be extended [and cover his circumcision]. Sanhedrin 38b
Interestingly, this is what the Greek Jews were a custom to do in the time of Chanukah. They were ashamed that they were different then the Goyim. The sexual revolution was influencing the world….sounds familiar. It was custom to remove your cloths entirely in many social functions. The Greeks believed in exposing the beautiful body. However the Jews, because of their brit had a different look, were ashamed.
The Greeks put a spiritual barrier between the Jews and their G-d. In Hebrew the growth of foreskin is called Orlah. This was the mistake of Adam. For, whether we are talking about “Orlat HaLeiv” (uncircumcised heart), “Orel S’fataim “(uncircumcised lips), or “Orlah” from a tree (fruits of the third year), the word Orlah always implies a spiritual “barrier” between man and God which has to be removed.
There are two aspects of the mitzvah referred to in the verse. Firstly, Milah is a sign of the covenant between Avraham and God; secondly, Milah is to take place on the eighth day from birth. We should take note of the point in the Parsha at which the Mitzvah is commanded after Avraham’s successful routing of the Canaanite kings. It’s no coincident that saving Lott, his nephew, who holds the seed for part of the Mashiach, is a precursor for brit milah.
When Avraham placed his faith in G-d for his physical sustenance, he demonstrated his unwavering commitment to live above nature. As a result, he was provided with the means to remove all the Orlos Adam’s mistake had brought to mankind. This is the Bris Milah which is performed on the eighth day (eight always symbolizes the spiritual, supernatural realm, as we see through Chanukah as well).
Why was Bris Milah so important to history? As the following reveals, it is the source of Malchut (of kingship), and therefore, the Final Redemption.
And Yosef said to his brothers, ” ‘Please come near to me,’ and they came near to him and he said . . .” (Bereishis 45:4). Why did he call them if they were already next to him? Because when he told them, “I am Yosef your brother” (Ibid.), they were in shock to see his royal position. He told them that his royalty was a direct result of this. (Zohar 1:93b)
What was Yosef referring to? The Zohar explains:
” ‘Please come near to me,’ and they came near to him”: He showed them that he upheld Bris Milah, saying, “By keeping this intact, I was able to attain royal status.” From here we learn that whomever keeps this sign intact will merit royalty. (Ibid.)
In other words, Yosef was saying that his royal status had been conferred upon him by Heaven for having resisted the advances of his master’s wife, Aishet Potiphar. Such intimacy would have been forbidden to him, and though he had been tempted at the time, in the end he had overcome his yetzer hara and had run out of the house, risking her vicious retribution that followed.
However, the Zohar is not finished yet, and backs up its statement with the following:
From where else do we know this? From Boaz, as it says, “As Hashem lives, lie down until the morning” (Rus3:13). His evil inclination was enticing him, so he made this oath to keep his bris intact. (Ibid.)
In other words, while he was secluded with Ruth, he desired her then. However, intimacy with her then was improper, and therefore he made the oath to safeguard himself against a sinful relationship. If she was to be his wife, Boaz reasoned with himself, it had to be after all the halachic conditions had been satisfied. Thus the Zohar concludes:
The world is called an OLAM. Interestingly OLAM means hidden. What is hidden? G-d is hidden and he is hidden throughout the world. Interestingly the more we do G-d’s commandments the more vision and clear the world looks.
This OLAM is like a game. A game similar to “Wheel of Fortune”, where one has to turn over the puzzle board and therefore making the entire board clearer. The board is pretty large it encompasses the entire world. The mission of the Jewish people over the last 3,300 years, the Jewish role in history and the essence of the concept of the Chosen People – a people chosen for the responsibility of teaching the world about one God and absolute morality. But there is much left to do before the vision the Jewish people saw at Mount Sinai becomes a world reality. The Jews have always believed that they have a key role to play in bringing this vision to fruition. We are to create a society based on a God-given standard of morality that will serve as the model for the rest of humanity to emulate – to be “a light unto the nations.”
When we look back on the vast sweep of the last four thousand years we see how significantly the Jewish people have directly and indirectly affected humanity.
The Jewish monarch represents the Jewish people. He rules with justice and mercy. It’s his mission to guide and to turn over the most impure part of life and manifest it to a source of kedusha. G-d chose the very organ that is the source of life, which can also be chosen to use for the basest acts, as the site to be sanctified with circumcision. This gives us the profound message that we can use every physical drive for holy purposes.
Chanukah always falls out during this time of the year where days are short and nights are at its longest. It is our mission to light the candles, to bring light in to the darkness, to see things more clear, to flip the puzzle board, to transform an illicit moment to the spiritual.
Interestingly the menorah is lit by Jews in public showcase all over the world….may we, the chosen people continue to make this world more clear.
Adam was shown the soul of King David and the fact that he was destined to live only 3 hours. Adam was very grieved at this loss of potential. He inquired whether he was allowed to bequeath some of his own years to David. The Almighty answered that Adam was destined to live for 1000 years, but that he would be allowed to give up some of those years to David. Adam then bequeathed 70 years to David, so that Adam lived for 930 years and David lived for 70 years.
As we all know in the business world the more one thinks of a deal that he made, that he signed, sealed and delivered, that he signed mazal u’bracha on, the more he second guesses the transaction. The Sages teach that when Adam was about to turn 930 years old, he regretted his earlier generosity and wanted to back out of the deal. G-d urged Adam to keep his word.
The Rokeach cites an even more startling version of this Medrash: When Adam originally agreed to give over 70 years of his life to the future King David, he signed a document to that effect. The document was “co-signed”, so to speak, by the Master of the Universe and by the Angel Matat. In the Rokeach’s version of the Medrash, when Adam turned 930, he tried to deny that he ever made such an agreement. At that point, the Almighty pulled out the document proving that he had made the deal!
The Medrash in Tehilim cites in this vein, that King David’s comment in Tehilim [146:3]: “Do not trust nobles nor sons of man (ben Adam), for he holds no salvation”, refers back to Adam’s attempt to retract his gift of the 70 years.
In our world of business if someone negates on a business deal he is looked down on. He actually, to some extent, black listed in the industry. Honoring a transaction is one of the basic laws in business. I once bought an expensive ruby my first year in the Colored Stone business. My Father was shocked that I bought such an expensive stone; he was even more shocked at the lousy choice I made. He ordered me to bring back the dealer and negate the transaction. It was one of my most humiliating experiences in the industry. It is something that had never happened again. My father explained to the dealer that “he’s young and inexperienced”, which I apparently was, and luckily he accepted and took back the stone. However, he never did business with me again. I learned, from then on, to be real sure before I utter the word “deal-mazal!!” and to be an expert in the merchandise I buy.
One of the methods a businessman conducts himself is using the shock system. He says in a stern voice: “I’m buying this product at this price and that’s my last offer, take it or leave it!! Make a decision quickly or I’m leaving now, there is another place I saw a similar product; is it yes or no?!!” One businessman used the shock treatment a bit too much and it cost him dearly. On a colored stone buying trip in Bangkok, Thailand one individual took the stones in his left hand and stuck it out the open window and threatened if you don’t agree on this price and not say “mazal” I’m throwing the stones out the window. They agreed, and the transaction took place. The natives, the Thai people are a very honorable people and would never negate on a transaction that they shook hands on; however, they don’t like to be threatened, so when he left their building, there in the courtyard, they broke the very arm he threatened to throw the stones with.
Astonishingly, Adam was not rebuked by G-d for trying to turn back on the deal. As a matter of fact, incredibly, he was praised. How can that be?
This desire to retract, in this particular special situation, does not stem from evil or shortcomings on Adam’s part. On the contrary, it stemmed from his greatness and his understanding of the value of life…….How is it possible, one may ask?
In order to understand why G-d not only did not punish Adam for wanting, having chutzpah to negate on the deal, but praised him, we must explore why G-d chose for the first man the name “Adam.”
The most popular reason why man is called Adam is because man comes from the ADAMA – the ground. However, there are other various names that Adam is called by; some are ISH, ENOSH and GEVAR. Why it is that ADAM was the name chosen to represent man? We just finished a month long of holidays and the one underlying theme throughout the month – or I should say two months – is TESHUVA – repentance. During this period, we pound our hearts and we recite the thirteen attributes of G-d. As we said in our High Holidays issue, G-d guarantees us that if nothing else works, that if no other method of prayer is accepted, the thirteen attributes will go through. What is it about this particular prayer that has that kind of ability? The philosophy behind the recitation is we have to strive to be like G-d, and by reciting His attributes, we affirm our commitment to work on ourselves to have just the right measurement of kindness, mercifulness, temperament, etc. This is the reason why ADAM, the name, represents man the best. We learn in the Prophets – Nevi’im – ADAMEH LE ELYON – we shall be similar to G-d. This is man’s mission in life. So our goal is to be like G-d, ADAMEH.
The Ibn Ezra asks why we must honor the elderly by rising before them. The Ibn Ezra answers that people who are elderly have learned to appreciate the value of life. They deserve honor for that recognition. For appreciation is a fundamental feature in the Jewish philosophy. A person acts differently, thinks differently, and has a different perspective on life when he is in his fifties and sixties than when he is in his twenties and thirties. He is a different type of person. We need to honor that perspective and attitude by rising before such people.
When Adam was “born,” and was told he had 1000 years in front of him, it was tantamount to someone coming to a millionaire and asking for $1000 donation. The millionaire is prepared to flippantly give over the 1000 dollars. It means very little to him. But if this same millionaire loses all his money he will be greatly aggravated over the fact that he gave away 1000 dollars.
Rav Chaim Zaitchik interprets that Adam — as with all Tzadikim — cherished life so much that as he was approaching death he could not bear to forgo the opportunity he had to accomplish more with those extra years. The potential to live and be like G-d is a burning desire in all of us, and it’s awakened only through age and life’s experiences. There is so much that a righteous person, one who appreciates life can do with even one more year, with even one more month, with even a single day. Life is so precious that when he realized that his time was up, he became so distraught and irrational that he forgot his promise or was willing to retract the promise (depending of the varying versions quoted above).
Interestingly, King David had fallen victim to the same desire to live. Towards the end of his life, he knew that he is destined to die on Shabbat. David also knew that if one learns Torah, the Angel of Death cannot harm him. He then devised a plan, when his seventieth year was approaching, he would learn constantly without stop from when the Shabbat begins till it ends twenty five hours later where then he will be safe.
I would like to discuss something so prevalent, so vital, that it has affected our communities, in the most devastating way, Depression. Unfortunately, it’s quite common perhaps because of the high expectation that we have to live by. Keeping up with the Jones and the Schwartz’s can be quite challenging and therefore our responsibilities and commitments assume humongous proportions as we flounder in a sea of questions, misery and pain. Often there is the feeling that life isn’t worth living.
Furthermore, as a generation, we have become very psychologically sophisticated. Terms such as: psychotic, neurotic, depressed, suicidal, anxious, and Freudian color our expressions lending them distinct meanings. Prozac, Zoloft and more Psycho pills are filling our cabinets, glove compartments and making my pharmaceutical salesperson – friend rich, Yes, I know you’re reading this. This is what this country has become.
This is probably the most ideal time to present this important subject matter considering the upcoming parshiot which we will be reading in the next few months indicate depression in the air.
The Karliner Rebbe (1740-1792) was one to say, “Depression is not a sin – but the sins depression brings about are greater than any sin on its own.” When the fog of depression falls over one’s heart, all growth in is in jeopardy!!!
It should be noted that the prime directive which the Torah emphasizes is spiritual growth which is brought upon through positive energy.
Depression infuses a lack of hope; it instills a lack of belief in oneself; it’s debilitating and at times can lead to the most devastating unforgiving acts possible.
For two months during the summer, we read parsha after parsha that relates troubling episodes about the attitudes and behavior of our ancestors in the Wilderness.
Beha’aloscha, Shelach, Korach, Chukat, Balak, Pinchas, and Mattot-Massei contain incident after incident in which the pioneers of our nation acted in a manner unbecoming of the “Dor Deah” [“Generation of Knowledge”] which they were supposed to represent. In these parshiyot, the Torah describes sin following sin, complaint following complaint, rebellion following rebellion. “If this can happen to the generation that received the Torah at Sinai, what hope is there for us?”
The Torah tries to ease the sting by placing unusual upside down appearance of two letter ‘Nun’s which bracket the pasukim [verses] “When the Ark would journey, Moshe said ‘Arise, Hashem, and let Your enemies be scattered and let those who hate You flee from before You.’ And when it rested, he would say, ‘Reside tranquilly G-d among the myriads and thousands of Israel.'” [Bamdibar 10:35-36].
The reason why it was placed here was to put separation between the “first account of punishment” and the “second account of punishment” (to relieve the gloomy impact of an otherwise unbroken narration of one punishment after another, which is depressing) [Shabbat 115b].
I heard a profound insight by Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt – the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Chaffetz Chaim, which, I believe, you, the reader can either be the recipient or the one suggesting the profound knucklehead statement.
The Rabbi’s father – Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt z’l was the Rabbi of the Queens Jewish Center – a large community in Forest Hills which consisted of many Jews from various backgrounds.
Please listen to this and ask yourself if this sounds familiar. Many years ago, Rabbi Akiva was having a conversation, with an individual apparently not as observant then him. The conversation centered on movies. The individual excitingly suggested some of the “must films” to see. However, he back tracked on some of the suggestions stating “I really loved that movie but you can’t see it…that one it’s not for you”. In other words what he was implying is, I can see it because I’m a lost cause; I’m done already, therefore there are two set of rules; I’ve done so many bad averot (sins) that there is no hope for me, but you, you’re still okay with the Creator. As a matter of fact it would be, to a large extent, at this juncture of my life, chutzpah for me to ask forgiveness from G-d. So I’ll just drag my feet in the mud, live in my cesspool and watch the movies for I’m not worthy.
We see from this individual and from the Israelites in these parshiot that they pursued the “pleasures of life”. But what paved the way was “a no hope, I’m doomed anyway” feeling.
One has to realize a fundamental and very important aspect of Judaism that many overlook, which we learn from the onset of learning the ABC of Torah!!! When we received the Torah attached to the intro is the statement ASHER HOTZEHTI ETCHEM M’ERETZ MITZRAIM – which I took you out from the land of Egypt. Apparently, that the Jews – our ancestors were in such a condition that they were the lowest spiritual level ever. They were in the 49th level – one above the last 50th which would deem them lost forever, and yet G-d forgave and redeemed them, elevating them to a nation status. The gravity of the statement is implying one can always return!!! As a matter of fact it is saying it, purposely, right in the introduction. One can read between the lines and understand as long as one’s alive he can’t give up on himself; the door is always open.
G-d provides us with an open window to come back which is in contrast to the “no hope depression” feeling that one at times develops. Perhaps, there is another dimension to G-d being labeled our Father. HE is the irrefutable, beyond compare role model for all parents for He exercises patience to the highest degree.
Our forefather, Avraham, was known for his hospitality. Once, an 86 year old traveling man was an unexpected invited guest staying for Shabbat. After encouragement to say the Grace after meal – acknowledging G-d – was refused by the old man. Avraham, frustrated, after the third meal, asked the man to leave. That night G-d appeared to Avraham and asked him “how was your day and tell me all about the guest that came over Shabbat”. Avraham went through the list and then mentioned that he asked the old man to leave after he was unappreciative and refused to acknowledge where the food really came from. G-d answered Him “Avraham, I waited 86 years for him to acknowledge, you couldn’t wait a weekend?” Immediately, Avraham went to fetch the old man and pleaded to return.
We learn from an old pro on how to fight depression and how one can one take out the heavy feeling from his heart?
The valuable lesson comes from King David and his masterpiece work -Tehillim. In the onset of Tehilim, it tells how King David approached teshuva-repentance and depression, and how we can learn, in practical terms, the art of repentance from him and how to come back. As we come to the third psalm, imagine for a moment King David’s situation. There are hardships, and there are hardships. The author of Tehillim can tell us a thing or two about such matters. We see King David being pursued by his own son, who wants to dethrone him. Worse, the majority of the populace supports the coup. Most depressing of all, much of this is due to David’s own mistakes.
Things couldn’t seem any darker. Yet we find him lifting up his voice to G-d with great poignancy. He starts his prayer with the words, “A song by David”. A song always expresses joy. With these first words of the psalm, we can begin to understand how he could not only survive such a shock but also grow from it.
Rav Shlomo Freifeld, zt”l, was an expert in giving encouragement to people in despair. One of his favorite lines was “Don’t be strong. Be great.” When life throws one of its curves at you, you can be strong, biting your tongue and bearing it stoically. That may get you through the hardship, but you haven’t gained anything other than a sore tongue. On the other hand, if you choose to accept what was sent your way and work through it, if you stretch every sinew of your soul to learn from the adversity, you can achieve greatness.
David cries out in pain, “How numerous are my tormentors! The great rise up against me!” His ache is palpable, and still he sings because his faith in G-d gives him the courage to turn adversity into a learning experience.
The fundamental root of turning adversity into a learning experience is found in the beginning of Bereshit. .
From this seminal passage we see that darkness proceeded light. In order for light to exist, it had to be created. It didn’t exist on its own. The adversity (darkness) which King David experienced was turned into a learning experience (light). And even when light was created, it was still mixed together with darkness and had to be separated from it..
One has to face life ready to accept challenges realizing that darkness and all its problems inevitably must be transformed to light – the learning experience. Only then will prevention from depression take place. This is one of the first lessons we can derive from the Torah, from the darkness of Egypt G-d transformed us into a nation. If we show HIM an interest – the size of a needle, HE’LL open the gates to the palace showering us with the bracha – the size of an ocean!
This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s Mayer Glazer, Yisschar Frand, Baruch Dopelt, Jay Shapiro, Uri Sklaar, Yossi Bilus, Dr. Abba Goldman
Hey, Jews are smart! Did you know that? In fact throughout the course of an ordinary day we practice brain exercises by negotiating contemplating issues with, out of all people, ourselves. For example, any child will think twice about eating meat, no matter how appetizing it is, for he knows he can’t have dairy for the next six hours. So the calculations start. He says “If I eat the hot dog now, will I be clear and free to eat the Carvel ice-cream when it comes my way later tonight? Perhaps if I consume the frank quickly and not waste time and maybe the ice cream which I will be receiving will be delayed by traffic, I could, then, conceivably pull off eating both. Or maybe, perhaps, I shouldn’t take the chance”. “Or perhaps I can sandwich bag the hot dog then I can eat it later after the ice cream”
These are the negotiations that any red blooded observant Jew has to go through daily. Granted, it’s a challenge but we are committed……aren’t we?
Baker Bob was one of the finest bakers in the Catskills. Not knowingly, one individual arrived at an event where Baker Bob’s desserts were on display; however, he had a meat for lunch. Anybody who knows anything about baking knows that the best deserts and chocolates are made with butter and milk. It’s very hard to resist Baker Bob’s cakes and pastries. After a half an hour the individual too succumbed to the cakes, even though the time allowed to eat dairy did not arrive, rationalizing, “although my ancestry custom is to wait six hours, I will adopt the German Jews custom of waiting three hours”. As time passed on, he began to be more lax eating dairy right after meat justifying his actions even more, saying “it’s not so bad…at least I’m not eating the two together”. This is a frequent problem among many, where one thing leads to another and the individual degenerates. We have to explore why this is so? Where and how did he develop his brazen authority to feel he’s capable to make such decisions?
Our people like to exercise, often, the ability to “rationalize”. It’s what we do best. The Jewish cup (brains) is one of the finest in the business; we are not robots; we are known to be thinking machines. Does this precious Jew have the power of decision making? What tends to happen is him saying, “perhaps I’m not so careful about keeping milk and meat laws but I’m careful in other areas; nobody’s perfect”.
Let’s explore the ability to rationalize and how we can use it to our benefit. One has to realize that at times it can backfire and we can get in trouble. The first time we learn of someone rationalizing was the first woman, Eve.
“And she saw that the tree was good”(2:6 Bereshit) It seems like Eve rationalized the tree was good to eat, even though she was told otherwise.
In the second of this week’s parshiot, Bechokotai, G-d threatens us (26:14) “if you do not listen to Me and do not do all of these commandments”…then……Hey! There are very un-pleasant curses written as a result of not keeping them. One has to ask why G-d is so rigid. So I don’t observe all, however, I keep most.
Furthermore, when do we exercise our famous gift of brainpower? It seems like the Torah is limiting our “say power” by demanding that we observe all the commandments or else.
In a few weeks we will celebrate the receiving of the Torah. If one examines the whole courtship of us, the Jews, receiving the Torah there is one important expression that we, our ancestors uttered that elevated and separated us above the other nations. When approached by G-d, we answered “NA’ASEH V’NISHMA”-“we will DO, then we will hear”. It was a tremendous act of faith on our part, it was what HE wanted to hear, where then G-d rewarded us with His Torah. We did not say “what is in it”? It was for the very reason why we uttered the words “NA’ASEH V’NISHMA” we were chosen. However, by picking and choosing what commandments to keep and how to keep it, we are violating that breach of trust which G-d put so much faith in us to be labeled the “chosen ones.” We are violating the statement that made us famous.
By picking and choosing what commandments we feel have to be observed, we are creating our own mandate. It’s not G-d’s Torah, it seems like it’s the individual’s own contraption. Is it our morality or is it G-d’s morality? Is it our laws of Shabbat we are observing or is it G-ds. If it is G-d’s, then we have to abide by his rules.
Many are mistaken to think that if it’s not logical, if it doesn’t make sense, then one is not obligated to perform it. This mindset goes against the main principle of “NA’ASEH VENISHMA” which got us on the map!! This is what made us an attractive commodity in G-d’s eyes.
A story is told of a college student who made a commitment to start keeping Shabbat. Exited, he had a Shabbat meal by an observant family nearby his dorm room. He got an unpleasant surprise, after the meal, as he entered his dorm room. His roommate, who had left town for the weekend, forgot to close the lights which were glaring bright throughout the entire room. G-d doesn’t waste any time in testing people. His first Shabbat was a painful and tiring experience; however, he mentioned it made him stronger. Besides the commitment he had to G-d and His commandments, he learned to be disciplined. This is an incident that- if successfully passed – separates the men from the boys.
An interesting question arises so when and how can we rationalize our actions? When can we use a little “brain power”?
Let’s return to the first woman, Eve. She saw it was good, rationalizing, to eat from the tree. The problem at hand, it was without authority. We have to ask what argument the snake presented to enhance the tree’s attractiveness persuading Eve to go against her husband, Adam’s command. The snake said “if you eat from the tree you will have tremendous knowledge like G-d”. Acquiring G-d’s knowledge had such an appeal that Eve would circumvent and jeopardized not only her residency in Gan Eden, but her entire existence?!!
What, then, is G-d’s knowledge that is so appealing? The Torah. The Zohar says that the Torah was created first and the world follows the Torah’s cue. When we pray to G-d, we are talking to HIM. When we learn his Torah, HE is talking to us. One, who learns, adjusts his thinking to the Torah. That is tremendous!! He becomes, not only closer to G-d, but speaking through HIM. He, who learns, becomes a changed man, a superior man! However, the learning of G-d’s work must be consistent; a regular connection is required. One of the main questions they will ask after one departs this world “did you learn Torah daily”.
However, when one stops learning the Torah on a consistent basis, he, then, does not grow with G-d and therefore, locks in to what makes sense to himself, therefore, stumping his growth. He makes up his own self style following his internal compass. He develops an arrogant attitude of “whatever feels right is right”. He rationalizes that it’s okay to eat milk soon after meat.
If one wants assurance that the curses above will not take effect, he has to have complete faith that all the commandments are important to keep. To be able to succeed in the mitzvot that G-d designed, one has to make time to learn His masterpiece, the Torah, and apply it to everyday life.
Sometimes we forget the meaning of a world without Torah. A world without Torah is just a matter of the thickness of the veneer. It is literally a situation of “each man is prepared to swallow up his fellow man” [Pirkei Avos 3:2]. The line between a human being and a wild animal – without the guiding moral force of Torah – is indeed very thin.
On Shavuot, which we are anticipating in a few weeks, we read the story of Ruth and Orpah. Ruth and Orpah were sisters, daughters of Eglon King of Moab. They were from royalty. They had to choose between going back to a strange land with a woman, Niomi, who was an old widow without a possession in the world or returning to their father’s palace. Who really made the rational decision?
Rabbi Frand learns out that if we look at the situation with a cold calculating eye, Orpah clearly was the one who made the logical decision. Ruth made an irrational decision. Why follow Naomi? It does not add up.
Ruth realized the difference between a life with Torah and a life without Torah. When the dilemma was put into those stark terms, Ruth had a relatively easy decision. Life without Torah is not worth living. This is the essence of Shavuot.
Its not a coincidence that we learn that Ruth grandson, King David danced uncontrollably with tremendous happiness and vigor in front of the Torah. How can a king not have his controlled demeanor? That behavior might not be fitting for a king; or perhaps it does!! King David was ecstatic because he knew, like his Grandmother, how Torah can transform man to a much elevated status. He knew that it is the true “brain power” where it is permissible to rationalize, as long as its studied daily. He knew having faith in G-d, proclaiming NA’ASEH V’NISHMA and doing all of G-d’s commandments is the ticket to a better life.
This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s Berel Wein, Henoch Leibowitz z’l, Akiva Grunblatt, Yaacov Menkin, Akiva Tatz and Dr. Abba Goldman
Who was the greatest Jewish King we ever had?
One should know and realize by looking at the tablets that half contain man’s relationship with G-d while the other half represents man’s relationship with his fellow man. If one examines it closely however, one will notice “honoring your father and your mother” is placed in the wrong column – on the side that represents man’s relationship with G-d. Clearly, as far as I’m concerned, parents are humans and they belong on the other side of the tablets. Perhaps the designer thought it would look awkward having six and four placed on the Aron Kodseh (place where you keep the Torahs). Five and five look much better and even; it gives more presence to the Synagogue, especially the fancy shmancy ones.
We read in Psalms, which was written by King David; (Sefardim read it daily while the Ashkenazim recite it the month before Rosh Hashanah). “My father and mother have left me but I still have you, G-d”. We can deduce from the Psalm that King David relied heavily on G-d. We can also detect David missing his parents. But that’s kind of odd; before he was anointed King, there was a concern that he might have been illegitimate. Yishai, his father, wasn’t sure David was his son. At best, they had a cold relationship. Although one may argue that any doubt about the legitimacy of Yishai being David’s father was put to rest after the Prophet Shmuel anointed David, and a loving father and son relationship developed. However, David was on the run, whether being chased by King Shaul or whatever wars he fought. Furthermore, David’s parents and brothers (except for one) were massacred by the Moabites. So as far as David’s relationship with his father, what’s there that he missed so much that triggered him to make such a statement?
Any one of the readers who have had the experience of taking care of elderly parents realized that as long as they were alive, one felt the parent was taking care of them even though the opposite was true. The son or daughter paid all the bills and they would escort them to their medical appointments because they would not be able to go by themselves. In fact, my father once said when a person becomes old he reverts back to being a child. Even so, apparently as soon as they pass on, the children feel abandoned; they have an uneasy feeling of losing that nurturing parent.
Belief and trusting G-d requires one to fully rely on Him. How does one develop that ability? This is accomplished by practicing the concept of “leaning on and trusting” through the parents. They are there so we can really on them. They fed and clothed us and took us to school when we were young; they taught us about life. The college tuition was paid and they let us borrow the car. We look up to them until a certain time where then they pass the baton to G-d and we rely on Him fully. It may take twenty years or forty, but it’s inevitable.
This is the reason “honoring parents” is on the same side of man/G-d relationship. G-d and parents are part and parcel in bringing out in us the feeling of trust and having being taken care of and that the ultimate and optimal feeling one has to have to G-d.
An interesting study was brought to my attention by my wife about the effects one has on water. Apparently, a study was taken by a Japanese scientist, Dr. Emoto, who discovered that thoughts and feelings affect physical reality. By producing focused intentions through written and spoken words and music and literally presenting it to the same water samples, the water appears to change its expression.
He took three samples of water. The first he expressed negative thoughts and words; the second he expressed nothing and the last he expressed loving words. The test result showed the water astonishingly mimicked the expression. What would be the results if a person drinks these waters? Would he be affected by the different expressions that the water has inherited?
The sages have instilled in our daily lives the ability to make brachot (blessings) on food and drinks. These brachot consists of G-d’s name, who is the Creator, not only of us, but of these foods. When we recite these blessings in front of the particular food or beverage, the item gets inspired and it absorbs positive energy of the blessing. We then consume the blessed positive energy food.
Many years ago, there was a plague during King David’s time. In order to stop the plague, David instituted that the people should say 100 brachot a day. Perhaps the positive energy of the 100 brachot, some of which were from food consumption, may have had an effect. G-d’s name is powerful and if said in the right context, could produce very positive energy.