I have two quotes along with my thoughts on them, to share today with you, the world. The first is from Rabbi Kook, first chief Rabbi of Israel, and the second from the late Lubavitcher Rebbe.
First quote: "Just as poetry has rules, rules have poetry."
Thoughts: My first thought, and one echoed by my wife is that this is a beautiful quote. My second thought, is I feel this sums up Judaism. Judaism has the spiritualness to take a person higher and higher, until he can almost just touch Hashem as it were. However, in order to access that spiritualness, one has to follow the rules of the game, or else it doesn't work. There are no shortcuts when it comes to coming closer to Hashem. Many non religious Jews see Judaism as just being about rules, do this, don't do that, etc. Rules are important, and they are meant to keep us safe, however within the rules there is a lot of beauty and poetry. I think davening is a great example of this. My wife and i have been to two different shuls in our little neighborhood for friday night services, with a little bit of difference for style the davening was the exact same basic formula, and just like I would have davened at home, the Amida is just as it always was on Friday night. It's a rule and it's beautiful.
Second quote: "The wax is the body and the wick is the soul. Bring the flame of Torah to the soul, then the body will fulfill the purpose for which it was created. And that is what I try to do-to ignite the soul of every Jew and Jewess with the fire of Torah, with the passion of our tradition, and with the sanctity of our heritage, so that each individual will fulfill the real purpose for which he or she was created." It was then asked of the Rebbe, "Has the Rebbe lit my candle?" "No, I have given you the match. Only you can light your own candle."
Thoughts: Wow, just wow this means you are the keeper of your own flame. It is up to you how much you feed it, and for how long. One thing I would add is that the oxygen is prayer, without prayer there really is no Torah, no continuous life giving force to keep the flame going.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Today my yeshiva program had a field trip to the Cave of our Patriarchs in Hebron. Hebron, happens to be heavily Arab and in the West Bank. However, Hebron has always been one of Judaism's holiest cities, this is the city David called home, and this is where Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah are buried. Also, according to legend is Eisav's head. For thousands of years Jews called Hebron home, and prayed by their Forefathers. Even when it became a mosque (the Muslims have a history of converting other religions holy establishments into mosques after they are conqured, they still do it today...) and the Jews where allowed to only go up to seven steps towards the building they still prayed there, pouring out the hearts and beseeching the One above for His mercy. Jews had a continual presence in Hebron up until about 1929 when the famous massacre occurred. After that, and especially after Hebron fell into Jordanian hands after 1948, Jews did not live in Hebron or get to pray by their Fathers until after 1967, where Jews could finally go into the building, and pray like humans. Surrounding this little part of Hebron is a security fence guarded by the army of Israel, as the Arabs would happily kill us Jews for even daring to look at their precious mosque. Inside, there is calm, peace, and tranquility. One gets a sense of awe being in such a holy and special place, and realizes that they really are the child of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We really did descend from these holy men, we really do share the same bloodline. Furthermore, when you think about it, that means that God must love me as much as He loves them, for we are all Jews, and whether one does what God asks or not, He still loves us, wants us to return to Him, and be holy, like our holy Parents. One more thing to take from all this, God told Abraham his children would be like the stars in the sky, which means you and I are both stars in God's sky. Time to act like it.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Walking through Yad Vashem, reminds me of of the words of Psalm 23, "Though I walk through the valley of death, I fear no evil for you are with me." When you look at the pictures shown at Yad Vashem, read the words of those that survived, those that died, and those that perpetrated the acts, you realize just how much evil there is in the world. Many people lost their way because of the Holocaust, and as someone who only knows what happened because of pictures, testimonies, and seeing the remnants of the camps, judgement is not possible. Today, my wife and I went to Yad Vashem, and it made me realize how far short of my potential I am. There was a video of a camp survivor who while talking about life in the Ghetto, talked about how much Torah they would learn each day, thinking that it might be his last. That is they way to be a Torah Jew, to learn like each day is your last! Here I sit, living like I will live forever! Afterwards my wife and I went to the Kotel, where we prayed and poured our hearts out to Hashem. Psalm 92 talks about G-d's kindness during the day and his faithfulness at night. What is the difference? in the daytime, ie when there is light, we can easily see all the chessed of Hashem, all the good that He does for us. But in the nighttime, the dark periods in our life and in the history of the Jewish people, it is hard to see how everything is a chessed, in those periods like the holocaust, like the inquisition, like a lot of things, we can only talk about his faithfulness, and strengthen ourselves with knowing that day follows night. After all the Torah says "there was evening and there was morning."
Saturday, November 2, 2013
It is well known that Hashem leads a person on the path that they wish to go down. If a person wants to go down a path that is disgusting, anti-Torah and the like, Hashem will lead him down that path, even as He "cries." However if a person wants to go on a path that is Torah, emuna and filled with holiness, than Hashem will lead a person down that path if that is what he wants. Hashem has led me down the path that I want to go and that is why I am typing this from the holy city, Jerusalem, on motzie Shabbos, as I prepare for another day of learning at the glorious yeshiva Chut Shel Chessed, also known as Rabbi Shalom Arush's yeshiva. The learning is fantastic, and so are the people. If a person wants to work on his relationship with God, this is a place to learn the tools to do so. I look forward to all the learning that I will do in the coming days and weeks. God willing look for more updates soon.