Thursday, December 22, 2011

Being Beholden to G-d

So small a phrase as "Thank God" has awful resistance for some to bring to expression. Probably they fear the listener will recoil with horror at the thought the person speaking believes in "fairy tales". Meaning to say, the speaker wants to feel accepted.

But there are many who do express their gratitude by invoking the short phrase, "Thank God". And because they are so grateful, they want others to be grateful as well, so they have no qualms to assert their belief in God. Rather than wanting to be merely accepted, these speakers want to be influencers too. Rather than being timid, they want to be strong-willed. Rather than shy away from revealing their belief, they want to communicate it and, if need be, if they're questioned, they will easily explain their belief in a way where the listener should understand and he or she also become a grateful recipient of goodness, an occasion that even just breathing offers.

"How are you" is a commonplace greeting in America. "Thank God" should become at least as common, if not more so!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How Many Religions Are There in the World?
Jew & Gentile: Two Modes of Proper Conduct

Jews must convey to their Gentile peers the requisite for fulfilling the "7 Noahide Laws". We find this statute in Maimonides' paramount compendium of Jewish law, "The Strong Hand" (division "Judges", section "Kings", chapter 8, rule 10).

Regarding a Gentile with no faith in God, who feels free to behave as he wishes, especially in a free country, from the moment he arises in the morning, he has no plans for devout activities. For such a person, the 7 Noahide Laws may come as a rude awakening, for suddenly he's saddled with a new set of responsibilities he never would have imagined.

A religious Gentile may find it less traumatic to learn of the yoke he must bear to the Almighty, but he too will certainly be taken aback by this religious commitment he needs undertake, "a set of 7" he never knew about.

As for the Jew who must impart this information to his Gentile peer, this responsibility is extremely distasteful. A Jew never had it in his tradition to proselytize; It's not in his blood to talk religion with a Gentile.

The Jew who lacks faith in God would scorn this task as being ridiculous. So degrading a chore as this - to convince others of fairy-tale machinations - he wouldn't even wish for his enemy.

As for the religious Jew, after a millenial-long tradition of being under Gentile rule, always in fear of being downtrodden and on the defensive, when only recently the phenomenon of racial equality becoming socially palatable, he is not accustomed nor does he relish this now-feasible calling. He must go out among Gentiles and proclaim to them their charge of the 7 Noahide Laws. He'd rather be shackled and told to stay home than actively mimic the Gentile proselytizers he so despises, knowing they want to sell him on pennies so he give up his gold. For him to have to spread this set of laws to Gentile peers will make him feel like some sleazy insurance or used-car salesman.

So - we end up with Jews who shrink back from their responsibility to enlighten, and Gentiles who may well rebuff any new religious liabilities they will learn about.

The metaphor for this situation is the horse and buggy, with a passenger. The horse gallops along, and no matter if the passenger is smart or stupid, king or pauper, the horse, as far as it is concerned, could care less.

Similarly, that a person with obligations may reject or dismiss them - will not change the fact of the matter. The world gallops along its temporal course from one day to the next. One of these days, divine reckoning shall ask each of us if we fulfilled our duty on earth, and, by then, we will not be able to feign ignorance nor cast judgement aside. We'll be held accountable for our deeds.

We were created in God's image, which means we have the ability to think and reason, unlike other species.

So, to understand why disseminating, on the one hand, and accepting, on the other, the 7 Noahide laws is imperative, let's think and reason:

Suppose you host a guest in your home. Wouldn't you expect him to show appropriate manners? Would it not annoy you if he sits on your dinner table, carelessly breaks a crystal, or spits on the carpet? Would it not also offend you if such crass behavior were to occur mindless of your presence?

This anecdote symbolizes our lifetime on earth. We are the world's guests, given this incredible opportunity to live a life, by God our host. Do we disrespect the master of this domain and behave ungratefully?

You might ask, "But what constitutes 'appropriate behavior'? How is one to distinguish between what's really right from wrong?"

Think and reason again. The creator of any complicated gadget always leaves a set of instructions how to correctly operate his creation.

The same is true of the created universe. We creatures too have been given a manual of instructions. It happens to be the most widely read book in the world and the most popular in human history, until this very day! In the whole world, hardly a home exists without one, or at least without the ability to get one immediately!

Thought and reason should also lead you to understand and conclude that this fact is no mere happenstance. It's God's way to make sure we all have access to Him and His expectations of us. God also wants you to fill in the dots of so many more happenings around the world, especially events concerning His representative people, who have always been believers of His monotheistic presence, for that too will reveal important points in the mosaic of truth God wants people of thought and reason to realize and appreciate.

The very existence of the Jewish people is a phenomenon that transcends nature. It is the equivalent of a sheep that survives among 70 hungry wolves. The Torah is the glue that keeps the Jewish people true to their faith and miraculously assures their collective, if not individual, survival.

The book God gave the Jewish people is called Torah. The word means "a book of instruction". That name is deliberate.

The Torah, as it was gifted to the Jewish people 3,323 years ago, in its original Hebrew language, provides all the answers. Torah is your source for truth! As long as you allow others - other than observant Jews - to teach you what Torah says, or, as long as you find reason to follow those who shun the opinion of such Jews, you will never know the truth!

Not one letter has ever been added or removed from Torah since its inception, in 1312 B.C.. It suffered no revisions or modifications, and never will, because divine perfection gets it right the first time and remains eternally perfect. No translation of it can do justice to the original language. Unlike every other language, which is artificial, Hebrew is God's language.

Only observant rabbis profoundly intimate with Torah and Talmud (oral Torah tradition) can provide answers to questions of appropriate behavior.

The Torah prescribes two modes of appropriate behavior in this domain of God; One prescription is for the Jew; The other, for the Gentile. The Jew has 613 commandments (plus ramifications thereof) he must follow. The Gentile has 7 (with its own ramifications); These are the so-called Seven Noahide Laws.

So, what constitutes proper conduct in God Almighty's abode? What behavior befits the King's palace? There are two, depending on who you are. One protocol applies for Jewish people, and one for Gentile people. Each group has its own role in the world. The Jew is the Torah's beacon. The Gentile is the world's colonizer. Each has his own related set of commandments. Anything else falls short of these requirements and lacks divine sanction!

So, how many religions exist in the world? Who knows; There ought to be none! Torah endorses only two modes of proper conduct, one for Jew and one for Gentile, no more, no less. You can't beat this elegant simplicity, nor the inherent synergy.

As for the payoff - righteous Gentiles in this world earn their future ticket into the world of truth.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The "Downed" Drone

For those who feel confident this horrible Obama-thing will blow over and everything will turn out roses again after 2012, are due for a rude awakening. They do not realize how rotten the core of our present American administration and its supportive infrastructure has become. They do not see how the media manipulates the political scenarios, nor how the Republicans, as sure as the Democrats, are also with their hands in the pot. They do not realize that even the likes of so-called conservative Newt Gingrich is also on their payroll. They do not realize how so many individuals depend on or leach off of the financial support of the administration; This goes for common folk as well as for multi-millionaire politicians. The longevity of this corruption will not hold the weight and will have to buckle, but not before the regime in power wins a 2nd term and then will proceed to purposely break the system and its adherence to the principles upon which it was founded, namely The Constitution.

So corrupt is the regime, it has no iota of moral fabric. To engineer their takeover and transformation of this capitalistic society into a socialist, totalitarian one, they have conspired to run guns into the hands of Mexican gangs so that the guns can find their way back onto U.S. soil, doing damage they hope, thus giving the administration good reason to "clamp down" on gun ownership, thereby executing the next phase of their takeover and do-over, because without guns people are completely at the "law"-enforcement's mercy.

The drone that fell into the hands of the enemy is another glaring example of such conspiracy in the works. Nobody "downed" that drone; That drone was purposefully put into the hands of the Iranians. The administration has its moles planted in the U.S. airforce, who purposefully handed over this drone into enemy hands, knowing full well that China, Russia or Iran will thereby be offered the American regime's secret support, to eventually overwhelm American military superiority and thereby bring about a new, universal world order of socialist structure. The same regime that emasculated NASA, the same that undermines America's desire to create a democratic Iraq, the same that now has TSA agents in place to halt the outflow of the dollar they plan to devalue, will, after it wins a second term, bring America to its knees - forthwith, faster than you can a raise a protest against.

We are quickly approaching the Ultimate and Final Era of Redemption. This article brought you the Previous Rebbe's prophecy - that Democracy will turn out to be the last "ism" to be destroyed prior to the Messianic era, and now we are about to see just how fragile and corrupt an ideal this man-made structure can become, and will self-destruct, just as Socialism proved to be worthless and was destroyed. Looks like this prophecy is coming on fast and furiously - all for the good of the Jewish people (despite those still hoping to hang on to this flimsy, corruptable ideal they put all their faith in).
(See here too, The Rise & Fall of Israel & America, Respectively)
(And here too, re: Current Events in Bright Perspective)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hagar the Matriarch

Ever hear an Arab talk about his "history"? Inevitably he mentions Abraham, the patriarch of the Jews, whom they'd like to possess for themselves, which is why they hate Jews so badly.

But did you ever hear them make mention of their matriarch? That would be like offering some semblance of worth to a woman, which is so non-Arabic, so non-Muslim; After all, they would argue, or at least think, how can you attribute value to a mere object of lust, any more than you could attribute greatness to a goat! In fact, the goat doesn't have to wear the burkha.

Most probably the "elders" of the Arabs/Muslims, who know about the true story of Abraham, at least those few who credit Torah for being the truth, and, realizing that Hagar was but a maidservant of the first Jewish matriarch, Sarah, whose only son she made sure would inherit Abraham's legacy, while Ishmael, Hagar's son, she chased away from her premises, making sure he'd never inherit anything pertaining to Abraham, could hardly take pride in their driven-away matriarch.

Do I come to mock another "religion"? Yes of course, because it is no religion in the first place. Belief in the One G-d is indeed righteous. If that is all that they would believe in - they would be a holy people. But they take that premise, and add to it the rubbish written by a pedophiliac, thief, murderer and hater, and, in the name of G-d, commit atrocities and delight in the atrocities of the likes of Hitler, so - taken together - it is NOT a religion at all, but rather a sick culture.

Ever hear of an Arab/Muslim who murdered in cold blood and did NOT invoke the name of G-d at the time of his inhumane crime? This is the sickness of a deep-rooted culture that begins from infancy. Offer them any leeway, any show of respect, and you end up undermining yourself.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Natural Deodorant

Deodorant companies won't tell you this, but the best and natural deodorant is - baking soda! Apply a little of its powder in the axillae and for the rest of the day odor is eliminated. Not only is the substance natural, it works much better than artificial deodorant, and it's practically free.

Baking soda has no smell, does not stain clothing, retains its power for hours long, even on the hottest of days, is cheap, and, most important, does not contain dangerous ingredients such as aluminum, which practically all artificial deodorants contain.

Young people are often most likely to purchase the artificial deodorants, out of sheer ignorance, and most often they know nothing about the risks these can have on their own health, or on those who have to smell the spray when it is sprayed on. What they don't know is that clean sweat has no smell. Armpits and their sweat serve a bodily purpose. Artificial deodorants not only have dangerous substances that can be absorbed from the pores into the body, they also impede the natural, and therefore necessary, elimination of waste products from the armpits.
Other uses of this wonderful product:

Skin tears between the toes. Most creams don't work resolutely because shoes are full of bacteria and fungii. A good strategy is to put some powder into the shoes at night, and seal each shoe within a plastic bag. In the morning shake out the powder or vacuum it out. The rest of the day your shoes will be bacteria- and fungal-free.

Closet odor. Place a small dish with powder into the closet. The sodium bicorbonate will absorb the bad odors.

Removes stains from clothes. Just add 3 spoons of the stuff into the washing machine.

Shining teeth. Just add some of this powder onto your toothpaste. (Especially if you smoke!)

Got ants? Spread some powder around there.

Other uses include cleaning grime from pots, smell from thermos bottles and stains on carpets.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Direct Conduit for Hashem

Translation of the above note:
Because a Rebbe's answer is, after all, "The word of Hashem was spoken to me, Whose word is on my tongue."

In many Chabad ceremonies, a family often distributes to guests "gifts" (תשורה) for their reading pleasure. Such booklets contain historical anecdotes of personal encounters with the Rebbe, or those of relatives, or letters to or from the Rebbe, which the family unveils to share with their guests.

This image I cropped from such a gift handout, and share with you. I hope you appreciate the significance these few hand-written words of the Rebbe imply. They could just as well have been written by Moses, the leader of his generation. As we see in Deut 18:15, "A prophet from among you, like myself, Hashem will raise for you [every generation], to whom you should listen."

I can well appreciate during these concealed times the enormity of this last trial for many fellow-Chabadniks, how much more so for Chassidim of other affiliation, and especially more difficult to grasp for those outside the realm of Chassidut, for this concept of נשיא הדור, the Prince of the Generation, has now become strained, just as strained, if not more so, as the day Moses was expected to come down from Mount Sinai the first time -- when some felt he tarried. But a trial it is. Only this one is the final trial. Yet he who holds fast, and is willing to explain why, will convince enough Jews to accept the implication, a few more of which will trigger the "critical mass" for acceptance, needed for his re-revelation.

(As for why the Rebbe slightly modified the above quote, from Shmuel 2, 23:2, in this case replacing the word דבר for רוח, we do find it when the Rebbe wants to specify and explain a specific word, as here, that רוח means דבור. Regarding this concept, see also Tanya p. 278 (top).)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Amnesty from Hell - Psalm 23

The Previous Rebbe reveals for us what King David thought when he authored Psalm 23 (translated below, from הקריאה והקדושה, pp.781-2). It behooves every Jew to understand this short Psalm, for whom it was written in the first place. As a preface, I repeat what the Tzemach Tzedek said, that Moshiach will rejoice with the simple Jews, those who set aside their "brains" lest it interfere with their faith in the tzaddik's words. The "wise ones" will then have good reason to be jealous.

A friend once told me this about happiness - in Hebrew, שמחה: It consists of two inner letters and two outer letters that read מח שה, meaning "the mind of a sheep". True happiness is achieved by following the tzaddik's words as a sheep follows trustingly its shepherd. Much of the following relates to words of a tzaddik and the benefits of relying on and trusting Hashem, allowing oneself to be shepherded in His ways.
Our sages tell us, when a Psalm opens with the words "מזמור לדוד", this refers to a song King David created while yearning for divine insight. During such spiritual uplift, he would speak some divine truth, a profound holy lesson, for the sake of the Jewish people.

On the other hand, if it opens with "לדוד מזמור", this implies an occasion when unexpectedly he was infused with divine insight and then felt compelled to sing out a prophecy.

In Psalm 23, which we explain below, the divine poet renders a deep and holy lesson - that no real achievement is acquired in the world unless it is offered by Hashem, which is why Jews must always remain bound to Hashem, both in good times and, Hashem forbid, in bad times.
_ _ _

"מזמור לדוד ד' רעי לא אחסר"
"A song of David. When God is my shepherd, I lack nothing."

When individuals or nations help themselves, or when they're helped by other individuals or nations, this help is imperfect and lacks lasting happiness. Only when Hashem offers help or leads ("pastures") an individual or nation, is the help flawless. We naturally conclude, therefore, we must let ourselves be guided by Hashem, following in only His ways, if we yearn for success and complete joy in life.

"בנאות דשא ירביצני על מי מנחות ינהלני"
"He makes only me lie down on grassy pastures. He leads only me along calm waters."

True economic success, for an individual or nation, comes only from Hashem. Only He can provide tranquility and political freedom. Self-made economic success and political independence are neither complete nor enduring; These cannot bring full satisfaction for various reasons; It cannot last long and it is flawed to begin with.

"נפשי ישובב ינחני במעגלי צדק למען שמו"
"He refreshes my soul; He leads me in rightful paths - for the sake of His name."

Divinely-offered success provides more than physical or material happiness; It also provides internal, spiritual joy. That's because those faithful to Hashem are lead by Him in the right paths. Their success isn't based on falsity, theft, robbery or murder. They have a clean conscience. Their soul too is refreshed from this success, as is the body. This contrasts with achievement attained by those who abandoned Hashem. Then there is no tranquility because their conscience plagues them constantly and punishment for having made these material gains frightens them because of the transgressions and sins involved. Their physical success and emotional happiness are thus flawed.

Only success that Hashem provides refreshes both the soul and the body. Why? Because He does it "for the sake of His name", so people should know that when Hashem provides success - it is true success, free of heartaches or misgivings.

"גם כי אלך בגיא צלמות לא אירא רע כי אתה עמדי שבטך ומשענתך המה ינחמני"
"Even when I walk in the valley of death-shadows, I fear no bad because You are with me; Your rod and cane are a comfort for me."

The divine poet here addresses two issues: Man's death, which can lead to Hell, and exile, which "valley of death-shadows" refers to, either for the individual or for a nation.

Regarding death and Hell, our sages tell us, that when the spiritual overseers of the nations [every nation has its overseer] complain why is it the sinful Jewish nation gets no Hell whereas other sinful nations do, they are shown the heavenly decree - that every sinful nation must go to Hell together with the god they worshipped! The same is true for every individual! If someone worshipped Hashem, then, even though he wasn't fully righteous, he cannot go to Hell for his smaller sins because his God, Hashem, cannot go with him! "I fear no bad because You are with me!" He who worships Hashem, therefore, has no fear of Hell because Hashem is with him! This means, in fact, his sins are regarded as minor, and get wiped away by punishments [in this world], but not by Hell.

Here then is another benefit for allowing oneself to be led by Hashem - it removes the option of Hell in the world-to-come.

The Jewish nation, in general, is therefore actually safe from Hell because as a collective they generally worship Hashem; Which is why they can say, and do say, regarding Hell, "I fear no bad because You are with me!"

After the Jewish people sinned, since they could not be sent to Hell, they had to be sentenced to exile. Despite exile, as a collective, they are not in danger of downfall [extinction], as happened to many other exiled nations who lost their land and their independence.

Jews in exile are sustained in life by "Your rod and cane"; By the divine rod that whips, and the divine Torah, which is their cane that prevents Jews from falling. Jews never achieve complete tranquility in exile as do other nations who also lost their independence.

By the divine rod, Jews get whipped in all their lands of exile; They know they are victimized because of the divine Torah they possess, a Torah from which they do not want to be torn away from despite all the dirt heaped upon them. The rod and the Torah are therefore Hashem's goodness and consolation for the Jewish people. Were it not for the whipping rod that casts the sinning countries in a despicable light, and were it not for Torah that demonstrates that the Jewish nation is more beautiful and, spiritually, heavens higher than the sinning, whipping countries, the Jews would long ago have had their downfall through assimilation. Our consolation and entire hope on final redemption rest strictly on Hashem's "rod and cane" that He has us contending with.

This is then another benefit for letting be led by Hashem: That we as a collective cannot go to Hell and that we cannot go extinct during exile!

The fact that we must contend with the rod and the cane during exile, which prevents us from going under, is a sign He wants to redeem us, to return us to the Holy Land, and provide us with luscious pastures, along quiet waters - which means economic plenty and political independence and tranquility!

"תערך לפני שלחן נגד צררי דשנת בשמן ראשי כוסי רויה"
"You prepare for me a table against my enemies. You anoint my head with fragrant oil; My cup satiates me."

The Godly poet relates another advantage in letting oneself be led by Hashem, even in exile - the valley of death-shadows. Even in exile Hashem gives to those who earn it a prepared table, wealth and honor, in order to anger all enemies of the Jews. For not abandoning faith in Hashem, the Jewish people, even in exile, and despite enemies who heap dirt upon them, get a great name, in the sense of "שמן תורק שמך על כן עלמות אהבוך" ("For your flowing oil [whose fragrance one smells from afar] you are renowned, therefore maidens love you.") [Song of Songs 1:3]. Even the anti-Semitic nations have to acknowledge Jewish greatness and talent, and they want Jews should intermingle with them. For this reason, the cup of many Jews is a full one that satiates them. Nations and their officials need access to Jewish resourcefulness, so they appoint Jews to high office, which satiates the appointees either economically or with honor. All this comes as a result of maintaining belief in Hashem; All this for not giving up their Jewishness.

And this is truly a great wonder - that youngsters from the Jewish "Gypsy" [nomadic, unconventional] nation manage to rub shoulders with royalty, to become finance ministers, authors, lawyers and governors - a phenomenon that could never happen to person from a real Gypsy nation!

"אך טוב וחסד ירדפוני כל ימי חיי ושבתי בבית ד' לארך ימים"
"Just goodness and favor will follow me all days of my life, and I will yet even sit in God's house for long years."

According to circumstances where Jews sinned and thus warranted exile, since then all Jewish days are full with goodness and favor that Hashem gives them. Without true miracles, the Jewish nation could never have possibly survived amid 2,000 years of hate and persecution. And finally Jews will, speedily in our days, live to see the ultimate redemption and remain the most free and luckiest people, in their holy, divine land, forever.
_ _ _

So, King David gave us, in this small chapter 23, a complete thesis about the happy opportunity Jews have, to be led by Hashem alone, by following the ways of Torah. Briefly expressed, he enumerates all the benefits we derive therefrom, in good times or bad, God forbid, when we transgress somewhat.

God-given success is whole, flawless, as it was during the short era under the reigns of King David and King Solomon, when Jews enjoyed true economic "grassy pastures" and complete political "tranquil waters", because then the Land of Israel was the richest and most respected nation in the world. God-given success is a delight for both soul and body, for it comes as a reward for following in Hashem's path; It is free of painful thoughts or fear of punishment that come bound with unkosher success.

Also after death, the God-fearing person is happier than everyone because he cannot go to Hell, just as the Jewish people collectively are free from Hell.

Even suffering through exile, for which their sins are to blame, Jews are guaranteed from becoming extinct and, moreover, they have comfort knowing they will one day be redeeemed, based on an undoubtful sign, that even in exile a Jew can enjoy wealth and honor, simply by remaining a God-faithful Jew, vis-vis anti-Semites who, upon seeing this, burn inside with fire.

And surely Jews would incur a much lighter exile were they to be better Jews, correctly observing the Torah, instead of being satisfied for not being completely Gentile-like, as many Jews do in the more-or-less assimilated circles.

The exile turned out to be a long chain of miracles, due to the goodness and favor Hashem showered upon us, for which we will merit a complete redemption from which our happy future will never again be taken away from us.

All this we learn from 6 short verses, in 57 words! The most profound, truthful, complete and shortest explanation why it is the best of fortunes to be a Jew walking in Hashem's ways by observing Torah and Mitzvot.

Unfortunately, many Jews lost both worlds only because they knew not the contents or meaning of this very chapter of Psalms, small as it is!