Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Secret of Exercise

Praise Hashem with All Your Soul (and Every Breath)
בראשית רבה יד, ט. על כל נשימה ונשימה שאדם נושם
צריך לקלס לבורא. מה טעם, כל הנשמה תהלל יה, כל נשימה ...

Maimonides writes that every morning one should rise early and exercise. How much exercise? Until the body begins to heat up.

Why early in the day? Probably because that's when it's best to do so; Perhaps because the muscles, which were totally relaxed all night, will thereby achieve proper tone for the rest of the day. Also, much of the blood can now stream to the musculature, because little remains in the now-empty, upper alimentary tract that would compete for the supply. (Which is why before the morning's food intake one should wait after the exercise until a state of rest is achieved, when blood can again be allocated to the alimentary tract, to take care of digestion).

Why until the body heats up, and not any more? Because, I believe, a heated state is harmful; Whereas an aerobic state - that maintains itself until that heated state is reached, is best, and here's why:

I think the key to exercise's efficiency is the deep breath! The deep breath serves to propel the lymphatic streams. Increased flow of lymph promotes:
1) Recirculation of protein that escaped from vascular capillaries;
2) Washing microbes away from tissue and into the lymph nodes where they can be neutralized;
3) A good "dry-state", where excess lymph within tissues is removed.
4) It also provides a generous dose of oxygen.

Exercise, by virtue of muscle contractions and stretches, press on the lymphatics and thus advance the stream along its one-way direction. While this is an important result, a much more significant propeller is the act of deep breathing. Under sedentary conditions, the shallow breath uses but a minor portion of the lung's capacity. The deep breath, on the other hand, mobilizes a larger than average capacity and this, in turn, draws a larger than average volume of blood into the lung parenchyma, which induces a larger than average lymphatic exudate.

This is the key point - the secret! For deep breathing does something that even general muscle movements cannot do, and that is, to rapidly advance the flow. At the peak of exhalation you create the greatest rush of lymph, and the deeper the breath at the peak of inhalation, the greater the rush will be.

"Deep diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the cleansing of the lymph system. Exhaling is more important than inhaling because when you exhale the vacuum produced in the lungs will exert a drawing force that pulls poisons from the blood into the lungs for elimination. This increases the rate of toxic elimination by as much as 15 times the normal rate" - Dr. J.W. Shields, MD, LYMPH, "Lymph Glands, and Homeostasis." Lymphology, v25, n4 Dec. 1992, p 147.

Mind you, I don't think Maimonides said, "Don't sweat". He said, "... until the body heats up." By this I think he means anaerobic exercise, which can induce pain, if not tissue damage.

It goes without saying deep breathing even without exercise also provides benefit.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Secret to Staying Healthy

Sometimes, the simplest truth is the hardest to take to heart.

If you don't have your health, you have nothing. Most youngsters have robust health because their livers are hardy detoxifiers. But this hardiness loses its stamina over the years. That's why older people often succumb to disease. Instead of energetically flushing out toxicity, which has accumulated over the years and that which newly arrives, older livers more easily become overwhelmed. Which is why most sick people are older people.

(The gemora [Bava M. 107b] suggests that all sickness relates to bile, or at least 83 illnesses can be attributed to the biliary system. And that, of course, means these are liver-related problems because the liver produces bile as a means to excrete toxins.)

Suppose you eat "bad" food, but not so much of it. Now suppose you eat "good" food, but lots of it. You may wince with surprise to discover that a lot of good food is worse for your health than the slight bad food you might eat. How much worse off is one, therefore, who eats a lot of bad food.

And who today, when the foods we eat are so far removed from nature or from nutritional value, does not eat bad food?

The secret to good health, therefore, is to eat less to maintain good health, and the older we get, even less than before. Of course, it follows, the older we get, the more our intake must be nutritious. If salads were until now a side dish, they should become a main dish.

That's the simple truth, as based on the Code of Jewish Law (see previous post for source). If you practice it, you'll be blessed with health; If you don't - just yet, you'll understand why sometimes the simplest truth is the hardest to take to heart.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Wonders of Hashem

Many of us, especially us dwellers of inner cities so far removed from nature, feel refreshed given the chance to see nature, even if it's one or two steps removed.

Enjoy 49 seconds with a frolicking otter.

(My thanks to Gruntig!)

Now see here two most incredible phenomena related to the the biggest beasts of land and sea. You will not be disappointed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Jeremiah 16, 19-20
Last Turn Before the Home Stretch

This Shabbat we read in the Haftara:

Regarding the Era of Redemption soon to dawn, the prophet Jeremiah foretold that Gentiles will then, "... come to You from the edges of earth, saying, 'Our forefathers bequeathed to us nothing but a lie, a vanity with no benefit.'" (16, 19) That is to say, the eventuality will be that Gentiles around the world will realize that the Jews' G-d is the One, True and Only G-d, and they will admit that the gods and idols they've been taught to believe in are just fictitious dribble.

Next verse: These Gentiles will at that time confess, "Should man make for himself a god, when they themselves are not gods?" That is to say, they will then realize how foolishly they behaved, how inappropriate it was that man would make for himself a god; For if they are not gods, how could they outdo themselves by making for themselves a god higher than what they are?

We're not there yet. We have yet to see a sea of Gentiles confess their foolishness. If anything, they're still pushing ahead stubbornly with their false beliefs and mean missionary agenda. But it has to happen soon, please G-d!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Two More Idols To Go

Let's calculate: We're the last generation of exile and the 1st to reach the Era of Redemption. If so, we must experience the pre-Messianic signs our sages foretold. Whereas these signs occurred some 70 years ago, godless zionism, we noted, forestalled the threshold by many decades. So we must experience these travails - again. We also noted world events, like the disaster in Japan, point to this period.

Now another important piece of the puzzle, in the mosaic of our current history, comes into play - whereby Socialism and Democracy remain the last two pretentious sources of hope that must be removed as obstacles to the Era of Redemption.

The (Previous) Rebbe here gives us insight into the verse:
"And against all gods of Egypt will I avenge myself, for I am G-d"
(Ex. 12, 12) - which may surprise you.

(By the way, "All gods of Egypt" refers to all gods of the world, for Egypt then ruled the whole world. Only after the Jews fled the country did Egypt lose this status [link])

It occurred when Jewish houses were passed over by G-d, when the Egypt's first-born were stricken, that G-d also struck down ALL IDOLS OF EGYPT - EXCEPT TWO! Only two "gods of Egypt" G-d left intact, namely, "Ba'al Tzifon" and "Pee-Hachirot". The destruction of these two gods, said the Rebbe, was postponed [to our time]! The Rebbe then explains Ba'al Tzifon refers to the idol of the Soviet Union, "Socialism", and Pee-Hachirot refers to the idol America stands for, "Democracy". These last two artificial idols worshipped by the masses are bound for destruction.

Here are the Rebbe's own words, copied from his magazine הקריאה והקדושה, Mar. 1941, p. 165. Please read every word. The highlighting and square brackets are mine.
- - - - - - - -
According to our sages, every child has a name. They have recorded for us all that is happening, and what will happen to the Jews and to the entire world throughout the long exiles .... For in our Torah are contained the replicas of all world situations. One need only to be able to match them with the correct originals, at the right time!

One picture of a world situation which our sages have left us matches the present time in all its details. That is the picture of the world situation immediately preceding a deliverance of Israel. They recorded it ... in fewer words than it would take to fill an American post-card.

Following is the entire description of that period. The English translation is far lengthier than the original text , which consists of a few brief sentences:

"Before the Jews were freed from Egyptian exile, they were sunk deep in idolatry, having passed through 49 of the 50 possible stages of defilement that result from idol-worship. Therefore G-d first destroyed all the Egyptian gods. Those of stone crumbled away, those of metal melted, those of wood became rotten and moldy. He left only two idols for a certain time; The one called "Pi-Hachirot," and the one known as "Baal Tzephon". .... The Jewish masses .... When they saw that all the idols were broken, they awakened to the truth that the only true G-d is the G-d of their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

This is the entire description; From this we find that the "child" of today, whose identity has been sought in vain by everybody, really has a name! That name is, "The Eve of Redemption".

During the last fifty years the world in general, and particularly the Jewish world, has been flooded with all sorts of idol-worship, otherwise known as "isms". .... The G-d of our ancestors was forgotten; They forgot that He brought us into this exile, and they refused to believe that He will free us from this exile. Instead, they began to serve the newly-created idols, Reform, Assimilation, World Culture, Socialism and various other isms.

Now G-d has come to break the chief idols. The world is suffering the ten plagues. Barbarism is destroying all the other isms, until only two idols remain; That of "Pi-Hachirot", which symbolizes "Freedom" [Chirot as in חרות] for which the democratic countries are fighting, and that of "Baal Tzefon," which symbolizes the unknown salvations and consolations, as yet unseen by man [concealed, as in צפון], which the Red ism is supposed to bring to the working class.

To these two remaining idols the modern publicists adhere with might and main, for without these idols they would be left simply jobless - their importance would vanish entirely. In a resuscitated, limping civilization, and with a national-political movement for a small Jewish coop in the land of Palestine amongst Arabs and Christians, they could retain their leadership and authority over the ignorant, G-dless masses; But in a true redemption, with a Moses as a leader, they would be forced to forget their pretensions to leadership. Therefore they demand no more than a continued exile, in a Pi-Hachirot type of world.

However, their reckoning is false! The time to switch from one idol to another is gone forever! This time all idols will be shattered to bits, and no new ones will take their place. This is a world revolution which leads to the complete extinction of all idols and all their priests, especially among the Jews....

A Response to Those Marking Naqba

Thanks to Kobi Kalmanovitz

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Calamity of May 14, 1948

Chabad never took Israel's Independence Day as a holiday. In fact, they deem it a disaster for that day marks a formal rejection of divine providence in a tremendous, historical event - like a child who spurns the love of his father! For example, when deliberating on the wording of Israel's Declaration of Independence, the word "G-d" was deliberately excluded (in contrast to its American counterpart)!

Another most important reason it meets with Chabad's revulsion
- is the subject of this post.

Here's a segment translated from Kfar Chabad magazine (Supplement, Pesach 5765, pp. 73-5).

The Zionist Crisis
"They had a personal connection to the Rebbe and to Chabad, almost an intimate one," said Mrs. Shulzinger, wife of the younger brother, Shlomo. "I know this for sure, even though my knowledge on this topic is slight." Her husband passed away 3 months ago. "There's nobody today who can tell the story," she says, with a tinge of sorrow in her voice. "I know they printed most of Chabad's literature, and they were very close to the Rebbe. Thanks to this connection, my husband and I visited Kfar Chabad. The one story I know of, I heard from my husband, a"h. This is the story that led to their break with the Rebbe. This occurred when they printed for the Chabad movement their usual, yearly calendar, and discovered, to their surprise, the epithet 'Independence Day' missing next to the 5th of Iyar. The brother, Shmuel, got to the Rebbe and said, 'Had I known you'd remove Independence Day, I'd not have printed the calendar at all!' When the Rebbe took his time to respond, Shmuel said, 'If the Rebbe has no answer, or if he doesn't want to respond - I'll leave and break the relationship!' Just as Shmuel turned to leave, the Rebbe called him back. He requested he at least put a coin in the pushke so the relationship persist."

Their attachment to Independence Day had to do with the state's establishment in 1948. The brothers made Aliyah, and, according to Mrs. Shulzinger, her brother-in-law, Michel, partnered in the Zionist organization "The Workers Movement".

This episode regarding Independence Day was also described elaborately by Rabbi Yehoshua Dubrovsky:
"I worked at that time in the printing house of the Shulzinger brothers - a firm that became well-known because of the huge quantity of books they published and because of the quality of their binding, using 'fine ink on fine paper', a motto they engendered in the Jewish community. Both owners, Michel and Shmuel Shulzinger, merited to publish the lion's share of the enormous output of Chabad chassidut put out by the Previous Rebbe and the Rebbe, in the aftermath of Europe's wreckage.

"In those days the Shulzinger brothers invested heavily on publishing various books (on chassidut, education, flyers, etc.), over $30,000 a year - a fortune at the time. And, if truth be told, I want to add, that more than once they actually 'went nuts' to fulfil the Rebbe's will, as for example, to publish a book or pamphlet as fast as possible, sometimes even faster than physically possible - because in those days editing press layout involved handling solid leaden letters. As a result of their exertions, they enjoyed the warm affiliation of the Previous Rebbe, and, naturally thereafter, of our Rebbe.

More Stringent than Satmar
"The thing was, that they themselves were hard-line Zionists, and, as such, blocked any osmosis of the inner essence extended them by our Rebbeim's outreach. Here's how it happened. One day, upon my arrival into the print house, the Shulzinger brothers pounced on me with yells and complaints, as if I did something wrong. The sore point that enraged them was this: 'We never thought the Rebbe was all that stringent, why he's even stricter than the Satmars....' Well, what happened and why the raucous ....? It took a while before they calmed down, and only then could they finally relate what happened, and here it is:

"At that time the Shulzinger brothers were pioneers, for a while, in fact, the only ones, in publishing Jewish calendars. Jewish organizations were their dedicated clientele. Lubavitch too ordered these calenders from them. At that time, Rabbi Chadakov, the Rebbe's secretary, would carefully inspect all that was printed in Lubavitch circles.

"The Shulzingers had a strong commitment to mark Independence Day in their calendars (on 5 Iyar). When the calendar's draft was brought to Rabbi Chadakov to inspect for sign-off, he noticed the "extra" two words "Independence Day" on that day, and then erased them well leaving no trace of them.

"When the draft returned to the brothers and they saw the sensational omission, they first turned flustered, which then turned to outright anger, for something they would not tolerate. Immediately they set off to 770, entered Rabbi Chadakov's small room, and shouting began to echo. Marking this day, they argued, was sacred for them, etc.

They Impeded the Redemption for Tens of Years!
"Rabbi Chadakov, with his usual calm, listened until the end, then answered them resolutely that in a Lubavitch publication such notation has no place. Without arguing, he told them that if they insist on its placement out of principle, the order is cancelled.

"The brothers realized they were wasting their energies on the wrong person. One of them I heard say, 'Talking to this "Yekke" is like talking to a wall.' They decided to go to the higher authority.

"In those years it was still rather easier to gain entrance to the Rebbe, especially for those who previously enjoyed such privileges. In rather short time, they were given entry to the Rebbe's sacred chamber. And here's roughly how the Shulzinger brothers described to me what happened that day:

"Firstly, they asked, 'How could such a day - of independence - be erased from the calendar? After all, many people say that day, in fact, marks the beginning of the Redemption process!' 'G-d forbid, that was not the start of the Redemption process!' The brothers then said, 'okay, maybe it's not its beginning, but certainly it was a day of salvation and to some extent a redemptive process for Jews! Why then erase this day from the calendar?'

"Again the Rebbe answered forcefully, 'No, this was definitely not a day of salvation or redemption for Jews!' He used other such terms I no longer remember. The brothers weren't satisfied, and raised their voices. They told me this themselves. They tried 'begging' the Rebbe, saying even if it wasn't an actual salvation, at least it was a happy occasion, a sign of liberation, or the like. I think at this point the Rebbe also raised his voice - as the yeshiva students then studying in the nearby room told me, that all along they heard only the loud voices of the brother, until suddenly the Rebbe raised his voice, and here's what they told me he said.

"'Not only is this not the start of a Redemption, and not only is this not a salvation or holiday for Jews - but thereby they delayed the Redemption for such and such - tens of years!'

"Neither brother remembers the exact number used by the Rebbe, maybe because of their emotional state. And I too, after so many years, don't quite remember, although my mind tells me the number was 45 years. Only then, the brothers began to appreciate the contempt to godless zionism the Rebbe had - even greater than Satmar's, while still sensing how dear every Jewish soul was to the Rebbe."

The Bond with Chabad Persists
The daughter of Michel, Rina Krunenthal, remembers her personal meeting with the Rebbe on the eve of her wedding "as if it were yesterday". The Rebbe warmly blessed their pending move to Israel, and also spoke to her father. When her father was on his death bed, a representative of the Rebbe stood at his side. "From my childhood memories, I know my father would so often visit the Rebbe, she said longingly. "All his life he deeply appreciated the Rebbe. My wish is that my children and grandchildren should know of this connection, and the wonderful bond the Rebbe had with my father and his brother."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Eve of Redemption Signs Our Sages Gave Us

Here's an article from the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe's magazine, Feb. 1943 (הקריאה והקדושה), roughly translated from Yiddish. I post it on this blog to serve as a preamble to a subsequent post wherein I'll maintain, to my utter dismay, that the gangster regime now in power, the ruler of Edom, will again triumph in the next presidential election. I will refer back to this article to remind readers what this Jewish leader of his generation forewarned his flock. I have this premonition of imminent disaster I feel compelled to share with you, later.
[The highlighting is mine.]

Our sages, who foresaw that this last diaspora, called "Edom", would endure nearly two millennia, also foresaw that, as it winds down to its terminating stage, Torah will have become enfeebled among a majority of Jews, and this would therefore bring back the age-old national Jewish scourge - the FALSE PROPHETS. These false prophets would then lead Torah-empty Jews through all 49 degrees of impurity, unfortunately.

The end-stage period would then necessarily have to be a horribly bitter one. It would spell outright danger wherein multitudes of Jews will undergo waves of spiritual suicide, even conversion, G-d forbid.

Accordingly, the sages decided to foretell the signs that will usher in and constitute the Messianic era's birth pangs - in order to save at least a remnant of those being swept away; And also so that some Jews, here and there, will be able to console their distressed brethren by disclosing to them these very signs, just as this periodical has been doing for a year and a half now. We've been telling you we are in the eve of the Messianic era; That we've been foretold the tragedies that will unfold; And that we can attenuate these problems, or entirely prevent them from occurring - by tearing you away from the modern false prophets, so you return to the warm fold of Torah, back to the ways our forefathers practised.

Our sages knew saving the entire Jewish nation would be very difficult because the false prophets will not loosen their grip. On the contrary, they will exert their strongest, spiritual pogrom ever against the Jewish nation, until the very last moment when, as our sages tell us, they themselves will finally perish during physical pogroms against the Jews.

The sages took as their task to rescue the innocent victims of the false prophets, those who might even question or doubt one of two things; Either the false prophets, or, the Torah and its true prophets. It was for the benefit of these 50-50 Jews or 50-50 believers for whom the sages foretold us the many signs by which to recognize the eve of the Redemptive Era.

The many signs serve each person as however he will understand them. In truth, however, all the signs really boil down to but a single sign - for they all point to this one point, that "And against all the gods of Egypt will I avenge myself, for I am G-d" (Ex. 12, 12). And why so? In order to finally and totally discredit the false prophets, so the Jewish masses strip away their allegiance to them and from the various idols of Egypt the false prophets would have them worship.

The modern idols our false prophets energetically promoted, and succeeded in convincing a huge Jewish populace to follow them, are well known: Political Freedom, Economic Certainty, and Godless Zionism. These are the 3 primary false idols. These extend to other such "isms", like Bolshevism, Bundism, Yiddishism, and dozens others.

The signs of the Era of Redemption our sages depict start out as follows: "The son of David will not come until …" such and such happens. These signs portend the utter destruction of the above 3 "isms", for which the false prophets should be dishonored.

Our sages tell us that after the known, bloody wars, the entire world will be ruled by the kingdom of Edom, the one Ovadiah the Prophet refers to as "You are greatly despised" (Ov. 1, 2). This means many nations will be ruled over by unabashed tyrants and oppressors who will put an end to all hope for Political Freedom, Economic Certainty or whatever other culture!

"Moshiach will not come," our sages say, "until the following signs will manifest":

1) "All cheap dominion will disappear" from Jewish notion. This means to say, until all new systems of rule most Jews place their hope in will reveal themselves as being cheap and worthless, as was evident with Bolshevism in Russia, and other such unavailing systems.
2) "Mankind will lose hope in any redemptive process." Note the exact words of the sages; They did not say, "Until the Jews", but rather all "mankind" will lose their faith in any redemptive process.
3) "All judges or police (protectors of Jews) pass into oblivion."
4) "All conceit passes from among Jews", because all will become poor and enslaved.

The 4 above signs indicate that the false prophecy of Political Freedom will be shattered. Not only Jews but the other nations too will be robbed of freedom. No longer will hope be held out for redemption, or for returning to previous times.

"Moshiach will not come," continue our sages, "until ...":

5) "The last penny of savings will disappear."
6) "When they seek a sliver of herring for an invalid but can't find one". We can thus imagine what smidgen of better foods healthy people will be able to find, who command less mercy than sick people.

From the latter 2 signs we easily note how the idol of Economic Certainty will also be shattered. And our sages offer several more signs that will convince everyone that the idol of Culture will also lie in a shambles.

They say, "Moshiach will not come until,"

7) "All governments in the world are under the control of G-d-deniers."
8) "The number of students will diminish."
9) "Every event will have several interpretations". This implies strong censorship; When nobody knows the truth, and everyone has a different version of what happened.
10) "All souls will leave their bodies", which could mean all mankind will be obsessed with hunger, when their only concern will be to to hold on to dear life, where, like animals, no thought is given to nourish the soul with spirituality.

Under a reign of avowed G-d-deniers who will abolish education for the masses, except for a privileged segment, entire populations will slave for the state, eking out enough only to survive. With a press akin to that of Nazi Minister of Propaganda Goebbels, the idol of Culture will obviously be smashed, just like its two other "idol friends", Political Freedom and Economic Certainty.

All these 10 signs of impending redemption our sages show us actually constitute one sole general sign regarding G-d's claim, "And against all the gods of Egypt will I avenge myself", where these signs merely indicate the many ways one can be poked in the eye, in that generation.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

5 Wars Without a Tear

Chassidut talks of the "spark" inside every Jew. This story provides an example where it ignites its expression.

“I've Been Through Five Wars”

Two weeks ago, Gutman Locks put tefillin on a career officer from the United States Air Force. He showed him how to pray for his family and thank G-d for all the good he was given. Gutman then escorted him to the Kotel. Some 10 minutes later the fellow returned and said, “I have been through 5 wars and I never shed a single tear. I walked up to the Kotel and I started crying.”

Gutman asked, “Why were you crying?”
The guy said, “Love”.

Friday, May 06, 2011

From Brain to Semen

Illustration of embryonic development
A saying attributed to Kabbalah says, “a drop exudes from the brain and develops into semen”.

We know full well from Judaic tradition that "the generations are declining", such that a modern-day savant is more akin to a donkey than to any of our sages. So what did they know that we don't know?

Torah needn't apologize to "modern scientific wisdom", when, in fact, the more science progresses, the more it inches closer to Torah truth. The great wisdom of science is, after all, a huge myth. In fact, if you survey the last 100 years, what you'll find is that most scientific discoveries proved to be counter-intuitive! (e.g., see here).

Those who never learned Tanya, chapter 2, will have missed another such reference. There it states clearly, "... the child is derived from its father's brain," meaning to say, "semen, from the father's brain". But since when does semen derive from brain? We, the enlightened generation, are entitled to ask. Does it not, in fact, get manufactured and stored in the testicles (or ovaries)?  Any student of anatomy or embryology would be bewildered to discover semen derives from the brain.

But if Torah-derived sources tell us so, we do not doubt their veracity. For that which manifests in physicality derives from its spiritual configuration. What is down here follows in step from what is up there.

I've read hard-pressed reasons such as - the pituitary gland secretes a hormone to effect testosterone and sperm production, so here we see the brain-semen connection. Perhaps, but the sages do not wish to mislead in their statements. If they say it derives there, that's what they meant.

One could explain the child resulted from a brain-triggered event, after all, because the father thought conjugally of the mother, which aroused him, which eventually led to offspring. Thoughts in the mind initiated the whole matter. But this isn't so because the Tanya specifically uses physical terms -- semen and brain -- rather than "thoughts".

So a strictly cellular, somatic mapping for what the sages meant might be explained as follows:

In my first year of medical school, some 40 years ago, I was selected to deliver a lecture on developmental embryology. In particular, it was about the development of the organism's testicular tissue, from its earliest stages onward.

By divine providence this lecture fell into my lap to deliver, something that perhaps now, decades later, lets me shed light on what I learned back then. Here's what I remember. (I was using then a textbook I've since lost. I couldn't find that textbook in used book stores or on the internet.)

The crux of it is: Migration is a ubiquitous feature of primordial development. The embryological cells that become the substrate for testicular or ovarian tissue begin their journey in the mostly undifferentiated embryonic mass from a location that later differentiates into brain tissue. These brain-region cells migrate down through the embryonic tissues, like salmon up a river, until they finally localize in what will develop thereafter into testes and ovaries.

This journey, from the brain area to the seat of sperm or egg cell production, this embryological ontogenesis of the gonads, is what I believe our sages spoke of. There is cell migration from the brain region to the testicle region, a move that happens in an early developmental stage of the embryo.
- - - - - -

P.S. Speaking of phenomenal medical insight provided by Torah, I remember visiting a Chabad shul in Israel and seeing high up, atop a high bookcase, two books hermetically placed. I climbed up, took them down and looked into each. My eye caught two items that blew my mind.

One sefer, by Rabbi Chaim Vital, who transcribed much of the Arizal's teachings, speaks of 3 layers of membrane over the brain. That he knew this stunned me. Surely he did not get his knowledge by sawing open skulls (a tough job, especially if you don't want to destroy the delicate wrappings of the brain), nor did he fix and stain tissues and examine them under a microscope.

The other sefer, by the Tzemach Tzedek, made mention of the number of vessels in the liver. I was flabbergasted. The liver is the largest internal organ of the body and entirely perfused with blood vessels going every which way. How anyone could arrive at a number from this amazingly complex vessel network seems outright preposterous! Yet here comes the prince in his generation and states something any professor of hematology would laugh at. The Tzemach Tzedek, however, will enjoy the last laugh.

I'm sure the Tzemach Tzedek never owned a microscope, dissected a liver, nor counted vessels to get to his number. Did Moses inspect every mammal in the world before he asserted the pig, and only the pig (from all the animals in the whole universe), has split hooves and chews its cud? Of course not! Similarly, the our sages get their "scientific" knowledge from special insight provided by Torah and Talmud.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A Little Light Dispels Much Darkness

The "Festival of Light" team, led by the Chabad self-appointed emissary to festivals in Israel, Rabbi Michael Kedelberg, arrived at the southern city of Eilat to reach out among 10,000 youth who assembled for the yearly "Boom-Boomla Festival". It was scheduled on the latter days of Chol Hamoed Passover.

Israel has many festivals organized for youth as vacation breaks. The rabbi does his reach-out work by getting permission to set up a non-competitive, inner "sub-festival", including tents and banners, amid the highlighted yearly festival, thereby bringing religious thought, discussion and experience to a secular throng of Israeli youth who know practically nothing of religious custom. Israeli culture and its public school system have been deliberately secularized for much of the country's history. He sets up his operation by choosing a peripheral location where he includes his own "booths" and events for passers-by who show an interest.

The festival's attendees had been reduced 2-fold from its usual size because authorities had shifted the venue this year from its usual site, the city of Nitzanim, to the remote city of Eilat. This year's "Festival of Light" team, in contrast, doubled its activities from a year earlier.

There were many "farbrengens" (get-togethers), lectures on Chassidut, one-to-one conversations, writing to the Rebbe, minyans (quorums) for Torah-reading and prayers, distribution of Friday-night-candle kits for women to take back home with them, brochures and flyers with articles and explanations, Sabbath prayers and Sabbath meals - for hundreds that came in from the festival's crowd.

After a series of very encouraging letters drawn from the Rebbe's voluminous set of letters, the rabbi decided not to diminish activities this year, despite the increased difficulty involved in the move to Eilat from Nitzanim, such as new logistics, the handling of much equipment and the drafting of added manpower to the new site.

It took a chain of open miracles to transfer an enormous amount of equipment and to set up the operative compound.

On Wednesday night several new crew members arrived to run the complex.

On Thursday, even more men joined the work force and worked almost a 24-hour day!

Because of high demand, an additional booth to write the Rebbe had been set up, as was another compound on the opposite side of the festival's grounds, where hundreds of teenagers meandered in.

"The whole team was excited by the curiosity of the youth," said the rabbi. "There was a feeling of elation from all around". The youngsters expressed eagerness to know and discover the truth. Many made new resolutions. Many were remarkably open to listen and learn about chassidut.

Most of the food stalls in the festival were kosher for Passover.

The usual foreign, exploitative element, the missionaries, who try to misguide and infect the innocent youth with a form of idolatry, thank G-d were absent this year.

When it was all over, the Era of Redemption was more tangibly felt in the air.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Sabbath Contract between Jew and G-d
(Exodus 31, 16-17) - part 2

That it is not a trifling matter to desecrate the Sabbath we learn from:

כי ששת ימים עשה ה' את השמים ואת הארץ
"For as a hexadiemer did
G-d make the heavens and the earth."

The Almighty made all heaven and the earth as a hexadiemer, a "six-dayer"; That is, as a creation which operates only on the basis of six days of work followed by the Sabbath as a rest day. It is not written "ששה ימים", which would be the correct way of expressing six days, but "ששת ימים" - in combinative form, with a hyphen - a grammatic construction that means a "six-dayer". The entire world is, so to say, a "sixer". It receives and transmits its G-d-given powers in hexadiemeric measure. It has received the power to exist six thousand years. The earth can give forth its produce six years consecutively and then must be allowed to rest one year; For if this schedule according to which it was created is not lived up to, then its ability to produce the right type and quality of fruit is impaired.

Man also is created hexamerically, his powers adjusted to the measure of six days' work and one day of rest. If he should labor five days and rest on the sixth, he would not be working sufficiently and he would in time be overcome by lassitude or neurasthenia. If he should work seven days and rest on the eighth, it would be too much for him and he would eventually become weak from overwork. He can only be normal and completely healthy when he works according to the schedule of his Creator - six days, resting on the seventh.

The entire machinery of nature, of heaven and earth, is adjusted by G-d so that everything should work six days and rest on the seventh. Only those who work in harmony with the G-d-created machinery are normal both in their work, spiritual or material, and in their accomplishments. Anything that is effectuated on the day of rest, the World-Sabbath which, according to our sages, is the fountain of blessings for the week, can have no survival; For it lacks the blessings of the nature-machine. Nature rested on that day. She did not infuse her secret powers into that which man did or made on this day without her consent. It will therefore not keep. Its maker will not enjoy the ultimate benefit thereof. The money that one amasses through working on the Sabbath will, in the end, go to waste. It cannot under any circumstances bring him either success or good fortune, for it was taken without the divine blessing of abundance in nature which, being then at rest, did not pour forth its bounteous benediction upon the monies that the rest-disturber graspingly attempted to acquire.

It is therefore not merely a question of so many days of work and one day of rest, but actually a matter of working on the correct work-days, and resting on the true-Sabbath day. One must work when the nature-machinery works, specifically from Sunday to Friday, and rest on Saturday. If, however, one works from Monday through Saturday and rests on Sunday, or if one rests on any other day of the week and works on Saturday, it means having worked on the day when nature rested. The penalty for this is, as above stated, that the work has no power of survival, nor to provide any genuine benefit.

Therefore many nations, after long years of continuously working on Saturday, have vanished completely. They had, in a certain degree, lived abnormally. They ate food produced during the Sabbath, which somehow harmed them. They amassed wealth created on nature's G-d-given rest day, which was foredoomed to perish.The cumulative effect of it all was that these nations finally disappeared completely. Some of them, indeed, worked only six days a week and rested one day. But it availed them little. They had worked on the day when all nature rested, on the Sabbath, therefore the fact that they rested on another day did not help them.

Nature's true day of rest, when she operates only to the extent necessary for the world's continuation, but does not produce anything which has the power of survival, is the Sabbath instituted by G-d, the day about which it is written:

וביום השביעי שבת וינפש
"And on the seventh day He desisted and became rested."

Nature does not work when G-d, its creator, does not work, and this is on the Jewish Sabbath-day. It is obviously illogical to say that after G-d created the world in six days He "rested" on the seventh. What then did He do on the eighth day, and the ninth, and all the days since? Did He then return to his factory to create more worlds, heavens and earths? The true interpretation is as above indicated. G-d created the world as a hexadiemer, that it should work for six days, during which, with His constant cooperation, it can produce all things and endue them with power, while on the Seventh day it should operate only as though with unmeshed gears, without beneficent effect upon newly made things, merely to continue what is already in being. This is the reason for "וינפש" - a word in the passive tense. It means that He became rested. He arranged that nature should cause Him to become rested, for ever since creation, nature, by His power, works six days but rests on the Sabbath, thus causing Him also to rest, since she does not draw any substance from G-d, and does not impart any.

That which nature must furnish on the Sabbath in order to maintain the world, is imparted in sufficient degree on Friday, as the Manna came in double-portion on Friday. But on the Sabbath day itself nature is non-beneficent, for it does receive the requisite power from the Creator, who is, thereby, caused by her to "become rested".

The essence of the idea that G-d created the world in six days, is surely not because it had to take Him that much time to do it. G-d could have created the world just as easily in six seconds, or, as the Zohar puts it, with a thought. But He apportioned the work over six days, commanded the world to develop into fulsomeness over all of six days, in order to set the hexameric standard of work forever both for the world and for man; That it, too, should be a "six-dayer"; That during every six day period, while G-d continues to endue nature with the force that enables her to work, man should work in harmony with her, and that he should rest when all nature rests.

It is very difficult for some people to conceive that a profit made on the Sabbath is worthless. Yet this is paralleled by the fact that many other gains have no substance and never bring good fortune. For example, dowry that is taken from an unwilling giver, an inheritance from a remote relative, and stolen money are never lucky and can never be long maintained. Various reasons and explanations are offered for this often observed phenomenon, but the only true reason is that such gains lack the divine beneficence which is given only with the natural gain to those who rightfully earned it. In another's hands it melts away like snow.

Whatever opinion one may hold, profits made on the Sabbath can under no circumstances be for long retained. They are made without the cooperation of nature, without her approval. Therefore they must sooner or later vanish like smoke. Oftentimes these profits actually cause injury, disease, or pain, depending upon how easily or with how much difficulty a person is destined to be dispossessed of them.

"And the children of Israel shall observe the Sabbath." The Jew must observe the G-dly, hexadiemeric world-system. For not observing the Shmitah, the Sabbatic year of the soil, the Jews lost their own land and even in exile they have not been permitted again to till the soil [written in 1941]. For not observing the Sabbath day, the Jew loses his good fortune generally so that even if he acquires money it brings him more harm than good. Proof of this is seen in the fact that the great assimilants, despite their economic success, either give their money away to some sort of a "Haman", or else they sink it into the guts of other peoples; So that in any event their money falls into the hands of strangers.

The Sabbath keeps the Jew when the Jew keeps the Sabbath. But whenever the Sabbath lies broken, there the Jew can have no good fortune. To attempt to circumvent G-d means only to deceive oneself.
Did you see Part 1?